Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 29 July 1921

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - A certain amount of revenue is derived from the importation of animals, but stock imported for stud purposes are admitted free; therefore, this item refers to only importations for commercial purposes. I do not know of any time when Australia,as a whole, has been subject to drought which has created a shortage of cattle and sheep.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - In 1902-3 there was a general drought.

Senator RUSSELL - But there was no time when the whole of Australia was simultaneously suffering from drought. For the protection of Australian flocks and herds, imported stock is subject to inspection and quarantine, in order to prevent the introduction of diseases from abroad. This Work involves a certain amount of expense,whichis not covered by the revenue derived from these duties.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Are there not quarantine charges?

Senator RUSSELL - Yes. Valuable horses imported from England, and worth £2,000 or £3,000 each, are quarantined for a short period.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - The sheep I imported from New Zealand were not quarantined. They were imported without any restrictions, although I had to pay a number of charges.

SenatorRUSSELL - If there had been any suspicion that the sheep were not clean, they would have been quarantined. I was referring to valuable stock imported from England-

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - But they are stud stock, and the Minister has already admitted that they come in free.

Senator RUSSELL - Yes, but that leads to an improvement in our stock. The importations of sheep have been - 1913, 8,448 head, valued at £28,508; 1914- 15, 6,140, valued at £23,600; 1915- 16,6,597, valued at £36,511; 1616-17, 3,809, valued at £12,470; 1917- 18, 1,719, valued at £9,850; 1918- 19, 607, valued at £4,776; and 1919- 20, 269, valued at £6,258.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - From what countries were they imported ?

Senator RUSSELL - Most of the cattle imported came from New Zealand. In 1919-20, two were imported from Great Britain, and were valued at £15, and 13 from New Zealand, valued at £2,860.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - I do not think any beef has ever been imported, hut mutton has been. The other stock is for stud purposes, and is imported from -Great Britain, 'New Zealand, and occasionally America.

Senator RUSSELL - I think Australia can grow all its own mutton.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Not in drought years. In 1902-3, mutton was so scarce that the people were eating skeletons.

Senator RUSSELL - Only in time of drought does the consumer get cheap meat. In 1913, because of drought conditions, there was a record export of mutton from- Victoria.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - There was no drought in 1913, but there was in 1914-15.

Senator RUSSELL - Whenever a dry season threatens, the market quickens, and the consumer gets a chance. Where there is a possibility of drought, stock is rushed to the market. Where there is a good season, the stock are kept in the country.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - The Minister has overlooked the period between the threatened drought and the good season. It is during the actual drought, when there is no meat worth eating, that some has to be imported.

Senator RUSSELL - It is not worth while keeping sheep on drought-stricken country, and that is avoided by exporting a large proportion of the sheep.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Do not forget that we lost 15,000,000 sheep in the last drought.

Senator RUSSELL - In 1913-14 the number of sheep imported from the United Kingdom was twenty-seven, and their value was £130. The following year thirty-three were imported, valued at £143. From New Zealand there were imported that year thirty-*three sheep, valued at £109, and later on the number imported in the various years was 18, 21, 1C and 19. They were probably all stud stock. We do not desire to unnecessarily throw open our market.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - I do not think that the honorable gentleman understands the position at all. I am a grower of sheep, and while the Tariff will protect me it will increase the price of meat to the people .of Australia at a time when its price will be already too high.

Senator RUSSELL - That' may be so. But, speaking generally, it is possible at all times to get plenty of meat from some part or other of Australia.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - That is just where the honorable senator is entirely wrong. In 1913, and again in 1915, during the prevalence of drought, the people could not get meat. They were eating skin and' bone.

Senator RUSSELL - After all the duty is purely a revenue duty.

Senator Duncan - Upon the Minister's own showing there is not much revenue derived from it.

Suggest corrections