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Monday, 18 December 1911

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - This item increases the duty on bananas by 6d. per cental. The production of this fruit in Queensland is not increasing very rapidly. There is a complaint, particularly from Sydney, that the banana trade is in the hands of a " ring." I have received an anonymous letter, which states that this trade is under the control of a Chinese " ring." If it is a fact, as I believe it is, that owing to our present prosperity - due, as the Minister said, to the existence of a Labour Government - there is a greater demand than ever for bananas by the children of our workers, and no demand for increased Protection, why should the duty be raised? Owing to the enormous prosperity throughout Australia, the growers of bananas can get better prices without the increased duty than ever they could before. The exclusion of Fiji bananas will involve a great loss all round. If there was an increase in the number of growers in Queensland which would warrant this proposal, I should have no hesitation in supporting it, but there is no such increase.

Senator Stewart - How do you know ?

Senator GARDINER - I understand that the white growers are displacing the Chinese growers. Imported bananas are grown by coolie labour. Whether the article is grown by coolie labour in Fiji or by Chinese labour in Queensland, the fruitgrowers in the large cities experience great difficulty in supplying the enormous demand owing to the prosperity which prevails now as compared with the times when a previous Government held office, and times were not so good.[s it wise to increase the duty on this popular fruit, and so add to the difficulties of consumers ?

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