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Thursday, 14 November 1985
Page: 2183

Senator WALTERS —by leave-Anyone studying Table D7 of the Industries Assistance Commission report on the apple and pear industry cannot help being struck by the evidence shown in that table of the decline in the Tasmanian industry. In 1979 Tasmania was well ahead of any other State, with a total of 1,206,000 apple trees with a 93.2 per cent bearing. The number of apple trees in Victoria amounted to only 1,187,000 with an 80 per cent bearing. The position was totally reversed by 1983, when Tasmania fell well behind Victoria. Victoria had 1,378,000 trees with a 77 per cent bearing, and Tasmania slipped to 1,163,000 trees with the same bearing percentage. One may well ask why this has happened, but the answer is very obvious to us in Tasmania. Without a doubt it is Bass Strait. Tasmania's industry is the most efficient in the world but we cannot cope with the problems caused by that strip of water. The industry was able to compete on the domestic market with the help of the freight equalisation scheme, but with the present glut of apples on that market our disadvantage has been underlined. There is no recognition by the Government of freight disadvantage when considering exports, even though the recent major inquiry commissioned by the Government suggested that in recognition of the disadvantage to Tasmania the name `freight equalisation scheme' should be abandoned and that from now on it should be known as the freight compensation scheme.

A few years ago ships called regularly at Tasmania, but last year the European Conference Line paid its last visit to Tasmania following action by the waterside workers. It now calls only on mainland States. As a result the only shipping to call into our State in this apple season has been the Polish Ocean Line. Its freight charges are $1.34 per carton higher than the charges of the European Conference. It is quite impossible to compete in those circumstances.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Haines) —Order! The time allowed for discussion of government papers has expired.