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Wednesday, 19 June 1946


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - What was the remark?


Mr Anthony - The Minister said, "' The honorable member is once again making a lying statement", and I ask that he withdraw and. apologize.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable member for Richmond having said that the remark gives him personal offence, I ask the Minister to withdraw it.


Mr DEDMAN - I withdraw the statement, but honorable gentlemen on both sides know perfectly well that I have not yet hi my speech made any reference to any specific number. The honorable member for Richmond said that I had made the statement that 2S,000 would be settled in Australia.


Mr Anthony - The Minister made that statement.


Mr DEDMAN - Shut up, and give some one who knows something about this matter a chance to be informative. With regard to the matter of individual farms, I earlier used the phrase, " singlefarm units " in reference to the type of settlement advocated today by practically every Australian Country party member here. Some of them, at any rate, are returned soldiers. The policy that they have advocated with regard to single-unit farms chosen by ex-servicemen - I think that is perhaps the most satisfactory description of this type of settlement - is emphatically opposed by the committee of returned men with whom I discussed soldier settlement last week.


Mr Anthony - That is not true of returned soldiers' organizations.


Mr DEDMAN - I have the verbatim minutes of the discussions between myself, Mr. Holland and the other repre?sentatives of the returned men. What Mr. Holland said by way of interjection makes the point perfectly clear, because the significance of that kind of settlement is contained in those words " chosen by ex-servicemen ". The Government and I oppose an individual returned soldier being able to choose a particular farm. The Government will not accede to it. But honorable gentlemen opposite advocate that the individual ex-serviceman should be able to choose his own farm arid say, " I shall have that farm. All the Government is concerned with is to make finance available to me ".


Mr Anthony - That is the position.


Mr DEDMAN -. T put it to the House that the policy advocated by honorable gentlemen opposite is opposed to the policy of the returned soldiers' organization. I quote the interjection by Mr. Holland when I was speaking on the matter last week.


Mr Anthony - Table the document.


Mr DEDMAN - The honorable member may look at it if he wishes to.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order ! The Minister has the floor.


Mr DEDMAN - This is the interjection made by Mr. Holland -

Wo aru not asking that the individual be allowed to choose li is own particular property.


Mr Archie Cameron - I ask that the document from which that interjection has been quoted be tabled as public property, because an interjection taken from, its context might be taken to bear a meaning entirely different from the meaning intended by the interjector.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - If it is a public document it will be tabled, but, if it is private, it is for the Minister to decide whether he will table it.


Mr DEDMAN - This document is confidential.


Mr McEwen - The Minister said he would let us have a look at it.


Mr DEDMAN - I have no objection to that.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! I ask the Minister to address the Chair and honorable members to cease interjecting.


Mr DEDMAN - Though I am not prepared to table the document, I am prepared to allow any member of the Opposition to come to my room to peruse it. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) must think I am as low in my habits in dealing with documents as he is. T am riot in the habit of taking statements out of a document and using them for ulterior motives, but the honorable member for Barker is in the habit of doing that.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order ! Address the Chair !


Mr DEDMAN - The honorable members made mention of this in the House, and I am entitled to do so, too. Why the Commonwealth Government and the State governments, all of them as far as T know, are opposed to that kind of soldier settlement is perfectly obvious. I think a document was quoted earlier in the day wherein it was shown that, a large part of the failures among soldier settlers after the 1914-18 war occurred among settlers of that kind. Not only that, but obviously it would be totally unfair that an ex-soldier who was perhaps last on the list so far as experience and suitability were concerned should be able, just because he had wealthy parents or relatives, to nominate his own farm and settle on it while others with far better qualifications for settlement would have no chance at all. It is also obvious if any farms are to be made available under a . scheme of acquisition of large estates or individual farms, all those farms have to go into the pool so that the men most entitled to get farms shall be the first to get them.


Mr Abbott - Why does the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say that he disagrees with that?


Mr DEDMAN - I am not. dealing with what the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture said, and I do not believe he made such a statement.


Mr Abbott - He made it at Inverell.-


Mr DEDMAN - Although the Commonwealth Government objects to single units chosen by ex-servicemen, it does not object to individual farm propositions being submitted to it by the State governments for acquis ti on and eventual disposal to returned soldiers. The Commonwealth Government has, in fact, approved of a number of individual farms that have been submitted to it by the State governments, particularly the Government of Western Australia, for acquisition for that purpose. So it is obvious that the Commonwealth Government has no objection to the acquisition of individual farms. What we do object to is a scheme for the acquisition of single-unit farms chosen by individual ex-servicemen.


Mr Anthony - The Government has already approved of that by agreeing to lend up to £1,000 to ex-servicemen for agricultural purposes.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order ! I ask the honorable member for Richmond to cease interjecting.


Mr DEDMAN - So far as the amendment moved by the honorable member for Richmond is- concerned I regard paragraph h as futile, because, whether the Commonwealth wanted to do this or not, it does not possess the constitutional power to do it. The initiation of soldier settlement proposals rests with the States under the agreement and that, of course, leads to another line of argument. The Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia was one of the organizations that supported the request of the Commonwealth Government at the last referendum that it be given complete power over production. If we bad won the last referendum, the Commonwealth Government could have initiated proposals relating to land settlement. Honorable gentlemen opposite were in the forefront of those who opposed the transfer of more power to the Federal authority. It is because of divided*, control of soldier settlement that some of the delays are occurring today.


Mr McEWEN (INDI, VICTORIA) - The Commonwealth did not ask for power over production.


Mr DEDMAN - It did.


Mr McEwen - Not in respect of primary production. It excluded that.


Mr DEDMAN - I agree that it was " except with the consent of the Governor in Council ".


Mr McEwen - I am afraid, that the Minister has forgotten his own referendum. "Mr. DEDMAN.- We will not argue about ' that. Whether that power was asked for or not, honorable gentlemen opposite would' have opposed it, anyway. It is undoubtedly true that soldier settlement has been beset with difficulties hecause of the two sets of authorities dealing with it. However, as the matter stands, there ar,e three particular aspects of soldier settlement that have to be dealt with by agreement between the Commonwealth and the State. Those three matters are, first, the general suitability of an estate for acquisition; secondly, the price to be paid ; and, thirdly, the number of farms into which the estate will be subdivided. The newspapers of New South Wales have published criticisms of delays allegedly resulting from Commonwealth control of these matters, or lack of ability on the part of the Commonwealth to deal expeditiously with them. The honorable member for Richmond, by intersection, asked me why I had failed to deny a statement by the Minister for Lands in New South Wales. '


Mr Anthony - I did not ask the question.


Mr DEDMAN - Then it was the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott).


Mr Abbott - Is the Minister sure that [ asked the question?


Mr DEDMAN - Yes. The point is that agreement is not easy to reach on many of the problems associated with the land settlement of ex-servicemen. I have always taken the view that when a Commonwealth Minister and a State Minister have to work in agreement, it serves no useful purpose for one of them publicly to criticize the other. For that reason, up to the present time, I have not publicly criticized the Minister for Lands in New South Wales. But when statements are made in this House which are either untrue, or only half true, I owe it to honorable members to make clear exactly what the position is. The record shows that New South Wales has submitted 55 estates for approval as to their general suitability for the land settlement of exservicemen. Of those 55 estates, 45 have been approved by the Commonwealth authority. On the ten proposals in respect of which agreement has not yet been reached, further information is awaited from the State concerning four of them; the State is not likely to proceed with one, and the Commonwealth is reconsidering the remainder. Of the 45 proposals which have been approved by the Commonwealth authority, seven have been approved for a period of eight and onehalf months, three for eight months, six for three months and one for two months. The remaining two were approved a few weeks ago. The next step, after the Commonwealth has given its general approval, is for the State to endeavour to reach an agreement with the owners regarding the prices of the estates, and the whole point is that, since the Commonwealth gave its general approval, the State has not taken any further steps towards acquiring them


Mr McEwen - Why is that ?


Mr DEDMAN - Again, I am not criticizing the Government of New South Wales for what appears to be an inordinate delay, but I am told that one of the very great difficulties confronting the Government of New South Wales is in respect of its power compulsorily to acquire these estates. I understand that any attempt by the Government of New South Wales compulsorily to acquire these estates will probably take up to fifteen months, and, consequently, the State is doing its utmost to arrive at a price by .agreement with the owners. Actually, those who are ultimately responsible for the delay are not the Commonwealth and State Governments, but the owners of those estates who are demanding exorbitant prices for them. Because I believe that that is the real reason for these delays, I have not publicly criticized the Minister for Lands in New South Wales for seeming delays in these matters.

I desire now to submit to the House a statement showing the area submitted, the total acreage approved as suitable by the Commonwealth for the land settlement of ex-servicemen in all States, the acreage' referred back for further investigation, the acreage under consideration by the Commonwealth, and submissions withdrawn.


Mr Abbott - What is the date of the statement ?


Mr DEDMAN - The figures relate to the period up to the beginning of June.

I ask for permission to incorporate the table of figures in Hansard.


Mr Abbott - I object. I should like the Minister to read the figures so that I may compare them with the figures in my possession.







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