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Tuesday, 19 September 1972
Page: 1523

Mr LLOYD (MURRAY, VICTORIA) - The Minister for Primary Industry will be aware that a delegation from the Austraiian Apple and Pear Board is to go overseas to negotiate freight rates for the shipment of apples and pears to the United Kingdom and Europe in 1973. Is he aware of the present anomaly in container freight rates between the 2 fruits whereby it costs $244 more to ship a container of pears than it does to ship a container of apples? Will the Minister exercise his influence with the Board to ensure that the Victorian industry's case to the Board seeking and justifying equal rates for both fruits is given full cognisance in the negotiations with the ship owners?

Mr SINCLAIR (NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Primary Industry) - The negotiations to which the honourable gentleman's question refers are of tremendous importance to the industry. Unfortunately, freight rates have moved very adversely in relation to past levels, and to this point costs are eroding progressively the returns that exporters are receiving on their fruit. It is not just with respect to the differential rates to which the honourable gentleman's question refers but also to the whole negotiations that the industry and the Government are concerned there should be a favourable result. The difference between the rates for the 2 fruits is one which I find hard to comprehend. Apparently it dates back to a procedure introduced many years ago when there was some difference in handling. As far as I know this difference no longer exists and consequently I find myself, and I feel the Government would be, in complete support of the representations made by the industry. Of course, it is essentially a commercial negotiation but the Government believes that there is no basis on which there should be a different rate applying to pears than to apples. But it is a matter which needs to be resolved on a commercial basis. Certainly the Government would lend every support to the case submitted by the Australian Apple and Pear Board in its deliberations with the shipping companies.

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