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Friday, 13 November 1936

Senator MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - Labour in the other States has taken a different view. In any case, we may ask why the bill is not supported by Senator DuncanHughes and Senator Millen, both of whom have spoken against it. They are the champions of private enterprise. They boast that the wool industry, for instance, has never required any government assistance, either in production or i n marketing. The great mercantile interests hope, of course, that the wool industry will be able to continue without the introduction of orderly marketing, otherwise, like Othello, their occupation will be gone.

Senator Guthrie - What good could it do the wool-growers if the present system of free marketing were abolished?

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - I do not say that, just at the present time, it would benefit them at all. The fact remains, however, that other primary industries have sought government assis- tance, and have received it, the wheatgrowers in particular. Nevertheless, certain interests concerned with primary production are bitterly opposed to any interference with the old system of marketing, and it is from such interests that the opposition to this bill has come. Those middlemen who have made money out of the present system of marketing naturally do not want to see their occupation disappear, and they are still a powerful force in the land. In Queensland, we have been taught for the last 25 years that the working farmer is the natural ally of the worker in the city, and that it is in the interests of both that the middleman, who handles the farmers' produce, should be eliminated. Whether wron persons are called produce merchants or speculators, their profits add to the cost of distribution, and make the people's food dearer. When they have been eliminated, the consumers get cheaper supplies, and the farmers obtain a greater share of the wealth they produce. I suppose the farmers of Queensland are no less astute than those of other States, and they agree that the marketing legislation, for which the Labour party in Queensland was largely responsible, has conferred upon them tremendous benefits. Even the Conservative party, when it was \a power for three years, made no attempt to disturb that legislation. The farmers wish to see its scope extended, and whenever they have the opportunity to express their opinion, they vote by a large majority in favour of still closer cooperation among producers. That is why the system of co-operative marketing has lasted and extended in Queensland, until it has become a model, not only for Australia, but also for the whole world. That explains why the Labour party in Queensland is in favour of this bill, even though in other States the party opposes it. In the other States Labour has not been in office continuously for long periods, and there has been no opportunity to demonstrate the beneficial effects of . co-operative marketing. States other than Queensland have not had the great advantage of a Labourfarmer government in office over a long period. The; representatives of Labour in other States largely represent packed urban areas, where the most important question in the minds of the people, particularly in times of depression when every penny counts, is cheaper foodstuffs. Labour members mostly come from city electorates and industrial districts. At the last election, when the Labour party formulated a policy designed to improve the financial economy of the people, it did not have the wide support, and consequently, has not now the large party to which its broad, national policy entitled it.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Try that policy at the next election.

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - I should say that its presentation on the last occasion is one of the reasons why the honorable senator was returned to this chamber. The Labour party iB the only political group that is prepared to submit a plan designed to improve the undesirable conditions obtaining in this country. The conflicting views expressed by opponents of the Labour party-

Senator Collings - Are inexplicable.

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - To . some extent I think that I can give the reason for them. I hope that the bill will be passed, because its 'object is to restore the status quo prior to the decision of . the Privy Council in the James case. The various States, and particularly Queeusland, have endeavoured for years to assist the primary producers. Even before Labour governments, came into power steps were taken in the States to organize the primary producers. The farmers are not prepared to support the policy of socialism per se; they do not desire to appear as being other than capitalistic minded. Yet, as far as their own interests are concerned, they are socialists at heart, and recognize tho advantages of organization of their own industries.

Senator MCLEAY - The dried fruits marketing legislation is not a socialistic scheme

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - I should imagine that the honorable senator from South Australia is glad that in the James case the Privy Council decided against the Commonwealth Government.

Senator McLeay - Oh, no!

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - Then I 6hall be glad to hear the honorable senator's opinion regarding this bill. I fail to see any good ground for opposition to a proposal designed to validate the orderly marketing legislation. Organized marketing has been in operation in Australia for twenty years. No fundamental alteration of the law is contemplated. Whilst I agree that Imperial ties 'should not be severed, the Commonweath Government should not be required to appeal to the law-givers of another country.

Senator HERBERT Hays - The James case was not a dispute; regarding the law of another country.

Senator J.V. MACDONALD We can hardly distinguish between the law and the interpreters df the law. Is u fair to the people of Australia that, after a dispute has been adjudicated upon by the highest tribunal in this country, a dissatisfied litigant can take his troubles to lawyers in a far-away land ? The practice has upset not only the law, but also, in the present instance, the whole of the business of this country, and if something is not done to remedy the position the cost will be scores of millions of pounds annually. I believe that the majority of honorable senators will agree that Australia is more democratic than is Great Britain.

Honorable senators interjecting,

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - Honorable senators, who apparently do not wish to be told anything that does not accord with their own views, remind me of a story . that I once heard. During the Civil War in the United States of America, a tramp, who some years before the war had followed the occupation of woodcutter in Illinois with General U. S. Grant, approached a farmer's house seeking refreshment. He was met by the farmer, who regarded him rather diffidently, and demurred when the request for a little refreshment was preferred, until the tramp said, "I was with Grant- " - upon which he was immediately made welcome. The farmer and his wife showered blessings on him, gave him a decent tea, provided him with a comfortable bed, and after breakfast in the morning gave him money and wished him well on his way. Several times he had rather shamefacedly endeavoured to add to his original statement " I was with Grant", but had been immediately silenced, and told enthusiastically by the farmer, "We have a son who is serving under Grant". Finally the tramp got away from his hosts, but at a safe distance of twenty yards he was determined to complete his interrupted remark, and shouted back - .

I was with Grant in Illinois,

Three years before the war.

If honorable senators will allow me to continue my remarks, I may add that the democracy of Great Britain is quite different from the democracy of Australia. British lawyers are more archaic than are ours, and their minds are less plastic. They have not a full knowledge of this country, hence they arc conservative in their judgments upon anything Australian.

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Would the honorable senator deny us the right of appeal to the Privy Council ?

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - I do not think that we should appeal to any tribunal outside this country.

Senator Brennan - The High Court suggested that this case should go to the Privy Council.

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - I do not care what the High Court suggested, but hold firmly to my opinion that Australian law-givers should have the last word on Australian laws. The subject of a 40-hour week is prominently before Australia at the moment, and the opportunity should be taken to obtain from the people a pronouncement on it. An attempt to widen the scope of the proposed referendum was made in the House of Representatives, but unfortunately failed. We have' to consider the interests of the artisans and other workers of the cities and towns, as well as those of the working farmers. I hope that the bill will pass. I shall do all that lies in my power to have the referendum carried, not only in Queensland, but also in the other States.

Debate (on motion by Senator Guthrie) adjourned.

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