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Wednesday, 16 November 1921

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - I think it right to inform the honorable senator that if he desires any modification of the item he should move his amendment before the motion now before the Chair is put. If he desires merely that the request of the Senate should be pressed, he has only to vote against the motion.

Senator WILSON - I see that the amendment I proposed to submit would be a direct negative of the motion before the Chair, and honorable senators who agree with me in this matter may attain their objectby voting against the motion submittedby the Minister. It is unnecessary that I should delay the Committee very long in referring to this item, as the pros and cons were fully considered on a previous occasion. It is very difficult today to obtain bananas. And it is a very great hardship indeed that the people of this country should be called upon to pay, because of the duty on bananas,1d. more per lb. for what has become almost a necessary household food. In many districts of Australia the apple-grower has to sell his apples in case lots wholesale at about 1d. per lb. There are places where apples havebeen sold at less than1d.per lb.

Senator Crawford - And11d. per lb. is charged for them in the shops.

Senator WILSON - I do not care two straws if the shops charge 10s. per lb. for them. I am talking of what I know. I say that apples are grown and sold in many districts in Australia for about1d. per lb. It is questionable whether, in many cases, the growers will obtain as much as1d. per lb. for them this year. Yet we are asked to give a protection of 1d. per lb. to fruit grown in one corner of Australia. The proposal is ridiculous and absurd. I would never have supported the Senate's request for a duty of 4s.2d. per cental on bananas had it not been that I was willing to be influenced by the spirit of compromise to which the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has referred. Our request has been returned to us, and we are again asked to vote for a duty of 8s. 4d. per cental on bananas. Senator Gardiner very fairly and forcibly put the position when he said that Queensland is one of the wealthiest States, from a productive point of view, in Australia, and yet there is no State which requires so much spoonfeeding for its industries.

Senator Crawford - What industries?

Senator WILSON - The sugar industry, for instance. We used to get sugar for 2¼d. per lb., but to-day we are paying 6d. per lb. for it. Every fruit-growing industry carried on by intense culture in Australia is iburdened to support the sugar industry of Queensland.

Senator Crawford - Nonsense !

Senator WILSON - What I am saying is a fact. We know that co-operative societies with large capital behind them in different States of the Commonwealth have, in the last two years, gone under because they could not carryon with the present price of sugar. I have heard a statement put before the directorate of a co-operative society in South Australia to the effect that they, could not carry on unless they could obtain sugar at a price within their reach.

Senator Crawford - Those engaged in the fruit industry are destroying their own trade by this continual cry about dear sugar.

Senator WILSON - That little story is too short. Senator Crawford will admit that, in the manufacture of jam, sugar is used in nine cases out of ten in the proportion of pound per pound of fruit; and with sugar at 6d. per lb., how are we to get cheap jam?

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