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Howard betrays beef industry and destroys jobs to save Truss.



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KERRY O’BRIEN LABOR SENATOR FOR TASMANIA SHADOW MINISTER FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRIES AND RESOURCES

44 Charles Street, P.O. Box 1193, Launceston TAS 7250 Phone (03) 6334 9366 Fax (03) 6334 9369 Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 Phone (02) 6277 3842 Fax (02) 6277 3780 Email: senator.obrien@aph.gov.au

20 JUNE 2002

HOWARD BETRAYS BEEF INDUSTRY AND DESTROYS JOBS TO SAVE TRUSS

John Howard last night sacked Liberal Senator Winston Crane as Chair the Senate Committee currently assessing Minister Truss’ US beef quota plan in order to ‘stack’ the committee and save the hide of the inept and embattled Minister Truss.

Senator Crane was until yesterday, Chair of the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee which will finish taking evidence tonight on the handling of the US Beef quota by Minister Truss.

However, Senator Crane, who has not always towed the coalition line in his committee work, has been replaced by someone the Prime Minister can depend upon to do so - his old mate, Senator Bill Heffernan.

The Prime Minister has shamelessly politicised a Committee that under Senator Crane’s Chairmanship had a reputation for deciding issues based on the evidence, not politics.

This is borne out by the number of unanimous findings from this committee under Senator Crane.

This is an attempt by the Prime Minister to ensure that the Truss model for managing the beef quota passes through the Senate, a model that has been overwhelmingly rejected by the beef industry and which is likely based on evidence heard by the committee, to cost between 5,000 and 7,000 jobs in regional Australia.

It has since emerged that Mr Howard who initially sacked Senator Crane from the Committee had in a show of shallow tokenism, this morning re-instated him to the Committee as a ‘participating’ member only - a member with no right to vote.

John Howard has turned his back on the Australian beef industry and has signaled that he is prepared to destroy thousands of regional jobs to save the hide of the wounded Mr. Truss.

The fact that the Mr Howard would sack the Chairman of the Committee mid-way through an inquiry shows just how desperate the Prime Minister is to save the scalp of Minister Truss, and just how prepared he is to put politics before the good of Australian farmers, rural workers and regional communities.

For comment Kerry O’Brien 0419 007 780 or Jack Lake 0438 773 842.