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Thursday, 18 July 1946

Mr ROSEVEAR (Dalley) .- There are no wheat-growers in my electorate; but there are wheat-eaters who are interested in the organized marketing of wheat and the general prosperity of farmers. Certain members of the Opposition have talked about the embarrassment of certain Labour representatives of country constituencies in Western Australia. The gravamen of their charge against the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully) is that he is not providing adequate representation of Western Australia on the Australian Wheat Board. I ask those honorable gentlemen whether they desire representation for bags of wheat, broad acres, or human beings in the persons of wheatfarmers.

Mr McDonald - Wheat-farmers.

Mr ROSEVEAR - If that is so the amendment must be described as being totally unfair. I put my question very clearly. I asked whether the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) desired representation of bags of wheat, broad acres, or human beings in the persons of farmers, and these honorable gentlemen who are attempting to make such political capital out of this subject, immediately fell into the trap and assured me that they desired representation for the farmers. That being so, the amendment is, in. my opinion, totally dishonest and improper. In New South Wales, 19,000 growers are to have two representatives, in Victoria 14,000 growers are to have two representatives, and in Western Australia8,000 growers are to have one representative. If the representation of Western Australia were doubled that would be totally unfair to the growers in those other two States. Do honorable members opposite want to conserve the interests of the wheat-growers, of bags of wheat, or of broad acres? Do they want to revert to the conservatism of Old England's electoral boundaries, under which there were rotten boroughs, and members of Parliament represented piles of rocks? We are living in a modern age, and in what is allegedly a democracy. Honorable members opposite claim that the representation of 8,000 growers in Western Australia should be equal to that of 19,000 growers in New South Wales.

Mr McDonald - How many growers are there in Queensland?

Mr ROSEVEAR - Four thousand.

Mr McDonald - How many are there in South Australia?

Mr ROSEVEAR -Twelve thousand. Does the honorable member for Corangamite object to Queensland having a representative ?

Mr McDonald - No.

Mr ROSEVEAR - Very well, then; 4,000 growers in Queensland are to have one representative. On a truly propor-, tional basis, Western Australia would have two representatives, South Australia three representatives,. Victoria three and a half representatives, and New South Wales four and four-fifths representatives. The board would then be not only unweildy, but also more unbalanced than under the proposal of the Government. If honorable members opposite claim that 4,000 growers in Queensland are entitled to one representative, they must also admit that, as a human being cannot be reduced to fractions, the growers of New South Wales should have five representatives. On the basis of growers, not the number of bags or the acreage, the amendment proposes a totally unfairrepresentation, because it would give to Western Australia, with 8,000 growers, the same representation as it would give to New South Wales with 19,000 growers, and to Victoria with 14,000 growers.

Mr McDonald - Under the amendment, New South Wales would have an additional member.

Mr ROSEVEAR - It is all very well to chide the honorable members for Swan and Forrest because they avoided falling into thetrap that was set for them. They have plainly told the committee that they represent growers, not bags of wheat. The farmers of their State, as human units in the industry, will be treated equitably, compared with the representation laid down in the bill for the farmers in other States. Those who want to provide representation for broad acres and bags of wheat will vote for the amendment.

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