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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 4268

Mr WHAN (Eden Monaro) - The situation which already has been explained quite clearly to this House is that the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) said, at least on 31 August and by his own admission on many occasions before, that the Government had decided to take certain action. The Leader of the Country Party may be brilliant and he may have perception, but he does not speak for the Goverment. If what we have just heard is an attempt to draw attention away from this central fact that the Leader of the Country Party without authority made a statement about what the Government had decided to do, then it will fail because there could have been only one motivation for this type of statement, namely, to cause trouble in the meat industry. A man with no authority makes a statement that the Government had made decisions! There was no authority whatsoever for such a statement. The rationale of the argument is so obvious.

Anybody who is prepared to concentrate for one second on this position will realise that the Leader of the Country Party was deliberately causing mischief by making such a statement, and this is the central point that will come out. For as long as the Country Party continues to thrash this dead horse J will make absolutely certain that this one central point keeps coming up all the time. The same tactic was used by the Country Party, in particular by the Leader of the Country Party, in relation to the sugar industry, and so it went on. There has been this tendency for the Country Party, when in Opposition, to speak for the Government. It has no authority whatsoever to speak in these terms.

The honourable member for Gippsland also insinuated that he could not take my word. That is up to him. There can be no question about the way I voted in the Government Members Primary Industry Committee and then in Caucus. If the honourable member for Gippsland wants to doubt my word in relation to this matter there will be plenty of witnesses to prove him wrong, as indeed there are on most of the points which he believes to be points of fact and which he has tried to establish in this argument. The principal means for controlling meat prices - the honourable member for Gippsland used this term when he first read the recommendation - contained in the recommendation in the report of the Joint Committee on Prices, based on the evidence available to the Committee, was a meat tax. The exclusive words were there - the words which allowed us to put the weight that was necessary on this particular recommendation. They led the recommendation in format. The whole report was a report presented to the Government at the Government's request in order to summarise, on the evidence available to the Committee, the means available at that time for controlling meat prices.

I make one further point. The evidence given to the Joint Committee on Prices established beyond all doubt that the Australian Meat Board did not have statistics on the domestic market. The Meat Board report was inadequate. The Meat Board, on its own admission, was not qualified to talk about the domestic market. Colonel McArthur admitted that it did not have statistics on the domestic market in Australia. I submit that one of the gravest revelations of the Prices Committee and its inquiry was that the Meat Board did not have statistics on the domestic market. We are talking about domestic prices. The Meat Board was export orientated. There could be no question that the Meat Board report had to be reconsidered, that more evidence had to be taken on the subject of domestic prices. 1 repeat that the Meat Board itself admitted that it was unable to give the statistics and information required on the domestic market. I once again thank the Country Party for the forum to put these points of view to this Parliament and to my electorate.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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