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Thursday, 2 December 1976

Mr DRUMMOND (Forrest) -The purpose of these Bills is to finance the Apple and Pear Corporation. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) in his second reading speech said:

These legislative proposals give effect to the recommendations of the Australian Apple and Pear Growers' Association for a new basis of financing the activities of the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation.

Much has been said about the method of collection of fees. I know that I have only a few moments in which to speak. I will slide over many things which I would have liked to have said tonight. Much has been said about deficiencies in the method of collecting this levy. It must be recalled that again in the Minister's second reading speech he stated:

Honourable members may recall that proposals were before the Parliament, at the time ofthe double dissolution last year, for the Corporation to be financed from the proceeds of a levy on bearing areas of apple and pear trees. The apple and pear growing industry, having reconsidered this proposal-

This is the industry itself- has confirmed its original view that it would prefer the levy to be based on the quantity of fruit marketed, both in Australia and overseas.

I agree with the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles). I recognise that there will be difficulties in the method of collection. But I believe that this is the most equitable method by which the levy can be collected. Nothing need last forever. If this system proves to be inefficient maybe the Government, which has been guided by the industry in the decisions which it has taken regarding the raising of this levy, can have another look at the matter. There is no reason why it cannot, although I appreciate that there will be difficulties. But once again I point out that the Government had been guided by the industry in this matter. Much has been said about the new Corporation, the members on it, and thenexpertise. One must remember that this is a new corporation. I think the proposals before us to finance the Corporation are more equitable and that they will lead to a sufficiency of money for that Corporation. This should lead to a noticeable marketing benefit. The extra funds will allow the Corporation to put the necessary effort into seeking and developing new markets overseas. Areas such as South East Asia undoubtedly hold the key to the industry's future and to its future viability in the export field. The extra funds will allow it seriously to build up the profitable home market for the first time.

We all wish the apple industry of Australia a prosperous future. But we all must recognise the difficulties which confront it. I also say tonight that many growers in Western Australia feel that while the Government has been guided by the Australian Apple and Pear Growers' Association, they feel isolated from the Corporation. They believe that they should be under great scrutiny in the next year or so to see that they are carrying out a worthwhile endeavour. The levy which has been imposed may not seem like a lot of money but it must be remembered that the exporting States of Western Australia and Tasmania basically carried the old Australian Apple and Pear Board in years gone by. This is a more equitable system but they are the States which will keep the apple industry- I speak mainly of apples because that is my concern- on a proper footing. If the apple export industry of Australia fails the rest of the apple industry in Australia must fail. Some concern has also been expressed in my State of Western Australia. I have brought this to the attention of the Government before and I do so now. This concern comes from the Chamber of Fruit and Vegetable Industries of Western Australia. In a part of its letter it states:

While the proposed collection process will not involve the grower or the Corporation in any cost, the cost to the community borne initially by agents and merchants will be high indeed and entirely out of proportion to the revenue raised. Collection of the levy on eachindividual transaction, the accounting for it and the remittance of the funds must, of necessity, be costly.

I realise that my time has come to an end. I flag those 2 warnings to the Government. I have done so on other occasions. I take this opportunity to say again that we must keep the new structure under closer scrutiny. We must be prepared to look at the method of collection of levies to see that it is equitable, that it does work and that it is practical.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

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