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Wednesday, 2 October 1974
Page: 1576

Senator McLAREN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Has the Minister for Agriculture received a recommendation from the Australian Wheat Growers Federation that wheat quotas should be suspended and, additionally, that the level of the first advance on wheat deliveries for the current season should be raised by 60c to $1.80 a bushel? Can the Minis.terr indicate when he will be able to give a decision on the Federation's request?

Senator WRIEDT - I have received a request to that effect. I should point out that the level of the first advance is decided very early in each year- in January or February- for the succeeding wheat season; that is, the $1.20 which has been agreed to by this Government and the industry for the 1974 crop was determined very early this year. The industry is suggesting an increase to $1.80. This would create a precedent of major proportions. It has been customary over the years that when the first advance was decided, that was it. The extra 60c a bushel which has been suggested would mean a 50 per cent increase in the commitment of the Rural Credits Department of the Reserve Bank. The commitment at present is of the order of $700m. Therefore it would be putting an additional load on the Reserve Bank of possibly between $300m and $400m. That is the order of finance that would be involved if the request was acceded to and I do not believe that any government would do that lightly. I will be having discussions with the Australian Wheat Growers Federation shortly on this matter. When it is resolved I will make a public statement on it.

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