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Letters to the Editor

From time to time, a commentary on the world will bubble up inside of me to the extent that I'm forced to write a letter to my local, metropolitan, daily newspaper, The Age. This is where I blow of some steam. Feel like venting too? Add your own comment or visit my homepage.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Bananas - A Bell-Weather for Freedom

Bananas are a fantastic food - healthy, portable and delicious. They should be enriching the nation's breakfast cereals, custards and smoothies. Instead, we're told that 20 million Australians have to go without for a year as a sop to a few hundred Queensland farmers in marginal seats (Sunday Age, 26/3). What kind of a free-market party dictates to us our basic fruit purchases?

Perhaps the kind that outlaws grown-ups from including a raft of provisions in their commercial agreements. Or the kind that is desperately trying to kick out the only effective liberal in Parliament in favour of an apparatchik. Maybe the kind that cops criticism from right-wing think-tanks for setting up a Stalinist-style command-and-control economy.

It's telling that when the Berlin Wall came down the most popular purchase for the East Berliners, newly-freed from Stalinist control, was the humble banana.



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Anonymous Anonymous vented ...

The first draft of the Import Restrictions Act (IRA)drafted in 2004, listed Philipine bananas as being safe for import. The Australian Banana Growers reacted quickly, bringing along panels of independent scientists able to find fault in Biosecurity Australia's banana import research. After numerous demonstrations, a catchy slogan and some fear mongoring on behalf of the ABG, the Howard Gov't had no choice but to back down.

And it is not hard to see why. Fear is compelling and by winter of 2004, many Australians were actually siding with the farmers; Fear of contamination, the elevating of the banana as a quintessential Australian crop and the fear of a crowd of XXXX-drinking holligans hitting the streets at yet another local parade. The reaction to "Save the Aussie banana" campaign, was one I'd expected to see in the United States where fear is the most common marketing tool used to entice the public to buy: SUV, insurance or that must-have toy.

Should you manage the risk of infecting what little there is left of the banana industry in Northern Queensland simply to appease the appetite of Australian? Perhaps.

Should Australia have stood to the ABG back in 2004 and stuck with the original findings of Biosecurity Australia? Most definitely. Risk is something to be managed. It can not and should not be avoided. Certainly not in the name of capitalism.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 5:05:00 am  
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Blogger Greg vented ...

This country would make more sense to me if I could accept that the 1750 banana-growers - and smattering of sugar farmers - are REAL Aussies and the other 20 million of us are just blessed to be allowed to live near them.

If I could believe that, then all the pandering by the Government (think John Howard with his stupid bloody bush hat) or the media (think Ray Martin squatting in a dust bowl running dry soil through his fingers) would make sense.

But I can't. Farmers are a link to a rural idyll that never was. But it's so ingrained in the public consciousness that we just keep bailing them out, time and again, in a way that would be unthinkable for, say, panel beaters.

Bring on the Filipino bananas!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 10:58:00 am  

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