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Wednesday, 24 October 1956

Mr BRIMBLECOMBE (Maranoa) . - The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) in his opening remarks said that the measure before the House clearly showed the distinction between the philosophies and policies of the Australian Labour party and of the Government. In that respect I agree with him wholeheartedly. He went on to say that in his opinion we should have more socialism. He was quite honest, as I believe that he is a socialist, slightly tinged with red. He said that there is no doubt that honorable members on this side of the House represent the privileged sections of the community, while honorable members opposite represent the average person who receives a wage of from £14 to £18 a week. Even if that is so, I hazard a guess that an examination of the incomes of honorable members would show that the capitalists in this House are to be found on on the other side and every thought they have is related to capitalism.

Opposition members interjecting.

Mr BRIMBLECOMBE - I am not pulling anybody's leg. If honorable members opposite believe they have an affinity with the low-wage worker they are pulling their own legs. The honorable member for Yarra then discussed the concessional allowance for educational expenses, saying that the people who would benefit from the proposed provision were those who sent their children to private schools. A survey would show that the majority of honorable members opposite send their children to private schools, but they will not be honest about it. The honorable member for Yarra should be careful in his remarks on that subject. I remind him that there are such institutions as high schools, which in this country are free, and at which children may reach a very high standard of education. The proposed concession will be of benefit to the parents of children attending high schools, particularly in country districts, where they have to board at hostels. If the honorable member for Yarra likes to come to a western electorate, where his education might be - I hope could be - furthered, he will learn that the parents of the majority of children attending high schools are persons in the lower income group which he has mentioned.

Mr Adermann - There are few schools there at all.

Mr BRIMBLECOMBE - As the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann) says, there is a scarcity of schools in those regions, and we all agree that more should be provided. The whole of the speech of the honorable member for Yarra was designed solely to stir up class hatred. That is the foundation of the brand of politics which he professes. His speech was vicious, because all of it was directed to that end. I do not intend to waste any more time on him, because he told us exactly where he stood when he said that it was a pity that this country could not embrace socialism of the kind that he advocates.

I wish to deal with the clause of the bill which relates to special deductions allowable to residents in isolated areas. We have before us a map, which shows the proposed alterations to the boundaries of zone A and zone B. The area of zone A is to be enlarged and will be bounded by the 26tb parallel and the 141st meridian. The concessional allowance in this zone is to be increased' substantially, from £120 to £180. The concessional allowance to residents of zone B is to be increased by £10, a small concession, indeed, but one which will be very welcome. During the budget debate I advocated the re-adjustment of these boundaries. It is easy arbitrarily to draw a line across the 26th parallel and up to the 141st meridian and decide that the area delineated should be zone A, but I am at a loss to understand why these boundaries were selected. In the south-western portion of Queensland, the north-western area of New South Wales and the north-eastern part of South Australia, where the State boundaries join, there are localities which are further away from railways than are portions of zone A and have not the amenities which are available in those portions, yet they are to remain in zone B, with a smaller zone allowance. In that area there are no aerodromes, railways or good roads. All supplies have to be taken over bush tracks, zone A should be extended to include all the country west of the 144th meridian. Such an alteration would result in the inclusion in this zone of a large number of persons who have to meet a high cost of living and who do not enjoy even amenities that are available to some persons in zone A. This is a very serious matter. The cost of living in the south-western portion of Queensland, which is not included in zone A, is much higher than is the cost of living, say, at Townsville, which is in zone B. I ask the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) and the department to examine this matter again in the light of the cost of living in that locality. It will be found that the majority of the persons living there are worse off than are some persons who live in zone A. The honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) spoke about decentralization. The region to which I refer has some of the richest grazing country in Australia. If there were better roads, railways, and communication facilities generally, it could be developed considerably, and the people would not be seeking these concessions. I submit that zone A should include the people in north-western New South Wales, south-western Queensland and portion of the north-east of South Australia. 1 ask that this matter be reconsidered to see whether something can be done about it.

That is all I wanted to say. The honorable member for Yarra was reprimanded by you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, for tedious repetition, t do not intend to indulge in any tedious repetition. Most of the other features of this measure have already been discussed and I have nothing to add to what has been said by my colleagues. I have dealt with the only matter on which I wish to speak, and I hope that the Treasurer will consider the suggestion that I have made.

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