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Wednesday, 31 March 1965

Senator MCKELLAR - The Minister for Primary Industry has furnished the following answers -

1.   Following negotiations between the Commonwealth and State Ministers and tobacco growers and manufacturers, the Government has agreed to introduce a scheme for the stabilisation of the tobacco industry in Australia. The stabilisation scheme will require complementary State and Commonwealth legislation, and it is expected that the Commonwealth legislation will be introduced in the near future. The legislation will provide for the setting up of an Australian Tobacco Board. Until the Board is in operation an Interim Committee, consisting of representatives of the Commonwealth, States, tobacco growers and tobacco manufacturers, has been set up to administer the stabilisation scheme. The scheme provides for an annual marketing quota of 26,000,000 lb. to be divided equitably amongst the tobacco producing States.

2.   One of the first matters considered by the Interim Committee was a grade and price schedule to apply to the 1963 sales. A rninimum price has been set for all grades of tobacco within the quota and it is expected that this method of operation will avoid a repetition of the disputes on price which have marred the tobacco sales in Australia in past years.

3.   As part of its contribution to the stabilisation scheme, the Commonwealth has agreed to increase from 414 per cent, to 50 per cent, the percentage of Australian tobacco leaf which manufacturers are required to use in their manufacture of cigarettes and tobacco in order to qualify for the concessional rates of duty on imported leaf. It has been calculated that a percentage of SO per cent, over the four years of the plan will be sufficient to ensure the clearance of the annual quota of 26,000,000 lb. and to liquidate the excess stocks of Australian leaf now held by manufacturers.

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