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Sugar industry negotiations

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PI 85/233 19 October 1985


The Minister for Primary Industry, Mr John Kerin, announced today that he would meet his Queensland counterpart, Mr Neil Turner, and leaders of the Queensland sugar industry in Brisbane on 13 November 1985.

Mr Kerin also announced that well in advance of the meeting he would circulate to industry an information paper including:

. a proposed schedule of phased industry deregulation, ■which was agreed to by Minister Turner and Mr Kerin on 25 September, and

. an analysis of the benefits of that deregulation as had been requested by the industry.

"At the 13 November meeting, I will elaborate on the information paper and ample opportunity for discussion will be made available," Mr Kerin said.

Mr Kerin said that he had asked Mr Turner to ensure that before the meeting he has obtained the formal response of the Queensland Cabinet to the Commonwealth proposal that the Queensland Government contribute to the price support arrangements.

"This should ensure that the next meeting finally resolves the response of the Queensland Government and industry to the Commonwealth's price support proposal," Mr Kerin said.

Mr Kerin emphasied that the Commonwealth Government believed that the fundamental issue in all these discussions is the state of the sugar industry.

"Future market prospects for the industry are bleak given recent low world prices, the expiration of long term agreements and the likelihood of reduced access to the US market," Mr Kerin said.

"The only way in which the industry can survive is to achieve further cost savings through greater economies of operation and increased efficiency," he said.

"If we do nothing now to achieve these savings, I hold grave fears for the long term future of the industry," he said.

"I think this is the essential message of the report of the Savage Committee which involved industry, the Queensland Government and Federal representation.

"The Savage Report was a joint Commonwealth/Queensland/industry document which was signed oy all members of the Committee," Mr Kerin said.

CONTACT: Tony Gleeson (062) 72 6649