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Thursday, 20 March 1980
Page: 873

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the

Minister representing the Minister for Primary

Industry aware that the New South Wales Department of Agriculture has indicated that plantings of maize in that State in this financial year 1979-80 will be the lowest for more than 100 years? Is it a fact that dry conditions have been outlined as the principal reason for the very low crop? Is the Minister aware that this serious position of the New South Wales maize growers follows on the Federal Government's decision to block the sale of 25,000 tonnes of maize to the Soviet Union, costing New South Wales growers something like Sim and also costing many workers jobs in the industry? Why was maize singled out as the only primary product to have a boycott placed on it regarding sales to the Soviet Union? Why has the Government decided not to extend any recompense or compensation to the New South Wales growers?

Senator SCOTT - I was not aware that the maize plantings for 1 979-80 in New South Wales will be the lowest for 100 years. As the plantings would not in many cases be complete I would assume that that figure has yet to be proven. Regrettably it could apply to a whole range of grain production in New South Wales which, in common with some other parts of Australia, is in the grip of a very severe drought. I am aware of the serious position of the maize growers referred to by the honourable senator. His particular concern was the 25,000 tonnes of maize which was not permitted to be exported to the Soviet Union because of Government policy in relation to the invasion of Afghanistan.

The circumstances, as I recall them, about the 25,000 tonnes of maize were related to two things. In the first place, the sale was made after the date which was the cut-off line, which may well have been about 23 January. 1 understand that this sale was on 30 January. Consequently it was beyond the cut-off point. The other more significant thing is that the Government decided that sales of coarse grains would be permitted relative to their history over the previous years. In the case of corn, as I recall, there had been no history of sales to the Soviet Union for something like 10 years. That was also certainly relevant to the decision. Those are the basic circumstances that apply to the sale that was mentioned by Senator McClelland. There is no doubt that if the maize growers who have lost this particular sale were unable to sell their maize in other markets successfully and were able to establish a real measure of loss, the Government would be looking at the question of compensation.

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