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Tuesday, 22 March 1927

Senator CRAWFORD (QueenslandHonorary Minister) . - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The Dried Fruits Export Charges Act was passed in 1924, in order to provide funds to enable the Dried Fruits Control Board to carry out its functions under the Dried FruitsExport Control Act. The Dried Fruits Export Charges Act provides for the imposition of a maximum levy of one-eighth of a penny per pound on all dried currants, sultanas, and lexias, exported from the Commonwealth. In order to obtain sufficient funds to carry on during the first two years of its activities, the board recommended that the maximum levy be imposed. The total amount of levy collected on behalf of the board since the operation of the act to the end of February, 1927, is £55,881, of which £20,545 has been allotted for trade publicity in the United Kingdom, and £16,218 for general administration in Australia and Great Britain. The proposals now before the Senate emanated from the Dried Fruits Control Board.In its second report the board recommends that this amended legislation be passed to permit of the rate of levy being varied for the several varieties of fruit, especially in view of the poor prices realized for currants and lexias as compared with those obtained for sultanas. Over two years ago the board was appointed under the Dried Fruits Export Control Act 1924, after that act had been approved by a very large majority at a poll of producers of dried fruits throughout the Commonwealth. Four of the seven members on the board are elected by growers throughout the Commonwealth. Since the board commenced its activities, it has been recognized by the growers as their representative organization, particularly in connexion with overseas trade, on which the industry is to a great extent dependent for its existence. The members of the board, particularly the growers' section, are unanimously of the opinion that an amendment of the Dried Fruit Export Charges Act is necessary to enable some relief to be made to the growers of currants and lexias in the form of a reduction of, or an entire exemption from, the levy on export, especially as the board has built up a substantial reserve to carry on its activities and contribute to the trade publicity campaign now in operation in the United Kingdom. The board recently decided to recommend that the rates of levy this year on currants and lexias exported be reduced by one-half, namely, one sixteenth of a penny per lb., which reduction would represent a saving of about £6,000 to the growers of such fruits, and that next year, if the circumstances warranted it, to further recommend that the levy be abolished entirely on those two classes of fruit. That would mean a total saving of about £11,000 per annum to the industry. It is further proposed, in order to inconvenience traders as little as possible, to provide for the exemption of the levy on the export of small parcels, not exceeding 1 cwt. of fruit, to destinations such as the islands in the Pacific. The levy involved in such exemption will not exceed 1s. 2d. The Senate is asked to pass this bill, which, as I have already pointed out, is intended to assist those growers whose currants and lexias, unfortunately, are not at present realizing satisfactory prices on the oversea markets.

Senator Needham - Will it cost the Commonwealth Government anything?

Senator CRAWFORD - No. The whole cost will be borne by the growers of the sultanas, lexias, and currants.

Senator Elliott -Is it the Paterson scheme applied to dried fruits ?

Senator CRAWFORD - No. This levy is not made for the purpose of distributing the proceeds among the exporters, but to meet publicity and general administration expenses in connexion with the sale of the fruit overseas.

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