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Tuesday, 13 March 1973
Page: 461

Mr SCHOLES (CORIO, VICTORIA) - Is the Minister for Overseas Trade aware that Canadian and United States manufactured carpets are being offered on the Australian market at prices below those for Australian manufactured carpets because of changes in currency valuation? Has the Minister had representations from the industry? Can he indicate any action which is being taken by the Government to protect the jobs of many thousands of Australians?

Dr J F CAIRNS (LALOR, VICTORIA) (Minister for Overseas Trade) - I have had many representations from companies and unions concerned in the manufacture of carpets in Australia and it is clear that carpet manufacturers in this country have for some weeks been subject to very intense competition as a result of the importation of carpets at much lower than normal prices - 20 per cent, 25 per cent and 30 per cent lower. Undoubtedly prices have been significantly affected by changes in the value of the Australian dollar as against the American dollar. In addition to consultations between myself, members of the Department of Secondary Industry and those in the industry, an interdepartmental committee has been in existence for some weeks to examine these things and this is one of the cases that has been submitted in detail to that committee.

A set of criteria has been established which would allow judgment to be made about any form of assistance that might be given, any form of action that might be taken, to ensure that adjustments following currency revaluations will not have adverse effects on employment. It is expected that within a very short time specific decisions will be made about this industry. I assure the honourable member that, as indicated by these actions taken by the Government, we regard employment in Australia as of the first priority and we will be setting out to ensure that any changes that might be made as a result of unavoidable economic forces will not be mainly at the cost of people directly involved.

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