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Tuesday, 6 November 1973
Page: 1521


Senator PROWSE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Having regard to the wonderful record of the Australian Wheat Board, did the Minister's answer to Senator Young today represent criticism of the Board's past performance? Seeing that the Minister did not answer Senator Drake-Brockman's question and state who owns the wheat- the grower or the Government- I now ask: When did the wheatgrowers vest their wheat in the Minister? Does he expect to be able to sell wheat at better than world prices? Is the Minister's practice of directing the Wheat Board how it should operate an expression of no confidence in the competence of the Wheat Board?


Senator WRIEDT - I indicated in my previous answers to questions relating to this matter that this Government has not interfered in the commercial judgment of the Wheat Board. If in fact the inclusion of the directive power of the Minister in the Act should be deleted, perhaps Senator Webster can tell me why his Party did not move for its deletion when the Wheat Industry Stabilisation Act was passed in 1968. The directive power was put there for a good purpose. Some comments which were made during the debate on the Wheat Industry Stabilisation Bill 1954 have only recently been brought to my attention. It is interesting to realise that when Sir Philip McBride introduced the Bill in Parliament in 1954 he spelt out quite clearly the Government's responsibility to the wheat industry. In fact, he referred to the fact that the Government had a responsibility in the interests of the taxpayers generally. This decision by the present Government has been taken with a view to ensuring that the long established tradition of denying the Australian wheat grower markets to which he is entitled will not continue. We have not been in the least critical of the commercial judgment of the Wheat Board. If the Australian Government has any responsibility at all -


Senator Young - What is this?


The PRESIDENT - Order! I wish the honourable senators from South Australia would allow the Minister to make his reply.


Senator WRIEDT -If the Australian Government has one responsibility it is to do everything it can to ensure that those markets are available for Australian wheat. This is what the Government is endeavouring to do and I think it is doing it very successfully.







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