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Thursday, 18 October 1956


Mr DUTHIE - Throughout Australia, but not as much as there was six months ago. We have done a wonderful job in getting rid of much of the wheat in store. Japan has taken millions of bushels off our hands. It is most pleasing that towards the beginning of a new season we have got rid of most of this stored wheat, but there are still millions of bushels in store, and we have to sell between 140,000,000 bushels and 150,000,000 bushels of the new crop on the home market and overseas, apart from the 30,000,000 bushels to be sold under the agreement.

I wish to mention also the need for us to do all we can to find new markets for our wheat in Asia. This is the only way, in my opinion, that we can hope to get rid of our abundant production. Asian countries are now taking to bread more than ever before as a supplementary item of food to rice. Japan is unable to obtain sufficient rice for its population of 90,000,000 people, and is now importing wheat, and also growing wheat, to provide a supplement to rice. Other Asian nations will act similarly. This is our great chance to boost our sales in Asian markets. India and Pakistan are buying a great deal of wheat from Australia. We should also try to sell wheat to South-East Asian countries. We should use publicity in those countries to increase the consumption of bread as a supplement to rice.


Mr Hamilton - If we do that, will it in any way affect our plans for the development of rice production in the Northern Territory?


Mr DUTHIE - That is an interesting question. Australians are increasing their consumption of rice, which is now cooked in more ways than ever before in this country, and I believe that we can very well develop our rice industry in the Northern

Territory without its affecting our wheat sales, and without promotion of wheat sales to Asia affecting the plan for rice-growing. I do not think that we would grow enough rice, in the early years anyway, to affect the situation very much.


Mr Hamilton - The plans for a rice industry in the Northern Territory are laid on the basis of exporting a great deal of the rice produced.


Mr DUTHIE - Well, 1 do not think we shall have much chance to export rice in the first few years, because we will be able to consume our total production. As to disposing of our wheat surplus, we do not want to see the same situation arise next year as arose in the past when at one stage we had 100,000,000 bushels in store and no way of getting rid of it. Russia has outdone the west in its efforts to win the South-East Asian countries through gifts of foodstuffs. I understand that last year Russia gave India 50,000 tons of wheat. The Russians have taught us that wheat can be used for ideological purposes. The Russians are trying to win the countries of the east to their philosophy of life.


Mr Turnbull - Why?


Mr DUTHIE - Why? Because they want to extend their influence across the world. They are using gifts of foodstuffs to that end. We must attempt to win SouthEast Asia over to the democratic way of life by such means as the Colombo plan, and gifts of wheat and other foodstuffs. In the long run this country would benefit if Asia could be won to the democraticway of life, even at the cost of giving away wheat at certain periods. All the churches have stressed that we cannot call ourselves a Christian country if Asian people starve for want of wheat while we store it here.


Mr Hamilton - They would not eat our wheat when we offered it to them for nothing!


Mr DUTHIE - I do not think it has been handled in a very sincere way.


Mr Turnbull - What about Russia?


Mr DUTHIE - It gave 50,000 tons of wheat to India last year, but to my knowledge Australia gave away not one bushel. Let us look at this question without panic or nervousness. Other countries, by gifts of foodstuffs, machinery and the services of technicians, are winning the ideological war. We have been far too stingy, and have no ideological outlook on these matters. We do not realize that such a war is going on in Asia, and that it can be won by offering foodstuffs and friendship.

The statistics reveal that a smaller acreage of wheat is being sown than was the case four or five years ago, but that the actual quantity produced has remained at a very high level. We cannot afford to weaken one of our great primary industries, and we must make sacrifices in order to keep it functioning at a high level.

I am in favour of every possible assistance being given to the wheat industry. Unfortunately, it has broken thousands of farmers - more than has any other industry, but many of the farmers' sons have carried on. My brother is carrying on the farm in the Victorian Wimmera where we were born. He has been fortunate, and has encountered the good years since the war. He is making a success of it. But before the war the wheat farmer knew only tragedy, heartbreak, financial loss and often bankruptcy. I want the Government to know that we, on the Opposition side, are 100 per cent, behind ratification of the new agreement. I commend it to the House and to the country, because a complete, breakdown in the international framework of the industry would put the clock back twenty years.







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