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Thursday, 29 March 1973
Page: 946

Mr GRASSBY (Riverina) (Minister for Immigration) - We have just listened to an address by the champion of the fruit growers, the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd). He raises a series of matters now that he is in Opposition, but he was remarkably silent about some of those things when his Party was in Government, lt is a little late now for the honourable member to find his political courage, particularly in relation to the fruit industries. The honourable member for Murray kindly referred to the fruit industries in my electorate. Every request of the Leeton Co-operative Cannery Ltd for this season has been met. Every request made by canneries in his electorate were met, and met under this Government.

The honourable member for Murray referred to the matter of the payment of growers. It took 3 months to unravel the tortuous arrangements made by his Cabinet. Those arrangements were entered into by the previous Federal Government and the Government of New South Wales and they tied up funds in such a way that it was not possible to effect payment within the 2-week period. It has not been possible to effect payment even now because the Government of which the honourable member for Murray was a supporter made arrangements which deceived growers. 1 repeat that charge tonight. If the honourable member for Murray had taken an interest at the time, he would have known about that, and if he knew about it and did not say anything he was betraying the growers about whom he spoke tonight.

I resent the situation in which I, as the member for Riverina in Opposition, was placed by the previous Government. I did not know what arrangements were entered into. In fact, those arrangements were kept from me. An elaborate pretence was made right up to within 24 hours of the election that the arrangements which had been made by the previous Administration would give growers money which the Minister and the Government at the time knew they could never receive. It took 3 months in Government to find the truth of the situation. The honourable member referred to a promise made by the Prime Minister. He said that the money would leave Canberra and would be paid. It left Canberra and was sitting in Sydney. It is still in Sydney, tied up under arrangements for which the Government supported by the honourable member was responsible. He gave an undertaking to the growers that help would be given. He said that some help would have to be given. Senator Ken Wriedt, the Minister for Primary Industry, is dealing with the matter at present. I hope it will not be very long before the present Minister for Primary Industry will spell out all the details in chapter and verse and will get some help for the growers who were cruelly deceived for blatant political purposes. If the honourable member was a party to that, he should be ashamed of himself.

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