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Friday, 15 November 1935

I desire to put before you the views and objections held by my Government in regard to the policy of quantitative regulation or restriction of meat imports to the United Kingdom, which has been suggested in certain quarters.

In the first place, as I have explained to Mr. Bruce, the High Commissioner, my Government is of the opinion that any approach in the direction of the imposition of quotas must be made by the imperial authorities, as we, in Australia, can take no responsibility for any proposal which in effect means the restriction of production and the arrestment of the developmental policy so vital to our present interests and our future prosperity in Queensland and other States of the dominion.

As you are aware, of course, the Ottawa agreement provided, in paragraph 4, schedule H, as follows: -

(4)   The policy of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom in relation to meat production is, first, to secure development of home production: and, secondly, to give to the dominions an expanding share of imports into the United Kingdom.

I shall not read the whole of the letter; but I draw attention to the following statement contained in it -

Secondly, it is the definite view of my Government that our frozen or chilled beef does not, in any serious degree, compete with the home-grown meat in this country; the frozen meat is sold almost exclusively in the poorer districts to those people who are unable to pay the prices charged for home-grown beef, and in the case of chilled, if there is to be any competition, it must be with the Argentine imports.

Although this bill does not deal with dairy products the following statement relating to trade agreements with foreign countries which appeared in the AustralianDairy Review is relevant to this discussion -

During 1933 and 1934 the United Kingdom Government entered into trade agreements with a number of foreign countries and in certain cases the commodities affected included dairy, poultry, and pig products. In the following paragraphs extracts have been made of the relevant sections, from those agreements in which tha aforesaid commodities are specifically mentioned. The duration of these agreements is as follows: Latvia and Estonia until July, 1934; Denmark until June, 1930; Norway and Sweden until July, 193G; Finland until November, 193C; Lithuania until December, 1936. The agreements with Latvia and Estonia which expired in July, 1934, were renewed in that month with certain alterations and will remain in force until December, 1930. In the 1934 agreement with Estonia, the commodities affected are butter, bacon, and hams and it is agreed that if quantitative regulation of eggs, milk powder, condensed milk, cheese, or poultry is introduced, the United Kingdom Government will endeavour to secure that imports of these products from Estonia will remain unregulated. In the 1934 agreement wit Latvia, cheese and poultry were included in the list of commodities which the United Kingdom Government undertook not to regulate. These agreements, which do not come into force until after ratification, have not yet been ratified.

The agreements can also be terminated if in any period of twelve months the amount of coal of United Kingdom origin imported into these countries i3 less than a certain percentage of total coal imports into thatcountry.

Senator Hardy - What has that to do with meat?

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