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Tuesday, 14 May 1957

Mr DRUMMOND (New England) . - I would not have risen had not the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) been so certain that possible trainees in country districts ought not to be placed in any special position in relation to the call-up. The honorable member referred to Puckapunyal camp, and I can quite understand that those members who come from the intensely developed smaller States, such as Tasmania and Victoria, could labour under the impression that they know all that is to be known about the disabilities under which trainees are called up. I do not reside in the most extensive State of Australia, but I imagine that what I am going to say applies with very much greater force to Queensland, which is about four and a half times as big as Victoria and about twenty times as big as Tasmania. In Western Australia, of course, the difficulties must be accentuated.

Again and again, it has come to my notice that the only male upon the farm or property who is capable of looking after that property is the son of a deceased soldier, or of a soldier who is completely disabled. Very often the son is the support of a widowed mother or there are other comparable circumstances. One of the things that I was glad to see in this bill was a recognition of the fact that the call-up of a man from an urban area, who had others to take his place in the factory or office, is entirely different from the call-up of the mainstay of the family in a country area, because in the latter case it could prevent effective production on the property. There are many sons of farmers, and particularly sons of returned soldiers, who would willingly volunteer for national service training but for the circumstances in which they are situated. I hope that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) will stand firmly upon this principle, which recognizes the difference in the conditions of those who live in urban areas and those who live in the country and who, too often, are endeavouring to carry on with insufficient labour.

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