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Wednesday, 8 May 1985
Page: 1561

Senator COLLARD(6.07) —Mr Deputy President--

Senator Grimes —Here is a bloke who can milk a cow.

Senator COLLARD —First of all, I acknowledge my professional status, as has been indicated by Senator Grimes. I realise that if I had to take part in a milking competition I would probably infringe amateur status, and, apart from the fact that I might suffer from repetition strain injury in a very short time, I would have to dip out. I take great pleasure in rising to support my colleague Senator Lewis on this motion to suspend Standing Orders to enable better discussion of the dairy industry. It is a subject which is causing great concern to an industry that is an export industry, an industry on which many rural areas and towns rely for income. It is an industry that cuts right across all State boundaries, and one on which all Australians rely in one way or another for sustenance. So it gives me great pleasure to support Senator Lewis on this occasion. He, as a Victorian, of course, has great concern, as Senator Robert Ray, as a Victorian, also should have great concern.

Senator Lewis —Should have.

Senator COLLARD —He should have, because that is a State in which the Premier, who is of Senator Robert Ray's political persuasion, has declared a state of emergency. It is a very selective state of emergency. It is not all right in Queensland, but it is all right in Victoria. This selective state of emergency has been declared against the dairy farmers in Victoria, who have a particular problem. The dairy industry is well aware of the problems confronting it. Over time it has tried to come to grips with its problems and has recognised that the output of milk needs to be reduced to about 5.3 billion litres a year. That is the level of production we could stand. We have over-production, and the dairy industry has recognised it. We have tried to get to grips with it. We had agreement with all involved in the industry, but where was the problem? The problem lay with the Labor Minister of Agriculture in Victoria.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Collard, you must confine your remarks to the reason for the urgency for the suspension of Standing Orders.

Senator COLLARD —I realise, Mr Deputy President, that you have to tread a narrow line, and I sympathise with you, having been in that position before. I am trying to point out that there are problems in this industry, problems that could be solved. They are problems that the industry itself could have solved. Indeed, prior to the Victorian election, there was an Australian Agricultural Council conference-I think Senator Lewis alluded to it-which came up with a proposition that would have met with the general agreement of the industry and all agriculture Ministers. That proposition was agreed to two days before the Victorian election. What happened after the Victorian election? The Agricultural Council's recommendation was--

Senator McIntosh —Mr Deputy President, I take a point of order. The honourable senator is not debating the suspension of Standing Orders. He is debating the issue.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Collard, as I said before, you must confine your remarks to the reason for the urgency of this debate, not its importance.

Senator COLLARD —The reason for the urgency is the dire straits of the dairy industry at this point in time, brought about by the fact that the Government overturned an Agricultural Council decision just prior to the Victorian election. It did not do it before the election. The Government overturned the decision and is now seeking to bring into play a plan which does not have the acceptance of any State government or any part of the industry as a whole. It has been indicated that people from the dairy industry, as I understand it, are present in the House of Parliament today because of their concern. That is why they are here. This is where the matter ultimately has to be thrashed out. If the legislation is not in the House of Representatives yet it soon will be. Of course there is great concern. The dairy industry is in a parlous state at present but the dairy industry itself can solve its problems. If this Federal Government would keep its nose out of it, the industry could come to grips with the problem. It recognises the problem and it can solve it without all the bloodshed that is likely to occur.

Senator Grimes —Mr Deputy President, I take a point of order. Despite the fact that I understand there is not an absolute majority, I am happy to concede to the suspension of Standing Orders and Sessional Orders. There is no point in wasting our time on this issue.

Senator Chipp —You have been persuaded by the eloquence.

Senator Grimes —It is the eloquence that has persuaded me. If it will stop this nonsense, I am quite happy to do it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.