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Tuesday, 21 March 1961

Mr Peters s asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -

1.   What was the number of farms in Australia on the 30th June, 1939?

2.   Can he say how many (a) civilian and (b) ex-service personnel settlers have been assisted by governments to secure farms since that date?

3.   What has been the cost to the governments?

5.   How many farms are there now in Australia?

Mr Adermann - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   Statistical information issued by the Commonwealth Statistician refers to rural holdings which are defined as land of one acre or more in extent used in the production of agricultural produce, the raising of live-stock or the products of live-stock. At 30th June, 1939, there were 253,536 such holdings, excluding the Northern Territory for which figures are not available.

2.   Civilian land settlement is the prerogative of State governments. The nature and extent of assistance to civilians to secure farms since 1939 is not available to me. Ex-service personnel have been assisted to secure farms through the war service land settlement scheme and loans for agricultural purposes under the provisions of the Re-establishment and Employment Act. To 30th June, 1960, 8,974 farms had been allotted under the war service land settlement scheme and 14,307 applicants had received agricultural loans. Of this latter number, 4,840 used these loans to assist in the purchase of land.

3.   As indicated in the answer to the second part of this question, details of civilian settlement are not available to me. The costs of the war service land settlement scheme are shared on an agreed basis between the Commonwealth and States. To 30th June, 1960, the direct expenditure on the scheme by the Commonwealth and States was approximately £184,000,000. In addition, agricultural loans made under the Re-establishment and Employment Act total £10,200,000 of which £4,000,000 is estimated as being used for purchase of land.

4.   On the same basis as the answer to the first part of the question the number of rural holdings at 30th June, 1960, was 251,974. While this number shows a decrease on the 1939 figure, the aggregate area of rural holdings increased from 897,000,000 acres in 1939 to 989,000,000 acres in 1960; that is by 92,000,000 acres.

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