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Friday, 19 March 1926

The CHAIRMAN -(Senator Newland).- The honorable senator's remarks would have been in order at the second-reading stage, but they are not in order now. This clause deals with the powers and functions of the board. I ask him te confine himself to that aspect of the bill.

Senator FINDLEY - This clause provides for the appointment of a board to deal with applications for release. I assume that those applications will be for release from their financial obligations. How have those obligations beenincurred ? I take it that the board willinquire intoall cases which are brought beforeit, and that it will have power to summon witnesses. Will the board, when its work has been completed, make a report to Parliament? I do not wish to see the men engaged in this industry saddled with obligations and responsibilities which are too great for them. I desire to see them obtain from their holdings returns which will enable them to realize some of their anticipations when they took up the land. Two members of the board are to be appointed by the Minister. Will the third member be appointed by the growers?

Senator Sir Victor Wilson - I thought that I had made it abundantly clear that the Government was prepared to accept one representative of the growers on the board.

Senator FINDLEY - The bill does not state the remuneration which the members of the board will receive. The Minister said that theexpenses in connexion with the board would not be more than £250 or £300, but in the past we have had similar predictions from Ministers which have not been realized.' We should have something more definite in this connexion. I am not satisfied that the board will not really be a departmental board ; it will probably meet in some departmental office.

Senator Sir Victor Wilson - Does the honorable senator want the board to meet in the Town Hall?

Senator FINDLEY - I am concerned with the appointment of a business-like board, and, therefore, I hope that when it is appointed it will obtain its information first hand. It is true that the information available in the department will he accessible to the board, but the Minister, as a business man of wide vision and sound judgment, must know that nothing broadens a man's views so much as does travel.Rather than that the board should live in a departmental atmosphere, . it should travel into the fruit-growing areas, and ascertain for itself the conditions there. It should see how the settlers are housed, observe the progress they are making, and inquire whether they are married or single. Honorable senators will realize that the responsibilities of married men are greater than those of single men.

Senator Sir Victor Wilson - Another tribunal, comprising a representative each from "South' Australia, Victoria, and the Commonwealth, is about to be appointed to inquire into the conditions obtaining in the fruit-growing industry. The board to be appointed under this bill will inquire only into the position' of the debtors, and not of the industry generally.

Senator FINDLEY - Most of the men who in recent years have settled in our fruit-growing areas played their part in the world war. I have in mind the settlement at Red Cliffs, in Victoria, where in recent years a great transformation has taken place. A few years ago there was no settlement there, but to-day a different scene presents itself. The same is true of other portions of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator has exhausted his time.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.

Bill read a third time.

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