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Thursday, 28 March 1957

Mr FALKINDER (Franklin) .- First of all, I wish to reply to the statement of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) in relation to the licensing of exporters. The present regulations of the Australian Apple and Pear Board provide that any exporter who demonstrates a permanent interest-

Mr Pollard - Ah! Nobody else is allowed to establish himself as an exporter and to start a new line in life!

Mr FALKINDER - Any person who demonstrates a permanent interest in being an exporter will be granted a licence.

Mr Duthie - That is socialism.

Mr FALKINDER - I shall reinforce that by saying that it was socialism under the honorable member for Lalor when he was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. He supported this in a stronger degree. It is true to say that there is a widening of the right of an exporter to engage in the trade. I make that point at the outset.

I shall direct my remarks solely to the bill. The Apple and Pear Export Charges Act 1938-1947 provides for a maximum charge of Id. a case on apples and pears exported from the Commonwealth subject to a lower rate being prescribed by regulation. The purpose of this bill is to amend the act in order to raise the maximum charge which may be imposed from Id. a case to 2d. a case on apples and pears exported from the country. In common with the honorable member for Lalor, I deplore the necessity to raise any of the charges imposed upon export applegrowers, whether those charges be freight, other transport charges, or anything else that will diminish their return. But I quite honestly believe that this is an appropriate measure to be put before the Parliament. The amount raised by the previous contribution is £20,000. That amount is largely taken up in administration costs and, in fact, that amount does not go anywhere near achieving the real objective for which it was collected.

Having seen some examples of our other industries, such as the wine industry, languishing for want of propaganda in the United Kingdom, I strongly believe that we fall down very badly in advertising our goods in that country. In the first instance, I should like to make it quite clear that I really do believe that, if a few more pence were spent for each person and a higher return obtained for the individual grower, then something really worthwhile would be achieved. For many years we have not properly advertised our products in the United Kingdom. I am referring, of course, to apples and pears. In Tasmania, we produce the largest quantity of the fresh fruit products of Australia. Therefore, 1 believe that it is necessary to advertise properly the products that we put on the market. The important thing that will be provided by this bill will be publicity for our products, and that has been lacking.

I do not want to talk at length on the bill, but I want to make one or two points in the short time that I shall be speaking on this subject. Since the war, successive governments have asked all primary industries to raise their production and their standards of production. That is to say, they have been asked to improve the standard of the goods they are putting on the export market. I sincerely believe that the apple and pear industry is one industry that has quite positively improved its standards of presentation on the market. Before the war and almost immediately after the war, with the acquisition scheme, it was more or less accepted that a grower could put on the market in the United Kingdom what was called the old dump case of apples and could expect to obtain a reasonable price. In this postwar competitive world, much higher standards of presentation are required. I am proud to say that the Australian apple and pear industry has met those requirements. Growers are trying to lessen their costs by adopting bulk handling methods. Instead of the old tedious business of picking fruit individually, putting it into a case, carrying the case into a shed and going through all the processes, growers are now putting all their fruit into one large container on a tractor-trailer and are taking it into the shed, straight to the grader and there continuing the process of lowering costs by using, as it were, chain production methods.

On the subject of presentation, I have said that the idea seemed to be that if fruit was put in a dump case, that would be good enough. But that is not the position now. From that method we have progressed to a case of a higher standard. That is called the Canadian standard case. We have gone beyond that again and the newest proposal, which I believe will be popular in the industry, is to put the same quantity of apples into a cardboard container. That cardboard container can be extremely attractively labelled and has been adopted by Canada already. Last year, I understand, using those cardboard containers, which are easily disposable, Canadian growers obtained a premium on their initial pack of 14s. a case, and that is a pretty high premium. Our people are keeping abreast of that standard. The point 1 wish to make is that the Tasmanian apple-grower in particular and the Australian grower in general, are doing their very best to improve the standard of production, to reduce their costs as much as possible, and to improve their presentation. Therefore, 1 think it is true to say that the Australian apple and pear grower in general has vastly improved what was a rather haphazardly conducted industry.

I shall now refer directly to the bill. I agree with the honorable member for Lalor when he says that it is regrettable that it is necessary to raise the charge. However, 1 sincerely believe that eventually it will repay the grower, because, as the honorable member for Lalor, a former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, knows, there is now intensive competition from the Argentine with its depreciated currency, Canada, America, and, in recent years and in particular in the past year or so, from South Africa, with its short haulage distances and cheaper freight rates and labour. I honestly believe that every single penny that is spent on advertising our products is very well spent.

Without labouring the question for too long, may I point out that the Government is making a direct contribution to overseas publicity through its trade promotion policy in the United Kingdom. Officials of the Department of Trade and people employed by it are spending money directly on the apple and pear industry. It will be noted, therefore, that the grower himself and the Government in a wider sense, and also directly in England, are assisting to promote the industry. I support the bill.

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