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Wednesday, 17 October 1956

Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lawrence) - Order! The honorable gentleman is straying well off the path now.

Mr PETERS - I am just trying, sir. to enlighten honorable members opposite. Now I shall get back to the important subject of land settlement, from which I was diverted. I believe that it is of paramount importance to this nation that more and more people be settled on the land. I know that only the other day the Department of Immigration said that preference would be given to immigrants with rural experience, capable of working on the land. Of those who have come here from overseas countries the great majority, in order to qualify for acceptance by this country, had to sign on the dotted line an agreement to work on farms when they arrived in Australia and so help to increase our rural production.

Mr Turnbull - The honorable member took that from my speech.

Mr PETERS - The honorable member for Mallee says that that is out of his speech Well, I am glad to see that there is some agreement on this important matter. Bui what happened in the past when people who had come here ostensibly to settle on the land arrived in this country? Did the> go to the electorate of the honorable member for Mallee? Did they become wheal farmers, or farmers of any kind? Did the\ settle in the electorate of the honorable member for Canning, or the electorate of any member of the Australian Country party? No, they came to my electorate.

Mr Hamilton - Why? You must have encouraged them.

Mr PETERS - Well, there were probably two reasons. First, they could not get a job in the country and, secondly, they preferred the type of political representation which they could get from me to that which' was available from members of the Australian Country party.

The problem confronting us is most serious, because upon its solution depends not merely the development but also the ultimate security of this country. The problems of past ages, and of other countries at the present time, have resulted largely from the presence of land-hungry populations in proximity to vast areas of land not being used to their full productive capacity. It was a problem during the Middle Ages. It was a problem in America and in Europe, and ir was used by the Soviet Union as an excuse to create dissension among people in cistern Europe.

The revolutions which ultimate!) destroyed existing governments in those areas resulted from allegations by Communist and other agitators that the people were being denied access to land without which they could not live reasonably. Thai occurred in Yugoslavia, in Czechoslovakia and in other parts of Europe. In China, of course, the Communists concentrated attention upon the agrarian question. In this way they hoped to cause dissatisfaction, and ultimately they brought about the destruction of the Nationalist Government and the creation of a Communist regime.

What is true of other countries applies here also. In Indonesia, only 200 miles from our northern doorway, there are 80,000,000 people, or more than 100 to the square mile. They are making public claims to Dutch New Guinea, and are regarding this country with envious eyes. Indeed, envious eyes will always be cast upon this country by people living in crowded areas. In Japan there are 577 people to the square mile; in the Philippines 200; in India more than 200; and in Australia only three. To the north of Brisbane it is a matter of counting the square miles available to each individual. That is the challenge which faces the Government of this country. It is the challenge of the age, and unless the Government grapples with it both the development and the security of this country will be impaired.

The first step that we must take in tackling the problem is the completion of the land settlement of all returned soldiers in the shortest possible time. In the few moments remaining at my disposal I wish to make some constructive proposals.- The first is that the Minister for Primary Production (Mr. McMahon) should call a meeting of State land settlement authorities to seek the means to evolve a scheme-

Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lucock).- Order! The honorable member will have to put his proposals in writing. His time has expired.

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