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Thursday, 4 June 1970

Mr GRASSBY (Riverina) - I wholeheartedly support the statutory backing which this Bill proposes to give to the equalisation scheme. The equalisation scheme provides a basis for further enterprise by the dairy industry. At the present time there is a suggestion that we consider if not pegging then perhaps a cut-back in production. Tonight I put forward very sincerely some of the suggestions which have been thought about in connection with the development of marketing, particularly the development and maintenance of overseas market outlets for Australian dairy products. Surely there is a need at this time to expand the existing work of the Australian Dairy Produce Board. I heard the terrible tolling of the bell by the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate). If we are to take him at his word we are all going to vanish in a terrible way in a sea of butter before too long. I thought that his tolling of the bell was most uncalled for. In fact 1° thought that he made a speech which was completely defeatist. I do not share his defeatism at all. What I do put forward on behalf of an industry which not only has dairy farmers but also factory workers and which is the basis of whole town developments is the thought that perhaps there should be further market development.

I think it is generally recognised that the great difficulty in supplying Asia with a whole range of products is the return which is received for them. The markets in Asia, as I have just said, require a wide range of milk products such as ghee, other concentrated butters, condensed milk, infants' food, and a whole range of food with a protein base. It has been put rather dramatically that Australia should try lo bring the stomachs of Asia closer to the need of Australia to fmd more stomachs. Perhaps that is not a very good way of putting it, but I know the thought behind it. In this connection 1 want to draw the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) to the fact that New Zealand, which I think is the world's biggest butter exporter and the second biggest seller of cheese, has embarked on a course of penetrating the China market. I understand New Zealand has sold about 20,000 tons of butter to China. This is a major figure when one considers that all of our concern at the moment - in fact our panic - is with a possible surplus of between 5,000 tons and 8,000 tons of butter. In this connection there was a most important fair in Canton the other day. According to the information I have it seems that the Australian dairy industry was not represented there. I understand that New Zealand was represented. Surely this is a matter of concern if equalisation is to be used effectively. Australian business and industry generally are showing a lively new interest in the huge markets of China, which has a population many times greater than that of Japan. Whatever the regime in China there is no doubt that there will be a continuing demand in that country for products such as wheat - which this Government has taken great pride in selling to it over a considerable time.

While we are talking about surpluses, Australia's biggest dairy manufacturer, the Murray Goulburn complex, has been described as screaming out for more raw materials. Again we come to this paradox: Major manufacturers who have insatiable markets and are happy to take the material, process it and export it, are doing quite well. I think they made S3m profit last year. At the other end of the scale, the producer is not doing too well. The returns to him are too low to enable him to participate in what is an unlimited market for the future.

Surely the time has come for us to look at the whole structure of support for the industry, its future and the basis on which it should operate. Irrespective of whether Britain goes into Europe or Europe drowns in its own butter, we will still be in Asia.

We have a tremendous potential on our own doorstep if we can organise ourselves, our services, exports, prices and returns in a way that will enable us to meet a need and also fulfil our destiny as a food arsenal for South East Asia. Not only should we be exploring what is being done now by New Zealand in China; surely it is time that the Commonwealth made a study of the existing factories and their equipment and the existing basis of payment for supplies so that we can get what is desired for export, so that the grower - the producer in this instance - will receive a return that will keep him in business not only for his sake but as an essential unit in a great export enterprise which could be, as far as I am concerned and as far as many other people with confidence in the future are concerned, quite unlimited, lt seems to me that this is a matter of organisation. I recognise that the organisation would have to be very thorough and would have to operate at all levels of industry and in conjunction wilh industry

I have put these points forward in relation to this measure for the mature consideration of the Minister and the Government and those concerned with our exports. I do not share the defeatist attitude we heard of tonight from honourable members on the Government side like the honourable member for Macarthur.

Mr Jeff Bate - You do not have to sell it.

Mr GRASSBY - I have done some practical selling and if I have to go back lo that occupation I think I will do it quite successfully. I will take the honourable member for Macarthur with me in the hope that he can put some of his talents to better use on that occasion. I do not share the defeatist attitude he showed this evening. 1 support this Bill. ( ask the Minister and the Government to look at my suggestions for the exploration and investigation of the Asian trade. I put them forward in, 1 hope, a constructive way.

Friday, 5 June 1970

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