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Thursday, 4 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I am rather sorry that Senator Cox should have submitted his amendment to the request moved by Senator Earle, because the fruit districts of New South Wales can turn out an article so superior that it can beat competition from anywhere. There is no question at all about that. The preserved fruits produced in New South Wales, particularly at Yanco - and I refer now not merely to dried fruits, but to canned fruits as well - represent thp high-water mark of excellence in production. Their market is rapidly becoming the market of the world.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - How much have the New South Wales Government lost already on 'the Yanco settlement?

Senator GARDINER - The honorable senator refers to the millions put into the water scheme, and he would charge that expenditure against the Yanco settlement as overhead charges for two years. I have no hesitation in saying that it represents the richest investment that New South Wales has yet made.

Senator Lynch - Is not the expenditure more than covered by the additional value added to the land.

Senator GARDINER - I believe that the value added to the land exceeds the cost of the construction of the dam.I may inform honorable senators that it is within my own knowledge that Yanco canned peaches - and I refer to this as an illustration, because other articles produced at Yanco are equally good - are so much in demand that some little time ago speculators went round, even to small grocery shops in Sydney, and purchased, at an advance of 3d. per tin, every tin of Yanco preserved peaches they could secure, in order to market them outside Australia.

Senator Senior - That was because tin containers wero scarce.

Senator GARDINER - It was because the article was so superior to that turned out by private enterprise that it could beat competition from any other part of the world. Sydney grocers were retailing these preserved peaches at11½d. per tin, and they were purchased by speculators at 14d. per tin for sale outside Australia in competition in the world's markets. New South Wales producers of these goods do not need any of these sham helps. I do not desire to see the products of New South Wales dragged down to the level of those that require protection from the Tariff. The State I represent does not require additional taxation on these kinds of fruit. Fruit is dried in New South Wales by the most advanced and up-to-date processes, and the products can more than hold their own with those produced in any other country of the world. And whom shall we handicap but the families living outback? The people who live a long way from the markets and to whom the growers do not send fresh fruits are the biggest consumers of dried and tinned fruits. If we increase these duties we shall make their conditions of living a little harder than they are. I protest against New South Wales being listed amongst those States which want to be assisted by the rest of Australia.

Senator Russell - Is the honorable senator aware that we imported in 1918-19 19,909 lbs. of currants, 28,818 lbs. of raisins, 1,167,000 lbs. of dates, and 590,485 lbs. of other fruits?

Senator GARDINER - For how long will a Protective duty be required' to prevent the importation of dates? The Protectionist idea seems to be to stop trade. The date is a good food.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - I permitted the Minister to make a passing allusion to other fruits, but I ask the honorable senator not to discuss dates on this item.

Senator GARDINER - I am merely referring to other products similar to the item under consideration. There is not much difference between dried apples and dates. The Minister might as well have supported his argument by quoting the fruit we have exported during the last twelve months. We have entered into competition with fruit-growers on the other side of the world. Tasmanian apples have a world-wide reputation, but New South Wales grows better fruit. The apples produced at Bathurst and Orange are superior to any grown in any other part of the Commonwealth, and they are so much in demand that they never get beyond Sydney Harbor. Our fruits are holding their own in all parts of the world, and we desire to develop trade with other countries, not to cut it off. We cannot expect Britain and America to buy our apples unless we buy goods from them. Some people are afraid that American dried apples may force ours off the market. I could quote a circular by fruit-growers pointing out that a duty on citrus fruits is of no help to apple-growers. They require the duty taken off the implements which they use for growing their apples, and the materials with which they combat the pests. The codlin moth and other pests are nothing in comparison with what this Tariff will be. It will drive people off' the land, because there is no remedy for it. The codlin moth can be destroyed by spraying, . and the grower can take precautions against aphis, but I know of no remedy for the Tariff unless it be the eradication of the Government responsible for it. The independent fruitgrowers of New South Wales, who bring their intelligence to bear upon their industry, are not asking for the support of the rest of Australia.

Senator Earle - Did they commission the honorable senator to say that ?

Senator GARDINER - The people of New South Wales have commissioned me to say that by the large number of votes they recorded for me, well knowing my fiscal views. ' I therefore claim that I am commissioned by the people to say what I am saying. This pandering to two or three apple-growers in the hope of placating them is not common sense.

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