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Thursday, 24 September 1942
Page: 933

Mr RYAN (Flinders) (3:47 AM) .I consider that this discussion should not close without some further reference to the disabilities suffered by the apple and pear industry. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Baker) referred to the subject briefly, but confined his remarks to conditions in Queensland. Under the present scheme, growers suffer many injustices and anomalies. I shall deal with one, namely, the unsatisfactory prices. Honorable members will notice that, for the present financial year, the sum of £750,000 has been voted to assist the industry. From that figure they will derive some measure of comfort, because it represents a reduction of 50 per cent., compared with the expenditure on this industry last year. I hope, however, that as the result of additional experience, together with economies in administration, the amount will be further reduced next year. Like other primary industries, this industry is suffering from the increased costs of fertilizer, labour, materials, and transport, including petrol. Apple and pear growers have remarked that other primary industries, such as wheat, wool, dairying and potato growing, have been granted increases of prices during the last few months, but the prices of apples and pears have remained static since the introduction of the acquisition scheme. Some growers have suffered so severely that their orchards have gone out of production, and ave reverting to grass and pasture. The Government should seriously consider the advisability of increasing the number of units allotted to the industry in the various States. At present, Victoria receives seven units. If that number were raised to eight, growers would, I believe, be satisfied. Proportionate increases should be granted to other States. In addition, small adjustments of prices should be made to growers in the metropolitan area of Melbourne and in the Peninsula area, whose orchards were developed at high capital cost, and who produce special fruit for a certain section of the market. I urge the Government to grant an increase of the price of apples for the coming season. I understand that to date no decision has been reached, and I hope that the Government will accept my suggestions.

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