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Thursday, 1 September 1921

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - This is a question of such vast importance to wheat-growers that the representative! of the wheat-growing States cannot allow it to pass without discussion. The wheat experts, of the various

State Governments are unanimously of opinion that the wheat lands of Australia would- be practically useless but for the employment of superphosphates in their fertilization. That fact has been .proved beyond doubt,

Senator Elliott - We are not proposing to shut out importations, except from Japan. The farmers will be able to get ample supplies.

Senator DE LARGIE - It is a question, not merely of obtaining supplies, but of securing them at a price that will enable the wheat-growers to carry on. That is what this means.

Senator Foster - Do not forget that those engaged in the wheat industry have done very well in recent years, notwithstanding that they have had to pay £6 for superphosphate.

Senator DE LARGIE - How can it be said that they were doing well when they got less for their wheat than the farmers of any other country in the world? If we interfere any further with the wheatgrowing industry by imposing these duties and making production more expensive than it is, we shall be instrumental in reducing the area of cultivated land throughout Australia, because it will be impossible for farmers to make wheatgrowing pay.

Senator Elliott - Nevertheless, land values are higher than ever before.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - They are falling rapidly.

Senator DE LARGIE - If we increase the cost of superphosphates we shall make it utterly impossible for a large number of farmers working on the light soils throughout the Commonwealth to make wheat-growing pay. I speak with accurate knowledge of the lighter soils in my own State; I know how important it is to use superphosphates in order to make them productive. Experts everywhere are demanding more liberal application of superphosphates to our poorer soils, in order to insure larger yields. Dearer superphosphate will mean ruin to a very large number of farmers in Western Australia, South Australia, and New South Wales. They are all practically in the same position. I have paired with another honorable senator in the division upon this item, and as my name will not appear in the division list. I take this opportunity to speak against the proposed increased duties.

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