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Wednesday, 18 March 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - Speaking on the second reading of this bill, I said that I would endeavour to improve it in committee. The members of the Opposition are strongly opposed to wealthy wheat-growers receiving any of the money which has been contributed by all taxpayers including the poor. We cannot see any reason why wheat-growers not in need of financial assistance should receive any portion of this grant. I therefore move -

That at the end of tlie clause the following proviso be added: -

Provided no approval shall be given in respect of payment to any wheat-grower who is assessed as capable of paying working expenses and meeting present interest charges, plus £125 per annum being the amount set down by the commission as a full remuneration to the farmer for his own personal efforts.

I stated earlier in the day that an amount larger than £125 would be our objective, but in order to meet the Government in this matter, I have adopted that amount. I accept the statement of the royal commission on the wheat industry that £125 is a reasonable personal income for a farmer, after paying working expenses, and meeting present interest charges.

Senator Hardy - Is that amount to represent the new basic wage for the wheat-growers ?

Senator COLLINGS - Of course it is not. It is the amount mentioned by the royal commission. I trust that the amendment will be carried, because on the 8th December, 1933, the Government embodied a similar clause in the Wheat Growers Relief Bill then before Parliament. I am endeavouring to assist wheat-growers who have no taxable income, and I have used the amount embodied in my amendment because it was used by the commission. A similar clause inserted in the Wheat Growers Relief Bill 1933 read -

A wheat-grower shall not he entitled to receive assistance under this act unless -

(a)   during the year ended on the thirtieth day of June One thousand nine hundred and thirty three he derived no taxable income.

That was supported by nineteen honorable senators including members of the present Opposition and was opposed by only six. I trust that the amendment will he accepted because the members of the Opposition strongly object to wheat- growers not in needy circumstances receiving financial assistance in this form.

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