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Thursday, 9 December 1976
Page: 3567


Mr William McMahon (LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES) -Will the Minis ter for Primary Industry inform the House officially before it rises the details of the new scheme of quota entitlements for the entry of meat into United States market which was recommended to him by the Australian Meat Board and the exporters of meat more than 2 weeks ago? Will he adhere to his publicly stated views about the independence of the Meat Board and non-interference in its recommendations? Against the background of a strongly rising sellers' market and even better prospects in the future, does he think it is in the interests of the cattlemen who are struggling to survive that they should be compelled to sell to the less remunerative markets, with less remunerative returns to the producers themselves? In a somewhat humorous vein, would the Minister entertain such a quaint idea if he were selling meat himself?


Mr SINCLAIR (NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Primary Industry) -I think all honourable members would be interested to know that as a result of the announcement of the present scheme of diversification- that is the scheme presently operating- the prices for meat paid in Japan rose by 10c per lb. So, contrary to the general indication of the right honourable gentleman's question, it would seem that the change in diversification in fact has provided a direct benefit to producers. I think it is of interest that following devaluation and following the increasing demand in what are known as the opportunity markets, there has been a significant improvement in prices paid for Australian cattle and for Australian meat generally- not only beef but also mutton. I would hope that the benefit of those prices are passed back to the cattle producer and to the Australian livestock producer. I am sure that is a wish which the right honourable gentle' man would share. One week ago- not 2 weeks ago as the right honourable gentleman suggested- I received advice from the Australian Meat Board that it had accepted that some modifications should be made to the presently accepted diversification plan. Since then there have been dramatic changes in the world market place.

In answer to a question yesterday by the honourable member for Capricornia, I mentioned the benefit that we could see flowing from orders from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I also mentioned yesterday, as the right honourable gentleman will recall, the circumstances of discussions in the United States which are critical to the resolution of meat opportunities for that market- which is what diversification is all about- in 1977. In answer to a question by the honourable member for Wilmot yesterday I mentioned with respect to the disadvantaged markets and particularly exporters in Tasmania, that there had been an acceptance that a change needs to be made in diversification arrangements. However, because of changing circumstances, I am most anxious that no announcement be made of changes in diversification which may need further alteration within the course of the next week or so.

As a result of advice from the Meat Board and from my advisers, I am waiting until we can be sure that whatever diversification entitlement is to apply for the American market in 1977 it should be a final arrangement. As soon as I am advised that it can be a final arrangement, I will make a public statement. I appreciate the right honourable gentleman's concern. Many honourable members in this House have been concerned for a long time that greater returns could be paid to Australian livestock producers. I trust that that will be possible as a result of whatever diversification regime is finally implemented. I can assure the right honourable gentleman that in any event there is no intervention, nor will there be, in the independence of the Australian Meat Board.







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