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Wednesday, 22 August 1973
Page: 265

Mr COHEN (Robertson) - I have been listening to the bleat of the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles). It followed the normal line.

Mr Duthie - It is a very real case. You cannot dismiss it like that.

Mr COHEN - I am not dismissing it like that.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no provision for private arguments. The honourable member will address the Chair.

Mr COHEN - Had the honourable member taken the trouble to find out a little more about the matter to which he referred he might not have been quite so concerned. The Gosford-Wyong area in my electorate of Robertson is the biggest producer of lemons in Australia. It produces 35 per cent of Australia's lemons. There was some confusion and panic in the area this morning as a result of the Budget provisions. I have taken the trouble to find out from the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby), who is also concerned about this matter, what is to happen. As I understand it, the amount of $25m which was the subject of the exemption was primarily going to multinational producers of pop - fizzy drinks. I am referring to the makers of Coca-Cola and that type of drink. Very little of the exemption was going to the benefit of the fruit growers for whom it was intended. I understand that about $5m ultimately finished up with the producers so that the Treasury was losing about $20m. I do not see any great benefits in the general run of the mill fizzy drinks for the average Australian child or adult so we cannot properly argue that the exemption resulted in nutritional benefits for the country. It can be argued that there was some benefit for fruit growers. I have had some discussions with the Minister for Immigration about the following statement in the Budget:

In such abolishing the exemption the Government stands ready to provide such funds as may be necessary to assist with the reconstruction of any sectors of the fruit growing industry that may be affected.

I understand that the amount of money set aside will be approximately the sum that normally would have finished up with fruit growers; that is about $5m. It will be put aside to assist fruit growers so that they will receive the same amount of money as before. I have been in touch with Mr Eric Goldswain, one of the biggest producers of lemons in the Gosford-Wyong area. He was notified by the Jusfrute company that it would not accept any more lemons for some time. There was some confusion as to the period for which it would refuse to accept lemons. The company just put up its hands and said: 'No more'. A meeting of the local Lemon Board is taking place in the Gosford area this evening. It has been asked to put forward proposals as to the best use of that sum of $5m.

I understand that the processors, growers and other interested parties will be meeting over the next few days to work out proposals as to how the$5m can be used to assist the industry. If a system can promptly be worked out by the industry in agreement with the Government fruit growers can receive the same amount of money as before. I feel sure that they will work out an equitable system which will enable them to produce the same amount of lemons for processing so that it will be attractive for the processors to continue to purchase the lemons. I agree that similar problems arise in respect of oranges. The ultimate result will be that everyone will be as well off as before and the Treasury will be $20m better off. One hopes that certain fizzy drinks will be less used by the Australian community in general.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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