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Tuesday, 11 December 1973

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) - I confess that I am in difficulty in understanding what the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) is trying to express to us. He has said that $5m is available to the fruit growing and fruit processing sectors of the industry in the form of adjustment assistance. I can understand the assistance to the processing sector for redundant equipment and so forth. That would be a matter on which one would have to have accurate assessment and individual application. But surely the Minister is aware of some units in the industry which claim to have been rendered redundant by the lack of markets for fruit juice. I am not so concerned with the fruit processing areas of the industry. Those people usually have a habit of being able to look after themselves.

It is the growing section of the industry with which I am concerned. To me adjustment assistance seems to be a misnomer. If adjustment assistance is meant to connote grubbing grants, I regard these as a most deplorably benighted policy and destructive of an industry. I would be looking in the growing section for some recompense to the growers for fringe fruit for which they are deprived of a market. They should get an adjustment. It should relate not, in this instance, to exportable fruit but to the juice fruit this year and next year. Unless the growers get this adjustment they will be seriously prejudiced over the above the very great difficulties that they are encountering in the export trade, which I am quite prepared to leave for the statement to be made later this week. Surely the Minister can give us something more than a general indication of the purpose of this $5m for the fruit growing section of the industry. He has said that if growers apply and prove a loss the Government will give assistance on the basis on which it has been given in the past. Cannot the Minister give us something more specific than that to explain what the growers can expect this season for this fringe juice fruit for which their market has been prejudiced.

I invite the Minister to be helpful to us. He knows the concern which is felt in the industry. He knows the absolute want of confidence, intensifying the grubbing of orchards very significantly. I ask him to indicate what the growers can expect out of this $5m by way of what is called adjustment assistance. I want some assistance which is not adjustment in the sense of grubbing out trees and compensation for that. I am looking for some assistance because the growers are deprived of the juice market for this year and the next.

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