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Thursday, 12 April 1973
Page: 1370

Mr FitzPATRICK - My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Minister aware of the heavy losses incurred by vine fruit growers in the Sunraysia district caused by a severe thunderstorm on the night of 19th February? Is it true that officers of the New South Wales Department of Agriculture have estimated the losses at between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of the crop? As the greater part of the damage was caused in the

Coomealla area, I ask the Minister: Have there been any negotiations between the New South Wales Department of Agriculture and the Federal Government with a view to providing assistance to the growers?

Dr PATTERSON (DAWSON, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Northern Development) - It is true that there have been adverse seasonal conditions in the grape growing areas of South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, but by far the greatest amount of damage has been done in the Sunraysia area. The figures given by the honourable member are fairly accurate. The best estimates seem to suggest that sultana grapes production will be down by something like SO per cent and the estimated production is around 40,000 tons as against 90,000 tons the previous year. The problem has been caused by unseasonal rains and thunderstorms in these areas. The correct approach would be from the industry to the State Government. If the State Government is unable to finance carry-on loans or special grants to individual producers or to the industry in general and if it thinks this finance is necessary, it could approach the Federal Government. In this case the correct approach would be from the Premier to the Prime Minister. Preliminary discussions and inquiries were made last week and I have been assured that the Minister for Primary Industry will give sympathetic consideration to an approach from the fruit growing areas with respect to this damage.

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