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Tuesday, 30 November 1976

Mr Scholes asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:

(   1 ) Have contracts for the supply of rope for the Royal Australian Navy been transferred from Australian manufacturers to sources in Taiwan.

(2)   If so, what is the saving to the Navy arising from this change in supply sources.

(3)   Are cost factors, such as the cost to the Treasury of payments in unemployment benefits to employees and their families who lose employment because of the loss of these contracts by the Australian manufacturers, taken into account.

Mr Killen - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   and (2) No contracts for the supply of rope for the Royal Australian Navy have been transferred from Australian manufacturers to sources in Taiwan.

(3)   Whenever imported items are offered in competition to locally-produced items, cost comparisons are made on the basis of imported price plus the appropriate rate of duty and primage. The cost to the Treasury of unemployment benefits payable if contracts are lost to Australian manufacturers are not taken into account in cost comparisons.

However, as was announced by the Prime Minister on 1 October 1976, further measures have been introduced to give preference to items of local manufacture. When tenders for items valued at $13,000 or more are received from both local and overseas suppliers, a Committee of Ministers will consider whether purchase from Australian sources would assist a depressed industry or area within Australia, or enable the establishment, development or retention of industrial or technological capabilities required for reasons of national security or independence.

Meat Exports to Japan

Mr Howard - On 4 November 1976 Mr William McMahon asked the Acting Minister for Overseas Trade the following question, without notice:

I ask the Acting Minister for Overseas Trade whether he has yet been informed of the decision of the Japanese administration to suspend the import of Australian chilled beef under what is called the Touch I section of Japanese meat import controls. Is he aware that until yesterday the price of quality steers had fallen disastrously by over $40 a head and that yesterday at the Wodonga sales it fell from $132 to $70 a head, with naturally disastrous consequences for producers in this premium market? Will he discuss this matter with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs to ensure that strong representations are made to the Japanese Government to have the administration decision reversed?

The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

In my reply to the Right Honourable member on 4 November, I indicated that the Government had already made strong representations to the Japanese authorities about a reported suggestion that the Japanese Livestock Industry Promotion Corporation has deferred the importation of 2000 tonnes of chilled beef.

The position is that the Livestock Industry Promotion Corporation has advised Japanese importers that they may, subject to their commercial judgment, defer until January the importation of up to 40 per cent (2000 tonnes) of the 5000 tonnes of chilled beef scheduled for delivery in December. In normal circumstances, only about 15 per cent of any months scheduled imports are permitted to be held over for late delivery.

We have now been assured by Japanese officials that such action is not intended as a restraint of beef shipments to Japan, but represents in fact little more than an extension of permitted delivery times. The Japanese have stressed that the deferments are not compulsory but give Japanese traders the option of deferring part of their scheduled December shipments in line with their commercial judgments on price trends. Clearly, any deferments in delivery dates will need to be made in accordance with individual contracts and it will be for Australian exporters to decide whether they will agree to any such deferments under the terms of their contracts.

In these circumstances, I would hope that the fall in prices recorded at the Wodonga sales on 3 November will be shown to have been related to temporary uncertainty concerning Japanese intentions.

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