8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr.Deputy Speaker (Hon.J. M. Chanter) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– When is it intended to erect the automatic telephone exchanges which aresadlyneeded in many of the suburbs? A proposal for putting an automatic telephone exchange at Ascot Vale hasbeen hung up for five years, although a number of persons’ arewaiting to pour subscriptions into theTreasury.
– These works cannot be proceeded with until they havebeen reported on by the Public Works Committee. Quite a number have been referred to the Committee.
– It is two years since £6,000 was placed on the Estimates for this work.
– Is the dismissal of a number of telephone mechanics in New South Wales, most of whom are returned men,, and married, contemplated by the Government in the interests of economy?
– I have heard nothing of it.
– Does the Minister for Trade and Customs propose to lay on the table immediately the correspondence, cablegrams,&c., regarding the prices at which agricultural machinery is sold to the farmers in Canada?
– As soon as I have an opportunity to collect the papers, I shall lay them on the table. There are very few of them.
– I have received from the honorable member for
Hunter (Mr. Charlton) theintimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “The unsatisfactory policy of theCommonwealth Government on the question of immigration.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
.- This is a very important . question, demanding the earnest consideration of members, and of all interested in the welfare of Australia. The Labour party is not opposed to immigration, but its members feel that provision should be made, by proper organization abroad and in this country, forthe employment of those who may be brought here. We are not justified in bringing to this country, to their keen disappointment, immigrants who may return to their own lands sadder and, perhaps, wiser men. The statement made yesterday by the Acting Prime Minister, in reply to the question of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr; Stewart), was a revelation to me, and, I think, to most persons. The Acting Prime Minister admitted that on . one steamer no fewer than900 immigrants were returning.
– I did not admit it, and it is not a fact.
– It is a fact.
– It is a scandalous lie!
– Is that statement in order?
– The interjection did not apply to the statement of any member of the House.
– Hear,hear! I characterized the statement in the newspaper as a lie, and so it is.
– There are a lot of lies in the newspapers.
– The question was founded on the statement in yesterday’s Argus, that ‘900 steerage passengers were returning by the Ormonde.
– Did the Argus say that 900 steerage passengerswere returning?
– This is what the Argussaid -
Slavs, 10 Germans, 19 Russians, 1 Dalmatian, 2 Danes, 8 Italians, 1 Spaniard, 10 Greeks, 2 Belgians, and the remainder British.
Deducting the number of foreigners from the total number of steerage passengers there remain approximately 800 Britishers.
– Were they all returning immigrants?
– That is the lie.
– This is the Argus report of the statement made yesterday by the Acting Prime Minister -
The Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) said that the position, which was serious, had come about, he was afraid, through the want of organization.
– “ In one State,” I should have added. In New SouthWales only.
– But you did not add it. However, the honorable member will have an opportunity to reply to my remarks -
It was true that a number of men had come from England to Australia, having paid their own passage, and found on arrival that no arrangements had been made to receive or deal with them. A number of such cases in New South Wales had been reported to him by the Director of Immigration (Mr. Gullett), and the mcn appeared to be in very straitened circumstances indeed. He had agreed to a suggestion to make an offer of £5,000 to the Government of New South Wales for the relief of such cases of distress on condition that the State Ministry made available a similar amount. The offer was made before the Prime Minister left Australia. He considered that those men should be looked after, and that they should not be allowed to starve in our cities. The Commonwealth Ministry agreed to make the offer, but the New South Wales Ministry would not do anything. Ministers saying that they had their own unemployed problem, which was acute - and he had no doubt that it was - and that-they could not see their way to close with the offer.
– And the country is languishing for development.
– True; and men are going about hungry, because they cannot get work. There hadbeen a failure in organization.
– Hear, hear!
– I am trying to show that through lack of organization immigrants are being deceived, and being brought to this country without there being employment for them.
– Want of organization on whose part?
– I shall develop my case as I proceed -
– Who is responsible?
– The Commonwealth Ministry was not, except in so far as it was responsible for the general condition of Australia. Last week he heard that the chaplain of a church organization in Sydney was relieving some of the men and their wives and families, who have nothing to do, and nowhere to go, and he made available a sum of £1,000 for their relief. The whole thing needed organizing. Care should be taken that when the men arrived an organization was ready to receive them. Under the immigration scheme it was arranged that the Commonwealth Government should take full responsibility for the selection and passage of immigrants, and that the States should undertake to receive and deal with them.
– There is room for thousands of domestic servants, and farm labourers.
– There are 100,000 men out of work in the Commonwealth.
– Badly off as we are in regard to unemployment, I believe this is the best off country in the world. Other countries have unemployed in much larger numbers than we have. I hope that this is only a temporary difficulty. We must deal with it in the best way we can.
The matter has been dealt with unsatisfactorily.
– No doubt it has been - by the Labour Government of New South Wales.
– This question was discussed at a Premiers’ Conference held in Melbourne in May, 1920, and I intend to quote from the report of the proceedings of the Conference, so that honorable members may be made aware of exactly what took place there. The proposals put before the Conference by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) were as follows : -
Commonwealth to have full control overseas.
Agents-General of the several States to form consultative Committee in’ London.
Commonwealth to be responsible for, and have control of, all overseas organizations and transport arrangements for bringing immigrants to Australia.
Primary object of scheme to be the settlement of immigrants on the lands of Australia.
Type of immigrant - preference to be given to British ex-service men, Commonwealth to seek co-operation and assistance of British Government in obtaining right type of immigrant and passages for same.
-Is there any evidence that the men to whom the honorable member has referred were brought out by the Commonwealth Government?
– No; and they were not.
– I am submitting my own case, and honorable members will have the right to reply to what I say. I direct the attention of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) to the fact that, at the Conference, the following addition was made, with the approval of the Conference, to the proposals of the Prime Minister which I have quoted : -
Commonwealth and States to co-operate and consult from time to time as to the number of immigrants who can be absorbed in the respective States, and the class of immigrants required.
There is a definite instruction that there must be organization here, and consultation between the Commonwealth and State Governments.
– That is essential.
– Yes; it is. Before inducing immigrants to come here we must know whether or not we can absorb them. That is the system of organization approved by the Premiers’ Conference. Later on the matter received further consideration, and the Prime Minister said - _ I am satisfied that past methods of immigration have failed, to a large extent, because of the lack of uniformity in the systems adopted. I have suggested a definite scheme, and I have put the proposals in a clear and concrete form -
Commonwealth to have full control overseas.
Agents-General of the several States to form consultative Committee in London.
Commonwealth to be responsible for, and have control of, all oversea organizations and transport arrangements for bringing immigrants to Australia.
Primary object of scheme to be the settlement of immigrants on the lands of Australia.
I take honorable members now a little further in the consideration of this matter, and refer them to a subsequent Conference between Commonwealth and State Ministers, held in July, 1920, at which this matter was again debated. The Prime Minister drew attention to the resolutions passed at the previous Conference, which T have just quoted, and the following stipulation was added: -
British ex-Soldiers. - It was decided that British ex-soldiers, coming to the Commonwealth on their own account, before the immigration scheme is put into operation, should be treated as they arc at present being treated; but, that afterwards, the States must say how many British ex-soldiers they can provide for.
A number of the men who are returning by the ship which left here yesterday are British ex-soldiers. Later in the Conference, held in July, 1920, the Prime Minister referred again to the proposals on the subject of immigration, which I have already quoted, and said -
It was resolved, on the motion of Mr. Scaddan, that the Premiers undertake to submit the scheme for the consideration of their respective Cabinets. There the matter stands. What has happened since?
That is ‘what I want to know, and what I hope the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) will be able to tell us. He says that New South “Wales is the delinquent State in this matter, and I find that, at the Conference, Mr. Storey, the Premier of New South “Wales, said -
We discussed the matter in Cabinet for some time.
That was between the holding of the two Conferences, when the matter was considered by each State Government. On the resumption of the Conference, in July, Mr. Storey said -
We discussed the matter in Cabinet for some time, but did not come to a very satisfactory conclusion, because just now we have a large number of unemployed in New South Wales, and the general feeling was that our energies ought to be exercised in the direction of finding employment for our own people, rather than in bringing more to supplement the numbers of unemployed. Members of the Cabinet, however, were not averse to the Commonwealth having control of immigration in the way indicated in the resolution, but thought that the New South Wales Government should have the right to inform the Prime Minister as to the number and class of immigrants wanted.
There is a very definite statement, and I want to know if the Commonwealth Government asked the Governments of the States whether they required the men who have had to return. The Acting Prime Minister has said that New South Wales is the delinquent State, and, in view of the statement of the Premier. of that State, I should like to know if the New South Wales Government were asked whether these men were required.
– It is a pity the honorable gentleman did not wait until he had ascertained the facts before he brought on this motion.
– I am putting my case in my own way, and I hope we shall get at the facts. Following upon the statement by Mr. Storey, which I have quoted from the proceedings of the Conference, Mr. Barwell, the Premier of South Australia, interjected -
That has been understood right through.
And Mr. Storey added -
We think that we should have the right to inform the Commonwealth Government that we may want, say, 1,000 bricklayers, or 5,000 immigrants of some other kind, and allow the Commonwealth to select the men.
This meant that only when they required labour and could give employment to immigrants the State Government should request the Commonwealth Government to make the necessary arrangements overseas to bring the immigrants required to Australia. That is a perfectly fair position for a State Government to take up. If there were unemployed in the States, and the Governments could not find employment for their own people, they were not justified in bringing immigrants here to remain idle for a time, and then to be compelled to return, as these men have had to do, to their own country.
– Is the honorable member sure that the Commonwealth Government brought these men out?
– He is quite sure.
– I am not putting that position at all. I am making out my case, and the right honorable gentleman will have the right to replyto it. I find that, at the Conference in July, Senator Millen said -
It seems impossible to find land for our own soldiers within less than three or four years.
I wish honorable members to direct special attention to these remarks of Senator Millen, because the primary object of the immigration proposals was the settlement of men on the land. Senator Millen went on to say -
We shall not be fair to British soldiers if we bring them here with the implied understanding that they will be able to get land.
There is a definite statement by the Minister for Repatriation. He found difficulty in getting land for the settlement of our own returned soldiers. Yet, in the face of this warning, British ex-soldiers come out here expecting to get land on which to settle, and only to be disappointed. Following the remarks by Senator Millen, the Prime Minister said -
In drawing up our immigration prospectus, we must state exactly what the land position is, and make it plain that, while we are willing to give the British soldier preference over settlers of any other kind, except Australian soldiers, yet our financial circumstances now are such that we are not able to guarantee to put him on the land unless we receive some assistance from the British Government.
I say that, in view of these remarks, I am justified in submitting my motion. I do so because I wish to see the best interests of Australia served in connexion with the policy of immigration. I am not, any more than is the party to which I belong, opposed to immigration. We recognise that our vast spaces in Australia must be populated. But it must be in a proper way, and not at the expense of people who are here already. We must not have thousands of unemployed roaming the country in search of employment and unable to get it, and at the same time have boatloads of immigrants coming here.
– Every man who goes back because he cannot find employment gives Australia a bad name.
– Hear, hear!
– I am coming to that. What is the position to-day? It is admitted that men are coming here who cannot get employment, and are consequently returning to the Old Country and to other countries. The result is to give Australia a bad name, and rightly so. Those who return tell the people in the lands from which they came that they have been disappointed and deceived. That is the position they take up. They say, “ We were given to understand that Australia was a land of milk and honey, and a land of plenty. We were told that if we went out to Australia employment would be found for us ; but when we went there we remained out of employment for a considerable time, and until our necessities compelled us, before we had spent our last farthing, to make arrangements to return to our Home Land.” The Acting Prime Minister said yesterday that he had offered to supply £5,000 for New South Wales to tide people who came to that State from the Old Country over their period of difficulty, provided that the State Government would find an additional £5,000. The position in New South Wales to-day is such that the State Government has had to find over £100,000 this year to assist the unemployed.
– There are a lot of unemployed in Queensland, too.
– We must consider whether we are justified in proceeding with the present immigration scheme until we can absorb our own people who are looking for employment. We do want immigration, but it must be upon a proper footing. It was estimated yesterday that there were 20,000 unemployed in New South Wales, 10,000 being in the city of Sydney and the remainder in the country. In view of that fact, is it not time that the House thought over this matter? Are we justified in advertising for people to come to Australia from overseas when we have unemployed in such numbers? Australia is advertising abroad for immigrants at the present moment. I saw a copy of a paper which circulates in Germany and which contained a full-page advertisement calling for people to come to Australia to settle on the land. Is it fair to advertise for people to come here when we have no land for them? Who is doing the advertising?
– Nobody, to my knowledge.
– Somebody must be doing it.
– I say that nobody in Australia is doing it.
– Is the Commonwealth organization in London doing it?
– Nobody in London is doing it, either.
– The fact remains that it is being done, and it is not fair to mislead people in this way. Does the Acting Prime Minister, with his strong views in regard to the necessity for increasing the population and developing the country - and perhaps my views are as strong as his - believe that, at a time like the present, when we are suffering from the aftermath of the war, and have not yet been able to restore the whole of our returned soldiers to civil life, we are justified in bringing people out by the hundred thousand? The right honorable gentleman admits that there mustbe organization in this end. It is absolutely essential that there shall be an up-to-date organization, and it is because of the Government’s admission of the lack of that organization that I have taken this action to-day. It is in the best interests of Australia that this Parliament should speak and let the people know the necessity for organization and the guaranteeing of employment for newcomers before we bring them here. Successful immigration depends entirely on the development of the country. If we can develop our resources and expand our industries so that we can absorb 1,000,000 or 2,000,000 immigrants, who will object to their coming? I would not, and the party on this side would welcome them with open arms. But we say that organization at this end is a preliminary necessity, and if the Commonwealth is charged, as it is by the agreement made at the conference with the State Premiers, with the organization abroad, and the States with the responsibility of making provision for the absorption of newcomers on their arrival, is it not fair to ask if those arrangements have yet been completed? Have the States adopted and submitted to the Commonwealth Government a fully developed scheme for the reception and absorption of immigrants? The unemployed trouble exists not only in New South Wales, for the honorable member for Moreton says that the same conditions obtain in Queensland.
– The Mount Morgan men have refused the work that is waiting there for them.
– Until we can settle the conditions which have arisen out of the late war, it is useless to argue that men should submit to this, that, or the other condition. These are questions which must settle themselves; we cannot force them. The solution of these problems will take time.
– It would be all right if you would let the problems settle themselves.
– They will settle themselves through the Arbitration Court and by other means. The Mount Morgan trouble is only one phase of the unemployed difficulty. In each of the State capitals unemployed are to be found in thousands. The trouble to-day is acute, and under present conditions we are not justified in bringing new people here. Every honorable member must admit that if we have not a properly organized system of immigration, and if we do not place the present condition of the country faithfully before the people to whom we are appealing, we shall not be acting in the best interests of the country in bringing new population to Australia. One would infer from the leading article in the Argus this morning thatwe should permit people to come here in thousands if we can get them, regardless of whether or not employment can be found for them. I dissent from that view. Has not the outstanding failure of the Commonwealth Government since the war been the lack of organization in regard to many of our activities, as a result of which returned soldiers have not received the satisfaction that was promised to them? Everybody knows that to be a fact. “We know that there has been lack of organization in the Departments, but the present problem of unemployment is a much bigger thing.
– I say definitely that the returned soldiers generally have had a fair deal.
– The honorable member may have some knowledge of little places in Western Australia, like Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie - I, too, have some knowledge of them - but when he gets away from his own locality he shows that he does not know much about Australia. I have already quoted the statement made by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) in May, 1920, that it would take three or four years to place upon the land the returned soldiers who were willing to take up rural pursuits.
– And if they were treated as the New South Wales Government treated the Imperial ex-service men, it would take twenty years to absorb them.
– Offer them freehold instead of leasehold.
– That is a question of State policy, which should not be intruded into this debate. This Parliament cannot interfere with the land policy of the State Governments. All we can do is to insure that there is thorough organization for the reception of immigrants. It is useless to attempt to cloud the issue by remarks as to what this or that State Government does or should do. The existingconditions in the country must be recognised. The Commonwealth is entirely responsible for the overseas organization of immigration, and the Government should not proceed with their present scheme until they know definitely that the State Governments can absorb the people that may be brought here. Honorable members opposite must not try to make it appear that the Labour party does not want immigration.
– The honorable member has not studied the immigration question much if he says that.
– I have, and I know that, unfortunately, the honorable member’s own district is declining so fast that soon there will be very little employment there for anybody.We have heard it said that the country not only desires immigrants, but can place them on the land. Did not honorable members in the Corner during the Tariff say repeatedly that people are being driven off the land, and. that the rural industries are retrogressing? Yet, to-day they declare that there is room on the land for hundreds of thousands of people if we can get them.
– Their remarks did not apply to agriculture.
– The feature of the speeches made by the honorable member, for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) was his repeated statement that men were being driven off the land.
– He interjected yesterday that there was room for 10,000 men who were prepared to work.
– Honorable members in the Corner use one argument today and the opposite argument to-morrow. It is useless for us to talk about what the State Governments should do. . We have to consider what is the best thing to be done for the general good of the Commonwealth.
– A change of Government.
– Yes. in New South Wales.
– A change in the Federal Ministry might effect some good. The fact should be made known here, and also abroad, that this country is not capable of absorbing the numbers who are coming here at the present time; because already we have thousands of unemployed, and until we can absorb them we are not justified in bringing other men here. If the right honorable gentleman could ascertain from the State Governments that there was a chance of providing work for, say, 1,000 immigrants, then he would be justified in bringing in 1,000 additional labourers; but it seems to be the wish of some honorable members to bring in men in their thousands, whether they can find employment or not. To-day we have the spectacle of men coming here who, unable to find employment, are compelled to return to their own country - if they have the money wherewith to do so - or are obliged to fall back on the charity of people here.
– How many workers will the Timber Workers’ log, if earned into effect, put out of employment?
– During the course of my remarks I have avoided discussing small matters, and have endeavoured to keep this question on the high plane of the development of a country to the best advantage and populating it; but honorable members, by their interjections, are endeavouring to drive me off the track. What bearing has the application of a certain workers’ log, or the policy adopted by a State Government, upon our attitude? We are charged as a Parliament with the responsibility of organizing in such a way as will justify our advertising abroad inviting settlers to come here, with the guarantee that they will find employment on their arrival. We ought to be in the position of being able to tell them that if they want to go on the land a block will be available for them. What is to prevent the Government from secur-ing 200,000 or 300,000 acres of land and dividing it into so many farms, according to its carrying capacity, thus enabling them to put their immigrants on farms upon their arrival ? .But nothing is done in this direction. The trouble to-day is the lack pf this organization I speak of.
– The honorable member knows that the Commonwealth Government cannot organize in that way without the co-operation of the States.
– We may not have control over the different State Governments, but surely we are justified in taking steps to compel them to adopt only that line of policy which is likely to be in the best interests of developing the country.
– We are justified in getting some people into this country, anyhow.
– Yes, provided that we can absorb them. But I disagree with the right honorable gentleman’s use of the word “ anyhow,” which implies that we ought to bring in as many men as we can get from any part of the world, notwithstanding the possibility that we may not be able to absorb them.
– That would be putting the cart before the horse.
– I am pleased that the honorable member for Moreton is in accord with my views. First of all, we must provide for our own people. Having done this, we can bring others here. That is the attitude of the Labour party. Statements to the contrary are without .foundation. In the records of the Premiers’ Conferences on this subject we find that the representatives of the Queensland and New South Wales State Governments pointed out that if they could absorb immigrants they would be pleased to act in conjunction with the Commonwealth Government in securing them ; but my present purpose is to draw public attention to the fact that the organization spoken of at the conference by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the representatives of the different States is not in existence. The first duty of the Commonwealth is to organize the whole thing. Let us first get control of the whole question of immigration, and then i take steps to provide employment for those we seek to bring here. Otherwise an injustice will be done to the people already here and to the country itself.
– The honorable member has reached his time limit.
– When I spoke yesterday I was quite ignorant of the actual facts, and therefore my remarks dealt generally with the conditions in New South Wales. But I repeat again that there is no trouble anywhere to-day that I am aware of except in regard to New South Wales. I hear now, for the first time, that there is similar difficulty in Queensland.
– And, unfortunately,, it is true.
– And in Victoria,
– And in Western Australia.
– Where is the troublewith immigrants in Western Australia?
– I will read something directly for the benefit of the honorable member.
– There is no trouble in Western Australia or Victoria. This year 1,692 immigrants have come to Victoria, and nearly all of them have been placed. That is the result of organization, and that is what we want in the other States, but what we cannot get. We are trying to get it now. It is a strange thing that in the smallest State of the group the largest body of immigrants is being absorbed. Notwithstanding all the trouble in the cities, there is plenty of room in Australia to-day for labouring men.
– Yes, if they are given a show.
– Last week a man who lives in Victoria came to me with a bitter complaint that he had nothing to do and had a wife and two children to keep. I busied myself trying to find him employment, and got the Public Works Department to offer him a position at Canberra. He would not take it. He wanted to stay in Melbourne. There is room in this country for tens of thousands of farm workers and workers in other spheres of employment. Therefore I do not view this matter in the light of temporary and sporadic outbreaks of unemployment in the city. The statement appearing in the Age this morning that there are 800 young men going back to Great Eritain disappointed with their conditions here is wickedly inaccurate, and most damaging to this country. I cannot understand the absolute recklessness of leading papers in making statements for which there is not a tittle of justification. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) quoted yesterday a statement from the Argus which made no mention of this number. I have had investigations made from the shipping companies and from the passengers on the boat referred to, and from what I can ascertain there are not eieht men going back under these conditions.
– I suppose there is really no one on the boat !
– Yes, there are 800 on the boat. Many of them were goinar on a holiday. They have fared so “ badly “ in this country that they are able to take a trip Home, and it is in these circumstances that men are travelling to Great Britain by these vessels.
– With swags on their backs.
– These men were not carrying swags.
– They would not go steerage if they were on a holiday.
– No one can purchase a steerage ticket unless he has £45 in his pocket, as that is the fare. These men with swags on their backs must have found that amount somewhere before they couldget on the boat.
– They brought money out with them, and, having seen the hoplessness of the position, thought it better to spend their remaining money on a return ticket.
– Order !
– That is the way honorable members opposite are supporting the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) in his statement that he believes in immigrants coming to Australia.
– I have made several appeals to honorable members to maintain order, but apparently they feel disinclined to do so. It is manifestly unfair to interrupt the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook), as he has only a limited time in which to deal with an important question. I therefore ask honorable members to restrain themselves, as they will have an opportunity of debating the question.
– Perhaps I had better read a report of the officer who investigated this matter. It reads -
On the question referred to in the Commonwealth Parliament yesterday, as to dissatisfied immigrants returning to Great Britain, inquiries have been made by this office on several occasions during the past month or two. So far as Victoria is concerned, there is no evidence to justify statements that any considerable number of men are returning home in this way. All results of inquiries made, in fact, point to the opposite conclusion. Through the passports office, Home and Territories Department, a good indication of the position is available. The passports officer, who meets most of the applicants and* knows generally the circumstances under which people are proceeding to England, affirms definitely that he has seen no grounds to justify a belief that any considerable number of men is returning dissatisfied. Responsible officers at shipping offices, such as the Orieht Company’ and the Peninsular and Oriental Branch Service, who also come continually in contact with passengers booking, testify to the same effect.
That cannot he all wrong.
Amongst other inquiries made, it so happens that an officer from this branch was specially instructed to visit the R.M.S. Ormonde on Wednesday to make inquiries amongst the third-class passengers upon this question.
That was before the matter was mentioned here.
His ‘statement, written on Wednesday evening, after returning from the boat, is as follows: -
Again before the question arose in this Chamber - “ The first man I met had been in New South Wales eight years and had come over in the boat from Sydney. He had only seen one man of the kind I was seeking, but he said that he knew quite a number of people returning on trips. One man, whose cabin was adjacent, had been farming near Bathurst, New South Wales, and boasted that he was worth ‘ a few thousand.’ “
These are the men with swags on their backs. The report goes on - “ The man to whom I was talking said that he had done better in his eight years in Australia than he had done in the previous twenty years in Scotland. Another passenger I spoke to had been in New South Wales for eleven years, and was returning on a trip with his wife. He had a return ticket. Another passenger had been ten years resident, and was returning on a trip; also another after fourteen years’ residence. Two young single men whom I approached were uncommunicative, but stated they were on a trip. I saw three other young, single men, who stated they were on a trip also to England. Two of these were ex-A.I.F. men, and, although they did not ‘ say so, I imagine they might be going home to be married, as many are. All of these were young men who had taken up residence here at some time before the war. All of these passengers had como around from Sydney, and, with the exception of the one already mentioned, they had not seen any case such as I was inquiring for. While not claiming that the total result of my inquiries would indicate that there were no disappointed- recent arrivals other than those mentioned herein, I am certain that these cases were very far from prevalent. The particular man . returning I subsequently found, and recognised him as one I had previously met at the Immigration Bureau. He was of unadaptable type. Two other young fellows with him had gone out to Newcastle to employment there in engineering works, but, having been, put off, had decided to return to Scotland. An important point is that all three of these men had not come to Australia under the Overseas Settlement Scheme, which requires approval on the part of a State before being booked. That there Will be ‘ misfits ‘ in the working of an extensive immigration scheme is inevitable, but it can be safely claimed for1 this State that very few dissatisfied persons are under the necessity of returning home or of wishing to do so.
– By whom was that signed?
– The immigration officer in this State. The point I wish to stress is that before anything; was said in this House on the matter arn officer had been on the boat endeavouringto ascertain the conditions under which certain men were returning to Great Britain, and to see if there were any considerable number leaving Australia in. the disgusted fashion alleged.. It is; monstrous that these reports should bepublished from time to time when thereis not a tittle of fact to support them.. They are used to damage the Commonwealth immigration scheme, and why thepapers lend themselves to this sort of” thing I cannot for the life of me understand. There are difficulties I know in: connexion with the organization, but theyare being corrected as far as possible.-. The dissatisfied men in Sydney, I believe, . all came out to Australia on their ownaccount. The Government had nothing whatever to do with them. They are exservice men sent out by the Imperial’ Government.
– Then they were sent out?
– The Government- must have .been aware of it.
– May I remind ‘ the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) that a Government agent at Home was responsible for sending men out before our organization had commenced work.
– The Imperial Govern- ment would not send men out and pay their passages without consulting the - Agents- General.
– 1 cannot find that they have consulted any one. Men have landed here, and some- of them ought never to have been allowed to leave England. Some are suffering from shell shock., the effects of poisonous gas, and all sorts of complaints, and they should not. have come here at all.” We have done our beat to prevent them;..
– The Imperial Government should not have allowed them to proceed to Australia.
– After the termination of hostilities, a King’s fund waa raised in Great Britain for assisting unemployed men, and it was money from this fund which was used in sending many of these people to Australia. Funds were not obtained from any emigration agency. It is this type of men who are stranded in some of our cities, and honorable members should keep that in mind. Of course, there may be an odd case or two where desirable men cannot obtain employment. When I came to this country I could not have got back again. I had not £45 with which to pay for a steerage passage. I had to stay here, for the very good reason that I had not the wherewithal to secure my return if I had so desired. Here are all these men going back who have paid, at least, £45 for steerage accommodation, and I cannot help feeling that the fit and well among them, if there are any of them disgruntled, could have more profitably used that £45, in each instance, by employing the money to support them here until they could find work. All the evidence goes to show that the bulk of the men who are returning are going back as trippers, going for holidays, going for business reasons.
– And good luck to them !
– I say so, too. But is it not wicked to say that all these men are going back as disgruntled immigrants, when they are not immigrants at all in that sense? To show honorable members how the Government have endeavoured to discourage the migration to Australia of men of this type, I desire to read one or two passages from confidential communications. As recently as the 2nd June, I am told, Mr. Gullett, the Director of Immigration, sent a confidential cablegram to London. Before reading it, I wish to say that I shall be obliged if the press will refrain from publishing this, and other confidential extracts which I propose to quote. I desire to give the House the facts; but the publication of even these messages might cause trouble outside. - [Extension of time granted’]. The portion of Mr. Gullett’s cable with- which I wish to make honorable membersacquainted reads -
Unemployment acute New South Wales, with considerable distress. Same time considerable number unassisted third-class passengers arriving. Suggest without making public announcement you take any steps possible temporarily discourage these bookings.
Those were the means employed by our own immigration officer at the beginning of this month in an effort to discourage that type of immigrant from coming to Australia until they could be sent out here through a proper organization, set up in Australia, and adequately received and assisted to secure employment upon their arrival. As long ago as December of last year, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) despatched a cablegram from London, as follows: -
Much harm being done prospective immigration by reports reaching England of failure of many ex-service men find employment upon arrival Australia. ‘
That cablegram was communicated to the Premier of New South Wales by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes); who added -
Might 1 suggest that pending commencement of_ recruiting immigrants under proposed ne* joint scheme you request Agent-General give no encouragement ex-service men unless you are prepared definitely to guarantee them employment or land upon arrival. Would much appreciate reply to my letter 28th October, respecting Commonwealth Government’s proposals.
– What kind of inspection was given in Britain to these returning men, before they left to come out here?
– If a man likes to come to Australia on his own responsibility we cannot stop him, if he is fit and well; we cannot stop him if he cares to make an adventure of it in order to strike out for himself. Good luck to him, I say.
– I am not referring to that class at all.
– My point is that the cases under notice have nothing to do with men who are brought here at the Government’s expense.
– The Minister says that some of them should never have left England. We should stop them from doing so.
– I shall give honorable members particulars of a cablegram which, the Prime Minister sent to Senator E. D. Millen. It is as follows :-
Considerable number British ex-service men have come Australia presumably under British Government scheme, broken down in health, and quite unfit for employment or settlement on land. Immigration such people most embarrassing and must be stopped. Glad if you could get in touch with British Government at once with view as temporary measure preventing any ex-service men coming Australia except through Australian Government channels, thus obviating immigration medically unfit and otherwise unsuitable persons.
I have considerable additional correspondence before me, all of which reveals that the Government have done their best to discourage the wrong type of indiscriminate immigrant, who would be a burden on the community. At the same time, I wish to say that if a man is fit and well, and cares to come out “ on his own,” he is the best of all types of immigrant. Indeed, he is not an immigrant in the sense in which we generally use the term. He pays his own passage money, and accepts the responsibilities for himself. He comes out unaided, and seeks to make a place for himself in this new land. The next best type is the man who comes out as a nominated immigrant, with friends here to receive him. There is abundance of room in this country for thousands of men of that kind.
– Everybody admits that there is plenty of room.
– Then, why should we do as the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) suggested yesterday, namely, cable Home and tell them not to come out here for the reason that there is no work for them?
– The honorable member for Hunter suggested that they should not be sent out here until provision had been made for them.
– I shall quote the specific language of the honorable member for Hunter.
– Did the Acting Prime Minister say that I wanted the authorities to cable Home advising the British Government that immigrants should not “be sent out here?
– That is what the honorable member said.
– I said, “in the absence of organization/’ and I added that we must have employment to give them when they reached Australia.
– This is exactly what the honorable member said -
In view of his statement that the immigration organization is not complete, and having regard to the fact that thousands of mcn are unemployed in the different States, necessitating heavy calls on all the Governments, will the Acting Prime Minister take into consideration the advisability of at once informing the immigration officials abroad that, because of the position here, immigration activity should be deferred for the time being f
I say that there is no need to defer immigration activity, for there is abundance of room.
– But what the honorable member for Hunter is saying, in effect, is that the Government are putting the cart before the horse.
– I say that we are not doing so. Honorable members opposite hold that we have no right to bring a man here unless we have a block of land on which straightway to put him. That is the ideal scheme of immigration, no doubt; but it is not the only practical or practicable scheme. If immigration must wait upon ideal conditions there will be only the smallest trickle of newcomers to Australia. With proper organization at this end, there is room for thousands of men in Australia to-day, in .the country districts, and in many of our industries also. And there is room for thousands of domestic servants as well. Flats are being built in all the centres of Australian population, because there is so little domestic help available. If we could get out two or three boat-loads of domestic servants the erection of these flats would cease. Everything we can do to encourage a steady stream of immigrants to this country - immigrants of a good, reputable, hard-working type - we should do. And we should have an organization here to enable us to deal with them when they arrive. Some of the States are already proceeding along these lines, and are doing so very efficiently. I can only express the hope that those States where organization is not being developed and strengthened as it ought to be. will soon , fall into line, and. so jointly prevent any men from coming out here without prospects or promise of work, or ability to work, and for whom, indeed, there is little reasonable chance of their becoming established.
.- One great advantage arising out of the motion for adjournment this morning is the announcement which has been made on behalf of the Labour party that it is not opposed to immigration. I waa very pleased to hear that announcement, and I quite agree with the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) that any scheme of immigration upon which we em. bark must be based upon right lines and must be well organized. It is a great pity that certain statements have been published in the press which convey the impression that a number of immigrants to this country have recently left it because they were disappointed with it. The idea which has been disseminated is that a large number of fine young men, most of them English ex-soldiers, have come here and have departed from Australia disappointed. There i3 no justification for any such statement. The evidence that is available abundantly proves that. But we must realize quickly the imperative need which exists for population in this country. If we do not get more people, consider the load of debt per capita that we shall be obliged to carry. Moreover, we cannot continue to hold this country unless we populate it and develop its resources. To do that, we require many tens of thousands of people to come here. I wish that I had in my possession a map which was sent to me from Western Australia, and which shows the volume of immigration to the United States of America, Canada, and Australia. It discloses that there is quite a generous stream to the United States of America, that a lesser number is going to Canada, and that those coming to Australia represent a mere trickle. It is evident, therefore, that there is something wrong either with our system of immigration or with ourselves, because Australia is one of the finest countries in the world.
– It is the distance out here which counts.
– Does the honorable member mean to tell me that English immigrants would prefer to go to South America than to come to Australia, unless they could do better there?
– They do not know much about this country.
– That statement is nonsense. Why, in 1911, we started a big immigration policy in Western Australia, and one which proved wonderfully successful. If the Government desire people to come here, surely we can organize a scheme under which they can be attracted to the Commonwealth. We have been told that the ideal scheme is to bring immigrants to this country and straightway settle them upon the land. To my mind, that is an absurdity. We want them to come here and work for a few years before settling upon the land, in order that they may become familiar with local conditions.
– Our own people cannot get land.
– They can get it if they want it. The whole trouble is that for the past ten or fifteen years our politics have had only one effect - namely, to concentrate population in the cities. By means of our legislation we are destroying the primary producers. Look at the enormous number of persons who are unemployed at the present time owing to the low price of copper. The Mount Lyell, Cuthbert, and Mount Morgan mines are closed down, and probably 20,000 men have thus lost their employment. In the nature of things we must expect that the workers will demand higher wages while the cost of living is continually soaring. But there has been no effort on the part either of the Government or of this Parliament to reduce the cost of living in any form. Only in to-day’s newspapers we see a report of the new log which is being sought in connexion with the timber industry. Ten guineas per week is being demanded by bullock-drivers. Perhaps the odd 10s. is required because of the language test which they have to undergo. Is it possible for us to build up an industry when we are obliged to pay such high wages? A similar condition obtains in connexion with every phase of agricultural and pastoral work. Look at the demands which have been made by the Shearers Union during the past year. It is quite impossible for the pastoral or the timber industry to carry on under such conditions. A similar remark is applicable to the mining industry, and without a reduction in the cost of living how can we expect men to accept lower wages? Unless there is a very big change in our legislation, and in our methods of administration, and unless we offer greater inducements for the development of the country, we are bound to experience even a greater measure of destitution than that with which we are now confronted. If one reads the history of Canada, New Zealand, and the Argentine since the termination of the war, he will find that to-day those countries are wealthproducing and prosperous. Yet, according to the statement of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), there are 20,000 unemployed at the present time in Sydney alone.
– A large number are unemployed on account of the shipping trouble.
– The Government are not to blame for that. It has been stated in sworn evidence that labourers at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard have been earning as much as £60 and £70 per month, whilst other men were unemployed. I know of no greater disgrace than the history of the administration of that dockyard.
– How much do we produce for what we get? We do not paralyze the legislative industry, although we are paid £1,000 a year.
– It is quite possible to kill an industry. I think that this Parliament is fairly upon theroad to killing itself, and it hasfully earned destruction. From this day onward I intend to do my utmost to force a dissolution. A successful immigration scheme must necessarily depend largely upon proper administration. I hope we shall have a far more efficient administration of the Government’s immigration policy than we have had in connexion with our War Service Homes. The House would bequite justified in insisting upon general reports being presented to the Parliament from time to time in regard to the work that is being done by the Department. If we are to make a success of this immigration policy - and I feel it is essential to the development of the country - we should know exactly what is being done. Farm labourers are the class of men I desire to see brought here - men who are prepared to go into the country. To bring men here simply to be dumped into our cities is only to accentuate the unemployed evil, and to do harm to Australia. Many men so treated may return to the Old Country and give Australia a bad name. We should make a feature of bringing here men who will be prepared to go into the country, and, in the early stages of their sojourn here, we should find employment for them. The Parliament should insist upon quarterly progress reports from the Immigration Department, showing what is being done, and the regulations under which the policy is being carried out. If that were done, we should be able at once to correct any faults in the system instead of waiting for them to be discovered, as in so many other cases, by a Royal Commission.
.- I approach the consideration of this question from an Australian, and not from a party, point of view. My experience of the unemployed extends over thirty years, and I have also come in direct contact with many immigrants. As far back as 1888, I was medical officer on a vessel carrying 200 or 300 immigrants from the Old Country to Western Australia. Some of those immigrants were . suffering severely from tuberculosis ; but I was not permitted, on that account, to refuse to allow them to sail. I had only to certify that they had been successfully vaccinated. I made a second trip from the OldCountry to Western Australia in the same circumstances, and found the same idiotic practice prevailing. I followed up some of these immigrant families, and discovered that tubercular troubles from which many of them were suffering gathered in their victims in the succeeding years. The danger of such persons being introduced into Australia has been largely eliminated since every intending immigrant to Australia is now examined, before leaving the Old Country, either by Dr. Norris or one of his staff.
– Still, such cases occasionally arrive here.
– Developments may occur on the voyage out to Australia. If we were wise, and had due regard to the well-being of future generations, we would insist that every new arrival, whether he came out as a saloon passenger or in the steerage, should submit to a medical examination. In the absence of proper medical supervision, serious diseases may be brought to the country, and we should insist upon thorough medical inspection, just as we have quarantine regulations designed to prevent the introduction of diseases of plant life. I differ from the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook), who says that it is easy for a man to obtain employment. No honorable member receives more visits from immigrants than I do. I have had an office in Elizabeth-street north, for nearly thirty years, and immigrants and others in search of employment seem to experience no difficulty in finding their way up to me. The’ right honorable gentleman said that he had no difficulty whatever in obtaining employment for a man who was wanting work. With his permission, I shall send to him quite a number of men whom I know to be unemployed. Mr. Whitehead, who has been appointed by the Victorian Government as Officer-in-Charge of Immigration, has offices at 555 Flinders-street. He has been in the service of the Government for many years and has my respect, but his opportunities to find employment are somewhat limited, and he has to send applicants to other places. The Town Hall authorities have refused to register returned soldiers for employment. They say that they have already on their books more than the number for whom employment can be found by them. . My life would be much happier if we had a properly organized, department to provide employment. If those honorable members who say that there is plenty of work in country districts will furnish me with information as to where employment is available I shall be glad to supply them with all the men they require. Unemployment is the curse of humanity. We are told that “the poor ye have always with you,” and we always will have until we have just laws, It is because of the injustice of our laws that unemployment is permitted to exist. If a man loses a day’s work, that day’s work is lost for ever to the whole community. There are many men willing to work but unable to obtain employment, and the seriousness of their position is accentuated when women and children are dependent upon them. I have always held that having provided, by means of good organization, for the employment of those already in Australia, we should throw our arms out wide in welcome to the white races of the world. I do not know whether it is due to our petty jealousies or other reasons, -but it is undeniable that we do not do as well as some of the lower forms of life. Chu will never see in a shoal of fish some that are rolling fat while the majority are as thin as rakes, because the capital of a fish, like that of all animal life, is the food it’ collects, and the harder it works the more it gets.
– It is impossible to pick out the fat and the lean in a shoal of fish.
– I have” watched fishermen hauling in their nets, and it does take a keen eye to differentiate; but what I say is absolutely correct. So in a flock of birds you will not find a few so fat that they can hardly fly and all the others as thin as a rail. The ants and the bees are all employed, and their organization of the nest and the hive is much better than any system which humanity has contrived for the nation up to the present. We have twenty-three millionaires in Australia, but I guarantee that we have far more than 23,000 people who do not know when they will be able to pay next week’s rent. No civilization is worthy of the name while one millionaire exists side by side with 1,000 people whom I will not call paupers, as I hate the word, but whom I may call modern ChristsWe say that the woman as a citizen is equal to the man, but that is an absolute untruth. Any Australian who contends that a woman in this country is politically equal to the male is’ saying what is untrue. If an Australian male marries a foreign woman she becomes an Australian, but if an Australian woman marries a foreign male she loses her Australian nationality. She is, therefore, not the equal of the male. I might draw an illustration from the terrible time of the French Revolution, as depicted by the Conservative writers. Whenever a daughter of the people married an aristocrat, it saved his life. Some of the very best citizens we have had have come from other countries. Any one who knows what has happened in Papua or New Guinea is aware that the Germans managed their part of that country much better than we have done. Many of those Germans married Australian girls, and all their interests are here; yet, because they were unfortunately born in a foreign country - although they did not hold the opinions of their country - they are to be repatriated. I am credibly informed that before the Germans went to New Guinea to settle they were sent to Ceylon and other eastern countries where the cocoanut is grown, so that when they reached their new home they would understand the work, -and be all the better immigrants for that part of the German territories. If what the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) has said is correct, and I think he will be able to back it up by evidence if necessary, then a serious mistake has been made. I cannot help thinking of the words which the late Daniel O’Connor, of New South Wales, used to repeat - “ If I have a thousand friends I have not one too many ; but if I have one enemy the devil turns up everywhere.” If each of the men referred to went back to England and became a circulating medium for statements detrimental to Australia, it would undo all the good done to this country by the greatest advertisement that Australia ever had, or ever will have - that is, the fact that the Australian volunteers went to the Front and were paid 6s. per day. They ought to have had more, but, at any rate, they received that amount as compared with the small pay received by men of other nations.
The Commonwealth Government can in this matter do what the State cannot do - they can apportion immigrants to the State which is the most generous in its offers. The two States with the greatest potentialities in this regard are Queensland and, to a less degree, Western Australia. If those two States offer greater inducements to the immigrant than the others do, then the Commonwealth Government can do what no individual State Government can do.
– Do you know that the Queensland Government spent over £80,000 in outdoor relief last year ?
– I accept that statement willingly, because I have always had an admiration for them. It was through the Queensland Agent-General’s office that I obtained my first billet in taking immigrants from Great Britain to this country, although I brought them, not to
Queensland, but to Western Australia. We want to fill up the enormous spaces of Australia, because we have only so far embroidered the edge Of the continent with cities. The vast interior is almost unknown. Thanks to the teachings of science, there is very little of that interior that cannot avail itself of water from the artesian basin. We possess the greatest artesian basin in the world. The Commonwealth Government, in alliance with the States, could convert into a closelysettled country the whole of the Murray River basin, with all its tributaries extending right up to Queensland. They could plant Renmarks and Milduras all along the two banks of the Murray for one-tenth of the money that we wasted in the bloodshed of the terrible worldwar. I hope that the Commonwealth Government, in association with the States, will do something definite so that wo can offer those who come here, as immigrants, a home.
– It is deplorable that such unfortunate misrepresentations, with regard to the passengers on the Ormonde, should be published. If they have reached the Old World, I sincerely hope that the Government will at once cable the whole truth about the business. What are the facts as to the responsibilities for introducing immigrants under the new movement? The Commonwealth Government can bring to Australia only people specially asked for by the States. They cannot bring to this country, under this scheme, a single immigrant unless he has been asked for and approved by a State.
– What evidence have you of that?
– Simply the facts about the new movement and the statement of the chief officer of the movement. If the honorable member does not know it, he has not been taking sufficient interest in one of the greatest questions facing us to day, ‘that is, the bringing of as many people to Australia as we possibly can under these conditions.
– But that scheme has been in operation only a very short while.
– We could not bring people out until quite recently, even if they had wanted to come. In the second place, when the immigrants arrive they pass to the control of the States for employment or for settlement on the land. The next most deplorable thing I know is that the great and wealthy State of New South Wales is the delinquent in the proper prosecution of this great movement. Speaking of the interests of all Australia, let me say that two States in particular, that is, New South Wales and Queensland, with their immense possibilities, ought to be the most attractive spots on the earth, and the State Governments ought to embrace every opportunity to get hold of prospective British immigrants.
– So they are.
– They have provided a shocking advertisement, not only for New South Wales, but also for the whole of Australia.
– Did not the Acting Prime Minister say that these men are going Home for a. trip from New South Wales ?
– I am not going to be led off the track by the subterfuge of the honorable member for South Sydney. I have no desire to see a crowd of immigrants for our cities. T want immigrants to fill the vast vacant spaces in Australia, and under the Government scheme we have an opportunity to secure them.
– They will fill a lot of vacancies in graves.
– I am sorry the honorable member is such a poor Australian, and evidently has such an inadequate conception of the great possibilities of this country.
– What do you propose to do?
– I propose to indorse the immigration policy of the Government, and I ask honorable members not to do anything to damage our prospects of getting the right class of immigrant. Do honorable members opposite object to that policy?
– Not if it is given effect to.
– Does the honorable member want us to give effect to U?
– This motion for the adjournment of the House is not the right way to do that.
– What have you done in South Australia?
– South Australia is endeavouring to insure the success of the scheme.
– Did you read the statement of a returned soldier in the Adelaide press last Monday, to the effect that returned soldiers could not find work in that State?
– I did not, but I have no doubt the statement is quite true, although I have sense enough, and I have had sufficient experience, to know that in every country some people will be found ready to say such things. I can, however, tell the honorable member that wheat-growing in South Australia is on the decrease, principally because our farmers cannot get sufficient labour.
– That is very sad !
– It is sad, and it is true; but an immigration policy is designed to help Australia to get back to her former position from the point of view of production. I am sorry to think that honorable members opposite are simply re-echoing the views of powerful outside organizations, which, for some reason, declare that we do not want immigrants in this country.
– That is not so.
– The people of Australia know that -it is true.
– But what have you done in South Australia?
– Does the honorable member know that after last harvest, during which men earned big money, it was impossible for farmers to secure men for other urgent work,, even at a wage of £4 per week and keep ? The men had made their cheques for the harvest work, and were determined not to lose a single hour in getting back to the cities. The Western Australian Government have provided us with a splendid example of organization for the handling of immigrants. Only a few weeks ago about 1,000 selected immigrants landed in Fremantle, and were quickly distributed throughout the State. We want the same organization and the same co-operation in every State. It is deplorable that any State should stand out of the scheme, and particularly the two great wealthy States, which ought to be able to take immigrants in scores of thousands. Every true Australian must be keenly disappointed at the thought that any State is not prepared to take opportunity by the hand in regard to our immigration policy. My honorable friends from New South Wales and Queensland should do a bit of missionary work in their own States and among their own people. The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) raised the question of introducing the right type of immigrant, from a physical point of view, and spoke of men suffering from chronic diseases being allowed to come to this country. That is a thing of the past. At all events, there is not an immigrant now brought here that does not pass the most rigid medical examination. I am told that immigrants are of a finer type physically, and from a health point of view, than are average passengers.
– Then how did the shellshock people get here, of whom the Acting Prime Minister spoke?
– The Acting Prime Minister explained that the Government had nothing whatever to do with those men; and I repeat what I have said in regard to the medical examination of immigrants. Let us try to help this immigration movement, and not injure it. If the programme of this movement is not perfectly complete, I hope it will be made so without a single hour’s unnecessary delay.
– I have been waiting anxiously to hear some practical suggestion that will remove the disabilities under which we are at present labouring. The Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) has read us several communications which have passed between Australia and the Old Country, but notwithstanding these documents, the evil is still in existence.
– What evil?
– The evil of immigrants coming here, and not being met by any organization.
– That is not so.
– Theright honorable gentleman has failed to show that there is any organization acting on behalf of the Commonwealth Government.
– On the contrary, there is an organization.
– Well, what is it?
– I have informed the House that the organization has dealt with over 1,600 immigrants, and placed them in a few months in Victoria.
– I suppose the honorable member means seeing after passports and matters of that kind?
– Nonsense! The honorable member is beginning his same old game of misrepresentation.
– I have a long way to go before I reach the heights of the right honorable gentleman in that regard.
– Why not stick to facts?
– That is precisely what I am doing, and I ask the right honorable gentleman what the Government has done in regard to immigrants arriving?
– Immigrants are met and are placed in work. As I have said, that has been done to the number of 1,672 in Victoria alone, the State Government working with the Commonwealth Government.
– The Commonwealth Government has the necessary machinery here and in the Old Country, and people are being induced to come here. However, when they do come, we are told that it is the duty of the States to look after them.
– The States have undertaken to do that.
– Some of the States have declined, including New South Wales.
– If the honorable member means to indicate that the Government are dumping peoplehere without reference to the States, he is entirely wrong.
– The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) read an extract from the proceedings of the Premier’s Conference showing that Mr. John Storey, the Premier of New South Wales, has said that his Government is not prepared at the present time, on account of the state of the labour market, to countenance fresh immigration.
– That is not the fault of the. Commonwealth Government.
– I am not saying whose fault it is, but the Commonwealth is responsible for bringing these people here. Now the Premier says it is the duty of the States to see that they are given employment.
– Hear, hear!
– If the States do not provide employment, is the Commonwealth to continue to bring immigrants ?
– The bulk of the immigrants are nominated, and come to friends here.
– The right honorable gentleman, like myself, came as an immigrant to this country.
– I did not come as an immigrant; I paid my own way.
– A man is still an immigrant even if he does pay his own way. The Commonwealth Government publishes literature and posters, showing all the attractions of Australia, and yet we find ourselves in our present position.
– I must admit that I spent nearly all my money in order to get to Australia.
– Then, perhaps, it would have been a good thing for this country if the right honorable gentleman had not been able to raise his passage money.
– Theright honorable gentleman is one of Australia’s greatest assets !
– Notwithstanding our political differences, I regard the honorable member as a good citizen, who has reared a good family, and done good for the country. However, it is a heartbreaking thing for a man to break up his home in the Old Country and come here with the best of intentions and hopes, only to find that he cannot obtain employment. That is a dreadful position for a man to be in, as I know from personal experience. After my arrival here, if I could have afforded it, I should have gone Home again; and here, perhaps, I ought to say that that might have been a good thing for Australia. If the Commonwealth Government is going to raise another loan, which I understand is “ on the cards,” it ought to be a loan for public works, which would have the effect of inducing immigration and furthering the development of the country.
– The Economy Commission will give you fits!
– That does not affect me. We must populate the country, but I am against immigration unless the immi grants can be provided with employment. The Government ought not to throw the’ responsibility on the States, which themselves are in financial trouble. The Commonwealth can raise money more cheaply and quickly than any State can for the purpose of public works, and there certainly ought to be some steps taken in that direction. I do not blame the Government for the fact that there are 3,000 men out of employment owing to the cessation of work at Cockatoo Island, but such unemployment in one locality must certainly impress immigrants, and doubtless cause them to write home letters which will give Australia a bad name. Reproductive public works undertaken with loan money would prove an incentive to people to make Australia their home, and the responsibility in this connexion ought not to be thrown on the States.
– Does the honorable member know that the States are raising £38,000,000 of loans this year?
– They are trying to.
– They have done so - that is their plan.
– A good deal of that loan money is for redemptionpurposes, and not for public works.
– No, it represents new loans.
– The Government ought to push on as fast as possible with the erection of War Service Homes, work in connexion with which, I understand, has been stopped.
– I think the honorable member had better sit down; he has sketched a programme which would involve about £100,000,000 !
– I have sketched a programme sufficient to go on with. Unless the building of houses is pushed on rents will rise even further, and the high cost of living generally will make it almost impossible for a man to keep out of debt.
The time allowed for the discussion of the motion extended to3 p.m.
.- I have no doubt that every member desires that the right class of immigrants shall come to Australia. Personally, I shall welcome here from the British Islands all the hardworking, solid, sober men and their women folk who will come. But what is to be done for them when they arrive here? The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) beats the air when he asks the Commonwealth Government to do what he says has not been done. The Commonwealth Government has undertaken the work of recruiting for immigrants. It obtains from the States particulars of their requirements respecting number and classes, and acts accordingly. Some of the States have gone in for immigration wholeheartedly, and probably Western Australia would be better off if she stood by herself in the matter of immigration, but it would be a good thing to have an Australian immigration policy laid down, so that the whole Commonwealth would know where it stands. The conditions of the States vary. In New South Wales, for instance, settlement has proceeded apace for many years, and land cannot be obtained so easily as in Western Australia, where large areas are still unalienated from the Crown. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) complains that no one has shown a way out of our difficulties. At the present time, persons wishing to come here from Great Britain under the immigration arrangements are examined by doctors in various parts of the Old Country, and prior to embarkation are examined again by doctors acting for the shipping companies. These examinations are designed to test, not only their physical, but also their mental condition. I think that I know more than any other civilian in Australia of the immigrants who have come here during the past few years, having been on every transport and other steamer which has brought out soldiers’ wives and dependants, and I know that all immigrants before entering the country have been subjected to three medical examinations. We must all agree with the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) that it is necessary to prevent persons suffering with tuberculosis, cancer, or syphilis from entering the country. Thank God we have in some of the States laws for the lessening of those diseases, and it would be a good thing if those laws obtained in all the States. If the Western Australian Health Act operated throughout Australia, certain diseases would be almost eliminated within twenty years. If we get immigrants of the right class, they are worth doing the best we nan do for them. Are we doing all that we can for them ? In some of the States, we are. The honorable member for Melbourne said that even Western Australia could get more immigrants if it gave better conditions; but that State is getting all it wants, and is finding work for its immigrants. I do not wish to see artisans coming here who will remain in our cities; not that I object to the immigration of good tradespeople, but that too much of our population is now in our big cities. Every Act that we pass tends to drag population to the cities. In some of the States, immigrants can obtain land under favorable conditions; but that id not so in all the States, and the Commonwealth Government would do a good thing for Australia, even though it were necessary to borrow £20,000,000 for the purpose, in employing teams of the best bushmen obtainable to undertake the work of clearing and otherwise preparing land for settlement by immigrants and returned soldiers. . Under such a system, those who went on the land would be able to get returns straightway.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I was comparing what is done in Western Australia with what is done in some of the other States, and suggested a way out of our difficulties in the matter of immigration. I said that the Commonwealth Government might borrow a large sum of money and allow it to be used by the States. I would go even so far as to say that there should not necessarily bo red-tape Government supervision of the system. If, in each State., three men with a knowledge of what was necessary and a desire for the progress of the State were selected to administer the system of immigration, the best results might be obtained. Much money that is at present spent in giving instruction to immigrants who desire to settle on the land might be spent to better advantage if it were used in the employment of men who understand the business to clear land and get it ready for intending immigrant settlers. If that course were followed we should be able to absorb our immigrants more speedily. During five years before the war no less than 250.000 immigrants came to Australia, and we never knew that they were coming, because they were absorbed as fast as they came. I believe that with proper management, if the same or a greater number were to come here within tho next five years, we should scarcely know that they were here. It will be but a poor lookout if we have to depend on the natural increase of population to make Australia self-dependent.
– We need to encourage natural increase.
– I am aware that we do, but I do not propose to offer suggestions in that regard.
– It is unnecessary to offer them to me. I have done my bit in the last eight years.
– As I have a second edition running around, I can also claim to have done pretty well. I believe that the case which is responsible for this debate has been very greatly exaggerated. From what has been said, people might be led to believe that 800 dissatisfied and disgruntled immigrants are returning to the Old Land. That is not the case. To cry “ stinking fish,” whether in connexion with an immigration policy, industrial matters, or anything else, is a bad advertisement for the country. What each State should do is to follow the example of Western Australia. When immigrants arrive there they are met by a State official. Prior to their arrival the State official has obtained data which enables him in agreat many instances to place the immigrants in employment. By this means, the bulk of them are absorbed. Those for whom employment cannot be found immediately are accommodated in an institution, where they are provided with good food and shelter and a means of communication with likely employers. Provision is also made so that no employer can browbeat a newly arrived immigrant into taking employment under conditions that are not in accordance with the laws of the State regarding industrial matters. Immigrants are safeguarded in that way. If newly-arrived immigrants contend that the State has not done everything possible for them there are other organizations and institutions to look after their interests. There is one organization in Western Australia called the Ugly Men’s Association, which has done a remarkable amount of good.
– I should like the honorable member to read what returned soldiers said about the Ugly Men’s Club of Western Australia in an interview for the Adelaide newspapers.
– If I had time I might let the honorable member know what returned soldiers in Western Australia have had to say about what has been done for them by the Ugly Men’s Association. The association has been doing remarkably good work. The men forming it have been assisting the Government to settle immigrants in Western Australia, instead of complaining that it has done nothing, or has not done enough, and by running it down, indirectly running down Australia. If a similar organization were operating in each of the States their activities would tend to lighten our load in the matter of providing for immigrants. There is room in this country for a great many immigrants. I do not wish to see a man or a woman coming out here and working for a wage which our own people do not consider a fair remuneration for his or her labour.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member say that.
– I have been saying that for quite as many years as the honorable member has said it, because I believe in it, and at every opportunity afforded me I have put it into effect. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) and I may differ on many points, but we are in agreement on this matter.
I desire to call attention to the fact that some States which have not carried out the proposals agreed upon have been given an advantage over Western Australia, where an endeavour has been made to carry them into effect. The Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) has said that a sum of money was given to the New South Wales Government with which to provide assistance for immigrants. Not one of those immigrants came out under the system agreed to at the Premiers’ Conference. Why should a State that has not come into the scheme be given money to assist immigrants whilst Western Australia, which has carried out the scheme really well, should have to find all the money necessary to finance her operations? The State Governments should come together and formulate a scheme, undertaking to carry out their part of the compact, and let the Commonwealth Government do the recruiting. The State Governments should determine the number and class of immigrants for whom they can find em,ployment, and then each State should be allotted so much money to spend according to the number of immigrants it receives.
I think that the Acting Prime Minister has refuted the case put forward by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), and that Australia has not had a bad advertisement out of the- incident to which he has referred.. When the men and women who are going away now get to their destination they will not be able to say that Australia treated them badly.
.- I am very much in sympathy with a great deal of what the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) said this morning. No good Australian would wish anything to be done that would be detrimental to this country, but in discussing any of these matters we should not forget that the truth can do no harm. We should never be deterred from facing the actual facts by being told that we are crying stinking fish. Nothing was more disheartening to me as a soldier during the wa.r than to read obviously false bulle-tins from our own side. Curiously enough I found confirmation of what the honorable member for Hunter said this morning in a press article entitled, “Unions Appeal to France.” It stated that the officials of the Sydney Trades Hall have decided to approach the representatives of the French Government with a request that the unemployed of Australia be employed in the French colonies, including New Caledonia. It went on to say that Mr. Waite, one of the union officials, was putting forward a proposal that Australian workers should be sent to assist in the restoration of the devastated areas in France and Belgium. There is no doubt that immigration is a matter in which both the Commonwealth and the States must work together, and the diversity of the opinions expressed this morning is explained by the different conditions existing in the various States. I was very pleased to hear the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Foley) and the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) speak, as they did, of their own States, but I know that there are unemployed in both New South Wales and Queensland. They do not represent only the element which is known as unemployable, for I believe there are many men in Queensland who are honestly willing to work if they can get the opportunity. They are not only in the cities, but are as far out as Charleville. On the general question of immigration I differ very much from the other members of my party, and, perhaps, I shall get into hot water for the views I am about to express. No one is such a dog in the manger as to wish to hold Australia in a selfish manner when there are openings for our fellow-Britishers in other parts of the Empire to make their homes amongst us. As a member of the Queensland State Parliament, I remember hearing the late Mr. Bowman, one of the most respected and trusted members of that Legislature, saying that the ideal immigration policy was to make a country’s internal conditions so good .that people from abroad would be automatically attracted to it. That is my view. When our troops were returning from Europe,. I often heard women say that it was a pity that so many of our boys had been married abroad, and had brought wives to Australia with them, because that was not fair to the Australian girls. My reply was that the turn of the girls would come when Imperial exservice men commenced to settle in Australia. I am not in favour of the present system of sending men to Europe to advertise for immigrants. I do not care who they are, or how they do their work, it becomes their business to boost, or unfairly advertise, their country in order to get immigrants in sufficient numbers to justify their own positions. In the old days we called them “scalpers,” because they received a payment of so much per head. I do not believe in that system. If conditions were as they should be in Australia, plenty of men and women would come here of their own volition without the aid of showmen and lantern entertainments. ‘ We hear much talk of our empty spaces, but the fact of having .a little room for development and space for our sons to show their enterprise in the making of new homes and careers, is the finest asset Australia has to-day. Some honorable members quote enviously the large number of immigrants that are pouring into America. That country is welcome to them, for we read in the papers only to-day that the United States Go?vernment is taking steps to restrict the tide, and that trouble is being experienced because it already exceeds the proportions laid down by Congress. I want quality before quantity. We are told that our empty spaces are a great menace, and that we must fill them up. As a soldier I see them in another aspect. During the late war the white population of German East Africa, numbering only 5,000, held out in that vast country- until the armistice, whereas the German Empire in Europe broke into ruins. The thickest populated country in Europe, Belgium, was the first to be over-run and conquered, and Russia, with its huge numbers of people, collapsed in disaster and ruin. If Australia were fighting for her life, .Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne might fall into the hands of the enemy in a few days, but the men in the back country could keep their end up for years. Therefore, do not let us be frightened by this talk of empty spaces. Fill them up by all means ; but let .us not be stampeded by the threat of not being able to hold the country against an enemy, and for that reason sacrifice our principles, and be in a hurry to occupy the empty spaces with immigration in quantity rather than in quality.
– The honorable member desires good Britishers to come here, does he not?
– I do. When I was a member of the Queensland State Parliament I did not find it too easy a matter to get all the lands required . by intending settlers - the sons of farmers - who came to me. If we want a big population we must make some big alterations. For one. thing, we must do away with a great” deal of the red-tape that now is only too evident in the matter of land settlement. Yesterday the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) spoke about the Burnett lands. We Were still trying to open them when I was a member of the State House. I do not blame the Commonwealth Government in this respect, but’ it is useless for the Acting Prime Minister to shut his eyes and say there is no unemployment here. Bringing out people while we have unemployment in our midst is, as I interjected this morning, putting the cart before the horse! When we- learn that something like £80,000 was spent last year in Queensland on outdoor relief, we must realize that there is something very wrong. We must get down to bedrock and ascertain the cause of the present unemployment before we ask for immigrants. It is -not fitting that a member of the Federal Parliament should criticise or blame the administration of various State Governments. The honorable member for Hunter said that in. discussing this question he would keep it, as he always does in discussing any matter, upon a high plane, and I want to follow his example. I know, however, that there is unemployment in Queensland, and I know many reasons for it, but I totally disagree, with the suggestion of the honorable members for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) and Kalgoorlie (Mr. Foley) that further Government loans should be raised to provide funds for developmental works which will absorb the unemployed. First of all, we ought to remove the wet blanket that lies over our own private enterprises. I am an opponent of State trading. We ought to open up the country, not by floating further’ loans for Government works, but by welcoming capital, by restoring confidence in trade and industry, and by assuring the country’s credit,’ good name, and good faith. Country life ought to be made more attractive, at least equally as attractive as city life. The advocacy of this policy is one of the reasons for the existence of a Country party in the House. . Briefly, we ought to look the question of immigration straight in the face, and without .any party feeling, realizing that we must abandon the policy of hiding in the napkin the talents handed to us, and discharge the trusts reposed in us by adopting a new spirit with the object of utilizing and developing our resources on better lines.
.- In discussing this vital question, we cannot shut our eyes to’ the fact that we, a handful of people, own a country larger than the United States of America, and that it is not unnatural for our neighbours to ask what justification we have for adopting the dog-in-the-manger policy of not utilizing this great territory ourselves while resisting the demands of others to settle upon it. We did not win this country by war, or by purchase, but took it from its rightful owners because they were not utilizing it. What justification have we now for holding on to it for ourselves alone unless we make an attempt to fill it up with the proper class of people? The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Wienholt) is wrong in saying that we are satisfied to allow people to come here without acquainting them of the conditions they are likely to meet with on their arrival. The class of men we want are those who will settle on our land, and they are persons who have not the opportunity that city dwellers possess, to gather from the press exactly what is said about the different parts of the world. Therefore, it is necessary to furnish them with information that will acquaint them with what they are likely to experience on coming to Australia, 12,000 or 13,000 miles from the country in which they reside. Therefore, the Commonwealth Government would do well to have proper and attractive literature prepared and circulated in the Agricultural districts of Great Britain, where we might succeed in inducing the right class of people we want to come here. There are about 400,000,000 acres of land unalienated in Queensland, some of it being as good as any to be found in other States. It only needs population of the right class. Many young fellows, second and third sons of farmers, who have been squeezed out for want of room in the southern parts of Australia, including Victoria, have taken up holdings in the Wide Bay district and gone in for maizegrowing, dairying, &c., with remarkable success. They could not be induced to return to Victoria. There is more scope for them in Queensland, where land can be got for £1 or £2 per acre equal to land in Victoria and other States now being sold to soldiers at from £40 to £60 per acre. If we could settle more of these soldier immigrants on land where they would not be called upon to ppy such a heavy rate of interest on their borrowings on land and on taxation, we would have a more contented body of settlers. I do not claim that the soldiers who have settled in Victoria will not make a success of their efforts - I hope sincerely that they will do so - but how much greater would be their success when settled on land in Queensland at the price at which it is available there?
– The honorable member is cracking up his State too much.
– I should be pleased to take the honorable member through part of my electorate, where, in one place alone, there are 4,000,000 acres now grazing cattle, but excellently suited for closer settlement. I refer to the Burnett North land, through which the Assistant. Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Rodgers) accompanied me quite recently. The Minister was astounded at what he saw. We travelled from 200 to 300 miles through country covered with grass1 foot to 3 feet high. There is no poor soil in it. Though there are 90,000 acres of scrub country, the soil on which that scrub grows is as good as any to be seen in any other part of the Commonwealth. It is mostly plain, lightlytimbered country, well watered with creeks. In fact, the average rainfall there for very many years has been 30 inches per annum. There is nothing to prevent a large population being settled on that particular area if a proper policy is adopted. When I was a member of the Queensland Parliament, the Liberal Government did all it possibly could to encourage people to settle on. the land, and under an Act passed at that time every man who acquired land had twenty-one years in which to pay for it. No repayments were required for the first five years, but interest and principal repayments had to be made up to half the purchase money to the end of twenty years, and the balance in the following year. A settler was advanced £200 to cover the cost of work he performed - £1 for £1 on twenty-one years’ terms. He was also advanced 15s. in the £1 to enable him to purchase stock and clear and cultivate his land to the extent of a further £1,000.
– Is the honorable member referring to the Act passed by the Labour Government ?
– No. The Government of which the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) was the leader increased the advance by, I think, £200.
– We improved it.
– I believe you did in one direction. The legislation to which I have referred was passed for the purpose of encouraging the righttype of settler to take up land in Queensland ; and if a similar policy were adopted by the States, working in conjunction with the Commonwealth, much would be done to remove the present difficulties. The honorabe member for West Sydney (Mr, Ryan) said that the Government of which he was a member improved the Act. Unfortunately, they created a good deal of dissatisfaction, and interfered with their land-settlement policy by refusing to give settlers the freehold. Under the Act passed bv the Labour Government, land could be acquired only on perpetual lease, and under this policy men in other parts of Australia, and some from abroad, who intended settling in Queensland, were afraid to go on the land. I do not know whether there is any real need for the fears which exist in this regard, but our forefathers were always in favour of possessing the fee-simple. In Queensland we have 400,000,000 acres of unalienated land, and settlement would more rapidly expand if the fee-simple were given. In connexion with the North Burnett lands, an effort was made to obtain an advance of £2,000,000 from the Commonwealth Government; but one of the great difficulties confronting the authorities was the tenure on which the land could be secured for soldiers.
– What does the honorable member suggest doing to assist people when they arrive in Australia?
– Something similar to what we did in Queensland some time ago, when the Liberal party was in power.
– The Commonwealth Government are not prepared to do that.
– Primarily, it is the duty of the State.
– The honorable member said that the policy of Queensland should be adopted.
– Apparently, the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) has not sufficient common sense to understand what I did say.- The policy of the Queensland Government before it was amended by the Labour Government had much to commend it. If the State Governments were to adopt the present immigration policy of Victoria, many of our present difficulties would disappear. That is the system I am now advocating.
– Are there any other States which have good lands to offer under the terms the honorable member suggests?
– I believe large areas are available in Western Australia. The Queensland territory has a number of good seaports, the rainfall is satisfactory, and the country will grow almost anything.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Commonwealth Government have no responsibility in connexion with the opening up of the Burnett lands?
– The responsibility of the Commonwealth arises in this way : When a fair and reasonable scheme is propounded by any State, the Commonwealth Government should, I think, consider it on its merits if money can be made available. I do not think the scheme proposed by the Queensland Government, which embodied a loan of £2,000,000 from the Commonwealth Government on leasehold land, was one that could be considered fair and reasonable.
– What is wrong with the scheme ?
– Railways to three ports would have to be constructed to supply country that can be supplied with one or two at the most.
– The honorable member’s policy is to take the railway into Maryborough.
– The honorable member ;s quite wrong. If the honorable member obtains the opinion which prevails in Brisbane and Rockhampton he will find that the people there are in agreement with what I have stated.
– Is not Gladstone the nearest port?
– If it were a question of reaching the coast by aeroplane, it might be, but business cannot be done in that way. There is no reason why £1,000,000 should be spent in cutting through Dawes Range when there is level country right up to a natural port of which this is the hinterland. I stress this point because I know that many of my friends in the south have little interest in Queensland and its possibilities. Honorable members should realize that large areas of land are available in Queensland, on which men can set to work and make a good living if. we have good land laws and an adequate railway system. The proper course is for a Sta te Government to submit a workable scheme to the Commonwealth Government, and if the Treasurer can advance the necessary money the Commonwealth Government should assist.
– Cannot the State find sufficient money for their own settlers?
– I cannot answer for the States ; butI know they are not finding the money.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
The time for the dismission of the motion further extended to 3.45 p.m.
.- At the outset I wish to make it clear that I hold the opinion that Australia must be adequately populated if it is to develop into the great self-contained country which we all desire to see it. That, I take it, is a statement of a common ground upon which all honorable members can meet. It is further held by all that a large portion of the desired new population must come from overseas, and that that immigration should be from the British Isles. Then, what is the gravamen of the complaint of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), who has been supported on this side of the House, and by some honorable members opposite andin the Corner - among the latter, notably, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Wienholt) ? The honorable member for Hunter complains that the Government is introducing immigrants in large numbers without making provision for them.
– And I say that we are not doing so.
– That, at any rate, is the charge.
– It is baseless.
– It is not my habit to make or support a baseless accusation. The charge is that immigrants are being sent or brought out to Australia without provision having been made for their absorption here, and at a time when this countryis already teeming with unem ployed. It will be admitted by all honorable members that there is a tremendous amount of unemployment in Australia today. It arises largely from the closing down of great works - of mines such as Mount Morgan and Mount Lyell, and of Federal Government activities at Cockatoo Island in circumstances which I do not feel at liberty to comment upon, because of my membership of the Royal Commission which is now engaged in inquiring into the whole matter. I shall put before honorable members statistical details which I received only to-day regarding unemployment in this State, and I wish to add that the figures do not cover the full field of unemployment. My information shows that in the Brick, Tile, and Pottery Union there are 550 unemployed; bootmakers, 400; clothing trade, 2,100; rubber workers, about 800; timber workers,900; Victoria-Riverina branch of the Australian Workers Union, 5,000; carpenters (metropolitan area), 300; shop assistants and warehouse employees, 800; pastrycooks, 300; liquor trades, &c., 400; building industries, 1,000; manufacturing grocers, 500; and fodder and fuel employees, 500. Besides these, I believe that a telegram has been received to-day from Mr. Vickers, secretary of the Coal and Shale Miners Organization at Wonthaggi, stating that 50 employees at Morwell have been paid off, and that all applications for further employment there have been refused.
I am sorry that some honorable members have seen fit to single out for special criticism New South Wales and Queensland, because Labour Governments happen to be in control there. It should not be lost sight of that New South Wales has nearly as great a total population as two or three of the other States put together.
– No one has made such criticisms because there are Labour Governments in those States.
– I am glad to hear that, because I was under the impression that some honorable members had said that the conditions were due to the fact that Labour Governments were in power in New South Wales and Queensland. Under the Constitution, the Commonwealth has had committed to it the control of immigration. Immigration does not consist solely of, or begin and end with putting advertisements in English and Continental newspapers and bringing immigrants out here. It also includes making provision for the newcomers when they have reached Australia.. It. is the duty of the Government to see that conditions are made so attractive, and the development of the scheme of immigration advanced to such a state, that when the immigrants have reached our shores they can be immediately absorbed.
– Is not that largely the task of State Governments?
– The State Governments, no doubt, shouldco-operate; but the primary responsibility rests upon the Commonwealth, whose officials bring the immigrants here, either to see that preparations are made, or to provide the States with necessary funds with which to make such preparations.
– The Commonwealth cannot compel the States to do that.
– We cannot do it ourselves. The States will not let us.
– I know of one region where the Commonwealth authorities can assist a State to make necessary preparations. The territory in question has just been referred to by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), who spoke of the Upper Burnett lands, where there are some millions of acres of the best soil that can be found; and Crown lands at that.
– Undoubtedly the most suitable land in the Commonwealth.
– I agree with the honorable member; and, perhaps, he will go further with me, and admit that the scheme propounded by the Queensland Government for opening up and developing those lands was a sound one.
– Did I not make specific proposals to the honorable member, when he was Premier of Queensland, with respect to those lands?
– I am glad of the reminder, for I had not thought of that circumstance for the moment. On more than one occasion, while I was Premier of the northern State, the honorable member approached me regarding the settlement of the Burnett lands. Communications passed between me and the Imperial
Government, and between the honorable member and the Royal Colonial Institute.
– And the honorable member for West Sydney; as Premier of Queensland, did everything possible to bring the scheme to fruition.
– We did all we could to make those lands available for the settlement of immigrants, and the Imperial Government were quite willing to enter into an arrangement by which they were to provide funds for the construction of a railway through those lands.
– Some such scheme as that appears to be the only solution of the difficulty, and I intend to continue to press very strongly for it.
– It is refreshing, particularly latterly, to have even one such frank admission of the worthy actions and intentions of the Queensland Government.
– But why should Queensland, as a State, go crying to anybody else for help?
– I did not propose that Queensland should cry to others for assistance; but funds must be found to construct that railway.
– We have always found the funds before.
– Where does the honorable member propose that the money shall now be found?
– In Queensland.
– That suggests the raising of another loan. A Government cannot build railways for nothing. I take it that the honorable member for Moreton will be one of the principal contributors tosuch a loan. But I say that the Commonwealth Government, upon whom rests the duty of repatriating our returned soldiers and conducting a national scheme of immigration, must accept responsibility for providing funds necessary to open up those lands for settlement.
– Queensland has had a free hand concerning the settlement of soldiers.
– No better conditions for settlement exist in Australia than those which have been provided by the Queensland Government.
– The State Government have had free and unfettered choice in regard to the expenditure of Commonwealth money upon soldier settlement.
– Has a suggestion to the contrary been made?
– It has been suggested that, in many cases, the money might have been better utilized.
– Seeing the Treasurer has butted into the discussion, I ask whether it is not a fact that the Commonwealth is withholding funds for the development of the Upper Burnett lands because the honorable member for Wide Bay objects to the route of the proposed railway ?
– There is no truth whatever in that statement.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay has said that if the States would put forward good schemes, the Commonwealth would come to their assistance. I asked him whether the development of the Upper Burnett lands was not a good scheme, and he said “ No.”
– If a line were constructed from Gladstone it would have to pass over a very steep range, with the result that its construction would cost nearly £1,000,000, and the work would occupy two years.
– The route of the Kaninda railway was decided, not upon the report of a political partisan, but upon the report of experts from the Lands and Railways Departments, to whose hands the matter was committed.
– I have the reports of the experts, and those reports are absolutely adverse to the construction of the line.
– The scheme does not meet with the approval of the honorable member. He is opposed to the Commonwealth providing the money that is necessary to develop these lands, which would then be available for the settlement of some thousands of settlers.
– I personally made an inspection of the Upper Burnett lands, and can tell the honorable member that the specific question of railway construction has never been considered by the Commonwealth Government.
– Then what has been considered, because everything else is admitted? It is admitted that these lands are the best lands available, that they are the cheapest lands, that they are Crown lands, and that they comprise the largest area to be found in any one district.
– I will go further, and say that in the choice between the Upper Burnett lands and the lands which have been selected for fruit-growing in the case of soldier settlement, the former stand out pre-eminently.
– I am glad of that admission, because it leads me to hope that sympathetic consideration will be given by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) to the proposal to provide funds for the development of these lands.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Extension of time granted.
– If the honorable member will look at the report of the Premiers’ Conference, he will see that it was suggested between Senator Millen and Mr. Fihelly that the £1,000 per man, which we allow for soldier settlement, might be diverted for the building of this railway, if the Queensland Government chose to do that. But what it wants is another £2,000,000, which I cannot find.
– It wants the money, which is required to construct the railway, and it desires to get it upon loan. The Commonwealth Government went so far as to send up a person to report upon these lands. The reason advanced by the Treasurer for the failure of the Commonwealth to provide the necessary money for this purpose is that he has not got it. That is the best of all reasons. If he has not got it he cannot provide it. But the obligation rests upon the Commonwealth to take a hand in the development of these lands.
– Will the Queensland Government allow us to control the lands? Will it permit us to fix the tenure upon which they shall be held ?
– The honorable gentleman had better confer with the Queensland Government upon the matter.
– If we are going to find the money, we ought to have some say in the tenure upon which the lands shall be held.
– If one borrows money from his bank, one does not allow the bank to run his business.
– But the bank takes good care to know the kind of tenure upon which it is lending.
– If we lend money for the construction of a railway down the Boyan Valley, we shall have as security the whole of the assets of the State of Queensland. There can be no better security, because there all the land belongs to the Crown. It has not been alienated.
Mr.Wienholt.- The honorable member has made out that Queensland is in a very helpless state.
– No. I merely say that the opening up of large areas for the settlement of immigrants, or for the purposes of repatriation, is a duty which largely devolves upon the Commonwealth Government. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) at Conferences which I attended while I was Premier of Queensland, always admitted that the responsibility of providing funds for State enterprises rested upon the Commonwealth if in their main outlines the Commonwealth Government approved of them.
– What does the honorable member mean by that?
– There is no suggestion that the Commonwealth refuses to provide the requisite money because the land is to be let upon a perpetual leasehold tenure.
– The honorable member is laying down the strange doctrine that the Commonwealth Government is responsible for the development of all the lands of all the States.
– I did not say so. I said that the Commonwealth Government have a large responsibility in connexion with making available for the repatriation of our soldiers a big tract of country like that to be found in the Upper Burnett region.
– Altogether, it is an £8,000.,000 proposition, not a £2,000,000 one.
– I have certainly provoked a great deal of activity from honorable members opposite, if one may judge from their frequent interjections. The Government will be rendering a real service to this country if they will assist to make these lands available for settlement.
– Once and for all, let me tell the honorable member that the Commonwealth Government will do as well by Queensland as it will do by any other State.
– I hope that it will. The point is that Queensland has more of the goods to make available, and therefore the Commonwealth Government should not permit these lands to remain idle when they can be made wealth-producing. In conclusion, I desire to refer to the statement that immigrants are returning to Great Britain. The press has given us to understand this morning that a large number of immigrants are returning, because they are unable to find employment here.
– Eight hundred, according to the Age.
– If the Age makes the statement, that, I think, is primd facie evidence that it is true. If that is so-
– But it is not so; it is not true.
– If the statement is not true, is there any basis of fact which would lead them to make it as “fair comment “ ?
– The Age says there are 800, but I do not believe that there are eight coming within that category.
– Taking the right honorable gentleman’s own figures, it is most unfortunate that there should be even eight immigrants returning to the country from which they came, because they cannot get employment here.
– And even they were not brought out by the Commonwealth Government.
– I do not know by whom they were brought out; but the Commonwealth should see to it that that sort of thing does not continue. They should see to it that large numbers of immigrants are not brought to this country unless provision is made simultaneously for their absorption.
– The Government should also see that the low rates for immigrants are not used by tourists to come to Australia, and go away again.
– Nothing of that kind has been done.
– The Acting Prime Minister would have us believe that a large number of immigrants who are taking out these steerage passages are tourists.
– No; he denies that
– I hope, at all events, that the object of this debate will be achieved, because, after all, the question is of very great importance. No matter to what party we belong, we are all concerned in the welfare of the country, and it would be unfortunate if party considerations entered into a question of this sort. I hope the Government will face the question as it ought to be faced, and see that the evil which is arising is put an end to once and for all time.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) has said that I would sacrifice the extension of this line to the North Burnett, for the purpose of settling returned soldiers or immigrants, merely because it does not exactly follow the route that I favour. I desire it to be distinctly understood that I have never opposed the construction of a line to open up the North Burnett country. I strongly advocated the building of the railway along the route proposed by a Queensland Liberal Government, and passed by both Houses of Parliament. The construction of the line to which the honorable member has been referring, however, was opposed by the best experts obtainable. The proposal made by the Queensland Liberal Government was varied by a subsequent Labour Government, and that variation, involving the scheme which the honorable member is now advocating, was condemned in the most exhaustive reports by the railway, land, and other experts. I have copies of those reports, and they are open to perusal by honorable members. The scheme which the honorable member has been advocating, was turned down on no fewer than four occasions by the Queensland Legislative Council. I make this explanation in order that it may not go forth that I am opposed to the opening up of the Burnett country.
– The Argus, in drawing attention to this matter, has done good service to the public. Even if it be true that the number of immigrants returning to Great Britain is but small, it is well that we should meet the situation before it develops to such an extent as to lead to the return of large numbers, and the undoing of the work that a number of highly- paid Commonwealth officers have been endea vouring to carry out in Great Britain. The Deputy Leader of the Country party (Mr. Gregory) said that the debate had done some good in that it had brought out the fact that the Labour party were not opposed to immigration. I think the debate has also brought out another important fact, since the honorable member for Dampier, who has been the bridge-builder for the Government in this Parliament, said that henceforth he was going to do his utmost to bring about a dissolution. I hope that the Government have taken a note of that threat, and that the newspaper people, who have been pointing out lately the inconsistencies of the. Country party, will keep watch over the actions of its Deputy Leader. If they do, I think they will find that, in making this threat, he was after all indulging only in hot air.
There may be a few followers of the Labour party who are so short-sighted as to think that we do not need to increase the population ofAustralia by means of immigration, but they are in a hopeless minority. I believe it is the feeling of the Labour party that the Government should, by every means in its power, endeavour to secure an increased population for the country that it governs. I and other honorable members of our party, however, take the stand that before the Government seeks to encourage immigration,’ it should bring about such economic conditions as will lead to a natural increase in our population. Its first duty is to prevent the exploitation of the masses. It should try to remove the conditions that make it possible for us to have twenty-three Australian millionaires while hundreds of thousands of our people are compelled to liveunder economic conditions which lead to their practising the doctrine of Malthusianism.
– Who are doing that?
– If the honorable member would have me speak still more plainly, let me say that, because of our economic conditions, there are thousands of “pigeonpair” families. Before seeking to bring in large numbers of immigrants, the Government should do away with economic conditions which are driving many people in this country to practise, to a certain extent, race suicide.
– There is no necessity for anything of the kind.
– There are existing to-day, and have been existing for some time, conditions which compel many of the working classes to limit their families. The Government should remove the conditions which lead to that sort of thing. If they tried and failed - and this Government has not yet even tried to remove those conditions - I should be prepared to go further, and to endeavour to encourage a natural increase in our population by means of child endowments, so that people with families of three and over would not be pushed into the position of feeling it absolutely necessary to limit the natural increase. After those two things had been done, I would be prepared to agree that we should reach out overseas to try to bring a suitable class of immigrants to our shores.
Speaking generally, honorable members seem to be looking at this question from two different aspects. Some on the other side - and I am glad there have been exceptions) - seem to look at it from the aspect of bringing into this country numbers of immigrants for the purpose of flooding the labour market and injuriously affecting the conditions we enjoy, thus helping some of the main supporters of their own party. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), for instance, said that the mines were closed at Mount Morgan, Mount Lyell, and a number of other places. He did not put it in so many words, but he seemed to suggest, from the fact that those places were closed down at present, that by introducing immigrants those big companies would be able to find the necessary labour to carry on their, concerns. If that is the idea he has in mind, he must remember that the miners in the Old Country are not what they were some twenty years ago. To-day they are equally as militant as, if not more militant than, the miners here. He is making a mistake if he thinks that by bringing them here it would be possible to force the Australian miners to accept lower wages and worse conditions. If such athing were attempted he would find that it did not have the effect that he desires. The honorable member for “Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) also - and I quote these things to show the idea behind the minds of certain honorable members in regard to bringing immigrants to Australia - said that in South Australia therewas a shortage of labour, and that after the last harvest men who had been working on the harvest were offered positions at £4 per week and keep, but refused the work.
– I simply said what I offered myself, and what some others offered.
– The honorable member seemed to be trying to convey the impression that there is an abundance of employment offering in South Australia. If the honorable member can find jobs for men at that rate, not for a week, but with a fair chance of continuity of employment
– For farmers?
– Go into your own district and ask your own constituents. Do not try that bluff here.
– If the honorable member can find jobs for men at £4 per week and keep, which is equal to about 18s. per day-
– Isaid harvest wages.
– I am trying to deal with the impression that the honorable member sought to create. “ One swallow does not make a summer.” I will grant readily to the honorable member the fact that after harvest some men can be found who desire to get back to town, and will not stay in the country. The impression I want to combat is that at the present time there is no unemployment in South Australia, and that if jobs at £4 per week and keep are offered, men cannot be got to take them. The honorable member can get all the men he wants in South Australia at that rate if there is any chance of continuity of employment. Many married men would go from our towns for those wages.
– Talk sense! I am speaking of harvest rates.
– The Almighty has been so kind to others that he has not given the honorable member a monopoly of what he calls “ sense.”
It seems to me that part of this trouble, if it is a trouble, is blameable to the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook). Only yesterday, when he was asked a question on the subject - I admit that it was without notice - by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) he answered it in such a way as to leave the impression in my mind that there was a good deal of truth in the allegation that the vessel was going away with that large number of ex-immigrants on board.
– That was the impression which the Treasurer left on my mind, because he mentioned that he had granted £1,000 to the chaplain of a church organization in Sydney for the purpose of helping immigrants, and that he had been willing, as Treasurer, to make a grant of £5,000, if the New SouthWales Government would do the same, for the purpose of helping immigrants who happened to be stranded.
– To help this particular class of people who came out on their own account. We did not bring them here.
– The Treasurer is trying to draw a distinction between the men the Government bring out here and those who come out themselves. If people sufficiently independent to come here on their own account, paying their own passages, are in the position of needing such help as the right honorable gentleman has given or has offered to give, it seems to me to confirm the statement which was made in the press, and rather to show the necessity for the exercise of extreme caution and care in bringing people here.
– I showed the honorable member what we had done to try to stop them being stranded.
– I am glad the right honorable gentleman has given the House information to-day, because it has to a certain extent removed our fear that the Government were not watchful, and were going to allow this country to be flooded as the large employers of labour might wish. The Treasurer said that a man with two children came to him for work. I am glad the Treasurer was humane enough, with the responsibilities of the Commonwealth on his shoulders, to think of a man who needed work, but he had to send that man away to another State to get the employment he wanted. The Treasurer previously said that there is in this country room and work for tens of thousands of men, but when it came to the handling of one case he found that he could not place a man in Victoria.
– What nonsense! I did not try. I knew where I thought I could get him a job, and I went straight for it.
– It seems to me that the state of things in Victoria is not as good as the Treasurer would have us believe.
– Does the honorable member recollect that I quoted figures to show that Victoria has placed 1,690 men in employment since the middle of January of this year?
– I remember the Treasurer making that statement, and was glad about a week ago to read something similar in the newspapers. I do not desire to detract from the good work that Victoria has done, but some honorable members on the other side seem to want to propagate the idea that there is no unemployment in this country, and that, therefore, there is no need for us to be careful in bringing people from overseas. If we allow people to enter indiscriminately, we are likely to do an injury, not only to the people who are here, but also to those who come to us. In time, if that happens, it will reflect back on those who are overseas and who may desire to come here later.
– The debate, I think, has done a great deal of good ; and the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) will admit, I hope, that the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) did not launch the motion for the adjournment of the House in any bitter party spirit. The debate has cleared the atmosphere wonderfully, but it will be of little use unless the organization to promote immigration is going to be set in motion almost immediately.
– I have listened to the debate in the hope of getting a single proposition to help us.
– It seems to me that there is a lamentable lack of organization on the part of both the Federal and the State Governments in the distribution of these additions to our population ; and personally, I deplore that in a country like Australia there should be any talk about unemployment insurance, because it is a reflection upon our Parliaments, and I am prepared to accept my own share of the. responsibility. It is extraordinary that in a territory comprising about 3,000,000 square miles there should be any cry about unemployment. It is my firm conviction that if we had a really good Tariff for the protection of our industries, there would be plenty of employment. I should like to bring under the notice of the Treasurer a striking article, entitled “The Migration of the Races,” which appears in the last quarterly issue of the Round Table.
– I have road it, and consider it a most valuable article.
– It is. It touches many of the root causes of this trouble which we are now considering, and I should like to read a paragraph or two for the information of honorable members -
The British Empire itself comprises the best of the unpeopled parts of the earth, and yet the bulk of its white inhabitants are still concentrated in a couple of small islands in the North Sea. In Great Britain alone there are nearly 360 people to the square mile, while in Australia and Canada, though allowance must be made for large barren tracts, there are less than three. The problem is not, however, simply how to transport people from countries which have too many to those which have too few. For one thing, even under the most favorable circumstances, the latter can only absorb a certain number at a time, and the rate varies with their respective conditions, which themselves are constantly changing, nnd often already as complex as those of the Old World. There are, moreover, elements which cannot, from their nature, be absorbed at all. The qualities that immigrants are bringing to their adopted countries to-day are, indeed, of supreme importance, for their children will be the great nations of to-morrow; and it is as true of a people as of an individual that the child is father of the man. The future of the world itself largely depends upon these third class ocean passengers. To attempt to consider the emigration question in compartments would be useless, for it is bound up with cosmic problems whose roots intertwine far below the surface, and they affect every people.
The article goes on to deal with immigration as it has affected America, and points out that, notwithstanding, since 1917, restrictions, including a literary test, have been passed by the American Congress upon intending immigrants, of late years the wrong type of people have been flowing into that country. We want to be sure that we secure the introduction of a virile people into this young country, and we know that the most virile people in the world are those who come from British stock ; but in order to absorb thom satisfactorily we must so organize our land policy as to provide for more settlement, and we can best do that by cooperation between the Federal and Stato Governments. If we adopt such a scheme, there will be no need for full-page advertisements in the various journals of the Old Country, because Australia will be known for what it is - God’s own country- to quote the words of the late Mr. Richard Seddon in his references to New Zealand. The article from which I have quoted states that in Australia, between 1861 and 1918, our population increased to the extent of only 800,000 by immigration, as compared with an addition of over 3,000,000 people by natural increase. We are all agreed that the best immigrants are the Australian babies. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) stated that because of our difficult social conditions people with limited incomes are limiting their families, but I think it will be generally admitted that the working people in every part of the world have the largest families. If the Acting Prime Minister thinks that the present scheme of immigration is not sufficient to meet all requirements, I can assure him that any assistance we on this side of the House can give him to provide more employment for immigrants, especially after insuring employment for our own people, will be readily given. I think that a committee of experts should be appointed to go into this question and present a scheme for the approval of Parliament. In this way, it is likely wo shall be able to do something that will be of benefit to the country. This debate has done a great deal of good, but it will be of no use. unless, as a result of this discussion, we can agree upon some workable scheme to guard againstunemployment. In Germany, in pre-war times, if employment were lacking in one part of the Empire, it was found in another, and the Government assisted the workmen in transport and so forth. Germany was a thoroughly developed country, whereas Australia is undeveloped, and it is for us to make the most of our wonderful heritage.
Debate interrupted by standing order 119.
The following paper was presented: -
War Service Homes Act - .Land acquired under, at .Carnegie, Victoria.
– The reply is as follows: -
The Telephone Regulations provide that in certain circumstances telephone subscribers may arrange for trunk-line calls to take effect at a specified time. Any subscriber may, if he complies with the provisions of the regulations, take advantage of this arrangement. So far as is known, the arrangement lias not led to any monopoly of the SydneyMelbourne trunk line.
The New Hebrides: Dealings in Land - The Prime Minister.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) some facts relating to the conditions which, it is alleged, obtain in the New Hebrides. First, I propose to read a letter which was sent by the Foreign Missions Committee of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria to the secretary of the Trades Hall, Melbourne, on the 13th May last. The letter was as follows: -
I am directed by the Foreign Missions Committee of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria to bring before you the matter referred to in the attached extracts of a letter from the Rev. F. J. Paton, one of our missionaries in the New Hebrides. Mr. Paton has been on the islands for over twenty-five years, and is fully cognisant of the matters concerning which he writes. You will sec that they are such as call for energetic action in the interests of justice . and humanity.
The extracts referred to are thus introduced : -
We would call special attention to the letter by the Reverend H. J. Paton, which reveals a state of affairs calling for most energetic action lest our - native peoples in the New Hebrides be deprived of their land, which is their sole means of livelihood.
The following are the extracts: -
My French neighbour tells me that a surveyor is coming here. He has bought 60 hectares. Whether the natives sold 60 ‘hectares or not, he has bought the land from another white man, and he claims, and will get, 60 hectares. He has leased the entire island of Uripiv, with the exception of the few acres owned by the mission. As it has passed from one white man to another, he holds his claim cannot be disputed. He says the natives will only own their houses and gardens. This will be done throughout the group. That it is unjust goes for nothing. Any land sold by either British or French Government holds good as a title deed. That means the death-knell of the natives. Can you not put the whole church on to pray for British annexation? lt suits the French that no Land Court should meet. The longer it is delayed the better. Meantime, the French will carry on with a vigorous and high hand. I have seen their claim to Uripiv, which includes every acre except that owned by the mission. The claims, having been resold from one white man to another, will all be upheld. My neighbour feels that he is in the right with me, and the case is hopeless unless the islands are annexed very soon to Britain. The Frenchman asked me to bring my title deeds to the surveyor, who would then take 60 hectares all up the valley. I only said I would show my marks and consult the lawyer as to tlie rest. I told him it was a legal matter, the land belonged to the church, and that I would take no responsibility. This man can seize Uripiv any time he likes. And there is this_to be said for the French, that they have paid cash for preposterous claims, and the newcomers in good faith expect full value. The price of cotton sent them mad with the idea of big fortunes. In the event of the New Hebrides not being annexed by Britain, the French will bring in labour. It may be Tonquin Chinese; it may be Japanese; but it will be a large and virile mongrel population. In the end, Australia will pay the penalty. I am told that, while Noumea sent 8,000,000 francs worth of trade to France last year, New Hebrides sent nearly 20,000,000 francs worth. Much of that cotton was grown by Britishers, or bought by Britishers from the natives. Cotton will still pay well this year. Another thing, the price the French pay for property in the Kew Hebrides just now sounds very big, as the exchange makes their money only half its old value. But if the Land Court sits in ten years, as the French expect, then the chances -are that the exchange will be par, and so properties will have a double value in law. Every year the Land. Court does not sit helps the French. They have all our title deeds studied. They seem now to be making a move to claim all land that we do not claim, and, as you know, their title deeds will cover more hectares than the New Hebrides land covers. The Condominium says natives are to enjoy sufficient land for their sustenance. We interpret that as a fair living. The French interpret that as a few breadfruits round a village, their yam gardens, and none of their coconut plantations. That means no clothes, unless they work for French masters, and no redress - worse than former Russian serfdom. I reported the case of a woman illegally recruited, without her husband’s permission. A friendly Frenchman said, “ You will find the French Government will allow that.” The woman has not been returned. What is the use of a Condominium except to aid French aggression till such time as it is convenient for her to take the islands? Wc are in the position of dispossessed Koreans, with this exception, that the British here arc jointly responsible. And undoubtedly Australia will in the long run pay the penalty, for God watches. I do not think the French nation, with their decreasing population and increasing African interests, will, 100 years hence, own the islands; but if Australia does not act now, she will suffer then.
Mr. Paton is a prominent member of the Presbyterian Church, and he thus draws attention to the state of affairs in the Kev/ Hebrides. I rise for the purpose of asking the Acting Prime Minister whether he will have this matter inquired into, and, if the evils suggested exist, make representations with a view to having them removed.
.- I should like to add a few words to what has been said by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan). I visited the islands when we were removing the last remnant of slavery in Australia, and I found that I had no need to criticise, though that was the intention with which I went there. I found that everything possible was being done to place the kanakas back in their old homes by Burns, Philp, and Company, and I did not see one single instance to which I could take exception. However, it seems to me that the Commonwealth Government are faced with a great difficulty. My experience of the traders led me to believe that they did not like the Presbyterian missionaries, but preferred those representing the French and Anglican churches. It has to be said, however, to the honour of the Presbyterian Church, that it gave their missionaries a good chance. On the average, the best paid men return the best work, and the result of a policy of this kind, under the Presbyterian organization, is that nearly the whole of the islands are under the control of the Presbyterian missionaries. The Presbyterian church prepares beforehand, for a missionary, a good house, with water and sanitary arrangements all complete. Speaking from memory, I believe the Presbyterian missionary is paid about £200 per year, with an allowance for every child. Every third summer he is given six months’ holiday in order that he may visit the mainland of Australia, and every seventh summer he is provided with a second-class saloon passage to any part of Europe or North America, from where the original missionary, who was massacred, came. It is interesting to compare this treatment with that given to the French missionaries. Knowing how patriotic Frenchmen are, I asked one French priest when he was going to visit his beloved France, and I shall never forget his answer, “ Moi, jamais! Je reste idi jusqu’ a la mort” (I stay here until I die). That man’s income was only £40 a year. In the case of the Anglican church I found there were missionaries who had had to pay a bonus in order to get their positions. The settlers there do not particularly want to come under the Australian flag; they seem to wish to remain under the British flag, for which I do not blame them, if they think they will benefit thereby. The traders I met did not care for the Presbyterian Mission; but honorable members must determine for themselves whether it was because the missionaries are fighting for the cause of humanity.
– Traders and missionaries quarrel the world over.
– Yes ; but the other missioners there do not seem to be objected to. I lifted my hat to every flag I saw, because every European nation thus represented will be with us if the hour ever comes when the East is set against the West. The German flag was there then, and the French, the British, and the good Australian flag. I hope that an amicable arrangement may be come to between Great Britain and
France in regard to the New Hebrides. The last war has removed many misunderstandings between the two peoples, and I trust that the lies which used to be in circulation about the French will never be repeated. With a common-sense man at the head of the British office, instead of some of the blatant fools who have been there in the past, much could be done. I think that an exchange of territory might be effected, France concentrating her colonizing energy upon Africa. As a member never will vote or voice of mine be used to cause ill-will between these two great nations, which are now more than brothers. Australia has a vast territory, of which only the fringe is populated, and which it will take, not 100. but 1,000 years to develop. The future of the New Hebrides, too, is a great one. But the war has made the nations and the peoples of the world nervy, and care and consideration will be necessary to prevent ill-feeling. I noticed that the French settlers in the New Hebrides generally had gardens, and grew their own vegetables, and that the English and Australian settlers, for the most part, seemed too busy seeking for dollars to worry about the appearance of their surroundings. I had over 100 landings at different places, and was always given a good welcome, and I found that the thirteen Presbyterian parsons of whom I had charge were a splendid lot of fellows. The Acting Prime Minister has my fullest sympathy, and I hope that by no word or action will the slightest friction be caused in this matter between Great Britain and France.
Mr. FENTON (Maribyrnong) [4.1”.- It is stated in what seems an inspired cablegram, in to-day’s press that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), who it was understood would be back in Australia by October, when Parliament would probably take up business again after a short recess, may extend his stay in the Old Country. Can the Acting Prime Minister give us any information on the subject, either now or when we meet again next week ?
[4-21. - I know nothing about the matter referred to by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton). Many newspaper paragraphs are inspired, by various persons with various motives; but I have received no communication from the Prime Minister on this subject.
The New Hebrides question is a very vexed and a very old one. One of the last despatches to the British Government that I indited, as Prime Minister, seven years ago, related to it; but it is with us yet, and will be with us for quite a little while longer. The Condominium has not worked well, yet what to put in its place is a problem.
– Are the United States of America in the Condominium?
– No; only Great Britain and France; the chairman being a Spanish gentleman. Correspondence on the subject has been proceeding for the last ten years to my knowledge. I am informed that, just before leaving for England, the Prime Minister ( Mr. Hughes) received a large deputation from the Presbyterian Church regarding the New Hebrides, and promised to look into their complaints when in London. That, however, is hearsay; I have not read the report of the meeting. I think it is rather a pity that these important questions should be raised without some intimation to the Government beforehand that it is the intention of honorable members to refer to them. This matter is brought before the House now, and I know nothing whatever about it that is fresh. I am not, therefore, iri a position to give a satisfactory answer. All I can say is that I hope that no friction will occur, and that we shall do our best to prevent anything of the kind.
– How about cabling to tho Prime Minister to remind him of the deputation?
– I take it that those who formed the deputation are quite content to leave matters with the Prime Minister. They have since made no communication of any kind to me. Evidently they have thought fit to go to the Trades Hall with the matter, and that is all I know about it. There the matter must rest, so far as I am concerned, for the present.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.0 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 June 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210617_reps_8_95/>.