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Monday, 24 May 1965


Senator CORMACK (Victoria) .- Mr. Deputy President,I will not take more than four or five minutes to express my views and I do not expect the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) to reply to the points I raise. First of all, I think that, in general, the plans that have been put into operation from 1962 onwards are beginning to have some effect inside the first element of the Australian dairy industry which is, of course, production. From the information that I have been able to obtain, and it has certainly not been obtained from the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) or his representative in this place, it is obvious that quite a dramatic change has taken place in many aspects of the production of the derivatives of milk. I am informed, for example, that over 4,200 marginal dairy farmers in New South Wales have gone out of production in the last three years. That indicates some tightening up of efficiency in the first level of production of milk.

The second point I wish to make - Senator Kennelly made this point too - is that over 90 per cent, of the bounties and the improvements are going to the State of Victoria. I mention that fact in contradiction of the remark I made just now to the effect that production in New South Wales is maintaining its level but the number of operators, or farm units, has fallen in the rather dramatic way I mentioned.

I now turn my attention to a matter which is beginning to cause me the greatest concern and which I have mentioned in this place on other occasions. This is the bland assumption by Ministers of State in relation to the administration of their departments - this relates primarily to the administration of primary production - and the powers that Parliament has granted them to impose levies. No information is given to the Parliament, as I think it should be, with these Bills to illustrate in fact whether these levies have been wisely expended. To add point to my argument, I remind honorable senators that we are living in a period in which vast sums of money are being diverted from many aspects of industry - not only primary industry but also the distributing industries - to undertake promotion schemes, advertising and so forth in order to increase the volume of consumption. Whether the producers are operating on a protected market or not, it is important that the managers of these schemes should at least equate the amount of money they spend on promotion with their success or otherwise in achieving the desired end. It is not only a question of volume; it is a question of volume as related to price. I have not seen any evidence that members of the various commodity boards realise the need to take account of this aspect of the matter.

Again I remind honorable senators that we have entered upon a period in which many commodity boards are being set up - I think they are necessary - to ensure reasonable direction in the disposal of primary products that are surplus to the needs of the domestic market. We should pay the strictest attention to ensuring that the taxpayer, who ultimately must shoulder this burden, is getting his money's worth from the arbitrary levies that have been imposed from time to time. I say no more.







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