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Plight of Primary Producers

"In short, I am being butchered la cold blood, with the shadow of fore closure hanging over me."

This was part oE a graphic letter which the member for Maranoa (Mr. Frank Baker) read in the House of Representatives daring the recent session when stressing the- necessity for a moratorium being put in opera tion as soon as possible, under tho National Security Act, to relieve the plight of harassed primary producers.

IVIr. Baker said a good deal about the new order that was to emerge from the present titanic struggle was .being heard. He desired to make an appeal on .behalf of men who were struggling in the rural industries sheep growers, wool producers, cattle raisers, fruit growers, dairymen, wheat growers, and others. The let ter from which he had quoted was merely a sample from dozens that every member who represented a rural electorate got.


Inter alia, the letter read to the. House by Mr. Baker, stated:

"I am a grazier with a life's ex perience on 'the land. I came out here with a family of four in 1928 from New South Wales. I had pre viously drawn a block of 16,700 acres, in 1925, and shortly afterwards bought sheep and started wool and sheep raising. The country was vir gin, heavily timbered, and pear-in fested with no improvements except for being half enclosed with fenc ing. In lt'27 I erected a house, wool shed and yards, and subdivided and completed the 14 miles of dog and rabbit fence. The first two years, 1927 to 1928, I made a profit.

"The local bank manager then in duced me to mortgage the property to buy more sheep, which 'I pur chased at a cost of 21/ a head, in 1928. The first clip from these sheep wool sfttmp in 1929, and for the fol lowing 10 years there were only three years that wool reached a payable price. This was accom panied by droughts, epidemic, and and those I already had struck the the failure of the artesian bore to supply water on which I was de pending. I then had to borrow £500 to put down three tanks. This was borrowed from the Lands Depart ment, not from, the bank

"Since the British wool purchase scheme started I have shown a pro fit and pulled round. I have im provements to the value of between £4,500 and £5,000 and 3,000 sheep.? I myself, my wife, son and two daughters have all worked on most economical lines and most efficient ly. Three of us worked on. pear poisoning before the advent of cacto -blastis. The bank's security has never been jeopardised. Shortly after war was declared, the bank gave me notice' of foreclosure."


Mr. Baker stated that in. many other cases the private banks had given notices of foreclosure as soon as war was declared. .

The letter continued:

"I was forced to go to Brisbane twice, at great expense, to engage a solicitor and counsel' to -defend my case, etc., under the Mortgagors' Re lief Act. As a result, there have been two. Supreme Court hearings of the case, and the matter now stands adjourned until October 9th. The other day my solicitor wrote

and said I bad exhausted my rights under the Act, and that I am pro tected only up to the time of the next hearing. I am quite at a loss to know why. Although the judge stopped the bank taking my place, he ordered me to advertise it at £5,300, a ridiculously deflated price. In 1940 my property was valued toy the country valuer of a wool firm at £8,390; hence, if my place is sold at £5,300, I shall tie a heavy loser and. get nothing out of it.

"it Is apparent to me, by this re

sult ofjmy case, that the Moragagors' Relief Act iB not any use at all, and is all in favour of the big man (the financial institutions). My debt to the bank mostly accrued interest, is about £3,700; thus they had a long way to go before their security was endangered. My clip, in December next, I expect to realise £1,000, and that will then rednce my liability, x shall then have a farther increase of- approximately 500 or 600 lambs. In short, I am being butchered in cold blood, with the shadow of lore closure hanging- over me. This bosh ranging onslaught iby the bank will deprive me, my wife, son and two daughters of a living and a home, and force us off with nothing.

"Such treatment is comparable with the days of Pharaoh, and is oat of step with the present supposed regime of justice and security. We, as Britishers, expect better than what we are getting from a judicial tribune permeated with city Influ ences and prejudices. All we ask, for is justice. and security. It is farcical to hear cases like this on affidavits and with closed doors. I contend that the only way in which we can get a fair -deal is through a general moratorium for rural as well as secondary Industries.

"There was no justification for the bank's onslaught, as the revenue from wool and agistment has kept the place going right through tha depression and has paid all yearly interest, rates, wages, netting and loan charges, bat they are not satis fied with the 8 per cent. Interest 1 paid at the start and 6 per cent, now -no, they want the property as well to hand over to some favoured client. My solicitor told me that there were hundreds of cases such as mine going through the Brisbane courts-with closed doors; hence, the pnblic and press know nothing of this. A fellow grazier who drew his 15,000-acre block the same day as I drew mine has gone through the same vicissitudes as myself, and has :been forced to put his place on the market for a quarter of its

value." -

Claiming to be the oldest twins in the world, two Danish women, Mrs. Hansen and Mrs. Jensen, have cele brated their 95th birthday.