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Wednesday, 25 June 1941

Senator FRASER (Western Australia) . - T move -

1.   That a joint committee of tlie Parliament be appointed -to inquire into, and: report upon all matters related, to the manufacture and sale of superphosphate, in Australia.

2.   That three members of the Senate and four members of the House of- Representatives be appointed- to serve on such committee.

3.   That the committee' be empowered to send for persons, papers and records, to move from place to place, and to sit during the adjournment of Parliament.

4.   That a message be sent t-o the House of Representatives requesting its concurrence, and asking that four members be appointed to serve on such committee.

In view of the plight 'of farmers throughout Australia generally, I desire the appointment of a joint select committee to investigate the increased, cost of superphosphate. I am aware that in past years the manufacture of this commodity has been investigated. In 1929, the Tariff Board conducted an inquiry into the price and distribution of superphosphate, and in 1932 a further inquiry was undertaken by Mr. John Gunn. . However, I am concerned not so much with what took place in the past as with what is. happening to-day. Soon- after Professor Copland was appointed Commonwealth Prices Commissioner, his attention was directed to the price of superphosphate. Professor Copland has done a good job in relation to some commodities, but I do not agree with all of his decisions. For instance, he has permitted the price of tea to be increased, notwithstanding that the companies which distribute that commodity arc paying dividends as high as 15 per cent. In dealing with superphosphate I am concerned with happenings before Professor Copland was appointed to his present position. In Western Australia, the prices of commodities before the commencement -of the war are taken into' consideration when' fixing prices, and it would appear that Professor Copland also should be -empowered to take prewar prices into consideration.

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