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Tuesday, 28 August 1973
Page: 428

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) - As the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) said a moment ago, these are technical measures in regard to metrification and as such they should of course be supported. I am glad that the Government has not seen fit to use the legislation as some kind of sleight of hand and that although there will be an increase in charges of H per cent by reason of the conversion from the standard weights and measures to the metric measures, the Government has openly acknowledged this. 1 am glad that the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) has seen fit to say what is the real effect. This is perhaps in contrast to what is proposed in the postal measures where the metrification, I understand, is to be associated with some sleight of hand by the Government so that there will be a hidden increase in postal charges on the introduction of the metric system. I make only passing reference to that matter because I have no doubt that it will be debated more fully when the Government's proposal for increasing postal charges as a result of the introduction of metric measures comes before the House.

The honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick) made some remarks which I think were to the point when he spoke about the future of the wine industry. I believe that, in spite of temporary difficulties which may lie ahead for a year or two, the wine industry in Australia has a great future. One technical matter is of some consequence, and that is the introduction of what is called trickle irrigation or the controlled application of water. I believe that the method was developed first in Israel. It makes it possible to grow vines and other fruits with a much smaller total application of water because water is applied by what is known as the trickle method directly where it is wanted and is not spread over a large area.

This has 2 important consequences. Firstly it extends quite considerably the areas in which horticulture, such as the growing of fruit trees or vines, is possible because the amount of water required per unit of production is very much less. It opens up - this may, I suppose, be of special consequence to the honourable member for Darling - the possibility of irrigation on the loose red sands, particularly those lying in the lower part of the Darling River in his electorate, which have not been considered irrigation sites because they do not have level topography but which, by reason of this new technique of trickle irrigation, might be considered potential irrigation sites.

The second point which may be of even greater importance is the fact that because less water per acre is used, the dangers of salting and the rising of the water table are very much reduced. These things suggest that the Australian capacity for producing wines may be very much greater than has hitherto been supposed to be the case. But it is no use producing wines unless there is a market for them. Here again I think that we may be passing through a period of temporary difficulty, but the long term future probably is pretty bright because not only in Australia but in other countries, particularly Japan, the tendency to drink wine is increasing, and this is desirable.

Wine is a civilised drink. There is a future Australian export market for it on a fairly big scale. There is good and bad wine. To some extent it is a matter of established tastes. In new markets, such as those in Japan about which I have spoken, there are no established tastes, and if Australian wines, which are a little bit different from French wines but which in their own way are as good, can form the norm of established tastes, there may be a permanent market opening for us. One of the things that is happening at the present time in small vineyards, to a great extent, is that there is a movement to produce quality wines. Of course, this type of production from small vineyards has been the basis of the immense French wine industry, with the quality wines later expanding into the mass market. One would hope that a similar process would take place in Australia.

Having said that, let me say that some of the measures now being introduced concurrently by the Government - here again, I pick up what was said by previous speakers, including my friend the honourable member for Berowra - which are contained in this Budget will, unhappily, over the short term at any rate bear very heavily on this industry, especially since so much of its future has been closed off because of the reduction of our dried fruit market which, to some extent, overlaps the wine grape market. One very much regrets that the Government has seen fit to introduce these measures at this time. I feel I cannot let this opportunity pass without making reference to what the Treasurer (Mr Crean) said in the House last Thursday on this matter when he was speaking of the particular impact of these measures on brandy producers. I quote directly from page 376 of Hansard, where the Treasurer said: if the brandy industry at some later point of time can show me that it has been battered to the ground as a result of this action, which would greatly surprise me, I will be prepared to hear representations.

Later - I am quoting exactly from page 376 of Hansard, and I think the House and the country should take note of what the Treasurer said - he said:

If people find that they have suffered detriment to the point where they are likely to be exterminated, I will be willing to listen to them . . .

That is what the Treasurer said, and I think he said it in relation to-

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I am not too sure of the difference in taste between wine and brandy, because I do not drink either, but I think that the honourable gentleman should return to the Wine Bills.

Mr WENTWORTH - Very well, Sir. I am sure that the House and the country will take note of the Treasurer's attitude to the wine industry. Apparently the wine producers have to be ground down to the point of extermination before he will listen to their pleas. This is an appalling instance of what socialism in action really means. I have no doubt that we will hear more of this matter later. I believe that the Treasurer's statement will stand on the record and will be taken as an example of what the Government means when it applies to an industry measures such as it is applying in the Budget. If the producers are ground down to the point of extermination, then the Government will listen; but not otherwise.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I have asked the honourable gentleman to return to the Bills.

Mr WENTWORTH - I will leave the Treasurer at that point; no doubt we will hear more of this matter later. Let me just come to the point and speak of the humiliation which the Minister for Immigration, the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby), has suffered with the introduction of these Government measures. I do not want to labour the point too much, but honourable members will remember that when such measures were suggested earlier the honourable member for Riverina went to the barricades over them. His statements in this House at that time no doubt will be quoted in his electorate.

Mr Hunt - They are being quoted now.

Mr WENTWORTH - I did not know that, but I have no doubt that they will be quoted in his electorate. I do not suggest for one moment that the honourable member for Riverina should resign because the Government has made mock of his previous statements. He has been humiliated. I do not think he should resign as a member of Parliament, because the electors will deal with him in due course; but if he is a man of honour I feel that he should resign from the Cabinet. As a Minister who has previously made this a main point and given to his electors absolute pledges in regard to it, he cannot with honour, when this type of legislation is brought into the House, remain as a Minister. I think there should be a call from his electorate for him to resign as Minister for Immigration because what is being put forward in the Government's policy is so diametrically opposed to what he made an issue of and stood on as a point of principle in this House and during his election campaign. He has double-crossed his electors.

Mr Hunt - The same applies in relation to Dartmouth.

Mr WENTWORTH - I do not want to take it too far. I want to keep my remarks as moderate as I can. Therefore I conclude on that point.

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