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Thursday, 18 October 1984
Page: 2019

Senator ARCHER(9.11) —Two points arise that I need to mention. Firstly, earlier in the day the Minister for Social Security, Senator Grimes, was talking about the export inspection fees and who pays them. He said that I was trying to protect the big people at the expense of the poor people and so on . On the question of application of the fees, every export works in Tasmania provides, and most of the export works on the mainland provide, meat both for export and for domestic consumption. So when all or some of the beast is exported, all the cost of inspection is borne by the producer and/or the processor. When it is sold domestically the customer will almost certainly participate in the cost of inspection because on the domestic market the butcher can include that cost. That cannot be done on the export market. In domestic sales the advantage of inspection-there is only one advantage in the inspection and that is entirely to the purchaser; there is no advantage to the processor or the producer-is entirely a social domestic advantage that goes to the people who eat the meat. People, whether they are low income earners, wealthy or whatever, all benefit from the inspection. It could be paid out of general revenue and those who could not afford it would then in fact pay less than they do now. The people who could afford to pay more would pay more. That is the position with the fees, which is completely different from what the Minister was trying to sell us earlier in the day.

My other point relates to meat inspectors. Yes, I did see an advertisement in the Australian for four senior meat inspector positions in Victoria, at a time when the Commonwealth is about to amalgamate with the Victorian service. To advertise for four positions at a time when we are already overstocked by about 200 in the Federal field is absolutely crazy. I realise the reason. I rang up the Department. I was given exactly the information I asked for. It confirms my worst fears, that is purely and simply a back door means of putting four people on to permanent Commonwealth Public Service rates before the system is taken over.

We certainly do not need four meat inspectors of any calibre. If anybody tries to kid me that the people now acting in those jobs, as temporaries, will not get those positions, I will be most surprised. What are we doing to ensure that we do not overload the meat inspection service with more people who will be absolutely redundant before we start. We already have about 200, on my reckoning . What do we want to make it-204? Who will pay? It will mean another four inspectors at salaries between $18,215 a year and $21,502 a year, plus all the bits and pieces. That is another cost that the industry will be asked to bear. There is no reason in the world why the Victorians at this stage of the negotiations should seek to employ people on permanent arrangements. It is absolutely scandalous if that is going on. I feel for the people acting in those jobs, and who may have been acting in them for some time, I understand. It is quite wrong that the Commonwealth should be seen as the big sponge, picking up these people and putting them on to permanent arrangements. I would like to know whether those people are needed and, if so, why.