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Thursday, 4 April 1957

Mr McMAHON - The honorable gentleman from Barker has shown great interest in the problem of. ex-servicemen settlers - a very great interest indeed. Since he has been a member of this House he has been making constant inquiries to see what can be done both in order to help the settlers in his electorate and to permit them to get prices fixed for the allotment of their settlements on a freehold basis. I remind the honorable gentleman that, prior to the coming into office of the Menzies Government, such properties were allotted on a perpetual leasehold basis; but this Government decided that the settlers should have the option to freehold. That right has been given to them at the expiration of ten years from the dates at which they originally took over their properties. /Vs the honorable gentleman has well said, that period has now almost expired for a number of settlers, and therefore the time is rapidly coming when the necessary decision will have to be made. The settlers have the right to take up their properties, either at cost or at th* reasonable market price, whichever is the lower. In South Australia, as propertiesare taken up on a zonal basis, the costa have to be allocated between the variousproperties within the zone. It is essential, as a first step, that the South Australian Government estimate the total cost and1 then allocate it as between individual properties. As soon as that is done the Commonwealth will try to ensure that the settlers are informed of the prices they will have to pay, which, as I have said, will be cost or the market price, whichever is the lower. I am glad that the honorable member has raised this question again, because 1 will now seek further information to see whether the process can be expedited.

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