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Friday, 23 November 1979

Senator Gietzelt asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 8 November 1979:

(1)   Has the Australian Wheatgrowers' Federation suggested a policy of world parity for the pricing of industrial and stockfeed wheat; if so, how does the suggestion of the Federation accord with the Government's stated policy of fighting inflation.

(2)   Is it estimated that an increase of at least 20 per cent per annum in food inflation in Australia would result from the adoption of such a policy.

Senator Webster - The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   The Commonwealth, the States and the Australian Wheatgrowers' Federation have agreed on the basis for fixing domestic prices for wheat for stockfeed and industrial uses. Instead of the arrangement under the 1974 legislation by which one price is set for all wheat for sale on the domestic market, there is provision in the wheat marketing legislation currently before Parliament for the Australian Wheat Board to fix the prices of wheats for stockfeed and industrial uses. When fixing these prices the Board will aim to balance the commercial interests of producers and users and maintain the orderly marketing of wheat produced and used for stockfeed and industrial purposes.

In carrying out this responsibility, the Board will be aided by the advice of a Consultative Group which it will establish and which will comprise representatives of wheat producers, stockfeed manufacturers and industrial wheat users. This Group will provide relevant and up-to-date information and assessments which will be taken into account by the Board in meeting the two aims set out above. The Group will not make recommendations on price levels.

The Board will report to the regular meetings of Commonwealth and State Ministers in the Australian Agricultural Council on:

(a)   the information it has received from the Consultative Group

(b)   its assessment of that information

(c)   its price decisions in the light of (a) and (b).

The Ministers will review the material provided by the Board with the object of providing producers and users with safeguards against any inappropriate pricing decisions by the Board.

(2)   The agreement on the basis for fixing domestic prices for stockfeed and industrial wheats does not include an element requiring the Australian Wheat Board to price these wheats at world parity.

Post-graduate Research Scholars (Question No. 2173)

Senator Missen asked the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 7 November 1979.

(1)   Are Australia's full-time post-graduate research scholars receiving a salary equivalent to only 38 per cent of that received by research assistants.

(2)   What consideration has the Government given to (a) increasing the annual award to post-graduate research scholars; and (b) the establishment of an independent tribunal to determine future levels of remuneration to these research scholars.

Senator Carrick - The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1)   Postgraduate Awards are scholarships to assist students to obtain higher degree qualifications in subject areas of their choice. The basic stipend under the Award is $4,200 a year. This is not a salary or wage, and as such cannot be compared with salaries' paid to research assistants to undertake specific research tasks required by the employing authority.

(2)   (a) In the 1979 Budget the Government gave careful consideration to allowances paid to all categories of beneficiaries under student assistance schemes. It was decided that allowances should remain at the existing level for 1980 but that additional expenditure should be directed towards easing means-test levels under schemes where means-tests apply.

(b)   The Government does not intend to establish a tribunal to determine allowances under the Postgraduate Awards Scheme or other schemes of student assistance.

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