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Wednesday, 13 May 1970

Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) - It is my intention to supply certain newspapers in the Mallee and Riverina electorates with a statement. Therefore I think it fair that I should first read it in this House. As every honourable member knows, I do not read my speeches but I read statements and I am now going to read this statement. It is as follows:

On returning to my home at Boort from the Parliamentary sittings at Canberra at 10 p.m., on Friday, 8th May, 1970, I had the first opportunity to read the Swan Hill Guardian of the 6th May and was amazed at an article I read in it headed Stormy midnight wheat debates followed Grassby's action'.

On Monday morning J phoned the Editor of the Swan Hill Guardian, Mr Murphy, and asked him from what source had his paper received this article, and especially that portion of it attributed to me. He said that the whole of the article had been received from Mr A. Grassby, Federal Member for Riverina, and that the Swan Hill Guardian, which has its base and circulates in the Mallee electorate, had printed it in good faith.

What concerns me is that the part of the article attributed to me was taken out of context and gave a completely different meaning to that of the authorised Hansard report of my speech.

The article read 'The member for Mallee, Mr Turnbull, said that the uncertainty had always been that way for primary producers. They knew they would get a 20% cut. lt is of no use calling on high heaven in such things, but we must keep our heads'.

Mr Grassbyhad been referring to the Quota System in his article when he attributed this statement to mc. Naturally anyone reading it would think it was my reply to what he called the uncertainty of quotas', but this was not so. Reference to Hansard of 16th and 17th April-

It was after midnight on 17th April- reveals that in quite a different part of the debate, in answer to Mr Grassby saying 'Nothing has been done to give wheat growers any indication of what they should grow', I replied 'lt has always been that way'. When he puts a crop in a wheat grower does not know whether he is going to have 5 bushels to the acre or 30 bushels to the acre or a drought. This is why the farming position has always been precarious and why the position of the primary producer is different from that of the wage earner. This is why we in the Country Party support through thick and thin the primary producer. The wage earner knows exactly what he gets every week-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Sturt has been consistently interjecting throughout this adjournment debate. I remind him that since the commencement of this Parliament he has been warned to refrain from interjecting on more occasions than any other honourable member. I suggest that he control himself and cease interjecting.

Mr TURNBULL - My reply continues:

The wage earner knows exactly what he gets every week, and it is generally rising, but the primary producer has no idea of what his return will be when lie sows a crop. If the Government were to say that a farmer had to grow, say, 10 bushels or 5 bushels to the acre, when the crop had been planted there would be no indication of what return would come to the wheat grower. These are practical considerations.

My statement that uncertainty has always been that way for primary producers had no connection whatever with the quota system, as the article would have us believe. The next thing that the honourable member for Riverina attributes to me in the article is that I said-

Mr Daly - I rise to order. Is it in order for an honourable member to make such a bitter and unprovoked attack on the honourable member for Riverina.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! That is not a valid point of order.

Mr TURNBULL - The next thing that the honourable member for Riverina attributes to me in his article is that I said:

They knew they would get a 20% cut. Hansard on page 1308 of 16th and 17th April - it was after midnight - reveals that I said:

The other thing I want to say is that the great indication that has been given is that there is to be about a 20% cut, I understand, in the quota that was fixed last year. The fixing of the quota came about because wheat growers, quite rightly, wanted $1.10 a bushel first payment. The Wheat Growers Federation met over in Western Australia and decided on the quota system, but the motions that gave legislative authority to the quotas did not come into this House. Quota legislation has never been debated here. It went through the State Parliaments and they gave the legislative authority.

The honourable member for Riverina has consistently endeavoured to create the impression that the quota system was implemented by the Commonwealth Government. I have given him facts and figures which undoubtedly prove the point made by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), when answering my question on th s subject. The Minister said:

The Commonwealth has no rights at all in imposing production controls. If growers feel there is an injustice or anomaly this is a matter which should be taken up with their own State Government; the Commonwealth has no hand in it whatsoever.

I suggest that the honourable member for Riverina should cease trying to create a wrong impression. The honourable member immediately followed his statement that I had said: They knew they would get a 20% cut' by quoting me as saying: lt is no use calling on high heaven in such things hut we must keep our heads.

Surely, as the honourable member for Riverina put it directly after my statement regarding the 20% cut, everyone would think it referred to this, but I said this in quite a different part of the debate. There had been wild interjections and heated statements by honourable members,, including the honourable member for Riverina, and Hansard reveals that I said:

I am treating this matter calmly tonight because one cannot do any good for wheat growers or anyone else if one loses one's head, starts calling to high heaven about things and forgets logic.

It has been said that omission is even more to be deplored than commission and, of course, the honourable member omitted the chief sections of my speech. I . then said, again quoting from Hansard:

I further want to say thai the Chairman of the Grains Division of the Victorian Farmers' Union, Mr Meehan, said he was delighted that the Federal Government had announced that $1.10 a bushel would be a first payment on the quota wheat next year. Perhaps there are 1 or 2 things that honourable members do not know and I must tell them. In other years the amount of the first payment has not been made, with the exception of last year, before 1st November This year it has been a.m'v need at least 6 months before the normal dab..

In summing up I say that the action of the honourable member for Riverina in supplying to the Swan Hill 'Guardian' quotes out of context, said to be from my speech, is unworthy of a member of this House. It is contrary to all approved parliamentary conduct and in all the years I have been a member of this House I have never heard of another member adopting such an attitude. Surely there is plenty of opportunity for a member to state his case without attributing to another member, through the Press, opinions that he does not hold.

Although I have mentioned only the Swan Hill 'Guardian' I have ascertained that the article also appeared in the Barham Bridge', and they accepted it in good faith. And it probably has been forwarded to other newspapers in Victoria and New South Wales. Perhaps Mr Grassby can tell us whether that is so. I wish now to quote what Mr Grassby said in this House.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman will refer to the honourable member as the honourable member for Riverina.

Mr TURNBULL - The honourable member for Riverina said, in one of his flamboyant moments:

I do not mind who disagrees with me, Mr Speaker.

He does not mind at all. He went on:

I will debate with them at any time and at any place.

I ask the honourable member whether that is true. Will you debate at any time in any place?

Mr Grassby - Why not?

Mr TURNBULL - That is not the question. Will the honourable member for Riverina stand by what he said as reported in Hansard? Will he debate with them at any time in any place?

Mr Grassby - All right.

Mr TURNBULL - All right. I accept the challenge. I name the place as outside the office of the 'Bridge' newspaper in Barham, New South Wales, and the time as 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 26th May 1970. I have ascertained that if there is not enough room at that spot we can move to an adjacent vacant block of land. T expect to see thi honourable member for Riverina live up to his statements in this House by appearing in front of the 'Bridge' newspaper office in Barham at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 26th May 1970. In that way he will live up to his promise to debate this subject with anyone at any time.

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