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Thursday, 4 June 1970

Mr HUNT (Gwydir) - I would like to congratulate the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) on his maiden speech here this afternoon, i feel sure that he will make a very useful contribution to the national Parliament; in fact, a far more useful contribution than some of the honourable members opposite who seem to enjoy interjecting at a time when we are discussing such a serious and important matter. I have risen lo speak on this Bill because I regard the importance of the great Australian wheat industry very highly indeed and because I represent the electorate of Gwydir which is one of the largest wheat growing electorates in New South Wales, producing some of the best milling quality wheats in Australia. We do not have a problem so much of over production at the present time because n the last season we cleared all but 8 million bushels from our silos. This is because the wheat from northern New South Wales and Queensland has met a very ready market in the world and also in Australia. Owing to seasons, however - we do have fluctuating seasons in northern New South Wales - we have had a problem so far as the income of wheat growers is concerned. The seasonal factors, such as frosts and heavy rain, last year were the cause of more problems for the wheat growers in my area than the quota system itself. I regard it as important to ensure that the delivery quota system does not unduly restrict the production of readily saleable wheats. The New South Wales Minister for Agriculture, Mr G. R. Crawford, has endeavoured to write this into the wheat quota system for New South Wales. 1 want to congratulate the Australian Wheatgrowers' Federation for writing into its submissions to the Government a provision to ensure that an additional 10 million bushels of prime hard wheat were made available in this year's quota. I think it is essential that we continue to regard this question of saleability as a very important aspect of this scheme. There is a further important factor to take into consideration both for Queensland and northern New South Wales and that is the question of the growers producing over quota saleable wheat that is sold and paid for before a cut-off date, which is currently recognised as 30th September, into the next season. The wheat growers are paid for it and it is not carried forward into next year's quota. Before go'ng on to the Bill I want to deal with some of the complaints raised by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), the shadow Minister for Primary Industry from the Opposition. He complains that the delivery quota system does not take into account the problems of the small traditional growers. This is what the whole quota system ;s about, to protect the small growers in this country from ruination.

Dr Patterson - Rubbish.

Mr HUNT - Rubbish, he says. If we had not introduced a delivery quota system we would have seen chaos in the wheat industry and the first ones to go to the wall would have been the small growers. This is what we have attempted to do - protect the small growers. This is what the Wheatgrowers Federation has attempted to do. Honourable members opposite should talk about coal. They should not talk about wheat. The delivery quota system has protected the small growers of this country. It has assured them of a small payment of SI. 10 per bushel for a quota delivery. The honourable member for Dawson said in this House some time ago:

The Government has used the quota system to reduce production. This, in my opinion and in the opinion of thinking people, is not only unjust but is also inequitable.

That is a totally misleading statement on 2 accounts. It was the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation, the supreme body of wheat growers in this country, which in its wisdom decided on the quota proposals and the way in which the quota system is to be administered rests with the State governments which have undertaken to apply it to the individuals. That is typical of the type of statements that we have come to live with because of the political opportunities that honourable members opposite see in capitalising on a problem that we wheat growers have to face at this present lime. In March we heard the honourable member for Dawson make this statement in the House: lt is obvious than the Government has lulled lo warn the wheal grower.-, the public ami the taxpavers in sufficient time of the crisis that has arisen.

On 20th March 1968 the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) said:

There surely ure few growers who would not agree that the Wheat Boa id has done a magnificent job foi them in finding markets for the bigger and bigger crops that have been produced. That does not mean there is any ground for complacency World markets are neither unlimited in capacity nor unreservedly remunerative. In the last eight or nine months prices have weakened lo an extern that surely msut bring back to earth those who have held the view that there Ls a ready market for all we can product.

So let nobody come in here again and say that the Minister for Primary Industry is the guilty man in the piece.

Mr Birrell - But your own member said th:,t

Mr HUNT - The Minister for Primary Industry works wilh the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation, with the Wheat Board-

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