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Tuesday, 17 March 1987
Page: 963

Mr ANDREW(10.53) —I am prompted to rise this evening--

Mr Tim Fischer —Tell us about the Icebird.

Mr ANDREW —I will take a later opportunity to talk about the Icebird. I am prompted to rise this evening by the comments made by the honourable member for McEwen (Mr Cleeland) who quite rightly applauded the initiative, I would have suggested, being shown by Australian primary producers in developing a new product, particularly in Shepparton. I noted that the honourable member for McEwen referred to it as the incentive. I would have thought the incentive had largely been eroded, but there is no doubt that initiative is being shown by Australia's primary producers. As one whose income once depended largely on the canning industry, I was very interested to hear what the honourable member had to say and to follow the announcement of two new products-the nashi fruit and the possibility of packing canned fruit, as it was once known, in plastic sachets.

The new product that I want to introduce to the House this evening is related not to the fruit industry but rather to the vineyard industry. While we in this Parliament have been in air-conditioned comfort this afternoon debating the affairs of the nation, we would do well to remember that not only in Victoria and New South Wales, including the electorate of my colleague at the table, the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Tim Fischer), but also in the South Australian Riverland and Sunraysia grape growers have been harvesting crops in 40 degree heat, crops which will find their way into various segments of the Australian market. It is too easy to imagine that the vintage finds its way principally into wine products. Grape growers are also very much a part of the dried fruits scene, the fresh fruits scene and the grape juice scene. My announcement this evening is that grape products are now finding their way into the honey scene.

This evening it was my privilege to present to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Kerin) a 500-gram jar of what is now known as grape honey. Grape honey has nothing to do with bees at all. There are romantic souls in the House who would suggest that we ought not to be cutting the bees or birds out of what is their essential role in society. An entrepreneur in my electorate, Mr Herman Thum, is the principal proprietor of Chateau Yaldara, a large operation which has been visited by the honourable member for Chisholm (Ms Mayer) and the honourable member for Calwell (Dr Theophanous). I was pleased to accompany them there and show them something of Mr Thum's porcelain collection. Mr Thum has produced grape honey by taking the water out of grape juice until all that is left is the glucose and fructose, which are basically the honey products, so he has liquid sugar marketable in a form which looks, tastes and smells like bees' honey. It is so popular that my children have already polished off a jar at a little more than three sittings.

This honey provides the grape industry with an entirely new market. We have the capacity to use 5,000 tonnes of grapes in order to produce 1,000 tonnes of honey. Nor is it Mr Thum's intention to erode the existing Australian market for our apiarists. Mr Thum has pointed out, for example, that while the honey production in Australia sits at 28,000 tonnes, we export 19,000 of that 28,000 tonnes. He adds that the consumption of honey in Japan currently sits at 26,000 tonnes, of which Japan produces only 6,000 tonnes. So Mr Thum quite rightly rationalises that if he can export only 5,000 tonnes to Japan he will have done nothing to destroy the existing industry of apiarists and will have provided a home for 25,000 tonnes of grapes.

Mr Thum, as a large taxpayer in my electorate, was anxious that I should convey to the Minister the need to look again at our vine pull scheme-not that it has necessarily been in error, but lest we should run the risk of pulling out at a future date the vines he may need to produce that 25,000 tonnes to use for grape honey for the Japanese market. This honey is smooth, palatable and moreish. If honourable members on the other side of the House care to hurry down to the Minister's office they may be able to sample some of it before the Minister or his staff beat them to it.