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Wednesday, 6 October 1971
Page: 1951

Dr PATTERSON (Dawson) - I move:

After sub-clause (2.), insert the following subclause: (2a.) The rate of a stabilisation payment provided for in the preceding sub-section, especially the figure of 4,400,000, will be reviewed each year prior to the establishment of the support price for that season.'.

The reasons for the Opposition moving this amendment are quite obvious. In his second reading speech, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) accepted the fact that there could be specific changes in the relationship between the quantities of apples and pears of various varieties produced. The Minister also accepted that there could be other pertinent changes and he made a statement which the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) quoted in the House last night. The Minister said: . . the Government will be prepared to discuss the matter with the industry to see if it is necessary to amend the arrangements under the plan and legislation.

The Opposition takes the view, 1 believe quite rightly, that this statement should be incorporated in the legislation. As the provision now reads, clause 1 1 is final; that is, it relates to the 2 variables of 80c and 4.4 million bushels. As honourable members, particularly those from Tasmania, pointed out, the figure of 4.4 million bushels could be a dicey one and within 12 months the risk proportion of total sales of apples and pears could continue to be significantly greater than 4.4 million bushels.

As 1 pointed out last night, with costs of production increasing, we must be wary of the actual level of the support price and its relationship to the 80c because 80c is the maximum payout. I gave examples of this last night. With a production of 6.6 million bushels, the stabilisation rate would approximate 53c and at 8.8 million bushels, 40c. These figures are related to the actual support price. It is a rather technical mathematical formula. Nevertheless, the Opposition is making what I believe is a simple request - that what the Minister said in his second reading speech be incorporated in the Bill and that at the end of each season or prior to the determination of a support price, there be a review of the rate of stabilisation.

The honourable member for Murray went to some pains to criticise this proposal. He pointed out, quite rightly, that in all probability there will be exported at risk a growing proportion of fruit which will certainly exceed 4.4m bushels. If the honourable member is fair dinkum about wanting to ensure that apple and pear growers in Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia and other States are fully protected he will have no alternative but to vote for this amendment. The amendment simply seeks to insert in the Bill an additional sub-clause to enable the position to be reviewed prior to the fixing of the support price. The rate of stabilisation payment and the variables of 80c and 4.4m bushels should be reviewed every season. Surely there is nothing in the amendment to which the Government could object. The only objection to our amendment to clause 7 was related to the constitutional difficulties between the Senate and the House of Representatives. However, I believe that if a Minister makes a definite statement in a second reading speech and the Government is to be consistent those words should be incorporated in the legislation.

In the opinion of the Minister, our amendment to clause 7 could not be accepted because of the constitutional problem. However, there is no constitutional problem in this amendment. It is a simple and important request, as has been made clear by honourable members. The variables of 80c and 4.4m bushels are the really key variables in the whole scheme and with them is allied the particular price of each variety of apple and pear in relation to the movement of cash costs every season. The 3 key variables are the price support, the 80c and the 4.4m bushels and the Opposition has moved its amendments around those 3 variables. The Opposition was given an explanation with respect to the first amendment. I repeat that this amendment is a simple request. I can see no reason why the Minister, if he wants to review and is prepared to review aspects of the scheme, cannot incorporate those words in the legislation.

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