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Wednesday, 3 November 1976

Mr GILES (Angas) -Mr Speaker,I do not wish tonight to reintroduce debates which have already been held.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman will be out of order if he does.

Mr GILES - Certainly, Mr Speaker, on a technical point. I do not wish to reintroduce debates that have been held outside this place- that is what I meant- concerning whether cattle should have been slaughtered in this country in the past 6 months as a result of the ravages of drought and for other reasons and should or should not have been sent to developing countries to augment their breeding stock in incipient dairy industries. I do not wish to do that, because, quite frankly, I for one thought that the argument was absurd. By and large, the stock that has been killed off was old and perhaps three quartered. We have slaughtered mastitis affected stock, bad type stock and those dear old things that could barely walk and which were really bags of hide walking along with bone inside and little else. I do not believe that 2 per cent of the stock that was slaughtered could have helped developing countries. So let us dismiss that argument.

Let us dismiss also the arguments that have been put up to those in my party by Mr Barnes who set up the reconstitution plants for the Australian Dairy Board. He suggested that we should supply skimmed milk powder and butter oil into that system to help needy people and children. Let us forget that proposal also because we now have no more skimmed milk powder left in this country.

What I want to do tonight, having dismissed the past, is to pick up the debate from that point. Quite patently we are facing a position in which everybody who has thought the proposition through realises that the size of the dairy herd of this country should be decreased. The situation posed to us is concerned with our next door neighbours who want dairy cattle to start their own national milking herd of the future. We now get down to the clear proposition which I wish to put to the House tonight. Those cattle which should be looked at as a means of helping developing nations and which should be provided in their thousands to those countries are yearling cattle or younger. The reasons for selecting these cattle include the facts that they can be moved more easily, their lives are in front of them, and they are not diseased. There are many ways in which it will be seen that what I have made is a valid suggestion.

If we take this step, what are the implications? First, as I said, the countries to our north want yearling heifers or younger, and not broken down cows. Secondly, we should provide this stock when our industry is in a state of surplus. That condition might not last much longer. We are now in a position to make a real donation to the developing countries which wish to help themselves. Surely the way to provide assistance is to give breeding stock to these countries for the future. I believe that it is morally quite wrong if we do not take this action. I believe that this form of government involvement should take place as the voluntary agencies are doing their best to augment existing stocks at this time. I believe further that this would be of great help to the dairy industry itself as it would provide some form of government assistance through the purchase of stock which in the future will become surplus and at the same time would help the developing nations to our north.

We have been told tonight by a former member of this Parliament that he has spoken to the Prime Minister of India who, after consulting with her livestock officials, seeks 10 000 young cattle. The same man has spoken to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and has an order which he says is for even more young cattle. He has spoken to the Deputy Prime Minister of Pakistan who says that his country could use SO 000 dairy cattle of the right type. The question may be asked whether such cattle would be cared for when they arrived in these countries. I think that the answer is yes.

The countries concerned have the infrastructure. Further proof is to be found in the fact that there are now approximately a million progeny of Australian cattle in those nations, bred from Australian stock sent to them. It is a fair proposition to claim that they will be cared for. What I wish the Government to do is in due course to answer these contentions and to determine whether the requests by the leaders of those governments are genuine. If they are genuine, I maintain that we have a moral and a direct responsibility to provide aid to those countries by exporting such stock as a form of Government aid.

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