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Tuesday, 8 May 1973
Page: 1746

Mr WHITTORN (BALACLAVA, VICTORIA) - I address a question to the Acting Minister for Overseas Trade. I have been wanting to ask this question for weeks. I am sure the Acting Minister should give it all his attention.

Mr SPEAKER - Order!

Mr WHITTORN - Why is the Government placing in jeopardy the livelihood of some 200,000 textile workers by its revaluation policies and without any compensating factors to aid the textile industry? Why has the Minister for Overseas Trade included in his trade mission to China, which apparently leaves today, representatives of at least 3 large retailers, presumably to import into Australia more and more textiles at cheaper and cheaper prices? Does he know that already numbers of employees have been stood down as a result of the Government's recent decisions?

Dr PATTERSON (DAWSON, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Northern Development) - It is the objective of the Australian Government to increase trade between Australia and China, both ways. Last year Australia's exports to China totalled about $37m and imports about $41m. This does not include the large contract of wheat which will be shown in this year's trading figures. It is true that there are representatives of textile industries and other major industries in this delegation who will be going to China to explore the possibilities of trade between that country and Australia. The Australian Government is fully conscious of the repercussions which large amounts of imported textiles could have on employment in Australia. This matter is under active consideration by the Minister for Overseas Trade and the Government. I can assure the honourable member that the matter will continue to be kept under active consideration and that any major contracts or major trading arrangements between China and Australia involving textiles or for that matter any product which will endanger employment of the work force in general in Australia or have an effect on our trade will be kept under close scrutiny and policy action will be taken accordingly.

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