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Wednesday, 10 April 1946

Mr. DEDMAN( Cor io- Minister for

Post-war Reconstruction and Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research). - by leave - Yesterday, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Smith) asked me the following question -

In view of the statement on Thursday last in the Adelaide Advertiser by the Premier of South Australia. Mr. Playford. to the effect that South Australia had not received approval from the Commonwealth for the purchase of land for the land settlement of exServicemen is the Minister in a position to advise the House as to the present position in regard to this matter?

In reply, I can only say that the South Australian Government has departed from the Commonwealth-State agreement in acquiring such lands before consulting the Commonwealth. The agreement between the State and the Commonwealth was reached after long discussions and was designed to ensure satisfactory conditions for returned men settling on the land. It is to be deplored that the South Australian Government has failed to adhere to the agreement which was designed to protect the interests of exserv icemen.

The agreement does not contemplate the State's acquiring land before the Commonwealth has confirmed its suitability, but provides that the State should submit details of proposals for settlement and acquire land at a value approved by the Commonwealth. Where land is acquired by the State before consultation with the Commonwealth, difficulties are likely to arise should subsequent investigations show that it is not suitable for the settlement of ex-servicemen or that the price paid for the property exceeds a reasonable valuation by the Commonwealth. Discussions are taking place with a view to reaching agreement as to the valuation of the approved properties already acquired by the State, but the financial adjustments between the State and the Commonwealth are in no way holding up settlement in areas which the Commonwealth has already agreed are suitable. The Commonwealth has already approved 49,000 acres in South Australia as suitable for settlement by ex-servicemen. There would be no delay if proposals were submitted to the Commonwealth at an early stage. However, it is obvious that if the State withholds information from the Commonwealth until it has completed purchase, then the Commonwealth decision will inevitably be delayed. The Commonwealth cannot accept any responsibility for land purchased by the State without Commonwealth approval.

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