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Monday, 13 September 1971
Page: 1160

Mr O'KEEFE (PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask: Have quantities of wheat been stolen from Grain Elevators Board silos in New South Wales? If so, is this wheat being sold privately on the black market? Has concern been expressed in the industry? What steps are being taken to eliminate this practice?

Mr SINCLAIR - I am not aware of any pilfering of wheat from silos in New South Wales or in other States. I am aware that from time to time there have been problems in terms of rat and mice infestation and weevil damage, but in the normal course of the activities of the Grain Elevators Board of New South Wales and corresponding bodies in other States the necessary action has been taken to minimise this damage.

As to the private sales of wheat to which the honourable member has referred, the general statistics available to my Department and to the Australian Wheat Board have not demonstrated any significant increase in these sales over the past few seasons. It is, of course, extremely difficult to make accurate assessments of the volume of private sales or across the border trading. This is a matter with which all wheat organisations and the Australian Wheat Board are concerned and because of this the various producer organisations in the field have suggested that there might well be reason for the Government looking at the proposal to hold a referendum on changing section 92 of the Constitution as far as marketing our primary products is concerned. This is a matter of Government policy. The proposal has been before the Australian people and has been rejected. I do not believe at this stage that there is any evidence to support the view that there has been a very large increase in private sales of wheat:

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