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Friday, 5 April 1946

Mr. SCULLY(Gwydir- Ministerfor

Commerce and Agriculture). - by leave - I wish to reply to a statement made in the House on Thursday last by the honorable member for New England (Mr Abbott), regarding the allocation of wheat for the purpose of manufacturing dog biscuits. It is not the Australian Wheat Board which determines the allocation of wheat for stock feed or sectional stock feed users. This is done by a committee consisting of representatives of my department, including the Director-General of Agriculture, the State committees, and the Wheat Board. In New South Wales, the Director of Agriculture, Mr. McDonald, was, during the period mentioned, chairman of the Wheat Allocation Committee. Decisions by this committee are implemented by the Australian Wheat Board.

Wheat has been used in Australia for the manufacture of dog biscuits for a great number of years. In view of the urgent demand for wheat for export, a survey was made of all the ways in which wheat was being used, as it wasconsidered that some saving could be made in the amount of wheat being released for various purposes, including the manufacture of dog biscuits. This inquiry, which was of a searching character, naturally made dog biscuit manufacturers and dog owners' organizations somewhat apprehensive about future supplies. They called on. me, and requested that the matter of supplies be reviewed as speedily as possible, as wheat was being held up, and the demand for dog biscuits was strong. The deputation asked for quantities substantially in excess of the quantity finally made available to them. Later, I requested the Director-General of Agriculture to survey the position, and he reported to me that the withholding of wheat for the manufacture of dog biscuits would undoubtedly result in substantial quantities of bread being used to feed dogs, and also that meat consumption would increase. The Director-General of Agriculture considered it more, economical to supply the minimum quantity of wheat necessary to meet requirements, rather than that inroads should be made on other essential commodities.

It was finally decided to allocate 50,000 bushels for the balance of the rationing year. Consideration was given to the fact that biscuits are fed to working and domestic dogs, that the United Kingdom permits wheat to be used for this purpose, and that New South Wales - in which State the wheat has been made available - is the principal manufacturing centre in Australia, and distributes to other States. Originally, about 100,000 bushels of wheat was used in the making of dog biscuits, but this was cut in half when the final allocation was made. As flour is not rationed, it is . obvious that this would have been substituted for wheat. A close scrutiny of the use of wheat is being maintained and, where possible, supplies are reduced. Mr. McDonald, chairman of the Stock Feed Allocation Committee, has supplied the following statement : -

As chairman of the Stock Feeds Allocation Committee, I recommended the release of wheat for the feeding of dogs. It was on a strictly rationed basis, as we cut down supplies very drastically by about 50 per cent. A number ot owners of dogs in New South Wales are farmers and graziers, they use them in connexion with the mustering of sheep and. cattle and keeping rabbits under control. For this work one dog is equal to three men. Many dogs in town are kept as watch dogs and many city dogs are obtained by graziers to kill rabbits. Farming and grazing would be impossible without dogs in some areas. If graziers keep dogs they must feed them generally on meat and cereals and they kill a lot of mutton for this purpose. If wheat had been withheld graziers would have had to kill more sheep, thereby cutting down the amount of meat they could send abroad.

Colonel Holborow, State Superintendent of the Australian Wheat Board in New South Wales, has advised that, subsequent to the representations made to me, the release of 50,000 bushels for this purpose was agreed to, but, on reviewing the position, it was found that 40,000 bushels would be sufficient. This amount was also allotted under last year's rationing scheme. It is distributed on a monthly basis of 4,266 bushels on a quota of nine mills which produce meal for the manufacture of dog biscuits. The allocation of this amount, instead of 5,555 bushels, on the basis of 50,000 bushels for the whole period, saves 10,000 bushels during the next nine months. It is also pointed out that the release of this wheat can be prohibited at any stage.

Finally, I quote a report from the Sydney Baily Telegraph of the 30th March, which in itself is an adequate reply to the honorable member's allegations, and I thank the Daily Telegraph for having given publicity to this reply. It alone of the Sydney dailies did so, although the information was available to the other papers, all of which had pub.lished the attack made in the House by the- honorable member for New England. The item is a3 follows: -







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