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Thursday, 6 December 1973
Page: 2537

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -Did the Minister for Primary Industry suggest, at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation conference in Rome last month, an intensive study into whether world farm productivity is levelling out while demand is increasing? Did he forecast greater food storage activity to offset fluctuations in seasons? If he did, why did the Government reduce budgetary aid to Australian rural industries at a time when the Minister felt that world food productivity might be falling further behind demand?

Senator WRIEDT (TASMANIA) (Minister for Primary Industry) -Quite obviously the honourable senator is confused about what I said in Rome. I was not talking about whether or not governments should provide taxation benefits to primary producers. If he had read my speech more closely he might have understood that I was referring to the actual productivity of world agriculture generally. This matter was raised not only by myself but by other Ministers who addressed the meeting. The substance of the problem is that the remarkable decline in the number of people employed in rural industry in the developed countries has meant, in recent years, sufficient increased productivity by the people engaged in agriculture to take up the difference. There are some very strong arguments to suggest that the productivity rate is levelling out. It was that matter which I and other Ministers raised. The general question of food storage and the other matters raised in the honourable senator's question will be the subject of a further conference next October, possibly in North America, at which all the food producing and food importing countries will contribute their views as to what should be done about world food shortages.

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