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Friday, 2 December 1938

Mr FADDEN (Darling Downs) . - The suggested addition to the Senate's amendment is nothing buta matter of expediency.I submit that it has been introduced because the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly) realizes that he cannot get reasonable support from his party for the Senate's amendment. Formy part,I cannot see how this chamber can refuse to accept the Senate's amendment, which has been found necessary as the result of the generosity of the Queensland Government on behalf of the Queensland people. The effect of the compromise suggested by the honorable member for Lilley would be to preclude Queensland, which has not marginal difficulties such as arc experienced in the other States, from its just share in the distribution of the maximum amount of £500.000. When this matter was considered by thegovernments concerned at a recent conference, the Queensland Government recognized that, on account of the comparable favorable conditions Queensland growers are enjoying at present, they wore not entitled to full consideration in the distribution of the special £500,000 fund when the growers in other States were suffering as the result of drought conditions.But that position will not always be accepted by Queensland. As a matter of fact, during the last, three or four years, there has been a continuous drought in the wheatgrowing areas of Queensland and, although the present season has been a good one, those bad conditions will return. Consequently some provision should be made for the participation by Queensland in a fund which is being specifically established to alleviate distress caused by adverse seasonal conditions.

The proposition of the Senate leave.-, the matter open for consideration on « proper and equitable basis as between the governments concerned, having regard to the conditions that exist at the time consideration has to be given to them. What, more reasonable attitude could bc adopted than to leave the matter to be considered by the Ministers of the State governments, and by the Commonwealth Minister? I emphasize the fact that £500,000 is the maximum amount, and the provision is to be for only five years. The degree to which that fund will be drawn upon will depend uupon the conditions prevailing at the time. Too much consideration has been given by opponents of the amendment to the problem of marginal lands. That, is a problem which. I admit, must be faced, lint why should Queensland have to contribute towards the cost, of solving that problem when it has no marginal lands itself? Queensland has its own problems, such as drought, pests, &c.

For my part, I do not. believe that this arrangement for the relief of necessitous farmers should have been associated with the. stabilization scheme at all. It should have been separate and distinct, but the governments concerned have agreed to include it. The State governments should have accepted responsibility for the relief of distress, but circumstance;! over which they have, no control have made that impossible, and they havethrown the responsibility on to the growers themselves. This amount of £.r>00.00f) is provided by the wheatgrowers out of their own fund, and there will be no increase of tlie tax in order to obtain it.

Mr. ROSEVEAR.(Dalley) [3.4'|.- One must admire the enthusiasm and energy with which the honorable member for

Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) has worked the parish pump. He treats thin matter merely from the point of view of how it will affect his own State, but surely it is one of national concern. He started off by saying that the total proceeds of the tax should be devoted to providing a home-consumption price, bur bc admitted that the Government was determined that, part of it should be devoted towards the rehabilitation of farmers on uneconomic areas. Now he goes further than even the Government was at first prepared to go, and proposes that part of the money should actually be devoted, to the relief of fanners suffering because of seasonal adversity, and he takes up" this attitude because, otherwise, his State would not share in the distribution, having no uneconomic areas at. present.

Mr Wilson - lt will have them.

Mr ROSEVEAR - Probably. This problem of marginal lands is one to which the expensive Royal Commission on the Wheat IIndustry drew particular attention. It pointed out that a. great number of fanners were occupying unsuitable land, so that it, was impossible for them to produce wheat at a payable price. In this bill it is proposed to set aside £500,000 each year for five years to' deal with the problem, irrespective of where it occurs. It may not occur in Queensland, but it certainly exists in almost every other State. Within the next five years, £2,000.000 was to have been devoted to the removal of fanners from the marginal areas. If we accept the Senate's amendment, the effect will be that part of this amount of £500.000, which is to be set aside each: year, will be devoted, not to solving the problem of uneconomic areas, but to assisting, in Hie relief of distressed wheat-growers at the request, of needy State Premiers or Treasurers. The request may be made, not. necessarily because the State concerned has no uneconomic areas, as is at present, the case in Queeusland, but because the Treasurer wants the money to deal with some other problem arising out of the industry. Drought has 1 H'/' mentioned, but that is something from which any State might suffer at any r '177 C. The honorable member for Darling Downs even mentions the ravage's of pests as a reason why the fund should bc raided. If we allow needy Treasurers to nibble at the fund in the way suggested, it will be dissipated in directions never intended, and the amount available for the permanent solution of the problem of uneconomic lands will be correspondingly reduced. At the end of five years, the problem will be still almost as far from solution as ever. Like the poor, it will always be with us, because mcn will still be trying to grow wheat on marginal lands when they should bo eliminated from the industry altogether.

The method by which this money is to be raised has been severely criticized, but, once it is raised, let us at least see that it is expended in a way that will make a permanent contribution to the solution of the problems associated with the wheat industry. Even if it were found that all the uneconomic areas were in one State, I still say that all the money available should be devoted to the solution of the problem in that State. This is a national matter, and I cannot understand members of this national Parliament arguing that, just because their State does not happen to be affected, it should make no contribution towards the solution of the problem in other States. I intend to vote against the amendment because it would, if agreed to, defeat one of the main purposes of the bill. The only difference between the Senate's amendment and the latest suggestion by the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) is that in the Senate's amendment no limit is placed on the amount of money which may be devoted to the relief of distress,, while if the latest suggestion of the Minister were adopted the amount wo.uld .be limited to £166,000. I hope that the committee will accept neither the amendment made by the Senate nor the suggested modification of it, and that it will insist that the whole of the amount of £500,000 will be expended each year on providing a permanent solution of the problem of marginal lands.

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