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Wednesday, 27 November 1974
Page: 2829

Senator LAUCKE (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I direct a question to the Minister for Agriculture. I refer to a reported statement by the Minister when he was in Rome recently attending the World Food Conference. I quote the honourable senator: 'To the full extent that our present harvest allows we will allocate as much wheat as we can to developing countries facing shortages. ' Can the Minister indicate the extent of present sale commitments of the anticipated 8.5 million tonnes of export wheat to normal outlets? What are the prospects of a further allocation to famine stricken developing countries?

Senator WRIEDT - It is not customary for the Australian Wheat Board to publish the normal commercial dealings of the Board. The Government respects the Board's right to operate as a purely commercial organisation. It is true that I did state that we would make the maximum effort to allocate wheat to those countries which are short of wheat. Obviously people will be starving in those countries unless we can get wheat to them. I did not nominate a figure because at that time we were unsure of the final result of the wheat crop this year, nor was I conversant in detail with the commitments which the Board has entered into. We are providing, under the current food aid program about 380,000 tonnes of wheat. If we can find more wheat and the need is there, we will allocate it. I intend to have discussions in conjunction with three of my Cabinet colleagues with the Australian Wheat Board next week to look at the position currently now that we know pretty well the final crop for the year, and to ascertain whether there will be other wheat available to export to countries such as India and Bangladesh.

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