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Tuesday, 19 February 1980
Page: 16


Mr HAYDEN - My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of his firm policy of preventing grain sales to the Soviet Union beyond those committed under current contracts, will he state clearly whether this means that no new contracts beyond those existing for this year will be permitted with the Soviets? If so, will he give immediately a firm undertaking to compensate Australian wheat growers fully- some $350m- in respect of lost sales to the Soviets next season? Is it his intention to advise them not to plant? If the embargo is to stand for this year only, why is he adopting a short term policy in this area but imposing what will become effectively a permanent embargo for most of our Olympic athletes in the sense that they will have reached their peak performance by the time of the forthcoming Olympic Games, but by the time of the succeeding Olympic Games they will be competed out of selection because their performance will be below the top level?


Mr NIXON -Clearly, the Leader of the Opposition does not know, or wants to misunderstand, what President Carter has put and the Australian Government has agreed to. In point of fact, the American wheat industry is still selling wheat to Russia under contract. The Australian Government's position has been put in consistent terms to the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation and other grain growing organisations. That is, simply, that normal contracts will continue.


Mr Hayden - Oh! So they can sell next year.


Mr NIXON - That is the decision. It is consistent with the American position and with that of other grain growing countries throughout the world. The Leader of the Opposition would like to score political points on this issue but does not want to listen to the facts. The fact is that the Australian Government's position on the matter is consistent with that of other grain growing countries throughout the world and meetings have been held in America to ensure that consistency.


Mr Cohen - They are all humbugs.


Mr NIXON - The honourable member for Robertson reminds me of the army that was marching down the street and when one soldier fell out of step his mother said: 'My son is the only one in step'. That is just how the Australian Labor Party is. It is the only one in step. All of the grain growing countries of the world are out of step. Let the grain growers of Australia recognise that. I repeat that the Australian Government's position in its support of President Carter's request is consistent with that of the grain growing countries throughout the world. As to compensation, I have told the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation and other grain grower organisations that I would take to the Government any concern about compensation if they could prove that, as a result of President Carter's action, a sale had been depleted. That is where the matter rests.







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