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Tuesday, 8 November 1938

Mr FAIRBAIRN (Flinders) .- I have a most sympathetic appreciation of the point of view of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost). This industry is of tremendous importance to the State of Tasmania, and to his electorate. As the honorable member for "West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), in supporting him, said, it would be only fair to safeguard the interests of a place in which the industry is in being. I think that the committee is largely in agreement with the honorable member for Franklin that the industry is of paramount importance to the people of Tasmania, and that it is surely easier for expansion to be slowed down in other parts than for a curtailment of what has been long established in his State. Nevertheless, I feel that this amendment is dangerous, and could work out very unfairly even to the State of Tasmania itself, in that if we adopted this rigid standard and any State should suffer a reduction of its export* in any one year, ii would be almost impossible for its quota to be again increased. Under the system of averaging, quotas can be reduced, but it is very difficult for any State to get its quota increased, except as the result of disaster in one or more of the other States. Suppose that a State ex ported 900,000 cases annually, and then in one year, as the result of a major disaster in the industry, its exports dropped to nil. For the purpose of simplicity I am stating an extreme case. That would mean that for two years that State would export 900,000 cases but nothing in the third year. If the amendment be adopted, its quota in the fourth year would be limited to 600,000 cases, or two-thirds of its average export. For the following year the quota would then be worked out on the basis of 900,000 cases, nil, and 600,000 cases, which would further reduce it to 500,000 cases. And for the next year tho quota would be based on annual exports of nil, 600,000, and 500,000 cases, which would decrease it to 366,000. In the following year there would bc a slight increase to 488,000. but for the next year it would fall again to 450,000, and in the sixth year, to 430.000. Exports would then be stabilized at approximately 450,000 cases, or about half of the original average. Should an extreme case of that kind arise, it is quite abvious that Parliament would have to amend this legislation further, and such a position could arise in. respect of any of the States if the amendment moved by the honorable member for Franklin be adopted. 1 admit that it is less likely to arise in respect of Tasmania, because that State enjoys the ideal climate for apple growing. For the last 10 years, or mort, it has experienced no major disaster in that industry. However, I do not think that any honorable member knows better than the honorable member for Franklin himself that of all industries the fruitgrowing industry is more likely to be visited by major disasters resulting in crops being completely lost, or, at least, reduced by half. I suggest, therefore, that it would be inimical to the interests of any State if we were to adopt a proposal of this kind.

I appreciate the arguments that this proposal, if adopted, would curtail expansion of the fruit-growing industry in other States where it is as yet in its infancy. Such submissions are countered largely by the contentions of the honorable member for West Sydney that the industry, ' as it exists to-day, ought to be given preference over problematical production in future years, lint 1 rely completely on the argument that. the proposal embodied in the amendment is not sufficiently elastic, and would not achieve what I understand to be the real objective which the honorable member for Franklin has in mind. The status quo ought to be definitely taken into consideration, and I should favour an amendment which, whilst allowing the board freedom of initiative to take into consideration any development in the industry which might call for special attention, sought to instruct the board that it must pay attention to the status quo. The board, however, should be free to depart from hard and fast quotas. I regret that I must oppose the amendment because I realize the valuable work which the honorable member for Franklin has done in connexion with this measure, and the very broad-minded view which he has taken of it as a whole. However, I feel that his suggestion is dangerous. There is a very strong argument for stabilizing the industry until such time as we know that we can, in fact, increase our exports, or until such time as we have educated the people of Australia to a greater consumption. For these reasons I shall oppose the amendment in its present form.

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