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Wednesday, 7 December 1938

Mr SCULLY (Gwydir) (1:52 AM) .- 1 support the amendment forecast by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). It is unthinkable that we should agree to provide a subsidy of this kind, in which wealthy people will participate, at a time when we are faced with such a huge expenditure on defence. It can safely be said that 75 per cent, of the fertilizer used in this country is used by wealthy land-owners who are well able to pay for their requirements. We know that in the northern coastal districts of New South Wales, especially in the New England district, which is one of the richest woolgrowing areas in Australia, graziers are now going in for. pasture improvement and are using considerable quantities of fertilizer. All of these men are men of means. In such a time of financial stress as the present, when we are faced with commitments in respect of defence, which are almost beyond our financial capacity, I can see no reason why we should make available a sum of £215,000 for this purpose. It is a colossal sum, particularly when we' are told that the Government, is unable this year to provide any Christmas cheer for the unemployed. In view of that fact, this subsidy cannot but be regarded as patronage of a kind greatly to be deplored. As a representative of a wheat-growing area, I, like other honorable members, recognize the unfairness of excluding wheat-growers from participating in the subsidy, particularly when it is obvious that a greater percentage of wheat-growers are more in need of this kind of assistance than are those to whom it will be distributed. I protest against the exclusion of the poorer wheat-growers from this assistance. I hope that honorable members opposite will see the rea.sonableness of the amendment forecast by the Leader of the Opposition. In such a time of financial strain as the present, th'e duty of all honorable members is to see that money is not expended unnecessarily.

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