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Wednesday, 23 March 1927

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaVicePresident of the Executive Council) . - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Under the Advances to Settlers Act 1923, the sum of £250,000 was appropriated for the purchase of wire netting for settlers. This amount is now exhausted, and the Government proposes to make available the sum of three million pounds during the next six years. The sum of £500,000 is provided for in this year's Estimates. The £3,000,000 has been apportioned among the States and the Northern Territory, by taking the mean of the results obtained by apportioning the money - (a) on an area basis; and (b) on a sheep, plus cattle, basis. The allotments are as follow: -


Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia have agreed to participate in the scheme, but the other States, up to the present, have not accepted it. If any State definitely declines to participate in the scheme, the allotment to that State will be distributed amongst the participating States. The wire netting and the wire, which includes fencing wire and barbed wire, proposed to be supplied under the bill, are to be of Australian manufacture, unless the Minister otherwise approves in writing. The chief features of the scheme, in its application to the States, are as follow: -

1.   The money will be advanced to the States, which will purchase wire netting of Australian manufacture as required and issue it to settlers who apply for it, at cost.

2.   The State will pay the Commonwealth up to 4 per cent, interest and 2 per cent, sinking fund per annum for 25 years on the amount advanced.

3.   The settler will pay the State up to 5 per cent, interest and 2 per cent, sinking fund per annum for 25 years on the cost of the wire netting supplied to him.

4.   The payments specified in paragraphs 2 and 3 will extinguish the liabilities of the State to the Commonwealth, and. of the settlers to the State respectively.

5.   The excess of 1 per cent; interest which the State will charge the settler must be utilized for building up a fund to provide for future requirements. This fund will be the property of the State, but it must not bo used for any purpose except the purchase of wire netting for settlers. Interest derived from the operation of this fund will also be State pro perty, and may be devoted to whatever purpose the State thinks fit, e.g., general revenue.

6.   The State will be expected to accept the same kind of security from the settler as it would for wire netting purchased from its own funds.

7.   No restriction other than is indicated in the foregoing will be imposed on the State. Where the State refuses an application for assistance, however, the Commonwealth expects to be notified of the circumstances in order that possible complaints may be answered.

8.   The State will be allowed to charge the settler £1 per mile of netting to cover administration expenses and losses. All handling charges and freight, up to the point where the settler desires to take delivery, are to be paid by the settler.

The act also applies to North and Central Australia, and wire or wire netting may be supplied to settlers in those territories at such a price and subject to such terms as to repayment as are prescribed by regulation. In the great fight which is proceeding against pests I am sure no measure will be received with greater pleasure, particularly by those on the outer fringe of our settled areas. As it is badly needed, I ask this Senate to give it their support.

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