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Thursday, 2 May 1957


Mr HAMILTON (Canning) .- I will not detain the House for very long, but I must express the thought that the House is indebted to the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), for his comments. I know that the manufacturers of superphosphate in Western Australia will certainly appreciate his remarks. Some time ago, in another place, a move to have this bounty altered was made by a senator from Western Australia. I recall listening to the debate and later reading it. A great legal battle developed between the then AttorneyGeneral and some others in another place, and nothing eventuated; the move was defeated.

As the honorable member for Werriwa said, the superphosphate manufacturing firms in Western Australia endeavoured to assist the government of the day when we were finding it most difficult to obtain brimstone from overseas for the manufacture of superphosphate. They engaged in the task of converting their plants to treat pyrites that were available at Norseman, some 400 miles from the superphosphate works. The honorable member for Werriwa' is also perfectly correct when he said that that loaded a terrific charge on those superphosphate companies. They either carried the bulk from Norseman to Bassendean or "North Fremantle, or they set up a plant at "Norseman and made sulphuric acid there. However, there was a danger in conveying the acid to the seaboard. As a section of the Constitution gives us an opportunity to overcome the differentiation between companies in the various States, the proposal of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) that clause 2 of the amending : bill be delayed would give the Government an opportunity to consider this aspect of the legislation.

I recall very well, and no doubt the Minister knows of the position, that in the eastern States some of the companies - though not all of them - said they would not bother to convert their plants to use pyrites when they could get away without doing so.. They find now that it may be a little more difficult. 1 hope the Minister will act upon the remarks, of the honorable member for Capricornia and have this measure delayed until the Government has an opportunity to look at the Constitution and decide whether it is possible to make a differentiation in the bounty. When the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) was making his contribution to this debate, he took the opportunity of deriding, the Australian Country Party by saying that it was not interested in these matters. If he looks back, through the past few years, he will find that the Australian Country party has. been vitally interested in this matter.. An honorable senator of this, party has made a great study of it and has offered some valuable contributions. I remind the honorable member that in his discourses on the 124 per cent, bounty and other matters, such as shipping freights and so on, apparently he was unaware that the more some companies use pyrites for the manufacture of sulphuric acid which, in turn, is used for the manufacture of superphosphate, more brimstone will be made available for conversion into sulphuric acid for use by the steel companies and other industrial enterprises which employ great numbers of workers. Those arc the people who the honorable member for Scullin oft times claims are represented only by the Labour party. If the honorable member ever does any thinking about the use of pyrites for sulphuric acid, he will realize that, despite the profit motive or anything else, the use of pyrites for manufacturing sulphuric acid clears the field, and leaves the restricted imports of brimstone - they have been restricted at various times - freely available to the industrial enterprises which employ so many of the workers whom the honorable member claims his party, alone, represents. It ill behoves the honorable member to speak of profit motives when referring to the 124 per cent, limitation, because in 1948 the Labour party, as it has admitted, was making 16! per cent, profit from running a radio station. Goodness knows what that profit is to-day as a result of inflation and other factors! No doubt it is about 32 per cent.

I urge the Government to examine the suggestion offered by the honorable member for Werriwa. We have had some other information, which is available to the Government if it cares to investigate the matter. If the honorable member's suggestion were adopted it would avoid the squabbles that have arisen over this bounty. The Senate, eighteen months ago, rejected a plea to have this differentiation in the bounty established.







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