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Thursday, 3 April 1941

Senator McBRIDE (South Australia) (Minister for Supply and Development) . - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The object of this bill is to enable the Commonwealth Government to make loans, not exceeding £20,000, to the State of Tasmania for the purpose of helping that State to alleviate hardships suffered by berry fruitgrowers in consequence of damage to their crops by frost and hail. During October and November of last- year, berry fruit crops in Tasmania were severely damaged by frost and hail with heavy losses to the growers of those fruits. Representations were made to the Commonwealth Government by all Tasmanian members and senators that the Commonwealth grant financial assistance to enable that State to alleviate the position of the growers affected. Similar representations were also made by the Tasmanian Government. The Commonwealth Government feels that misfortunes of this character, which are of a State, or, local nature, are the responsibility of the State concerned, and is unwilling to make a direct grant.

The bill has been framed along the lines of the Loan (Drought Relief) Act passed during the last session for the alleviation of hardship suffered by primary producers in consequence of drought. The loan to be raised for that purpose was to be apportioned to all States except Tasmania which was not, at that time, an applicant. The rate of interest payable by the State of Tasmania to the Commonwealth is specifically stated at 31/4 per cent. Honorable senators will observe, however, that this bill provides for the arrangement included in the legislation previously mentioned, under which the Commonwealth will meet a portion of the interest which would normally be payable by the State on the principal of the money loaned to it. The Treasurer is empowered to make a concession of the full amount of the interest for the first year of the loan, and a concession of half the amount in subsequent years. The conditions of repayment of the loan are the same as those in the Loan (Drought Belief) Act, viz. - by four equal annual payments, the first to be made not later than four years, and the last not later than seven years after the making of the loan. I commend the bill to honorable senators.

Declaration op Urgency.

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