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Thursday, 14 October 1971
Page: 2420

Mr FOSTER (Sturt) - I hope that the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) will remain in his seat for the next few minutes.

Mr Kennedy - Which seat do you mean?

Mr FOSTER - I mean his parliamentary seat in this chamber. He has made a speech in this chamber tonight that was designed purely and simply for his electorate. Here he sits and here he will cast his vote tonight in favour of the measure now before this House, without any qualms or thought or anything of that nature. But he will cart the Hansard record of his speech around the electorate that he now holds like a Bible and. when the crunch comes a little later, he will say on the street corners: This is what I said: this is what I did. My colleagues would not agree with me.' He has made a speech in this House tonight purely and simply for his own selfish political ends. Why did he not stand in this House tonight and say: 'We have suffered. My Party has brought upon the rural industry 20 years of absolute rural betrayal.' That is the way an honest person would have spoken. The honourable member made cheap, snide remarks against members of the Opposition, including myself. Unfortunately, Mr Deputy Speaker, your attention was distracted for a moment and he took advantage of that and you apparently did not hear what he said. That does not worry me in the least. The honourable member made some reference to King William Street farmers or Pitt Street farmers. Let me say this to the honourable member: It appears that he does not know that he may have been getting somewhere near the truth because the provisions of this Bill will pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into the pockets of the Anthony Horderns in the city streets of Sydney. Why did he not point that out? Why did he not oppose this measure? This Bill will allow the taxpayers' money - not the Government's money - to be pourned into the pockets of absentee landowners in this country. Make no error about that, lt will pour millions of dollars into the pockets of the wool barons and the brokers, not the battlers. The honourable member for Kennedy, who was the last supporter of the Government to speak on this matter, mentioned this specific provision, and he will accept it. However, the honourable member for Kennedy, with the narrow view that he holds, will protect himself by inserting certain words in the Hansard record. Why did he not underline the following words which appeared in the Ministers second reading speech:

The payments mechanism will depend upon the active co-operation of persons carrying on business as brokers, registered classing houses, wool merchants and agents who export wool, or who sell wool by tender on behalf of producers.

There could be written into that provision the subversives, Bagots, shakes and lizards, New Zealand magnates, the ship owners and the whole host of vampires who have been feeding on the wool growers for years. The honourable member wants members on this side of the House to support a measure, camouflaged as it is, which has been introduced into this House and which purports to help the wool grower. The honourable member for Kennedy will vote for a clause like the one to which I have referred. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for ever and a day. Why did you not protest?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! I suggest that the honourable member address his remarks to the Chair.

Mr FOSTER - I draw your attention, Mr Deputy Speaker, to the fact that this clause is in the Bill. It is an indictment against you or the Party which you represent because in the Bill there has not been inserted one single clause which will guarantee that the overloaded producer - the producer who is loaded with debt, with stock mortgages and land mortgages - will get one cent in bis own pocket. There is no provision which protects such a person in his own individual right. It is not in there, and the Minister knows it.

Mr Robinson - What rot.

Mr FOSTER - The honourable member for Cowper has not spoken in this debate. You get up afterwards and tell me where you can see that in this Bill. Where does it say that the grower and the battler in the industry is really protected and is afforded some protection. You tell me where in this measure a producer with a wife and 4 children, 3 of whom are going to school, is guaranteed one cent? Where is it in this measure before the House? You cannot do it because of the one section of the Minister's second reading speech to which 1 have referred and which indicates to me quite clearly that the battler and the producer on the line have to beg cap in hand for their money from the brokers. Look at it - do what you like. That is what it means. You tell me differently. 1 have made the challenge. You tell me where the situation is different.

But for every 1 million sheep that Dalgety's, Goldsborough Mort, British Tobacco Ltd and others run in this country, they will make $600,000. I directed a question, did 1 not, last week to the Minister for Primary Industry, who is not in the House at the moment. I cannot see him any way. He is not in the House at the moment. The Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) is at the table. The Minister may be hiding under a razor blade; I do not know. The fact. is that the Minister did not deny in reply to my question last week that Country Party funds had gained Sim from Goldsborough Mort, Elder Smith and so forth. Why should they not get this assistance? They are the people that you are protecting.

Mr Corbett - Prove it.

Mr FOSTER - I do not have to prove it. I cannot prove it. I admit that. I cannot prove it. I will admit that.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Orders!Interjections are out of order. The honourable member for Maranoa has spoken already.

Mr FOSTER - I have not access to the bank accounts. I have not access to the safes Which they sneak to and stuff with their credit notes in the hours of darkness. You will not carry a measure in this House that will have the effect of disclosing such things.

Where is the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) at the moment? He is not in the House either. What a grandstand he made last year. Let me remind the House of what he said. This article reads:

On 25th March 1970 the former Minister for Defence informed the 10,000 farmers who assembled in Melbourne, that, 'acquisition is the only sensible way to market the Australian wool clip,' and that, 'he would work his guts out for the industry'.

Those are his words. He worked his guts out, kicking Gorton's guts out. That is what he did. His words are here. That is exactly what he did. Let me go on a little further with this quotation because this happened not so long ago, did it, when all is said and done. The gallant right honourable gentleman is not in the House either. This article continues:

Then on 29lh April 1970 he advised the 1,200 wool growers assembled at Narrandera 'not to be put off by a 15 or 20 per cent rise in prices in August or September' and that, 'he and his Cabinet colleagues would work their guts out to find a solution to the problems of the industry*.

Mr Grassby - They had more guts than performance.

Mr FOSTER - As my colleague interjects: 'They had more guts than performance' or they said they did, anyway. I will quote further from this document. It states:

Apparently he did just that, and is now a backbencher representing one of the vulnerable rural electorates.

We in this House all know that he has got around to becoming a junior Minister in Cabinet. I spell his name with- a 'z' because I think that he is 'zero' in the Cabinet.

Mr Staley - What are you talking about?

Mr FOSTER - I am talking about Fraser. This article continues:

On 10th August last the Member for the Federal Electorate of Mitchell, Mr L. H. Irwin, M.H.R.- he has spoken in (his debate tonight - . . warned the then Prime Minister of Australia by telegram, copy of which was published on the front page of a Sydney newspaper that same day, that any attempt by the Government to interfere with the free and open wool marketing auction system could bring about the disintegration of the Liberal Party and the downfall of the Government.

And, that night while being interviewed on a national television broadcast Mr Irwin stated we licked 'em before and we will lick 'em again'.

What great attention to wool growers you have paid. There is no doubt about you fellows. Let me deal with some other further matters-

Mr Robinson - What about the waterside workers?

Mr FOSTER - Now, an honourable member has interjected to ask something about the waterside workers. They copped the measure of the shipowners years ago and got what they ought to have got from them. It is about time that you got off your posterior and got for the people you represent their just deserts from the 'shipowners'. But you will never do that either, will you? Of course you will not.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order!I suggest that the honourable member direct his remarks to the Chair and ignore interruptions.

Mr FOSTER - But you have not heard me, Mr Deputy Speaker. Is it not about time that you fellows over on that side of the House thought about marketing wool on behalf of wool growers and not brokers? Why do you not give some thought to this? Is it not time that you started to market wool on behalf of growers and not bankers, speculators and shipowners? Why not think of the producers now and again?

Mr King - You have not told me yet where you are going to draw the line.

Mr FOSTER - You draw the line. I do not have to draw it. You have been in government for 20-odd dreary years-


Mr FOSTER - ... and you along with them, Mr Deputy Speaker. They ought to draw the line, not me. That is not my function. I support the amendment because of the fact that I do not agree with what the Minister said to this House a few days ago. He said the whole idea of the scheme was that it would treat equally all in the industry. He would not have a bar of applying a means test within the industry. But it is all right to apply a means test to the poor old pensioner. There is nothing wrong with applying a means test to the battler. There is nothing wrong with that at all.

As I said before - and I am going to repeat it - is there any one member on the Government side who is prepared to examine this matter on the basis of figures which surely must be available - figures with some degree of near accuracy - in regard to the number of sheep that a particular grower might shear and how much he is going to get? Is it right that the people of this country, the taxpayers, ought to have this levied against them? This Bill is not, as they are being told by the Government, a measure to assist the industry but is merely to see go out of this country what can be considered large sums of money to absentee land owners.

Is it right that the Australian Medical Association which is running a lot of sheep - you know that, if you want to examine it further - ought to be able to touch the Government on this matter as it touched them with regard to the health scheme? Are you going to let them touch you on this Bill? That is what you are doing. I come back to the interjection made by the honourable member for Kennedy. Anthony Horderns is keeping sheep. Tt is going to shear them. It is in the rag trade. It is in big business. It is not relying on this industry for its living. Why then should you not make some distinction with regard to large and small owners? What is wrong with that concept? I ask you: What is wrong with that concept?

Mr Lloyd - It does not work.

Mr FOSTER - It does not work! You mean to tell me that you cannot define who runs the sheep in this country? What you ought to be doing is pouring the money not into the measure that is before the House but, if you are to benefit the battler and the smaller grower, what you ought to be doing is seeing that he does receive something from this measure. In many cases these people will not get a zac out of this Bill. You might as well put the money straight into a bank and say to this fellow: 'Here, mate. Your land is now freehold.' You should settle his mortgage for him because you are not helping him at all. Is it right also that, by this measure, the Government will ensure that the high percentage of freight rates that exist will continue to be levied through certain agreements on trade and what have you to which this Government is a party? Is it right that the corner of the shipowners will be guaranteed but that the growers' corner will not be guaranteed?

Mr Maisey - What are you talking about?

Mr FOSTER - He says: 'What are you talking about?' I do not know how you keep wearing the size hat that you wear. The fact is this: You have been a member here longer than I have. You should know that the conference line shippers are going to get their pound of flesh. You were here last week. Surely you must have heard it said on this side of the House-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order!

Mr FOSTER - It was not denied, Mr Deputy Speaker-that the apple growers would receive a bill instead of a cheque as a reward for their efforts in sending their fruit overseas. I see the honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey) nodding his head in agreement as he has on many occasions previously in this type of debate. Yet you ask me, and reveal your absolute ignorance, why I make the statement that the shipowners will get their corner. The shipowners are guaranteed their pie. They are guaranteed the benefit from the freight charges on woo), ever increasing as they are. There is no doubt about that. Whatever the price of wool is, the shipowners will receive their freights. The point I make to honourable members for their benefit is that there is no guarantee to the grower as fas as that aspect is concerned.

Another aspect of the whole matter is that the grower has been denied any direct benefit from technological changes that have been brought about in the industry and in handling methods. I do not know how many times that one has to stand up in this House and raise the question of containerisation so far as wool is concerned. If anyone with any sense at all sets out to convince me that it is necessary to put wool in to containers, he will spend a life time endeavouring to do so. A system of banding is in operation in many of the woo) dumping areas of the Commonwealth. Machinery has been installed in Adelaide over the last 2 years at considerable cost to the taxpayer but the Commonwealth does not own it. Who owns it? Honourable members opposite know as well as I do that the barons, the wool brokers and burglars own it.

Mr Bryant - Who?

Mr FOSTER - The burglars, the barons and the wool brokers. They own this machinery which has been given to them on a plate. The use of this high density dumping machine and its associated machinery means that 6 bales can be put on the ground and banded. This secures the bales ready for shipment. Do you get that, Mr Minister? The bales are banded together. The Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes), who is sitting at the table, represents a country electorate, but looks as if he does not know or understand what is being said. We can continue to band the bales together until such time as we have them in lots of 6, 18, 36, 72 and so forth. Having done that we can completely mechanise the whole of the handling operations of that wool. Right, has the Minister got that point? We can lift the bales by forklift to the wharf area. We do not have a dozen men handling the load and stacking it. In fact, one man can handle the load of wool which is banded together and which can be put into any size lots that one wants.

In Brisbane, I might mention, for the benefit of a bloke that comes from Queensland, there has been a shipment in one single lift of some 370 bales. This was achieved in one hit. What restriction is there to the loading of wool in a concept such as this? There are 2 restrictions.

Mr Katter - The wharfies.

Mr FOSTER - No. Only 4 men are employed on the job. I am trying . to get that through the head of the honourable member. I ask him not to pull his hand out of his ear for goodness sake.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury - Order! Interjections are out of order.

Mr FOSTER - There are only 2 restrictions that limit the loading of wool by this method. The first is the capacity of the gear that is lifting the load. One can use a great jumbo crane which can lift up to 200 or 300 tons. The second restriction is the size of the hatchway through which the wool passes into the vessel. For the benefit of the honourable member for Kennedy I explain that this is called the aperture. These are the only 2 restrictions. That is the only determining

Mr Katter - I know as much about the wharf as the honourable member.

Mr FOSTER - You were on the wharf once. You were a member of the Communist Party on the wharf once. The honourable member does not deny it, what is more. But the fact is that these are the only 2 limiting factors.

What benefit has flowed to the grower from this increased mechanisation? Where we used to have some 30 men loading wool in single bale lots which were put into a vessel 6 at a time the number of men required to handle the job now is perhaps down to as low as 4. Imagine the wage cost of employing 30 men, and look at the tremendous saving that is now being achieved. Look at it from the point of view that whereas almost 400 ships handled the run between the United Kingdom-Continental ports and Australia the number will be reduced to 70 in a matter of months. Look at the reduction in the number of turnrounds; look at the saving in costs. In addition, these ships do not carry the same number of crew as they used to carry. I have said it before, and I do not know how many times I have to say it again, but you fellows sit over there, you go quiet, you listen but do nothing about it. Honourable members opposite do not embark upon any form of inquiry and allow this shocking neglect to go on. The grower ought to be up on his feet and punching hell out of honourable members opposite to force them to do something on his behalf.

The super bale has come into being. Why is it that someone who says he supports the industry and the battlers, the workers and the producers does not demand from the super bale a greater return to the grower? What is wrong with this? Is it because of the fact that honourable members opposite only hoodwink the grower and take for granted this man who has been their backstop and consider him as part and parcel of their own properties? However, they have regard for the broker and the big or giant middle man, the parasite on those in the industry, as being more important.

I end on the note that honourable members opposite are guilty. They have betrayed this industry; they have betrayed it for 20-odd years. It is time they had sufficient courage to do something on the growers' behalf instead of lousily bringing in measures like this that purport to do something for them when in fact honourable members opposite are selling them down the drain and coming to the-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

Mr FOSTER - Thank you Mr Deputy Speaker.

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