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Coalition industrial relations policy will help meat industry

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Brt icf, Li oyd Deputy Leader, National Party of Australia

Shadow Minister for Primary Industry

M edia 7*

® J Ph: 06/2774193 Fax:06/2772053


The Coalition's industrial relations policy will be of great benefit to the meat industry because it will provide the

opportunity for abattoirs to undertake labor reforms which will cut costs, make Australian meat more competitive and in the long term provide more jobs.

National Party Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister for Primary Industry, Bruce Lloyd, said some of the savings could be passed on to producers by way of higher prices paid for livestock.

Mr Lloyd made this comment at Wagga Wagga today during a two-day electorate tour with Mr Noel Hicks, the sitting National Party Member for Riverina-Darling and candidate for the newly created seat of Riverina, which includes Wagga Wagga.

Mr Lloyd said he had promised the cattle industry that meat inspection costs would be slashed by a Coalition Government through a complete overhaul of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).

"But these savings are only small compared with the savings that could be gained by getting rid of tally systems and working at least two shifts a day," Mr Lloyd said.

"Now at least two recent reports, one with unionists involved, have highlighted Australia's lack of competitiveness beyond the farm gate.

"The most recent report, commissioned by the Meat Research Corporation, shows it costs 49.4 cents a kg to kill and dress a beef animal in Australia, 26.1 cents in Argentina and 16.5 cents in the United States."

The report found that the tally system limits the introduction of automation as the employment award dictates staffing at each position, whereas both the US and Argentina can re-assign staff to new positions at management discretion.

This has resulted in Australia falling behind in automation and therefore productivity.

For example, the line speed in the best Australian abattoir for beef was 100 per hour whereas the Argentina abattoir ran at 160 and the US at 250.

Recent reforms in New Zealand have reduced their killing costs to about the same as the US. However, the Fortex Group is

creating even tougher competition in its two NZ abattoirs by operating them 22 hours a day, six days a week and undertaking maintenance on Sundays.


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Fortex is expected to export product worth $300 million from processing more than three million lambs and about 100,000 deer.

"Unless Australia catches up we are in danger of losing market share. Argentina is now close to being declared free of foot and mouth disease, which will open up more markets for it."

Mr Lloyd said Coalition policies of removing payroll tax, wholesale sales tax and fuel excise will bring significant savings to the meat industry, but its industrial relations policies will be of greater significance to the processing

industry by ending old and out-dated work practices.

He said for far too long too many abattoir owners in Australia had been forced to give in to union demands and in order to pay for them had paid less for their stock to remain competitive overseas.

"The report says this has resulted in the Australian farmer receiving an average of 340.5 cents a kg when the beast is sold to the meatworks while his American equivalent gets 465.8 cents a kg.

"It is time beef producers demanded a halt," Mr Lloyd said.

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end 29/10/92