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Friday, 18 September 1936

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - I think that 1 mentioned in my secondreading speech the actual reduction of the price of fertilizers

Senator Collett - What I am now seeking is the percentage reduction. .

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - An average reduction of more than 20 per cent.has taken place. In 1832, the price of superphosphate in Victoria was £1 10s. a ton, whereas to-day the price is £3 10s. a ton. It is the same in New South Wales. Tasmanian users of superphosphate pay the highest price in Australia, and in that State the reduction has been only 15s. The price has fallen by £1 in South Australia, and it can be taken that the average fall throughout Australia is £1.

Senator Collett - That indicates that although the rate of the subsidy is to be decreased, the value of it is little different from what it was two years ago.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -I t is of considerable value, at any rate.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 25 agreed to.

Clause 26 (Amount payable to each State).

Senator PAYNE(Tasmania) [2.361. - The Minister in charge of the bill (Senator A. J. McLachlan) expressed the hope that no attempt would be made to secure any amendment of this bill, and when one honorable senator was referring to the financial relief given hitherto to primary production by means of the fertilizer subsidy, the Minister asked that honorable senators defer any criticism until the budget was being debated. I. must point out, however, that the Senate is asked to pass a clause which will effectively reduce the amount of assistance given to primary producers by way of fertilizer subsidy. My knowledge of the benefit which has been conferred on the small farmers in Tasmania makes me loath to let this clause pass without making some observations as to what will be its effects. To a great number of primary producers in Tasmania the subsidy has been a godsend. In some industries conditions to-day are brighter than they have been for some years, but the condition of the orchardists is practically as bad as it ever was. Honorable senators will realize of what assistance to these orchardists the subsidy has been. Many small fanners were induced by it to put their land to better use, and, in my opinion, they shouldbe encouraged still further to improve their holdings.

Senator Hardy - At the expense of the Government !

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