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Thursday, 30 August 1906


Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - There are only two points with which I have to deal in connexion with fruit and potatoes. Those points are first the alleged unnecessary character of the regulation requiring that the word " Australia " should be branded on packages for export; and, secondly, with regard to the quality of exported fruit or potatoes as the case may be.


Senator Clemons - Is there not another point - the delay in inspection ?


Senator PLAYFORD - That is incidental. If the goods have to be inspected in order to see that the quality is as described there will be of necessity some delay. Whatwe have to consider is whether we shall insist upon the branding and upon the regulation with regard to stating the quality of exports. The Act was passed for the express purpose of providing that when produce was exported from Australia it should be of such a quality as to do credit to us, and that the name of the Commonwealth should be plainly marked upon the goods, so that there should be no deception whatever in regard to them. It requires that there shall be a true description of goods coming into Australia, and that on the other hand, so far as we are concerned, if our people ' ex- port to foreign countries they shall place upon their packages such a description as will be faithful and true. I have received a report from the Comptroller of Customs, in which he points out first that the provisions as to fruit are, as a matter of fact, not so stringent as those which were suggested by the representatives of the growers of the States at the Conference held in May last. The. growers suggested the adoption of a standard case for export.


Senator Macfarlane - I do not think that we object to that.


Senator PLAYFORD - The growers actually proposed it.. In the regulations we have not adopted the suggestion. An objection was made from some other parts of the Commonwealth, and the Minister of Trade and Customs, after looking into the suggestion, thought that it was better not to adopt it. Another suggestion of the Conference was that fruit found to be defective should not be permitted to be exported. The regulations allow that fruit to be exported so long as the trade description correctly describes it as to its soundness. The Minister did not adopt the suggestion of the Conference in that respect. The regulations, therefore, do not prevent the export of apples affected by codlin moth. The consumers in England do not mind if the fruit is a little bit worm-holed. They have some experience of codlin moth, and do not trouble so much about it as we do. The regulations merely require a proper description to be given whatever the fruit maybe. The Conference of growers wanted another thing which the regulations do not insist upon, and which would have made the matter still more troublesome. They wanted the apples to be graded. The regulations do not require that they shall be graded. We have considerably reduced the limitations imposed upon the growers. But the regulations do require that goods for export shall be branded with the name of the Commonwealth. What harm is there in that? There is nothing in the regulations that any reasonable man should not agree to. I am a grower of apples, though I very seldom export directly. The rule is that small growers sell their fruit to large exporters. The small man does not find it to be very profitable to export for himself. He cannot very well send a few hundred cases to England. It is a great deal better for him to sell his apples on the local market to one of the large exporters, who knows how to make the business pay.


Senator Findley - As a matter of fact the small growers do not export for themselves in Tasmania.


Senator PLAYFORD - No, they do not. They export through large firms. The memorandum from Dr. Wollaston states -

The only points upon which the recommendations of the Conference differ from the Regulations are as to the use of the word "Australia" in the trade description, and the statement of weights of canned goods. The fruit representatives wished to retain to each State its own individuality. No good reason appears to have been advanced to show that the word 11 Australia" following after the name of the State in a description can possibly destroy such individuality.

What difficulty is there in a grower marking his goods, " John Jones, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia " ? What difficulty is there about putting the word " Australia " on his cases ?


Senator Mulcahy - It looks easy enough, but the difficulty is that thousands of cases have to be marked in a very short time.


Senator PLAYFORD - The name of the exporter and the name of the State have already to be marked, and it need not take twO seconds to add the word " Australia." It can be put on with one dab of the brush.


Senator Mulcahy - Very little the honorable senator knows about it.


Senator PLAYFORD - I know quite as much as Senator Mulcahy. The marking is done with a stencil plate and a brush. It does not occupy half-a-second, and the extra word does not make a scintilla of difference, so far as the cost is concerned. I think that we ought to insist that the name of Australia, and not merely the name of a State, shall be placed upon our exports. Then the regulation as to quality is objected to. I think we ought to have it. We have agreed not to interfere in the matter of the size of apples, and not to trouble about a variety of things that the Conference proposed. They wanted, as I have said, to have a standard case adopted for export purposes. The regulations do not require that. Personally, I think that it is a mistake not to do so. We ought to have a standard case so far as fruit is concerned. At present some growers use a case of one size, and some of another, the result being confusion. . A case of apples should contain exactly the ordinary standard bushel. It is impossible to describe, a bushel of apples by weight, because one kind is heavy and another kind is light. In the case of the stone pippin perhaps 50 lbs. go to the> bushel, whereas codlin apples may not run to more than 40 lbs. to the bushel. Fruit should be sold by measurement, and a standard case is required.


Senator Clemons - As to weight.


Senator PLAYFORD - As to measurement, and .not as to weight.

S'enator Macfarlane. - Weight or measurement.


Senator PLAYFORD - If a fruitgrower has a standard bushel case, it will hold exactly a bushel. However, the fruitgrowers in Tasmania did not trouble about the question of having a standard case. They can, if they like, continue to use their old stringy-bark cases, or use the cases which are made of pine and other woods in other parts of Australia, and which certainly are far more sightly. They can do exactly what they like in that regard. There is no particular standard as to size.


Senator Clemons - Would the Minister allow different weights to be used, provided that the measurements were the same?


Senator PLAYFORD - Undoubtedly. A bushel is always a bushel, and it does not mean weight, but measurement.


Senator Clemons - Apples are sold by the pound very often.


Senator PLAYFORD - They are sold by the pound retail, but by the bushel or half-bushel case wholesale. A bushel is the recognised measurement for apples. A bushel case, no matter what description of apple it may contain, is sold by measurement, and that is the proper system to adopt.


Senator Macfarlane - By the case, and not by the bushel.


Senator PLAYFORD - I do not care whether the growers use- a half-bushel case or a bushel case, but certainly they should use a standard case so that every one mayknow that it contains a certain measurement of apples. Then the fruit exporters recommend that -

Fruit for export found to be affected by any of the following pests shall be deemed not fit for export : -

Fruit fly, Australian (Tephritis) Tryoni)

Fruit fly, European (Halterophera Capitata)

San Jose scale (Aspidiotus perniciosus

We have not included that recommendation in the regulation. Perhaps it ought to have been done in some cases, but still it has not been done. We allow a man, if he likes, to export apples with even these pests upon them, and leave it to the persons to whom they are exported to protect themselves against the introduction of the pests.


Senator Macfarlane - No; there must be some freedom from disease.


Senator PLAYFORD - We have left the apple-grower with as much freedom as can be conceived. We have not troubled him, except in two particulars. We have only required him to add the word "Australian " to his ordinary brand, and to describe truthfully the quality of the fruit in his case. He may pack the biggest rubbish in his case, if he is foolish enough to do so, so long as he declares that it is rubbish.


Senator Mulcahy - Under the Act, a man cannot export rubbish.

S'enator PLAYFORD. - Perhaps not.


Senator Macfarlane - The exporter is required to state that the fruit is sound and clean.


Senator PLAYFORD - The regulation does not say that the fruit shall not be unsound. We do not restrict the exporter at all. He can send away what he likes, but we require him to be honest and truthful, and to declare exactly what he is exporting.


Senator Clemons - Is the Minister quite sure that a man can export as much codlin moth as he likes? Is that being allowed ?


Senator PLAYFORD - I think so. I do not think, that there is any provision in the regulation to prevent that being done.


Senator Clemons - I think it is a great blunder:


Senator PLAYFORD - I am inclined to think that if I had been called upon to frame the regulations, they would have been far more stringent than they are. It appears to me that the Minister of Trade and Customs has met the fruit-growers in every conceivable direction that he could so as not to put them to unnecessary expense or trouble.


Senator Henderson - We shall watch the South Australian apples now when thev come to Western Australia.


Senator PLAYFORD - We have no codlin moth in South Australia. When I inquired in Perth how it was that Western Australia stopped the introduction of our apples, I was told that it was done on the ground that in South Australia we had codlin moth, but, as a matter of fact, we had not, although there was codlin moth to be seen all round Perth at the time. I made that discovery when I went into a garden with a gardener named Newman. In Western Australia they refused to admit the fact for some years. Sir John Forrest told me that there was no codlin moth in the State, and that, therefore, South Australian apples were excluded. I told him that there had been codlin moth in Western Australia all the time, and at last that fact had to be acknowledged. .


Senator Henderson - It cannot be found in Western Australia except in apples from Tasmania or South Australia.


Senator PLAYFORD - In regard to the export of potatoes, all we require is that they shall have a label attached to them bearing in legible characters a brand of' which the word "Australia" shall form part, and which shall specify the net weight or quantity. We do not say that a man shall not export even frost-bitten potatoes. We only say that he shall give a truthful description of quality and surely we cannot ask him to do less when he is exporting to foreign parts. If men export potatoes of excellent quality, and the shipment arrives at its destination in good condition, very likely they will find a market, but if they send away potatoes of inferior quality, they will get a bad name, with the result that they will not be able to build up a market. Our object is to place all the producers on the same footing, so that when a trade is built up bv a. prudent shipper in, say, Manila, it shall not be destroyed by a man who would not scruple to ship there a quantity of inferior produce. I ask the Senate not to agree to the motion.







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