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Tuesday, 9 October 1973
Page: 1794

Mr GILES (Angas) - Official statistics show that since 1964 the average weekly earnings rate has increased by 68 per cent. The same statistics show that the consumer price index has increased during that period by 30.2 per cent and productivity has increased by 16.7 per cent. In putting these figures to my friend the Treasurer (Mr Crean) I know he will appreciate that I am blaming neither one government nor the other. These are facts with which any government must come face to face. I am quite certain that when reliable statistics on a yearly basis are next available to the House they will show an increased trend in the rate of weekly earnings. I think they will show an increased trend in the consumer price index. I am not quite so sure what they will show in terms of productivity.

I wish to apply myself tonight to the argument as it concerns industries, whether they be small businesses, small private processing works, such as the Murray Bridge Meat Pty Ltd which is in my electorate, or other businesses. "I wish to apply these figures to the impossible squeeze that has been placed on industries that do take a risk with their investment. Although my argument will apply mainly in regard to non-capital city areas, I think there is no reason why the points that I wish to deal with do not apply equally to the small corner storekeeper, the small private engineering works or a variety of small businesses throughout the nation. I think it is accepted by the Committee that these huge increases in the average weekly earning rate will produce a vastly increased revenue situation this year for the Treasurer. All I suggest is that instead of doing in so many areas those things which were portrayed in the recent Budget Speech, the Treasurer should give careful consideration to those people and those collections of people, such as co-operatives in country towns and other areas, with a view to ensuring their future existence. It is patently obvious to me that many such industries will not see the light of day in the future. I cannot quote from previous speeches made by the Treasurer, but I can remember the Treasurer himself sitting at the table when he was in opposition and pointing to the very problem which I am raising tonight, that is, the future survival of the small businesses, the small family businesses and the small co-operatives throughout the length and breadth of the land.

A study of the figures I mentioned makes one thing patently obvious. If this country is going to have referenda it needs to have a referendum to ascertain the opinion of these people in terms of an incomes policy. I doubt whether I shall be supporting that line of thought, but at least the productivity figures and the increase in the average weekly earning rate point to the fact that no economy can stand up to undue increases in wages and in prices. This concerns not only those on fixed incomes. It affects not only those who perhaps are in receipt of a small income from superannuation and who have saved their money. Everyone wants to see some value in his savings or some equity in his business. This is the problem that is making life so extraordinarily difficult for many of the industries that I aim to represent in the Federal seat of Angas. Before I deal with any of them as individual industries I say to the Treasurer that I am most appreciative of his attitude towards the people whom I aim to represent in relation to the brandy interests and the wineries. They feel that they will suffer very considerably - and that is a modest statement - in relation to the re-allocation of stocks held. There are historic reasons for that, but I will not go into them now because this is not the time to debate that issue. However, there will emerge at a later time historic reasons why these things have been done in the past.

My only point in getting up to speak tonight is to say quite clearly that any extra onus put on these industries would place them in a very difficult position. I refer to the fruit canneries, the dairy processing plants and the cooperatives. If the Minister and the Government must adopt this chip on the shoulder attitude to anyone who makes a profit, surely they have some sympathy for co-operatives - people who have gathered together to put their own resources into co-operative association to try to process their own goods and, perhaps, to market them as well. It is these sorts of industries to which I wish to refer briefly. Let us take one of them. Because of the policies of the previous Government, the citrus industry in recent years has undergone a complete transformation. In a few years since 1966, for instance, the amount of valencia oranges used for juicing purposes has increased. The industry has gone from a fresh case fruit orientated industry to a situation where 60 per cent of the crop is used for juicing purposes.

The amount of navel oranges used for juicing also has increased, but to a less extent because of the bitterness that occurs when one tries to juice navels and the difficulties in overcoming that problem. The lemon industry has now reached a situation where 60 per cent of the crop is used for juicing. This is a matter that my friend, the Treasurer, has already recognised with his beneficience to the Lemon Board being, as it is, purely a New South Wales organisation. However, we are left with all sorts of difficulties in other areas. For instance, the Treasurer will be well aware of the fact that 99.1 per cent of brandy produced in this country is produced in the State of South Australia. As I had the opportunity of mentioning in the debate on another item of the Estimates a little while ago, tonight's newspaper has produced the illuminating comment by the Premier of South Australia that the Government's tax on the wine industry which, to all intents and purposes, is entirely on the brandy industry, is a worse blow to the industry than anything the previous Government succeeded in doing through wine excise.

Mr Holten - Who said this?

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