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Thursday, 1 December 1960

Mr POLLARD (Lalor) .- Mr. Speaker,this is a small measure, the purpose of which is to amend the Apple and Pear Export Charges Act 1938-1957, which authorizes a levy on apple and pear growers in order to obtain funds out of which to meet the administrative charges of the Aus tralian Apple and Pear Board and to finance the participation by the board in certain publicity and other activities designed to obtain and expand markets for Australian apples and pears. Under the existing act, the maximum levy which may be imposed is 2d. a case on apples and pears exported. This bill will substitute for the word " twopence " in the principal act the word " sixpence " in order that a levy of up to 6d. a case may be imposed. I understand that the Australian Apple and Pear Board recommended this change to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), and I think I am correct in assuming that the board would not have recommended the imposition of an increased charge on export fruit - the levy does not apply to fruit consumed locally - unless the board had been satisfied that the great majority of the growers whom it represents was in favour of the proposal.

It is true that over the years since 1947, owing to the weaknesses of this Government as exemplified by its false economic theories and practices, the administrative expenses of the Australian Apple and Pear Board have increased. No doubt, also, publicity in other parts of the world designed to promote the sale of Australian apples and pears has become more important than hitherto. In these circumstances, what can the Opposition say except that it believes that the board has necessarily to continue with this work and to meet its obligations, much as we dislike giving this authority to increase the levy from 2d. to 6d. a case. After all, 6d. a case will amount to a fairly heavy levy for a grower who produces a lot of fruit. The giving of authority to make a levy of 6d. a case, however, does not necessarily mean that the levy inflicted will be 6d. a case. It may be 4d. or 5d., or whatever other amount the board thinks is necessary and the Minister approves.

Mr E James Harrison - Could it be 5id. a case?

Mr POLLARD - It could. To any one who knows anything about fruit-growing, a levy of 5d. a case is not insignificant. The trees cultivated by some growers are very prolific, and many cases are produced. On a large volume of production, one halfpenny or even one farthing a case is of great importance.

The Opposition does not object to the passage of this measure, Mr. Speaker, and I wish only to express the hope that the Government will exhibit greater wisdom in the control of our economic life in the future and that ever-increasing costs will not make it necessary for the Minister, in about twelve months' time, to bring in another measure to authorize the raising of the limit of maximum levy from 6d. to ls. a case. With those few words, I give the Opposition's agreement to the passage of this bill.

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