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Friday, 6 December 1935

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) . - I have listened attentively to the discussion in the hope that I would hear sufficient evidence in favour of the bill to induce me to support the second reading. Prior to coming into the chamber,I perused an extensive file on this subject, and also conferred with a number of persons who are interested in the dairying industry. I was anxious to ascertain, if possible, the need for an alteration of the existing state of affairs. I know something of the work that has been done by the Australian Dairy Council and the Dairy Produce Control Board, and am pleased to say that it is appreciated by those engaged in the dairying industry. I also endeavoured to ascertain how the Minister chiefly responsible for the introduction of this measure - I refer to the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) - regards those bodies, and was gratified to read, in speeches delivered by him at conferences and elsewhere, tributes to the gentlemen who comprise them. I do not profess to know all the ramifications of the dairying industry in Australia, but, as I have lived for many years in an important dairying district, I have some knowledge of dairying and naturally I am interested in the success of that industry. In correspondence which has been forwarded to me, I have read expressions of opinion by men more qualified to speak on this subject than I am - men to whom has been entrusted the responsibility of controlling, in some measure, this valuable industry. I shall take the liberty to quote a few extracts from the correspondence which I have received. I have here a letter dated the 12th Septem ber, 1935, from Mr. P. J. Holdenson, chairman of the Victorian Proprietary Butter, Cheese and Milk Products Manufacturers Association, who, referring to the* proposal to introduce legislation, said -

Before any such drastic alterations are -brought before Parliament, it is respectfully suggested that the Government should arrange to call a conference to fully discuss the position and to make recommendations on the matter, and, as the directors cf Co-operative B utter and Cheese factories are elected by the various Co-operative shareholders and suppliers to supervise the manufacture and marketing of their produce, and owners of proprietary factories who are entrusted by their suppliers to manufacture and market their produce, and are, .therefore, directly responsible to their producers, the conference should be called in the following manner: - Meetings of all Co-operative factories to be called in each State to elect persons to represent them at the conference on the basis of, say, six from each of the three larger States, and two from each of the three smaller States.

That letter was sent to the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page), who replied that last April an important conference was held in Sydney, as a result of which legislation would be introduced. The measure before us is the legislation referred to. In further letters to the secretary of the Department of Commerce, Mr. Holdenson submitted that there had not been ample opportunity for discussion at the conference, and that two resolutions were passed with a narrow majority in each instance, the voting being seventeen to sixteen, and that another proposal was negatived by eighteen to fifteen votes. But the vital resolution read as follows: -

That the Export Control Board be reconstituted and three producers be placed on that board and that the f.o.b. sellers' representative be eliminated from it.

This was agreed to by 27 votes to 60. Mr. Holdenson proceeded -

I may say that had the resolution only provided for the addition of three producers being elected to the board, it would have been carried unanimously, ns it is believed that six dissentients were gentlemen who recognized with others the outstanding services rendered to the board by f.o.b. sellers' representatives.

But, strange to say, I find that -

Seeing, however that the Minister for Commerce, the Australian Agricultural Council and the Standing Committee of Agriculture turned down all the resolutions carried at the conference, I have come to the conclusion that the Minister and the two bodies referred to must have felt that the National Dairy Conference was not truly representative of the industry with which to some extent I agree as I and many others connected with the industry feel that the true representatives- of the producers and the industry are the directors of co-operative factories and owners ot other factories entrusted with the manufacture and marketing of their produce, hence the suggestion for calling a conference on the lines indicated in my letter to the Minister. I regret very much to see that he does not agree with my view.

Will the Minister explain wherein lies the necessity for this haste to pass the bill, and what is the justification for rejecting the request of a gentleman of the status of the writer of this letter when, it is admitted that he is vitally interested in the prosperity of this great industry! Surely if there was a possibility of obtaining further enlightenment as to the best procedure to be adopted for the improvement of the industry, the request for another conference ought to have been conceded. If that had been done, I am confident that the amount of feeling exhibited in Parliament in the discussion of the present measure would not have been engendered. I do not propose to weary the Senate for I know that the Minister desires to make progress with the bill; but I am anxious to assist the industry. I know of no action taken by either of the two bodies, that would be calculated to injure the dairying industry in any way. Consequently, unless I can be shown a vital necessity for taking this grave step to eliminate the two bodies which have performed such excellent work, I am not prepared to support the second reading of the bill.

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