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Tuesday, 17 March 1936

Senator BROWN (Queensland) . - The Opposition certainly supports this measure. We have voted for other bills of a similar nature, but it does not follow that because we support such measures in the immediate interest of the f armors, we uphold, on general principles, the Government's action in continually tinkering with the farmers position. Our view differs entirely from that of the Government. Because, under certain circumstances, a subsidy is proposed, and we, realizing the need of the farmers for such assistance, support that vote, it does not mean that we support the Government entirely. My Leader has made it perfectly clear on many occasions that this Government has been backward in dealing with the farmer's needs in respect of the low prices which he receives for his products. We contend that, long before this, the Government should have taken action to place the farmers in such a position that these frequent measures of assistance would not be necessary. We hold that the time is ripe for the Government to deal with the basic needs of the farmers and to stabilize the various industries, as far as it is within its power to do so. However, when measures of this nature are brought before Parliament, and the farmers are in need of such assistance, we naturally support such legislation, and we see no wrong in doing so. The remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) cannot be characterized, as Senator Hardy has done, as a tirade against the Government, nor can Senator Duncan-Hughes' comment on his remarks be regarded as just criticism. My Leader advanced logical arguments in an endeavour to put the Government on the right path. However, we cannot help it if Ministers have become senile, or have reached a stage where they cannot absorb advice. So long as we are young enough to give sound advice, we shall continue to do so in the hope that some day the Government will take it or give honorable senators on this side of the chamber an opportunity to deal with fundamental phases of the problems confronting the farmers so as to obviate repeated appeals on their behalf for assistance from this Parliament.

Senator Foll - What is the honorable senator's scheme?

Senator BROWN - It is impossible for me within the time at my disposal to present my scheme in such a way that it could be grasped by the honorable senator. The Labour party's view on this matter has been placed before him time and time again, but apparently he has been incapable of absorbing it, not because he has not the mental capacity to do so, but because his psychological make-up leads him to believe that honorable senators on this side of the chamber are incapable of putting forward any practical suggestion.

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