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Wednesday, 3 June 1970

Mr GRASSBY (Riverina) (1:44 AM) The entire purpose of the series of measures before the Parliament is to continue some limited Commonwealth support to the dairy industry and to launch a marginal dairy farm reconstruction scheme. These measures have been long heralded and long delayed but the implied purpose in them is that they probably will bring about some reduction in production. Of course the measures do nothing to reorganise farm production or reduce it. In fact if we interpret what they could mean, it is a possibility that they will reduce 50 farms to 25 farms. They could affect towns, they could affect people and they could affect decentralisation but they will not necessarily mean a reduction in production. I think the Minister for Pr mary Industry (Mr Anthony) might apply himself in that way to the implications that have been given to the measures.

The legislation does nothing very much to help farmers staying on their farms to enter other forms of production. It does nothing to ensure that undesired product on is abandoned and more desirable production is stimulated. It is suggested that the Commonwealth and the States have virtually agreed to freeze the present number of dairy farms and that this implies acceptance of registration. It is an interesting implication which has been put forward. Again I think the Minister for Primary Industry should apply himself to the queries raised and tell the House precisely what is in h's mind and what is the Government's intention in this regard.

The Government's proposal seems to mean that the dairy farmer has 2 choices. The first is to stay and use State aid schemes such as the New South Wales feed year scheme. The other is to sell and get out, by means of this legislation, and presumably move to the city. I say .that there is a third choice - reconstruction and rehabilitation. This really is not provided for in these measures.

The total inadequacy of the Government's approach to the dairy industry is perhaps illustrated by the fact that we have a Commonwealth scheme to help dairy farmers get out of the industry while in New South Wales we have a scheme to help them stay in it. We have 2 schemes. Canberra says that it will help the dairy farmers go and Sydney says that it will help them stay. In case there is some doubt about this I think I should quote the reference by the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Askin. 1 will quote from his speech in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. He said:

The allocation for the Minister for Agriculture includes a provision of $600,000 for the introduction of a new scheme to assist with the development of improved pasture systems in the North Coast dairying districts which are outside the milk zone . . . the Government nas been examining ways and means of giving further aid lo farmers in this area and it has been decided to introduce a special subsidy scheme to encourage improved agricultural practices with the objective of assisting the farmers to obtain greater productivity and profitability.

This seems to indicate a desire to see an expansion in the industry. Mr Duncan, a member of the New South Wales Legslative Assembly, who represents one of the major dairying areas, visualises this present Commonwealth scheme that we are debating as underwriting the State scheme by assisting farmers who have participated in the build-up by providing long term loans to enable them to stock and develop their properties. Taking the matter a stage further in the thinking of the State we find another State member - again a member of the Government Parties, of course - stating that 3,600 dairy farmers on the north coast of New South Wales had co-operated with the Government in its feed year ass;stance scheme and that this was a practical and speedy method of bringing farms into increased production. The Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales said th:s

More than 4,000 dairy farmers, or 80 per cent of those eligible, are participating in the first twelve months of the Government's feed year development scheme on the North Coast.

Right through the statements of the Ministers and the members concerned there is an implication that New South Wales is engaged on an expansion production programme.

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