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Tuesday, 3 June 1969

Mr PRESIDENT - Order! The point of order is not upheld.

Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN - I have very good notes here. 1 thought the honourable senator would be very pleased to hear this information. I believe that Senator Bull raised the point that there is considerable excess capacity in many of the country abattoirs in New South Wales, particularly in those provided on a regional basis. We have to think of this matter not only in the local areas but surely in the wider areas. These abattoirs are having difficulties and this situation could continue for some years. We know that these abattoirs are all tremendously important to the towns and districts in which they are situated.

Senator Gair - I will move for an extension of time.

Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN - I do not think that the honourable senator will need to. 1 think also that we should go on to another point raised tonight in the discussions concerning this matter. 1 refer to meat prices. The Government's considered view on this matter is that the closure of the slaughtering facilities at the abattoir will not be the cause of an increase in prices. This view is based on carefully assessed trends evident over a number of years. During the period from December 1958 to December 1968 retail meat prices in Canberra generally have increased at a slower rate than those in Sydney. 1 draw the attention crf the Senate to the fact that this is in an environment where an increasing percentage of meat was coming from sources other than the Canberra abattoir. One very important point has been raised by various people. This of course is -

Senator Hendrickson - Where are the other abattoirs?

Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN - 1 have already enumerated them. 1 enumerated them one after the other until Senator Cavanagh objected. He did not want to hear about all of them. He got them just the same. I.f the honourable- senator would like me to go through them all again, 1 can, but I have made my point on that aspect of this matter. Now I wish to speak about something which I believe is of concern to us all. f believe that every honourable senator is concerned about the problem of those who may Jose employment as a result of the closure of the abattoir. I want to inform honourable senators that they can be assured that the Government is and will be doing everything that it can to settle the retrenched employees in suitable employment. I consider that departmental employees will be offered alternative Government employment. The Department of Labour and National Service will be sparing no effort as far as employees of private operators are concerned. Every effort will be made to assist those who have been employed in the abattoir to obtain suitable employment.

I want to stress the next point again. This Government has given every possible consideration to all aspects of the matter in making its decision. It has, as 1 have brought to the notice of the Senate tonight, considered this matter over a long period. It has considered the representations that have been made to it. It has considered the report of the interdepartmental committee. Its decision has not been arrived at quickly or suddenly. It has been reached after a very great deal of consideration of the matter by the Government. The Government was unable to obtain a satisfactory offer for the purchase or lease of the abattoir as a going concern. Clearly, the expenditure of large sums of money by the Government to modernise the abattoir could not be justified. I. emphasise that by weighing all of the matters which have been brought to its attention the Government has made its decision after very deep consideration and, indeed, in the best possible interests of those concerned. I have placed all ot these matters before the Senate. I cannot see that any real purpose would be served by the establishment of a Senate select committee which, 1 believe, would only traverse again the ground which has already been exhaustively covered in all these ways that I have mentioned to the Senate tonight. So, in opposing the motion for the establishment of this Senate select committee, I strongly urge that it be rejected by the Senate.

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