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Friday, 25 September 1970

Mr McEWEN (MURRAY, VICTORIA) (Deputy Prime Minister) - The honourable member referred to the use of 100 million bushels of wheat at a ruinously low price. No-one in the Chamber would know better than the honourable member that not a single bushel of wheat can be sold in Australia except on the basis of the stabilisation scheme which is operated under Acts of the 6 State parliaments and of this Parliament Within the price fixing provisions of the stabilisation scheme there is no provision whatever which would permit the sale of wheat at a ruinously low price. The honourable member made reference to an intended increase in the bounty payment on tractors and to tariff protection of producers of agricultural machinery. The policies in each respect arise from open hearings by the Tariff Board made at the request of the Government and a finding by the Tariff Board that it is necessary to protect certain Australian industries which comes as a recommendation to the Government. In one case perhaps a tariff will be increased. But in the case of tractors, the recommendation adopted by the Government to protect farmers from dearer tractors was that instead of a tariff a bounty should be paid, as has been the practice of this Government since it has taken office. I think it takes a fair flight of the imagination to argue that because the manufacturer of tractors will in due course have an increased bounty this money is being used to finance a campaign to establish power alcohol distilleries to use cheap wheat. I am bound to say that my mind will not really follow the logic of it.

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