Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 15 September 1971
Page: 1314

Dr PATTERSON (DAWSON, QUEENSLAND) - Is the Minister for Trade and Industry aware of the announcement by Canada that China has just purchased another 500,000 tons of wheat from Canada? This special sale will be valued at approximately $20m. Do the Minister and the Government still persist with the explanation that China's decision to purchase wheat from Canada, while again completely wiping Australia, has nothing to do with political considerations or the hostile attitude of the Australian Government to the People's Republic of China?

Mr ANTHONY - I have made it fairly clear on a number of occasions and, indeed, in this House that if there has been any political difficulty created around the selling of wheat by the Australian Wheat Board to the People's Republic of China, much of that difficulty has been created by the honourable member who has asked the question. I have stated that if a political problem exists, it is because of the general tempo that has been developed on the issue of wheat and politics over the last 6 months by the Labor Opposition in this House. I beg the honourable gentleman to remain a little quiet, a little patient and to cool down on this subject and give the Australian Wheat Board a chance of negotiating wheat sales with the People's Republic of China. But to say that politics are preventing trade with China is not correct.

Australia has been extremely successful at the Canton Fair. Companies such as the Electrolytic Zinc Co of (A/asia) Ltd, Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and John Lysaght (Aust.) Ltd have been doing extremely well in selling different processed metal products. In fact, those companies have done better than their Canadian counterparts. However, it seems to be wheat with which we are having difficulty. It becomes pretty obvious that a political issue has been created around this problem. I am quite confident that, given a little patience and a little tolerance, the Wheat Board will be able to negotiate on sensible terms. If one looks closely at the Canadian contract which has been reported by Reuters, it will be seen that China has negotiated to buy 500,000 tons of wheat to be delivered over the next 3 months. Normally, when the Canadians have negotiated wheat sales, they have contracted for a period of 12 months and the quantity has been in the vicinity of 2 million to 2i million tons of wheat. One can assume that there are reasons for China stipulating such a short period. China may think that it will have favourable wheat crops or it may be keeping its options open so that it will be able to buy from other countries in the meantime.

I would hope that if the Labor Party is so concerned about political relations with China and with wanting to create goodwill, it might ease the tension that has been produced as a result of the proposed sale of Australian rams to China. The only country that has not been able to obtain rams from Australia has been the Peoples Republic of China which has been somewhat offended that, although its representatives have come here in good faith and have tried to purchase these rams, their endeavours have been blocked because of the policy of the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

Suggest corrections