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Thursday, 25 July 1946


Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) .- This bill deals with the transfer of the powers, authorities and functions exercised by the Controller of Meat Supplies to the Australian Meat Board to be constituted under the Meat Export Control Bill 1946, which was passed by this House yesterday. ' During the debate, criticism has been directed at the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) and the Controller of Meat Supplies. I agree with the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) that the transfer of powers from the Controller of Meat Supplies to a board will merely enable the Minister to continue his control of the industry with the apparent approval of the- primary producers. The board to be set up under this bill is the same as the board established by the Meat

Export Control Bill, except that it will have two additional members, one representing the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner and the- other representing theDirector of Rationing.

The honorable member for Indi has made very serious charges which I shall discuss. He pointed out that the Minister had, within the last twelve months, sent representatives of his department to. a meeting qf Victorian pig producers and others associated with the pig-meat industry and had forced a reduction of the price of pigs on the Victorian' market in such a way that, as far as we can ascertain, the consumers received no benefit. The honorable member ' showed that the Government appointed a representative of the buyers to control the prices of pigs for a period of some weeks, and that this man depressed prices by an average amount of 30s. a head. In some country centres, thousands of pigs were marketed during that period, and so it can be seen that somebody benefited by thousands of pounds at the expense of the producers. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Breen) tried to defend the Government's action. He drew a red herring across the trail by saying that the honorable member for Indi had not made any direct charges but had merely 3a.id that certain actions were reported to have taken place and that he believed that certain things had been done.


Mr Martens - That is what the honorable member for Indi did say.


Mr ANTHONY - -The . honorable member . for Indi cited evidence of the complicity of the Minister and the Government in compelling a reduction of prices to the pig producers and in permitting a ring of buyers to benefit by that reduction. Earlier this month, the honorable member for Indi asked a question in this House about the activities of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard), who goes about the country carrying the imprimatur of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture as the Assistant Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. "We know that he is not the Assistant Minister for. Commerce and Agriculture, but he is generally referred to as such. The Minister has stated more than once that the honorable member for Ballarat is one of his principal advisers and, to use his own words, " has given me very valuable assistance from time to time ". We also know that the honorable member from time to time goes to various parts of the Commonwealth with the authority of the Minister and carries out duties as though he possessed ministerial status. The Minister will be the first to admit that he has delegated to the honorable member power in respect of many matters which affect primary industries.


Mr Martens - And the honorable member for Ballarat has done a jolly good job.


Mr ANTHONY - Well, on the occasion to which I refer, he did a good job not for the primary producers but for those who exploit the primary producers. When the honorable member for Indi said, on the 4th July in this House, that be had heard that, on the 16th May, the honorable member for Ballarat had presided at a meeting representative of various interests which took action to reduce pig prices, the honorable member indignantly repudiated the statement. We admit now that the wording of the statement by the honorable member for Indi was not quite correct. The honorable member for Ballarat did not preside at the meeting. However, he was present, and he addressed the meeting as the representative of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. This fact was not disclosed by the honorable member for Ballarat; he led the House to believe that, if he was there at all, he was present only in an innocuous capacity.


Mr Frost - The honorable member for Indi was satisfied with his explanation.


Mr ANTHONY - The honorable member for Indi had no evidence at that time.


Mr Frost - He waited until the honorable member for Ballarat was absent before he made his charge.


Mr McEwen - I waited until the appropriate bill came before the House.







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