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Tuesday, 12 October 1971
Page: 2154

Mr O'KEEFE (PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Are we clearing our present Stocks of wheat at a most successful rate? Will the present acreages sown to wheat be down this year? Are other wheat producing countries expecting large crops, and are considerable stocks held by these countries? What is the present outlook for the sale of Australian wheat on world markets?

Mr SINCLAIR - Generally the. Australian Wheat Board has this year been able to achieve a remarkable performance in disposing of the Australian crop. It is true that it went into the beginning of this season with a considerable stockpile and there was concern that given the difficulties that we faced in marketing in some areas we would not be able to dispose of this current year's crop plus that stockpile. I understand that sales have been at a record level in spite of moves at a political level surrounding the market in the People's Republic of China. However, I think that it would be foolish if we looked ahead to the next selling season and thought that, because sales have been so successful this year, that success will necessarily continue.

At present it would appear that northern hemisphere grain producing countries expect to have a very favourable season. In addition some of those countries which this year negotiated purchases from Australia are expected to increase their production. For this reason it is (a) doubtful that the markets themselves will be as large and (b) likely that there will be a great deal more competition for wheat in the existing markets. So the Australian wheat grower needs to be conscious that there are still difficulties ahead in marketing an unrestricted production of Australian wheat on export markets. It is, of course, of concern that not only are we likely to find it more difficult to «ell wheat but also that more and more wheat is being sold on credit terms. As this happens growers are being forced to wait longer for their second, third and final payments from wheat pools. This, of course, is again to the grower's cost. There are good market prospects for some other grains - coarse grains, for example - and possibly oil seeds are an export market. For this reason I would hope that in grain producing areas there is a concentration on a diversity of production and not just a belief that growing wheat alone will be the answer to the problems of those agricultural regions. I believe that this year there is, nonetheless, a great deal that could be said by way of compliment to the. Australian Wheat Board for its efforts and the success it has achieved on behalf of Australian wheat growers.

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