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Friday, 5 August 1921

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - The speech of Senator Earle was certainly interesting, but there are one or two facts, which ought to have been obvious to him, but which, apparently, he has forgotten. I happened to be connected with a Hop Pool during the worst times that the Tasmanian growers have ever experienced. We have been told that the hop-growers made a great sacrifice in regard to the fixing of the price at1s. 6d. during the establishment of the Pool. The fact is, however, that the growers and the brewers met in conference, and came to a mutual arrangement, without intervention by any arbitrator, and that arrangement was accepted by the Government.

Senator de Largie - That was the wholesale selling price?

Senator RUSSELL - Yes ; the whole of the hops were pooled as in the case of wheat and wool. On the same figures as supplied by Senator Earle this morning, there was a return of £120 per acre at the then price of1s. 6d. There is one fact that we ought to remember, and that is that all the hops grown in the world are not of one common flavour, and the embargo was subject to permission being granted by the Minister of the day for the importation of hops for the making of special ales; that is to say, permission could be given for the importation of hops of different flavours.

Senator Earle - That largely arises from prejudice, which, however, is now being got over.

Senator RUSSELL - Just so, but the growers at that time agreed that there might be these special importations. Per- sonally, I was sympathetic with the growers at the time, because I recognised the great difficulties which they were then experiencing. According to the figures of Senator Earle, the price was 3s. 6d. last year, and, as 1,600 lbs. is a very good crop, it means a return of £280, as against £120. The importations from the United Kingdom between 1913 and 1918 dropped from 168,150 lbs. to 59,000 lbs.; New Zealand from 246,000 lbs. to 104,000 lbs.; and from AustriaHungary, or Bohemia, from 49,920 lbs. to 31,000 lbs. The importation from the United States of America was- 801,000 lbs. Germany, of course, was out of the business altogether, though she had previously sent us 195,000 lbs. These figures show an immense growth of the local industry. The Australian production had increased in 1917-18. to 2,103,136 lbs., and in 1918-19 it was 1,858,080 lbs. I regret that the figures for last year are not available, but I believe there was a considerable increase.

The duties in the previous Tariff were 6d. and 6d., and in the present Tariff, while not increasing the British duty, we have increased the intermediate duty by 50 per cent., and the general duty by 100 per cent. There are limits to such increases; and I wish to say that all the hops produced have been readily sold within Australia.

Senator Earle - I believe not; I think that Victorian hops are not yet sold.

Senator RUSSELL - I understand that sufficient hops are not yet locally grown to meet the requirements of Australia, but I offer my congratulations on the very rapid development of the industry, which is, indeed, very promising for the future. If the progress of the last six years be maintained, I believe that in a very short time sufficient hops will be produced to meet all the demands of the Commonwealth. The importations, I believe, represent just about what the Australian production is short;' so that if our production be increased by onethird there will be a complete market for the grower. It would be difficult for Senator Earle to point to a single Australian industry which has so steadily grown; it is- still growing, and is now within reasonable reach of a complete monopoly. I may say that there have been no applications from the hop growers for any increase in the duties except, of course, indirectly through Senator Earle; and the Government therefore assumed they were doing something wonderful in offering the increases I have mentioned. On the whole, I think the Government are doing very well for the hop industry.

Senator de Largie - I think we should have the Tariff Board at work in regard to this industry ! *

Senator RUSSELL - Doubtless the Tariff Board will find plenty of work" to do. Australia's production was 1,166,672 lbs. in 1913-14; 1,798,048. in... 1914-15 ; 2,127,888 in 1915-16; 1,752,240 in 1916- 17; 2,103,136 in 1917-18; and 1,858,080 in 1918-9. I have not the figures for last year, but those' I have quoted show a steady growth.- 'I* think that at the time the Pool was formed- hops was selling at lOd. and lid. in Australia; and I ask the Committee to be satisfied with the increases proposed by the Government.

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