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Tuesday, 10 December 1974
Page: 3312

Senator SCOTT (New South Wales) - I rise very briefly in support of the Dairy Adjustment Bill 1974. Were we able to have accepted the amendments proposed by Senator Bessell I think that probably the Government would have agreed that the amendments could do nothing but make a good Bill just that little better. I find it easy to support a Bill which concerns itself with the adjustment of an industry such as the dairy industry, because adjustment and reconstruction in the context of industries are virtually the same thing. It has been the province and policy of my Party and of the Liberal Party to be constantly interested and concerned in the areas of reconstruction and adjustment in many industries. In fact, in my own State of New South Wales very considerable advances have been made over a number of years in the areas of reconstruction in particular in branches of primary industry.

This Bill- I believe this is a very important feature of the Bill- creates in the province of the State Ministers and State authorities a real measure of control. I compliment the Government on having produced this feature in this legislation. Very often this is not the case. It is perhaps even somewhat out of character that the Government in this case has seen fit to leave within the province of the State Ministers and their authorities a very real degree of control. This is one of the most important and encouraging features of this legislation.

The legislation basically confines itself to 2 prongs. It is concerned with adjustment insofar as it will enable the building up of efficient dairying enterprises by the purchase of additional farms or of additional parts of farms until the enterprises reach a point where they find that to a landed asset they are able to adapt elements of capital and labour which make that enterprise as totally efficient as it is possible to be. It is to that kind of adjustment that the Bill confines itself in the one instance. In the other instance, of course, the major objective of the Bill is to make it possible for those areas, which are, relatively speaking, at least uneconomic areas in the industry, to be aided to transfer to other areas of production within the primary industry structure in which they find themselves and to become economic units. In actual fact it makes it easier for the relatively economic areas of the industry to become better standing and to become better able to produce within the industry, and at the same time it makes it relatively easier for those parts of the industry that could well be adopting a different area of production, a different attitude, to move into those other fields.

I should like to refer one question to the Minister. I believe that he may give us some assurance in the form of definition. I refer to clause ll(2)(c), clause 12 (2), clause 13 (2) and clause 16 (3). Clause 1 1 (2) (c) refers to the assistance which is to be available to members of the industry. It says that assistance is to be available only when they are 'unable to obtain a loan on reasonable terms from normal financial sources for the purposes for which the assistance is to be given '. I am sure that there is a proper definition of 'reasonable terms' and 'normal financial sources'. I would appreciate- I am sure that the Senate and the industry would appreciatethe Minister giving us some indication of what is meant by 'reasonable terms' and 'normal financial sources', because naturally if this were to be too extravagantly extended it might mean that the actual availability of the adjustment finance would be much more difficult to come by than one would hope and believe will be the case. I am sure that the Minister can make some reference to that definition.

In closing I refer to the fact that this Bill provides for an amount of $43m to be expended over a period of 2 years in this adjustment process. It virtually replaces the former bounty and subsidy systems within the dairying industry. I believe that emphasis should be placed on the matter which has already been raised by Senator Bessell, that is, that the Australian dairying industry, from the point of view of subsidy, stands head and shoulders above equivalent industries in any other country- even in New

Zealand where approximately $60m is to be expended in subsidies. If we go beyond the Australian and New Zealand situations we find that enormous subsidies are provided to the dairying industry in the United States and in Canada and that in the European Economic Community approximately $ 1,000m to $2,000m is expended on dairying subsidies- a situation which, on occasions in the past, has enabled the dairying industry from the Community countries to compete by virtually dumping in some of the traditional markets of the Australian industry. I am sure that this Bill will create a real measure of confidence in the Australian dairying industryan industry which is faced with quite a remarkable number of potential markets; an industry which given this capacity, this aid to readjust and rebuild, will be an even more significant industry in the future. I wholeheartedly support the Bill and hopefully anticipate that the Minister in his reply will give some form of definition to the matters to which I have referred.

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