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just asking « Previous | |Next »
July 28, 2006

I see that inflation in Australia is edging up again (4% annual rate) to the point where another interest rate rise may be on the cards, with the possibility of a fourth rise latter in the year. If so that increase will hit heavy debt-servicing households hard.

Inflation is being represented as caused by increases in the price of bananas and petrol, and so the government is not responsible. Hence we have blame deflection and political distancing by the Howard government. Isn't there another kind of international dimension working here ----the big resource boom that is confronted by skills shortages and tight labour markets?

Strangely, bananas have been signaled out. Isn't the Howard Government committed to free trade? If so why cannot it import bananas to help reduce the 250% increase in the domestic price of bananas since the crop was destroyed by cyclone Larry earlier in the year? Isn't that refusal to allow bananas to be imported a form of protectionism of Australian agriculture?

Wasn't Australia arguing for reduced protection for agriculture by the EU and Japan at the WTO's Dohra round of negotiations? Does that imply Australia is in favour of open competitive markets? So why does Australia close its markets?

Isn't the Howard Government responsible for that anti-free trade position? So why do we continue to represent the Howard Government as being in favour of trade liberalisation.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:38 AM | | Comments (2)


Banana's are a little bit of a special case.

They are incredibly susceptible to disease - as it is a true monoculture - the plant is effectively a clone of the parent stocks, and there is little genetic variation to allow for resistance.

A bit of a worry for one of the worlds staple crops.

I don't know whether the import ban is scientifically based, but if any crop can justify this sort of non-tariff barrier, it is banana's.

Besides, some of the banana growing areas rest on marginal seats....

I appreciate that bananas lack genetic diversity. The current banana Cavendish now make up about 95 % of bananas sold in Australia and elsewhere.

So what can ail one banana, ails them all. And a disease that infects one plantation can spread rapidly and wipe out a global industry.

I agree that biosecurity is a problem--banana diseases do pose a long term problem – the end of Australia's banana crop.So Australia wont import any bananas because of the supposed risk of incidentally importing pests and disease. This risk is real in relation to some banana-producing countries.

Does this apply to the Philippines? Doesn't it have very strict and effective mechanisms for controlling potential pests and diseases. Though there is some risk that importing bananas will introduce pests or plant disease into Australia, three years ago, Australia's quarantine services opened the way for the import of foreign bananas.

However, this was overturned in the lead up to the last federal election, following heavy pressure by the National Party, worried about the livelihood of some of its constituency.It's more about protection of our local industries.

So quarantine becomesa trade barrier to protect our farmers against competition.