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US beef quota goes from bad to worse.



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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

27 May 2002

US BEEF QUOTA GOES FROM BAD TO WORSE

The revelation by officers from the Federal Department of Agriculture that finalisation of the United States beef quota could be months away is a further blow to the beef industry and a damming indictment of the performance of the Minister, Mr Truss.

The officers advised the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs committee that the finalisation of the quota will be delayed because of the need to reach agreement with the United States Administration on arrangements for its management.

The Department also conceded that the Government only commenced negotiations with the United States six weeks ago.

This is despite the fact that the beef industry warned the Government as early as April 2001 that there would be a need for a scheme to manage the quota.

This is a further indictment of the performance of the Agriculture Minister, Mr Truss, in mismanaging a trade worth nearly $2 billion to the Australian beef industry.

The industry then provided Mr Truss with a plan to manage the quota in March 2002, and a second plan that had the support of all key industry organisations in April 2002, both of which the Minister rejected.

It is now likely that the quota will be substantially filled before the Government is able to get any sort of scheme in place.

The Minister has also been embarrassed by the revelation by the Department that Australia will not fill the European Union High Quality Beef quota.

For comment Kerry O’Brien: 0419 007 780 or Jack Lake 0438 773842.