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Wednesday, 7 March 1984
Page: 539

Senator BJELKE-PETERSEN —My question is directed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Is the Government considering recommendations that a tariff be imposed on imported tractors, which will mean a cost of millions of dollars to Australian primary producers? Does the Minister realise that if the Government were to accept a 15 per cent tariff on imported tractors, as it did in the case of imported grain harvesters last year, the cost to primary industry would be about $43m? Will the Minister give an assurance that the Government does not intend to penalise the rural industry by imposing a tariff on imported tractors?

Senator BUTTON —I do not recall whether the Industries Assistance Commission is considering the question of a tariff or some other duty on imported tractors. I assure the honourable senator that I am not considering it. I suppose that the answer to the question is that I am not considering, and the Government is not considering, the question of the imposition of a tariff on tractors. I am asked whether I will give an unqualified undertaking that, if the Government ever considers the question of the imposition of a tariff on tractors, no such tariff will be imposed. The answer to that question is no. I say to the honourable senator that we must all do our best to make up our minds about issues on an informed basis. I will try to do that. It may be that the conclusion we will reach in making up our minds on an informed basis is that there should be no such duty on tractors. But until we are in that position, I will not go into the realms of spooky speculation for the gratification of ill-informed members of the National Party in the outback of Queensland.