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Thursday, 1 April 1971

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (Minister for Air) - in reply - I wish to thank the Senate for the support which has been given to this legislation. In particular, I w:sh to thank those honourable senators who have contributed to the debate. I do not think that there is any need for me to refer to the purposes of the 3 Bills which are now before the Senate because these purposes are set out quite plainly in my second reading speeches. However, J would like to comment briefly upon a number of the points which were made by various speakers during the course of the debate.

I.   begin by referring to a point which was made by Senator Milliner, who led for the Opposition in this debate. Senator Milliner referred to the penalties imposed under this legislation and contrasted those penalties with the penalties imposed on unions for certain offences. He pointed out that in the latter case fines could be up to ยง1,000. I would point out to him that the penalties in this legislation correspond with the penalties which are set out in other research legislation. In all research legislation the penalty is a maximum of S200. The amount specified of $200 is comparable wilh the amount laid down in the body of Commonwealth law. Therefore, the Government is nol doing anything unreasonable in this regard.

Senator Webster asked why dried apples are not covered by this legislation. I think Senator Milliner also referred to this point. The Australian Dried Fruits Association did not propose that dried apples be included in the scheme nor did the Australian Agricultural Council, which is responsible for approving the fruits covered in this legislation. However, I have taken a note of Senator Webster's suggestion. If the dried apple industry wishes to be included in it al some time in the future an approach to the Government to this effect will receive very careful consideration.

Senator Druryreferred to the difficulties experienced by the dried fruits industry in his State of South Australia. The Government is considering the points to which he referred, lt is very conscious of the situation which exists in South Australia as well as in many other parts of Australia. These difficulties are, of course, under consideration by the Government all the time and the Government is in close consultation with the industries themselves at all times. The Government has in the past given a considerable amount of assistance to rural industries in general. This assistance has been in the form of lax concessions, fertiliser bounties and agricultural research extension grants. The recent Budget provided assistance to upgrade telephone lines and erect lines within 15 miles of an exchange.

During the course of his speech Senator Drury gave the reasons why the Government's offer of a dried fruits industry stabilisation scheme was turned down by the industry. There have been several discussions between the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) and officers of his Department and the industry on this subject. 1 understand that the industry is at present giving consideration to various aspects of a stabilisation scheme which the Government has put before it. But these are not the only things that we are doing for the industry. I refer to the international sultana agreement which has resulted from the Government's efforts to have agreements reached. Admittedly, because of the great world production of dried fruits, we are finding difficulty with this agreement. Honourable senators may recall that last June the agreement was renewed, but only for a period of 12 months, lt will come up for consideration ..again very shortly. This is the type of thing that the Government is trying to do. lt is consulting with the industry regularly and, wherever possible, is assisting the industry, just as it is assisting it by means of this legislation.

The honourable senator mentioned also ' the single statutory marketing authority. My advice on this is that the proposal was put up by a minority of growers as an alternative to the present arrangement of an Australian export control board and then a number of State boards. This proposal has not attracted the attention or support of principals in the industry or of the Australian Agricultural Council. In other words, most growers at present are not in favour of the suggestion put forward by the honourable senator. Those are the main points to which I wished to refer. Senator Laucke reiterated some of the points that I mentioned in my second reading speech and many points which had been put forward by other speakers. Senator Byrne made the position of the Democratic Labor Party quite clear and referred to difficulties within the industry. I have already touched on some of these difficulties. I can say to Senator Byrne that this morning during question time I was asked about funds for reconstruction. Whilst those funds in the main are available to support the sheep and wheat industries, I understand that they are available also to some other sections of rural industry. No doubt in due course we will see applications for assistance from the growers with whom we are now dealing. I thank the Senate for supporting this Bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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