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Friday, 6 December 1935

Senator HERBERT HAYS (Tasmania) . - I listened very attentively to the Assistant Minister's second-reading speech, and I think every honorable senator will admit that his remarks in the main were commendatory of the work done by the present organizations in the . industry. It is not for honorable senators to prove that the proposed change is necessary; that is the duty of those who advocate the change, particularly the Assistant Minister. But he did not advance any conclusive proof or evidence that the producers themselves asked for the change. I do not say this with any intention whatever to question the Government's sincere desire to do the right thing for this industry. But is it not fair to assume that an industry, which is so important to Australia as the dairying industry, would, itself, make some definite request for this legislation? The Government controls exports; can it show to honorable senators that conditions in that sphere of the industry are chaotic, that the quality of our butter is inferior to that exported by other countries, that the present organizations controlling the industry internally and externally are unprogressive, or that there has not been progressive improvement of our dairy herds and pastures? The progress made by the dairying industry is a tribute to those men who pioneered it and built it up to what it is to-day. I was very interested in Senator Hardy's remarks. Beyond pointing out that a conference which was held in Sydney desired it, he failed to show that this change is needed. He laid stress on the wishes of this conference which was composed in the main of Directors of Agriculture, officers of the Agricultural Department, and non-producers. Prompted no doubt by the best of motives this conference asked that something should be done for the industry along the lines of this bill, but we must study this matter very closely to see whether there is a genuine desire on the industry itself for such a change. What is the origin of this proposal? It did not originate with the dairymen themselves, in whose interests we are asked to pass this bill; no request of this nature has ever been made by the dairymen. That fact is proved even by the Assistant Minister's speech, which from beginning ro end was a commendation of those who have controlled this industry for the past fifteen years.

Senator Hardy - If the dairymen have not urged this proposal how many of them have protested against it?

Senator HERBERT HAYS - I shall be surprised if the honorable senator's interjection is the only basis for this legislation which proposes to bring about drastic changes in one of our most important industries. Any government which realizes its responsibilities is influenced to introduce legislation by one of two reasons : first, because the interests of the nation as a whole require that certain work shall be clone, in which, circumstances legislation is introduced whether or not it is asked for by any section of the community; and, secondly, it is expressly asked for by those directly affected by it to achieve certain objects. Such representations are usually made through bodies directly representative of those engaged in the industry, and such organizations as chambers of commerce and chambers of manufactures. In respect of the latter class of legislation, the Government has always followed the practice, and quite rightly so, of consulting those directly connected with the industry which will, be most affected. I ask the Assistant Minister and Senator Hardy whether direct representatives of the producers have been consulted in this instance. They have not. Why should this Parliament meddle with such an important industry as dairying when it is doing so well as the result of the efforts and enthusiasm of those now responsible for its internal and external policy?

Senator Hardy - The honorable senator could ask the same question in respect of assistance given to the wheat industry.

Senator HERBERT HAYS - The position in regard to that industry is entirely different. That industry is at its lowest ebb for many years, because prices are so low that the growers are unable to carry on and it was under such circumstances that they made strong representations to this Parliament for assistance. I challenge the honorable senator to produce similar evidence that the dairymen have asked for the assistance embodied in this measure. They have not done so. This is another example of unwarranted governmental interference which can only have th<> effect of upsetting the industry. Without any desire for such assistance having been expressed by those engaged in the industry the Government has seen fit to introduce this proposal. It is made to appear, although not with any intention tn deceive honorable senators, that this measure has resulted from requests by the producers of butter. Judging by the provisions of the bill one would imagine that this industry was new; that the Government was giving assistance in order thai it might be established; or that the industry, in all its ramifications, was in a chaotic state and that Australian butter was so inferior to that of all other countries, that immediate remedial measures were essential.

Senator Hardy - Does not the honorable senator think that the national conference to which I referred represented the dairying industry?

Senator HERBERT HAYS - I do not admit that a resolution of that conference that certain things should or should not be done is sufficient reason for this Government to introduce this measure to bring about drastic changes in the industry.

Senator Grant - There is more behind this bill than meets the eye.

Senator HERBERT HAYS - Another point made by Senator Hardy was that the present Dairy Council has no legislative authority to carry out its


decisions. He then referred to the small proportion of first-class butter being produced in Australia to-day. Honorable senators know full well, .that irrespective of existing organizations, the quality of butter is determined solely by inspections made before the butter is exported. If there were 50 boards which concerned themselves with this matter the quality of butter would ultimately be determined by official inspection. This measure is an experiment which may prove very expensive to this industry. I believe that the Government would be well advised to leave the industry to the dairymen themselves and to continue to give a free hand to those organizations that have carried on so successfully to date. The less the Government interferes with industry the better it will be for industry generally. Leave the management of the butter industry to those men who have pioneered it and. have borne the heat and burden of the day in building it up to what it is at the present time ! The organizations have done well for the dairying industry; my advice is. " Leave well alone." I intend to vote against the bill.

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