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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 2721

Mr GILES (Angas) - There is not a great deal in the statistics and the fundamental information to which the honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick) has referred with which I should disagree, but I do disagree with the inferences he draws from the statistics. One does not have to look far to know that the capacity for primary industry to expand in the right direction is as a result of its ability to read the market place. The reason for this ability was that the previous Government set an economy in which such individual judgments can flourish. The only mistake the honourable member can make is by interfering with that economy. If the flow of wool to countries that need it is interrupted, the wool industry will be mucked up. It will not be mucked up so long as it is left alone. A key industry that is ticking along should be left alone. I qualify this point by saying that the canned fruit industry is one industry where the Labor Party, with its marvellous capacity to try to over-govern and over-organise everything, should perhaps step in and examine the possibility of a stabilisation scheme for that industry. It is an industry where blocks are small, where the capacity for investment is low and where a stabilisation scheme must be considered seriously by this Government. By and large the only mistake the honourable member could make would be to interfere with industries that are going very well on the basis of an economy already set and on the basis of huge world demand, perhaps of a temporary nature.

The first point I deal with revolves around the debate that occurred recently on the Meat Export Charge Collection Bill 1973. We heard the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Whan) - I am glad to see he is in the chamber - last night trying to blame the Opposition, or perhaps one party in Opposition, for a muddle over what weights should be considered as the basis for the meat export charges. I remind the honourable member for EdenMonaro - before he is involved in confrontation with the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) - to examine page 1253 of Hansard where the honourable member for Riverina is reported as having said:

That request was that the full financing and the detail of that financing should be set out by the Department of Primary Industry under the authority of the Minister for Primary Industry and sent to them directly so that there can be in all detail validation of what I have put to the Committee. I think that that was a reasonable request.

That was a request from the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) and the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair). Mr Grassby continued:

.   . will have made available to them those full details so that the argument about arithmetic may be resolved.

So far as I am aware that information has never been supplied to this House. The Opposition took this matter up again and it is no use the honourable member for EdenMonaro trying to argue with his own colleague and saying that proper statistics were not used. If they were not given it was entirely his fault. The previous Government went on shipboard weights of meat, as I understand the argument, where bone in or bone out was classed and it was not a matter of grave error. On these figures - the best figures the Opposition could get from the Government with the full weight of departments to help it gain such figures - the beef industry was saved by the Senate providing for a trust fund for the surplus that the Government, either in an ignorant or purposely arrogant way, would have tried to channel into general revenue. Hansard will prove that the things I am saying are correct.

I refer now to a speech made the day before yesterday by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to the Australian Farmers Federation at the Hotel Canberra. I found my remarks on one comment which amused me very much. One can imagine the Prime Minister throwing his hands aside, looking as he is portrayed in the Pugh portrait in King's Hall and saying: 'Can anyone believe the baseless accusation that the Australian Labor Party is an anti-rural Party'. I do not know whether I am in a position to say, in a glorious generalisation, what the rural industries believe, but I believe, and must say, that the Prime Minister's statement is utterly wrong. I say that the rural industries do believe that the Australian Labor Party is an anti rural Party. But I do not know that that is the worst thing about it. The worst thing, it occurs to me, is its complete lack of understanding, whether it is sympathetic or not.

I want to quote an example to demonstrate this point. Every honourable member from a rural electorate will have a different example and I think they would be equally as telling. I refer to the brandy industry. Honourable members know that there is a tariff report pending on whether the brandy industry should be protected against some artificial - I use that word reservedly - substitutes for brandy, selling under that name, which are coming into this country cheaply. What happens while the Government is waiting for this inquiry and report? It removes the differentiation that the brandy industry always has had over some of its by-product competitors; it increases excise duty on it, as it did with other spirits; it introduces a revaluation of stock - this was done in the income tax amendment Bill which was introduced today - and just for good measure it equalises private company taxation with public company taxation, something that peculiarly hit many of the more famous brandy names producing Australian brandy today.

No industry can carry such a cold, calculating kick in the guts, if I might refer to it in that way. Surely people are entitled, even under this Government, to invest in their own shops, their own businesses, whether it be in brandy or something else, and to have some chance for a future return and the future viability and economic position of the industry in which they invest. This was one of the most blatant, discriminatory, shocking pieces of legislation that has ever come from this Government which either does not- care or, I rather suspect in this case, does not understand. It left the Premier of South Australia speechless although he heads a government of the same political colour as this Government. He was virtually speechless but about a week later he suddenly found words and what he did not say to the discredit of this Government was nobody's business. I quoted that example relating to the brandy industry in an isolated fashion to prove a point. I do not know whether the Government is anti-rural industries but I do know that it does not understand, and I suspect that it is probably both anti-rural industries and that it does not understand.

Mr Cohen - Tell us about the wine tax that your Government put on.

Mr GILES - Right, I will tell the honourable member about it. The Premier of South Australia said that the wine excise produced by the previous Government was nothing in comparison with the onus put on the wine industry, quite apart from the brandy industry. That is not my quotation, it is that of a left wing Premier of the honourable member's own political persuasion. That is what he thinks about it. I also would like to quote one more statement before my time expires. It is again from the Prime Minister's speech to the Australian Farmers Federation. Having dealt with the fact that the Government had to remove the sales tax exemption on carbonated soft drinks containing more than 5 per cent of Australian fruit juice, the Prime Minister had this to' say:

I assure you that while abolishing the exemption the Government is ready to provide funds to assist any sector of the fruit growing industry that may be adversely affected.

I repeat, 'any sector'. Those on this side of the House will not forget that statement. I think of the canning fruit industry that has been trying now for 6 months to remain solvent while waiting for some devaluation compensation from a year or two ago. I have been trying to get a deputation from the industry to the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) for 3 weeks but every time we nearly have it teed up he goes overseas again. He is a nice guy but he must be an awfully ineffectual one. I mention that in passing because I think the Minister needs help. If one or two of the Ministers sitting at the table, the Minister for Science and Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison) or the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson), could take over some of his duties in this regard at least the industries that I aim to represent would not be totally ignored and could perhaps feel that they can present their case and get a certain amount of consideration.

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