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Wednesday, 16 November 1921

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - BROCKMAN. - There is no doubt at all that the Senate's request for the duty of 4s. 2d. per cental was a compromise, and a most generous one. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has asked that we should consider the message of the House of Representatives in a spirit of compromise, and I say that if a compromise is to be effected, that spirit must animate both sides. The compromise we offered in this matter was a generous one, and should have been accepted. I ask honorable senators to consider the quality of the bananas that have been delivered in this State from Queensland since this matter was last under consideration.

Senator Reid - And from the Tweed River.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - And from the Tweed River. I refer to Australiangrown bananas that are being supplied without competition from outside. I am sure that every member of the Senate will have been struck by the fact that it is impossible to get a, properly ripened banana in this State to-day.

Senator Crawford - If the honorable senator was struck with a banana he would know different.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I know that I would be knocked insensible, because it would be so hard. There is a very good reason for this. It is a scientific fact that when tha stalk is removed from a bunch of bananas the fruit will not ripen properly. Queensland and the Tweed River bananas-growers, having been relieved of the competition from Java, Fiji, and elsewhere, have begun to lop off the stalks of the bunches very closely.

Senator Crawford - They have always done so since they started the export of bananas by rail.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - My honorable friend may think so, but it is Hot so. They have recently begun to knock off the stalks, and, as a consequence, an ingredent in the- stalks, which, turns the skin of the banana into sugar and starch, is removed, and the absence of the stalk prevents the ripening process taking place.

Senator Reid - That. will not do.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - It is all very well for my ignorant friend to say that, but if he will take the trouble to make inquiries he will find that what I am saying in very ordinary language can be expressed in a very technical form, and is scientifically correct.

Senator Crawford - What is the difference between the stalks of Fiji bananas and those of Queensland bananas ?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Bananas were imported from Fiji on the stalk, and were ripened on the stalk. Tho bananas that come from Queensland and the Tweed River at the present time are not on the stalk, and cannot be ripened properly, because the ingredient in the stalk necessary for the proper ripening of the fruit is removed. The lopping off of the stalk is done by the Queensland growers because they naturally wish in this way to save freight. This is one of the results of giving the Queensland growers of bananas a monopoly of the industry.

Senator Crawford - Does the honorable senator speak from actual knowledge in regard to this matter?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I speak from actual knowledge of the quality of the bananas supplied to me recently. Has the honorable senator seen a ripe banana during the last few months in our Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms ?

Senator Crawford - Ihave not seen good fruit of any kind in the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms.

Senator de Largie - How could the honorable senator see a ripe banana in the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms when none are coming into the State ?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Of course he could not, and we shall never get properly ripened bananas here so long as we give the banana-growers a monopoly. I should like again to remind honorable senators that the people of the State whichI have the honour to' represent do not, and never have, obtained their bananas from Queensland. If they want bananas they must get them from Java, and they have to pay this exorbitant duty of 8s. 4d. per cental on them."

Senator Crawford - They are beginning to grow them in Western Australia now.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - The biggest crop of bananas ever produced in Western Australia was 36,000 bushels. They were grown by a few Chinamen, and we are not out to protect a few Chinamen.

Senator Crawford - Are the bananas obtained from Java grown by white labour ?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - No, but they are consumed by white people in Western Australia. The Western Australian community is taxed to benefit Queensland and the other States of Australia in a way in which the people of no other State are taxed.

Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow - The honorable senator should not forget that the people of Queensland are taxed for the benefit of Western Australia.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I say deliberately that Western Australia is taxed for the benefit of the whole of the Commonwealth in a way in which no other portion of Australia is taxed. We are now considering an impost of 8s. 4d. per cental on bananas, which is a food of the people of Western Australia, who cannot obtain their bananas from Queens land, and have always been supplied from Java. On behalf of the people I represent. I make another appeal to honorable senators to give some consideration to the people of the great primary-producing western State.

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