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Tuesday, 6 April 1965


Senator SCOTT (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - There were some Americans and some Australians. This was the average per acre achieved by seven farmers. I cannot remember the number of Americans there, but I think there were two or three. After examining all the potential cotton growing areas in Australia, the Americans decided to settle on the Ord River.


Senator Ormonde - And also at Wee Waa and Narrabri in New South Wales.


Senator SCOTT - I did not hear that interjection. The honorable senator can tell us his side of the story. This account was printed in Western Australia. I did not see anything in any Queensland paper or any New South Wales paper about any areas in those States particularly the Namoi-Gwydir district. I read that, after examining all the areas in Australia, these Americans who, I think, came from Arizona decided to go to the Ord River area. It was stated in the Press that these Americans expected to be able to produce, within a very few years, in excess of 3,000 lb. of cotton per acre. They seem to think that they will be quite happy when they get settled there and additional research has been undertaken to find out just what is required by way of extra manures. They found in their first year that insufficient nitrogen was added to the soil. However, these people are quite confident that they will grow these increased quantities. Therefore, they believe that it will not be long before the people living on the Ord River will be able to get along without help of the bounty.

I heard Senator Benn say that the bounty is not to exceed £2 million a year. He gave figures which were very illuminating concerning the amounts that were paid out last year and this year by way of bounty. These amounts were still not up to £500,000 a year. The Minister expected that the level of £2 million probably would not be reached until the fourth year. It is the first year to which we are now coming. It was stated in the second reading speech that the reason for the limitation to £2 million a year was that when the growers were approaching a requirement of £2 million they would be more efficient and would not require much further assistance by way of subsidy. I believe this is true.

The Government is encouraging the cotton growers of Australia to become more efficient by encouraging them to grow higher quality cotton. I think honorable senators realise that until 1963 the legislation provided for a flat rate bounty of 14d. per lb. for seed cotton - good, bad or indifferent. Following the recommendations of its advisers, the Government decided that it would pay a high rate of bonus for the best quality cotton and lower rates for the bad grades, so that the cotton growers would be encouraged to grow better quality cotton. It is interesting to note that officers of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization all say that efficient growing of cotton in Australia will be done largely in irrigated areas. They mention that Australia's cotton growing potential is tremendous. I believe that, with the incentives provided by this bounty and if schemes like that on the Ord River are proceeded with - we have 150,000 acres of irrigable country there in the first scheme, with another 75,000 or 100,000 acres which could be used - instead of spending in the vicinity of £45 million or £50 million a year to import cotton we will be in a position to produce the whole of our cotton requirements. I am glad to hear that the Opposition does not oppose the Bill. I support it wholeheartedly.







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