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Wednesday, 23 March 1927

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) , - The Minister has furnished a strong argument in favour of my amendment. He referred to the provision for the taking of a poll of producers, and went on to show that " producer " means " the owner of any pearling vessel or attendant schooner." Why not adopt the same democratic system in connexion with the very vital matter of control?

Senator Pearce - Because the association says it does not want that.

Senator NEEDHAM - We have been told on other occasions that this Government is not influenced by outside opinion, and yet the Leader of the Senate has just said that, in connexion with this matter, it has been influenced by the pearl-shell associations.I admit that it is necessary to get expert advice on certain subjects. In this case the Government has accepted the advice of the people engaged in the industry, and I should like to emphasize that, in the election for members of the board of control, the principle of one voter one vote will not obtain. One man may own ten boats, but have five out of commission. Should he have a vote for each of the idle vessels as well as for his vessels that are in commission, whilst a struggling man or a co-operative crew, as has been instanced by Senator Duncan, with one boat in commission all the time, will have only one vote? If Senator McLachlan wishes to be logical, he should advocate the same democratic voting principle in connexion with the election of the board as applies to the vote to determine the bringing into operation of the act.

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