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Thursday, 5 December 1935

Senator E B JOHNSTON (Western Australia) (2:50 AM) . - I protest against the action of the Government in bringing in this legislation in the middle of the night, at the very end of the session. Similar action has been taken in regard to wheat legislation in each of the last four or five years, and the reason seems to be that successive governments have waited as long as possible in order to see whether the price of wheat would rise sufficiently to justify their refusing to take any action to assist the wheat industry. We know that the price of wheat is not usually so stable at the beginning of the season as it is later, and that is why each year the introduction of this legislation has been delayed. I was amused at the complaint of some honorable senators against the giving of Government assistance to primary industries. Such assistance is needed because, for more than twenty years, under our federal tariff policy, primary industries have, to an ever-increasing extent, been bled in the interests of the secondary industries. Therefore, it is only proper that, as long as the policy of high protection continues in force, the primary industries should receive the benefit of an Australian price for that part of their product which is consumed within Australia. The wheat industry provides more employment than does any other Australian industry, and it has a great influence on the prosperity of the secondary industries. My attitude to this bill is exactly that of the conference which sat in Canberra from the 4th October to the 7th October last; that is, I support the bill whole-heartedly, because a more liberal scheme is not available. Any one who has studied the report of that conference will understand that the producers put forward more than one alternative proposal, but they were not acceptable to the Government and, in the end, the Commonwealth Government's own scheme was adopted. At that conference there were representatives, not only of the Federal and State Governments, but also of the producers, merchants, shippers and grain distributors from, every State. It is evident that the majority of the producers' representatives at the conference agreed to accept, not what they really desired, but what the Commonwealth Government would give them.

However, I thank the Government for introducing a scheme designed to give the industry a home-consumption price, which the wheat-growers have always desired. There have been differences of opinion as to the best way of bringing this about, but under the present scheme the consumers will have to pay a fair price for the wheat used for human consumption within Australia. I hope that this bill, as finally passed, will give the growers' representatives power to fix a more satisfactory Australian price than 4s. 9d. f.o.r., the price decided upon by the Ministers at the wheat conference. That price will not be sufficient to ensure the growers an adequate return, particularly when the export price is low. It is quite evident, from a perusal of the report of the conference, that the scheme finally adopted was not that which the growers wanted. Speaking at the conference Mr. Simpson, the Federal President of the Wheat-growers' Association, stated -

The growers are almost unanimously in favour of compulsory pooling. Even with a home consumption price equivalent to that provided by the flour tax, the farmers would not be able to got out of their present difficulties. That much was admitted by the royal commission. However, if we could increase the price of wheat by 8d. a bushel, it would be possible to place on our far lands in Australia, another 14,000 wheat-growers and their families, and on that foundation the population of Australia might be increased by 200,000. We know that at the present time the Commonwealth Government is concerned with matters of population in relation to defence, and I am pointing out that the simplest and most effective way of providing for increased population is through primary production.

If it is claimed that the introduction of a compulsory pool would throw a handful of people out of business, I point out that already thousands of farmers have had to walk off their farms, because of low prices. Therefore, I move -

That this conference agree that legislation providing for the organized marketing of wheat, and for a home-consumption price, be passed by the Commonwealth Parliament and by parliaments of three or more of the States.

Dr. EarlePage replied

It is not competent for us to accept such a motion at this stage.

All the wheat-growers' representatives, on their return to their various States, reported that they were not given an opportunity at any other stage to move a similar motion.

Senator Hardy - Dr. Earle Page has never opposed a compulsory wheat pool.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - I admit that he has always supported it enthusiastically when he has been in opposition.

It is clear to me that Dr. Earle Page would not permit the growers at the conference to express their wishes by way of a resolution. I quote the following from the remarks at the conference of Mr. J. S. Teasdale, President of the Primary Producers' Association of Western Australia : -

The one thing that a compulsory pool can do is to provide for a home-consumption price. My association has stood solidly for a homeconsumption price for wheat, not because it believes that it is sound economic principle, but because the national policy of Australia has forced it to take that stand. The farmers have to pay a home price for the things that they buy, and they now ask to be placed on the same footing as other sections of the community. The only question which now arises is the best way to achieve our objective. Different systems have been tried. There is a good deal to be said for the payment of a cash bounty. The money can be distributed on a better basis than by having a homeconsumption price, and, moreover, the distribution can be varied to allow for necessitous cases. In this connexion I support Mr. Troy's appeal for assistance to those farmers in Western Australia, and probably in other States also, who will have no crop at all this year. During the last two days, I have received fifteen telegrams from the north-eastern district of Western Australia stating that the farmers there will not strip any wheat whatever this year. A home-consumption price would not help them. I hope that the Commonwealth will be able, out of funds available from the flour tax, to assist those States which have suffered from drought this season.

I endorse that request, and trust that the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) in replying to the debate on the second reading will inform the Senate as to the policy which the Government proposes to adopt to assist the wheat-growers this season. In moving the second reading of the hill the Assistant Minister said: "I think that the bill in itself really means nothing until supplemented by the States." We know that it is not intended to cover this harvest. I should like a definite pronouncement from the Government as to the amount it proposes to appropriate to assist the wheat-growers for this harvest, and particularly the measure of assistance to be afforded to farmers in drought-stricken areas, who, owing to seasonal conditions, are in serious difficulties. It is amazing that such secrecy should be observed when the wheat industry is involved. In this instance, as in many others, when the Parliament is about to rise for an indefinite period, a bill is introduced purporting to assist the wheat-growers, but not giving any practical assistance for the current year. In this instance, the Assistant Minister says the bill does not mean anything at all until supplemented by State legislation. Are we to return to wheat-growing States, and tell the growers that the Commonwealth Government has not a wheat policy, and that no definite assistance has been voted to them?

Senator Herbert Hays - What is the policy of the Western Australian Government ?

Senator E B JOHNSTON - I shall deal with that point, and also the manner in which the Premier of Western Australia (Mr. Collier) was treated in connexion with this legislation. When that gentleman attended the last Loan Council, he was requested to pass legislation through the Western Australian Parliament, but on the 19th November last, the date on which he arrived in Perth and intended to consult his Cabinet, Mr. Manning, the AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales, speaking in the Parliament of that State, said -

During the last few days the Premier, Mr. Stevens, has been in touch with the Commonwealth Government on the question of whether this legislation should apply to the present harvest. In view of the discussion this Government has decided to inform tho House that this act shall not be made applicable to this harvest, and it is thought in consequence that the. flour tax will be continued meanwhile.

Until Mr. Manning made that statement

Senator Brennan - That is the fourth time the honorable senator has quoted that extract which has nothing whatever to do with the bill or with this Government.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - It has everything to do with the bill, because it shows clearly, to my mind at least, that the Premier of New South Wales was asked by the Commonwealth Government not to proceed with complementary legislation for this harvest. Mr. Manning explained this as his reason for altering the New South Wales act so that it would not apply to wheat harvested this year. When I raised the subject in the Senate, by way of a question, the Minister said that legislation embodying the Government's wheat policy for this year had been introduced. Yet, I have been told that the House of Representatives passed a bill last night providing for renewal of the flour tax as forecast by Mr. Manning. To fortify my position I may state that Mr. Manning moved in the New South Wales Parliament that the words "nineteen hundred and thirty-five " in the State bill be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words " nineteen hundred and thirty-six." He knew at the time that it was not the intention of the Commonwealth Government to operate this legislation to cover this season's harvest. The Government preferred to postpone the operation of the legislation until next year, and that postponement-

Senator Sir George Pearce - That statement is incorrect, and has been denied in answer to a question.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - What Mr. Manning said would take place has actually occurred, and after discussions with certain Commonwealth Ministers Mr. Manning moved to amend the State legislation so that it would apply to next year.

Senator Brennan - I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable senator, having received a direct denial from the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), that such a statement is untrue, is out of order in arguing from exextraneous statements that it must be true. The points involved are within my knowledge and within the knowledge of the Loader of the Senate. Is the honorable senator in order in endeavouring to prove that the position is different from that stated by the Leader of the Senate?

Senator E B JOHNSTON - I believe Mr. Manning's statement. Had it been incorrect, the members of the Government had an opportunity at the time to deny it publicly in the press. No such denial was then made.

Senator Sir George Pearce - It was contradicted in answer to the honorable senator's question.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - A fortnight later. A direct question asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) in the House of Representatives was evaded.

The DEPUTYPRESIDENT (Senator Sampson). - As I have heard the honorable senator make that statement on five different occasions, he is guilty of tedious repetition.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - You, sir, have not heard my statement in reply to the Minister. I accept unreservedly the statement of Mr. Manning. The action of the New South Wales Government, in applying its act to next year's harvest, and that of the Commonwealth Government in extending the operation of the flour tax, prove the accuracy of his statement. At the Canberra conference, Ministers sat in camera, and resolved to appoint a sub-committee consisting of -

Messrs. Badcock, Kimpton, Sutherland, Fethers, Tilt, Teasdale, Simpson, Hawker, Dowell, and Field, together with representatives of the Commonwealth Department of Commerce, to consider the Commonwealth scheme and the best means of operating it, and report to the full conference to-morrow.

This sub-committee, having met, decided to report to the full conference later. The full conference resumed on the following day, and the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) made the following statement: -

Ihave to announce that the following plan has been devised by the sub-committee appointed for the purpose of simplifying the operation of the plan proposed by the Commonwealth Government - -

This important sub-committee recommended -

1.   To provide for licences to millers and others to trade interstate in flour, subject to the trader holding a miller's or processor's licence from the State.

That recommendation is embodied in this bill, and it is the only one that has been adopted -

2.   A Commonwealth authority to be established to declare weekly the price (say f.o.r. Williamstown) for stabilization purposes only.

That recommendation is not included in the legislation -

3.   The Commonwealth legislation to provide for payment by millers of the difference, between the price referred to in 2, and the home-consumption price of the wheat, in respect of flour sold in Australia, the proceeds to be paid into a stabilization fund.

Effect has not been given to that -

4.   The Commonwealth authority to be empowered to receive funds from the prescribed State authorities in each State and to redistribute these funds to each State authority on an equal basis per bushel throughout the Commonwealth for payment to the farmers on the above basis.

That has been ignored, as also has the alternative recommendation -

4.   The Commonwealth authority to be empowered to receive funds from the prescribed authorities in each State and to redistribute these funds to each State authority on an equal basis per bushel throughout the Commonwealth for payment to thu farmers on a basis per bushel equitable in that State.

It is extraordinary that, of the four recommendations and the alternative proposal submitted by this sub-committee only one of the recommendations has been embodied in the bill, and in the circumstances the wheat-growers will not derive any benefit for this year. The Minister for Commerce has said that these recommendations were the product, not so much of the wheat-growers, as of a sub-committee of merchants and millers. Mr. Butler has said that that statement is incorrect, and that the scheme was initiated by the voluntary pools of South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria, which are directed by men who have the very best practical knowledge of the growers' requirements. The Minister for Commerce has further said that the recommendations were by the sub-committee, and I say that there is no one more qualified to advise the Commonwealth Government in matters of this kind than the members of such a subcommittee. Dr. Earle Page informed the full conference at Canberra that he had received the following report: -

Following the conclusion of the wheatgrowers' sub-committee conference, the wheatgrowers came to the following conclusion: - " That they adhere to the resolution they carried last night, which is as follows: - 'In order to carry out the recommendation of the royal commission, this meeting of growers adopts the principle of a compulsory pool under growers' control. But, failing to secure this principle, we favour a temporary scheme to assure to the farmers the equivalent of a home price, so long as the scheme is not incompatible w'ith the establishment of a compulsory pool in any State where the growers desire it '."

We are now considering the legislation which the Government has introduced as the result of this very important conference in Canberra. Although the growers said they desire the Commonwealth Government to provide a grant to assist necessitous wheat-farmers, there is nothing in this legislation to benefit them this year, neither will this bill provide one penny of assistance to the wheat industry for this harvest. I take it that complementary legislation will reach this chamber to-morrow, and that the Standing Orders will be suspended to enable it to be passed without delay. We shall be fortunate if we know anything about it when it is introduced, and it will be rushed through without adequate consideration. This unsatisfactory rush-method of winding up the session always characterizes the Senate's activities after members from distant States have spent weeks and almost months of alternating periods of sittings and adjournments. Adjournments of the Senate for ten days at a time are common in the middle of sessions. It is not right in principle that such legislation as is provided for in the bill now before the Senate should be brought before Parliament in the dying hours of a session.

This legislation does not carry out the recommendations made at the conference by the wheat-growers, including the four points which I have already mentioned in detail, and the requests for the establishment either of a voluntary pooling system or of a compulsory pool. The Commonwealth scheme is entirely different from any of the proposals submitted by the wheat-growers. For the second consecutive year since this Government, inclusive of Country party Ministers, came into office, recourse is to be made to a flour tax for the provision of financial aid to the wheat industry, but no bill has been introduced providing for the distribution of the proceeds of this tax. I admit that the treatment of the wheat-growers last year was generous, as £4,000,000 was voted to them by the Commonwealth Parliament, and I hope that a like sum will be paid to them this year. I must, however, direct attention to the fact that this Government has not yet put into operation the legislation promised at tho 1934 election for the placing of the industry on a stable basis. The industry is just as dependent this year as it was last year on a generous contribution of revenues raised by a flour tax and supplemented by a contribution from the Consolidated Revenue. The wheat-farmers do not desire to be dependent upon such yeartoyear assistance. They desire to see implemented at the earliest opportunity a plan such as is incorporated in the bill now under discussion, which will ensure a permanent home-consumption price for their product. ' The condition of the Treasury should not be allowed to remain the guiding factor in the allocation of relief for the wheat industry.

Senator Dein - Why does the honorable senator complain?

Senator E B JOHNSTON - I support the bill, but I regret the fact that the last harvest was not, and the current harvest will not be, subject to legislation promised in 1934 for the creation of a national plan for the industry.

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Does the honorable senator not think that the State governments have to accept some of the blame for the delay in implementing the plan provided for in this bill in sufficient time for it to operate for this harvest?

Senator E B JOHNSTON - It is surprising that the Government of New South Wales, the State government which is in closest touch with the Commonwealth Government, is the one government which altered the original proposal to bring the home-consumption price scheme into operation this year.

Senator Dein - The Government of New South Wales made that alteration because the other States, including Western Australia, fell down on the job.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - I prefer to accept the statement of the Attorney-General of New South Wales that the Government of New South Wales postponed the operation of its legislation until next year as the result of discussions with Commonwealth Ministers. The wheat-growers have to accept whatever assistance the allpowerful Commonwealth Government will give them. The following extract from the report of the proceedings in the closing stages of the recent Canberra wheat conference was significant : -

Following the conclusion of the wheatgrowers' sub-committee conference, the wheatgrowers came to the following conclusion : " That they adhere to the resolution they carried last night, which is as follows: - 'In order to carry out the recommendation of the royal commission, this meeting of growers adopts the principle of a compulsory pool under growers' control. But, failing to secure this principle, Ave favour a temporary scheme to assure to the farmers the equivalent of a home price, so long as the scheme is not incompatible with the establishment of a compulsory pool, in any State where the growers desire it.' "

The growers also specially desire the Commonwealth Government to provide a grant for necessitous growers suffering from seasonal difficulties, such grant to be paid on an acreage basis.

In the final analysis, therefore, the growers approved of this bill, and asked the Commonwealth and the State governments to proceed immediately with its implementation. After having listened to the remarks made last night in the House of Representatives by the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page), it appears certain that the growers this harvest will have neither a compulsory pool nor a home-consumption price, despite the Government's action in asking the Parliament to pass this measure now. Therefore, I should like to be informed whether any special assistance is to be given to distressed farmers this harvest, and, if so., what will be the amount of that assistance? Will it be £4,000,000, the amount granted last harvest? Is the money to be first handed to the States and then distributed to the growers on the basis that was adopted last year, when the farmers received 3d. a bushel on production and 3s. an acre for the area under crop. This is the action which I think the Commonwealth should take at once. It is most important that, before they leave Canberra later to-day, honorable senators should be informed of what the Government proposes to do. Had the Government made an announcement on these important points yesterday it would not have been necessary for me to make this speech this morning, and a much earlier end to the sitting could have been reached. Notwithstanding the recent appreciation of the price of wheat, the growers are still suffering Very considerably, because most of the farmers disposed of last season's harvest wheat before the increase of price came about. Any farmers who have benefited from the rise have reaped only infinitesimal benefit. The industry is looking to the Commonwealth Government for a definite state ment of what amount of assistance is te be given to it. It is a matter of great regret that not even honorable senators have been taken into the confidence of the Government on this most important point.

Senator Brennan - The honorable senator has no right to constitute himself as a questioner for the wheat-growers.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - Nevertheless, I am doing so, and I have every right to do so.

It is difficult for many wheat-growers' organizations to understand why the proposal for a compulsory pool has been set on one side., especially when one recalls the speech which was delivered by the present Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) on the 22nd May, 1930, which endorses very fully the statement made by Senator Hardy in this debate, that many growers' organizations advocate that a compulsory pool should be established. Dr. Earle Page's speech was delivered in the House of Representatives when the Scullin Government introduced legislation providing for the creation of a Commonwealth compulsory wheat pool.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The bill before the Senate has no reference to a compulsory pool, and I rule that the honorable senator would not be in order in quoting from a speech made by Dr. Earle Page six years ago, in favour of a compulsory pool.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - In my opinion the speech from which I desire to quote has an absolute bearing on this bill. May I refer to the Wheat Marketing Bill No. 2, which was introduced by the Scullin Government?

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Yes, if it is relevant to the present bill.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - That bill was introduced for the purpose of providing assistance to the wheat industry, and at the same time it provided for the creation of a compulsory pooling system for the industry. When it was introduced every Country party member in the House of Representatives supported it. Honorable members who supported it included Messrs. P. G. Stewart, Corser, R. Green, Gregory, Prowse, Thompson, and Hunter. It was defeated in this House; but, as there was seine doubt as to whether the principles of the measure were understood by some honorable senators, a motion was introduced for its restoration to the noticepaper. Reference to page 5079 of the Hansard issued at that time will be confirmatory of my statement. That motion was defeated by eleven votes to five. Country party senators who voted for the motion were Senators Cooper, Johnston, and Plain, and Senators Carroll, Elliott, Guthrie and Crawford paired in support of the motion, which also had the support of the Federal and Lang Labour parties.

The attitude of the Western Australian Country party movement in regard to this legislation is worthy of notice. An important statement was published on the authority of that Country party as soon as the contents of this bill were forwarded to Western Australia.

Senator Herbert Hays - What is the difference between the Western Australian Country party and the Australian Country party?

Senator E B JOHNSTON - There is considerable difference. No members of the Western Australian Country party are pledged to any platform except that of the Primary Producers Association of Western Australia. The policy of the Country party of Western Australia differs widely from that which Senator Hardy has enunciated in regard to wheat and sugar. Apparently, the Federal Country party is pledged to vote for the sugar agreement, but members of the Country party of Western Australia are opposed to it, as has been demonstrated repeatedly by the votes of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse). The policy of the Country party of Western Australia is for the taking of a ballot of wheat-growers to decide which of these forms of control designed to provide a home-consumption price of wheat they prefer.

Senator Brennan - The Western Australian Country party may hold the honorable senator in subjection, but it does not hold this chamber in subjection.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - I propose to quote an extract setting out the attitude of the Country party of Western Australia to this bill.

Senator Brennan - I submit to you, Mr. Deputy President, that the extract which the honorable senator proposes to read has nothing whatever to do with this debate.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Sampson). - The honorable senator has stated that the extract represents the views of the Country party of Western Australia on this bill. 1 think he inferred that he had forwarded to the branch a copy of the bill, and invited its comment and criticism.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - That is so. The statement is a published commentary on the bill -

The only safe and democratic method of ascertaining how those engaged in an industry desire to be controlled is by taking a vote. There is not a single organization in the Commonwealth to-day which can authoritatively claim that its members stand cither for the retention of the present system oi marketing, for the federal plan based on legislation for the control of dried fruits and dairying, or for a Commonwealth-wide compulsory, pool. Co-operative pooling, of course, represents the ideal, with farmers controlling their own product through their own organization, as in this State. Compulsory pooling does not appeal to many farmers. Furthermore, they are not convinced that they will be able to get any better price for their wheat than they can get through their own organization.

Senator Sir George Pearce - There is nothing about that in this bill.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has apparently been asleep.

Senator Dein - Which of the four alternative proposals does the Western Australian branch of the Country party prefer ?

Senator E B JOHNSTON - The extract continues -

They fear, and not without justification in the light of experience, that they may even get less for their wheat, that administrative expenses will be greater. They are uncertain, too, how they would stand in a year such as the present, when many of them will fail to reap any wheat at all, and most of them will harvest an average much below normal. Per bushel payment under a compulsory scheme would not take any account of losses or seasonal failure.

These are questions which wheat-growers must consider when seeking a method for a permanent price basis for their industry. It would be wrong, therefore, for any organization, or group of organizations, to speak on behalf of growers without first having obtained the opinion of growers .themselves.

It will never be possible to obtain unanimity, of course; but in all such matters the majority must rule. The Country party believes that before Australia is committed to a compulsory pool that the wheat-growers of each of the wheat-growing States should be given opportunity to vote on such proposals as may be advanced to that end.

Last April, I strongly objected to the adjournment of the Federal Parliament without dealing with the report of the Royal Commission on the "Wheat Industry, and without giving legislative effect to that commission's recommendations. Parliament should have been invited to consider a policy for the stabilization of that industry and for the granting of substantial assistance to wheat-growers at that time. Unfortunately, the Government was determined to escape into recess, and Parliament adjourned, in spite of my protests, without passing this essential legislation. I complain particularly about the failure of the Government to implement the recommendations of that royal commission. Its recommendations really covered three matters, namely, debt relief, real assistance to rehabilitate wheat-growers, and a compulsory wheat pool.

Senator Sir George Pearce - Is the honorable senator trying to stonewall this bill?

Senator E B JOHNSTON - Why does the Leader of the Senate compel us to discuss this measure at 3.40 a.m..? I moved the adjournment of the debate, but the right honorable senator would not grant it. For five consecutive years-, this Senate has been called upon to deal with a wheat bill during the night.


Senator E B JOHNSTON - Before the right honorable senator interjected, I was complaining of the absence of legislation to implement the recommendations of the royal commission for the assistance of the wheat industry.

Senator Sir George Pearce - I rise to a point of order. I draw your attention, sir, to the fact that the honorable senator has, for some considerable time, been defying the ruling which you gave. Can any honorable senator, under the pretence of objecting to the non-inclusion in the bill of certain things, proceed to discuss matters that are not relevant to the bill? He has repeatedly stated that he objects because certain things are not in the bill, and he proceeds to explain what is not in the bill. Surely that is an admission that his remarks are irrelevant. He is referring to a royal commission's report, which does not touch this bill or the scheme for which it provides.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I asked the honorable senator how he intended to connect what he proposed to read with the bill. If he proceeds, his remarks must be relevant.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - It appears to me that under your ruling, sir, many of my statements, although relevant to the assistance of wheat-farmers for which this legislation is introduced

Senator Sir George Pearce - No. this legislation deals with trade and commerce. The honorable senator is referring to another bill.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I draw the right honorable senator's attention to the fact that this bill refers to trade and commerce with other countries, and, among the States, in wheat and wheat products.

Senator Sir George Pearce - Assistance to wheat-farmers is not mentioned in the bill.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - That is my complaint. After hearing the right honorable senator's statement, I think that my request for financial assistance to wheat-growers to the extent of that given last year might more appropriately be made upon another bill which, I understand, will be introduced later this day. Under those circumstances, I shall reserve my further remarks in regard to the failure of the Government to give practical assistance to wheat-farmers for this harvest until this other bill is before us. I support this measure, so far as it establishes a home-consumption price for wheat; but I regret that the Government did not grant this assistance in the form requested by the conference which met at Canberra early in October.

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