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Wednesday, 11 October 1972
Page: 1444

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (Minister for Air) - in rep!\- I thank the Senate for the passage of the Loan (War Service Land Settlement) Bill. There is not very much I can say other than has already been said by the 2 honourable senators who have spoken. I shall give the Senate a little information about matters to which 1 know both honourable senators have alluded. Perhaps this will be a little more detailed information as to what will happen at Kangaroo Island. In regard to the scientific investigations, we find that for many years South Australia has carried out research into the problems connected wilh high oestrogen content of subterranean clovers. This has been concentrated on the haemoglobin typing of sheep to develop a resistant strain. To date the results are most promising. But in order to provide useful information to the war service land settlement settlers on stock management practices in the shortest possible time it is desirable that extensive field testing be undertaken. It is proposed that this work will involve the co-operation of the settlers using 600 breeding ewes on each farm grazing predominantly on Yarloop or other high oestrogen content clovers over a period of up to 5 years. Initial results are expected in about 3 years. The estimated cost of this investigation is SI 6,000 during the current financial year, SI 00.000 over the first 3 years with an additional $75,000 if results substantiate the desirability of carrying on for a further 2 years.

Senator Lauckereferred to the South Australian mainland. I might say that all settlers on the mainland in South Australia will be eligible to apply for measures which relate to Kangaroo Island in respect of taking over stock mortgages, recasting of accounts and fodder conservation facilities. Senator Laucke went on to refer to the Upper Murray valuations and Senator Wilkinson interjected. I think I will be given permission to refer to this point. Under the war service land settlement scheme some 300 horticultural and viticultural irrigation farms were established. The settlers pay rent for the land but they are required to purchase, at valuation, the plantings and improvements on the farm. They have been given the privilege of appealing against the valuation of their farms up to 1 0 years after they are notified of it. Quite a number of appeals have been lodged. Settlers have been interviewed and farms have been re-inspected where necessary, and advice of the results of the appeals have been sent out. Only a few of the valuations were adjusted downward. Generally it was found that the grounds on which the appeals were based had been taken into account by the officers when the original valuation was made. I just give Senator Laucke that piece of information. If he wants further information I am quite sure that if he lets me know I can get the departmental officers to give it to him at some later date.

Senator Wilkinson - Could the Minister clear up that point? That has been done? lt is not part of this Bill.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Yes, the honourable senator is quite right. I referred to his interjection to Senator Laucke. But seeing that Senator Laucke raised this matter and as we have not spent a great deal of time on this Bill I thought I would give the honourable senator that information. I will now deal with what 1 think Senator Wilkinson called an amendment.

Senator Wilkinson - It is an addition.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Very weil. It is an addition to the motion that the Bill be now read a second time. This is not new. Last year Senator Drury moved a similar addition. I spoke to it at length pointing out that 9,173 farms have been provided under the war service land settlement scheme and that of those. 6,565 farms are located in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. I know that the honourable senator is well aware that those are principal States which provide from their own resources the necessary capital funds for the scheme. The Commonwealth shares with the States agreed losses which occur. Those States are on their own. Of course, the question arises of the authority for a Commonwealth committee to inquire into the running of a war service land settlement scheme in States which are principal States. I pointed this out last year and said that I believed it rather difficult for any committee to do this. The guidelines for levels of rentals and the option prices of properties can be laid down properly only in full recognition of the economic circumstances of the times. It is considered that an inquiry by a select committee would not serve a worthwhile purpose. If the honourable senator thinks about this, he will realise that an inquiry really could be conducted only into the situation prevailing in Western Australia. Tasmania and South Australia. I do not think it would be adequate or even fair to do that when 6,565 of the 9,173 farms are in the other States.

Senator Wilkinson - I do not agree that it would be impossible.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I did say that it would be impossible. Two-thirds of the farms that the honourable senator wants to investigate and which should be investigated if an inquiry is to be conducted, are in principal States that have nothing to do with the Commonwealth in this regard.

Senator Wilkinson - You could still do it.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I think that the honourable senator would find it a little difficult to obtain the authority to investigate the matter in those States. For the reasons I have stated, I oppose the proposal that Senator Wilkinson has moved on behalf of the Australian Labor Party.

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