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Tuesday, 15 March 1966

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Is leave granted?

Mr Anthony - I do not have any information about the table.

Mr HAYDEN - The Minister said that it would be quite satisfactory.

Mr Anthony - I would like to check on that.

Mr HAYDEN - I wish now to refer to a report by a senior lecturer in agricultural economics. It has not been published and until I have his authority to quote his name I am not prepared to do so. He said, among other things, that from his analysis it appears that the economic outlook in Queensland for some dairy farmers is optimistic. On the other hand, many dairy farmers will continue on depressed incomes unless the Government and the industry jointly agree on a bold course of future action. I believe that the findings in the report which refer to Queensland should be incorporated in "Hansard". The senior lecturer I am quoting states that for all farms in the survey he conducted, the average net income was £1,092. This was the surplus that the farm family had to live on.

Over the same period the basic wage for urban male workers averaged £738, but the actual earnings were £1,053. However, if taken on a labour unit basis, the average farm figure reduced to £780. On average, 1.3 units of family labour were employed. Further, the dairy farmer is much worse off than appears because he should be able to expect additional allowances for (a) the capital he has invested in the farm, (b) management skills and (c) risk associated with primary production. If a reasonableallowance for (a) is 5 per cent, and for (b) and (c) is li per cent, of total capital investment, this gives a net income requirement per labour unit of around £1,650. If these income figures are assumed to be reasonable, it follows that the average dairy farmer would need to produce about 9,000 lb. of butter a year.

It is concluded by the senior lecturer that farmers who cannot achieve an output of between 8,000 lb. and 10,000 lb. of "butter a year must continue to expect an income which is low relative to that earned by workers in other primary industries and in secondary industries. He calls for urgent action by the Government and makes some recommendations which I shall deal with, if

I have time. On the point of income the quarterly reviews of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in October 1965 and January 1966 are relevant. If one goes through these reviews, one finds that Queensland dairy farmers are in the low income range. On the average, over the three-year period from 1961-62 to 1963-64, 72 per cent, of the all industry dairy farmers in Queensland received an income of less than £1,500 per year. The average income for the all industry dairy farmers in Queensland was £999. The only State' where dairy farmers received lower incomes was Western

Australia, where the average was £863. The average for Australia was £1,198.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! Before the honorable member for Oxley proceeds any further, I wish to say that he asked for approval to incorporate in " Hansard " certain figures relating to the dairy industry. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) has now examined the table and, with the approval of the House, it will be incorporated in " Hansard ". It relates to the average annual milk production in gallons per dairy cow.

Mr HAYDEN - There is one other set of figures which I believe emphasises the very serious problems which face the Queensland dairy industry today. Of course, these matters in themselves are compelling reasons why the Government should institute a commission of inquiry in order to see what can be done to rehabilitate the dairy industry in Queensland. Page 1075 of the " Year Book " for 1965 refers to the average milk production per dairy cow for 1938-39, 1948-49 and 1958-59. It shows that for each of these periods Queensland had the lowest average milk production per dairy cow in Australia. The average for the three periods was 298 gallons in 1938-39, 267 gallons for 1948-49 and 267 gallons in 1958-59 - a decline. Every other State has had an increase in production over these periods. The Australian average production increased from 354 gallons in 1938-39 to 393 gallons in 1958-59.

What is the Federal Government going to do about this matter? The introduction of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement is another example of the further whittling away of the welfare of the primary producers in the dairy industry. These people want some action. They do not want this constant pressure that is building up all the time and which is pushing farmers out of the industry at fairly heavy loss to themselves. It has been suggested in the report which I mentioned from the Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Economics that one method of raising output is by increasing the size of the farms. He said -

This could be done by finance being provided on favourable terms to farmers who wished to buy land from neighbours wanting to sell out.

Another point he made was -

Basically the major problem facing the industry in the future is that Government and the dairy industry itself must jointly agree on radical action to materially assist low output farms to raise production or help such farmers rehabilitate in other jobs.

This is what we want. We want some action. When an inquiry is undertaken, we want representatives of the dairying industry involved in the investigation. When the report is tabled in this House, we do not want it shelved as the 5500,000 report of the Vernon Committee has been shelved. We do not want any further waste like this. We cannot afford to have the dairy industry in Queensland continually going back on the skids. The whole problem of the dairy industry in that State is a very serious one. It is little wonder that the dairy industry in Queensland views this section of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement with some alarm. It has had so many broken promises pushed upon it by the Government in the past that it now views this Agreement with a great deal of suspicion.

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