Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 28 May 1942

Senator COURTICE (QUEENSLAND) - The problems tc be dealt with are of a serious nature, and many difficulties have been encountered.

Senator McBRIDE - Proposals were formulated before the present Government came into power.

Senator FRASER (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - It did not take us long to get an extra £10,000,000 for the wool-growers. . Senator McBRIDE. - The Government cannot justifiably take credit to itself for the extra money that is to be paid by Great Britain for Australia's wool clips. The original agreement definitely provided that it could be reviewed in May of each year. To suggest that the British Government, which had recognized the increased cost of wool production in Great

Britain and had accordingly granted to its own wool-growers an extra 2d. per lb. for their wool, had to be subjected to great pressure before it would extend the same conditions to Australia and the other dominions, is to ask us to stretch our imagination too far. I welcome the additional price which will be paid to Australian wool-growers, and in doing so I express my appreciation of the action of the British Government which is paying the money. I wish to draw attention to the rapidly decreasing production of many of our primary industries. The position in regard to vegetables has already been acute, and I fear that it will become worse before it is remedied. In saying that, I am not ignorant of the fact that efforts have been made to increase the production of vegetables. Before long, the same difficulty will present itself in connexion with the dairying industry. It is my firm belief that, in regard to many primary industries, including wheat-growing, the Government before long will not be troubled .by excess production, but by an actual shortage.

Senator FRASER - There will be a carry-over of 100,000,000 bushels of wheat this year.

Senator McBRIDE - I am aware of that, and I realize the difficulty of holding large quantities of wheat for any considerable period. Nevertheless, I do not wish the Government to be too complacent on this subject. Should war conditions continue for a few more years - and I am afraid that we must expect that to be so - the final result will be a shortage, rather than an excess, of wheat. I make that point because I believe that it is necessary to keep our farmers on their farms and in production. I raise that point prior to referring to the No. 5 pool. T have already said that excepting for a slight variation of the interpretation of the act in relation to the way in which it is being administered, I agree entirely with the conditions which that legislation provides for wheat-growers. Consequently, the only case that we can put up, in the strictly legal sense, in regard to the No. 5 wheat pool is that the Government should confine its payment to 140,000,000 bushels which the guarantee covers, and provide facilities for the mar keting of the balance. That, I admit, is u difficult problem.

Senator FRASER - Would the honorable senator pay 3s. lOd. a bushel for that wheat?

Senator McBRIDE - It may be worth while to do so, but I shall deal with that point later. I draw attention to the basis on which the payment of 3s. lOd. a bushel was arrived at. As has already been stated, it was never expected that 3s. lOd. a bushel would be a highly profitable price to the farmer. The Government of which I was a member thought that it could not guarantee a highly profitable price to any primary industry in these' times, but it thought that the guaranteed price would be sufficient to enable the farmers to carry on production.

Senator Arthur - What is the cost of producing wheat to-day?

Senator McBRIDE - I shall not hazard a guess, but it is in excess of what it was when the figure of 3s. lOd. a bushel was arrived at. At that time, 9 1/2 d. a bushel was allowed to cover all charges from the railway siding to the ship.

Suggest corrections