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Tuesday, 8 November 1938


Mr GREGORY (Swan) .- The proposal contained in the amendment moved by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), which would force exporters to insure with Australian companies, is one of the most extraordinary that I have heard in my long experience in this Parliament. Those who are behind it cannot realize the value of our export trade, and what damage could be done to that trade by legislation which contained a provision of the sort provided for in the amendment. If the amendment were carried, the fact would soon be published in England that restrictions were being placed in Australia on British insurance businesses. Many of the companies which are concerned in the export of apples and pears are English companies and they would naturally wish to insure with their own people. Our export trade is difficult enough in the circumstances which exist to-day; acceptance of this amendment would increase the difficulties.From time to time the Commonwealth Government has come to the assistance of apple and pear exporters with bounties on export, because as the result of increased costs, the export trade has not been profitable; but it is essential that the trade should be developed, and any action likely to have repercussions in England against the sale of our fruit should be avoided. Not so long ago there was in England what amounted to a boycott of Australian butter. There must be no repetition of that, if we can avoid it. Nothing must be done which might result in the English people giving preference to American and other apples and pears over Australian fruit. Do honorable members realize that our trade in apples and pears with the United Kingdom is worth about £1,500,000 per annum and that that money circulates in Australia and provides employment for 6,500 persons at an average income of £200 a year, while the employment of those 6,500 persons provides occupations for at least 2,000 or 3,000 more? It would be madness to pass legis lation which contained provisions of the sort contained in the amendment. Anything that would tend to destroy our trade in apples or pears, or at any rate, increase the costs which the trade has to bear, should be discouraged.







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