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Thursday, 28 March 1957

Mr McMAHON (Lowe) (Minister for Primary Industry) . - in reply - I rise mainly to answer two questions that have been put to me by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). The first question, if I may paraphrase it, is whether there is a monopoly in the exporting of Australian apples and pears - in other words, whether it is possible or practicable for the board to grant licences to people who might want to get into the exporting business. I think I can say with certainty that the board takes a generous view of this problem and is only too anxious to grant export licences if it thinks that the facts justify the granting of licences to people who want to get into the export business permanently. What it does, when an application is made, is to look at the bona fides of the applicant and say to him, " Yes, we will give you a licence immediately, but at the end of a period of time we will review the application, and if we feel that your bona fides have been proved we will then grant you a permanent licence ". I should like to add, for the benefit of the honorable member for Lalor, that in the case of Western Australia a greater number of licences has been granted than in respect of any other State.

On the second question, as to whether or not it is possible for producer or exporting members to get to know the business of other people engaged in the trade, I can only repeat what he has said: It does happen and, of course, is inevitable. But I think we have sufficient men of integrity in this community to put on the board, confident in the knowledge that they will not use the information they gain for their own purposes. The honorable member knows this problem, and I think he went to just as much trouble as I do to see that only men of the highest integrity are appointed to these boards.

The apple and pear industry is, of course, an important export earner for this country. During the current exporting year, I think that 5,500,000 cases with a total value of £8,000,000 will be exported. Therefore, it is an industry that we want to support. But I want to protest strenuously, on behalf of the primary producers of this country, about the statement of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) that this is a socialized industry, and that the board is a socialistic board. I think that the honorable member for Lalor would recoil in horror if he thought that that was true. It must be obvious that the honorable member for Wilmot did not listen to what the honorable member for Lalor said, because the honorable member for Lalor made it clear that this was a supervisory board and could not in any circumstances acquire the produce of the primary producers.

The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) would enthusiastically demand that the Government should state again and again that the produce of the land belongs to the primary producer.

Mr Leslie - Hear, hear!

Mr McMAHON - In the case of this Apple and Pear Board, the produce remains the property of the primary producer. It so happens that the Apple and Pear Board cannot acquire apples and pears and never has a vested interest in the produce it sells. It is, as the honorable member for Lalor has said, a supervisory board and exercises only a supervisory jurisdiction. So I venture to say that if the quailing, querulous voice of the honorable member for Wilmot unfortunately were heard in Tasmania, most of the apples and pears down there would rot, and most of the apple and pear producers would rise in their wrath against him.

Finally, I want to give an assurance to the honorable member for Moore that the Commonwealth co-operates in promotion. That is a peculiar word. I should prefer to say " advertising ". The Government does participate in promotion activities. The honorable member will be glad to know - and I mention this because the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) did not mention it - that already the Government is engaging in promotion and advertising activities in Singapore, Germany and Sweden. Therefore, I am hopeful that we shall be able to secure a pretty good export market in those countries.

In conclusion, may I say that when I was attending the Olympic Games in Melbourne I visited the Olympic Village, and one of the things that impressed me was the enthusiasm with which the overseas representatives, particularly those from continental countries, welcomed the fact that they were able to obtain Australian fruit, especially pineapples, apples and pears. Their trainers told me, almost with a single voice, that the great worry of their lives was that, because of the high quality of the fruit and the liking that these people had for it, they experienced considerable difficulty in keeping their weight down, and therefore they found it even harder to beat the Australian athletes than they had expected.

I have mentioned these matters mainly to reply to questions raised by the honorable member for Lalor, whom we all know has the interests of the primary producer very much at heart. At the same time I have taken the opportunity to reply to other questions raised during the debate.

Mr Duthie - I rise to make a personal explanation. I was not present when certain statements were made by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon), and perhaps he thought that I did not hear him, but I was in my room listening to the debate over the air.

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