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Thursday, 10 November 1938

Mr FROST (Franklin) . - I do not know why there should be such a lengthy debate on the amendment moved by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) because even if it were adopted it would not save the industry. Insurance is one of the smallest charges which the growers have to meet. The remarks of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) suggest that if the amendment were adopted he would prefer the bill to be defeated. Personally I do not care if the bill is not passed in its present form because the amendments which I have moved to improve it have not been supported by a majority of the committee. The honorable member for Swan said that if the amendment were adopted the Australian insurance companies would be able to charge whatever premiums they desire. The honorable member is wrong. Are the growers compelled to insure their fruit?

Mr Gregory - No.

Mr FROST - If the premiums are considered to be too high they need not insure their shipments.

Mr Anthony - It is a good business practice to insure protection.

Mr FROST - It is. Paragraph b of clause 15 reads -

After such date as is notified in the Gazette by the Minister on the recommendation of the board, a contract for -

(b)   the insurance against lose or deterioration of such apples or pears whilst awaiting transport or in transit or until disposed thereof, shall not be made except in conformity with conditions approved by the board, or by the board acting as the agent of the owners of the apples or pears, or of other persons having authority to export them.

In the past, except in one year on a shipment of pears, growers have never had an insurance cover for deterioration. In that instance the companies were so hard hit that they would not insure further shipments. In some instances the freight is advanced in England, and. insurance is effected to cover freight and similar costs. An f.o.b. purchaser could insure in Great Britain the fruit which he purchased.

Mr Paterson - So long as the board permits him so to do.

My. FROST. - He could have his cover under any conditions, but if the freight is paid in Australia there would be no need to have any cover at this end. A few years ago, when the premium rates were increased, several large growers in the Huon district who paid freight and other expenses did not insure their consignments. They could not be compelled to do so. A small shipper in my electorate pays the freight himself and does not insure his fruit. There is nothing to compel a shipper who pays the freight to insure his consignments.

Mr Gregory - A shipper could not get an advance if he did not insure the consignment.

Mr FROST - If he paid freight he would not need an advance. If the Australian insurance companies should charge exorbitant premiums, the Government, upon the advice of the board, could advance the freight, and thus avoid the necessity to take out an insurance cover. I am not conversant with the present rates, but I do not think that they are unduly high. The exporting companies undertake the insurance for the growers. They are never insured against total loss only if the fruit deteriorates the insurance companies will not pay. A clause is inserted in policies issued by the insurance companies which provides that if the refrigerating machinery on the ship breaks down for a continuous period of 24 hours, or if the ship is lost, a claim may be made; but only once or twice have shippers been able to make such a claim. If the fruit goes totally bad, no claim can be made. The only chance an exporter has in such circumstances is to claim against the shipping company for negligence. When such a claim has been substantiated, the shipping companies and not the insurance companies have to reimburse the growers for losses incurred. In my opinion, the whole matteris not worth the time that has been spent on it during this debate.

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