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Tuesday, 27 November 1973
Page: 2124

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) - I wish to take a brief opportunity on the first reading of this Bill to bring to Senator Wriedt's attention a matter that I have been pressing in his absence. I take this occasion because it is the first time that he has been able to appear in Parliament since his return. It refers to the apple export industry in southern Tasmania. I shall be very brief and not repeat what I said lastweek at greater length. It will be remembered that the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) has been purporting to justify -

Senator Devitt - He is not in the chamber.

Senator WRIGHT -I have no doubt that he will have ready audience of it. I want to bring it to his attention specifically as an urgent matter. The Minister has been attempting to justify a limitation of $1,500 which has been put upon each exporter's crop as the amount of compensation for revaluation. The Government has assessed the amount for each bushel at 30c and therefore quantifies the upper limit of 5,000 bushels as the only part of the crop for which revaluation compensation will be paid. That has been said to be based upon a policy of paying only those growers exporting apples who are in need of this compensation. I have pointed out the fallacy of that. The payment is payable to a man who exports 5,000 cases even though he has property worth $lm; that was conceded in the Estimates Committee debate on this subject.

It is only a question of whence the Government has taken the false idea that anything over 5,000 cases of apples puts one beyond the category of need. But the same amount of revaluation compensation is payable to an exporter of 5,000 cases as is payable to an exporter of 50,000 cases of apples who owns, say, $lm of assets. So, too, if the exporter of 5,000 cases is engaged in another industry, say, the dairy industry from which he is making an ample income, say, $10,000 or $20,000 net, he is restricted to a revaluation compensation for only 5,000 cases. Consider the case of the man who deals not only in apples but also in beef. A similar situation applies there where the income from the other industry may be much more ample than any income he will get from that part of his apples in excess of 5,000 bushels. I have cited these 3 instances to point out very briefly the fallacy. They expose the error completely. People who have income or capital which puts them outside the category of need are entitled, under the Government's formula, to the same revaluation compensation as the grower whose only income is from a crop of 5,000 cases of apples in respect of which he received compensation of $ 1 , 500.

My citing of those 3 instances ought to convince the Government immediately that it has adopted the wrong criterion for paying this compensation and that the only permissible, justifiable or excusable basis for the payment of compensation on an exportable crop is so much per case. I point out the ridiculousness of the partnership formula that the Government issued last week. It relaxes the situation if there is a partnership for the export of a crop of 15,000 cases so that each partner can receive the upper limit of $1,500. The single exporter who grows 15,000 cases may not have 2 partners but he has 2 employees, and their wages must be met out of the price received for the crop. That shows that the only possible basis of equity on which to pay this revaluation compensation is so much per case, being equivalent to the reduction which has been forced upon the grower in respect of the English price that he would have received if there had not been a revaluation.

I intentionally am brief upon this matter because, as I have taken a series of occasions to put it before the Government, I do not wish to be tedious. But I wish to make it quite clear that I want to give the Government, in particular Senator Wriedt as soon after his return as possible, ample opportunity to consider the matter before the appropriate items in the Appropriation Bill come up, when the matter must come up for decision. In my submission, the reasons which I have given afford incontrovertible evidence as to why the formula should be varied. I ask the Government to base its compensation upon a proper formula, as I have requested.

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