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Tuesday, 8 November 1938

Mr BLACKBURN (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - As drawn, it goes beyond the constitutional limitation, because it will prevent any discrimination at all; it demands uniformity. If it insists on the basis of export being uniform throughout the Commonwealth, nothing can be considered or given effect which disturbs that uniformity. I am in favour of relieving the board from the injunction to make a basis which applies uniformly throughout the Commonwealth, but not of saying that the board must depart from the principle of uniformity. That seems to me to be the proposal of the honorable member for Franklin; that the board must do something, the only result of which will be lack of uniformity throughout Australia. I think that the board should bo free to do what it thinks fit, but that in deciding it should be bound to take into consideration what both the honorable member for Franklin and the Government believe should be considered - that is, the volume of exports in the three years preceding the fixing of the basis. The board will not be free to consider that if the words " uniformly throughout the Commonwealth " remain. With the deletion of those words, the new sub-clause 1a proposed by the Minister would be adequate; but that new sub-clause, read in conjunction with the preceding provision for the uniform application of a basis, would mean nothing at all. I am considering this matter not from any State viewpoint - I have not in mind Tasmania, New South Wales, or Western Australia - but in the interest of those who are making their living by the growing of apples. It is all very well to argue as though we shall have the regime of free competition co-existing with this scheme ; we shall not. This will supersede free competition; that is its only object. It postulates a smaller demand overseas for Australian apples, but no correlative increase of the Australian demand. It will disturb the regime of free competition. Are we to place those who come into the industry hereafter on the same basis as those who are living by it now? I think that those who are now living by the industry are entitled to more consideration than are those who may hereafter come into it. I want the board to have some indication from Parliament that it must consider the matter upon some such lines. It is a fact that the industry is largely carried on in the State of Tasmania. I realize there are a lot of people in that State who have been accustomed to look to it for their livelihood. The board should be told that, everything being equal, it should give consideration to that matter, unless, in its opinion, it is not just or practicable to do so. I cannot vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Franklin, because it is rigid and inelastic. I believe that it would be unfair to the other States, and possibly also to the growers in his own State. But I should like the board to be relieved from th obligation to make a uniform basis, and to bo empowered and directed to give consideration to the matter to which I have referred, and to attach to it such weight as it thinks is just and practicable.

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