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Friday, 18 September 1936

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) .- It seems that there is a little misunderstanding about this provision. To my mind, the Government has been fairly generous. After all, the fertilizer subsidy was initiated as an experiment, and its purpose was primarily educational, I gather that the experiment has been a great success; it has encouraged mcn to put fertilizers on their pastures and has brought home to them the great value of superphosphate -for improving the productivity of land,. If the subsidy had not been granted, the farmers might never have realized the benefit to be derived from the use of fertilizers: Apart altogether from that aspect, the fact remains that whereas last year farmers had to pay £3 15s. a ton for superphosphate, this year they are able to buy at £3 a ton. Where, therefore, does the hardship lie, especially when one considers that the prices of primary products have risen? The only criticism I have to offer is that the subsidy will be paid to men in a fairly comfortable condition, who would be using superphosphate even without this assistance from the Government. There should he some limitation as to the persons who may be paid the subsidy.

The net result of the proposal in the bill is that farmers will get superphosphate at £3 a ton as against £3 15s. a ton some time ago.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That is the result of the adoption of mass production methods by manufacturers.

Senator LECKIE - As the PostmasterGeneral has reminded me, this lower price is due to mass production methods, and manufacturers have been able to give to primary producers the benefit of the economies which they were able to effect.

Senator Herbert Hays - The action of co-operative companies was also a contributing factor.

Senator LECKIE - I am glad to hear that it was.

Senator Hardy - It was never intended that the fertilizer subsidy should be regarded as a financial grant to primary producers.

Senator LECKIE - It was intended as an educational experiment to demonstrate the value of top-dressing of pasture lands ; the majority of farmers already realized the importance of the use of superphosphate in ordinary agricultural operations. The Government has dealt fairly liberally with the primary producers in this matter.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 27 to 33 agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.

Bill read a third time.

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