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Thursday, 28 November 1935

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) . - Clause 2 of the bill provides that " this act shall be deemed to have commenced on the first day of January, 1935." That date is also mentioned in paragraph b of clause 5, which reads -

Tlie bounty shall be payable in respect of . . navel oranges exported from the Commonwealth to tlie United Kingdom during the period commencing on the first day of January One thousand nine hundred and thirty-five and ending on the twenty-second day of July One thousand nine hundred and thirty-five.

Does that mean that only the citrus fruitgrowers who have exported fruit to the

United Kingdom between the dates specified will receive the bounty? I ask these and other questions because the newspapers are constantly publishing interviews in which disinguished travellers, upon their return from England, make caustic remarks about the marketing of many Australian products there. Some of the critics are more trenchant than others, but there seems to be a consensus of opinion among such gentlemen, who undoubtedly keep their, eyes open when abroad, that room for improvement in marketing methods exists, especially in the grading of such produce as oranges. I hope that the Minister will make inquiries as to the application of this present schedule to the exports already mentioned. For instance, the orchardist is expected to use blunt-nosed secateurs when cutting oranges from the tree, and in the process of picking and packing, he .must use gloves. Misshapen or corrugated fruit is not permitted to be exported, and pickers must be careful of how they lay the fruit in the case, which, incidentally, must conform to the standard dimensions. I raise these matters in an endeavour to avoid a repetition of this continual criticism of the export of misshapen or badlygrown fruit. What is the procedure in regard to the inspection of that fruit by the Commonwealth officer before it leaves these shores? I hope that the Minister will answer that question when he replies. Various opinions on the wisdom or otherwise of paying ' bounties were expressed in this chamber long before ever I entered it, but according to the logic of the Leader of the Country party (Senator Hardy), the exporter, if the quantity sent abroad shall fall below the estimate, should be compensated at a higher rate than 2s. a case. Obviously, he desires that the grant of £20,000 should be allocated to the orchardists irrespective of the total number of cases exported. That is to say, if growers in the Murrumbidgee area, which, I understand, includes the Griffith irrigation area, were able by an " eat more fruit " campaign, to increase the local demand and so' reduce the number of cases for export, perhaps only 20,000 cases would be sent abroad, but the growers would still receive the full amount of £20,000.

I cannot understand the reasoning of the honorable senator in putting forward that suggestion. I hope that adequate steps will be taken to ensure that the best type of fruit reaches the United Kingdom. Although I asked Senator Hardy the question several times, he did not explain why the Government of New Zealand placed an embargo on New South Wales oranges. One answer suggests itself, although it might not be the correct one, but I think that the matter goes deeper than the actual importation of oranges into New Zealand. If one tried to obtain a complete history of that embargo, not only on oranges, but on other primary products, one would find that the New Zealand people are objecting to the trade balance between the two countries being overwhelmingly in favour of Australia. If Senator Hardy and other representatives of New South Wales, who are very high protectionists so far as Australian products are concerned, were to look for the real reason of the embargo I think they would find it is as I have stated. I support the second reading of the bill and in committee I shall refer to some important details that will require consideration.

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