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Tuesday, 8 November 1938

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) .- I am not in favour of the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost), although I am in sympathy with the Tasmanian growers in their desire to obtain a fixed quota as their share of the export trade, it would be rather dangerous to fix the quota on the basis of the previous three years' production. It would be unfair for several reasons. Some honorable members have said that increased production should not be encouraged, and to some degree I concur in that opinion, but regard should be had for the fact that about seven years' work is required to bring an apple orchard into production.

Mr Frost - Fourteen years in the case of the export trade.

Mr ANTHONY - The minimum period is seven years, and another four or five years must elapse before an orchard can be brought into full production. Therefore, an orchardist must wait at least ten years before receiving the full benefit of his labour. The amendment would increase this period of waiting by another three years before the orchardist would receive benefit similar to that of those who happened to be engaged in the industry before him, by virtue of the fact that they had, perhaps, inherited an orchard from their grandfathers, or, for any other reason, had established themselves in the industry sooner than other growers. Those who were lucky enough to inherit properties would be in a far stronger position than the courageous individual who started out with next to nothing, and battled against tremendous odds. The interests of Tasmania would be fairly safeguarded under the clause, and the amendment to be submitted by the Minister would give the board power to take into considera tion the average yearly exports overseas of apples and pears from each State during the three years immediately preceding the year in which the basis was adopted.

The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has claimed that excess production of goods which are difficult to sell should be discouraged, but can he name any Australian primary product which could be safely grown on the score that adequate markets are available for it? If we adopted his attitude, the development of all our primary industries would be arrested. All that we can do with regard to apples and pears is to ensure a basis of equality in the various States, so that the orchardists capable of economically competing in the markets of the world may have every opportunity to do so.

Mr Beasley - Does the honorable member support the principle of raising the standard of living in Australia?

Mr ANTHONY - I am always in favour of that. The time may arrive-^ and I believe it is rapidly approachingwhen primary producers other than apple- growers will experience limited world markets. It may be necessary for a restriction of export quotas of butter, meat, wheat and other commodities. If we now established the principle that vested interests, whether large or small, should be given priority because of their earlier entry into an industry, I think that we should be following a dangerous course.

Mr Rosevear - I should like to. compare this speech with the one which the honorable member would make with regard to butter.

Mr ANTHONY - I should deal with that matter, too, from a broad Australian point of view. I recently had an opportunity to visit the apple-producing areas in Western Australia, including the famous Kendenup estate, which Mr. De Garis endeavoured to establish. Many settlers spent much money and years of toil on that estate, and only now are the apple trees coming into full production. Should the orchardists in this locality be placed at a disadvantage compared with those in districts that have been established for a longer period? The growers in all of the States should be prepared to accept export quotas determined on the same basis. Western Australia is in a similar position to that of Tasmania in that it requires financial assistance from the Commonwealth from time to time, and, therefore, the claims of growers in that. State merit as much consideration as those of the orchardists in Tasmania.

Mr Barnard - No comparison can be made between the two.

Mr Frost - Did Western Australia fill its quota last year?

Mr ANTHONY - I cannot say.

Mr Frost - The honorable member wishes to " down " Tasmania.

Mr ANTHONY - There are other factors, in addition to the area under crop, which affect the volume of production in a particular State or district. For example, three or four or more years ago, practically the whole of the apple-growing districts of New South Wales and Victoria lost the greater part of their crop by reason of the ravages of thrips. I do not know whether Tasmania had that misfortune.

Mr Frost - There is no thrips in Tasmania.

Mr Mahoney Mr. Mahoney interjecting.

Mr ANTHONY - I have no axe to grind in this matter - I do not grow an apple - but, because I am a fruit-grower, I demand that there shall be fair treatment of apple-growers in other parts of Australia, and that no preference shall be given to any particular State. As I have said, a few years ago New South Wales and Victoria lost from 70 per cent. to 80 per cent. of their apple crop. Should that condition again arise, with the result that the growers of New South Wales would be on a considerably reduced quota, while Tasmania was on a fixed quota, based on a high production, the position would be most unfair to New South Wales.

Mr Frost - Did New South Wales have thrips last year?

Mr ANTHONY - Not so far as I am aware.

Mr Frost - Did it fill its quota last year ?

Mr ANTHONY - I am not aware of what the quota was last year. If we accept the principle that those who put their money into primary industries have to wait for three years before having a quota fixed on their behalf, we shall arrive at a new stage in Australian economics. I sincerely hope that the amendment will not be carried.

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