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Wednesday, 7 December 1938

Mr NOCK (Riverina) (1:21 AM)

I agree with a good deal that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has said; but honorable members generally seem to have a wrong conception of the objects of this subsidy. Its purpose was educational. It was never intended merely for relief. I admit that the Government is being generous in continuing to provide money for the fertilizer subsidy this year in view of its heavy expenditure on defence, but nevertheless the amount involved Will undoubtedly be wisely spent. The proposal for the payment of a subsidy in respect of fertilizers was introduced some years ago following upon. the enthusiastic advocacy of the use of artificial manures by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and certain agricultural institutes for pasture improvement. Quite a lot of producers have since come to realize that fertilizers greatly improve potatoes, fruit, rice and sugar areas, and the educational work begun at that time has been yielding valuable results ever since in increasing the the national production. It was never intended that the fertilizer subsidy should be payable permanently.

Mr Scully - Why were the wheatgrowers excluded from eligibility of the subsidy ?

Mr NOCK - Because when the scheme was first introduced the wheat-growers were receiving a bounty, and it was felt that they should not be paid a bounty and at the same time be eligible for the fertilizer subsidy. There can be no doubt that the use of superphosphates has greatly increased the national wealth of this country, and I am glad that the Government has had the courage to continue the payment of this subsidy for another year.

Sir Frederick Stewart - The honorable member should say that the Government has not had the courage to discontinue it.

Mr NOCK - When this scheme was first introduced a suggestion was made that the rate of subsidy should be progressively reduced; it was first 15s., and then it was to be 10s., and then 5s. a ton, after which it should be discontinued ; but the wiser course was adopted of determining the gross amount that should be provided for the purpose and limiting the tonnage to spread it amongst the greatest number of producers. I realize that this subsidy cannot be maintained on a permanent basis, but as the scheme is fulfilling the purpose for -which it was introduced, I support its continuance for this year.

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