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Wednesday, 3 August 1921

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - BROCKMAN. - That is perfectly true. Surely the people of the west have some claim to consideration as well as the people of the north. Senator Crawford tells us that InterState trade is just as valuable as trade between Australia and other parts of the world. That may be perfectly true. [What trade goes on between Queensland and Western Australia ? Very little. So far as bananas are concerned, Western Australia secures her supplies, not from Queensland, but from Java, and in exchange sends to Java grapes, apples, and other products. I am informed fromthe best sources of authority in Western Australia that if this duty on bananas is continued, the trade now established between

Western Australia and Java, and which is becoming every day a more valuable trade, will receive a very severe knock. Is it the desire of honorable senators to inflict upon Western Australia, which I heard one. honorable senator describe as the "Cinderella of the Commonwealth," a severe knock in this direction? Surely that State suffers sufficiently from being a member of the Federation !

Senator Crawford - Would the honorable senator tell us how many, ships come down laden with bananas from Java to Western Australia?

Senator DRAKEBROCKMAN.Thereis a regular trade in bananas between Java and Western Australia. Moreover, it is a growing trade. We have been trying to open up trade with Java in meat, wheat, flour, and such fruits as apples and grapes particularly. As the result of recent endeavours, the trade between Western Australia and Java is" a growing trade, and we take in exchange bananas from Java. No ships will be found ready to take our products to Java if they have to return empty from that country. Senator Pratten mentioned that it used to be a common thing to see children about the streets of our capital cities eating bananas.

Senator Crawford - Why is it not a common thing now, seeing that the price of bananas has not increased?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - If the present duty on bananas iscontinued, it will be amost uncommon thing to see any bananas in Western Australia at all.

Senator de Largie - It means prohibition.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - It does. We have been told that bananas in Melbourne are not more expensive than they were before the increased duty was imposed. Possibly there has been no increase in the wholesale price. I understand that the reason is that there is a "ring" controlling bananas, and that as soon as this duty is passed by the Senate the price will be increased.

Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow - How can that be so, when the bananas are sold at auction, and without reserve?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I am not concerned with what is happening in Melbourne; but I know that the price of bananas in Perth has risen 100 per cent. already as a result of the increased duty. Under normal conditions Western Australia does not get bananas from Queensland, but from Java. If the present duty is increased the Java supply willbe cut off, and the people of Western Australia will have to pay immense prices for bananas or go without them. I appeal to the Committee to support the amendment proposed by Senator Lynch, who displayed a true modesty - not the modesty displayed this afternoon by Queensland senators - when he merely asked that the duty should be made 2s. 6d. Why it should have been increased from1s. 6d. to 2s. 6d. I do not know. The wonderful prosperity enjoyed by the Queensland growers under the duty of 1s. 6d. does not justify any increase at all. We have been told that virgin land cut up for banana-growing was sold for from £50 to £200 an acre.

Senator Crawford - The statement that virgin land for banana-growing was sold for £200 is quite incorrect. No banana land was ever sold at that price.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I shall not argue the question with the honorable senator; but we have been given definite facts this afternoon concerning the prices at which virgin land has been sold for banana-growing. Senator Crawford has suggested that bananas might be grown in Western Australia, which has a sub-tropical climate.Some years ago the Western Australian Government appointed Mr. Despeissis Commissioner for Tropical Agriculture, and he carried out a great number of experiments, some of which were very successful. He proved thepossibility of growing cotton and tobacco, but his attempts to grow bananas, I am informed, were a failure.

Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow - What have been the developments in connexion with the cultivationof cotton and tobacco ?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Those products are not grown in Western Australia because of the lack of labour; and we cannot grow bananas because the rainfall is too light and the land is unsuitable. That is my answer to Senator Crawford's statement that Western Australia is at fault in not growing its own bananas.

Senator Lynch - We might as well ask why Queensland does not grow its ownwheat.

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