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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 4235

Mr KERIN (Macarthur) - As the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) has just said, these Bills refer to the metric changeover. I am happy to see that under the conversion there is a slight decrease in the charges to be levied on eggs. 1 understand that there is no intention to change the dimensions of the egg delivery devices but I am sure that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the hatchery men will be able to take this in their stride if it comes about. I would like to make a few comments on this matter. I grew up on an egg farm. Before I came into this House from about 1928 I spent my life on a poultry farm or an egg farm. I would like to make a few general comments on the egg industry.

The egg industry is rather a Cinderella industry in common with many other horticulture industries and as such it really is not of great political significance compared with industries such as wheat or wool. In hard political terms it virtually has no votes. It does not seem to have much lobbying power and therefore it has often been very much ignored. Part of my political training came about as a result of my membership of 2 egg industry organisations at one stage and eventually in one industry organisation where I ended up on the executive; that was the Australian Poultry Farmers Association. The industry has very difficult politics internally as there are rather large migrant groups within it. In the area in which I was living was a large group of Estonians and not very far away was a large group of Maltese. They seem to start from very basic different political premises in respect of the way we should attack problems. I was accused of being a communist by one group in 1958 because I was in favour of licensing. I was accused of being a communist in 1965 because by that time I was against licensing. All the words that are bandied around in politics were pretty well bandied around in the egg industry. Often greed and ignorance of farmers and a lust for power in their organisations caused all the complexities which exist in any sort of political set-up.

In regard to the Australian industry overall the States have more or less agreed that there is to be licensing. In some ways, I think this will solve many of the problems but I am a little bit saddened because all the people I knew in the industry, all the dominants, the people who fought for years and years and who took all the abuse have just about gone. The industry is centred roughtly around the cities, around some of the major towns and in some of the outlying country areas where advantage can be taken of cheaper feed.

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