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The Minister for Finance (Senator Walsh), by leave, made a statement relating to the Government's Economic and Rural Policy and tabled the following Paper:

Economic and Rural Policy-Government Policy Statement, dated April 1986.

Senator Walsh, by leave, moved-That the Senate take note of the Statement.

The Leader of the National Party of Australia in the Senate (Senator Collard) moved an amendment, viz: At end of motion, add "", but the Senate is of the opinion that the Hawke Labor Government has-

(a) failed the sugar industry totally and has watered down the original offer of assistance to such an extent that hundreds could be forced off their farms;

(b) failed to remove Government excise and tariffs from essential input costs to rural industries;

(c) failed to give relief from the interest rates which are an added crippling burden;

(d) while providing $108m, $35m of which will be spread over 5 years, failed to acknowledge the $442m ripped off the farm sector in Labor's Budgets since 1983;

(e) failed to make any attempt to remedy the situation revealed by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics forecast of a further 21 per cent fall in net farm income in the 1986-87 financial year; and

(f) failed to address the underlying problem of high costs and low productivity in handling farm produce beyond the farm gate,

and is in total confusion over its policy on the quarantining of farm losses, as indicated by Senator Walsh's comments in Question Time on 16 April 1986, and the Senate calls on the Hawke Labor Government to recognize that the farm sector-

(g) provides for our domestic requirements;

(h) provides much needed export income at a time of an all-time high current account deficit; and

(j) provides thousands of jobs,

and to treat the farm sector's difficulties, particularly those caused by its policies, more seriously and with more remedial action''.

Debate ensued.

Ordered-That the debate be adjourned till the next day of sitting, and that Senator Short have leave to continue his speech on the resumption of the debate.

Pursuant to Sessional Order, consideration of Government Papers was called on.