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Friday, 13 November 1936

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) .- When listening to Senator Brown I was reminded of that line in Mark Antony's oration over the corpse of Caesar, "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him." Senator Brown turned it around and said, "I come to praise the bill, not to bury it," but forgot to praise it. At any rate, he damned it with such faint praise that if his speech had lasted much longer he would have damned it entirely.

Three points arise for consideration in this bill. The first is: should this Parliament, or any other Australian parliament, or all the parliaments combined, have power to deal with marketing. Should some authority in Australia be able to deal witha matter of this kind? Before federation the individual States had this power entirely, and since federation it had been thought, until recently, that the Commonwealth and the States, combined, possessed it. The Privy Council has decided otherwise. Will any one say that it is not necessary for some authority - for the Commonwealth, or the States, or the Commonwealth and the States in combination - to have this power? Whether the power, wherever residing, should he used to the full extent isa different matter, but, some parliament should have the full power of government over all things which affect the people of the Commonwealth. As the result of the Privy Council's decision, we have found that neither the States nor the Commonwealth nor

States and Commonwealth together, have power to deal withmarketing. The two other aspects - whether there should be a home-consumption price and whether there should be orderly marketing - do not enter into consideration. I have only to ask myself whether this power of control should be vested in the Australian governments.

Senator Hardy - The homeconsumption price is important.

Senator LECKIE - Yes.

Senator Herbert Hays - If this power is not sought for orderly marketing it is not necessary.

Senator LECKIE - Yes it is. Whether orderly marketing be necessary or not, some authority should have power to deal with any matter which affects the welfare of the people of Australia.

Senator Herbert Hays - This bill does not deal with such a matter.

Senator LECKIE - It relates to a particular matter with which we have not the power to deal, although, until recently, we thought that we were constitutionally competent to deal with it. There may be other matters, as yet undiscovered, in relation to which the Commonwealth Parliament is powerless. Of course, this bill is designed to enable the Parliament to deal also with the home-consumption price and orderly marketing. The primary object of this bill is to continue to deal with these matters as we have been dealing with them hitherto. The proposed alteration takes no power away from the State Parliaments, but gives to them a power which they have not got at the present time. It enables the States, in conjunction with the Commonwealth, to carry on duties which both may think to be in the interests of the people. To talk about taking rights from the States is to put the proposal into reverse. The States are to be given powers which they do not possess at present,and the Commonwealth will not be able to exercise its powers unless at the request of the States.

Senator Grant - Where is that stated ?

Senator LECKIE - That is in the bill, and it is in the explanations of the bill given by the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce).

Senator Grant - Ihave heard other explanations from constitutional authorities.

Senator LECKIE - Yes, because the honorable senator wanted to listen to them. He does not go to the Minister and take his opinion.

Senator Herbert Hays - The Minister in this chamber did not say so.

Senator LECKIE - I do not know who are the constitutional authorities who say that we can deal with these problems under the excise and bounty powers, but I do not intend to agree to a system which involves the enactment of excise duties and bounty legislation from time to time. I emphasize that this bill takes no power from the States, but gives power to them, and they should be welcoming the fact that the Commonwealth Parliament is trying to restore to them the right to legislate for the orderly marketing of primary products and the disposing of them to the best advantage. I regard this as an opportunity for the people of Australia to decide whether or not there shall be home-consumption prices. If the people decide against this alteration, I shall take it that they do not desire that there shall be home-consumption prices in Australia. That is the logical way in which to look at it. Alternative methods of achieving, orderly marketing and homeconsumption prices will not then enter into the matter. If the people, at the referendum, say that they will not give these powers to the Commonwealth and the States, I, for one, shall take it that they do not believe in, and will not have, home-consumption prices.

Senator Badman - What about manufactured goods?

Senator LECKIE - There is no homeconsumption price for manufactures.

Senator Badman - Of course there is. What does the tariff give!

Senator LECKIE - No homeconsumption price for manufactured goods is fixed by the Government or the manufacturers. I warn the Country party that if there are any more provocative speeches such as that made yesterday by Senator Abbott, in which he sneered at the secondary industries, a groat deal of damage will be done to this cause. It is time that the continual sneering at secondary industries ceased. The primary in dustries, should realize that they are copartners with the secondary industries in creating the wealth that makes Australia prosperous, and that the manufacturers play an equal part, if not the greater part, in creating that wealth. Provocative speeches such as that delivered by Senator Abbott merely arouse antagonism in those engaged in secondary industries, and those who make them do their cause no good.

Senator Abbott - It was only provocative to the honorable senator, not to anybody else.

Senator LECKIE - The secondary industries would be poor spirited indeed if they did not resent Senator Abbott's speech. I advise him, and others like him, that if they desire this proposal to be carried they should not antagonize their best friends.

Senator Abbott - I advise the honorable senator not to antagonize the primary producers.

Senator LECKIE - Those engaged in secondary industries constitute the best market for Australian primary products.

Senator Abbott - I appealed to both sections to pull together.

Senator LECKIE - No; the honorable senator issued a warning. His speech was most provocative. Unless there is a realization of, the need for a balanced economy, and for those engaged in both primary and secondary industries tobe co-partners in creating wealth and prosperity, this country will never progress.

Senator Abbott - Thatis just what I said. The honorable senator could not have been listening to me.

Senator LECKIE - The great bulk of the wealth of this country is provided by its secondary industries. During the last three or four years there has been greatly increased employment in them, thereby providing a greater home market for Australian primary products. Had the honorable senator realized that truth he would not have uttered some of the insinuations and innuendoes in which he indulged yesterday.

One would think from what had been said abirut interstate freetrade that there was, in fact, freetrade between the States. The existence of regulations restricting transport across State boTdera, for instance, is evidence that freetrade does not obtain to the extent that is believed. A manufacturer in New South "Wales or Victoria who wishes to send his good3 across the border cannot do so unless his price is lower than that of the local manufacturer by 10 or 12 per cent., or even more. InSouth Australia the position is even worse. There is no Australian sentiment in this matter. I do not complain about some States being locally-minded, but it was generally expected that all manufacturers and sellers of goods in Australia would be placed n the same footing, irrespective of the State in which their business was situated. That, however, is not so, and when honorable senators speak of absolute freetrade in Australia they speak of something that does not exist. There is no freetrade in regard even to some Commonwealth activities. For instance, the Postal Department does not treat Australia as one community, but as a number of States. In the fixing of charges for telegrams and parcels State boundaries are recognized.

Senator Arkins - The present position is absurd, and should be altered.

Senator LECKIE - I shall support the. bill, because I am of the opinion that the powers which it seeks to obtain for the Commonwealth are necessary, and because both Commonwealth and States should be able to do what is necessary in the interests of the country. The granting to the Commonwealth of the powers sought in this bill, so far from detracting from the powers of the States, will increase them. For my own part, and on behalf of those with whom I am associated, I shall recommend to the electors the granting to the Commonwealth of powers necessary to ensure orderly marketing. I am not so pessimistic as are some other honorable senators regarding the appeal to the people, for I cannot imagine that the primary producers of the smaller States will vote against the Government's proposal. I could understand opposition being offered to it by Victoria and New South Wales, which are more highly industrialized than are the other States; but, that primaryproducing States should oppose it, is beyond my comprehension. During recent years the costs of Australian manufacturers have increased by £3,000,000 or more a year as a result of the fixing of a home-consumption price for wheat and other primary products.

Senator Guthrie - Butter prices have been lower here than abroad.

Senator LECKIE - Contributions to assist wheat-growers and other primary producers have added millions of pounds to the costs of Australian manufacturers during the last three or four years, but they have not complained, because they realize that the primary producers of this country are their best customers, and that, if their best customers go to the wall, they, too, will suffer. They realize, also, that, in regard to a homeconsumption price, the primary producers have acted fairly, and therefore the manufacturers of this country will stand behind the Government and do their utmost to secure an affirmative vote on its proposal.

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