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Thursday, 15 September 1983
Page: 873

Mr SNOW(11.10) —The Barley Research Levy Amendment Bill 1983 applies a levy to all barley delivered by a grower to another person unless that person is storing it on the grower's behalf. By accepting the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation submission the Government realises the need to have more productivity in grain production so that Australia remains competitive on the world market. We need to be able to meet the increasingly exacting quality characteristics required by purchasers of barley. This means research in a lot of areas. The research funds maintained by the five State barley industry research committees and the Barley Industry Research Council have largely been exhausted in maintaining ongoing research programs. I fail to see how the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) can claim that this Government is not coming quickly enough with a precise statement of policy concerning research. After all, we have been in government only six months. Prior to the election when the Liberal Party of Australia was asked for its rural policy it said that it did not have one, that it was handled by the National Party of Australia. When the National Party was asked, it said that it did not have one. So I think the honourable member could be a little more charitable and give us a little more time to consider the very important aspects of research.

In a strange, inverted fashion the honourable member for Darling Downs made some very interesting and probably worthwhile suggestions about research in the barley industry. Similarly, in an inverted sort of way I defend what has been done in the past by the Barley Industry Research Council which is involved in the funding of such things as the screening of barley for resistance to scald disease, the susceptibility to barley yellow dwarf virus, research into stress metabolism of barley, research into drought resistance of barley, studies in weed control and research into improving the yield and quality of the barley crop as well as its disease resistance. All of these studies have been done and are very important. There have been important investigations into developing in barley salt tolerance, straw strength and root rot resistance, waterlogging tolerance and eelworm resistance.

I recall some 12 or 13 years ago when I first went into farming reading a book by a Victorian agricultural expert, Mr Hewitt, on the feeding of farm animals. It was shown in his book that barley was the cheapest form of protein per dollar spent. For that reason I believe that important work has been done. Important work still needs to be done in barley research. This levy will help to keep Australia's competitiveness on world markets. It is a levy which the Government is matching dollar for dollar.