Echoing Paul Keating's famous line about Australia becoming a banana republic, the soaring costs of the fruit have directly contributed to increases in the June quarter CPI figures released today. The Treasurer announced a 1.6% quarterly increase but still talked down the prospect of an August increase in the cash rate (yeah right).
Fruit, particularly bananas, contributed 52% of the increase, and fuel 11.2%.
The price hike on bananas is down to cyclones in Queensland in March this year which devastated production. In 2005, Australia produced 20 million plus cartons of bananas, something like 270 000 tonnes, worth AU$320-350 million but this is less than half of one percent of total bananas grown worldwide... (crasster links to this report on the global trade of bananas).
So you'd think that even in domestic production was down, imports should be reasonably priced? Maybe you could still buy a 'nana for under a dollar; fuhgeddaboutit. More like $2.16 each (Coles online Wed 26th).
Why so damned expensive? Australia bans all banana imports on the basis of the risk of "infestation". Bollocks. It is one of the many dubious non-tarriff trade protections applied to agricultural products by federal Liberal/National coalition government as a sinicure for their supporters.
So when your mortgage payments go up in August, remember that it's for a good cause; it's keeping uncompetitive Liberal/National party donors in business.
5 days ago