On behalf of the Executive Committee of the Australian Dairy Farmers' Federation, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to discuss the proposed closer economic relationship with New Zealand last Wednesday (27th January).1 Following our meeting, we held further discussions with officials from the Department of Trade and Resources and the Department of Primary Industry.
While the dairy industry will be pursuing the course of action agreed to in your office, i.e. attempting to reach agreement directly with the New Zealand dairy industry, it was clear from our meeting with officials that there will be considerable difficulty achieving agreement along the lines discussed with you.
The Government, through yourself, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Primary Industry, has given the dairy industry an unequivocal commitment that:
- Consultations will take place between the industry and the Government before any agreement on dairy products as part of the Closer Economic Relationship with New Zealand.
- No arrangement will be entered into that will result in disruption to Australia's domestic marketing arrangements for dairy products.
- The Australian dairy industry will not be disadvantaged by unfair competition from New Zealand.
In the present circumstances, relaxation of the existing formal and informal restrictions on Trans Tasman trade in dairy products would be inconsistent with the second and third of these undertakings. The only opportunity for expanded Trans Tasman trade in dairy products is in the event of the inability of the Australian industry to meet domestic market demand for dairy products.
If the Government is to honour its commitment to the industry, there is no room for compromise on this issue. The Australian Dairy Farmers' Federation intends to inform all Cabinet Ministers to this effect.
C. R. MANNERS - Executive Director
[NAA: Al313/113, 8211381, iii]