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Thursday, 2 December 1976
Page: 3197


Mr GILES (Angas) - I hope that it is not the kiss of death to the honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick) or to the honourable member for Fraser (Mr Fry) when I say sincerely that we on this side of the House are appreciative of the amount of work and constructive effort that they put into their speeches on industries such as horticulture. Sometimes a good thing goes a little bit too long when there are one or two other speakers each waiting to speak for 5 minutes. I know that the honourable member for Darling would never have transgressed on that if he had realised the position. I am not going to refer tonight to his devastating attack on the Government because there would be little point in it. The apple growers know the answers better than the honourable member for Darling in this instance. I say that in the nicest possible way. I have sat and listened to the honourable member for Fraser (Mr Fry) on 3 occasions this session. He has really studied his work and has tried to produce a constructive and logical argument. I for one, regardless of others, appreciate it because he works on his contributions and I acknowledge it. I will refer later to a minor disagreement which I have with the honourable member, but as far as I am concerned that will be nothing but constructive.

What I wish to say tonight will be brief and disjointed because I want to try to leave some time for my colleague the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Drummond) to speak tonight. Firstly, I want to congratulate the apple and pear industry on attempting to put its own house in order. This is an industry that can probably less afford to do so than any other primary industry of which I can think. Yet it is determined to do this and to pay levies to support its own corporation. I think that this is the first tiling that the House wants to note in relation to this Bill.

If I might get parochial, I have 2 things to say in a few sentences. First of all, I thought the House would like to know that out of the 9 members appointed to the Corporation there is yet to be one appointed from South Australia. South Australians have been appointed to the position of president of the Apple and Pear Association. They have been men of great stature. I believe that in the future a South Australian deserves some consideration in the making of appointments to the Apple and Pear Corporation. South Australia is only a small State in terms of apple growing. We have much competence in the field. I want to draw attention to the fact that we do not have representation on the Corporation. I would be silly if I did not say that of course State parochialism has no part in the composition of corporations. If the Government has the common sense that it deserves it should look across the Australian scene and obtain the best people that the industry can muster.

I have suffered here in silence for 2 months. I have heard Tasmanians say that they have the best quality apples in Australia. I have heard the same story from members from New South Wales. I have even heard mutters from members from Victoria. Of course, if honourable members like to look at the facts they will see that South Australian apples have always had a premium on the United Kingdom market, way above that of the apples from the other States. The fact that we have had the sense to withdraw from that export trade is another matter again. But I think the principle still applies. Those are my 2 parochial comments in relation to the industry.


Mr Yates - They are good ones.


Mr GILES - I think they contain a certain amount of truth to back up my contention. The other thing I would like to say is that I think it is totally unfair for the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating)- I think this is the third occasion on which he has done so when leading for the Opposition in a debate on a rural matterto attack the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair). He did it again tonight by saying that the Minister had never been to an apple growing area. This is patently absurd. If one applied the argument to the honourable member for Blaxland it might have some merit. But I happen to know that the Minister was in the apple growing area of New South Wales last weekend. He has been with me into apple growing areas of South Australia. He has probably been in many other apple growing areas as well. There are times, as the honourable member for Darling said, when members of Parliament have to get together for the sake of an industry and for the sake of rational thinking. On such occasions they need to chuck away stupid remarks that cannot be sustantiated by fact.

The honourable member for Blaxland, of course, took the side of the Industries Assistance Commission. He did not stop to recognise the fact that the Government did not accept the advice of the IAC, and that is terribly important to Tasmania. In fact, it refused the advice in relation to government subvention on risk fruit. This applies not to fruit exported to the Asian market, which is dealt with on a contract basis, but to risk shipments to European ports. The Government today introduced the total readjustment plan which will not be lost on those smaller fruit growers who are feeling the pinch. If I might be terribly polite, they are feeling the pinch because of undue cost in-puts visited on them by the previous Government. I do not think that is a political point and I do not wish it to be. But if one looks at the figures and the graphs I do not think that one can run away from that proposition. Therefore, the second thing that this Government has done, in addition to introducing the isolated tree pull scheme, the dairy scheme and what have you, is to introduce a total readjustment program that will allow such new matters as household support to apply. One can rant and rave- this is largely the job of an Oppositionthat the Government is doing nothing. But the facts rather belie that contention.

I think that in the few minutes that I have left before I allow my colleague to have his fair share of the time that is available I should comment on what was said by the honourable member for Fraser. He made a point that the area method of assessing the levies was the proper method. Contrary to what was said by the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) I accept in principle exactly what the honourable member for Fraser stated.


Mr Fry - Hear, hear!


Mr GILES -Exactly. To do anything else does not encourage efficiency. After all if we were to impose the levy on a low production area on the same basis as we impose it on an area that happens to produce more apples that tend, by the way, to be high quality apples, we would therefore be on the side of efficiency. The big tragedy of the situation was that Queensland in this case is said to have won the argument. Should it have won the argument? That is the next point. It is assessed that if the levy is imposed on an area basis in 1 976 it will cost $200,000 to collect $ 1 m. I might quickly say that a rough estimate of collecting it on a production basis through very few sources is 5 per cent of Sim and not 20 per cent, which unfortunately would be the case if one stuck to the principle of levying on an area basis. If one collects the levy on an area basis one has problems with the definition of the leviable land. It is all very well saying that one can sit up in a chopper and work it out on a map. But how does one tell what crop is bearing? How does one tell what crop has a disease and will not bear?

How does one tell from the air what crop is suffering from drought? How does one tell what crop, due to a good season, is yielding higher than another one?

There is also the problem of the exact measurement of the viable land. One has to calculate the deductions. There are deductions due to hardship that would make it difficult to levy on a productive basis. There may also be claims for remission of levies as a result of crop failure, general hardship, low returns and other matters that I have already mentioned. The big problem of levying on a per acreage basis is this: One may have 7000 apple growers to levy, all of which have to be contacted individually. One does not have anything like that same picture when one looks at the other method that the Government has adopted. I repeat the fact that about 5 per cent of the $lm levy will be spent to collect the levy under the method the Government has now adopted.

There are various aspects about which one could talk in relation to the method of raising the levy. I do not accept what the honourable member for Maranoa has said. From memory I think he said that to impose the levy per production unit is the correct and the most efficient method. It is the most economic but it does not encourage efficiency of production. To that extent I am on the side ofthe honourable member for Fraser. I am just sorry that the method which the industry wishes to use to collect the levy is such a totally uneconomic one. I would have liked to have mentioned many other things. However, time will not allow me to do so. I support the Bill and I hope that the couple of isolated remarks that I have put forward will be helpful to the debate.







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