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Wednesday, 5 December 1973
Page: 4355

Mr LLOYD (Murray) - I propose an amendment to sub-clause (3) of clause 7. Sub-clause (3) reads:

The Corporation shall comply with any directions given to it by the Minister with respect to the performance of its functions and the exercise of its powers.

I move:

Omit sub-clause (3).

I have moved this amendment because a search of the legislation relating to other statutory authorities has revealed that this sub-clause gives additional power to the Minister for Primary Industry. Admittedly it is the same as that contained in the wheat legislation which this side of the chamber attempted to have amended recently because it showed that ministerial discretion in this regard is something that should not be given lightly. In respect of the Wool Corporation the reserve power vested in the Minister concerns only the reserve price. I think that is reasonable because a considerable sum of Commonwealth money is involved. Under the apple and pear stabilisation legislation the reserve power relates to minimum prices at which fruit will be sold overseas. I would consider that to be reasonable in view of the Commonwealth commitment to the stabilisation fund. Sub-clause (3) reads:

The Corporation shall comply with any directions given to it by the Minister with respect to .the performance of its functions and the exercise of its powers.

This is a very broad undefined power that the Minister can exercise. The apple and pear legislation provides under section 18 of the relevant Act that the Minister has the final say in determining the prices at which fresh apples and pears can be sold overseas. In other words, the Minister already has the power to prevent the apple and pear industry from selling fruit at an uncommercial price which will lead to an excessive drain on Commonwealth finance. Admittedly that is not completely complementary legislation because that scheme could end. But one may ask: If the power is not provided to enable the Minister to ensure that the industry sells fruit at a commercial price, why should it be in the Bill?

When one looks at the wheat situation one wonders whether this power is put in this legislation so that the Minister can have special power to enable him to make to another country a political sale which is not in the best interests of the apple and pear industry. That is the reason why we have moved for the deletion of this power.

I believe that the Government should be honest about this clause and say if it wants the clause to remain in the Bill that it has no faith in the ability of the Apple and Pear Corporation to look after the wellbeing of the industry. If it does have faith in the ability of the industry why does it put this clause in the Bill in view of the fact that a similar provision is not contained in the general gamut of statutory marketing authority legislation? If the Government agrees that this is not necessary and says that it does have faith in the Corporation to carry out its functions I would hope that it would also agree to the removal of this clause from the Bill. As it is proposed to move this amendment in the Senate the Opposition is quite prepared in the meantime before this legislation goes to the Senate to agree to withdrawing the motion for the deletion of sub-clause (3) if the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) who is handling this Bill tonight, perhaps with the assistance of departmental officers, can show good reason why this sub-clause is necessary for the administration of the Corporation. JJ he cannot - and I believe he cannot - then this amendment will be moved in the Senate. Because we believe this is an unnecessary power to be given to a Minister, because it is against the best interests of the industry and because it is detrimental to this new Corporation which is being set up, I have moved for its deletion from the Bill.

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