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Wednesday, 7 August 1946

Mr BOWDEN - The producers considered .that they should have been represented.

Mr POLLARD - At any rate, it was not a secret conclave. .

Mr Rankin - It was a good imitation of one.

Mr POLLARD -It is interesting to note that the Ham and Bacon Curers Association in effect repudiated the remarks of the honorable member for Indi. In addition, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) and the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) repudiated his references to Mr. Cullen, a member of the Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers Association. The attack which the Australian Country party has made on this bill suggests to me a defence of black marketing. What is the difference between black marketing in primary products, and black marketing in motor cars or wearing apparel? There is none. In those circumstances, the Government was perfectly justified in endeavouring to prevent that kind of operation.

What is' the pig-meat plan? The scheme came into operation in 1943 as theresult of the recommendations of the Meat Industry Commission and the pig producers. It prescribed the price which should be paid to the producer, and the price at which operators should sell to the public and make meat available for export. The plan substantially improved the position of pig producers. In 1943. when the honorable member for Indi was a Minister in the Menzies Government, pig prices were at a disastrously low level. According to the Argus of the 20th. March, 1941, the price of prime lightweight pork was 29s. 6d. to 34s. 6d. ; medium, 35s. 6d. to 40s. 6d. ; heavy to 45s. ; and extra heavy to 48s. The price under the plan is £6 13s.

Mr Rankin - Not for pork.

Mr POLLARD - No, for baconer*. The price of pork is correspondingly high. According to the Argus report, the price for prime porkers was 6d. to 0£d. per lb.; good, to 5 3/4d ; medium, 5d. The price of baconers was 5| 5$d. per lb.; good to 4-Ad. To-day, under the plan, the price is . 9d. per lb. I agree .that it is difficult for a person to judge on the hoof the weight of a pig to within a few pounds. The honorable member for Indi, the honorable member for Bendigo and the honorable member for Richmond know, that persons who are familiar with the stock business can judge the weight of a lamb to within h couple of pounds.

Mr Anthony - Will the honorable member inform' me whether the plan has resulted iri a reduction of price to the consumer ?

Mr POLLARD - The honorable member for Richmond should know that at the meeting to which I referred, the Acting Deputy Prices Commissioner, as the result of the revelations, told the bacon curers and processors that if that kind of thing were possible, he would conaider whether the margin between the price to be charged to the public and that which the processors were then paying to the producers should be reduced.

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