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Wednesday, 16 November 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) . - I move -

That the request be not pressed.

The duty when the Tariff was introduced was 3d. per lb. It was then raised to 4½ conformity with the duties on other fruits, and this Committee requested a reduction to 4d. The other House has dissented from the request, and has asked the Senate not to press it. The position of the industry has been carefully investigated by the Department, and the conclusion arrived at is that a duty at the rate of 4½d. per lb. is necessary for the protection of local growers against the importation of American prunes, which are placed on the market at extremely low prices, when the American markets are no longer open to them. The cultivation of prunes in Australia is a comparatively recent development, and a large number of returned soldiers have become engaged in the industry. The trees are just coming into bearing, and the product has to compete with the end of season fruit from America, which is dumped at comparatively low prices to clear out stocks. The effect is to jeopardize the local production.

Senator Gardiner - Is the reference to the industry in Victoria ?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No, in Australia generally. I arn inclined to think that the people of New South Wales are turning their attention particularly to this form of rural production. The fact that it is New South Wales production that is protected will not, I hope, prejudice Senator Gardiner against the duty proposed.

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