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Tuesday, 5 November 1985
Page: 1602

(Question No. 527)

Senator Brownhill asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice, on 11 September 1985:

Did a Mr Frans Andriessen, Agriculture Minister in the European Economic Community (EEC) recently visit Australia; if so:

(a) what was the purpose of the visit;

(b) who initiated the visit;

(c) who met the expenses for the visit;

(d) to which parts of Australia did Mr Andriessen travel, and with whom did he have meetings;

(e) what attempts were made to examine the dairy, beef and sugar industries at the grower level;

(f) what was the outcome, if any, of the visit; and

(g) are there any plans to reciprocate the visit, or to repeat the visit with similar EEC officials in the foreseeable future.

Senator Button —The Minister for Trade has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

His Excellency, Mr Frans Andriessen, Vice-President of the Commission of the European Communities responsible for Agriculture visited Australia over the period 8-13 September 1985.

(a) The purpose of the visit was for Mr Andriessen to have discussions with the Ministers for Trade and Primary Industry and with rural industry leaders on a range of issues including agricultural trade problems and the associated question of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. It was also intended that Mr Andriessen should see the Australian rural sector at first hand.

(b) The visit followed an invitation from the Prime Minister and the Minister for Primary Industry during their visit to Brussels in February 1985.

(c) Mr Andriessen was invited as a guest of the Australian Government. His travel and living expenses within Australia were met by the Government.

(d) The principal discussions in Mr Andriessen's program were with:

Canberra, ACT: The Prime Minister, the Ministers for Trade, Primary Industry, and Foreign Affairs; The President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives; the Honourable Ralph Hunt, Opposition Spokesman for Primary Industry; members of the ALP Caucus Primary Industry, Rural and Provincial Affairs Committee.

Hay, NSW: Mr I. McLachlan, President, National Farmers Federation

Freeling, South Australia: Mr M. Shanahan, Senior Vice President, National Farmers Federation

Adelaide, South Australia: The Honourable F. T. Blevins, MLC, Minister for Agriculture in the Government of South Australia

Sydney, NSW: Dr B. Standen, Deputy Managing Director, Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation

(e) Mr Andriessen visited wool, wheat and wine growing areas. Because of time constraints and Mr Andriessen's expressed desire to see South Australia and the wine sector, he was unable to examine dairy, beef and sugar industries at the grower level, but he was fully briefed on these sectors by Australian Ministers and the President of the National Farmers Federation. Mr Andriessen's briefing also included a video presentation of the problems facing the Australian sugar industry. Mr A. Wilkinson, a senior EC Commission official of the Agriculture Directorate-General, who accompanied Mr Andriessen, examined the dairy, beef, sugar and horticultural industries during the course of a longer visit to Australia.

(f) The Minister for Primary Industry issued a press release on 10 September on the outcome of the visit by Mr Andriessen. Mr Kerin said that he had received reassurances from Mr Andriessen that the EC would continue to refrain from extending beef export subsidies to certain Asian markets and that consideration was also being given to extend the coverage of the agreement to include other markets. The Minister said that other commodity matters had been discussed with Mr Andriessen including wine, dairy products, sugar and barley and malt. Mr Kerin said that the costs of the Common Agricultural Policy had been highlighted in discussions and that an Australian submission on CAP reform had been presented to Mr Andriessen. Mr Andriessen subsequently advised in a letter to Mr Kerin that there would be no attempt by the Community to develop beef outlets in Papua New Guinea.

(g) Under the present Government there has been a stepping up of contacts between Australian Ministers and the EC Commission in order to develop a more constructive dialogue on trade problems. Mr Andriessen's visit was his third meeting with Australian Ministers since February of this year. Australia/EC Ministerial Consultations were held on a formal basis annually and will next take place in Canberra in 1986. It may be expected that the process of more regular contacts between Australian Ministers and the EC Commission will continue.