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Thursday, 29 October 1931

Mr THOMPSON (New England) . - I strongly support the amendment, which protects the interests of the share-farmers, whereas the bill leaves everything to chance. In nine cases out of ten, sharefarming is conducted on the basis of legal agreements, and in connexion with this proposal to pay a bounty on wheat we should be careful that the interests of all parties to an agreement are properly safeguarded. Under the bill the bounty could bc paid to the owner of the wheat or the person who delivered it at the siding. Despite what the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) has said, it sometimes happens that the owner of the land arranges for the delivery of the whole of the wheat, the share-farmer acting merely as his employee. The owner might claim through his agent the whole of the bounty due on the wheat delivered by him. Usually a code of honour governs the relations of the parties to these agreements, but an unscrupulous owner might pocket the whole of the bounty, on the ground that he was not legally bound to pay any of it to the share-farmer. If an owner were embarrassed by heavy liabilities, and was in a position to claim a substantial amount of bounty, the temptation to do so would be very great. In such circumstances what machinery does the bill provide to compel him to hand over the proportion due to the sharefarmer? The wheat industry depends largely on share-farming, which is extending throughout Australia, and whilst, generally the ordinary rights of the parties are legally safeguarded by agreements, there is nothing to protect the share-farmer in regard to a new element like the bounty which involves money not. contemplated when the agreement was drawn up.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I believe that the bill as drafted will enable the department to do all that the amendment seeks, but if members think that the amendment is necessary to make assurance doubly sure, I am willing to accept it.

Mr THOMPSON - The amendment will at least impose a legal obligation on the owner to pay to the share-farmer the amount of bounty due to him according to his agreed share of the wheat crop.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The department would take precautions to see that, that was done.

Mr THOMPSON - Unless provision bc made in the bill, the department will not have the legal power to take action.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The bill gives power to make regulations, and by regulation all necessary safeguards can be provided.

Mr THOMPSON - To make assurance doubly sure, I urge that the amendment be agreed to.

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