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Wednesday, 3 June 1970


Dr EVERINGHAM (Capricornia) (3:00 AM) - In his second reading speech the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) said that vocational training was a matter which would be looked into again as experience in the operation of this scheme accrued. That is an example of shutting the stable door after the cow has escaped. Now is the time to look at this matter and do some assessment of the position before people are thrown on to the labour market. Something should be done now about surveying marginal farms to find out what the farmers concerned need to encourage them to take part in this scheme. If they do not take part in it, what the Minister himself called a crisis situation when he was speaking to the Victorian Dairyfarmers Association on 26th May this year will not be overcome. In the course of that speech in Melbourne the Minister said:

Without production restraints, a conservative underwriting figure of around 29c per lb commercial butter basis would need to be adopted. An underwriting figure of 29c would almost certainly lead to chaos in the industry and a breakdown in the equalisation arrangements with States making every effort to seal off their markets.

That would be a situation of complete panic and even riot. He went on:

In a situation like this we could get into a hopeless price war with domestic returns even coming down to export levels. Clearly this must not be allowed to happen. I recognise the importance to the industry of continuing the underwriting at the 34c level. This was one of the principal reasons behind my recent statements that, if the industry expected the Government to underwrite at 34c, the industry certainly would have to put up some suggestions and some proposals to the Government as to how some disincentive might be introduced against further production increases. lt is all very well to say that the industry has to put up some suggestions to the Government, but whose job is it to- create disincentives? Who creates incentive? Who created the incentive for such gross expansion of dairying areas in Victoria? Was it the industry or was it a government? The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has pointed out clearly that it was the irresponsible action of the Bolte Government. The Minister for Primary Industry went on:

Much dissatisfaction exists in certain States . . . as a result of increasing production here in Victoria and in Tasmania.

That was putting it mildly. There is certainly very much dissatisfaction throughout the dairying industry in all States as a result of that situation. Later the Minister said: 1 do not accept . . . that the Government should lake over from farmers and their industry organisations the responsibility for planning the production and distribution of their output.

In other words, not only does he not want to start dabbling in production and distribution, he does not want to start dabbling even in planning.

What does he say a little later? He went on lo contradict this by saying: '

One of the important ways in which the Commonwealth warns to help is ... in the reconstruction of the marginal or low income dairy farm.

Who had the initiate there? Who was putting up the proposal for a disincentive? Was it the industry that the Minister said he did not want to interfere with or was it the Government? The answer is set out in the Minister's own words because he said: 1 am pleased lo sec in the proposals which the industry made to the Government only last week a call for the urgent implementation of this scheme.

The industry did not put up the scheme but the Minister says that the industry was calling for its urgent implementation and that he was very pleased. He said that this confirmed the earlier expressions of support which the industry throughout Australia had given. Just before that he said that he did not want to take the initiative; - that he wanted the industry to produce some plan for disincentives. Yet on the very next page of this report he states that lie is very pleased that the industry had approved the Government's schemes for disincentives.

This is a very muddled approach to the situation. There are ways in which the industry can bc helped and encouraged to work out these proposals. Why should a farmer who is not an administrator be asked to put up a scheme for administering? Why should a producer or distributor be asked to put up a scheme for long distance planning for an export industry? That isnot the business of the producer or distributor. lt is the .Government's business. The Government cannot back out of it and' pass the buck to the producers. The Government can suggest minimal reasonable conditions for subsidy. I am not sayingfessions this should be plonked on to the industry and that the Government should say: 'Take it or leave it'. I am not putting this forward in a dictatorial manner. -I say that this could be put in a reasonable manner to the industry, lt could be discussed wilh industry representatives and worked out in the same way as the Government can go reasonably to the medical profession or any other pro.fessions to discuss a reasonable basis for' working out their problems.

I now want lo put forward some points ' that could be put to the industry. Firstly there should be non-transferable licensing of bona fids producers. The Minister has said that this has to bc left to the States. If the Government wants to leave everything to the Stales why has this Bill been presented? Why do anything? The States can do this, lt is no approach to the problem to say that it is a matter for the States. This is a matter for this Government. It has to start putting things to the States and to the industry and not continue to expect . them to come to it. to make all the decisions and do all the detailed planning. The first point is that there has to be licensing. The Government ought to take some stand on this matter. It should make some approaches and take some initiative. It should go to these people, put up a proposition and discuss it with them.

The second point is that there should be a national authority with producer and consumer representation. I do not mind -if it has a maximum representation of producers. The producers have their national organisation. The Government is quite capable of coming up with some sort of ' authority to set up a plan for organised marketing. It is high time this was done. Why wait for the industry to bring forward suggestions? Why did not the Minister say that in his speech? It was something concrete ' that he could have put forward. He has plenty of precedents. It has been done in every successful organised marketing of any primary product that has been rationalised. Unfortunately this always has been done by Labor governments except, I think, in the cass of wine and honey. Another idea he could have put forward is that of regional boards to set a ceiling of a reasonable quota.







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