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Thursday, 29 March 1973
Page: 852

Mr FULTON (LEICHHARDT, QUEENSLAND) - Has the Minister for Northern Development read the Press reports on important sugar conferences being held in London between the British Government and the governments of Commonwealth sugar producing countries? Is it a fact that Australia is not taking part in these talks? If so, why not?

Dr PATTERSON (DAWSON, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Northern Development) - It is a fact that informal talks are taking place in London between the Ministers of the British Government and Ministers of the Commonwealth developing countries concerned with the export of sugar.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - Why are you not there representing Australia's interests?

Dr PATTERSON - If the shadow Minister for Primary Industry knew something about sugar, I would tell him. He ought to know that, under Protocol 22 of the Treaty of Accession, Australia is not classified as a developing country; it is a developed country. The informal meeting which is taking place is between the British Government and the governments of the Commonwealth developing countries under Protocol 22 of the Treaty of Accession. The British Government is expected to confirm assurances that secure and continuing markets for sugar will be available to the Commonwealth developing countries in the European Economic Community. It is a fact that Australia is not taking part in this conference because it is not a developing country under the provisions of Protocol 22. We will be conducting separate negotiations with the British Government through the auspices of the Commission of the European Economic Community in London and in Brussels.

As honourable members know, the British Government has given a firm assurance that Australia's exports of sugar will be safeguarded after 1974 to the degree that phasing out conditions will apply The conference relating to Australian sugar will take place separately. So the crux of the answer is that the confer ence referred to by the honourable member is concerned with developing countries. The Australian Government is well aware of it. We will be conducting our conference at a different time also to make certain of the conditions relating to the phasing out of Australian sugar after 1974 and certainly to safeguard Australia's interests.

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