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Tuesday, 3 June 1969

Senator LITTLE (Victoria) - I wish to indicate that the members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party support this legislation which seems to have been generated by representations by the industry. It is easy to share the fears that have been expressed in this chamber concerning the unscrupulous methods of marketing which sometimes are adopted. However, I think that the people who use those methods are in the minority. After all, this is a highly competitive industry. It is a booming industry these days. Nowadays it is common for people to eat chicken two or three times a week whereas once upon a time they ate chicken only at Christmas time or at Easter. The industry has met challenges in the past. Today there is a high degree of competition, and I think that that in itself keeps the majority of producers honest. The fact that there are three Bills dealing with the industry at present before the Senate and that a chicken meat research committee is to be established may indicate that the industry itself is well aware of the problems stated by honourable senators who have spoken during this debate.

It is hoped to create a major export industry in chicken meat. I suggest that we cast our minds into the future and consider the circumstances that may well arise if we have millions of bushels of wheat which we cannot sell to anybody because we have hopelessly overproduced in the light of world demand. In that event we could conceivably send away meat in the form of chicken carcasses if the industry has the capacity to do so and sufficient initiative to develop alternative methods of production. It may be possible to reduce the cost of production and thus make it possible to produce quality chicken meat at the reduced price that will be necessary if we are to demand a place in the world market.

This matter is of particular interest for those who have sought information about Asia's food requirements and trade arrangements, because chickens already are widely eaten in Asia, lt would not be a matter of sending to Asia something by way of an experiment, nor would it be like trying to popularise the eating of crumpets so that we could sell the Asian people butter to put on the crumpets. A market for chickens already exists and it could be expanded if Australian producers were able to produce a quality product at a lower price. I believe that development of the industry and research into the production of better chicken meat are well worth while, and for that reason we approve of the legislation. Two of the Bills are consequential upon the establishment of the research committee, and for that reason they cannot do otherwise than meet with the approbation of the Senate.

I wish to say a few words concerning the comments of honourable senators to the effect that individual liberties should be preserved and of the rights that may be established under this legislation. I suppose that a person who runs a factory or an industry has no civil liberty to fail to disclose his wages book to a factory inspector upon demand. How else could the law which provides that proper wages shall be paid to employees be administered? The civil liberties of the person who runs the factory and is required to produce his wages book are limited by the civil liberties of the people who work for him. They have an entitlement to protection that is afforded through examination of the books and by other means. I do not know that a good case in this respect can be made out when the authority concerned is a board. Heavens above! Under the Act which covers the functions of an egg marketing board a producer has not the civil liberty to own the eggs that a fowl lays. He may own the fowl which lays the eggs; he may own the sheds and everything else, but he does not own the eggs. Most of us agree, I think, that industries today cannot exist and prosper unless there is a certain degree of organised selling. As we know, the various boards organise the selling. When such boards are established the liberties of the producers are limited. Whatever rights an egg producer may have over the eggs that he produces, they are limited by the rights of the rest of the community who are assisting in the orderly marketing of the eggs.

We of the Democratic Labor Party would be prepared to examine these amendments at the appropriate stage. However, I want to say that when an organisation is established to undertake research into an industry, and it is established at the request of the people in the industry who are most likely to be affected by the research and to be involved in any examinations or payments that are necessary, the liberties of each person involved in that industry are limited by the liberties of everyone else in the community. We support the legislation.

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