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Thursday, 19 August 1920

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN (EdenMonaro) . - I am in somewhat of a dilemma in connexion with this Bill. I represent probably the biggest butterproducing district in New South Wales. It is certainly the district in which the bestbutter is produced, although the greatest quantity may not be produced there. This Bill is based upon an agreement about which we knew nothing when the measure was introduced. Information concerning it has had to be extracted from the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) as a dentist extracts -a tooth. We are told now that there is an addendum to the agreement., I remember that while we were able to make an agreement with regard to the sale of our wool, we discovered, later on, that tremendous profits were made by its re-sale abroad, which should have been returned to our wool producers. It seems to me that we are almost bound to ratify this butter agreement; but I am rather afraid that the dairymen of this country will be placed in the same position as our woolgrowers were placed under the wool agreement.

We have been led to believe that the agreement has been made by representatives of the dairy farmers of this country; but the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham), who is himself a primary producer arid a dairy farmer, judging from his speech, had no knowledge of the making of this agreement. He expresses doubt as to whether it represents the views of the primary producers. I am satisfied that the honorable member believes what he has said, and speaks honestly in the interests of the producers of this country. We have been informed that the agreement was brought about 'by representatives of the dairy far mers assembled in conference, and elected by the primary producers, and that the Bill is intended practically to ratify what they have done, and to compel the dairy farmers of Australia to keep the conditions of the agreement. If that be so, what are we to think of the remark that the agreement was practically made before the representatives of the primary producers got to the Old Country? The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) shakes his head, but that does not appear in Hansard; and I want some assurance to be recorded in Hansard that the agreement is one between the dairy farmers of Australia and the Food Controller in Great Britain.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - That is so.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - If that is so, how does the Minister account for the fact that a cable has been received to the effect that it is probable that a higher price than 240s. per cwt. will be paid for our butter?

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