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Speech to a dinner of the Australian Farmers' Federation



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fiU€> SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER

THE HON, E .G . WHIT LAM, Q , C , , M.'P

TO A DINNER OF THE AUSTRALIAN FARMERS' FEDERATION

HOTEL CANBERRA, TUESDAY 23 OCTOBER 1973

I WELCOME TH IS OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS ONE OF THE

LARGEST, MOST REPRESENTATIVE AND MOST RESPECTED PRIMARY

PRODUCERS' ORGANISATIONS IN TH IS COUNTRY,

One of t h e s i g n a l f e a t u r e s of yo u r F e d e r a t io n -

AND I FIND IT SPEC IFIED IN YOUR CONSTITUTION - IS YOUR

POLICY OF P O L IT IC A L NEUTRALITY, YOU ARE A F F IL IA T E D WITH

NO P O L IT IC A L PARTY OR SECTIONAL INTEREST, I GIVE YOU CREDIT

FOR RECOGNISING THAT THE TRUE INTERESTS OF THE PRIMARY .

PRODUCER ARE NOT NECESSARILY SERVED BY THE P O LIT IC A L FORCES

MOST VOCAL, MOST STRIDENT, IN YOUR SUPPORT, YOU KNOW IT

IS OFTEN SAID THAT WE IN THE LABOR PARTY ARE HOSTILE TO

THE RURAL COMMUNITY: THAT LABOR IS A CITY-BASED PARTY

DANCING TO THE TUNE OF POWER-HUNGRY UNIONS.

The f a c t i s t h a t Labo r i s n e i t h e r an u rban nor a r u r a l

PARTY, BUT A NATIONAL PARTY, W e ARE A NATIONAL GOVERNMENT,

GUIDED BY NATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS, AND DETERMINED TO

PRODUCE A MORE OPEN, MORE EQUAL, MORE TOLERANT AND MORE

PROSPEROUS SOCIETY THAN WE INHERITED FROM O'UR PREDECESSORS,

I WANT TO CONVINCE YOU THAT JUST AS THE GOVERNMENT'S INTERESTS

ARE NATIONAL INTERESTS, SO YOUR INTERESTS, THE FARMERS' INTERESTS,

DEPEND IN THE ULTIMATE ON A BROAD PERCEPTION OF THE NATIONAL GOOD,

/ 2

-2 A -

Ha S ANY COUNTRY/ ANY STATE, EVER PROSPERED THROUGH A

CONCENTRATION ON ONLY ONE SECTOR OF ITS PEOPLE OR INDUSTRY?

W e u s e d to b e o v e r w h e l m in g l y a p a s t o r a l e c o n o m y ; we a r e a

GREATER NATION TODAY BECAUSE OUR ECONOMY IS MIXED AND D IV E R S IF IE D ,

And y o u , t h e f a r m e r s , l i k e a l l Au s t r a l i a n s , h a v e b e n e f i t e d from

TH IS GREATER STRENGTH AND D IV E R S IT Y , YOU CAN SEE TH IS BY LOOKING

AT THE RURAL ECONOMY IT S E LF . YOU ARE LESS DEPENDENT ON THE

RANDOM FORTUNES OF ONE COMMODITY - WOOL, MANY A PASTORALIST

HAS BEEN SAVED BY THE BUOYANCY OF THE CATTLE MARKET OR ONE OF

OUR GRAIN MARKETS, To ADAPT A FA M ILIAR PHASE, WHAT IS GOOD

FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRY IS GOOD FOR THE COUNTRY,

I CONFESS THAT NOTHING EXASPERATES ME MORE THAN T H IS .

BASELESS ACCUSATION THAT LABOR IS AN AN TI-R URAL PARTY, ΪΗ Ε

La b o r Go v e r n m e n t r e c o n g is e s t h e g r e a t c o n t r i b u t i o n m ade b y t h e

RURAL SECTOR TO THE NATIONAL ECONOMY - AS A PROVIDER OF FOOD

FOR OUR GROWING POPULATION, AS A PROVIDER OF LARGE EXPORT

SURPLUSES EARNING VALUABLE FOREIGN EXHANGE. RURAL EXPORTS

LAST YEAR ACCOUNTED FOR MORE THAN 50% OF THE VALUE OF OUR EXPORT

EARNINGS, DESPITE THE R ISIN G CONTRIBUTION OF MANUFACTURED GOODS

AND MINERALS TO THE TRADE BALANCE, ALTHOUGH THE RURAL

POPULATION HAS DECLINED SUBSTANTIALLY IN THE POST-WAR PERIOD,

WITH A LARGE DROP IN THE FARM WORKFORCE, THE PRODUCTIVITY OF

Au s t r a l i a n f a r m e r s h a s e a s i l y o f f s e t t h i s t r e n d , T hrough

GREATER INVESTMENT IN MACHINERY AND F E R T IL IS E R S , PRODUCTION HAS

CONTINUED TO EXPAND EXCEPT IN YEARS OF DROUGHT, So AUSTRALIAN

FARMERS ARE E F F IC IE N T FARMERS, A U S T R A LIA 'S REPUTATION ABROAD,

AS A TRADER IN PRIMARY PRODUCTS, IS HIGH, DOES ANYONE SERIOUSLY

BELIEVE THAT WE IN THE LABOR PARTY CAN BE INDIFFERENT OR HOSTILE

TO AN INDUSTRY AS VAST, AS E F F IC IE N T , AS PRODUCTIVE, AS ESSENTIAL

AS YOURS?

- 3 -

I f we l o o k b a c k on t h e h i s t o r y o f p r i m a r y i n d u s t r y

IN T H IS COUNTRY, WE SEE ONE OUTSTANDING FEATURE, I PUT I T

TO YOU THAT THE CHIEF CHARACTERISTIC OF YOUR INDUSTRY,

WHATEVER GOVERNMENT IS IN POWER, IS ITS V U L N E R A B IL IT Y , MORE

THAN ANY OTHER SECTOR OF THE ECONOMY YOU ARE SUBJECT TO

UNPREDICTABLE AND IMPONDERABLE CIRCUMSTANCES, YOU ARE AT

THE MERCY OF THE SEASONS, AT THE MERCY OF WORLD CURRENCY

REALIGNMENTS, OF FLUCTUATING INTERNATIONAL MARKETS, GLUTS

AND SHORTAGES, CAN YOU HONESTLY SAY. THAT THE P O L IC IE S

PURSUED DURING 2 3 YEARS OF GOVERNMENT BY OUR OPPONENTS "

BY YOUR SELF-PROCLAIMED P O L IT IC A L A L L IE S - HAVE REMOVED

YOUR FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS OR GUARANTEED YOU ANY PERMANENT

SECURITY AND PROSPERITY?

J u s t t h r e e y e a r s a g o, y o u w i l l r e m e m b e r, f a r m in c o m e s

Tn t h i s c o u n t r y w er e t h e l o w e s t i n t e r m s o f p u r c h a s i n g power

SINCE 1 9 4 4 , WHEN DROUGHT AND WAR-TIME CONDITIONS PRODUCED

A QUITE DRASTIC RURAL RECESSION, No GOVERNMENT, OF COURSE,

CAN GUARANTEE YOU IMMUNITY TO ACTS OF GOD OR TO INTERNATIONAL

DEVELOPMENTS BEYOND OUR CONTROL. I MERELY SUGGEST THAT

PAST GOVERNMENT P O LIC IES TOWARDS RURAL INDUSTRY HAVE NOT

SOLVED YOUR UNDERLYING PROBLEMS, AND IN MANY CASES HAVE SERVED

X " I / 4

TO PERPETUATE THEM.

- 4 -

I GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE, I n THE LAST 30 YEARS,

Go v e r n m e n t s h a v e p o u r e d some $773 m i l l i o n i n t o t h e d a i r y

INDUSTRY BY WAY OF BOUNTIES, .THESE BOUNTIES HAVE DONE

NOTHING TO SOLVE THE INDUSTRY'S MAJOR PROBLEM - THE ADJUSTMENT

OF FARM PRODUCTION LEVELS TO R E ALISTIC LOCAL AND OVERSEAS

DEMAND, BY FAVOURING THE WEALTHIER PRODUCER AND THE RICHER

d a i r y i n g St a t e s , t h e y h a v e d o n e l i t t l e t o im p r o v e t h e l o t

OF SMALL DAIRY FARMERS, MANY OF WHOM ARE REPRESENTED IN

your F e d e r a t i o n , T h i r t e e n y e a r s a g o , a n in d e p e n d e n t

COMMITTEE - APPOINTED BY OUR PREDECESSORS - UNANIMOUSLY

RECOMMENDED THE ABO LITIO N OF THE DAIRY SUBSIDY, THAT

RECOMMENDATION WAS IGNORED, WHAT BETTER TIME TO PHASE OUT

TH IS SUBSIDY THAN NOW, WHEN RETURNS IN THE MAJOR ALTERNATIVE

ENTERPRISE - THAT OF BEEF PRODUCTION - ARE AT RECORD LEVELS,

AND WHEN THE LONG-TERM PROSPECTS IN THAT INDUSTRY ARE

REGARDED AS HIGHLY PROMISING? D o n ' t FORGET THAT IN

CONSULTATION WITH-THE INDUSTRY AND STATE AU TH O R ITIES , WE ARE

EXAMINING THE BEST MEANS OF PROVIDING RE-ADJUSTMENT

ASSISTANCE WHILE THE BOUNTIES ARE PHASED OUT,

I GIVE YOU ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF UNFAIR AND

SELF-DEFEATING CONCESSIONS TO THE RURAL SECTOR, I n THE

Bu d g e t t h i s y e a r we l o o k e d c r i t i c a l l y a t a n u m ber of t a x

CONCESSIONS RECEIVED BY FARMERS, W e FOUND THAT THESE

CONCESSIONS MADE L IT T L E REAL SENSE - FROM YO.UR LONG-TERM

POINT OF VIEW, OR FROM THE COMMUNITY'S POINT OF VIEW,

. 75 o · i

I REMIND YOU THAT A CONCESSION TO ONE GROUP OF TAXPAYERS CAN

BE MADE ONLY AT THE EXPENSE OF TAXPAYERS GENERALLY; IT IS

GOOD GOVERNMENT PRACTICE TO LOOK AT THESE THINGS C R IT IC A L L Y

FROM TIM E TO T IM E , W e FOUND THAT SOME TAX CONCESSIONS

FARMERS WERE RECEIVING WERE DESIGNED TO ENCOURAGE FARM

INVESTMENT, THEY WERE INTRODUCED, IN THE M AIN, IN THE

DECADE AFTER WORLD WAR I I WHEN AUSTRALIA WAS C R IT IC A LLY SHORT

OF FOREIGN EXCHANGE RESERVES AND WHEN THERE WAS AN URGENT

NATIONAL NEED TO EXPAND EXPORTS. CONDITIONS HAVE, OF COURSE,

CHANGED DRAMATICALLY SINCE THEN, OUR EXPORT INCOMES ARE

HIGH AND R IS IN G ; OUR INTERNATIONAL RESERVES ARE NEAR RECORD

LEVELS - LEVELS UNDREAMT OF 3 OR 4 YEARS AGO, I n THESE

VASTLY ALTERED CIRCUMSTANCES, A R T IF IC IA L BOOSTS TO FARM

INVESTMENT AND EXPORT PRODUCTION MAKE, QUITE SIM PLY, L IT T L E

OR NO ECONOMIC SENSE, T H IS DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE CAN IGNORE

THE V IT A L IMPORTANCE OF ECONOMICALLY HEALTHY AND E F FIC IE N T

INDUSTRIES, It SIMPLY MEANS THAT IT NO LONGER PAYS US AS

A NATION TO DEVELOP FARMS MORE RAPIDLY THAN IT WOULD PAY YOU

•OURSELVES TO DEVELOP THEM. ·

I n t h i s c o n t e x t , i t i s im p o r t a n t t o c o n s id e r t h e

CURRENT HEALTH OF THE RURAL SECTOR, WORLD DEMAND HAS

INCREASED SHARPLY FOR MOST.OF A U S TR A LIA 'S EXPORT COMMODITIES,

ESPECIALLY WOOL AND MEAT, ΪΗ Ε BUREAU OF AGRICULTURAL

Ec o n o m ic s h as e s t i m a t e d n e t far m in c o m e i n 1 9 7 2 - 7 3 a t a

RECORD LEVEL OF $ 1 , 8 8 0 M IL L IO N , A RISE OF $744 M ILL IO N OVER

THE YEAR BEFORE. PRELIMINARY ESTIMATES FOR 1 9 7 3 - 7 4 SHOW A

NET FARM INCOME OF $ 2 ,8 6 5 M IL L IO N , UP 52% OF 1 9 7 2 - 7 3 ,

- 5 -

,, .76

- 6 -

The Bu r e a u' s p r e l i m i n a r y e s t i m a t e o f t h e g r o s s v a l u e of

RURAL PRODUCTION IN 1 9 7 3 - 7 4 IS A MASSIVE FIGURE OF $ 6 / 1 1 0

M IL L IO N - MORE THAN $ 1 , 0 0 0 M IL L IO N GREATER THAN THE PAST

YEAR, AT THE SAME TIME THE RATE OF INCREASE IN RURAL DEBTS

IS SLACKENING OFF, AND FARMERS ARE REPAYING THEIR EXISTING

DEBTS MORE QUICKLY. HIGHER FARM INCOMES HAVE ENABLED MANY

FARMERS TO REPAY THEIR DEBTS; AND T H IS ,· COMBINED WITH

BUOYANT AND RISIN G PRICES, HAS MADE THE FARMING COMMUNITY

MORE PROSPEROUS TODAY THAN AT ANY TIME SINCE WORLD WAR I I .

Now I d o n ' t w ant to m a k e too much of t h i s . In many

WAYS IT IS FORTUITOUS, JUST AS YOUR RECENT RECESSION WAS

FORTUITOUS; AND AS I HAVE ARGUED ALREADY, THE INHERENT

CHARACTERISTIC OF YOUR INDUSTRY IS ITS PATTERN OF IN S T A B IL IT Y .

I SUGGEST, HOWEVER, THAT YOUR CURRENT OVERALL PROSPERITY

PRESENTS A GOOD OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE FARMING MORE OF A

COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE, MORE V IA B L E , MORE E F F IC IE N T , MORE

SECURE, MORE FLEXIBLE AND RESPONSIVE TO MARKET TRENDS, W e

A E OPPOSED TO OPEN-ENDED COMMITMENTS WHICH PLACE NO L I M I T

on Tr e a s u r y a l l o c a t i o n s a n d s u b s i d i e s a n d w h i c h c a s t t h e

FARMERS, IN THE EYES OF THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE, AS A

MENDICANT CLASS, HEEDLESS OF SOUND BUSINESS PRACTICE AND

DEPENDENT ON THE TAXPAYERS' CH AR ITY , I G IVE YOU MY ASSURANCE

t h a t t h e Go v e r n m e n t w i l l c o n t i n u e t o a s s i s t p r i m a r y i n d u s t r y,

BECAUSE YOUR CONTINUED PROSPERITY IS ES SE N TIAL TO US A L L , BUT

OUR ASSISTANCE W IL L BE GEARED TO NATIONAL INTERESTS. AND NEEDS.

- 7 -

Th e g r e a t i n s t r u m e n t fo r d i r e c t i n g Go v e r n m e n t

ASSISTANCE TO RURAL INDUSTRY W IL L BE OUR INDUSTRY ASSISTANCE

Co m m i s s i o n . As yo u kno w, t h i s i s b e i n g s e t u p - on t h e

B A S IS OF A REPORT FROM S lR JOHN CRAWFORD - IN ORDER TO

SUBJECT CALLS FOR ASSISTANCE TO ALL IN D U S T R IE S , INCLUDING

RURAL INDUSTRY, TO REGULAR INDEPENDENT AND PUBLIC SCRUTINY.

I n t h i s CONNECTION, I COMMEND t h e f u l l a n d g e n e r o u s s u p p o r t

I HAVE RECEIVED FROM YOUR ORGANISATION ON T H IS ISSUE. YOU

RECOGNISED QUITE FRANKLY THAT SUCH A COMMISSION MIGHT,

ON OCCASIONS, WORK AGAINST THE SHORT-TERM INTEREST OF ONE

OF YOUR INDUSTRIES, BUT THAT REGULAR, INDEPENDENT PUBLIC

SCRUTINY OF ALL ASSISTANCE PROPOSALS W IL L , IN THE LONG RUN,

BENEFIT MOST ECONOMIC PRODUCERS AND ALL OF US AS CONSUMERS

AND AS TAXPAYERS.

T h a t i s a r e a l i s t i c a n d s e n s i b l e a p p r a o c h , b u t i t

IS NOT, I GATHER, THE APPROACH TAKEN BY THE COUNTRY PARTY.

Th e y seem to t h i n k t h e y know b e t t e r t h a n y o u , t h e f a r m e r s ,

WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE FARMING COMMUNITY. T H IS MAY NOT BE THE

PLACE TO SPECULATE ON THE COUNTRY PARTY'S MOTIVES, BUT I MUS”

DISCOUNT THE SUGGESTION THAT THEIR APPROACH TO THIS MEASURE

HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH THEIR PLANS TO CONTEST C ITY ELECTORATES.

I CANNOT BELIEVE FOR A MOMENT THAT THEY ARE MORE INTERESTED IN

WINNING SUPPORT AMONG C ITY MANUFACTURERS THAN IN FURTHERING THE

INTERESTS OF COUNTRY PEOPLE. I LEAVE THOSE QUESTIONS TO YOU;

you know t h e Co u n t r y Pa r t y b e t t e r t h a n I d o . I n o t i c e , h o w e v e r ,

M r. An t h o n y ' s s t a t e m e n t t h a t t h e Co m m i s s i o n w i l l u s u r p t h e

Go v e r n m e n t ' s a u t h o r i t y . 'I

i '

. . . 7 8

- 3 -

He s u g g e s t s t h a t t h e Co m m i s s i o n w i l l b e so p o w e r f u l t h a t no

Go v e r n m e n t w i l l b e a b l e to r e j e c t i t s a d v i c e . Co m in g from

A MEMBER OF GOVERNMENT THAT REJECTED ADVICE, AND CONCEALED

ADVICE, ON INNUMERABLE OCCASIONS, I FIND THAT HARD TO ACCEPT,

I t i s , of c o u r s e , a f a n t a s y . J t i s in t e n d e d to c r e a t e

DOUBT AND UNCERTAINTY ABOUT PROPOSALS THAT ARE IN FACT

QUITE CLEAR AND HAVE BEEN SPELT OUT IN OUR LEGISLATION IN

PRECISE D E T A IL .

T he h e a r t of t h e l e g i s l a t i o n i s t h e s o- c a l l e d

MANDATORY REFERENCE PROVISION. TH IS REQUIRES THE GOVERNMENT

TO REFER TO THE COMMISSION FOR INQUIRY AND REPORT ALL QUESTIONS

OF ASSISTANCE TO A PARTICULAR PRIMARY -OR SECONDARY INDUSTRY

BEFORE TAKING ACTION TO PROVIDE SUCH ASSISTANCE, THE MANDATORY

REFERENCE PROVISION PROVIDES A V IT A L SAFEGUARD TO THE

INTEGRITY OF THE GENERAL SYSTEM, WHEREBY THE GOVERNMENT

DECIDES ON THE DIFFERENT AMOUNTS OF- MONEY TO BE GIVEN TO

PARTICULAR INDUSTRIES. I t ENSURES THAT THE SYSTEM FOR

DISC RIMINATING BETWEEN DIFFERENT INDUSTRIES W ILL BE OBJECTIVE

AND IM P AR TIA L. I n THE ABSENCE OF T H IS PROVISION THERE WOULD

' . VERY GREAT PRESSURE ON PARLIAMENTARIANS, AND IN PARTICULAR

on Mi n i s t e r s , to h a v e l e v e l s of a s s i s t a n c e d e c i d e d b e h i n d

CLOSED DOORS WITHOUT PUBLIC INQUIRY, CONTRARY TO THE

PRINCIPLES OF OPEN GOVERNMENT AND THE INTERESTS OF CONSUMERS.

, . , / 9

Th e m a n d a t o r y p r o v i s i o n d o e s n o t r e s t r i c t t h e

Go v e r n m e n t ' s f r e e d o m t o m a k e a c r o s s - t h e - b o a r d a d j u s t m e n t s

OF TARIFFS AND OTHER ASSISTANCE, TO EXTEND PREFERENTIAL

TREATMENT TO DEVELOPING COUNTRIES OR TO NEGOTIATE CHANGES

IN LEVELS OF ASSISTANCE FOR THE PURPOSE OF INTERNATIONAL

TRADE AGREEMENTS, I t DOES NOT RESTRICT THE GOVERNMENT'S

A B IL IT Y TO PROVIDE URGENT TEMPORARY FIN A N C IA L ASSISTANCE

TO INDUSTRIES FOR PERIODS NOT EXCEEDING TWELVE MONTHS.

The Go v e r n m e n t w i l l b e a b l e to r e f e r to t h e Co m m is s io n

THE QUESTION OF ASSISTANCE TO ANY AUSTRALIAN INDUSTRY,

AND IN MAKING ITS INQUIRY THE COMMISSION W ILL BE FREE

TO CONSIDER AND REPORT ON ALL FORMS OF ASSISTANCE WHICH

THE INDUSTRY IN QUESTION IS RECEIVING, I n CASES WHERE

ASSISTANCE HAS BEEN UNCHANGED OR UNREVIEWED FOR AT LEAST

S IX YEARS, THE COMMISSION W ILL BE ABLE TO IN IT IA T E IN Q U IR IE S .

T h i s w i l l b e a s a f e g u a r d a g a i n s t t h e i n d e f i n i t e c o n t i n u a t i o n .

OF ASSISTANCE TO PARTICULAR INDUSTRIES AFTER IT IS NEEDED.

I REMIND YOU THAT THE GOVERNMENT W ILL S T IL L HAVE

AVAILABLE TO IT SOURCES OF ADVICE OTHER THAN THE COMMISSION.

T h i s a d v i c e w i l l come from i n d u s t r i e s t h e m s e l v e s , a n d from

INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS SUCH AS YOURS. I f THE ADVICE OF THE

Co m m is s io n i s so good t h a t i t c a n n o t b e r e j e c t e d , t h e n t h i s

W ILL SURELY BE IN THE INTERESTS OF THE NATION AS A WHOLE.

I f t h e a d v i c e i s n o t g o o d , i t s h o u l d n o t b e v e r y h ar d to

REJECT, I MERELY WONDER WHETHER OUR OPPONENTS' ARE INTERESTED

IN GETTING GOOD ADVICE AT A L L .

, . , / 1 0

- 10 -

Our l e g i s l a t i o n f o r t h e I n d u s t r y, A s s i s t a n c e Co m m i s s i o n

W IL L NOT AFFECT OUR PLANS FOR RURAL RECONSTRUCTION, W e W I L L ,

HOWEVER, BE GUIDED BY ADVICE FROM THE COMMISSION, AFTER A

REVIEW OF THE RURAL RECONSTRUCTION SCHEME T H IS YEAR, THE

Go v e r n m e n t d e c i d e d t o c o n t i n u e t h e Sc h e m e u n t i l 1 9 7 6 , b u t w i t h

MORE EMPHASIS BEING PLACED ON THE B U IL D -U P .O F UNECONOMIC FARM

u n i t s . Mo r e t h a n W m i l l i o n was i n c l u d e d i n t h e Bu d g e t f o r

EXPENDITURE IN THE CURRENT F I N A N C IA L YEAR, A n IMPORTANT PART

o f t h e Sc h e m e i s t h e r e h a b i l i t a t i o n o f n e e d y f a r m e r s who w i s h

TO LEAVE THE LAND, Ϊ Η Ε DEPARTMENT OF PRIMARY INDUSTRY IS

EXAMINING PROPOSALS FOR A MORE IM A G IN A T IV E AND CONSTRUCTIVE

PROVISIO N IN T H IS REGARD, S I M I L A R L Y , THE FRUITGROWING

Re c o n s t r u c t i o n Sc h e m e, w h i c h i s d e s i g n e d t o h e l p f r u i t g r o w e r s

IN F I N A N C I A L D I F F I C U L T I E S TO REMOVE SOME OR A L L OF TH EIR TREES

AND EITHER LEAVE THE INDUSTRY OR PUT T H E IR LAND TO AN . .

ALTER N ATIV E USE, HAS BEEN EXTENDED FOR ANOTHER YEAR AT AN

ESTIMATED COST OF $2 M I L L I O N ,

I n t h i s c o n t e x t , t h e r e i s one p a r t i c u l a r b u d g e t m e a s u r e

T Γ I WANT TO EXPLAIN TO YOU, As YOU KNOW, WE DECIDED TO

REMOVE THE EXEMPTION FROM SALES TAX ON CARBONATED SOFT-DRINKS

CONTAINING 5 % OR MORE OF AUSTRALIAN F R U IT J U I C E , T H IS D E C IS IO N

WAS TAKEN BECAUSE SUCH EXEMPTION WAS THE WRONG INSTRUMENT FOR

ENLARGING THE FRUITGROWER'S MARKET, ONLY A FRACTION OF THE $ 23

M IL L IO N A YEAR WHICH THE EXEMPTION COST THE GOVERNMENT WAS

RETURNED TO THE GROWER, I ASSURE YOU THAT WHILE AB O LIS H IN G THE

EXEMPTION THE GOVERNMENT IS READY TO PROVIDE FUNDS TO A S S IS T

ANY SECTOR OF THE FRUITGROWING INDUSTRY THAT MAY BE ADVERSELY

AFFECTED. T H IS H E L P . W IL L PROVIDE MORE LASTING B E N E F IT THAN THE

SA LE S -T A X EXEMPTION WHICH REQUIRES CONTINUING SUBVENTIONS BY

- 11 -

We h a v e t a k e n o t h e r m e a s u r e s t o a s s i s t r u r a l

IN D U STR IE S. An AMOUNT OF $20 M IL L IO N WAS PROVIDED IN THE

Bu d g e t to f a c i l i t a t e l o n g - t e r m r u r a l l e n d i n g b y t h e

Co m m o n w ealth De v e l o p m e n t Ba n k for a w id e r r an g e of p u r p o s e s .

Th e y in c l u d e t h e f i n a n c i n g of far m p u r c h a s e s , r e p a y m e n t of

SHORT-TERM DEBTS IN APPROPRIATE CASES, AND ASSISTANCE IN CASES

OF FIN A N C IAL D IF F IC U LT Y ASSOCIATED WITH THE DEATH OF A FARM

PROPRIETOR.

Ou t s i d e t h e Bu d g e t i t s e l f , t h e Go v e r n m e n t has t a k e n

A WHOLE SERIES OF DECISIONS THAT W ILL BENEFIT THE FARMER. I n

OUR EARLY DAYS, WE SHOWED OURSELVES READY TO RESPOND TO THE

URGENT NEED TO ENCOURAGE WHEAT PRODUCTION. W e NOT ONLY

ACCEPTED A DELIVERY QUOTA OF 514 M IL L IO N BUSHELS - THE HIGHEST

ON RECORD - BUT ADDED A "FLOATING POOL" OF 20 M ILL IO N BUSHELS

ON TOP OF THAT, READY FOR ANY STATE THAT-EXCEEDED ITS PORTION

OF THE NATIONAL QUOTA. W e INCREASED THE FIRST ADVANCE PAYMENT

ON WHEAT FROM $ 1 . 1 0 TO $ 1 . 2 0 A BUSHEL FOR THE NEXT HARVEST.

T h i s was t h e f i r s t in c r e a s e i n t h e a d v a n c e for 15 y e a r s .

W e h a v e a l s o a g r e e d to an i m m e d i a t e p a y m e n t of a s e c o n d a d v a n c e

on t h e 1 9 6 9 - 7 0 c r o p . Our i n i t i a t i v e s i n q u i c k l y e s t a b l i s h i n g

DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH CHINA HAVE BEEN WELCOMED BY THE

Au s t r a l i a n w h ea t i n d u s t r y . As you know, t h e Mi n i s t e r for

Ov e r s e a s T r a d e , Dr. J im Ca i r n s , r e c e n t l y a n n o u n c e d our f i r s t

LONG-TERM WHEAT CONTRACT WITH CHINA. THE DEPARTMENT OF

Pr im a r y I n d u s t r y i s now w o r k in g on a new w h ea t s t a b i l i s a t i o n

PLAN TO REPLACE THE ONE-YEAR EXTENSION OF THE CURRENT PLAN.

We h o pe to im p r o v e t h e p r o v i s i o n s for s t a b i l i s a t i o n .

. . . 7 1 2

- 12 -

Th e n t h e r e w e r e o u r t a r i f f c u t s , I n J u l y 1 97 3

t h e Go v e r n m e n t r ed u c e d a l l t a r i f f r a t e s b y 25% to a l l o w

• IMPORTS TO ENTER AUSTRALIA MORE CHEAPLY. I BELIEVE

PRIMARY PRODUCERS W IL L REAP S IG N IF IC A N T BENEFITS FROM THE

TA R IFF CUT, I n PARTICULAR IT IS EXPECTED TO REDUCE THE

PRICE OF A WIDE RANGE OF FARM MACHINERY, I t W ILL REDUCE

TO SOME EXTENT THE NEED FOR AN ADDITIONAL REVALUATION

OF THE DOLLAR, AND W IL L HELP PRIMARY PRODUCERS BY RESTRAINING

THE RATE OF INFLATION AND HENCE THE COST OF LABOUR EMPLOYED

IN PRIMARY INDUSTRY. ·

I ASK YOU TO REMEMBER THAT IN ANY PERIOD OF INFLATION

THERE ARE D IF F IC U L T PROBLEMS FOR ALL DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED

GOVERNMENTS. It IS NO ACCIDENT THAT THOSE IN CHARGE OF

NATIONAL AFFAIRS DURING INFLATIONARY PERIODS OFTEN BECOME

SOMEWHAT UNPOPULAR. ΪΟ ACT RESPONSIBLY THEY MUST REDUCE

THE COMMUNITY'S LEVEL OF SPENDING IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.

Th e y m u s t b r i n g i t c l o s e r to t h e c o m m u n it y ' s c a p a c i t y to

PRODUCE - OR IMPORT - GOODS AND SERVICES. REDUCING ANYONE'S

SPENDING IS NOT THE BEST WAY TO COURT POPULARITY - YET IT

MU' BE DONE IN THE INTERESTS OF RESPONSIBLE ECONOMIC

MANAGEMENT.

T he PRESENT INFLATIONARY PERIOD IS IN MANY WAYS

REMINISCENT OF THE WOOL BOOM IN THE EARLY 1 9 5 3 ' S. A t THAT

t i m e S i r Ar th u r Fa d d e n - t h e n l e a d e r of t h e Au s t r a l i a n '

Co u n t r y Pa r t y and T r e a s u r e r fo u n d i t n e c e s s a r y to in t r o d u c e

t h e Wool Sa l e s De d u c t i o n Ta x , und er w h ic h 20% was d e d u c t e d

FROM EACH g r a z i e r ' s WOO^ CHEQUE.

.713

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As YOU MIGHT EXPECT, TH IS D ID N 'T MAKE ARTIE FADDEN THE MOST

' POPULAR MAN IN THE BUSH. I QUOTE FROM H IS AUTOBIOGRAPHY:

" c r i t i c i s m of t h i s d e c i s i o n r o l l e d i n l i k e a t i d a l w a v e ,

BACKED BY HOSTILE RESOLUTIONS FROM BRANCHES, CANCELLED

MEMBERSHIP SUBSCRIPTIONS AND DEMANDS FOR MY EX PU LSION ."

I AM SOMETIMES RELIEVED THAT I BELONG TO SUCH A GENTLEMANLY

BODY AS THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY.

I MENTION THESE MATTERS TO ILLUSTRATE MY POINT THAT

DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED GOVERNMENTS ARE SOMETIMES FORCED BY

CIRCUMSTANCES TO TAKE UNPOPULAR DECISIONS - DECISIONS WHICH

THEY BELIEVE TO BE IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE NATION. I t

IS EASY, AT THE PRESENT T IM E , TO DEPICT US AS AN ANT I-RURAL

PARTY, TO CONCENTRATE ON THE UNPOPULAR DECISIONS WHICH WE

HAVE FELT IT NECESSARY TO TAKE IN THE GENERAL INTEREST, AND

TO CONVENIENTLY IGNORE THOSE THINGS WE HAVE DONE WHICH

HAVE HELPED THE COUNTRYMAN. -

As a Go v e r n m e n t we s t a n d r e a d y to h e l p Au s t r a l i a n s

WHO ARE SUFFERING MISFORTUNES WHERE^EVE r| THEY MAY L IV E - ON

FARMS, IN COUNTRY TOWNS OR IN THE C IT IE S . I f THE FARMING

COMMUNITY IS AGAIN EXPOSED TO ECONOMIC HARDSHIPS WE W ILL BE

PREPARED TO PLAY OUR PART IN HELPING IN D IVID U ALS TO MAKE

THE BEST AND MOST RATIONAL CHOICES AND, IF NECESSARY, CUSHION

THEM AGAINST ECONOMIC ADVERSITY. W e HAVE ALWAYS VOTED FOR

SUCH P O LIC IE S WHEN WE WERE IN OPPOSITION; WE W ILL ADOPT THEM

IF NECESSARY NOW THAT WE' FORM THE GOVERNMENT. I n FEBRUARY T H IS

YEAR WE ANNOUNCED PROPOSALS COSTING $10 M ILL IO N TO HELP CHILDREN

IN ISOLATED RURAL AREAS UNDERTAKE PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLING. *

. . ./14

I

Perhaps I can sum up my Government' s broad intentions

BY QUOTING A STATEMENT BY THE AUSTRALIAN WOOLGROWERS' AND

Gr a z ie r s ' Co u n c il . The Council had t h is to s a y: "The most

IMPORTANT LONG-TERM STEP THE GOVERNMENT CAN TAKE IS TO

IMPROVE THE EFFICIENCY OF NATIONAL RESOURCE ALLOCATION BY

ENCOURAGING THE EXPANSION OF LESS PROTECTED INDUSTRIES IN THE

ECONOMY (WHETHER PRIMARY OR SECONDARY) AND DISCOURAGING THE

GROWTH OF THOSE INDUSTRIES WHICH CAN ONLY PRODUCE WITH THE

HELP OF MASSIVE LEVELS OF ASSISTANCE EITHER SUBSIDY OR

TARIFF. Th is w il l increase the level of real economic growth

FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE WHOLE COMMUNITY."'

Ϊ SUGGEST THAT THE GOVERNMENT, IN THE INTERESTS

OF THE COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE, IS DOING JUST WHAT THE WOOLGROWERS'

and Gr a z ie r s ' Council suggested . I b e l ie v e that our p o l ic ie s

W ILL B E N E FIT , NOT ONLY THE GREAT FARMING COMMUNITY OF TH IS

NATION, BUT THE AUSTRALIAN PEOPLE AS A WHOLE, .

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