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Thursday, 30 September 1971
Page: 1754

Mr PETTITT (Hume) - I rise to support this Bill. As has been already pointed out by previous speakers, the purpose of the Bill is to extend the livestock slaughter levy for a further 3 years. The levy was first introduced in January 1969. It is interesting to note that the levy rate will remain unaltered at lc per head on cattle and one-tenth of lc per head on sheep and lambs. The other point worth noting is that the levy will be imposed on the owner of the stock at the time of slaughter; it will not be a charge against the producer. I think it is quite important to note this fact. The proposal for this levy has been supported by the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council, the Meat and Allied Trades Federation and the Australian Meatworks Federal Council. So it has found support from the meat trade. The service and investigation section of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has used the funds obtained from the levy, together with a matching Commonwealth contribution, to assist meatworks in many fields, including quality control, sanitation and hygiene.

As previous speakers have already pointed out, the meat industry, particularly the beef industry at the present time, is a very profitable industry. Despite what the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) said, the experts in the industry believe that it will be a long while before artificial meats are likely to take the place of the real thing. Meat is still the cheapest and best form of protein for human consumption, and many people in the world urgently need protein. But there is a very urgent need for constant and deep research. Australia produces some of the best meat in the world, but she produces a lot of meat which does not reach that standard. It is important that we should maintain and increase our standards as we produce more meat. There has been a marked increase in our exports of meat, particularly to the United States of America. That country demands that a particularly high standard of hygiene and sanitation should be maintained in our killing works and abattoirs throughout Australia. Of course, there is a growing demand to have quality beef airfreighted to many parts of the world.

This levy has made it possible for the service and investigation section of the CSIRO to assist in carrying out research in many fields. There has been research into the tenderness of beef, which is very important. The question of killing and the treatment of stock prior to killing has a great bearing of the quality of meat. The appearance of meat is tremendously important. Some housewives like meat to look one colour and others like it to look another colour. But meat must look attractive. This section of the CSIRO has carried out research in order to improve the appearance of meat. The taste of meat is extremely important, particularly to those people in the new markets we are developing in South East Asia and in other parts of the world. Much can be done to improve the taste of our meat so that it will suit the palates of Asian people. The CSIRO has assisted tremendously in such fields as research into the problem of infestation of mutton with dog tape worms. This is tremendously important. Infection of our mutton with tape worms has been a major reason for the rejection of our exports to the US. Money has been provided for research into tropical pastures and farm lands.

Research has been carried out in many areas into problems associated with cattle tick and breeds of cattle that are partially resistant to the tick and to heat. Internal parasites as well as external parasites represent another big problem in some areas. Brucellosis is a very real threat to the beef industry and again a lot of work has been done in research in this field. Fertility is becoming increasingly a problem particularly wilh the introduction of exotic breeds but fertility even in some of our old established breeds varies from strain to strain.

The economics of the meat industry make it extremely important for us to maintain fertility and to increase it. Perhaps one of the most important features in the southern part of Australia where the very best quality beef is produced is the incidence of bloat in cattle. Again a lot of work has been done on this. Some breeds of cattle are considered to be more resistant or not as susceptible to bloat as other breeds. I have had practical experience of this in rearing vealers. I have found that some dairy breeds seem to be much more resistant to bloat than some beef breeds. Eye cancer is another problem affecting one breed in particular which is very popular in Australia. I want to mention drought feeding. Economic drought feeding is something that is extremely important not only in the arid areas but also in the better rainfall areas because where an area is subject to recurring droughts, particularly if rainfalls are not very frequent, there is the problem of feeding a lot of cattle in a period when the carrying capacity is being raised to improve the pasture but there is insufficient pasture to feed the cattle.

Supplementary feeding for better production is another field in which finance for research has been provided. A lot of work has been done on lot feeding but as yet the market for lot fed cattle has not justified the cost involved except in some rare cases. We are not receiving the money that we should be receiving for our quality meat. There is tremendous opportunity for supplementary feeding, for running stock on pastures and feeding them with supplementary feed such as grain and hay (o finish them off. In this way stock which would otherwise have to be carried for another year would be ready for the butcher. The CSIRO is doing a tremendous job. Not only must we produce more beef if we are to keep many of our rural areas viable, but we must produce quality beef and disease free beef. It is essential for us to study the methods of transportation and packaging of beef and the overall economics of reducing production costs in getting the produce to the market.

The CSIRO has carried out a great deal of work in more recent years on sheep diseases, the promotion of sheep meat and the sale of this meat to countries with a need for protein foods but which cannot afford to buy beef as it is generally a high priced product. Many Asian people do not have a taste for mutton as they do for beef, pork or other meat. Much work remains to be done in this field to produce sheep meat which will suit the palates of these people. Sheep meat is generally cheaper than beef. We have to face up to the fact that the greater proportion of the world's population eats either beef, pork or poultry. There is a limited number of nations whose people eat sheep meat. A lot of research needs to be done in this field. We should be lifting our lambing percentages. There may also be a need for research into the production of woolless sheep. There has been a suggestion that some of our western areas might be suitable for the production of woolless sheep. One grazier said to me: 'Well, I have a large western lands lease and if I had woolless sheep I could look after about 50,000 on my own. I would not have to shear, crutch, mules or jet them. I would only want a hand to round them up to mark the lambs and to draft the fats off.' This suggestion is not quite as silly as it may sound when we remember that there is a shortage of protein throughout the world. Perhaps there is a place for the production of woolless sheep in some of the more arid areas of Australia.

I believe meat has a really promising future in this country and it is probably one of the most promising industries in rural production. If we are to sell our meat and compete with synthetic products and extend our markets in competition with other nations we have to maintain a high standard of meat production and endeavour to increase this high standard in the quality of our meat. We have to get our meat, to the markets in good condition. The time is not far off when much of our meat will be air freighted to overseas markets. This is no pipe dream, lt has already been done from my own town of Cootamundra. Until quite recently Conkey's meatworks was air freighting prime lamb to Canada. The lambs were killed in Cootamundra, the meat boned, packaged and transported to Mascot and placed on Qantas jets. Within 48 hours of being slaughtered this meat was on sale in Canadian shops in the winter time. The same abbatoir is still air freighting beef and mutton to the Middle East. There is a growing market in these areas.

The time is not too distant when large aeroplanes will be air freighting quality meat - not the cheap cuts - to many parts of the world. We hear a great deal about the problem of aircraft noise in our cities and the curfew on flying times. Our aeroplanes are becoming larger and they will become noisier. This is something about which honourable members on the other side have been complaining so bitterly. 1 want them to realise that the time is not far off - indeed some preliminary work has been done on this - when our aeroplanes will be equipped to carry passengers to Melbourne or Sydney and then to fly over the ranges into one of the more fertile areas such as the electorate of Hume, which produces almost everything including beef, fruit and vegetables, anc pick up goods which will be delivered overnight to Asia and other parts of the world. The time is not too far distant when we will be able to fly perishable foods of all kinds, including our choice quality meat, to many parts of the world. This will be fresh food, not frozen food. We are already flying food to places like New Caledonia. I think the flying time for perishable goods to Noumea in New Caledonia is 2 hours 40 minutes.

There is a bright future for our rural industry in terms of the production of meat provided we do our homework to develop markets and improve quality. We hear about people who go out into the urban areas and tell the people that everything is desperate, telling the farmers how badly off they are, but nobody has come up with any real worthwhile solution to the problems facing these people. There are plenty of these people about and we have them in this House. They are calamity howlers and prophets of doom who can tell us all the sad things but nothing about the future prospects. As Dr Callaghan said in Cootamundra quite recently, you can do what you like about birth control and you can do what you like about family planning but there will be many more millions of people in the world in the next 20 years and at our present rate of food production we will not be able to supply them with food. There is a very bright future for meat because of the lack of protein in the world. I support the Bill and I strongly commend the research section of the CSIRO on its very worthwhile work.

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