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Thursday, 7 August 1902


Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - I do not think that my honorable friend should have twitted the honorable member for Moira, for saying that the people engaged in the raisin-growing industry are entitled to express an opinion as to what amount of duty is sufficient to enable their industry to succeed.


Sir William McMillan - He practically said that they were the only people whose opinion should be considered.


Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - Has not the primary producer »& much right to express an opinion as to whether there should be a certain degree of protection as has the person who imports raisins ? With regard to what my honorable friend has said as to the -amount of duty necessary to support the industry, I reply that the amount that is requisite has been proved. New South Wales, on one side of the Murray, has pl.0cisely similar land to that which Victoria possesses on the other side. But on the one side of the Murray there is a perfect desert, although there was a duty of 2d. per lb. on raisins in the State; whilst on the other side oi the river, where there was a duty of 3d. per lb., there is a sufficient settlement of people to warrant the construction of a costly railway. Before that settlement was in consequence of the imposition of the duty established, the land was considered to be absolutely valueless; in fact, it was considered to be worse than valueless. It was regarded as a breeding ground for vermin that was nothing better than a menace to the rest of the country.


Sir William McMillan - Does not the honorable member think that a duty of 2d. is enough 1


Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - It has not proved to be enough in New South Wales where it was tried, although I am sure the people of New South Wales are just as enterprising as are those of Victoria. New South Wales has a large territory of precisely similar land. The raisin - growing industry does not require the best land. Very indifferent land will produce first - class raisins. It is a serious matterto run a risk, even assuming that 2d. will possibly be sufficient. There is at any rate a great doubt about it, and those who are engaged in the industry believe that the duty is not enough. In the initial stages of the industry, and for several years afterwards, it requires a considerable duty, because the cost of initiating it is very heavy. Intense culture cannot succeed without considerable expense. But the industry is one that is capable of expansion to an almost unlimited degree.


Mr Conroy - But if we cannot grow the raisins at a reasonable price, what is the good of the industry 1


Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - My honorable and learned friend will not deny - because the fact can be easily proved - that the growing of raisins in Victoria decreased their price. The price is lower now than it was before the industry was established here.


Mr Conroy - Is that in consequence of the duty 1


Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - Yes, to this extent : That it is in consequence of the establishment of the industry. If my honorable and learned friend would try to comprehend, I am sure that he has sufficient intelligence to understand, but he shuts the windows of reason, and does not try to realize the facts. Without the duty I am perfectly satisfied that the raisin - growing industry would never have been established. The duty was the cause of the establishment of the industry. It is admitted that when a duty is first imposed it must necessarily increase the price of an article;- but if that duty leads to the establishment of an industry on a sufficiently large scale to. overtake local requirements, local competition will reduce the price and keep it down.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Below the original price?


Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - The price in Astoria is below the price ruling before this duty was imposed, and when we were dependent upon foreign importation. Most of our raisins were imported from California.


Sir William McMillan - Then the duty has done its work.


Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - The duty has not done its work ; and if it has, its re.imposition can do no harm. Where -is the harm of keeping a dutv on the statute book if it does no injury ?


Mr Conroy - Because it leads to the formation of trusts


Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - There is no trust in connexion with the growing of raisins.


Mr Conroy - There is, and I can give the names.

M.   A. McLEAN. - This industry is carried on by a community of small settlers. Most of the land was purchased by the present owners at £21 per acre. The holdings range from 10 to 18, 20, and 30 acres, but there are more 10-acre blocks than holdings of any other size. The settlers have to pay heavy rates, and they are a long way from their market; though I am glad to say that a railway to the settlement is in course of construction. But when there are in one district alone between 3,000 and 4,000 people engaged in this primary industry, producing a magnificent article, and when we find that the price of that article is cheaper than it was before the duty was imposed, those are good reasons for maintaining the duty.Why did New South Wales impose a duty of 2d. per lb.? If it was for protective purposes, it can now be seen that the duty was not sufficient, because it has not succeeded in establishing an industry on the New South Wales side of the Murray, whilst on the other side a duty of 3d. has been successful.

Mr.F. E. McLean. - Victoria has spent thousands of pounds besides the duty in developing the industry.


Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - And a magnificent thing it will be if it succeeds. There are millions of acres of similar land in South Australia and New South Wales and Victoria, so that the industry is capable of expansion to an enormous extent. I trust that honorable members will give consideration to the fruit industry generally. There are large possibilities for it. We are situated at the antipodes of the earth, and our seasons are the very opposite to those in the old world ; so that when fruits are out of season there they are in season here. We can export them ; and I hope to see the fruit-growing industry become a very large one. It has very great potentialities. I am as anxious as my honorable friend the acting leader of the Opposition can be to accede any point that we reasonably can do to another place. I recognise the right of the Senate to make requests, and I hope that we shall endeavour to meet them in a friendly spirit. But the raisin-growing industry is so important that it would be a misfortune if we did anything that could possibly lead to its destruction.







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