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Thursday, 7 November 1935

Senator E B JOHNSTON (Western Australia) . - In reading a Parliamentary report during the week-end I was surprised to see some remarks by my colleague, Senator Allan MacDonald, concerning the Primary Producers Association of Western Australia which I cannot permit to pass unchallenged. The remarks were made by the honorable senator on the 24th ultimo, on the motion for the adjournment of the House, but Ilansard was not issued until the 2nd November and I was not in the chamber when this reference to the Primary Producers Association was made. In referring to the proposal of the Government to disband the Australian Dairy Council the honorable senator reflected rather severely on the status of the Primary Producers Association of Western Australia.


Senator E B JOHNSTON - I consider that the honorable senator's remarks were severe, although, no doubt, he has that friendly feeling for the organization which it has for him. The Primary Producers Association is a body which represents the organized producers of Western Australia and in my opinion is the one body which is entirely qualified to speak for the dairy producers of that State. Senator Allan MacDonald, on page 1060 of Hansard is reported to have said; -

The Primary Producers Association of Western Australia is recognized as a political body being, in fact, the organization of the Country party. I point out that the southwest portion of the State is the main sphere of the dairying industry of Western Australia. To indicate the strength, or lack of strength, of that association in the dairying industry asan organisation of the Country party, I point out that the south-west portionof the State, which is the main sphere of the dairying industry in Western Australia, consists ofsix electorates for the Legislative Assembly and one province for the Legislative Council, yet noneof these seats is held by the Country party. Three of the seats in the Assembly are held by Nationalists and three bymembers of the Labour party, whilst all three seats in the Council are held by Nationalists. After Senator Hardy had read a lettergram from the Primary Producers Association,I interjected that that organisation did not represent the dairying industry in Western Australia, and that anybody could have sent such a message.

That statement, that the Primary Producers' Association docs not represent the dairying industry of Western Australia shows a complete lack of knowledge of the real status of that association as a producers' industrial organization representing the main rural and primary industries of that State. The association is an incorporate body divided into four sections, only one of which is political. There arc a great many industrial members of the association, bona fide producers, who do not belong to the political side of the movement. The purely producers' side of the association is' divided into three sections, namely, wheat, sheep and wool, and dairying, each with its separate executive.

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I would say that Primary Producers Association docs represent the. wheat-growers, but not those engaged in dairying. There is another body more competent than the Primary Producers Association.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - On that point I am at variance with the honorable senator. The Primary Producers Association, through its dairying section represents the dairy producers completely. In the dairying districts of the State a great many of the members of the dairying section of the association do not belong to the political branch, and the president of the dairying; section is Mr.Ross McLarty, M.L.A., one of tho three Nationalist members of parliamentto whom Senator Allan MacDonald referred. The fact that the Country party does not hold some southwestern seats is largely because of the strength of the coal-miners, timberworkers and town residents of the southwest, and also because of the efficient and popular sitting Nationalist members who represent that portion of the State, one of whom, Mr. McLarty, is the very head, tho president of the dairying section of the Primary Producers Association. Another first-class parliamentarian is the Honorable L. Craig, M.L.C., who was a Country party candidate for the Bunbury seat, at the 1927 election.

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Mr. Craig was an endorsed Nationalist and was never a Country party candidate.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - Mr. Craig received the support of the Primary Producers Association organization in his district, and the West Australian of the 23rd March, 1927, reports his address as that of a Country party candidate for Bunbury. In any case his sympathies are with the producers. On various occasions, when they have supported Country party candidates the dairymen and other producers have been outvoted by opposing interests in those districts. The honorable senator did not refer to the strength of the dairying industry in the great southern districts where there are a number of uptodate butter factories, one. at Narrogin, two at Katanning, and another at Denmark. In that part of the State, with the exception of the Port of Albany, which returned a Labour member, the whole of the political representation in the Parliament of Western Australia lies with the Country party, the political side of the Primary Producers Association. The dairying industry is constantly growing in those districts, where five out of six of the Legislative Assembly seats and the three upper house seats are held by tho Country party. I emphasize that there is no other body in Western Australia so qualified to speak for the dairy producers as is the dairying section of the Primary Producers Association. I hope that the Government will at all times accept the views of that body as being the voice of the organized dairy producers of Western Australia.The views of the Primary Producers Association have been conveyed to the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) in the following terms by Mr.H. J. Prater, the general secretary: -

It has been reported here that representatives from this State, who do not speak from the producers' point of view, are opposed to your suggestion for the co-ordination of the activities of the Australian Dairy Produce Export Board and the Australian Dairy Council. Our organization is the only one which can claim to be representative of the producers' sideof the dairying industry, and it definitely supports your proposal under which representation on the board would be on a more equitable basis. We trust that, notwithstanding objections raised by other interests, you will proceed with the suggested legislation.

I endorse Mr. Prater's statement in its entirety as being the views of the organized dairymen of Western Australia and ask the Government to accept it as such.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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