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Thursday, 29 October 1964

Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales) ('Minister for Customs and Excise) . - I move -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The main purpose of this Bill is to give effect to the unanimous recommendation of the Dried Fruits Control Board for amendments to the legislation under which it is constituted, to give it greater flexibility in arranging its affairs. The opportunity has also been taken in the Bill to make a number of machinery amendments to the Act to bring it into line with present day practice in legislation dealing with commodity boards.

Section 9 of the Act provides that the Board shall annually appoint one of its members to be Chairman of the Board. During its 40 years existence the Board has taken the view that its Chairman should be a person independent of the dried, vine fruits industry. Thus it has always chosen to appoint the Commonwealth member of the Board as its Chairman. The present Commonwealth member is Mr. Eugene Gorman, Q.C. He is also the Chairman. Mr. Gorman, who has rendered such sterling service to the industry, has recently indicated to the Minister for Primary Industry and to the Board, that he wishes to retire from the Board, perhaps next year. This has caused the Board to review the legislative position governing the selection of a chairman and it has recommended that a provision be inserted in the Dried Fruits Export Control Act, along similar lines to a provision in the Canned Fruits Export Marketing Act, 1963, which would give the Board optional authority to appoint an additional member to the Board who would ex-officio be the Chairman. Such a provision would only be operative where the Board decided, with the approval of the Minister, upon the appointment of the Chairman from outside the ordinary membership.

In reaching this decision, the Board has had in mind that it is the Minister's intention, following the retirement of Mr. Gorman, to appoint a senior departmental official as the Commonwealth member of the Board who would not be available to assume the chairmanship of the Board. This course is considered to be highly desirable in the interests of closer liaison between the Department of Primary Industry and the Board because of such developments as the introduction of the dried vine fruits stabilisation scheme and the international pricing agreement with Greek and Turkish interests. The Board has indicated to the Minister that it fully understands this situation.

The Government has been pleased to accede to the Board's recommendation and its implementation is provided for in clause 6 of the Bill before the Senate. Its adoption will enable the Board to continue to appoint one of its regular members as Chairman or, alternatively, with the approval of the Minister, to appoint another person as an additional member who would, ex-officio, bc Chairman. At present, the Act provides that the Chairman shall be elected annually. The Board realises that security of tenure for a longer period will probably be necessary to induce a person outside the industry to accept the office of Chairman. The Bill therefore provides that the Chairman may be appointed for a period not exceeding three years as determined by the Board and that he will be eligible for reappointment.

In overseas countries, and in this country as well, the Board is referred to as the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board although, legally, the word " Australian " is not part of its title. The Bill remedies this deficiency. The Bill also provides for the creation of an office of Deputy Chairman, and gives the Board the power to appoint executive committees and to delegate powers to such committees. These are fairly standard provisions in present day legislation dealing with commodity boards, and their necessity for effective administration is obvious.

The Board, in common with all other commodity boards which are charged wilh the organization of exports, engages in overseas promotion and other activities designed to increase sale and consumption in export markets. The Board's power to engage in such activities has, in the past, stemmed from its general spending powers. It is considered desirable to refer to the Board's powers to promote in overseas countries, in more specific terms, and the Bill does this. The machinery amendments, to which I referred earlier, are designed, in the main, to bring the Act, which was last amended in 1953, into conformity with recent practice in respect to commodity board legislation, and relate to such things as the financial and auditing requirements. In addition, the Bill recognizes the trade description applied to the dried fruit variety known as "raisins". Prior to 1956 the variety was styled " lexias ". At the time the Act was brought down it was the practice to provide that the Governor-General should appoint members and take other action in respect of appointments. In present day legislation of this nature, these powers are exercised by the Minister, and the Bill proposes that the necessary amendments should be made. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator Toohey) adjourned.

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