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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 2238

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) Certain attempts are made under sub-clause (2) of clause 4 to define what is meant by assistance to industry. Paragraph (a) of this sub-clause refers to the obvious case of assistance being related to a business or activity on which duties have been imposed and paragraph (b) refers to making payments to persons engaged in industry. Can the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) tell me whether the definitions contained in these paragraphs are wide enough to include the case of revaluation payments to an industry? I am referring to a situation in which the Government has made a revaluation decision that has a direct impact on an export industry. In such a case the price paid for the product is reduced by an exchange decision and assistance obviously is required to retrieve justice for exporters who had committed themselves to the overseas market before revaluation.

I refer to the specific case of the apple industry in southern Tasmania which was committed to supply the European market. Revaluation decisions were made involving growers in a loss of 60c per bushel. The Government itself concedes that the industry should receive 30c per bushel as a result of the revaluation decisions that it made. It is obvious that because the overseas price has been depressed assistance must be given to the industry to equalise the impact of exchange. I ask the Minister to tell me whether, on his interpretation of this clause, an application of this sort would be an appropriate matter to put to the Commission.

Secondly, I would like the Minister to tell me, on the assumption that this Bill is passed in the next few days and the Government does not change the basis on which it is purported to provide assistance in the case that I have mentioned, whether an application by that industry to the Commission for assistance to meet the impact of a revaluation decision made some months ago will be in order so that we can get a decision from the Commission.

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