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Wednesday, 10 October 1956

Mr HASLUCK (CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Territories) - It would be very difficult, indeed, to give an exact answer to the honorable member's question regarding the value of production of the Territory. A great deal of the production is devoted solely to feeding about 1,750.000 people; it goes direct from the people who grew it to the people who eat it, and does not enter into calculations of any kind. That feature of the economy of the Territory is, of course, accompanied by the fact that the standard of living is rising continuously, so that even if production is increased, it does not follow that any of it will be surplus. For example, if the area devoted to rice growing is increased from 100 acres to about 3,000 acres, and the people who grow the rice eat it, obviously it is not marketed. Their standard of living has risen but the increased production does not enter into anything that can be calculated as the value of the production of the Territory. The clearest indication we have of the value of production is the export trade. In the trading year 1955-56, the value of exports was. approximately £13,250,000, which represents about a three-fold increase in the last five years. It has been the aim of the Government to increase steadily the contribution from local production to the cost of administering the Territory and providing services.

In the current year, out of a total public expenditure of about £13,500,000, £4,250,000 will be raised from local revenue. Of course, it is quite plain, I think, that when one has regard to the enormous tasks associated with the health and education of the large and increasing population, a considerable contribution will have to be made by the people of Australia for many years to come. But steadily over the years, we have maintained a rising rate of local contribution to public expenditure and, at the present time, the people of the Territory contribute about one-third of the cost of the public expenditure they enjoy.

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