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Tuesday, 9 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - Because the citrus growers are having a bad time it is proposed to collect a little more from each wage-earner.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - An increase in the duty would not make the slightest difference; it would merely substitute Australian lemon skin for Italian.

Senator GARDINER - If the producers of lemons are to be helped someone must pay for it, and as the wageearners happen to be the most numerous consumers of all things, the burden of affording this assistance will fall upon them.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Does the honorable senator prefer to have Australian products used in this country instead of Italian?

Senator GARDINER - I certainly do not want to see Italian lemon skin used in preference to the Australian product, but I want to give the Australian people the advantage of having cheap lemon peel, seeing that lemons practically grow wild in this country.

Senator Senior - All the more reason for protecting them, in order that use may be made of what is practically growing wild.

Senator GARDINER - But no effort is made to use them until a duty of Id. per lb. is added and collected from the whole community. Evidently people can only be induced to go into a business - for their own benefit, of course, and not for that of others - by giving them permission to extract a little from the pocket of every member of the community. If workers seeking increased wages were to ask for a direct contribution from every person in the Commonwealth, there would be a storm of opposition from one end of the country to the other, but when the fruit-growers want .a little help they coolly propose to place a direct impost upon every consumer of lemon peel. It is degrading for a country like this to deplore its inability to keep an industry going because of its lack of skill or ability. The doctrine one would not apply to wage-earners is, apparently, to be applied to citrus fruit-growers. If the community generally had an interest in the businesses established by the collection of many thousands a year under a Protective Tariff, it would be a fair deal, but the fact is that the people find that they "get nothing out of it" hut kicks and hard words. When an industry has been so established and is flourishing, and a new Tariff is introduced, higher duties are asked for on the ground that it would prove serious for the country to refuse support in this way. It would be better for our primary industries if the machinery necessary for them, and the materials for keeping orchards free from pests, were admitted free, and those concerned were allowed to conduct their business without any Government interference. Senator Pratten proposes an increase in the duty of 50 per cent.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - And I say, candidly, that I hope the increase will mean prohibition.

Senator GARDINER - - That is all very well ; indeed, it would certainly' be more logical to introduce a prohibitive Tariff - to put a ring round Australia and refuse to trade with any other country for fear our own people may lose their employment. A Tariff of that kind would, no doubt, pass in five minutes.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - We wish to save our own people from the compulsory waste of fruit.

Senator GARDINER - No doubt there is much fruit wasted, but with increased knowledge and the exercise of a little patience, we ought to be able to do away with all waste. Usually in an uptodate business waste is eliminated by the use of the most modern machinery; but, unfortunately, owing to this Tariff, the price of machinery is almost prohibitive. I am merely once more protesting against taxing the whole community for the benefit of a few individuals.

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