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Thursday, 29 September 1949

Mr POLLARD (BALLAARAT, VICTORIA) (Minister for Commerce and Agriculture) - I have seen a similar statement attributed to Mr. Nock, which was published in the newspaper, Land, of which I understand he is a director. After reading the statement it would appeal- to me that Mr. Nock merely gave expression to the rambling thoughts of a senile mind, and a mind frustrated by the fact that the Government's wheat stabilization plan was put through this Parliament after every State government in Australia, irrespective of political colour, had approved of it. The legislation was passed after every interested State government had arranged to take a poll of wheat-growers on it and after the wheat-growers had signified their approval. The statement made by Mr. Nock that there is £29,000,000 in the stabilization fund is entirely incorrect. One of the great features of the stabilization plan is that it provides security for the wheatgrowers, and I am pleased to say that the strength of the fund is now £21,500,000. I direct the attention of the honorable member for Riverina and of the country generally to the fact that because of the financial strength of the stabilization fund the wheat tax paid by growers from the 1945-46 and 1946-47 crops has since been refunded to them. Should the fund continue to increase I have no doubt that further repayments to growers will be possible. Mr. Nock also alleged that tremendous financial losses have been suffered by the growers, but the most convincing evidence that wheat-growers continue to approve of the plan is thu fact that I have received requests from them asking that its period of operation be extended. Furthermore, Mr. Nock's assertion that growers have sustained tremendous financial losses assumes that the consumers of this country should be called upon to pay the extremely high prices at present ruling for wheat in the world's markets, which would of course, greatly increase the local price of flour from which our bread is manufactured. It entirely overlooks the fact that wheat-growers enjoy the advantage of purchasing many of their requirements at controlled home-consumption prices. I do not think that any administration, whatever its political complexion might be, would be prepared to force up the price of local wheat to the level of overseas prices. Mr. Nock also omitted to mention that the stabilization plan protects growers against any catastrophic fall which may occur in the price of wheatoverseas.

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