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Thursday, 16 May 1957

Mr FAILES (Lawson) .- The socialist Opposition groans as I rise to speak. It is surprising that honorable members opposite do not want to hear any more about wheat. They do not hesitate to go into the electorate and woo the wheat-grower by telling him all that they are going to do for him. For some 41 years I have been engaged in wheatgrowing, and as my job has been producing it and not talking, I shall not speak for very long this evening.

I do not share the doubts of my colleague the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) regarding the outcome of this legislation. I believe that it will produce the result sought. I have some doubts however, as to how the matter will be handled by the State governments. On form, they will probably claim unto themselves the credit for any benefits that may flow from the administration of the scheme, just as they have attempted to claim the credit for the wheat silos that have been bought out of the wheat-growers' money. The average farmer will, I am sure, readily support research into wheat and all its associated problems, although some years ago the position might have been different. 1 think that the bill will assist most of all in the field marketing. I suggest that research should be directed towards improving the quality of wheat in districts which are not already producing wheat of a high quality. I say that because some districts have shown already that highquality wheat for both milling and other purposes can be grown in Australia. Unfortunately, at present a considerable amount of wheat is grown which, although it has high yielding qualities, brings down the overall quality of the Australian crop. Therefore, I think that the big consideration should be to produce better-quality wheat in districts that are not at present producing it. This would improve the f.a.q. standard of all our wheat. It has been a very sore point with farmers in years gone by that whilst they have produced wheat which by weight was considerably over the f.a.q. standard, sometimes they have not received any premium for it. But if towards the end of the season rain bleached some of the quality out of the wheat they were immediately docked, although the overall quality of their wheat was up to f.a.q. standard. That has existed for as long as I can remember, and no attempt has been made to correct it. Admittedly, premiums have been paid on certain qualities of wheat but we find that, even during this last year, whilst premiums were paid for wheat grown in a very high-quality district such as the electorate of my colleague, the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan), no premium was paid to farmers in other districts where the same variety of wheat was grown, but where the wheat was stripped later in the year. I believe that, to some extent, that may have been caused because millers, having filled their requirements from the districts with early matur ing wheat, did not require more wheat of the same type produced later on in the season.

That causes a considerable amount of dissatisfaction, and the whole purpose of this legislation, which is to encourage the production of a better-quality wheat, will best be achieved if consideration is given to the marketing problems associated with the wheat industry. A farmer spends the whole of his working year producing something which is valued for sale in a matter of minutes, and it is essential that he be given the encouragement to produce a better-quality wheat by receiving some premium for it if he does so. At the present time, good-quality wheat in some districts does not yield as much as other wheats which are not looked upon so favorably. After all, value per acre for the amount of work done is the criterion. There is no reason for a farmer to grow a variety of wheat which has a small yield but for which he will receive a good price when he can just as easily grow a variety which has a bigger yield and for which he will get the f.a.q. price. I suggest that research be directed to that aspect of the problem so that farmers can be persuaded to grow better-quality wheat. But unless they receive some remuneration for this, it is obvious that they will not do so.

I said that I would not speak for very long, and I hope I have not trespassed on the time of the House. I consider the bill is a good one, and that it will be accepted by the farming community, who will be quite satisfied to contribute towards the cost of this research. I believe that if the research is carried out in the right direction, particularly with the idea of improving the overall quality of the wheats in Australia, it will be successful. I am very happy to support the bill.

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