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Monday, 15 September 2003
Page: 20011

Mr ANDREN (2:39 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Given that the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has commissioned a study of food price determination to investigate supply chain activities from farm to consumer and their effect on food prices, can the minister give his assurance that the report of this study will be made publicly available and, where the terms of reference of the study include the examination of `horticultural products', that this will include alleged irregularities in the supply chain of fresh fruit and vegetables between orchard and farm and retailers and consumers?

Mr TRUSS (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) —In answer to the honourable member for Calare, I can confirm that my department has commissioned consultants to do some work on the supply chain and, in particular, on the various elements between the farm gate and the supermarket shelf. This is routine work that will update some of the work that we have done in the past in those sorts of areas and also similar work that has been done by the ACCC and other industry and community organisations. The intention is to look specifically at where the costs are incurred in the supply chain and how the value adding leads to the increase between the cost at the farm gate and what is paid for by consumers.

The SPEAKER —The member for Hunter is defying the chair!

Mr TRUSS —It is not intended that that examination will look at specific irregularities. If there are irregularities, that is a matter that should be pursued under the law or, alternatively, through the ACCC. This is an information-gathering exercise, not an attempt to seek to identify irregularities with a view to some kind of prosecution or action in that regard. If this study uncovers information that requires further action, we will obviously take that action. But it is not intended to be a forensic type look at the activities of individual companies or organisations.