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Thursday, 9 December 1965

Mr SHAW (Dawson) .- The brigalow land is, in the main, in my electorate, around Moura and Baralaba. I do not share the fears held by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray). The gloom and fear felt by the Labour Party with regard to this scheme are unfounded. I share the views of people interested in the scheme that it is of tremendous importance to the development of northern Australia. The Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government have taken a great step towards settling people on this land. Anybody who goes to Moura or Baralaba and through the Fitzroy Valley can see what these settlers are doing. Without the help of this Government and the Queensland Government the settlers could not succeed.

The honorable member for Capricornia said that there have been eight years of drought in the brigalow country. That is not correct. There have been eight years without rain, but not eight years of drought. In the last month or six weeks between four and seven inches of rain has fallen. With a fall of that order, the settlers can control the brigalow. I do not agree with the honorable member that the rain will create difficulties. Brigalow grows in dry periods when grass will not grow. It is then that we have difficulties. Once we get rain and are able to sow the land we will get some benefit from the developmental work the settlers have been doing with the help of the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments. Of all the schemes suggested for northern development - the Ord River scheme and the Weipa project, for example - the brigalow scheme is one of the greatest ideas the Commonwealth ever had for putting people on the land and enabling them to contribute as taxpayers towards the development of this country, because I am sure that these settlers will be good income earners and valuable Australians. The extension of the scheme and the granting of the requests made by the Queensland Government will help not only the settlers and Queensland but all of Australia. I commend the suggestion made by the Queensland Government. All Queenslanders are right behind the Commonwealth in this matter.

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