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Wednesday, 23 November 1921

Senator WILSON (South Australia) . - I desire 'to say a few words regarding the statement that has been made about the reduction in the price of superphosphates by 15s. a ton. Senator Reid has evidently been out into the corridors, and has been supplied with the latest information. To-day, at 12 o'clock, some gentlemen interested in phosphatic rock came to see me at Parliament House. They told me that they wanted a duty on Nauru rock, because it was underselling the phosphatic rocks of Australia by 15s. a ton.

Senator Payne - What the honorable senator said previously was that Nauru rock was being sold at 15s. a ton less than it was sold for previously.

Senator WILSON - What I say is that Nauru rock to-day is being supplied to manufacturers at 15s. a ton less than rock produced in Australia.

Senator Payne - That is an entirely different statement from that which the honorable senator made previously.

Senator Reid - The impression the honorable senator left on 'the minds of members of the Committee was that Nauru rock was being sold at 15s. a ton less than previously.

Senator WILSON - If I left that impression, I am sorry. It was not what I said. I distinctly said that, in 1914, the same facilities existed as exist now. Most of the companies in existence now, except two or three which were promoted ©wing to the- prosperity of the superphosphate business in Australia, were in existence then.

Senator Payne - Is the Nauru rock used for the same purpose as the Australian rock ?

Senator WILSON - Some of it is, I presume. If Nauru rock is brought into Australia, and used by manufacturers, surely this Committee cannot say that, for growing apples, it shall be admitted free, and for someother purpose it shall be dutiable. If the crude article is brought into Australia, it must all be admitted free or must all be dutiable. The people who are now fighting for a duty on superphosphates assured me that they did not want a duty until a duty had been put on sulphur. What they want is free sulphur. I make that statementinreply to those honorable senators who have been talking about Japanese superphosphate. This is the nutshell of the whole business.. The mistake was made by placing a high duty on sulphur, and then the manufacturers asked for a duty on superphosphates. We have burdened the producers of this country in order to build up the secondary industries, and the secondary industries, on the other hand, have become a burden on the producers. It reminds one of cutting the blossom off a tree and then expecting fruit. I am astonished that the Government should treat this proposal seriously. I opposed it on the previous occasion. I have done what I considered to be my duty. I ask honorable senators to remember that this country can only prosper while those engaged in' the production of wealth get' fair and reasonable treatment -at the hands of the Government.

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