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Friday, 22 May 1970

Mr ANTHONY (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Primary Industry) - The honourable member for Franklin did speak yesterday during the Grievance debate. He presented a catalogue of statements made and events that have occurred over the last 6 months aimed at trying to resolve the industry's wish to have an apple stabilisation scheme. He was critical of the delay that has taken place. Last December the Chairman of the Austraiian Apple and Pear Board saw me and asked whether I would have a conference with the industry to see whether we could negotiate a stabilisation scheme. I informed him that 1 thought the most appropriate time for such a discussion would be after I had received information from the survey into the apple industry being carried out by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. For a series of reasons this survey has not been completed and therefore I had not been able to submit that report to the industry.

In the meantime officers of my Department have been working with industry representatives to iron out any difficulties they can see in the plan that is to be submitted to me. I am told that the survey of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics is now completed, but it will take a little while to put it in documentary form. In the meantime the Bureau has prepared another paper for me containing new evidence and information relating to the industry resulting from the survey. I have forwarded this information to the Chairman of the Apple and Pear Board and have suggested that there should be a meeting of officers of my Department and industry representatives to review these matters. This meeting has been set down for next Tuesday in Melbourne. At that meeting I will be able to provide them also with the information I have received from the survey. I hope I will be able to give them a preliminary document in the very near future. The final report will take a little while to publish.

I am aware that the honourable member for Franklin and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition might feel that there has been some delay in doing this, but I want to assure them that the Government has treated this as a matter of urgency. I have no wish to act promptly and boldly in order to get 5 minutes of approbation only to have the scheme rejected by sections of the industry or by the Commonwealth and State governments. Deep and detailed consideration of all the information available is required. An apple stabilisation scheme is not easy to implement. There are many complications. Different conditions apply to the industry in different parts of Australia. There is a wide variety of apples. There are problems in the export and sale of apples. All of these things have to be taken into consideration. 1 hope that when these matters are resolved I can place before the Government a scheme which will be acceptable.

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