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Tuesday, 14 May 1957

Mr LUCOCK (Lyne) . - I propose, first, to answer some of the remarks made by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who spoke about the hardships caused by the calling up of youths in industrial areas who are breadwinners. Deferments of training are granted, as I am sure the honorable member is aware, to persons whose families are dependent upon them in some measure, and would suffer hardship if they were called up. The honorable member failed to take account of the fact - to which the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) referred - that, frequently, the calling up of a country youth means that the production of a farm ceases entirely. The position is different in industry, where somebody else can take over and keep the wheels turning. Any one who has any understanding of country conditions appreciates that, once a farm has gone out of production, for even a short period, it is extremely difficult to bring it back to full production.

It is said that, sometimes, the Commonwealth Employment Service will provide labour for three months to work a farm where a youth has been called up. I recall one case in which, when a young man was called up for training, no labour was available to take his place and even at times when labour is available, it is not always suitable. The young man's father, unfortunately, had been taken seriously ill only a few months before the son received his call up, and it was not expected that he would ever be able to work again. In the circumstances of that case, the only sensible and logical thing to do was to defer the young man's training. I know of another case in which the parents of a young man who was keen to train sold the family property so that he could serve in his country's forces. I can think of only half a dozen applications for deferment with which I have been concerned during the whole time that I have represented the Lyne electorate in this chamber. As I have said, there was the case in which the young man concerned was the only one who could continue the work of the farm, and there were some other cases in which, due to seasonal conditions, or floods and other difficulties, young men asked for deferment.

The remarks of certain members of the Opposition were so facetious that no notice should be taken of them. I would not have risen to my feet had it not been for the fact that this is the second occasion on which the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) has suggested, by insinuation, that the young men in the country are not prepared to defend Australia as are the young men in the metropolitan areas. In my opinion, it is absolutely disgraceful for a member of this Parliament to make such an insinuation. If the honorable member will look at the record of servicemen who have given their services and, in many cases, their lives to this country, he will find that the number, in proportion to the population, is equal to the number of servicemen from the metropolitan areas. I had the privilege of having a Victoria Cross winner in my electorate until redistribution of electoral boundaries took place, p.nd that, I think, is sufficient evidence that the people in the country have not been lacking when they have been called upon to serve Australia. I repeat that, for a member of the Labour Opposition to make an insinuation like that in this place, is disgraceful.

I can appreciate the worry and the fears of honorable members opposite, including the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), about ballots. Having regard to the history of the Labour party, in both State and Federal spheres, in recent years, it is natural that they should have fears regarding ballots, particularly, perhaps, in the case of the honorable member for Grayndler. However, I say to the honorable member, and other honorable members opposite, that these ballots will be conducted under the auspices of this Government and that, therefore, contrary to the views of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), they need have no fear regarding them.

The honorable member for Grayndler said that we were denying the people of the country areas the opportunity to undergo training and, through it, to become physically fit. As was pointed out by my colleague, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), the young men of the country areas already have this opportunity without having to go into the armed services for it. However, the honorable member for Grayndler is arguing against himself, because, in fact, we are giving the young men of the industrial areas the opportunity to take advantage of this training to improve their physical standard.

The honorable member for East Sydney spoke about responsibility for service being thrust back on to the workers. I regret the constant reiteration in this chamber of statements concerning alleged distinctions between the workers and other people in the community. We all are Australians and we all, I hope, are workers. I suggest to the honorable member for East Sydney that he return to my electorate - he was last there, I think, in 1952. He should come back, have a look round and see for himself that all the workers are not in the metropolitan areas.

Mr Bryant - Mr. Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation.

The CHAIRMAN - Does the honorable member feel that he has been misrepresented?

Mr Bryant - I do not only feel it; I am certain of it. Not by implication, insinuation, inference, or any other of the words used by the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock), did I suggest that people were not ready to serve. I was merely trying to point out that the regulations which will be promulgated under this legislation will place the onus of service on one lot of people and not on another. What the motives are, I do not know, and they have no relevance to this case.

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