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Tuesday, 11 December 1973
Page: 2657

Senator SIM (Western Australia) -As this Bill continues legislation which was introduced in 1971 by the previous Government, the Opposition supports the Bill. The circumstances surrounding rural industries today are far different from the circumstances surrounding those industries when this legislation was so urgently needed, but with the present economic world climate one cannot be sure that some primary industries will not find themselves in need of further assistance in future. Today many are benefiting from this legislation. I have a personal interest in this legislation because it was first introduced as a result of recommendations of the Federal Rural Committee of the Liberal Party at a time when I was Chairman, in the 1960s. We foresaw that serious problems could arise in the rural industries which could not be catered for with the existing banking system- problems such as the economic viability or non-viability, if I can use that word, of many properties when faced with the upward pressure of costs and the downward pressure of prices. It was realised that some farmers would find that they had to leave the land. This became not only an economic problem but also a human problem, and it was the responsibility of the community to assist them to leave if they so desired. It had to be, of course, their free choice. It also enabled other farmers to amalgamate properties so that they would become more economically viable, and it provided for the rehabilitation and training of those who, because of economic pressures, made a conscious decision to leave the land.

I believe the legislation has been of great benefit to very many farmers. Therefore, there remains a need for it to continue, and it may well have to proceed beyond the year envisaged in the legislation, which I understand is 1976. Also, of course, it provided for the consolidation of debts. This proved of tremendous value in many cases, and many farmers who today are economically viable would not have been so except for the assistance provided by this legislation.

The only other point I wish to make is that there must be continuing consultation between the Federal Government and the States as to needs, because the States are very often in the best position to know their own peculiar requirements and the problems of selected industries particularly within those States. We commend this Bill and will give the legislation our continuing support.

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