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Wednesday, 6 October 1971
Page: 1949

Mr DUTHIE (Wilmot) - One of the great weaknesses of the Bill is in this clause. For instance, as my colleagues have probably said, the support price was fixed in October 1970 for the 1970-71 season - approximately 15 or 16 months before. There have been too many changes in the cost structure between the fixing and the operation of the support price. We feel that the Bill, because it is not based on what we call a genuine Bureau of Agricultural Economics cost structure or cost of production survey, is an inadequate Bill. There is only one way to fix a true support price and that is to have a complete BAE survey made. The Opposition, when it becomes the Government, will have an annual BAE support price production figure for the board or authority when it has to make its decision. With the great changes in freight rates this scheme could break down within the next 12 months if the American line that has just offered to ship our fruit at last year's prices is not accepted or if, in some other way, we are blackmailed into shipping our freight through the 5 non-Conference shipping lines that have been negotiating with the Board. So all in all we are baiting on a very sticky wicket in relation to the freight factor in the support price. I believe that the Government should underwrite changes in freight charges, unless it writes the variables into the support price. The Government cannot have it both ways. A support price that does not allow for freight variations will be a failure. So clause 7 should be postponed for the reasons we have given. Unless all variables are taken into account in the fixation of a support price it will be inadequate and a failure.

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