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Thursday, 17 February 1977
Page: 181

Mr O'KEEFE (PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES) -I direct my question to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Overseas Trade. In view of reports of brighter prospects for the beef industry can the Minister indicate what level of exports the industry is likely to achieve this year and to what extent the benefits of higher sales are likely to flow through to the cattle producers?

Mr ANTHONY (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Deputy Prime Minister) - I am very pleased to be able to say that the prospects this year are for record meat sales. This is a result of the representations that have been made by the Prime Minister, the Minister for Primary Industry and me to governments for greater access to their markets. Our access to the United States this year will be at a record level under the voluntary restraint arrangements. Our Japanese quotas are being continually pushed up since the ban on imports in 1974 was lifted. The European Economic Community has eased some of its restrictions and is offering a market of about 125 000 tonnes of imports of which we will have a part. One aspect that is very pleasing is the sales that have been made to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and to the eastern Soviet bloc countries. I am pleased to say that it is after my visit to the Soviet Union and the invitation of the head of the Soviet State Trading Agency that we look like making sales to the Soviet Union and Soviet bloc countries of about 100 000 tonnes which is additional to last year's sales.

The higher prices and the greater sales mean that the industry should be doing better. I believe it is true that the non-growing sector of the industry has had a prosperous year- that is the exporters, the processors and the people who work in the meat works. But the prices have not been reflected back to the cattle producers. I think it is a bad situation for the whole of the industry if everybody does not share in the benefits. The cattle producing side of the industry has gone through 3 agonising years. Unless there is a sharing of the returns then I think great harm will be done to the industry. There should be an opportunity for higher returns going to cattle owners this year but that will depend on whether the buyers are prepared to pass the returns back and on whether the meat unions are prepared to keep the abattoirs working at full capacity which they will have to do to meet our prospective sales.

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