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Wednesday, 3 June 1970

Mr ROBINSON (Cowper) (2:23 AM) I rise to support the measure before the House. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) has for a very long time attempted to negotiate with the States on behalf of the Commonwealth to introduce this quite dramatic programme of reconstruction of the Australian dairying industry. It is very pleasing that Western Australia should have accepted the scheme. As a consequence we now are able to deal in this House with a Bill the basis of which is an agreement between the Commonwealth and Western Australia and upon which can be patterned similar agreements with the other States. The reasoning behind this measure has been well canvassed and

I want to express my admiration, if I may put it that way, for the expressions that we have heard from most speakers in this debate because they have recognised the significant difficulties which have confronted the dairying industry and the remedies which are necessary to deal with the requirements of the industry.

Not only hus Western Australia formally accepted the agreement but also, I understand, Tasmania is favourably disposed to accepting it. 1 hope that we will see similar action in respect of the other States of the Commonwealth. I believe that Queensland will not be long in following suit. In the case of New South Wales, which is my own State, 1 have been alarmed for some time at the fact that there has not been the response that one would reasonably expect. However, I was pleased to read only about 2 days ago that the Minister for Lands in New South Wales has seen merit in this scheme and has in fact expressed the view that there is justification for its introduction in New South Wales. It is, of course, true that a form of reconstruction has been in operation in New South Wales for some time. In electorates such as your own electorate of Lyne, Mr Deputy Speaker, and the electorates of Cowper and Richmond, which comprise the dairying districts of northern New South Wales, a very good start has already been made under the State's scheme, but it falls far short of what can be done under this measure, particularly in respect of the writing off of redundant buildings and the provisionsion which will allow land to be taken up and put to other use. These provisions are quite revolutionary. Infusion of a substantial amount of capital into the work which is necessary to reconstruct the industry is particularly required. I am sure that if the States are able to come to agreement with the Commonwealth soon we will see, over the period during which the amount of $25m will be made available, a very useful result from this proposal.

I wish to correct one impression which was given by the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby). He said that there was conflict between the policies of the States and the Commonwealth. He referred in particularly to New South Wales. The honourable member has, of course, failed to look into the details of the pasture scheme which is in operation in New South Wales, particularly in relation to what it means in terms of improving the efficiency of the dairy industry. If the honourable member had looked into the details of this work he would have found that it does not, as he claimed, come into conflict with what is proposed by the Commonwealth in this measure. In fact, the reconstruction scheme supplements what the States have already begun to do. On the other hand, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) canvassed very strongly the importance of building up the efficiency of the industry so that those who wish to remain in it can be sustained and those who are finding difficulty can leave voluntarily. Certainly, to quote the honourable member for Riverina, no cavalier approach is being adopted. This scheme is a completely voluntary proposition and does not involve direction, control or any other imposition.

I believe that the dairy industry has a very sound future, but it is in need of the kind of re-organisation which this measure makes possible. There is, of course, great need for a cohesive plan which will contain production so that there will be a proper relationship between realisation at a payable price and productivity. This aspect will be, of course, the subject of other debates in this chamber in relation to subsequent legislation. However, inking the whole matter on a broad spectrum, it is obvious that the dairy industry is taking a very proper approach to the problems which confront it.

I wish to commend those leaders of the industry who have had the wisdom to confer and come forward with constructive suggestions to put to the Government. These very sound reasons are the basis of this measure for the re-arranging of the operations of the industry. They provide the means of sustaining the average dairy farmer, in particular the owner-operator who, with his family, is really the basis or the foundation of a very great industry which has spread across the continent but which is to be found in particular in the northern section of New South Wales, in southern Queensland, in Victoria, in parts of Tasmania and in South Australia and Western Australia. Collectively it is a very significant contributor to the welfare of the nation, lt is of great importance in earning export income. For many reasons it is an industry that is deserving of the kind of support that this measure will make possible.

The welding together of a practical approach involving considerations of scientific advances which, these days, can make possible efficiency if there is an economic basis, together with considerations of community welfare give us the spectacle of an industry that concerns people; and people are the concern of this Parliament. I support strongly the measure and I hope that we will see a speedy recognition of its worth by the State governments that have been mentioned in the debate this evening.

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