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Wednesday, 17 October 1956

The CHAIRMAN - That is correct.

Mr Turnbull - I submit that the honor able member is not doing so.

Mr POLLARD - One of the clauses o> the bill provides for the borrowing of £8,500,000 for the purposes of war service land settlement in Australia. It is proposed that £5,000,000 of that sum shall go to the agent States and £3,500,000 to the principal States. My comment on that is-

Mr Roberton - That it is not right.

Mr POLLARD - My comment is thar that division is approximately correct, notwithstanding the suggestion of the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton). Because only a very limited amount of finance has been made available to the States, both agent and principal, only a fraction of the number of ex-servicemen seeking allotments has been successful in securing them. The complaint of each State government, whether it be a Liberal government, an Australian Country party government, a government consisting of a combination of the Australian Country party and a Liberal party, or a pure merino Labour administration, is that its inability to settle on the land all the people who hold qualification certificates is due entirely to the fact that the Commonwealth has not made enough money available.

This Government has made available to the States certain loan moneys for the purposes of war service land settlement. If greater allocations had been made, the States could have done better than they have done, but the allocations have not been increased. Honorable members opposite imply that if the States want to place exservicemen on the land more quickly, they should use for the purpose a portion of the loan moneys allocated to them by the Australian Loan Council.

There is no need for the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Erwin) to get excited over this matter. The facts are revealed by the figures that have been published. Since hostilities ceased in 1945, only 7,500 men - I am using round figures - have been settled on the land, whereas 13,000 men were settled on the land in Victoria alone after World War I. The only reasons why more men have not been placed on the land since 1945 are that the Commonwealth, which is responsible for making payments to the States from the proceeds of taxation levied for the purposes of both the Commonwealth and the States, has made available to the States for this purpose an inadequate sum of money, and that the Australian Loan Council allocations have been inadequate to enable the States to proceed more quickly with this great work. In addition, in every loan allocation which has come before the Parliament since the Chifley Labour Government left office, the amount of money provided has been wholly inadequate to settle all the available applicants. That situation is not exclusive to soldier settlement. It applies with equal force, as has been stated by my colleague, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), to the provision of war service homes. The amount of loan money available is limited and entirely inadequate to cope with the number of applicants for war service homes.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honorable member will relate his remarks to the bill.

Mr POLLARD - That was only a passing reference. There is not a State in the Commonwealth, whether it be an agent or a principal State, that is not willing and eager to hasten war service land settlement.

Mr McMahon - That is not correct, and you know it.

Mr POLLARD - It is correct. The only problem is that the Commonwealth, in all its loan allocations, does not provide adequate funds for the purpose. If that contention is contested, let us look at the position from another angle. If the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) does not like that point of view, let me put this to him: Since 1949, land values have been inflated considerably. In that year £7,000 was adequate to settle an exserviceman on the land. To-day, due to the inflation of land values in an unbridled economy, in New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia, or any other State--

Mr Aston Mr. Astoninterjecting,

Mr POLLARD - The honorable member for Phillip does not like it, I know. At present it costs not less than from £30,000 to £40,000 to place one solitary soldier settler on the land.

Mr Bowden - Rubbish!

Mr POLLARD - The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) says " Rubbish! " I refer him to an entirely impartial authority, the present secretary of the Department of Trade, the head of the department administered by the honorable member's own colleague, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). In a recent article published in a very prominent journal in this Commonwealth he said that to settle anybody on the land to-day costs at least £40,000.

Mr Bowden - I say " Rubbish! "

Mr POLLARD - There is no rubbish about it. Do not take my partisan opinion, but accept the opinion of the Government's own officer, Mr. Crawford, as expressed in an article which appeared in a prominent trade journal. He is secretary of the department administered by the honorable member's colleague. If any States are hesitant or are in difficulties because they are faced with the problem of inadequate funds, it is due entirely to the fact that this Government has made insufficient moneys available.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.

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