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Wednesday, 25 May 1983
Page: 781


Senator TATE —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware of the concern of some Tasmanian farmers who have shown great initiative in establishing a multi-million-dollar onion export industry. Their concern is that New Zealand onion growers are undermining the viability of the Tasmanian industry by dumping onions on the Australian market. Do closer economic relations with New Zealand require any sector of the Australian agriculture, fishing or timber industries to accept any level of imports detrimental to those sectors? Will the Minister acknowledge the need for a viable and diversified agricultural sector in Tasmania with all the multiplier effects in employment, especially in this era of post-hydro- industrialisation?


Senator WALSH —I am not sure whether this question should be directed to the Minister for Primary Industry or the Minister for Trade, but I represent both, anyway, so either way I can answer. The matter to which Senator Tate has referred has been brought to my notice. The middle part of his question-I paraphrase it-was: Do Australian industries have to accept any level of import competition under any circumstances? The answer is that provision is made within the CER agreement under which action can be taken. I am not familiar with all the details, but it is required that the country taking the action to restrict imports must determine firstly that a local industry, actual or potential, has been harmed and that dumping is in fact taking place. There is also a very comprehensive obligation on the country contemplating such action to notify the other party to the agreement both very fully in detail and very quickly. If any action is taken it has to be reviewed at the end of about six months. I will contact the Minister for Trade and the Minister for Primary Industry and see whether they have anything to add to that reply. If they do, I will provide it to Senator Tate.