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Friday, 3 December 1965

Mr McEWEN - The Australian Wheat Board has always made its first overseas sales from any year's harvest to its longterm, traditional customers. These customers are not the Communist countries. The order of sales to traditional customers in recent years has been, I am informed, about 130 million bushels annually. To suggest, as has been suggested, that the Australian taxpayer subsidises cheap wheat to Communist countries is quite wrong, lt is to imply that without the subsidy - if that is the appropriate word to use for the arrangement under which the wheat industry stabilisation scheme operates - we would charge China a higher price. This, of course, is nonsense. Wheat is traded internationally by many countries, and, subject to variations in sizes of parcels, whether it is bagged or bulk, the terms of sale and the quality of the wheat, the price is the same all over the world. If there were no wheat industry stabilisation plan we could not get a penny more for any wheat sold to China than the current market price at the time of the sale. To suggest that Australia's taxpayers are enabling Communists to buy wheat from Australia at a cheaper price than that at which they would be able to buy it if there were no stabilisation plan is utter nonsense, and the man who makes the statement, although a lecturer, is talking nonsense.

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