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Wednesday, 2 April 1980
Page: 1330

Senator GIETZELT (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware of the current concern expressed by consumers at the price of meat, in particular the discrepancy between domestic retail prices and current cattle values, the discrepancy between meat prices in supermarkets and butcher shops, the impact of speculators on meat prices and the lack of a national system of grading of meat quality? Can the Minister say whether the Government is giving any consideration to these widespread concerns in the community? Does the Government contemplate any steps that would assist both the producer and the consumer?

Senator SCOTT - Yes, the Government is aware of problems relating to the price of meat and, indeed, the price of many things. The whole of its economic policy is aimed at controlling in some measure these very things within the operation of normal market forces. That is not a terribly easy operation. The price of meat- high at the moment, of course- had been in recent years extremely low, so low to the producer that it had reached disaster level. As to the problems referable to the price of meat, the Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation is charged with a great measure of responsibility in this area and is in constant contact, of course, with both producer and consumer elements. Speculators can be a problem in any industry, including, of course, the meat industry.

The honourable senator mentioned in his question the matter of meat grading which, of course, is under constant review and has been under review for a significant period. If a successful method of grading and assessing the quality of meat is finally achieved, then of controlling and maintaining in some way a more stable price situation in the meat industry may well be a realistic prospect.

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