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Friday, 5 August 1921

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) . - I am always very anxious to support the primary producers of the Commonwealth, but this kind of thing can* be overdone. Bread is the staff of life of the 5,500,000 people in the Commonwealth, and it seems to me extraordinary that the Government should have proposed a duty on wheat which is at the present time inoperative, and should also propose an increase of 100 per cent, in the duty on hops which are used to make the yeast which is necessary in the making of bread.

Senator Earle - The hops used to make yeast for the manufacture of bread should not represent a very big item.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - It is an item which ought to be considered. Senator Earle convinced me of the fairness of a reduction of the proposed duty on hops rather than of an increase in that duty. He desires to spoon-feed a little coterie of hop-growers in one State at the expense of the rest of the people of the Commonwealth. I cannot understand such a request coming from any practical man. Senator Lynch has pointed out that the duty submitted by the Government is greater than the price at which hops can be grown in America. Surely high wages have to be paid for labour, there.

Senator Earle - That is not so.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Senator Seniorhas said that when hops were at ls. per lb. their cultivation was all the rage. If that he so the growing of hops at a time when, according to Senator Earle, they are worth 4s. 6d. per lb. should be the most fashionable and lucrative occupation in the world. Senator Earle asks us to believe that the brewers of the Commonwealth are willing to pay 6s. l£d. per lb. for imported hops when they might get them here for 4s. 6d. per lb. It should be remembered that hops at 4s. 6d. per lb. represents an enormous revenue per acre. According to the description of hop-growing by '.: Sena tor Senior it should be rather a nice occupation. The labour employed in. the industry is largely child labour, and, in all the circumstances, I find it difficult to believe that Senator Earle can be serious in his request. . If hop-growing on land worth £40 per acre was all the rage when hops were selling at ls. per lb., I cannot believe that the growing of hops on land worth £60 per acre, when hops are at 4s. 6d. per lb., indicates that the industry is in such a parlous condition that we should increase the duty, not by 100, but by 150, per cent., as proposed by Senator Earle. If any member of the Committee will move a request for a reduction of the duty submitted by the Government, I shall feel myself forced, as . a representative of the primary producers===.

Senator Earle - Hot of hops.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - I speak as a senator who takes an Australian view of matters which come before Parliament for discussion, Some members of the Committee speak only for the States which they represent, " and take such a narrow view of things that they are prepared to barrack for a little State "and for a handful of people in that State, though what they propose may penalize the rest of the people" of Australia. I' shall not stand "for anything of that kind.

Senator EARLE('Tasmania) [12,2'lX -One. pf the most pitiable, things in connexion with debates such as, that in

Which we are now, engaged is the. fact that before an honorable, senator rises, to support a proposal he, very carefully considers whether any of his own electors are. interested- in i% There are about half-a-dozen- hop-growers in Victoria,, and' consequently they can have, but very- little influence upon. an. election for- the. Senate; Senator- Duncan, is- a very- good' example of' the. kind< of senator to" whom. I have just- referred. Only/ yesterday, he de.nounced the Legislature, "with. a. fine show ofl indignation, for- proposing to. place, a special duty, of-' 4z$A: per. lb* on. prunes but, when- the. Vice-President qf the> Executive Council (Senator Russell) said that the. increase, in. the- duty had been asked" for. by- the pr,une-growers. of Yanco, Senator Duncan's opposition to. the- prorposal collapsed- like a. pricked balloon. He veered right round and: supported" a duty idf 4½d. per lb.. To-day Senator

Duncan has transferred his splendid opposition to the duty on prunes to a proposal to impose a duty upon' an article which is not grown in the State which he represents. He feels quite safe, because there is not a single hop-grower in New South Wales. As the industry is carried on practically only in Tasmania, he can let himself go to the fullest extent in opposition to a duty on hops. The honorable senator has said that I proved that there ought to be, not an increase, but a reduction, in the duty imposed on hops, inasmuch as I said that hops are offered in Tasmania for 4s. 6d. per lb. and that brewers have imported hops at 6s. lid. per lb. I made it plain that, in my opinion, the brewers imported hops at 6s. lid. per' lb. out of sheer obstinacy. Senator Gardiner refused to believe that brewers would import hops at a price representing 50 per cent, more than that at which locally-grown hops might be obtained, but the brewers secured a portion of their requirements in the shape of locally-grown hops at 3s. 6d. per lb. Some honorable senators appear to be unable to realize the difference' between the cultivation of hops and of other agricultural and horticultural products. Senator Gardiner referred to the fact that an acre of hops may give a profit of £200. That is very- likely; but the rer turn from- an acre of hops may represent the whole- income of a family, from- which payment for outside labour, at certain periods, must also be provided.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - -Surely a. family can work- more than, one. acre, of' hops;!

Senator EARLE - .The, interjection shows: that Senator Guthrie' knows, nothing at all about the industry. The cUlt*vation qf am acre of bops isi a very fair undertaking for one family. Willi tha honorable, senator.' contend that. £60.0 or £800 is a big annual return, when the of. cultivation, fertilizers,, wire, and' everything necessary in the growing of hops is taken into account ?-

Senator Gardiner - What' would' be the area- of sa large- hop field' in' Tasmania?

Senator EARLE - I' suppose that'' the Shoobridges are- the largest growers- of hops: in' Tasmania. They have- a' farm of from 20' to. 25. acres, But they, have twenty;nine families continuously employed' in connexion with' its cultivation. There1 is quite a little- village* oni that- farm.

Senator Lynch - That is to say, that an acre of. land supports more than one family.

Senator EARLE - In this particular case it is so.

Senator Lynch - It must be very valuable land.

Senator EARLE - Of course, it has to be to grow hops.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Are not the Shoobridges also fruit-growers.?

Senator EARLE - Yes, they are. Senator Lynch in one of his very eloquent speeches used convincing arguments in favour of my request, and then, in his characteristic style, started to pull down the case he had set up. He said that American statistics showed that hops were produced there for 2.0 cents per lb. That is the cost of production. This shows thatthey are produced in America at at least one- fifth of. the cost of: their produce tion in Australia. The honorable senator further mentioned that at the time the duty on hops in America was 8d. per- lb.

Senator Lynch - It is still 8d. per lb.

Senator EARLE - That is about 80 per cent. of the value of the hops. Hops in Australia are worth, say, 4s. per lb. Will honorable senators give me a duty of 3s. on hops ?


Senator EARLE - Of course, they will not. I ask for a duty of only1s; 6d. per lb.

Senator de Largie -Four shillings per lb. is an extortionate price for hops.

Senator EARLE -It is not. The honorable senator cannot know the cost of producing hops. I can quite understand that men who have been engaged in the cultivation of an orchard, a vineyard, or a wheat farm are unable to realize the difference between the cultivation of hops and the cultivation of other produce from the land. I do know the difference, because I have frequently gone over the hop gardens of Tasmania. One honorable senator referred to the cost of hops in the making of yeast for the manufacture of bread. I might be somewhat sympathetic with that argument, but the honorable senator did not give the Committee any idea of the extent to which the cost of making bread is increased by the duty on hops. A great quantity of hops is used in the making of beer, but 29 gallons of beer are made with 1 lb. of hops; What is, the contribution, to the hopgrower from the beer-drinker?

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Does, the honorable senator know that the. unfortunate people making bread in the back-blocks have to pay 9s. per lb, for hops with which to make yeast?

Senator EARLE - The local grower does not get that price. If the consumers paid only a fair price in proportion, to the amount which the grower receives for his hops, the addition to. the cost of keeping a family would be very small indeed.. Do' honorable senators wish to block out this industry or do they desire Australia to be self-contained? Is Australia" to produce everything it can produce with white labour, or are our people to consume the products of coloured labour in. other countries? If honorable senators will not do a fair thing by this industry, as they have done by other industries in their own States, I must accept the inevitable; but they readily increased considerably the duties on dried fruits. '

Senator Cox - The honorable senator wanted to restrict the increase to evaporated apples.

Senator EARLE - I voted for a duty to protect Queensland, bananas.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - When we took a division yesterday, the. honorable senator would not supportus because we were increasing the duty on dried apricots.

Senator EARLE - I considered that dried fruit's had sufficient Protection already. I cannot be charged with parochialism in my attitude upon the Tariff.. It is necessary that the important hop-growing industry should he protected against the. importation of cheaply-grown hops from America. The statistics quoted by Senator Lynch prove that if the duty is not fairly high our growers will not be able to producehops in competition with the American product. Senator Gardiner said that he could not believe that brewers would be so foolish as to pay 6s.1¼d for imported hops when they could have bought' the locally-grown commodity for 4s. 6d. per lb. I admit that the transaction does seem strange, but 7 am confident that the figure I quoted is correct. What' motive ' the brewers have I do not know. It may be. mere obstinacyor a determination to beat the local grower, or an idea of getting the future crop at a very much lower price. L am assured by those who watch the trade very closely that there are at present in store from 4,000 to 5,000 bales of hops, which will come into competition with the 1921-22 crop; so it may be- that the cost of importing a large quantity of hops at a very high price may be more than compensated for by the purchase of the next season's Australian crop at a low price. I hope that, notwithstanding the unreasonable opposition shown by some senators to my proposal, the majority of senators will vote to maintain the hop-growing industry.

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