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Wednesday, 22 March 1972
Page: 797

Senator YOUNG (South Australia) - I am very pleased to hear that all honourable senators support this Loan (Australian Wheat Board) Bill. All honourable senators have dealt with the need for this loan of up to $150m which will assist the Australian Wheat Board to meet the commitments on its borrowings from the Reserve Bank of Australia. This is not the first time that this has happened. It also happened during the 1968-1969 and 1969- 1970 seasons because receipts for the sale of wheat were slow in those years and the Wheat Board was not able to meet the commitments on its borrowings. It is very interesting to look at the overall situation in the Australian wheat industry, particularly with regard to the exports of wheat over the last few years. In the year 1968 Australia exported some 205.5 million bushels of wheat; in 1969 some 243 million bushels, and in 1970 some 359 million bushels. In the year 1971 exports amounted to 394 million bushels. That was one of the greatest years on record for sales. The reason 1 mention those figures is because wheat sales to China have been mentioned today. For a long time China did play an important part in the disposal of the Australian wheat crop. In fact, it took up to one third of our wheat exports. It was a very important market, but many people said that we were inclined to put too many of our eggs in the one basket. There has been a lot of comment about why we lost those China sales. Some relate it to politics; many relate it to other reasons. I think that we have to be logical in our approach to the reason why China has reduced her purchases. We al! know that there has been what has been termed a green revolution. There has been an explosion in the production of rice and in the new types of wheat which are being grown in various countries. Today China is aiming for self-sufficiency but she is not yet self-sufficient. Granted, she is still buying wheat from other countries, but nevertheless her reliance upon outside production today is greatly reduced when compared with what it was just a few years ago.

The important factor which I want to mention is that whereas before we were exporting one-third of our exports to China, this year without any China sales we have had the greatest sales of wheat on record, sales which have amounted to some 394 million bushels. That is a fantastic amount. I believe that the Australian Wheat Board is to be commended for going out and finding new markets. It is interesting to look at a list of the major purchasers of Australian wheat. In 1970-71 Egypt was the biggest buyer. She took 61 million bushels. The United Kingdom came second, with 46 million bushels. Japan took 38 million bushels, Iran 23 million bushels, Iraq 17 million bushels, South Korea 11 million bushels, Malaysia 11 million bushels, Chile 74 million bushels and Peru 6i million bushels. That shows that the Wheat Board has spread its markets significantly. This is most encouraging to the industry. It is something on which we must commend the Board.

At the same time we can look at the situation that existed a few years ago when we had a great problem. We had an explosion of wheat production in Australia, as did most of the other major wheat producing countries. At the end of December 1969 we had a carryover of 266 million bushels. I refer to this because Senator Wilkinson made a very valid reference to it. At 30th November 1970 we had a carryover of 265 million bushels. At 30th November 1971 the carryover was 125 million bushels. It is estimated that at 30th November this year we could have a carryover of the order of only 80 million bushels. That is an extremely good situation in which to be. I believe that this is significant when we relate it to the situation when the panic buttons were being pressed by some people with regard to the loss of the China sales. Despite the loss of that big market, we have managed to find other markets and have been able to reduce our carryover from 266 million bushels in 1969 to an estimate as low as 80 million bushels in 1972.

At the same time, since quotas were introduced the quota has increased from 357 million bushels in 1969-70, 319 million bushels in 1970-71 to 407 million bushels in 1972-73 on the basis of the plantings in the current year for the coming harvest. All of this gives a great deal of encouragement to the Australian industry. It also shows very significantly the effective marketing operations of the Australian Wheat Board. So, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to support this Bill, the purpose of which is to enable the Commonwealth to meet its commitment under the guarantee to the Board to enable it. in turn, to meet its commitment to the Reserve Bank of Australia.

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