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ALP policies for agriculture

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John Kerin

Australian Labor Party Spokesman for Primary Industry




Overview 3

Agriculture's Resource Base . 7

Drought 9

Beef 11

Wh eat 15

Wool 17

Dairy 18

Fishing 20

Sugar 23

Wine · 25

Horticulture 26

Tobacco 29

Statutory Marketing Authorities 31

Finance and Taxation 33

Farmer Training 55

Research and Extension . 36

Concluding Comments 57




The Australian Labor Party fully recognises the important part primary industries play, and must continue to play in our

national economy.

A dynamic farm sector is essential to the social and economic well-being of all Australians, particularly the one-third of our people living outside capital cities.

Just as agriculture is vitally important to the Australian economy, what matters most to the nation's 170,000 farmers is sound economic management.

This interrelationship has been a central tenet in the develop­ ment of Labor policies - both our general economic strategy and

our specific agricultural policies.


The simple facts are that if inflation and interest rates are

high, farmers lose their crucial competitiveness in overseas

markets. Unless unemployment is kept down, they face shrinking

home markets.

For over seven years, successive Fraser governments have failed

to control these vital aspects of the economy.

This· failure has been the major determining factor in 1985 farm

incomes, even without the drought, being the lowest for 30 years.

The Australian Labor Party believes in consultation. It rejects

destructive Fraser-style confrontation in industrial relations. Our prices and incomes policy - with union support in place - is the linchpin of the ALP’s economic policy. It will restore

sound management to the e c o n o m y .


• 4 .


After twelve months of consultations between the Party and industry groups, Labor is fully briefed on the state of Australian agriculture and is solidly behind these policies.

We have developed the most comprehensive package of primary industries policies ever presented by a political party in this country.

Labor is determined to implement the rural policy package.

We realise industry wants less government involvement but where the Commonwealth must be involved and producers are paying, e.g. export inspection, Labor will ensure value for money.

Consultation will be followed by decisive action, providing the primary sector with the leadership it has lacked for so long.


Labor recognises primary industries have specific and serious problems. The most pressing, of course, is the drought.

A Labor Government will maintain existing drought arrangements and also provide additional measures, firstly to ensure all types of farmers receive equitable treatment and, secondly to extend aid after drought breaking rain. This is essential v prevent the inevitable pressure on farmers to generate cash

flow from causing permanent damage to soils through overstocking and overcropping.

Drought occurs in some part of this continent almost every year, with the aftermath often lasting for many years.

Λ Labor Government will establish a drought section within the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industry and a National

Drought Consultative Committee to streamline co-operation with, the States. It will also de-politicize drought administration

by eliminating the required annual base expenditure by a State

(a constant source of Commonwealth/State dispute) after two

years of continuous drought.

In addition to responsiveness to immediate issues, such as drought, Labor's approach to farm policy development centres on a consistent long term perspective towards a stable prosperous

agricultural sector.

In government, Labor will accord high priority to the urgent task of halting and reversing land degradation processes of soil erosion by wind and water, salinity in our soils and water resources and continuing destruction of vegetation. An

initial $4m a year funding will build to at least $20m by . . .

year 4 of Labor's National Soil Conservation Program.

The Liberal/National Party Coalition has totally opted out of

its responsibilities of preserving the long term viability of ' farming and our national heritage - the soil.

The long term perspective consistent throughout Labor's agricultural policies already has the runs on the board. The .1972

75 Labor Government took the unprecedented step of providing

$400m to establish the wool market support fund. That far­ sighted action has led to a stable wool market and a farm

industry which is standing firmly and confidently on its own

f eet.


More recently, Labor has developed new initiatives of direct

benefit to rural Australia.

L. Provincial. Affairs Λ Provincial and Rural Affairs portfolio under a senior shadow minister has been established to give special attention to the

health/education/transport/communicat ion/we1 fare and infra­

structure needs of non-metropolitan Australia - a move the

Coalition parties deem unnecessary. Labor will revitalise and

strengthen rural Australia.


ii. Trade Labor recognises the crucial importance to agriculture of access to world trade. At a time of increasing trade restrictions and flourishing bilateral agreements, a Labor government will not stand on pompous 'free trade purity' but will develop bilateral arrangements which secure access for our

farm and fishing products . . .

To encourage such trade, Labor will locate agricultural attaches in Japan, Korea, the Middle East and South East Asia. It is incredible such action has not already been taken.

iii. Foreign Investment Labor will establish a land ownership register to monitor the

degree of foreign ownership of our farmland and will revise the Foreign Investment Review Board's guidelines to ensure maximum Australian participation. .

iv. Attacking Regional Problems ·

Where a region is largely dependent on a single industry, fundamental changes to its fortunes can dramatically affect the area. Labor will attack such problems with a regional, rather than industry-based strategy, for example in South Australia's Riverland. Ad hoc schemes to prop up an industry

do nothing to solve long term adjustment needs.

Ad hoc bandaid measures have been the hallmark of the Liberal/ National Party approach to primary industries.

The Coalition has ruled agriculture by crisis management. It has no developed, integrated policies and it takes the rural vote for granted.

Labor is different because it cares about people.

The Australian Labor Party is prepared to take up the responsibilities of office and provide Australian primary industries with the leadership to meet the challenges of the 1980s. '


Australian Labor Party Agricultural Policies


The need for a National Soil Conservation Policy has never- been more evident as Australian agriculture struggles to survive the worst drought for 100 years. .

The Australian Labor Party believes clear responsibility for the national agricultural resource base lies with the Federal Government. .

Yet the Liberal-National Party coalition has totally opted out of this responsibility. This neglect is devastatingly obvious in the degraded state of the soil across more than half

of our farmlands and in the crippling salinity problems of our water resources. _ '

It is nothing short of incredible that in 1983 Australia has no national soil program, no national forestry or fishing policy, no national water resource priorities and no co-ordinated land use planning system.

A Federal Labor Government will assume proper responsibilities

to restore and maintain the basic physical resources required by primary industries. This approach is vital to the future

prosperity of Australia's farmers and fishermen.

Labor's commitment to long term protection of agriculture's

resources is reflected consistently throughout all its agri­

cultural policies. This extends to drought assistance

measures which take account of the vulnerability of our soils as the farm sector struggles with the aftermath of the drought .

iVhiLe man)· initiatives in areas of soil, water, pasture and

tree protection lie with the States, a Federal Labor Govern­ ment will actively join w.ith the states in providing the, wherewithal to commence urgent conservation works. ■

. . . 1 1


In specific terms , the major initiatives to be undertaken by Labor are:

. soil conservation - establish a National Soil Conservation Policy. '

- provide at least $4m in year 1, rising to a minimum of $ 2Om by year 4.

- use taxation measures to promote agri­ cultural resource conservation.

. salinity - determine and fund with the states the most appropriate ways of stopping salt inflow into our

river systems.

- provide on-farm incentives for improving’ drainage, land layout and tree planting to attack salinity at its major source.

- develop the River Murray Commission (and give it teeth in the interests of national water : resource management).

. water resources - establish national water resource priorities in the light of the independent report 'A Perspective on Australia's Water Needs to the Year 20001 .

- create an Institute of Freshwater Studies to investigate neglected areas of water research. ■

. forestry - develop a National Forest Policy in consultation with States/Indus try/conservation groups .

. - use incentives such as taxation measures to promote hardwood plantations and amenity forests.

- investigate and tackle i) dieback in native ■ species

ii) dryland salinity through tree planting.

. land use planning - develop national use of land use planning

principles, in co-operation with the states , to solve land use conflicts. ·




Drought is a permament feature of the Australian environment.

In any given year, drought conditions usually prevail-in some

part of the continent.

Consequently, drought aid is a matter for serious and rational

consideration by Commonwealth authorities.

The Australian Labor Party has two major objectives in implementing drought assistance: firstly to provide predictable, - equitable and consistent relief measures to all farmers hit by severe drought and secondly, to encourage producers to protect

themselves against bad seasons. .

In Government, Labor will:

. develop predictable, equitable guidelines which indicate precise criteria for both drought declaration and the type and level of payments by the Commonwealth and the States ;

. eliminate Commonwealth/State political brawls over drought

by -

i. convening a National Drought Consultative Committee to streamline co-operation with the States, and

ii. eliminating, after two years of continuous drought,

the requirement for States to spend base amounts before

Commonwealth aid cuts in. >

. utilise a range of tax rebates to encourage producers to

protect themselves against drought;

. establish a permanent section within the Department of

Primary Industry for on-going monitoring and administration

of drought ; <

. restore Rural Adjustment Funds to at least pre-Razor Gang levels am

consult with the States on clearing the current urgent backlog;

' Ι Ο .

i n t r o d u c e a s p e c i a l r e l i e f s c h e m e , v i a l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t , to a s s i s t u n e m p l o y m e n t a n d s m a l l b u s i n e s s e s in d r o u g h t s t r i c k e n

c o u n t r y t o w n s ;

i m m e d i a t e l y i n v e s t i g a t e the p o s t - d r o u g h t c r e d i t n e e d s o f

f a r m e r s a n d r e s p o n d p r o m p t l y to the lAC r e p o r t n o w in p r e p a r a t i o n .

r e s t o r e b o t h C o m m o n w e a l t h i n v o l v e m e n t in s o i l c o n s e r v a t i o n , an d the level o f r e s e a r c h a n d e x t e n s i o n f u n d i n g - all w i t h p a r t i c u l a r e m p h a s i s on p r o t e c t i n g o u r s o i l s d u r i n g a n d a f t e r the c u r r e n t d r o u g h t .




The most pressing problem in Australia's redmeat industries is marketing reform.

Pressure for change has been mounting for over 7 years, as

meat producers and processors have alternately (and sometimes concurrently) undergone extreme marketing difficulties. The

problems have been consistently worse within the cattle/beef industry.

Labor recognises the problems are complex and reflect substantial differences in the attitudes of stockowners and those of meat

processors and marketers. However, the issues are not beyond resolution. The climate is ripe for marketing reform.

In Government, Labor proposes a markedly different structure for meat industry organisations.

This structure is aimed at getting more action and more

dec is ion-making out of the industry, by circumventing entrenched priorities and opinions.

Labor's policy has evolved from extensive consultations with

industry comb ined writh the role and responsibilities perceived for the Federal Government.

Our approach contrasts sharply with the Liberal/National Party Coalition which has abdicated its responsibilities and stood by, awaiting industry concensus. Such an expectation is totally unrealistic, given the nature of the industry.

No marketing reform can occur in our meat industries unless producers and processors work together. But a suitable structure is necessary to facilitate this.

1 2 .

Suggested Industry Structure

Labor would consider re-organising the meat industry into the

following form:

. a three armed structure consisting of a revamped Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation (AMLC), a new Australian

Meat and Livestock Policy Committee (AMLPC), and a new Australian Meat Marketing Authority (AMMA).

. this structure will mean more elected or appointed persons but it does not necessarily mean more employees - far too much duplication already exists in research and market projections. '

. each of these three industry bodies will have different but complementary responsibilities: .

i. the revamped AMLC will be the marketing organisation ■ designed to be as flexible as possible in its activities and empowered to trade as a single seller to single buyer countries. ·

ii. the AMLPC will set and co-ordinate industry policy and advise AMLC and the Commonwealth Government on industry issues.

iii. the AMMA will be the technical and commercial "warehouse", concerned with the tools of marketing and and convening

appropriate sub-committees and working groups on unresolved issues; its main representation will be meat processors.

. domestic marketing will not be a major concern in this proposed structure; Labor considers it important for producers to have a range of selling options, not a marketplace dominated by, e.g., the AMLC.

• tnis structure will remove disputes over the livestock slaughter levy by linking producer funds more directly to the AvlLC, processor funds to the AMMA, with Government support for AMMA technical programmes. .


. the clear division between policy and management means the AMMA cannot 1 institutionalise' hoary chestnuts like

carcase classification.

Labor's Detailed Meat Policies A Labor Government will:

AMLC . define the roles of the 'new' AMLC to be export marketing,

domestic and international promotion and market development

of Australian meat and livestock products.

. grant sole trading powers to deal with single buyer countries

but AMLC will not interfere in private commercial dealings unless unregulated behaviour threatens an export market.

. free the AMLC of Public Service Board regulations but insist

it must strictly comply with ALP policy on statutory marketing authorities.

Meat Inspection/Quality Control . create a National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) which will establish a single set of standards and a single fee structure; NMIS will involve states in policy and

administration of meat·inspection but Labor belieives

management at the 'grass roots' level is essential.

. assign responsibility to NMIS for trade description, meat

quality/hygiene and the supervision of halal slaughter;

charge AMLC with the responsibility for ensuring contract specifications are met.

. require all meat inspectors to meet NMIS standard, with retraining at Commonwealth expense.

. introduce a national carcase description system to pro\^ide the trade with a basic common language.

Selling and Market Information

14 .

. develop direct livestock selling systems.

. require the AMLC to co-ordinate the development of a national livestock market reporting system, to provide producers and processors with more objective market information.

Brucellosis and TB Eradication Campaign (BTEC)

. introduce a holding subsidy as part of BTEC.

. implement the recommendations of the Review Committee of BTEC in Remote areas.

Abattoirs .

. recognise the processing sector as part of the meat and livestock industry and assist during dramatic market downturns. ·

. examine the job creation and retraining needs of meat workers displaced by long-term or permanent abattoir closures. .

Livestock Trade


. prefers carcass to live trade in most circumstances and will work to expand it.

. is not opposed to livestock exports provided -i. they meet professional animal welfare standards on and off the ships;

ii. such trade does not affect the renewal potential of Australia's flocks/herds ;

iii- safeguards against disease introduction into Australia are adequate.


. vest administration of quarantine with DPI

. develop the facilities of Cocos Is land, Torrens Island, and ANAHL towards research, with safety, into stimulating productivity growth in our livestock industries.

15 .



The wheat industry is one of Australia's really efficient

industries, but currently is suffering the dual problems of drought and depressed prices.

The industry is confronted with two major problems: rapidly rising costs and inadequate infrastructure services - dealing with the transport, handling and storage of wheat. If the Australian wheat industry is to be able to continue to compete

on world markets then costs must be contained and the industry's . infrastructure services need to be improved.

A major study of the grain handling system, from grower to end user , is currently being undertaken jointly by the Bureau of " Agricultural Economics and the Bureau of Transport Economics.

The results of this study should form the basis of all future

decisions relating to investment in infrastructure services for

the grains industry.

Last year wheat growers detailed proposals for change in their

industry and these have been taken into account in formulating

Labor's policy.

Labor's Policv for Wheat Industry

Labor will:

. support the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) to take on the

role of sole controller of wheat (as opposed to sole trader) on international and domestic markets;

. support any future initiatives by the AWB to enhance its

competitiveness on world markets;

. explore the ways in which the grains handling system can

be improved; for example, Labor will examine the need for

National Grains Handling Committee, with the power to

make decisions relating to the transport, storage and

handling of all grains in Australia; .


. increase research funds allocated to plant breeding and

other programs aimed at increasing yields and on-farm productivity, as well as providing funds for research into the infrastructure needs of the wheat industry and to improve marketing systems; '

. respond to the wheat industry's call for a changed emphasis in Australia's trading policies towards bilateral negotiations in order to facilitate exports.

In considering any specific policy proposals for the wheat industry a Labor Government will explicitly recognise the potential of these policies to influence production of other crops. A Labor Government will investigate extending the provisions provided to the wheat industry to other crops,

utilising where applicable, existing grower, industry or State marketing structure.

17 .


The Wool industry '

The wool industry is one of Australia's most efficient


The stability of the wool market and the capacity of the industry to stand firmly and confidently on its own feet

results from a Labor initiative. It was a Labor government that took the unprecedented step of providing $400 million to establish the wool market support fund in 1974.

Labor's Wool Industry Policy

Labor supports the continued operation of the Australian Wool Corporation (AWC), including the wool

marketing service;

as part of its review of the role and functions of the

A.WC (in line with its policy on statutory marketing authorities) Labor will look to increasing the commercial flexibility allowed the Corporation in its

marketing activities - for example, Labor will investigate whether it

would be to the advantage of wool producers and

buyers if the AWC was given greater flexibility in its powers to acquire and sell wool;

Labor is committed to increasing government funding

for wool promotion;

Labor also recognises the urgent need for changes in

tiie way promotion is funded, so that a guaranteed real level of funding is available on a continuous basis;

Labor is committed to supporting the research needs of the wool industry.

18 .


The Dairy Industry

After two relatively prosperous years, the dairy industry could run into problems during 1983.

Despite the drought, milk production is on the rise again. But, unfortunately for dairy farmers, any extra product turned out this year will go onto depressed export markets.

To make matters worse, domestic demand for some products is levelling off, following increased prices and the general deterioration in economic conditions.

Australia's high domestic prices are proving attractive to dairy exporters, whose products are now competing against local products.

Labor's Policy

. Labor will ensure that domestic prices for

dairy products are not allowed to collapse as a result of a collapse of world markets;

. Labor will ensure that the dairy industry faces a

strong domestic market, in order to insulate it frcv the effects of falling export prices;

. Labor will endorse the industry agreement relating to trade in dairy products between Australia and New Zealand under C.E.R.;

. Labor is committed to supporting the dairv herd improvemen t scheme;

. . / 2

1 9 .

Labor supports the continuation of' underwriting in'


Labor will ask the BAE to complete an analysis of the option of paying for milk on a protein basis, or fat and protein or retaining the current system of fat only; Labor will also investigate ways of standardising

payments for milk across Australia;

Labor will establish a Market Milk Co-ordinating Committee to:

- examine market milk pricing and payment systems between the States .

- provide a negotiating platform for the transfer of milk between States at a time of market milk shortage in any one State;

in line with its policy on Statutory marketing authorities Labor will review the functions and operations and the Australian Dairy.Corporation (ADC); in particular Labor will review the operational relationship between the Minister for Primary Industry and the ADC, the Department of Primary Industry and State Departments responsible for agriculture to ensure that appropriate responsibilities are carried out at each level;

Labor will also review the functions and operations of Asia Dairy Industries (ADI) to ensure

- dairy farmer investment in ADI is being managed efficiently

- international trading agreemenrs are complied with

- the Minister for Primary Industry has ultimate responsibility. ·


20 .



The Australian Labor Party recognises the fishing industry as an important primary industry, employing 20,000 people and earning over $320m in export markets in 1981-82.

Around 11,000 licensed fishing vessels, representing capital investment of over $500m, landed 150,000 tonnes of fish, worth

$ 5 90m in 1981 -82.

The Australian Fishing Industry consists of many industries or 'fisheries', each requiring a different management approach.

There is a large degree of both Commonwealth and State government involvement in fisheries but this is often seen by the industry as slow, inadequate or wrong.

The advent of the 200 mile Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) three

years ago clearly defined the Commonwealth' s role in fisheries management. Since then, the Liberal/National Party Coalition has continually abdicated its responsibilities with the well-

worn excuse o f ’waiting for industry agreement' before acting.

The diversity of Australian fisheries and their problems

guarantees there will never be agreement on all matters.

Labor's approach to the fishing industry accords the highest priority to the development of a National Fishing Policy within

which, management strategies for individual fisheries will be

defined. A recent report by a bipartisan Senate Committee strongly supported the need for such a National Policy.

Yet the Coalition response has been to foreshadow the setting

up of yet another committee - the Australian ' Fishing Industry Advisory Council - ivith only one member per state to represent

whatever diversity of fisheries it mav contain.

Λυstralian Labor Party Policy

A Labor Government will:

. establish a National Fishing Policy to ensure resources in Commonwealth waters are developed and managed to the optimum economic and social benefit of the people of Australia;

. restructure the Department of Primary Industry's Fisheries Division to reflect the Commonwealth1s positive role and recruit staff with fishing experience;

. urgently move to establish management plans for the Southern Bluefin Tuna, Southeast Trawl, Northern Prawn Trawl and Southern Shark fisheries in the belief such management strategies, based on biological, economic and social factors, will help reduce disagreements between States;

. provide funds for research and development of 'new' fisheries in the AFZ, as well as funds for research directed at the processing, handling and marketing of fish;

investigate rationalising the plethora of fishing councils and committees with a view to increasing representation by fishermen. The possibility of a national 1 peak council ' ,

with representatives from the various fisheries (rather than state representatives) will be floated for industry consideration;

explore national marketing potential with particular respect to the need for fish promotion;

develop strategies to combat domestic market disruption by imports;

treat the fishing industry as any other primary industry

with respect to tax exemptions, access to the Rural Adjustment Scheme (with the exception of farm build-up provisions) and other assistance measures. Four wheel drive vehicles will be exempt from sales tax where essential to the fishing business.

examine fishermen's access to finance with a view to improvement;

restore free circulation of the DPI publication 'Australia

Fisheries' to all licensed commercial fishermen to maintain the Commonwealth's major communication and extension medium;

make explicit the Commonwealth's powers over Australia's fishing resources through changes to relevant fisheries Acts;

either establish Commonwealth Fisheries or implement the Joint Fisheries Authorities procedure where fisheries are subject to major disagreement between the States - this action will be taken only after negotiations with the relevant authorities, interests and individuals so that

fishermen can be clear as to the management policies that will prevail;

require the Department of Primary Industry to set appropriate, sensible and market related labelling requirements;

set export inspection charges on a 'fee for service' basis;

and will ensure clear, uniform standards, and that the administration of inspection is streamlined;

examine the urgent need for uniform regulations and

licensing requirements;

ensure collection of comprehensive boat statistics as well as biological information.

22 .

25 .



The Australian sugar industry is in trouble on three

counts - prices, costs and structure.

World prices are predicted to fall to their lowest level ■ for 15 years (in real terms) during 1983.

World production substantially exceeds consumption and is

still on the increase, despite huge world stocks. In addition sugar faces a long term threat from an alternate sweetener - high fructose corn syrup.

Australian sugar producers' costs have risen sharply due to the highly capital intensive nature of production.

The industry's structural problem arises from numerous small producers, struggling to meet high machinery costs and interest rates.

.Although the industry is highly regulated, Australian consumers have generally enjoyed sugar prices below going world rates.

Currently, the West Australian Government wants to develop a cane industry in the Ord River irrigation area. Any sugar exports from the Ord would effect the trading quota allocated to already established NSW and Queensland sugar producers under

the International Sugar Agreement. But the biggest problem by far for the Ord will be infrastructure.


Labor will:

. re-negotiate a fairer domestic price formula renewable every five years and taking account of variable costs and world prices.

provide neither export licences, nor funding to facilitate cane production on the Ord River.

in the current crisis, give sympathetic consideration to an industry loan to the established Queensland and N.S.W. industrv.

take account of the industry's medium to long re­

structuring needs in Labor's commitment to an expanded Rural Adjustment Scheme.

24 .

25 . ·


The ivinegrauc Growing and Wine Making Industry

The wine industry is beset with problems.

One of the biggest problems is the disparity between the supply of grapes and demand for the end product.

The imbalance between supply and demand is compounded

by a proliferation of the wrong grapes in the wrong areas. Information to guide producers in planting decisions is totally inadequate.

The wine industry is faced with the need to make bold

decisions at a time of low profitability, if the industry is to be in a position to meet the opportunities of the 1980s.

Labor Policy

Labor will not impose a sales tax or an excise tax on wine;'

Labor will seek co-operation with the States to facilitate the establishment of grower

Regional Councils to collect basic statistics and to allow growers to gain a better idea of which varieties can best be grown in their areas;

Labor will examine the special problems faced by co-operative wineries and supplying growers;

Labor wil1 maintain the Wine and Brandy Co rporat ion.

The taxation disadvantages suffered bv the wine makers with respect to stockholding will be

objectively examined on the basis that wine making is a primary production process not a manufacturing industry. ·




Horticulture in Australia is a multi billion dollar business involving about 12,000 horticulturalists.

It is extremely diverse with the fortunes of individual industries ranging from highly efficient and relatively problem free to those such as the canning fruit industry which, in the 1980's, is saddled with deep-rooted, chronic problems.

A clear distinction must be drawn between the domestic and export markets in horticulture. While both sectors have specific problems, the scope and desirability for federal government involvement is.greater in the export area.

Horticulture as a whole is undergoing a 'crisis of confidence' due to an apparent lack of federal government interest in its welfare. Without such support growers are wary of investing in high value or long term crops, particularly so in the face of increasing imports of horticultural products, both fresh and processed.

The industry is very concerned with such issues as Plant Variety Rights, the level of imports, especially following the introduction of Closer Economic Relations with New Zealand, the risks.involved with planting high cost/high value crops, the implications of international

trade developments such as EEC activities, quarantine problems and domestic pricing and marketing arrangements.

Each horticultural product has different circumstances and problems. The industry is extremely splintered and lacking in structure. This situation has led to a lesser degree of Government consideration, for example, in such areas as the Rural Adjustment Scheme which has operated mainly to the benefit of broad acre farmers and graziers.


The Australian Labor Party is committed to horticulture because of its vital role in providing the Australian people with good quality fruit and vegetables and because of the number of people involved in the horticultural industries.

27 .

In government, Labor will:

. immediately establish a top level task force within the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to identify horticultural products which have promising domestic and export markets where Australia will have production and marketing advantages over such competitors as New Zealand, U.S. and South Africa. A similar exercise by New Zealand projected export

growth from $250m to $1200m by 1990;

. establish import monitoring and develop reliable domestic horticultural statistics as a basis for industry planning and marketing;

. ensure close industry liaison is maintained with New Zealand to anticipate and prevent disruption of the Australian domestic market;

. constantly monitor that 'fast track' dumping provisions of the Customs Act are working satisfactorily to protect against unfair trading practices;

. facilitate export expansion through the permanent location of a fruit market research officer in South East Asia and in other developing markets such as the Middle East;

. investigate a national horticultural insurance scheme, covering hail/frost/fire/flood damage, which, through the number of participants, will substantially reduce the premiums paid by current small, grower-organised


. restore research funding to previous levels along the lines recommended by the Senate Committee Report on Rural Research and Extension;

. facilitate 'market extension1 i.e. feedback to growers of the out-turn of their products, particularly in export markets, with a view to improving handling and transport; .

. ensure the maintenance of minimum price fixing in canning, citrus and berry fruits, if not by the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee then by rational economic means;

. review the criteria in the Rural Adjustment Scheme to ensure horticulturelists have equal access to assistance measures;

vest plant quarantine with the D.P.I.

23 .

. investigate the potential and desirability of establishing an Australian Fruits Corporation, incorporating fresh and processed products currently under separate authorities;

. provide such a Corporation with access to finance from the Rural Credits Department of the Reserve Bank;

. Labor is not opposed to the concept of Plant Variety Rights regarding the importation of horticultural genetic material and varieties;

. explore the export potential for foliage products and act to facilitate export markets;

. remove tax disadvantage suffered by nurserymen as a result of the existing system of stock valuation for taxation purposes.

Labor's approach to policy making is centred on full consultation and will include the small horticultural industries. This will be consistently applied to the specific problems in the multitude of horticultural




The Australian Labor Party pledges support for the tobacco industry in the firm belief that, given short-term considera­ tion, it will measure up to international comparison by 1990.

The industry has undergone substantial restructuring over the past five years. But confidence amongst tobacco growers has been shattered by the Liberal/National Party vacillation,

following the potentially disastrous IAC recommendations.

Government delays have cost, growers hundreds. of thousands of dollars and destroyed the confidence to invest and develop as part of the industry's restructuring.

A Labor Government:

• will speedily negotiate a further five year stabilisation plan with the industry, including measures to improve efficiency and facilitate industry adjustment.

. will not implement the recommendations of the IAC to freeze prices and gradually cut quotas - such action would eliminate the tobacco industry and, with it, specific rural communities.

. will implement:

(a) a 5 year stabilisation plan to commence 1 January 1984;

(b) the plan to be administered by the Australian Tobacco Board as at present;

(c) the manufacturers voluntarily contrive to use 57» of Australian leaf;

(a) that stockholding be reduced to a 12 — 11 month duration,;

(o) that the average reserve price will not exceed, on

average, increases in price over the past vears; and


(f) that there be a more flexible quota transfer policy and that there be constant reviews of the grade and price schedule.


Statutory Marketing Authorities

The Senate Committee on Finance and Government has

pointed to massive deficiencies in the operations of a number of statutory marketing authorities (SMA).

Labor recognises that the operations of the SMA's are

vital to the profitability of many agricultural industries.

Labor is determined to see the SMA's as effective,

commercially orientated marketers, accountable to

government and producers.

Labor's Poi icy

. after consultation with the relevant industry, a Labor Government will clearly specify the

role and function of every statutory marketing

authority under Commonwealth control;

. a clear division will be established between

the Board of the authority and the management. The Board will be responsible for framing

policy and overseeing general administration,

while the management and marketing functions will be undertaken by professionals;

. in keeping with each authority's particular role and function, the composition of the

Board and the responsibill ties of Board members

will be made clear, after consultation w i th the relevant industry;

in keeping with the particular characteristics

of each industry and its authority, the method of election or appointment of Board members will

be specified in the relevant Act;

for all authorities the level of Ministerial contro1, delegation of authority and

responsibility will be specified; the

Chairman will be responsible to the Minister.

Public Service Board contro1 of staffing

will not be required for the marketing afms

of any authority; .

the Government-.representative. on the authority

will report to the Minister;

the Act of each authority will specif)- how,

where and when the Authority will be

accountable to the Parliament, to the

32 .

Government and to- the relevant industry.

. 5 3 .


Finance and Taxation

Fluctuating prices and unpredictable seasonal conditions mean that Farmers and fishermen have particularly unstable


Labor recognises the need for government to provide individual producers with the ways ana means of minimising any disadvantage flowing from such instability.

Labor's Policy

Labor will maintain tax averaging;

Labor will maintain the income equalisation denosit scheme, and pay a realistic interest rate on deposits ;

Labor is committed to increasing the funds available through the Rural Adjustment Scheme (RAS).

- in periods of sudden market collapse, emphasis will be on carry - on finance and household support;

- the RAS will also be used to encourage producers to adopt advances in technology, through the farm build-up and farm improvement provisions.

applxcable.provisions of the RAS (e.g. household support and rehabilitationΊ will be extended to farm

workers and people , like meat workers, in associated rural industries; .

Labor will investigate ways of providing

ere d i t , w Lth flexible repayment conditions so that producers' repayments can be

geared to their income. ·

5 4 .

Labor will overhaul the system of sales taxes, reviewing rates and classifications: it is policy to extend the four wheel drive concession to the fishing industry. in addition, Labor will exempt the freight component of the price of goods from sales tax. The present inclusion of,

this component in sales tax seriously discriminates against country people who already have to cope with higher

living costs because of their distance from major cities.



Farming and fishing are not seat of the pants operations. Both involve large capital investments and hard decisions on big outlays for uncertain returns.

Making these decisions is difficult enough at any time, but high inflation, declining markets and drought have made the problems even greater.

It is astonishing that a country so dependent on agricultural exports for its well-being has no national policy for training its primary producers.

Labor's Policy

. Labor will promote and support skills training in agriculture : emphasis will be on providing farm management training through short courses, 'sandwich1 and 1 build-on1 courses as well as external and pre-vocational courses.

. Labor also supports farm-based work training programmes.



Research and extension are vital to increasing the efficiency and competitiveness of Australian agriculture.

A recent Senate Committee report on rural research and extension was alarmed to find that despite the continuing need for rural research, the Fraser Government's support for research is declining in real terms.

The Senate Committee described this as a short sighted policy harmful to the long term needs of Australian agriculture and the economy in general.

In yet another ill considered Razor Gang decision, the Fraser Government ended all Commonwealth involvement in extension.

Labor Policy

. Labor is committed to increasing government involvement in research.

. Labor will review industry funding arrangements and the Commonwealth's contribution to ensure research fur.dinc is put onto a secure basis.

. Labor is also committed ’ to restoring Commonwealth involvement in extension.



The Australian Labor Party recognises that this document does not cover all primary industries , nor all aspects of primary production.

Many industries either do not achieve the prominence of the commodities detailed in these policies or they have been, so far at least, forgotten by the Commonwealth Government.

The Commonwealth has a responsibility to be aware of the state of affairs in smaller, self-sufficient industries.

Rice, cotton and coarse grains are industries in which Common­ wealth involvement is minimal, yet Labor acknowledges their success constitutes the underpinning of many regions of rural Australia.

The Labor Party stands ready to respond to requests for assistance whenever they may arise. '

For example, pig and poultry producers have been hit by soaring feed wheat prices, due to the drought. Yet end users of feed wheat, such as pig farmers , are not directly represented on the Wheat Board's advisory group, the Stockfeed Wheat Consultative Committee. This situation would be reviewed by Labor to ensure

feed wheat users' opinion is at least heard.

It is alarming that, currently, unless hefty pressure is applied, there is no Commonwealth response to the needs of important existing industries, nor any help to develop opportunities for new primary industries.

This document states that, for the first time, Australia's

fishing industry will be recognised as a fullv fledged primary industry.

However it: is Labor's view that industries such, as floriculture , nurseries and foliage plants should also be recognised as