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Tuesday, 26 February 1985
Page: 232


Mr ANDREW(6.34) —I join the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Hawker) in congratulating those members of the House who have made their maiden speeches both yesterday and today and commend them on that important milestone in their role as members of the House of Representatives. A number of the maiden speeches, from both sides of the House, have alluded to the fact that among the most disadvantaged in Australia's community today are Australia's primary producers. Australia's primary producers-not because of the unpredictability of nature, which often beleaguers them, but because of falling world markets and the falling Australian economic state-find themselves no longer as profitable as they were. As the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) has so carefully and skilfully explained, a number of Australian primary producers face on average a 17 per cent fall in their annual incomes. We should feed that to the public servants who have been causing this government distress or to the power workers in Queensland.

I make that point this evening simply because this is the season when primary producers find themselves busiest of all. While we have been in this House talking, people in all our electorates have been carrying out work that is sometimes most unpleasant. I think of those who are on clover harvesters, doing the dusty work of harvesting small seeds; I think of those who are without any shade at all in grape patches harvesting grapes; I think of those who, in the itch of a peach patch, are currently harvesting clingstone peaches, in spite of the itch and fluff that is implicit in that work. The honourable member for Hinkler (Mr Conquest) has already alluded to the importance of hard work, and I rose this evening because I was astonished to see in yesterday's Australian an article that said:

New South Wales and Victorian-

note 'Victorian'-

fruit growers are facing an employment crisis. They cannot find enough pickers to harvest their pears, peaches and grapes.

Should a nation with the unemployment statistics of this nation carry an article like that in its leading daily? What sort of reflection is it on the Australian nation when we have work to be done and people who are unemployed, but growers are unable to find people from that unemployment pool to do the work that needs to be done. It is absurd to find that article in the Australian and then to find attached to a press release from the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Willis) a comment that he is planning to spend $24,571 to create four jobs for 16 weeks to expand a community vegetable garden. A little further down it is said that he is planning to spend in the Lockhart River community $23,071 to create four jobs for 16 weeks to expand another community vegetable garden. All this is happening while the fruit growers of Victoria are unable to find people to pick their temporarily profitable crops. It would be the height of irony if we were to discover that the unemployed in Australia were not prepared to harvest the crops we need harvested while the Asian people, with their green revolution, are becoming increasingly productive, achieving grain production levels we scarcely dare to hope are possible, and are employing people who were once unemployed. It is in the interests of the fruit growers of South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria that I make this plea.