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Wednesday, 18 March 1936

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for External Affairs) [10.5] - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Up to 1932 New Zealand provided a large market for Australian citrus fruits, but in that year Australia lost the market in circumstances which I do not propose to discuss. They are regrettable, but I do not propose to say who was to blame. The need for support for the industry was borne in upon the Government, and it decided to assist financially the export of oranges during the 1933 season with the object of opening up other overseas markets. That assistance took the form of a guarantee of out-of-pocket' expenses up to a maximum of 13s. an export case on all oranges shipped to countries other than New Zealand during the 1933 season.

The export in that year was 97,000 cases and the cost to the Government in respect of the guarantee was only £3,829.

This form of assistance was continued in 1934 with the result that in that year there was a tremendous expansion of exports. Nearly 217,000 cases were exported under the guarantee. Unfortunately, a large quantity of the fruit arrived in poor condition, the prices realized were generally unsatisfactory, and it appeared that the Government would be called upon to pay out considerable sums in satisfaction of the guarantee. Certain exporters, however, had taken out a comprehensive insurance policy on the fruit exported during 1934, the premium charged in addition to the ordinary marine risk being 5d. a case. Where this was done the Government increased the guarantee to 13s. 5d. a case. Any moneys paid to exporters under these insurance policies were regarded as part of the proceeds of the fruit and were, therefore, taken into account by the Commonwealth in calculating the amount to be paid under the guarantee. The saving to the Government as a result of these policies cannot be determined definitely, but it is certain that as the result of the action of the exporters a considerable expenditure was avoided. The amount . provided on the Estimates for payment in the year 1934 was £20,000 ; but the sum 'actually paid amounted to under £10,000. Despite the saving both to the Government and to the industry in respect of the 1934 exports the net results for that season were still very unsatisfactory. Many growers suffered severe losses in respect of their exports. Strong representations have been made to the Government for further assistance, and having regard to the saving effected by the Government, and the desirability of rendering some further aid to exporters for the year in question, it is now proposed to pay a bounty of 6d. a case on all oranges exported in 1934 to destinations other than New Zealand. The exports of oranges in that year totalled 216,482 cases, excluding exports to New Zealand, and a bounty of 6d. a case on this quantity should, therefore, amount to approximately £5,500. Parliament has already provided sufficient funds to meet this commitment as the export bounty of 2s. a case for the 1935 season will, it is estimated, absorb only £8,000 of the amount of £20,000 provided for this purpose. Bearing in mind the disastrous results in 19341, growers were chary in 1935 of shipping their oranges to the United Kingdom. The exports to that country fell to 80,000 cases in 1935 as compared with 177,000 cases in the previous year. Having regard to the losses experienced the assistance being rendered, although small, will be of considerable benefit to exporters.

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