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Thursday, 18 November 1976
Page: 2859

Mr GILES (Angas) - I shall continue my speech on my motion which states:

That the House condemns the previous Government's economic mismanagement which has caused hardship and misery to a high proportion of those involved in rural industries.

I intend to leave aside such matters as the Australian Labor Party's policy when in Government in respect of exchange rates and tariff cuts, both of which made in the short term exporting industries less competitive on overseas markets. Rural industries prior to the advent of the Whitlam Government were in fact primarily export orientated. Many are not now and probably will not be again. This points to the disastrous economic management which may yet result in a vital loss of export earnings to the nation in the future. If these industries are not missed as export earners in the future, it will be because of the advent of large export earnings from the mineral sector. I suppose we should give credit where credit is due and acknowledge the temporary respite afforded rural industry by the superb mess made of the mineral industry in its turn by a previous Labor Minister, even if his actions did set back the total economy of the nation by at least 3 years. Who can forget his remarks about ' hill-billies '?

Rather than debating his actions, the European Economic Community policies, tariff movements and exchange rates, I wish to concentrate on cost movements that were the direct responsibility of the last Whitlam Government. It is no little wonder that a State such as Tasmania, with its important rural sector, has said that it does not require Mr Whitlam 's presence in the run-up to the coming State election. Statistics show that in the previous 10 years the percentage of gross national product at factor cost decreased by 37 per cent in rural industries and 13 per cent in manufacturing industries which is a measure of the inheritance that we as a Government now have from the previous Administration

Rural industries have felt this massive downturn to a far greater extent than any other of the 11 major sectors mentioned in the statistics. Today one does not look at Woolloomooloo, Port Adelaide, Fremantle or Footscray for evidence of poverty. One looks at Gippsland, the Brigalow, the Huon Valley and the Goulburn Valley for this evidence. One does not look at the manufacturing areas- one looks at the more poverty stricken rural areas. This year the Bureau of Agricultural Economics forecasts a downturn of farm income of 19 per cent in money terms and 27 per cent in real terms. The major reason for this is the inflationary effect of cost inputs into the rural sector. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a compilation by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, ie: an index of prices paid by farmers.

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