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Wednesday, 3 August 1921

Senator REID (Queensland) .- If the Senate can see its way clear to encourage that closer settlement to which Senator Plain has drawn attention as being a question which affects all the States, by affording Protection to any. particular industry, I think it ought to do so. Thebanana-growing industry is one which can be carried on by the individual or the family. A good return can be secured from 10 acres of land, an area which one individual can work successfully. A larger block can be subdivided among the members of one family, and worked as a family group. Bananagrowing is an industry that will give people the opportunity of settling on the land under fairly reasonable conditions. It will enable them to live close to one another, so that they may have community entertainments and schooling for their children. Thus it will help to solve one of the labour problems of Australia. The banana industry affords special facilities for close settlement. At the present time the primary producer is faced with the necessity of paying very high wages. The last log submitted to the Arbitration Court by rural workers has given primary producers some anxiety, and that is another reason why encouragement should be given to an industry which can be successfully carried on by individuals doing the work of their farms themselves, while producing a valuable food for the people.

Senator Bolton - The honorable senator would prohibit the people from getting that food.

Senator REID - I desire just as strongly as do other honorable senators that bananas should be as cheap as possible to the consumer; but, at the same time,I wish to protect an industry which lends itself to close settlement, which is one of the vital problems in Queensland and in NewSouthWales. I remind honorable senators from South Australia that this Parliament, in its wisdom, has voted millions of pounds for an irrigation scheme to improve the Murray Valley. I visited the scene of operations with other honorable senators, and I am prepared to admit that I consider the scheme one of the finest that has been carried out in Australia. I point out that the money to pay for it is being provided by the people of Australia generally.

Senator Bolton - Not the whole of it. Certain States are contributing to the cost.

Senator REID - Certain States are contributing to the cost, but the Commonwealth has advanceda very considerable sum to cover the expenditure involved. If theCommonwealth Parliament had not undertaken to advance money for the purpose the scheme could not be carried out.

Senator Bolton - The improvement of the Murray Valley was started by the private enterprise of the Chaff ey Brothers.

Senator REID - The Commonwealth Government is carrying out the scheme now undertaken.

Senator Crawford - The Commonwealth has put £2,000,000 into the Murray Waters scheme.

Senator REID - That is so. We have given the production of currants a protection of 3d. per lb., which is a larger measure of protection than has been given to the banana industry. This is the first time in the history of the banana industry when it may be said that it is in the hands of white men. Bananas cannot be stored in the same way as dried fruits. Unless they are dried and made into banana flour, bananas sold within a limited time after they are cut. I appeal to honorable senators, if they are unwilling to give the banana-growers of the Tweed River and Queensland all that they are asking for, to deal with the industry in as generous a spirit as possible. I do not wish to dilate on the White Australia policy, but we have

Bet up certain high standards for the Commonwealth, and I feel sure that no member of the Committee would favour any lowering of those standards. I have said that the banana industry lends itself to close family settlement, which, in turn, overcomes the labour difficulty in primary production. I hope that honorable senators will do all that they can to encourage this industry by dealing with it as generously as possible.

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