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Tuesday, 30 May 1972
Page: 2309

Senator POKE asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

(1)   Do statistics from the Reserve Bank clearly demonstrate that the Wool Deficiency Payment Scheme has been, and will be, of more benefit to the banks and the pastoral finance houses than to the wool grower.

(2)   Do statistics for April 1972 show that the indebtedness of the rural sector of the population to the banks and pastoral companies has fallen by $62.3m since July 1971, when the subsidy scheme came into force; if so, does this suggest that the major benefit of the scheme has been to these large financial institutions.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (Minister for Air) The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   No.

(2)   Statistics published by the Reserve Bank in the April 1972 Bulletin do not show the total rural debt. They do not cover credit extended by lenders such as State Government agencies, assurance societies and private creditors. The statistics do show that advances by the major trading banks to rural borrowers have fallen by $60m from $994m to$934m between July 1971 and January 1972 and that rural advances by pastoral finance companies have fallen by $21m from $334m to $313m between July 1971 and February 1972. The bulletin also shows that deposits by rural interests with the major trading banks have increased by $85m from$729m to$8l4m between July 1971 and January 1972 and that clients' credit balances with the pastoral finance companies have increased $0.7m from $31.9m to $32.6m between June 1971 and December 1971. These movements are influenced by seasonal factors such as growers' receipts from the sale of wool and wheat. The amounts by which indebtedness has been reduced and deposits increased are significantly greater this year than last year. This is regarded as reflecting the improvement in farm income that has taken place this year. The wool deficiency payments scheme has been a contributory factor in this improvement.

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