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NSW Government fails its poultry farmers.

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AFFA03/368WT - 12 December 2003

NSW Government fails its poultry farmers

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, has today slammed claims by the NSW Labor Government that the Australian Government was attempting to force NSW to deregulate its poultry industry.

"This is just another example of Bob Carr and Labor trying to pass the blame for its ongoing orgy of deregulation of the rural industries on to the Australian Government," Mr Truss said.

"The NSW poultry industry has nothing to fear from the Australian Government - any decision on its regulatory future is entirely in the hands of Bob Carr and the NSW Labor Government."

Mr Truss said it was outrageous that the State Government would blame the Commonwealth for the National Competition Council's (NCC) decision to reduce competition payments to NSW.

"The fact is that the members of the NCC are chosen by the States - the Australian Government does not even get a vote," he said.

"It is hypocritical for NSW to demand that the Australian Government overturn the rulings of the independent umpire. It is their own NCC that has made judgment against them."

The NCC does not require States to deregulate industries if they chose not to do so. Where a State can establish that regulation is in the public interest there are no penalties for failing to deregulate.

Mr Truss said that the NCC has been pressing the NSW Government to provide a public interest test for the State's poultry industry for more than eight years but the State has not done so.

"The NSW Government can keep its poultry industry legislation without penalty if it wants - it just has to provide a public interest argument to the NCC.

"Is it any wonder that after so many years the NCC lost patience and recommended that payments be reduced.

"I am very sorry that the Carr Government is now threatening the poultry farmers with deregulation so that it can receive higher competition payments to spend on more stadiums, galleries and grandiose edifices.

"If Mr Carr is determined to proceed with deregulation of the poultry industry, then he should make an immediate commitment to deliver all the NCC money the Australian Government will be obliged to pay the State to compensate NSW poultry farmers.

"The Carr Government will receive more than $200 million in NCC payments this year and is not being deprived of any funds that it has earned. The only thing that the Carr Government is being deprived of is the means to continue to bulk up its state treasury coffers at the expense of country NSW."

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Kathy Tricolas - 02 6277 7520 or 0412 929 191