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Thursday, 1 October 1936


Senator BRENNAN (Victoria) (Assistant Minister) . - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This measure, like the similar bills with which we have been dealing, lias a background. In 1933 the Government granted the sum of £125,000 to growers of apples and pears to compensate them for lossesincurred on exports for that year. This amount was made available to the States in proportion to their share in the export trade, and payment to the growers actually took the form of a bounty on each case exported. The same amount and form of assistance was granted to apple and pear-growers in respect of the 1934 season. Greatly improved prices, compared with those for 1933 and 1934, were obtained in the United Kingdom for 1935 exports. It was, therefore, considered that a reduction of the grant was justified. The Government, accordingly, granted a bounty of 4d. a case on apples and pears exported during 1935. It was anticipated that this bounty would absorb approximately £80,000. The distribution of the bounty for 1935 was arranged through State authorities in accordance with section 11 of the Apple and Pear

Bounty Act 1936. The amount of bounty payable in respect of each State was approximately as follows: -

But the Government's assistance to the industry did not stop there, for in addition to the bounty paid to growers a sum of £20,000 was made 'available to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in conjunction with State departments of agriculture for research in connexion with the production of apples and pears, and the improvement of orchard practices. The total amount of assistance granted to growers of apples and pears in respect of the year 1935 was therefore £101,551.

The Government has been requested by various organizations in the industry to continue the assistance in respect of the present year. Growers, it was said had not been able to make ends meet on account of the disappointing returns from sales in the United Kingdom market. The State Fruit Board of Tasmania estimates that orchardists lost £194,000 on the season's operations in that State, and claims that the mainland States suffered proportionately.

Another disturbing factor in the distribution of the apple crop overseas is the inability, because of exchange difficulties, to place a fair proportion of the crop on the German market. If. this quantity, which normally might be assessed at 1,000,000 cases, were placed on the British market in addition to the present supplies prices would further recede. The representatives of the industry claim that the problems of the industry have been attacked on every front, but a large quantity of prime fruit is still found to be an unbalancing factor in the marketing arrangements.

An examination by the Department of Commerce of the financial results of the 1936 apple export season discloses that returns fell considerably below the returns for 1935. This season's prices

 

opened well in April, but rapidly declined during the following months. It is difficult to calculate definitely the average drop of the amount realized for each case in 1936, as compared with 1935, but 2s. is considered a reasonable estimate. The Deputy Statistician has supplied the following figures indicating the average f .o.b. realizations of all overseas shipments of apples from Tasmania since 1931 : -

 


Senator Collings - None of those prices were payable.


Senator BRENNAN - Probably the top prices were payable. But, undoubtedly, fruit-growers have suffered through the fall of overseas prices this year. After fully considering the case presented by the representatives of the industry, and carefully reviewing the position, the Government has decided to pay a bounty of 4½d. a bushel case to growers in respect of apples and pears exported from Australia during the year ending the 31st December, 1936.

Exports of apples and pears from the Commonwealth this year totalled 5,508,621 cases, compared with 4,853,610 cases exported in 1935, or an increased export of 655,011 cases. As a result of the increase in export and the increase of id. a case in the rate of bounty, an expenditure of approximately £103,287 will be involved in respect of this year. The amounts allocated to the States will be approximately as follows:

 

This bill, which provides for the payment of a bounty this year, is an amendment of the Apple and- Pear Bounty Act 1936, which gave legislative approval to the bounty for the year 1935. The principal amendment relates to the closing date for applications for bounty. Provision is being made that the Minister may accept claims lodged after the due date provided he is satisfied that the circumstances warrant such action. Past experience in connexion with bills of a similar character, which fixed a rigid closing date for applications, has been that the applications of certain producers who, through unforeseen circumstances, neglected to lodge their claims within the time specified, could not be granted until further legislation had been passed to extend the date. In order to ensure that the bouncy shall be paid to growers in every case, section 6 of the principal act is to be amended to make it clear that bounty will be paid to growers only on apples or pears exported by them, and only if the claim is certified correct by the prescribed authority within each State.







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