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Wednesday, 19 June 1946

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) .- The lag which has occurred in the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land has caused grave concern throughout the country. The soldiers were promised a great deal. As soon as the prisoners were released from Changi camp in Singapore, Commonwealth officials visited thom and promised them nil kinds of favoured treatment. The troops believed that they would retur.ii to a paradise in Australia, and that the people would realize and appreciate the part that they had played, and rehabilitate them in a very satisfactory manner. But many months have passed since those men returned to Australia and their hopes so far as land settlement is concerned have not been realized. The fault does not lie wholly with the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman). I do not criticise him personally for the delay ; undoubtedly many unexpected factors arose. Although' nothing substantial has yet been done, the time is still opportune for positive action. Ex-servicemen have whittled away their deferred pay and allowances and to-day they are not in the same financial position to go on the land as they were some months ago. The men who desire to settle on the land, are anxious that action shall be taken without delay. It has been said that in the western district of Victoria, large areas have been acquired for settlement. But I have in mind the need to make singleunit farms available. This must be done if the wishes of the returned men themselves are to be considered. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) must be aware of this fact, for recently he addressed meetings in the Wimmera, particularly at Warracknabeal and elsewhere.

Mr Calwell - Very successful meetings, too.

I Mr. TURNBULL.- That is what I understand, for I am told that quite. 30 people attended the meeting at Warracknabeal! According to the, Warracknabeal Herald, the 'Minister promised that he would inquire into the position of the power alcohol distillery there, I. hope that lie will do so. I hope that he will also inquire into the matter of single-unit farms. It has been stated that the Victorian authority dealing with land settlement plans for ex-servicemen is not anxious to buy large areas of land in the Wimmera electorate. I am not now referring to the country along the Murray which can be irrigated and where large areas must be settled, but to the vast wheat-growing belt which is famous all over Australia. It is highly desirable that legislation should be introduced, or other appropriate steps taken to enable singleunit farms to be made available. I have received letters from ex-servicemen's organizations, shire councils, and other bodies stressing the need for such action. I understand that the authorities in Melbourne are favorable to this policy, but that they contend that the Commonwealth Government must take some action before such a policy can be applied. It would be of great advantage to exservicemen if they could acquire singleunit farms. In the area to which I am referring, wheat-growing and fat lamb raising are the main industries, and the single-unit farm is suitable for such operations. Men could be settled on single-unit farms with a very bright prospect of success. Surely it is desirable that nien should be assisted to settle in areas where they have a good knowledge of local conditions and values. That is a far better proposition than forcing men to move from, say, nothern to western district areas. It is also desirable that a man should be enabled to settle on property adjacent to that occupied by his father, or a brother or close friends. If a man settles in a neighbourhood where he has friends he will undoubtedly receive a great deal more assistance on the basis of f riendship and goodwill than he is likely to receive if he goes into an area in which ho is a complete stranger. This relates particularly to the use of farming machinery. In Wimmera the people are willing and ready to assist one another, especially in times of ill fortune. This reason, and many others should cause us to do everything possible to encourage settlement on single-unit farms. My constituents and also the ex-servicemen's organizations in Wimmera very strongly favour the policy that I am advocating. In .the circumstances obtaining in Australia and, in fact, the whole world to-day, it is urgent that everything possible be done to stimulate production and satisfactorily settle ex-servicemen. For the reasons that 1 have given, I strongly support the amendment. I believe that every one who has any faith in the resources of this country, and any knowledge of the ability of our ex-servicemen, would favour their establishment on single-unit farms as a part of a comprehensive rehabilitation plan. I, therefore, urge the Government to review its attitude on this subject.

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