Citrus Industry Organization Bill 1965
p3314 LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, December 1;
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN (Minister of Local Government) : I move:
That this Bill be now read a second time.
It gives effect to the report of tile committee of inquiry into the citrus industry -which was presented to the Government last month. In brief, the findings of the committee were that:
- The citrus industry in this State lacks effective organization and co-ordination.
- Seventy per cent of fresh citrus fruit sold in the State is marketed in a most unorderly manner with no contribution to the welfare of the industry.
- Legislation should be passed as a matter of some urgency to provide for an orderly system of marketing' in the industry.
The Government hopes that the other States will follow our lead with this legislation because statutory organization of the citrus industry on an Australia-wide basis would mean the greatest benefit to the industry as a whole.
As the long title indicates, the Bill provides for organization in the citrus industry and for an orderly system of marketing by the establishment of a committee to be called “The Citrus Organization Committee of South Australia” and which will have plenary powers to control and regulate citrus marketing in this State. Turning to the provisions of the Bill in detail, clause 1 contains the short title and clause 2 provides for the Bill to become law on a day to be fixed by proclamation. This will enable necessary regulations and appointments to the committee to be made. Clause 3 deals with the arrangement of the provisions of the Bill and clause 4 provides for the repeal of the Citrus Marketing Act, 1931, which was not voted into operation. Clause 5 contains definition of terms used in the Bill. Two important definitions are those of ‘'grower” and “marketing”. A grower is defined, for the purposes of elections and polls, as a person who grows at least 50 trees for the production and sale of citrus fruit and, for the other purposes of the Bill, as a person who carries on the business of producing citrus fruit for sale (without regard to the number of his trees). By virtue of the definition of the term “marketing”, the scope for the Bill will be limited to sales by wholesale and, except for fixation of prices, retail selling will not be controlled.
Clause 6 excludes the harvesting by a grower of his own citrus fruit from the application of the Bill so that other provisions of the Bill, which I shall explain later, will not require him to be licensed for this purpose. Clause 7 is an interpretative clause providing that if by reason of the Commonwealth Constitution a provision of the Bill or an order or notice thereunder cannot validly apply to all citrus fruit according to its tenor, it will be construed as applying only to citrus fruit to which it can validly apply. Clause 8 provides for the establishment of “The Citrus Organization Committee of South Australia” as a body corporate, Under clause 9 the committee will consist of seven members to be appointed by the Governor, They will be four elected grower members (referred to in the Bill as “representative members”) two other persons who, in the opinion of the Governor, have extensive knowledge of and experience in industry and commerce and an independent chairman, the last three members being appointed after consultation by the Minister administering the Act with the four grower members. Subclasses (3), (4) and (5) are normal machinery provisions. By virtue of clause 10 the first four grower members of the committee will not be elected but will be selected by the Minister from nominations supported by twenty or more growers. In view of the grower support for this Bill, the Government considers it unnecessary that the grower members of the first committee should be elected and that the committee may proceed to a more speedy despatch of its business if the Minister may, in the first instance, select the four grower members thereof.
Clause 11 deals "with the election of grower members of the committee. They will be elected by growers: each being nominated by 20 growers. Elections will be conducted by the Assistant Returning Officer and will be necessary whenever a grower member retires from office or whenever there is a casual vacancy in his office. Clause 12 provides that in the case of a grower which is a- company, the company may nominate a person who may vote on its behalf at any election or poll which may be held and who may himself be elected to the committee. Clause 13 provides for a register of growers to be kept for the purposes of elections and polls provided for by the Bill. Clause 14 provides that each member of the committee will hold office for two years with the following exceptions. In the case of the chairman, the Governor may, in the instrument of his appointment, specify some other period as his term of office, and in the case of two of the first four grower members, to be determined by lot, they will hold office for one year. Thus there will be two grower members who retire from office each year.
Clauses 15, 16 and 17 make the usual provision for casual vacancies, that members of the committee, as such, will not be deemed to be public servants, and usual provisions dealing with meetings of the committee. Clause 18 provides for remuneration and expenses of members of the committee and clause 19 provides that the committee will not be an instrumentality of the Crown. Clause 20 is one of the principal provisions of the Bill enabling the committee to control all aspects of citrus marketing. The clause empowers the committee to issue licences to any person proposing to act in any way in the marketing of citrus fruit, the licences being .granted according to the respective functions which the applicant desires to carry on, but no licence will be necessary for the harvesting by a grower of his own crop of citrus fruit. If the applicant furnishes the relevant information and complies with requirements prescribed by regulations, he will be entitled to a licence and the only ground on which the committee may refuse a licence is that the committee considers it undesirable in the interests of the citrus industry the licence should be granted. Upon refusal to issue a licence there will be a right of appeal to the Supreme Court.
The licence may contain terms and conditions relating to the marketing of citrus fruit and will remain in force for a period of 12 months that may be renewed. Subclause (4) is a formal provision enabling the committee to cancel or suspend a licence if the licensee fails to comply with the provisions of the Bill or for any condition to which the licence is subject, Subclause (7) provides for a penalty of £200 if a licensee contravenes a condition to which the licence is subject.
In clause 21 the general powers of the committee are set out. The most important of these are that the committee may itself undertake or arrange for the marketing of citrus fruit and citrus products, it may regulate and control the marketing of citrus fruit, raise moneys by imposing charges as provided by Clause 23, employ officers, inspectors, agents and servants for the purposes of the Bill and may regulate and control the use of brands and trade-marks in the marketing of citrus fruit. In addition, the committee may exempt from operation of the Bill growers of small quantities of citrus fruit and may also delegate certain powers, but these do not include the powers to issue licences and marketing orders, impose charges and to employ its staff. The power to delegate is considered necessary for the more efficient performance of day to day functions of marketing.
Clause 22 is another most important provision of the Bill which enables the committee to issue marketing orders. These orders may fix quantities or the proportion of a crop of citrus fruit which may be delivered or sold to such person or persons as are nominated by the committee. This cause also confers a right to sell citrus fruit to the committee as well as its nominees, but this is solely for reasons of constitutional law and is not anticipated that this right will be exercised or that the committee will itself enter into any marketing transactions. By virtue of marketing orders issued under this clause the committee will have complete power to regulate and control in such manner as it deems fit the entire marketing of citrus fruit until sold by wholesale. Under paragraph (d) of subclause (1), the committee may fix wholesale and retail prices and the rate of commission at which citrus fruit may be sold.
Subclause (2) of this clause provides that marketing orders may extend to products of citrus fruit and may make different provision for citrus fruit of a particular type, variety, count, grade, quality or quantity and may contain terms and conditions relating to presentation for sale, inspection of citrus fruit, advertising and promotion of sales, and practices which in the opinion of the committee are detrimental to the citrus industry. Subclause (3) is a machinery provision and subclause (4) provides for a maximum penalty of £200 if any person fails to comply with any direction in an order which is applicable to him.
By virtue of clause 23 the committee may impose a charge, not exceeding two shillings a bushel, for the purpose of meeting the cost of administration and may impose an additional charge, not exceeding two shillings a bushel, to create an equalization fund for growers suffering loss on the export market. This clause is modified on a corresponding provision of the 1931 Act. Under clause 24 the committee may require returns from growers and licensees. The returns may require particulars of citrus fruit of a certain type, variety, count, grade, quality and quantity, which is delivered to a licensee, and in the case of a grower may require details of the number of trees which he is growing for the production of citrus fruit, and an estimate of his crop. Subclause (3) provides for a maximum penalty of £100 if any person refuses to comply with any requirement under this clause.
Clause 25 provides that the committee in exercising its powers under the Act must act to the best advantage of the citrus industry. Clause 26 deals with the duty of a licensee to accept delivery of any citrus fruit which is delivered to him pursuant to the Bill and provides that he may refuse to accept delivery only if the citrus fruit fails to comply with any prescribed requirements. If he so refuses to accept delivery, he must issue a certificate of refusal. Clause 27 confers on inspectors powers to enter lands on which citrus trees are grown and to enter buildings in which citrus fruit is packed, stored or offered for sale. An inspector may inspect and take stock of the citrus trees, inspect accounts, books and documents and make copies of them or take extracts from them. Subclause (2) provides for a penalty of £50 if an occupier of any such land or building does not provide the inspector with all reasonable facilities and assistance. Sub-clause (3) provides for a penalty of £50 for a person who obstructs or interferes with an inspector in the exercise of his powers under this clause.
Clause 28 provides for a register of brands and trade-marks to be kept and that the committee will have a discretionary power to register brands and trade-marks for use in the marketing of citrus fruit. By virtue of subclause (4) a person must register a brand or trademark which he proposes to use in the marketing of citrus fruit or must obtain the approval of the committee if he proposes to use any brand or trade-mark under licence. If a person permits another person to use his brand or trade-mark for any such purpose, he will, unless the approval of the committee is first obtained, be guilty of an offence punishable by a maximum penalty of £100. Clause 29 provides that any arrangements or contracts the purpose or effect of which is to evade the operation of the Act will be void and of no effect.
Clause 30 contains two important provisions providing for offences in connection with the marketing of citrus fruit. If a person buys direct from a grower any citrus fruit which has not been sold and delivered as provided by the scheme of the Act and thereupon offered for sale he will be guilty of an offence, the maximum penalty for which is £100. Also if a person does any other act, matter or thing included in the marketing of citrus fruit without being duly licensed as provided by the Bill he will be guilty of an offence, the maximum penalty for which is £200. Clause 31 provides for exoneration of members of the committee for any acts done in good faith. Clause 32 requires the committee to keep accounts and that the accounts will be audited by the Auditor-General. Clause 33 provides that proceedings for offences against the Act will be disposed of summarily and may be commenced at any time within 12 months after the commission of the offence.
Clause 34 contains plenary powers for regulations to be made giving effect to the objects of the Bill.
Clause 35 contains a necessary financial provision enabling the Treasurer to advance such moneys as may be necessary for the establishment of the committee. Clause 36 provides that a poll may be held every two years on whether the Act should continue in operation.
In view of the grower support for this Bill the Government considers it unnecessary that there should be a poll for bringing the legislation into operation but that it is desirable that growers should be able, every two years, to vote for the winding up of the committee if they desire to do so. Accordingly, the clause provides that every two years a petition signed by 100 growers may be presented to the Minister administering the Act on the question whether the Act should continue in operation. If 60 per cent of the growers voting at the poll, being not less than 30 per cent of the growers entitled to vote, vote against the continuance of the Act, the Governor will, by proclamation, appoint a liquidator to wind up the committee and fix a day or successive days on which the provisions of the Act will expire.
Clauses 37, 38 and 39 contain machinery provisions relating to the winding up of the committee and the expiration of the Act.
I have taken the unprecedented step of supplying- all members with a copy of the explanation of the Bill so that they will be able to make themselves conversant with the Bill and the explanation, and I hope I shall have their co-operation in securing the passage of this Bill through this Chamber before Parliament adjourns. I submit the measure for the consideration of honourable members.
The Hon. C. S. STORY (Midland): I support the second reading of this Bill which, as the Minister has said, has the support of the industry. When I say that, I mean it. It is not very often that one can say that a measure before Parliament is acceptable the vast majority. I am aware that this will not suit and will be difficult for some growers. Certainly, they are a minority, but they will not be particularly happy about it.
However, the industry as a whole needs it and asked for it, and it has been introduced | promptly so that its provisions can be put into operation.
I am a close relative to this measure, and I think it can be said that its founding father is Mr. Quirke. War service land settlement settlers in the Upper Murray are particularly unhappy about the situation regarding the marketing of citrus, as they have made losses over the previous three years. A deputation from the Upper Murray Lands Settlers Association was introduced by me to the Minister in- January of this year, and it came armed with a petition signed by well over 95 per cent of members of the association. The Minister immediately took action to set up a committee of inquiry, and I pay a sincere tribute to that committee for the work it has done. It was chaired by the Director of Lands (Mr . J. R. Dunsford), and its members were Mr. T. C. Miller (Chief Horticulturist), Mr. Eric Brown (a grower), Mr. M. T. A. Pettman (.from Loxton), and Mr. H. J. Katekar, LL.B. (a grower from Renmark). Those honourable members who have studied the report will see the vast scope of the inquiry conducted by the committee before it prepared this report. I pay a tribute to the present Minister of Agriculture who, after receiving the report, proceeded with all haste to implement it and introduce a Bill so that the legislation could come into operation for the next year’s orange harvest. It is essential that we have something organized as expeditiously as possible.
I do not think it is necessary for me to deal with individual clauses, although I shall raise one or two points in Committee. However, I should like to refer in broad terms to one or two aspects of the report. The first and most interesting thing about it is that it is most comprehensive and sets out information for the processing and marketing of South Australian consumed, Australian-consumed and export citrus. The reasons for the inquiry are relevant; they are:
Increased citrus which was harvested in South Australia in the years 1962, 1963 and 1964 caused a serious decline in prices, and this allied to rising production costs caused growers’ returns to recede far below economic levels. At the same time distribution became chaotic. The quantity of oranges was far greater than in the previous seasons and exceeded expectations.
Then follows one of the most important parts of the report:
Due to incorrect estimating much unexpected and unscheduled fruit came on to the market and included in the increased volume was a substantial proportion of fruit of a quality lower than normal which increased the problems of marketing.
I think in that we have almost the crux of the problems in the citrus industry in South Australia today-—the matter of estimating the crop potential and projecting into the future these increases so that when the committee is set up it will be able to look into the future and get about its business of selling fruit. The other industries with which I am associated have had the same problems in the past, but these have been met to a large degree because the industries have been able to look at the estimates and go ahead with selling schemes. The terms of reference of the committee were:
To inquire into all aspects of the citrus industry and to recommend steps which should be taken to improve the marketing of citrus fruits.
As honourable members know, the scope of the inquiry was very wide. The committee saw 126 witnesses, met on 36 days and saw all classes of people connected with the industry, as well as consumers.
The Hon. S. C. Bevan: They travelled around a bit, too.
The Hon. C. R. STORY: They certainly did. They took evidence in South Australia, Melbourne, Mildura and Sydney, and direct submissions were received from Queensland, New Zealand and South Africa. Information was obtained on oversea markets, including Hong Kong', Singapore, the United 'States of America, Canada and Europe. Physical examinations of markets in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide were made, and packing sheds, orchards and a citrus juice factory in the Murray citrus-growing areas were inspected. One can say that the scope of the inquiry was very wide, and that the Bill that has been introduced is on all fours with the report. The Bill does not contain anything that was not recommended by the committee after a full inquiry. The distribution of fruit, which is fairly important at this particular time, is done mainly through the Murray Citrus Growers Co-operative Association. At present within South Australia 525,000 bushels of fruit are consumed, which makes 18 per cent of the total. Overseas export is 587,000 bushels, or 21 per cent of the total; factory citrus (South Australia and other States) accounts for 641,000 bushels, or 24 per cent of the pack. The Melbourne market takes 606,000 bushels, or 22 per cent; the Sydney market takes 338,000 bushels, or 12.5 per cent; other interstate markets take 125,000 bushels, or 2.5 per cent, making a total of 2,822,000 bushels of citrus produced in this State, which is not at present being marketed to the best advantage. It is certainly not returning to the grower a payable price for the fruit.
The quality of fruit on the older trees is second to none; on the younger trees we expect the quality always to be a little rough and, with our present production, with the vast majority of young trees coming into bearing, it is natural that the quality of the fruit is not up to past standards. However, suggestions are made in this report about how this can be overcome. I draw attention to the committee’s reference to the expansion of the Berri Fruit Juice Co-operative, an organization known as B.F.J. The committee in its report has recommended an expansion of this rather large co-operative. In order to expand, money is needed. I hope the Government is taking into account the fact that some of this money will have to be provided through the Loans to Producers Act, the normal manner in which co-operatives are financed. But this year we are already faced with heavy commitments in this field of borrowing. It is necessary for the State Bank to change its policy here, in that in the past the bank put up some 75 per cent of the money required for a project, and the matching money was provided by the co-operative concerned. The position, operating as from this month will be that the bank will put up 66 2/3 per cent and the co-operative will have to find 33 1/3 per cent as matching money. This is not an easy thing to do in an expanding organization. So it may be necessary to review this policy by (1) making more money available under that Act to the State Bank, or (2) by providing some other form of finance, which no doubt the industry and the bank can come to terms upon.
I now turn to the present general price structure. Prices have been unpayable to the growers for three or four years. We have had higher production and lower prices. The report mentions the price of about 10s. net to the grower for each case. In the next year it was about 13s., and I know of plenty of growers who received as little as 4s. a case net, which is an absolute calamity price; at that price more and more would go bankrupt. This State is an exporter of citrus. We export about 60 per cent of the total Australian citrus exports, although we produce oily about one quarter of the Australian total. There are two reasons for that—(1) quality and (2) the excellent work of the Agriculture Department in keeping fruit fly out of the State's producing areas.
Being free from fruit fly in our producing areas means that we have been able to taka up all export markets, which is a great tribute to this State. The present production of citrus in South Australia is about 3,000,000 bushels annually, and it is expected that by 1970 this figure will reach 4,000,000, and that by 1975 it will reach the 5,000,000 mark. We can appreciate the task that this committee has to face up to right from the commencement of its operations, which will, I hope, be within weeks of the passing of this legislation.
At this stage I draw honourable members' attention to the conclusions that the committee came to on pages 41 and 42 of its report, because we should have some knowledge of what the committee really thought about those matters. I said that some growers would not he overhappy about this Bill. They are the growers of high quality fruit. The committee here recommends that the marketing should be done on a pool basis, with each grower's fruit being run separately. But many of the old established people in the industry have arranged with agents in Melbourne and other places over a period of 42 years a regular supply of fruit. They have high quality and their brands are well-known. Through their own industry they have worked up a high reputation. They are a little apprehensive about this legislation. It will be entirely up to the committee to protect these people. As there will be four grower nominees on the committee, they will be aware of this problem.
I do not think that these people ought to be unduly penalized for their industry, because they have pioneered new markets at times and have built up a reputation for quality and integrity. In a small shop not far from here the same fruit has been appearing year in and year out, as long as I have been in Parliament, from the same packer and grower. It is only because it is high grade fruit that this buyer continues to purchase supplies from the same grower each time.
I thank the Minister for making available to every member of this Chamber the information on this matter. It is something that- I have suggested on other occasions, and I wish that it could happen with every Bill introduced in this place because then honourable members would not have to wait until the following day for the information. That happens sometimes, but not through any fault of either the Hansard staff, which is grossly overworked at present, or the Government Printer, who cannot cope with the volume of work crowding upon him. However, the action of the Minister on this occasion would, if followed in connection with other Bills, assist in the dispatch of business considerably.
Dealing with the Bill itself, the committee will comprise four grower members. In the first instance those members will be nominated in a panel of recommendations forwarded to the Minister who will choose four from that panel and appoint them to the committee. Two further members of the committee are to be nominated by the Governor and they will be persons skilled in commerce and industry. They will be appointed by the Minister after consultation with the four elected grower members on the committee. The seventh member of the committee will be Chairman and he also will be appointed by the Minister, who will in addition fix the term of office. The machinery for the election of the committee after the first period is set out in the Bill. A nominee must be a person who owns 50 or more trees and who is nominated by 20 growers. I think that this is a good provision because first of all it indicates that the Chairman has sufficient backers to obtain his 20 nominators. If there is any weakness at all in this system it is that it is possible to have the whole of the committee elected from one area of the State. It is possible for the four members to come from a confined area. Other suggestions have been made but it appears that there are problems in each one of them.
H The Hon. S. C. Bevan: I am sure you would have more than four nominations coming in from one area. The Hon. C. B. STORY: I admit that is possible and it is conceivable that the committee could be appointed from the Upper Murray area with no representation from other areas. On the other hand, if it is set out zone the area it is possible that the best offering is obtained for that area but not the best possible from the industry. Therefore, it is a two-way problem, and I consider that under this system the best representation will be obtained from those prepared to offer from industry. Two members will retire every year and the normal term of office of each member will be two years. This will effect a policy of continuity.
The Hon. It. A. Geddes: Are they eligible for re-election?
The Hon. C. R. STORY: Yes. The other matter is that the committee has extremely wide powers.
As many honourable members know, I have been a director of a co-operative for many years and the power vested in the committee of management of a co-operative is extremely wide.
In fact, at times I have wondered how the original constitution was ever passed by growers in the first place because it gives almost the power of life and death to the co-operative over the grower. However, in all my experience in the co-operative movement I have never seen any powers abused by the various committees. That is because the members are close to the growers, and the moment they start to get out of line the growers have a quick remedy; they can get rid of at least four members at the next election if those members are not doing the right thing. Therefore, I am not worried about the wide powers vested in this committee and I have confidence in the type of people who will be elected to it. I believe that they will use their powers with discretion.
I do not think there is any need to labour this matter and I am in complete agreement with the scheme. I have a few questions I wish to ask in the Committee stages of the Bill, and one or two suggestions to make. However, on broad principles I commend the Bill to honourable members and congratulate the committee of inquiry on an excellent job in bringing down this report and getting the legislation so expeditiously before Parliament.
The Hon. M. B. DAWKINS (Midland): It gives me pleasure to support this measure and I congratulate my colleague, the Hon. C. R. Story, on his contribution. All members know that he is second to none in his knowledge of the citrus industry and we are fortunate to have him in this Council because from time to time we need his specialized knowledge of the citrus and other industries in the Upper Murray areas in particular. It gives me pleasure to speak about the citrus industry because I have always been interested in the industry. I was brought up in the midst of a citrus plantation and members of my family have been actively engaged in the industry in the past. I still have relatives concerned with citrus, and within the district of Midland I have many constituents actively engaged in the industry.
Along with other honourable members I have been concerned over the last few years at conditions that have obtained in the citrus industry and in the marketing of the fruit. I have known for many years that these problems occur in cycles and that they have occurred in the past. I have been aware of the situation, particularly in the Upper Murray areas, where growers in years gone by, instead of getting a cheque with an account sales, have received a small bill for the costs of marketing their fruit because the fruit did not bring enough money to pay marketing costs. Whilst this has happened in the past, the same thing could occur in the citrus industry again because at one period the market could be buoyant but later it could be completely chaotic. Therefore, I welcome this Bill. I compliment the former Minister of Lands, Mr. Quirke, who appointed this committee of inquiry in January of this year. I also echo the comments of my colleague who recently resumed his seat in complimenting the committee on the splendid report it has brought down. All honourable members have a copy of the report and it seems to me, from a limited study of it, to be a comprehensive report indeed.
I also commend the present Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Bywaters, for the assistance he has given to the committee and I commend him also for his anxiety to get the scheme in operation. We have all been made aware that the industry is right behind this move. The immediate hope of the industry is that the Bill will be passed without unnecessary delay so that the marketing scheme may be brought into operation for the 1966 marketing season. There is no doubt that, despite the extremely wide powers being vested in the board that were referred to by the Hon, Mr. Story, the industry as a whole fully supports the proposal. Of course, it may not suit everyone and we know that some growers have always marketed their fruit independently and that they have made some feature of their own particular type of fruit. They have been able to corner a particular part of the market as a result and those growers may be somewhat concerned about this legislation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that the industry as a whole will benefit from it, and it is the industry as a whole that we must consider.
I am also persuaded that those in the industry are in complete accord with the concept of legislation of this type being enacted on a Commonwealth basis. The Minister has assured us that the Bill is completely in line with the report, and I have every reason to accept that. This measure may well be the basis for at least a three-State scheme and may become Commonwealth-wide in due course. Marketing boards of this type have been set up in various industries and these boards are effective only when they operate on a Commonwealth basis.
I hope that this will eventually happen in the case of the citrus industry.
We have noticed considerable expansion of the industry in the past in the Renmark, Berri and Barmera areas and, in more recent times, expansion has taken place in Loxton and Waikerie particularly and in other areas. Much of this work has been done as a result of the war service land settlement scheme and also because of the initiative and drive of people expanding their activities on blocks already held. We have many valuable citizens engaged in this activity in our State and we have every reason for seeing that they are properly catered for and that they have an orderly and effective marketing scheme, in contrast to the chaos that has occurred from time to time in the past.
The Government has provided for four grower members of the hoard, two of whom are to be elected annually. Of course, because of the urgency of this legislation, those four members will be appointed initially by the Minister, and I personally have no quarrel with that. In view of the time factor, I consider that that is necessary and that it is supported by the growers themselves. I am also in accord with the provision that will obtain next year when the four grower members will be elected.
I heard it said the other day that, despite politics, good legislation is being brought in from time to time, and I compliment the Government on the legislation it has brought down in relation to the citrus industry this afternoon, I shall always endeavour to be fair and to give credit where it is due. The proposal was started by the former Minister of Lands, Mr. Quirke, and much credit is due to him, but this is a measure in relation to which we can forget polities and remember the greater good of the State as a whole. I have pleasure in supporting the Bill.
The Hon. L. R. HAET (Midland): I, too, express my thanks to the Minister for making the second reading explanation available to nil honourable members. The Bill has been before ns for only a short time and it is necessary that we know the full implications of it. We have been helped in this regard by having the explanation before us. I also express my appreciation to the committee for the tremendous amount of work it did in presenting a comprehensive report. It is generally recognized that the organization of a marketing scheme on a State basis has some weaknesses, but this scheme may, perhaps, be a model on which a more comprehensive Commonwealth marketing scheme can be built. We hope that that will eventuate, because the industry with which it deals is important. It has export value of considerable potential, provided we are able to obtain the right type of fruit for the export market.
In the past there has been a tendency to neglect our export market and that has been mainly because of fluctuations in the home market price. When the home market price has been low, growers have looked to overseas markets, but, when the home price has improved, Export has been forgotten until home prices again reach a low level. In order to have a successful export market, we must have a continuity of supply of quality fruit. South Australian oranges measure up to the discriminating requirements of overseas markets and they enjoy a premium over fruit from most other countries, notwithstanding that we compete against the dumping of citrus fruits by some countries, South Africa in particular.
This industry has other problems besides marketing. One problem is disease, the foremost being red scale. I do not doubt that this committee will also, if possible, assist those people who are endeavouring to overcome the red scale problem.
It was my great privilege a week or so ago to go to Loxton and see the Minister of Agriculture open an insectary that had been built on the Loxton Experimental Farm. The purpose of this insectary is to breed sexually sterile but otherwise virile male insects. These will be released in large numbers and, from the high concentration of numbers of sterile males, it is hoped that eventually the insect that is the cause of red scale will be eliminated. An entomologist named Mr. Noel Richardson is in charge of this project. He is a young man who has had a considerable experience in this field, and he is doing an extremely good job.
The Hon. C. R. Story: Do you think the population of Loxton may decrease a little as result of this?
The Hon. L. E. HART: Because of the cure of red scale?
The Hon. C. R. Story; No, because of the remedy.
The Hon. L. R. HART: I understand that at this stage this remedy will be applied only to insects.
The Hon. A. J. Shard: Many people at Loxton think the population will grow rapidly.
The Hon. L. R. HART: We were told that the building in which the insectary was housed cost only £1,000. The cost was so low because the dedicated men associated with this project set to work and built it themselves, and I believe this should not have had to happen. However, they had to build it or do without it. This project is very important in this industry, and I consider that more Government money should be made available for it. I do' not blame the present Government more than the previous Government, but a very necessary project associated with an important industry has not received sufficient consideration. I am sure that the insectary will be given the necessary funds to operate, however.
South Australia will no doubt have to face increased competition for export markets, because this very process of releasing sterile males means that we are looking to the day when fruit fly will also be exterminated. Once that happens, we shall be in competition with other States for export markets, particularly in New Zealand. Organized marketing needs a realistic and reliable pre-season estimate of the crop, as the Hon. Mr. Story has said, to provide for forward sales and for shipping space. This will be one of the most important aspects of the work of the new committee. This committee will enter upon its job with much goodwill from all people associated with the industry, and I am sure that from this embryo legislation, if I may call it that, we shall eventually get a Commonwealth-wide marketing scheme and that we shall have an industry based mainly on the Murray River areas that will play an important part in the economic future of this State. I have pleasure in supporting the second reading of this Bill.
The Hon. Sir LYELL McEWIN (Leader of the Opposition): Although I hesitate to rise at this late stage to support this measure, I should like to make one or two comments about it. The basis of the Bill was the report of the committee appointed by the previous Government to inquire into the industry, and a copy of this report was provided to honourable members. For some three years there has been an increase in production in the Murray areas at a time when costs have been rising and prices have been falling. Consequently, the economics of the local industry got into a rather parlous condition. The inquiry committee was appointed to investigate the problems of the industry, and I think we should be very grateful to its members for the work they did in preparing a report in such a short time so as to give some definite lead on what legislation was necessary to do something for the industry and to improve upon what was provided in 1931, which has never been availed of.
The suggestions made by the committee have now been drafted into legislation. Honourable members have been willing to assist the Government to pass this measure so that its provisions can be put into effect for the coming harvest, which is now showing on the trees and setting, and estimates of which are being made. The committee created by this legislation is given a fairly long list of duties, all of which are essential to solve the problems of the industry. The inquiry committee has realized the problems associated with the marketing of fruit, and it is expected that within a couple of years the new committee, from its experience and organization, will have achieved some results. The various places of marketing in this State and other States, and the export market, are matters that need investigating from a scientific, point of view.
For too long our primary industries have suffered from the lack of marketing organization. When wheat was sold on a fair-average- quality basis and everything anyone could put into a bag was reaped, there were problems. That has been considerably altered through organized marketing and bulk handling. Consequently, a better standard of wheat is being produced, and it can be sold at a recognized grade. This type of thing has been adopted by other industries, and I cannot see why it should not apply equally successfully to the citrus industry.
Perhaps the most profitable market is the home market, and this could be developed more.
I do not know how much the transferring of fruit from one area of the State to another will be affected. We know there are different places where, if the fruit is transported economically, plenty of people who are hungry and taste very little citrus juices from season to season will appreciate it. These will be matters for this committee to examine, as well as discovering how we can market fruit in other States economically. If this proves to be the basis for some future Commonwealth-wide organization, we shall have achieved a .great deal. The Bill is supported by the majority of the growers, who have impressed on me the urgency of this measure.
The Hon. R. A. GEDDES (Northern): It has been said many times that necessity is the mother of invention, and I think that applies here. Throughout the Commonwealth there are many boards. It would be futile to enumerate them all. However it appears that so far the only effective way of orderly marketing of a primary product is by means of a board; it seems that this is the only way in which a primary product can be marketed profitably for the grower. Most boards in this State are good, effective and efficient. Unfortunately, some lack the initiative to carry out the best methods of selling the various products for the betterment of an industry.
I sincerely hope that this citrus committee to which we are now giving birth, will go forward with enthusiasm, initiative, and the drive necessary to make our citrus industry prosper as a result of orderly marketing. We hope that orderly marketing of citrus throughout the Commonwealth will be achieved.
The committee has wide powers. By the provisions of this Bill it will arrange for the export of citrus fruit from this State. Our disease-free fruit-producing areas command respect from everyone. That is a wonderful thing and all credit must be given to those who took the initiative in controlling the fruit fly when it was once said it could not be done. So we set off on the right foot. The committee will also have powers to advertise and take any steps it thinks fit to encourage the consumption of citrus fruit and create a greater demand therefor. The people of this State have not known whether the orange wrapped in the plastic bag by the roadside is of good quality, whether it is bitter or sour, whether it is too small for the price asked; people do not know whether they are being fleeced. I imagine that those fears will now disappear and that the quality of fruit on the market will be good and sound, The committee will be able to make payments, if it thinks fit, to any licensee for the purpose of enabling him to carry on any business pursuant to his licence, which means that a person who is qualified in the marketing of citrus products will have a licence to work in conjunction or co-operation with the committee so that the fruit will be marketed and the surpluses will not be an embarrassment to the growers. This Bill looks to the future. It will do much for this industry and help the growers who are at present in the doldrums. This committee will not only be able to see to the quality of the fruit but it will also be able to look into the problems of the fruit juice market. Although many honourable members here drink a lot of fruit juice, the marketing is something that the committee should examine—why it is that so many people will not buy fruit juices in cans. They say it has a bitter taste. You and I, Mr. President, may not agree with that, but it is a fact. I have often wondered why research into the product cannot be intensified so as to make the demand for fruit juices greater. These juices can go to the farthest points of the State or the Commonwealth and be on the grocer’s shelf for anyone to buy, either in or out of the citrus season. It is an excellent pro duct. When people in the street are asked whether they like fruit juices from cans, it is embarrassing how many will say, “Sorry; I don’t like it.’’ That is only one small point but one that this committee should investigate.
The Hon. Mr. Story referred to the growers who in the past have been able to establish and maintain a market. He stated that he had seen the same brands on cases at the same shops in Adelaide year after year. These people are to be praised for their initiative in getting themselves out of the rut through the years by marketing their products, making sure that their products are of A1 quality and therefore commanding a premium price for them. Clause 28 of the Bill, in part, states:
A person who proposes to use any brand in the marketing of citrus fruit shall register such brand with the committee.
My first reaction when I read that was one of, '‘This is not good”, because I consider that the use of one brand is the correct way to sell a product. Especially is that so in connection with organized selling, and therefore I was prepared to be critical of the clause. It has taken many years for the Wool Board to get around to sanity in this respect and now it has introduced throughout the world a common brand for pure wool. In addition, Americans have the word 't Sunkist ’ ’ for all fruit originating from a region in California; it is advertised as such, and it is a name that has caught on. Possibly it tends to make people want to buy the product. I recognize that those people who have established markets by the use of their brands must be commended and not criticized. I hope this committee can be effective in the marketing of citrus products ;and that in time there will be one brand for South Australian citrus fruits. Possibly they will go on to the market throughout the world and virtually be known by the one name. By having the one brand it will mean that the whole selling efficiency will be increased because of consumer demand. All honourable members know the word “Holden” and that it means a certain make of motor car; we do not have to think about its meaning. It means a motor car, and a good motor car; it is not necessary to explain what it is. In future .years, I hope that it will not be necessary to .explain the name ‘River land ’or whatever name will be given, when our citrus comes on 'to the world market.
Another pleasing feature is that the Murray Citrus Growers Co-operative Association is in full agreement with the scheme.
That is why I prefaced my remarks with the words, “Necessity is the mother of invention” because, regrettably, the marketing of citrus has slowed down; there has been over-production but there has not been an orderly organization to handle the whole crop. Therefore, the return to the grower has not been profitable; that is where necessity has entered the industry with this committee of inquiry being set up and this Bill eventually coming before the Council. I received a letter from the Murray Citrus Growers Co-operative that stated:
That the view was expressed that the recommendations required only attention and intelligent implementation to ensure that, with statutory backing, the industry problems that have been beyond solution on a voluntary basis will be overcome and to that end the full support of the M.C.G.C.A. will be at the disposal of the Minister and all others responsible.
Those are good words and it means that the industry starts off with one voice. We all know the proverb, “United we stand, divided we fall.” I know that there will be people who will wish to find fault, argue and criticize, but I hope they will hold their tongues sufficiently long for this committee to get on its feet, prove itself and become something of which we can all be proud, I hope that the children of the State can be encouraged to eat more citrus and that, as a result, their health will become something that we can be proud of. It is with pleasure that I support the second reading of the Bill.
The Hon. H. K. KEMP (Southern): My first desire is to congratulate the Chairman of the committee of inquiry, Mr. Dunsford, for whom we are all coming to have a high regard. His record of achievement in the Public Service probably stands higher than that of anybody for the last 20 years. I consider that to a large degree he must be given the credit for the Bill before us.
I have examined this Bill closely because it concerns me deeply, not only through the people I represent but also because it is likely to become a prototype for handling the large surpluses in other agricultural and horticultural lines. It looks as though it may well become Australia-wide in its application. In the past we have seen many of these boards set up, especially since the end of the Second World War, and some of them have proved completely hopeless in practice. They were impossible to operate as soon as the emergency that gave rise to their creation had passed.
I do not think there is any doubt that the huge surplus of fruit in the war years when we lost our export market left us in a position somewhat similar to that obtaining at the present time in the citrus industry.
Some honourable members may not be aware of what occurred with the Apple and Pear Board, but that was thrown out and lost its position of responsibility as soon as the growers were able to cope with the position. If this industry feels badly at this stage, that fate will inevitably be the result that will befall the committee set up under this Bill.
It must be appreciated (and I do not think many people do appreciate) what sacrifice will be involved in a scheme of this nature. This must be emphasized from the beginning because there are many people who, through their own hard work and business acumen, have been able to get rid of the bulk of their crop, even if not at completely profitable prices. They have rid themselves of their citrus crops, whereas others, who have relied on other channels, have been able to rid themselves of only a small proportion of their crop. Inevitably those people who have had the initiative and put in this hard work, and often have invested a large sum of money in setting up an organisation to handle the crop, must be asked to make some sacrifices. I consider that the unanimity of opinion that has been expressed regarding the need for this measure indicates that most of these people realize what is involved.
One point of doubt about the Bill arises in relation to the constitution, of the committee. The proposal regarding four grower members, and two expert members appointed by the Government, is all right, but difficulty arises in regard to the other competent person who shall be appointed by the Minister as chairman. It will be necessary for the Minister to try to find an independent person whose abilities are established and- who can be trusted. Almost invariably, Ministers appoint public servants in these cases and many officers capable of doing a job of this nature are at present grossly overloaded with work on boards, committees and in other spheres.
The Hon. S. C. Bevan: It is not necessary to have a public servant as chairman.
The Hon. H. K. KEMP: No, but I think it would be better if the Government nominated three members and allowed the committee to appoint its own chairman. A body of this nature must work with the full confidence of the whole industry and we know that in all industries there are factions and cliques and that there are privileged groups who have been able to sell their product and also people who consider that they have been left out on a limb, I have been informed that the number of people engaged in citrus growing in South Australia runs into thousands and this brings me to the point that, although the Minister may think a certain person has the confidence of the whole industry, that may not be so. We have seen that in relation to other boards.
Another point is that much capital will be called for if this committee is to operate successfully. Such establishments as packing sheds and juicing works will be required. In the next five years, about 2,500,000 more boxes of citrus will have to be handled. There is not sufficient investment in the citrus industry at present adequately to handle the crop and in the next five years a crop of double the size will have to be handled. This is not peanuts, to use a colloquialism. We must market our surplus fruit outside Australia and the requirements for export are gradually being pushed up.
At one time oranges could be sent to London merely by putting them in boxes with wraps, putting wires around the boxes, and dispatching them by ordinary track to Port Adelaide for shipment. However, today all fruit for overseas destinations except New Zealand must be pre-cooled, and pre-cooling capacity of 30,000 boxes is needed to export about 100,000 boxes. In addition to that, packing- shed machinery must be provided. I am sure that I am not making a wild estimate when I say that it will cost £2,000,000 in the next five years to handle the extra 2,500,000 boxes. The next point is the safe and equitable sharing of the fresh fruit sales within Australia. Sir Lyell McEwin implied that large parts of South Australia were not receiving sufficient oranges. There is some truth in that, but probably the most common subject men overhear women discussing is diet and keeping figures trim.
The Hon. A. J. Shard: I think that is only talk.
The Hon. H. K. KEMP: No. The human stomach has a limit to what it can hold and the intake of more oranges must reduce considerably the quantity of apples, bananas and other foodstuffs that the 12,000,000 people in Australia can consume.
The Hon, Sir Arthur Rymill: Almonds are rather indigestible, aren’t they?
The Hon. H. K. KEMP: Yes, but they slip into the corners.
The Hon. A. J. Shard: You are not suggesting that we are over-producing, are you?
The Hon. H. K. KEMP: I am not.; I am sure all we are up against is under-consumption. It is not possible to increase consumption on the home market greatly. I do not think we are over-producing, as I am sure there are more than sufficient world markets to take all the foodstuffs we can produce. However, we must find the means to get foodstuffs to those markets and to distribute them equitably. Other sources of distribution must be availed of. There is a wise provision to retain even the itinerant trader about whom the Hon. Mr. Geddes was, I think, a little unfair, and those selling oranges on the roadside. All these can be fitted into an organized marketing plan.
If they cannot, there is something wrong with the Bill, but I do not think there is anything wrong with the Bill. A special tribute should be paid to the people who drafted it.
It would be easy to talk for a long time on this measure, as it is very important to me. However, I do not think it is necessary to do so. If the points I have made are kept in mind, I am sure that the Bill will be as successful as we hope it will be.
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN (Minister of Local Government) : Although I do not wish to delay the Bill, I should like to thank honourable members for their attention to it. Good progress has been made, and honourable members have undoubtedly done their homework. I appreciate the co-operation I have received from honourable members in this debate, which has been most interesting. Every member who has addressed himself to the Bill has had an intimate knowledge of this subject.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 2 to 5 passed.
Clause 6 “Application of this Act.’’
The Hon. C. R. STORY: I understand that the grower will have full control of his fruit until it is snipped or plucked and placed into containers, but I am not sure whether it will be under the control of the committee while it is still on his property. Sometimes fruit has been left in the sun by careless people, and one of the things the new committee will want to do is look at this aspect of harvesting. Will the Minister say whether the fruit will be under the control of the committee after it has been picked but while it is still on the grower's property?
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN-: Once the fruit is harvested it will be within the jurisdiction of the committee even though it is still on the grower’s property. Otherwise, the Bill would fall down, because there would be back-door methods of selling. One of the activities of the committee will be to stop these things.
The Hon. C. R. STORY: My second point is in relation to the grower who is licensed by the committee and packs his fruit for destinations in other States. I take it the fruit is under the control of the committee for the purpose of packing and everything connected with packing but, once that fruit is loaded on to a truck and reaches the South Australian border, it is outside the control of the grower. The real crux of this matter is that this committee will also have power to license a panel of agents, as is done at present. Is there anything in this Bill to stop the grower sending to an agent other than those recommended by the committee, when he has conformed to every other part of the Act up to that point?
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN: Taking the ease that the honourable member instanced earlier, a grower may have built up interstate business and goodwill. The committee would be anxious not only that the grower should retain that goodwill and trade but also that he should attempt to extend it. I do not think this committee would attempt to interfere in a case of that kind. In fact, every encouragement would be given for such a grower to continue his activities, in those circumstances.
The Hon, H. K. KEMP: Much fruit is sold on the tree, both legitimately and (one may say) illegitimately. The grower often picks it himself. Can he put his own fruit on to a truck, take it over the border and then claim immunity under section 92? Is there anything in the Bill to prevent him doing that? If the committee takes control of that fruit when it is mature and on the tree, this difficulty can be solved.
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN: I have been informed that in those circumstances the committee would have jurisdiction over that crop; otherwise, the work of the committee in orderly marketing on behalf of the growers would fall down. As regards section 92, the committee would attempt to exercise as much control as possible. Not being a Constitutional lawyer, I cannot answer the honourable member’s question about section 92,
Clauses 7 to 11 passed.
Clause 12-—"Grower companies"
The Hon. L. R. HART: This clause relates to voting rights, because it provides for a company to nominate a person whose name shall be included as its nominee. For any person to qualify, he must have 50 or more trees. In the case of a partnership of, say, three persons owning 50 trees, would each member of that partnership get a vote or would the requirement he that that partnership should own at least 150 trees “before each member was entitled to a vote? Will the Minister clarify that point?
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN: The clause deals with a body corporate and if that is so there will not be multiplicity. If it is a body corporate and two growers are involved they would come within the scope of the Bill, It may be one way or the other; the individual grower or a body corporate, but it is up to those concerned to nominate the manner in which they intend to operate. I do not think the committee would consider that there should be multiplicity of voting and attempting to utilize different clauses to do so. Clause 12 (2) states:
A person so nominated shall, by virtue of such nomination, be deemed to be a grower for the purposes of this division and section 36 of this Act.
The Hon. L. R. HART: When I asked a similar question with relation to the Egg Marketing Act recently the Minister obtained a ruling from the Crown Solicitor which, in effect, said that each member of the partnership was entitled to a vote. I would assume that the same conditions would apply here.
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN: I am aware of that, and I agree with the honourable member when he says that he assumes the same would apply as far as the interpretation of the Crown Solicitor is concerned; there is not much difference between the clause in this Bill and the other clause mentioned.
The Hon. C. R. STORY: As far as partnerships are concerned, the vast majority of citrus growing is done in partnership; some being sleeping and others active partners. I believe that both members of such a partnership-should have voting powers.
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN: Subclause (4) covers the situation.
The Hon. C. R, STORY: Yes, as long as both are actual growers and have 50 trees each. In many co-operatives, under somewhat similar conditions, the first person to nominate is the person who has the vote and in other cases the first-named person in the partnership is the one who exercises the power to vote. Under clause 12 (4) of the Bill each registered grower shall be entitled to vote at any election. If that is so, I am happy, provided that a sleeping partner is permitted to vote under the interpretation of “grower”. The definition of “grower’’ in the Bill is covered in clause 5 and states:
(a) in Division I or Part II and in sections 34 and 36 of this Act, means any person who grows at least 50 trees for the production and sale of fruit; and
(&) in the other provisions of this Act means any person who carries on the business of producing citrus for sale.
The partnership produces fruit for sale, and the partners are also owners of a certain number of trees.
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN: He must be a registered grower with 50 or more trees for the purpose of exercising his vote.
The Hon, R. A. GEDDES: In the referendum to be held on wool marketing shortly the person who has 10 bales of wool has a vote. If he is in partnership, there must be 20 bales of wool in order for each partner to be entitled to a vote. Under this Bill I consider that, legitimately, two partners should control 100 trees.
The CHAIRMAN: This has nothing to do with wool and each industry is entitled to make its own rules.
The Hon, S. C. BEVAN’: In this clause our concern is the entitlement to vote. Under the Bill the person exercising a right to vote in accordance with the Act must be a grower of at least 50 trees. He will not be entitled to vote if he owns 49 trees, despite the fact that he sells his products and they come within, the jurisdiction of the committee. If it is a partnership, a body corporate, and a grower of more than 50 trees, each member would be taken to be a grower.
The Hon. L. R. HART: I appreciate the point made and assume that in a multiple partnership with over 50 trees each partner is entitled to a vote.
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN: That is the way I understand it.
Clauses 13 to 22 passed.
Clause 23 Powers to impose charges.
The Hon. C. R. STORY: There has been confusion in some places on this matter. The first levy provided for is for the purpose of straight-out administration of the Act. However, some people have voiced some animosity towards the second levy, which is for the purpose of setting up the Export Compensation Fund. The maximum amount that be levied is 2s. and I doubt whether the committee will use more than a fraction of that amount, perhaps 3d. or 6d., in the first instance. However, as the committee proceeds and gets more matters under its jurisdiction, the levy may increase. By that time, the committee may have proved itself sufficiently useful for growers not to feel so badly about it.
However, I think it is necessary for the committee to have power to impose this second levy, because the canned fruit industry was in about as much chaos as the citrus industry is in until a fund was created to assist people who were prepared to pioneer new export markets. The clause will enable the committee to develop new markets and, if fruit sent into one of those markets does not realize the price, the grower can be compensated. This overcomes the problem that arises where a grower may be able to sell high quality fruit at a great advantage but the committee is not prepared to send that fruit into an export market. By equalizing, the grower of high quality fruit could not lose and the grower whose fruit was sent as a trial would be paid out.
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN: The honourable member has put the position adequately. This matter is dealt with in the inquiry committee's report and the purport of the committee’s remarks is in line with what the honourable member has said.
Clauses 24 to 26 passed.
Clause 27—“Powers of inspectors to enter upon lands."
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN: I draw attention to an error, in that after clause 27 (2) the words “Penalty: Fifty pounds’’ appear. That is in the wrong place. Also, the same words appearing at the end of clause 27 (4) should not be there, I suggest that the words Penalty: Fifty pounds” be deleted from clause 27 (4).
The CHAIRMAN: Does the Minister want the words deleted from clause 27 (4) and inserted in clause 27 (3), not 27 (2)7
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN: Yes.
The CHAIRMAN: I shall make that alteration.
Clause as amended passed.
Clause 28-—-“Registration of brands and trademarks’’
The Hon. H. K. KEMP: Here again a penalty is mentioned and it is a pity that these penalties are not stated in both dollars and pounds.
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN: I do not know that we can do anything about that until decimal currency is introduced. Amounts of £50 and £100 are convertible.
Clause 29 passed.
Clause 30—“Offences in connection with the marketing of citrus fruit. ’ ’
The Hon. R. A. GEDDES: Some people at Beetaloo Valley, near Port Pirie, grow oranges, and these are marketed by individual growers, who put the fruit into utilities and sell it in surrounding towns and farms. If any of these people have more than 50 trees they will have to be registered, but how will they get on under subclause (2), which provides that fruit shall not be sold unless it has first been delivered or sold to a licensee, the committee or a person nominated by it?
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN: If this causes any trouble, I am sure the committee will deal with it. All marketing must be under the control of the committee, or there will be no orderly marketing.
Clauses 31 to 35 passed.
Clause 36—“Polls on continuation of this Act’’
The Hon. C. R. STORY: I believe that an amendment was made to this clause in another place and that it gets over the difficulty I saw in the original Bill. Will the Minister assure me that that is so?
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN: This is a revised Bill that includes amendments made in another place.
The Hon. C. R. STORY: Is there any provision for the making and tabling of an annual report?
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN: A report will certainly be presented to the Minister, but there is no provision making it mandatory that the report be tabled.
The Hon. C. R. STORY: Is the Government prepared to provide somewhere that the committee must prepare an annual report and financial statement and that these must be submitted to the Minister? This legislation involves big money, and I remember another board that escaped this obligation. This matter is vital to the industry.
The Hon. S. C, BEVAN: As I cannot give this assurance at this stage, I ask that progress be reported.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
Remaining clauses (37 to 39) and title passed.
Clause 32 “Accounts and audit”—reconsidered.
p3328, December 1; 1965, LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
The Hon. S.C. BEVAN (Minister of Local Government): I move to insert the following new subclauses:
(4) The committee shall, as soon as possible after the close of the financial year, prepare a report of its proceedings during that financial year, including a statement showing its receipts and expenditure during that year, and shall present the report and statement to the Minister.
(5) The Minister shall, as soon as possible, after receiving the report, cause it to be laid before both Houses of Parliament.
I was earlier asked whether or not the Bill contained a clause that made it mandatory on the committee to be set up under the Bill to tender an annual report, to which I replied that no such clause in the Bill necessitated that action. It has been stated that not only an annual report covering the activities of the committee but also a financial statement should be made available annually and laid on the tables of both Houses for the benefit of honourable members, I was asked to give an assurance that the Government would do this, but was not able to give the assurance at that stage. I said that at no stage would I give such an assurance to the Chamber, unless I could back up that assurance at any time in the future.. Therefore, I asked that progress be reported and that the Committee have leave to sit again, to enable me to examine the queries (and their ramifications) raised by honourable members, I have investigated this matter, and the Government agrees that the Bill should contain a provision not only that an annual report (including the balance sheet and statement of receipts and expenditure) be submitted to the Minister but also that it be tabled in Parliament, so that honourable members can have the opportunity of inspecting the work of the committee, and the sums of money involved.
The Hon. C. R. STORY: I thank the Minister for his action. If he had not moved the amendment, I would have done so. I know of one or two statutory boards to which such a provision does not relate and it has been extremely difficult to get information of a financial nature, although certain statistical information is made available. As wide powers are being given to the committee, we should have a true accounting and a report each year, I support the amendment.
The Hon. H. K. KEMP: I add my congratulations to the Minister regarding the amendment
Amendment carried; clause as amended passed.
The Hon. S. C. BEVAN I move :
Thai this Bill be now read a third time'
I wish to express my appreciation to a young lady in the front office of Parliament House for the typing that she has done. Perhaps we could call this staff the backroom workers. Honourable members had distributed to them copies of the explanation of this Bill, as I thought this would be desirable in order to expedite its passage. All these copies wore typed by this young lady unselfishly at short notice and without complaint. The work that she did facilitated considerably the passage of the Bill; and I greatly appreciate what she has done.
The Hon. Sir LYELL McEWIN (Leader of the Opposition): I associate myself with the Minister's remarks. We are extremely fortunate in the way we are served by the whole of the staff of Parliament House. I think every honourable member will confirm that any services required are given efficiently and with the best of good grace. I should like to include also an appreciation to the Minister himself for showing consideration to the Council in making a copy of the explanation available to all honourable members. We all agree that this is an urgent Bill and that it is necessary to pass it before the adjournment.
The Hon. C. R. STORY (Midland): I, too, should like to say how much I appreciate this. Not only is it a good idea but the explanation is extremely well typed. I want to follow up what I said this afternoon that, while I do not expect this young lady to do this all the time, this is what honourable members need when these difficult and complex Bills are before us.
The Hon. A. J. Shard: Towards the end of the session at least.
The Hon. C. R. STORY: During the session, too. Anybody who is near-sighted, as I am, has difficulty in reading Hansard, because the print is so small. In addition we have to carry pulls around with us. These pulls are also difficult to obtain on the morning after debate because of pressure of work as I have explained earlier. I ask the Government to consider this matter, because such a facility as has been provided will expedite the work of the Council and we may even get on much better; perhaps tempers will not be half as frayed.
Bill read a third time and passed.