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Tuesday, 19 September 1972
Page: 1590

Mr LLOYD (Murray) - The Australian Country Party supports the Bill which was introduced by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair). It indicates the concern of the Government for the welfare of soldier settlers in general and particularly soldier settlers in trouble in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. The Minister in his second reading speech referred to the complex technical agricultural problems that have arisen at such places as Kangaroo Island. He mentioned the investigations already made which have prompted this legislation. He also mentioned the need for these investigations to continue and for flexible administration so that changes can be made as necessary. This is a far more sensible approach than that of the Australian Labor Party which seeks the appointment of a select committee of the House of Representatives. Such a select committee would have no hope of matching the technical expertise already available to overcome these problems. In addition to the specialist technical agricultural advice already being used there is the considerable financial and budgetary knowledge of the State administering authorities.

The proposed amendment also mentions future land settlement schemes. The Murray electorate contains several hundred soldier settlers and over 100 more have been settled under the more recently established civilian land settlement scheme of the Victorian Government. These are fine people, good citizens and good farmers, as I am sure are the soldier settlers in the other States, including those referred to in the Bill. Victoria ensured that these settlers were provided with a viable living area. I believe that part of the problem with some of these schemes has been the failure of the State government - usually a Labor government - to provide a viable living area.

I would hope that any talk about future land settlement schemes - such as that in the proposed amendment - would concentrate more on the provision of adequate credit for settlers to buy existing properties than on the development of closer settlement schemes as the amendment suggests; that is for the development of the single unit system that has been available in the past schemes. I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that in the near future at either Federal or State level, or at both levels, a serious study will have to be made of a credit incentive scheme to encourage young people to enter farming. The Australian Agricultural Council is a suitable body to hold such a discussion.

The average age of Australian farmers is rising, lt is not as high as it is in Europe, but it is already uncomfortably high. Insufficient numbers of young people are entering agriculture for the continuance of a balanced and dynamic agricultural industry in this country. The main problem is the capital required for young people to enter the industry. If young people in adequate numbers are not encouraged to enter the industry we will run into problems similar to those being encountered in agriculture in Europe. One has only to compare the level of efficiency of agriculture in the European Economic Community countries and study the manifold problems there in order to realise how fortunate we are to have a balanced agricultural industry. I ask the Minister to consider this proposition, not just for the future of farming but for the future of this country as the provider of an efficient agricultural work force and an efficient agricultural production unit. I support the legislation and reject the amendment.

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