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Meat Inspection Services



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PRESS RELEASE 9 Statement By

THE AUSTRALIAN MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE

CANBERRA

STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, DR REX PATTERSON

Meat Inspection Services

The Minister for Agriculture, Dr Rex Patterson, announced today that he

had taken unorthodox steps to safeguard the salaries of Federal meat

inspectors operating in export meatworks throughout Australia.

The Minister said that because of the action of the Liberal Country Parties

in refusing to pass the national Budget, there was the grave possibility

of funds not being available to finance meat inspection services which

under Federal law are absolutely essential to the export of meat from

Australia. Normally salaries of all export meat inspectors, like public

servants, are paid out of funds appropriated by the Australian Parliament

in the context of budgetary provisions.

Because it is illegal to export meat from Australia that has not been

inspected and approved by the Australian Department of Agriculture's

meat inspection service, the situation could arise that all meat exports

from Australia would cease in the middle of next month if salaries of

meat inspectors are not paid. This would cause chaos in many export meat

areas of Australia and further damage the depressed cattle industry.

Dr Patterson said he had sought ways to overcome this serious problem

which could cripple Australian meat exports. He had now been advised by

the Government's legal officers that payments to meat inspectors may be

continued within the Meat Export Charge Collection Act 1973. Section 10

authorises the Minister for Agriculture to approve expenditure on meat

inspection services from the balance of the Trust Account into which

revenue from the Export Inspection Charge is paid.

The Minister admitted that paying meat inspection staff direct from the

export charge revenue represented a departure from the established

procedure of accounting for public funds. But the present extra-ordinary

circumstances call for extra-ordinary measures, he said.

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Dr Patterson said he had discussed this proposition with the Prime Minister

who had agreed that export meat inspection services should be maintained

by any legal means at our disposal.

The Minister said that even though Government expenditure on meat inspection

is exceeding revenue from the export inspection charge by about $800,000

per month he wished to make it clear that the funds currently available to

the Australian Department of Agriculture together with proceeds from the

Meat Export Charge should be adequate to provide for a full export meat

inspection service for several months ahead.

Dr Patterson said he hoped that sanity would prevail in the Senate and the

Budget would be passed so that normal funds 'will become available for

meat inspection services which are essential for the smooth operation of

this vital export industry in Australia.

Canberra '

30/10/75 ,