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Thursday, 25 August 2011
Page: 5570

Apple Imports


Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (14:43): I am grateful to Senator Madigan. We share a common interest in the issue about which I will be asking the minister. My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, Senator Conroy. Minister, following on from the answers you provided yesterday in relation to the import­ation of New Zealand apples, did the govern­ment receive any advice as to the withdrawal of concessions New Zealand would be entitled to impose in the event that import permits were not able to be issued by 17 August 2011? Who was the advice from and what was the nature and date of that advice?


Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (14:44): I thank Senator Madi­gan for the question, sort of! The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provided advice to the government on New Zealand's rights under the WTO agreement in the event that Australia failed to comply with the outcome in the apples dispute, including the possibility of suspension of concessions. The Minister for Trade has explained in some detail the sorts of actions New Zealand would be able to take. I am happy to take on notice any other parts of the question and see if there is any further information that the minister would like to provide.


Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (14:45): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, what steps would New Zealand be required to take to withdraw any concessions?

Senator Williams: Have a guess, Stephen!



Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (14:45): Did a National Party member speak then? My goodness, they came out from under that rock. We thought you were under the doormat.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Conroy, just address the question.

Senator CONROY: My apologies, Mr President. Under WTO rules New Zealand would need to seek authorisation from the WTO dispute settlement body to suspend concessions.




Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (14:46): Mr President, I ask a further supple­mentary question. Doesn't that answer assume that what WTO agreements do is to authorise the imposition of sanctions? Don't they just authorise that concessions no longer apply?


Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (14:46): I will take that on notice and see if there is anything that the minister would like to add.

Senator Williams: Wouldn't have a clue!

Senator CONROY: You obviously do not know a great deal about it, Senator Williams.

Senator Williams: Oh, you got it right today—well done!

Senator CONROY: Frankly, Wacka, as you are known to all of us in the chamber—but that could be considered unparlia­mentary—

The PRESIDENT: That is.

Senator CONROY: I withdraw.

The PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Conroy.

Senator CONROY: It is good to see the National Party has bobbed up its head. It is good to see that those who have been hiding have sought to make a contribution.

Senator Joyce interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Joyce, I am waiting to call someone who is sitting two rows behind you. Senator Boswell.