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Thursday, 29 March 1979
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Mr SINCLAIR (NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Primary Industry) -There is no doubt that the whole world rejoices at what seems to be the imminent prospect of continuing peace and stability in that part of the world which for so long has been so unstable. The price of that, as the honourable gentleman's question intimates, is an aid program to be embarked upon by the United States Administration. In the past PL-480 has, in a number of markets, prejudiced opportunities for commercial sales by Australian commodity exports. The market in the Middle East for Australian commodities is, of course, very significant. We continue to sell quite large quantities of grain, in particular, in that region and, of course, meat is another commodity which increasingly is finding access to that region. I do not see any reason for concern that these commodities will be prejudiced. For a long period there has been a very good relationship between the Australian marketing boards and purchasers in those regions. Indeed, I would foresee that, with the prospect of peace, there is hope that stability and economic well-being might return and that perhaps they could become even more valuable customers in the future.

One area in that part of the world that continues to be of significant concern in terms of commodity sales is Iran. In this House I have spoken of the difficulties that we are having in trying to ensure that we can sell meat there on a basis which would meet the requirements of its people. Unfortunately, Iran is not involved in the present treaty arrangements and one can only hope that as a result of discussions with the Government of Iran something of the prospects for the development of Australian commodity trade that appeared a while ago might be restored. I thank the honourable gentleman for his question. I can assure him that we will be examining very carefully the content of the United States aid program, but I have no reason to expect that it will do other than bring peace and stability to the area and, I hope, better customers for Australian commodities as well as America's in the future.

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