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Tuesday, 23 October 1984
Page: 2280

(Question No. 1227)

Senator Chaney asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice, on 16 October 1984:

(1) Is Mr Terry Pilavachi involved in a business called Terry's Export Produce from H Shed, Store 29, at the Flemington Markets, Sydney.

(2) Has Mr Pilavachi been appointed by the Government as special adviser to the Minister for Trade and the Department of Trade on the export of agricultural produce; if so,

(a) is Mr Pilavachi entitled to travel to overseas destinations at the Government's expense to promote the export of agricultural produce;

(b) does Mr Pilavachi have any pecuniary interest in the execution of his duties as an adviser to the Minister;

(c) does Mr Pilavachi involve himself in his own business activities while travelling at the Government's expense;

(d) is the Minister concerned that Mr Pilavachi may be placed in a beneficial position amongst competitors in produce export activities as a result of his appointment.

(3) Is Mr Pilavachi not only a constituent of the Minister's but also a close friend.

Senator Walsh —The Minister for Trade has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Yes. Mr Pilavachi was also involved in a business, New Zealand Fruit Distributing Co. Pty Ltd, which he sold to a Mr Ross Lagudi last year before he took up a consultancy with the Department of Trade.

(2) Mr Pilavachi was appointed in November 1983 for twelve months as a part- time consultant to the Department of Trade to provide advice in relation to the expansion of fruit and vegetables trade to selected countries.

(a) Yes. Under the terms of his agreement with the Commonwealth, all costs incurred in respect of travel by Mr Pilavachi, at departmental convenience, are met by the Department;

(b) Yes. Under the terms of his agreement, Mr Pilavachi is paid a consultancy fee of $16,200;

(c) I am advised that he does not.

Under the terms of his agreement, Mr Pilavachi was required to warrant that at the date of signature there was no conflict of interest in existence which might affect his ability to meet his obligations; he is required to advise the Department of any situation which arises during the term of the agreement affecting his ability to meet his obligations.

A complaint about Mr Pilavachi's activities by a Mr Rocky Lagudi was recently brought to my attention. Mr Pilavachi denies the allegations involved. Mr Lagudi was invited to contact me to discuss the complaint but that invitation has not been accepted. I am aware that Mr Lagudi has also made written representations to Mr Kerin, Mr Wran and Mr Greiner.

I would be very pleased to arrange for a meeting between Mr Pilavachi and Senator Chaney so that the senator can satisfy himself as to the true position in this matter.

Mr Pilavachi has assisted me and the Department of Trade in a series of projects designed to expand Australia's exports of fruit and vegetables to South East Asia, the Middle East and Canada:

(i) Accompanied me on a visit to Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Cyprus and Saudi Arabia during December 1983, when I led a large delegation of Australian business leaders, and industry representatives drawn from a broad cross-section of Australia's commercial interests to lay the groundwork for a substantial expansion of our interests in the area. During this visit, Mr Pilavachi discussed the availability of Australian fresh fruit and vegetables with major importers in the countries visited.

(ii) Visited Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates during February/March 1984 to examine the scope for increased Australian exports of fruit and vegetables to those markets and the most effective methods of promoting those products in the area. Mr Pilavachi attended the Al Khobar Trade Display where he provided technical advice on the Australian fruit and vegetable displayed (which were provided by a number of suppliers in several States) and canvassed potential customers for Australian fruit and vegetables. Mr Pilavachi was accompanied on this visit by an officer of the Department of Trade and by Australian trade commissioners located in the areas.

(iii) Visited Singapore during April 1984 to participate in a trade commissioner show room display and seminars arranged by the Department of Trade to promote the export of Australian fruit and vegetables.

(iv) During May/June 1984, led a departmental trade survey mission to Hong Kong , Singapore and Malaysia. The mission's task was to examine the export prospects for tropical fruits and vegetables. The mission party included horticultural growers from North Queensland and the Northern Territory, exporters of fruit and vegetables, representatives of the Queensland Committee of Direction of Fruit Marketing and Qantas Airways Ltd, as well as officials from the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and the Commonwealth Department of Trade. The report of the mission is being printed and is likely to be released early in November 1984.

(v) During September 1984 participated with other members of the survey mission (referred to in (iv) above) in a series of seminars in Queensland and the Northern Territory to report on the Mission's findings. He was accompanied by officials of the Department of Trade.

(vi) Has examined freight and transportation arrangements for servicing Australia's export trade in fresh fruit and vegetables to the Middle East, South East Asis and North America. Mr Pilavachi is currently examining the scope and possible means for increasing exports to Canada.

(d) I refer to the answer to Question (2) (c) above. It is clear from the terms of his agreement that Mr Pilavachi was not to be placed in a beneficial position vis-a-vis competitors. The concept behind his appointment was to use his experience to promote the export of Australian fruit and vegetables for the benefit of the industry. I believe this has been achieved.

(3) Mr Pilavachi is not a constituent of mine but is a friend of many years standing.