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Thursday, 1 September 1921

Senator PLAIN (Victoria) .- I just want to say a word or two in the interests of those who are developing the back country. It is quite true, as the Minister (Senator Pearce) has said, that development in the past has been by means of the bullock dray. That is one reason why we find it so difficult to get men to go on to our back country. Is it right that we should say to the young soldiers who are being sent into the back country in thousands, in some cases 15 and 16 miles away from a railway station, that they are to have none of these conveniences? Our most urgent need is population. We have plenty of fine manhood and womanhood available, and it should be our purpose to give our pioneers whatever facility is available, in order to insure their comfort and convenience. We should not suggest that the bullock dray is quite good enough for the back-country man.

Senator Pearce - I did not say that.

Senator PLAIN - No; but that was the import of the Minister's suggestion. His argument is that, in order to impose a duty on the owners of Rolls-Royce cars, there should be a Tariff on unassembled parts of motor cars, which are so essential for the development of our back country. If there were hundreds of thousands more motor cars in our country districts, our primary industries would give employment to thousands of additional men and women, thus adding wealth to the country, while at the same time affording a greater measure of comfort to our outback settlers. I have spent years and years in the back country. On one occasion I was driving a ten-horse team on a road where there was a gap of 80 miles' from water to water. I have seen bullock teams drawing lonely settlers into townships to witness football or cricket matches. Many of these men are not on the land to-day. There was too much drudgery for the women, and the children never knew what comfort was. Are we to ask our returned soldiers to adopt the bullock waggon as a means of transit?

The Minister (Senator Pearce) talks of letting Rolls-Royce machines in free; but these men want cheap cars which will enable them to enjoy the ordinary comforts of life, to reach the nearest towns, churches or schools, and particularly the nearest medical men. In Victoria there are 4,000 returned soldiers endeavouring to establish homes for themselves on the land, and most of them are 12 or 14 miles from the nearest doctor. Those who have gone over these rugged roads, as I have done, under adverse circumstances, know that they are very often nothing but sandhills and stumps.

Senator Earle - A motor car would not traverse such roads.

Senator PLAIN - They will do so. I have travelled thousands of miles over these roads in motor cars. Years ago I visited every closer settlement in Victoria, and what the big cars could not negotiate the Ford car would. There was never an instance of an obstacle which we could not surmount with the cheaper type of car.

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