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Thursday, 29 October 1931

Mr FENTON (Maribyrnong) . - I am. one of those who deplore the raising of the issue, city versus country in terests. All honorable members should be sufficiently advanced in thought to realize that those interests are interdependent. If one represents a city constituency, it does not follow that he has not the interests of the primary producers at heart.

I do not intend to delay the passage of this bill. If it comes to a vote, I shall record mine in favour of the measure. I understand that amendments are forecast which are likely to improve it. For a long time, the Commonwealth Parliament has been endeavouring satisfactorily to provide assistance to the wheatgrowers, a most deserving class. I believe that it is beyond human ability to devise a scheme that is free from inequalities. This bill is not perfect. There is no doubt that after it. has been passed, it will be disclosed to the Minister, per medium of correspondence and personal interviews, that some who are not in need will reap advantage, while others who are in distress will not have their burdens lightened. On that score there is bound to be some dissatisfaction.We should be superhuman, however, if we could conceive a scheme that was free from inequalities.

The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), is always railing at the alleged advantages that are enjoyed by a certain class who are, he says, protected to the utmost against adversity. "While I do not profess to he an expert, I have had some experience of land pursuits, and, had I the time and inclination to-night, I could disclose that there are others besides wheat-growers who are at present in distressful circumstances. If thrips extends its ravages, many fruit-growers in Victoria will be in a bad way. I am pleased that wheat has risen in price. I have before me the Melbourne Argus of yesterday, which states in its market reports -

The upward trend of prices for wheat in London continued. Sales of newcrop Western Australian wheathave been made at 27s. 9d. a. quarter (3s.55/8d. bushel) for December shipment, while private cable messages report a sale for January shipment at 28s. a quarter (3s. 6d. a bushel). Liverpool futures are dearer, but the North American markets have reacted, particularly . Winnepeg. A firm position obtains, in Melbourne, but little wheal is offered to test the market. The quotation is 3s.1d. to arrive and about 3s. ex suburban siding stores. 1 am not a prophet, but it will surprise me if wheat has not advanced to 4s. a bushel within a month, and this belief is strengthened on account of the likelihood of a shortage in the wheat yield for the current season. I should like to inform the honorable member for Swan that the section at whom he chiefly rails will be among those who will contribute to this bounty. We have in the manufacturers of Australia a splendid set of individuals, who have enabled farming to be carried on more cheaply, so far as the purchase of agricultural implements is concerned, than is possible in any other country. Our inventors have brought our agricultural implements up to a remarkably high standard, to the advantage of our primary producers. That was conclusively proved by a report of the Tariff Board some years ago. I ask the honorable member for Swan and those who think with him to have greater consideration for the persons who have helped the men on the land to carry on their industry. As a city representative of many years standing, I challenge anybody, whether he belongs to the Country, or any other party, to prove that I have done anything in relation to tariff matters, or otherwise, that has been detrimental to the man on the land. On the other hand, I claim that city representatives have done much to help the farming community.

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