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Thursday, 4 August 1921


Senator CRAWFORD (Queensland) . - I cannot understand the attitude of some honorable senators towards tropical fruits. They seem to hold the view that tropical fruits should be admitted free, and that highly Protective duties should be imposed in respect of such fruits as are produced in the more temperate zones of Australia. The removal of the duty on dates would undermine the additional protection on dried fruits for which we have already decided to ask. The public will not pay a high price for raisins if they can obtain for half, the price dates; which are just as palatable and as nutritious as many Australian preserved fruits.


Senator Gardiner - In what part of Queensland are dates grown ?


Senator CRAWFORD - In the western part of the State. I admit, however, that they are not grown in commercial quantities. In the report of a scientific expedition which recently visited the central part of Australia, it is stated that in certain districts date palms were flourishing and bearing a prolific crop. This duty should be allowed to remain. Even with a duty of1d. per lb., dates are not expensive. Surely honorable senators are not hostile to the production of tropical fruits in Australia. The western part of Queensland, the Northern Territory, and also, I believe, certain parts of Western Australia - notwithstanding the bad name for fruit production which has been given that State by some of its representatives in this Chamber - can produce all the dates required" for Australian consumption?


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Why do they not produce them?


Senator CRAWFORD - Because of lack of Tariff encouragement.It would be a good thing to increase the duty to 3d. per lb., but I know that it would be useless for me to move such a request.

Senator PAYNE(Tasmania) 5.40 - I do not intend to say one word on this proposal from the Protectionist point of view. The remarks made hitherto on the item have been not at all to the point; it is impossible to speak of protecting an industry in the present instance. No dates are grown commercially in the Commonwealth, and there is no proposal by the Government to increase the duty, which has been in existence sinco 1908 as a purely revenue duty.


Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Brockman. - What about cotton piece goods, kerosene, and tea?


Senator PAYNE - If the honorable senator will be patient, he will hear what I have to say when we reach those items.


Senator Drake-Brockman - I look forward to hearing the honorable senator.


Senator PAYNE - I hope the honorable senator will have his anticipations realized.


Senator Drake-Brockman - I bet I shall !


Senator PAYNE - We must regard this item from a common-sense point of view. The present duty produces a fair amount of revenue. Large quantities of dates are imported, but I do not see that the importations affect the consumption of other dried fruits in this country. Dates are regarded by the mass of the people as a dried fruit within their reach, and as of a totally different kind from any other fruit on the market. Dates at present are not exceptionally high in price, being somewhere about 5d. or 6d. per lb., though I have known them as low as. 2d. However, I regard a duty as essential in the interests of the revenue, and, as such, I support it.







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