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Wednesday, 20 March 1957

Mr McMAHON (Lowe) (Minister for Primary Industry) . - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The Apple and Pear Export Charges Act 1938-1947 provides for a maximum charge of Id. a case on apples and pears exported from the Commonwealth, subject to a lower rate being prescribed by regulation. The purpose of this bill is to amend the act in. order to raise the maximum charge which may be imposed from Id. a case to 2d. a case of apples and pears exported.

Levies collected under the act are used to finance the operations of the Australian Apple and Pear Board, the statutory authority established under the Apple and Pear Organization Act 1938-1953 for the regulation of exports of apples and pears from Australia. The present maximum rate of Id. a case is being applied to exports of apples and pears this year, and is expected to yield a revenue of about £20,000. After meeting administrative expenses this amount does not provide an adequate margin for trade promotion activities.

The board is participating in the overseas trade publicity drive in co-operation with other statutory commodity boards and the Commonwealth Government, and accordingly faces the need of increased revenue for this purpose. It has therefore requested that the act be amended to provide an increase in the maximum rate of levy which may be applied. As I have stated, the current rate of Id. a case will continue to operate during the 1957 export season. The operative rate for 1958 will be determined after report by the board and, in the light of the board's report, regulations will be promulgated prescribing such rate.

The amendment sets a new ceiling for the levy, and it is for the board to state in its report the actual rate of levy which it desires the Government to apply to exports in any season to cover the board's budgetary requirements. It could, for example, suggest a rate of Id. or lid., or any rate not exceeding 2d. a case, for each season, but the limit is set at 2d. a case by the legislation. The Government is guided by the board in setting the rate of levy to be applied. I commend the bill to honorable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr, Pollard) adjourned.

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