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Tuesday, 30 August 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- I do not suggest that the Australian product is inferior to the imported, but I do know that at a conference recently held in Sydney, at which all the fruitgrowing States were represented, it was unanimously resolved, after full discussion, that, apart from the question of duty, the imported article is placed under a heavy handicap. Most of the fruitgrowers who prefer to use the imported arsenate do so because they believe in its especial efficacy as applied to their particular districts. The delegates to the Sydney conference would be specially chosen representatives: men who knew what they were dealing with, and who would not come to any decision upon insufficient data or without excellent reason. They know that the imported article has to be used to-day because there are not sufficient quantities of the local arsenates on the market to meet the demand. It means that at least 50 per cent. of requirements must consist of imported brands. Those who are compelled to use the latter naturally object to being penalized, in the circumstances, by the imposition of such heavy rates of duty. It should not be forgotten that these sprays were imported free prior to the operation of the present Tariff. The Australian arsenate of lead is placed on the market at a considerably lower price than the imported brands. And, seeing that local manufacturers can supply only 50 per cent. of Australian fruit-growers' needs, why should the users of the remaining 50 per cent. be penalized ? It is not their fault that they cannot use the local makes. Many men engaged in the fruit-growing industry for years are of opinion that they can get better results from the British article. The request of Senator Duncan is eminently fair. The present Tariff cannot be regarded as a Protective duty. It goes far beyond that, because, at present - as I have just mentioned - Australian arsenate of lead is being supplied for considerably less than imported brands. The difference amounts practically to the local lines being sold for half the price. What objection can be raised, then, to reducing the duties? If the reduction is agreed to, the orchardists growing fruit upon 50 per cent. of the area now under apple trees in Australia, instead of being penalized to the extent of 35 per cent. in the case of foreign brands and 25 per cent. in respect of British arsenate of lead, will be handicapped only to the extent of 20. per cent. and 10 per cent. respectively. At the same time, no percentage of the degree of protection afforded to the Australian industry will be withdrawn. I shall support the request.

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