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Australian And New Zealand Meat Agreements

Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 7 April 1954

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asked the Minister of Food what were the terms of agreement reached with Australia and New Zealand for the future marketing of their meat in the United Kingdom; and to what extent future prices have been guaranteed.

Trading in Australian meat will revert to private hands as from 1st July for mutton and lamb, and from 1st October for beef, veal and pork. The Australian Government are now considering proposals by the United Kingdom Government under the terms of the 15-year Agreement for deficiency payments in certain circumstances when the trade reverts to private hands.

New Zealand has agreed to terminate the bulk meat contract on 30th September, 1954. After that date, the quantities, prices and other conditions of sale to the United Kingdom market will, in the words of the joint declaration of the two Governments in 1952, be determined in the ordinary course of trade.

May we take it from what the Minister has told the House that there will continue to be a completely open door for the imports of meat from both Australia and New Zealand, and that as far as the guarantee of price given to Australian producers is concerned, the British Treasury will, if necessary, play its part in seeing that they get the price as arranged?

On the question of quantities, there is no restriction of any kind. I would rather say nothing about the question of price yet, because discussions are going on with the Australian Government.

Do I understand that the 15-year contract only now applies to quantity, and that the Government from now on will accept no responsibility for the price of the guaranteed quantity?

As far as New Zealand is concerned that is so, but in the case of Australia the agreement is different, and that is a matter for discussion now.

Do I understand that the Government will make themselves responsible for deficiency payments to the Dominions in the event of private trade not giving the prices which are guaranteed at the moment?

As I said just now, the agreement with New Zealand is different from that with Australia. The position as regards New Zealand is as I have stated in answer to the Question. There is a different position in the case of Australia with regard to price, and that is what is being negotiated at the moment.