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Wednesday, 16 November 1921

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - During the discussion on this item, reference has been made to the cost of growing other protected fruits. We should consider, for instance, the labour involved in producing 1 lb. of prunes. First of all, the trees have to be attended to for, approximately, six years before there is any return. Senator Wilson said it required 4 or 5 lbs. of green fruit to produce 1 lb. of dried fruit. The trees have not only to be cultivated for a lengthy period, but when they commence to bear there is all the trouble and expense associated with desiccating the fruit and placing it onthe market before there is any return. The duty on bananas asked for by the House of Representatives is out of all proportion to that granted in the dried-fruit industry. Three times as much labour is involved in the production of 1 lb. of dried prunes as in the production of 1 lb. of bananas. Will any honorable senator deny it ?

Senator Crawford - What price is obtained for a pound of prunes?

Senator SENIOR - What duty is there on prunes?

Senator Wilson - The price for the green fruit is in the vicinity of1d. per lb.

Senator SENIOR - We have the same duty on dried prunes to-day as in 1911, when it was 3d.

Senator Crawford - Now it is 4½d.

Senator SENIOR - Not more than one-third of the1s. 6d. per cental duty on bananascould be debited to labour. That would mean 6d. ; but what the growers are asking for now, over and above that1s. 6d., is 6s. 10d., or an increase of nearly 1,400 per cent. on account of labour costs. Can that be called reasonable? I am quite agreeable to a duty of 4s. 2d. per cental being granted, and I do not think that rate would be unjust to Queensland. The cases for dried fruit cost two or three times as much as those for green fruit. As the representatives of a majority of the States are prepared to concede 4s. 2d., it must be admitted that the Senate has adopted a Federal spirit.

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