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Wednesday, 11 October 1972
Page: 1445


Senator LITTLE (Victoria) - I wish to speak to the amendment that is before the Senate rather than to the Bill. The Australian Democratic Labor Party, with all other parties, is in agreement with the proposition contained in the Bill. The amendment does not mean necessarily that a Senate select committee would be set up. It merely expresses the opinion that the Senate feels that a select committee should be set up to inquire into all aspects of war service land settlement. It must be assumed from the amendment as it is worded that it would necessitate a subsequent resolution of the Senate to carry out the actual function of setting up a committee about which the Senate has expressed an opinion the course of the debte on this amendment that such a committee should be set up. The DLP is not of the opinion that such a committee should be set up at this stage even if its activities were to be confined to the States that are mentioned in this Bill. There is no certainty that that would be the ultimate decision of the Senate on the matter nor would there be a limitation to that extent. If the committee were actually set up, it cou'd be done on a much broader basis than that.

Our view on this question is largely confined to the area of consideration that the setting up of further Senate committees at this time is completely impractical, anyway. The members of Senate select committees that are functioning at present are trying to carry out the most careful research into the problems of the nation while meeting over lunch and eating their sandwiches. We maintain that a committee cannot function properly in those circumstances. We just do not have the manpower. With the Senate standing committees now functioning, together with the Senate select committees that are in the process of producing reports at the moment, it is not a logical proposition to set up any further committees.

Dealing with the subject that is contained in the amendment, we feel that the whole matter of land settlement and primary industry in this country is something that must fit into the general pattern of the economy. In the economy there should be a place for war service land settlement that has served this nation and its citizens very well in the past. It has not always been successful, but in many areas it has been.It has given to men who have served this country in time of war and who have the necessary ambition and drive at lest an opportunity to see whether they can succeed in this area. It necessarily follows that when such an opportunity is created, it is not inevitable that everyone will succeed.

This applies particularly in the area of primary industry where the farmer battles with the elements as well as with the ordinary circumstances of business and the economy of the nation. Indeed, he has to grapple with the added influence of world prices that are unpredictable and that we cannot control.

We support the principle of the man on the land. We believe that in a country of the nature of Australia it should be among the ambitions of our people to further develop even that land which may be considered today to be so arid that is is impossible to develop. It may compare in many respects with parts of Israel that today are blooming gardens in arid deserts because the Israelis have seen fit to use the ingenuity of man to tackle the problems of nature. We feel that all those things are part of the further development of primary industry in this country to meet the requirements of a demanding and expanding world population. They are not necessarily matters that are limited to war service. Indeed, if there were to be inquiries of this character we feel that they should be far wider than merely being limited to the war service level alone. This is within the competence of the departments as they now exist and the Parliament can consider the measures by debate as they are brought forward. If there are specific areas such as that mentioned in the amendment about the level of rentals. I do not believe that a Senate select committee can do any more than can the Parliament to obtain the relevancy of the economic factors that may have a relationship to the method of valuations, the rentals that are demanded and even the option of purchase prices and how they may fluctuate. We do not see the necessity for expressing an opinion that a committee should be set up for this purpose in view of the pressures and strains that are placed on Senate committees at the moment. We propose to support the legislation as it stands as it is completely necessary to cany on the functions of land settlement for the returned servicemen in the States that are outlined in the Bill.

Question put:

Thai the words proposed 10 be added (Senator Wilkinson's amendment) be added.







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