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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 2649

Mr WHAN (Eden) (Monaro) - I thank the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) for his compliment in regard to my work in the field of the objective measurement of wool. I should also like to return the compliment and acknowledge the fact that he indeed has made a major contribution to the acceptance of this development and in this we have a common cause. The money allocated over the last 2 years for objective measurement was for the specific purpose of developing the techniques and refining them and bringing them to the point where they could be applied in the commercial stream. In fact, in the main, that has been done and the work that must be done now is for the industry to accept these developments and the machinery that has been evolved. I believe that process is going on now. I feel quite strongly that if money were needed to continue this development, it would be forthcoming from this Government.

The Department of Primary Industry whose estimates we are now considering administers 88 Acts of direct concern to primary industry and is involved in a further 30 Acts of indirect concern to the industry and which are administered by other departments. The scope of these Acts is vast. It covers a large range of industries and different functions. Currently, the present Government has under review a number of policy areas in relation to primary industry. We are concerned about the basis of rural credit. We believe that the credit facilities for the agricultural sector should be uniquely geared to the problems of that sector. We believe that there should be a long term facility available to the farmer and that the repayment of these loans should be specially dovetailed into his particular productive process If one wanted to select one or two areas for comment, this is especially true for the fishing industry where the fishermen have been denied not only the opportunity for credit which is geared to their unique problem but also a unique form of insurance for their boats. Once again, I should like to support the comments of the honourable member for Corangamite in regard to the increased payment to the States for fisheries services. Much more should be done for this industry.

Another area which is under review by the present Government is that of the financing of research funds. We have seen in the past an instability introduced into an area where stability is required if we are to achieve the maximum in terms of the application of our research worker. It is not satisfactory to have research geared to the fluctuations of industry income and this Government currently is involved in looking very closely at ways and means of financing research from a much more stable basis. We also have under review the wheat industry stabilisation scheme, wool marketing and indeed all forms of marketing. A new marketing section has been proposed for the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. Having worked for the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, I should like to dwell for a moment on this section which under the estimates is to collect $2.9m. The BAE has been an extremely successful advisory group for government and its success rests on the fact that it is an objective fact finding organisation. The quality of its work depends upon the independence which has been given to the workers within the BAE. Because those workers do have an independence in their areas of operation and are able to publish their reports freely, the BAE has been able to attract a high quality of research worker - people who find great satisfaction from their work in this organisation. I should like to contrast the basis of the success of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics with the philosophy expounded for the Industries Assistance Commission. In fact, the philosophy is the same. It is ironic that members of the Australian Country Party should attack the Industries Assistance Commission when they already have before them the success record of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. It is no coincidence that Sir John Crawford played a significant role in the formation of both organisations. The only area in which the BAE has had any restraint placed on its opportunity to publish has been in regard to land use reports and particularly those which relate to irrigation projects. I am sure that we would have had a much saner balance of investment in irrigation if those reports had also been given the freedom of publication that most other reports produced by the BAE received.

The approach of the Australian Country Party to the Industries Assistance Commission opens up the question of whether the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, if we continue this analysis, should be placed under restriction. This is one area which has received a great deal of thought and consideration by various Ministers over the years. Invariably the answer that has been produced is that rather than restrict the operations of this group it should be opened up even further. I am pleased to say that that conclusion has generally been supported by most of the Ministers involved. Therefore one experiences some surprise from the fact that the Country Party has adopted this approach to the Industries Assistance Commission. In other words, investigation so far as assistance is concerned should be concealed and industries should be denied the opportunity of putting their point of view.

One manifestation of this approach already has been displayed by the Country Party in its objection to the 0.6c export tax placed on export meat in order to conduct a campaign to eradicate tuberculosis and brucellosis. The opposition to this tax was based on a mistake made in the office of the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair). We have the ludicrous situation now of such a superficial approach and such a casual mistake throwing into question the whole tuberculosis and brucellosis campaign. The mistake which came from the office of the honourable member for New England arose from the fact that there had been confusion between carcass weight and export weight. The Country Party members, the doyens of the country, these men of the land, who believe they know every subtlety in regard to the country have mistaken carcass weight, which is the weight of the beast slaughtered with the bones, with the export weight which, in the main, is the beast minus the bones. Because of this mistake and the inability to understand an elementary fact of agriculture, the tuberculosis and brucellosis campaign in this country is being thrown into great question and is causing great concern to our overseas buyers.

Mr Ian Robinson (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Make a point we can understand.

Mr WHAN - I am making a point for the benefit of those people in the country who are so critical of the academics. Any one of a Country Party member's constituents who wishes to have his children educated will get roughly a lead from this. The point I am making is that the Country Party could not carry out the simplest piece of arithmetic. It has mixed carcass weight with export weight and then accused the Government of attempting to extract from the meat industry more money than was necessary to carry out the tuberculosis and brucellosis eradication campaign. But the Country Party mistake has led to a situation where there is less money than necessary to carry out this campaign.

Mr Ian Robinson (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - You have been very-

Mr WHAN - I am glad-

Mr Ian Robinson (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - You are not convincing anyone.

Mr WHAN - I am glad to have the opportunity

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