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Wednesday, 27 February 1985
Page: 275

Mr LLOYD —Will the Minister for Primary Industry clarify the confused situation concerning tomorrow's meeting of Ministers in relation to the dairy industry crisis? Is the Minister aware that the Victorian Premier and several or his Ministers are stating that tomorrow's meeting will agree to a modified Australian Dairy Industry Council national marketing plan for the dairy industry? Does the Minister agree that this contradicts the statement attributed to him in today's and yesterday's media that there will be no discussion on a national plan as it is now too late and, anyway, the States cannot agree? Will the Minister advise the House who will attend tomorrow's meeting and from which States; what is the agenda; and, above all, will a national plan be discussed and, if agreement is reached between the States, will the Minister accept that plan?

Mr KERIN —I thought that I explained this the other day. What is happening in Victoria is an attempt by the Victorian Government to represent its industry and to get some agreement about the arrangements that prevail in the industry. I think we have to acknowledge that the Victorian Premier and the Victorian Government have been doing their utmost to try to get some agreement in the dairy industry and they have also approached the other States. As far as the ADIC plan is concerned, there have been five meetings of the Australian Agricultural Council on this-in February last year, July last year, September last year, December last year and on 11 February this year. The last meeting was only a bit over a fortnight ago. No agreement was able to be reached at any of those meetings about the fundamentals of the ADIC scheme. Basically, in terms of agreement on entitlements, the opposition has come almost entirely from Victoria.

In terms of the meeting that will take place tomorrow, it is my understanding from my reading of the papers-I have no more information than the honourable member-that I will be presented with some form of agreement by the States. I have been in contact with the States and the State Ministers have all been invited to attend. We will work out what happens at that meeting because it is a full consultative meeting. I will be particularly concerned that we try to get some agreement so that the actions of militants, supported by the Liberal and National parties in Victoria, do not effectively fritter away the market milk premium. In other words, we want to ensure that in the States where the threats are taking place-the borders between New South Wales and Victoria, possibly New South Wales and Queensland, Victoria and South Australia-this does not occur. We want to get some State agreement to preserve the market milk premium for the dairy industry. We will find out what happens at that meeting. We certainly know that Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania will be represented, although I understand that the Tasmanian Minister is having some problems with transport. I understand that the Premier of Victoria is so concerned about the matter that he will be coming himself.

Mr Lloyd —Is Western Australia coming?

Mr KERIN —We are not sure of that at this time. After we reach some conclusion at that meeting, given all the discussions that have gone on before, I will go to my Cabinet colleagues with the result.