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Wednesday, 24 August 1983
Page: 249

Question No. 223


Mr Reeves asked the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism, upon notice, on 24 May 1983:

What are the total amounts of all expenditures and/or capital works programs undertaken by the Minister's Department in or related to the Northern Territory for each year from 1978-79 to 1982-83 which were not covered by general or specific grants to the Northern Territory.


Mr John Brown —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The Department of Sport, Recreation and Tourism was created on 11 March 1983. For the period 11 March to 30 June 1983, the Department made payments totalling $611,977 to the Northern Territory Treasury under the International Standard Sports Facilities (ISSF) Program for the Marrara International Indoor Sports Complex, Darwin. Payments to the Northern Territory under the ISSF Program for the full financial year 1982-83 totalled $835,073, and related to the Marrara Complex. There were no payments to the Northern Territory under the ISSF Program in previous years.

The Australian Tourist Commission promotes the Northern Territory widely under the total 'Australia' umbrella. There is, however, no separate program of expenditure to promote the Northern Territory solely.

The Australian Institute of Sport has not made any expenditure of the type referred to in the honourable member's question.

(i) These technological elements are used in this program in order to increase productivity and income, to enrich the long term capability of the soil, to make better use of the limited land available for cropping, and to increase farm employment.

(ii) Traditional farming practices, especially the slash and burn farming pattern currently employed in upland areas and continuous monocropping in the lowlands, have significant long term detrimental effects on the soil environment . They result in soil erosion, heavy siltation in river systems, soil compacting and nutrient degradation. By offering alternative programs that concentrate on soil conservation and soil rejuvenation, the project is reducing the existing risk of long term environmental degradation.

(b) Introduction of the technology can be expected to increase farm employment. The labour requirement of the agricultural innovations is significantly greater than that which farmers have been used to providing under traditional rice cultivation methods. The improved technology will increase yields in the project area from 2 tonnes per hectare to up to 6 tonnes per hectare and labour will be required to harvest, transport and distribute the improved output and to handle the delivery, repair and maintenance of farm inputs.

(c) The aim of the agricultural program is to raise the economic and social well being of the small farmers in Northern Samar by strengthening government agencies' support capabilities and ensuring that farmers have access to improved farming practices. The program has emphasised increased production of rice, the major staple of the local community. Production increases may change the province from net importer to self sufficiency or posibly net exporter to other parts of the Philippines and local dietary levels should improve as a result. Although the main emphasis is on the development of lowland rice farming, the project is directly involved in activities in other cropping areas. For example, suitable farming methods for upland crops such as maize, vegetables and leguminous crops are currently being developed on research areas and evaluated on farmer's fields. The aim of the upland programs is to reduce the tenant's dependence on copra by providing supplementary income from intercropping activities. Crops included in the upland program would supplement local food production and, as in the case of rice, may result in increased export should local production exceed local demand.

(d) (i) Subsistence farmers do not pay cash for the improved technology. Project assistance is given to farmers through the provision of capital items such as farm implements, as well as fertiliser and seed, to farmers associations . The farmer members hire the implements from the associations and are supplied with other inputs with repayment in kind being made after harvest. The technology package which has been developed by the Philippine Ministry of Agriculture with project assistance is geared towards ensuring that farmers have adequate supplies from their harvest to increase their economic well-being and meet their rental commitments.

(ii) The program deals with small farmers, owners and tenants whose average farm size is 1.36 ha compared to the Northern Samar rice land farm average of 1. 8 ha. While there can be no guarantee that farmers will not be dispossessed, the small size of their holdings and the lack of any visible trend towards this suggests that this would be unlikely. This aspect will continue to be closely monitored by the project.

(e) Pesticides used include: Azinphos ethyl plus BPMC, monocrotophos, endosulfan, melathion, carbaryl, zinc oxide, carbofuran, and butachlor.

(f) (i-iii) No. However, all pesticides and fertilisers used on the program have been screened by the Fertilisers and Pesticide Authority (FPA) of the Philippines. All chemicals are labelled to ensure safe and proper use by farm workers and the provincial health services have been informed about procedures to be followed in cases of accidental poisoning. Practical farmer training classes include the use and safe handling of chemicals. Farmers' use of chemicals in the project area is guided by Ministry of Agriculture extension staff and monitored by project personnel to ensure compliance with FPA recommendations on environment effects of agricultural chemicals.

(g) (i) A range of vehicle types is used to carry agricultural supplies and produce, including two-axle trucks which can be safely loaded to 12 tonnes gross .

(ii) The roads are being constructed to the Philippine Government general specifications for roads and bridges, 1976. The Philippine Government meets 60 percent of road construction costs. Road construction to date has been confined to upgrading a national highway along the coast of Northern Samar. This road is two-lane concrete which will withstand damage from frequent typhoons in the area and need little maintenance. Feeder (farm-to-market) roads which can be accommodated within budgetary allocations will be constructed with a gravel surface to specifications drawn up in conjunction with Australian personnel.