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Tuesday, 12 May 1970

Mr Grassby asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

(1)   Did the prune industry lose $27,620 as a result of the decision of the Commonwealth Government following the British devaluation of sterling.

(2)   Did the industry lose a further amount of $942.88 on fruit still held in the Suez Canal.

(3)   Have detailed submissions been made by the Australian Dried Fruits Association to his Department urging the payment of $28,563.11 compensation in the same way as compensation was granted to other larger and more influential industries.

(4)   Was there a considerable delay in processing the submissions, and were they eventually refused.

(5)   If so. will he re-consider this refusal to grant the same assistance to this industry as was granted to others with similar claims.

Mr Anthony - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   and (2) The claim submitted by the Australian Dried Fruits Association for compensation on prune exports affected by the devaluation of sterling in November 1967 amounted to $28,563.11. This amount was made up of $27,620.23 representing losses claimed on unremitted sterling funds, unpaid sterling contracts and firm forward sterling contracts; and $942.88 representing the difference in Australian currency between the value of insurance recoveries in post devaluation circumstances for fruit held up in the Suez Canal and the value of such recoveries if they had been paid in pre-devaluation circumstances.

(3)   and (4) The claim by the Australian Dried Fruits Asociation was submitted on 29th August, 1968. The losses amounting to $27,620.23 were losses of a kind occurring immediately at the time of devaluation which could have been avoided if the exporters concerned had taken out forward exchange insurance cover available from the Reserve Bank. The Government had announced early in August 1968 that losses of this kind would not be compensated as they could not meet one of the basic criteria for compensation laid down in Docember 1967, namely, that particular losses claimed as a consequence of devaluation had to be unavoidable.

The Association was informed of this decision on the 12th September 1968, and (he decision's applicability to the prune industry case was confirmed by letter to the Association of the 21st October 1968. The Association informed all packers and agents by circular of the 28th October 1968.

The Government gave further consideration to devaluation compensation in respect of goods held up in the Suez Canal, but decided that devaluation losses in this regard were not eligible for compensation, as forward exchange cover would also have been available against this kind of loss. This decision was announced in December 1968 and the Association specifically informed of it on the 19th December 1968.

(5)   These decisions were applied to compensation claims for these kinds of losses received from a range of industries and were not applied only to the prune industry. The suggestion that compensation for these kinds of losses was paid to other industries in the same circumstances is not correct.

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