8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator DUNCAN presented a petition from the Primary Producers Union of New South Wales, comprising the Graziers Association of New South Wales, the Stock-owners Association of New South Wales, the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales, and the New South Wales Sheep-breeders Association, and signed on behalf of those organizations by their respective presidents, praying for the reduction of certain duties upon articles affecting chiefly the primary producers.
Petition received and read.
– On the 27th July
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Tradeand Customs the following questions: -
What were the total importations in lineal feet of kinematograph films for the year ending 30th June, 1921, from (a) United States, (b) Great Britain, (c) France, (d) other?
I am now able to furnish thehonorable senator with the following information : -
United States, 15,244,974 lineal feet; Great Britain, 1,518,814 lineal feet; France, 156,048 lineal feet; other, 319,070 lineal feet,
– On 28th July
asked the following questions: -
I am now in a position to furnish thehonable senator with the following information : -
SenatorROWELL. - On 15th July I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question relating to passengers travelling by mail steamers wbo had booked their passages to Perth not being allowed to proceed on those steamers to the other States. Has the Minister any further information on the point?
– The following information is furnished by Mr. Percy Whitton,Comptroller-General of Customs : - “In response to the request contained in the Secretary’sminute of 18th July, 1921, forwarding attached extract from Hansard of 16th- July, 1921, relative to a question asked by SenatorRowell, and with reference to the promise made by the Minister for Repatriation that inquiries wouldbe made in the matter, the following information is submitted inorder that a reply may be made to Senator Rowell : -
The ruling given by departmental officers in Fremantle and other ports that passengers by an oversea mail steamer, which was not licenced to engage in thecoasting trade, could not becarried beyond the ports for which they originally bookedwas in accordance with an instruction issued in November last, based on advice by the Crown Law Department on the interpretation of the term “through ticket,” as used in section 7 of the Navigation Act, which defines engagement in the coasting trade.
The matter has been further considered by the Law officers, who now advise that “ through ticket “ includes a ticket issued from a port outside Australia to a port within Australia, and extended from that port to another port,. whether on the payment of the additional fare or not, if the person had not finally, left the ship at the port to which the ticket was originally issued.
Instructions in accordance with this opinion are beingissued to all ports, so that in future any passengers by incoming mail steamers who desire to extend their passages to ports beyond those for which they originally booked will be able to do so.
Supply of Pencils
– I should like to obtain information regarding the stationery and materials supplied to Senate Committees. I am a member of a Select Committee of the Senate which sat today. I notice that the lead pencils supplied to the whole of these Committees are called “ the Iron Duke,” and are made in Japan. Is it not possible to observe the spirit of the White Australia principle, which wehave so often indorsed, and to obtain, for the use of honorable members of the Senate at any Tate, lead pencils which are made by white labour?
– The matter is not within the control of Ministers. It may be a question for the President.
– Ishall give the matter my attention.
– On the 28th JulySenator Pratten asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs the following question: -
What were the importations of bananas in centals into Australia forthe five-year periods ending 30th June, 1910, 30th June, 1915, 30th June, 1920, and for the year ending 30th June, 1921.
I informed the honorable senator that the particulars were being obtained. I am now able to furnish the honorable senator with the following information:-
Five years ending 30th June, 1910, 701,451 centals; five years ending 30th June, 1915, 1,191,183 centals; five years ending 30th June, 1920,, 1,177,075 centals; year ending 30th June, 1921, . 107,368 centals. .
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act. - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - No. 4 of 1921- Meat Inspectors’ Association, Commonwealth . of Australia.
Lands Acquisition Act. - Land acquired for Repatriation purposes at Bandwick, New South Wales.
New Guinea. - Ordinance No. 9 of 1921. - Expropriation (No. 2).
Public Service Act-
Appointments. - C. L. Biggs, Department of Health; L. 8. Elingender, Department of the Treasury.
Promotion of J. N. Dennis, Department of the Treasury.
– I ask the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce) whether he has received a request from the Brisbane Worker, the Sydney Worker, the Labour Call, and the Western Australian Worker, and other papers in this country, which have expressed admiration of the existing social order in Russia, that the Government should forward to the first Minister in Russia, Mr. Lenin, their congratulations on his success in emancipating the proletariat of that country. Ialso desire to ask whether the Government will indicate to those journals that it is ready to forward their congratulations, and also ask if they have prepared their messages?
– So far as I am aware, the Government have not been asked to do as the honorable senator suggests, and in this case it would be well to wait until we are asked.
– I now desire to ask whether the Government have considered, or will consider, the necessity of noting in conjunction with the Imperial Government with a view to assisting the famine-stricken people of Russia?
– I shall bring the matter raised by the honorable senator under the notice of the Cabinet.
– I have received an intimation from Senator Elliott that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate until 10 a.m. to-morrow in order to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz.:- “The neglect of the
Repatriation Department to secure the interests of the employees in the Hand Loom weaving business, known as the Anzac Tweed Industry, when handing over property of the Department, to certain trustees for the purpose of providing employment for returned soldiers.”
Four honorable senators having risen in their places,
.- I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 10 a.m. on Thursday.
I trust I have not taken the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) by surprise-
– I rise to a point of order. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) informed me that at Senator Elliott had notified him that he intended to move the adjournment of the Senate to dis cuss this question. I thereupon asked the Minister for Repatriation to instruct his officers to supply me -with the file, which has been done. On perusing the file, I find that there appears to be a lawsuit pending in regard to this matter, as there is a communication from Messrs. Lynch, Macdonald, and Elliott, dated 25th February, 1921, headed “ Streeter versus Cull and others, Anzac Tweed Industry.” Attached to that letter is a copy of an agreement, and on the back of the agreement these words appear -
In the Supreme Court, 1921, Herbert John Streeter, plaintiff, William Ambrose Cull, Gilbert Joseph Cullen Dyett, and Robert Alexandra Lowry, defendants. This is the copy agreement marked with the letter (a) produced, and shown to Herbert John Streeter, at the time of swearing his affidavit this 23rd day of February, 1921, before me, Harold Cohen, Commissioner of the Supreme Court of Victoria for taking affidavits.
I find further there is a letter to Messrs. Lynch, Macdonald, and Elliott, in reply to the other letter, which is also headed Streeter versus Cull and others - Anzac tweed industry.On noticing that, I asked Mr. Kealy, of the Repatriation Department, who brought the file to me, to ascertain if there was a case before the Court dealing with this matter, and Mr. Kealy gave me the following statement: -
I am informed by Mr. J. C. McPhee, Secretary to the Repatriation Commission, that, so far as the Court was concerned, it was left to the counsel for both parties to come to an agreement. Messrs. Derham, Robertson, and Derham, counsel for the trustees, have been in touch with counsel for the other side, but, so far, the case is not settled.
A. Kealy. 3rd August, 1921.
It therefore appears that this matter is the subject of a lawsuit, and I ask your ruling, Mr. President, as to whether this matter can be discussed while the matter is sub judice.
– Perhaps Senator Elliott may wish to speak on that point.
– I do not think the case before the Court touches the question in dispute at all. The position is that an injunction has been obtained restraining the trustees from proceeding with the registration of a proposed company; but that does not touch the matter of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) handing over the property to trustees.
– Is not the lawsuit on the subject of the property being handed over?
– Incidentally, it may mean that the men are to be deprived of this property if the company is formed; but the Court has granted an injunction restraining the company from proceeding. The injunction has not been made perpetual, and the matter has been adjourned, with a view to a settlement being arrived at.
– Is the matter to which the honorable senator intends to refer sub judice?
– Is not the agreement the subject of the controversy?
– Something may turnon the interpretation of the trust deed entered into by the Minister for Repatriation. That is subject to the interpretation by the Court; but I do not think any discussion here will prejudice the case in any way.
– The point of order raised by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) is, of course, a very important one, and, although our Standing Orders are silent in this connexion, fortunately we have ample precedents to guide us. As honorable senators are aware, where our Standing Orders are silent, this Senate, as well as all other Parliaments or branches’ of a Legislature, are guided by the practice of the House of Commons.
The whole question turns oh whether the matter is sub judice or not.From the statements of the Minister for Defence, speaking on behalf of the Repatriation Department, and of Senator Elliott, it appears to me that the terms upon which thisbusiness was handed over by the Repatriation Department to the trustees is a matter which is now awaiting settlement by the Court, because certain parties, according to the statement by Senator Elliott, have initiated proceedings to prevent the trustees from taking any action in regard to it. Therefore, the whole question, in my opinion, is involved in litigation. The last edition of May, on page 296, clearly lays down the practice of the House of Commons as follows : -
Matters awaiting the adjudication of a Court of law should not be brought forward in debate. This rule was observed by Sir Robert Peel and Lord John Russell, both by the wording of the speech from the Throne and by their procedure in the House; regarding Mr.
O’Connell’s case, and has been maintained by rulings from the Chair.
That ruling has been followed by innumerable others, and it is obviously a good one, because it would be highly improper for any person occupying a position of privilege in this Senate to seek to prejudice a case which is awaiting judgment by a Court. Therefore, as I gather from Senator Elliott’s remarks that the terms upon which this property was handed over is a matter that will come before a Court, by whom it will, no doubt, be weighed, and a judgment given, and as the case is still awaiting adjudication, following the practice of the House of Commons I must rule that the honorable senator is but of order.
– Might not a trumpedup case hamper the freedom of Parliament?
– I have nothing to do with that.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 29th July, vide page 10672) :
Schedule. division iv.- agricultural products and groceries.
Egg albumen, dry, per lb., British, 2s. Gd.; intermediate and general, 3s.
– I should like Senator Russell to explain the items relating to the importation of eggs in different forms and shapes. There is a considerable export of eggs from Asia to Europe, and I believe that there is a controversy proceeding in Great Britain as to the wholesomeness of these eggs. I am inclined to the view that it is not to the benefit of Australia that any eggs should be imported. It seems to me that they must come in at a cheap rate for use in inferior products. We ought to produce all we require in Australia, and I would like some information upon the point with a view of. seeing whether effective steps should not be taken to pre-‘ vent their importation.
– In ordinary circumstances the duty upon eggs has been proved to be very effective. While we imported 53,577 dozen eggs in shell in 1913, and 63,065 dozen in 1914-15, the importations rose to 649,399 dozen in 1915-16. Eggs were not too freely produced in Australia in that period, because fowl food was dear. Australia was importing wheat from Argentine. But when food for poultry became more plentiful, and its price had been reduced, the importation of eggs gradually diminished to 35,672 dozen in 1916-17, 9,171 dozen in the following year, 2,633 dozen in 1918-19, and 4,015 dozen last year. The duty on eggs in shell throughout has been 6d. perdozen, and the rates applying to eggs in other forms, such as egg albumen, dry, egg contents, dry, egg in liquid form, are in proportion according to weight and value. For instance, albumen, the white of the egg, which is most valuable for certain purposes, pays a higher rate of duty than is imposed on other forms of egg, such as egg powders, which are imported for use in tanning leather. When Australia is fully back to normal prices for fowl food, it shouldnot only supply its own requirements, but should also engage in the export of eggs. There is no doubt that the struggling poultry keeper needs some form of protection, particularly in drought periods, when he is compelled to pay higher prices for the food his fowls consume, and to face the competition of the cheap product of other countries. Egg albumen, which is used in pharmacy, photography, and confectionery, will be called upon to pay duty as follows: - British, 2s. 6d. ; intermediate and general, 3s. In 1913 we imported £1,046 worth, in 1914-15 the importation was valued at £1,107; in 1915-16, at £3,842; in 1916-17, at £1,838; in 1917-18, at £1,708; in 1918-19, at £94; and last year at £1,520. I find that 3½ ozs. of dry albumen are equal to 1 dozen fresh eggs.
– In nutritive value, or what?
– I take it that it means for the purpose for which the albumen is imported. I do not suppose that albumen is imported for eating purposes, as people would naturally prefer to eat fresh eggs.
– But it is edible.
-I suppose that it is. Egg contents, being yolk and albumen combined, are dutiable at the rates of1s. 4d:,1s.8d., and1s. 8d. per lb. under the different columns of the Tariff. The importations in 1913-14 were valued at £63, in 1914-15 nil, in 1915-16 £180, in 1916-17 £1,631, in 1917-18 nil, in 1918-19 nil, and £2 in 1919-20. This article is used by pastrycooks.
– Where are these goods imported from?
– I shall come to that later; I want to make a connected statement. There are no importations of eggs not in the shell and in liquid form. Under the Tariff, eggs not in the shell and in liquid form imported for use in industries other than those for the preparation of articles of food and denatured are admitted free under departmental bylaws.
– This article is used in connexion with the preparation of leather.
-I believe it is used by tanners; but, as none was imported, I am glad to say that those requiring the article have been able to obtain their supplies’ in Australia. As this provision of. the Tariff has not been availed of, it is evident that the demand for the. denatured article is very small, and. any demand that may exist can be supplied in Australia. . The article is used by tanners in the preparation of leather. The duties on egg yolk dried are1s.,1s., and1s. 6d. per1b. in the dif ferent columns of the Tariff. My notes show that, in connexion with an application for reduction of duty on this item, the Inter-State Commission stated that the evidence in support of the application did not afford any sufficient reason for an alteration of the duties. The duties on eggs in the shell are 6d., 8d., and 9d. per dozen. The importations in 1913-14 were 53,577 dozen, valued at £1,748; in 1914-15, 63,065 dozen, valued at £2,431; in 1915-16, 649,399 dozen, valued at £27,791 ; in 1916-17, 35,672 dozen, valued at £1,458; in 1917-18, 9,171 dozen, valued at £434; in 1918-19, 2,633 dozen, valued at £169; in 1919-20, 4,015 dozen, valued at £230.
– How much per dozen would those eggs be valued at?
– For the last few years they have been imported chiefly as ships’ stores. The value works out at about1s. per dozen.
– According to the figures given, some would be valued at less than1d. per dozen. Has the Minister given, in his figures, the revenue derived from the duty, or the value of the imports?
– I have given the value of the imports. I have already said that the duties on egg-powders are based upon an average duty of 6d. per dozen on eggs in the shell.
– The figures given by the Minister would represent in some cases a value of less than1d. per dozen for eggs in the shell.
– I understand that, for the last three years, the average value has been1s. per dozen.
– Where do these eggs come from mostly?
– Mostly from China, though none have come from there for some time past. The figures I have quoted show that in 1915-16 the importations were 649,399 dozen. That was at a time when poultry feed was difficult to obtain in Australia. The value of the eggs imported in 1915-16 was £27,791. Of the quantity imported in that year, China supplied 614,206 dozen. Although this quantity was not large in proportion to the Australian production, it has to be remembered that the importations occurred outside the regular laying season in Australia, and consequently have a much greater effect on the Australian market than they would have if imported when eggs were plentiful. Another important fact to be borne in mind is that the price of food for poultry has enormously increased during recent years, rendering the cost of production much greater than, it was formerly, and thus tending to discourage the industry. These facts justify increases in the general Tariff, which is’ the only one that operates.
– What was the old duty?
– The old duty on «eggs in shell was 6d. per dozen, and this schedule proposes a general Tariff of 9d. The British preferential Tariff is 6d., and the intermediate Sd., but there are practically no importations under them.
– The Minister’s explanation is generally satisfactory. Are eggs in pulp imported, and, if so, under what item?
– Item 48 - egg in liquid form.
– I am referring to egg pulp for human consumption, .and not for manufacturing purposes. There is a very important egg-pulp industry in South Australia, which supplies manufacturers of biscuits, and cakes, and pastrycooks in the eastern States. I believe that South Australia also exports a quantity of egg pulp to Great Britain. I assume that the Department exercises some control over imported egg pulp in order to see that it .is fit for human consumption, because it is a matter of cOrn- i mon knowledge that stale materials can sometimes be disguised in the process of manufacture.
– These importations are subject to rigid inspection. Only recently the Department had to inspect and condemn a large number of eggs that were being imported.
– Is any egg pulp imported for human consumption?
– Little or none.
– Then the risk to public health through the importation of egg pulp for human consumption is practically nil.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item (British) free.
That is the first of a series of amendments which I shall move in order to allow goods imported from Great Britain to enter the Commonwealth free of duty. I shall consistently and persistently follow that policy. In view of all the talk we hear about loyalty to Great Britain, and our readiness to spend millions of pounds if needs be to fight for the Old Country, it seems to me absurd to refuse to trade with it; and I shall not allow any occasion to pass without endeavouring to remove the shackles on trade which Australia is trying to impose in respect of British manufactured goods. The conditions of labour and wages in Great Britain have improved very much during the last ten years, and there is no longer that great disparity that formerly existed between the wage paid to the worker in the Old Country . and that paid in Australia. I believe that the conditions will continue to improve.
– Wages in Great Britain are coming down.
– I know that big influences are at work in trying to reduce wages in Great Britain, and we shall be only assisting in that endeavour if we cripple British trade by refusing to do business with our kith and kin. The effort to reduce wages is world-wide, and we shall only be promoting it if we declare that we will make it almost impossible for Britain to send her manufactures to Australia.
– Will not your policy increase the cost of living?
– It will mean a reduction in the cost of living, because, if we allow British commodities to be imported free of duty, there will be so much more food and other materials available in this country at cheaper rates. As I intend to be consistent in my attitude throughout this schedule, I shall later move to assist the poultry raiser by reducing the duty on imported fowls’ food. We shall be assisting in the reduction of wages in Great Britain if . we refuse to transact business with the British manufacturer or impose such high Protective duties that it will not be profitable for the British manufacturer to send his goods to Australia, or for the Australian importer to purchase them. I believe that the interests of all parts of the British
Empire are linked together ; yet if a body of men had sat round a table for the purpose of devising a policy to injure the financial, industrial, and trading conditions of Britain, so far as theycan be injured by Australia, they could not have devised anything more effective than this Tariff.
– The honorable senator is proposing to close up every Australian factory.
– The Australian industries can stand on their own legs. We have heard the Minister (Senator Russell) tell us how excellent the Australian factory operative is. I am not afraid of any Australian industrial establishment closing down because of a reduction of duties. I am told that the item now under consideration is used in connexion with the production of leather. Will tanneries close because a commodity used in theirprocesses of manufacture can be imported free of duty?
– This commodity is admitted free for tanning purposes, and yet the importations are nil.
– That is a return to intelligence on the Government’s part. In this instance they are assisting Australian industry by allowing a commodity used in a process of manufacture to be imported free of duty. I wish them to assist all our industries, and British industries also, by placing no obstacle upon trade between the Commonwealth and Great Britain, and that this Parliament shall not place any obstacles in the way of that trade. I therefore intend to move for a reduction of every duty which is proposed under the British preferential Tariff. I have not failed to notice that during the short period that I have been absent from the meetings of the Senate the Government have not made much progress with this Bill.
Item agreed to.
Item 47 (Egg contents), and item 48 (Egg, not in shell, in liquid form) agreed to.
Item 49 -
Egg yolk, dry, per lb., British,1s. ; intermediate,1s. ; general,1s. 6d.
– This item merely represents egg in another form, and in order to stress the principle for which I have previously contended, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the item (British) free.
– I would point out to Senator Gardiner how inconsistent is his action. Great Britain is a large importer of eggs, and not an exporter. Consequently, the honorable senator’s ‘proposal, if adopted, would merely serve to make the food of the working man in Great Britain dearer than it otherwise would be. As we have already allowed denatured eggs to be admitted free, according to the honorable senator’s line of reasoning, we should offer a premium for their importation.
Item agreed to.
Item 50 (Eggs, in shell) agreed to.
Item 51 -
Fish, viz. : -
– Are any fresh oysters in the shell imported ?
– Yes. The best; oysters of the lot are imported in that form.
– I thought that oysters wereimported in cold storage.
– Fresh oysters in the shell are imported in bags from New, Zealand.
– No oysters, fresh inthe shell, are imported from Great Britain, and yet under this item there is a duty of 2s. per cwt. against that country. A similar remark is applicable to other items. For example, there is a duty against Great Britain upon bananas which are not grown in the Old Country, and a duty upon lemons which cannot be grown there. Perhaps upon the next item I shall ask the. Minister to knock out the British preferential duty upon bananas, because to some extent it exposes us to ridicule.
– The object of the duties levied upon the various sub-items of this item is that reciprocal trade relations may be entered into between the Commonwealth and New Zealand or Canada. The latter Dominion exports a large quantity of tinned fish, to Australia, and has been practically stealing the market of Great Britain.
Item agreed to.
Fruits, fresh, viz. : -
– Until recently the duty upon bananas under the intermediate and general Tariffs was 2s. 6d. per cental. That represented an increase of1s. per cental upon the Tariffs of 1908 and 1911. The position seems to be that until this year we were satisfied with a duty of1s. 6d. per cental, because under the Tariff of 1914 the same rate obtained. In the present Tariff as introduced by the Government, provision was made for a duty of 2s. 6d. per dental, intermediate and general, but that duty was raised by another place to1d. per lb., or 8s. 4d. per cental. Such an impost is much too high. While I am prepared to take into consideration the position of those who are engaged in this young industry, the prospects of its development, and the desirableness of Australia producing by white labour all the bananas it requires, I feel that there rests upon me a responsibility to support only that measure of protection which is ample. In the true interests of the consumers and the growers, I propose to move that the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty½d. per lb., instead of1d. per lb., or 4s. 2d. per cental.
– Why not move to make the duty 2s. 6d.per cental, as provided in the Tariff as originally introduced in another place?
– Very well. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, general, per cental, 2s. 6d.
My desire is that the banana growers of Australia shall prosper and multiply. I do not want to injure the industry; but we have to ask ourselves whether the duty fixed by the other branch of the Legislature is absolutely needed. I contend that it is not. It is needlessly high. If I were to consider only the interests of the State of which I am a representative, I would move a request that the item be made free, since, for a long time to come, Western Australia, because of its peculiar climatic conditions, will not be able to produce bananas on a commercial scale. But I am not disposed to view the item solely from the stand-point of my own State. I have regard, as I have already said, to the true interests of the growers and consumers. The consumers in Western Australia will be victimized by the increased duty. Western Australia’s very isolation from the banana-producing centres deprives itof the enjoyment of this very necessary article of diet.
– Western Australia draws supplies from Java.
– But the increased duty must entirely deprive it of those supplies. I want to put banana growers in Australia on a good working footing ; but if I am asked to believe that the industry is languishing, I reply that the facts do not support that contention. As the result of the protection of1s. 6d. per cental that it has hitherto enjoyed, the banana industry is not only in a very fair way, but is actually flourishing. The true index of its condition is to be found in a greencovered pamphlet specially issued by the advocates of a higher duty.
– The colour - green- is good.
– The colour of the pamphlet is all right, and if the arguments used in it were only in keeping with the colour, I should have no more to say on the subject. As a matter of fact, however, in this pamphlet it is stated’ in support of the request for a higher duty that the return from 4 acres of bananas in a given district amounted to £231, or £57 per acre net. The next prop used to support the contention for a higher duty is a statement by another gentleman engaged in the banana industry in Queensland to the effect that he worked 13 acres for a net return of £465, or £36 per acre. We owe it to ourselves to frame a Tariff that will do justice, not only to the Parliament, but to the conflicting interests involved. When I turn to the particulars given on the authority of a supporter of the increased duty in another place, I find the most encouraging position disclosed. In New South Wales and Queensland, during the period 1914-1920, when the industry was enjoy-
.- I cannot support Senator- Lynch in his effort to remove the special duty imposed on ‘bananas by another branch of the Legislature. I recognise that a duty of Id. per lb. amounts practically to prohibition, but I have the assurance of not only the representatives of Queensland and New South Wales in this Chamber, but people I have met outside, and particularly in Queensland, that under reasonable conditions, it .is quite practicable for those States to supply at moderate price all the bananas required by Australian consumers.
– They cannot supply Western Australia.
– Western Australia .can supply herself.
– I see no reason why, in certain parts .of Western Australia, the banana cannot be successfully cultivated.
– If the honorable senator knew Western Australia, he would be aware of reasons why the banana cannot be grown there.
– What would be the position if a similar prohibition were imposed in connexion with apple-growing?
– The apple industry _ is established in at least three of the States, while the banana-growing industry is in its infancy.
– It is a pretty healthy infant, seeing that Australia produced last year 435,000 centals, and imported only 76,000.
– One important factor is that bananas, unlike apples, cannot be locked up or stored for any length of time. They must be placed on the market when ready, and that consideration is bound to regulate the trade when this country is able to produce the whole of its own requirements.
– I agree that it is desirable that this industry should be protected; but, iri my view, it has been very well protected in the past. The further protection given in this schedule, as it was originally introduced in another place, was surely adequate. Replying to questions by
Senator Pratten this afternoon, the Minister (Senator Russell) furnished information of a strikingly interesting character. The particulars revealed that the importations of bananas have been steadily diminishing.
– During the war.
– No ! The facts are shown by the following particulars : -
In 1913-14 there were imported 367,531 centals, valued at £241,137. In 1914-15 the importation totalled 274,217 centals, valued at £238,653. Those figures show a decline in the first year of the war ; but, so far from the war having affected the situation in the direction indicated by Senator Crawford, the fact is that in 1915-16 the importations were 329,452 centals, valued at £256,395. In 1916-17, importations further increased to 399,452 centals, valued at £213,118. The statistics for 1917-18 - the third year of the war - reveal that importations dropped from close upon 400,000 centals to 235,952, the value of which was £137,140.
– When the shipping position was most acute.
– In 1918-19, after the war, importations fell by nearly one-half, namely, to 136,139 centals, valued at £89,529.. For the calendar year 1920 the importations were only 76,080 centals; valued at £76,388. These particulars show that the banana-growing industry in the Commonwealth is more than holding its own. Some weeks ago members of Parliament had the privilege of, seeing a cinematographic representation, in the Queen’s Hall, of some of the features of the industry in Queensland and northern New South Wales. One permanent impression must have been carried away by the audience, and that had to do with the prospects of the young man as revealed in the closing scenes of the picture, when he was visualizing his motor car and the fiancée who was to share a very pleasant home with him on the plantation. The whole depiction suggested to my mind how successful was the industry - not under the Tariff of 8s. 4d. per cental, but under the protection ‘which has been afforded during the past few years. The whole industry appeared to be very thriving and profitable, and the lands given up to banana-growing were obviously very valuable when it came toa question of selling out. Alto gether, the conditions of life were very attractive; and, in all the circumstances, I wondered that, almost immediately afterwards, members of this Parliament could have pleaded that the bananagrowing industry was languishing and in need of further protection. Since the duty has been raised in another place to 8s. 4d. a cental there has been an increase in the price of bananas.
– That is not so.
– You will see them marked up at1s. 6d. a dozen, and, in Sydney recently, they were being sold for more than1s. a dozen.
– I paid 2s. a dozen the other day for bananas.
– No doubt, the further you get from Sydney and Melbourne the more the price of bananas increases. I have refused to buybananas since their price has been increased because of the increase in the duty, but those who still buy them say that the increase in price is not justified by any improvement in their flavour or quality. I remember when, years ago, bananas could be bought for fourteen for 6d. Those were Fiji bananas, admitted duty free.
– And I have seen apples sold in Melbourne for1d. per lb., and now apples are 6d. per lb. here.
– The increase in the price of apples is not due to on increase of the import duty upon apples.
– There is an import duty of 6s. per cental on apples.
– What was the previous rate? The duty on. apples has not been increased as the duty on bananas has been increased. The latter has jumped from1s. 6d. to 8s. 4d. per cental, yet we are asked to believe that this has had no effect on the retail price of bananas.
– I approach this question from a different angle from that from which I would approach other Tariff items. Bananas are undoubtedly an essential article of food. Perhaps, if I lived on the Pacific Coast instead of on the shores of the Indian Ocean the increasing of the duty on bananas would not seem to me quite so gross a blunder as it appears from the Western Australian point of view. Bananas cannot be taken, from Queensland to Western Australia, and the supplies for that State must come from abroad. Queensland has do part of the Western Australian banana trade, and is not likely to get .it, because the shipping facilities will not permit of that.
– Queensland is going to make a good attempt to get it.
– That State has never had it, and has no prospect of getting it. Although banana growing has made great strides in Queensland, that State has done nothing to obtain the Western Australian market for its produce. The impost under consideration is undoubtedly preventing the people of Western Australia from procuring an essential article of food, and is, therefore, a wrong one. When, with Senator Keating and others, I visited the sugar districts of Queensland some years ago -
– How long ago ?
– In 1905.
– At that time we gave the sugar industry the greatest fillip that it had yet received. No one can say that this Commonwealth Parliament did not then deal generously with Queensland.
– It has always dealt-grudgingly with Queensland. -
– It has dealt generously with that State in regard to the sugar industry. The maintenance of the White Australia policy, of course, justifies the treatment that we have given to Queensland, and I have always looked at the sugar duties from the broad Australian stand-point. On the “occasion to which I refer, we saw a great, many banana plantations, but the men engaged in banana growing were not white men, but Chinamen.
– There is not a Chinaman in that business to-day. .
– Such a sweep- ing assertion cannot carry . weight with honorable senators.
– It is pretty true, anyhow.
– So far. as “Western Australia is concerned, the present duty on bananas prevents their use there. I do not regard this matter .from the fiscal stand-point, or from the White Australia stand-point; I look, upon it wholly from the stand-point of the people’s need, and I say that if this impost is maintained it will be impossible for those living in Western Australia to get bananas.
Senator Sir THOMAS GLASGOW (Queensland) [4.36].. - I trust that the Committee will not agree to the request. We have heard much about the way in which the banana industry has advanced, and I draw attention to the fact that the progress that has been made has been due to the protection which it has received through the lack of shipping preventing competition. In 1898, banana growing was a flourishing industry in Queensland, no fewer than 4,000,000 bunches being produced in that year; but afterwards, owing to the competition of Fiji, the Queensland production declined until, just prior to the - war, it did not amount to 1,000,000 bunches per annum. To show the effect of the Fiji competition, let me contrast the cost of bringing bananas from Fiji to Melbourne with the cost of bringing bananas from Queensland to Melbourne. In 1919, the selling agents in the trade supplied the following particulars of the cost of bringing a case of bananas from Fiji to Sydney : - Transport to steamer, ls. ; freight to Sydney, 3s. 2d. ; duty, ls. 6d. per cental - say ls. Id. a case containing about 80 lbs. weight of fruit - wharfage dues, lid.: inspection fees, 2d.; Fiji export duty, id. ; cost of case, 2s. 9d:; carting, 2d.; commission, say ls.; the total being 9s. 5fd. When these figures were made known, the secretary to the Southern Queensland Fruit-growers Association compiled a statement of the cost of transporting a case of bananas from Gympie to Melbourne. The fruit is carried weekly by train, in what are called “ fruit specials,” the Fruit-growers Association having an arrangement with the Railway Commissioners of the States under which it is carried through from Gympie to Melbourne’ direct in about 4 days. The rninimum railway rate per case from. Gympie to Melbourne is 4s., the cartage to rail averages ls. 3d., association and landing fees come to 2d., the cost of the case averages ls: 8d., the agent’s commission is 10 per cent, on 25s., or about 2s. 6d., the inspection fees at Melbourne Id.; the receiving costs at Melbourne Id., and the carting cost at Melbourne. 2d., making the total cost 9s. lid., or 5id. per case more than the cost of bringing bananas from Fiji to Sydney.
– The agents’ fees are twice as high in Melbourne as in Sydney.
– Two shillings and sixpence as against ls.
– The Melbourne selling agents charge 10 per cent., whereas Fiji bananas are sold on a commission of 7& per cent. As to the cost of production, in Fiji a native man is paid 2s. 6d. per day and a native woman ls. 6d., whereas in Queensland the workers get from 10s. to 14s. a day, and it costs four or five times as much to grow bananas in. Queensland as it costs in Fiji. In a book entitled The Colom/ of Fiji, issued some time, after 1916 - the exact date is not given - it is stated that the cost of producing bananas is ls. 6d. a bunch, which would be about 4s. 6d. a case, there being three bunches in a case. It costs at least 16s. to produce a case of bananas iu Queensland, allowing a reasonable return to the grower. I do not think that the Queensland growers .should be asked to compete against the black labour of Fiji. During the Tariff discussion a great deal has been; said in this Chamber about the interest that honorable senators take in the primary producers, and they now have a chance to show their practical sympathy by giving adequate protection to the banana industry, so that those connected with it may receive as good a return as the workers and others connected with city industries. It has been said this afternoon that the price of bananas has been increased by the duty, but in today’s Melbourne Herald bananas are quoted at from 15s. to 20s. a case. There are about 30 dozen bananas in a case, and if honorable senators have, been pay– ing from ls. 6d. to 2s. per dozen retail for bananas, it is not the - growers who have been getting the high prices. Bananas are sold by auction without reserve, and the growers have to take whatever prices are created by the demand.
– Prices determined by the consumers, not by the growers ?
Senator Sir THOMAS GLASGOW.Exactly. Other fruits compete with bananas, and they cannot become very dear. Banana grow’ing is an industry in which a good many of our returned sol diers have embarked, and I hope that honorable senators will give to it a measure of protection which will enable it, now that it has been re-established, to continue. In the early days banana-growing in North Queensland was principally in the hands of Chinese; but no fruit comes on to this market at all from north of Rockhampton. The Queensland fruit that comes here is grown between Rockhampton and the Tweed River. There is a considerable number of banana plantations on the northern rivers in New South Wales. I believe the production amounts to about 350,000 cases in New South Wales, and 400,000 cases in Queensland. In another place those who opposed the duty said that the industry in New South Wales was in the hands of Chinese. That is not so.
– Very largely.
– I. understood Senator Glasgow to say that Queensland produced more than 1,000,000 centals. The latest figures I have for the year 1918-19 are 435,000.
Senator Sir THOMAS GLASGOW.I said the production was about 400,000 cases. If I mentioned millions previously, I was referring to the number of bunches. The Minister for Trade and Customs in another place quoted a letter which he had received, giving the number of. Chinese interested and employed in the industry in New South Wales. This showed that they were very few in number. I ask honorable senators to realize that banana-growing is an Australian industry. We in Queensland feel that “we are somewhat isolated in regard to primary products. We are the only State that produces tropical products, and we feel that, as the southern States are not interested in them, we do not get full consideration in the matter of tropical industries. It has been urged that the trade with Fiji will be lost owing to the fact that the boat which brought Fiji bananas here has been discontinued. Surely the trade of Queensland to the southern States is of more value than the trade of Fiji? The people of Queensland consume largely the products of the southern States, and I ask the people of the southern States, in a reciprocal spirit, to deal justly with the primary industry of banana-growing.
– I have heard it stated here today that bananas are grown in the northern part of New South Wales by ‘Chinese. I was there the other day, and found a large number of returned soldiers engaged in the industry. They have been encouraged to go on to land which is rather expensive - in fact, any land on the northern rivers is that- and it will be a great pity if we cannot help these young fellows who are endeavouring to make a living there. That district is just below the Queensland border. It is only in certain aspects that bananas can be grown, and as we have” put a number of returned soldiers on to the land there to grow bananas, we have a right to protect them. We ought to leave the duty as it is.
– What about the young soldiers who have gone on to the land in Western Australia, and want to buy bananas for food?
SenatorCOX. - If Western Australia is the wonderful country that our honorable friends from that State make out, as part of their land is in the same latitude as northern New South Wales and Queensland, why do not their young men go up into those out-of-the-way parts and plant bananas, and see whether they will grow?
– Because we have not the same climatic conditions.
– I have been told that bananas are being grown in Western Australia. Honorable senators from that State do not know their own country.
– Scarcely any are being grown there.
– I do not profess to know Western Australia, and I did not bring the subject up. Our men have been game enough to pay a big price for land in northern New South Wales in order to attempt to establish the banana industry. Why do not men in Western Australia go up into the same latitudes in their State and make the experiment?
– The banana cannot be grown without moisture. That is our defect in Western Australia.
– Is there no rain on the coast of Western Australia?
– Not sufficient, and not at the right season.
– Then I am sorry for Western Australia. At any rate, let us produce bananas where we can. We have the land, and we have the men who are willing to go on to the land and attempt to grow bananas. I urge the Committee to help these young fellows to establish themselves.
Senator GARDINER (New South
Wales) [4.5.3] - I was surprised to hear Senator Cox say that Chinese are not engaged in the banana trade in the Tweed River district. Let me make myself clear on the question of Chinese. When they are allowed to come into this country I want to see them engaged in the most profitable occupation that they can engage in. I have no ill-will to any race once it has permission to associate with us. If I said that the Chinese had the monopoly of the vegetable trade in New South Wales, some one would probably indignantly deny it, on the ground that white men are growing vegetables, but the fact would remain. Their peculiar traits make the Chinese most efficient in that kind of work, and I can assure Senator Cox, not only that numbers of them are engaged in the banana trade on the Tweed River, but that in the Hay-street markets in Sydney Chinese control and handle the whole business. This is not a question of one State against another. In fact, in speaking against the duty on bananas I am speaking against my own State, because I represent the banana-growers of New South Wales as well as any one else here does.
– Yes, but you are a Free Trader.
– I believe in Free Trade, but Senator Cox is also a Free Trader. I heard him say so publicly when he was returning thanks from the hustings. We were told that bananas were not going up in price, but in Queensland during the last fortnight fruiterer after fruiterer in the shops told me that the high price of bananas was due to the new Tariff. They said that the price at which bananas could be bought previously was about 8d. per dozen. The dairy farmer and grazier, and other men on the land in Queensland who are not growing bananas, those on thewheat lands of New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia - and these include returned soldiers - toil, and are lucky if they get £4 an acre off their holdings. When I last spoke I quoted an auctioneer’s advertisement, taken haphazard from the Tweed River daily, showing that the rental of 9 acres of banana land could be obtained for nine years for £2,000. In New South Wales there are hundreds of cases where the freehold of thousands of acres could be. obtained for that money.
– It might bedear at the price.
– It is the beat wheat-growing land in Australia, and will compare favorably with land in Western Australia and South Australia and other good wheat-growing areas. The thing that always amazes me about Queensland is the tremendous stretches of magnificent country.
– And the small population.
– Yes. What is the value of land in Queensland? The banana-grower is in quite a different position from the wheat-grower. The wheat-grower has to clear his land. The banana-grower chops the trees down, and while the timber is rotting in the warm moist climate the crop is growing.
– it takes a lot of cultivation.
– Not more than corn or maize.
– If you had to clear a lantana patch, which is said to be the best banana land, you would know all about it.
– Let us reason the matter out fairly. A man who grows wheat has to take every root out of his ground. Another man can grow bananas and begin to get his return almost immediately after the trees are chopped down. He can put his crop in with the hoe, and the return is enormous compared with that of any other producers in Australia. The return from banana-growing is fifty times that of any other crop, such as wheat, barley, maize, or oats. Although it may be anathema to be aFree Trader, I do not think that any member of the Senate is sufficiently stupid to want to destroy the trade between Australia and Fiji.The ships from Fiji, which bring us their bananas, take back at least three times the value of Australian products in return.
– It is the same with the Western Australian trade with Java.
– Exactly the same thing applies there. We can sell our products to Fijiin small quantities in regular weekly or monthly shipments, because in that warm climate things will not keep Flour, for instance, becomes mouldy in it few months. The people of Fiji are therefore Continually buying goods fromAustralia. The Minister says that the Fiji banana trade with Australia runs to a little over £200,000 a year, and I estimate that Fiji takes from us goods to the value of £600,000 a year. Are we going to let that trade go down the coast of New Zealand, and lose it, because we have put a prohibitive duty on an article which our people want? I say to the Queensland and Tweed River bananagrowers : “ You can put a high price on your bananas, but you will lose your trade, because as soon as bananas reach a price beyond the purchasing power of the boy in the street, they will cease to be bought.” Coming along Bourke-street I saw bananas in the shop windows marked at 9 for1s., and 10 for1s. They were just the same class of bananas as I have seen sold in the streets of Sydney at 24 for 6d. That is one of the effects of the increased duty. I have shown the annual turnover of our trade with Fiji. Fiji is a part of the Empire, and its bananas come in earlier than those of Queensland or the Tweed River. The Fiji banana trade doesnot interfere with the Australian growers. The best Fiji banana trade is over before the Queensland trade starts. I believe that 2s. 6d. is a considerable Protective duty, but I am willing to ‘compromise with my principles by offering to be reasonable in this matter, seeing that the Senate is Protectionist, and that the Government which introduced the Bill is Protectionist also. The Protectionist Minister who introduced this, the most drastic Protective Tariff ever imposed in Australia, placed a high Protective duty on bananas, and he represents the banana-growing districts of New South Wales. Why should we make the duty prohibitive? Why cut into our Fijian trade? Why not impose a reasonable rate of duty which will not injure the Australian banana-growing industry, but which will allow it to prosper as it has been prospering in the past? Senator Coxalmost gave the show away when he talked about the high price asked for land in the banana districts, where the soldiers are settled. It is well known that those lands are high in price.
– Up to £200 an acre.
– Yes.What is wheat-growing land sold at?
– It is thrown at one in many places.
– Exactly. Most of the land in New South Wales that is suitable for wheat-growing is freehold, and it can be obtained at a few pounds per acre; but banana land on the Tweed River, which consists of rough land which a man accustomed to the usual open country would not think of working, is sold at fabulous prices. If one were to approach an auctioneer who had ordinary banana land for sale, he would find that he was asking at least £50 per acre, and that land more suitable for the production of bananas would be worth from £100 to £200 per acre, which shows that the industry is a fairly profitable one, and does not need undue protection. As I consider bananas a portion of our food supply, I trust the members of the Committee will exercise a wise discretion when they have to decide whether this necessary fruit shall bo made more costly than it was a few. months ago.
– I desire to correct an impression which may have been conveyed to honorable senators by the statement that the wages paid in Fiji are exceptionally low. A banana-grower in’ Fiji informed me that the Indian coolies employed there are paid £1 per week, and supplied with a certain area of land, and, therefore, the cry of cheap labour in Fiji loses much of its effect. As there has been a considerable increase in wages, the degree of protection has also increased. Senator Glasgow quoted the cost of conveying bananas from Fiji to Melbourne, and from Gympie to Melbourne, and showed that there was a difference of 5¼d. in favour of Fiji. The honorable senator said that it cost 4s. to convey a case of bananas by rail from Gympie to Melbourne, but it must be remembered that there are ports on the Queensland coast from which there is a splendid steamer service to the southern ports, and there is, therefore, no need for growers to incur the expenditure of 4s. per case when a cheaper method of transit is available.
– The fruit comes to this market by rail.
– There is no necessity for growers to utilize the more expensive route when there is an alternative and cheaper one by water.. The honorable senator also stated that a commission of 2s. 6d. was charged, but, as mentioned by Senator Senior, Fiji bananas are sold on a commission of1s., and that discrepancy needs some explanation. We also find on examining the position that a case does not weigh a cental; but, as mentioned by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay), it is equal to only two-thirds of a cental. Senator Glasgow, on his own showing, has proved that it costs1s. 6d. more to sell a case of Queensland bananas than a similar quantity of Fiji bananas, and I would like to know why the Queensland growers do not go to the men who are prepared to dispose of them on a commission of1s. It was mentioned in another place that a case of bananas weighs two-thirds of a cental, so that while there is a difference of1s. 6d. as additional commission, and only twothirds of a cental in acase, on a whole cental there is an extra charge of 2s. for selling the product of the Queensland grower as against that of the Fijian producer. If the Fijian producer can dispose of his product under the conditions mentioned, it is clear that there is a fair amount of padding and bulging in the figures submitted; and, instead of showing a disadvantage of 5¼d. in the case of the Queensland growers, they can go to those who dispose of the Fijian product and save 2s. per cental. If that saving is added to the old duty, there is a clear protection of 5s. per cental.
– I do not know if there is any item in the Tariff which is likely to place me in a more difficultposition than the one we are now discussing. Personally, I am in entire sympathy with Queensland senators in their desire to retain the duty appearing in the schedule; but New South Wales is also interested in bananagrowing, and I can claim to have among my constituents quite a number of growers. In another place was shown, in support of the argument to impose a duty of1d. per lb. on bananas, that the industry had not increased very much. Certainly it had not increased in Queensland in 1920, as compared with 1914, on the figures given, but in New South Wales the area has increased from 255 acres in 1914, to 2,853 acres in 1920, which is equal to nearly one-third of the total area under bananas in Queensland.
– And under the old Tariff.
– I shall deal with that point later. As a senator representing New South Wales, where we have about one-third of the area that Queensland has under bananas, I must endeavour to give a fair deal to all concerned. So far as my knowledge goes, banana-growing is about the easiest work in which a producer on the land can engage; and if we compare the duty which the Queensland senators wish to sustain
– The New South Wales senators want it too.
– I am speaking for New South Wales. If we compare the duty of1d. per lb. on bananas with that on citrus fruits, it would appear that a duty of 3d. on- lemons is only reasonable, as there is no comparison whatever in connexion with the labour required in growing bananas and that necessary in producing lemons. I cannot support the request moved by Senator Lynch, because I believe that all the evidence suggests that bananas will not be imported into Australia in large quantities if the present duty is reduced by onehalf, and I intend to move in that direction if the request before the Committee is not carried. We have been supplied with a lot of data in connexion with the production and importation . of bananas. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) and Senator Keating have quoted figures, which, in my opinion, prove that the industry in Australia has not been damaged in consequence of importations fromFiji, because they have diminished during re- cent years. When the Minister was submitting the figures in answer to a question, I was able to gather that the production in Australia in 1918-19 was 425,000 centals, and the importations fromFiji in that year represented 52,709 centals. As all the figures quoted by the Minister are not before me, I cannot say what the production in Australia in 1919.-20 was; but the, importations from Fiji in that year represent only 32,000 centals. In a constituency with over 1,000,000 electors, I have to consider hot only the special interests, but the interests of the community as a whole. The Melbourne Journal of Commerce of 27th July, 1921, shows that the importations of bananas in 1918-19 were approximately 62,000 centals, and in 1919-20 approximately 32,000 centals. Those figures may apply to Melbourne only.
– The importations in 1919-20 were 76,080 centals, and in 1920-21, 136,000 centals.
SenatorPRATTEN.- My figures must then apply to Melbourne only. According to the Minister’s figures, the importations average about only 25 per cent. of the production within Australia. We have to realize the incidence of what we are doing, and to remember that bananas are eaten by all children.
– That is what used to be done.
– I would like to remind my friends from Queensland that the settlement of returned soldiers on land for banana growing took place while the duty was even below the so-called low duty that appeared in the Tariff schedule when it was first introduced in another place. I know that several Chinese firms” are largely interested in banana growing on the Tweed Riverin New South Wales. I agree with Senator Gardiner that once the Chinese are here they have an equal right with any one else to make a reasonable profit, and to be unrestricted in their business deals; but on the authority of Mr. S. J. Plain, who writes on behalf of the Fiji growers, and is one himself, On Lee andCo., Won Lee and Co., Tim Young and Co., Tiy Sang and Co., and Sang On Tiy and Co., have taken up large tracts of country in Southern Queensland and the Tweed River district, and are growing bananas.
– Chinese growers in Queensland are restricted to 5 acres each.
- Mr. Plain says that Tiy Sang and Co. were for years engaged in the Fiji banana industry, but have now given it up entirely, and that Sang On Tiy and Co., who were also Fijian banana growers, have now only a very small area left, finding their Australian investments more profitable. Mr. Plain goes on to make certain statements, which indorse those made in this Chamber by several honorable senators this afternoon, in reference to the extraordinarily high prices that are asked by land-owners for land suitable for banana growing.He points out that land which only a few years ago could be bought for £20 per acre for dairying purposes is now bringing from £70 to £100 per acre for banana growing, and that some of it is realizing as much as £150 per acre. On the authority of the Sydney Morning Herald of the 8th August, 1919, before this very high duty was imposed, the sale was reported of 64 acres of banana land for £6,450, or a little over £100 per acre for virgin land. The Murwillumbah correspondent of the Sydney Mail, writing on 20th April, 1919, gave the local value of a banana farm in bearing at £180 per acre. These figures adequately support those given in the Senate to-day with regard to the extraordinarily high values that land-owners are reaping in connexion with banana growing. “Where, then, is our justification for increasing a duty that will affect millions of consumers in Australia, and often take away from them what is certainly a hygienic and necessary food, particularly for the young?
– Does the honorable senator realize that this land only lasts for banana-growing purposes for ten or fif teen years?
– That emphasizes the honorable senator’s argument.
– Of course it does. If £200 per acre can be profitably paid for land which only lasts for ten years, what in the world is the use of this Senate imposing a high duty on imported bananas? I emphasize the point that when a number of our returned soldiers commenced growing obananas they did so when the duty was certainly less than a third of what is now proposed. I would ask this Senate to consider some other aspects of Australian trade in addition to banana growing, particularly trade with Fiji.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Pratten has compared the labour required in the production of bananas with that required in the production of citrus fruits, but he overstated his case when he claimed that if bananas needed a protective duty of1d. per lb. lemons would require in proportion a duty of at least 3d. per lb. Bananagrowing, being a tropical or sub-tropical industry, is in competition with cheap labour countries. That cannot be said of citrus fruit-growing.
– Lemons grow wild in New Guinea and in all the islands of the Pacific.
– The wild lemon would have no sale in the markets of Australia. The Lisbon lemon, the lemon of commerce, does not grow wild in Queensland or anywhere else. It can only be propagated by grafting. I urge the Senate not to come to a hasty conclusion upon this question. There has been considerable agitation for a reduction in the increased duty placed upon bananas by another branch of this Legislature, founded on the assumption that the increase would mean higher prices for bananas, but any one who has given attention to the matter must have noticed that the price has not increased during recent weeks.
– Will the honorable senator go down the street with me now and test that contention?
– I do not know that it would prove my case or that of Senator Gardiner unless we could ascertain exactly the price which was paid for bananas immediately before the increased duty was imposed. In the past, when there were considerable importations from Fiji, regular weekly shipments were made from Queensland, but about once a month a boat would arrive from Fiji with a big shipment, and for a few days the banana market was in a very depressed condition. The wholesale price fell considerably, but the retail price remained the same. The question at issue to-day is of considerable importance to Queensland, a State with an area of 670,000 square miles, but with fewer people in it than are to- be found in Sydney or Melbourne. As a consequence of its sparse population, and because its capital city is so small in comparison with either Melbourne or Sydney, it is impossible for Queensland to compete, m respect to a great many of the secondary industries, with the manufacturers of the large cities of the south, who have wide markets right at their doors; und if Queensland is to receive its share of the advantages of a Protective policy special consideration must be given to its primary industries. Looking at the Tariff as introduced, we find that the very opposite is the case. It provided higher duties on the products of the temperate parts of Australia than it did for the products of the tropical part, overlooking the fact that the latter had to face the competition of cheap-labour countries, while the former were merely in competition with countries where the conditions of labour and wages were approximately similar to those existing in the Commonwealth. Let us take as an example the duty upon apples, which is 6s. per cental. That is not only 3s. 6d. per cental more than Senator Lynch proposes as the duty on bananas, but quite recently there was an absolute .embargo upon the importation of apples, its purpose being to find a. market within ‘ Australia for as many apples as the people of Australia could possibly consume. Again, a little while ago, when a Tasmanian industry, the production of carbide, was threatened, an embargo was placed upon importations from abroad, and I do not think it has been removed. Why should this consideration be given to the industries of the south, while such scant consideration is given to the industries of the north? We hear a lot about the White Australia policy, and the necessity for keeping the race pure. I. believe in that policy. Whilst I believe in excluding certain races from this country, I also believe in excluding the products of the labour of those races. It has been stated that there are many Chinese engaged in the production of bananas in Queensland.. I know that that is not the case, though there may here and there be an odd Chinaman engaged in the industry. I am wondering whether, when we come to that section of the Tariff dealing with furniture, there will be a strong move made to reduce the present protection afforded to that industry by 50 or 75 per cent., because nearly the whole of the furniture manufactured in Melbourne is made by Chinese. I doubt it.
– It is not so in Sydney.
– It is so, in Melbourne.
– A great deal of furniture is made in Sydney by Chinese. .
– The Chinese cabinetmaker is a better unionist than the other fellow. Machinery makes most of our furniture, and the Chinese do not use it.
– Honorable senators from Western Australia complain that the duty on bananas will have a very special effect in their State because of its distance from those portions of the Commonwealth in which bananas are grow. There are portions of Western Australia of about the same latitude and having similar climatic conditions to those prevailing in the banana districts of New South Wales and Queensland.’
– The honorable senator shows that he does not know anything about Western Australia when he talks like that.
– According to the official Year-Booh, bananas -are grown in Western Australia at the present time, and if s6, it seems reasonable to assume that they can be grown there in such quantities as are needed to supply the Western Australian demand for the fruit.
– Grapes are grown in England.
– I know that, and bananas are also grown in England. Senator de Largie does not, I am sure, mean to suggest that bananas can be grown in Western Australia only under the same hot-house conditions as those in which grapes and other tropical fruits are grown in England. I feel that members of this National Parliament are not in this matter taking that broad Australian outlook which they should take.
– The broad Queensland outlook.
–Tlie Queensland outlook with regard to products of the south is not a narrow one. Queenslanders are not geographical Protectionists. They believe in a . Tariff which will give the industries of Australia a fair show, irrespective of the part of the Commonwealth in which they are carried on. Unfortunately, there seems to be a very clear distinction drawn by some honorable senators between industries of the north and those of the south. The reason, no doubt, is that the population of the Commonwealth is at present to be found chiefly in the temperate latitudes. It will not always be so. The day will come, no matter what’ injustice may be done to the northern half of Australia in the meantime, when -Queensland, owing to its population and production, will be the dominant partner in the Commonwealth. ,
– Not so long as £200 per acre is charged for land there.
– As ‘ regards land values, I cannot speak of prices in New South Wales, but I have never heard of unimproved land in Queensland, for any purpose whatever, bringing more than £30 per acre. That land is equal to the very best in Australia. If it were situated at Bacchus Marsh, on the Snowy River, or on the Derwent in Tasmania, it would probably bring from £100 to £200 per acre.
– Unimproved land?
– Yes. In Tasmania, hops could be grown on that land, and they are protected to the extent of ls. per lb. Something was said about the trade which Australia was previously doing with Fiji. We know that the steamer Levuka, which hitherto has been trading between the Commonwealth and Fiji, was taken off that run and put into the Australian coastal .trade, but let me inform honorable senators that the shipping company concerned announced its intention of doing that twelve months ago. It announced that the Levuka was to be transferred to the Australian coastal trade, and the Suva was to take up the running between Australia and Fiji. Surely the trade between our own States is of as much value as trade between Australia and some outside country?
There is not a ship that comes down here with produce from Queensland that does not go back laden with the manufactures and products of the South.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I wish to reply to, a few of the assertions made by Senator Crawford and others. During the course of this debate, honorable senators must have been struck by the extreme modesty of senators coming from Queensland…
– Why remark upon the obvious?
– Perhaps it has been so obvious as not to require remark. So successful have the re- presentatives of Queensland been in their-‘ last effort at brigandage, shall I call it, that perhaps they have been encouraged to make another effort in the same dire&tion. Australia, with extreme generosity in granting assistance to the sugar industry of Queensland, has made the people engaged in that industry a present of some £23,000,000. That is a fair sum of money. One section of the Queensland people has succeeded in extracting this sum of money from the pockets of the rest of the people of Australia, and, encour-aged by that success, other sections of the peop.le of Queensland are now attempting ano’ther feat of the same sort.
– They could not get a railway across a -desert.
– The Commonwealth is losing £500,000 a year on the transcontinental railway.
– I was not a party to assisting the Queensland sugar-growers to get this money out of the people of Western Australia, and I am not going to be a party to enable Queensland banana-growers, who are already adequately protected, to extract more money out of the pockets of the people of the State I represent.
– We got the transcontinental railway in spite of the votes df Queensland representatives.
Senator DRAKEBROCKMANThat is so, but I am not at present discussing the merits of the transcontinental railway.
– That is something that the honorable senator would rather not discuss.
– I am now discussing the demerits of a proposal to impose a duty of 8s. 4d. per cental on bananas. I want to analyze the extraordinary modesty of senators from Queensland. In the face of the figures we have received fromSenator Gardiner, from the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell), and other honorable senators, they ask for an extraordinarily high protection on this article, which amounts to prohibition.
– I am not responsible for this duty.
– I know that the Minister does not in the least agree with the duty in its present form. No reasonable man could, unless he were prejudiced by an extraordinary position and an extraordinary past success in a similar venture as honorable senators from Queensland are.
Senator Crawford. - I do not think that Senator Drake-Brockman should make such a personal matter of this.
– I have said that honorable senators from Queensland are very modest people, and I am analyzing their modesty. Senator Crawford drew a picture to indicate how badly the people of the north had been treated as compared with the people of the south. He may have a grouse on this subject.
– However badly we treated them, they were never treated half so badly as by their own Government.
– 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 !
– Would the honorable senator tell us how many, ships come down laden with bananas from Java to Western Australia?
Senator DRAKEBROCKMAN.There is 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.
– Why is it not a common thing now, seeing that the price of bananas has not increased?
– If the present duty on bananas iscontinued, it will be amost uncommon thing to see any bananas in Western Australia at all.
– It means prohibition.
– 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.
– How can that be so, when the bananas are sold at auction, and without reserve?
– 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.
– The statement that virgin land for banana-growing was sold for £200 is quite incorrect. No banana land was ever sold at that price.
– 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.
– What have been the developments in connexion with the cultivationof cotton and tobacco ?
– 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.
– We might as well ask why Queensland does not grow its ownwheat.
– I rise to complete my remarks that were interrupted by a standing order that, in my opinion, should be suspended.
– The honorable senator must not discuss the Standing Orders at this stage. There is a proper method of doing that.
– As the standing order came down on me like a guillotine in the midst of my speech, I shall appeal to Ministers to-morrow to. suspend or amend it, in order to allow a senator to extend to half-an-hour his first speech on an important item. AlreadyI have seen Senators Lynch, Guthrie, and Crawford interfered with three times by this standing order in the course of one speech.
I do not argue that the banana industry of Queensland until now has been in a very flourishing condition. It has more than held its own, and there have been very rapid developments in banana growing in the valley ot the River Tweed, in New South Wales. The area under crop increased from practically nothing to nearly 3,000 acres in 1920 under the old duty. Although I am a representative of that district, as part of New South Wales, and will be responsible to the growers for my actions in the Senate, I fail to see that the extraordinarily high duty on bananas is required by them. We have received no representations whatever from the Tweed growers who have selected that 3,000 acres.
– They belong to the same organization as do the Queensland banana-growers, and they work together.
– If they ignore their representatives in the Senate they must take the risk. I have received no representations at all from any of the growers, who, according to statistics given in another place in support of the increased duty, are cultivating 3,000 acres for the production of bananas. I give notice that I shall move an amendment to Senator Lynch’s request in order to reduce the duty by 50 per cent.
– The procedure adopted in connexion with former Tariffs, and vouchsafed to the Committee by Senator Buzacott, as Acting Chairman, is that in regard to increases the highest request shall be taken first, and in regard to reduction the lowest must be taken first. To accept an amendment upon a motion for a request would unnecessarily complicate the procedure; but if Senator Lynch’s motion for a request is negatived,. Senator Pratten may then move a further request.
– I shall act upon your suggestion, sir. I take this course out of sympathy with the appeals of honorablesenators from Queensland that’ we should give adequate protection to tropical industries. In my opinion, the duty I shall propose will be absolutely sufficient for the industry in any and every direction. It will safeguard to a great extent the consumers; although it will be a high duty, it will not be prohibitive, and I think it is the limit to which my friends from Queensland can reasonably ask the Committee to go, having regard to the fact that it will be an increase of nearly three times the British preferential duty that was in operation prior to the 19 th May, 1921, and nearly twice that which was in operation against bananas from Fiji, Java, or. elsewhere under the old Tariff. One of the strongest arguments against allowing the duty imposed in another place to remain is that the whole of the extensive development in the industry, the increase in the prices paid for banana lands, and the big crops taken from those lands, occurred before the high Tariff was imposed in May last.
– Why increase the duty at all?
– The appeals made to me by my brethren from Queensland to treat tropical industries in a liberal, if not handsome, way, have had some effect, but there is no evidence that banana-growing in Australia will not be a highly lucrative industry even with the lower duty I shall propose.
.- I wish to regard this question from a purely Australian point of view, and I regret that there has been introduced into the discussion a suggestion of conflict between the interests of north and south. Such a feeling should be absent from the discussion, because the majority of honorable senators are prepared to deal with this question fairly, and recognise that any suggestion in the interests of any primary industry must benefit the whole Commonwealth, whilst the failure of the banana-growing industry would be prejudicial to the interests of the whole Commonwealth. I have been anxious to come to a conclusion as to whether we can fairly impose upon the consumers of bananas the heavier burden which will be inevitable if the duty in the schedule is continued, or whether, on the other hand, it is reasonable to reduce the duty, having regard to the interests of those engaged in the industry. Some of the speakers have clearly shown that the industry, which has been established for some years, has been regarded as highly profitable, especially during the last few years, even under the. old Tariff. Other speakers have pointed out the handicap imposed upon Queensland growers by the enormous cost of transporting their product to the large centres of population in Australia. I should like the point to be made clear whether it is essential that bananasgrown at Gympie should be railed to Melbourne: Why was the carriage of bananas by rail introduced in the firt instance? Is it not a fact that the railways had to be used for the transport of this fruit because of the scarcity of shipping a few years ago? Is that the only reason why bananas are carried by rail instead of beingcarried by sea?
– When they are transported by rail they reach our large centres of population in half the time that they would otherwise occupy.
– Railway carriage was adopted to enable all the fruit to be Landed in a fresh condition.
– But if bananas from Fiji can be landed in our chief ports in good condition, why cannot bananas from Queensland?
– A boat specially fitted for the carriage of bananas has been running regularly to Fiji. We have no such vessel upon our coast.
– I regret that Senator Crawford did not enlighten us upon this point, because the charges made by agents for the handling of bananas in cases seem to be out of all proportion to the value of the services rendered. ‘Sea carriage is the natural method of transportation for fruit of this description. But the growers have adopted the most expensive form of carriage possible.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the grower knows his own business ?
– But we are being asked to give him a much heavier protection than he has hitherto enjoyed to enable him to continue sending his bananas by rail to the chief centres of Australia. Senator Glasgow has told us that a commission of. 2s. 6d. per case is charged by agents for disposing of this fruit. That is equivalent to about 17-J per cent, upon the prices quoted by the honorable senator, namely, 15s. to 20s. per case. It has been said that returned soldiers are engaged iii the industry of banana growing. I am glad that that is so. But we cannot get away from the fact that they were induced to take up banana-growing upon figures which were available to them prior to the imposition of such a heavy duty. Yet we know upon, good authority that the industry was previously a lucrative one.
If ‘ the present duty be continued, I wish specially to stress the possibility of Australia losing her trade with Fiji. We must always recognise that we are dependent upon other countries for our prosperity. I have been assured upon the. very best authority that many Australians are engaged in banana-growing in Fiji. These men invested their capital there, knowing that they could command a fair market for their produce in the Commonwealth, and in return for that market they have been drawing their supplies from us. In 1918-19 I learn that the total imports into the Commonwealth from Fiji were valued at £192,921, and during the same year our exports to those islands were valued at £443,981.
– How much of that amount is represented by re-exports?
– We cannot hope to impose a prohibitive duty upon the products of any country without provoking retaliation. I do not wish to see our trade with Fiji diverted to New Zealand, as it inevitably will be if we do anything to prevent the Fijian banana planters disposing of their produce in Australia. At the same time, I have no desire to place the industry in Fiji upon the same basis as the industry in the Commonwealth. We ought, however, to give Fijian bananas a reasonable amount of encour agement. Senator Lynch has moved that the other place be requested to reduce the duty upon bananas to 2s. 6d. per cental, and I understand’ that Senator Pratten intends to submit a request in favour of reducing the duty to ½d. per lb. Your remarks, sir, in regard to the procedure to be adopted in dealing with these requests have placed honorable senators in a quandary. Some of us may desire to give the Queensland grower a protection of id. per lb. But if Senator Lynch’s proposal, which must be put to the Committee first, . be carried, we shall be afforded no opportunity of voting upon the proposal which has been outlined by Senator Pratten. I would, therefore, suggest that Senator Lynch should- withdraw his motion until the proposal foreshadowed by Senator Pratten has been dealt with.
– It has been correctly laid down by Senator Buzacott that the pro,cedure adopted in connexion with former Tariffs has been that where reductions of a duty are sought the lowest duty should first be put to the vote, and that where increases are requested the highest increase proposed should be dealt with first. If the Committee rejects Senator Lynch’s motion, Senator Pratten’s proposal may then be put. But if Senator Lynch’s motion be carried, the honorable senator must see that that action will express the will of a majority of the Committee.
– There may be a number of honorable senators who are strongly opposed to the present duty of Id. per lb. upon bananas but who are not prepared to go as far as Senator Lynch. Under the procedure which has been outlined, these honorable senators will be entirely debarred from voting in favour of any reduction of the duty.
– -Their attitude must be quite clear to themselves. ‘ They may act. as they think fit in regard to Senator Lynch’s proposal. If that be not carried, any further proposal will be considered.
– If any Queensland senator should contribute further to this discussion, I should like him to make clear to the Committee why it is necessary to continue the present method of railing bananas from Gympie to Melbourne. If there be no possibility of marketing the fruit by means of seacarriage, consideration, of course, must be given to that fact. But up to the present time nobody has intimated whether a cheaper method of transportation cannot be adopted. Upon the figures which have been submitted to us to-day, it costs more to market in- Sydney a case of bananas from Gympie than it does to forward a case of bananas from Levuka to Sydney or Melbourne.
– What are the respective distances?
– The cost of sending bananas from Gympie to Melbourne ought to be infinitely less than the cost of transporting bananas from Fiji to Melbourne, as the distance in the former case is so much shorter. In dealing, with this matter, we must consider the cost of marketing the article which is required for consumption. If we have no reliable figures iu that connexion, we cannot arrive at an accurate conclusion.
.- I ask honorable senators to recognise that the banana industry has now entered upon quite a new phase in its development. Hitherto bananas have been grown in Queensland, chiefly by Chinese. It is only during recent years that the industry has got into the hands of white men. A good deal has been said this afternoon about the way in which the industry has been developed without the aid of a Tariff. But I would point out that it developed to its present proportions with the aid of white labour only within the war period. The rush which took’ place iu Queensland and upon the Tweed River for land which is suitable for banana cultivation occurred solely during the war period. That rush was entirely due to the fact that during that period Fijian bananas were shut out of Australia, so that our own market was open to the local growers. The result was that the price of bananas rose to such an extent that many persons embarked upon the industry.
– Statistics show that the importation of bananas decreased during the war period.
– They do not. Those persons who took up land in Queensland and upon the Tweed River for the purpose of engaging in the industry did so because the price of bananas was so high that it paid them to do so. The industry is, therefore, a new one, so far as the employment of white labour is concerned. The prices that have been ruling for bananas have been largely responsible for the growth of the industry. The statement has been made that -up to £200 per acre has been paid for banana lands on the Tweed River. I do not know of any virgin country for which that price has been obtained; but it might have been paid for plantations in full bearing. My own view is that many of those who have recently taken up banana land at the high prices which, owing to the keen demand, have been ruling, will “ burn their fingers “ over it. I told many of them so when I was in the Tweed River district some time ago, and I am sure that they will regret having paid such exceedingly high rates. They were induced to buy because the market rates for bananas were so high in consequence of the war having interfered with the shipping trade between Australia and Fiji that they believed that, despite the high land values, they would be able to make a good living. If the Tariff is reduced, however, many of them will have to go out of the industry. They will lose the money they have invested in it* and much Commonwealth money that has been expended in establishing returned soldiers on banana lands will ako be lost.
– But those high land values prevailed before this duty was put on.
– Quite so. The fact that vessels during the war were taken off the Fiji trade made such a demand for the locally-grown bananas that people were induced to pay high prices for banana country, and unless this duty is continued they will find themselves in serious difficulties. I accompanied two deputations representing banana-growers, including returned soldiers, on the Tweed River, as well as in Southern Queensland, that waited on the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), and the Assistant Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Rodgers), and asked for an increased duty, pointing out that, having regard to the price of labour and the high land values, it was necessary that they should have more protection. The members of the deputation were closely crossquestioned by the Minister for Trade and Customs, and there can be no doubt that they put up an excellent case for the increased duty which was passed by another place.
Senator Payne has asked why bananas are brought by rail instead of by sea from Queensland to Sydney and Melbourne markets. The answer is that the growers found that the exposure of the fruit on the decks of steamers led to great deterioration and wastage, and that there were so many delays in connexion with the shipping services that it was highlydesirable to arrange for special fruit trains. With this object in view, the banana growers of Southern Queensland and the Tweed River, New South Wales, formed themselves into an association, and guaranteed to the Railways Commissioners of Queensland, New South Wales, and “Victoria a certain weekly tonnage of fruit for the Sydney and Melbourne markets, with the result that weekly fruit trains were arranged. This special service has benefited not merely the growers, but the consumers, who are thus able to obtain their fruit fresher and in much better condition than was possible under the old system.
– Fiji bananas are at a disadvantage to that extent.
– I shall deal with .that point presently; but I desire, first of all, to meet the case put up by honorable senators from Western Australia that this duty deprives consumers in that State of a supply of bananas. As a. matter of fact, the Southern Queensland Fruit-growers Association is now negotiating with the Commonwealth Commissioner for Railways and the Railways Commissioners of Western Australia for a fruit train which, after making deliveries in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, will go right through to the capital of the western State. Arrangements have already been completed for a fruit train running through to Adelaide, and it is hoped that it will shortly go right through to Perth. The people of Western Australia will then be able to obtain all the bananas they require.
– Will Queensland in return take supplies of grapes, apples, and figs from Western Australia ?
– The Fruitgrowers Association has been endeavouring to arrange for an exchange of fruit between the various States.
– But Queensland can grow every fruit.
– I do not know any fruit that Queensland cannot grow; but when certain fruits are out of season in that State there is no reason why it should not be able to obtain them from other States. If this duty be reduced, however, a great many of the exchanges which it is anticipated will be made as the result of a regular fruit train service will be impossible. As to the price of Fiji bananas in Melbourne, I would point out that before the trade with Fiji ceased the Melbourne agents were in the habit of purchasing green bananas in Fiji while they were still on the trees. By buying their fruit on the plantations, and handling it direct,’ they were able to avoid much of the’ commission charges and other costs which Queensland growers have had to bear. It is well known that, in all the States, bananas grown in Queensland or on the Tweed River are offered for sale as Fiji bananas. No bananas have been brought in here from Fiji since 27th May last, yet in almost every fruit-shop window one can see fruit ticketed “Fiji bananas.” The price of bananas here to-day is less than it has been for three or four years.
– I invite the honorable senator to come down town with me this evening in order to prove that statement.
– I shall be happy to do so. I am not indulging in mere empty talk; I am prepared to join with the honorable senator in visiting a number of ‘ representative fruit shopkeepers to-morrow with the object of proving that bananas are selling to-day for less than the price for which they were selling two or three months ago. They are cheaper to-day than they have been for the last three or f our years.
– Because Queensland lately has been flooding the market.
– No; the Fruitgrowers Association ‘ has been making ample arrangements to supply all towns with their fruit. Naturally, when the Fiji trade was cut out the supply of bananas from Queensland was increased. Senator Gardiner said that when in Brisbane last week he had to pay 8d. a dozen for bananas, and that the shopkeeper from whom he made his purchase said that the increased price was due to the Tariff. That statement will not bear examination. The Tariff could have no effect on the price, since Fiji bananas are not sold in Brisbane. Brisbane is so close to the Tweed River and its local supplies that it does not pay to bring . bananas from Fiji.
– But the local agents have increased the price of the local article.
– Just as land agents, because of the demand, have been putting up the price of banana land to the returned soldiers and others who want to enter the industry. Bananas grown in Queensland or on the Tweed River will compare favorably with any grown in Fiji. Queensland bananas are marked up in many shop windows as having been grown in Fiji.
– Why should that be done if the Queensland bananas are superior?
– It is done by shopkeepers merely to overcome local prejudice.
– What about the commercial morality that is responsible for such a thing?
– I am not upholding it; I am simply pointing out what is done. The majority of the people are really unable to distinguish between a Fiji and a Queensland banana. Senator Pratten has said that many Chinese are engaged in the banana industry. I have travelled through the Tweed River district and throughout Southern Queensland, where bananas are grown, and do not hesitate to say that there are not many Chinese in the industry. There may be a few,but most of them have been settled in Queensland or in the Tweed River district for many years. As soon as banana-growing commenced to pay handsomely, as it did for a time, in consequence of the effect of the war on the shipping service, these Chinese, like other settlers, went into the industry.
– There are also Hindoo banana-growers.
– Very few It cannot be denied that banana-growing is now a purely white man’s industry, and on the broad ground of keeping up the standard of our civilization we should be prepared to support the duty as passed by another place.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I listened with interest to the remarks made by Senator Reid, because he is a representative of Queensland, and should, therefore, have an intimate knowledge of the subject. He has declared that banana-growing is a white man’s industry. About three years ago I paid my first visit to Queensland, and was particularly anxious to taste of its tropical fruits. I had been told thata freshlycut banana was one of the most delicious of fruits, and I determined, when I reached the banana-growing districts, to lose no time in testing the truth of the statement. As a matter of fact, as soon as I reached Brisbane,I tried to obtain some Queensland bananas, but failed. I could get bananas grown in Fiji, but none that were locally produced.
– Fiji bananas are not brought into Queensland.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I made special inquiries, of course, for Queensland bananas, but actually failed1 to get one until I had travelled beyond Cairns. When I reached Kuranda, and was inspecting a coffee plantation, I mentioned to my guide and host that I had not so far been able to buy a Queensland banana. He invited me to visit his home, and there he showed me half-a-dozen bananas, of different varieties, all of which had been grown by himself, and had just been plucked. These fruits were exceptionally good, but the extraordinary fact was that these were my first, although I had journeyed up through districts where the banana was supposed to be cultivated. The circumstances suggest the extent of the industry in the days, by the way, when the cultivation was in the hands of Chinamen. To-day, banana-growing is stated to be carried on almost solely by white men. If the industry could not be made successful under cheap coloured” labour, can it be said to have established itself profitably in the hands of Australians ? It may be argued that success was impossible because land values were so high, but are land values any lower today, or so much lower that bananas can now be grown profitably by white men? It may be taken for granted that land values have not declined. This Committee is asked to acquiesce in the imposing of a high rate of duty in order to foster an industry which, apparently, cannot succeed, and which imposition will have the effect of making consumers pay more than ever for their bananas.. Honorable senators should refuse to be stampeded into giving encouragement of the kind now sought to an industry in respect of which the price of land has been increased from about £5 to £200 per acre.
– That is ridiculous, and is contrary to the facts.
– During my visit I went to Babinda - a sugar-growing district not far from Cairns. Subsequently, while in a bank at Cairns, I had seen a poster announcing a land sale which had been conducted on the previous Saturday. Conversing with the bank manager upon the subject of land values in the neighbourhood, I ascertained that I had passed this exact piece of land during my visit to Babinda. I inquired the prices at which the blocks had been sold. He pointed to one on the plan, and said, “ This was sold for between £48 and £50 an acre.” I said, “Surely that was not anything like the average!” and he replied, “ No ; but the average was well above £35 per acre.” I was astonished, and remarked that I had just seen the land, and had noticed that it was densely covered with timber. I was told, upon further inquiry, that the blocks would be used for growing sugar; whereupon I remarked that, with a clearing cost of £30 to £50 an acre, their price would be in the neighbourhood of £100 per acre before a single cut of cane could be taken off them. The bank manager agreed that my view was quite correct. It can be easily understood, then, that if men are willing to pay £100 per acre for scrub land, intended for sugar cultivation, a payment of £200 per acre for banana culture would not. be out of the way. I understand that bananas are planted about 10 feet apart.
– As a rule; about 16 feet apart, which would give about 168 plants to the acre.
– That is to say, the number of banana plants grown to the acre would be about twice that of the trees in an ordinary orchard; and, consequently, there would be considerably more profit per acre than can be secured from an orchard or vineyard. The effect of increasing the rate of duty will be to permit, the owners of land on which bananas can be grown to reap the harvest. Queensland growers say that they have been supplying the Australian market during the past couple of months, in which Fiji bananas have been excluded. If that be the case, . they have done so with the assistance of a duty of1s. 6d. per cental.
– They have been supplying the market under the present rate.
– ‘Order!’ The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I had the pleasure of visiting Queensland a short time ago, and, like Senator Senior, took the opportunity of seeing many of the places which have been referred to. From what I saw, both close at hand and from a distance, banana-growing in those localities impressed me very much. It is essential, in discussing a question of this kind, in fairness’ to the men engaged in the industry, to analyze the conditions under which it is carried on. What I have to say refers to the southern part of Queensland, from which most of the bananas imported into this State come. If one feature of it more than - another impressed me, it was the system of closer settlement. We, in Victoria, have endeavoured for many years to establish a system of entire closer settlement, but have failed, because the conditions here are quite different from those which I am about to describe. Bananas can be grown only with certain aspects and under certain favorable conditions. In the localities in which I saw them grown there are little pockets of land on the mountain side. These are veryrich and heavily timbered, and in many instances are far from markets. There are no such things as roads leading to these settlements ; in fact, there are nothing but bush tracks. On a little pocket of this kind you may see a snug little homestead, occupied in most instances by young people with fine, healthy families. The homestead is surrounded by a small cleared space, which constitutes the banana patch. Beyond that space the ground is not suitable for banana-growing owing either to its aspect or to the poorer quality of the soil. Under conditions of that kind it is not possible for one man to monopolize a number of farms, because they are so far apart, and, therefore, industrious farmers, with their families, are compelled to settle on small areas. This constitutes what I call closer settlement in its entirety. Honorable senators have said that it is not necessary to put much cultivation into banana-growing. My observation convinces me that a man who desires to make a success of it must cultivate banana land as well as a citrus-grower has to cultivate his land. It is also necessary to manure heavily. I saw areas which were not properly cultivated, and where the grower went along in the slip-shod fashion that we see occasionally among wheat farmers and citrusgrowers in the South, but if we could follow the career of that man we would find that in every instance he failed. I agree with many honorable senators that we should, if we possibly could, give a cheap banana supply to the children of other States, particularly of Western Australia, who live so far from the locality where bananas are grown; but we must at the same time consider the interests of the children who depend for their livelihood on the growing of bananas. I am sure that Senator Lynch, Senator Drake-Brockman, and others desire to give the producers of Queensland a fair means of living, and their children ordinary standards of comfort; but I assure them that they cannot do that by giving cheap bananas to the people of the large cities, who live in comfort and luxury as compared with the families I have described. If I have anything to do with it, those honorable senators are not going to give cheap bananas to the children of the big cities at the expense of the children who have to put up with hardships in the remote parts of Queensland.
I have heard in this chamber to-night various descriptions of the value of banana lands, but my advice to Senator Pratten and Senator Drake-Brockman is to be guided by the old proverb about the shoemaker sticking to his last when they are dealing with questions with which they are not too conversant.
– We will let the public be the judges of that when they read Hansard.
– When looking round the banana settlements I picked out a man who, I thought, was one of the very best producers of bananas in that locality. His work was far superior to anything I had seen, his little homestead stood right out, and his clearing was perfect. I asked him, “What price would you take for your land if you desired to sell out?” and he replied, “ I would take £200 per acre.” This was about eighteen months ago. I thought there was something radically wrong somewhere, so I took a mental note of the surroundings. I have jotted down the result of my observations in order to show honorable senators why banana land is worth £200 per acre. It is in small patches of from 5 to 10 acres, so that we may take 8 acres as an average. On an 8-acre holding such as I describe there will be a nice house, which is nothing out of the way, but merely comfortable and cosy. It cost at least £1,000 to put it there. The land when taken up was heavily timbered, and I can confirm Senator Senior’s estimate that it would cost at least from £30 to £40 per acre to clear. I have put the clearing down at £30 per acre. I have allowed £100 for fencing and £100 for the conservation of water. I have put nothing down for the planting, because I could not form an idea of what the values were; but the house, clearing, dams, and fencing amount in value to £1,640. That man, therefore, if he sold his land for £200 per acre, would not get a penny for himself.
– There must be £200 worth of improvements per acre on it.
– Yes. On 8 acres there would be over £1,600 worth of improvements. I said to myself, “ What is behind all this? Here is a most intelligent farmer, who stands out in a most pronounced way as a cultivator of the soil, superior to any other settler in the locality, and yethe will take £200 per acre for his land, although it has cost him more than that for his improvements.” I asked him, “ How have you done on this property for the last few years ? “ He said, “ We have done fairly well. The conditions have been abnormal, because, owing to the shortage of shipping, we have had command of the market, and have been able to some extent to demand a reasonable price for our product ; but now that we are coming back to normal conditions it will mean ruination to us if we are not given further protection.” I can quite realize the position in which he was placed. There was no comparison between it and the position of citrus-growers in other States. Men at Merbein and Mildura can get £200, £300, and £400 per acre for their land at any time they care to sell it, although it cost them only about £2 per acre to clear, and water is brought on to it by channels paid for by the people of this country.
– The honorable senator will find the very reverse obtaining amongst the lemon-growers of Central Cumberland.
– Are they successful ?
– I cannot help that, but I am sorry for them.
– People who pay £400 per acre for land at Mildura will also be sorry for it shortly.
– I do not think they will be. I am speaking of the orchard complete, as it stands, when I refer to Mildura land. If we vote against Protection for the banana industry, we shall be saying, to the banana-growers of Australia, “ We desire cheap Fijian bananasto be brought into this country, so that our children may enjoy the product of black labour, and you Queensland farmers must turn your energies to something else, sacrifice your little homes, and allow the patches which you have cleared to grow the wild eucalyptus once mere. It is the Fijians whom we desire to supply cheap food tothe people of Australia.” As a producer, I cannot take up that position. It is the duty of those who represent Queensland, and this duty they have manfully discharged, to see that the growers of bananas in their State get a fair deal at the hands of this Committee.
– I regret in many ways the trend which this debate has taken. The Committee should be able to consider any matter from the stand-point of Australia as a whole, and not as it affects one State or another. I was sorry during this debate to hear honorable senators speaking for or against the proposed duty merely from the stand-point of its effect upon their own particular State, and losing sight altogether of the larger issue whether the imposition of the duty would benefit Australia as a whole. I cannot consider the question purely from the stand-point of the State I represent, although that State is directly concerned. After Queensland, northern New South Wales produces the greater part of the bananas grown in Australia. It is, therefore, of some importance to New South Wales senators how this decision goes, and whether the duty proposed by the Government is retained or slightly lowered, or, as proposed by Senator Lynch, substantially reduced. Nor can I consider this matter purely from the stand-point of the consumer. The imposition of a Protective Tariff can hardly be considered at any time from the view-point of the consumers’ interests. The object of a Protective Tariff is to give protection, not to the consumer, but to the producer, who may be either a manufacturer or, as in this case, a grower. In this instance, the imposition of the duty is to give a degree of protection to the producer, and the interests of the consumer are only a secondary consideration. Although I do not wish to lose sight of the interests of the consumer, I desire, in the first instance, to insure, if this industry needs protection, that we shall give it the protection that will enable it to continue and to be prosperous, while, at the same time, we must take great care that we do not afford it so much protection that the consumer will be prejudiced in consequence. The Government have undertaken certain obligations with regard to returned soldiers, and have, in conjunction with the States, settled returned soldiers on certain areas, for which large sums of money have been expended in order to give these men a reasonable start. Included in these areasare certain lands suitable for the production of bananas. It is true that a large number of returned soldiers in Queensland and in the northern portion of New South Wales are devoting their energies to the production of bananas, and are doing as well as others who have been settled on the land in various other parts of the Commonwealth. These men have taken up land under abnormal circumstances because, when they returned from the Front, they entered into occupancy of their holdings on conditions which did not obtain before the war. We have heard that high prices have been paid for banana lands. That is quite true. I was in the northern district of New South Wales after the last general election, when I had an opportunity of inspecting a good deal of the land for which high prices had been paid. Any returned soldier who was successful in securing banana land at £100 per acre considered that he had made a good bargain.
– Was that for virgin land?
Senator- DUNCAN. - Yes.
– With a protection of only1s. 6d. ?
– But the price of bananas was high.
– Yes, the price at that time was high, because shipping had been considerably interfered with, and, in consequence, the ruling freights were abnormal. The returns that were being received by the growers at that time were somewhat unusual, and returned soldiers seeking an investment for their money and an opening for the exercise of their energies saw that big returns were being obtained from banana lands being worked by old settlers.
– Is it not a fact that importations from abroad last year were less than one-fourth of those of the year before?
– That may be so. As a Parliament, we have encouraged these men to settle on the land, and large numbers who have paid high prices for their land are already engaged in this industry. If they are to succeed, they must receive a fairly substantial return for their product.
SenatorJohnD.Millen.ButParliament did not guarantee the imposition of a prohibitive duty.
– No. We do not desire to impose a prohibitive duty; and I submit that that proposed and supported by Queensland senators is prohibitive. It is considerably more than the returned soldier settlers ever expected, and it is more than a fair thing, because it will have to be shouldered by a section of the community which can least afford to bear it. That being so, it is not my intention to record my vote in favour of the imposition of a high duty. We have to find some via mediawhereby we can give the right degree of protection to the grower, and insure that the consumer will not have to pay more than a fair price. I believe that the request submitted by Senator Pratten will meetthe position, and honorable senators from Queensland will be well advised if they accept it, because it will afford a very large increase in the protection previously enjoyed by the banana-growers, and is to most of them an increase of nearly 200 per cent. It should be sufficient to protect them against abnormal importations from Fiji, whilst at the same time it will not altogether prohibit importation. I have a great deal of sympathy with the claims of the Fijian growers, who are assisting in developing a portion of the British Empire. We do not desire to declare in bald terms that we refuse to trade with a portion of the British Empire, particularly with a portion so near to Australia. We should impose a duty which would be of assistance to local producers, and one which would not be the means of totally excluding importations from Fiji. The request proposed by Senator Pratten will give our own producers protection without creating the impression that we desire to exclude Fijian bananas from the Australian market. I trust the request will be carried, because I believe it has been submitted in the interests of this industry, which promises to be a very important one to the Commonwealth.
– I direct the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that Senator Pratten’s indicated request will only be submitted in the event of the question before the Committee being rejected.
– Iunderstand that that is the position. Unf ortunately, it is true that large numbers of Asiatics are employed in growing bananas in the northern districts of New South Wales. I do not know if they are employed on the Queensland banana lands. I have seen Asiatics living in tumble-down “ shacks “ that white men would not occupy, and under conditions repugnant to civilized men. If it is merely a question of giving protection to producers who live under such conditions I do not intend to assist them. But although these men are growing bananas, there is another large section of growers who deserve all the consideration we can give, and it is our duty to see that, while we do our utmost to conserve the interests of the consumer, we must not ruin those white men who are engaged in this industry, particularly in view of the promises made to them when they took up the land.
SenatorRUSSELL (Victoria- VicePresident of the Executive Council) [8.40]. - Itmust beadmitted that thegrowihg of bananas in Australia is of equal importance to the production of apples in Tasmania, and I believe that too much of the parochial spirit has been introduced into the discussion on this item. Honorable senators seem to desire to go to extremes. I am opposed to the imposition of a duty of 13s. 4d., because it would be robbery, and I am opposed to those who favour a high protective duty on apples and oranges, and who do not favour a reasonable duty on bananas. The banana-growers are as much entitled to protection as the growers of apples, which have to compete, not with the product of coloured labour, but with that of highly-civilized people in Canada and the United States of America. It is not my intention to go into details concerning the cultivation of the land for the production of apples and bananas.
– Who has been discussing apple-growing?
SenatorRUSSELL. - No one; but the growing of bananas must be considered in connexion with the production of other fruits. Nearly every State of the Commonwealth can produce apples, and Australia seems to be most adversely affected by the present duty on bananas, because of the distance of most centres of population from the districts where they are grown; but I believe that some day Western Australia will be in a position to produce her own requirements in this direction. It seems unfair to place an unduly heavy burden on one State because of its inability to receive supplies at a reasonable rate; but at the same time Western Australia should be compelled to carry her share when we are endeavouring to legislate in the interests of the whole Commonwealth. For that reason, those who favour a high duty should agree to a reasonable compromise. The banana-growers in New South Wales and Queensland are entitled to protection.
SenatorRowell. - I suppose the Government thought so when they introduced the Tariff?
SenatorRUSSELL. - That is so. I do not think that the banana-growers should be given less consideration than other fruit-growers. We do not wish to divide our fruit producers into sections, but should endeavour to treat the bananagrowers in Queensland with as much consideration as the fruit-growers in any other State. The duty on apples has been increased to 6s. per cental, and there is not the same necessity to protect apples as there is to protect Australian bananas against importations from Fiji, where they are produced by coloured labour. Banana-growing and apple-growing are both natural industries.
– But it takes seven years to get a return from an apple orchard, as against a few months in the case of a banana plantation.
SenatorRUSSELL. - On the other hand, the orchardist gets a bigger return from apples. However, I am not placing the apple-grower and the banana-grower on the same level. Each is entitled to protection in some degree; but the bananagrowers of Australia, who are white people raising white families in a White Australia, should not be asked to compete with the cheap black labour of other countries. I do not ask for a duty of 13s. 4d. per cental, as originally asked for by Queenslanders, but I do ask honorable senators to regard the industry as one worth protecting by the imposition of a reasonable rate, which will enable it to be developed. To-night it has been pointed out, by interjection, that already the industry has been built up with a Protective duty of ls. 6d. per cental ; but, as a matter of fact, that rate bas not been operative for the past three years, owing to the fact that during this period Fiji was suffering from a serious outbreak pf influenza.
– The importation of bananas from Fiji has increased in recent years.
– The honorable senator is apparently referring to the export of bananas from Fiji since the war, when it has been almost impossible for the island to send away its produce owing to the scarcity of shipping.
– During the war the importation of bananas from Fiji increased each year.
– That is true, but the quantity has fallen considerably since the Armistice. Queensland growers must be congratulated on their successful efforts in building up their trade during the war and the influenza period from an output worth £150,110 in 1916-17 to an output worth £435,000 in 1918-19, the latest year for which the figures are available.
– That development took place on the lower duty.
– It came about not because of the protection afforded by the duty,, but because there was practically no importation of bananas from Fiji, owing to conditions over which this Parliament had no control. Some honorable senators have told us that Chinese are growing bananas in Queensland and in the northern part of New South Wales. In this connexion, the Customs Department has received two telegrams. The first, from the secretary of the Tweed Fruitgrowers’ Co-operative Company Limited, says -
In refutation of allegations regarding Chinese engaged in the banana industry in the Tweed River, 300 bond fide banana-growers in the district hold shares in this company, representing approximately 3,000 acres. .Not one Chinese grower is on our share register and no Chinese labour is employed by shareholders. Similar conditions apply to Queensland banana areas south of Southport. About 60,000 cases of bananas from Tweed Heads, and 40,000 from Currumbin have been railed south during the past twelve months, all European grown.
The other telegram, from a Mr. Stuart, secretary of an organization at Murwillumbah, says -
Four thousand acres under bananas Tweed River; 222,000 cases produced for year ending April by 600 Europeans. Not one Chinaman engaged in production either as freeholder, leaseholder, or as employee. Area in Queensland south of Southport produced 40,000 cases in the same period. No Chinese in any way interested.
– Those telegrams do not definitely say that there are no Chinese growers.
– I do not contend that there are no Chinese engaged in the business. My point is that, while we ought to protect this national industry wo should do so in a way which will not. enable certain individuals to extract unfair profits from others. The fruit we produce should be sold at a reasonable price which will afford reasonable profits to the growers. The proposal of the Queensland representatives for a duty of 13s. 4d. per cental would fall very heavily on the great majority of the people of the Commonwealth.
– The Government’s proposal was to make the duty 2s. 6d. per cental.
– That is so. We have had a very profitable debate upon this question. I do not think any honorable senator is anxious to injure the banana-growing industry. I suggest a reasonable compromise, which, while affording it protection, will, at the same time, not injure the children of Australia, who eat so many bananas. The Government are prepared to consider any reasonable suggestion, but they do not propose to deny to the banana-growers protection equal to that afforded to Australians engaged in other industries.
.- An Australian Parliament must legislate for the greatest good of the greatest number. We ‘are told that the bananagrowing industry has “been carried on profitably and successfully under a Protective duty of ls. 6d. per cental. Arguments about the progress made during the war because of certain conditions prevailing elsewhere are quite useless. As a matter of fact, during the war the Fiji growers were able to export to Australia a largely increased quantity of bananas. But all this development has taken place under a duty of1s. 6d. per cental. Last year, however, the Government, possibly in following out’ their Protective policy, and no doubt having due regard to the interests of this particular industry, raised the duty by nearly 100 per cent., and I cannot see why the banana-grower should expect more generous treatment. Yet extraordinary efforts have been made to influence opinion in this building by means of picture shows and other representations. I do not see why nine-tenths of the people of Australia should be penalized for the benefit of one small section. The demand of the Queensland banana-growers for a rate of1d. perlb. is a clear case of an attempt to profiteer on the rest of the people of Australia, in whose interests I feel it my duty to support the amendment.
.- 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.
– The honorable senator would prohibit the people from getting that food.
– 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.
– Not the whole of it. Certain States are contributing to the cost.
– 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.
– The improvement of the Murray Valley was started by the private enterprise of the Chaff ey Brothers.
– The Commonwealth Government is carrying out the scheme now undertaken.
– The Commonwealth has put £2,000,000 into the Murray Waters scheme.
– 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 must.be 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.
– I wish to add a few words to what I have already said on the request submitted by Senator Lynch. I listened to what was said respecting the alteration in the output of bananas in Queensland during the war period. I have npt yet heard any refutation of the figures I advanced as to the imports during the - period covered by the war. Those figures clearly show that during the war and up to the time of the armistice the importation of bananas was substantial, and, if anything, showed a gradual increase. Since that time there has been a tremendous drop in -the importations, and there has been a larger proportion of the Australian demand for bananas supplied by Queensland and the Northern Rivers districts of New South Wales. That occurred under the pre-existing duty. The proposal of the Government, as the Tariff was originally introduced, was to raise the duty from ls. 6d. to 2s. 6d. per cental. As Senator Bolton has pointed out, that represented very generous treatment to the industry. On the top of that, honorable members in another place raised the duty from 2s. 6d. to 8s. 4d. per cental. Senator Reid, speaking earlier in the debate, said that “Fiji has been cut out.” He told us that, since the 27th May, no Fiji bananas have come into the Commonwealth. Later on he referred to the period since when “Fiji has been cut out.” That is an admission that the Tariff, as it stands at present, is, under this item, not merely protective, but prohibitive. If there is one case in which we should not at this time go beyond necessary protection into the realms of prohibition, it is in con nexion with trade with British Possessions in the Pacific Ocean.
– And with a food supply of the people.
– Exactly. We have been told that Fiji has been cut out, and it has been complained by the people of Fiji that they have been cut out. We know, as a matter of fact, that thu Levuka, a very large vessel, and wellfitted, not merely for the carriage of bananas and other tropical products, but also for the carriage of passengers, which was engaged in the trade of Fiji for many years, has been taken out of that trade.
– That was decided more than twelve months ago. ;
– That statement may or may not be correct, but it has been publicly claimed, and, so far as I know, hot so publicly denied, if denied at all, that it was in consequence of the fact that no bananas were being imported from Fiji that the Levuka was taken out of that trade. Whether that be so or not, the prohibition, which in effect this duty means, of this trade between Fiji and Australia involves the lessening of our commercial relations with a British Possession in the Pacific. As a result of the war, Australia has assumed ‘ obligations in connexion with mandates. The position of Australia with regard to these mandates is being viewed very jealously, not merely by our former enemies, but by some who, during the war, were our Allies. If there was ever a time when the Possessions of the British Empire in the southern seas and in the Pacific should be drawn closely together in all their relations, it is the present time. Such a policy as that involved in the duty under consideration will not tend in that direction, but will’ have the opposite effect. For these reasons, I am not disposed to support a duty which has proved to be prohibitive of our trade with Fiji in the products of this staple industry of that British Possession. I think that a duty of 2s. 6d. per cental would afford Australian producers of bananas adequate, if not generous, protection. It would not give them a monopoly, but under such a duty competition from Fiji would be handicapped, and the Australian industry would not suffer. If I thought that it would .1 should have to review the position. Feeling as I do with regard to the maintenance and development of our trade relations with Fiji and other British Possessions in the Pacific, and assuming, as I have been invited to do by representations of the industry recently shown in the Queen’s Hall, that it is in a flourishing condition in Queensland, I am strongly impelled to support the request submitted by Senator Lynch.
– I have no desire to unduly delay the taking of a vote on the question before the Chair, but I must say a word or two in reply to some statements made by other speakers. I begin with Senator Senior’s announcement that during a visit he paid to Queensland three years ago he could obtain no Queensland bananas, whilst an abundance of Fijian bananas was on sale wherever he went. I do not wish for a moment to question Senator Senior’s veracity, but I shall certainly, in future, discount by 100 per cent, everything I hear the honorable senator say. I have lived in Queensland for thirty years, and throughout the whole of that time I have never seen a Fijian banana in that State, whilst, to my knowledge, there has been in the coastal centres, at any rate, an abundant supply of home-grown bananas. With regard to land prices, I should like to read a couple of advertisements from the Brisbane Courier of the 1st August. Here is one -
Banana and pineapple farm, 30 acres, 12 acres cultivated. Comfortable dwelling, two horses, cart, implements. Half-a-mile from railway station_ £950.
– Where is the £200 an acre man now?
– Yes, where is he?
– The advertisement refers to pineapples, which do not grow on rich soil.
– Here is another advertisement -
Bananas. - 330 acres freehold, rich scrub and. forest. 5,000 bananas (which would represent about 30 acres), 600 citrus trees. Bargain - £2.300. On easy terms.
It is quite a mistake to imagine, as Senator Lynch evidently does, that it is impossible to grow bananas and pineapples successfully on the same kind of soil. It can be done, and is being done. Honorable senators may see pineapples, bananas, custard apples, strawberries, and almost every kind of tropical and sub-tropical fruit growing on the same class of soil within a few miles of Brisbane. I do not wish to discount the importance of the numerous islands in the Pacific over which Australia has been given a mandate. Even if it be necessary to develop the trade with these islands, Queensland should not be called upon to make the whole of the sacrifice, as she has been asked to do in connexion with this item. If bananas were being grown in Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia, this duty would not have been debated for five minutes; it would have been agreed to almost without comment. But because bananas are at present grown extensively only in. two States the industry has not received that consideration which its importance deserves. The attitude of representatives of other States towards this industry in my State will have an important influence upon my attitude towards the industries of their States. Senator Bolton said that he would follow in every instance that policy which would yield the greatest good to the greatest number. Therefore, I suppose if there are 2,500,000 producers in Australia, and 3,000,000 consumers, Senator Bolton will always give first consideration to -the interests of the consumers. If that attitude were adopted by the majority of honorable senators Protection would very soon be a thing of the past.
– Protection is valueless when it becomes prohibitive.
– Is there not prohibitive protection in respect of many other items? Does Senator Bolton say that, whilst an import duty of Id. per lb. on bananas is prohibitive, the same duty on citrus fruits is not prohibitive? Wherein lies the difference except that bananas are produced mainly in Queensland, whilst citrus fruits are common to all the States, and, therefore, receive greater consideration? I ask honorable senators to seriously ponder over this item. . More is involved in their vote than its effect upon the banana industry. Senator d« Largie may smile, but before this Tariff is disposed of he may find himself in the same position as I occupy to-day - asking for some assistance for an industry peculiar to his State, and unable to get for it fair consideration. I ask the Committee to declare that if there is to he any difference between the treatment given to tropical products and that given to the products of the temperate zone, special consideration should be shown to the former because of the cheap labour against which they have to compete. “We are all determined to uphold the White Australia policy, but we cannot maintain it and expect our products to compete successfully, without substantial protection, against the products of countries which do not pay a weekly wage equal to the daily wage we have to pay.
– The banana industry has done that successfully already.
– Under special circumstances. The reason why the production of bananas has increased in Queensland is that many returned soldiers have been encouraged and assisted to engage in the industry. These men, having been advised to enter into this business, and having been financed by the Commonwealth; are now to be deprived of the chance of achieving success by the refusal of this Senate to give them adequate protection.
– How long does it take a banana plantation to become productive?
– A bananagrower will receive a small return at the end of the first twelve months, but it takes three years for a plantation to come into full bearing.
– Then the returned soldiers cannot he making very much money yet.
– Quite a number of returned soldiers engaged in the fruit-growing industry before the Repatriation Department was established.
– And many took over plantations as going concerns.
– That is so. Much has been said about the withdrawal of the Levuka from the Fiji trade, but she is. now employed in the coastal trade, and she would not be so employed if the owners had not seen a good prospect of running the vessel profitably. Surely the Inter-State trade is just as important as is the trade with Fiji and the other Pacific Islands. Whilst honorable senators should have some regard to the trade with the islands, they should not ask one State to sacrifice its banana industry for the sake of a problematical advantage to a small number of people employing a class of labour different from that employed in Queensland, and who may, if adequate protection is not given to other industries, be competitors with the Australian producers in respect of them also.
– 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.
– But then he has it for a life-time.
– He waits at least six years before there is any return, and then the return is very poor.
– But his fruit competes with white-grown apples, whereas the banana has to compete with a cheap-labour product.
- Senator Crawford’s figures 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.
– Bananas cannot be grown on wheat land any more than wheat can be grown on banana land.
– I recognise that Queensland has some of the richest land in the world.
– The banana land is too rich for wheat.
– 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 ?
– The honorable senator does not believe in protecting anything.
– 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.
Question - That the request (Senator Lynch’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Request (by Senator Pratten) proposed -
That the House of Representatives he requested to make the duty, per lb., id.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Fruits, Dried, viz.: -
– This item covers the product which is known as dried or evaporated apples. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to insert the following sub-item: - “ (d) Apples, dried, or evaporated, per lb., British, 4d.: intermediate, 4d.: general, 4d.”
Dried apples are produced in three States of the Commonwealth, so that the imposition of a higher duty cannot possibly lead to a monopoly. Producers in the several States will compete with each other for the supply of the market throughout Australia, and consumers will benefit from the stabilization of the industry. Apple driers, and orchardists who look to them to make large purchases, at present have no sense of security, since from time to time dried apples from America are dumped in the Commonwealth. “We have not exported dried or evaporated apples in any quantity except during the year 1917, when, owing to the lack of insulated space on oversea steamers, and the danger of the whole apple crop perishing, the fruit-growers of Australia induced the Federal Government to negotiate with the Imperial authorities for the purchase of a very considerable quantity of dried apples. The overtures were successful, and although the price obtained was so moderate as to return but little to the apple-growers of Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia, even that was better than allowing the fruit to perish in the orchards. With that exception, we have exported only a very small quantity, most of the dried apples produced in Australia being consumed locally. Dried apples are retailed at something like 8d. or 9d. per lb., so that the increased duty for which I ask represents, roughly, 50 per cent. of their price, but as the industry is spread over at least three States, the increased duty, I maintain, would not affect the selling price.
– Do we import any dried apples?
– Yes. In the Customs statistics they are bulked with importations of dried fruits generally, so that I doubt whether particulars can bo gained as to the actual weight that we import every year. From time to time, however, whenever the American market is over-supplied, dried apples are dumped on the Australian market. The practice is one in which every country indulges. If a country is over-supplied with any particular commodity, it is glad to export its surplus, even if it has to sell it at rates below those prevailing in the home market.
– That is done with Australian dried fruits.
– It is a common practice. The dumping of apples from America places apple driers here at a disadvantage. I submit this request with confidence, because I am satisfied that instead of injuring, it will really con- serve the interests of consumers as well as of producers. It will lead to the greater stability of the industry, and, consequently, to an increased supply, which must regulate the price to the consumer.
– I should be glad if Senator Earle would include dried apricots, peaches, and nectarines in his request. All these fruits are grown and dried in New South Wales and other States, and the fruit-growers need all the protection we can give them.
– Are the soft fruits mentioned by the honorable senator dried in any State except New South Wales?
– I thought that the honorable senator was a Free Trader?
– I am; but since every other industry is being protected, I think that fruit-growers, who have to contend with most serious difficulties, are entitled to the same consideration. The orchardists have to contend with all sorts of pests. They have not only to pay high prices for their land, but have to wait some years for their orchards to come into full profit. If Senator Earle will include apricots, pears, and nectarines in his request, I will support it.
– Also dried pears?
– Yes, I would also favour the inclusion of dried pears.
– The Government are unable to accept Senator Earle’s proposal, inasmuch as the increased duty would be out of proportion to the value of the commodity to which it is sought to apply it. The price obtained for dried apples does not compare with that secured by the orchardist for his fresh fruit. I have had some experience in this matter, since I handled the 40,000 tons of dried apples that the British Government kindly purchased from us at a time when oversea vessels with the insulated space necessary to convey our fresh fruits to Great Britain were not available. On one occasion I visited a factory where the fruit was being dried, iu order to see whether the conditions laid down for the payment of the bonus on dried fruit were being carried out. I saw at work there a number of young women who were beautifully gowned, and who were drying apples the like of which could not be obtained in a Swanston-street fruit shop for less than ls. per lb.’ It occurred to me that a special show was being made “for my benefit, and I therefore asked that a box of dried fruit which had been nailed up in the absence of the Customs officials should be opened. I was at once informed that much better samples were to be found lower down in the stack, but I insisted that the particular box to which I had first drawn attention should be opened, and found that the “good old windfall” was very much in evidence. For the most’ part, only “ windfalls “ are dried or evaporated. It would not pay so to treat high-class fruit. Where a bounty is paid on the production of such a commodity, it is necessary to establish a Customs bond in order to make sure that a first class article is being turned out. I do not say that only apples of inferior quality are dried or evaporated; my point is that apples that would find a ready sale in the fresh fruit market are not so treated. The existing duty is equal to more than 40 per cent, of the value of the article, and I do not think we should increase it.
– I .have not had such an experience of the dried fruit industry as that related by the Minister (Senator Russell). In that part of the Commonwealth in which I chiefly reside when I am not in Melbourne, large quantities of dried apples are used, and the quality is. all that could be desired. The same remark would apply to the dried fruits mentioned by Senator Cox, and particularly to dried nectarines, -which . seem to retain their natural flavour better than any other fruits which I know. It is our duty to do whatever we can to assist the fruit industry generally. At the present moment it is facing a crisis, due chiefly to over-production. In all the States so many people have been encouraged by the advice and financial assistance offered by their Governments to become fruitgrowers that in every branch of the industry we are faced with over-production. While our production is in excess of requirements, and fruit can be obtained at a reasonable price, no fruit should be permitted to be imported. If fruit could be brought in from overseas there would be loss, not only to the man on the land, but to the Governments tendering financial support.
– Would the honorable senator prevent fresh apples from entering from America?
– I would have no objection to such importations, provided that Australian-grown apples were not procurable at a reasonable price. We have considerable provision for cool storage, and, generally, there is a fair supply of Australian apples throughout the year. I am prepared to give reasonable encouragement, by means of the Tariff, to any branch of the fruit-growing industry, but there should be fair play all round; and I shall want to know, for example, why dates, which are a tropical product, should be given protection to the extent of only1d. per lb., compared with the protection granted in other directions.
– Does Senator Earle include in his mo-, tion for a request the words suggested by Senator Cox?
– No, sir; I prefer not to cloud the issue.
– In moving
That the Senate do now adjourn,
I trust that I may be pardoned if I appeal to honorable senators to permit of rather more rapid progress than has been achieved so far with the Tariff schedule. Honorable senators who may be desiring a respite before another place resumes its sittings will not have their wishes fulfilled if the rate of dealing with the items in the schedule is not speeded up. Instead, the Senate is likely to be still sitting when another place resumes after its adjournment.
– I desire to correct a statement which I made in the Senate some time ago when speaking upon the
Tariff. I was referring to a Tariff which was under consideration of the New South Wales Parliament, and I stated that Senator Gardiner, as a member of that Legislature, had voted, together with some other members, for the removal of certain duties. I find now that, in the case of Senator Gardiner, I was in error; that, indeed, the honorable senator was not at the time a member of the New South Wales Parliament. He had been a member a few months previously.. Seeing that he could not have taken part in the division to which I alluded, I naturally desire to acknowledge and correct my mistake.
– I am sorry that Senator de Largie has taken the trouble to make his explanation,, because I am bound to say that, had I been in the New South Wales Parliament at the time, I would have voted precisely as he erroneously said I did.
The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has appealed for expedition with respect to the consideration of the Tariff schedule. It should not be forgotten that the Government have “ slept on” the Tariff for some twelve or eighteen months. If the whole business be got through by Christmas, they should be well satisfied. There are more than 400 items, and very few have been dealt with, despite the earnest efforts, of honorable senators to-day. I have been, away for a fortnight, and I hoped that the Committee would have finished with the schedule before my return. The Tariff, however, is too important to warrant hurry. The Government may think that, because they have prepared it, and it has been in operation for many months, it is perfect. They must realize, however, that during the period in which the schedule operated prior to this Parliament being given an opportunity to deal with it ample opportunities were afforded of perceiving its defects. If the Parliament has finally dealt with the schedule by Christmas, so that there may be then a brief recess with a view to a resumption in the New Year, that should be satisfactory to the Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 August 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210803_senate_8_96/>.