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Wednesday, 1 October 1958


Mr ADERMANN (Fisher) .- Mr.

Deputy Speaker,there are two approaches to be made to the dairying industry in this debate. One concerns the immediate need for assistance with which 1 was dealing when the debate was adjourned. I pointed out the value of that, should there be a prolific season and excess production which would bring forth an excessive quantity for export at low prices. It would be in these circumstances that the dairy-farmers would derive the chief benefit from having the Government underwrite a price which is in keeping with the first interim payment made last year. Of course, the commencing price of 3s. 4d. a lb., which was paid early last year, was subsequently increased to 3s. 5d., and then to 3s. 6d., and I understand that an additional penny or a penny-halfpenny will be paid when the calculations for last year have been finalized. The overall realization for this year will depend on the total production and the overseas price for the export quantity.

The important action that the Commonwealth Government took in order to help the dairymen, rather than make them antagonistic to our proposal, was to increase the price to the consumer. If consumption is not reduced this will bring in approximately £4,000,000 extra. Even if consumption declines by 5 per cent. the dairymen will, overall, benefit by approximately £1,500,000.

The other aspect of the proposal in this bill is that it will assist the industry to help itself. We expect dairy-farmers, of course, to measure up to their own responsibilities. The dairymen, in connexion with the bill before the House, have already indicated their willingness to accept their responsibilities. They have agreed to levy themselves. Hence, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) has been able to introduce this bill for the joint purpose of research and the promotion of sales. The

Commonwealth Government will subsidize the amount to be used for research.

I think that this is the first practical step that the dairy industry has taken to measure up to its responsibilities. In the world of competition, the industry must do something for itself in seeking to sell its products on the competitive market, and they are certainly competitive to-day. Especially must theindustry give consideration to the action of other countries the standards of which are not as high as those of Australia and which seek to buy butter at a lower price than that at which it is sold in Australia. We must ascertain if there is any way in which we can meet their needs and at the same time help ourselves.

The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), acting on behalf of the Government, has done a good job in several ways. The results of his efforts may not have been spectacular, but they have been a contribution towards increasing the sale of butter. Because of the desperate position in Australia and New Zealand, the United Kingdom agreed to reduce her imports of butter. That caused the return to the Australian producer to rise. I notice that the first trade agreement entered into by the new Federation of Malaya was with Australia, and deals with meat, butter, milk, and other things. That is a channel that we may be able to use in the future for the sale of our dairy products. The same applies to Ceylon. The Montreal conference has brought some measure of stability. A stabilized price is better than falling world prices.. If the nations can agree not to dump surplus products, they will avoid unsettling the markets, consequentially affecting themselves as well as others.

While the Government is playing its part. the industry must accept its own responsibilities. Butter is one of the products that can be sold to Japan, but owing to Japan's lack of international currency and the priorities she places on purchases, butter is given a very low priority. At present, Japan is not able to buy our butter, but she may be able to do so later.

The Government is accepting its marketing responsibilities, and the industry is also accepting some of its responsibilities. I feel that this bill will do a measure of good. The equalization committee, which is really the committee of administration and management, is a capable body of men who are prepared and able to do a good job on behalf of the industry. With finance available to it, the committee will be able to assist the industry and make it better than it has been in the past. I have much pleasure in supporting the bill.







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