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Tuesday, 9 October 1956

Mr Bryant t asked the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research, upon notice -

1.   In what areas has myxomatosis been most successful?

2.   What evidence is available of increased production attributable to this section of the organization's work?

Mr Casey - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   Myxomatosis has been most successful in the main rabbit-infested areas of south-eastern Australia extending as far north as the northern limit of the rabbit's distribution in Queensland. During this last season, for the first time, it has become very widespread and effective in Tasmania. In Western Australia, myxomatosis has been less spectacular, but some useful outbreaks have occurred.

2.   Regarding increased production due to the spread of myxomatosis, it has been estimated that in one year alone, 1952-53, following the main spread of myxomatosis, the income of woolgrowers was increased by at least £30,000,000 due to reduction in rabbit numbers and the competition for pasture. Increased wool production of this order has been assisted since then by the continuing low level of the rabbit population. In addition to the increased wool production due to an increase in the wool cut per sheep, it has been possible to graze many more sheep and cattle. In farming areas the damage to crops by rabbits has been reduced from a very high to a low level. In addition huge economies have resulted from the reduction in the cost of rabbit control measures. And finally, there is the longterm and immeasurable benefit to pastures and consequent reduction in soil erosion, due to the elimination of overgrazing by rabbits. Detailed surveys of individual properties confirm the general picture of the enormous increases in rural production due to the reduction in the rabbit population by myxomatosis. It will be wise for land-holders to capitalize on this situation, and to do their utmost to eradicate, if possible, the surviving remnants of the rabbit population on their properties.

Land Settlement of Ex-servicemen.

Mr Peters s asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -

1.   What is (a) the number of soldier settlers placed on the land, and (b) the cost of such settlement in each State since World War II?

2.   What is the increase or decrease in the number of farmers in each State since 1939?

Mr McMahon (LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Primary Industry) - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   The information is set out hereunder in table form for clarity of analysis: -



In addition the following approximate amounts have been spent by the individual States on war service land settlement: - New South Wales, £38,600,000; Victoria, £38,000,000; Queensland. £4,700,000.

2.   The following tables show the increase or decrease in the number of farmers: -

Table 1 shows the number of male farmers (owners, lessees and sharefarmers) on rural holdings for each State in Australia as a: 31st March, 1946, and 1955. The actual and percentage change is also shown. Similar statistics for 1939 are not available since statistics of farm employment prior to 1943 do not separate owners, &c. from unpaid family helpers and paid employees.

Table 2 shows the total number of males permanently employed on rural holdings as at 31st March, 1939, 1946 and 1955, and. therefore, embodies the statistics shown in Table 1, together with statistics of paid and unpaid helpers. This table shows that the number of males permanently employed has decreased by some 34,000 or 9 per cent, since 1939, but to the extent that the proportion of farm helpers may have declined since then, any decline in the number of farmers would be less than 9 per cent. There has been little change in numbers of farmers and farm workers since 1946, when most of those who had served in the forces had been discharged.



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