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Tuesday, 19 September 1972
Page: 984

Senator WEBSTER asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

Will the Minister submit to the Senate the facts laid before the Australian Agricultural Council which led the Council to believe that there was a shortage of table margarine in Australia.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN-The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator' question:

Margarine production quotas are fixed by State legislation. The Commonwealth has no constitutional authority to impose production quotas. To ensure co-ordination amongst the States in the operation of the production quotas a longstanding agreement exists amongst Stale Ministers of Agriculture that they will not increase their quotas without first discussing the position with other States through the Australian Agricultural Council.

At the last meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council the Tasmanian Minister gave notice that Tasmania wished to increase its guota from 312 tons to515 tons. In support of this proposal it was pointed out that it had been necessary to import table margarine into the State to meet demand and the Tasmanian Government felt it was unrealistic to expect that quotas fixed in 1956 should remain unchanged particularly as there has been an increase in population of 22 per cent. Some other States pointed to the factthat their quotas had also remained unchanged for many, years during which they had also experienced population increases.

The Council agreed in principle that the quotas of the States should be reviewed but that any increase should be postponed pending consideration by the State Directors of Agriculture as to the basis for adjustment and new levels to be adopted. The findings of the State Directors are to be considered by the Council as soon as practicable.

It was also decided that the State Directors should also report on whether new definition and labelling requirements are needed for consumer protection and whether action should be taken to prevent misleading promotion of some types of margarine.

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