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Friday, 6 August 1926

Senator OGDEN (Tasmania) . - I haveno opposition to offerto the bill, which I believe is necessary if the Government is to continue its policy of entering the domain of private enterprise. The principle of granting bounties having been established, this bill was inevitable. I understand that another bill has reached the Senate, in which provision is made for a levy to cover the cost of the board to be appointed under this bill.

Senator Crawford - The provision is the same as in the case of the boards controlling the export of dried fruits and butter.

Senator OGDEN - I have no objection to that; but I point out that, especially in the case of fruit, it is necessary that our produce shall be landed in London at the minimum cost if we are to enjoy . an extensive export trade. For many years Australia has had to meet severe competition from California, and now that in South Africa the fruits which are dealt with in. this bill - pears, peaches and apricots - are being grown in large quantities, from that source also there is considerable competition. Like the United States of America, South Africa is nearer to the London market than is Australia, and the freights are less. That makes it exceedingly difficult for Australian producers to compete successfully with the fruit of those countries. That difficulty should not be accentuated by adding either to the cost of production or of export. We must remember that fruit is regarded as a luxury, and that the world can only absorb a certain quantity.

Senator Thompson - Fruit should not be regarded as a luxury, but as a necessity.

Senator OGDEN - While that may be so, the fact remains that fruit is not an every-day commodity like meat and bread.

Senator Needham - Fruit and fish should be made available to the people at the lowest possible price.

Senator OGDEN - There has recently been a glut in the apple market in England. The same may happen in the case of canned fruits. The creation of this board may so add to the cost of placing our canned fruits on the London market, that it will be impossible for them to compete with the products of other countries.

Senator McLachlan - Is not the grower the best judge of that?

Senator OGDEN - No. I admit that a board might be able to gauge the markets better than the producers themselves could gauge it; but costs of production have increased so greatly, and the iniquitous Navigation Act has so affected freights, that the producer is between the upper and nether millstones. I offer no opposition to the passing of the bill, but I fear that if we add materially to the cost of production and of export, we may lose the market, which, in any case, is limited, and in which there is severe competition.

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