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Wednesday, 19 June 1946


Mr RYAN (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) - For the settlement of exservicemen, I hope.


Mr Scully - But the honorable gentleman just alleged that ex-servicemen are not being given land !


Mr RYAN - Some land has been resumed and, as the honorable member for Richmond has stated, some ex-servicemen have been settled on it, in the western district of New South Wales. But nowhere else in the Commonwealth 'has any resumed land been handed over for settlement.


Mr Scully - It has been handed over, and is being prepared for settlement. An estate of more than" 40,000 acres in my electorate has been made available for subdivision into twenty farms.


Mr RYAN - The Minister misunderstands me. I have said that the land has not been handed over for settlement by ex-servicemen. A long time will elapse before it will be ready for settlement.


Mr Scully - The' honorable gentleman is merely " splitting straws ". Being a practical man, he knows that an estate of 50,000 or 60,000 acres could not be subdivided into blocks for settlers in " 24 hours ".


Mr RYAN - I am well aware, of that. But too much time is being lost in putting the scheme into proper shape. The reason is the division of responsibility between the States and the Commonwealth.


Mr Scully - How could the Commonwealth overcome that? It cannot itself undertake land settlement.


Mr RYAN - Of course it can. It has complete power under the Constitution to acquire property.


Mr Scully - It has not.


Mr RYAN - It can acquire property on just terms.


Mr Scully - The Commonwealth cannot acquire property on any terms, except for specific purposes.


Mr RYAN - At present, the' "ball" is being passed back and forth between the States and the Commonwealth. The States complain of inability to obtain Commonwealth approval of land that has been resumed. A large area of land in Victoria has not been inspected by the Commonwealth ; therefore, it has not been possible to subdivide it and make it ready for settlement. In addition, there is the matter of single-unit farm's. In my district, farms are being sold at the fixed ceiling prices, which are reasonable. Why should they not be taken up by the State and handed over to suitable settlers? For as long as the present state of. affairs continues, those who wish to settle on the land will be unable to do so. 1 shall deal now with the matter of loans. As the honorable member for Richmond lias pointed out, and as we all know, loans up to £1,000 are supposed to be available to settlers. I have had brought to my notice the case of a. man who enlisted at the age of eighteen years, yet has been unable to obtain a loan of only £2r>0; he is the son of a farmer in the western district of Victoria, and spent the whole of his early life on the land. His service in the Army extended over a period of three or four years. When discharged, lie purchased a block of twenty or 25 acres for the purpose of engaging in vegetable growing. He cleared the land, and thus obtained a quantity of good timber. All that he needs is a truck to transport the timber to clients. With the money thus obtained, he could erect a house and fence his property. I wrote to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, inquiring whether he could obtain a loan of £250:-. The reply referred me to the Land Settlement Commission in Melbourne, by which I -was referred to the Repatriation Commission. What has the matter to do with the Repatriation Commission? It ought to lie the concern of those who are administering the land settlement acts. For six weeks or two months, this unfortunate man has been going from one office to another trying to get a loan, but all his efforts have been fruitless. It is time that a wider view was taken in the administration of the act. Assistance should be given quickly. These men want to be settled on the land now, not five or ten years hence. The delays that are occurring offend everybody affected by them. What is to prevent Australia from doing what New Zealand has done? There are several thousand people waiting to be settled on the land in this country.

My final remarks will be in relation to the policy that has been generally applied under the act. I believe that the appointment of a body such as a select committee would be a very good step. It should inquire as to what amendments are needed. The act certainly is not working smoothly, or giving the results that everybody wants. The local repatriation committees, quite a number of which are established in my electorate, are doing excellent work'. They are fully acquainted with all the local farming conditions, and are thus able to give the best advice to those who wish to engage in farming operations. Why should not the New Zealand example be followed, by giving to them responsibility, power and money to settle these people on the land ? They should be given power to make an advance of up to £6,000, as is the case in New Zealand. Those committees are empowered to inspect the farms and, if they are worth the money asked, to buy them for returned servicemen. The system has operated with great success in New Zealand, and what has been done there can be done here.


Mr Calwell - There are no State parliaments in New Zealand.


Mr RYAN -- The responsibility for repatriation rests with the Commonwealth Parliament.


Mr Calwell - There are constitutional limitations.


Mr RYAN - There are no constitutional limitations. I believe that it could be done if the Government had the will to do it.







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