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Thursday, 24 June 1937

Senator COLLETT asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   Is the Government in possession of information as to the losses in stock in Western Australia as a result of recent droughts?

2.   If so, what were those losses and their equivalent in money?

3.   Has the Government received any requests from' («,) the pastoralists, or (b) the Western Australian Government for aid in replacing those losses?

4.   If any such request has been received, what action does the Government propose to take?

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - The Acting Prime Minister has furnished the following answers to the honorable senator's questions : - 1 and 2. The extent of the losses in un- " known to the Commonwealth Government.

3.   The Commonwealth Government has received requests from the Western Australian Government and certain local bodies for assistance to cover losses.

4.   The Commonwealth, while sympathetic with the plight of those who are suffering from drought, regrets that it is unable to make a grant for relief. Losses from drought are suffered in some portion of one or more of the States from time to time. The only course for the Commonwealth, therefore, is to leave the question of drought relief for the States themselves to deal with. This has been the policy since federation. The Commonwealth, however, strongly supported an application to the Loan Council by Western Australia for an increase in the amount to be provided from loan, funds to cover the deficit for Western Australia for ] 936-37. The State asked the. Loan Council, in view df the relief charges which would be thrown on its budget by drought conditions, to increase the provision for "deficit for 1030-37 from f200,000 to £1,000,000, and this request the Loan Council agreed to.

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