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Friday, 29 July 1921

Senator REID (Queensland) .- The statements made 'by Senator Senior in regard to the Queensland coffee industry are more or less correct. One of the greatest troubles with which coffeegrowers have to contend is the cost of the labour involved in picking the berries, the union rates making the cost almost prohibitive. This duty by no means equalizes the difference between the cost of labour here and in the cheap-labour countries in which coffee is largely produced. In Queensland in many cases coffee plantations, which when in full bearing are a beautiful sight, have been replaced by sugar farms. In urging the Committee to agree to the duty as it stands, I would point cut that coffeegrowing may properly be described as a family industry. I know of a family, the members of which make a very good living by growing coffee, just outside Maryborough, in the south of Queensland. They grow, pick, and grind their own berries, and put on the market a really excellent coffee. I do not ask that the duty be increased, but there is certainly no reason why it should be re moved. Special efforts are being made to induce people to settle on the land, and many men would be inclined to do so if they knew that in connexion with their industry employment, that would not be attended by any injurious effect, could be found for their children. The process of picking coffee berries is very simple, and school children during their holidays could he so employed with advantage to their own health and to the improvement of the industry. Coffee is not a luxury - it is a more or less common 'beverage - and I ask the Committee to allow the duty to remain.

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