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Thursday, 21 March 1985
Page: 658

Mr IAN ROBINSON(12.00) —I rise to support the Honey Levy Legislation Amendment Bill, while, at the same time, drawing strongly to the attention of the House the expressions in the amendment moved by the honourable member for Groom (Mr McVeigh) and, of course, so clearly explained in the debate thus far. The honey industry is an important industry in Australia. It is very significant in a number of electorates. In my own electorate the industry has been carried on for many years by dedicated apiarists who have over that period seen its potential. That potential is now being very largely recognised not only through the improved marketing outlets in Australia, through health food shops and many other avenues, but also as a consequence of the work of the Australian Honey Board in developing a very strong export trade.

The purpose of this Bill is to give some assistance to the industry by recognising the cumbersome process in relation to the collection of the levy. I commend the action being taken to alter the system so that only monthly returns will be required and the collection processes will be much easier. On the broader spectrum of the industry, the work of the Honey Board is the significant consideration and it is because of the existence of the Board that the levy is imposed. It is because of the requirement to try to create greater efficiency to assist the industry in many respects that the whole question comes before the House at this time. I am interested that the previous speaker, the honourable member for Cowan (Ms Jakobsen) admitted to being an amateur apiarist. Of course we all recall with some affection a former honourable member of this House who was so dedicated to this field that he had permission especially to have a couple of beehives on the lawns outside Parliament House and was often seen attending those beehives during lunch time and on other occasions.

Mr Barry Jones —Wearing his bonnet, too.

Mr IAN ROBINSON —Wearing his bonnet, exactly, and doing it very well. I must admit a pecuniary interest inasmuch as I am very happy to allow an apiarist to place his beehives on part of my land from time to time. My pecuniary interest admission is that, annually, I am presented with a couple of containers of very attractive honey. Alistair Maloney, who has a long tradition in the apiarist field, and all his friends who conduct apiary businesses in northern New South Wales, I am sure, welcome the alterations that this Bill provides.

I do not want to take too much time of the House because so much has already been said about the industry, particularly its technical advances. The classification of honey for export is a very important consideration and I hope that more work will be done to try to blend the two avenues-the difficulties of ensuring that honey is of the highest quality yet, at the same time, that it has an attractive presentation for export purposes.

I believe that some of our smaller export industries-and honey is a typical one-can have a strong link with the promotion of tourism and the promotion of the Australian scene. The Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown), who was at the table until a few moments ago, I am sure would be well advised to look at the link that is so obvious in the promotion to attract tourists to this country and the opportunity for tourists to come to know more about industries such as the honey industry. There are thousands and thousands of people around the world who have a dedication to enterprises such as the production of honey and all that is related to it.

The honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Snow) mentioned the sale of honey and honeycomb by entrepreneurs in certain parts of the country. That is something that can, of course, accord very much with what I am referring to-the appropriate link between tourism and the promotion of industries of this kind.The natural flora of this country is used in the production of honey. Timber stands are an integral part of honey production. The apiarists must know, of course, where the bees from their hives will gather the honey. This is of deep interest to many people. As time goes by, particularly with the expansion of interest in health food, much more can be done to bring recognition to the honey industry in Australia.

In regard to export aspects, I believe that the industry faces the same problem that so many other industries are facing at present in respect of export inspection charges. I hope that the Government will look again at some aspects of this matter. It is referred to specifically in the Opposition's amendment in order to bring under notice the need for some further review in respect of the export inspection charges which were debated in this House in the last session of the previous Parliament. At that time, of course, many of the difficulties that exist were very properly described. I will not endeavour to go over them again today. I conclude by saying that from a very humble beginning the honey industry has become a recognised industry. The honey industry, through the sheer dedication of the few apiarists who promoted it, has become an industry that is today-and this is clearly outlined in the Industries Assistance Commission report-an industry of worth. It is one that deserves the commendation of all sections of primary industry and the support of kindred primary industries in its endeavours to continue and to become an even greater industry.