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Wednesday, 2 October 1974
Page: 1576


Senator YOUNG (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I direct my question to the Minister for Agriculture. I refer to the Government's policy not to renew the superphosphate bounty. As this bounty expires on 3 1 December this year, is the Minister aware that this will discriminate against those users of superphosphate who are unable to take delivery before that date? As the Government will be incurring the cost of bounty payments up to 31 December, will the

Minister give consideration to spreading the equivalent cost of the bounty over the full year ending on 30 June 1975 so that all users of superphosphate will receive some benefit rather than only those who can take delivery before 3 1 December?


Senator WRIEDT -Firstly, may I finish answering the previous question asked by Senator Drake-Brockman. I remembered when I sat down that he asked me to indicate prices. They vary within the States. I answered a question about this matter, I thought, only a week or so ago.


Senator Drake-Brockman - The Minister had some doubts about it then. I thought he may have additional information.


Senator WRIEDT -That may be because the price varies between the States. There are 6 different figures to keep in one's head, but I believe the average price is $36 to $38 a ton. That is the present position.

As to Senator Young's question, this matter has been brought to the attention of the Government. I believe that it has merit. It would not matter which way the Government ended the bounty under the present policy arrangements. It will create a build-up of orders which, in all probability, the industry cannot meet. I am quite sure that the argument which has been advanced by Senator Young is a genuine one to try to spread the impact of that build-up to as many farmers as possible, especially the smaller farmer. I am currently considering the matter. I believe it is possible that there is a case to support the principle of what Senator Young is saying. There are difficulties because, firstly, it means that the present legislation will have to be amended. I hope that if the Government does decide to do that, with good intentions on the part of the Parliament an amendment to that effect can be carried. Whether it would get over the inequitable features of the system, even in these last 3 months or 9 months to go, is debatable because I believe that the very nature of the phosphate bounty distribution system was inequitable from the beginning. But even apart from that, I will make a decision on this matter, I hope within the next few days, and I will then make a public statement one way or the other.







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