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Thursday, 8 October 1936

Senator DEIN (New South Wales) . - While the bill has my hearty approval, I deplore the necessity for its introduction. It seems to me an anomalous state of affairs -that it should be necessary to introduce a bill of this character to subsidize the growers of citrus fruits, while a profitable market exists in New Zealand for our surplus production. New Zealand is only two or three days voyage from Australia, and our fruit can lie landed there quite fresh. Because we have lost that market, however, we now find ourselves compelled to subsidize the citrus-growers to enable them to ship their surplus production to what is undoubtedly an uneconomic market. This bill provides for the expenditure of £10,000 by way of bounty; but, so faT as I can judge, that is a mere fraction of the loss which arises from our inability to supply the New Zealand market.

Senator HARDY - That loss is particularly felt bv the growers in New South Wales.

Senator DEIN - That is so. It is seriously affecting the producers of that State, who ^produce the finest oranges and citrus fruits grown in the world. The Leader of the Government in the Senate pointed out that citrus fruits grown in New South Wales and some of the other States is refused entry into New Zealand because of the danger of the introduction into that dominion of the Mediterranean fruit fly. While I do not profess to know a great deal about this matter, I believe that that danger is more imaginary than real. The right honorable gentleman also pointed out that Norfolk Island, where a good class of citrus fruit is grown, which is completely free of the Mediterranean fruit fly, is also denied a share of the New Zealand market. The right honorable senator also said -that the exports of citrus fruits to New Zealand from South Australia at present are equal to the total Australian exports prior to the imposition of the embargo. That is poor consolation to the citrusgrower. Having regard to the improvement of the quality of citrus fruits during the last few years, it is only reasonable to assume that, but for the imposition of the embargo, we would have had a greatly increased trade in the New Zealand market. So far as I can judge, there seems to bc more in this dispute than appears on the surface. There is a reason, but I judge from tlie remarks of the Leader of the Senate that the Government does not know what it is. This fact, I suggest, should spur the Government to further activities in .an endeavour to ascertain the cause for the failure, and take steps to meet it. To me it is little short of a tragedy that the very fine oranges produced in Australia should be sold at a loss when, within two or three days transport by sea there is a large and valuable potential market for them. I hope that notwithstanding the failure, hitherto, to reach an agreement with New Zealand, the Government will renew its efforts; otherwise we shall probably be asked to pass another bounty bill next year. That should not be necessary if our fruit has access to the New Zealand market.

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