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Wednesday, 8 March 1961

Mr McEWEN - I am not aware of the payment of any direct or indirect export subsidy by the American Administration on canned or frozen poultry products, but I will take steps immediately to clear up this matter so that the Department of Trade and I may know the precise facts. I have at the moment no reason to believe that there is such a subsidy. On the broader issue which the honorable member raises and has raised before, I indicate that facilities exist under legislation which the Parliament passed last spring, under which a temporary protection can be afforded quite promptly to an industry. The procedure for bringing this protective measure into operation is that the industry concerned appoints a representative panel from its members and engages in discussions with officers of the department, who want no more than a reasonably convincing prima facie case - in fact, it is not the officers of the department but the Minister for Trade who must be convinced - upon which a reference will be made to a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board. The officers of my department met, on 12th January, a panel representing processors and, I think, also producers engaged in the poultry industry. I am satisfied that the information subsequently supplied was inadequate to justify 3 reference. A request for further information along indicated lines was then made, but no such further information has come to hand from the industry. About a week ago I informed the officers of my department that I would like them to approach the industry and to offer to help it establish the facts of the case as they exist.

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