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Wednesday, 24 September 1958


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lawrence (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - Is the House agreed that the bills should be discussed together? There being no objection, that course will be followed.


Mr POLLARD - The Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill and the associated taxation measure are, in the very nature of things, of profound importance to the people of Australia generally, but in particular they are of great importance to the wheat industry and to those associated directly with it. I refer to people engaged in the flourmilling industry, employees on wheat farms, and people engaged in shipping wheat and in wheat operations generally.

May I say, Sir, that in days gone by a measure of this kind would have excited considerable debate and the expression of great differences of opinion in this Parliament. But, fortunately, since 1948, the wheat-growers of Australia have been receiving the benefits of stabilization schemes that began with the first post-war wheat stabilization measure, which was introduced by the Chifley Labour Government. In view of the fact that, from 1948 to the present time, the wheat industry, and the country generally, have had the benefit of the stabilizing effects of these measures, which have resulted in a first-class example of organized marketing, and of co-operation between the legislatures of the six States and the Commonwealth Parliament, as well as between the wheat-growers' organizations, I think if is appropriate that, at this juncture, I should pay tribute to the men - and also the women - who, for no less than twenty years, to my knowledge, advocated and worked for - and eventually persuaded the parliaments of this country to give them - a measure of protection that is probably unsurpassed in any other industry, or at any rate any other primary industry, in Australia.

The principle of the measure now before the House is, in every respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, exactly the same as that of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Act 1948 - a principle which was incorporated also in the 1954 act.


Mr Turnbull - What about the measure before that?


Mr POLLARD - Does the honorable member refer to the 1946 act?


Mr Turnbull - Yes.


Mr POLLARD - The 1946 measure caused a good deal of political disputation, but, as I have told the House before, and as I repeat now for the benefit of the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), we have long since passed the stage at which such a measure calls forth that kind of disputation. If the honorable member wants an historical recitation of the pains and sufferings of the wheat-growers of this country, under either Labour or nonLabour governments, between 1921, when the governmental wheat-handling arrangements for World War I. ceased, and 1948, I should be prepared, if I had sufficient time at my disposal, to point out to him that, in the main, the wheat-growers of this country were sadly and badly deserted by those in this country who should have been the first to defend and help them.

In passing, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should like to recite to the honorable member some examples of the returns that were received in the years of which he is thinking. In the 1939-40 season, in a period when the present Government parties were in office - one of them under a different title - the first payment to growers at rail sidings was ls. 4d. a bushel. By 1941, the payment had risen to 2s. lOd. a bushel, and by 1942, it was 3s. lOd. At that stage, we had only just reached the end of the term of the first Menzies Government, which preceded the Curtin Government, and which severely limited the maximum price that the wheat-growers could get at sidings. In 1943, the payment was 3s. lid. a bushel. During the 1945-46 season, it was 4s. Id. In 1948, after an inquiry presided over by Mr. Justice Simpson, which was representative of various interests in this country, the cost of production was ascertained and recommended to the government of the day as a basis for a stabilization scheme. From that time on, the returns to the growers were guaranteed by the stabilization pool of 1948, and by subsequent pools on a basis similar to that envisaged in this measure.

I have recited those figures because they illustrate that, as time went on and governments realized the importance of this industry to our great Commonwealth, a more generous realization developed in the political mind and the governmental mind. As a result, in respect of organized marketing for the wheat industry, we are on a relatively sound basis from the stand-point of the growers, whatever may be the ultimate effect on the country of the guaranteed price obligations which the Commonwealth has had to assume under measures of this kind since 1948, and will have to assume under this bill.

I know that there are in this country, among the wheat-growers' organizations and elsewhere, elements that are prone to tell the people of Australia that, even under this form of marketing of wheat, the wheatgrowers have, in effect, made substantial sacrifices. This has been suggested by the Australian Wheat Board in a table that is incorporated in its annual report for the year 1956-57. The board says, in effect, that had this scheme not operated, and had certain factors that operated some years previously continued to operate, the wheatgrowers of this country would have been £129,001,261 better off than they are at the present time. The figures contained in this table are very interesting, and, with the concurrence of the House, I shall incorporate them in " Hansard ".







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