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Wednesday, 3 August 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I rise to complete my remarks that were interrupted by a standing order that, in my opinion, should be suspended.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - The honorable senator must not discuss the Standing Orders at this stage. There is a proper method of doing that.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - As the standing order came down on me like a guillotine in the midst of my speech, I shall appeal to Ministers to-morrow to. suspend or amend it, in order to allow a senator to extend to half-an-hour his first speech on an important item. AlreadyI have seen Senators Lynch, Guthrie, and Crawford interfered with three times by this standing order in the course of one speech.

I do not argue that the banana industry of Queensland until now has been in a very flourishing condition. It has more than held its own, and there have been very rapid developments in banana growing in the valley ot the River Tweed, in New South Wales. The area under crop increased from practically nothing to nearly 3,000 acres in 1920 under the old duty. Although I am a representative of that district, as part of New South Wales, and will be responsible to the growers for my actions in the Senate, I fail to see that the extraordinarily high duty on bananas is required by them. We have received no representations whatever from the Tweed growers who have selected that 3,000 acres.

Senator Reid - They belong to the same organization as do the Queensland banana-growers, and they work together.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If they ignore their representatives in the Senate they must take the risk. I have received no representations at all from any of the growers, who, according to statistics given in another place in support of the increased duty, are cultivating 3,000 acres for the production of bananas. I give notice that I shall move an amendment to Senator Lynch's request in order to reduce the duty by 50 per cent.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - The procedure adopted in connexion with former Tariffs, and vouchsafed to the Committee by Senator Buzacott, as Acting Chairman, is that in regard to increases the highest request shall be taken first, and in regard to reduction the lowest must be taken first. To accept an amendment upon a motion for a request would unnecessarily complicate the procedure; but if Senator Lynch's motion for a request is negatived,. Senator Pratten may then move a further request.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I shall act upon your suggestion, sir. I take this course out of sympathy with the appeals of honorablesenators from Queensland that' we should give adequate protection to tropical industries. In my opinion, the duty I shall propose will be absolutely sufficient for the industry in any and every direction. It will safeguard to a great extent the consumers; although it will be a high duty, it will not be prohibitive, and I think it is the limit to which my friends from Queensland can reasonably ask the Committee to go, having regard to the fact that it will be an increase of nearly three times the British preferential duty that was in operation prior to the 19 th May, 1921, and nearly twice that which was in operation against bananas from Fiji, Java, or. elsewhere under the old Tariff. One of the strongest arguments against allowing the duty imposed in another place to remain is that the whole of the extensive development in the industry, the increase in the prices paid for banana lands, and the big crops taken from those lands, occurred before the high Tariff was imposed in May last.

Senator Bolton - Why increase the duty at all?

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The appeals made to me by my brethren from Queensland to treat tropical industries in a liberal, if not handsome, way, have had some effect, but there is no evidence that banana-growing in Australia will not be a highly lucrative industry even with the lower duty I shall propose.

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