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Thursday, 22 November 1973
Page: 3735

Dr PATTERSON (Dawson) (Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory) - The Government rejects the amendment. Again, I will have to answer certain statements that have been made. In my earlier reply, I gave the reasons why the Australian Government had adopted an even handed approach between the Arab States and Israel. These reasons were made quite public by the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) in a Press statement released on 30 October 1973. Let me read from that Press statement. It states:

When fighting broke out, the Board reversed its earlier decision-

As somebody said, it welshed on the decision to which it had already agreed and of which it had notified the Egyptian Government. I return to the Press statement:

When fighting broke out, the Board reversed its earlier decision and indicated to the Government that any business transacted with Egypt would need to be on a cass basis. The Board also indicated that if the Government wishes credit terms extended to Egypt, then the costs and risk in full should be borne by the Government.

The Minister had replied to the Board that the Australian Government's attitude to the hostilities was that it should have an even handed approach to both sides and should show preference to neither. To agree to the Wheat Board's changed negotiating position with Egypt would have been inconsistent with this neutral approach, the Minister said.

The provision in the Act which the amendment seeks to change was first introduced in 1948. The previous Government took the view that that section was not explicit enough and in fact made a further amendment to it. As was stated quite clearly by Sir Philip McBride on behalf of Mr McEwen, as he then was, that amendment was made to protect the taxpayer. To illustrate the point further, as I mentioned earlier, since 1960 a total of <$285m has been paid by the Government to the wheat industry for stabilisation scheme purposes. As I made it quite clear, the industry also has contributed its share, almost $400m in the first 10 years of the scheme, as the difference between the domestic price, the guaranteed price and the world price. This year, the industry will contribute about $46m. As these tremendous amounts of money, which could mean very large contributions and liability by the Government, are involved this Government insists, just as the previous Government did, that this section should remain as it is in the Act. For that reason the Government rejects the amendment.

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