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Thursday, 6 October 1983
Page: 1516


Mr KERIN (Minister for Primary Industry)(10.35) —In the latest telex from the honourable member for Dawson he says that I want to have the IAC report fully implemented. Again, this is completely wrong. From the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) down we have condemned the IAC report's draft recommendation and the claim is completely specious. The only recommendations of the IAC on which I have equivocated is the finding that $300m has been transferred from the producers' pockets to the consumers' pockets due to the inadequacies of the domestic formula. I find that very helpful when we are negotiating another administered price for this industry but if the National Party does not like to have that on record, it is going against the interests of the sugar industry. I am sick to death of this constant misrepresentation. The IAC terms of reference, specified by the previous Government read:

(a) the terms of the Sugar Agreement 1979 between the Commonwealth and Queensland which terminates on 30 June 1984,

(b) the domestic price of sugar and the method of determining that price,

(c) the export sugar rebate arrangements, and

(d) the operation of the embargo on the importation of sugar into Australia

The terms of reference clearly address themselves to the four most contentious points about the sugar industry.


Mr Hodgman —You are twisting.


Mr KERIN —I am not twisting. The honourable member should not be such a fool. Perhaps he wants to read the terms of reference. He could not understand them. He cannot even read. The latest statement comes from the honourable member for Dawson who in the 2 August version of the Daily News was quoted as saying: 'A new call for Ord Sugar'. Of course, it was Mr Johannes Bjelke-Petersen in Queensland, with his mate Sir Charles Court-

Mr Braithwate-Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. This matter was subject to a personal explanation this morning.


Mr SPEAKER —That is no point of order. I call the Minister.


Mr KERIN —Of course, it was Johannes Bjelke-Petersen and his mate, Sir Charles Court. They assisted the Queensland Government-


Mr Braithwaite —Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. The Minister is deliberately misrepresenting the situation. He is not telling the truth.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Dawson must raise a point of order and not make a statement.


Mr KERIN —Mr Bjelke-Petersen assisted Sir Charles Court with the exploration of the possibilities of growing sugar on the Ord. Now the honourable member is quoted in the Daily News of 2 August 1983 as saying that sugar can be grown successfully in the Ord River dam region and that growers should get an export licence. He said that if an export licence were not granted, Ord sugar would flood the domestic market, possibly at reduced prices.


Mr Porter —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. As I understand the Standing Orders, a Minister can ask for an extension of the adjournment debate in order to answer matters that were raised during that debate. The Ord River scheme has not been mentioned during the debate.


Mr SPEAKER —The sugar industry has been mentioned.


Mr Porter —The IAC was raised.


Mr SPEAKER —The Minister is relevant.


Mr KERIN —As I said, the honourable gentleman gave some reasons for saying that. Does he not realise that we are bound by the International Sugar Agreement and that we are trying to renegotiate that agreement


Mr Braithwaite —Where were you last week?


Mr KERIN —That is interesting, is it not? The honourable member's mate the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) criticised me because I went to Geneva. This is just so much nonsense. Mr Ahern said that we would get an International Sugar Agreement in May and in September, now he says that we will get one in February. Where is his proof? He keeps on kidding the sugar industry along. We know exactly what the situation is and how difficult it is but this man likes to kid people along. He likes to tell people mistruths. He likes to tell people that there will be no increase in prices.


Mr Hodgman —Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. That is a personal reflection.


Mr SPEAKER —The honourable member will resume his seat. I call the Minister for Primary Industry.


Mr KERIN —I should quote a few more things to honourable gentlemen opposite but I simply say to them-


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Minister's time has expired. The debate having concluded, the House stands adjourned until 2 p.m. on Tuesday next.

House adjourned at 10.40 p.m.