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Tuesday, 9 August 1921

Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) . - I hope the request moved by Senator Pratten will be carried. I have had communications, more particularly from the lemon-growers of New South Wales in and around Sydney, and I am informed that to-day hundreds of tons of lemons are rotting on the trees because it does not pay to pluck them. This is a most undesirable state of affairs ; and the proposal before us is an attempt to apply a remedy. Around Sydney, and in other parts of Australia, there are hundreds of families growing lemons ; and unless some steps are taken to save the lemons now wasted, it will be only .a matter of a short time before these people will be put out of business and obliged to compete with the other wage-earners for whom Senator Gardiner is so solicitous. This, of course, would only make confusion worse confounded; but the proposal of Senator Pratten, if carried, would mean additional employment in the preparation of lemon skins, which at present is confined to Italy. From a comparative statement which has been supplied to me I find that the cost of labour in reducing Australian lemon skins to the condition of imported lemons is £22 2s. 3d. per ton, whereas a duty of 2d. is equal only to £21 per ton, showing a difference in favour of Italy of over £2. It is obvious that the duty proposed in the Tariff is quite inadequate, and that without an increase there will be no inducement for people to invest capital in the industry. The great majority of the growers have small areas, on which they work long hours struggling for an existence. They do not have the easy conditions that many larger primary producers enjoy; and, if possible, it is our duty to afford them some additional protection-. I believe that a duty of 3d. will just about meet the case, although the opinion of the growers is that 4d. is necessary; at any rate, it is certain that 2d/is not sufficiently high, in view of the price at which Italian skins can be imported. The proposed additional duty will give the growers hope and enable them to look forward with a greater degree of confidence than would be possible if they were forced to compete in a possibly overcrowded labour market.

Request agreed to.

Item agreed to, subject to a request.

Item 82 (Pickles, sauces, chutney, olives, and capers).

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