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Thursday, 3 May 1973
Page: 1645

Mr OLLEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Are any reliable estimates available of the amount of carryover or reserve stocks of wheat which will be on hand in Australia prior to the next wheat harvest? Is it a fact that the position is quite critical?

Dr PATTERSON (DAWSON, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Northern Development) - It is a fact that the present situation with respect to wheat stocks is quite unsatisfactory and perhaps it could be termed critical. Prior to the commencement of the harvest just concluded the amount of wheat for carryover was approximately 50 million bushels. As a result of the last harvest, which was not a good one, the deliveries amounted to approximately 200 million bushels which allows only 250 million bushels to be disposed of for the full 12 months. The first priority must be given to Australia's own requirements for human consumption and stock feed, which will be about 80 million bushels. This means that we have only 170 million bushels to supply the very large export markets that we know are available. Obviously, we cannot do it. We will have the lowest exports for over a decade. Just recently the lowest deliveries for over a decade took place. The cold facts are that we will not have any wheat at the end of the year if we fulfil the orders that are available.

It would be prudent for the Australian Wheat Board to hold on to some stocks of wheat, and it would be a matter for the Board's judgment to provide a minimum carryover of, say, 10 million bushels. Honourable members will understand that if we had another bad harvest at the end of this year the position would be very critical. It is most unsatisfactory. The whole matter of national aggregates and State quotas are being looked at thoroughly by the Government because a new wheat stabilisation scheme is to be brought forward this year. We have storage capacity for 700 million bushels. I believe that the Government must offer some encouragement or at least some incentive to growers who are prepared to grow above quota wheat at their own risk. It is obvious that, in view of the deficiencies in the meat market today, we should give serious thought to the growing of a lot more wheat for stock feed also.

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