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Wednesday, 14 October 1970

Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) (1:18 AM) First of ali I take exception to the last few words of the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). The words were: 'It is an untruth and he knows it'. I cannot talk to the new members in the House but I can talk to the older ones who have been here for years. If the new members talk to the older members they will find I have never been accused of not telling the truth in all my years here. Before I refer to what has been said - I can prove that what 1 have been saying is true - I want to deal with what has been said about the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony). The honourable member for Dawson could not help but say what he did. Perhaps he tried to control his remarks. After all, the first and best victory he could have is the victory of self control. He tried to control himself, but he had to say - he knew that I had explained this before - that I called the Minister for Primary Industry an office boy.

The circumstances of what happened need to be explained. I spoke at a big meeting of wheat growers at Bendigo. I said that they should go to Canberra and arrange to meet the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen), the Treasurer (Mr Bury) and the Minister for Primary Industry in a panel. Someone said that this would be impossible but I had done it already for the dried fruits industry. I said: 'What you are doing is seeing one Minister, say the Minister for Primary Industry, and then you may see the Prime Minister or the Treasurer. You will be seeing different Ministers but you will be putting your case chiefly to the Minister for Primary Industry. He will be going backwards and forwards to Cabinet and you will have him running about like a messenger boy. I said like a messenger boy'. I did not say office boy'. That is completely wrong. I hope that the honourable member for Dawson did not know the truth because I would like to think that he tells the truth. I had been going around the country and 1 was just as ashamed of the statement I am about to quote as the honourable member should be. The only place I quoted it was in the debate I had with the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) at Barham. I had already quoted it in the House some time prior to that. Hansard will verify that. Let me read one or two things that were said by the honourable member for Dawson in a speech made on 1 0th March. He said:

The Minister gave an estimate with respect to the 1968-69 wheat harvest of deliveries of 435 million bushels which involved the Reserve Bank covering the first advance and expenses of $509m. That estimate was sadly wrong. As we know, the actual deliveries were in excess of 500 million bushels, and the loan from the Reserve Bank to the growers had to he increased. Provision was made for a loan of up lo $634rn, which is very big money.

It was obvious to everybody, to the industry and to the Government, that last year there would be large sums of money unrepaid in respect of the 1968-69 harvest. The Government then made another advance of $440m. Looking at it in perspective now, in March 1970, we see a total of $440m as the first advance for last year's crop and approximately $250m in unsold wheat or the equivalent still on hand. This amounts to a loan of from $650m to $700m having been made. The disturbing thing of which Parliament must take note is the very serious economic problem of the consequence of making large advances to anyone when the money has been spent and the product for which it has been advanced hasnot been sold. This is the very serious problem with which we are faced now and with which we will be faced this time next year. In anybody's logic it is wrong economically to provide large loans or finance for anything that is difficult. The money has been spent but the wheat which it represents has not been sold.

I will go further. The honourable member for Dawson later stated:

The Opposition gives warning that if this state of affairs arises next year very serious consideration must be given to it. The Government has now been warned about what can happen by being a guarantor for large proportions of wheat that cannot be sold at this point of time.

The point that I make is that the honourable member for Dawson is condemning the advance of money on wheat that has not been sold.

Dr Patterson - Rubbish.

Mr TURNBULL - Of course he is.I will read the passage again. It reads:

The Government has now been warned about what can happen by being a guarantor for large proportions of wheat that cannot be sold at this point of time.

During his speech just now the honourable member for Dawson said: 'I will quote what the Minister for Primary Industry said'. But honourable members will notice that he did not quote it at all. I challenge him to quote it in the words that appear in this document.

Dr Patterson - I did quote it. I have it here.

Mr TURNBULL - The honourable member said he would quote it but he did not.

Dr Patterson - I did quote it. I read it out.

Mr TURNBULL - The honourable member did not quote it on the lines that I have here. Let me go further on this matter. The honourable member for Dawson in making his speech got himself into a very serious position. There is no doubt about that. Honourable members opposite may laugh if they wish, but what would have been the position of the wheat industry if the advances had not been made? The advances for this coming year were announced 6 months before it was to be made. It was announced in about March. Previously we have always found out about it in November. Supposing the Government said: 'We have been warned by the the honourable member for Dawson of the consequences of making these advances. We must take notice of this warning because he is the shadow Minister for Primary Industry. We must take notice of what he says. Therefore we will not make the advance on this coming harvest of $1.10 a bushel because there is too much money out at the present time and we have been warned by the shadow Minister for Primary Industry.' This would be a very dangerous situation.

I and this fine body of men behind me in the Country Party believe that these advances are justified. We believe that the advances have to be made this year - as they are being made - and we believe that they will have to be made next year and the year after that. If a time comes when quotas disappear and we return to normal and we find that an amount of $300m or $400m is owing by the wheat growers for these advances on wheat that was not sold, then I believe that whatever government is in office should wipe the slate clean. ] say this because we know - and it has been said by members of the Labor Party in this place - that primary industry is the very basis of the prosperity and progress of this nation. Primary industry is the main factor in our national life. The clipping of the golden fleece, the harvesting of the golden grain and the cultivation of countless other products of the soil are so important to this country that we will not take any notice of the warning that I have quoted and which appears in Hansard and which was issued by the shadow Minister for Primary Industry, the honourable member for Dawson.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 1.29 a.m. (Thursday)

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