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Labor fails farmers

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The Shadow Minister for Primary Industry, Mr. Tom McVeigh, said today the Minister, Mr. Kerin, was trying to disown any responsibility for major decisions taken in the mini-budget which hit the rural sector.

Mr. McVeigh said Mr. Kerin had only accepted responsibility for decisions regarding the Australian Wheat Board.

"The Minister says other decisions were not the responsibility of the Department of Primary Industry. But farmers will want to know from Mr. Kerin what influence he had, if any, over the decisions not to proceed with the National Water Resources

Scheme, to change tax averaging provisions and Income Equalisation Deposits, to scrap the special depreciation allowance for fuel storage, to increase the excise on Avgas,

and reduce depreciation allowances.

"Did Mr. Kerin fight to have these programmes maintained for farmers, or was he left out of discussions altogether, or was he simply rolled by his colleagues?

"The Prime Minister, in Parliament last Thursday, praised Mr. Kerin's performance as Minister for Primary Industry. It seems apparent that Mr. Hawke likes ministers who don't argue strongly for the industries they are supposed to


Mr. McVeigh said Australia's rural industries had been savagely hit by drought and slack international demand in recent times.

"If ever there was a need for reassurance and encouragement from the national Government, it is now, but farmers will have received no comfort at all from this economic package."

Furthermore, Mr. McVeigh said the Labor Party had made a number of promises on drought and post-drought aid during the election campaign. .

"A more detailed explanation of those promises should have been made immediately the Government assumed office. Instead, there has been a virtual total silence, — a silence that, amazingly, the Treasurer continued in his mini-budget.

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"The Prime Minister, in his address to the National Farmers Federation conference last week, said he had no hesitation in reaffirming Labor's election policy commitment to maintaining Australia's rural sector.

"Farmers will now know precisely what that commitment really means. How Mr. Hawke can, on one hand, say his Government is committed to ensuring a strong rural sector, and on the other penalise it in the way that the mini-budget does, is

utterly beyond belief," Mr. McVeigh said.

Canberra May 22, 1983.