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Tuesday, 10 October 1972
Page: 1374

Senator YOUNG (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - 1 direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. With drought conditions in many areas in Australia, resulting in greatly reduced wheat production this year and an anticipated small endofseason carry-over, has the Minister heard comments from some individuals that wheat quotas should be abolished? Will the Minister make a statement that quotas will remain to protect the smaller farmers from being squeezed out by the big corporations and syndicates and also to prevent another wheat explosion and huge surpluses? Will the Minister also announce wheat quotas for the 1972-73 season as soon as possible in order to assist farmers in making their necessary arrangements?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Because of prevailing seasonal conditions, it is very likely that many wheat farmers will not reach their quotas in the coming season. Although there has been an improvement in the wheat situation in terms of overseas sales, to my mind we should not return to a policy of unlimited production. I think it has been proved, and proved quite fully, over recent years that the wheat industry has a greater chance of survival if it continues to adopt a realistic approach to stocks and policy, that is, if we tailor our supplies to market opportunities. 1 ..e Minister for Primary Industry will be meeting the leaders of the wheat industry and the Australian Wheat Growers Federation very shortly. In addition, the Australian Agricultural Council, comprising the State Ministers for Agriculture and the Minister for Primary Industry, together with other representatives, will be meeting on 16th October and no doubt the question of wheat quotas will be discussed. It has been the usual practice for the wheat industry to make recommendations regarding quotas to the Commonwealth Government, and if the recommendations are accepted by the State governments it is the usual practice for the Commonwealth to adopt the recommendations. I feel quite sure that, following meetings with the Wheat Growers Federation and the Agricultural Council, the Minister will be in a position to make a statement, and no doubt he will make it without any delay.

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