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Wednesday, 19 May 1920

Dr EARLE PAGE (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) .- I desire to make a short statement on a matter of urgent public importance. (Leave granted.) As honorable members are aware, New South "Wales is at present in a desperate plight by reason of the drought there. This morning I received the following telegram and letter from the secretary to the Producers' Associations' Central Council of New South Wales, which I shall read : -

Telegram -

Producers Associations Central Council, by deputation, has urged State Government secure supplies fodder for starving stock, reports show fodder available other States, but shipping unprocurable. Minister Agriculture states repeated applications Federal Government for allocation Federal steamers have elicited no re spouse, matter vital importance, producers hope Country party will press for allocation steamers for carriage fodder.

Letter -

I have to confirm my telegram of to-day's date. ....

Representatives from this Council and the Graziers Association waited upon the Minister for Agriculture yesterday, and strongly urged that supplies of fodder should be secured from the other States for the purpose of feeding starving stock, as practically the whole of New South Wales is in a desperate position through the long-continued drought.

The Minister was entirely sympathetic and the Government has already been endeavouring to secure supplies of fodder and to assist farmers and small graziers in their extreme need, but the chief difficulty has been found to be that of securing the necessary shipping space for fodder supplies from Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth. Reports show that shippers do not like carrying chaff and other fodder, as other cargo is more payable, and I am informed that only three steamers have lifted supplies from Adelaide this year, with the exception of one or two very small consignments, notwithstanding that large supplies are in store at Fort Adelaide, and cutters are anxious to operate if shipping space can be secured.

Captain Dunn, the Minister for Agriculture, stated that he had several times communicated with the federal Government urging that some of the Commonwealth steamers should at once be made available for carriage of fodder, but that no reply has been received.

I am informed that, from Geelong to Winchelsea, and from Geelong to Maroona, the stations are piled high with fodder awaiting transport. If this fodder could be made available in New South "Wales, immediately, thousands of head of stock might be saved. I urge the Government to at once give effect to the recommendations contained in the interim report of the Select Committee which is inquiring into the Sea Carriage of Goods, and which has suggested that the Government should make its own ships available to relieve the distress. Evidence shows that while stock is starving in New South Wales and elsewhere, fodder stocks are congested in other States, because of the shortage of shipping.

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