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Tuesday, 7 May 1957

Mr Webb (STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) b asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that there are surplus foodstuffs in Australia, such as eggs and wheat?

2.   Is it a fact that two out of three of the world's population go to bed hungry every night?

3.   If the position is as stated, will the Government consider making Australia's surplus foodstuffs available as a gift to the needy countries?

Mr McMahon - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   If the question means this: Are there unsaleable surpluses of eggs and wheat in Australia? the answer is " No ". While it is true that the price of shell eggs has fallen in the United Kingdom, our principal export market, this does not mean that wastage will occur. Shell eggs will continue to be sold to some extent in the United Kingdom and other markets this year, while there will be an increase in the production and export of egg pulp. In the case of wheat, the 1956-57 crop was a light one and while selling recently has been rather sluggish, exports for the first five months of this season were higher than exports in the same period last season. It is anticipated that the carryover of stocks into the 1957-58 season will be considerably less than the carryovers of recent years and will, in fact, be approaching normal figures.

2.   It is recognized that in some countries the standards of living are low in comparison with our own. Efforts are continually being made by the free countries of the world to relieve distress where it occurs.

3.   The position is as I have explained it in my reply to question 1. However, Australia does participate in various international schemes such as the Colombo plan, in promoting economic development which goes to the root of the food production problem in the underdeveloped countries.

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