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Thursday, 29 March 1973
Page: 876

Mr LLOYD (Murray) - The Australian Country Party supports the motion to set up a joint committee on foreign affairs and defence and also welcomes the Government's announcement that the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs which operated under the previous Government will be reestablished and that the scope of the proposed committee, as has been pointed out by other speakers, will be widened to cover defence as well as foreign affairs. Mention has been made that as well as the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Whitlam) and the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) being able to refer matters to the. committee it will be possible by resolution of either House of Parliament for a reference to be made to this committee. This raises immediately an interesting possibility. The Prime Minister, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, has said already that the question of the siting of the Omega station will be referred to this committee. What will happen if the Senate decides by resolution that it considers the question of our relations with the United States of America or perhaps the details of the recognition of Mainland China are more important international matters that this Committee should consider? We would then have a situation in which there would be a reference from the Prime Minister in his role as Minister for Foreign Affairs as well as a reference from the Senate. The Government is to have, a majority of 12 out of 22 members on the committee. Does this mean that every time a reference comes before the committee on the initiative of the Government through the Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Minister for Defence that reference will automatically be. accepted by the majority of members on the committee, who will be Labor members, or will there be a genuine attempt for members of the committee from both sides of the House to play a mutual role? In other words, will resolutions from the Senate or perhaps from within this House be given a chance to be studied and investigated by this committee or will the committee deal only with references such as the Omega one, which is a red herring and which is to be referred to the committee by the Government itself?

I do not think that the case I have just put is theoretical because the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) already has referred to some considerations of our relations with the United States. I would like to give an example. I refer to an actual case that has already happened since this Government came to power. In January the Federal Tariff Commission of the United States began hearings on the question of the alleged dumping of canned pears in that country. At the same time that the Australian delegate from the Australian Canners Association was giving evidence to that Commission 3 Ministers of the new Government were making antiAmerican statements. Those Ministers are the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns), the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) and the Minister for Urban Affairs (Mr Uren). The final decision by that tariff commission was a very interesting one. Out of the 6 members of the Commission 2 did not vote, 2 voted in favour of putting duties on all future shipments of canned pears to the United States and 2 voted against paying duties. Because of the rules of that body, although no majority decision was reached, because there was a tied vote, in effect all future deliveries of canned pears to that country will be subject to anti-dumping duties even though the case was not proved. This means the end of the market in the United States for this product. It is considered in fruit circles both in Australia and the United States that the attitude of the new Government to the United States, particularly by the 3 Ministers that I have mentioned, at the time when the Commission was conducting its hearings was the cause of this decision against Australia's interests being made by the Commission. I think this is an actual example of the interaction of politics and trade between our country and other countries.

The Prime Minister when questioned about the Omega station during a Press conference on 13th March-

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