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Thursday, 1 March 1984
Page: 254

Senator ARCHER(5.55) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

One of the most important reports to come before the Senate for a long time is the Honey Research Committee annual report for 1982-1983. I say that with great sincerity and I also urge honourable senators to read this report because it is typical of this type of report. We must acknowledge that the honey industry, although in itself quite small, is both an industry in itself and an adjunct to many other industries. There is no way that we can do without a very bright and prosperous honey industry. I am impressed by the work carried out by the beekeepers of Australia. I am impressed that the Honey Research Committee works very hard and produces programs year after year on how to improve the industry and the product.

I noticed in its 1982-83 program it supported 13 projects for the year and spent $89,668. During 1983-84 it will spend $128,499. I notice in that year its priorities, in order, were: Bee breeding; bee diseases; pollination as a service to horticulture and agriculture; pesticide hazards; bee nutrition; production of honey and hive products; and honey quality. All of those are very important items and demonstrate that it is a grass roots organisation. It considers the things that are fundamental to the industry and fundamental to the way that it fits in with the other areas which are so important, particularly in regard to pollination of seed crops. It is also important that we maintain and support an export industry. It needs to have access to international markets. I find it quite incongruous that on the one hand the Government provides money to support the Research Committee and on the other has produced a Bill to slug the industry for enormous export inspection charges which will more than take back that money . I think it is absolutely crazy. I have had the pleasure of assisting the Tasmanian exporters to form themselves into a Tasmanian honey exporters association. I hope to assist them and their interstate colleagues further in trying to get more help and consideration from the Government in this regard.

I commend the industry and the Research Committee. I urge the Government at this stage, before we deal with the legislation, to consider what it is doing to this little industry which is so important to a host of other industries. The apple and pear industry, the small fruits industry, the rape seed industry and the sunflower industry all depend entirely on having an active, enterprising, beekeeping industry. To confront it now with the schedule of charges that is laid down on export honey is quite unreasonable, if we expect it to do so much of what it does more or less for nothing. In many cases the beekeepers cart bees from one end of the country to another to provide a service to other industries for which they get no re- compense. I believe that because of its size and what it does, it deserves a little extra consideration.