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Wednesday, 26 September 1973
Page: 1589

Mr GILES (Angas) - On Friday, 14 September, in the South Australian town of Berri in my electorate a meeting was called by the canning fruit growers of South Australia. All major political party leaders, both State and Federal, were invited. The Federal Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden), the Federal Leader of Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) and the State Leader of the Opposition, Dr Eastick, apologised for not attending personally. They sent to that meeting members of Parliament as their personal delegates. The 500 growers were angered by the fact that no representative of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) was present and that there was no representative of the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) within whose personal responsibility this matter lies.

Mr McLeay - No Government member there at all?

Mr GILES - None at all. Every person who was present at that meeting was disappointed and some were disgusted at the refusal of the governments, both State and Federal, to be represented at this vital, crucial meeting of 500 soft fruit growers representing over half the entire number of fruit growers in South Australia. Those men were there because they felt their entire future - the future of their farms, the future of their families, their lives and their lifetime investment - was in doubt. The meeting was chaired by the Mayor of Berri. He also expressed disappointment at the nonattendance of government representatives because this matter concerned the district. The packing sheds and the canneries in that area, which is part of the important canning fruit industry of South Australia, are also in a state of jeopardy.

I will tell the House why this meeting was called. Perhaps the easiest way of dealing with this problem is to refer to the industry as a whole. The problem affects the Leeton cannery in the electorate of Riverina. It affects the Riverland cannery in the electorate of Angas. Unquestionably it affects canneries in the electorate of my colleague the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) who I gather is to say a few words on his own behalf later in this debate. This industry has persisted over many years and has. earned untold wealth for this nation. At this time the industry is in a state of extreme financial difficulty due primarily to reasons which are not the fault of the industry. I refer firstly, to the series of currency realignments and, secondly, to a series of up-valuations of the Australian currency. Those actions have made this export orientated industry feel the pinch to a very large degree. I have a table which I would like incorporated in Hansard. Unfortunately I have not had time to show it to the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) who is seated at the table. I now show it to him. It deals purely with the fall-off in growers incomes and nothing more than that.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Do you want the rest of the letter incorporated? It asks you to pay your debts.

Mr GILES - If I do not watch out the honourable member for Hindmarsh might take my mind off the job which I have set myself to do. It was a good try, but I hope he will give me leave to have the table incorporated in Hansard.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Yes. Just the figures, not the personal stuff.

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