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Greens call on Vaile to pay farmers' Iraq wheat debt.

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Senator Bob Brown Senator for Tasmania

26th Jul 04

Greens call on Vaile to pay farmers' Iraq wheat debt

The Australian government should pay the $140 million debt owed Australian wheat farmers by Iraq from before the Gulf War, Greens Senator Bob Brown said today.

"This is a small sum in national terms but large for many farmers, including those hit by drought," Senator Brown said.

"There is a lot of resentment in the bush, especially in Western Australia, that wheat farmers are out of pocket, often by $10,000, $20,000 or $30,000 each. This is a complicated issue globally, but simple locally - Trade Minister Mark Vaile should pay the farmers," S

Senator Brown said he will move a motion in the Senate for the farmers to be paid.

"The amount owing is much less than the government is spending on pre-election advertising," he said.

Senator Brown said that while debt forgiveness will help Iraq get on its feet, this is a national burden not properly put onto the backs of wheat farmers. He said that the government should explain what had happened to Iraq's assets frozen in the US and what will happen with the future exploitation of Iraq's $5 trillion oil resources.

More information:Katrina Willis 02 6277 3170 or 0419 704 095