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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 1384

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Can the Minister say whether the special wheat quota of 20 million bushels will be sufficient to enable all wheat from this year's harvest to be taken in by the Australian Wheat Board and receive the first advance payment? Can he reassure individual growers in Western Australia, where the crop is expected to be a record, that neither quota limitations, either State or individual, nor State handling facilities will prevent all wheat being received and paid for?

Senator WRIEDT (TASMANIA) (Minister for Primary Industry) - lt is not possible at this stage to say that the 20 million bushels floating pool which was placed over and above the quota will be sufficient to meet what could well be a record harvest, particularly in Western Australia where the State appears at this stage to be producing sufficient wheat to go through its quota. The purpose of the 20 million bushels was of course to provide for this contingency arising. So far as the other States are concerned it is still doubtful as to what their quota figures will be. I understand that it is possible that Victoria and New South Wales may go very close to their quotas, but until the precise figures are known it is not possible to say that. On reflection. I think it does indicate the foresight not only of the Government but also of the wheat industry back in January when we took this step to provide for an additional 20 million bushels. Where a State exceeds its quota- and this concerns Western Australia- any wheat delivered to the Board within that 20 million bushels will of course attract the first advance of SI. 20. But outside that 20 million bushels no other wheat would attract the first advance. Only what is termed, as the honourable senator knows, readily saleable wheat can be taken at the discretion of the Board; but under those circumstances the grower of course then has to wait for the sale before he receives payment. That is as distinct from the first advance. Of course it would bc desirable if the Board were in a position to do this but the agreement and arrangements have already been entered into with the Reserve Bank of Australia as to the amount of finance available to the Wheat Board for the first advance payment on the 514 million bushels basic quota plus the 20 million bushel floating quota. I must say that it would not be possible, as I see it as this stage, for wheat over and above that amount to attract the first advance. But of course the Board almost certainly would receive the wheat because of the state of the market. I would think that any surplus wheat would almost certainly, although it is at the discretion of the Board, be declared readily saleable. As such it would be received and payment would need to be deferred until such time as the wheat was sold.

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