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Wednesday, 18 November 1936

Senator BADMAN (South Australia) . - I move - -

That the word "marketing" be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words " the marketing of either raw or processed primary products, being foodstuffs ".

The most important feature of this referendum is that honorable senators should endeavour by every means at their disposal to have the proposed alteration carried. I supported the second reading of the bill because I believe in the principle of orderly marketing, but in regard to the actual wording of proposed newsection 92a I feel that I shall not be able to successfully recommend it to the electors. Personally, I can support it, because of the assurance given to honorable senators by the Government; but many sections of the community oppose it because they are determined that the Commonwealth Government shall not be granted any additional power.

Senator Collings - We have to educate them to vo'te in the affirmative.

Senator BADMAN - We may talk until -re are black in the face; they will not vote for thu proposed alteration in its present form. The word " marketing" hu not been clearly defined by the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan). By the remarks he has already made concerning my amendment, he has shown that he does not clearly understand the feeling which exists in the community against granting of full powers to the Commonwealth. According to him, the learned members of the Government are quite satisfied that the wording -of the proposal meets the circumstances; but, from my personal observation and information, I believe that a number of other learned men are not so sure of that.

Senator Grant - They are quite sure of it.

Senator BADMAN - They are quite sure that it means that wider powers than the Government indicates that it requires would be granted to the Commonwealth if the referendum proposal were carried. The theme of ministerial speeches throughout the debate has been that the referendum was framed for the purpose of validating legislation which had been invalidated by the decision of the Privy Council. Opposition has now arisen in many quarters to the word "marketing", because it is believed that the Commonwealth is attempting to gain more power than it was thought to have when it enacted the marketing legislation which baa since been invalidated. In replying to the second-reading debate, the Assistant Minister discussed the definition of "marketing", and stated that the time may come when we shall need to export other than primary products. That is the reason why so many people are opposed to the present phrasing of proposed new section 92a. If the

Assistant Minister's statement be correct, the Government is definitely seeking wider powers, and the public will realize that fact when they read his speech. But over and over again the Government has stated that it desires only to validate the legislation which was invalidated by the decision of the Privy Council. The Assistant Minister proceeded to question the meaning of the words "raw or processed primary products, being foodstuffs ". He stated that those words might cover hides; but, in framing my amendment, I was careful to incorporate the words "being foodstuffs". At present sections of the public are already preparing propaganda in order to combat the referendum proposal on the ground that "marketing" means the granting of far wider powers to the Commonwealth than are required for the' validation of the marketing legislation. On the other hand, another section is preparing, without my giving 'any intimation that I intended that this amendment should relate to foodstuffs, propaganda against the primary producer and the Government, contending that the marketing of any primary produce whatever will result in an increase of the cost of living. Upon an analysis of the matter, I definitely disagree with that view; a study of the prices of dried fruits and butter since the introduction of the marketing scheme supports my conclusion. I am confident that, if the Government were to succeed with this referendum - and I sincerely hope that it will - the price of foodstuffs will not bc increased. In moving this amendment, I do not intend for one moment to be an obstructionist; I desire only to clarify the position. The wording of the proposed new section is not so clear that the electors will be able to grasp it as meaning that the Government does not intend to obtain any power additional to what, it believed that it possessed before the decision of the Privy Council. We may go to the country and explain to the electors until we are black in the face that the referendum does not mean an increase of Commonwealth powers; but, unless that is clearly expressed in print, the public will not believe us. For that reason I have submitted my amendment. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), who supported the bill and believes in orderly marketing, also believes that the Australian producer should be granted a fair standard of living. He represents Queensland, which has an orderly marketing scheme in connexion with sugar, and the growers of this commodity obtain for it higher prices than we would pay for imported sugar. But that does not alter the fact that it makes the cost of living in Australia dearer. The honorable senator speaks on behalf of those who support Labour ideals; they believe in the industrial arbitration system, as, indeed, do most Australians. Australia has adopted a fiscal policy, in accordance with which customs duties are imposed to encourage the building-up of Australian secondary industries. We should put Australian primary industries on the same footing as the secondary industries. We want the public to realize that, at the referendum, they will be voting for a certain objective ; but that objective must be clearly defined, otherwise the proposed alteration will be rejected. Assistance has been given to the primary producers under the legislation which has recently been declared invalid. The Government is anxious to have orderly marketing of primary products, but what does " marketing " moan ? Many and varied definitions of the term have been given in the press and by public men and others.

Senator Sir George Pearce - Marketing has been the subject of legislation by the State and the Commonwealth parliaments, and surely the courts would have the right to determine the meaning.

Senator BADMAN - Perhaps so, but the framers of the Constitution provided in section 92 that interstate trade should be " absolutely free ". In my opinion, the word " absolutely " is superfluous. The word " free " can have only one meaning, hut there is doubt as to what may be the interpretation of "marketing". The Government desires that there shall be homeconsumption prices for primary products. My amendment refers to the marketing of either raw or processed primary products, being foodstuffs. It is not likely that Australians will eat hides.

Senator Sir George Pearce - But we export hides.

Senator BADMAN - Is not butter a primary product which has been processed? Gold is a primary product, but it is not a foodstuff. Cement is not a foodstuff. It has been said that at some time the Government of the Commonwealth may consider it necessary to take control of the marketing of wool. Senator Guthrie interjected that we export a far greater quantity of wool than is used in Australia. I am afraid that it will be found that a large number of wool-growers will object to the proposal in the bill.

Senator Hardy - At some future time the wool-growers 'may ask for such legislation.

Senator BADMAN - Up to the present time they have not made such a request. The Government states that it merely desires to restore the position that obtained Wore the marketing legislation was declared invalid.

Senator Sir George Pearce - Before it was invalidated we could have had a marketing scheme in regard to hides. Why should we not?

Senator BADMAN - The Government tells us that its object is merely to validate the legislation under which benefits were given to certain primary producers.

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