"Every man, woman, and child must be prepared to recognise the vital importance of the primary industries and to do their utmost to make them prosper; for without prosperity in the industries of the soil, we are, all of us, penniless."
THE Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Thorby, emphasised this when he opened the annual conference of the Institute of Stock Inspectors in Sydney on Tuesday. He declared that pessimism would get us nowhere; that our problems must be faced and could be overcome; and that all sections of the community must be prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to a return to better times.
"We have been confronted with more difficult problems, notably in the war years, but we overcame them, and the sacrifices that we are now called on to make are not so great as many of us made between 1914 and 1918," the Minister continued. "The position now, however, is serious enough, and every one of us is in duty bound to help in the restoration of our economic balance. In the pastoral industry, for instance, we have lost tens of millions of pounds through stock losses, to which must be added more tens of millions through the decline in wool prices. Both of these factors have been instrumental in seriously embarrassing many men who for years previously were of high financial standing. Successive bad seasons have brought hundreds of farmers back to behind scratch. Some of those that these adverse conditions have hit will go bankrupt, but the majority will pull through with the cooperation of the Government and of the general public.
"As a government, we are tackling the problem, and if we find it necessary to ask people to make sacrifices we will not be afraid to ask, whether it be of the public service or of the community generally. For unless the primary industries prosper we are penniless all of us."
Cattle Compensation legislation on the lines of the Swine Fever Compensation Act was forecast by the Minister.
Proposals embodying such a scheme had already been submitted to stockowners' organisations for an expression of views, he said, and he was was hopeful that stockowners would appreciate the value of such a measure and cooperate with him to the fullest extent.
Mr. Thorby added that he considered that a Cattle Compensation Act would do more than anything else to stamp out disease in our cattle herds. As things were today, a good deal of disease was smothered up by graziers and dairymen who could not afford to lose cattle without compensation, but with compensation available they would be encouraged to slaughter every diseased animal at the earliest opportunity, thus vastly reducing the danger of spreading disease among clean cattle.
The Minister pointed to the successful operation of the Swine Fever Compensation Act. Not only had it covered the cost of operating, but it had now a credit balance of £4000, even though some £3000 had also been set aside in reduction of the costs about £30,000—incurred by the retrospective clause in the Act.
Hopes of having the amending Pastures Protection bill passed through Parliament before the current session ended were expressed by Mr. Thorby. He said that in preparing the bill he and his officers had endeavoured to make every provision to safeguard stockowners and, at the same time, to remove certain anomalies. The Pastures Protection Boards would be given greater power, and certain other far-reaching amendments were proposed.
Referring to the suggested super-annuation scheme for stock inspectors, the Minister, said that no barriers would be placed in the way of a scheme that was sound in principle. It was of no use, however, to ask the Government to contribute—at the present time, at least—for it could not accept any additional financial burden in that direction.
(Statements concerning stock licks, made at the Stock Inspectors' conference, appear on page 10.)