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Thursday, 17 November 1938

Mr WARD (East Sydney) .- Honorable members are labouring under a misapprehension. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has endeavoured to prove to the committee that this particular form of insurance, because it would be confined to one commodity, would not be profitable either to the board or to any particular company. In view of the speech which the honorable member made only a few nights ago, I think he recognizes that, over a span of years, all forms of insurance prove profitable to the companies which undertake them. It is only at a particular moment that the risk might be greater than the board could bear; that is, in the initial stage of its operations. If we want any evidence as to whether or not this particular insurance would be profitable to the private insurance companies, we have only to recall the lobbying of a few nights ago to secure the support of honorable members for 'a particular amendment which has now been withdrawn. Evidently, then, the private insurance companies of this country do not hold the view of the honorable member for Richmond, that this particular insurance would not prove profitable to them.

Mr Anthony - Combined with other insurance.

Mr WARD - I say to the honorable member for Richmond that, whether or not it was combined with other forms of insurance, taken over a specified span this particular insurance would prove profitable to the companies undertaking it. If they were not assured of that, they would not be so anxious to secure it. Their premiums are .fixed on the basis of covering all their risks.

In respect of what the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) has said, the last occasion on which a shipment of apples and pears was lost was when the Ferndale went down.

Mr Nock - There has been loss by damage, even though the ship has not gone down.

Mr WARD - According to the honor- . able member for Franklin (Mr. Frost), the companies will not cover loss or damage occasioned by deterioration in transit; the only risk they will undertake is in respect of total loss. Since the loss of the Ferndale, there has been a long .unbroken period of profit or income to the private insurance companies. Shipwrecks do not occur every day in the week. I think that honorable members will recognize that had a board undertaken the insurance work over the whole of the period of export it would have found it very profitable and would to-day be in possession of funds which would permit it to undertake the risk that honorable members say it would be dangerous for it to undertake on its own behalf.

Ihope that honorable members will not be misled into believing that the board would be taking an undue risk in insuring apples and pears under the provisions of my proposed new clause. The honorable member for Perth said that the board should not be asked to accept risks until it had accumulated funds. My reply is that the Government should guarantee the board against immediate loss until funds have accumulated. The honorable member for Richmond explained only a few days ago how the State insurance office of New South Wales had developed. He told us that its premiums were 50 per centless than those sought to be imposed by the private insurance companies, and that immediately the antiLabour Government of New South W ales prevented it from accepting workers' compensation business the premiums charged by the private companies increased by 300 per cent, and in some cases even by 400 per cent. The purpose of private insurance companies is, of course, to make profits for their shareholders, whereas the purpose of the Apple and Pear Board would be to conserve the funds of the apple and pear-growers. If the board undertook the insurance responsibility it could protect the growers against deterioration while fruit was awaiting transit and also during transit. The private companies will not accept this risk. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) observes by interjection that the board would have no funds. Did the State insurance office have funds when itbegan operations? It did not. It operated for some time under the guarantee of the State Government. We contend that the Apple and Pear Board could operate under a similar guarantee from the Commonwealth Government. I ask honorable members opposite to support their words by their votes on this occasionand give the Apple and Pear Board the opportunity to protect the growers from undue exploitation by private insurance companies both in Australia and abroad.

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