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Tuesday, 11 December 1973
Page: 2659

Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania) (Minister for Primary Industries) - in reply- I will be as brief as possible. I expected that the Opposition would support the Bill, which is a continuation of the rural reconstruction which was commenced, of course, under the previous Government. This year a fairly large sum is involved in the legislation, namely $36m, although $24m of this will presumably be expended during the year 1973-74. The only point I really want to make is regarding the matter raised by Senator Maunsell, who referred to the use of reconstruction money for re-stocking, and so on. It was never intended in the rural reconstruction scheme that moneys be used for this purpose. The scheme was designed specifically for debt reconstruction and for farm build up purposes, with, of course, the rehabilitation provisions as well. The principal channels through which this money would be directed were for debt reconstruction and for farm build up. The emphasis now, of course, is going away from debt reconstruction, as it was in the initial years, to farm build up.

It was decided earlier this year at a meeting between State Ministers and me that we would aim this year for a maximum figure of 70 per cent of the moneys being expended for build up purposes and 30 per cent for debt reconstruction. This has been exceeded. I have learned that over the last 5 months the allocations for farm build up have in fact reached 75 per cent. This reflects the much improved rural picture over the past few months. For the benefit of the Senate, particularly those honourable senators who have an interest in this matter, I seek to have incorporated in Hansard a table giving the most up to date figures on the rural reconstruction scheme, which I am sure will be of great interest.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The table read as follows)-



Senator WRIEDT -I will not go into the details of those figures but it is very reassuring to the Government and, I would think, also to the State governments and to rural industry generally that we have reached what, in fact, is a most advantageous position. Senator Maunsell referred to other means of financing rural matters. Rural people, in fact, do have available to them the trading bank system and farm development loans, all of which are faculties to which they can turn for the purpose of financing expansion of their farms. There is really no opposition to this legislation, and I thank the Opposition for its cooperation.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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