A great big (banana) tax

Banana prices are a ridiculous $14-15 per kg. for only one reason; the outrageous ban on imports that regularly delivers massive subsidies directly from consumers’ pockets to this tiny group of growers.

Australian Banana Growers Council chief executive Jonathan Eccles told The Australian that growers were getting up to $10/kg wholesale. That, he said, was a massive jump from last year, when a banana glut drove the wholesale price as low as $1/kg. Mr Eccles said prices should return to normal by the end of the year.” Extract from The Australian

Thanks to the import ban, Australian banana growers are insulated from foreign competition, supposedly to protect our plantations from the risk of imported banana-plant diseases that developing country farmers all around the world have managed more than adequately for decades. The import-ban has allowed them (and their suppliers and ‘middle-men’) to soak Australian consumers for hundreds of millions of dollars; twice since 2006!

For what public benefit do we subsidise this tiny, trade-busting* industry?

None, as far as I can see. Obviously, the import ban does not protect the Australian industry from the biggest risk they face: cyclones.

Despite the solemn assurances of Ministers from successive governments that our quarantine import barriers are “science based”, no government can insulate itself from responsibility for this policy by a procedural device. Our banana import-ban is a costly indulgence in trade-protection (as our comprehensive losses in WTO disputes on Canadian salmon and New Zealand apples confirm) and consumer-gouging. It seems to have no loftier target than securing political favours in Northern New South Wales (and Southern Queensland) coastal regions.

*You can imagine how big banana-exporters such as Philippines and Thailand or small regional suppliers such as Tonga feel about our exports when we ban theirs.

One Comment

  • john wratt wrote:

    Dodgy graft & corruption in the industry & politics amazing that it has been going on for so long ? – who benefits? – do the unaffected growers share the profits across the industry? – why don’t they sort out disease resistant crops? and as most industries open up the trade to world trade competition – unbelievable how politicians stick to the baloney about importing diseases – someone needs to get to the bottom of the story!!

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