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Tuesday, 14 May 1957

Mr DUTHIE (Wilmot) .- Listening to members of the Australian Country party in this chamber, one would imagine that they were the only representatives of country electorates in the Parliament.

Mr Turnbull - That is right, too.

Mr DUTHIE - It is a very good thing that all the country electorates are not represented by Australian Country party members. I represent a large country electorate.

Honorable members interjecting,

The CHAIRMAN - Order! There are too many interjections.

Mr DUTHIE - I was beginning to wonder, Mr. Chairman, who was making this speech. Section 31 of the principal act makes no reference to exemption from training for youths who live more than 5 miles from a training centre. That exemption, which was introduced by a regulation promulgated since the principal act was passed in 1951, is a mixed blessing. It is a blanket deferment, in effect. Whether or not it is an exemption is not the point. It provides a blanket deferment for every young man of national service training age who lives more than 5 miles from a training centre. That means that practically all farmers' sons are exempted.

Mr Turnbull - It does not exempt any one.

Mr Haylen - Let him hop into the old Jag and find a drill hall!

The CHAIRMAN - Order! I ask honorable members to cease their interjections so that the committee may proceed with the business before it.

Mr DUTHIE - City youths, all of whom live within 5 miles of a training centre, are at a definite disadvantage, compared with young men in the country, who are exempted because it is claimed that food production is the Commonwealth's primary concern. It may be, but food could not be produced without the help of the agricultural machinery that is manufactured in the cities. As a farmer's son who spent many years on a wheat farm in Victoria, I know how much the farmers depend on the machinery produced by city industries. Yet, in the promulgation a year or two ago of the regulation providing for blanket deferment of the training of young men resident more than 5 miles from a training centre, that fact was not taken into consideration. There are perhaps hundreds of young men in the cities and country towns who, as only sons, are responsible for the upkeep of families bereft of their fathers. Yet they are called up for training merely because they live within 5 miles of training centres!

I agree with the principle of deferring the training of young men employed on farms, but I think that the same consideration should be extended also to city youths. I am thinking particularly of apprentices, and especially of sons who are family breadwinners. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) referred to one-man businesses, of which there are many in cities and towns throughout Australia. The blanket deferment is unfair to city youths as compared with their counterparts in the country, and it causes them unnecessary hardship. That is, and has been, my criticism of this regulation all along. My electorate has an area of 13,500 square miles, and it comprises approximately half of Tasmania. Perhaps there may be some honorable members who are surprised to hear that there are even 13,500 square miles of land in Tasmania. I readily admit that the deferment principle has been of tremendous help to hundreds of young men in my electorate who, perhaps through the sudden illness of their father, have been left to run farms of all kinds, such as dairy farms, property devoted to the growing of peas, potatoes, oats and barley, sheep properties, or farms devoted to any of the eighteen different kinds of agriculture in the Wilmot electorate.

I consider that the blanket exemption regulation discriminates very much against youths in the towns and cities. Although I hail from the State in which Tattersalls consultations originated, and in which they flourished until they were transferred to Victoria, I think that the system of ballotting proposed for the selection of national service trainees will cheapen national service training in principle. If one wants to cheapen anything, the best way is to make a lottery of it. That is my firm opinion of lotteries. The Government's proposal will cheapen national service training quick and lively. The whole idea of a birthday lottery to select national service trainees is an insult to those who believe in the principle of service training for defence or war.

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