Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 25 June 1930

Following on his declaration at the Congress of " Marxist Agrarian Experts,"-

Not the conference that met in Canberra

M.   Stalin, Secretary-General of the Communist party, in an article published on the anniversary of Lenin's death, expounded the Soviet Government's decision to abandon the "N.E.P. " (New Economic Policy) in the countryside and proceed with all due energy with the collectivization of peasant holdings and "the extermination of the kulaks (welltodo peasants) as a class," their number being given as approximately 5,000,000. A decree was issued jointlyby the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars empowering local authorities " in districts of mass collectivization " to confiscate the property of the kulaks without compensation in favour of the collective farms, and banish the owners outside the. village or even province. Thousands of families are now being deprived of their belongings and turned out of their homes. All attempts at resistance are punished by arrests or shooting. Nevertheless, according to the Soviet Press, the Government policy is meeting with "fierce resistance" from the despoiled peasants, who prefer to destroy their property rather than hand it over to the State. Particularly pronounced is the opposition to the collectivization of live stock. In spite of stern government measures wholesale slaughter of cattle and horses is going on, including pedigree stock, so that some districts have been depleted of nearly 50 per cent, of their live stock. The process of collectivization, however, is developing far more rapidly than was anticipated. According to the latest returns of the Commissariat for Agriculture, on 10th February, over 45 per cent, of the total peasant holdings in Russia proper, the Ukraine and " White " Russia, covering, an area of 7,000,000 hectares of arable land, and 70 per cent, of the live stock were collectivized. The Government is now faced with the problem of organizing the work of the millions of peasants involved in the collective farms. The scheme now being drawn up is based not on the principle of proportionate ownership or cooperation, but virtually on that of hired labour, the idea being to divide the population in categories with either fixed wages or payment for piece-work. This policy, according to the Soviet press, is being extensively taken advantage of by various "obscure elements, marauders and counterrevolutionaries " for spreading rumours of a return to serfdom, and the legend of the advent of a " Red master " appears to be widespread.

One of the first cares of the Government was to organize the collection of seeds for the spring sowing in order to bring the cultivated area up to plan. According to the official returns for 20th February, over 80 per cent, of the seed grain quota has been collected throughout the U.S.S.R., some districts hav- . ing collected a surplus while others are still lagging behind.

On page 78 of that report, the following appears: -

As a great demand for labour is expected with the advent of the spring season, the Commissariat of Labour has concluded a contract with the Kolkhozcentre (Central Collective Farm Department) for drafting 1,500,000 peasants from the collective farms for work in various branches of State industry, particularly in the building trade. This measure appears to be in the nature of a conscription.

My reason for reading these somewhat lengthy reports is that I now propose to read an extract from an Australian Labour newspaper which has commented on the state of affairs in Russia, in order that honorable senators may know the opinion of at least one section of Labour in -this community upon the collectivization of farms in Russia. On the 13th March last, the Labor Call - the official organ of the Labour party in Victoria - contained the following statement: -

That greatly maligned country, Russia, is undergoing another savage attack. This time it is religion, and there are those who would raise another crusade in the holy cause.

It then proceeds to deal with that phase ; but I do not propose to do so. It continues -

It has been apparent for some time that any attempt to understand what is going on in the Soviet Union in terms of foreign and domestic policy, or to catch the temper of Russian opinion, must use as a point of departure the momentary success of the five-year programme. No single fact in Russian current history compares with this in importance. At first the peasants rebelled sporadically throughout the country districts, and the Government abandoned its coercive measures against them in the interests of harmony. Professor Furniss points out the results of the first year of the five-year programme, Which is just now becoming -known, and accounts for the peasants' change of attitude.

It gives the figures which Professor Furniss has supplied, and, after dealing with the industrial side, speaks of the agricultural position as follows: -

In agriculture, the programme calls for a moderate increase in total crop, a cautious extension of the State farm system and the system of peasant collectives, and some extension of tlie cultivated area. Recognising the great hazard involved in any attempt to hustle the peasants out of their stubborn notions of private property and their antiquated methods of cultivation, the Communist leaders had only partial confidence in the success of this part of their programme, but the record of achievement lias far outstripped their hopes.

This year's crop, despite bad weather conditions, exceeds last year's by 4,000,000 tons, and is equalled only by the bumper crop of 102G. The seeded area has increased by 13,000,000 acres; 45,000 tractors arc in use throughout the country districts, as compared with 500 at the time of the revolution, and 30,000 more ure to be added during the next few months.

Perhaps the most spectacular development has been the spread of State and collective farms. The number of collectives has doubled during i;he year, and now embraces 1,000,000 peasants.' households, representing in some cases whole villages, or even groups of villages, who have pooled their land and machinery in a co-operative undertaking in agriculture. These collectives furnished 12 per cent, of the commercial grain. The State farms have experienced a similar process of growth. Fifty-five enormous farms, owned by the Government and operated with scientific agricultural methods by Government employees, were established during the year, and sixty-five more will be added during the next few months. These farms have a double purpose. They are the beginning of socialization in agriculture, and "are also experimental stations in modern agriculture technique.

The article goes on to deal with the progress that has been made, and concludes -

It is only a year ago the Communist leaders set out to achieve what most foreign observers, and a large section of their own party at home, believed to be the impossible to industrialise a vast agrarian nation in the space of five years; to revolutionise an agricultural technique 000 years old; to double the productive capacity of the average man on the farm and in the factory; and to .raise the standard of living of scores of millions of people by an amount commensurate with the gains of' other nations over a period of half a century.

The only comment I wish to make on the success of that scheme is that, under the ineffective, .out-of-date and reactionary administration of the Czars, Russia produced 28 per cent, of the world's export trade in wheat, whereas, under this magnificent, successful, so-called collec tivization scheme for the socialization of the wheat industry of Russia, it has produced only 3£ per cent. of the world's wheat exports. We have the first step now being taken towards the collectivization of the agricultural industry of Australia. A compulsory wheat pool means the socialization of the buying, and selling of wheat. Once the wheat-growers, attracted by the bunch of carrots, in the shape of a guaranteed price, have put their neck in that noose for three years, the Government of the Commonwealth, with the socialization of industry as its declared objective, has the farmers absolutely in its grasp, and can then proceed as in Russia to the ultimate objective of collectivization.

It is generally assumed that if we pass this bill we are only giving the farmers an opportunity to determine this matter for themselves, but there is no provision in this bill for the taking of any ballot of any farmers in any State. It is true that we hear statements made by Ministers that "it is understood" that the ballots will be taken and that certain States have legislation dealing with the matter. But so far as the Federal Parliament is concerned no farmer will be given an opportunity to say by his vote whether he will or will not come under this scheme. Even if the farmers are given votes in the States under State legislation and three of the six States by a majority decide to enter the pool, although their votes may represent a negligible proportion of the total votes in Australia, they will have the right to bring the other three States into the scheme. It is a most extraordinary proposal. If Tas, mania, Queensland, and Victoria, by a majority, agree to accept the scheme, what right have they to fix the condition!* for the other three States in which tb» total number of wheat-growers may be more than double that majority of wheat-growers who vote for the scheme in Tasmania, Queensland, and Victoria? Under this bill the wheatgrowers of the enormous States of Western Australia, New South Wales, and South Australia - enormous from a wheat-growing point of view - are brought into the pool whether they want it or not, and their wheat is socialized; because the Commonwealth Government has the power to prohibit the export of wheat except under the terms of the hill. As I say, it is an extraordinary proposal, one of the most extraordinary that has ever been brought forward in this Parliament, and I venture to say that the Senate, if it is what it was intended to be - the guardian of the rights of the States - will not allow the measure to pass in its present form.

It is argued that the bill will not involve any increase in the price of bread. I want to anticipate an argument that Senator O'Halloran will certainly advance, that the price of bread was soandso when wheat was high, and there has been no fall in its price, although there has been a big fall in the price of wheat. It is a familiar argument; we have heard it many times. I quote the following from the Canberra Times of the 20th June: -

Suggest corrections