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Wednesday, 8 May 1985
Page: 1551


Senator BROWNHILL(5.04) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

This report gives me a chance to pay a tribute to the Australian Wheat Board for the way in which it has served the industry over the last few years. The point should be made that, as is noted in the first part of the report, the Board made no call on the Commonwealth Government to support the price paid to the growers for the wheat delivered. The commercial nature of the Wheat Board operation was reflected in the funding arrangements for growers' payments. Domestic funding of up to $2 billion was arranged from commercial sources using a tender panel system, and I think the Board is to be commended for that. It has met the challenges of marketing over the last few years. Wheat production has increased by over 50 per cent since 1970-71, and the Board has had the ability to match credit terms offered by our competitors-something it has not been able to do in the past because it has not had the underlying support of its government, which other governments around the world have provided.

It is noted in the report that wheat characteristics are now playing a vital part in the world trade market, and the Board has attached importance to characteristics recognition and segregation. The fact that the Board has problems with the challenge being presented by the issue of counter-trade, which is the barter system, with other countries offering big concessions to those who buy their wheat, is something our Government probably will have to address in future. I believe the Wheat Board has met the challenges of the current world wheat environment by adopting more sophisticated and competitive marketing and financing techniques. I commend this report to the Senate.