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Wednesday, 20 November 1974
Page: 2559


Senator SCOTT -Is the Minister for Agriculture aware of the volume of telegrams and letters being received by members of Parliament from wheat farmers, urgently seeking an increase in the $1.20 first advance payment for the current crop to $ 1.80? Has the Minister himself received many such representations? In view of the numerical strength and the logic of the request, would he care to revise his statement made in answer to my question to him yesterday that wheat growers have never been better off in terms of cash in the pocket? Has the Minister overlooked the fact that wheat growers are not exempt from the economic recession brought about by his Government and that $1.20 a bushel represents a significant decrease rather than an increase in real money terms?


Senator WRIEDT -In reply to Senator Scott's question yesterday I referred to a reply I gave to Senator Young a week ago in which I spelt out in detail the cash flow to wheat farmers this year. Either Senator Scott does not understand the mechanism of payments by the Australian Wheat Board or he is simply bypassing and ignoring the facts. It is not simply a question of the level of the first advance, as I tried to point out a week ago; it is the succession of pool payments that follow the payment of the first advance on delivery of the wheat. The payments to the industry this year are vastly in excess of those of any previous year. They are double the amount of last year, which was a good year. I do not like to repeat myself and I am really not going to answer this question again at question time.


Senator Primmer - Were any wheat growers outside the building a couple of hours ago?


Senator WRIEDT - Not one. They are too busy harvesting, because they know full well what good returns they will receive. By February average payments made will be in the vicinity of $14,000 per grower.


Senator Drake-Brockman - What about other years?


Senator WRIEDT - It is absurd to suggest that, simply because of the final return. That was the basis of an interjection I just heard. If we were to maintain the relationship between the first advance and the final payments of, say, 3 years ago we would have a first advance payment commitment by the Reserve Bank of about $2,000m. There would not be a government in this country that would make such a commitment as a first advance payment. The Leader of the Australian Country Party knows as well as I do that that is the essence of the whole question. If he does not know that, with respect he has not the faintest understanding of the way in which the wheat industry is financed. The fact is that this year the industry has obtained more cash for preparation of next year's plantings than it has ever had before. I have received a lot of telegrams. I know that this is a campaign organised by the Country Party. Everyone who sends me a telegram will receive a detailed reply pointing out exactly the details of the wheat industry at the present time and what this Government has done for it.







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