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Wednesday, 8 December 1976
Page: 3483

Mr ELLICOTT (WentworthAttorneyGeneral) - In the absence of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) and as one who has been a farmer for a period of 1 S years, I will do my best to reply to the amendment moved by the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating). First of all, it is to be noted that the amendment is an expression of concern and that the honourable member did not move a detailed amendment. Of course, the honourable member well knows that this scheme flowed from the Industries Assistance Commission report on rural reconstruction. No mention was made by the IAC of the fishing industry to which, I understand, the honourable member's amendment is directed. It is important also to note that the amendment refers to rural adjustment and not to primary industry adjustment. The Schedule to the Agreement in paragraph (a) of Part 1, under the heading 'General Principles', refers to the fact that all agricultural, horticultural and pastoral industries are included in the scheme. It is clearly intended to deal not with primary industry but with rural industry- that is, landbased industry.

In principle, of course, there is no reason why the fishing industry should not have a similar scheme. I think it is conceded that the basic differences, however, between the rural industry and the fishing industry are such that separate schemes obviously would be more appropriate. It was an election promise of this Government to establish a reconstruction scheme for the fishing industry similar to the present rural reconstruction scheme. At the moment a reference on the fishing industry is before the IAC and a report is expected early in 1977. For that reason, the Government cannot accept the amendment. I think my remarks sufficiently answer what the honourable member for Blaxland has said. Other questions were raised, and I think I should refer them to the Minister so that he can answer them directly. I note that the honourable member for Blaxland raised a question about interest rates. As he is aware, the Commonwealth Government lends to the States at 7 per cent and the States are free to lend on terms and conditions which they set. On the other hand, paragraph 7 (2) of Part C of the Schedule, under the heading 'Introduction', states:

The Authority shall have the right to review the terms of repayment, including interest rates, of individual accounts at any time and shall exercise this right at regular intervals with the objective of the borrower being encouraged to transfer to commercial credit as soon as circumstances permit.

That is all I can add to help the honourable member for Blaxland at the moment. The honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick) referred to the inadequacy of the $3,000 lump sum granted under the household support scheme. I think he may have overlooked the existence of the rehabilitation assistance of $5,000 which is not reduced by other assistance received under the household support scheme. I shall refer to the Minister the other matters that have been raised and ask him to deal with them directly.

Amendment negatived.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee

The Bill.

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