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Wednesday, 29 September 1971
Page: 1620


Dr SOLOMON - Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware that of 6 million bushels of Australian apples and pears loaded in 1970 at an overall rate sufficient to attract the maximum rebate of 7c per bushel, 3.9 million bushels were loaded at Hobart at an average rate of about 16,600 bushels a day, while Melbourne achieved an average rate of only 4,325 bushels a day? Does he see in this glaring discrepancy of achievement any possibility of relief for the Tasmanian section of the industry, the problems of which have so recently been put before him?


Mr SINCLAIR - As I understand the position, a markedly better loading rate is achieved in Tasmania than in Melbourne, for example. I cannot vouch for the figures provided by the honourable member in his question, but it is also true that the loading rate figures in New Zealand are nearly twice as good as those obtained in Tasmania. Concessions and rebates under the last agreement were applicable Australiawide and consequently for Tasmania there was a disadvantage in that there was a better performance by comparison with Melbourne. I understand that, in the present negotiations, industry had sought that the rebate should be payable on a State basis so that if negotiations had continued, Tasmanian exporters might well have been in a position to enjoy advantages comparable to those enjoyed by exporters who achieved better loading rates in other States.

I think the importance of a comparison is not as between States but as between Australia and other countries. In fact, the difference within Australia seems to be attributable mainly to the fact that in Tasmania ships come to port to load fruit and fruit alone. At mainland ports, fruit tends to be only part of the total loadings. Consequently, in those ports ships are forced to wait while fruit is brought along to the waterfront and takes its place with other commodities that are loaded on a particular vessel. In other countries - in New Zealand, for example - where fruit is handled largely in bulk and where different marks are not attributed as they are to each of the Australian exporter's brands it is possible to achieve a very marked improvement in loading rates. At the moment industry has before it for introduction this season a number of improvements which I believe are essential. If industry does introduce these improvements, I believe it might well be possibly largely to offset the very substantial 24 per cent increase in freight rates that has been requested.







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