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Wednesday, 11 November 1964

Senator PROWSE (Western Australia) (12:52 PM) . - At 10 to 1 - and I am not referring to odds - it is apparent that we have the whole of the day - and I mean Thursday - ahead of us. I was not too sure whether Senator Cormack was supporting or opposing the Bill. He certainly did not tell us whether he was supporting or opposing it. I say at the outset that I am supporting the Bill. Despite the doubts cast upon the need for this legislation, some considerable importance attaches to it. As honorable senators know, the primary reason for it is the rapid development of our meat export trade. It is interesting to note what our meat export trade is worth. In fact, last year it was worth £104.66 million, and included £70 million worth of beef sent to the United States of America, which is only one of our customers. It is important to know how largely the United States market looms in our total meat export trade.

There is a saying that in matters of trade the customer is always right. I believe that in this instance this customer deserves special attention to its requirements, particularly as they are not unreasonable. They involve a definite advance in our handling of meat for export. However, they have resulted in the establishment of two standards - the standard required for the States and the standard required for export. lt is very undesirable that we should have two standards. I do not think it is good enough to accept a lower standard in respect of meat for home consumption.

Senator Cormack - What do we do with meat that is not up to export standard?

Senator PROWSE - At this time of the morning, I do not propose to go into points of that sort. I maintain that it is important that meat for human consumption should be subject to rigid inspection in order to ensure that it is fit for human consumption and of the best quality. This situation of dual inspection has created problems and will continue to create problems as long as it exists. The matter was brought before the Australian Agricultural Council. The Bill is an attempt to overcome some of the problems. I notice that there has been specific reference to South Australia, but I cannot see the name of the State of South Australia in the Bill. It has been drafted in permissive terms. The clauses arc in no respect compulsory. They have been designed so that not only South Australia but also the other States may go into the uniform inspection scheme voluntarily.

I think that there is a great deal of merit in the Bill. Senator Drury has outlined a number of possible difficulties. I believe that within the Bill there is ample scope for overcoming the problems that he mentioned and resolving the doubts that he expressed. The importance of the export of our meat warrants careful consideration of a Bill of this sort. I hope that the meat employees not only in South Australia but also in other States will find it' possible to solve any problems, because this industry is important to everyone - producers, workers in the industry and consumers of meat. This is very sound legislation aimed at attaining some measure of uniformity in meat inspection. I wholeheartedly support the bill.

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