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Thursday, 13 November 1930


Senator DUNN (New South Wales) . - I regret very much the heat that was shown by the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition, when replying to the arguments adduced by my colleague, Senator Rae. The damage has been done and there is no need for us to go into the wheat belts of New South Wales or of the other States to explain the exact position to the people there. There is no doubt that the position of the wheat-farmers, not only of Western Australia, but also of South Australia and New South Wales, warrants the careful consideration of the Government. Senator Lynch, speaking on this subject a few days ago, said, jocularly, that I was a trades hall wheat-farmer, hut I would remind him that I have spent many weary hours working in the wheat belts of New South Wales and New Zealand, and that I know the conditions of farming as well as he does. A few weeks ago there was a meeting, of 32 store-keepers at a place called Barellan in the Riverina. At that meeting it was learned that their liabilities for goods supplied to the farmers of the Riverina amounted to the huge sum of £1,090,000, and not £1,250,000, as stated by Senator Lynch. Those store-keepers ' gave credit to the farmers because of the promise of a guarantee of 4s. a bushel for wheat as sent over the wireless by the Scullin Government. Many wheatfarmers in South Australia and Western Australia are in a plight similar to that, of thu farmers of New South Wales. Senator Lynch referred to Russian wheat. I have before me an example of the Country party's propaganda against the Labour party at the last elections. It is a double column advertisement taken from the Wagga Advertiser, and is to the effect that the Labour party is out to ruin Australian farmers and is the friend of the Soviet. This pernicious propaganda was signed by Colonel Munro, General Secretary of the Country party of New, South Wales. I am indignant to think that British investors in wheat have purchased Russian wheat, in view of the fact that Russia repudiated its debts to Great Britain to the extent of £940^00,000.


Senator Rae - Great Britain owes Russia ju3t as much.'


Senator DUNN - I am not concerned about that. I am concerned about the repudiation of £940,000,000, and the fact that British investors have sent over 500 British vessels, to the Black Sea ports to lift surplus Russian wheat grown under the rule of the Soviet Government. That has been done, notwithstanding the fact that Australia made terrific sacrifices during the Avar and that, because of the low price ruling for wheat. our farmers are practically destitute. This Government endeavoured to do the right thing by the farmers but was prevented from doing so by honorable senators opposite. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) rose a moment ago to vent his wrath on my colleague, Senator Rae, but surely he is entitled to air his opinions so long as he does not transgress the Standing Orders. This Government has every sympathy with the farmers, and in this regard let me quote a few remarks from an article appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald of to-day's date. It reads -

Opening the conference, Mr. Forde said that he had convened it at the request of two State Governments, a large number of members of the House of Representatives on both sides, and a great number of farmers' organizations .throughout Australia. It had been convened to make a survey of the wholewheat industry, to arrive at a scheme to help wheatgrowers out of their parlous condition. " Believing that it is impossible for the growers to produce wheat at present prices," said Mr. Forde, " I made up my mind before coming to this conference to interview the Commonwealth Bank Board to ascertain whether it would be possible to induce the bank to pay a larger first advance than 80 per cent. of the market value of the wheat.I suggested a first payment of 2s., but the bank definitely stated that after considering the present market value and the future prospects, together with the finances of the country, it was not prepared to give a higher advance than 80 per cent The board pointed out that all available resources were required for the financing of ordinary governmental activities. That is the presentposition, andI though it would be best to put it before you frankly."

All honorable senators will agree that the wheat-growers of Australia are in a bad way, and all, Iam sure, are anxious to do what is possible to help them. The Government has done its part in the past and it will continue to do so in future.

Question resolved in the affirmative.







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