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Friday, 16 October 1970

Mr ANTHONY (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Primary Industry) - I am very conscious of the growing difficulties of the small poultry farmer in obtaining a satisfactory net farm income. In recent years the governments of Australia have introduced a scheme controlled by the Council of Egg Marketing Authorities. This scheme has brought about a degree of stability and equalisation of prices, but the effect of the scheme in helping to stabilise prices has tended to create a decline as production has increased. There have been moves within the industry to try to bring about some control of production firstly, by the licensing of farms, and secondly, by the implementation of what is known as the French plan by which a supertax is imposed on anybody who produces more than his quota of eggs. Both of those proposals have been examined by the Australian Agricultural Council. The first proposal on the licensing of farms was rejected because there was no unanimity between the States on the proposal and a restriction on production could not work effectively unless all States were in agreement This agreement could not be reached. As to the second proposal, known as the French plan, it was shown to be unconstitutional for the Commonwealth to organise such a plan, so that was not workable. As a result of the Australian Agricultural Council having examined both proposals and deciding that nothing could be achieved, it felt that a firm decision should be taken and made known that there was not any likelihood of a quota system being introduced to control the production of eggs. The need to make a firm statement was to prevent people trying to boost their egg production level so that if a quota system did come into operation they would then be entitled to their higher quota. That is the situation obtaining at present. I have been told that New South Wales is again looking into some scheme of which I have no knowledge, but I do not know how any scheme can be brought into operation without the consent of all States.

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