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Tuesday, 14 October 1975
Page: 2035

Mr MATHEWS (CASEY, VICTORIA) Is the Minister representing the Minister for Agriculture aware of the interest potato growers took in having a potato industry panel established at the earliest possible stage? Can he tell the House of the progress made in this matter?

Dr PATTERSON - I am always very pleased to answer a question on potatoes from the honourable member for Casey because, as everybody knows, he represents Kinglake which produces the best potatoes in Australia.

Honourable members- Oh.

Mr SPEAKER - There are 25 members disputing that statement.

Dr PATTERSON - I assure honourable members that hardly a week goes by in which he does not remind me of that fact.

Mr Erwin - Has the Minister ever heard of Bungaree potatoes?

Dr PATTERSON -Yes, they are second best. I have paid my respects to the honourable member for Ballaarat but they are the second best. That National Potato Panel was set up by the Federal Minister for Agriculture in July of this year following some years of turmoil in the Australian potato industry due to very large imports of french fries, mainly from the United States of America and Canada. As honourable members know, no raw potatoes are imported into Australia except from New Zealand, in some cases. This Panel, which consists of representatives from the growers, the merchants and the processors, has met once after the Minister set it up. Its main purpose is to discuss current issues and to bring to the Minister for Agriculture some of the pressing problems, such as imports of processed french fries, if that occasion arises. The Panel now will have an additional member as the Minister for Agriculture has agreed to an additional processors' representative being appointed. There now will be 1 1 full-time members. We believe, and so does the industry, that this is a very good move. The Panel will be able to discuss current issues and at the same time keep the Government informed of problems in the industry, particularly with respect to imports of processed potatoes.

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