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Wednesday, 11 October 1972
Page: 1449

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (Minister for Air) - I did not want to continue this argument with Senator McLaren, but I point out to him that in my own State of Western Australia there are no blocks available for ex-servicemen. A block could become available if the ex-serviceman occupying it decided to get out; but in deciding to get out he would seek the highest price he could get for his block - and I do not think the honourable senator would want to deny him that right. Therefore, if a lad who returned from Vietnam was interested in paying the price for that block, he would have to outbid others. I understand that in South Australia blocks that come on the market are first offered to war service land settlers living in the area. If those war service land settlers do not want the available block, then I believe that that block would probably be a pretty poor block - because the original settler has decided to get off it and no other settler in the area is prepared to buy it. The honourable senator says that it should be offered to the lad who returns from Vietnam. When one considers the drastic decline which took place in the rural industries during 1971, that young settler, with his lack of experience in the rural industries, if he got that block would be getting off to a pretty bad start. I believe that for the remainder of his farming life he would be dependent on assistance from the Commonwealth to keep him going or he would have to sink. I do not think we would want to start him off in that situation.

The Commonwealth does not ignore young men who have completed national service and who have had previous farming experience. Those who are eligible can apply for certain assistance and can receive up to S6.000. Many former national servicemen have asked me how they should apply for assistance, and no doubt every other senator has had similar experience. While I appreciate the point that Senator McLaren makes, it is not as practicable as he suggests. The honourable senator can rest assured that, if there was a bigger intake of national servicemen and a corresponding demand by national servicemen with rural experience for farms or further assistance, the responsible Minister would be aware of this and no doubt would examine the situation and, if necessary, would make recommendations to the Government. But on present indications there are only 30 to 40 such ex-servicemen in the whole of Australia in any one year and this number is not likely to become greater, as the national service intake has fallen in recent years.

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