Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 25 February 1987
Page: 676


Mr BRUMBY(11.18) —The honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Ian Cameron) always makes a colourful contribution to debates in this House. Of course, he is a prominent member of the National Party of Australia. But I doubt whether he will be here after the next election. If one looks at the great march of the great Premier of Queensland to this House, it is fairly obvious that some sort of discussions have been held and arrangements have been made. I would not be surprised if the honourable member for Maranoa moved aside and made his seat available to the Premier of Queensland so that he can come to this House.


Mr Peter Fisher —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. In view of your ruling against the honourable member for Maranoa, what on earth has this to do with the wheat Bill?


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The honourable member will resume his seat.


Mr BRUMBY —This is particularly relevant to the Wheat Marketing Amendment Bill 1987, Mr Deputy Speaker, because--


Mr Ian Cameron —On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker: I represent all the constituents of Maranoa, not just the wheat growers. I do it very well, and I do not expect my name to be used in vain in this House.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Maranoa will resume his seat. There is no point of order.


Mr BRUMBY —Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. We are debating wheat legislation. A further comment has been made by the honourable member for Maranoa about his representation of all members of his electorate other than just wheat growers. If one looks through the file of the honourable member for Maranoa, and all of the Press releases he has issued over the last few years, one will find that the only issues on which he indicates any concern--


Mr Ian Cameron —On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker: What does this have to do with the wheat industry?


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Bendigo will resume his seat. I call the honourable member for Maranoa on a point of order. It had better not be frivolous.


Mr Ian Cameron —Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like your interpretation of what my situation in my electorate has to do with the wheat industry.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member for Bendigo will remain relevant to the Bill.


Mr BRUMBY —I am being distracted by all the interjections, Mr Deputy Speaker. This is an important measure. I am pleased that it has the support of members on both sides of the House. I am equally pleased that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Kerin) has been able to bring this legislation in at such short notice, following legal advice from the Attorney-General's Department.

It is worth placing on the record that this Government, through its policies, underwrites 95 per cent of net wheat returns through the guaranteed minimum price for Australian standard white wheat. In calculating that guaranteed minimum price, the estimated return from the current season and returns from the lowest two of the previous three seasons are used. By dropping the high priced year, the scheme moves, in a sense, in the direction of what we call potholing, with the emphasis on offsetting sudden short term price falls. In the longer term, of course, this mechanism still allows market signals to come through very clearly to wheat growers.

It must be said-and I want to place it on the record-that while this Government and the National Farmers Federation are not really in the business of promoting or advocating subsidies for primary production in Australia the fact is that an underwriting mechanism which guarantees a price at a time when international prices are falling is, in a sense, a direct subsidy to those producers. It provides them with assistance when the international price has fallen. If one looks at the sort of money that can be talked about through this mechanism, one can talk about hundreds of millions of dollars in terms of underwriting assistance or subsidy-call it what you will-which is being made available to wheat growers.


Mr Peter Fisher —At the moment it is not.


Mr BRUMBY —That is the potential. I think that is the word I used. So this is important legislation. It will be of benefit to wheat growers throughout Australia, who because of falling international prices have, of course, experienced very difficult times.

The short term outlook for wheat internationally is not a promising one. Prices are expected to remain low through 1987. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics suggests that prices beyond 1987 will depend on world stockpiles. This Government has been particularly active and aggressive in the international scene in trying to bring some sense to world agricultural production. We have achieved for the first time the listing of agricultural discussions at General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade talks. That is a great achievement, primarily at the initiative of this Government-the Minister for Trade (Mr Dawkins), the Minister for Primary Industry and, of course, the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke). There is an urgent need throughout the developed and, indeed, underdeveloped world for some controls to be placed on world levels of production in so many of our agricultural products. It is sheer lunacy for any country to pay massive subsidies-and I am not talking about potholing schemes-for continued production of food into bunkers and storage. This legislation provides some short term support for our wheat farmers. I support it fully. I am pleased that it has bipartisan support in this House.