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Thursday, 17 November 1938

Mr POLLARD (Ballarat) (12:30 PM) . - I move -

That the following new clause be inserted: - "15b (1.) Notwithstanding anything contained in this act, the board, -with the consent of the Minister, may, if it thinks fit, undertake the business of the insurance of apples and pears against the risks specified in paragraph (b) of sub-section (1.) of section fifteen. (2.) On and after a date to be fixed by proclamation and until the date of revocation of such proclamation no contract for insurance against such risks shall be made except with the board, but this sub-section shall not affect the operation of any contract made before the date fixed by proclamation pursuant to this sub-section nor any contract obligation arising at any time under such contract. (3.) Any proclamation made pursuant to the last preceding sub-section -may be revoked by proclamation as from the date fixed by such proclamation. (4.) No proclamation may be made under either of the two preceding sub-sections except upon the recommendation of the board.

I was wholeheartedly in favour of the new sub-clause moved by the honorable member for East. Sydney (Mr. Ward) which would have made it mandatory on the board to transact its own insurance business; but I had so little faith in the Country party that I thought it wise to be prepared for its rejection. My fears were realized, for we had the unhappy spectacle of the Minister making excuses for not agreeing to the new sub-clause.

Mr Archie Cameron - That is not so. I merely stated that the Government could not accept the amendment.

Mr POLLARD -I am sure that if the Minister were free from Cabinet ties, he would have supported the proposal of the honorable member for East Sydney. The members of the Country party should support my amendment. Most likely, the board will be influenced by the attitude of some members of the Country party, and will be inclined to transact its business, as other boards have done, through the usual trade channels. The Country party was formed to eliminate middlemen, but it has departed from its original intention. I desire to refer to the reasons given by the honorable member for Richmond (Mi. Anthony) for opposing the new subclause proposed by the honorable member for East Sydney. The honorable gentleman said that because the board would deal with only one class of product, the risk would be too great. He added that it would not have other classes of risks to balance things in the event of a disaster occurring. That argument could be advanced in regard to many types of insurance. It is known that many church organizations in Australia transact -their own insurance business and do not deal in any other class of insurance. Various State governments have their own insurance offices. In Victoria a State department deals exclusively with workers' compensation insurance. What holds good with these instrumentalities should also bold good with the Apple and Pear Roard. It must be remembered that the insurance would be effected upon a large number of packages. Many thousands of cases of apples and pears are exported annually, in about 60 vessels. It. will thus be seen that the risk is well spread. I am convinced that the companies which transact this type of business fix their premiums on a basis which enables them to meet any losses that are likely to occur. In these circumstances I feel sure that the board would be quite safe in transacting business of this type. However, the committee having rejected the proposed new sub-clause I am now moving for the insertion of a new clause the purport of which is to give to the board the option of transacting business df this type if it thinks fit. 1 hope that it will think fit to undertake the business and that it will insure the first year's cargoes. We must realize that as a business concern the charge made by the' board for insurance would be based on what is necessary to cover loss, but should it be unlucky enough to sustain a heavy loss it could appeal to the Treasury or to the Commonwealth Bank to guarantee it for the loss incurred and recoup the loss out of the succeeding two or three years' operations. If the board itself undertakes this work and for the first three years sustains no great losses it will have at its disposal at the end of that period a substantial sum of money available for distribution in a manner beneficial to the industry with which it is to deal. I have nothing further to say except to express the hope that the Government will accept my amendment and that it will receive the support of honorable members generally.

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