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Wednesday, 7 August 1946

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) . - I have not been able to agree with the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon) on_ many occasions since 1 have been a member of this House; butI concede that it would be in the best interests of the export of our fat lambs if more freezing works were opened in inland centres. Lambs that travel long distances do not usually arrive at their destination in as good a condition as those that can be killed shortly after leaving their pastures. It must not be considered, however, that occasionally lambs that have travelled long distances are not better than those that have travelled a short distance. Lilydale, in Victoria, is approximately 40 or 50 miles from Newmarket, whereas the distance to Patchewallock is 300 miles. Lambs from Lilydale, loaded into trucks at 11 a.m., are handled in the market on the same day, whilst lambs from Patchewallock, which are trucked on a Sunday night are not handled at Newmarket until the following Tuesday; yet these latter are in better condition in the market than are those from the adjacent grazing or fattening area of Lilydale. Nevertheless, it is important that killing centres should be opened in different districts of Victoria and other States. This system has been tried in Victoria, works having operated at . Ballarat, Murtoa, Donald and Bendigo. Some of those works proved .a dismal failure. The works at Ballarat and Bendigo are functioning, but those at Murtoa have been closed. I was pleased to hear recently that the Donald works will be reopened during this season. The trouble previously was caused by the adoption of the weight basis of killing. This resulted in so many lambs being put into the works that, within a week or so, some of them could not be killed and had to stand in the yards because of lack of sufficient killing space.

Mr Pollard - That did not happen at the inland killing works.

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - It happened at Murtoa, and that was one indirect reason why the works had to close. On that account, certain lambs were " docked " and were designated second quality and third quality, although they were first quality when they entered the works. That difficulty can be overcome. I am not using it as an argument against the extension of the system. Any extension of inland killing which the Minister may see fit to make will have my unqualified support.

This is an important bill. The honorable member for Forrest has made many references' to the Australian Country party. When he spoke previously, he stated that that party had advised certain fat lamb-raisers not to mate Downs ram* with their ewes. That charge is misleading. I have advised many personsnot to mate Downs rams with their ewes. The matter is governed by the circumstances. We know that Downs lamb is the best for export purposes. A statement in general terms, and having such wide implications as that of the honorable member for Forrest, would make it appear that the member's of the Australian Country party were advising producers not to raise the best class of lamb.

Mr Lemmon - Does the honorable member deny that members of the Australian Country party gave that advice ?

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - I do not deny it. But the honorable . member either has attempted to confuse the issue or has no knowledge of lamb-raising; because there are occasions on which, as the Minister knows, it is not in the best interests of the industry to mate Downs rams with certain ewes. Foi- example, some parts of northern Victoria occasionally experience a series of droughts. In such circumstances, ewes are mated with Border Leicester rams, the reason being that, in a dry season when lambs cannot be fattened, the grower has a good store line. One would not think of mating a Downs ram with a very fine Comeback ewe, but one would mate it with a Border Leicester or an English Leicester or a Romney Marsh ewe; because, the result of mating a Downs ram with a fine Comeback ewe would be to throw back to the merino, .which would not be a good export lamb. Therefore, the decision, depends upon the district in which the lambs are raised, factors to be taken into consideration being freedom from drought and the breed of ewe being mated. Consequently, members of the Australian Country party against whom the charge has been made, have done the right thing, not the wrong thing. Perhaps I should thank the honorable member for Forrest for having drawn attention to the matter.

Mr Lemmon - In other words, the advice was not to breed any lambs for export.

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - Not at all. Does the honorable member know that, at the Newmarket saleyards, the largest in Australia, if not in the world, the biggest proportion of the fat lambs sold are bred from Border Leicester rams, for the sole reason that they are bred in certain districts and make a good store line if they cannot be fattened? Downs cross lambs which cannot be exported as fat lambs are not much good for any other purpose. The honorable member has either tried to confuse the issue or lacks knowledge of the subject.

Mr Lemmon - I have grown more lambs than has the honorable member.

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - I have been handling them all my life. Because of the time that has elapsed since the bill was last discussed, its purpose may not, be quite clear to some honorable members. It is " a bill for an act to provide for the transfer of the powers, authorities and functions conferred upon and exercised by the Controller of Meat Supplies and the Meat Canning Committee appointed under the National Security (Meat Industry Control) Regulations and the National Security (Meat Industry) Regulations respectively to the Australian Meat Board during the continuance of the National Security Act 1939- 1946, and the regulations thereunder ". I believe that the authority in question should rest where it now resides, so that, when any action is taken, it will not be attributed to the so-called producercontrolled board, but the light will be thrown on those actually responsible. The only result of the restriction of open competition, of which there was an example in Victoria recently, is to cause loss to the producer. The reason given by the Minister for the introduction of this measure cannot be accepted. He has said that its object is to stop black marketing. It has bren claimed that because meat was sold above ceiling prices at Newmarket and elsewhere, purchasers could not retail it with1 out themselves resorting to black marketing. The price fixed for the one bid at auction was stated to bo in relation to the price permitted in retail sales. Hon orable members will recall that this onebid system did not last long. Having acquired meat for a time, the Minister decided to allow the business to revert to the conditions that obtained prior to his intervention. When the restriction wa..imposed, chaos ensued at Newmarket. A few of the producers sent their stock tn the saleyards,- but the majority of them withheld supplies until the restriction? were lifted. The effect of that withholding of supplies has been reflected in the heavy winter yardings, which, during the last eight or ten weeks, have probably been heavier than those that had been experienced for many years. That this invasion of the market is not in the best interests of either the producer or the consumer will readily be realized. When it appeared that prices would be permanently lower on account of the enforcement of the restriction of one bid, many fatteners sold their stock in the paddocks, at rates much lower than those which had prevailed before the auction. They sold them to speculators and other persons with whom true producers do not want to deal to a great degree. As . I have said, the rates were much lower than those which prevailed before the auction, and were definitely lower than those that have prevailed since the restrictions were lifted. It is well known that, generally speaking." there is only a limited time in which to market fat stock if they are to be sold in prime condition. Especially in wintertime, when feed is short and the weather is cold, there may be just one week in which stock can he marketed in order to get the maximum return. It is probable that when chaotic conditions prevailed in the Newmarket sale-yards a good proportion of the stock passed this peak period, and the owners will never have opportunity to recoup the losses then sustained. It is, of course, recognized that we cannot provide against an act of God, but it is also true that, many of the stock lost in the disastrous floods of the western districts of Victoria would have . been sold in Victoria before that date bad normal conditions prevailed at Newmarket. If the Government proposes in future to take action which might lead to such chaos, it should, not shelter behind a board which allegedly represents the primary producers. All the indications are that restrictions similar to the onebid provision at Newmarket may be introduced again, and if that is done chaos must result. I maintain, that in such a case the spotlight should be focused, upon those really responsible.

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