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Tuesday, 11 December 1973
Page: 2623

Senator McLAREN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware of statements by the Victorian Minister for Agriculture, following last Friday's meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council, to the effect that the proposed new wheat stabilisation plan is a blow to growers? As the Victorian Minister evidently feels that the Australian Government's proposed stabilisation price for growers, instead of a guaranteed price, will adversely affect growers, can the Minister indicate whether the Australian Government is interested in continuing wheat stabilisation?

Senator WRIEDT (TASMANIA) (Minister for Primary Industry) - I did see the statement referred to by the honourable senator. The new wheat stabilisation proposals were placed before the meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council last Friday, at which Mr Smith was in attendance, and also before the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation last night. It has been traditional over the years for matters which have been discussed within the Council not to become matters on which individual Ministers should make public statements. I have no hesitation in saying that I believe Mr Smith to be totally irresponsible in saying what he said. The position is still negotiable. The matter will have to come back to the next meeting of the Council for final determination. I believe Mr Smith was in breach of confidence of the Council in making the statements that he did. As I have stated on many occasions, the Government still believes in the principle of stabilisation for the wheat industry. The proposals which have been put before the Council and before the Wheatgrowers Federation are in fact a stabilisation plan. I am sure that by February, when we can finalise this problem, the wheat industry will have the same security and strength as it has had in the past.

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