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Tuesday, 6 November 1973
Page: 1521

Senator PROWSE -I wish to ask a supplementary question.

The PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Prowse, do you claim that you have not been fully answered?

Senator PROWSE -My question has not been answered at all. I asked whether the Minister's reply to previous questions on this subject constituted a criticism of the Australian Wheat Board. That was not answered. I asked when the wheat growers vested their wheat in the Minister. That was not answered. I asked whether his practice of directing the Wheat Board was, in effect, a vote of no confidence in the competence of the Wheat Board. I do not think that was answered.

Senator WRIEDT - I endeavoured to illustrate to the honourable senator the reason why the directive power is contained in the Act. It was subscribed to by his own Government for many years. When that Government had the opportunity to remove the power from the Act at no time did it ever attempt to do so. So one must assume that his Party is as much in favour of its retention as is the present Government. It was not a reflection on the commercial judgment of the Australian Wheat Board nor an interference in its judgment. I pointed out earlier that the Wheat Board indicated to the Government that it had agreed on the broad terms for the forthcoming negotiations with Egypt. All the Government did was to ask the Wheat Board and, in fact, eventually to direct the Wheat Board to maintain the agreement which it had entered into. This is not an interference with the Board's commercial judgment. Prior to that the Board agreed that the conditions requested by the Government were acceptable to it. That is all the Government was asking of the Board.

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