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Wednesday, 12 May 1993
Page: 429

Senator BEAHAN —My question is directed to the Minister for Science and Small Business. Is the Minister able to provide any details on the announcement from the food technology conference held last week in Adelaide regarding new CSIRO technology which has resulted in a $20 million export boost for Australia's beef export industry?

Senator SCHACHT —This is another good news story for CSIRO and the beef industry, which I am sure honourable senators opposite, particularly those in the National Party, would be very pleased to hear. In fact, I am able to report that the winner of the 1993 food industry innovation award at the 26th national food horizon conference held in Adelaide last week was a scanner marketed as Emscan MQ-27. I know honourable senators opposite, including those in the National Party, may wonder what a scanner has to do with the beef industry.

Senator Crane —Do you know?

Senator SCHACHT —I am about to give the Senate the information. The Emscan MQ-27—and I have to say that that number is higher than Senator Crane's IQ level—is an on-line electromagnetic scanner which measures the amount of fat in cartoned beef immediately after packing. This could increase earnings for Australia's beef exports by between $20 million and $50 million a year by reducing waste in export packing procedures.

Senator Brownhill —This was announced in the papers a few weeks ago.

Senator SCHACHT —I thought Senator Brownhill, a National Party senator from a beef growing area of New South Wales, would want to know about this because it is helping—

Senator Brownhill —We knew about it.

The PRESIDENT —Order! There are too many interjections and I would ask the Minister to ignore them.

Senator SCHACHT —Why does Senator Brownhill want to stop the rest of Australia hearing about it?

Senator Brownhill —They have read about it already!

Senator SCHACHT —I suspect that Senator Brownhill may have heard about it on the grapevine, but most people have not. The technology was developed from an existing medical diagnostic instrument by a consortium comprising Australian Meat Holdings, the Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation—that is probably where Senator Brownhill heard about it—the electronics firm Cambut Holdings and the CSIRO meat research laboratory.

  This is just another example of the important role played by CSIRO in helping develop innovative technology for our food exports. It shows that we do have the research and development capacity to enhance our export drive. We are hopeful that with this breakthrough and this development we can find other ways to use this technology to further enhance other food exports. Honourable senators opposite, who claim to represent rural constituents, will see the benefit for their constituents of enhancing exports. This is a very significant development and one that CSIRO should be proud of.