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Friday, 4 November 1938

Mr FROST (Franklin) . - I did not know that this bill was to precipitate into a State versus State quarrel, but 1 am convinced from the discussion that some honorable members are doing their best to crush the apple and pear industry in Tasmania. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) said that the trees in Tasmania are too old. If he knew anything about the subject he would know that in order to grow the best fruit one must have well-matured trees. The Honorable W. H. Calvert, of Huon, has trees which are 100 years old, and last year, as he has done for several years past, he won the Orient prize for apples. Western Australia has a certain acreage of land coming into fruit-bearing, but the fruit will not be fit for export for at least ten years. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Green) became very heated when he pointed out that the quota for Western Australia last year was only 11 per cent. That was because Western Australia did not have the fruit. There was plenty of shipping space available, hut the fruitgrowers fell down on their job. It reminds me of how the Western Australian Government fell down on its job when it undertook a scheme to develop its wheat industry in order to supply the whole of the British market. It brought to this country migrants and settled them on blocks in Western Australia which were entirely unsuited for the growing of wheat. The unfortunate migrants became half-starved, and were forced into the bankruptcy court. The State Government now proposes to embark on a similar procedure, but in this case fruit-growing is to be the industry into which the migrants are to be thrust. I venture the opinion that there will be the same end to this scheme as there was to the wheat scheme, but the results will be worse, because they will have the effect of ruining the market for Australian apples and pears in Great Britain. The result will be that Tasmania will be the worst sufferer, because it is the biggest producer. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) declared that Tasmania could not expand any further its apple and pear growing industry. At the present stage it does not wish to do so. 1 remind the honorable gentleman that in the last two years 2.S00 acres of orchards have been scrubbed out. We reduced our acreage because of over-production. I trust that when a vote is taken on this matter honorable gentlemen will vote for my amendment, which is intended to stabilize the apple and pear growing industry. Apple and pear growing is a Tasmanian industry. I concede that other States do grow a certain quantity of good fruit, but no reliance can be placed on their crops. We have not had a crop failure in Tasmania for many years.

Mr Archie Cameron - But Tasmania is getting close to one.

Mr FROST - I do not say that we cannot have a crop failure, but we are prepared to take the risk. The Tasmanian growers want to know what their quota will be. It is of no U.Se to keep them waiting right up to the time when the fruit is ready for picking. They must have their information six months ahead of the picking season. Already the f.o.b. buyers are in Tasmania making purchases, although the fruit has only just formed on the trees. How could we sell our fruit under that system if we did not know what our quota was to be. It would be possible for us to sell 2,500,000 bushels, and then find that our quota was only 1,000,000 bushels. I do not think that the eastern States are opposed to the amendment. It is Western Australia that is the difficulty. Honorable members from that State say that they will never be able to rise above their quota if the quota is fixed on the three year average, but how did South Australia rise above its quota last year? Its quota was 400,000 bushels, but it shipped 603,000 bushels. The excess was due to a crop failure in another State.

Mr Archie Cameron - But that is not possible under this bill.

Mr FROST - The Assistant Minister keeps on repeating that, hut it is not so.

Mr Archie Cameron - The law has to be observed.

Mr FROST - If one State cannot fill its quota another State will take its place.

Mr Archie Cameron - That is not m the bill, and it is not in the honorable member's amendment.

Mr FROST - It is common law that if one State is not able to fill its quota another State will do so.

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