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Wednesday, 7 December 1938

Mr HOLT (Fawkner) (1:25 AM) .Most honorable members will endorse the view of the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) that the use of fertilizers has greatly increased the volume of primary production in Australia. I feel, however, that by now the scheme should have served the educational purpose for which it was introduced. Primary producers should, by now, realize the value of treating their soil with fertilizers. The Government has, admittedly, been generous in this matter, but during this financial year heavy commitments have to be met in respect of defence and also in regard to social services such as national insurance. There is, therefore, no real justification for continuing the payment of this subsidy this year. I am reinforced in this view because of the action of the Government in reducing, by one-half, the grant made last year for the technical training of the unemployed youth of Australia.

Mr Thompson - That grant was reduced because the State governments were not spending the money already made available to them for this purpose.

Mr HOLT - In that case I hope that we may be assured that, if the full amount provided this year is expended, tho vote will be "restored to its previous level. In a year when the Government is expending such a vast sum of money on defence, the expenditure of an amount of £215,000 for the purposes of this hill must be regarded as being excessive and, indeed, unnecessary.

As the honorable member for the Riverina has admitted that it was never intended that this subsidy should have permanent application, and as the amount made available for the purpose has been progressively reduced, I think it probable he expects that the subsidy will be discontinued altogether next financial year. Without any feeling of hostility to persons engaged in primary production, I feel that I must say that in my opinion the Government would not be justified in continuing this grant at this stage. This is not a time when the country can afford to distribute largesse of this description.

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