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Tuesday, 18 September 1973
Page: 1212

Mr GRASSBY (Riverina) (Minister for Immigration) - I would draw attention to the fact again that the Treasurer (Mr Crean) in his Budget speech indicated that there would be a charge on the export of meats to recoup from the meat industry the substantial expenditure incurred by the Government for the benefit of the industry on export meat inspection services. In the next paragraph the Treasurer said that from 1 October 1973 to 30 June 1976 the charge will be lc per lb on meat exports. He said the charge is expected to yield $14m in 1973-74. He went on to say:

In addition the Government has also decided to recoup from the beef industry the expenditure incurred in the campaign to eradicate bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis. The amount to be recouped in 1973-74 will be approximately $6m. Details will be announced by the Minister for Primary Industry in due course.

Those details were announced by the Prime Miinster (Mr Whitlam) instead. It seems to me that the whole complaint tonight is that the Prime Minister of Australia made the announcement instead of the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt). I have not heard any complaints from the Minister for Primary Industry. Obviously, if an announcement is to be made that is of sufficient importance the Prime Minister should make it. That is a very satisfactory position.

I might say again that an underlying suggestion has been made about the facts which I have given. The facts were quite precise, there is no difficulty about them. If the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) will apply himself and leave his abuse outside the chamber he will see that the facts and figures are correct. I wish to make the point also that the revenue which will be raised by the charge and the expenditures on the export meat inspection and the brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication campaign will be shown in the annual estimates for the Department of Primary Industry. All honourable members will have the opportunity to examine these estimates each year when they are presented to the House. That is the entire purpose of the exercise. They are service charges. The Opposition has agreed to them. It now has an argument with the Prime Minister on this matter. But behind all the smokescreen of abuse at the present time, all that we have left of the great roar that began the debate is a pitiful whimper. I suggest that it was a very poor way in which to debate a measure which is designed to assist a great industry in the long term - and there is no doubt about that - and also a service which is supported by the industry itself. These charges are understood by the industry. AH that we have heard tonight has been a scramble of propaganda, and not very strong propaganda at that. We reject the amendment. The intention was clear. The explanations are detailed, and if they are not able to be understood by the honourable member for New England who is sitting at the table, then I suggest that he should go home to bed and do his homework.

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