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Tuesday, 21 May 1957

Mr ROBERTON (Riverina) (Minister for Social Services) . - There are moments when I would wish that the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) would stick to his last, whatever his last may be. This is one of those moments. He was, of course, labouring under a grave disability. He was speaking about primary industries, particularly the wool industry, and the bills that are before the House without having any knowledge of the wool industry, the primary industries or the associations that are incidental to the introduction of bills of this importance.

I know that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) would want me to make this simple explanation on one point that the honorable member for Wilmot raised in his innocence. He made reference to the fact that no provision had been made for representatives of a very worthy organization, the Australian Primary Producers Union, to be appointed to the committee. There is a very simple explanation for that state of affairs. I made some brief reference to it recently when I had occasion to address myself to another bill. The simple facts are that the agricultural and pastoral organizations of our country have followed the pattern of our politics. Our politics began, of course, with State or provincial parliaments, and from them stemmed ultimately the Federal Parliament, or the Commonwealth Parliament, as it is called. Our agricultural and pastoral organizations followed the same pattern. In each of the States, agricultural and pastoral organizations were established. They were intended to confine their activities exclusively to their own State affairs, but, because of the increasing importance of those affairs, they found it necessary to enter into conference with similar organizations in other States. So serious and important did that development become that, out of sheer necessity, federations had to be formed covering all our major primary industries. We had the State organizations, and the State organizations themselves established the federal organizations. The qualifying State organizations made application for affiliation with the federal organizations. Subsequently, although this is not very important, the federations themselves found it necessary to establish a national organization because Australia, as a nation, ultimately had to undertake international responsibilities. When it undertook international responsibilities, as far as the agricultural and pastoral industries were concerned, it was found that no appropriate national organization existed to become affiliated with the international organizations. Therefore, a national organization was formed. The national organization was confined to the federations, and the federations were confined absolutely and exclusively to the State organizations. These bills cover expressions of opinions made and decisions reached by the federal organizations appropriate to the wool industry. Those organizations have been in consultation with the Minister. They have expressed their opinions and have communicated their decisions to the Government. These bills are the result, and are designed to serve the wool industry and the nation as a whole; and no one else is involved.

It may be that certain State organizations have been excluded from being elected to the Wool Research Committee, but their exclusion is entirely their own affair. It is competent for any qualifying State organization to make application for affiliation with the appropriate federal organization. If that affiliation is approved and the State organization becomes an affiliate of the federal organization, it could be represented on the committee that is to be set up. But I should like honorable members who have no knowledge of these affairs to try to understand the complexities of the pastoral and agricultural organizations of our country. This committee will be representative of wool-growers from the Australian Wool Growers Council, which is one of the two federal organizations dealing exclusively with wool, and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. These are the appropriate organizations for the Ministers to deal with from time to time, and, if any organization wants particularly to be repre sented on committees that are set up under legislation of this nature, it is competent for them to affiliate with the federal organization and in that way become closely associated with and allied to the functions of committees set up under legislation.

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