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Thursday, 30 September 1971
Page: 1753

Mr IRWIN (Mitchell) - Mr Speaker,today we are discussing the Livestock Slaughter Levy Bill. It is a machinery Bill which provides for the collection of the levy over the next 3 years, from 1st January 1972 to 31st December 1974. It is a unique Bill in many ways. The levy for which the Bill provides has been requested by those people who will pay the levy, that is, the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council, the Meat and Allied Trades Federation and the Australian Meatworks Federal Council. It is most unusual that those who have to pay the levy should ask the Government to impose it. Of course, the Government makes a matching contribution. The funds are used by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation which has done a tremendous job in many fields of primary industry. Quality control is one of the main areas into which the CSIRO has delved. Of course, sanitation and hygiene are other areas.

We heard a speech from the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). It is remarkable how in a short space of time we can get contradictory evidence supplied by the scientists. Last week Professor Ehrlich prophesied doom and the end of the world. Today we heard the honourable member for Dawson state what scientists can do with food. Of course, beef production is the most successful of the potentially viable primary industries at the present time. But as the honourable member for Dawson has stated, scientists might enter this field and prepare soya beans so that they imitate, in appearance at any rate, meat. Of course, great difficulty is being experienced in getting a taste which will attract the palate of those who have to consume the imitation meat. But I think that beef will hold its own for some time. There is a disposition towards believing that protein in meat is much more beneficial than protein in vegetables! I do not know whether that is correct. There is an opportunity to stall-feed beef cattle. I have done it myself, although. I know that on occasions the Department of Agriculture has appeared to be sceptical about store-feeding beef cattle for market. When we bought a cow for the dairy I thought that we would stall-feed it. She had been in poor condition after calving. But within 2 months after we began to stall-feed her she was quite fat and ready for marketing as a beef cow. I applied this knowledge to yearlings. I bought yearlings which weighed about 3 cwt, because they had been on poor country, for £3 per cwt. They cost me approximately £9 each. I found that after stall-feeding them for 2 months their weight increased to 5 cwt, and because of the improvement in the carcass they generally were sold for between £7 10s and £8 per cwt.

There are other avenues open. Perhaps more beef could be carried per acre by introducing supplementary feeding and not depending entirely on grazing. This is a good idea if one owns a property away from the market. One can bring cattle to a place near the market, leave them there and stall-feed them for a month. When they are sold they have not been knocked about in transit. I think that the industry would prosper if it adopted this practice. This is a very good Bill as far as it goes. Of course, last year we came up against difficulties associated with the export of cattle carcasses to Canada and America. They refused to take our beef. The CSIRO is doing an excellent job in this respect. This is a satisfactory Bill, and I commend it to the House.

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