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Thursday, 13 September 1973
Page: 941

Mr MAISEY (MOORE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry seen the estimates by responsible people that the Western Australian wheat harvest will exceed the State's wheat delivery quota? In view of the critical shortage of wheat in that State, not only for human consumption and export but also for stock feeding purposes, and the inability of the Australian Wheat Board to give meat producers any long-term assurance that supplies of stock feed will be available throughout the coming year, will the Minister consider making an early announcement that all wheat delivery quotas in that State are suspended as an inducement to growers to plan to deliver all available wheat? Finally, will the Minister give early consideration to an announcement that this whole disastrous method of controlling wheat production will be abandoned and the great numbers of people engaged in its administration will be diverted to more productive enterprises?

Mr GRASSBY (RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Immigration) - I recognise and acknowledge the continuing and deep interest of the honourable member for Moore in the wheat industry. He referred to the quota system which was introduced in the period of the last

Administration. It is very interesting to acknowledge what he said about the state of wheat stocks in Australia at the present time and the harvest potential. Because the last Administration spent a great deal of time rationing wheat growers, we now have the task of rationing customers. The situation is, of course, one of shortage. There is every indication that the expected acreage will not be completely sown and that the harvest will not be as we would wish, on either a national basis or even a State basis. I am pleased to hear that Western Australia is doing particularly well. That is welcome news. At the same time, there is every indication that the national target, if one likes to put it in those terms, that the Minister for Primary Industry set will not be reached and that we will have a situation of shortage.

I agree entirely that we should be looking at this quota system which we have inherited. From my own knowledge, even in my own area young men - farmers' sons and new growers - have established acreages of wheat and have no quotas for them. It is an incredible situation in a time of shortage. The matter has been timely raised, and I certainly shall refer it to the Minister for Primary Industry who, I know, was most anxious in the first year of his administration to see that every encouragement - not discouragement - was given to production.

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