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Wednesday, 7 December 1938

Mr PROWSE (Forrest) .The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) must be aware that particularly in his own State it is only by the use of fertilizers that dairy farming can be carried on except in some favoured areas. The honorable gentleman must also know, if bte is as familiar with his own State as I am, that dairying is carried on there for a shorter period than in any other State. Even without a subsidy, primary producers in Western Australia are forced to use a greater quantity of fertilizer than farmers use in other States. The subsidy is almost indispensable to small producers in the south-west of Western Australia, where the bulk of fertilizer is used. I know that some conservative farmers do not believe in the use of fertilizer; they prefer to carry on in the old way. Others, however, by the use of fertilizer, have immensely enriched their land and have been able to get back more than they have spent on this aid to production. The amount paid by way of fertilizer subsidy has been diminishing each year, and this allocation is th'e lowest that this Government has ever made. I very much regret that the Leader of the Opposition has suggested that there should be any further limitations to the payment of the subsidy.

Mr Jolly - Does the honorable member think that those who can afford to buy fertilizer should receive the subsidy?

Mr PROWSE - I should like to see more concern shown in this House about the great profits being amassed by sheltered secondary industries in this country. One enterprise alone showed a profit of £1,000,000 last The Leader of the Opposition made no great outcry about that. The £215,000 allocated under this measure will be spread over the whole of Australia and will greatly increase primary production. An attitude of 'indifference is shown to the way in which the cost of living in this country is greatly increased by tariff protection to certain industries, but because this measure proposes to give a little direct assistance to primary producers, attention is drawn to it, and objections are raised. I regret that the Government has seen fit to further reduce the allocation this year. About £90,000 is to be paid unnecessarily to approved societies under the national insurance scheme, but a more economic policy would be to apply the money to the encouragement of the use of fertilizers by means of this subsidy.

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