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Wednesday, 3 May 1961

Mr SWARTZ (Darling Downs) . - Mr. Deputy Speaker, this measure is designed to introduce additional facilities to permit the protection of Australian industries, and apparently it has the support of honorable members on both sides of the House. Therefore, there is no need for us to spend very much time in discussing it, and I am rather surprised that the Opposition has wasted time by bringing up quite a number of relatively unimportant points.

I wish to deal with only one matter, and that very briefly. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) raised the subject of protection of the poultry industry, and stated that the importation of a relatively large volume of canned chicken presented a threat to the poultry industry and to the poultry-processing industry. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) also referred to this matter and said that it would not have arisen but for the removal of the greater proportion of import licensing a little over a year ago. He perhaps has overlooked the fact that, even when import licensing was in force, persons who had a B category quota could have imported these goods if they had so wished, and if it was profitable enough for them, they undoubtedly would have done so. So this is not directly attributable to the removal of a fair proportion of the remaining import controls at that time.

It is a fact that due to the importation of some cheaper lines of chicken, the poultry industry in Australia considered that it was facing a threat, and a couple of months ago made an application to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) to establish an industry panel so that the matter could be considered under the emergency legislation introduced and passed through this Parliament last year. However, as the poultry industry is not very highly organized and as several difficulties presented themselves because various sections of the industry are not closely related, it did not produce in its first application sufficient information and sufficient evidence on which a case could be substantiated. Therefore, the Minister for Trade took the previously unprecedented step of arranging for investigating officers from the Department of Trade to assist the industry in obtaining the necessary information to substantiate its case.

Investigating officers from the department carried out certain investigations in New South Wales and Victoria and some additional information was received from Commonwealth departmental officers in Queensland and South Australia. When that additional information was received, it was, with the permission of the poultry industry, incorporated in the case presented by the industry. After being passed by the Minister for Trade, the case was submitted to the Deputy Chairman of the Tariff Board early last month. As honorable members know, under the legislation the Deputy Chairman of the Tariff Board has 30 days in which to consider the case. This means that his report will be returned to the Minister for Trade in about a week's time.

Mr Buchanan - Did the industry make an application under the dumping legislation?

Mr SWARTZ - No, this is not related to the dumping legislation before the House at the moment. It is an application under the previous emergency legislation for an emergency tariff to be introduced. I refer to this matter, which was raised to-night, merely to make that point clear.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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