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Tuesday, 30 August 1921

Senator ROWELL (South Australia) . - I intend to support the request submitted by Senator Duncan. In connexion with the analyses read by the Minister (Senator Pearce) as to the quality of arsenate of lime and arsenate of lead produced in Australia, I believe that Mr. Quinn was quite right in all he said. Three or four years ago I used the Australian article with very great success in my own orchard, andI was then under the impression that I had obtained the right article. But the following year, although I was using the same material, the results were very unsatisfactory, and I suppose one-third of the crop was lost owing to the ravages . of codl in moth. That is why a large number of Australian fruit-growers will not use the locallyproduced article, and whatever duties may be imposed they will use the imported arsenate of lead, because they have lost faith in the quality of the Australian production. The imposition of the duties shown in the schedule means placing an extra burden on those fruit-growers who feel compelled to use the imported commodity.

Senator de Largie - Was the spraying done at the same time of the year ?

Senator ROWELL - Yes, and in the same way. Until a few years ago fruitgrowers had only toprune and spray their trees once ayear to achieve success, but now it is necessary to spray at least four times a year in order to harvest a clean crop. First of all, a fruit-grower has to spray with Milestone or Bordeaux mixture before the trees bud to keep his crop free from blackspot, and as soon as the petals begin to drop he has to spray for codlin moth. If he wishes to be successful, he has to repeat the spraying in another ten days, and, in all, has to do the work of spraying four or five times to keep his trees free from pests. A member of the Victorian Fruit-growers Association informed me that spraying materials cost him 4s. per acre, and if the chemical is ineffective, that expenditure is incurred without any beneficial result. Most honorable senators are aware of the difficulty confronting fruit-growers in respect of the coming season, which is likely to be one of the worst they have had to face, as there are large stocks of jam pulp and canned fruits held in Australia, which means that thousands of bushels of fruit will be wasted, or sold at a price which will not pay expenses. A co-operative jam-making factory in South Australia, which lost £25,000 last year, has now gone into liquidation, and it is impossible to "say what is going to happen during the coming season. Senator Duncan mentioned the area at present under apples; but it must be remembered that the home market cannot absorb our surplus production. We have a short season, and can only place a limited supply on the market in Great Britain. If the season were longer the Australian production would not matter much. When in London, in 1916, I was in conversation with a Covent Garden fruit salesman, and when I informed him that we were producing 6,000,000 bushels annually, he said it would never do to place that quantity on the market, as we could not possibly get a satisfactory return. It has been said that the manufacturers of the Australian product are selling it at one-half the price of the im ported article; but, as I have mentioned, there is a number of fruit-growers who use the imported arsenate of lead whatever the price may be, because they have lost faith in the local product. In view of these circumstances, I trust the Committee will support the request submitted by Senator Duncan.

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