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Thursday, 25 July 1946


Mr ADERMANN - From the facts which I presented to the House prior to the suspension of the sitting, it appears to be impossible for residents in country centres to obtain adequate telephone services. Bearing in mind the abnormal conditions of the war, residents in the cities are fairly satisfactorily served in this respect. Therefore, priority should be given to country centres. It is all very well for some people to argue that preference should be given to centres which will return the greatest revenue. If this country is to be developed and progress, those now on the land must be retained on the land. That can be done only by giving to residents in country areas facilities that will encourage them to remain on the land.

I turn now to the comment by the Auditor-General in his annual report with respect to the Apple and Pear Marketing Board. Perhaps the Government would find it convenient to forget about that criticism. Some time ago I asked several questions with respect to the operations of the board in Queensland in connexion with the No. 5 pool. I inquired when the Minister intended to finalize the operations of that pool. He replied that as a certain case was pending in the courts the matter was sub judice, and, therefore, he would not take any action until that case had been concluded. The Treasurer's statement for the year ended the 30th June, 1945, revealed a loss on the overall operations of the Apple and Pear Marketing Board throughout the Commonwealth. However, it is known that the operations in Queensland resulted in a profit, and I am informed that that profit averaged at least 3s. 5d. a case in respect of all fruit marketed in Queensland. I should like to know whether those operations are to be finalized; whether the surplus earned in

Queensland is to be absorbed in reduction of the overall loss throughout the Commonwealth and the Queensland growers thus deprived of the proceeds of their property. Or, does the Minister propose to distribute that profit of 3s. 5d. a case, or more, to Queensland growers? Under, the Constitution, primary producers are entitled to a fair and reasonable price in respect of the sale of their product under any governmental acquisition scheme. In this instance, the Queensland growers are entitled to the actual profit made from the sale of their fruit. The Government cannot justly deprive those growers of that profit by using the surplus to reduce the over-all loss under the scheme throughout the Commonwealth.

During the last four years primary producers in Queensland have been suffering a drought which, so far as my knowledge goes, is unprecedented in the history of that State. Dairymen in the Mundubbera district and graziers in the south-west of Queensland have been most severely hit. Whenever. I have appealed to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) to assist them in their plight I have been given the same reply, namely, that the Commonwealth cannot provide such assistance until it is requested so to do by the State government concerned. I agree that that is the position. However, the Queensland Government, apparently, is not interested in the plight of these primary producers. Its disregard of their interests is aggravated when one reads in the Treasurer's Financial Statement of the very generous financial assistance which the Commonwealth has given to primary producers in other States upon the recommendations of the respective governments. The Queensland Government persists in its refusal to make asimilar approach to the Commonwealth. I do not know why it adopts that attitude. Apparently, it is reluctant to co-operate with the Commonwealth on a £ 1 for £1 basis to render such assistance. Certainly, it is not doing its job. I have made numerous public statements on the subject with a view to obtaining such assistance, or to evoking a reply from the Queensland Government, but that government refuses to break its silence on the matter. It is very convenient for the Commonwealth to refer such matters to' the States, particularly when it is aware of the hardships being suffered by primary producers in the areas which I have mentioned. I again protest in the interests of those who need urgent relief. I could cite many cases which have been brought to my notice of producers who have been almost forced into bankruptcy. Too few of our people generally realize the hardships which many producers are now suffering. The producers are the .true citizens of this country. They have faced great difficulties in the past in a truly Australian spirit, and are prepared to face similar difficulties in the. future provided they receive .the consideration which is their due. When I raised this matter twelve months ago, the Treasurer said that he had plenty to do without endeavouring to persuade the Queensland Government to apply for assistance for primary producers in the areas I have mentioned. I agree that the onus to initiate action in this matter does not rest upon the Commonwealth. Again, I strongly protest against the unsympathetic attitude of the Queensland Government towards these primary producers. Its attitude is unworthy of a State government, and its failure to- recognize the needs of these people is deplorable.







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