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Thursday, 21 May 1936

Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES (South Australia) . - Speaking solely in regard to the amounts allocated to South Australia, I ask the Leader of the Senate whether the facts concerning these allocations were not these: South Australia requested the Commonwealth to make up the amount which it proposed to devote to forestry to £17,000, which was equal to the grant made for that purpose in 1934-35, and the Commonwealth replied that it could not make a grant higher than the amount at which it now stands. On the other hand, in respect of the mining industry, the State had sufficient funds to enable it to carry on for the present. That this was the attitude adopted by South ' Australia is clearly shown from the report, which reads -

In addition, a fund was established jointly by the Commonwealth and States for subsidizing on a £1 for £1 basis the work of mining development. This latter fund is far from exhausted, and money is still available for assisting genuine developmental opera tions. There is no reason to doubt that funds for mining development will be available for some considerable time to come. The sum in hand will suffice to meet the requirements for a few years.

As- it possessed the necessary money for mining operations it was very proper for South Australia not to ask for any more. The Minister suggested that a request for an amount for mining was not made by South Australia, perhaps because it could not use the money in that direction. South Australia was only too anxious to use any money it could secure for forestry, and it applied for an amount for this purpose greater than that allocated here. It seems to me to be a little hard that, in such circumstances, the allocation to a State could not be balanced up. Far from being open to criticism in this matter, South Australia took a very proper course in saying that it had sufficient money for mining and, therefore, would not ask the Government for any grant in that respect.

Senator SirGEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [5.28]. - At first glance it would appear that South Australia has suffered some injustice, but I understand that, at these conferences, a certain method was adopted in respect of the distribution of the grant for mining, and a totally different method in respect of the distribution of the grant for forestry. It was decided that the amount to be given to each State for forestry should be half of what had been given for this purpose in the preceding year. South Australia, I understand, had requested less in the previous year because it had been spending a larger amount on forestry than had some of the less populous States; therefore, it did not need so much money for that activity. In respect of mining the allocations were made according to the capacity of each State to use the money usefully. South Australia's allocation this year appears to be below the proportion to, which it is entitled on a population basis, but this position arose in the way I have indicated. The States brought up their own proposals at the conferences.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.

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