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Wednesday, 6 October 1971
Page: 1950

Mr SINCLAIR (New England) (Minister for Primary Industry) - Perhaps I should answer a couple of points that have arisen during the debate. First of all, in case there was any misunderstanding, there are differences in cash costs as between the wheat industry and the apple and pear industry. When I was speaking before I was not intending to convey in any way that there would be a complete identity of movements in costs as between the 2 industries. There are differences and I would not want it to be thought that there would be a complete parallel. As far as the matters raised by the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies), the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) and perhaps the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) are concerned, I think those honourable members were referring to movements in cash costs within the season as distinct from the broader picture which was presented by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). I do not believe that it would be practical to move the cash costs within the season although I would acknowledge difficulties when it is necessary to set the price long before the start of the season.

It does, I believe, make it quite impossible in this sort of scheme to vary your costs within the course of the season although I appreciate completely the arith metic that was presented by the honourable member for Braddon, and 1 can assure him I have some personal understanding of the very critical financial position in which many of the apple and pear growers are now placed. In regard to the request by the honourable member for Franklin for advice on 2 matters relating to shipping, let me .assure honourable members that it would be intended that freight costs would be one of the items taken into account when considering cash movements.

I am told that the Apple and Pear Board has re-entered shipping negotiations. As I understand it, a number of approaches have been made to the Board by companies suggesting that they might be prepared to carry fruit. Because I know that these negotiations are under way I would prefer not to disclose in this place the extent of those offers. I believe that they do provide some alternative to the service that was previously available and no doubt the Apple and Pear Board will be using those alternative offers as a basis from which it might hope to negotiate a freight rate with whichever group of shipping companies or whichever individual shipping company it would see as giving the best rates for the transport of fruit. There are very real difficulties in coming to an agreement with the shipping companies and the aspects of costs which affect producers in relation to the impost of freight is something that has been canvassed fairly adequately during the second reading debate on this Bill.

While I can appreciate the difficulties that the honourable member for Dawson and others see in the form of words now included in the Bill I believe that it is best that the Bill should go forward in this way. I can assure honourable members that the cash cost movements will be taken into account by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. Even though the honourable member for Wilmot did cast some doubt as to whether they would be based on a genuine analysis by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics I can assure him that they will be based on genuine cash movements and for that reason the Government intends to proceed with this legislation in this form.

Question put:

That clause 7 be postponed.

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