July 2nd 2005

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Unanswered questions about the Chinese defectors

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Senator Brian Harradine retires

EDITORIAL: How best to help our children

TRADE: 'Benign neglect' no answer to debt crisis

RURAL POLICY: Water trade to shift water from farms to cities

QUARANTINE: Government appeals against court ruling

TASMANIA: Potato-farmers' outrage at fast-food giant

ABORTION: Feminist luddites of the abortion lobby

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: Christianity under threat in Sri Lanka

HUMANITARIAN CRISIS: East Timor in grip of major famine

ENERGY: China exchanges nuclear technology for Iranian oil

STRAWS IN THE WIND: The improvident society / A pub with no beer / Beazley's tax strategy / To Hell and back

Europe's malaise (letter)

Colin Teese on Europe (letter)

Strategy to prevent bushfires (letter)

Big Brother: sewage on TV (letter)

Child support reforms (letter)

BOOKS: GAY MARRIAGE: Why it is good for gays, good for straights, and good for America

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Potato-farmers' outrage at fast-food giant

News Weekly, July 2, 2005
McDonald's Family Restaurants have decided to dump Tasmanian potatoes in favour of cheaper imports.

Tasmanian potato-growers are protesting against the McDonald's fast-food chain's decision to dump their potatoes in favour of cheaper imports.

The farmers are set to lose $10 million worth of farmgate sales. But the ultimate cost to the Tasmanian economy could be as much as $100 million.

Tasmanian potato-grower, Richard Bovill - who in 2001 led a fight for fairer potato prices - is preparing to mount an aggressive campaign to save the island-state's potato industry and the north-eastern and north-western communities that depend on it.

Bovill told the Launceston Examiner (June 8): "Last time we were fighting for viability; this time we are fighting for survival."

He has called on Australians to boycott McDonald's restaurants until the fast-food giant guarantees that the French fries it sells on the mainland are once again supplied from Tasmania.

Bovill told ABC Radio's The World Today program (June 8): "They've marketed their chips as Australian chips in the past. It's only a grab for money on their part.

"And the bit of money that they save is absolutely nothing compared to the cost it's going to have on the community, which Australian consumers are ultimately going to have to pay for in their taxes, as they try and reconstruct the lives of these people who are being damaged."

Mr Bovill says the spin-offs from the McDonald's contract are worth up to $100 million to Tasmania.

He said: "All the transporters, harvesters, machinery sales and other inputs into farming - literally hundreds of people's incomes will decline quite rapidly.

"It filters all the way down. The kids get taken out of local schools, people leave, go on the dole and we slowly see our community strangled to death thanks to this decision by McDonald's." (Weekly Times, June 15).

The Ulverstone-based vegetable processor Simplot Australia - which until recently had been the sole supplier of potatoes to McDonald's - lost half its 80,000-tonne contract to McCain Foods last month.

McCain Foods will now supply McDonald's with potatoes from New Zealand.

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