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Thursday, 4 August 1921

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) . - I intend to support a request for au increased duty of Id. per lb. on dried fruits. I was astounded at the remarks made by Senator Gardiner regarding the condition of the dried-fruit industry in the Mumimbidgee irrigation area. We all know that the industry there up to date shows a colossal loss, not only to the Government, but to those who have been directly engaged .in it. A magnificent example of the value of the dried-fruit industry is furnished by Mildura, which has been converted from what was practically a waste into one of the most prosperous and happy settlements I have visited. That would have been impossible but for a substantial Protective duty on dried fruits.

Senator SENIOR - And substantial Government help.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - And also substantial assistance from the Government. Surely it should be our object to retain to Australia the magnificent trade in dried fruits that has thus been built up. I do not know why we should import any dried fruit.

Senator Rowell - Mr. Chaffey says it would be a grave mistake to increase the duty on currants and raisins.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - I particularly wish to speak on the subject of ginger. Ten years ago an improved process was discovered.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - The honorable senator may discuss the subject of ginger afterwards, but not on this item.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - I understand that ginger is dealt with in 53a.

The CHAIRMAN - That is so; but the request before the Chair relates to a new sub-item' d. The honorable senator will not be precluded from discussing ginger later on. .

Senator LYNCH(Western Australia) the question before us we ought to inform our minds as to the facts. It has been said that there is a large stock of tinned fruits at Yanco for which there is no sale. On referring to the official statistics issued by the Department of Trade and Customs, showing the Customs and Excise revenue for 1919-20, we find that the value of the imports of fruits preserved in liquid - that is, tinned fruits - for,, the five years beginning 1915-16 has been, in round figures, as follows: - £50,000, £47,000, £42,000, £67,000, and £56,000. For the same period the exports have been £20,000, £122,000, £251,000, £477,000, and, last year, £529,000. We imported £50,000 worth, and the net result is that we exported over £500,000 worth ; yet Senator Pratten tells us that there are stocks at Yanco for which a market cannot be found.

Senator Russell - There is, in addition, £1,370,000 worth of preserved fruits.

Senator LYNCH - These are all facts which the Committee ought to know ; instead of covering up the situation, wc ought to get down to "tin tacks," and inform our minds as to the true position. Although last year there was exported over £500,000 worth of tinned fruits, an increased duty is asked for. In the case of dried fruits, the value of the imports of currants for the five years from 1915-16 was, in round figures, £17,000, £54, £5, £505, and, last year, £120, showing purely nominal importations. Raisins; over the same period, are represented by £46, £25, £11, £4, and,, last year, £323.

Senator Russell - The honorablesenator's figures are much lower than thefigures I have.

Senator LYNCH - I am quoting from the departmental statistics of the Customsand Excise revenue for the year 1919-20. I wish to see every industry in Australia, get a fair deal; I do not desire to haveany position bolstered up by mere fallacies. In the case of currants, the valueof the exports over the same period was; £25,000, £165,000, £134,000, £100,000, and, last year, £246,000, and in the caseof raisins the value was £215,000, £166,000, £114,000, £95,000, and, lastyear, £359,000, while other dried fruitsexported were valued at £3,000, £41,000,. £17,000, £57,000, and £37,000. Yet a-. duty of 3d. is asked for. "Where are we drifting to? A suggestion is made that another Id. should be added to the duty, and that apples should bear the extra impost. Dried apples are not set out in these returns, but we have the figures I have just quoted. The statement made by Senator Pratten has nothing to sustain it as a fact, and the proposal before us simply means penalizing our home consumers for' the benefit qf foreign consumers.

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