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Wednesday, 4 December 1935

Senator BRENNAN (Victoria) (Assistant Minister) . - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This short amendment to the Financial Relief Act 1934 provides for an increase of the appropriation for the fertilizer subsidy for the year 1934-1935. When the subsidy was introduced in 1932, it was explained that many of our primary producers were not obtaining the best results from their operations because of their inability to make the fullest use of fertilizers. In some districts it was feared that the results of the insufficient application of fertilizers, particularly on pastures and orchards, would extend far beyond the loss in yield for the year concerned, and would affect future production, because of the set-back given to the pastures, trees and vines. The Government, therefore, granted the subsidy of 15s. a ton to encourage primary producers other than wheat-growers to use at least the normal quantities of fertilizers and, if necessary for efficient production, to extend their use. The result of this policy has been a remarkable increase of the use of artificial manures in these classes of production. In the first year of operation a considerable quantity which would not otherwise have been used was applied, and in 1934-35, sales of fertilizers showed an increase of over 90,000 tons, most of which was for use on pastures, and in connexion with the production of fruit, vegetables, and other crops. When the bill providing assistance for 1934-35 was introduced, it was not anticipated, either by the Department of Commerce or by the trade, that there would be such an increase, and provision was not made for it. Even so recently as the middle of October there was no indication that the increase would be so marked, as the number of applications to that date represented a value of only £233,000. In the last 'fortnight of October, however, applications representing a sum of approximately £90,000 were received, and it is, therefore, necessary to increase the appropriation of £250,000 made for that year to £325,000 in order to provide funds for payment on the increased quantity used. The experience in respect of the year 1934-35 suggests that there is likely to be a considerable further amount required for the year 1935-1936, for which an amount of £275,000 has been provided (including provision for half-ton lots, which were not previously included), but it is as yet too early to make a definite estimate of what the increase is likely to be. The position will, however, be reviewed early next year.

Having in mind the beneficial results accruing to our primary industries from the wider use of fertilizers, I commend this bill to the Senate for favorable consideration.

Debate (on motion by Senator Collings) adjourned.

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