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Thursday, 18 July 1946

Mr FADDEN (Darling Downs) (Leader of the Australian Country party) . - I cannot allow the occasion to pass without voicing a protest on behalf of the party which I have the honour to lead. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), in the course of a most eloquent speech on the motion for the second reading of the bill, directed attention to what he regards as the constitutional requirements in this matter. He pointed out that this .stabilization scheme is to come into operation subsequent to the acquisition of the 1945-46 crop under the war-time powers conferred on the Government by the Constitution, which provides that property can be acquired only on just terms. That this wheat is the property of the growers cannot be denied. Its inclusion in the stabilization scheme will impose a levy on the growers of approximately 2s. 2d. a bushel. That tax on the proceeds of the crop is to form the . nucleus of the stabilization fund. Quite apart from the legal points that have been raised by the honorable member for Warringah, who is an eminent lawyer, does the Government consider that it is treating the growers equitably? Is it not confiscating this crop? It cannot be argued that equity is being observed. In order to minimize its responsibility, remote though that may be, the Government is acting inequitably, if not illegally. I should like to know whether it has obtained an opinion as to its legal position, having regard to the requirements of section 51 of the Constitution, and with particular reference to the points raised by the honorable member for Warringah. That question has never Been answered. The Minister, in his reply to the secondreading debate, did not refer to the doubts that had been expressed by the honorable member for Warringah. So far, he has evaded the issue. The position should be clarified immediately. Apart altogether from the legal position, equity demands that the 1945-46 crop shall not be included in this stabilization scheme. '

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