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Wednesday, 19 June 1946

Mr McLEOD (Wannon) .- Mr. Speaker-

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) has already spoken to the motion. On thisoccasion, therefore, he will have to confine his remarks strictly to the amendment.

Mr McLEOD - I understand that the purpose of the amendment is to secure the appointment of a select committee to investigate certain details of the Government's land settlement scheme for ex-servicemen. It has been said by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) that disgraceful delays have occurred. I wish to remind honorable gentlemen opposite of the circumstances which faced many returned men who settled on the land after the last war. According to some honorable gentlemen opposite, the Government does not intend to settle any men on the land now. That is not true. In my opinion, the Government, is doing a very good job. In particular, it has laid down definite conditions under which ex-servicemen may be settled on the land.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable member for Wannon is now discussing the general subject. I remind him that the phases that he may discuss in speaking to the amendment are limited to the adequacy of the cash loan at present bein'g provided, the necessity for immediately making provision for a scheme for the acquisition of single-unit farms, and the qualifications at present. stipulated in respect of ex-servicemen who desire to become soldier settlers.

Mr McLEOD - I point out that the lack of man-power ,and materials has caused delay. Land settlement of exservicemen is a combined Commonwealth and States matter. Honorable gentlemen opposite are in error in thinking that the Government is opposed to the singleunit farm settlement of ex-servicemen. Such a view is entirely incorrect.

Mr ARCHIE Cameron - The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has said the opposite.

M.r. McLEOD.- That is not how I understood the Minister's remarks. It is obvious to me that the Victorian authority administering the landsettlement policy in respect of exservicemen contemplates settlement on single-unit farms, for- legislation was passed recently by the State Parliament to the effect that all projected land sales involving more than £2,000 must be submitted to the appropriate authority in order to ascertain whether the property proposed to be sold is suitable for exsoldier settlement. That shows that single-unit farms are being considered.

Mr Anthony - The Minister for

Post-war Reconstruction denied in the House this evening that that was so.

Mr McLEOD - I do not accept the honorable member's word On the point.

Mr Dedman - Honorable gentlemen opposite are trying to confuse the issue as it, relates to single-unit farms and individual farms. There is no objection to settlement on individual farms, but there is strong objection to single-unit farms.

Mr Anthony - I do not understand the difference.

Mr Dedman - That has been explained.

Mr McLEOD - The basis for the. acquisition of land for the settlement of ex-servicemen has been fixed, and that has never been done previously in the history of such land-settlement schemes. After the last war the land owners rather than the soldiers were repatriated because inflated prices were paid for land acquired for settlement. In Victoria one property that has been purchased for approximately £21 an acre would have cost the Government at least '£40 an acre after the last war. When I and other returned men went on the land after World War I. we were given a. cross-cut saw, a longhandled shovel, an axe, and a kit of wedges. In my case I had even to hunt for the survey pegs. That was not an isolated experience. The Government is doing far better this time from both, the practical and the financial points of view. It has been said during this debate that an individual in New South Wales has declared that it would be sixteen years before all ex-servicemen who desire land will obtain it.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! I again remind the honorable gentleman of my ruling, and ask him to confine his remarks strictly to the amendment.

Mr McLEOD - The conditions laid down by this Government are generous. No provision was made after the last war for advancing returned soldiers up to £1,000. I would have been glad to receive a sustenance payment of 5s. a week from the anti-Labour government that was then in power, but even that meagre amount was not available. This Government is providing £5 a week, or at least a living allowance, for the first twelve months that ex-servicemen are on their land. In al! the circumstances I regard a great many of the statements that have been made by honorable gentlemen opposite in this debate as rank hypocrisy. The Government is providing valuable financial assistance for ex-servicemen who wish to settle on the land. I shall warn the ex-servicemen in my electorate to' beware of the statements of honorable gentlemen opposite, whose sole desire seems to be to secure a reduction of taxation, whereas the Government is anxious to provide money to enable ex-servicemen to settle on the land under reasonable conditions and with a good prospect of success. The financial provisions that have been laid down in this connexion are far more favorable than those arranged by any anti-Labour government. Returned, servicemen should therefore be careful before paying much heed to the hypocritical statements that are being made on this subject by honorable gentlemen opposite.

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