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Tuesday, 29 November 1938

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) .- An amount of £40,000 is set aside this year as part of a total of £120,000 for investigation of our iron ore resources. We should be giving consideration to the elimination of costly expenditure that can he avoided, and I am at a loss to know of what real value will be the report on iron ore, other than possibly as a justification of the action of the Government in imposing an embargo on the export of iron ore, but even for such justification £120,000 is too big a price to pay.

In reference to the reduction of the vote for tobacco research, I should like to see any such votes made available direct to primary producers. There would be no objection to such money being voted as a subsidy to enable the tobacco-growers to carry on production, but it is questionable whether it is necessary year after year to make sums available for investigation and instruction. I doubt whether the grower who is producing the tobacco leaf is obtaining full value for the money. I should prefer that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should make a report showing what research is necessary, and what the cost will be. Money could then be allocated over a period of years on a sound basis, but instead of annually granting funds which may or may not be expended usefully. There is justification for the reduction this year of the amount to be expended on instruction, because the growers surely do not need the same instruction year after year.

Another item inthe Estimates is £40,000 for the New York Exhibition. Our expenditure has not been curbed as it should be, but if we are to finance the defence programme, it will be necessary to reduce expenditure in some way, particularly expenditure which is of doubtful benefit to Australia. The expenditure of £40,000 on the New York Exhibition is hardly likely to be justified by the results which will accrue to Australia from it. We cannot expect, as the result of that exhibition, to sell to the United States of America more wool or more of other products; nor do we wish to buy any more from the United States of America than we buy at present, because the balance of trade is against us. We must prune our expenditure somewhere. We do not wish to cut social services or grants to primary producers, but we should be able to reduce expenditure on luxuries, which may have been justifiable last year, when conditions were ever so much better than they are now, but are not justifiable this year when our national income will be down by millions of pounds as the result of reduced prices for our wheat, wool and other exports. There is no immediate urgency about the investigation of our iron ore resources. There would be, I dare say, if it were intended to work the iron ore deposits in order to obtain some return from the £120,000 that is to be expended on the proposed survey. At present, however, our taxation is rising and costs are increasing as the result of the defence programme, and we must consider the need to make economies.

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