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Truss must adopt Heffernan model on US beef quota.



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KERRY O’BRIEN LABOR SENATOR FOR TASMANIA SHADOW MINISTER FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRIES AND RESOURCES

44 Charles Street, P.O. Box 1193, Launceston TAS 7250 Phone (03) 6334 9366 Fax (03) 6334 9369 Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 Phone (02) 6277 3842 Fax (02) 6277 3780 Email: senator.obrien@aph.gov.au

24 September 2002

TRUSS MUST ADOPT HEFFERNAN MODEL ON US BEEF QUOTA

The Minister for Agriculture, Warren Truss, must adopt a global model for allocation of the US beef quota following its unanimous endorsement by an all-party Senate inquiry today.

The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs Legislation Committee, chaired by Senator Bill Heffernan, tabled its report into the allocation of the US beef quota in the Senate this afternoon.

The report recommends the adoption of a model that allocates 2003 quota on the basis of global export performance, with significant concessions in 2003-04 for US-dependant beef exporters.

Following condemnation of Mr Truss’ failed attempt to deal with this issue, a panel was appointed to advise the Minister on quota allocation.

The formation of the panel was no more than an attempt by the Minister to avoid his responsibilities. The panel has conducted only limited consultation with industry, and has been heavily reliant on the Minister’s own department for advice and administrative support. Panel members were given a very difficult task by a Minister who couldn’t do the job himself.

Today’s report by the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs Legislation Committee gives the Minister a blueprint to restore confidence to the Australian beef industry - confidence that has been badly shaken by Mr Truss’ mismanagement of quota allocation.

The Minister must immediately adopt the unanimous recommendations of the government-dominated all-party inquiry.

The inquiry received dozens of written submissions, and heard evidence from more than 30 witnesses over three public hearings. It was an open, transparent and comprehensive inquiry with one objective - to maximise the benefit to the Australian economy from the allocation of the US beef quota.

The inquiry has found that awarding quota on the basis of demonstrated global export performance is the best way to maximise the return to the Australian beef industry and the general economy.

The Senate inquiry has done Mr Truss’ job for him, and devised a way to administer the US quota that returns maximum reward to beef processors with proven export performance.

Mr Truss must give the beef industry the certainty it needs by immediately adopting the Heffernan model as the blueprint for US quota allocation.

For Comment: Kerry O’Brien 02 6277 3842 or 0419 007 780 Jack Lake 02 6277 3843 or 0427 773 842