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Thursday, 8 March 1973
Page: 353

Mr MAISEY (MOORE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - My question which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry refers to the announcement by the Minister that the national wheat delivery quota this year is to be 514 million bushels plus an additional contingency quota of 20 million bushels in association with a first advance of 110c a bushel plus an incentive payment of an additional 10c a bushel. I ask: How are these additional 20 million bushels to bc allocated amongst the States and amongst the growers within a State? What information has been given to growers presently planning their production programs as to how much of these additional 20 million bushels they will be entitled to in the event of their planting an above normal acreage and achieving an above average yield? Does this additional quota make provision for the delivery to the licensed receivers of non-quota wheat as well as overquota wheat as a deterrent to trading outside the Australian Wheat Board? Are the new quota concept and first advance payments a thinly disguised sop to the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation, designed to disguise the fact that the Government has in effect abandoned quotas for this year, but at the same time protecting the Treasury from an open ended first advance commitment?

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman should complete his question. It is very long

Mr MAISEY - Finally, if this is the case, will the Minister arrange for a clear, concise and unequivocal statement to be made to this effect in order that growers may know where they are going before they plant their crops?

Dr PATTERSON (DAWSON, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Northern Development) - As the honourable member will know, the Australian Agricultural Council considered the question of wheat deliveries for the forthcoming season in relation to domestic and world markets. On the best advice available internationally and domestically, there is a world shortage of particular types of wheat. Because of the relatively high prices of competing grains in Australia it was recognised that there may be problems in Australia of securing even the aggregate that the Agricultural Council and the industry would like to achieve. This is in relation to the 514 million bushels which, as honourable members know, is a considerable increase over the previous quota. For that reason the Government considered that the Agricultural Council's request was a sound one, and agreed to it. The Government also recognised that, as an additional incentive to growing more wheat because of the competitive position of other grains, it would be sound to increase the first advance from Si. 10 to Si. 20.

As honourable members will appreciate, last year the acreage was about 18.5 million and there will have to be a massive increase in that figure even to secure anything like the 514 million bushels. However, it was recognised that growers would rally and try to achieve this figure in all States. There was the possibility of additions to the 14 million bushels although this is in some doubt. As a consequence, the Minister for Primary Industry recommended and the Government accepted this contingency of 20 million bushels agreed to at the additional 10c a bushel first advance. This will be allocated on the best advice from the States and the Minister himself if any State or States achieve more than their particular quota. I will draw the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry to the question and get a detailed answer for the honourable member with respect to the allocation of the additional 20 million bushels if in fact that is achieved.

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