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Monday, 18 December 1911

Senator STEWART (Queensland) . - I do not know where Senator McDougall saw the colony to which he refers.

Senator Mcdougall - At Cairns.

Senator STEWART - I quite believe what the honorable senator has said. I know that there are still one or two colonies of that kind in North Queensland, but I also know that the industry is extending along the whole coast of Australia, from the Richmond River right up beyond Cairns.

Senator Blakey - At Buderim Mountains we saw bananas grown by white men tinder good conditions.

Senator STEWART - They are all grown by white men. It is a fact that there are more white men engaged in growing bananas now than were engaged at any previous period of Australian history.

Senator de Largie - What proof of that can you give ?

Senator STEWART - I cannot bring the white growers here. I can only tell the honorable senator the position.

Senator de Largie - Because they do not exist, I suppose.

Senator STEWART - I would not come here and tell a lie about the matter. I know that in the district where I live, there are at least a dozen men growing bananas who did not grow one five years ago. I know that right up the coast the same extension of the industry is going on, and I have not the slightest doubt that if this additional encouragement be given, in a very short time the Chinese will be squeezed out. Every product of Australia is, more or less, in the hands of some ring or other, and probably bananas are no exception to the general rule. I think it is unfair that this industry, which is the door to the settlement of people where we most want them, should be brought into competition, not only with the cheap coolie labour of Fiji, but with the high subsidy paid by the Fiji Government and the Victorian Government to a steam-ship company.

Senator St Ledger - May I ask whether anybody is opposing this item?

Senator de Largie - Do you think we are going to swallow protection for the Chinamen wholesale?

Senator STEWART - There are not nearly as many Chinamen growing bananas in Queensland as there are Chinamen manufacturing furniture in Melbourne. The people of Queensland do not grumble at the protection which is afforded to the furniture industry, because there are Chinamen making furniture in Melbourne. They say, " According to our law, no additional Chinamen are allowed to come to Australia. In time the whole of them will be dead, and then the furniture industry will be on a proper basis." I ask our Victorian friends to reciprocate these friendly sentiments, and to assist us in growing bananas. I think that is only fair as between two States.

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