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Thursday, 21 May 1936

Senator E B JOHNSTON (Western Australia) . - I am pleased that the Government has introduced this bill, which contains two principles to which I desire to direct attention. The first is that the Commonwealth is granting to State Governments sums of money towards the payment of interest and sinking fund contributions on necessary public works in rural districts throughout the Commonwealth. This is a principle to which every member of the Senate should subscribe. Assistance in rural development is undoubtedly a responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. My only regret is that the amount of £100,000 a year for ten years is not larger. I realize, of course, that we cannot expect the Government to legislate for a longer term, but I hope that at the expiration of the ten years the principle will be continued, because it would be unfair to expect local governing bodies in country districts to incur heavy expenditure on public works on the lines indicated in this bill, if, later, the assistance were to be withdrawn.

Senator Collings - The actual amount will be at least £200,000 because of contributions from State Governments.

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