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Wednesday, 7 December 1938

Mr BLAIN (Northern Territory) (1:15 AM) . - I support the plea of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) that discriminaton should be shown in the distribution of this subsidy. I am surprised that members of the Country party generally have not shown a desire to confine this subsidy to needy farmers and to withhold it from those whose land is richly endowed by nature. I have no complaint in regard to the encouragement of the use of fertilizers in Western Australia. I am probably better acquainted with the farming areas of that State than I am with those of Queensland and the Northern Territory, and during iiic time 1 SpenT there, 1 could not locate any 100-acre block on which it was not desirable to use fertilizers. Last year, I was astonished to notice the enormous benefits gained by the application of fertilizers, even at the rate of 80 lb. to the acre. Western Australia owes much of its economic stability to the application to the soil of these fertilizers, and it has greater agricultural possibilities than most people in the eastern States realize. The Leader of the Opposition proceeded on sound lines in arguing that discrimination should be shown between rich and poor lands in the encouragement of the use qf fertilizers. I have long advocated a motional stock-taking, and now is the time for a survey to be made. In the Northern Territory, there is so much land available that no difficulty is experienced in practising rotation of crops, but even in the territory this subsidy could be applied with advantage. The great basalt areas of the eastern States, facing the Pacific, are not in need of fertilizers. Western Australia and some of the other parts of the Commonwealth, however, are not so richly endowed, and, therefore, require their application. This is necessary, for instance, in the lighter country in the neighbourhood of Camperdown, Victoria. It seems to me that a mistake has been made in regarding the whole of Australia as one district for the purpose of this subsidy. I suggest to members of the Country party that discrimination as between people richly endowed with this world's goods and those not so fortunate, is justified in a case like this. I' therefore support the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition. This aspect of the subject should certainly be considered before any similar bill is introduced.

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