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Thursday, 18 November 1993
Page: 3166


Senator PANIZZA (4.22 p.m.) —This response from the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Gareth Evans) arose from a formal motion that I moved on 21 October in this place after the United States had signed a 100,000 tonne barley deal with China under the export enhancement program. The United States may claim that China is a traditional market for the sale of its barley. But this has never been the case. Australia is the traditional supplier of barley to China.

  Last year, grain growers from the eastern States had a disastrous season, although grain growers in the west had a good season. Because Australia was not able to supply all the barley that China needed, the United States, probably at the invitation of the Australian Barley Board, supplied the balance. It was hoped that this arrangement would operate for only one year. On the pretence that barley could be coming into China from the Common Market—it is always a pretence when the Americans go into our traditional markets—the United States has done a deal involving up to 100,000 tonnes of barley at a highly subsidised figure.

  This development is doubly disastrous for Australian barley growers, and Australian coarse grain growers in general. There has been a swing away from wool growing because of low prices. Generally speaking, higher rainfall areas that traditionally grow wool have swung into coarse grain growing—that is, barley and oats. As I say, Australian coarse grain growers are facing an extra hazard as a result of the action of the United States.

  I certainly hope that the government keeps up the pressure. To date, all it has done is write to the US embassy in Canberra and pass on the resolution to our embassy in Washington. I suppose that is all the action that the government could have taken to date, but let us hope that it does not forget to follow it up if a response is not made available soon.

  I, like the rest of the Senate, value the friendship of the United States. As I have said many times, I wish the United States would treat us as its allies in trade in the same way as we consider each other allies in everything else that happens in different places around the world, especially when a bubble occurs.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.