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Friday, 2 December 1938

Mr FRANCIS (Moreton) .- There has been considerable confusion in connexion with this small proposal which has been placed before us by the- Senate. The original legislation provided for a fund of £500,000 which was to 'be made available during the next five years for the purpose of assisting in flip, removal of distressed farmers from unprofitable marginal are..s, and placing them on holdings in better country or utilizing their original holdings for some other purpose. The legislation represents a sound endeavour to relieve Parliament and the country generally of the necessity for voting huge sums of money year after yeal" for the relief of wheat producers who arc trying to eke out an existence on land which is not entirely suitable for production. That was the. bill as it passed through this chamber in its original form. Now the Senate requests that, there be included a proposal designed to meet the peculiar circumstances of a State which has no marginal areas but has many wheatgrowers who. owing to verse seasonal conditions which mav 0:Cllr in the future. may bc in need of help. Fears have been expressed in this committee with regard to the Senate's amendment, but I contend that they are unfounded, in my opinion the suggestion put forward by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly) is a reasonable one, and meets the views of those who fear that in future this fund may be utilized for the provision of relief to distressed fanners, in .my of whom are on marginal areas, rather than for the purpose of permanently solving the problem by removing the farmers from those marginal areas. The compromise suggested by the honorable member for Lilley would overcome the impasse which seems to have been created. In order to facilitate tho passage of the bill I urge the Government to accept the amendment.

Mr. JENNINGS(Watson) 1 2.3:1].-! thought we had reached finality with this measure, and I am surprised that the Government is recommending acceptance of tlie Senate's amendment. Parliament has been generous in endeavouring to solve the problem of the wheat industry, because it wants to deal in an equitable way with this national industry. If this amendment is carried, the amount can bc allocated to any purpose at, all. Tt would lie open to any State to allocate money from this amount to any kind of distress. There, are other funds for that purpose, and this was not the intention of the bill. The last thing we want, to do is to keep wheat-farmers on uneconomic land, or aimlessly assisting farmers who may be unsui ted for wheat-farming at all. I consider that the, committee should adhere In its original decision.

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