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Tuesday, 10 September 1985
Page: 319


Senator KILGARIFF —I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. My question also concerns the dispute at the Mudginberri abattoir in the Northern Territory. Is the Minister aware that, as a result of the meat industry picket line at Mudginberri, the abattoir has lost a $2.5 million export contract to Taiwan and that other contracts with Europe are in grave danger? Does he accept that the prime cause of this loss was the refusal of Commonwealth meat inspectors to cross the picket line? If so, will the Government compensate the Mudginberri operators for the lost contracts?


Senator BUTTON —I am unable to answer that question fully in respect of detail. I agree that a loss was incurred by the abattoir in question which I thought was about $2m. I am unable to say at the moment whether the loss was directly attributable to the failure of Commonwealth meat inspectors to enter the premises, although I know that the decision of the Federal Court--


Senator Walters —John, that is dreadful.


The PRESIDENT —Order!


Senator BUTTON —Senator Walters shows a new enthusiasm this week. I knew of a decision of the Federal Court which stated, as I understand it, that the Commonwealth had acted quite properly in this matter. I do not think there is any question of the Government paying compensation to the abattoir in question in light of that decision and in light of the circumstances of this case.