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Wednesday, 24 September 1958

Mr BRIMBLECOMBE (Maranoa) . - Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention to delay the House long. Like my colleague, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), I believe that this is one of the most important bills that has been brought before this House in this sessional period. It deals with a very important industry with which every honorable member should make himself familiar. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) rightly said that most of the wheat-growers have enjoyed the benefits of stabilization and orderly marketing since 1 948. I should like to tell the House, Mr. Speaker, that Queensland was the State that pioneered orderly marketing. The orderly marketing of wheat in that State goes back to 1920, when the growers formed their own marketing organization. I suggest that the scheme that is now proposed is largely modelled on the basic principles of the scheme that was introduced in Queensland.

As I said, Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to delay the House long, but I want to raise one matter in particular that has exercised the minds of the wheat-growers for quite a long time. On occasions, owing to a short crop - generally caused by drought in Australia - quantities of wheat have to be carried over to the next season for the benefit of the consumers in this country. I agree with that, for we must provide for our own people first. But, sometimes, that wheat is held for two years, and the grower is not paid for it for two years. The wheat is subject to certain unavoidable deterioration, and the growers have to bear that loss as well as the cost of storage when wheat is carried over in this way for the benefit of the people of this country. I maintain, Sir, that, when it is necessary to carry wheat over, when there is a short crop, in order to provide for the needs of the Australian people until sufficient production is available in following sessions, the community as a whole should buy that wheat so that the grower may be paid for it instead of being compelled to hold it over. Provision to achieve this has been lacking in wheat stabilization measures ever since the first such measure was introduced in 1946. I should like the House and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) to take note of that, Mr. Speaker, because I do not think it is fair that the growers should continually carry the expense of holding the wheat over and be kept waiting for their money for long periods when wheat is carried over for the benefit of the nation as a whole.

I should like to mention another matter also. In two or three places in the bill there is a reference to the quality of wheat, particularly for export, as being what is termed fair average quality wheat. This raises a problem that will be tackled by the Wheat Industry Research Council, and it is a good thing that it is to be tackled. Queensland produces the best quality wheat in Australia. A similar quality wheat is produced in the north-west of New South Wales, where the climatic conditions are similar to Queensland. The wheat produced in Queensland has the highest protein content of any wheat produced in the Commonwealth. I can remember some years ago when we had a surplus of wheat. At that time one of the experts on the wheat board told me that if all Australia's wheat was of the same high quality as that grown in Queensland, there would be no difficulty in selling our total production.

The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) said that in certain years some States had to import wheat. That is so, but that has been happening ever since we have been growing wheat in this country. The honorable member knows that, even if he did not mention it. Queensland has been an exporting State on half a dozen occasions in the last twenty years to my knowledge, and Queensland has built up a fine export market not only to Japan but to New Zealand also. Japan was prepared to pay a premium for our wheat if we could guarantee to maintain its high protein content.

My main purpose in speaking to this bill was to direct attention to the carry-over of wheat, which will benefit the community as a whole. I do not object to this, but why should the wheat-growers generally stand all the loss? This is a matter that should be looked at in the interests of the industry as a whole. I support the bill wholeheartedly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.

Message recommending appropriation reported.

In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral's message):

Motion (by Mr. Downer) agreed to -

That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act relating to the stabilization of the wheat industry.

Resolution reported and adopted.

In committee: Consideration resumed.

The bill.

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