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Wednesday, 7 December 1960

Mr BROWNE (Kalgoorlie) .-1 did not intend to speak on this bill because in effect it is merely a re-enactment of the Sulphuric Acid Bounty Act. Therefore, I do not think it is necessary to comment very much. But as the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has misconstrued, to some extent, the reasons for the passing of the principal act I think I should put him on the right track as I represent rather a large pyrites industry. The honorable member for Lalor said that all industries producing pyrites should be eligible for the bounty. I suggest that he has overlooked the initial cause for the introduction of this bill and of the principal act.

The reason why a bounty was paid on the use of sulphuric acid manufactured from indigenous materials in the first place was that when imported brimstone was not available or was too expensive for the manufacture of superphosphate, the manufacturers went to a lot of expense and trouble to convert their plant to the production of sulphuric acid from indigenous materials. Subsequently the supply of imported brimstone became more plentiful and it was found that the manufacturers of sulphuric acid could more profitably use imported brimstone than indigenous materials. Therefore, the Government, in good faith, implemented the Sulphuric Acid Bounty Act. It is not the intention of the Government. I take it - I see no reason why it should be - to encourage the use of pyrites which, after all, has a very limited use and cannot compete now and will not be able to compete in the foreseeable future economically with brimstone which is in full supply throughout the world.

Mr Luchetti - Why do we not use our own product?

Mr BROWNE - We do.

Mr Luchetti - You do not want us to.

Mr BROWNE - Certainly I do. But while we are keeping open the present avenues for the exploitation of pyrites we are using our own product and we are making it profitable for the manufacturers of sulphuric acid to use our own product. That is the intention of the bill and of the principal act. But to encourage further exploration for and use of pyrites could get the country into economic difficulties by subsidizing a product which is not economically subsidizable.

It is necessary to look at this subsidy in a reasonably sensible way, otherwise the whole purpose of a subsidy will be lost. The purpose of this subsidy is being fulfilled in this bill. To extend the subsidy to encourage people to go looking for pyrites and to exploit pyrites deposits would be a departure from the entire principle of this bill. The purpose of keeping faith with the producers of pyrites is being fulfilled in this bill. I should like to congratulate the Government once again on keeping faith with the people who helped out in a period when imported brimstone was hard to get and was expensive, thus enabling the manufacture of superphosphate to continue. I support the bill wholeheartedly.

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