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Tuesday, 30 May 1989
Page: 2983

Senator PANIZZA —My question is directed to the Minister for Finance. In the light of the statement that Senator Walsh gave the Senate on Monday, 11 May, regarding the estimated figure that would have been borne by the taxpayer had the 1986-87 season guaranteed minimum price (GMP) of wheat been set at 95 per cent of the subject year only, that is, $300m-the statement can be seen on page 2361 of Hansard-I ask the Minister whether he has reconsidered his estimates. Was he aware at the time that the 1986-87 subject year forecast was set at $125.72 when the GMP was calculated and that the 1986-87 pool finally returned $125.50, which is 98.8 per cent of the forecast figure? If so, does he agree that the taxpayer would not have been liable for any pay-out at all at 95 per cent of GMP? Finally, when can it be expected that the Minister will correct his misleading statement?

Senator WALSH —I thought Senator Panizza might take this up because he mentioned it to me privately some weeks ago, but I thought he would do it last week and I have been trying to find my note which was supplied to me from elsewhere. For the record, the basis of the round figure of $300m which I used in that debate-I had used the figure of $200m before which was based on a misreading by me of the handwritten figures I had in front of me at the time-going back to the collapse in wheat prices in 1986-87, was a forecast average return price of $157 for Australian standard white, which was taken from the May 1986 Quarterly Review of the rural economy, and actual average export price for ASW taken from the December 1988 Quarterly Review and an export quantity of almost 16 million tonnes in that year. It is fairly obvious that there was a difference in the May Quarterly Review forecast between the actual realisation of $20 a tonne and an export quantity of nearly 16 million tonnes. The figure, on that basis, has come down to slightly over $300m.