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Tuesday, 9 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - As an article of food, the onion holds its own with all other vegetables. There are good oniongrowing districts in New South Wales, the rich flats' of the Hunter . and Macquarie rivers being particularly suited to the cultivation of the plant.- But onions can be grown only at certain times of the year, and as we cannot supply the market all the year round with fresh onions,' and have not discovered any method . of preserving onions, except by pickling, it is unwise to prevent our population from obtaining onions from abroad when the local supply has been exhausted. The uses of the onion are manifold. It is employed in a surprisingly large number of dishes, and is used in every wellmanaged home. The Government in preparing the Tariff decided, after careful consideration, that a duty of1s. per cwt. in respect of British imports under this heading was sufficient, but when the schedule was before another place, some enthusiastic Protectionists there determined that it should be increased to 6s. per cwt. They probably have a few Chinese onion patches in their electorate. I do not wish to infer that they took that action merely with a desire to catch votes. I should like a quorum present to listen to my remarks. [Quorum formed.'] I dare say that New South Walesproduces more onions than does any other State.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Victoria produces far more than any other State.

Senator GARDINER - I should be glad if the honorable senator would furnish the Committee with the statistics relating to onion production in Australia. I am certainly surprised to hear that the " cabbage patch " produces more onions than does a great State like New South Wales. The duty was increased in another place to 6s. per cwt. under the British, intermediate, and general Tariffs. That is altogether too high. I think that a considerable quantity of Italian and Spanish-grown onions are imported into Australia when onions are out of season here, so that it can scarcely be said that they enter into competition with the local product. Onions will not keep for any great length of time, and by means of importations during the off-season the people are able to obtain a continuous supply of this splendid food.

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