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Friday, 29 July 1921

Senator CRAWFORD (Queensland) . - I think that the removal of the duty upon coffee would inflict an injustice upon those persons who, in the face of great difficulties, have persisted for years in their effort to establish the industry of coffee production in Australia. The additional amount which coffee will cost the people of the Commonwealth, by reason of the imposition of this duty, will be comparatively small, and the revenue will benefit to an equal extent. Coffee is not a beverage which is in such common use as is tea.

Senator Drake-Brockman - It is a luxury, and not. a necessity.

Senator CRAWFORD - It is the drink of the more or less well-to-do people. More coffee is consumed in the cafes and after sumptuous lunches in leading hotels than is consumed in the houses of the poorer classes of people in Australia. The production of coffee has decreased because its price has not increased in thesame ratio as has the cost of production. The growing and harvesting of this commodity involves a great deal of labour. Next to tea, there is probably no industry in which so much labour is required. The production of coffee is still a long way from the vanishing point, and I understand that in one district in Queensland - I refer to Buderim Mountain, which is about 70 or 80 miles from Brisbane - there has recently been an increase in the production of this article. We shall be doing a gross injustice if we give the happy despatch to this industry byabolishing the small measure of protection that it at present enjoys.

Senator Lynch - How many growers are there in the industry?

Senator CRAWFORD - I cannot say offhand, because I did not for a moment imagine that this Committee would at tack a struggling industry in one of the remote States of the Commonwealth. Senator Pratten. - Upon the figures it looks as if the industry has failed.

Senator CRAWFORD - It has not failed completely. The latest statistics disclose a production of 16,000 lbs. of coffee. The industry is still yielding a livelihood to a few people in another State. I appeal to honorable senators to allow the existing duty to stand. It is a small protection as compared with the protection, which has been afforded to other industries which do not employ anything like the same amount of labour. It is a white man's industry, and it is, therefore, entitled to all the encouragement which will be given to it under the present duty.

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