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Thursday, 8 August 1946

Mr BREEN (Calare) .- The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) and the honorable member for New England '(Mr. Abbott) have submitted that the Minister should disburse the £7,000,000 in the fund on the basis of the. contributions by wool producers, in the form of wool, to the scheme for the year 1945. On that basis, those growers would receive an additional 14 per cent, on their wool cheque for that year. The money in this fund accumulated over a period of about six years, and it would not be fair that those who were contributors for one year only should receive the maximum benefit, whilst those who had been in the, scheme for four years, but had dropped out of wool production, for one reason or another, should not benefit at all.

Mr Archie Cameron - That can he applied to the wheat stabilization scheme, too.

Mr BREEN - It is poetic justice that I should now be able to borrow that argument from honorable members opposite. They used it to damn the Government's wheat pooling proposal. If their argument was logical then, it cannot be illogical now.

Mr Archie Cameron - The difference is that this is politics, not logic.

Mr BREEN - In the Labour party there is no conflict between politics and logic. When honorable members opposite were using this argument against the wheat pool proposals, they caressed it as a "hill billy" might caress the stock of his rifle when he saw his enemy coming within range. They do not like it so well now that some one else has possession of the weapon, and is using it against them.

The main point to be considered is that an authority to be set up is to be empowered to use this money for the benefit, of wool-growers generally, and certainly the- growers would benefit if money were advanced to those who have suffered as the result of drought. It has been said that, in the past, the wheat industry subsidized the wool industry. Here is a sum of money derived from the wool industry as a whole, and it is appropriate that it should be expended for the benefit of the industry as a whole. Th* honorable member for New England pointed out that parts of Australia wensuffering from one of the worst drought* on record. Assistance will have to be given to the sheep-owners, and where is the money to come from? If it is. taken out of Consolidated Revenue somebody must find it. "This is a practical age. The starving sheep must be fed or they will die. If they die the farmers will receive no income, and meat will be lost. We cannot live by taking in' each other's washing, as will be admitted even by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), who said that there was no logic in politics. The Government is to be commended for establishing a fund for the benefit of wool-growers, and I suggest that the money could not be put to a better purpose than in buying feed for starving stock in droughtstricken areas.

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