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Friday, 20 March 1987
Page: 1086

Senator NEWMAN —My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I ask: Is the Minister aware that the Australian Defence Force Food Specifications Committee, composed of members of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the defence establishment and manufacturers, has indicated that in purchasing food for the Australian defence forces no preference is to be given to Australian products over foodstuffs from New Zealand. In the light of the Government's exhortation to the nation to buy Australian, the disasters being faced by Australian farmers, our frightening balance of trade figures and, finally, the emphasis in the defence White Paper on Australian industry participation, will the Government ensure that food grown and manufactured in Australia is given preference in supplying our Australian defence forces?

Senator BUTTON —I have not heard of all that sort of spooky stuff which Senator Newman went on with. The decision to which the honourable senator refers is quite understandable under the terms of closer economic relations with New Zealand, which was something invented by the Fraser Government's Doug Anthony. That is an agreement which was entered into by the previous Government and it binds this Government. There is no preference for Australian food in respect of these matters. I suppose the honourable senator's husband was a Minister in the Government when that decision was made.