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Tuesday, 6 December 1938

Mr THOMPSON (New EnglandAssistant Minister for Commerce) . - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The hill provides for payment of a subsidy at the rate of 10s. a ton on all artificial fertilizers used during the year ending the 30th June, 1939, in the production of primary produce other than wheat. Payment will not be made on any quantity in excess of ten tons of fertilizer used by any one primary producer, and, for the purposes of this legislation, a partnership or a group of persons working under a share-farming agreement are to be regarded as one primary producer. This subsidy first came into operation in December, 1932, and, excepting for the period from the 1st December, 1933, to the 30th June, 1934, has been continued at varying rates since that date. The rates of subsidy paid since its inception, the total amount paid, and the quantity of fertilizer used in each year have been as follows: -


For the year ended the 30th June, 1938, no subsidy is payable in respect of any quantity in excess of 20 tons by any individual producer. This provision is responsible for the reduction of the quantity on which it is estimated that subsidy will be paid; and in the total amount of payment. The fertilizer subsidy scheme has proved to be one of the best forms of assistance to primary producers introduced by the Government. It has resulted in a remarkable increase in the use of artificial fertilizers, which has enabled substantial reductions of prices to be made by the manufacturers of artificial fertilizers, and it has also been of great benefit in demonstrating to primary producers the advantages to bo derived from a wider use of fertilizers in primary production, particularly on soils which are deficient in plant food. The reduction of the price of superphosphate alone, as the result of the increased output in factories, has been approximately £1 a ton since the scheme was introduced. Furthermore, the extension of top-dressing of pastures has proved of material benefit by creating a permanent increase of productive activity. Whilst the Government realizes the value of this subsidy to primary producers generally, it is faced with the necessity for reducing expenditure because of the heavy calls on revenue in other directions, lt is desirable, however, that some form of assistance should bc continued, particularly to the users of small quantities of fertilizer, and, therefore, it has been decided to continue the subsidy in respect of fertilizers used during the year ending the 30th June, 1939, but to pay it only on quantities up to 10 tons used by any individual producer. It is estimated that the cost of the subsidy will be £215,000.

Mr Curtin - The Government is subsidizing the use of fertilizer, and then subsidizing the product from the fertilizer.

Mr THOMPSON - If the honorable member is referring to the wheat industry, no subsidy of this kind is paid to wheat-growers.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.

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