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Tuesday, 29 May 1973
Page: 2731

Mr FISHER (MALLEE, VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Overseas Trade. Did the Minister claim in Press statements on 19 and 24 May that trading opportunities had been denied to Australian producers because die previous Government failed to realise political realities? Is the Minister not aware 'of the fact that in the past 10 years Australia sold over , $k000m worth of wheat and over S200m worth, of other produce to China? Is it not a fact that the China wheat market was regained last year when Australia sold a million tom of wheat to China in December?

Finally why did the Minister not acknowledge in his statement of 24 May that last week's sugar sale was not the first, as his statement clearly meant to imply it was?

Dr PATTERSON - If the honourable member had been present in this House during the various debates when Australia was placed at the bottom of the list as regards wheat sales to China and when it was made quite clear following the Canadian recognition of China that we would continue to be placed at that level, he would realise the truth of the content of what I se id and that it was the action and the disastrous foreign policies of the previous Government that caused the Chinese Government to take this action.

Mr MacKellar - That is not true .

Mr McMahon - That is fibbing.

Dr PATTERSON - It is true. When the Minister for Overseas Trade returns to Australia this week I am quite certain he will enlighten some of the members of the Opposition further on why Australia lost wheat sales at a very critical stage of development in the wheat industry itself. As regards sugar sales to China, let me inform (he honourable member that prior to the visit of the Prime Minister to China we had never sold any sugar to that nation. Whilst there we had extensive discussions with the Chinese authorities on sugar soles to China. We were informed that In the event of Cuba not being able to supply the needs of China, Australia would be given a high priority in relation to selling sugar to China.

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is not a full account of how the sugar sales came about under the previous Government.

Dr- PATTERSON- You would not know anything about it. In China we informed the authorities of the proven performance of Australia in relation to both quality and quantity. We also told them about the excellent technology of the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd is respect of both selling and on the technical front of sugar handling. CSR has for several years now been negotiating with Chines® authorities with respect to the selling of sugar, This Government backs the sale of sugar to China to the hilt. We believe that there will ho more sales of .raw sugar to China and wo give full credit to the work, of CSR. in China. It is backed by this Government. It certainly was noi becked by the previous Government regarding sales of commodities to China;

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