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Friday, 5 August 1921

Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) . - I have listened with interest to the remarks, of Senator Earle. I was quite prepared to be convinced concerning the need for increased duty. I admit that the senator made out a most convincing, case, but it was emphatically not for an increase. If it was for anything, at all, it was for a substantial reduction. That being so, I am bound to oppose Ms request, and, indeed, to seriously consider, whether it would not be proper to suggest the re-imposition of the rate of 6d. per lb-, duty.

Senator Earle - It is' obvious that there are no hop-growers at Yanco.

Senator DUNCAN - There are more consumers of hops in New South Wales than in any other State. Of the total quantity of" hops used in Austrafia, according to Senator Earle, two-thirds are locally produced, practically the whole in Tasmania, where production amounts to Iti cwt. per acre. Senator Earle saysit is impossible to-day to import hops under 6s. 1¼d. per lb.

Senator Earle - The honorable senator misrepresents me.

Senator DUNCAN - Those are the honorable senator's own figures.

Senator Earle - 1 stated that hops had been imported at that price.

Senator DUNCAN - The local price, as fixed by the Hop-growers' Association - Senator Earle informed the Committee - is 4s. 6d. per lb. There is a natural protection, amounting to ls. 7 id. per lb., ' provided by the difference between those two prices.

Senator Earle - I wish the honorable senator would not deliberately misrepresent me.

Senator DUNCAN - I am merely referring to the statements made by the honorable senator, and other honorable senators who were in the chamber will admit that my deduction is correct, because the amount of 6s. 1¼d. has been referred to* by other honorable senatorsOn the honorable senator's own figures there is already a natural protection of ls. 7¼d. per lb., which, when we take into consideration the area under cultivation for this purpose in Tasmania shows a natural protection of £85 14s. 4d. per acre, whilst the total production per acre is valued at approximately £360.

Senior Senior. - But it is necessary to look at' the facts.

Senator DUNCAN - I have to be guided largely by the facts submitted to the Committee by Senator Earle, who isa representative of the Tasmanian hopgrowers, and who should know the position.

Senator Earle - The honorable senator would realize the true position if he considered my statement carefully.

Senator DUNCAN - I do not wish to misrepresent the honorable senator, but I recorded the figures when he quoted therm.

Senator Earle - The honorable sena tor is deliberately misrepresenting- me.

Senator DUNCAN - I ain. not. I have already shown by the attitude. I have adopted in connexion with the discussion of the Tariff that I am anxious to assist primary producers ; but when I find that those who are pleading on behalf of theprimary producers are asking for more than a fair thing - as is the case in this instance - and are endeavouring' to fleece the consuming public to an exorbitant extent, I am not likely to' render any assistance. The proposal of the Government, giving as it does an additional duty of 100' per cent, on the old Tariff, is quite sufficient. The hop-growing industry in Tasmania was established under the old Tariff, and the hop-growers in that State have done exceedingly well; but notwith- standing that the duty is to he increased by 100 per cent., Senator Earle now submits an additional impost of 50 per cent.

Senator Russell - In 1913 the hopgrowers were " down and out."

Senator DUNCAN - And the Government propose to assist them by increasing the duty by 100 per cent.

Senator Russell - "We are still importing one-third of our requirements.

Senator DUNCAN - Exactly. The Minister has shown that it is necessary to import a certain quantity for blending purposes. Surely he is not pleading that we should exclude hops from other countries.

Senator Russell - I referred to that matter in a differentmanner. I said that the users of hops were now purchasing the Australian product instead of imported hops.

Senator DUNCAN - I am glad to hear it. While I am willing to give fair protection, and perhaps a little more, to an industry such as this, I am not prepared to give it an unreasonable degree of protection such as that proposed by Senator Earle, and in view of the figures submitted I must on this occasion be found side by side with Senator Gardiner. The case presented by Senator Earle would be an admirable one if he were seeking a reduction in duties, and when an honorable senator submits a request of this kind to the Committee it is his duty and responsibility to prove that an increase is justified. Perhaps Senator Earle has not made out as good a case as the hop-growers may desire. I am. under the circumstances, prepared to support the duty proposed by the Government.

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