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Wednesday, 26 November 1941

Mr JOLLY (Lilley) .- Whilst J do not oppose the bill, I regret that honorable members have not been supplied with a complete statement of the financial transactions of the Apple and Pear Board. On. referring to the report of the Committee which inquired into the operations of the board earlier this year, I find some comments about unsatisfactory financial arrangements, associated with the activities of the board. The House is entitled to receive an explanation of the reasons for this substantial loss of £1,400,000. Even the statement which the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) submitted to the House this afternoon upon the activities of the board does not enable honorable members to estimate the value to Australia of the apple and pear industry. So far as I can gather, its value is approximately £3,000,000 a year. If my estimate be accurate, honorable members should note that the appropriation which Parliament is now asked to make represents 50 per cent, of the value of the industry.

Mr Frost - What roti

Sir George Bell - One-half of the Australian production of apples and pears in normal times is exported.

Mr JOLLY - The total advances by the Commonwealth Bank in connexion with the activities of the board are approximately £4,000,000. Of that sum, Parliament is asked to find £1,400,000.

Mr Anthony - That is not 50 per cent.

Mr JOLLY - I can cite only broad figures, because honorable members have not been supplied with the details of the operations of the board. If Parliament were to pay a proportionate bounty to other industries, the country would be in a sad economic plight.

Mr Pollard - The previous Government, which the honorable member supported, granted considerable financial assistance to secondary industries.

Mr JOLLY - Nothing like the amount proportionately which Parliament is now called upon to pay to the apple and pear industry.

Mr Pollard - What about the assistance that is being given to the sugar industry?

Mr JOLLY - Surely the honorable member for Ballarat will agree that when Parliament is asked to meet a loss of this kind, honorable members are entitled to an explanation of how the deficit was incurred.

Mr Pollard - The information is contained in the report of the committee which recently inquired into the industry.

Mr JOLLY - During the last season the sale of apples and pears by the board failed by £1,400,000 to cover the expense of its operation.

Mr Pollard - The report of the committee, which is available to the honorable member, explains the whole position.

Mr JOLLY - I have an abridged report, and I defy any honorable member to elicit from its contents the actual financial position of the industry.

Mr Ryan - A larger report of 604 pages is available.

Mr JOLLY - I trust that the Minister will ensure that the recommendation of the committee, that the AuditorGeneral should make a complete investigation of the financial position of the board, will be adopted. I ask him also to supply to the House a statement of the value of the industry to Australia and the expense incurred by the board in marketing apples and pears last year.

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