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Tuesday, 6 December 1938

Mr CURTIN (Fremantle) .-I propose to deal with this bill though I am frankly taken by surprise that the debate should be resumed at this stage because this House has seen this bill for the first time only to-day. When the debate was adjourned, I presumed that I would have until to-morrow to deal with it, more particularly in view of the tremendously important matters which have since been submitted to this House for consideration. Apparently, however, in these last few days of the sitting, Ministers propose to produce rabbits out of their hats with greater dexterity than even the prince of jugglers. The bill is one to provide a bounty of 10s. a ton on fertilizer used by primary producers to enrich their cultivable land provided it is not used for the. production of wheat. It has been the practice of this House for some years to pass legislation of this character. From what I can gather from the cursory perusal of the bill which time has permitted since it was brought in this afternoon, it is proposed to limit the bounty to the first 10 tons of fertilizer. It cannot be denied that the use of superphosphates for the cultivation of wheat, and of other forms of fertilizers for other crops, has been very successful. The use of fertilizers of various kinds has made primary production more economic andhas greatly increased the yield; but in view of the fact that the produce of most of these crops is now the subject of bounty, it appears to me to be a little incongruous thatwe should be encouraging by the payment of a subsidy greater production from the soil and then be obliged to provide another subsidy in order to make the excess production profitable because of the effect of increased world production on the price level. It is about time that this Parliament reconsidered its attitude towards legislation of this kind which gives the impression of doing two things, one of which cancels the value of the other. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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