Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 19 September 1974
Page: 1235

Senator McLAREN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Has the Minister for Agriculture seen Press reports stating that Australian wheat farmers are collectively owed more than $718m or an average of $14,400 each? What are the reasons for this large debt? How long will growers have to wait for payment?

Senator WRIEDT - Yes, I have seen the report referred to by the honourable senator. Under the arrangements which are entered into between the Australian Wheat Board and the Government, wheat growers receive a first advance payment. So far this year the wheat growing industry has been paid a total amount of approximately $470m, which represents -

Senator Drake-Brockman - How much a bushel?

Senator WRIEDT - If Senator DrakeBrockman will just be patient, I will come to that. This amount represents an average payment of approximately $8,500 to wheat growers in Australia. That figure is made up basically of the first advance payment for the 1973-74 season, being a net amount of $1.02 per bushel on the first advance payment. The gross amount was $1.20 per bushel which represented an increased payment made by this Government when it came to office. This was the first increase in first advance payments made to wheat growers in 15 years.

It is true that there are still outstanding payments remaining. This is partly due to long term credit arrangements which were entered into by the Australian Wheat Board under the previous Government. I am not criticising them, but I am simply making that point as an explanation as to why some of these payments are still outstanding. In April of this year the Chairman of the Wheat Board, Mr Cass, expressed his hope that the second payment on the 1973-74 crop could be made in August of this year. There were industrial holdups in the shipping of our wheat and as a result of that the wheat could not be sold. Therefore, the cash could not be obtained. The Wheat Board approached the Government for authority to expedite payments from drawings on the Reserve Bank of Australia. We have agreed that under the new stabilisation legislation which will be coming forward shortly the

Wheat Board will have authority to borrow commercially in order to expedite these payments. We hope that this will overcome the problem. But I believe it should be said that if, as the Wheat Board hopes, the second payment can be made by October of this year, it will be the first time, if my information is correct, that a second payment has been made to the wheat industry so early.

Senator Drake-Brockman - It should have been made a long time ago.

Senator WRIEDT -If the honourable senator is able to say that now, I hope that he was saying the same thing when his Party was in government and he was a Minister. I hope that he will also be able to tell the Wheat Board where it is wrong. I am quite sure that the Wheat Board is doing all that it can to expedite those payments. The likelihood is that a second payment can be made in October.

Suggest corrections