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Friday, 4 November 1938

Mr RANKIN (Bendigo) . - I can sympathize somewhat with the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost; and his Tasmanian colleagues, who desire to hold a market which Tasmanian growers have supplied for a very long time; but consideration must surely be given to the position of apple and pear growers inthe, other States of the Commonwealth, where production is increasing year by year and where many acres were planted to apples and pears before any suggestion was made of export quotas. 1 have in mind, particularly, the Murray Valley area in which the best export pears sent from Australia are grown.

Mr Frost - The honorable member appears to be unaware that a quota is not suggested for pears; nor is it ever likely to be suggested.

Mr RANKIN - It may be true that no quota is being suggested at present, but with our increasing production, the time will inevitably come when we shall have to consider a quota for pears just as we are to-day considering a quota for apples. The production of export pears from the Shepparton to Cohuna district in the Murray Valley is approximately 150,000 bushels a year, but in the next three or four years it will have increased to about 500,000 bushels a year. I do not consider that the Tasmanian proposal would be fair to the rest of Australia, and in this Parliament we should take an Australia-wide view. Something has been said about efficiency in production. I consider thai the fruit-growers on the mainland are just as efficient as those of Tasmania. In fact I have been informed by fruit experts that one of the great ( roubles in Tasmania is that although the frees in many orchards are very old the growers will not re-plant. Consequently a good deal of second-rate fruit is being produced in Tasmania.

Mr Barnard - Nonsense!

Mr Frost - Is the honorable member aware that Mr. W. H. Calvert, M.L.C., and his son, who are among our largest exporters, took the Orient prize, which is open to competition from the whole of Australia, with fruit picked from trees more than 100 years old ? Our trees, like Johnny Walker's whisky, improve with age.

Mr RANKIN - Nevertheless fruit experts have assured me that inferior fruit is being produced and exported from Tasmania. It is well known that some of the mainland States suffer periodically from thrips and other pests. In Victoria the production fell from 2,000,000 bushels to 600,000 bushels in one year because of the ravages of thrips. We must fix an equitable basis for the quotas. The principle enunciated by the Assistant Minister is fair and reasonable, and I shall support it.

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