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Tuesday, 27 October 1964

Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales) (Minister for Customs and Excise) . - Senator Morris referred to the tobacco industry. He related his remarks, first, to the possibility of a relationship between tobacco smoking and lung cancer. I do not wish to make any comment on that subject. That is a matter for medical opinion, and I do not think we are competent to take it any further. Then the honorable senator made some general observations about the tobacco industry. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) is in the process of negotiating with both sides of the industry about the drawing up of a stabilisation scheme. I think it is true to say that the industry is seeking some such scheme. I do not want to make any comments about the pros and cons of the matter. We all know that the negotiation of a stabilisation scheme is not an easy task; it is a formidable one. There must be taken into consideration the interests of the States, the fact that the States may have to pass legislation to establish the scheme, and the views of the manufacturers on the one hand and those of the primary producers on the other hand. The Minister for Primary Industry is, as it were, in the middle in this particularly difficult task. Problems such as overproduction and the existence of marginal areas have to be ironed out with the parties. I do not want to make any comment which would tend to create the impression that the matter will be decided one way or the other. It is sufficient to say that the Minister for Primary Industry is attempting to get the parties together and, with the aid of the State Governments, to evolve a stabilisation scheme.

Senator O'Byrneand Senator Lillico referred to the provision of financial assistance to the States in connection with war service land settlement. Senator O'Byrne said there was a need to look at this matter and that the Minister for Agriculture in Tasmania had set up a committee to examine the economics of farming on King Island under this scheme. He suggested in his comments, to which I listened with great interest, that the Commonwealth should undertake the responsibility for setting up some organisation to examine the position. Because of the very nature of the grants that are made to the States in this field, in the case of King Island the responsibility clearly rests with the Tasmanian Government. The fact that the Tasmanian Minister for Agriculture did appoint a committee to examine the problems on King Island is evidence of this sovereign State's awareness of its responsibilities.

Senator Lillicosaid that he understood that the report of this committee had not been tabled in the Tasmanian Parliament and that a copy of it had been sent to the Commonwealth Minister for Primary Industry for his consideration and an expression of his views. The officers of the Department have informed me that the facts are substantially as have been mentioned. They say that the report is being discussed at the officer level but that so far no finality had been reached. It is suggested that a considerable amount of consultation with the State Minister may be necessary before Commonwealth officers are in a position to submit any conclusions to the Minister for Primary Industry.

Reference was made by Senator Lillico to alleged delay in the issuing of permanent leases on Flinders Island. I am told that the issuing of such leases hinges upon the degree of productivity achieved by the occupants of the land and that until a certain level of productivity is reached the drawing of leases is not proceeded with. That stage has been reached on some of the holdings and leases are about to be issued in those cases.

Senator Prowsereferred to the provision this year of £250,000 for payment to the credit of the Wheat Research Trust Account. In this regard the Wheat Industry Research Council recommends research programmes to the Minister. Research grants are made to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, on the one hand, and to State Departments of Agriculture and universities on the other hand. Grants in relation to research are made through those agencies. The note I have on the matter states that to provide for the Commonwealth's contribution to the Wheat Research Trust Account, being its share of wheat research projects carried out as a joint activity with the industry, the Commonwealth contributes to research projects recommended by the Wheat Industry Research Council and approved by the Minister. The amount included in the Estimates is required to meet estimated cash payments against the programme. The programme provision for 1964-65 totals £287,000.

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