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Tuesday, 30 September 1958

Mr Ward d asked the acting Minister for Trade, upon notice -

1.   What quantity of (a) maize and (b) maize grits was imported under licence in the last twelve months?

2.   Was the reason that was given in justification of the issue of these licences that there was a shortage of local supplies?

3.   By what quantity was local production at maize short of Australian requirements?

4.   Was there a fall in the price of maize following the arrival in Australia of the importations covered by the licences?

5.   If so, what are the details?

6.   Was the fall in the price of maize followed by a reduction in the price of commodities manufactured from maize, if so, what are the details?

Mr Townley - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   In June, 1957, licences were issued covering the importation of 1,800 tons of maize and 3,000 tons of maize grits. Imports against these licences were effected as follows: -


In January, 1958, licences were issued covering 1,200 tons of maize and 1,500 tons of maize grits. Imports against these licences were effected as follows: -


No import licences have been issued for maize or grits since January, 1958, and no imports have been effected since April, 1958.

2.   Yes. These imports were permitted to meet manufacturing requirements during a period of acute shortage in Australia pending the availability of the new season's local crop. All imports were effected before the commencement of the Australian selling season.

3.   It is not possible to give specific quantities as high prices influenced the demand. However, the main shortage was in the early months of this year before supplies from the local crop were available.

4.   Prices commenced to fall in March and April when it was becoming apparent that supplies from the forthcoming local crop would be much heavier than had previously seemed likely. It is not considered that the relatively small quantities imported in this period exerted any significant influence on prices.

5.   During the past twelve months, prices of New South Wales and Queensland maize (per bagged bushel) at the Alexandria Markets, Sydney, fluctuated as follows: -


Prices are from New South Wales Department of Agriculture weekly marketing reports.

6.   The principal commodity involved was breakfast cereals and there have not been any significant variations in the price of this commodity in the past twelve months.

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