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Friday, 4 November 1938

Mr ROSEVEAR (Dalley) .- 1 am not at any time violently enamoured of legislation of this character, but seeing that it is up for review we ought to consider its possible effects nott only on the export of apples and pears to Great Britain and other markets, but also oh the general position of the industry. Two things are evident in the discussion up to date. One is that the overseas market for apples and pears is limited, and the second - if we are to take notice of the keen anxiety expressed by members from different States - is that there is a largely increased production. Judging by the enthusiasm with which members of all parties and from all States have been canvassing the industry, it would appear that not only is there a greatly increased production of apples throughout Australia, but also that every State is " snavelling " for the limited overseas market that is available. I believe that another factor which must be taken into consideration is that the apple-growers of Tasmania pioneered this industry in Australia. It is one of that State's staple industries, and if it be smashed a_big step will have been taken towards the smashing of Tasmania. If in regard to quality the product of the other States was superior to that of Tasmania, the loss of the market by Tasmania would be unavoidable; such is not the case. I warn, honorable members that a bill of this character, which gives to growers of apples m other States the false impression that they may hope for a bigger percentage of the overseas markets, induces over-production. That has been the result in many other industries. The wheat-growers were urged to grow more wheat, and did so, but it was left a prey to mice and weevils. On another occasion the advice was given to grow more hops, and when a greater quantity was produced it was left with the growers. That is the danger which I apprehend in this case. I believe that if there is danger of over-production - and there are portents of it in the anxiety expressed by honorable members on both sides of the chamber concerning the increase that has taken place - the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) has provided the Government with the key to the situation, and if it accepts his proposal it will be enabled to restrict the degree to which other States come into 1 the market to the detriment of Tasmania, and at the same time stabilize the whole position. The Assistant Minister (Mr. Archie Cameron) has claimed that his proposal is not so rigid as is that of the honorable member for Franklin. T agree that it does not seem to he, but a careful reading of it will show that it could be equally as rigid. It. says that the board shall take into consideration the average yearly exports overseas of apples and pears from each State during the period of three years immediately preceding the year in which the basis is adopted. That is all right. But the Assistant Minister then proposes to insert the following - and such other factors relating to the production of apples and pears in each State, and the available markets therefor, as the board thinks fit.

By a simple mental operation the board, in pursuance of the power given in those last two lines, may neutralize any good contained in the preceding portion of the provision. I ask the Assistant Minister to consider that aspect carefully. The committee should adopt the idea of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) and accept only the first portion of the provision.

Mr Archie Cameron - My idea is that the bill is all right as it is.

Mr ROSEVEAR - Then why the Government's amendment?

Mr Paterson - To try to meet the wishes of the honorable member for Franklin.

Mr ROSEVEAR - In one portion there is the attempt to meet the desire of the honorable member for Franklin, but the effect of that portion is entirely neutralized by the concluding provision. I believe that the honorable member for Gippsland will realize that, it he carefully considers the matter. The honorable member for Franklin has asked the committee to adopt a proposal under which the shipments of the previous three years will be taken into consideration in fixing the quota for each State. I believe that that would mean merely simple justice to the people of Tasmania, who have pioneered this industry. If there is to be any gate-crashing into the overseas market by other States, which are just now taking an increasing interest in the growing of apples for export, and a consequent limitation of the export percentage which the people of Tasmania have built up and enjoyed, then the blow on the Tasmanian grower could be lightened by imposing a three-year restriction. I hope that the committee will take these factors into consideration. The hill gives to apple growers throughout the various States of Australia the false hope of an unlimited market, which does not exist. Even though they are aware that it is not unlimited, they are given the hope of being able to gatecrash in the matter of quotas against the State which pioneered the industry. The danger with which we are confronted is that, in the near future, the apple industry, not only in Tasmania but also throughout Australia, will be ruined by reason of the over-production encouraged by this legislation.

Progress reported.

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