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Thursday, 28 November 1974
Page: 2977

Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania) (Minister for Agriculture) - I move:

That the Bill bc now read a second time.

I seek leave to incorporate the second reading speech in Hansard.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Georges)- ls leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-

The purpose of this Bill is to implement in full the dairy adjustment program announced by the Government on 8 April. Following that announcement, action was taken to bring in enabling legislation to provide authority for so much of the program as could be carried into effect by amendment of the legislation passed in 1970 for dairy reconstruction. Parliamentary action was delayed by the double dissolution in May. Once the Government was returned to office, action was taken during the July sittings on the necessary amendments so that elements of the program at the farm level could be given effect. Simultaneously the Minister for Agriculture and his Department held discussions with the States regarding their participation in the enhanced range of assistance now becoming available to dairy farmers under the program. All States have signified their co-operation after somewhat protracted negotiation. The measure now presented to Parliament will make possible the operation of the program in its entirety.

Broadly speaking the program provides for a comprehensive range of assistance to enable uneconomic dairy farmers to upgrade their farms to a stage where they can become viable selfsustaining enterprises; interest-free loans with flexible repayment periods, to assist the changeover by producers to refrigerated bulk milk supply, with concurrent assistance as necessary to factories; and finally, relocation assistance for displaced dairy farmers and displaced factory workers. For the convenience of honourable senators I have had circulated with the Bill a list of the measures of assistance provided under the program. I am seeking leave to have this summary incorporated in Hansard.

The amendment of the Marginal Dairy Farmers Agreements Act 1970 in the last session was essentially an intermediate step pending introduction of the present comprehensive legislation. This Bill provides for the repeal of the Marginal Dairy Farms Agreements Act 1970-1974 and incorporates those elements of the program brought into effect by that Act. It contains a savings clause to provide the necessary transitional arrangements between the two pieces of legislation. As in the Marginal Dairy Farms Agreements Act and for reasons again explained in the preamble to the present Bill, the assistance to be provided under the 2-year dairy adjustment program from 1 July 1974 to 30 June 1976 will be exempted from the need for reference to the Industries Assistance Commission. The question of Government assistance to the dairy industry after 30 June 1976 has already been referred for inquiry and report by the Industries Assistance Commission.

I turn now to the new features of the Bill. The title of the Bill reflects the significant broadening of the former marginal dairy farms reconstruction scheme, namely the transition from a scheme providing limited assistance to the lowincome segment of the industry to a program with broad appeal for a significant part of the industry. The expression 'marginal dairy farm' in the 1970-1974 Act has been replaced by 'uneconomic dairy farm ' so as to describe more accurately the wider range of farms whose owners may be eligible for assistance under the Program.

There are 2 changes of substance in the Bill. Firstly it will enable any dairy farmer to be assisted to convert to refrigerated bulk milk delivery. Under the Marginal Dairy Farms Agreements Act interest free loans for the purchase and installation of refrigerated vats were restricted to the owners of marginal dairy farms.

The second change relates to assistance to dairy factories. Clause 16 of the Bill provides for the making of loans to dairy factories in cases where alterations are required to be made to the premises or where plant and equipment has to be purchased in order to provide facilities for suppliers to change over to supplying refrigerated bulk milk to the factory. It is intended that loans will be available for delivery and receival facilities. However, there is provision in the Bill for assistance with the installation of processing equipment in special circumstances and subject to the consent of the Australian and State Ministers or delegates authorised to act on their behalf. Assistance to a dairy factory will be provided where finance is not readily available from banking or other normal commerical sources on reasonable terms.

The State Governments have undertaken to administer the dairy adjustment program. Several States are already operating those parts of the program authorised by the Marginal Dairy Farms Agreements Act. The full co-operation of the States is essential for the successful administration of a scheme of this nature and I am pleased to acknowledge their assistance in this matter.

The Bill authorises the implementation of the whole of the dairy adjustment program except in relation to assistance for displaced dairy factory workers. That part of the program is being encompassed by the Government's general scheme of adjustment assistance for structural change. In the last session the dairy adjustment program received the unanimous support of all members of Parliament. It has been well received by the industry. This Bill will enable the program to be put into effect at factory level as well as on the farms. I commend the Bill.

Debate (on motion by Senator Durack) adjourned.

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