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Wednesday, 18 March 1936

Senator BRENNAN(Victoria- Acting

Attorney-General) [12.12]. - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This measure is designed to provide relief for the wheat-growers of Australia with respect to the harvest of 1935-36.

Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) criticized the Government for its hand-to-mouth policy is regard to many matters that affect the rural industries. Criticism of that sort leaves out of account the fact that Australia not long ago passed through the greatest war in history, the effects of which are still being felt, and, possibly as a consequence of it, experienced the greatest depression in our history. It would be a great mistake, I think, - and I believe that honorable senators will agree with me if we were to choose a time when the world was suffering from the consequences of a very grave war or depression to embark upon some great change in our social and economic system. The time for such a change is when normal conditions prevail. The conditions through which we have passed are, in themselves, a justification for measures of a temporary character; and in that respect the Government feelsthat it has not failed. In successive year's since the prices of rural products generally, and possibly wheat in particular, dropped in 1930, financial assistance has been given by the Commonwealth to the wheat industry. Justification for that lay in the fact that other industries had been assisted, and that the wheat industry is of such importance to the community that, if it were not saved, the rest of the community must go down with it. More than 70,000 persons, it is estimated, are directly connected with the wheat industry, and in respect of production it is now second in importance only to wool. At the same time, the Government has not been unmindful of the need for doing something which will obviate these yearly appeals to Parliament which the Leader of the Opposition (SenatorCollings) yesterday deprecated. To a certain extent, I concur in his objections.

In 1933 a royal commission was appointed for the very purpose of discovering whether something could not be done to obviate the necessity for these yearly appeals to Parliament for assistance by the wheat industry. The second report drawn up by the. commission, which has now completed its labours, contained u recommendation that something in the nature of a home-consumption price should be created.

Senator Collings - Did not Che commission also say something about a compulsory pool?

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