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Wednesday, 24 October 1956

Mr H V JOHNSON (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) . - I wish to support the amendment that has been moved by the honorable member for Melbourne- Ports (Mr. Crean). I realize that he will not get very far with it, but I support it as a protest against the Government's adjustment of the zone allowance. It was good to hear the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) say something about the north, and particularly about taxation. There is much substance in what he said about that part of the country, which is rich in mineral resources. Appeals have been made to this Government from time to time to grant a concession that would provide an incentive for people to go to the north of Australia and develop the mineral resources that are known to exist there. The large variety of base metals, for instance, that exist in the Marble Bar and Hall's Creek areas would offer great incentive to people with capital if they could get the necessary governmental assistance. Even if they could get exemption from taxation for five years that would, in itself, be an incentive to provide capital to develop that area.

From time to time, I have appealed in this Parliament for assistance to be granted for the development of the north. I have made so many appeals that I feel it is almost useless to talk about it, particularly while this Government is in power. In 1948, before the defeat of the Chifley Government, plans were in hand to enable people to go to the north of Australia. I do not suggest that the provision of zone allowances is a great incentive for people to go there, but at least it is something on which to build. The system of zone allowances for taxation purposes was first introduced in this Parliament in 1945 and was altered in 1947 to meet the increasing cost of living in the areas concerned. There has been no change in the system since 1947, although the cost of living at the present time is very much greater than it was then. The point I wish to make is that the adjustments now proposed will be of no real value to the people concerned.

As honorable members know, I have repeatedly addressed questions in this House to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) and successive Ministers for the Interior in an effort to have the legislation amended. I sincerely hope that, even at this stage, honorable members opposite who feel that the allowances are inequitable will support the amendment that has been moved by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) on behalf of the Opposition. I do not propose to say much more on this matter. I have said a great deal in the past about the development of the north, but my appeals to the Government have not been heeded. However, I again issue a warning: If the northern part of Western Australia, from the Kimberleys down, is not developed by us, we must not be heard to complain if the people of over-populated countries who see this large area of our continent unoccupied, say, " We wish to develop it if you do not ". While it remains unpopulated as it is to-day, it is a menace to the security of the Commonwealth. It is the bounden duty of governments in the Commonwealth sphere, regardless of political colour, to try to raise the necessary finance for developmental work such as the provision of water supplies in the Ord River and Fitzroy River districts. We must get on with the business of development and attempt to make that part of our coastline secure as quickly as we can.

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