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Thursday, 8 October 1936

Senator HARDY (New South Wales) . -I should like the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) to state if there is any possibility of the embargo upon the importation of Australian oranges into New Zealand being lifted? On many occasions when dealing with the difficulties associated with the development of an export trade, we have said that the most profitable market for many of our products is in New Zealand. The fact that the New Zealand market is not open to Australian producers has been keenly debated at different times, and I am very dissatisfied with the present position. I do not agree with some honorable senators who say that the Now Zealand Government has placed an embargo on Australian oranges because we have prohibited the importation of New Zealand potatoes.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.

Senator HARDY - The Government should continue its efforts to regain the profitable New Zealand market for the Australian citrus-growers, and remove the disadvantages which have been placed on the shoulders of the growers, particularly those in New South Wales. A report in a leading newspaper stated -


Selling Oranges in New Zealand.


So acute is the citrus fruit shortage in New Zealand that at timescases of oranges are raffled by auctioneers, the New South Wales fruit delegation revealed on its return by the Awatea to-day.

Although there is an embargo on Australian fruit, consequent upon the Commonwealth embargo on New Zealand potatoes, a small quota of South Australian oranges is allowed in during the peak season. Supply of these oranges is so short, however, that at times there are not enough for even one case each for country wholesalers.

Then the auctioneer takes off his hat and tickets are drawn from it for the privilegeof buying one case at a price double that in Sydney.

That is the market of which the Australian citrus-growers are unable to take advantage. The article continued -

TheMinister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill), who also returned by the Awatea, said he had discussed the embargo with Messrs. Fraser and Nash, of the New Zealand Ministry. " They said they are unable to do anything at present," he said, " because they arc importing a considerable quantity of oranges from Jamaica."

There is a big difference between the statement by Sir Archdale Parkhill that New Zealand was importing large quantities of oranges from Jamaica, and the statement by the fruit-growers delegation that the shortage of citrus fruits on the New Zealand market was so acute that cases had to be raffled because only one case was allowed for every seven wholesalers. The article proceeded -

Mr.P. S.Macdermott, president of the New South Wales Citrus Export Association, who, with General J. Heaneand Colonel E. E. Herrod, president and secretary of the New South Wales Fruit-growers Association, gave evidence before the New Zealand Fruit Marketing Inquiry, said he had received the impression that if the Federal Government were able to offer New Zealand some quid pro quo there should not be much difficulty in having the market opened again.

It is high time that the Government gave to honorable senators greater details of the reason why Australia cannot regain the New Zealand market. I have been told by a prominent New Zealander that the difficulties of the situation concern, not merely citrus fruits, but the whole trade relations between the two countries.

Senator Collings - Potatoes enter into the matter.

Senator HARDY - Undoubtedly; but the issue goes much beyond citrus fruits and potatoes. New Zealand claims that approximately 50 per cent. of the total Australian imports are admitted free, whilst this Government claims that it admits free about 87 per cent. of New Zealand exports. New Zealand has replied that analysis of the figure shows that the estimate of 87 per cent. is excessive There is no questioning the fact that in New Zealand there is a definite misunderstanding of the whole of Australia's trade policy, and this should be cleared up so that Australia should once more be able to exploit the New Zealand demand for citrus fruit. Every year this Parliament is called upon to provide a bounty of from £10,000 to £20,000 to enable the export of citrus fruit to oversea markets other than New Zealand, but that is not the way in which the problem should be tackled. Annual grants merely help the growers to carry on, but do not make foi' stability. Apart from internal organization of the citrus industry in Australia, the only method by which it can be placed on a permanent footing is by regaining the profitable Kew Zealand outlet. i ask the Leader of the Senate (Sena tor Pearce) whether it would be practicable to let the Senate have the full details of the negotiations which have occurred between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New Zealand on this subject. If the papers wore tabled, honorable senators would be enabled to form their own conclusions as to what is the obstacle to the success of the negotiations. It appears that each government blames the other for the impasse. Meanwhile, the market remains beyond reach, and no guarantee exists that it will ever bo regained. New Zealand is not only a member of the British Empire, but also our closestneighbour, and it does not say much for our Empire co-operation that differences should exist between tlie two dominions.

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