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Tuesday, 21 May 1957

Mr ROBERTON (Riverina) (Minister for Social Services) . - I very much regret that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) is unacceptable to the Government for the very good and sufficient reason that it is redundant. Already there is provision for nine representatives of the trade unions on this committee. Whom, might I ask the honorable member, is the chairman of the committee to represent? I would remind the honorable member that this Government has never been able to see the class division of Australian society, and when it appoints a chairman to a committee of this description, it expects that chairman to be all things to all men. Similarly, the second member of the committee cited in the bill is to represent the Department of Primary Industry. Is it to be suggested that the representative of a government department should represent the Government to the exclusion of the trade unions on this committee? That is utterly absurd so far as the Government is concerned. It will be the manifest duty of the representative of the Department of Primary Industry on this committee to represent the trade unionists who might be interested in the production of wool in precisely the same way as he will represent his own department and other people.

Similarly, there are to be two members to represent the organization known as the Australian Wool Growers Council. Has the Australian Wool Growers Council never taken into consideration the point of view of the people who are engaged in the wool industry? Any such suggestion would be utterly absurd. From day to day, constantly, the Australian Wool Growers Council is concerned with what honorable members of the Opposition describe as trade union affairs and their effect on the industry. Of course the trade unions engaged in the wool industry would be represented by the Australian Wool Growers Council in precisely the same way as any one else. I was a member of that council; I was a member also of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. Never at any stage of the proceedings did we ignore the representations that were necessarily made from time to time in the industrial interests of the people engaged in the meat and woolproducing industry.

Of necessity, the representatives of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation would so exercise themselves as to mete out justice without fear or favour to all those who were engaged in the industry, regardless of their equity in the capital sense of the term. Exactly the same considerations applied in some shade of degree to the other three members of the committee. One member represented the organization known as the Associated Woollen and Worsted Textile Manufacturers. There is a complete explanation why this organization is proposed to be represented on the present body. It has technical information that is available to no one else, and the committee is anxious to avail itself of that technical information on textiles. Whoever might be the member nominated by the Associated Woollen and Worsted Textile Manufacturers for appointment to the committee, is it to be supposed that he will ignore the operatives in the textile industry, which is the secondary industry to wool production? Of course, he will not! It is in his own interests and in the interests of his organization that he take into all his considerations the attitudes and aspects that are of material concern to the people engaged in his own industry.

Another member is to be representative of such universities in Australia as engage in research related to the wool industry. I defy any reasonable man to suggest that the representative of the universities, whoever he might be, would confine himself exclusively to matters related to academic aspects of research. He is a member of the Australian community, in exactly the same way as every one else. It is his manifest duty to represent all those who might be affected by the investigations he is likely to make and which the universities are likely to undertake. One member is to be a representative of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which is engaged from day to day in research into the wool industry. It would be redundant for me to repeat in relation to this representative the arguments that I have already put in support of other representatives, and it would be impossible for any man who is a member of the C.S.I.R.O. to engage in activities contrary to the interests of trade unionists or those of any other section of this community. For the nine substantial reasons that I have given the Government cannot accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bendigo.

The honorable member, in moving the amendment, made certain important observations. The honorable member for Lalor, when debating the bill, mentioned some other boards and committees, but the honorable member for Bendigo said that this industry, like every other, has two parts - capital and labour. I wish to speak on this matter of capital and labour in primary industries. Vast sums of money must be invested in any industry and the workers are the people who put that capital investment to work. The combined effort brings about production. However, I suggest with every deference to the honorable member for Bendigo that there is a third and even more important component in primary industry. I have been a farmer all my life and I have known people to pour capital into, land without ever making a farm of any value out of it. I have known also men and women who have poured their labour into the land, but have been entirely unsuccessful in everything they have attempted to do. It is obvious that some other ingredient is necessary to build primary industries, and especially a great primary industry like wool-growing. The most important ingredient in the success of industries that use the land is preliminary thinking. This must precede capital investment and the expenditure of labour.

Men and women who are to be successful on the land must sit down and work out their plans before spending a penny or touching it. Deliberative thinking is necessary. They must say to themselves, " Here is an area of land that might conceivably be effectively occupied. What must we do, if we can get the capital? " When they have completed their preliminary thinking, they apply themselves to the task through the investment of capital and the expenditure of labour. Even after the capital has been invested they must apply and exercise their intuitive knowledge - if they are fortunate enough to possess it. It is a tragic mistake to believe, as is prevalent in this country, that any person can go on the land and be successful. When an inexperienced man is put on the land, he is at once handicapped by a lack of intuitive knowledge that -the successful farmer has inherited from his forefathers or gained in his childhood and adolescence. Intuitive knowledge is of greater value than anything else. The skill of a man's operations is important also. At question-time to-day, when mention was made of the value of wool-growers to the Australian community, the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) interjected that credit should go to the sheep. That was just a whimsical remark.

Mr Duthie - It was a very good one.

Mr ROBERTON - Listen to the boys who know nothing about it! If it were left to the sheep, the Australian wool industry would be cut to pieces. Its strength comes, not from the sheep, but from the men who apply their intuitive knowledge and skill in it. If it were left to the sheep, they would be cutting 2i lb. or 3 lb. of wool a head, as they did originally.

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