NATIONALS Senator Bridget McKenzie says Australia needs safeguards against the dumping of cheap imported fruit.
Ms McKenzie said under the World Trade Organisation agreement, safeguard measures could be applied to prevent serious and ongoing harm to industry.
She has made submissions to the Productivity Commission’s inquiries into the matter.
”In a free trade environment, dumping can occur, and safeguards are an appropriate mechanism to ensure we maintain confidence in the trade liberalisation agenda,” she said.
Senator McKenzie was heartened by comments made by new Productivity Commissioner Peter Harris during Senate Estimates, that ”safeguard actions are a legitimate element of a free trade environment”.
Ms McKenzie said the negative impact of cheap imports on local manufacturers and producers would be difficult to reverse.
She said orchardists were removing fruit trees which cost up to $90,000 per hectare to establish and take more than six years to become profitable.
”In this case, Australia needs to pursue safeguards as a matter of urgency,” Senator McKenzie said.
”Tomato and fruit processing plays a vital role in the Goulburn Valley economy and not just through direct employment.”
Economic analysis by REMPLAN shows that for every 100 jobs lost in the fruit manufacturing sector, up to a further 221 jobs could be lost in the Shepparton economy as a flow-on effect.
”I encourage people to register their interest on the Commission’s website at http://www.pc.gov.au/ to receive updates on the progress of the inquiry, and consider attending a public hearing in support of our local industry,” Ms McKenzie said.
Federal Minister for Agriculture Joel Fitzgibbon met with the Productivity Commission yesterday to discuss safeguard measures.
To receive updates on the inquiry and register your interest visit pc.gov.au