Stop 'boat fruit', buy Australian

08 Jan, 2014 01:00 AM
Mate, these oranges are Californian, but the sign says they're from Australia ... not good enough

MY DAD squeezes fresh orange juice for my mum every morning, because he knows how to treat a lady. (Which goes some way to explaining why he's been married for over 30 years, and I haven't been married for any.)

Relationship advice aside, my dad only uses Australian oranges. He votes Liberal, believes in supporting small business and the capitalist concept of supply and demand, so we have our differences. What he doesn't believe in, however, is foreign fruit.

“Refugees coming here by boat aren't the ones stealing our jobs. It's the gigantic boatloads of fruit and vegetables.”

"How can an orange from America or Brazil be cheaper than an Australian one? How can an orange that's sailed here from half a world away cost less than one grown in the same state as where it's sold? That bloody foreign stuff, coming here, and stealing our shelf space."

My dad's right. It doesn't make any logical sense.

Now I know travelling by boat is cheaper than travelling by air, and I imagine that the cost of a ticket for an orange would be way less than it would be for a person, but still it must cost more. One orange travels thousands of kilometres, while the Australian one travels barely a hundred.

My dad also prefers the greengrocer, also known as the fruit and vegetable store to those born after 1990, as their fruit is often better quality and cheaper than the supermarkets.

Last week, his local greengrocer was out of Australian oranges, so Dad begrudgingly ventured into the fruit and vegetable section of the supermarket.

He checked the signage for the origin of their oranges, and bought a couple of kilos. When he got home, he read the fine print on mesh bag tags, and discovered that the oranges were Californian. Which he should've realised immediately, due to their deep tan and annoying accents.

So he returned to the supermarket, where he had the following exchange with the kid masquerading as a manager.

"Mate, these oranges are Californian, but the sign says they're from Australia," said Dad.

The kid shrugged. "I'll look into it."

"Not good enough," Dad replied, and marched him over to the display.

When they didn't have a replacement sign, Dad refused to leave until the manager used a black marker to cross out "Australian" and write "Californian". Then he got his money back, and drove to different shopping centre where they luckily had some Australian oranges, and some delicious Queensland strawberries, which were for me. Strawberries are my favourite.

So from all this I learnt two things. My dad is a legend. (Which I already knew.) And the supermarkets don't give a stuff. For all their posturing, press releases and promises about supporting the local industry, and shiny adverts claiming freshness and low prices, all they care about is using whatever tricks they can, to make as much money for their shareholders as possible.

The result is that in Australia at this very moment, because of all the imports, local farmers can't sell their fruit, and are being forced to destroy perfectly good fruit trees.

The imports are so cheap because of government handouts, which we don't get in Australia, or because their workers are paid well below the minimum wage. Eventually these handouts will disappear, the wages will rise, and we'll be stuck paying way too much for foreign fruit and vegetables, because we destroyed our local farming industry to make money now, instead of thinking about the future.

Or the whole system will collapse, and we'll have nothing to eat at all.

Refugees coming here by boat aren't the ones stealing our jobs. It's the gigantic boatloads of fruit and vegetables. So we shouldn't be worried about the boat people. What we really need to stop is the boat fruit.

There's something you can do, starting today. Check the signs, read the labels and buy only Australian grown. So what if it costs a little extra? If we all work together, we can stop the boat fruit.

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian. His debut comedy book about life on a FIFO mining site Mining My Own Business is available now.

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8/01/2014 3:35:43 AM

Very funny. The real damage is to play into all the predjudices when the real problem is that we have an extremely high cost economy where unless someone earns $30 an hour they do not get out of bed in the morning and that extends to freight cost and the whole supply chain. Excess fruit here can not be exported because of the extortion and inefficiency which are our wharves. Like anything, we have a production capacity which is highly variable - sometimes we need a top up and other times we should but can not export over the supply portionwhich will be lower value but still viable as others do
8/01/2014 4:29:39 AM

Good writing
The Serf
8/01/2014 7:18:17 AM

I'm with Peter; in fact the extremely high standard of living is causing the farm sector into bankruptcy, because as Peter says we need to export our surplus when available. That surplus in most cases cannot be exported at a profit because of our high cost of production. If we are to follow the directions of the uninformed consumer in this article then that will ultimately mean a massive shrinking of all rural production just to cater for domestic consumption and will be most likely be controlled vertical integration by Coles and Woolworths; then you will see food costs skyrocket
X Ag Socialist
8/01/2014 9:11:40 AM

If Aus had a land border with Mexico our oranges would be just as cheep .
8/01/2014 11:01:45 AM

There are many issues raised in this article. To mention just a few Australian farmers enjoy the Australian lifestyle; Carbon tax should be applied to imports; upper management in the retail and logistics chain enjoy multi million dollar packages; Australia provides foreign aid to countries that provide us with cheaper imports. We lose our incomes they lose the foreign aid. Life goes on and there is no simple answer.
Jeremy Lomman
8/01/2014 6:00:21 PM

Foodland selling pineapple from Indonesia. Would love to see the chemical history on that...errrr.....maybe not. Has anyone tried requesting chemical history of a food product from a supermarket under Freedom of Information Act? Might give it a go and see what happens.
John Hine
10/01/2014 5:22:26 AM

Actually, I thought we exported our navel oranges to California and China? Oh, immigrants dont steal jobs,, they create them by creating extra demand. Re our costs, we have two choices, go the low wage route and eat lower quality food and farmers suffer, or get into automation. The last 100 years has seen more and more automation and an ever higher standard of living. I know which way I want to go.
Bushie Bill
10/01/2014 7:03:02 PM

Thank god for the sanity and clarity of John Hine.
Cattle Advocate
15/01/2014 5:55:51 AM

Why is WA still importing milk when the 'Fresh Oppotunities' report said supply should double? $1/lt milk will take $2.1B from dairy by Aus day 2014 that would re employ the GMH workforce 7 times over. Is this view the problem? Customers come first always.Be prepared for fallout with other stakeholders and manage the, Shock,Anger, Retribution,Response,Recovery issues cycle.[Response,Govt,No action needed] A $60K Abalone fishing boat with a supply contract [Ab licence] is worth $5M,a 5yr milk contract devalues a dairy farm should DF take their chances with the sharks than bled dry by $1/lt milk


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