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Thursday, 22 November 1973
Page: 3736

Dr PATTERSON (Dawson) (Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory) - Let me make the position clear. The honourable member for the Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) obviously has principles different from those that the Government has, and I would think also different from those that the Australian Wheat Board has. What he said is true. A contract with Egypt was not signed. But it is a question of the way in which the honourable member thinks contracts should be made. The Wheat Board agreed to supply wheat to Egypt for 12 months, and that decision was conveyed to the Egyptian Government.

Mr McVeigh - A contract was not signed.

Dr PATTERSON - That may be the honourable member's way of making contracts. If his word is not as good as anyone else's so that a contract must be signed, I do not know how he will get on in life. It is rather remarkable that there should be criticism that we are interfering with industry. Honourable members opposite say: 'Do not interfere with industry'. Apparently they believe that industry should have a free hand in matters of trade, but they ask the Government to make sure that it pays a first advance to wheat growers. Are they prepared to give the first advance away? Of course they are not. They want Government interference for a first advance.

Mr McVeigh - That is under agreement You whacked the interest up.

Dr PATTERSON - Does the honourable member not want wheat quotas? It was his Government that applied quotas. Now he says: 'Do not interfere with the industry'. The most efficiently organised primary industry today is the sugar industry, which is rigidly controlled. Would the honourable member tell Mr Bjelke-Petersen to take the quotas off sugar? Of course he would not. If he did, he would not last 2 minutes in that State, because it has been proved - the same argument applies to tobacco - that with commonsense and co-operation between a government and an industry you will get good results.

Question put:

That the clause proposed to be inserted (Mr Sinclair's amendment) be inserted.

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