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Thursday, 12 April 1973
Page: 1371

Mr ANTHONY (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the Minister for Northern Development aware of a statement by the Minister for Primary Industry at a meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris calling for international co-operation in reducing the level of assistance to Australian farmers? ls it true, as reported, that returns to Australian wheat growers in future will be determined by world prices? If so, what effect will this have on the price paid by Australian consumers of wheat? Does the Minister realise that the income of wheat growers during the present 5-year period has been reduced as against the previous 5-year period? Is the Minister aware of the fact that severe grain shortages are predicted throughout the world and that reductions in incentives to grow wheat can only make the situation worse, bringing further hunger and starvation throughout the world?

Dr PATTERSON - I am not aware of the statement made by the Minister for Primary Industry. However, I do know that one of the reasons for the wheat shortage in Australia was the attitude of the previous Government towards small national quotas and towards the first advance payments in relation to those quotas. The Australian Government has demonstrated its faith in the wheat industry by giving its blessing to the biggest national quota since quotas were introduced and also by increasing the first advance payment. The Leader of the Country Party asked a question relevant to wheat stabilisation. I would remind him that the wheat stabilisation scheme in fact was introduced by a Labor government, not a Country Party government. The Labor Government stands firmly behind stability and security of primary industries that are sound - and the wheat industry is a sound primary industry. We also have made it clear over the years that we support the principle of stability in prices on the home market in line with reasonable costs of production. We also believe that there is a need to expand the wheat industry in line with world trade and demand. I can assure the Leader of the Country Party that the policies of the Australian Government will be designed to increase wheat production in Australia, if the world market demands that situation.

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