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Tuesday, 6 September 1960

Mr Ward d asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -

1.   What was the total acreage sown in Australia in respect of all primary production in the year preceding the outbreak of World War II?

2.   What area was sown in the latest year for which figures are available?

3.   What was the number of persons employed in primary industries during each of these years?

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

1.   The total area under crops in 1938-39 was 23,497,780 acres, including non-bearing vineyards and orchards and non-productive sugar cane.

2.   The area under crops in 1958-59 was 25,093,468 acres.

3.   Statistics for 1938-39 are available only in respect of persons permanently employed in rural occupations. The total so employed was 439,432 (392,278 males and 47,154 females). The latest statistics are those for 31st March, 1958, when the permanent rural employment figure was 393,853 (354,090 males and 39,763 females). In addition, there were 106,128 temporary employees (93,142 males and 12,986 females). The figures for persons engaged in rural occupations include those employed in the pastoral as well as in the agricultural sectors of primary production.

Mr Ward d asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -

1.   What export primary industries receive government financial assistance in the form of bounty, subsidy, or a guaranteed home consumption price?

2.   What are the details of the assistance given to each recipient industry?

3.   What has been the cost to the Commonwealth in respect of each industry during each of the past five years?

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

1.   The industries concerned are the wheat and dairying industries.

2.   The main features of each scheme are as follows: -

(a)   Wheat Industry Stabilization Plan: The current plan, which is incorporated in complementary Commonwealth-State legislation, operating from 1958-59 to 1962-63, provides that-

(i)   wheat-growers are to receive a guaranteed price for up to 100,000,000 bushels of wheat exports in each of the five wheat crops from 1958-59 to 1962-63;

(ii)   the home consumption price for wheat is to be fixed at the level of the guaranteed price, plus a loading to cover the cost of transporting wheat to Tasmania;

(iii)   the guaranteed price in 1958-59 was established at 14s. 6d. per bushel. In accordance with provisions of the plan that in subsequent years it is to be adjusted on the basis of movements in the cost of production of wheat, the guaranteed price for the 1959-60 crop is 14s. l0d. per bushel (a premium of 3d. per bushel is provided for in respect of wheat exported from Western Australia);

(iv)   any deficiency caused by the export realizations of the first 100,000,000 bushels of exports falling below the guaranteed price is to be met by first drawing on the Wheat Stabilization Fund and then, if the fund is exhausted, by the Commonwealth Government from Consolidated Revenue;

(v)   the Wheat Stabilization Fund at present consists of moneys contributed by growers under previous plans. The fund has an upper limit of £20 million. The fund has been established by charging an export levy of up to1s. 6d. per bushel on wheat exported when the export price has exceeded the guaranteed price. The levy applies to all wheat exported at above the guaranteed price.

(b)   Dairy Industry Stabilization Plan: The third five-year stabilization plan for the dairying industry came into operation on 1st July, 1957. This plan provides for the payment of Commonwealth subsidy to the industry during the period of five years ending 30th June, 1962. The main features of the scheme are -

(i)   A Commonwealth price guarantee based upon the estimated cost of efficient production in respect of butter and cheese;

(ii)   the guarantee to cover all butter and cheese consumed in Australia, plus 20 per cent. of that quantity;

(iii)   the cost of efficient production of butter- fat to be estimated annually by the Dairy Industry Investigation Committee;

(iv)   by agreement between the Commonwealth and State Governments, andthe industry, the Minister for Primary Industry to determine the wholesale exfactory prices of butter and cheese in Australia to operate from 1st July each year at a level, which in combination with subsidy and after allowing for factory manufacturing costs, will provide an estimated return to dairy farmers at the recognized level;

(v)   the Commonwealth Government to deter mine prior to the commencement of each year of the plan, the amount of subsidy it is prepared to make available to the industry. 3. (a) No contributions to the Wheat Stabilization Fund have been made by the Commonwealth Government over the last five years. (b) Commonwealth Government expenditure under the Dairy Staibilization Plan has been as follows during each of the last five years: -


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