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Tuesday, 11 December 1973

Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania) (Minister for Primary Industry) - Insofar as Senator Webster's question is concerned, I thought I spelt out the answer in the clearest terms when I spoke earlier on the matter. The $5m is available and it will be spent because the industry will require it to be spent especially when the Australian Apple and Pear Corporation is formed with its completely new marketing and research facilities. This is an area in which a great deal of work has to be done if the industry is to be brought back to a viable basis. I assure the honourable senator that suggestions like this, perhaps designed to give someone the impression somewhere down the line that we are going to talk about $5m and then not give it to the industry, are just not true. It would be better if we were to continue the debate on more pertinent points.

I come back to the earlier comments which Senator Wright raised. He said something similar to Senator Webster. He wants something for the growers. This is the simplest thing in the world. Do not let us be under any illusions about this. Both Senator Wright and I come from Tasmania. We have different views about the fruit reconstruction scheme. We have argued it in the Senate before. I have no doubt that we Will do it again when we come to discuss the Apple and Pear Corporation. But the fact is that the fruit growing reconstruction scheme was an essential scheme which was introduced at the time of the stabilisation scheme. It was intended as a parallel scheme because stabilisation was not intended to be a continuing scheme. It was to cover a bridging period whereby the Government could assist the industry while reconstruction was going on.

I think there would be few people in Tasmania anyway- where most of the reconstruction work has been done- who would say, despite what Senator Wright says, that it has not been of benefit to the industry. I have been asked specifically what can be done now about growers. With great respect, I do not need to be told of the difficulty of the position. I do not think that anybody needs to be told. I only restate what I said earlier, that the industry needs to make submissions to the Government as has been done in the past. That is not a principle from which we will depart any more than it is a principle from which, I am sure, the previous Government would have departed. If we want a reasonable degree of equity and purposefulness in the distribution of this money, those cases will need to be submitted. I cannot give any guarantee of detailed payments and of how much might go to the processing sector or to the fruit growing sector. This is a matter which wil be carried out in exactly the same way as was done in the dairy bounty, the marginal dairy reconstruction scheme in Queensland and so on. Properly documented cases need to be presented. This is not a new approach on the part of this Government. This is the principle which has been adopted in the past- I believe rightly so- and which has been continued by us. The same thing will need to be done in this case.

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