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Tuesday, 14 May 1985
Page: 1913

Senator MACKLIN(6.16) —by leave-I move:

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the following amendments:

Clause 2, proposed new sub-sections 6 (3), (4) and (5), leave out the figures contained in each of the paragraphs of those sub-sections, insert the figures indicated in the following list:

6 (3) (a) 42.4 per cent [in substitution for 40.4 per cent]

(b) 38.1 per cent [in substitution for 34.1 per cent]

(c) 33.8 per cent [in substitution for 27.8 per cent]

(d) 29.5 per cent [in substitution for 21.5 per cent]

(e) 25 per cent [in substitution for 15 per cent]

6 (4) (a) 34.4 per cent [in substitution for 32.4 per cent]

(b) 32 per cent [in substitution for 28 per cent]

(c) 29.6 per cent [in substitution for 23.6 per cent]

(d) 27.2 per cent [in substitution for 19.2 per cent]

(e) 25 per cent [in substitution for 15 per cent]

6 (5) (a) 81.4 per cent [in substitution for 79.4 per cent]

(b) 67.3 per cent [in substitution for 63.3 per cent]

(c) 52.2 per cent [in substitution for 47.2 per cent]

(d) 39.1 per cent [in substitution for 31.1 per cent]

(e) 25 per cent [in substitution for 15 per cent]

I do not think it is necessary to rehearse the debate that we have just had with regard to the lower level of assistance that we would be looking for. My suggested amendments effectively would mean that at the base level in regard to each of the commodities that we are talking about there would be equalisation assistance of 25 per cent rather than 15 per cent; hence, our consequent amendments refer to the prescribed percentages for each of the growing seasons referred to in each proposed new sub-section. I would hope that the Opposition would support these suggested amendments on the basis that they are the propositions which have been requested by the industry. They provide, I believe, the way in which to assist the industry, particularly during those low income years.

I must admit that I still cannot follow the reply given by the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce (Senator Button) to my previous question. It seems to me that if one has a 15 per cent level as the average level, one should not set that as the maximum level because there is no way in the world that it will be able to provide the type of support that one wants in those low income years. I believe that the amendments that I have moved would go part of the way towards achieving the Government's objectives of predictability over the next five years. They follow the same scheme basically as the Government has proposed. The only difference is the level to which the assistance drops.

I re-emphasise the point I made by way of interjection, that the industry currently is receiving support to the value of $200 per tonne on import duty. It is significant that that level has not been altered.

Senator Button —It has, by the devaluation.

Senator MACKLIN —It has been altered, I believe, in terms of the rate of inflation over the years. Economic measures that the Government tells us it will take-presumably we will hear about those at 8 o'clock-are designed to raise the level of our dollar again. If the Minister is now saying by way of interjection that our dollar will remain at its present level or fall to a lower level, perhaps he will interject in such terms. If the announcements that the Government has been making are aimed at raising the dollar to a reasonable level again, that $200 will be an ever decreasing barrier to imports. I believe that with the pressure on increasing the domestic cost of dried vine fruits to the consumer there will be increases in price and imports will be at a considerably lower cost. Those imports will eat into a market that has been well established by our industry. I would have hoped that the Government could see its way clear to moving that support from the 15 per cent level to the 25 per cent level. I believe that that would indicate on the industry's part a very large accommodation to the Government.

I do not support the Minister's comment that the industry does not necessarily know best what it is about and that to go along with an industry's suggestion is to give everything away. I believe that the industry has gone a long way with the Government. However, I believe that ultimately the industry's preferred position will be quite different from where the Government is now taking it. The industry has accommodated the general thrust of the Government's proposal. It has accepted where the Government wishes to take it. It is now merely saying that the level of support that the Government has determined should not drop as low as it has. I am quite sure that the preferred level of support for the industry might very well stay at the level it is this year in each of the commodity areas rather than drop. So it is not the preferred model of the industry by--

Senator Button —I am sorry; you said it was earlier.

Senator MACKLIN —I am saying that it is not preferred in the sense of being the optimum one that the industry would like. The industry is saying that if it has to go along with what the Government is suggesting it would like the figure to be reduced to 2 per cent and not 15 per cent.