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Tuesday, 7 September 1993
Page: 1119


Senator WOODLEY (10.27 p.m.) —Tonight we are discussing the Primary Industries Legislation Amendment Bill 1993. Provisions of this bill are largely non-contentious and the Australian Democrats will be supporting the bill. Other senators have detailed the amendments contained in the bill. I do not propose to take up the Senate's time going over those again. However, I would like to briefly pick up on a comment made by Mr Andrew, the Liberal member for Wakefield, during the House of Representatives debate on this bill on 18 August. Defending the coalition's stance on tariffs he said:

For those who do not know, let me spell it out: because the nation has no choice, there is no real difference between the attitudes that the ALP and the Coalition take to the difficult and vexed question of protecting Australian industry.

In other words, the policy direction of the government and the coalition is the same. They take us down the same path. I will restrain myself because there is a lot I would like to say on that, but suffice it to say that the Australian Democrats have great problems with the policies of both the government and the coalition.

  This bill makes changes to the pig and meat industries. Honourable senators will recall that in June of this year, the Canadian government imposed a 25 per cent tariff on Australian beef. At the same time Canada was exporting subsidised pork into this country. The fact that Canada is a member of the Cairns Group, which supposedly promotes more free agricultural trade, shows clearly that other nations are not about to embrace the free market, level playing field with the great fervour and enthusiasm that Australia seems to be. We simply cannot afford to be the world leaders in the reduction of tariffs. We await the day when the government and the coalition agree with the Australian Democrats on this issue and commit themselves to a more enlightened path. In the meantime, we support the bill.

  Debate interrupted.