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Thursday, 22 November 1973
Page: 2059

Senator LAUCKE (South Australia) -This Bill amends the Wheat Tax Act 1957-1966 to provide for a maximum rate of tax of 15c per tonne on wheat delivered to the Australian Wheat Board. The proceeds of this levy are paid to the State wheat research committee in each mainland State in accordance with the production of wheat in each State. The Australian Wheatgrowers Federation recommends the levy. I understand that it is to be set at 1 lc per tonne for the coming season. This will return to the Wheat Industry Research Council $1.2m, an increase of $200,000 over last year's return.

I wish to speak briefly on the excellence of the provisions of" the Act. In 1957 the scheme was inaugurated to obtain money from the growers, matched by the Federal Government and by State governments in some areas, for the purpose of research into the wheat industry. Since the inception of the scheme no less than $20m has been collected and expanded on very important research projects. The fields of research are worth mentioning. Through the years I have observed the benefits which have accrued to the wheat industry and to the local flour milling industry. I have observed the ability of Australian producers to place wheat in many world markets as a result, quite directly, of the benefits of research which these moneys have made possible.

The areas of research are set out in the annual report of the Wheat Industry Research Council. One area of research is soil moisture. The research is related to the time of sowing and the soil moisture available during the growing season. This has enabled farmers in certain rainfall areas to grow varieties of wheats which have greatly enhanced the yield capacity of our wheat lands. Another area of research is soil organic matter. In earlier years we were prone to rip out the organic matter in the soil to such a degree that it left a pretty poor base from which to produce highly proteinous crops. Research into soil build-up and putting organic matter back into the soil has been of real advantage to the wheat industry.

Another area of research is soil nitrogen. Research has led to greater knowledge of the use of legumes and other assistance to build up soil nitrogen, both to maintain wheat yields and to enable other crops to be grown on what otherwise would be worn out soils. The plant breeding of wheat has been a major interest of the various State wheat research committees. I recall that about 10 years ago, as a result of breeding programs, there was a very important finding from research at the Roseworthy College in South Australia. The finding was in respect of wheat proteins. It was shown very clearly that certain varieties of wheat had a correlation between amount of protein and quality of protein. South Australia, particularly, grows very widely the socalled weapon varieties- the dirks, the scimitars and so on- which were bred at the Roseworthy Agricultural College, with the assistance of moneys from these levies and research at Waite Research Institute. It was found from that research and from milling tests that these varieties had a correlation. Before then we had wheat with a very high proteinous content but with a poor quality protein. Such wheats do not produce first class bread flour. The ability to correlate quality of protein with quantity of protein assists the milling industry in Australia. Such wheat is sought by overseas milling interests.

Today there is a highly competitive market for grains generally, although things are easier now in regard to wheat sales; but there was a timethere will be again, I have no doubt- when the selective overseas buyers sought to obtain the wheat which best suited their immediate requirements, whether it was for bread flour, biscuit flour or flour made from durum wheat to produce farinaceous foods, etc. I have no doubt that, in relation to these areas of research, the cooperation between the Australian wheat farmers and the governments has been of inestimable value to the farmers, to the national economy and to the future security of the wheat industry. The Liberal Party Opposition- I understand that the Country Party's attitude will be the samehas no objection to the Bill and lauds its provisions.

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