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Thursday, 4 June 1970

Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) - At the very start 1, like other honourable members, should like to congratulate the honourable member for Warringah (Mr Mackellar) on his excellent maiden speech. Next I want to say - and I want this to underlie anything I say - that I congratulate the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation. The members of that organsation have played a major part in assisting in the best possible way the wheat industry in the present crisis. 1 am of the opinion that the men in the Wheatgrowers Federation are dedicated to the proposition that wheat growers should get the best deal that this country can give them. Anything I say from now on will not stop me from believing that, because I have watched the situation very closely over the years and I know exactly what has happened. Members of the Australian Labor Party have sa d what a wonderful speech was made by the honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey) and have said that the rest of the members of the Country Party do not know anything, but it appears that the Labor Party is pretty low on intelligence in respect of wheat. Why do not members opposite get up and speak? If we were discussing some industrial problem and members of the Country Party did not rise to speak the first thing honourable members opposite would do would be to taunt them and say: 'Why does the Country Party not speak on these things?" The Country Party is a specialist primary producers party. Every member of the Country Party represents a rural constituency I was amazed to see the men who were put up by the

Australian . Labor Party to speak on the subject of wheat. I am more amazed tonight to note the honourable members opposite who are interjecting. They have not the courage to get up to attempt to make a speech on this great wheat growing industry.

Let me examine those who spoke for the Opposition. First of all, we had the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). He is an academic. He has never worked on a wheat farm or any other type of farm. The honourable member has a great urge to show his book learned skill. But men up and down this country-

Mr Cope - I rise to take a point of order. I do not think that the honourable member for Mallee has spoken on the subject matter of this Bill at all since he commenced his speech. Mr Deputy Speaker, you asked the honourable member for Hindmarsh, a short time ago, to get back to the Bill. I think that you should do the same with the honourable member for Mallee.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock - Order! No point of order arises. I call the honourable member for Mallee.

Mr TURNBULL - I will be on to the Bil] shortly. Let me repeat that the honourable member for Dawson is always anxious in this House to show his book learned skill. I think the poet said: 'He still had hopes his book learned skill to show'. We have had a practical demonstration of this. I will be on to the subject matter of the Bill shortly. 1 wish to say something about the Opposition speakers on this Bill. After all, we on this side of the House have been examined in this way. The honourable member for Dawson was the first speaker on the Opposition side. He is, as I have said, an academic. He was followed by the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby). The honourable member for Riverina does represent a vast wheat growing area. I take notice of what he says. I met him at Barham in a debate on Tuesday of last week.

Mr Griffiths - How did you go?

Mr TURNBULL - How did I go? I thank the honourable member for Shortland for his interjection.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! Merely because a member of the Opposition has interjected, it does not mean that the honourable member for Mallee can discuss a matter that also has no relevance to the Bill.

Mr TURNBULL - 1 would like to answer the question, Sir.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - No. The honourable member for Mallee can answer the question raised by the honourable member for Shortland outside the House any time he likes but not inside the House during the discussion on this Bill.

Mr TURNBULL - All right. Regarding the Bill, I think that 1 should not go into the fine detail of this legislation because every other honourable member who has spoken has done this. Such speeches become what is objected to by the Chair, as a rule, as tedious repetition. This is the debate on the second reading of the Bill. Perhaps honourable members have forgotten what the intention of the Bill really is. In his second reading speech the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) plainly said:

This Bill is intended to amend the Wheat Industry Stabilisation Act in 2 respects, lt will complement legislative action by the States: First, to implement a quota scheme for wheat deliveries; and, second, to give discretionary authority to the Australian Wheat Board to sell wheat in Australia for purposes other than human consumption at prices lower than the price for human consumption

In a nutshell, 1 have read what some honourable members have tried to explain in speeches lasting half an hour.

I listened to the speeches tonight. Much has been said about the speech made by the honourable member for Moore and other speeches. Look, the honourable member for Moore spoke of what happened years and years ago. We all know off by heart what he spoke about. Then he put in one or two references to the other country. If he wants to do that, it is all right. But bow would he get on if he was in the Australian Labor Party and did this? How did Cyril Chambers get on when he tried only mildly to do this sort of thing? He did not receive his endorsement and he was out of this House. Yet we are told that Labor never does these things. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr

Clyde Cameron) would be better tonight if he was on some other job where he has been appointed, I understand, in a high executive position by the Labor Party. i wish to refer now to the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) - I am not going against your ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker - who claimed that he had some knowledge of wheat because he was horn at some place called Currabubula. I had a look to see how big his electorate is. It is 9 square miles. Because he was born at Currabubula the honourable member thinks he is a primary producer. 1 know of a baby who was born in a hospital. But that baby, when it grew up, did not become a doctor or a nurse. Things do not work out that way.

Let me refer to what has been happening in the debate with which we are dealing now. I wish to answer some of the allegations that have been made, lt has been said that the decision on quotas was made in panic. Well, I cannot see the members of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation panicking. They are men who have been up against droughts, floods, bad seasons, surpluses in good seasons and these sorts of things. Just because an extra good crop is achieved for which no market can be found overseas or in Australia, I cannot see them panicking. If anybody wishes to say that they have panicked, he can say it; but it is completely wrong to say this. 1 turn to the talks at Ottawa. The Minister for Primary Industry went to Ottawa recently. Wheat talks were held there. Five major wheat exporting countries were involved in those discussions. Those countries were Australia, Canada, the United States of America, Argentine and the European Economic Community. I have here Hansard of 13th May 1970. I am always pleased to quote from Hansard because we have in Hansard the proof of what honourable members say. Some honourable members speak in an airy fairy way about things that they cannot substantiate. Sometimes I am chided for using Hansard, as 1 was the other day in the debate that I bad with the honourable member for Riverina. The honourable member for Riverina said: 'Hansard may be all right, but I would rather read the Bible'.

Mr Pettitt - -Who said that?

Mr TURNBULL - The honourable member for Riverina said that in the debate that 1 had with him. I am satisfied when we are talking about the wheat industry and other matters of importance to the economy of Australia to refer to what is reported in the Hansard of the Commonwealth Parliament. This is what the Minister for Primary Industry is reported in Hansard as saying about the Ottawa discussions:

At talks in Ottawa involving the S major wheat exporting countries - Australia. Canada, the United States of America, Argentine and the European Economic Community - figures showed that last year stock holdings of wheat went up by about 900 million bushells, an increase of almost 50%, to well over 2,000 million bushels. The forecasts for this year are that the increase will be only about 200 million bushels. It is anticipated that in 1971 we may see, for the first time since 1965, a decline in world stockpiles of wheat.

That is what we are aiming for.

Let us suppose that the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation did not worry about the quotas which have been fixed by the Federation in conjunction with the State governments which have given the quotas legislative authority. What would be the position? This great stockpile would be growing all the time. We must have cooperation. We have had valuable cooperation with other wheat growing countries. Opposition members in this House have said often: 'Why worry about the other countries? If you have an agreement, why not sell our wheat outside that agreement?' If our wheat was sold outside our agreement, the countries which have much greater wheat production than we have could undersell us on world markets. Those countries could accept lower prices. They are richer countries than Australia is. Our wheat industry would be defeated as far as production is concerned and as far as the sale of the product is concerned for the next 15 years, 20 years or even longer. These suggestions do not carry any weight as far as I am concerned.

I turn to the subject of quotas. 1 wish to mention the honourable member for Riverina. I do not like to say that he is not in the House at the moment; but every time I walk out of the House the honourable member for Riverina says: 'The honourable member for Mallee is missing'.

Anyway, he may have some reason for being out of the chamber. The honourable member for Riverina all the time asks: Why not pay SI. 10 per bushel for all the wheat that is over-quota wheat?' Nothing would please me more than to be able to do this. I know the plight of the wheat growers. I have represented the Mallee electorate for over 24 years. I have been in the Mallee for 40 years. I know what is happening.

Mr Cope - Too long.

Mr TURNBULL - lt is too long for the honourable member, of course. It is far too long for him. All the time that I have represented the Mallee I have known what has been happening. I would be tremendously happy if it was economically practicable to pay $1.10 per bushel. The honourable member for Riverina is saying these things around his and my electorates. By the way, the honourable member went into the Mallee to help 2 Labor men in the recent Victorian State elections. Both men were soundly thrashed. He had some of these very men at Barham to ask me questions. They were my political opponents in the election. He had them lined up there.

My point is this: The honourable member for Riverina says: 'Pay $1.10 per bushel. This is good.' But what does the Australian Labor Party think about paying $1.10 per bushel for over quota wheat? That is the question. Let us look at Hansard to see what the Labor Party thinks. I have here a speech by the honourable member for Dawson who is the shadow Minister for Primary Industry in the Labor Party. He is the man who leads for the Labor Party on primary industry matters. Hansard reports the honourable member for Dawson as saying:

It was obvious to everybody, to the industry and to the Government, that last year there would be large sums of money un repaid in respect of the 1968-69 harvest. The Government then made another advance of $440m. Looking at it in perspective now, in March 1970, we see a total of $440m as the first advance for last year's crop and approximately $250m in unsold- wheat or the equivalent still on hand. This amounts to a loan of from $650m to $700m having been made. The disturbing thing of which Parliament must take note is the very serious economic problem of the consequence of making large advances to anyone when that money has been spent and the product for which it has been advanced has not been sold.

He goes on with that theme throughout a large part of that speech. I want honourable members to listen to the remainder of this and when doing so to exercise a little logic, lt shows what the v/heat growers would get if the Labor Party got into office. Listen to this - it is a gem:

The Government has now been warned about what can happen by being a guarantor for large proportions of wheal that cannot bc sold at this point of time.

Mr Cope - Who said that?

Mr TURNBULL - The Labor Party's shadow Minister for Primary Industry. What is the use of the honourable member for Riverina saying that a certain thing should be done when the Labor Party would not support it in any circumstance, as is apparent from these remarks which are recorded in Hansard and were made by the Labor shadow Minister for Primary Industry? It would appear that if he had his way the wheat growers would not get an advance at all. The advance for next year has been already announced, 6 months before the time at which it is normally announced. The payment for next season will be $1.10 a bushel. We know that there has been a quota cut of about 20% on last year's intake, but wheat growers now know that they will get $1.10 for all the wheat that they will grow within their quota. In every other year except, I think, last year no announcement was made until the 1st November at the earliest. It is an excellent thing for the wheat growers to know exactly what the first payment will be from the Australian Wheat Board.

The honourable member for Riverina has gone around talking about this $1.10 a bushel. But let me tell the House that in the 1968-69 pool deliveries of 515 million bushels necessitated a drawing limit of $624m, of which $566m was required for the. payment of a first advance of $1.10. This is the figure that everybody is quoting. But do honourable members opposite think that the Wheat Board runs on fresh -air? Does it not need an advance so that it can carry on this year? In 1968-69 the actual advance was $1.18 which included the Wheat Board's expenses. The next year is 1969-70. I will not read all the figures but the actual advance, with expenses, was $1.18 and not $1.10. Next year the advance to meet the payment of Si. 10 a bushel to the grower will be Si. 28 a bushel.

This is what should be kept in mind when talking about $1.10 all the time. The Government has done a magnificent job in providing money for the wheat industry.

Throughout this debate I have heard no-one put forward anything which would be more advantageous to the wheat growers than what is being done by the Federation and the Australia Wheat Board. Some people say that we should not have quotas. lt is a well known fact that if there were no quotas the man who would get it in the neck would be the small grower. Do not think for a moment (hat I am saying tonight that all quotas are fair. However, as far as Victoria is concerned 1 am informed that the Minister for Agriculture, Mr Chandler, will, during the 1-day sitting of the Victorian Government next week or the week after, bring forward some amendments that will improve the quota system as it affects the small grower. These amendments are to be introduced after some experience of what has been happening. This Bill shows very plainly that the Commonwealth Government has really nothing whatever to do with the quotas.

The honourable member for Riverina has, of course, quoted me out of context. If I had said what he has made out I said I would not ever dare to come back into this Parliament. I have found in my experience of this House that if a man makes an incorrect statement on a certain subject any member affected by the misrepresentation may rise and make a personal explanation. But here we have an instance of a man, the honourable member for Riverina, taking various parts out of a speech, putting those parts into a document and sending them throughout my electorate for people to read. He has taken one part from a certain section of my speech and another part from another section. That anybody should do this is something beyond my comprehension. It is against all the principles of Parliamentary procedure and Parliamentary conduct. I have always given members of the Labor Party credit for being fair when they were on a subject that they understood. They understand what has happened and I say that it should never have occurred. I have proved my contention up to the hilt and I have called for a public apology but it has not been forthcoming.

Let me say this to the Labor Party: If there were no quotas, if there was no bulk wheat all over the country, if we had been able to make sales in the normal way there would still have been trouble in this country because the great problem is that of rising costs.

Mr Pettitt - A 35-hour week.

Mr TURNBULL - Now Labor is going for a 30-hour week. Get up to date. I have never heard a Labor man complain about a strike preventing people from loading wheat or wool. However. I now want lo speak about marketing which is the subject of this Bill. If the Australian wheat growers or the Australian producers of any other kind of primary product could sell all their production in this country, obviously primary industry would not want any assistance at ali.

Mr Kennedy - I am sure they would.

Mr TURNBULL - None at all. There is a lot of money in this country but it is in the wrong places, lt is a great and rich country I have put up a proposition lo a farmer's union but unfortunately no notice was taken of it. lt was said today that 1 had. in thi* Parliament, called Mr Anthony a messenger boy. The statement I made was delivered at a big wheal growers meeting. lt was alleged that I said that he was a messenger boy of whom you could not take any notice. That is completely wrong. I attended the big wheal growers meeting in Bendigo - and I can say this tonight because the debate is on the subject of wheal - and I suggested thai it was of no use sending men to see the Minister for Primary Industry, the Treasurer (Mr Bury) or the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) separately. I said that I had been able to bring deputations of representatives of lnc dried vines fruit industry to see the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Minister for Primary Industry, and what I did say was that so far as the Minister for Primary Industry was concerned when the deputation came he had to go to the Cabinet and run backwards and forwards like a messenger bo>. I did not say at any time (hat you could nol take any notice of him. If I were lo draw up a list of members of Parliament for whom I have great admiration and regard al the highest possible level. Doug Anthony's name would be on it. 1 was going on to say that a market is a place where you buy and sell. If you buy in it and sell most of your goods somewhere else it is only half a market. That is what is happening in this country. We buy in our market everything that we need for production. But we have such a large surplus of almost all primary products that we must endeavour to sell them overseas lo low standard countries which usually cannot afford to pay the Australian home market price. Secondary industry in Australia is prelected by tariffs from imports from those low standard countries. If the low standard countries could export freely to Australia they would put our secondary industries out of business. Secondary industry in this country has been built up to provide employment for Australians so that they may help to build this nation and strengthen the home market. I have suggested - this should meet with the approval of the Labor Party - that by a system of price support - I will not call it subsidy - primary producers should be able to export their surpluses and enjoy the financial advantage thai is enjoyed by secondary industries through the tariff system.

Mr Cope - That is Socialism.

Mr TURNBULL - No. Socialism is the socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange.

Mr Griffiths - How do you know?

Mr TURNBULL - I have been here a long time, lt would bc very strange if I had not learned something from the Labor Party in that time. Going back a little, it was suggested thai we sell wheat to China. At some times of the year we hear daily from members of the Opposition that sales should not be made to China. I and others have pointed out that if we do not sell wheat to China somebody else will. In the Senate the Labor Party sought to call before the bar of the Senate officers of the Australian Wheat Board to divulge trade secrets regarding the price at which we were selling wheat. If the move had been successful it would have been ruinous to our markets. Labor has done everything in its power to try to spoil the markets for the wheat grower. Labor depends on strikes and such things.

I want to tell a story about a young man who enlisted during the last war. I told him that he should get busy and do something.

Mr Daly - I rise to order. Is it in order for the honourable member for Mallee to rejoice in sales of wheat to Red China when at the same time he is conscripting boys to fight against the Chinese?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock - There is ho substance in the point taken.

Mr Cohen - On a point of order, you did not allow the honourable member for Hindmarsh to get away from the Bill. Now the honourable member for Mallee is starting to tell stories.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - There is no substance in the point taken.

Mr TURNBULL - I will link the story with the Bill. The young man served his country well. I told him that if he did not get away and do something in the war and if Hitler won he would find himself working in a chain gang on the wharves or in the country. He said that the unions would not stand for it. This is Labor thinking.

The Labor Party is so imbued with the idea of unions, socialisation and nationalisation that it cannot think straight. If we have a big surplus of wheat which cannot be sold overseas to earn the money to repay the Australian Wheat Board and ultimately the Reserve Bank would it not be a fair proposition to wipe the slate clean and allow this great industry to start afresh? Would this not be to our national advantage? What people forget is that the wool industry and the wheat industry are Australia's great national assets. The bottom could drop out of the minerals market at any time, but the primary industries built this country and they maintain it In the 24 years that I have been in this Parliament I have defended primary industries and advocated the best possible deal for them more than has any man since federation.

Mr Cope - Oh.

Mr TURNBULL - You can be sure of that. I have been chided for asking questions I have been accused of being parochial. I have been told that I have as constituents sheep, cattle and even rabbits. Well, sheep and cattle are the things that keep this country solvent,

Mr Kennedy - They get a vote in your electorate.

Mr TURNBULL - You only just won Bendigo. Look what happened to Mr Trethewey. He may sound your death knell. The debate at Barham was very interesting. Might I say something about it?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I have told the honourable member that that subject is not under discussion here. If he wants to speak about it he may do so outside the House.

Mr TURNBULL - All I will say is that the Press said that tension hung over the town like mallee bull dust. This debate has been worth while if only to prove to the Opposition that the Commonwealth has no power to restrict production. This is one of the honoured functions of the States. This Parliament has no say in quotas. I hope that any anomalies in the quota system will be rectified. I again pay a tribute to the Minister for Primary Industry and to those people in the wheat industry who have been courageous enough to bring about quotas. Let me express the fervent hope that we soon will be able to sell more wheat overseas and that the quota system and the general depression in the wheat industry will pass away like a bad dream.

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