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Tuesday, 30 August 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . - My sympathies go out to the Australian manufacturer. He cannot do right, whatever he does. If he charges a low price it must be because his article is inferior. If he raises his price it must be because he is taking advantage of the Tariff. Why should it be assumed that the Australian article is inferior?

SenatorRowell. - Because it is. I know that from practical experience.

Senator PEARCE - On the other hand, I have considerable evidence from men of practical as well as scientificexperience. One of these is an expert who, I am sure, Senator Rowell and other honorable senators will at once admit should be taken full notice of. I refer to Mr. George Quinn, who is Horticultural Expert in South Australia, and a very competent judge. Large quantities of arsenate of lead are made in the Commonwealth. Among the producing firms are Bickford and Company, of Adelaide, and Harry Blyth and Company, Victor Leggo and Company, and Jaques Proprietary Limited, in Melbourne. The objection of many Australian orchardists to the Australian spray amounts, I think, to a mere prejudice. The local lines are new to the market, and the assumption has grown and been disseminated that it is inferior. The prejudice has been examined, however, and has been found to be without foundation. I shall quote from the South Australian Journal of Agriculture, in respect of analyses made by the Director of Chemistry. The date ofthis publication is January, 1921. The article begins -

The following report by the Director of Chemistry contains the results of chemical and physical analyses made under his supervision of samples comprising the undermentioned brands of arsenate of lead on sale in South Australia this season. In a covering' note the Horticultural Instructor (Mr. George Quinn) observes -

Before drawing upon Mr. Quinn's abservations, I might inform honorable senators who are not familiar with the fact that Mr. Quinn's book on horticulture is regarded as a text-book throughout the Commonwealth. He is a foremost authority. Mr. Quinn states -

These samples were purchased from Adelaide shops without the purchaser or the purpose of the purchaser being known to the sellers. These arsenates are sold in paste or powder form. The paste in the first table will bo at once detected by the high percentage of moisture revealed in each. In all of the samples tested, the percentage of water soluble arsenic - the form which causes burning of foliage - is well within what is deemed to be the safety limit. In so far as their chemical composition is concerned, every one of these samples may be claimed to represent an article of good average quality. The attention of orchardists, however, is specially drawn to the suspension tests. The power of remaining in suspension has a most important bearing upon securing an even and effective coating of the poison over the surface of the fruits or foliage. The power of remaining suspended in water indicates the degree of fineness of subdivision of the particles of which the compound is composed, and it should be borne in mind that no \amount of stirring or agitating in the spraying tank can bring a more coarsely ground arsenate of lead which is equally insoluble in water to a condition capable of performing so complete a protective film.

The following ten samples were analyzed -

Blyth -s "Bluebell," Bickfords "Aero," Berger's, Cooper's, " Electro " paste, " Electro " powder, " Greencross," Jaques Proprietary Limited, Swift's, "Vallo."

As the particulars are of a highly technical character, I do not propose to quote them; but the facts officially set out comprise something more definite than the mere assertion of a prejudice on the part of orchardists. I chance to be interested in this subject, personally, in a small way. Fruit-growers in the district with, which I am concerned made representations to me some time ago upon this very matter. When I questioned the orchardists I found that their objection to the Australian spray amounted merely to a sort of superstition, which had been passed on from one individual to the other.

Senator Duncan - The Australasian Conference of Fruit-growers was much concerned over the matter. Surely that body cannot be said to have been swayed by mere prejudice?

Senator PEARCE - Very often a resolution of a conference is based upon no real proof in the minds of all the delegates. I shall quote now from a periodical known as Australian Farming, which is dated 16th May, 1921. Under the heading of " Orchard notes from . Tasmania " there appears the following concerning the codlin moth: -

The codlin moth grub has been very prevalent in some of Mie apple districts of Tasmania during the past season, and growers have been under the impression that the arsenate of lead used is inferior in quality to that of former years. They have been loud in their complaints against it. The Department of Agriculture being responsible for the quality of the material sold to growers, the fruit expert, Mr. J. M. Ward, had samples of the various brands on the Tasmanian market analyzed, and in every instance the percentage of arsenic pentoxide was shown to be above the standard required under the regulations of the Insecticides Act. This Act states that arsenic of lead must contain 25 per cent, of arsenic pentoxide. The fruit division of the Department has been conducting experiments in regard to spraying for various fungoid and insect pests, and the following are some of the results of spraying for codlin moth.

The article proceeds to set out these results; and, summing up the conclusions regarding the tests, it says -

When spraying, for the codlin moth, thoroughness of application is all important. In addressing a meeting at Franklin on spraying for the moth, Mr. Ward informed growers that in his opinion the cause of the increase of the moth was to a very great extent duo to careless spraying. In that he was supported by such leading growers as Mr. T. A. Frank.comb who produces something like 30,000 cases of apples per annum, and Mr. N. B. Barnett, and others. With careful spraying (every apple or pear should receive a covering of arsenate of lead), growers will find they will have very little codlin moth in their fruit.

I have a sheaf of testimonials before me also, from such well known and representative firms and persons as Messrs. George McEwin and Son Limited, of South. Australia; Mr. Charles Ling, of Tasmania; Mr. Thomas Sutton, of Bowenfels, New South Wales; Mr. W. R. Worsley, of Tasmania; Mr. J. D. Couper, of Victoria; and Messrs. Neil and Buchanan, of Uralla, New South Wales. All these testify to having used Australian arsenate of lead and to hav- ' ing found it perfectly satisfactory. In the face of such evidence, it is not fair to assert that the Australian article is inferior.

Senator Keating - Can the. Minister quote the quantities imported, and the total amount used ?

Senator PEARCE - I am unable to do so at the moment, but I understand that it has been stated that the Australian manufacturers will produce 50 per cent, of requirements this year.

Senator Keating - How long has the industry been established ?

Senator PEARCE - Since the early days df the war, when oversea supplies were first cut off.

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