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Tuesday, 8 November 1938

Mr FAIRBAIRN (Flinders) .- I am astonished at the statement of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) that the amendment merely provides a safeguard. Far from being a safeguard it is, in my opinion, a menace. At the present time the apple and fruit growing industry is in a most precarious position. Its export market is con fined almost entirely to the United Kingdom, and it is an open secret that tremendous pressure is being brought to bear upon the ' Government of that country to enter into a trade agreement with another country which produces large quantities of fruit. I do not know what the members of the trade delegation did when in England recently, but if they did their job properly they tried to preserve a market there for Australian apples and pears. lt would be disastrous to offer a gratuitous insult to the people from whom we are asking a favour. It has been suggested that it would be an act of patriotism to confine this business to companies operating in Australia, but actually the companies most concerned are English companies which believe that they would be able to gain an advantage over their competitors if they could get the ear of the Minister. It is unwise to do anything which might imperil an industry already in difficulties. This legislation has not by any means the unanimous support of the industry, for there are many growers of fruit who regard it as a form of nationalization of their industry. If Ave are to set up a board to deal with this industry, Ave should he prepared to trust it in the matter of insurance. As has been pointed out, the industry has been in difficulties for some years, and with rising costs, returns are small.. In fact, many growers have lost money during recent years. The suggestion that the hoard which is to control the industry should not have the power to effect savings by arranging wholesale insurances, merits the greatest indignation and condemnation by the industry. I realize that the honorable and learned member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has been carried away by the fact that his amendment has been suggested to him as having some relation to the protective system of Australia, but ho,\ " knocking back " one insurance company in Great Britain in favour of another can have anything to do with our protective system, I do not know. If there has been one proposition on which this committee has been unanimous, it is that everything should be done to give representation on the board to the growers It would not be right to take away the board's powers. The Dairy Produce Export Control Board has been able to effect a saving in insurance rates, and are we to prevent the Apple and Pear Board from doing likewise? The proposal is fantastic and most dangerous.

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