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Thursday, 5 December 1935


Senator BRENNAN (VictoriarAssistant Minister) (3:47 AM) . - in reply - I should like to find out exactly to whom Senator Collings referred as "bloodsucking vested interests sucking the life blood out of industry, going on merrily in their nefarious ways and taking a toll of industry." That is a most reprehensible way for the leader of a responsible party to talk about men who are as honest as he is, and are carrying on as good work in the community. The honorable senator went on to say that the Queensland

Government had no option but to agree to what the Commonwealth proposed. That is the sort of thing which the honorable senator frequently says merely because it happens to flit across his brain. As a matter of fact, the representative of Queensland, Mr. Bulcock, said at the conference : " Queensland is prepared to cooperate with the other States and with the Commonwealth to secure a satisfactory solution of marketing problems." He went on to say " It appears that one State cannot pursue an agricultural policy very much in advance of the others." He cooperated fully in everything that was done. Dr. Earle Page said -

We were anxious to learn what the various State Governments were prepared to do in the way of passing legislation that would bo constitutional and practicable. If all the Governments of Australia are not willing to agree to a compulsory marketing scheme, it is futile to canvass the merits or otherwise of such a scheme. "What has now been brought forward represents the greatest common measure of agreement that could be secured among those who were present at- that conference. The reason why there is no compulsory pool is that it would be vulnerable to attack on at least three grounds - -under section 92, with which most laymen are acquainted; under section 99, dealing with preferences as between States ; and under section 51, which deals with the acquisition of property upon just terms. It is perfectly true that this measure may be attacked later - a good deal depends upon the decision of the Privy Council - but it is not so vulnerable as would be a proposal for a compulsory pool. "With regard to the point raised by Senator Gibson, I would point out that every miller will be a receiver under the act, and that there is provision in clause 5 relating, to the making of false statements in connexion with wheat. The Government has to be prepared for the fact that, if some persons set out deliberately to find a hole in the measure, they may be able to do so. That invariably happens in connexion with experimental legislation such as this admittedly is. Probably, it will be possible to close most of the holes by regulation.

Senator JamesMcLachlan said that he did not see why the flour tax should not be continued as being the simplest measure to apply. I reply, merely, that the Government recognizes, as most Governments do, that this tax is unpopular, the contention in regard to it being that it falls with greater severity upon the poor than upon the rich - a false principle of taxation.


Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Will not this fall on the same people - those who buy bread?


Senator BRENNAN - In the long run. But that does not alter the unpopularity of a direct food tax.

Two points were raised by Senator J. B. Hayes. My answer to his categorical questions is, that growers in Tasmania will receive the home-consumption price for that proportion of their wheat which conforms with the homeconsumption quota, and that millers will have to purchase home-consumption warrants at the home-consumption price in respect of wheat required for use in the manufacture of flour for consumption in Tasmania. Tasmanian growers will obtain the benefit derivable under the act. Of course, the effect will not be so great upon the small wheat-producing States as upon the larger.

I shall now refer to the speech made by Senator Johnston. I am sorry to say anything unpleasant; but it is hard to listen to what is unpleasant. Senator Johnston sits in the corner, brooding darkly over his troubles, and constituting himself some sort of an uncrowned king of the wheat-growers of Western Australia, which, apparently, in his imagination, he believes that he really is.


Senator E B Johnston - The Minister imagines himself to be much cleverer than the majority of people think that he is.


Senator BRENNAN - The honorable senator has repeated for at least the third time in my hearing a statement, which, according to him, was made by Mr. Manning - I do not know whether Mr. Manning made it or not - that members of the Federal Government had been in consultation with him-


Senator E B Johnston - It was with Mr. Stevens.


Senator BRENNAN - Or with Mr. Stevens, upon this matter. That is a totally false impression. The honorable senator has been assured of its falseness.

The majority of the members of this Senate are willing to accept the assurance of a fellow senator as to the truth or untruth of a statement that is within his knowledge. I can only attribute the fact that the honorable senator cannot be induced to accept this assurance to the fact that he himself is careless in his use of words-


Senator E B Johnston - You old humbug !

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I ask the honorable senator to withdraw that remark.


Senator E B Johnston - I withdraw it. But I ask for protection against the insulting remarks of the Minister, who is merely the spokesman of his leader.


Senator BRENNAN - You, Mr. President, were not in the chair when this matter was raised. On a point of order, I then submitted to the Deputy President that Senator Johnston's statement involved a direct accusation of untruthfulness against me, and my right honorable leader. The honorable senator had endeavoured to prove that certain statements which had been made by Senator Pearce in this Senate were not true.


Senator E B Johnston - On a point of order, I did not say that the discussion with Mr. Stevens was with either Senator Pearce or Senator Brennan; consequently, they know nothing about it.


The PRESIDENT - Did the honorable senator allege untruthfulness against the Minister"?


Senator E B Johnston - Certainly not, at any time. What I said was, that I believed Mr. Manning's statement that Mr. Stevens had had discussions with federal Ministers.


Senator Sir George Pearce - And that Mr. Manning's action was in consequence of those discussions. The honorable senator was told that that was not so, but refused to accept the assurance.


Senator BRENNAN - The statement was made that there was an arrangement with the Commonwealth Government. The Leader of the Senate denied that, but the honorable senator persisted in his endeavours to prove that the denial was incorrect, or in other words, that the statement was untrue.


Senator E B Johnston - On a point of order, I claim that the Minister is misrepresenting me entirely, and I object to his doing so. I quoted Mr. Manning's statement, which I checked off with the New South Wales Hansard. If any inaccuracy occurs in it, that is due entirely to Mr. Manning, and not to me.


The PRESIDENT - Is it true that an explanation was given by the Leader of the Senate to the effect that the allegation made by the honorable senator against the Government was not correct, and that the honorable senator would not accept it?


Senator E B Johnston - It was Mr. Manning's statement, not mine.


Senator Sir George Pearce - I desire to make a personal explanation. The Commonwealth Government was pressing the States to pass legislation complementary to this bill. The New South Wales Government had introduced its bill which had reached a certain stage. Mr. Manning moved amendments to alter the year of its application. In this chamber, Senator Johnston drew attention to the statement of Mr. Manning that Mr. Stevens had consulted with federal Ministers. Mr. Manning did not say that he was making the alteration because of that consultation. He said that there had been a consultation, and that the Government of New South Wales intended to alter the date of the bill. Senator Johnston asked a question in this chamber which I, on behalf of the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page), answered. The effect of that answer was to deny distinctly and emphatically on behalf of the Commonwealth Government that the alteration of the bill before the New South Wales Parliament had been made by arrangement with the Commonwealth Government. Notwithstanding that disclaimer, the honorable senator repeated that the alteration of the New South Wales bill was made after consultation with the Commonwealth Government, and suggested that it was made by arrangement with the Commonwealth Government. Again, to-night, the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Senator Brennan) was repeating the disclaimer when Senator E. B. Johnston rose to his point of order. That is the explanation of the situation.


The PRESIDENT - In view of the Minister's explanation, and in the absence of proof that what the Ministers have said is incorrect, Senator E. B. Johnston has no alternative but to accept their statement.


Senator BRENNAN -In view of Senator E. B. Johnston's attitude towards me, I shall not reply to his criticism of the bill. I thank honorable senators for the attention that they have given to this measure during a long sitting.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clauses 1 to 7 agreed to.







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