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Tuesday, 6 April 1965

Senator O'BYRNE (TASMANIA) - I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It is to be assumed that all Government members are aware that vast sections of Australia are in the grip of a drought of major proportions which, if it continues, will be economically devastating on a national scale, with the accompanying great tragedy of dead and dying livestock and the loss which will be sustained by the pastoral industry and from which it will take years to recover. Will the Leader of the Government inform honorable senators whether the Government has ever had a scientific survey made of the cycle of droughts that periodically affect this country? Has the Minister seen a statement made by Mr. J. P. Abbott, an ex-member of the House of Representatives, who has made comprehensive studies of drought cycles in this country and who predicts that Australia is on the threshhold of a long, continuing drought? Has consideration been given to the setting up of a national fodder conservation scheme planned and organised by the Federal Government that would make it possible for subsistence rations which would be either subsidised or provided by long term low interest loans to be made available to stock owners for stock feed in times of drought? Finally, as each stock owner is unable to cope with the problem himself, is it not time that the problem of droughts be approached on a national scale and the necessary action be taken as for any other national emergency?

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