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Tuesday, 6 June 1989
Page: 3422

Senator BOSWELL —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy aware of the impending collapse of the Australian export prawn market as evidenced by the 4,250 tonnes of banana prawns in cold storage in northern ports and on boats equivalent, at last year's prices, to some $40m in forgone export revenue? Is the Minister further aware that our prawn exports to Japan have fallen from 11,821 tonnes in 1982 to 7,178 tonnes in 1987 and that this fall in sales and prices has been brought about primarily by the 1983 reduction in quality control standards that allow up to 37 per cent of a carton of Australian prawns to not accord with its label? Will the Minister undertake to immediately investigate this matter and to take steps to upgrade quality control standards to restore the viability of an important export industry?

Senator COOK —I think I have been asked four questions. Firstly, there was an assertion by the honourable senator about the level of exports. I will check those figures to see whether he is right. There was a second assertion about that, and I will do the same in that case. Thirdly, there was an allegation as to why there is a reduction in export controls. That is an arguable issue. Fourthly, I was asked whether I would investigate the matter. The answer to that question is yes. However, I do not necessarily come to a conclusion, as the honourable senator's question invited me to, before I investigate. I will investigate the matter and I will report to the honourable senator.