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Thursday, 8 October 1936

Senator BADMAN (South Australia) . - As the State which I assist to represent in this chamber is involved to some extent in the negotiations with New Zealand, it is fitting that I should offer some observations on the bill. It is strange that we cannot reach an agreement ' with the sister dominion for the marketing of Australian oranges in that country in sufficient quantities to meet the demand. I strongly support the bill, but deplore the fact that the negotiations have not been successful. Senator Hardy read extracts from newspaper reports this afternoon indicating that the demand iu New Zealand for Australian oranges was so keen that up to 42s. a case was realized recently. I know that oranges can be landed in New Zealand from South Australia for Ils. a .case. Growers in that State say that they can show a profit from at 5s. 6d. to 5s. 9d. a case at the orchard. For some years an organization of citrus-growers on the Murray River has had a representative in New Zealand, in the person of Mr. Mueller, who has done good work in fostering the demand for South Australian oranges in that country. We in South Australia are aware that good oranges are also grown in Victoria and New South Wales, particularly in the Griffith irrigation area. Senator Arkins this afternoon reminded the Senate that the citrus-growers in New South Wales were a long suffering people who now feel that they are entitled to some form of assistance. To me it is remarkable that oranges should be dearer in Sydney and the provincial centres of New South Wales than in South Australia which, by exporting such large quantities to New Zealand, relieves the selling pressure on the home market. The reason is, I believe, to be found in the activities of a number of profiteers who hold up the market and prevent the growers from ob"taining any benefit from the higher prices realized. It is farcical that the people of New Zealand who are anxious to obtain good clean fruit from Australia, should be denied this privilege because the Commonwealth Government is unable to reach an agreement with the Government of the sister dominion. We are informed that the trouble is not due to the desire of New Zealand producers to export potatoes to Australia, but arises from agreements with other countries, particularly the United States of America. As the Leader of the Senate told us this afternoon, New Zealand has an agreement with the United States of America with regard to the export of apples, so that if Australia exports oranges to New Zealand, that country may be prevented from exporting apples to the United States of America, because of the risk of the introduction of the Mediterranean fruit fly. That is given as one reason why Australian citrus-growers have not been able to establish themselves on the New Zealand market. There are other reasons. As the result of inquiries which I made in Sydney two or three years ago, I discovered that a number of unscrupulous exporters were shipping inferior fruit, and . that objection was taken by New Zealand, not on the ground that there was risk of introducing the Mediterranean fruit fly, but because the fruit not good enough. I should add that the fruit to which objection was taken did not come from the Leeton or Griffith irrigation areas. I hope that action will he taken without further delay to clean up the position in New South Wales so as to facilitate an agreement with the sister dominion of New Zealand, thus obviating the need for further legislation of this nature for which the taxpayers have to foot the bill. It seems extraordinary that New Zealand which is capable of absorbing annually between 500,000 and 600,000 cases of Australian oranges should be able to obtain only from 140,000 to 200,000 cases, with the result that the price for the Australian fruit is so high.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That is because of its quality.

Senator BADMAN - The quality of oranges exported from South Australia is excellent. So keen is the demand in New Zealand for this class of fruit that recently, so we were informed in the newspapers, lots were drawn at an auction sale for the right to purchase cases included in a shipment of Australian oranges.

Senator Dein - The restriction of the quantity marketed in .New Zealand is the trouble.

Senator BADMAN - I and other honorable senators, I am sure, would like to know 'why the negotiations for an agreement with New Zealand have not been successful. Perhaps an agreement would be reached if the Government co-opted the services of some representative citrus-growers to assist in the negotiations.

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