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Wednesday, 6 October 1971
Page: 1955

Mr DUTHIE (Wilmot) - I fully support the remarks of the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and my colleague, the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies). I am sure that my colleague from Franklin (Mr Sherry) supports those remarks also.

Mr Sherry - I do and I will speak in support of them.

Mr DUTHIE - We are very united on this side of the House.

Mr Sinclair - That is unusual.

Mr DUTHIE - I am sure that if the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) was an apple grower he would support this amendment forthwith. But, not being an apple grower, he finds it hard to assess what we are saying. 1 can appreciate this difficulty. After all, if one is born in an industry, works in an industry, makes one's living out of that industry, one can understand the finer details of it, while one who does not work in the industry cannot understand them.

Clause 11 has a grim finality about it. It provides for a payment of 80c a bushel in respect of 4.4 million bushels. No provision is made in the legislation to vary either figure. As we have said, these figures were fixed a long time ago. There are variables in the industry for which perhaps we could never cater completely. But we should cater for and make provision for those with which we can deal. The Opposition is prevented by certain constitutional provisions from moving an amendment which would increase the amount of money appropriated with respect to this Bill. We would like to have moved an amendment specifying 7.5 million bushels instead of 4.4 million bushels. But such an amendment would alter the financial structure of this Bill. The next best way to achieve what we wish to do is to move in the way in which we have. We propose that the rate of a stabilisation payment provided for in sub-clause (2.) of clause 11, especially the figure of 4.4 million, will be reviewed each year prior to the establishment of the support price for that season.

Heavens above, in asking for this provision we arc not asking for the moon. A review could be made for the next season and the Government could fix the same figure for the next year, if the present Government is still the Government then - God forbid! The insertion of this provision will provide a vehicle by which' a review may be made each year. What we have now is a 5-year plan. The Government's plans at this moment provide for the expenditure of $10m. But what will the state of this industry be in 5 years time? This legislation could very well end the industry altogether. In 5 years time the need for a stabilisation plan may not exist because the industry may not exist. I pointed this out in my speech last night. All we are asking for in this amendment is for an annual review of this provision. Growers in Tasmania in particular - but, I am sure, growers in the other States too - will be annoyed and disgusted if the Opposition's amendment is not carried. It is a simple amendment. The Bill fixes a figure for 5 years. None of us can forecast what the situation in the industry will be in 4 years time, 3 years time or even 2 years time. The period involved is far too long for these 2 sets of figures in the Bill to; have force. The period is far too long for such a variable industry as the apple and pear industry is, subject as it is to market, freight and other problems.

Because, as the honourable member for Braddon has said, sales at risk now total nearly 7 million bushels, we say that it is absolutely essential to write the Opposition's amendment into the Bill so that the figure of 4.4 million bushels may be varied. Otherwise this provision will be like the laws of the Medes and the Persians, unchanging and unchangeable. The Government is setting out to show that it is better than all the weathermen and forecasters of the world. It is predicting that this figure will be OK for the industry for 5 long years. We say that this forecast is impossible to make. If this amendment is not accepted, it will be 'Goodnight, nurse' for the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon) at the next election in Tasmania, even though his electorate is not an apple growing area. This Bill in its present form will close the door to any changes whatever in this industry for the next 5 years. The growers of Tasmania will not stand for that.

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