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Fruit Industry - Royal Commission on - Final Majority Report


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1914.

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE OF AUSTRALIA.

FINAL REPORT

OF

THE ROYAL OOlVIMISSION

ON THE

FRUIT INDUSTRY.

Laid on the T able of the S enate, and ordered to be printed, 26th June, 1914.

of Paper.- Preparation, not given ; 950 copies; approximate cost of printing and publishing, £22 ]

P rinted an d Published for the GOVERN1IENT of the Cm.niONWEALTH of A STRA LIA by ALBERT J. MULLETT, Government P r inter f or the S ba te of Victoria. No.. 32.- F,6352 . .

REPORT.

To His Excellency the RIGHT HoNORABLE SrR RoNALD CRAUFURD MuNRO FERGUSON, a Member of His MaJesty's iJio8t Honorable

Privy Council, !{night Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. 1J1ichael and St. GeoTge, Go vernor- GeneraL a'lla Commander-in- Chief of the Commonwealth if AustTalia.

MAY IT PLEASE YouR ExcELLENCY :

· 1. We, your Comrnissioners, appointed to inquire into the Production, Distribution, Marketing, and Exportation of Australian Fruit, includin.u: the operations of producers, shippers, carriers, dealers. and others connected with the fruit industry, have the honour to present our Final Report.

2. Ninety-three sittings were -held iu the principal fruit-growing centres of each State of the Cmnn1onwealth, and 312 witnesses, including fruit-growers, agents, shippers, and others interested in the industry, were examined.

3: We have inspected the methods of culture, those adopted in the exter­ mination of pests and diseases, and have exan1ined the rail and shipping facilities afforded the orchardist for 1narketing his produce, as well as the n1ethods of marketing and distributing, packing, grading, &c. To effectively accomplish this task a distance of 20,000 miles was travelled.

4. The presentation of this Report has been son1ewhat retarded owing to the fact that the whole of the work of your Cornmissioners has been done during Parliamentary recesses; a Parliamentary General Election also intervened.

5. In the interval it was deen1ed expedient to submit a Progress Report dealing with · certain of the n1ore urgent phases of the industry, in which it was considered that reco1nmendations would be advantageous. Hereunder is a summary of the recom1nendations made in the Progress and Minority Reports, which were

presented on the 12th July, 1913:-SuMMARY oF REcOMMENDATIONS .

Mafority Report.

( 1) That fruit-growers be given opportunity t o secure refrigerated space for fruit for export within a few weeks of time of shipment. (2) That inquiry be made abroad as to the possibility of securing 1nore effective distribution of Australian fruit in the United Kingdom and on the

continent of Europe. (3) fhat the Government contract with steamship companie s for the uecessar.Y refrigerated. space, and allot same p1·o Tata according to the requirements of growers in the several States.

( 4) That inquiry be made abroad into the charges and practices of selling and distributing agents, methods of sale, handling, storage, and display of Australian fruit. ( 5) That the export of inferior and diseased fruit be prohibited.

( 6) That self-registering thermometers be installed in the refrigerated chan1bers of all oversea vessels carrying fruit cargo . .A2

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(7) That to ensure uniform grading and branding central packing sheds be established in fruit-growing districts.

( 8) That all cases used in the transport of fruit be of uniform size-the bushel to be the standard.

( 9) That all carts, waggons, and cars used in the transport of fruit be

periodically inspected and disinfected. ( 10) That refrigerated chambers of reasonable capacity be provided for the carriage of fruit in vessels engaged -in the Inter-State trade. (11) That the use of trays and walking planks in the handling of fruit at ship's side be made compulsory. · ·

( 12) That a sufficient supply of louvred vans be provided on the railways of each State. · ·

(13) That cool storage facilities in connexion with the fruit industry be extended under Government or co-operative control. ( 14) That a Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture be established. ( 15) That Export Departments be established in ali States.

( 16) That the controlling authorities be given power to eradicate orchard pests and diseases at the expense of growers who have failed to do so after due notice. (17) That all fruit agents and traders be licensed. ·

( 18) That all nurseries be registered and periodically inspected. ( 19) Co-operative n1arketing of fruit.

Report.

( 1) That the notice now demanded by the shipping companies to secure the allotment of fruit space be tnuch reduced, and as far as possible the systen1 in operation in the case of allotment of space for butter be adopted.

(2) That an extension of the policy already initiated by some of the States for the erection and control, either by liberal subsidy to co-operative companies or by the State Govenunents, of cold storage at railway tennini and ports of export be carried out.

(3) That a uniforn1 system of inspection in regard to oversea and Inter-State trade be adopted. ( 4) That the use of trays in loading and unloading f1·uit be made compulsory. (5) That the use of mechanical appliances on the loading and unloading of fruit to and fron1 the ships be encouraged ..

{6) That uniform and effective legislation and adtninistration in respect to eradication of orchard pests should be passed by the Parliaments. (7) That perishable goods trains, Inter-State and Intra-State, be provided and equipped with refrigerated or louvred cars, and that an early conversion of Inter-State trains to a unifor1n gauge be strongly urged. ·

(8) That uniform syste1n of branding, so as to indicate the size of all fruits consigned for Inter-State and oversea trade be adopted. (9) That encouragement by liberal subsidy be given for the erection of district packing sheds by co-operative effort where practicable with cold stores attached.

(10) That a uniform Australian case be adopted. (11) That uniformity in the naming of Australian fruits be adopted. (12) That new cases only be used in Inter-State trade. (13) That the installation of self-registering thern1ometers in all insulated fruit chambers in oversea ships to secure a specified temperature over the whole

voyage be made compulsory. (14) That legislation ensuring the provision for properly ventilated storage space on Inter-State steamers carrying fruit should be passed.

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(15) That more effective enforcement of the provisions of the Customs and Cmnmerce Acts to prevent the exportation from Australia of unsound fruits be made. ( 16} That a Federal Agricultural Bureau be established at an early date.

It was recomn1ended also "That the Governrnent make investigation into the n1ethod of, disposing of the fruit in London and other centres, with special attention to dock, transports, handling, charges, and agents' con1missions."

RECOMMENDATIONS APPROVED.

6. In connexion with the publicity given to our inquiries, and the recom­ mendations above enun1erated, it is satisfactory to note the attention which is being given to the matters by the various bodies concerned, and the wide discussion relating thereto which has taken place. Certain improvements along the lines

recommended have already been effected, which will he unquestionably to the advantage of the industry, amongst which may be n1entiuned improved 1nethods of ltandling and transport, increased facilities in the rail way and shipping services, the direct stearner service between I-Iobart and firmer control of the operations

of shipping agents, and the increased attention which is being given to the Australian export trade ; and it may reasonably be assumed that the great importance of carrying the whole of the reco1nmendations into effect \vill in due course be recognised.

APPOINTMENT OF Co:tviMissroN.

7. At this stage we deem it desirable to outline the e,·ents which led up to the C01nmission of Inquiry .

S. The agitation to secure the appointment of a Royal Con1mission to inquire into the fruit industry originated in the State of Tasmania, where it had been alleged that the principal disabilities existed. There had been a strong feeling of unrest existing amongst a large section of growers, and dissatisfaction was expressed,

particularly in regard to the conditions under which their fruit was exported and sold overseas. .,

9. This feeling- first found public expression through the Hon. J ohu Earle, M.H.A., then leader of the Opposition in the Tasmanian House of Assembly, in 1909, when he lnoved-That, in the opinion of this House, the time has arrived when the Government should take immediate steps to establish a Produce Export D epartment, similar to that of South Australia.

This 1notion was defeated by one vote.

10. On the 2nd December, in the following year, Nir. Earle n1oved-That, in the opinion of this House, the time has arrived when it becomef> imperative in order to secure to producers the full value of their products that the Government should establish a State Expor\ of Produce Department and plant for pulping small fruit.

This also was defeated by one vote.

11. The n1atter was revived in the following year, when a deputation waited upon 'the then Minister for Trade· and Custon:s .C the Hon .. F. G. ,T.udor, ), and asked for the appointment of a Royal Colnm1sswn of Inqmry. llns deputatiOn was introduced by Senator Ready, and included the Hon. George Graham,

Victoria · Minister for Agriculture; the lion. W. J. Evans, (VICtona),

Senator 'w. Russell (S .. A ... ), and Mr. W. Laird M.P. This was follo':ed

by a petitiou en1bodying the same request, signed by 385 T asrnan1an orchardists representing 28 districts and some thousands of acres of orchards.

12. On 12th January, 1912, whilst the then Pri1ne Minister (the Right Hon. Andrew Fisher) was in Hobart, an waited him and aske.d

that a Royal Commission be app01nted to the conchtwn of the fru1t

The Prime Minister made a sympathetic reply.

227

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13. The :Minister for Trade and Customs (the Hou. F. G. Tudor, M.P.) then visited Tasmania, eRpecially in connexiou with tl1is request, and received several deputation8, including representative fruit-growers. After having heard the case presented the Minister reserved his decision, but promised consideration. The

Commissionwas subsequently appointed on the 3rd April, 1912.

OPPOSITION To THE CoM.mssroN-.

14. From the commencement of 'the agitation referred to for a Commission of Inquiry the oversea fruit exporting firms of Tasmania evinced a determined opposition. The Tasmanian Fruit-growers' Union, on the motion of the Honorable J11mes Murdoch, :M.L.C., a shareholder in Messrs. Henry Jones and Co., and Mr. W. D. Peacock, of vV. I I. Peacock and Co., of Hobart, passed a resolution condemning the action of Senator Ready in introducing the first deputation to the Minister for Trade and Customs.

15. Mr. Henry Jones addressed a meeting of growers at Franklin, attacked the petition requesting an inquiry, and generally deprecated the agitation. During our inquiries in Tasmania it was manifest that the whole of the agency and shipping interests were opposed to investigation by the Commission.

16. :Mr. L.lvi. Shoobridge, a large shareholder i11 Henry Jones and Co. Co-opera­ tive, and President of the Tasmanian Fruit-growers' Union, made a public statetJJent that, as a result of the appointment of this Commission, the freight on fruit for export from Tasmania was to be raised by the shipping companies, that, as a result, the growers would be penalized to the extent of £10,000 per annum.

17. :Mr. Henry Jones, Mr. A. H. Ashbolt, and Mr. W. D. Peacock stated in evidence that the Commission was responsible for the increase in freigl1ts, and gave as the reason tha t the lower fruit freights secured by their firm s from several lines of steamers had been made public by the Commission. The inaccuracy and incon­ sistency of these statements was proved on evjdence, for it was di scovered that .Messrs. W. D. Peacock and Co. had advertised the lower in the '1 asmanian

press as far back as 1907 . It was also el icited at Geeveston, Tasmania, that .Mr. Henry Jones had addressed a meeting in 1912, prior to the appointment of the Commission, and had predicted a general increase in freights. The representatives of the various steamship companies were examined on tl1e subject, and it was admitted that there was no connexion between any increase which might hereafter be made in freights and the inquiries of this Commission.

18. It was apparent to your Commissioners that the whole matter was a deliberate attempt to arouse a spirit of antagonism in the minds of Tasmanian growers towards the Commission.

19. It was stated in evidence that disinclination to appear before this Commission was expressed by certain growers in Tasmania and was based upon the fear of arousing the antagonism of the shipping agents through whom their fruit was shipped. The following evidence was given at Geeveston :-

2041 2. W as there any disin clination on the part of any of the £mit-g rowers in this district to com e before this Commission and give evider.ce ?-I believe there was. In conversation with several growers I learnt that they thought that if tl'rey came h ere and gave evidence they were at the mercy of the shipping agents.

20414. Did you gather from their co nversation that in timidation would be practised if they came a nd spoke their minds here?- Yes.

(See also Progress Report, para.. 14.)

INQUIRY ABROAD.

20. In view of the increasinD' areas of the Commonwealth which are being placed under orchards for export purposes, and the necessity for safeguarding and conservin g the interests of the Australian producers in the overseas markets, your Commissioners made strong and unanirno4-s recornmen.dation that inquiry the

marketing nbroad was eminently desirable, believing also that the publicity o·iven by such inquiry would cause a review of the whole situation. '"" e re()'ret contrary to our ad vice, the Government has decided that the inquiry ;:,be made through official channels only.

21. vVe believe that an inquiry made by, or under the direction at least one member this ('ommission possessed of a knowledge of the inner working of the export fnut trade and the needs of the producers, "could not be otherwise than ?ene_ficial to the industry, and we are also of opinion that nothing short of such an . mqmry would be entirely satisfactory to the growers, or effective in eli citing the facts.

· 22. At the last Fruit-growers' Inter-State Conference at Adelaide in 1913 it was resolved on thP. motion of Mr. L. M. Shoo bridge, a shareholder in H. Jones and Co., supported by Mr. J. H. Lang, a grower who bad r.eceived agency payments from the principal firm of shipping agents in the State of Victoria, that inquiry in

London by any members of this Commission was not desirable. That the Conference believed that inquiry abroad was necessary is shown by the fact that one of their number (a grower who is also a fruit ag·ent) (Q. 14524) was nominated to make inquiries in Great Britain and on the Continent during the 1914 season.

23. The financial arrangements between the exporting agents and the London sellers and the scheme of distribution of fruit are so intricate, and the monopoly of selling a.gents so close, that it is practically impossible for any one who has not closely investigated the matter in Australia, and who has not had access to books,

accounts, and documents, to probe the system to the bottom, and achieve a result of any great value to the Australian producer.

24. In view of this situation, we have presented to your Ministers a

memorandum which sets out in detail the lines along· which oversea inquiry should be made.

FRUIT TRADE CoNTROL.

25. The facts were clearly established in evidence that a few firms in the Commonwealth control the bulk of the overseas export trade. The Tasmanian fruit exporting firms are outwardly separate entities, each operating in its own particular sphere, and apparently a certain amount of competition exists between the two

principal firms, Messrs. H .. I ones and Co., I Iobart, and W . . D. Peacock and Co., Hobart. It was, however, found on investigation that these firms are controlled by a combination which is purely an investment company operating on lines similar to those followed by some of the American Trusts. An attempt wh ich however failed,

was made also to secure control of Piesse and Co., the only Tasmanian fruit

exporting firm at present outside the combine. (Q . 23541.) "

26. Henry Jones Co-operative Ltd., with a capital of £7 50,000, of which £550,000 is paid up, controls W. D Peacock and Co ., Hobart; H. Jones and Co., Hobart; H .. Jones and Co., Sydney ; F. ·Yv. Moore and Co., London ; the Australasian Jam Co ., Melbourne; Cunliffe, Patterson, and Co ., Melbourne; Hoadl ey's

Proprietary Company Ltd., Melbourne ; th e Jam Company , Sydney ;

Johnston Bros., Sydney ; and Royden's Ltd., South Afnca. (Q. 29163.)

27. In our inquiries into the precise position of Henry Jones Co-op erative Ltd. we have encountered some diffi culty in eliciting information. Mr A. H. Ash bolt a director in this compan.y , nlthoug h presumably in a position to directly say what interests were held in the subsidiary companies, stated in reply to the question

-"What interest Henry Jones Co-operative Ltd. in '\¥. D. Peacock and Co. Ltd.?" "I do not know; I have only a slight idea." (Q. 24211. ) Mr. W. D.

Peacock, of vV. lJ. Peacock and Co. Ltd., H obart, repeatedly r efu sed to answer questions in regard to his personal interest in H enry Jones Co-operative, and the Co-operative Co.'s interests in W. D. Peacock and Co.

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28. Mr. A. W. C. Palfreyman, who .is also a director ·of Henry Jones

Co-operative Ltd. and 1nanaging director of the Australasian Jam Co , was asked: " Would you say that IIenry Jones Co-operative Ltd. practically controls \V. D. Peacock and Co., of Iiobart?" and replied, "I say they control every business they are interested in, or could control it if they wanted to." (Q. 2919fi.) It was also found that men who were pr01ninent in the subsidiary companies held large interests

in the combination.

29. Competition as it is generally understood does not exist between the firms controlled by Henry Jones Co-operative, who are thus able to exercise a. powe1·ful and growing influence on. local prices and conditions, and the exportation

and n1ethods of sale of Australian fruit. This has repeatedly been brought before the Commission in evidence, and in our opinion is inimical to the best interests of thG fruit-growers of the Commonwealth.

PowERS OF CoMMISSION.

30. In the appeal the Cornmonwealth v. Colonial SugaT Refining Coy. Ltd. before the Privy Council it was held '' That the Royal Comtnissions Acts 1902 and 1912 are ultra vires, and invalid so far as they purport to enable a Royal Comtnission to compel answers generally to questions, or to order the production of documents

or otherwise to cmnpel con1pliance by men1bers of the public with its requisitions. The power to impose new duties on the subjects of, or on people residing in, any individual State before the Federation, vested in the Legislature of that State, and the above Acts in the fonn in which they were passed by the Comrnonwealth Parlian1ent cannot be brought within the powers which are, by Clause 51 of the Constitution, exclusively vested in that Parliament."

Your Commissioners desire to point out the need for an amendment of the Federal Constitution, giving full powers to compel answers and to secure the production of books and docutnents pertinent to inquiries by Commonwealth Royal Commissions. Without these powers any Commission may be frustrated in its attempts to elicit facts. (See para. 27.)

ADVANCES TO GROWERS.

31. It would appear fron1 our inquiries that the 1na1n reason for financial loss to the grower in distribution lies in _his inability under existing conditions to retain control of, or supervision over, his fruit up to the time that it is

sold. Monetary advances are n1ade by London agents through their Australian representatives on account of fruit exported, against the surrender of the Hi]] of Lading to the extent· of about two-thirds of the prospective value of the ship1nent. The question arises as to whether the Australian grower, after the acceptance of his advance, can clai1n control or ownership of his fruit when it reaches the overseas market. (Q. 24793.)

' '

32. In the case of the fruit which was lost in the s.s. Pericles, the agents assumed control, and paid to the growers the amount of insurance, less freight and London agents' cor;nmission, the latter amounting to £850, on a shipment of 35,000 cases. (Q. One witness stated that the London charges were

deducted from the an1ount of insurance, notwithstanding that the vessel had not left Australian waters. 21166. What deductions were made from the insurane(d-I do not know anything about that matter. The account sales show lOs. 6d. a case, and all charges deducted. The London charges taken out of the I Os., and I had the remainder. After the charges were deducted, it brought me down to 5s. a case.

. 33. Most fruit-growers find it necessary in the early stages of their experience to arrange for financial assistance to help them over the three to five years' period between occupancy of the land and the harvesting of their first payahle crop. This accommodation has generally been obtained fron1 the packing and exporting firms and. agents at heavy rates of interest. During the currency of the advance the growers are dependent upon those firms and agents for their supplies of implements, trees, manures, &c., which are charged for at high rates ; . ovving to these financial obligations the growers lose the control of the n1arketing of their

34. In order to protect the growers from the disadvantages of these operations, we recon1mend that a Credit Foncier system be established as a distinct branch of the Comn1onwealth Bank, whereby advances n1ay be n1ade to fruit-growers and other primary producers on easy terms and at reasonably low rates of interest, thereby

freeing the growers frorn the unreasonable and often harassing control of their operations by interested parties, and preventing speculative dealing in futures witb the prin1ary products of the Conunonwealth.

35. Bank exchange is usually charged to growers on account of sales of fruit. in London, notwithstanding that money standing to the credit of growers in London is often at a pren1ium . The development and extension of the Commonwealth Bank operations should relieve growers of unnecessary charges in this direction.

AGENCY CHARGES.

36. In connexion with the shipment of fruit for export, an agency charge of 3d. per case is made in Victoria, 2d. and 3d. in Tasmania, and in South Australia which includes seven days' storag e in Governn1ent Cool Sto res at Port Adelaide.

37. Mr. Henry Jones (Tasmania) stated that the profit of hi s firm in this work was approxin1ately 1d. a case. (Q. 19104.)

38. S. J. Perry , of l\1elbourne, informed the Con1n1ission that "if he could put through a million cases a year the chances were that he would say to the

growers, 4 I will exist on the r etaining fe e and do the work for nothing for you.'" (Q. 29321.)

39. Mr. J. G. Turner, Chief Horticultural Offi cer, Departlnent of Agriculture, in the State of Victoria, stated in evidence that according to departmental estimates the work now done by private agents, and for which a charge of 3d. per case is made, could bedone by the Government at from 1!d. to 2d. per case. (Q. 28530.) 'I'his

esti1nate included the cost of inspection, which was not an item in the agents' charge. (SeeProgressReport,paras.lO, 11,1:2, 13, 14.)

STATE PRODUCE DEPARTMENT S.

40. South Australia is the only State where we found an organized Depart­ n1ent, under Government authority, actively assisting the primary producers in exporting and rnarketing their goods. The South Australian Govern1nent Produce Departrnent offers advantages and facilities to the primary producer '"rhich are not

obtainable from the private agents who control the business in the other States. It handles all fruit for export up to the f.o.b. state, and pre-cools fo r se ven days if required in the Government Cool Stores at Port Adelaide, a charge of 2d. per case covering all operations. (Q. 16386.) Whilst t his Departtnent accepts furth er

responsibility in London in the way of exercising super vision over sales if so requested by the exporter (one-sixth of the total fruit on the average is sold through the Departn1ent), no special efforts are made by the en1ployment of agents or canvassers to attract clients. (Q. 16760.) Exporters have full liberty to consign

their fruit through any agent in South Australia, a nd to any firm in Europe.

41. It has been stated that the Department 's charge to market fi:uif in London vvas 4s. per case, as against 3s. lld. charged by private agents. The South Australian Department's minimum charge is 3s. per case (see evidence by Mr. G. A. \V. Pope, Q. 16306). Further , the charge quoted as that of private .

agents (3 s. lld. per case) ·was also a minimum charge, and was exceeded in many instances. The following evidence bearing on the subj ect was given by Mr. E. A. Thiessen, orchardist, of Geeveston, Tasmania :-20352 . What does it cost you to market you r fruit in London average is 4s. 6d. a case.

20353. This Commission has been informed t ha t fruit from Tasmania can be marketed in L ondon, all ch arges paid, from 3s. lld. a case. H as t hat been your experien ce ?-I have reckoned my charges up dozens of times and they have very seldom been und er 4s. 6d. a ca . They run from 4s. 6d . t o 4s 7d .

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42. The London consolidated charges have bee n reduced by the Department to 4!d. and 5!d., as against 7 d. and Sd. charged by the private agents. Fruit,

however, forms but a small item in the total export business of the Department, which includes the handling of beef, Jambs, poultry, butter, &c.

along 43. Advantages through State Export Departments would accrue to growers the fo llowing lines :-(1) Minimum charge for port of shipment agency fe e, including pre-

cooling.

(2) Abolition of loading commissions. ( 3) R eduction of L ondon consolidated charges. ( 4) Abolition of retaining fees. (5) Saving in exchanges, insurances, and petty charges. (n) Effective di stribution in th e old world markets under supervi siOn of

Common wealth and State Trade Com missioners. (7)

(8)

Thorough and efficient control of marketing, with a view to the avoidance of gluts in t.he market and the consequent low prices. The encouragement of a high standard of quality, the protection of growers against exploitation, and the prevention of unfair

practices.

44. These Produce Departments should be established on business lines, and enter into active competition with private firms .

REFRIGERATED SPACE.

45 . With reference to recommendation No. 3 in our Progress Report "That . the Government co ntract with steamship companies for the necessary refrigerated space, a nd allot same p1·o r:a td according to the requirements of growers in the several States, " we are of opinion that if the arrangements for securing the necessary refrigerated space fo r the whole of the fruit export trade of Australia were concen­ trated under a central authority, such as a Federal Agricultural Bureau, acting in co-operation with State Export Departments, the work would be more

effi ciently and economically performed. Further, a central authority would be in a stronger position to arrange contracts with shipping companies than the various agents in competition as at present. The elimination of this competition would ensure also a more equitabl e distribution of space.

46. 'Ve recommend that an equitable proportion of space be secured to each State in the case of subsidized steamers. (See Progress Heport, paras. 2, 3, 4, 5, fl, 7, 8, 9.)

CoMMONWEALTH TRADE CoMMISSIONER.

47. It was manifest in our inquiries that the greatest disabilities under which the fruit industry laboured existed in the overseas markets. In regard to the fi·uits of T asmania and Victoria, there was found to be practicall y no supervision over sales, particularly in London, wh ere the grower was entirely in the hands

of agents. South Australian growers have the advantage of supervision b}' the State Trade Commission er. I n addition, the cost of marketing, covering the various han dling and commission charges, appeared to be excess ive. Most of the sales were concentrated at ·London, and there appeared to be a vast fi eld in other centres . of population in Europe r emaining to be exploited. At th e present time Hamburg is the only Continental market at which Australian fi·uit is sold, and buyets con­ gregate there from various European countries.

48 . With a vie w to securing the more satisfactory di stribution of Australian fruit in Great Britain and the Continent, we recommend tb e appointment in London of a Commonwealth Trade Commissioner possessed of a thorough business training, and of Australia and its products, to generally superinten d control, and

direct the marketing, sale 1 qisposal of Austrqli!l-n fruit a1id other produce:

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CoMMERCE AcT.

49. There to be some diffi culty in ::tdministering th e clnuses of the

Act deah?q with of un sound and inferinr fruit, owing

prmcipally to the difficulty m fixmg a written standard of quality. (Q. 2\J444. 1 To protect the good name of Australian fruits, and to prevent co nsi O'nments of inferior quality being exported, which would come into direct with the

?etter qualities, it appears to u s necessnry that stringent rpgulations sh ould be Imposed, which would effectively prohibit the exportation of other than frnit of reli able quality, free from disease, fully matured, a nd not undersized.

50. We are further of opinion that a uniform system of branding should be instituted, each case bearing th e local designation of the grower or packer, and the variety and size of fruit. To accomplish this properly, central or district packing sh:-d.s, as recommended in our Progress Report, are necessary, and vvould, in our opmwn, be most advantageous to the growers. ( Hee Progress H eport, paras. 21 and

T RANSPORT.

!) I. The absence of suitable methods of transportation offers perhaps the

most serious obstacle to the satisfactory marketing of fruit. These difficulties emerge in three principal directions :-(a) Fro m Onhard to Rai!u·ay.

. . In varying distances of from 3 to 30 miles, fruits are carried generally

i u heavy waggons, bullock drays, springless carts, &c., along roug h roads, detrimental in the highest degree to successful marketing. is particularly the case in newly­ opened di stricts and in hilly country. There is an evident and urgent need for a progressive policy of road consttuction, or of a light tramway system, to assist growers in delivering their fruit at the railway sidings in the best condition possible.

(b) Rai!wa,y Facilities. •

In many districts the growers load their fruit direct from cart and waggon into the railway trucks, and, as they are generally car eful in handling, this process is not attended with any serious objections. Unnecessary damage is, however, often caused through bad stacking and careless shunting operations. Mo st serious loss is caused also when, through absence of louvred or v entilated vans, frui ts are carried in open trucks, exposed to the varying climatic conditions, or under oil ed

tarpaulins which exclude all circulation of air, and thereby cause a generation of heat which permanently damages the fruit. The railway authorities are providing annually an increased number of ventilated · cars, but the number available lHlS not kept pace with the production, and is still inadequate for requiremen ts.

Delays in railway transit are not only frequent, but most unreasonably lengthy. Evidence was given that a truck of pineapples co nsig ned from

Woom.bye (Q.) to Sydney (N.S. "T.) had taken twelve days in transit. Th ere seems to be a regular system in operation whereby goods of all clescri ptions ar e side­ tracked along the railway routes, and no specia l attention or consideration given to perishable products, fruit being mixed with merchandise of all classes. (See Progress

Heport, pam. 32.)

(c) Sea T ranspm·t.

The unavoidable dependence upon sea transport, parti cularly between tl1e eastern and southern States, for the carriage of fruit products offers t he most g rav e obstacles and presents a difficu lt problem. The varied a nd ge11 eral character of . the carried on the vessels engaged in the coastal trade renders it difil cult to

afford fruit products that special accommodation so essential to their successful transport, and though the newer .are in creased .refrigerated

accommodation, o·rowers are slow to ntl!Jze It dunng wn1ter montl1s, savmg the increased freig hts; whil st in t h e cool space u tterl_Y T l1 c

practice generally has been to stack frmt on deck, on;et1m es w1 th 3. or 4 mches of space betwee n the bottom cases and th e oft:n w1th no pr otectiOn from un ?r covered wi th canvas sa1ls, wlnch cause beat and soften the frmt,

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whilst affording no prntection against pillage and damage. There seen1s urgent reason for insisting that when fi·uit is carried on deck ample protection should be provided against damage from deck water by allowing a clear space of at least 6 inches between the fruit and the deck, and by providing also solid bulwarks to protect against incursion of sea water, and a permanent or canvas awning above shielding fron1 the effects of sun ancl. rain, and leaving an1ple space for ventilation. (See Progress Report, paras. 26 and 27.)

CoMMONWEALTH LINE oF STEAMERs.

52. In our Progress Report we expressed the opinion that " The establishn1ent of a line of steamers vwned and controlled by the Federal Government, equipped with the 1nost up-to-date system of refrigeration, would be of great benefit to the industry. Incidentally it would break down the space monopoly and restore to the growers freedom of action as to whom they should consign their fruit.''

53. "\Ve now recommend that a line of ov ersea steamers should be established. J t is ab* undantly clear that the fruit export trade would benefit considerably by the guarantee which would be provided for efficient refrigeration, careful handling, moderate freights, regular sailings, and satisfactory allotment of space. The obvious advantage of·such a connecting link between Australia and the 1narkets of the world has already been stressed. by the Ocean Shipping Service Con1mission.

54. recommend also that as an auxiliary to the oversea line an Inter­

State steamship service be established, especially equipped for the carriage of mails, passengers, and perishable products. Such a service, supported by slower cargo­ carrying vessels, would n1aterially assist the Inter-State fruit trade, effect the saving of the present heavy mail subsidies, and by avoiding delay at ports would conserve the tin1e and promote the convenience of the travelling public. (See Progress Report, paras. 25 and 31.)

HANDLING . . 55. The methods of loading and discharging fruit vary considerably, slings, parachutes, trays, and chutes being 1nost generally in use. It is clear that all of these methods cause dan1age to shipments, trays, however, being the least objectionable.

Pending the introduction of suitable appliances with continuous belts or carriers, we desire to emphasize our recotnmendation that in dealing with fruit products trays only be used. (See Progress Report, para. 29.)

56. Complaint was 1nade to the Commission that the 1vaterside workers were rough and careless in handling fruit, and that it was difficult or usPless to ren1onstrate with then1 because of the inevitable strike which it w.as alleged would follow. This 1natter was· investigated, and it was discovered that in no instance had any strike

or cessation of work eventuated as a result of any such remonstrance. ·

57. The practice popularly known as " speeding up '' calls for some con1ment. It was tendered in evidence that sufficient time not allowed the 1nen engaged in loading and discharging to enable then1 to carefully stack the fruit in the ship·s hold or on the w barfs. As a consequence, at sea, particularly in rough weather, the cases becorne displaced, and are often landed broken with the contents considerably damaged. ( Q. 24392, et seq.)

58. It is essential that action should be taken to protect fruit fron1 damage caused by men whilst walking on the stacked cases of fruit in loading and discharging. The introrluction of walking planks or, preferably, gratings at regular intervals, as recommendeu in our Progress Report, would not only n1eet this difficulty but provide a much needed n1eaus of ventilation, with consequent advantages.

INTER-STATE RAILWAYS.

59. The E>tandardization of the three different railway gaugt'os now in existence in Australia would be the most effective stimulus to the rapid development of th e fruit industry.

· 60. The Queensland littoral, through favorable climatic cmulitions, has a virtual monopoly in the production of sub-tropical fruits, which include pineapples, n1angoes, custard apples, paw-paw apples, granadillas, &c., and of these pineapples only have been successfully marketed in the other States. The Southern and Western

States equally under climatic advantages can more effectively produce the harder fruits, such as apples, pears, cherries, peaches·, apricots, and others. While it is impossible to draw a distinct geographical line of limitation in any one State, the great n1ajority of. fruits can be produced con1mercially in all. The extensive range of

climate and territory enables a regular succession of crops to be produceJ so that the different varieties are available all the year round. ·

61. We are of opinion that the adoption of a uniforn1 rail way gauge,

eliminating the present disability and delay in transhipment at the borders, and the provision of express fruit services betvveen the States at certain seasons would relieve the growers of the present heavy losses through wastage, caused hy delay, and encourage extended orchard cultivation. As the railway systems of the

Commonwealth are, and tnust necessarily be, extended, to connect the centres of population with the rural districts, it is inevitable that by this rneans the consumption of fruit would be enormously encouraged and prmnoted. (See Progress Report, para. 32.)

LIVING A REA.

62. Your Con1missioners, fron1 a personal general inspection of the lands in the Con1monwealth suitable for fruit-growing, are strongly impressed with the immense potentialities for expansion of the industry . . The annual value of the fruit export trade of the Cornmonvirealth is rapidly approaching £1,000,000, yet the

existing orchards cover but a fraction of the land suitable for fruit-growing. As froLn 10 to 25 acres (according to quality of soil, location, irrigation facilities, &c .) constitute a living area, too rnuch stress cannot be laid upon the value of this industry for closer settlement purposes.

SMALL FRUITS AND JAM

63. It in evidence that the prices of small fruits in Tasmania

which were grown principally for. jam 1naking purposes were arranged by a combina­ tion of manufacturers.

64. The absence of competition in prices 1nilitated against the stability of the small-fruit growing industry, the growers recognising that at any time it was easily possible for the price to be_ fixed at a rate not ren1unerative. In this connexion, as the scope of the Com1nission did not embrace inquiry into the jam making industry, we were unable to pursue our investigation to a definite 1COnclusion.

DRIED FRUITS INDUSTRY.

65. The dried fruits industry presents some interesting features. The production of currants, sultanas, and raisins has n1aJe such rapid progress that the Australian market is almost exclusively supplied from local sources. R.epeatcd testitnQnies were given as to the high con11nercial value of the Australian product,

which is reputedly equal, and in n1any cases superior, to the imported goods. This position has been secured by a successful coin bination of growers and a strong association of packers, their united efforts having succeeded in stimulnting production, reO'ulating prices, and supplying the public with a satisfactory article. There is.

some objection to the operations of the Australian Dried Fruits A ssociation,

inasmuch as because of its control of production, marketing, and export (now that the average local den1and has been overtaken), there is a tendency to maintain pricP.s and profits by lin1iting production and restricting competition in distribution by exporting annually certain quantities and dumpin g the balance into local distilleries

at a greatly r educed price to the growers. (Q. 17146.) Consequently the law of supply and demand, as popularly unde: st oo d, is suspended ; prices are irrespective of whether the crops are hght or heavy, and are regulated accordmg to the supply available in other count ri e from which these fruits would otherwise

be obtained. Australian consurner s are therefore compulsoril y more interest ed in conditions in A sia l\1inor than in the Commonwealth, their interests not being safeguarded under Tariff inc:idence.

I:

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66. The varieties of dried fruits now being prepared in Australia, sultanas, currants, raisius, apricots, peaches, prunes, apples, pears, &c., are of · excellent quality, and are offered to the public in suitable and attractive packages ; the growers are receiving satisfactory prices, the packing sheds are making good profits, and the wholesale and retail distributers have ,a reasonable margin.

6'7. We are of opinion that there is a sufficiently wide margin of profit to justify a considerable reduction in the retail price to the public. This would encourage a greatly increased consumption and protnote the extension of the industry. An in1proved railway service between Mildura and Melbourne would also be advan­ tageous to the growers by assisting thetn to market successfully their green fruit.

RuRAL "\V ORKERS' WAGES.

68. In various parts of the Con11nonwealth it was found that the wage paid to workers engaged in the fruit industry was in 1nany cases low. In 1nany

instances 30s. to 36s. per week without keep was paid, the hours being from nine to ten. daily. It was stated in evidence in one district in Tasmania that the industry could not pay 8s. per day. (Q. 21848.) On the other hnnd, at Geeveston, in the smne State, it ·was elicited that 1nany orchardists were paying 7s. to 8s. per day of eight hours to their n1en, the principle of a fair wage being freely recognised.

( Q. 20221 and Q. 2024 7.)

69. Many con1plaints were made by fruit-growers regarding the class of men offering for employn1ent in different parts of the Cmnmonwealth ; immigrants specially introduced as agricultural workers 'vere often found to be unsuitable.

70. It ·was apparent to your Con1missioners that the low remuneration and long hours operating in rnany cases for orchard labour has had the effect of diverting n1en to otller occupations ·where the conditions of labour were more attractive.

71. The Federal Arbitration Coutt has fixed the wages of rural workers in ·Mildura District at 8s. per day for labourers over eighteen years of age,

while in the case of barrown1en, dippern1en, &c., the wages are 9s. per day -of eight hours. This 1nini1num applies to fmnales in harvest work as well as to males.

72. Mr. Thos. C. Rawlings, a fruit-grower, and Ch::linnan of the Irrigation Trust at Mildura, stated in evidence that the cost of harvesting and drying

fruit was £6 per ton. This cost had prevailed for fro1n twelve to fourteen

years, notwithstanding the fact that the wages for men had gone up 33 per cent., while the remuneration of wou1en had increased by no less than 100 to 200 per cent. In spite of these substantial increases, l\1r. Rawlings stated that the cost of harvesting and drying the crop had not increased, for a better and n1ore efficient type of worker was now available. This statmnent was supported by other witnesses, and it' was freely s.tated that the higher rate of wages paid had not any effect detrimental to the industry. In our opinion the effective organization of both e1nployers and employes in their respective unions would tend t'o secure equitable and unifor1n working conditions, increased efficiency of labour, and pron1ote industrial peace throughout the industry. (See Progress Report, para. 37.)

THE BANANA INDUSTRY.

73. Banana grovving is perhaps the only branch of the Australian· fruit industry which discloses evidence of decline. Northern Queensland has been for many years tbe principal source of l::lupply. Since UJU5 the annual output · has de c]ined from 1,90U,000 bunches to 747,000 bunches in 1911.

7 4. 'fhe decliue in production has been attributed to various causes. . The first plantings were usually made in ri ch virgin laud, which was leased to Chinese for a period of years at £1 per acre per annum. In the course of seven or eight years, consequent upon lack of fertilization, the lands became exhausted, and the growers passed on to new plantations or went out of the industry.

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7 5. The severe restrictions imposed by the Victorian State Governn1ent to prevent the introduction of the fruit fl y and the destruction wrought by one or two severe cyclones disheartened the growers, and caused the abandonment of 1nany plantations. It was stated also that in order to avoid the ravages of fruit fl y, and, at

times, to take advantage of a rising market, the Chinese growers shipped the fruit in an in1mature condition ; as a consequence, the quality and reputation of the North Queensland bananas rapidly declined.

76. The production was also adversely affected by the increasing tendency to put the land under sugar cane, for growers found that industry more stable and less. subject to adverse climatic and transport conditions.

77. Hitherto the industry of Northern Queensland has been almost exclustvely in the hands of Chinese. · It is satisfactory to note1 however, that particularly in Southern Queensland, and the northern districts of New South Wales, white growers are planting increased it having been amply demonstrated that

banana growing by intelligent methods may be made a profitable industry. The operations of these growers 1nay in due course be expected to exercise an

appreciable effect on the production.

78. There undoubtedly exists a heavy demand for this fruit, which the Con11nonwealth production is as yet far frOin supplying, although ther e are hopeful indications that with the Tariff assistance already given, and im proved transport methods, a steady increase in the production of superior fruit n1ay be expected.

79. The Queensland banana trade is severely handicapped by antiquated shipping facilities. The bulk of the fruit is shipped in bunches, and fron1 t he tin1e that these are delivered on the smaller vessels for transhipment at North Queensland ports the fruit is subjected to rough handling, to which the green fruit is r emarkably

sensitive. The bunches of green fruit are roughly deposited in the holds of vessels by n1eans of slings and parachutes; they are then piled in great heaps between hatches often twenty bunches deep. The lower bunches ar e crushed, and

when the hold is battened down, a heat is generated which is suffi cient t o

ripen, and at tin1es to " cook" the fruit. In transhipping and discharging, the bunches are dragged out, with the result that a, g reat arnount of wasta ge and destruction occurs, which is discouraging t o t he growers, a nd detrimental to th e industry. -

80. Your Commissioners personally inspected the loading and transhippin g of bananas at Northern Queensland ports, and subsequently t he discharging at Sy.dney and and were surprised to see the enormous wastage and

deterioration. - vVhen gratings were used to eover the hatches and provision n1ade for ventilation by circulation of fresh air, ·some improven1ent was noticeab1e ; these primary safeguards were, however, generally absent.

81. The Fijian product enters into active and successful c01n petit ion with that. of Queensland. A regular fo rtnig htly service land s heavy sup pli es at Sy dney and Melbourne. One of the vessels (the L evuka) is equipped with r acks fo r t he

carriage of the fruit in bunches, and effe ctive provision is 1 nade by circulatin g currents of fresh air to insure a suitable temperature, consequently th e fr uit is generally landed in excellent condition . This ve ssel is in every r es pect superi or to those engaged in the Queensland trade. The F ijian fruit is usually of the "Gros

1\tlichel" variety, which is larger and 1nore showy than the more exquisitely flavo red Cavendish'' of Queensland. E xperin1ents in the acclimatisation of t he " Gros

Michel" in Queensland have not as yet been comm er cially successful. 82. In this eonnexion your Commissioners desire to in vite attenti on to the methods of Elders, F y ff e, and Co., who control th e banana tra·de between the vVest . Indies and British ports. .A fl eet of spe cially equipped vessels in wh ich pr ovi sion is 1nade to preserv e an equable temperatur e carries this trade. The fr uit carefully loaded

into racks to prevent erushing is di scharged by endless helt , and is delive red in first-class condition to all the centres of population in Great Britain. I n thi s matter, however, we are dependent upon state1n ents and r eports fo r our information, a our request for a personal investigati?n of this sche1ne of transport and distribution

has not been acceded to by the Government .

83. In order to avoid the inevitable loss involved in shipping bananas in bunches, many growers ship their fruit in suitably-sized cases, and a profitable trade has been developed between ports as ·widely separated as Cardwell, in Queensland, and Fremantle, Western Australia. We believe that under existing circumstances the adoption of this method would be beneficial to the industry.

84. vVe are of opin:ion that the banana industry of Australia is a most valu·able and important one, and is eminently ·worthy of every assistance which can legiti­ mately be extended to it.

ORANGE AND LEMON IMPORTATIONS.

85. Our investigations· showed that there are extensive arens along . the seaboard, stretching from Cooktown in the north-east to Fremantle in the west, which are particularly adapted for the cultivation of citrus fruits. At present in scattered areas along this 3,000 miles of country, oranges, mandarins, limes, lemons, &c., are being successfully cultivated, and, considering the difficulties under which the growers operate, the results are generally sntisfactory.

86. Lemons particularly are produced of unsurpassed quality, yet it is a curious circumstance that in the hottest periods of the year when this fruit is most in demand the Commonwealth is dependent principally upon Southern Italy for its supply.

87. The importations into the Commonwealth of citrus fruits during 1913 amounted to 4,193,612lbs., valued at £44,203.

88. For some unaccountable reason Australian growers have not yet discovered methods of growing, harvesting, and packing lemons, by which the fruit might be preserved long enough to provide a sufficient supply for the summer months. Various lemon-producing countries have successfully overcome this difficulty, particularly those on the Mediterranean coast, and the fruit is transported in excellent condition to all parts of the world. We have inspected various methods of artificially curing ; that operated by Mr. vV. E. Sboobridge, of Bushy Park, Tasmania, presented some attractive features. (Q. ft was proposed· to make this important matter a subject of special investigation had we been authorized to prosecute inquiries in Europe, but as this has been refused by the Government we strongly recommend that action be taken to discover the best methods for the successful preservation of this health-giving fruit.

. ORCHARD PESTS.

89. Northern Queensland citrus orchards are particularly subject to disease, and the various scales, fruit fly, &c., were much in evidence. The fi·uit inspectors were found to be capable men, but faulty legislation and political interference in administration has hindered them in the full discharge of their duties. The South Queenslanu orchards are much cleaner, the orchardists being more keenly alive to the necessity for regular spraying and prompt attention to every reasonable method of preventing the spread of destructive pests. Various formulas for spraying mfxtures, cyaniding processes, and other methods in use are fully detailed in the Minutes of Evidence.

90. InN ew South Wales it is evident that more stringent laws are in operation, which reach a climax in the power possessed by the Department of Agriculture to uproot and destroy diseased trees at the expense of the owner when every effort has failed to secure dfective attention to cleanliness. As a direct consequence the orchards were found be fairly free from pests and growers active in combating them at every point; but abandoned orchards were seen which were breeding grounds for disease and a standing menace to the industry. In this connexion we strongly urge that such orchanls should be eradicated by Government auth0rity.

91. In the States of Victoria, South Australia, and vVestern Australia there are small areas under citrus culture, which are, under favorable climatic conditions, less subject to disease, and are being kept in a healthy and otherwise satisfactory condition. (See Progress Report, paras. 24 and 34.)

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FRUIT-GROWERS' UNIONS.

92. In each State there are Fruit-growers' Unions or Asseciations in existence, we .regret to note that they are not as representative or efficient as the importance

of the Industry demands. r.n most cases the organization is dominated by the larger and exportmg firm s, whose interests are not identical at all points

With those of the smaller growers, who need a sy mpathetic oro·:mization which would itself in their particular difficulties. The Tasmanian ° Fruit-growers' Union,

for mstance, on 1ts roll of but 128 11ames, representing a very

small proportiOn of the total fruit-growers in the State. On the councils of

the bodies referred to are growers whose interests are bound up in the present aO'ency . sys_tem, an.d as the Unions claim to speak on behalf of the whole body of and appomt the State delegates to the Inter-State Conferences, it is inevitable that certain influences dominate its policy.

93. We are of opiuion that the establishment of strong and thoroughly r epresentative organizations of growers in tlte several States, uninfluenced by agents and exporting firms, would be a source of strength to the industry. (See Progress Report, para. 14.)

Co-OPEH.A noN.

94. Our inquiries have failed to discover any efficient and comprehensive system of co-operation of fruit-growers within the Commonwealth, especially for purposes of marketing or financing. The private agents hnve been g iven an

open field, with the result that they now control nearly the whole of the marl,eting and financial operations of the industry. . ·

95. A combination of those engaged in dried fruits industry, according to evidence taken at Mildura in Victoria, and at Ang·as ton in South Australia, has secured better prices to the growers. The Australian Dried Fruits Association has been forme<.l, which controls the sale of the bulk of Australian dried fruits.

%. In several of the States s pnsmodic efforts at co-operation have been noticed, but the societies formed, while calling themselves co -operative, are virtually joint stock companies. The to the principle of one shareholder one vote,

and the elimination of proxy voting, are essentials in all truly co-operative

associations.

97. Your strongly urge the growers of fruit to form voluntary

co-operative societies in all suitable centres. Attention is invited to the main principles of the Rochdale system, which has been so successful in Great Britain ; these principles are "one shareholder one vote," and the allotment of profits on a m·o mta basis on the amount of business transacte d. through the society. Profits on

share capital are usually limited to 5 per cent. This system gives shareholders complete control over their association, and encourages them to transact as much business as possib1e through the organization. ·

98. The work on co-operation could be carried out with advantage

by a . Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture by of lectures an_d literature

on the best methods of co-operation, and its success w other co untnes, such as Great Britain, California, and Denmark.

99. Possessed of complete local organization, grower s take

thorough advantage of the higher systems · of co-operatiOn already m:gamzed m the form of municipal, State, or Common wealth Government enterpn se. The local organization, through its celltral packing sheds, could with ndvantage carry out co-operative grading, packing, branding, &c. St_ate and control of

tran:;port by rail or boat, cold storage, and marketmg would ehmmate the unnecessary mid.dleman.

100. A Credit Foncier branch of the Commomvealth Bank and advances by the Commonwealth Bank on export shipments would provide co-operativ e finance for O'rowers and take their iudusti·y out of the hands of financial agents who now levy toli, especially on exports of fruit. (See Progress Report, para. 40.)

F.6352, B

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CoNcLusiON.

101. We hav.e prosecuted our inquiries in every State, and, as far as time and opportunity would allow. have personally and carefully inspected the various Ehases of the industry throughout the Commonwealth. We confess that it was not until after the commencement of our inquiries that we were fully seized with the great extent and importance of the fruit industry, and we could not conclude our labours

without a profound impression of its immense future possibilities. At the present time \Ye have touched but tl1e fringe of development in this industry, for both in home and overseas markets there arc inviting prospects awaiting e nergetic exploitation.

The climatic conditions of Austt·alia are such as to strm1gly fiwour a more geneml consumption of fresh fruit. Unfortunately, the disabilities in transport and distribution so substantially in crea::;e the cost to the consumer that it must be admitted with regret that many of our people nre compelled to limit their purchases.

YVe are, however, convinced that the opportunities offering for practically unlimited production provide some guarantee that, when the existing transport and marketing difficulties are removed, fresh fmit wiil increasingly become an article of every-day use to the mutual benefit of the gtowers and the public. Every effort, therefore,

whi ch may legitimately be employ ed to achieve this eminently desirable result should receive the wholehe:uted support of the Common wealth and Governments. Your Commissioners are of opinion that each succeeding year will serve to demonstrate the importance and value of this industry to · the community, and that its progress will add materially to the of those who are engaged in

developing closer settlement areas.

102. In concluding our Report, we .wish to acknowledge the valuable setvices rendered to the Commissiou by the Secretary, Mr. W .• J. Anderson. He l1ns tal\en the keenest interest in the work of the Commission, and l1 as displayed marl,ed ability and untiring :1.eal in the discltarge of his onerous duties.

In submitting to Your Excellency this Report your Commissioners

Have the honour to be,

Your Excellency's most obedient servants,

W. J. Secretary.

Melbourne, 11th June, 1914.

FRANK J. FOSTEI{ (Clmirman). W. F. FINLAYSON. R. K. READY. P. J. LYNCH.

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GENERAL SUlVIMARY OF

PROGRESS AND FINAL REPORTS.

REFHTGEHATED SPACE.

. (I) That the. Gove:·nment contract with steamship companies for the necessary refngemted space for frUit exports, and allot same pro ratd according to the require­ ments of growers in the several States.

(2) That fruit-growers be given opportunity to secure refrigerated space for fruit for ex port within a few weeks of time of shipment.

(3) That an equitable proportion of r efrigerated be secured to each State in tl1 e case of subsidized steamers.

(4) That refrigerated chambers of reasonable capacity be provid.ed . for the carriage of fi:-uit in vessels engaged in the Inter-State trade.

( 5) That self-registering thermometers be installed in the refrigerated dwmbers of a11 oversea vessels carrying fruit eargo.

CooL STOHAGE.

(6) That cool storage facilities be established in suitable centres under Govern­ ment or co -operntivc control.

TRANSPO RT.

(7) That a Comti1onwealtlt-owned line of oversea steamers he established.

· ( 8) Tl!at a Commonwealth-owned line of Inter-State steamers be establi shed . . (9) That more effective arrangements be secured for the safe carriage of fruit 111 the Inter-State trade, both on deck and under hatches. (10) That a sufficient supply of louvred vans be provided on the railways of each State. ( 11) That all carts, waggons, aud can; use d in th e transport of fruit be periodically illspected and disinfected. MARKETING. ( 12) Co-operative marketing of fruit. ( 13) That ProJuce Departments contl'olling exports be establi shed in all States. (14) That inquiry be made abroad as to the possibility of securing more effective di stribution of Australian fruit m ·the United Kin gdom and ou the continent of Europe. (l ,) ) That inquiry be made abroad into the charges and of and distributino- aD'ents metltods of sale, l1andlin g, storage, and dtsplav of Australian w l"'::: ' "' . fruit. (Hi) That the export of inferior and di seased fruit be prohibited . (17) That to ensure uniform g rading and branding central packing sheds be established in fi:uit-growin g districts. (18) That all cases use d in tbe transport of fru it be of uniform capacity-the bu shel to be the stanJard. (19) That a Common wealth Trade Commissioner in London be appointed . ( 20) That all fruit agents and traders be li ce nsed .

241

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FINANCE.

(21) That the operations of the Commonwealth Bank be extended to permit the establishment of a Credit Foncier system to enable adYances to be made to fruit-growers and to proviue necessary fin'ancial accommodation.

Co-OPERATION.

(n) That voluntary co-operative societies amongst fmit-growers be formed to cafl'y out grading, packing, branding, &c., through central packing sheds, and to utilize State or Common wealth control of trausport by rail or boat, cool storage, and marketing in order to eliminate the unnecessary middleman .

PRODUCTION.

(:23) Effective organization of growers and employes in the fmit industry. (24) That action be taken to discover the most effective method of preserving lemons.

(2,1) Thnt abandoned orchards be eradicated by the authorities.

(!6) 'lhat the controlling authorities be given power to combat orchard pests and diseases at the expense of growers who have failed to do so after due notice. (27) That all nurseries he registered and periodically inspected.

BurmAu 'o:F AGIUC'ULTURE.

(28) That a Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture be established.

HANDLING.

(29) That the use of trays and walking planks be mncle compulsory.

MEMOHANDUM.

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Royal Commission on the Fruit Industry, · Melbourne, 13th May, 1914.

Tv the Hunora!Jle the Prime Minister.

The Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the Fruit Industrv has made within various pha ses of the production,

and dtstnbutwn of Austrahan fnut, and has presented to llis Excellencv the Governor-General Progress Heports embodying its conclusions.

( 2) Amongst the recommendations made it was urgecl-Mr{jorit,y Repo1·t.--( a) '·That inquiry be mad e abroad as to the possi­ bi li tv of securing more effective clistribu tion of Australian fruit in tlie United 'Kingdom and on the continent of Europe."

(b) " I hat inquiry be made abroad into the charges and

practices of selling and di stributing ngeuts, methods of sale, handling, storage, and display of Australian fruit."

( 3) In the Minority Report it was r ecommended that--,, In view of the gren.t importance of improving the method of market­ ing Australian fruit in the U nitecl Kingdom, your Commissioners recommend the Government to mak e investigation into the

method of di sposing of fruit in London and other centres, with special attention to dock, transport, handling, clJarges, and n.gents' commissions."

( 4-) These recommendations were based upon eviden ce which, in the opinion of the Commissioners, shows that the interests of the fi·uit- g rowers of th e Common­ wealth are not adequately safeguarded. The Commissioners therefore desire briefly to outline the directions in whi ch inquiry abroad should be made.

( 5) ALlotment of SjJaCe. - Refri gerated space for fruit for export is booked by the Australi:n agents of the various steamship companies some months in advanee of the elate of shipment. It is considered that the time stated mig ht r easonably be reduced with advantage to the growers.

(6) Information is . sou ght as to what extent the poli cy of the shipping companies in this regard is controlled by the administrativ e or head offices of th e companies in London, and as to the possibility of haviug th e time notice reduced, as obtains in the booking of space required for other perisha,ble products.

( 7) Agents' Consolidated Clt et Jges.--EYidence w11 s tendered by many witn esses which showed that growers were ch11rged fr om 7d. t o Sd. per case to co ver the cost of out-of-pocket expenses in London, exclusive of selling eo mmission , but embr:tcin g dock charges, collection, lighterag e, landing, sorting, storage, delivery, &c. Tl1is charge was declared to be ex cessive. The detail s of aetual cost of the services mentioned should be ascertained.

(8) In regard to the item of cartage or carriage slw wn on th e account sales of the London sellers, inquiry is desirable as to whether in t he event of fruit bein g delivered direct from the dock s to purcha sers, as again st that deliv ered fr om Covent Garden, a reduction in the con solidated charge should not be mad e; al so as to

whether there is any advantnge gain ed iu leaving a pr oportion of fruit a,t th e dock(!! , and not delivering the whole at Covent Garden.

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(9) Rebates.-Evidence was subn1itted that some of the fruit agents, both shipping and selling, receive rebates fro1n their principals. Inquiry is

to ascertain if ·such practice exists, and the amount paid by such

principals.

( 10) Convnisstt'on.-There is also in the eviden·ce di ssatisfa ction expressed by Australian growers .witb .the rate ·of selling or agency commission charged by London agents. This vanes from 5 per cent. to 7 k per cent. 1 t is alleged that are effected at as low as 2 per cent. or per ct·nt., and that in some

Instances those who receive 5 per cent. comn1ission hand the fruit over to he sold on a basis of 2k per cent.

( 11) Investigation should be 1nade to determine whether sales n1ight be effected, under proper supervision, by reliable agents at the lowest · reasonable rate, and the services of any unnecessary middlen1en eli1ninated.

(12) Self-registering Thermometers.-Tnquiry is desired to ascertain ·w hat steps, if any, are being taken to equip fruit-carrying ve6se]s, engaged in the

/\ ustralian trade, with self-registering thermorneters, also whetl1er vessels in tl1e fruit trade of Canada, the United States, and the 'Vest Indies are so equipped.

( 13) 11 1teJ'mmneters.-That inquiry and report be made as to what steps are being taken to secure an ex::nn_jn ation of the log of the self-registering thermometers carried by vessels of the Orient Company in terms of the mail contract.

{14) Losses in 7?·ansit.-Inquiry should be made into the alleged wastage and loss by deterioration of fruit in transit between Austrana and the port of destination, as well as into the causes thereof.

( 15) Handliny at Port qf Destination.--Inquiry should be made into alleged rough handling, the n1ethods adopted, and the effect on the condition of the fruit for display and marketing in I ,ondon and other oversea markets.

(16) Cor;l Storage.-It was pointed out by witnesses before this Comn1ission that the facilities for cool storage of fruit at London (which is the principal ex port 111arket) and other places were inadequate. The result is that fruit on arrival is rushed on to the. market whether prices are favorable or otherwise, and is, in event of a glut, at the n1ercy of speculators. It is important under existing conditions to regulate the to the demand, and so insure steady prices.

( J 7) In regard to the cool storage, handling and sale of fruit, inquiry is

desirable into the practicability of combining the interests of various Australian products, such as butter, cheese, &c., and so effecting economy by concentration in their supervision and disposal.

( 18) Display and 1-lepacking.-As the selling price of fruit on the market is detern1ined by the quality of sa1nple cases, it is desirable that s01ne better system of display should be introduced, which would give a truer indication of the co11dition of each separate consignment. Inquiry is necessary also to ascertain what facilities are afforded for repacking, and to what extent repacking is practised. ·

( 19) It is suggested that shipments on arrival be reg ularly and

reports furnished from an independent source as to th e condition genernJly in Australian fruit arrives at London.

( 20) Questiunable Practices.-Sworn evidence was tendered to the effect that certain London sellers (who represent the Australian agents for the g rowers) are also buyers, and that they control wholesale and retail selling houses.

(21) It was pointed out by a wituess before this Com mission, who had made inquiries in London, .that the result was that the whole. ale. whose

principals were sellers 1n the market, effected the work of distnbutJOn, and the profits which should legitimrLtely have belonged to the growers. (See also NI1nutes of Evidence, Q. 1667 5.)

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( 2 Investigation of these matters should elicit son1e idea of the value

of supervision by con1n1ercial agent or otherwise over the sale of Australian products.

( 2 3) Advances to Gr-otJ_jWJ'S .-It is the practice of Australian shipping agents to make advances, 'vhere required, to growers on account of fruit shipped. These advances are in the first plaee usually remitted by the London principals of the Australian agents. The terms and conditions of such advances would be of value.

(24) Insurance·.-Inquiry, for the information of growers, should be n1ade to ascertain the lowest rate at which Australian fruit n1ay be insured.

( ll1arketin,g and Distriuutimt.-It was considered by the Connnissioners that the avenues of distribution n1ight be extended by the opening np of new n1arkets, and the n1ore con1plete exploitation of present markets. This -would necessitate inquiry into the consun1ption and possible demm1d for Australian fruit

in the large centres of population. ·

( :2 6) In this connexiou, attention is in vi ted to the scheme of distribution of V\T est Tndian bananas hy ,\Iessrs. Elders, Fyffe, and Co., of London. So effective is this scheme that fruit in first-rate condition is delivered at a low cost to all the principal centres of the lJ nited K_ingdmn -without delay, and without passing through the l1ands of unnecessary n1iddlemen. This trade has now been successfully

introduced into Gern1any.

(27) b'Tef(ulwr An·ivals.-Tbe cargo vessels engaged in the Australian fruit trade arrive at London at irregular intP.rvals. Should several vessels arrive within limited periods, owing to the lack of cool storage facilities, a glut on the n1arket is at once caused, and prices drop aeeordingly.

(28) Inquiry is desired as to the possibility of arranging with the c01npanies controlling the n1oven1ents of these vessels that a regular time-table be framed to suit the Australian trade. ·

( }\/ecessities f!l tlw TTade.-Inquiry is desirable into the requit·ements of the oversea fruit trade in eonnexion with paeking, grading, branding, size and quality of eases, the quality and size of fruit 1nost in de1nand. In this regard also inquiry 1night be made into the possible de1nand for Australian fruit prod nets, including pulps and preserves.

(Signed) FRANK J. FOSTER (Chairman). \\'. F. FINLAYSON. SAMPSO:N.

JOilN TliOMSON. P. J. LYNCH. R. K. READY.

Printed and Publish ed f or the GOV ER :t-i :ltENT of th e C Oi\IMO:<"YRALTH o f A u sTRALIA b y ALDERT J. MuLLEIT, Government Printer for the State of Victoria.

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