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Wednesday, 12 September 1984
Page: 898


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK(3.40) —The report of the high-level trade mission to Japan underlines the critical situation for Australia not only with regard to trade with Japan but also with regard to our trade generally with other countries. It stresses, as the Australian Financial Review has emphasised today, that there is a serious decline. Evidence from the Estimates Committee C examination of the Department of Trade shows that the decline is not some episodic thing that can be corrected. In a whole range of commodities, virtually all the main commodities, the decline is severe and not likely to be rectified either in the short term or the long term. The picture that Australia faces with regard to overseas trade is that under this Government we are losing our overseas markets.

I have repeatedly said in this place that unless we can get our commodities at a favourable price and volume on to the world market, particularly primary industry commodities and minerals, we will fall into a very serious state of recession. A virtual collapse of manufacturing industry has steadily been going on. There is a lack of investment in both manufacturing and mining. Now, step by step, what is happening in regard to our biggest partner is revealed. Until the war years 28 per cent of our export trade went to the United Kingdom. Subsequently, by the 1960's and 1970's 28 per cent of our export trade went to Japan and 34 per cent of Japan's trade was with America. That percentage is being worn down. We have failed to diversify our markets. Indeed, we are losing markets. The Hawke Government has failed to do anything to overcome the loss of our share of the beef market. Clearly, the head of the Department of Trade said that the matter was not one of taste or preference on the part of the Japanese for marbled or grain-fed beef but, in his own words, it was a political matter. Therefore the fall off in the percentage of our beef and meat exports is a political matter which this Government has failed to rectify.

Wherever we turned such evidence was given. Regarding the markets in South East Asia, the Singapore market is now changing because of the lowering of quarantine standards. Efforts in the Korean market have failed. The price of wheat and the surplus have created a crisis. The price of wheat is the lowest since World War II. The volume of surpluses of meat and wheat around the world is critical. There is a grave danger to our markets, particularly in Asia, that the European Economic Community, with a huge surplus of something like 480,000 tonnes of meat , may put subsidised meat on the market.

To illustrate what is happening with regard to beef, let me cite the figures from the Estimates Committee. Whereas in normal years in the past Australia has exported more than 600,000 tonnes of meat, it is expected this year to export 420,000 tonnes. There is no indication of any future expansion in Japan or of any recovery in Korea or Singapore. Wherever we turn there is danger for us. This matter is the responsibility of the government of the day. The Government, through the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke), said that it would achieve favourable trade with Japan in commodities. But in regard to virtually every commodity in which we trade with Japan and with other countries at the moment there is a growing crisis. There is a fall in our market share and a decline in price. We now face very severe competition in iron ore, for example, because of Brazil's higher quality product. No one from the Hawke Government can answer me when I repeat this question: 'With all these declines, where are the future jobs going to come from?'. If we are going to earn less money in primary industry and in the mining industry, were will-


Senator Peter Rae —And more wage-on costs all this time as a result of it.


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —That is right and we have had a fall in manufacturing. The illusion is that unemployment will fall. The reality is that the Government wants a quick election so that it can be returned to government before people realise that there will be nothing to provide more jobs.


The PRESIDENT —Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.