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Wednesday, 6 May 1942

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The Minister should not interject.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I know that the Minister is in deep water. The Government must adopt a Commonwealth policy on these matters. It cannot escape responsibility by declaring that one State may have black, another State blue, and a third State yellow and pink, if it so desires. The problem can be settled only if the Commonwealth Government declares that certain commodities will be acquired at specific prices; and that information should be communicated to the grower before the crop is sown.

In addition to peas, I have the vexed question of almonds. The price of almonds in South Australia alone has been fixed. Did the Commonwealth Government say to the Government of South Australia, " We shall fix the price of almonds in South Australia, but not in any other State"?. The result is that two big buyers in South Australia have purchased practically the whole of the crop, which they are now retailing for a " cool " 6d. per lb. Purchasers in Western Australia have been notified that, as imports cannot be obtained from Italy and Spain, they will get no almonds this year. All consignments will be sent to Sydney and Melbourne. When a shortage occurs, the Government should ensure that each State receives its fair quota.

Mr Marwick - It is nothing for Western Australia to go short.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - That is true; and the position would be worse if the State did not have such an excellent representative as the honorable member for Swan.

Another important matter is potatogrowing. As my electorate happens to be very potato-minded, I should like the Minister to explain the policy of the Government in this matter. Does the Minister propose to allow a "free for all"? The position appears to be that persona who know no more about a " spud " than they know about a nugget of gold will acquire land, which is not worth 2d. for growing potatoes, incur considerable expense, and present the bill to the Commonwealth Government. I have even heard a suggestion that the cost-plus system may be introduced for the purpose of encouraging potato-growing. In a good season, there will be a substantial surplus; but glut conditions could be overcome by drying the potatoes. Presumably, an insistent demand will be made for the erection of a drying plant in the Wimmera electorate.

Unlike the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Badman) I have no complaints about a tendency on the part of Ministers to disregard Commonwealth members when replying to representations affecting their constituencies, but then,I have no Labour members in my electorate. My electorate in South Australia has thirteen members, but so far the worst that I have are four independents. I would exchange them for four Labour men any time.

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