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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3355

Senator COLLARD (Leader of the National Party of Australia)(12.48) —Unlike Senator Vigor I am under no illusion that the whole of Australia has been waiting for every pearl that drops from my lips.

Senator Puplick —Just because it is a swine Bill there is no need to go on like that.

Senator COLLARD —We are not into making silk purses this afternoon, Senator Puplick; we just want to get some much needed legislation through. These pig industry Bills are in line with a lot of other primary industry legislation that has been handled in this chamber through the year. There are three Bills in this package and they are in line with all the other primary industry Bills introduced to restructure certain sectors of our primary industry. This particular package of Bills sets up the Australian Pork Producers Corporation to replace the Pork Promotion Committee. The Corporation will be run by an independent chairman, one Government appointee and five people with expertise in the industry. The five will be selected by an industry dominated four-member selection committee. The Corporation will have to submit a five-year strategic plan and will have to report yearly to the industry and to Parliament. The Pig Industry (Transitional Provisions) Bill repeals the old legislation and the Pig Slaughter Levy Amendment Bill provides for a levy to fund the Corporation. The levy, to rise to a maximum of $1.50 per head, initially will be $1.30 per head with $1 going to promotion and 30c to research. As I understand it all the Bills are revenue neutral.

Already the pig industry in Queensland has raised a couple of concerns and I ask the Minister for Finance (Senator Walsh) to take note of them. Can he provide at some stage the budgeted figure for the cost of establishing each of the three organisations and their budgeted annual operating costs? One other concern relates to adequate representation by the pig processing industry. This concern refers particularly to membership of the Pork Corporation Selection Committee.

Senator Puplick —Ha, ha!

Senator COLLARD —Senator Puplick might live in Sydney, but there is concern. There are to be four members-one presiding member, two members nominated by the Australian Pork Producers Federation and one member nominated by the National Meat Processors Association. The National Meat Processors Association encompasses a far wider group than just pork producers and pork processors. There is some concern in the industry that the Minister should indicate to the NMPA that when it nominates its representative on the selection committee it should be somebody who has expertise in pork processing, not somebody who is, for instance, interested only in beef or mutton. The NMPA does have representatives in all sections of the meat processing industry but the pork producers would like their representatives at least to have some interest and some knowledge or expertise in the pork processing industry.

Of concern also is imports from Canada. The problem is not so much their coming in, but disease control. Our pork producers, in line with all our other primary producers, are some of the most efficient in the world. They have, of course, to put up with costs past the farm gate which are beyond their control. One of the things going for our producers, as well as their efficiency, is the fact that we, as a nation, have pretty well disease-free status. There is great concern that with imports from Canada, where there is a transmissible gastroenteritis disease, that disease could get into Australia. My understanding is that certain trials have to be carried out. It has been established that those trials cannot be done in Canada and would have to be done at the Geelong high security laboratory. There is also great concern that a decision might be taken on these imports before all the trials have been done and before adequate information is assessed. If the Minister cannot reply in this debate, could he make information available sometime in the near future on representation on the committee and on disease problems with imports from Canada? As I have indicated, we will not be opposing these Bills.