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Tuesday, 9 May 1972
Page: 1458

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN(Western

Australia - Minister for Air) (9.25) -I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to give effect to the Government's announced intention to widen the existing Commonwealth/ industry dairy research scheme so that it will apply to the industry as a whole. The existing scheme operates under the legislative authority of the Dairy Produce Research and Sales Promotion Act 1958. It is one of 9 such schemes. Together, these schemes cover all major rural industries. They have the common purpose of fostering research for the benefit of those engaged in the industries concerned, by providing a system under which, as an established policy, the Commonwealth matches funds raised from producers by means of levies on the particular commodities produced. In addition there are standing arrangements for a number of other lesser but still important rural industries, by which the Government accords funds for research purposes. All these arrangements, whether backed by legislation or not, are additional to the quite considerable sums that are provided directly for agricultural and agricultural economic research through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation - CSIRO - and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. The existing dairy research scheme covers research financed by levies on butter, cheese, butter oil, butter powder and ghee. In effect it is a scheme applying to the manufacturing sector of the dairying industry, and not even to the whole of that sector.

The industry has proposed and the Government has agreed to widen the scheme, so that it operates in respect of all milk and dairy products. Milk for human consumption and processed and condensery products will thus be brought within the ambit of this enlarged research scheme. The action now proposed has the support of all sectors of the industry. The Wholemilk Conference of the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation took the initiative in the discussions within the industry which led to the present proposals. The proposals were endorsed by State bodies of the Federation. The Milk Producers Association has agreed. The Processed Milk Manufacturers Association raises no objection against the levy on all milk used for condensery products. The Australian Agricultural Council has been informed and milk marketing authorities throughout Australia have been consulted. The Australian Dairy Produce Board fully supports action to extend the research levy, to ensure that all sectors of the dairy industry contribute equitably towards the cost of research.

The costs of such research have been rising. In the current financial year 1971-72, a total of $849,216 has been allocated for dairy research projects. Producers predominantly supplying the fluid milk market are already receiving considerable benefits from such research, even though they have not so far been contributing towards its financing. Despite the fact that the volume of research has been cut back compared to earlier years, it has only been possible to maintain the present level of research by drawing on the accumulated reserves of the Dairy Produce Research Trust Fund. The income of the scheme in the current year 1971-72 for instance is estimated to be of the order of $775,000. With parliamentary approval of the measures now being introduced by the Government, the income of the scheme including the Government's contribution will rise to over $lm. The wider scheme will enable research to be undertaken on problems involved in the producing, handling and distributing of fluid milk. It will also enable rebuilding of reserves; maintenance of the existing body of research activity; enhanced work on problems such as mastitis, diseases affecting calving, pasture and feed problems and the like; and greater emphasis on improvement in the quality of dairy products.

The Bill establishes an account to be known as the Dairying Research Trust Account. This Account will take the place of the existing Dairy Produce Research Trust Account. The new Account will be credited with the balance of moneys standing to the credit of or accruing to the Dairy Produce Research Trust Account as well as funds from Consolidated Revenue equal to the receipts to be raised from the broader based levy, as well as certain minor moneys. Under the existing arrangements, applications for support for research are considered by the Dairy Produce Research Committee. This Committee will be replaced by a new committee, the Dairying Research Committee, whose membership will be enlarged by the inclusion of one additional member who shall represent the dairy farmers of Australia engaged in the production of whole milk for human consumption. Before making an appointment to this seat on the Dairying Research Committee, the Minister for Primary Industry will be required to consult with representatives of dairy farmers engaged in such production. The Australian Dairy Farmers Federation and the Milk Producers Association will be consulted. The term of appointment of this member, and indeed of all members, will be limited to 3 years.

I take this opportunity of recording my appreciation of the work done by the members of the Dairy Produce Research Committee. It is my hope that their knowledge and experience will, as far as practicable, continue to be available for the benefit of the dairying industry. The functions of the Dairying Research Committee will be twofold - to recommend to the Minister for Primary Industry the operative rates of levy for research purposes, and to recommend to the Minister on the allocation of funds for research purposes and related activities. The need for research continues to be great. It is an essential element in the totality of measures that are being taken for the improvement of an industry whose welfare is significant to major regions in all States. The Government is assisting not only through contributions to research but also through support of the State advisory and extension services, through maintenance of stabilisation, the strengthening of equalisation and the provision of subsidy, through the marginal dairy farms reconstruction scheme to assist amalgamation and diversification, and through its efforts to assist in the defence of existing markets and the encouragement of entry into new markets, especially in neighbouring Asian countries. Every dairy farmer in Australia will now participate in this broad research scheme and the benefits of it will flow back to every dairy farmer in Australia. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator Poke) adjourned.

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