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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 1385

Senator YOUNG (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether he is able to say what is the extent of damage as a result of stem rust affecting large areas of wheat crops in New South Wales and also South Australia and as a result of frost, particularly in South Australia. Can the Minister say what is the estimated reduction in wheat yields as a result of these adverse effects? Will the reduction in yields in any way affect Australia's commitments on wheat sales?

Senator WRIEDT - This question is closely allied to the one I have just answered. At this stage it is not possible to say what damage has resulted. I understand it is true though, particularly in South Australia, that there has been quite a loss of wheat due to rust- not so much due to frost, so far as I am aware, but certainly due to stem rust. I have been told the loss of approximately 20 million bushels has occurred in the last fortnight. As far as New South Wales is concerned I do not know. I believe that there has been some rust damage. But, again, we cannot get precise figures until such time as the crop is harvested. It is particularly unfortunate that this has happened because we were looking to possibly a record wheat crop at the best possible time that we could have had it. However, I do not think it will place the Wheat Board in an embarrassing position so far as fulfilling orders is concerned. Because of eventualities that may arise, such as have arisen in South Australia, the Board has adopted a very cautious attitude in regard to forward contracts.

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