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Thursday, 8 October 1936

Senator BRENNAN (Victoria) (Assistant Minister) . - in reply - Senator Badman and other honorable senators spoke of the fancy prices which were being realized in New Zealand for oranges exported from South Australia.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Fancy prices are being realized also in Sydney.

Senator BRENNAN - The fact is that, as a general rule, Australian oranges do not command fancy prices in New Zealand.

Senator Badman - I said that oranges were landed in New Zealand from South Australia for11s. a case.

Senator BRENNAN - That is true. I suppose we have all read of the classical definition of news - " If a dog bites a man, that is not news ; but if a man bites a dog, that is news ". Accordingly such an item has front page publicity in the newspapers. Much the same may be said about the fancy prices realized for Australian oranges in New Zealand. Recently newspapers featured 30s. or 40s. a case. Naturally that news commanded the widespread attention of the reading public; but when oranges realize normal prices the fact is recorded not on the front pages, but in the commercial columns. Ordinarily sales of Australian oranges in New Zealand range from 17s. to 22s. a case. Senator Arkins urged the Government to promote organization of citrusgrowers in order more effectively to market their product. In my second-reading speech, I said that the industry had been informed that unless it took steps to organize itself and control the marketing of its output, it could not expect further assistance from the Government. Steps for the formation of an organization were taken some time ago. The matter was discussed at a meeting of the Agricultural Council, but difficulties were experienced in getting the States into line. However those obstacles have since been surmounted and steps are being taken to establish an organization, which we hope will do all the good things that are expected of it. It will not confine its activities to the marketing side of the problem; it will deal with all the troubles that affect the growers of citrus fruits. The investigation will be under the control of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and will, it is believed, fully justify the grant of £20,000 made to the council for that purpose.

Senator Collingsapparently is looking forward to the day when the Government shall have complete control over primary industries; but, as I said on other occasions, his ideal State is one in which every person will have plenty of work to do, but will have to do as he is told. In regard to general policy, the honorable gentleman and members of the Government are as far apart as the poles. The same remark applies to the observations of Senator Brown, who spoke of the tragic incompetence of private enterprise. One has only to look at the world and see how much private enterprise has done to acknowledge the falsity of his criticism. Our view is that it is not the duty of the Government to put the citrus-growers on their feet; it is our duty to help them, in crises like the present, thus enabling them to put themselves on their feet.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 (Definitions).

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