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Thursday, 8 October 1936

Senator BRENNAN (Victoria) (Assistant Minister) . - I move -

That iiic hill bc now read a second time.

Honorable senators are no doubt aware of the difficult position in which citrusgrowers generally, and those in New South Wales in particular, have been placed during the past few years in finding an outlet overseas for their surplus crop. This difficulty may be ascribed in part ro the effects of the depression, and in part to the Loss of the New Zealand market at ohe end of 11)32. .In order to relieve this position and to assist the citrus industry to establish a permanent export market for oranges, the Commonwealth has, during the last three years, granted financial aid to growers. In announcing its intention, to grant a bounty in respect of the 1935 season, the Government intimated to the industry that no further Commonwealth assistance would be considered unless steps were taken to establish an organization which would take care of the orderly marketing of oranges overseas, deal with production and marketing problems in Australia, nui speak with authority for the citrus industry.

Some steps have been taken with a view to the establishment of a board in relation to the industry, but unfortunately, there is lack of unanimity as to the means by which the board should be financed. In the meantime representations to the Government have been made by citrus organizations seeking tie granting of a bounty on exports for 1936. To these representations the Government has consistently replied that it would not give consideration to the matter of a further bounty until the industry had taken steps to establish the organization which it agreed to set up. In May, 1936, the Australian Agricultural Council again dealt with the matter of the organization of the citrus industry, and decided to re-affirm a resolution adopted by it in 1935 as to the establishment of an Australian Citrus Board. The council also urged the Government to continue the bounty on citrus fruits for one more season pending the establishment of such a board.

In view of the fact that the New Zealand market is still closed to a large quantity of Australian fruit, and in order to assist the citrus industry until it has had a further opportunity in which to organize, it is now proposed to grant a bounty of 2s. a case on oranges exported to all destinations other than New Zealand, during the 1936 season. The extension of the bounty to cover other markets beside those of the United Kingdom should encourage exporters to exploit possibilities that may exist in this direction, more particularly in respeot of Canada, and ports en route to the United Kingdom, such as Colombo, Aden, and Malta. The bounty will be payable to the exporter of the oranges. It is provided, however, that the exporter shall pay to the grower of the oranges the amount of the bounty received by him in respect of the oranges, unless he proves t.o the satisfaction of the Minister that he purchased the oranges from the grower and paid to the grower the amount of bounty in addition to the ordinary purchase price of the oranges. It is estimated that the cost of the bounty for 1936 will not exceed £10,000.

In submitting the bounty proposals contained in this bill, the Government wishes it to be understood by the citrus industry that no Commonwealth assistance beyond that now proposed will be considered unless the industry gives further attention to the marketing and production problems associated with the industry. Even then, the Government is not prepared to give any undertaking that a bounty will be granted as a matter of course in respect of oranges exported in any year. Consideration must always be given to the actual position in respect of any particular season, and also to the efforts of the industry to assist itself. I ask honorable senators to agree to the motion for the second reading of the bill.

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