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Thursday, 6 December 1973

The PRESIDENT -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Senator GIETZELT - The report on the price of meatmeal which has just been tabled is the fourth report presented to the Parliament by the Joint Committee on Prices. The inquiry into the price of meatmeal is the second inquiry by the Committee into complaints received from the public. Meatmeal, together with other protein meals such as fishmeal and oilseed meal, is an important input in the production of pig meat, poultry meat and eggs. In the period September 1972 to August 1973 the price of meatmeal increased by nearly 200 per cent. Such increases contributed greatly to the increases in the price of eggs, poultry meat and pig meat.

The main cause of the increases in the domestic prices of meatmeal was the rapid increases in export prices because of world shortages- yet another example of the fact that we are, to such a large extent, importing inflation. The Committee also found that the extent of the increases in domestic meatmeal prices was influenced by the practice of some meatmeal manufacturers consulting on the establishment of list prices for the industry. This practice has resulted in prices being higher than those established under more competitive conditions. The Committee has therefore recommended that this matter be brought to the attention of the Commissioner of Trade Practices by the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy).

The Department of Primary Industry has power to control exports of protein meals under the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations. The Department intensified its supervision of exports of all protein meals in 1973. Domestic users told the Committee that despite this surveillance by the Department, it was difficult at times, and in certain locations, to obtain supplies. Exports of protein meal increased by 60 per cent between 1971-72 and 1972-73 while total supplies of protein meal available to the local market fell by almost 10 percent. Apparent local sales of meatmeal fell by 4 per cent.

The Committee- I must say that this was a unanimous recommendation- has therefore recommended that the power of the Australian Government to regulate the export of meatmeal be applied more stringently, not only to ensure that the domestic market has priority in the use of available supplies, but also as a means of reducing and stabilising the price of meatmeal. I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

I commend the report to the Senate and seek leave to continue my remarks on a subsequent sitting day.

The PRESIDENT -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is so granted.

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