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Thursday, 19 December 1912

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) (Honorary Minister) . - I move -

That this Bill be now read a second time.

In introducing this measure, I desire to specially single out for a meed of praise our worthy friend from Western Australia, Senator Lynch. The honorable senator, on two occasions, when submitting motions in the Senate, clearly demonstrated the wisdom of offering rewards for the discovery of rock phosphates, and the benefit which such discoveries in large quantities would be to the farming community and those engaged in fruit-growing in different parts of Australia. Senator Lynch is a practical farmer, who is to-day engaged on the land. He has a thorough knowledge of the possibilities of land cultivation, and no member of the Senate knows better the immense advantage it would be to those engaged in the cultivation of the soil in Australia to be able to secure superphosphates at a reasonable price. It is mainly owing to the honorable senator's persistent efforts that the Government have the pleasure to-night of introducing a Bill proposing the payment of bounties for- rock phosphate, and also for wood pulp. The price of superphosphates to-day in the Commonwealth is fairly high, running from '^4 5s. to £5 per ton. We know that where superphosphates are used, the increased yield in many districts is as much as 5 01 6 bushels per acre.

Senator Shannon - It is more than that.

Senator FINDLEY - If so, that makes the case only the stronger for the granting of a bounty for rock phosphates. Most of the rock phosphates mixed by the Mount Lyell Company with the rock phosphates, quarried at Kapunda comes from Ocean Island. The rock phosphate that comes from Kapunda is said to be of an inferior quality, and eight tons of the imported article are mixed with one ton of the Kapunda rock phosphate.

Senator Shannon - The Kapunda phosphatic deposit is the best find in South Australia.

Senator FINDLEY - It is the best that has been discovered so far. Since the establishment of Federation, as honorable senators are aware, the State Governments have not had the power to grant bounties for productions of this kind.

Senator Guthrie - They could offer rewards, which comes to the same thing.

Senator FINDLEY - They may not have succeeded by the offering of rewards in discovering rock phosphates in considerable quantities. Under this Bill it is proposed that £75,000 shall be set aside for the payment of bounties on rock phosphate and wood pulp. We hope that a considerable portion of the amount to be allocated for rock phosphate under this Bill will be claimed. The importations of rock phosphate last year were valued at £228,292. The Bill provides for an appropriation for a period of five years, of a total amount, as I have said, of £75,000. The bounty on rock phosphate will be payable on the manufacture or production in Australia of rock phosphates, the rate of bounty being 10 per cent, on the market value. I do not know that there has been any discovery of rock phosphate in any of the States, with the exception of South Australia. In addition to the payment of bounty at the rate of 10 per cent, on the market value, provision is made for a reward of ,£1,000 for the discovery of any deposit or vein of rock phosphate suitable for the making of phosphatic manures, but the deposit or vein must be worked, and 10,000 tons of rock phosphates produced and used in the manufacture of a marketable manure.

Senator Guthrie - What percentage of phosphates must the deposit hold?

Senator FINDLEY - There will be a regulation providing that the bounty shall only be paid on deposits of rock phosphate containing an average of not less than 25 per cent, of phosphoric acid. With regard to wood pulp, it is proposed to give a bounty for the encouragement of this industry. The wood pulp used for the manufacture of paper in Australia to-day is imported mainly from Sweden, and is worth about ,£io per ton. I understand that the local manufacturers of paper are exceedingly anxious that some encouragement should be given to this industry. There are great possibilities in respect to it. We know what the industry means to the United States of America. The figures show that there are 64,000 men and over 10,000 women employed in the wood pulp industry of the United States of America, and that the capital invested amounts to nearly £55,000,000. Between 1889 and 1905, the increase in capital invested amounted to £25,000,000, and the increase in the number of wage-earners to 16,319. The woods principally used are spruce and poplar. About 25 per cent, of the quantity of wood used in the United States of America is' imported from Canada. I understand that this industry has been successfully established in Newfoundland. According to those who are capable of judging, we have quite a number of timbers suitable for making wood pulp in Australia.

Senator Vardon - What are they?

Senator FINDLEY - We have poplar, spruce in limited quantities, and pine. Others have been mentioned. I cannot judge as to whether they are suitable, but those who are capable of expressing an opinion have no doubt about the matter. Every one knows that there has been an immense waste in connexion with Australian timbers. Trees are cut down, the marketable portions are sold, and a great quantity of timber is burnt or allowed to rot. Thousands of pounds worth, of valuable timbers are destroyed every year. It is sad to see the destruction going on. It is hoped that the effect of encouraging the establishment of a wood pulp industry will be to minimize this waste. I have much pleasure in submitting the Bill for its second reading.

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