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Wednesday, 11 November 1959

Mr ADERMANN (Fisher) (Minister for Primary Industry) . - by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The main object of this bill is to establish the Australian Canned Fruit Sales Promotion Committee, and to vest it with authority to utilize funds, to be derived from a levy to be imposed on fruits supplied for canning, for the promotion of sales of canned apricots, peaches, pears and canned mixed fruits of those varieties overseas and in Australia.

For several years now the fruit canning industry has been experiencing the effects of increasingly strong competition from other suppliers in practically all our export markets, and when it is recalled that some 60 per cent of our annual pack of canned fruits is exported the significance of this becomes very real. The Government has been lending the strongest weight it can to the exploitation of overseas markets for canned fruit and is assisting the industry in its trade arrangements with other countries, through the Trade Commissioner Service and per medium of the overseas trade publicity organization, towards the financing of which the Government is a heavy subscriber. Canners, of course, are already pushing sales quite vigorously but competition is intensifying.

The general trend of canned fruit production has been a steadily increasing one, and the industry now finds itself in a position of some difficulty. The logical points to concentrate upon in order to meet the present situation are to endeavour to increase sales on the domestic market and to intensify sales promotion efforts on export markets. The Australian Canning Fruitgrowers Association, a body representative of the vast majority of growers of canning fruit, has applied itself to the problem, and growers have generally recognized that they themselves must assist canners in the task of maintaining and, if possible, increasing sales. Accordingly, the association, on behalf of growers, has requested the Government to introduce legislation to impose a levy on growers based on their deliveries of canning fruit to canneries. The proceeds of this levy are to be made available for the purpose of promoting the sale of canned fruit both in Australia and overseas, and the bill I am now presenting, as I have already mentioned, is to establish a committee to formulate and carry out the promotion activities.

The two other central industry organizations concerned, the Australian Canned Fruits Board and the Australian Canners Association, have endorsed the proposal of the Canning Fruitgrowers Association, and the Canners Association has indicated that canners as a whole are willing to operate the machinery necessary to collect the levies from growers. It is envisaged that an annual fund of some £50,000 will thus be made available to enlarge in a rational manner on promotion work already being undertaken.

The constitution of the Australian Canned Fruit Sales Promotion Committee, as provided for in the legislation, will ensure the balance of voting power to the representatives of the Australian Canning Fruitgrowers Association; and the Australian Canned Fruits Board, the Australian Canners Association and the Commonwealth Government will also be represented. In this way the operations of the committee will run in harmony with, and supplement to the best advantage, existing promotion activities.

It is commendable that producers of the primary product should recognize difficulties facing disposal of their product in a secondary form and should levy themselves to provide funds to assist in ensuring its disposal. At the request of the growers the Government has been pleased to introduce these bills to give legislative expression to their wishes.

Honorable members may have noticed that canned pineapple has not been included in the proposals, and this, I assure them, is at the wish of that section of the industry. The Committee of Direction of Fruit Marketing, a growers' co-operative operating under Queensland legislation, is already conducting quite extensive promotion activities in respect of canned pineapples at home and in overseas markets.

I commend the bill to honorable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.

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