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Thursday, 4 June 1970

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Bendigo will cease interjecting.

Mr Cope - Put him out.

Mr SPEAKER - That will not be long either.

Mr Kennedy - Mr Speaker, that is not a proper way to address an honourable member.

Mr SPEAKER -Order.' The honourable member for Bendigo will cease interjecting.

Mr PETTITT - As far as the wheat grower is concerned, the socialisation of the wheat growing industry would mean, first of all, the socialisation of farms and land - production - secondly, socialisation of the Wheat Board - the means of distribution - and, thirdly, the socialisation of banks - the means of exchange. That is what the honourable member for Riverina, the honourable member for Bendigo and all those other honourable members on the Opposition side who would like to get their hands on the wheat industry would do. According to an article in the 'Riverina Daily News' of 4th October 1967 the honourable member for Riverina said:

The problem wilh Australian wheat is noi overproduction but under-selling.

If any statement proves that the honourable member does not know much about the wheat industry that statement surely proves it. I agree with the Minister that such a statement was stupid and untrue. Australia's share of the international wheat market has risen. One of the great problems we have had to face is that the Australian Wheat Board has been too effective and too efficient in selling its wheat. It has been a most aggressive selling organisation - so much so that when it sold a particularly large parcel of wheat to South America, one of the main markets of the United States and Canada, the Americans said to the Wheat Board: 'Put another consignment of wheat like that into our market and we will break you. We will cut the price down even if we have to give the wheat away.' The Wheat Board then called the Leader of the Country Party (Mr McEwen) into conference and asked him to go to Washington and try to persuade the wheat growing countries to stand by the International Grains Arrangement. This has very largely now been achieved, and today we see, probably due to the efforts of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) that the International Grains Arrangement price has been held at pretty near the original level, despite the tremendous surpluses. All that would have been achieved by reducing the price is that we would not have sold any more wheat and the farmers would have got a great deal less for their wheat.

The honourable member for Riverina and other honourable members who do not know very much about the practical side of this matter have urged that there should be no restriction on production. How ridiculous can they be! We heard the shadow Minister for Primary Industry issue a warning recently in this House to the wheat growers that they could not expect this Government again to stand behind the guaranteed price as it has done previously.

He issued a very fair warning that if a Socialist government came to power it would not stand behind the agreement to provide the money - alone, mind you - to maintain the payments to the growers. I also remind the House, as the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) did earlier, that it was the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) who said that he was happy to leave the handling of the wheat problem to the Country Party because it had done an excellent job. This is rather typical of honourable members opposite. They know very little about wheat because there are no practical farmers on the Opposition benches. They therefore have about half a dozen different wheat policies.

The second provision of the Bill is to give the Wheat Board power to sell wheat for food purposes at a lower price. This is something that will help the meat industry and the coarse grains industry. The meat market is a very promising one indeed. It will also bc helpful in preventing a black market. There has been a certain amount of black market trading going on, but nothing like the volume that we have been told about.

Mr Grassby - You said there has not been any.

Mr PETTITT - I did not. We all know it has been going on.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Riverina has already spoken in this debate, lt is usual for honourable members who have spoken in a debate to refrain from interjecting thereafter and I suggest that the honourable member do so.

Mr PETTITT - The honourable member for Riverina has been screaming about the black market for some time, even to the point where 1 maintain that he has been aiding and abetting the black market by making out that it is easy to operate on the black market. He has thus encouraged people to deal on the black market. He was responsible for the tremendous fall in the price of oats and barley when he started to scream about the black market.

Mr Grassby - I rise lo a point of order. The honourable member has grossly misrepresented me in this debate.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. After the honourable member for Hume has concluded his speech 1 will call the honourable member for Riverina to make his personal explanation.

Mr PETTITT - I say again that after the honourable member for Riverina was heard screaming all over the country - and he made headlines because that sort of ridiculous statement always makes headlines - the price of oats and barley in my district dropped dramatically. He created a feeling of uncertainty by claiming that there was a tremendous black market. He was grossly exaggerating. We have heard him in this House telling us how he went out at night and did a little bit of private detective work to find out what sort of black marketing was going on. I hope he did not wear his bullfighters outfit or even the waistcoat that he is wearing tonight, for he certainly would not have got away with it. But what did he do when he found that there was a black market going on? He did not tell the police, the Wheat Board or anybody. He wanted to use his knowledge for political advantage because if there was no black market half of his argument would fall to the ground. I challenge him to give the Wheat Board the evidence of what he claims to have found and to do as I have done. 1 have made a public statement in the newspapers that if anybody gives me evidence of black marketing taking place I will convey the information to the Wheat Board, because this is very serious indeed. It affects every wheat grower. Anybody who trades in wheat on the black market is trading on his fellow wheal growers. I challenge the honourable member to give these names, if he has them, to the Wheat Board.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! 1 suggest that the honourable member for Hume come back to the Bill instead of dealing in personalities.

Mr PETTITT - I am dealing with a very serious question.

Mr SPEAKER -I suggest that the honourable member come hack to the Bill and cease dealing in personalities.

Mr PETTITT - I will come back to the Bill, Mr Speaker. I say that the black market in wheat has very serious repercussions for the wheat industry. It affects the price of wheat and also the price of other grains. Anybody who has evidence of black marketing - and particularly a member of Parliament - has a bounden duty to do something about it. I challenge the honourable member to do his job as an honourable member and as a friend of the farmer, as he claims to be. There are people on the opposite side of this House who consistently oppose the farmers' organisations at every opportunity. They have opposed the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation and the Australian Wheat Board and they have opposed the Grain Elevator Boards in each State. These people are not working in the interests of the wheat growers. The people on the opposite side of the House who claim to be the friends of the wheat growers are supporting a 35-hour week. Mr Hawke, the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, has said that he does not give a damn about the effect on primary industry and he will pursue his objective of introducing a 35-hour week. This, of course, would increase the costs of the wheat growers and all primary producers beyond all bounds.

I support the Bill very strongly. I support the Minister in what he has achieved in spite of the opposition that he has experienced from many of those who purport to be friends of primary producers but who have merely sought political gain and have done nothing to help primary producers in any way whatsoever.

Mr SPEAKER - I call the honourable member for Riverina.

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