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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 1388

Senator McLAREN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: In view of the fact that the good financial returns expected by primary producers this year because of a combination of bountiful rains and good government are now threatened by a severe locust plague which could ruin vast areas of rural production in parts of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, can he indicate whether the Australian Government is prepared to assist the States in combating this plague?

Senator WRIEDT - I have indicated on past occasions that despite the many good things done by this Government it cannot claim credit for the good rains that have fallen this year. At least the Australian wheatgrower and the community at large can give credit to the Government for its decision to maximise the wheat crop at the right time. It is true that there is a plague of locusts in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. A decision has been made today by the Australian Government to accept the request by a subcommittee of the Australian Agricultural Council for the Commonwealth to provide $500,000 to assist the States in a campaign to eliminate this pest. I should add that this will be in addition to the use of military equipment, vehicles and personnel, which the Government agreed to only last week and which will cost an additional $70,000. The Australian Government has taken a responsible attitude in this area because there is a great risk of severe loss, especially to the wheat crop, if the plague of locusts is not attacked now.

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