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Thursday, 17 May 1973
Page: 2256

Mr DRUMMOND (FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I preface the question by referring to the Prime Minister's answer to a question put by the honourable member for Darling Downs on 8th May. This question related to the Australian Labor Party's proposed policy on rural finance, as contained in the booklet 'Its Time - Rural'. The Prime Minister's full answer was:

The question of long term finance is still before the Cabinet. It has not been determined as quickly as I had hoped, because as honourable members will know, the Minister for Primary Industry has had to attend overseas conferences.

In the light of this answer, I ask: Does such an important field of policy for rural Australia depend to this extent on the Minister for Primary Industry and, if so, how many days has the Minister spent overseas? Does the Prime Minister consider these conferences worth while if they lead to serious neglect of this Minister's responsibility at home? Can the Prime Minister see that this Minister gives higher priority to considerations of long term finance at low interest rates for rural Australia as promised?

Mr WHITLAM - This matter has been determined by the Cabinet. It was determined last Monday. I might add that the Cabinet's submission was a joint one by the Treasurer and the Minister for Primary Industry. There were occasions when one or other of those gentlemen was away, and there was therefore some delay in dealing with this submission. Both the Treasurer and the Minister for Primary Industry had important ministerial conferences to attend overseas. It was essential in the country's interest that they should attend those conferences. Their predecessors used to attend those conferences.

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