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Wednesday, 3 August 1921


Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - Senator Crawford has complained that we are asking Queensland to make some sacrifice. If we could maintain the trade with the Pacific Islands, the producers of Queensland would benefit more than would those of any other State. The people of the islands buy from us beef, tinned meats, tinned fruits, and butter in very large quantities. Queensland is the greatest butterproducing State; I do not know whether it has yet reached the peak of its production, but it is sure to do so in a reasonable time, and then Queensland will be right ahead of every other State in that industry. Half of the cattle of the Commonwealth are in that State, and, therefore, it is the biggest producer of beef also. Here is an opportunity, not of crushing out the banana industry, but of developing other industries in that State. A few years ago a Protectionist Government said that 3 s. 6d. per cental was ample protection for bananas. Then a Protectionist Minister representing a banana-producing State - I refer to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) - had an opportunity of introducing a Tariff, and he declared that 2s. 6d. per cental was ample protection. But some irresponsible people in another place increased the duty to 8s. 4d. per cental. I believe that if the Senate decreased the duty to 2s. 6d. it would, perhaps, be giving more protection than the banana-growers expect. The proposal before the Committee is one of fair protection rather than of no protection. A comparison has been made between banana plantations and orchards. We have been told that from a banana plantation the grower gets his first crop within twelve months, that the second year's crop is the best, "and that in' the third year the crop is declining. When the farm is planted the bananas come up almost like corn, and give some return in the first year. When a man establishes an apple orchard, however, he tends it, sprays it, prunes it, and protects it against pests for six or seven years before he gets any return from it.


Senator Reid - But then he has it for a life-time.


Senator GARDINER - He waits at least six years before there is any return, and then the return is very poor.


Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow - But his fruit competes with white-grown apples, whereas the banana has to compete with a cheap-labour product.


Senator GARDINER - Senator Crawford'sfigures in regard to the extraordinary prices of land at Rockhampton are proof that banana land is infinitely superior to the wheat lands which people cultivate in New South Wales.


Senator Crawford - Bananas cannot be grown on wheat land any more than wheat can be grown on banana land.


Senator GARDINER - I recognise that Queensland has some of the richest land in the world.


Senator Crawford - The banana land is too rich for wheat.


Senator GARDINER - That is so. Senator Duncan referred to the soldiers who had entered into the banana industry, and said he would vote for a high duty in order to protect them. What about the soldiers engaged in the poultry industry, or. in wheat production, or in the butter districts, who are asked to pay a high duty to protect the banana growers whose land is worth the high prices which Senator Duncan has quoted to us? Are all these soldiers in other States who are settled upon land which gives a meagre reward for the labour expended upon it to be taxed for the rest of their natural lives for the protection of a man cultivating land that is worth as much as £200 per acre? That sum of money will buy a wheat farm in Queens-' land or New South Wales ;yet the wheatgrowers, who toil against drought and other difficulties, are asked to maintain upon the land men who are getting such enormous returns as those which have been related to the Committee to-day. Consider the position of the other States. Western Australia is a wonderful fruitproducing State; in Perth I tasted fruit as fine as any I have ever eaten ; and what consideration are the people of that State to receive? If their fruit can be sent across to Java in exchange for the products which Java can send to Western Australia, why should not that trade be developed? Why not be reasonable, and realize that there is an opportunity of developing a profitable trade by exchanging goods between Western Australia and Java ?


Senator Crawford - The honorable senator does not believe in protecting anything.


Senator GARDINER - Absolutely not, because, by the time protection has been given all round, a man is made to pay more to protect the other fellow than the protection be receives. In regard to the trade with the Pacific Islands, the war is over, and we have mandates over certain islands in the Pacific. Are we to shut out the products of our mandated territories? We have an opportunity of getting our share of the Empire's trade, yet we are not only seriously curtailing the opportunities for trade, but are interfering with the supplies of a fruit that has become an important item of the diet of our children, particularly those of the working class.







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