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Thursday, 23 August 1973
Page: 279

Mr ERWIN (BALLAARAT, VICTORIA) - I wish to ask the Minister for Secondary Industry a question. Yesterday the Minister announced that approval had been given by the Government to import 800 tons of New Zealand potatoes for processing into chips. On what basis did the Minister assess that the importation of these potatoes would alleviate the situation of high prices of fresh raw potatoes to the consumer?

Dr J F CAIRNS (LALOR, VICTORIA) (Minister for Overseas Trade) - Any increase in the supply of a commodity in very short supply in Australia is likely to benefit every member of the community who needs that supply. The use of the 800 tons of imported potatoes in the production of potato chips by manufacturers will mean that they will not be drawing on supplies in other areas, and that will make supplies more available to the community. It is obvious at a time like this when there is a very great shortage of a number of vital food commodities that an increase in imports of those commodities will be of benefit to the consumer. I am particularly concerned about the consumer, but I am not concerned about the producer when I know that the price of potatoes in Australia in the last 12 months has risen from S40 to S50 a ton to $200 a ton. I believe that any increase in the supply of commodities in such short supply as potatoes are is now thoroughly justified in the interests of the Australian community.

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