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Wednesday, 17 October 1984
Page: 1850

Senator CHILDS —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. Has he seen Press reports concerning the Queensland Premier' s belligerent suggestion of trade sanctions against New Zealand imports because of that country's stance against entry by nuclear-armed or nuclear-powered warships? Does the Minister agree that should New Zealand decide to adopt similar trade retaliation, Queensland sugar growers, for example, already under threat, could face a loss of $22m in exports to New Zealand?

Senator GRIMES —Like most other people in this place, I noted the comments by Mr Bjelke-Petersen, or Sir Joh as he is known in some quarters, advocating retaliation against New Zealand because of its stand on certain issues. I should first of all say that the Commonwealth is committed to giving effect to the obligations under the Australian-New Zealand closer economic trade relations agreement which include lowering of tariffs and maintenance of the low tariffs which exist now. Such extremes as suggested by the Queensland Premier are not helpful in resolving problems of ANZUS or in promoting the economic welfare of both countries. Therefore, they are not helpful in promoting the security of this region. The closer economic relations agreement commitments extend to State governments; accordingly, any independent action by Queensland would need to be examined closely to determine whether it is contrary to these agreements.

The Premier of Queensland frequently enters into the field of foreign affairs. On one spectacular occasion, I think in 1980, he announced that, unless Japan stopped buying meat from foreign countries like New Zealand and Tasmania, Queensland would have to take action against the Japanese. That was certainly an example of the mouse that roared, I suggest. The fact that the Premier has great difficulty in knowing what is a foreign country and what is not a foreign country--

Senator Robert Ray —Where was he born?

Senator GRIMES —The fact that he was born in New Zealand himself, yet has no concern for the New Zealanders, suggests that he would be best to keep out of foreign affairs and restrict himself to those areas in which he has some knowledge. I realise that that would make his life extremely restricted, but I think in those circumstances it would be the best thing for him to do.