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Wednesday, 7 August 1946

Mr FULLER (Hume) .- During the course of this debate it has been interesting to note the line-up of the Liberal party and the remnants of the Australian Country party, who are now in poor favour with recognized farmers' organizations. They are being supported by the vanquished Liberal party, which has fought every attempt by the farmers to shake the middlemen and food speculators off their backs. An unholy combination of men who have consistently betrayed the organizations of genuine farmers is suddenly blossoming forth. as the champion of a newly formed organization. It was obvious, of course, when the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) was questioning the bona fides of the Australian Wool and Meat Federation and, in particular, pointing the finger at the Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers Federation, that he was grieved .because he was not able to dictate the policy of those organizations.. The members of the New South Wales Wheat Growers Union have a stake in the meat industry equal to that of any other organization of similar calibre, affiliated with the Australian Wool and Wheat Federation. It is obvious that the Opposition, particularly the Australian Country party, is. attempting reprisals, and using another organization for the purpose.

In naming the two meat producers' organizations, and in providing for majority representation of producers on the Australian Meat Board, the Government has gone immeasurably farther than did the previous government when it gave the producers only minority representation. Yet we find the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) and ' the Deputy Leader (Mr. McEwen), expressing dissatisfaction with the composition of the board, and being cheered on by the Leader of the Liberal party (Mr. Menzies) and the Deputy Leader (Mr. Harrison), who would not know beef from mutton unless they were cooked. The Liberal party appears now to be deeply interested in obtaining representation for the newly formed organization with a rural name. ' What is the reason for this nascent interest in rural affairs? The tie-up between the Australian Country party members, who are peeved because they cannot dominate recognized producers' organizations, and the Liberal party, which believes in the law of supply and demand, and which, therefore, has never been in favour of farmers' organizations, stimulates the belief that the Primary Producers Union is either the foster-child of political parties in the Opposition, or that it is expected to be more pliable than the recognized farmers' organizations.

There is nothing in the name of this new organization to indicate what section of producers it claims to represent. We know that all growers of wheat and wool are stock-owners, and have a vital interest in meat prices. We know that among the members -of the organization are no persons who do not own any stock. That cannot be said of the Primary Producers Union, which ' might include - and no. doubt does include - persons who have not the remotest interest in meat or stock. I understand that some of the members are berry-growers in the Dandenong Ranges, some are market gardeners, others apple-growers, whilst there are other producers whose interests are not even remotely connected with meat.

The Minister has pointed out that the board will consist of four representatives of the lamb and mutton producers, two of the beef producers, and one of the pig producers. Parliament is not asked to take a step in the dark. It is proposed to set up a meat industry board, and we know that this measure ensures that such a board will be appointed.

Mr Rankin - I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member in order in reading his speech, and reading it very badly?

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