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- Start of Business
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Dr HEWSON, Mr HAWKE)
(Mr MELHAM, Mr HAWKE)
PROPOSED NATIONAL RAIL FREIGHT CORPORATION
(Mr SAWFORD, Mr ROBERT BROWN)
(Mr HOWARD, Mr HAWKE)
(Ms CRAWFORD, Mr STAPLES)
(Mr TIM FISCHER, Mr HAWKE)
BONE MARROW REGISTER
(Mr FERGUSON, Mr HOWE)
(Mr CAMPBELL, Mrs KELLY)
(Mr REID, Mr HAWKE)
SHARK BAY: WORLD HERITAGE LISTING
(Mr CAMPBELL, Mrs KELLY)
(Mr TRUSS, Mr HAWKE)
COAL INDUSTRY: EXPORTS TO JAPAN
(Mr MARTIN, Mr KERIN)
- DEPARTMENT OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
- DEPARTMENT OF THE PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY
- REPORTS OF THE AUDITOR-GENERAL
- PRESENTATION OF PAPERS
- AUSTRALIAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION
- TASMANIAN WORLD HERITAGE AREA MINISTERIAL COUNCIL
- ROYAL COMMISSION INTO ABORIGINAL DEATHS IN CUSTODY
- TELECOMMUNICATIONS REFORM
- JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON MIGRATION REGULATIONS
- MEMBERSHIP OF COMMITTEES
- END OF WAR LIST BILL 1989
- APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1990-91
- APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1990-91
Tuesday, 11 September 1990
Mr TRUSS(10.50) — Recently the Government announced that it will be allowing the import of uncooked Canadian pig meat. In making the announcement as Acting Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, the Minister for Resources (Mr Griffiths) ignored industry advice and disregarded the wishes of Australian pig producers who are emphatically opposed to the import of Canadian pig meat.
The pig industry's objections to imports are based on two factors: firstly, the risk of entry of disease into this country; secondly, the fact that the Canadian industry is heavily subsidised. The pig disease transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) is not known in Australia. The disease is able to cause up to 90 per cent mortality in young pigs and would be disastrous to the local industry. However, the disease is endemic throughout the northern hemisphere, including Canada. A great deal of scientific research has been devoted to determining what level of risk is associated with allowing uncooked Canadian pork meat into Australia. All of the researchers agree that it is technically possible for TGE to be introduced by importing Canadian pork.
It is acknowledged that the risk is small. The Government's advisers put the risk factor at one in three million. However, a separate study by the Australian Veterinary Association has put the risk factor at one in 15,000. With the prospect of 270,000 pig carcases being imported into Australia in a year as a result of the Government's decision, a risk factor of one in 15,000 is clearly unacceptable.
Australia has few natural competitive advantages on the international export market. Our infrastructure costs, transport and waterfront inefficiencies, and heavy levels of government taxation all make it difficult for Australian industry to trade internationally. One of the few advantages that our isolation provides for us is the fact that there are many diseases and pests worldwide which have not yet found their way into this country. That advantage should not carelessly be thrown away.
Any risk is too much risk. Whether the mathematical calculation is one in 15,000 or some other figure, the risk to the Australian pig industry of importing Canadian meat should not be entertained. Around 10 per cent of our balance of payment deficit is attributable to food imports. In a wonderfully productive country like Australia, which is capable of producing all of its own feed needs and plenty for others, we import food products from other nations. Much of the food that is now being imported does not reach the same strict health standards as are required for food producers in this country.
Chemicals banned in Australia are often used on the food products imported into this land. These double standards not only discriminate against Australian farmers and food producers, but also put Australian consumers at risk. In relation to the pig industry, the chemical mecadox is one such example. Australian farmers cannot use this chemical but it remains available in Canada. So in addition to the disease risk there is the possibility that Canadian pork imports will contain unacceptable chemical residues.
The Canadian pork industry is heavily subsidised. Canadian producers who produce pork have the benefit of over 20 different subsidy programs, mostly government backed. The American Department of Commerce has determined that Canadian pork is subsidised to the extent of 8.5c a kilo and has imposed a countervailing duty on all imported Canadian pig meat. The Canadian tripartite support program, contributed to by Federal and provincial governments in Canada as well as pork producers, results in benefits of between $37 and $41 per pig.
The Minister for Primary Industries and Energy (Mr Kerin) is well aware of the Government subsidies that Canadian producers are receiving and yet will take no action to prevent these subsidised imports being dumped in Australia. Australian producers have to rely on completely ineffective anti-dumping provisions to obtain any kind of redress. Pig consumption is seasonal. Everyone wants a Christmas ham, so waiting 295 days before the imposition of any kind of countervailing duty is completely ineffective. The damage to the Australian industry would already be done before any countervailing measure would be effective.
The Canadians have not responded positively to Australia's initiative in opening up our markets for their unwanted pig products. They have already shown their gratitude by giving preference to United States canned fruit, denying Australia one of its most important markets. We get no thanks from the rest of the world for exposing our marketplace to unfair competition.
In his 1989 Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr Keating) said that the 1989 Budget would bring home the bacon. Of course, the Budget proved to be a disaster for Australians. But the question remains: If the Treasurer does bring home the bacon, will it come from Canadian pigs?
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mrs Sullivan) —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.