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Thursday, 7 August 1902

Sir GEORGE TURNER - I think there must have been some misunderstanding in regard to the action of the Senate upon this item. It relates to fresh fruits and vegetables. The duty fixed by the House of Representatives was 2s. per cental, and we are now asked to make the item free. But the Senate has left bananas dutiable, and has requested that all other vegetables be made free. That is to say, lemons, oranges, and all other classes of fresh fruits are to come in free, but bananas are to pay duty. The duty of 2s. per cental would mean a tax of about¼d. per lb. We find that New Zealand has a duty against the fruitgrowers of the Commonwealth of1d. per lb. Therefore the result of making the item free would be, not only that oranges and lemons from Italy and other countries would come into the Commonwealth without paying duty, but, in addition, fruits from New Zealand, whilst the New Zealand market would remain closed against our growers. Under the circumstances, I think there must have been some misapprehension, and I move -

That the amendment requested be not made.

Sir WILLIAMMcMILLAN (Wentworth). - I do not propose to raise any discussion as to this item. After the last vote it is very clear that to divide would only be to invite a defeat. I am sorry that bananas have not been differently dealt with, in view of the close connexion between the Commonwealth and the islands of the Pacific : but I do not think any good can arise from discussion on the point.

Mr. CONROY(Werriwa). - I should divide the committee if there were any hope of securing assent to the Senate's suggestions. The operation of the duty means that turnips, which might have been a valuable food for cattle and sheep during the drought, are taxed £2 per ton, when their price without the duty would only be 25s. per ton. This is the way the Ministry help people who are suffering from drought.

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