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Thursday, 14 September 1972
Page: 1387

Mr BARNARD - I ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question that is supplementary to that asked by the honourable member for Hawker. Are national servicemen and members of the volunteer forces who servied in Vietnam eligible for war service land settlement re-establishment? If they are not eligible, will the Minister confirm that ex-servicemen of the First World War, the Second World War and Korea were given this advantage? If those who served in Vietnam are not entitled to the same consideration and assistance in this respect will the Minister say why the Government has adopted a discriminatory practice against those who served in Vietnam compared with those who served in other wars in which Australia was involved?

Mr SINCLAIR (NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Primary Industry) - Even the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would be aware of some of the difficulties that are besetting those in primary industry throughout Australia today. Most of these problems relate to the size of holdings and the degree to which people are able to operate efficiently on some of these holdings. Following the establishment of the war service land settlement scheme there has been a complete re-examination in recent years of the degree to which settlers have been able to operate properly. In answer to questions asked in this House I have indicated that there is concern over the degree to which some settlers receiving benefits under the scheme have been able over the years to face declining market opportunities and rising costs. This study has shown up problems in the case of Kangaroo Island, in respect of which some provisions have been made in the Budget, and in respect of some 5 settlers in South Australia where there have been difficulties resolved in ensuring an allocation of leases for blocks.

It is true that it was felt that in the case of Vietnam servicemen, whether members of the Regular Army or national servicemen, to provide the benefits under the war service land settlement scheme would not necessarily give them the opportunities that most of them would like to have if they were to go on the land. Accordingly, what the Government has done is provide for national servicemen funds which can be allocated to them to enable them to set up in a particular business. I cannot recall the exact sum, but my recollection is that there has been a greater sum of money provided for national servicemen engaged in primary production than for those going into other businesses. The range of benefits available to national servicemen is not entirely within my responsibility, although the part relating to the war service land settlement scheme is. It is true that there is no facility available under the war service land settlement scheme for national servicemen, but it is not true that there are no funds available for those who are going into some type of agricultural venture. The question that was asked by the honourable member for Hawker, of course, covered a range of portfolios. With respect to the questions asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and also to that asked by the honourable member for Hawker, I might provide an answer in writing covering all of those points which have not been answered.

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