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Friday, 6 December 1935

Senator E B JOHNSTON (Western Australia) . - The Australian Dairy Council in Sydney recommended that six producer representatives should be placed on this board; the recommendation received wide publicity, and was generally approved by the producers themselves. I believe that it was on that basis that the Government's proposals were approved in Western Australia by the Primary Producers Association, which represents the dairying industry, and which telegraphed to Dr. Earle Page its approval of the proposals. Now, however, the basis of producer representation has been altered.. Whereas the original proposal was to create a board of thirteen members - of which six would be producers, each one representing a State - the personnel of the board has now been increased to seventeen, and the number of representatives of the producers has been reduced from six to four. Whilst Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland will each elect a representative, Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia will be called upon to conduct a joint ballot to elect one person to represent their interests. In other words, the arrangement that a large number of' Western Australian producers supported has been entirely changed by the elimination of the producers' representative proposed for that State. I have both written to and interviewed Ministers on this subject but have been given no reason for this alteration. The dairying industry, so far as export is concerned, is comparatively new in Western Australia, but at the same time it should be encouraged. I have received the following telegram from the Primary Producers Association of Western Australia in connexion with this bill: -

We emphatically protest against Government's altered plans for dairy export control and urge you press for Page's original plan for board of thirteen including one direct representative of producers each State.

I know that the representatives of some co-operative factories will be producers as well; but this association desired that the original promise in regard to representation should be kept. In my opinion, the proposal to elect one representative of the three smaller States is both unsatisfactory and inadequate. Certainly it is unsatisfactory to the producers of Western Australia to be obliged to take part in & joint ballot with those of South Australia and Tasmania to elect one representative. How is this gentleman to be elected, and where will the man with a knowledge of the conditions in the three smaller States, which are separated by a distance of 2,000 miles, be found? I believe absolutely in producer representation for the different States in regard to the control of our primary industries, but it seems to me to be a quaint kind of producer control when three States so widely separated are asked to ballot for 'the appointment of one producer representative. The ballot would also be expensive to conduct. If I had been given an assurance that the Government would adopt the request of the Primary Producers Association to restore to the dairy producers of "Western Australia the right to elect a representative, I would have supported the bill; but in the absence of such a provision, I shall vote against the measure, because it is unjust to the dairy farmers of Western Australia who, through their organization, have expressed disappointment at the change which, they state, has been made by Dr. Earle Page.

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