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Thursday, 4 August 1921

Senator SENIOR (SouthAustralia) . - Senator Gardiner has said that Yanco is such a glorious district for fruit production that orchardists there can carry on without any Tariff assistance. I invite him to look back to the inception of Mildura and Renmarkj and to remember what it cost the Government and the pioneers to establish those great settlements. If he does, he will be prepared to give more consideration to this request for an increased duty. The Minister (Senator Russell)has said that a good many tons of currants and raisins are annually imported to Australia. We should look at the other side of the picture and ascertain how many tons of currants and raisins produced in Australia are annually sent to the distilleries. With such information in our possession we should know the exact position of the industry. In dealing with Senator Earle's request in an earlier speech, I pointed out that it was necessary to increase the duty in order to assist orchardists who are not within easy distance of the fresh fruit market. Fruit-growers within easy reach of any of our big cities have no difficulty in disposing of their fresh fruits at prices in excess of those obtained for dried fruits, despite the extra labour involved in the process of drying. I invite Senator Lynch to have regard {o the position of fruit-growers 200 or 300 miles away from a big city. The only course open to them is to dry their fruits, and the prices at which dried fruits are obtainable offer them but a poor remuneration for their labour. Instead of making big profits, as has been suggested, the average orchardist, with his wife and children, is often engaged until late at night in cutting up fruit for drying next morning, and his return does not amount to more than1d. per lb. Some of the arguments that have been advanced in opposition to this request are born of want of knowledge. We must have regard, not only to the consumers of these commodities, but to those Who produce them. Let us hold the balance fairly between them. Considering the increased cost of production, this request for an additional duty of1d. per lb. is by no means unreasonable. I would remind the Committee that the request is not for a duty of1d. per lb. on green fruit, such as we were asked to , agree to in respect of bananas, but for an additional impost, which is about equal to one-eighth of1d. per lb. of fresh fruit.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The total duty would not amount to more than½d. per lb. on green fruit.

Senator SENIOR - That is so. I received to-day a typical letter from an orchardist who has 'had to contend with many difficulties. He assures me that after keeping his fruit in the cool stores foT some time last year the price that ha obtained for it on the market was not sufficient to pay for the cost of storage.

Senator Russell - No man is compelled to hold his fruit until the bottom falls out of the market.

Senator SENIOR - Quite so; but directly the market is favorable it is flooded with imports. I hope the request will be agreed to.

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