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Wednesday, 17 April 1985
Page: 1163

Senator ARCHER(5.14) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

In speaking to the Australian Dairy Corporation annual report 1983-84 I make a few highly complimentary remarks about a very fine and efficient industry. An industry that can reduce its processes by 15 per cent, reduce the number of its farmers by 10 per cent and increase its production by 15 per cent is certainly the sort of industry that we need to be looking after in this country. It has less labour; it has introduced more capital and it is certainly a lot more efficient. Production per cow has increased enormously by sheer efficiency and good management. At the moment all we are trying to do to the dairy industry is subject it to all sorts of abuse and ridiculous legislation at a time when we should be seeing how we are going to follow it through to see how the country will get the greatest benefit possible.

When one looks at the annual report one sees the new products, the new methods and the new promotions in the dairy industry. The Australian Dairy Corporation is not an organisation that is sitting back and waiting for something to happen. It recognised that it had a growing difficulty on the world market. It was the industry itself that made all the moves towards seeing there were organised changes so that we could curb the supply and spread changes evenly over the whole of the dairying community. From a very good scheme in which every State in Australia helped to put together with the industry, we now have the greatest hotchpotch that one has ever heard. If that is the way to run an industry of any sort I would be very surprised.

Over the last ten years the dairy industry has done a magnificent job in rationalisation and recapitalisation both in the production and processing sectors. Farmers of today are largely a new breed. We have an entire generation of young people who have all the entrepreneurial skills combined. They are skilled in every way; they are well capitalised and they are as efficient as any dairyman in the world. We hear that they are lacking in efficiency. All I would like to do is line up the people who talk like this and see how their efficiency rates. I would like to see who is going to determine the level of efficiency of the lawyers, taxi drivers, hairdressers, dentists, or the public servants and how their efficiency compares with that of the dairyman if we put them under the same scrutiny.

The main problem the industry has suffered has been caused by the Government but the industry has also suffered government-instigated problems. The cost squeeze has hit the dairy industry like most others. I have just been talking to the pea growers who are having exactly the same trouble. Their problem is also the Government. It is the Government which has decided that the cost of fuel has almost doubled in the last couple of years; it is the Government that has increased the price of transport and produced a set of wages conditions which certainly the industry has no possibility of justifying. The cost of postage, telephones, rates, licences and taxes all prejudice the profitability of the dairy industry.

We have legislation preventing additives being put in cheese. This is one of the import areas that we could well take over, but do we? No. Although we have the legislation nobody is prepared to enforce it. The Government is saying: 'If this scheme does not work we will pass the necessary legislation to see that it does'. We have legislation to improve the situation, but we do not use it. Let us change our attitude from kicking everything that is productive, everything that is investing, everything that is employing; and let us see how we can do something to make people more employment-oriented, how we can get more people investing in the industry and how we can make it of ever more use to the country as a whole instead of seeing how we can tear it down, tax it to death and put on costs that nobody can live with. I think that the dairy industry has done a magnificent job over the last 10 or 15 years. It could continue to do this if the Government would give it a hand instead of kicking it.