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Wednesday, 1 October 1958

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - I do not think the honorable member for Fisher needs any help.

Mr ADERMANN - The procedure under the present Government is entirely different. Three years ago the Government, on the basis of calculated risk, decided that there was an excess of £2,000,000, and we let the growers have it. The honorable member for Lalor, when he was Minister for Commerce, did not do this.

The guaranteed price under the Labour government was computed according to a much lower standard. For instance, in arriving at the cost of production of butter the managerial allowance was set at only 25s. a week above the basic wage. Very low interest rates were allowed on capital investment. Other concessions that have since been given by this Government were not included when the calculation was being made in the time of the Labour government.

The approach made to the problem by the honorable member for Lalor, when he was Minister, is one that I cannot accept. The honorable member said, " It is undeniable that if the remuneration of the dairy farmer becomes too great, it may have a tendency to depress rather than increase production ". He said also, " If a dairy farmer can obtain a sufficient income by milking 40 cows, why should he milk 50?" He went on in that strain.

Mr Pollard - Are you quoting the whole of that " Hansard " extract? Did I not say that somebody else had made those remarks? Come on - come clean!

Mr ADERMANN - No, that is the honorable member's own comment.

Mr Pollard - I said that somebody else had said it.

Mr ADERMANN - I repeat that the Minister said, " It is undeniable ", and he then went on with the statements I have already quoted. In those statements he admitted in effect, that there was no incentive to production on the part of the dairyfarmers because of the high rates of taxation imposed by his Government. That was one of the features of his remarks at that time. I cannot accept the honorable member's logic. I submit that if a diary-farmer gets a good remuneration he spends it and so improves his property and helps the industry to better itself.

The honorable member for Eden Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) stated that the standards enjoyed by dairy-farmers to-day would not enable them to purchase butter for themselves. The answer I give to the honorable member is that the standard to-day is far better than it was under a Labour government with all its excessive taxes and the shortages that existed at that time. Generally, they are happier with the present scheme. 1 am a believer in stabilization. I have proved that by working under co-operative stabilization schemes throughout my life. Irrespective of whence a scheme comes, if it is a co-operative approach and not a socialist or nationalistic one, I am prepared to support it. But the approach of the Labour government gave us a start. We have sought to build on that and to help the dairying industry. The prices we guaranteed gave the producers an incentive to expand. Dairymen have been able to increase production and have had better net returns, but to-day they have reached the stage where, on present world standards, prices are even lower than those paid by the British Government under contract with the Australian Government when Labour was in office. So, if the honorable member for Lalor or the honorable member for Eden-Monaro suggests that - this is a creation of the present Government, they are not making a fair approach to the matter.

It is interesting to make a comparison with the attitude that was adopted by the Labour government at that time. A Labour government was in office for half of the first five years of the stabilization legislation that they introduced. The first year, the Labour government did not accept the finding of the Cost Investigation Committee. It accepted a minority report and deprived the dairymen of Hd. per lb. which was their due according to that committee. In the second year, the Labour government, did accept it, and paid that amount accordingly. In the third year, although the Labour government had that finding by May, there was still no satisfaction concerning it on 22nd October, when the honorable member for Lalor, who was then the Minister, stated that he had been unable to get satisfaction from the State governments concerned; the attitude of one of the States was that the dairyman was getting too much money at 2s. 5d. per lb. 1 know that the Minister of that day had difficulty in coming to an arrangement with the State governments in Queensland and New South Wales. They had never had a sympathetic approach to the dairying industry, and they do not have that approach to it now. In fact, in Queensland, we had an act put on the statute-book which provided that unless dairymen were prepared to deliver butter at the prices set by the Labour government, it would confiscate that butter. That is the stand and deliver act that the Government now in office in Queensland has had to delete from the statute-book.

I know that the honorable member for Lalor, when he was Minister for Commerce, did have difficulty in finalizing the arrangement, although just how serious he was, I do not know. He had the recommendations in May and did not have the matter finalized by October. That shows that, after all, the Labour government did have doubts about the whole thing, because when it gave a guarantee, the guarantee was for six months instead of twelve months. The honorable member for Lalor at that time made a statement that unless he could .get a satisfactory understanding with the State governments it would be futile to keep the Cost Investigation Committee going. There might have been some merit in it, but there was quite a lot of doubt in the approach of the Labour government to its own scheme half way through the five years for which the stabilization scheme was to operate.

Dr Evatt - Be fair.

Mr ADERMANN - What is wrong with that? My statement is correct, and the Leader of the Opposition knows it. We gave a guarantee during the election campaign that if we became the government, the obligation to the dairymen according to the cost finding of the 1949-50 year would be honoured; and it was honoured within a few days of our election to office. Moreover, we have honoured all the recommendations since.

As to the dairying industry and its welfare, it is undeniable that it is facing a critical period because of unpayable overseas prices. So, there are two approaches that we need to make; and we have made them. The first is the short-term, approach in which we need to do something immediately; and it must be disappointing to the Opposition to know that the Government has acted to underwrite payments to the dairymen at present. When speakers on the Opposition side suggest that 3d. per lb. is of no consequence, my reply is that it will be of consequence at a time when it is most needed, and that is in the case of excess production. If there is an excess quantity for export, it might mean that the dairymen will not receive 3s. 4d. That is where the guarantee comes in. It will not be required if production is low. If a lesser quantity is going overseas, obviously dairymen will not only receive the 3s. 4d., but an amount in addition according to realization. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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