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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 2370

Senator MAUNSELL (QUEENSLAND) - My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that there is a world shortage of wheat which is likely to continue for the next 3 years? Is it also a fact that the much publicised wheat agreement with China covers only the next 3 years? Have the Minister for Primary Industry and the Minister for Overseas Trade given consideration to securing from China a concrete agreement for the sale of wheat beyond the 3-year term as a condition of supplying China during the period of world shortage?

Senator WRIEDT - It is true that at the present time there is a world wide shortage of wheat. Every effort is being made during this forthcoming season, both in Australia and overseas, to build up the world's reserves of wheat. Of course, the length of our agreement with China is a matter of negotiation between the Australian and Chinese Governments. I was not directly involved in these negotiations; they were the prime responsibility of the Minister for Overseas Trade. But I do not think that either the Australian or Chinese Government would be prepared to enter into an arrangement longer than the 3-year term. I am not aware of what discussions may have taken place in relation to supplying China with wheat beyond that period. However, if the Minister for Overseas Trade can supply me with additional information I shall let the honourable senator know.

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