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Tuesday, 17 March 1987
Page: 961


Mr CLEELAND(10.39) —I had the privilege today to attend the Shepparton area with our Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Kerin). It was my privilege because the Minister opened the Victorian Grain Council annual meeting in Shepparton. I was fortunate to be there when the President of the Victorian Grain Council actually applauded the Government, the Minister, the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and the Minister for Trade (Mr Dawkins)-as well they should, I might add correctly-by recognising the efforts of this Government in tackling the source of Australia's current economic problem which is the external terms of trade. I was pleased to see in the farming community recognition of this Government's efforts and I was also pleased to hear the President say that the principal problem facing grain growers was the external price. This was more worrying to them than any other aspect. That was one of the few times that I have actually heard a farming organisation being honest enough-unlike the Opposition-to face up to the real problem rather than running around trying to blame internal factors as the sole or principal cause of their difficulties.

In the course of the day we spent in Shepparton we had a meeting with the Victorian Canning Association. I was pleased to be introduced to a new fruit which is about to go on the market in this country. That fruit is called nashi fruit and it is particularly interesting. In Australia it dates from 1800 when it was introduced by the early Chinese settlers. It is, in fact, a pear but from my own taste experience I can say that it is unlike anything that I have eaten before. It has a very pleasant and attractive taste. It is fibred like an apple but juicy like a pear and it seems to attract the qualities of both those fruits. The Goulburn Valley area, which is probably Australia's premium fruit growing area, is now recognised throughout the world. Farmers in that area are going into the production of nashi fruit, which they will sell locally in Australia. Potentially there is a huge export market for it. It may well be that Australian horticulturists will emulate the New Zealanders, who took an obscure fruit called a Chinese gooseberry, called it Kiwi fruit and managed to crack multimillion dollar sales throughout the world. Nashi fruit has this potential. It is an oriental fruit, well loved by the Japanese. This country can now grow it and export it to Japan. I am more than pleased to be able to tell the House that I still have the greatest confidence in Australian farmers. They still show that great incentive and ability to adapt and a great desire to succeed. It is extremely pleasing to go into a place such as the Goulburn Valley and see the work that our Australian farmers are doing.

In addition to discovering nashi fruit that day and having my own taste experience with it, I also had a look at the canning industry in Shepparton. Again, innovations are being made by the Ardmona Fruit Products Co-operative Co. Pty Ltd, which is a fully grower-owned organisation. It has introduced a new product-a small plastic pack of fruit, sugar free and packed in natural juices-which is getting a very large market in Canada. These people recognise what this Government has done in floating the Australian dollar-that it has created export potential by having a more profitable base in Australia with a better wage base. They are taking full advantage of this. I am very pleased that Australian farmers are out there and doing something. It is not all gloom and doom, as one would believe if one listened to the prophets on the other side. In fact great things are happening to our exports.


Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.