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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 1386

Senator DEVITT (TASMANIA) -Can the Minister for Primary Industry indicate what progress has been made in getting from the various sections of the dairy industry the suggestions and recommendations which he sought to enable him to determine measures to be taken to put the industry on a better basis than was the case under the now discontinued subsidy scheme? Has the recent development of new and promising butter markets enhanced the prospects for the long term economic viability of the industry?

Senator WRIEDT - I cannot give the exact number of industry groups or States which at this stage have replied to the Government's invitation for their views on the restructuring of the dairy industry. I know that several replies have been received from all over the Commonwealth. The course the Government will adopt will depend to a large degree on the suggestions received. As to the second part of the honourable senator's question, I think one must view with some caution the comment that there is an increasing demand for butter in the world at the present time. The general position is not to that effect. The consumption of butter in all developing countries is declining, but there are one or two areas in which butter can find a fairly ready market at the present time but at a certain price. This was illustrated by the very large purchase recently by the Soviet Union of 200,000 tons of butter from the European Economic Community countries at the give-away price of 22c per lb. I do not think that Australia should ever place itself in a position where it is producing a product to be sold at that price level. But, as I said, the main emphasis of the restructuring will be towards the dairying industry producing the type of products that the market wants at an economic price.

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