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Friday, 6 December 1935


Senator BRENNAN (Victoria) (Assistant Minister) . - In regard to the attitude of Senator Duncan-Hughes, I point out that we would never advance very far in anything if we were to rest content with the institutions which we have. When I say that, I desire it to be understood that the Government, in no way, desires to reflect on the good work done by the existing bodies, but I shall endeavour to allay the fear that their good work will be discontinued under the proposals contained in the new measure. There is no intention of hampering in any way the work of the new board. All this bill proposes to do is to combine in one board the work which is now being done by the two existing bodies. It has been suggested that the new board will be a somewhat cumbersome body. As to that, I can only say that the Dairy Produce Control Board consists of thirteen members, and the Australian Dairy Council of twelve members, making a total of 25 members. The new body, which will do the work of the board and council,- will have a total personnel of seventeen. Objection has been taken that the Government has introduced a bill the provisions of which depart from a scheme originally put forward. On that point I can only say that responsibility for any measure that comes before Parliament rests, not with any outside body, but with the Government. The Ministry is not bound to accept in every particular the recommendations of the Agricultural Council. The enlargement of the personnel of the board' was decided upon as the result of strong representations from producers and -others in order to retain on the new board the services of experts associated with the dairy council, and who, but for the enlargement of the personnel, would have been excluded from the new board. Senator Leckie spoke of the scant courtesy which, he said, had been shown the Australian Dairy Council. My reply is that that body has not been treated with scant courtesy. Senator Hardy has pointed out that the Minister for Commerce, who, perhaps more than any other individual, is responsible for this measure, at the National Dairy Conference spoke in the highest terms of the good work which had been done by the Australian Dairy Council. I cannot, as honorable senators will realize, occupy a great deal of time in replying to the criticism of the bill, because other measures are awaiting consideration, and honorable gentlemen desire soon to be released from their duties. I would, how- ever, like to reply briefly to the observations made with regard to the representation of the three smaller States, by pointing out that the proportion of representation given to them is very much larger than is justified by their total production in comparison with that of the other States. During the last four years Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria have exported 364,000 tons of butter, and South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania have exported 25,848 tons. With the voice which the smaller States have on the board through their cooperative organizations, their representation, on a numerical basis, is, so far from being skimped, actually generous. Senator Herbert Hays and other honorable senators said that no complaint had been made about the work which had been done by the dairy council and the export control board, and urged on that ground that no demand had been made for a change in the system of control. As to that, I merely say, adapting the words of Senator Hardy, that not one word of protest has been raised against the proposed constitution of the new board ; on the contrary, hundreds of telegrams and messages have been received by the Minister for Commerce approving of what has been done.


Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -Hugh.es. - We can only assume, from the Minister's statement, that all the communications from those who are opposed to the scheme have been sent to us.


Senator BRENNAN - I do not agree with the honorable gentleman. Protests, if any, would be much more likely to be addressed to the Minister for Commerce. With regard to the eulogies that have been paid to the existing organizations, I do not wish to. say anything which may be taken as criticism of the work which they have done, but I point out that, between 19'26-27 and this year, the exports of choicest Australian butter in relation to total exports has declined from 68 per cent, to 49 per cent. During those years the percentage of choicest butter exported from New South Wales increased, but from Victoria it declined from 80 per cent, to 43 per cent., and in respect of Queensland from 55 per cent, to 40 per cent.


Senator Hardy - That is one of the most disturbing features of the dairying industry.


Senator BRENNAN - I agree with the honorable senator. The figures show that there is room for a great deal of improvement in our export trade.

Speaking generally, the Government has given close attention to this verydifficult problem, and in introducing this legislation it has no intention whatever of reflecting upon those who, in the past, have done such good work for the industry. It realizes, however, that the industry cannot stand still. The bill represents the considered opinion of the Government, and particularly of the Minister for Commerce and the experts of his department.







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