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Thursday, 8 August 1946

Mr ADERMANN (Maranoa) . - The money with which the bill deals is quite distinct .from that dealt with in the statement qf the Minister for Commerce and .Agriculture (Mr. Scully) last night, namely, the £20,000,000 from the realization of the Wool which accumulated during the war. The definite understanding of all wool-growers is that the whole of the profits from the sales of their wool were to revert to them. 1 appreciate that the £20,000,000 with which the statement of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture dealt' does not represent true profit, because it is a portion only of the realization, and the finalization has yet to be effected. When the final distribution is made, the amount may be £20,000,000, or more or less than that sum. But in regard to the £7,000,000 with which this bill deals, I submit that the contention of the honorable member, for Forrest (Mr. Lemmon), that it should go to fell-mongers who may have made the sales, is entirely erroneous.

Mr Lemmon - I said that it could not go to them.

Mr ADERMANN - The honorable gentleman said that difficulty would be experienced in the distribution of it, but if regard were had to legal rights, those were the persons to whom the payments should . be made. That is entirely erroneous, because' the whole of the' wool was acquired by the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has correctly stated the position. I submit that the sales of wool that- are represented by the 'money dealt with by this bill are, in a sense, miscellaneous sales, and were included in the total quantity embraced by the wool acquisition scheme, which is now being handled by the Joint Organization. That organization is in the same category a? a company which sells to a subsidiary the by-products of the commodity with which it deals. Ultimately, all the profits qf both the main and the subsidiary company revert to the producers of the commodity. Undoubtedly, the reasons for distribution stated in the bill are commendable, but in the right connexion. We are dealing with a commodity that has been required- to make a contribution, which rightly should be made by the Government, to the uplift of the industry. I do not suggest that the great wool industry should not make a contribution to such matters as publicity and scientific research ; because I defy anyone except an expert to distinguish between clothes made from whole-fibre and those made from whole wool. The . competition of the former cannot be regarded lightly. The Minister has stated by way of -interjection that the payment of 2s. a bale has been suspended. I point out, however, that the contribution that has to be made in connexion with the marketing of wool by the Joint Organization is greater than the tax which it was intended should be placed on the industry, because it amounts to 5 per cent. If this £7,000,000 were diverted to the payment of the contribution to the Joint Organization, it would be sufficient for two years, because 5 per cent, on the average income of the industry, which is £70,000,000 a year, would be £3,500,000.' In that way, the wool-growers could be assisted directly. However. the Government has cho,cen to adopt another method, which corresponds with that which it has adopted in connexion with the wheat and other industries. I shall support any proposal, for the payment of this money to the growers, because it rightly belongs to them. Acquisition involves rights. In this matter, the rights have been correctly stated by the honorable member for Barker.

It has been stated on behalf of the Government that- there has not yet been any trade in the terms of paragraph e of clause 6, which reads -

Regulating or assisting the marketing, or stabilizing the price, of wool by the purchase of wool or by other means.

That, obviously, gives to the Government the right to use this money for trade purposes if it so desires. The Government would have shown itself to be sincere had it not embodied that provision in the bill, because it covers trading in the fullest sense.

The drought conditions that have prevailed throughout the industry, particularly in Queensland, merit more sympathetic consideration than has been given by the Government, which should endeavour to make whatever payments it can to the wool-growers in order that they may be relieved of some of the heavy losses they have incurred. In respect of cotton and wheat, the Government without prior intimation withheld moneys belonging to the industry. In this instance, it is filching money from the grow- . ers- of wool, and diverting it to a purpose that is suited to its own designs, at a time when the growers badly need help. I shall support any amendment designed to secure the distribution of this money among the growers.

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