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Stark difference between government action and coalition promises on sugar

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MEDIA RELEASEMinister for Primary Industries and Energy Simon Crean> MP

DPIE92/56C 23 July 1992


The Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Simon Crean, said today that his initiative in announcing the membership and terms of reference for a sugar industry task force to advise him on a growth strategy for the industry stands in stark contrast to the industry's fate under a future Coalition Government.

"At the time of the release of the Industry Commission (IC) report into the sugar industry I made it clear that I would not be driven by the IC report and gave a firm commitment to consult with all sectors of the sugar industry on how best to secure the future of this important Australian industry," Mr Crean said.

"In spite of the best efforts of the Leader of the National Party to claim otherwise the sugar industry should be left in no doubt about their future under a Hewson Government."

Mr Crean called on sugar growers to recall Dr Hewson's response to the CANEGROWERS chairman, Harry Bonnano, and general manager, Ian Ballantyne, when they put to him the growers concerns in relation to the IC recommendations. Mr Ballantyne said the following on ABC radio:

"We spoke to Mr Fischer and Mr Hewson separately, but in general terms Mr H ew so n .....reconfirmed theu would not look at holding a tari ff should theu be elected to Government next pear. they would not look at holding a tariff at present levels and by

that time it would be $55, but they would progressively come o ff on a straight line basis so if the tariff w as at that point a t 20% over the next six years or so theu would come o ff on a progressive basis to reach z e r o ......theu wnuld he adhering strictlu to the Fiahtback package/' (April 7 1992)

"In spite of Dr Hewson's clearly stated position Mr Fischer told the Queensland National Party conference and the media that a Coalition Government would not even begin to reduce tariffs until the rest of the Fightback package was in place, including the Goods and Services tax. A spokeswoman for Dr Hewson responded by saying they had "no knowledge of any proposal to hold back tariff reductions until after all

aspects of Fightback had been passed through the Parliament." (The Australian, Page 4, 17 July 1992) _____



Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600. Telephone: (06)277 7520 Facsimile: (06)273 4120

"Mr Fischer and the National Party cannot deliver for the sugar , industry despite the confusion they are deliberately creating in saying one thing in the bush and adopting another position in Canberra.

"Ray Braithwaite's resignation from the front bench clearly demonstrates this fact. The radical tariff proposals the Liberals have locked the Nationals into will be potentially devastating for rural industries and the rural communities they support. The very people the Nationals claim to represent.

"The question for the sugar industry is do they believe what Dr Hewson has told their representatives unequivocally - zero tariff - or are they prepared to work with the Government to develop an industry driven approach which will ensure their future.

"My approach of working closely with industry has shown successful results in the dairy and wool industries through broad ranging Government initiatives which have been well received by the industries concerned. I intend to adopt the same approach with the sugar industry," Mr Crean said.

Information: Catherine Payne (018) 174 875.