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Thursday, 19 December 1912

Senator SHANNON - That may be the end of the deposit. Nearly twenty years ago, South Australia offered a bounty for the discovery of a payable field of phosphatic rock. There was quite a hueandcry all over the State to find a payable field, but the first field which obtained a portion of the bounty has not been worked at all. The ore was found to be altogether of too low grade and mixed with too much mineral, until they discovered the find near Kapunda, known as St. John's, from which they are manufacturing phosphatic manure mixed with Ocean Island stuff. If a deposit of rock phosphate carrying 25 per cent, of phosphoric acid could be found in such a position that the rock could be worked more cheaply than the imported stuff from Ocean Island, carrying 30 per cent., I presume that it would be manufactured into manure. Should that be the result, it will be worth our while to offer, not this sum, but a larger amount, because the use of phosphatic manure by wheatgrowers has been much more extensive than the Minister has mentioned. I have known instances where freehold land was offered, before the use of fertilizers, for as low as 15s. per acre, which, in the course of a very few years, after the use of fertilizers,, sold for as much as £6 10s. per acre. TheMinister would be quite safe in saying that on some selections, where the rainfall is fair, but not heavy, with the present system of farming and the use of drills and! fertilizers, this manure has made the difference between bushels and bags in the returns. Of course, I realize that in some of our areas, where the land is very good, and the rainfall is certain, it. has not made a vast difference. But where the farmer Has to go out into areas with doubtful rainfall to start, farming, the use of phosphatic manure is absolutely paramount. It was first thought that in such country the use of phosphatic manure would be more deterrent to theagriculturist than otherwise; but after experiment that has been found to be quite the reverse. Some places along the Murray can produce in a dry season with a rainfall of 16 inches, 8 bushels of wheat to the acre. .1 feel confident that this bounty of £1,000 will induce people to go out in search of a field of rock phosphate.. The difference between the wood pulp and' rock phosphate bounties is that, while the timber can be seen, the rock may be walked' over any day, either on hilly country or on the flats. The rock has been found in all" kinds of places throughout the world. Onemay walk over this very valuable stuff any day he goes out. I trust that the offer of this bounty will result in a payable field being found somewhere in Australia. I do not know much about, wood pulp, but I do know that Australia is being very rapidly denuded of timber. If it is possible to prevent the destruction of timber, we ought to take some action. I do not know that the Federal Parliament has. power to do very much in that direction, but the State Governments ought to be induced to encourage the planting of timber,, in order to keep up the supply. There are many places in Australia where the men on the land were one day practically worth a fortune, and have had to work very hard for a living ever since, because they burnt off the timber. I should be only too pleased to assist the Government to do anything to stop this waste.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [10.11].- One difficulty I foresee in connexion with the question of re- afforestation is that the.

Federal Government are not in possession of the land in the States in which it would have to take place. Certainly in the Northern Territory the Commonwealth has an enormous area.

Senator McGregor - There is a good bit of timber on the Jervis Bay peninsula.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I trust that wherever the Federal Government have control of land, they will take such steps as will assure the reafforestation of any land which has been denuded of timber. The importance of this work ought to be urged very strongly upon the attention of the State Governments. It is not in one State alone that men have destroyed a fortune in twentyfour hours through burning a lot of valuable marketable timber, and had to work hard afterwards. I think that the whole of the States will furnish similar instances to that which Senator Shannon cited. We cannot fail to recognise that if a large quantity of wood pulp can be produced, it will be a very great help to the people in Australia, and, possibly, we may, in time, be able to export wood pulp and paper.

Senator Findley - The honorable senator is optimistic if he expects that we shall be able to export.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - In a matter of this kind it is better to be optimistic than pessimistic. I cannot quite see the force of the contention that persons who are engaged in producing phosphatic manure should not be permitted to participate in the proposed bounty. If these persons are operating under the conditions which may be prescribed, I think that they are fairly entitled to the same reward as will be offered to those who may go into the industry after this Bill has been passed.

Senator Findley -The honorable senator is mixing up two things. These are rewards for new discoveries, not rewards for deposits which are being worked today.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD -If any persons are observing the same conditions, and producing the same quality of manure as will be prescribed under this Bill, I do not see why they should be deprived of a portion of the bounty. It is hardly fair to a man whose enterprise has enabled him. to manufacture manure without Government assistance, that a bounty should be given to a man who will engage in theindustry hereafter to enable him to compete against the existing manufacturer. If the object of the measure is to be given full effect, the bounty should only be paid in respect of manures manufactured from phosphates produced in the country. I think that some amendments to the. Bill are necessary to make that point clear. I hope the Honorary Minister will see his way to make such amendments, in order that we may have an assurance that the bounty will not be paid in respect of manures produced by the admixture of large quantities of imported phosphate with phosphate of poorer quality discovered in the Commonwealth.

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