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Thursday, 19 September 1985
Page: 753

Senator BJELKE-PETERSEN —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Trade aware that on 9 September and 13 September Boeing 747 freighter consignments of 280 grain-fed beef steers consigned to Japan were cancelled because of the refusal by Transport Workers Union workers at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport to load the cattle? Is the Minister further aware that another two 747s are due to depart Melbourne on 23 September for Japan and that to date the shippers have had no indication of whether the TWU will load the cattle? As Australia has gained access to this valuable Japanese market for grain-fed beef only in the last 12 months, what explanation can the Minister give to the beef producers of Australia if such hard-won markets are lost due to the petulance of the TWU, the irresponsible actions of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the lack of action by the Federal Government? Does the Minister agree with his colleague the Minister for Primary Industry that these disputes are directly related to the Mudginberri dispute?

Senator BUTTON —All these things can be attributed to governments. I remind honourable senators that sometimes it is very difficult to get things out of Queensland because of industrial disputes and sometimes those things are attributed to governments. I am not aware of the precise details which Senator Bjelke-Petersen indicated in her question and about which she has asked me. I agree that, if those details are correct, it is a very serious situation. I will convey the contents of the question to the Minister for Trade and seek an early answer to a very important matter.