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Wednesday, 25 February 1987
Page: 674

Mr IAN CAMERON(11.10) —As a wheat grower in Maranoa-and as a member of this Parliament, of course-I must say that I welcome the fact that a change will be made in the legislation to allow me to receive some more income. I can assure honourable members that it is very sorely needed. Having spoken to my bank manager this morning, it seems that he is as interested as I am in when the next wheat payment will be made. I took the liberty this morning of ringing Clinton Condon, the Chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, to have a chat with him and to see where we are at this minute with payments and the wheat situation generally. He informed me that the payment will be made as soon as this legislation is put through the Senate-on 1 March. Of course, all payments are now made by computer and it does not take long for the Wheat Board to rattle the cheques out to growers. As has already been indicated in this place, some of the cheques for payment will be for amounts of up to $20 a tonne for the quality wheats that are produced in my area, Maranoa, and in other parts of Australia. Of course, the payments vary, probably down to $6 or $7 a tonne. Unfortunately, a mistake was made in the drafting of the old legislation and this Wheat Marketing Amendment Bill is needed to make amends for that.

I congratulate the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) on his suggesting the bipartisan group that went to America to talk with Congress, with the great result that that visit to Washington had for the wheat industry. I would also like to congratulate the National Farmers Federation on having the good sense to set up a lobby group with some of the funds that it has raised through going around Australia with the bucket, so to speak. It has collected a lot of money, and I think that the fact that it has its own lobby group in Washington looking after farmers' interests is an excellent move. One wonders what our embassies do with these sorts of problems. They seem to be a bit slow in reacting. They are very bureaucratic, and they do not seem to be in a position to get straight at congressmen and their advisers to bring about some changes. So I wish the NFF every success in its endeavours in Washington and I would like to think that it might do the same thing in other parts of the world, particularly in Japan, for instance, in respect of our beef industry and the lobby that has to be continually operated to maintain our access to that market.

I would like to welcome Ian McLachlan into this House. But before doing so, I would also like to commend the great Bjelke-Joh, if he is going to come here and give us a hand. He is one of the pioneer farmers from Kingaroy and he is on his way to Canberra. Ian McLachlan is trying to make his mind up. Although I do not always agree with everything he says, I can assure him that I would welcome him here to kick Hawke out of this chamber. The last time Ian McLachlan visited Parliament House he was not welcome, so I think he has no option but to come here as a member of this Parliament. Certainly we would welcome him to our side of politics to give us a hand to get rid of this Hawke Government that is crippling farmers across this nation. The sooner the Government goes the sooner we will get back on track and the sooner we will start to pull this country back into gear to stop the excessive spending--

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Mildren) —Order! The Chair is sometimes fairly tolerant of the honourable member for Maranoa and his diversions. I would, however, suggest that the Bill is fairly restrictive and I ask him to maintain relevance.

Mr IAN CAMERON —Mr Deputy Speaker, I will do that. I would like to mention the fact that interest rates are one of the major things affecting the grain industry in Australia right now. I believe it is a nonsense the way some of the previous speakers on the Labor side of politics have suggested that floating the dollar has helped us. It has not. The dollar would have come down anyway, whether it was floated or not. What is happening now is that the Government is holding the dollar up. The dollar is not floating; the Government is holding it up. Those people that are paying the high interest rates are paying the difference in value for that policy. Unfortunately, those people are saddled with enormous daily expenses, running into thousands of dollars per day, in the higher interest rates that the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Hawke Labor Government are asking the farmers, the people who have had to borrow to keep producing, to meet. On the one hand they are being exhorted to help our trade balance, to produce the foodstuffs, and on the other hand they are being crippled by the insidious economic policies of this Labor Government. I am sorry that this debate is not being broadcast, because I like to talk to my constituents in Maranoa and to people in other parts of Australia. It is a great pity that the debate is not being broadcast. I say to those people that the sooner we get rid of this Labor Government, the sooner we farmers will get going.

I must mention the grain handling inquiry. Hopefully, it will do some good, particularly in New South Wales. The grain handling facilities under the Labor Government in New South Wales are an abomination and ought to be part of some private enterprise operation. I see that-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Maranoa has ignored the request from the Chair to be relevant to the Bill.

Mr IAN CAMERON —Well, it is to do with wheat.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The Chair is rapidly running out of tolerance.

Mr IAN CAMERON —Aha! Mr Deputy Speaker, you must understand that the grain handling inquiry is to do with grain-wheat, sorghum, barley, rice, you name it. You should ask the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Kerin) about it. He set up the inquiry. Jim McColl, the chairman, and other members are going around the country. They have just been to Maranoa. Many growers have made suggestions to the inquiry. I think it is a good idea. I only hope that it brings some decent, constructive comments back to the Minister so that he may make some recommendations and take some action. I do not know how he will get on with his State colleagues, because the railways, basically, are run by State governments. Maybe we should get rid of the Labor Government in New South Wales.

Mr Hunt —It would be a good start.

Mr IAN CAMERON —It would be a good start. That might do some good.

Mr Brumby —The Government in Queensland.

Mr IAN CAMERON —I tell the honourable member that there is no way in the world anyone will get rid of the Government in Queensland. The Queensland Government will get rid of this Government in Canberra. The Joh factor will put it out of office so quickly that it will not know what hit it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Maranoa--

Mr IAN CAMERON —Mr Deputy Speaker, I have much pleasure in supporting this Bill-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Maranoa will resume his seat.

Mr IAN CAMERON —Because of the restrictions of time I will sit down.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I ask the honourable member to resume his seat. The honourable member for Maranoa is consistently ignoring the Chair.

Mr IAN CAMERON —I have finished.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I ask the honourable member for Maranoa not to argue with the Chair.

Mr IAN CAMERON —Mr Deputy Speaker, we on this side of the House support the Bill. As a grain grower, I am looking forward to the actual proceeds, and I have finished speaking.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I ask the honourable member for Maranoa to resume his seat or he will be warned.