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Thursday, 20 May 1965

Senator SCOTT (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I do not think that is important. The important thing is that the people who are there, whether there are 50, 60 or 100 of them, will have their petrol subsidised to the extend of 22d. a gallon.

Senator O'Byrne - Has not the honorable senator been to Halls Creek?

Senator SCOTT - Yes I have, and I was welcomed.

Senator O'Byrne - But you do not know how many people live there.

Senator SCOTT - The township is growing so quickly under the administration of this Government that it is difficult to keep pace with the population increase. The honorable senator should not try ro decry this measure. I assure him that it will mean a lot to people throughout Australia, and I remind him that in the first year of operation of the Bill the total amount of subsidy will be almost £6 million.

I wish to stress the sympathetic treatment that the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) has given to outback stations. There are stations in Western Australia of one million acres in area. Some of the station owners bring their petrol from Derby and Broome which means that distances of 200, 300 or 400 miles must be covered. Freight has to be paid at the rate of £20 a ton. Under this legislation the station owners will receive by way of subsidy an amount of approximately £20 a ton provided that they register with an oil company and are approved by the State Government. In fact, all the people living in the outback areas will benefit from this subsidy. The differential for motor spirit sold in Darwin has been set at Hd. a gallon which means that the cost of motor spirit in Darwin is lid. a gallon above that charged to the same class of consumer in Sydney. If subsidy payable in the Northern Territory were to be tied to differentials based on Darwin and did not follow the present practice of the differentials being based on Sydney, the wholesale prices in the Territory would need to be more than 4d. above the Darwin price, or 5id. above the Sydney price, before subsidy would be payable. The effect of this would be that the wholesale price in the remoter parts of the Territory would be lid. dearer than in the remote parts of, say, New South Wales. To avoid this situation the Government proposes that the rates of subsidy for the Northern Territory shall be based on Sydney wholesale prices. The effect will be that at the Territory locations set out in the schedule the wholesale price will be 4d. above the Sydney wholesale price.

Senator Kennellysaid that he hoped this scheme would work because he thought it was a step in the right direction. He mentioned that the hour was getting late. I agree with him and I conclude by saying that I have great pleasure in supporting this Bill which I think is a most important one.

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