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Thursday, 29 May 1930

Senator DALY (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - I could understand the honorable senator's objection if this were an ordinary bill, but after a proviso had been inserted to guard against the payment of bounty on wines produced from vines planted since the 31st March, 1928, it was discovered that certain blocks on which, under State repatriation schemes, soldiers had been placed, had been condemned and that the soldiers had been transferred to other blocks. An amendment was, therefore, necessary to meet the particular cases of those soldiers. The difficulty was to arrive at a wording which would cover their cases, and at the same time exclude all planting after a certain date. These soldiers are morally entitled to the benefits of the bounty.

Senator McLachlan - They would be legally entitled to them if they had remained on their original blocks.

Senator DALY - I am obliged to the honorable senator for reminding anc of that.

Senator Guthrie - But why should people who planted vines since the 31st March, 1928, be penalized?

Senator DALY - With a view to stabilizing the wine export trade, all sections of the industry were consulted, and it was agreed by them that one way, among others, in which it could be done was to restrict planting. A date had to be fixed so that bounty would not be payable on wines the product of vines planted after that date. Experts fixed it as the 31st March, 1928, and Parliament is now asked to give legal sanction to the agreement between the Government and the experts in the industry in that respect. After the proviso was framed and passed by another place it was discovered that returned soldiers who had been transferred from their original blocks and had planted their new blocks, were not covered by it. The amendment I am now moving is to enable the bounty to be paid to those men. In fixing a date, the parties were no doubt influenced by the fact that a similar' proviso was inserted in the 1927 amendment of the Wine Export Bounty Act.

Senator Sir George Pearce - The words of the amendment certainly do not exclude other persons.

Senator DALY - I have already endeavoured to explain how difficult it is to employ language capable of restricting it to one class while not making it wide enough to include others not intended to be covered. The object the Government had in view was to meet the case of repatriated soldiers transferred to new blocks and the most suitable wording suggested to us is that which has been submitted to the committee. The only class of people likely to be covered by the amendment are the soldiers settled in irrigated areas in the River Murray valley.

Senator E B Johnston - Why not include all present growers?

Senator DALY - Because in the matter of the payment of the bounty some date had to be fixed.

Senator Sir George Pearce - Why not say straight out that it has been found necessary to limit production?

Senator DALY - It has been found necessary to do so in order to stabilize the industry.

Senator Guthrie - What is to happen to the mcn who, without Government assistance, have planted since the 31st March, 1928 ?

Senator DALY - The bill has been circulated through every wine-growing district, every wine-grower has been fully apprised of its provisions and the secretary of the Federal Viticultural Council, who is now in Canberra, has authorized me to say that not one objection has been raised by any grower on his council to any of the provisions of the measure.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Western Australia) [9.11]. - We can quite see the purpose of the amendment. It is to meet the case of men who were growing vines before the 31st of March, 1928, but because of their blocks having proved unsuitable have been obliged, with Government assistance, to plant other blocks since that date. It is, however, not the only form in which Government assistance is given. In Western Australia the Agricultural Bank, which has nothing to do with repatriation efforts, gives assistance to wine-growers.

Senator Daly - The amendment relates only to wine-growers in an irrigation area.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.That is certainly a limitation, but is the Government satisfied that there are no irrigation areas, except those on the river Murray, which have recently been planted with vines with Government assistance?

Senator Daly - Yes.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - There is no definition of "government assistance," and it seems to me that any person who has taken up a block since the 31st March, 1928, and with Government assistance planted it with vines, would be eligible to receive the bounty.

Senator Daly - He would be, if he could be found, but we are satisfied that he cannot be found.

Senator SirHAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [9.13]. - If the.committee wishes to pass .the amendment in its present form, let it do so by all means, but I do not want to become a party to it without protest. Either people have planted vines between the 31st March, 1928, and the present time, or they have not. If they have not, there is no need for the provision. If they have we are favouring one individual at the expense of another, and the wine-grower so favoured has already received Government assistance. The proviso exposes the hollowness of the entire proposal, because apparently the export of wine cannot succeed unless production is restricted; unless the development of the industry is restricted, it must collapse. How foolish it is to stop the production of wine in order to prevent the industry from growing. I question very much the constitutional validity of a provision which gives preference to certain indivduals. It is all very well to say that a similar provision was in an earlier wine export bounty act. That is done with. This is a new bill and a bounty is now offered to all people who had their vines planted before 31st March, 1928, and to some who, with Government assistance, have planted vines between then and the passage of this bill.

Senator DALY - Put -in returned soldiers. That would suit the Government.

Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH - What does it matter who are put there. The bounty must be equitable. It must be based on some principle or other. I do not think that this proviso would stand legal scrutiny. Why should not the whole thing apply from the passage of the measure? What harm is contemplated? Is it anticipated that a number of people have been planting vines in the interim ? ,

Senator Daly - They have.

Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH - If they have been bona fide planters, using their own money and industry, what right has the Government to come along and say, " You shall not receive the bounty " ? It has not yet been made a crime to plant grape vines. What justification is there for saying that the men who have planted grape \iiifs during the last couple of years shall be debarred from participating in the bounty?

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