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Thursday, 30 August 1906

Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales) . - Several times during this week, when a certain Bill was under consideration, the Minister of Defence has told us that it is not desirable to delay legislation until an evil actually arises. This afternoon, therefore, it comes with a little ill grace from the honorable gentleman that he should regard the comparatively small export business in potatoes as a reason for not acceding to the request of Senator Macfarlane.

Senator Playford - Why, I offered Senator Macfarlane the chance of bringing the matter forward on a Government day !

Senator PULSFORD - That is so; but this afternoon the Minister has rather poohpoohed the suggestion made by Senator Macfarlane, on the ground I have indicated. The potato business, however, may develop, and therefore it is desirable to see "that nothing is done to prejudice it. The regulation to which Senator Macfarlane refers is -

The export of the goods enumerated in this regulation shall be prohibited unless there is applied to the goods a trade description in accordance with this Part.

2.   The goods to which this regulation applies are - Butter, canned meat, cheese, condensed or concentrated milk, condensed skimmed milk, dried milk -

Senator Macfarlanemakes no request in regard to these commodities. Then follows the item "fruit," which he asks shall be exempted. The list is made up of hares, honey, jam, leather, potatoes; and the honorable senator also asks that potatoes shall be exempted. Honorable senators see that the list is a considerable one, and with that list, as a whole, Senator Macfarlane does not ask the Senate to disagree.

Senator Findley - He asked that the whole of the exports in Tasmania should be exempted.

Senator PULSFORD - Only with regard to potatoes and fruit, and he is on very good ground in making that request. Potatoes are a commodity that represent a very small value per ton. Very frequently the price in Tasmania is only£1, £2, or £3 per ton;£4 is a very high price. If the trade is to be delayed while certain formalities are gone through, the shipping expenses are increased appreciably. All that Senator Macfarlane asks is that the trade shall not be interfered with by these regulations. Are there any solid grounds for believing that good can result from this interference in respect of potatoes?

Senator Findley - Would not that line of reasoning apply to every other class of commodities enumerated?

Senator PULSFORD - To a very large extent it would. But it may be urged that the regulations with regard to the other commodities do not hamper the trade to a very great extent. It is otherwise in regard to potatoes and fruit. They are not shipped in large quantities by great firms. They represent largely the trade of small dealers. The people of Tasmania urge that the trade of their farmers is likely to be seriously interfered with if these regulations are insisted upon. What is required ?

The trade description to be applied in accordance with this Part shall comply with the following provisions : -

(a)   It shall be in the form of a label or brand affixed in a prominent position to the goods or to the coverings contained in the goods ; and

(b)   the label or brand shall set out in legible characters a true description of the goods and the name of the country or place in which the goods were made or produced ; and in cases where any weight or quantity is set out the label or brand shall specify whether the weight or quantity so set out is gross or net.

Then regulation 8 provides -

(1)   The trade description to be applied in accordance with this Part shall comply with the following provisions : -

(a)   It shall be in the form of a label or brand attached or affixed in a prominent position to the goods, or to the coverings containing the goods ; and

(b)   The label or brand shall set out in legible characters a true description of the goods, the word Australia, and the name of the State in which the goods were made or produced; and

(c)   The label or brand shall specify thenet weight or quantity of the goods, except in the case of carcases of meat ; provided that in the case of tinned goods, if the net contents fall short of any number of pounds by less than half a pound, the weight may be described as "under" that number of pounds.

(d)   The label or brand shall include either the name of the manufacturer or exporter or his registered brand.

There is quite a lot of work to be done in connexion with a very small trade, and Senator Macfarlane suggests that these requirements in regard to the goods mentioned are onerous ; that they interfere with trade, and that they are likely to prevent its success. It is an entirely reasonable thing that the trades affected should request that the regulations should not be made to apply to these two items which, unimportant as they are in the trade of Australia as a whole, are yet of very great importance to Tasmania.

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