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Thursday, 4 August 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - This item includes canned fruit. My information is that these duties are held as a cover for the fruit-growers of Australia, but do not affect the price of the commodities, owing to the fact that there is internal competition, and that the industry has reached the stage of overproduction. On a previous item, Senator Gardiner, whether jocularly or not I do not know, but in his good-tempered way, made some remarks concerning my previous commercial history. I should like to enlighten the "honorable senator on the matter. I tell him here and now that I have never been directly or indirectly eoncerned in. a commercial Combine in my life.

Senator Gardiner - Was not the honorable senator a Combine himself?

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Unfortunately, I was not. In my commercial life, I have had to fight very violent and strong opposition. Senator Gardiner may accept my statement on the point. I might add, as a personal note, that I think competition is very good for any person, and, perhaps, that experience better fits him for a seat in this Legislature.

Senator Gardiner - I think that is what I said.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - There can be no objection to these duties, because they do not operate. Unfortunately, Australia is to-day full of stocks of jams and canned fruits which the overseas markets will not at present take.

Senator Lynch - Will they not take them at a price?

Senatpr PRATTEN. - Yes, at a price considerably under the cost of production. Owing to this, one very important factory in Sydney, and another in Melbourne, have now practically gone into liquidation, and have lost nearly the whole of their ordinary shareholders' capital. This has been brought about by heavy consignments of canned fruit having been sent within the last six months to the Mother Country, and to a slump in prices having occurred there. Very heavy claims have now been made to cover the difference between the amounts advanced upon canned goods and the prices they actually brought. The slump in the canned fruit market has jeopardized the position of many of our well-established jam and canned-fruit factories.

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