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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 3364

Mr GRASSBY (Riverina) (Minister for Immigration) - The honourable member for Paterson (Mr O'Keefe) referred to the propensity of weevils to multiply. I had thought that they demonstrated that earlier this evening. Tonight in the few moments left to me in this adjournment debate I want to refer to the matter that has been raised by the honourable member. In the first instance the proposal to control weevils in wheat is a most important one for consideration. The proposal before the Government was in fact a limited proposal to appoint an additional 44 inspectors to be paid for not only by the Australian Government but by imposing a levy on wheat growers. So the wheat growers would in fact pay for 44 more inspectors. The interesting point is that according to the agreement - the very limited agreement - reached within the

Australian Agricultural Council inspectors were to be precluded from doing anything other than looking at silos handled by the various State grain elevator boards. I might say that those silos are already very carefully examined by the staff members of those boards. So those inspectors were going to be limited in doing a job which in fact they expected was to be carried out in the first instance.

The decision by the Australian Government was simply to refer this matter back to the Agricultural Council to have it properly examined again to ensure that the wheat growers were not being asked to pay a further tax or to make a further contribution to appoint additional people to run around the countryside with the status of inspector whilst at the some time being prevented from doing the job. I suggest that the situation is not quite in the terms referred to tonight by the honourable member. It should be clearly understood that there is concern. It should be clearly understood that there is an opportunity for the Agricultural Council to have a look at this proposition again to ensure that wheat growers are not in fact being called upon to pay a further tax which will be used to appoint an additional 44 inspectors who will be operating in a severely restricted way and who would not in fact be able to do the job that I think the industry would like them to do. This is the position at the present time. I welcome the opportunity to put the record straight.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! It being 1 1 o'clock the House stands adjourned till 10 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, 15 November 1973.

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