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13th April, 1973V 4-1

STATEMENT CONCERNING EKPORT INDUSTRIES UNDER THREAT BY THE :

HON. MALCOIM FRASER. LIBERAL· PARTY SPOKESMAN FOR THE PRIMARY INDUSTRY.

Bural industries are going to be in for a difficult and hard _

time in negotiating with the Government. The two members who

knew something of rural affairs, Dr Patterson and M r Grassby,

have been given no responsibility for rural affairs. The Prime

Minister was not even prepared to have one of them as Acting -

Minister while Senator Wriedt is overseas. Senator Cavanagh, -

whose knowledge of the problems is no greater than Senator

Wriedt's when he first began, is acting.

A number of decisions have been taken without adequate

consultation with Primary Industry leaders. This is one of

the matters that gives most cause for concern. * I have heard

of no rural organisation that wants a referendum on the merino

embargo. The Government is determined to have one, despite the

unanimous advice of the Executive of the Australian Wool Industry

Conference. It is determined to have one because the organisation

which controls labour Party members has said it must.

* Without consultation rural reconstruction funds were cut in

half and an attempt was made to increase the interest rate -

an attempt which was thwarted by the States.

* Bural industries which have lost up to $200,000,000 have been

virtually ignored in revaluation compensation, despite the fact

that Mr. Crean before Christmas said that the Government would

keep to the principles and practices of the previous Government.

It was not long aft4r that that Senator Wreidt made it plain that

our practices had been thrown out of the window.

* We now come to the incredible situation in which revaluation

compensation was announced on 11th April, for secondary industries

where they are significant exporters, but not to primary industries.

* We have had an Electoral Bill introduced which I believe the

Senate will reject, which was opposed by the Liberal Party and the

Country Party in the House of Representatives. This Bill will move

up to ten seats from large country areas where members have great

problems of distance interviewing their electors in the remote areas,

to the metropolitan areas. The Labor Government's legislation will

mean that there will be less voters in seats in the developing

metropolitan areas than there would be in electorates like Kennedy

or Wannon or Kalgoorlie. It's a ludicrous situation and one

designed to perpetuate Labor rule. The object is to destroy the

country voice in Parliament. It's only the first step, because we

have been served notice that if they ever regain Government, first ~

past the post voting will be introduced with disastrous results for

small parties and for all anti-socialist forces. -

* Before the elections we were told by the Labor Party that

they would provide $500,000,000 at 3$ interest to primary producers.

That promise has been overlooked. Instead they cut rural recon­

struction funds in half.

* What they have done with wool research and promotion funds

for the International Wool Secretariat represents an enormous change

from the previous Government's policies. The decisions announced

recently have indicated a 70$ increase for the grower contribution

and a one third reduction in the Government contribution.

* The Minister for Primary Industry has made it quite plain

that the Government isi not bound by our previous policies and that

Government sponsored research for all rural industries is being

reviewed. It would be more correct to say that it is under threat.

* One of the matters that must give general cause for concern

is the fact that most of these changes have been taken without the_.

intimate and close consultation that used to prevail between the .

previous Government and Primary. Industry organisations. Primary

Producers now lrnov/ that whatever advice they offer will not be

able to prevail against the doctrinaire views of the governors of

the Labor Party.

.* The Labor Party lias made many promises. With a budget

deficit approaching $1,000 M i l .they are going to have more than a

little difficulty in fulfilling those promises.

* Mr. Whitlam has^ppointed a Demolition Squad to advise him

on areas of government spending that could be pruned and altered.

This team headed hy Dr. Coombs will be looking to cut funds in

the Rural Industry Areas. It is a task force that primary

industry organisations will need to watch with concern.

* All this means in the Queensland context that Mr. Hayden

has run over Dr Patterson completely and absolutely. In his own ~·

Party Dr Patterson is politically dead. I regret this because .

he had some understanding of primary industry matters, but on

the issues which concern this labor Government Dr Patterson has

no influence and can point to no decision that would be of any ~

advantage to the rural industries. . ;

* This is the background to a new situation-that is developing.

We are now threatened with Australia1s meat trade being disrupted -

not only by unions, but by arbitraiy Government action. There are

reports that the Government is considering measures that would

arbitrarily curtail exports.

I am told that two proposals are under consideration - one

a 30$ export tax, or secondly a quota on exports. Either proposal

would be quite disastrous. While it’s true that meat prices-have---risen significantly in recent months, i f s my understanding that

meat prices now have about the same relation to the average wage

as they had ten years ago. Australian householders have

benefited from low meat prices in recent years because of drought

and forced selling in many instances. .

It should be noted that an average Australian works less

time to buy lamb or beef than his counterpart in the United

States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden or France. The

drought is now over, owners are restocking and there’s a

scarcity which always occurs after the breaking of a general

Australia-wide drought. If the Government were to use these

circumstances to provide an excuse for arbitrarily limiting

exports, great damage would be done to the confidence of the

meat industry and great damage would be done to our reputation

as a reliable trading partner. . . . .

It is not always realised that our meat exporters undertake

forward commitments. They sign firm contracts to deliver

specific quantities and types of meat a long while ahead. If

their contracts were upset by arbitrary government action our

reputation would be severely damaged. Markets that we have

developed would be exploited by other producers „ - . ·

If there was an arbitrary reduction of supplies to the ~ ,

United States under present circumstances, we would have precisely-,

the situation in which the United States would be inclined to devote

not tens, but hundreds of millions of dollars to the development

of synthetic meats. She would do this for two reasons, to reduce

her requirements for overseas funds, and secondly to reduce her -

dependence upon a country that had branded itself as an unreliable

trading partner. · ’ ,

The meat industry faces a very serious situation indeed.

Unfortunately the complete lack of sympathy and understanding that

the Government has shown for rural matters can give us no cause to

believe they will act in the interests of Australia in this matter.

Arbitrary restrictions would also be consistent with their .

activities. The Government left wing or Communist dominated unions

-are— demanding—aciiony-and—it-' s~consjrstent with 'the Government’s

philosophy to give in to that kind of demand. .

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