8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– There is an impression abroad that the compulsory military training of boys will be abandoned for this year. Can the. Assistant Minister for Defence make a statement to the House on the subject before the session closes ?
– I may be able to give the honorable member an answer later, but I cannot do so now.
– I have received from the Northern Territory a telegram in which it is stated that no reply has been obtained from the Primer Minister to a telegram of the 8th inst. asking the Government to provide work for the unemployed at Darwin. The Council desires me to ascertain what steps have been taken to provide employment. Can the Minister for Works and Railways say what has been done in the matter?
– The matter was mentioned to me this morning by my colleague, the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton), and I am inquiring to ascertain if there is any possibility of doing anything.
New South Wales Adjustment Board - Land and Material - Arrearsof Rents - Purchase of Surplus Houses
– Can the Assistant Minister for Repatriation inform the House of the composition and personnel of the New South Wales Adjustment Board connected with the War Service Homes Commission?
– The Board will consist of an independent Chairman, of the Deputy Commissioner for the State (who will be responsible for his administration, and will represent the Government), and a soldier representative, who will bo selected from a panel ofthree to be chosen from the Returned Sailors and Soldiers organization. As to the. personnel of the Board, Mr. John Stinson, of Sydney, who has already rendered the country magnificent service in connexion with War Service homes, has consented to act as Chairman without remuneration. The Deputy Commissioner is the second member of the Board, and I am waiting for the selection of the soldier representative. When he has been chosen, the Board will immediately function.
– The Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page), speaking in Sydney, said that there is a likelihood of thousands of War Service homes somewhere becoming empty; that millions of bricks acquired by the War Service Homes Commission are stacked somewhere, and that no land is available for soldiers. I ask the Assistant Minister for Repatriation where these conditions apply ? They certainly do not apply in South Australia, nor in Southern Victoria.
– As to South Australia, I have not had one recent complaint in respect of War Service homes. The statement to which the honorable member has drawn attention is too wide and general to permit of a definite and specific reply. Certainly I do not know where millions of bricks are stacked, nor of any other very large accumulation of material.
– Has the attention of the Minister controlling War Service Homes activities been drawn to a state ment published in the Melbourne press to the effect that 17 per cent.-
– Order! This is the second occasion to-day on which questions have been asked on the basis of newspaper paragraphs: Latterly I have been obliged almost daily to call the attention of honorable members to the irregularity of this practice, and I had hoped that it would not” be continued. It is a well-known parliamentary rule that no questions may be based on newspaper statements unless honorable members concerned are prepared to take responsibility for the accuracy of the press statements.
– Then I desire to say, sir, that I have been informed- on very good authority that 17 per cent, of the soldiers who have obtained homes in Victoria through the War Service Homes Commission are in arrears in respect of rent - a state of affairs which has been attributed to lack of employment. Iwish to know whether there is any truth in the statement, and if such a condition existsalso in Queensland.
– First, I may say that that state of affairs does not exist anywhero. Not 17 per cent, of the soldiers who have been furnished with homes by the Commission are in arrears. Not 2 per cent, of payments are in arrears; but about 17 per cent. of temporary tenants of houses, who are residing therein pending the allotment of the premises, are in arrears in respect of their rents. . I emphasize that the statement does not apply to soldiers who have acquired homes under the purchase system.
– Can the Assistant Minister for Repatriation inform the House whether it is the intention of his Department to purchase homes for soldiers in districts where there are surplus houses? So far, no purchases have been made, but there are places where it would be bringing coals to Newcastle to build houses for soldiers, there being already surplus houses available.
– The officers of the Commission have been instructed that where there are surplus houses, and a good and sufficient asset can be obtained by purchasing them, they are to be bought, instead of the number of houses in the district being added to. The Government is setting aside a sum for the acquisition of approved houses which it would be more advantageous to buy than to erect other buildings.
Mr.FENTON. - Through you, Mr. Speaker, I ask the’ honorable member for Flinders if it is correct, as I have seen reported, that he stated in his speech here the other day that he believed that Germany would almost immediately come into the League of Nations? I wish to know what the impression at the Geneva Conference was.
– I was asked what was the position regarding . Germany and Russia, and I said that I anticipated that Germany would, in the near future - I do not know that I used the word “ immediately” - come into the League, but that I could say nothing about Russia. It was generally expected that there would be an application from Germany this year, but no application was made.
– It is stated that the Australia is to be put on the reserve list, and her men discharged. Will the Minister for the Navy make a statement on the matter ?
– The Australia will be put into reserve, and her crew transferred to other ships with the exception of time-expired men, who, under the terms of their contract, will be returned to the Old-Country.
Country Telephones: Delayed Delivery of Letter
– In view of the fact that letters are still coming to hand from departmental officers intimating that work cannot be proceeded with in relation to the construction of country telephones owing to lack of material, in contrast with which intimation the people concerned in various country districts state that there is no lack of material, will the Postmaster-General take steps to ascertain upon what information his Department bases the contents of its letters ? The public generally desire to know whether there is any real scarcity of ma- terial.
– I directed a letter to be sent to the honorable member only yesterday, following up his previous reference to the same subject in this Chamber. The position is that there is no material under order, and that the Department has no funds with which to order more.
– Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been drawn to a paragraph published in the Age having to do with a letter stated to have been posted at St. Helens, in the Horsham district, on the 8th August last, and which did not reach its destination, at North Carlton, until 16th November? My reason for asking the question is that I have received an anonymous sheet of paper with the extract attached. The paragraph states -
In a case which has ‘been brought under notice by a correspondent, over three months elapsed between the time the letter was delivered at a Victorian country town and the date of its receipt by the person to whom it was addressed. What makes the matter all the more extraordinary is that the name and address on the letter are so plainly written that a child could read them. The letter was posted at St. Helens, in the Horsham district, on 8th August last, and it did not reach its destination at North Carlton until 16th inst. The stamp which had been originally attached to the letter had apparently been removed, and it boro a penny perforated stamp, with the cancellation mark of Federal Parliament House, dated 16th November, 1921. The letter evidently reached the House, under the impression of the postal employee that it was meant for a member of Parliament of the same surname, but the question arises, who took the trouble, after over three months’ delay, to affix an official stamp to the letter, and despatch it on its belated journey.
The obvious inference is that I happen to be the Federal member whose surname is alleged to be identical with that of the individual to whom the letter was addressed.
– I rather think that the confusion may have to do with myself and a member of the State Legislature, whose name is similar to mine.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral seek information from the Age regarding the individual concerned, and investigate the whole matter of the delay in the transmission of the letter ?
– I am afraid that the task would be endless if I were to set out upon a search for information from the source indicated, and endeavoured ‘to follow it up.
– I desire to know whether the regulations issued by the Repatriation Board are first submitted for the approval of the Minister for Repatriation, or whether the Board promulgates those regulations upon its own responsibility.
– Regulations are submitted to the responsible Minister for his approval before they become accepted orders. In connexion with the reorganization which has been recently undertaken, the whole of the orders and rulings are being reviewed; many of these will not find a place among the new orders.
– Is the Assistant Minister aware that a regulation has been issued debarring widows of soldiers who have children under the age of ten years from receiving annual allowances in respect of those dependants? I may state I have received a communication from the Repatriation Board, in reply to representations made on behalf of the widow of a soldier who had been refused an allowance for her children. This letter intimates that, owing to the children being under ten, and in view of existing regulations, no allowance can be granted.
– The matter is not one which comes within the purview of the Department for which I am responsible. But I know of no regulation which would preclude the payment of allowances to widows having children up to the age of sixteen years. If the honorable member will furnish me with all the details in his possession I shall have full inquiries made.
Sydney General Post Office Extensions: North-South Railway
– Has the Minister for Works and Railways received a report from the Public Works Committee concerning the proposed extension of the Sydney General Post Office? And’ is there any reason for the long delay in respect of the presentation of that report to Parliament? ‘
– The report of the Committee has not yet come-to hand. I would remind the honorable member’ that such reports are not presented initially to my Department, but are laid upon the table of Parliament.
– Can the Minister indicate the cause of the delay in the presentation of the report?
– I shall place the honorable member’s inquiry before the Chairman of the Public: Works Committee.
– When may honorable members expect to have an opportunity to peruse the report of the subcommittee of the Public Works Committee upon the North-South Railway ? I understand that an investigation of the proposed route has been very recently undertaken. Certain members of the Committee have traversed Australia from south to north and back, via Queensland.
– This matter also- is still the subject of inquiry by tha Public Works Committee, and no report has yet been presented to Parliament; Aa a matter of fact, the special sub-committee has only just returned, and investigations have not yet been completed. Three members undertook an. extensive tour, and I understand that the taking of evidence has not been completed. ,
Proposed Commonwealth Assistance
– In the absence of the Prime Minister I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Government; and, in order to set out the positionfully, I ask if I may be permitted to make a somewhat extended reference. My question relates to the. appalling condition of affairs in Russia. A gentleman whohas just returned front that countryhas made representations to the Trades Hall Council, and the council authorities, andalso Mr. Joe Hannan, have written to me stating that millions of women and children are reduced to a state of semi-starvation, due to the fact that in that part- of the world there have been only 2.13 points of rain during the last twelve months, and all the crops nave failed. Without immediate assistance there is -just the possibility, not. only of millions ofpeople losing their lives, but of a pestilence spreading throughout. Europe. The question I have to ask is, whether the Government will take action with a view to responding to the worldwide appeal: now being made on behalf of the Russian people, by putting into commission one or two steamers for the immediate conveyance of wheat and other foodstuffs to be delivered to the Russian Government for distribution amongst the people? Further, will the Prime Minister make an appeal to the State Governments, the Lord Mayors of the six capital cities, local governingbodies, and all sections of the people to co-operate in the movement?
– Only yesterday, the Prime. Minister replied to a similar question’.
– The Prime Minister’s reply had reference to meat now stored in London.
– I mean that the Prime Minister replied to a. question on this subject, and referred to the appalling conditions in Russia as revealed in Sir Philip Gibbs’ letters. The PrimeMinister then mentioned the difficultythere was in. securing that any assistance sent would reach the persons who needed it.
– The gentleman to whom I referred as having just returned from Russia says that he is sure that any assistance sent will reach the people through the Russian Government.
– I shall lay the. representations of the honorable member before the Prime Minister immediately.
Unsatisfactory Meat Supplies
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice - ‘
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Director of Lands
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to remove the Commonwealth Artificial Limb Factory to any of the more accessible sites suggested by the Limbless Soldiers Association of Victoria ?
– Numerous sites are being considered, inclusive of those submitted for consideration by the Limbless and Maimed Soldiers Association.
Closing during Christmas and New Year Holidays - Building of 12,500- ton Merchant Ships.
asked the Minister in charge of Shipbuilding, upon notice -
– The practice followed by the Ship Construction Branch in the past has been to close down the works between Christinas and New Year, at the request of the employees. If the employees at Cockatoo Island desire that the same arrangements shall be made there this year, this will be done; but if, on the contrary, they prefer to continue working, the Department will be prepared to meet their wishes in this respect. The only holidays to be paid for will be Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day.
asked the Minister in charge of Shipbuilding, upon notice -
In view of the fact that all matters in connexion with piece-work rates, &c, for the building of the 12,500-ton merchant ships at
Cockatoo Dockyard have been finalized, will the Minister issue instructions for an immediate start to be made on the laying of the keels of these vessels, so as to obviate the dismissal of large numbers of workmen just prior to Christmas?
– The necessary instructions were issued some time ago, and everything possible is being done to get the work in full swing. The Government are most anxious to avoid dismissing any of their employees just prior to Christmas, or, indeed, at any other time.
Instructions for the Public.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice-
Will he have the booklet re bubonic plague, by Professor Anderson Stuart, M.D., LL.D., which was published by permission of Sir William Lyne in 1900, brought up to date, or, failing that, will the Minister publish and circulate simple instructions for the public to follow?
– The Conference of Commonwealth and State Health authorities, which met in Sydney last week for consideration of the plague situation, has made several recommendations relative to the education of the public with reference to plague, and has formulated draft regulations for adoption by State Governments, indicating measures which should be taken by all sections of the public to prevent extension of the disease. Consideration will be given to the suggestion when the report of the Conference is being dealt with.
– On 9th November, the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked the following question : -
In view of the serious news which has been cabled in regard to wholesale ptomaine poisoning in Great Britain through the eating of tinned beef, will the Minister for Trade and Customs ascertain where the beef came from, so that if Australia is innocent it will not be unjustly blamed?
I am now able to inform the honorable member that the necessary inquiry has been made by cable, and the medical officer at Aberdeen reports that the tinned meat in question was not of Australian origin.
– On 15th November, the honorable member forCowper (Dr. Earle Page) asked the following question : -
What was the amount paid during the last financial year by each Department in respect of -
The information has already been supplied in respect of all Departments except the Defence and Navy. The particulars in regard to the Defence and Navy Departments are -
The following papers were presented : -
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1921 -
No. 21 - Native Administration.
No. 22 - Stamp Duties.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 22nd November, vide page 13056) :
.- In the vote for the Prime Minister’s Department there is an item of £34,000 for Australia House, and we ought to know exactly how far this expenditure is to be permitted to go on. Last year we spent £55,000 in the same direction out of loan moneys, and now we are asked for this further vote. If we vote this £34,000, the total expenditure on Australia House will have amounted to over £1,000,000, a large sum in itself, representing a yearly interest of about £50,000.We are also asked to vote an extra clear £40,000 for expenses entailed in administering the London offices, and the whole sum now is little short of £100,000 a year, which, in my opinion, is altogether too much. So far as I understood the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) last night, he explained that this £34,000 practically represented commitments, and I should like the position explained, because, if the commitments are already made, it is hardly possible to move any reduction. Does this vote absolutely complete the whole of the’ payments necessary for finishing Australia House, or shall we have to vote further sums next year? In any case, the Committee might well consider on the general Estimates .the question of reducing very considerably the vote for ordinary working expenses. I also think that honorable members, when considering such a proposal as the development of Canberra, should bear in mind the growth of expenditure upon a place like Australia House, and the absolute failure of that institution to pay its way. Let that be a warning to us.
– The amount provided in this item is for the completion of the original expenditure upon the erection of Australia House. That expenditure originated before the war.
– Is this the final payment?
-I understand that it represents a final adjustment of outstanding accounts, including architects’ fees, and amounts in dispute between the contractor and the High Commissioner.
.- I do not think the Minister heard the question asked by the honorable member for Moreton (My. Wienholt) regarding the enormous expenditure that has been incurred on Australia House. Year after year the Estimates provide for the expenditure of large suras in connexion with the erection of Australia House, and, if the amount provided in this schedule is agreed to, the total will be a little over £1,000,000. We are not allowed, on these Estimates, to discuss the administration of the High Commissioner’s Office, but, having regard to reports that have been, presented, particularly the report by General Ramaciotti, showing an enormous capital expenditure, a low return from rents, high rates and maintenance, and on top of that, a heavy interest bill, honorable members will realize what a big tax this establishment is upon the Australian people. We are justified in asking for an explanation as to whether this is the final expenditure in connexion with the erection of the building, or whether the Government are likely to’ propose next year further expenditure of the kind. This expenditure should not continue, and, above all things, Parliament should assert itself, and declare that no expenditure shall be incurred by the Government without first obtaining parliamentary approval. I received to-day a letter from the Postmaster-General’s Department in regard to a request for the erection of a small post-office. That work has been promised for over two years, the conditions at the present time are abominable, but the Minister has refused to instruct that the building be proceeded with until the Estimates for Additions, New Works, and Buildings are approved by Parliament. If that policy is pursued in connexion with a small post-office, surely Parliament should be consulted before enormous expenditure like that on Australia House is incurred. If we cannot get an assurance from the Minister that’ this is the final expenditure upon construction at Australia House, and that the Government do not propose to proceed with further works there, I shall move that the item be reduced, regardless of whether or not it represents commitments.
.- For over forty years I have watched’ the actions of Agents-General and High Item.missioners, and I would be’ surprised if any honorable member could lull inn that Australia has benefited to the amount of even £1,000 during, the whole time that; it has been thus represented in London? For months I have had upon the businesspaper notice of a motion proposing that at the end of Mr. Fisher’s term as High Commissioner the office should . be abolished and Australia House sold. I have asked business men returning from England if they could, toll me of any benefit they had ever derived from the offices, of the Agents-General or the High Commissioner, and I have not met one who has admitted having derived the slightest advantage. On the contrary, all spoke in disparaging terms of the methods in which business is carried on in those offices. My own observations during a residence of four and a half years in London convinced me that the only serious duty which the Agents-General perform is to act as sponsors for the women folk ofrich Australians visiting England, and desiring to pay their loyal reapects to the Kingand Queen. Even when I lived in London it was remarked that wealthy Australians were too fond of leaving Australia, and residing and spending their . money at the seat of the Empire. . I do not altogether object to that, provided we specially tax such people as absentees. As a result of my personal observation, I do not think Agents-General are worth anything.
– We consider that the Agent-General for Tasmania is worth something.
– I am not speaking personally against any of the gentlemen who fill these positions. I shall -relate to the Committee . one instance which illustrates the duties . performed by the AgentsGeneral.
– The honorable member will not he in order in doing so. This Bill does not deal with administration ; it merely provides a loan appropriation for buildings.
-I intended to use the incident in support of my argument against the improper spending of the people’s money. I understand that the amount provided in this schedule is for the extension of Australia House. As’ the buildings have already cost considerably over £1,000,000, they are surely large enough. ‘
Mr.Groom. - This item is to complete the payments for work already done; it is not to extend the buildings.
– I suppose if these bills are not paid Australia will he regarded as a defaulter. I do not wish that stigma tobe attached to the fair name of the Commonwealth, hut although I am not very enamoured of the Views of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory),I will support him if he moves fora reduction of this vote, because that will be action on right lines. Month after month I have desired an opportunity to get an expression of opinion from the House on the question of abolishing the High Commissioner’s office entirely. What would I put in itsplace? The building in the Strandis certainly very fine. It blocks a view of another fine building, the Waldorf Hotel, and . also the view of a good theatre. I think we ought to have some common-sense way of managing our business. Let us send a man to London on a fair salary and give him a commission on all Australian produce he sells. Instead ‘of having Agents-General and a- High Commissioner, let us . have general agents who will carry the name of Australia into every part of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. . The amount of ignorance concerning Australian affairs in ‘ many parts . of the British Isles is astonishing. I would like to know what “business is done in this palatial building, which is fit to he occupied by an Emperor. Ichallenge any honorable member to say that this country has ‘benefited to the extent . of £1,000 by this expenditure. When every one is preaching economy, surely we can practise it by abolishing the position of High Commissioner lock, stock, and barrel. I have not a word to say against Sir Joseph ‘Cook, the new HighCommissioner. If any member of this House can fill the position worthily, cribb’d,cabin’d; and confin’d by the instructions he has to observe, it is he. Therefore, this is not a personal matter with me. It is a question for the people of Australia, who pay every penny of this expenditure,, but . have no voice in its distribution. I venture to. say that if the Government submitted to the people at . a general election the question as to whether they would abolish or retain the position of High Commissioner, it would be found that this abomination - Australia House - would be swept away.
.- The appropriation this year is a final payment for work carried out prior tothe financial year.No provision is made for further expenditure this year on building construction in connexion with the London offices.
.- I do not suppose that . Parliament would have initiated the building of Australia House if it had known what its cost’ was going to be. Ido not think that Australia has benefited very much by havinga High Commissioner in London. ‘ I have nothing ‘to say against Sir Joseph -Cook, who may be the “best man for the position, hut Ithink that it is about time the Government made some effort to find some one outside Parliament - to represent the Commonwealth. Otherwise this office will come to be looked upon as a political gift. When America is looking for some one to fill an important position abroad it does not .confine its choice, but secures the best man available, and one who is likely to reflect some credit on the country. I do not say that Sir Joseph Cook will not reflect credit on Australia, but it will be a bad thing for Australia’ if the Government, in making future appointments of this sort, do not look beyond those in the Ministry.
The Committee should have some information as to how the money is to be spent on immigration. I know that the Government have instituted a rather elaborate scheme, but I want to know bow far they have gone in co-operation with, the States, and whether this is the best time to spend money in this direction. No one is more anxious that I am to bring immigrants to Australia ; but, at the same time, I want to know whether we are in a position to receive them as they ought to be received. To place-money on the Estimates and spend it aimlessly is useless. The Government should be in a position to place these people on the land, or put them somewhere where they can gain experience which, will ultimately fit them to launch out for themselves.
– Under the scheme now in operation, the only immigrants accepted are those who have been nominated by persons in Australia or just the particular number or class that each State says it can absorb.
– That is the information I wish to obtain. Unless the money is spent in that way I am afraid it will be wasted.
.- The two previous speakers have denounced Australia House, and while I am not in favour of any wasteful expenditure on the building, I certainly think that it is a very valuable asset to the Commonwealth, well worth the money spent on it. It was of great use to the soldiers during the war, and, while I cannot prove to the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) that it has brought £1,000 to Australia in any deal, I have not the slightest doubt that the advertisement it has given to this country has brought many thousand pounds out here. This country, more than any’ other place, needs advertisement, and Australia House stands there in London a lasting advertisement of the very best sort for Australia. It attracts the attention of all visitors to London. Every one who sees it inquires what it is. Our trouble in London is to a great extent the competition proceeding between the representatives of the various States. Australia House, on the other hand, represents Australia ‘as a whole, lt is surprising how many people there are in Great Britain who know only one Australian State, and are quite ignorant of the fact that that State is not the whole of the Commonwealth. This lack of vision on their part is due to the fact that the Agent-General of a State gives them only a limited idea of this magnificent continent of ours. It would be a very good idea if all the States were to abolish their separate representation and work together through Australia House, vas representatives, not of individual States, but of the Commonwealth. Such an arrangement would certainly do away with the present competition between the Agents-General, which gives to the British people such limited visions of Australia.
In regard to immigration, it is undoubtedly necessary that honorable members should know where the immigrants, who are to be assisted by the expenditure -set out in the schedule, are to be placed. I think the Government ought to apply for information, to the various organizations throughout the Commonwealth, such as the Graziers’ Association, the Farmers’ and Settlers’ Association, the -Fruit-growers’ Association, the- Primary Producers’ Union, and all such bodies whose individual members employ labour. In every case I think the Government would find that such organizations were prepared to assist in a scheme for the absorption of a certain number of men at the ruling rate’s o£ wages. It is within my own knowledge that fruit-growers in many districts at the present time are short of labour. They are offering the ruling rates, but in numerous cases cannot get men. These associations are prepared ito advise the Ge,vernment as to how many men of the right type can be absorbed in their particular districts. If the Government, were to follow up . this suggestion and communicate -with organizations representing different interests throughout Australia they would find that we could absorb hundreds of thousands of men, as well as many domestic helpers, without putting ‘any one’ out of work, andso add greatly to the comfort . of . the people and the production of Australia.
.- The only, item that I desire to discuss is that relating to immigration, in respect to which there is a proposed vote of £162,000 to provide for the passage money of assisted immigrants. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) pointed out last . night that. £12 is advanced by way of passage money to’ every immigrant, and that an additional £16 is loaned to him if he requires it. The position I. take up is that, at this juncture, we are not justified in encouraging immigration in view of the fact that we have thousands of unemployed.
– It depends on the class of immigrants that are brought out.
Mr.CHARLTON. - Only last week there was presented to us by the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia a statement showing that 10,000 of their members in the different States were out of work, and unable to get employment.
– Three thousand.
– I read in a New South Wales newspaper that the number was 10,000.
– Three thousand for . all the States, and- of that number 970 are resident in New South Wales.
– Even assuming that the number is only 3,000, will any one’ say that they should he unemployed?
– I think there are far more than 3,000 returned soldiers out of. work.
– So do I, but accepting the statement as correct, we know that, apart from those returned men, there are thousands of unemployed. We have evidence every dayof that fact, and present’ appoarances suggest that instead of any reduction in the ranks of the unemployed, their numbers are likely tobe considerably augmented. There is much unemployment ‘ in connexion ‘ with many of our industries. . Take, for instance, the steel and iron industry, which is one of the most important in the Commonwealth. Orders for steel and iron are regularly being placed abroad, where supplies can be obtained below the cost of production here. Every such order placed abroadmeans less employmentfor our own people, and I am told that . if something is not done in the very near future to help this industry its outlook will be very poor. The iron and steel industry represents the very life blood of the country. It gives direct employment to large numbers of men at both Lithgow and Newcastle, and indirect employment to thousands of others.
– It provides employment for hundreds of men in South Australia. -
– Yes, and also keeps two coal mines going in New South Wales. It finds employment for thousands of men’ who have to handle its output in . the. different States, but there is evidence ‘ that, in common ‘ with many other industries, it is going to suffer, iff the near future.. . In view of thesefacts we are not’ justified in bringing men into this country.
– In any ease, the provision for immigration, should not come out of loan -account.
– I am inclined to think that the honorable member is right. In Australia to-day we are just feeling the after-effects of the war, which have long since made themselves manifest in’ other parts of the world.- Great Britain to-day has many thousands of unemployed. The British’ Government are desirous . of providing -for theiremigation, hut the workers and their representatives there urge that it is useless to send men to other lands where there is already much unemployment. They are consequently asking the Government to support them. That is a right position to take up. . We are not justified in bringing men here unless we have a well-organized scheme to provide for their absorption. We cannot hope to find employment for immigrants who are ‘brought here promiscuously. .
– Could not employment be found for many of them in the coal mining industry?
– Many coal miners are out of work.
– Is it not a fact that quite a number of coal miners are earning up to £50 a. fortnight?
-No.I am surprised that the honorable member should be . prepared to. accept statements of that kind which appear in the press.
At the Premiers’ Conference, held a fortnight ago, this question was discussed, and according to the official report -
It was agreed that the States and Common- , wealth co-operate, on conditions approved by both, with a view to providing: -
For employment being found for the immigrant in the preparation of land for settlement; and
for subsequently affording him an opportunity of settlingupon such land; the States to submit concrete schemes, the Commonwealth to borrow the necessary money if such schemes are accepted.
That is a proposal for a scheme to deal effectively with immigration, but until such a scheme is prepared we shall not he justified in assisting immigrants to Aus tr alia.
– The agricultural areas of this State alone could absorb a very large number.
– The people who are coming out here are being brought out at the instance of the States, and only according to the number for whom the States can guarantee employment.
– Unfortunately, in guaranteeing work for these assisted immigrants, they are preventing men already here from getting employment. If our own people were fully employed we might bring more people into the country.
– The basic wage is keeping lots of men out of a job.
– All sorts of excuses are offered. for the unemployment that prevails; but the basic wage is not responsible for it. It is an aftermath of the war. The effects of the war have not’ been felt here as soon as in other parts of the world, and that is why I say it is quite possible that unemployment in the near future may become still more acute.
– Many employers of labour in New South Wales would give a man a start at £3 per week, but they cannot afford to pay him £4 per week.
– There are many employers, not only in New South “Wales, but elsewhere, who would give a man a job if he . was prepared to work for his “tucker.”
– I do not think the honorable member ought to say that. There may he a few such men, but that sort of thing is not general.
– During the war period, when the cost of living was going up rapidly, there was no corresponding increase in the wages of “ the workers. They were always well behind the cost of living. Now that the supply of labour is greater than the demand, there are people who want the workers to accept much less than a living wage. That is not a fair position to take up. . Surely we should do everything possible to provide for the happiness of the people. We cannot hope, to have a happy, contented, and . prosperous people unless there is ample employment.
– Does not the honorable member know that in many country districts employment is offering at the ruling rates of wages, but- that the necessary labour is not forthcoming?
– Then it seems to me that there should be some proper agency to bring the men who are unemployed into touch with those who have work to offer.
– Men will not go to the country.
– If in the capitals and large country towns there were agencies where men out of work could ascertain where employment was to be got at the ruling rate of wages, and for a definite time, there would be no difficulty. At the present time there is no proper system, and men whom I have known have gone from the Newcastle district, and many h ave gone from Sydney and other cities, to where they were told there was work, but have been unable to find anything to do, and have had to get back as best they could to the place from which they started. No one denies the need for population; but we should not attempt to populate the country at the expense of the unemployed. When we have found employment for our own people, and it is possible to absorb more, there will be no difficulties in the way of immigration. We do not wish to keep the continent unpopulated if its population can be increased in the interests of all concerned. I wander why the State Parliaments have not done something to make land available to immigrants coming here in search of it. In every State there are large areas which are not being put to the best use. Land is often- used for grazing which could more profitably be cultivated. Why is not legislation passed to make this land available to those whom it is sought to attract to Australia ? Often it is the persons who are asking for immigrants who are locking up the best lands of the country. Lora Northcliffe, it appeared to me, wishes to rule the world by means of a powerful press ; but, lie said, after his tour through this country, that there should be a proper system for absorbing immigrants, and that employment should be found for those who were brought here. He said, and I agree with him, that the man who* returns dissatisfied to England is the worst advertisement that the country can have.
– Is it a fact that some men have gone back?
– Men have gone back because they could not get employment here. Although persons in Australia nominate immigrants, they have not always employment for those immigrants to come to.* In many cases persons in Australia whose friends on the other side of the world are in a bad way, nominate them as assisted immigrants, hoping that when they get here they may find employment. I do not suppose that in any districts there is more nomination of immigrants -than in ‘the mining districts; but most of the immigrants are brought out on chance. Those who nominate them are willing to assist them to the extent of £20 or £30, and hope that they may get work when they arrive; but in many cases there is no employment for them. Just now the mining industry is in a bad way, and many of those connected with it can hardly eke out a living. Then, if we do not get -the legislation that I have spoken about to prevent dumping, -what will happen to the steel works at Newcastle and Lithgow? The present position of Australia is -anything but encouraging, and our first duty is to provide for our own people. If, having done that, we can provide for others, we are justified in bringing them here; but we are not justified in bringing them here until we have taken the steps outlined in the resolution of the Premiers. There must be a proper scheme drawn up, land must be surveyed and made available, and suitable persons must be brought out. It is useless to ‘ bring out to settle on the land men who are not qualified for rural employments. Very many of those who go on to the land fail for lack of experience.
As a general thing, experience is necessary to success, though some men sue:ceed through sheer pluck.
– But they must have money.
– Yes. A man, who cannot see a couple of years ahead of him has not much chance on the land, and even such a man, should a drought come in those two years, will be in a bad way. Holding these views, I cannot permit to pass unchallenged the vote for immigration, and I therefore move -
That the item “Immigration - Passage money of assisted immigrants, £162,000,” be left out.
.- Had it not been explained that the country is committed to the maintenance of London offices, I would have voted against the continuance of what, so far as I have been able to gather, is unprofitable expenditure.
– An amendment having been moved, the honorable member must confine himself to it.
– I presume that I shall have an opportunity of speaking about the London offices when the amendment has been disposed of. I am entirely in favour* of assisted immigration, though I agree with much that the Deputy Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Charlton) has said. Both he and Lord Northcliffe are right in declaring that for a disgruntled immigrant to return to his homeland, and give a bad account of his experience in Australia, is a poor advertisement for this country. Yet the fact remains that there is room here for millions more than our present population. In dealing with immigration, however, we must consider the environment of many in the Old Land who are tempted to come here. Many of these persons have never been outside a’ district 10 miles square. They were born and have been brought up in the house which their great grandparents occupied, and have “worked without intermission on some little plot of ground.
– There is not much of that nowadays.
– I have comparatively recently met such men, who knew very little of the geography of their own country, and told me that they had never been more than 10 miles away from their home. Immigrants are desirable, but we should provide for them in a proper manner. Let me picture to honorable members what happens when one of these immigrants lands in Australia. The immigration authorities take him by the hand, and give him some soup, and he is then sent to the Lands Office, where the officials say, “You want land? Well, here are the maps.” He is then given maps of a territory 700 square miles greater than that of the United States of America. A man who was never, in his homeland, outside a district 10 miles square, is asked to study maps of a territory embracing 3,000,000 square miles ! These immigrants, having . some savings, set out to look for suitable land. I have been in, this country for over half a century, and know a good deal about land, but were I to come to one of our capitals in search of land, it would be a considerable time before I found a suitable piece, and I would spend a lob of money in the search. What, then, must be the difficulties of the immigrant who is wholly unacquainted with our conditions? Ho is faced with a veritable enigma. He may be provided with a free railway ticket to inspect land, but he does not know whether the -land that he Bees is good or bad, and probably, in the long run, he gets into the hands1 of an estate agent, who says that he has an excellent piece of land to sell. This the immigrant buys, and, ten to one, it is net much good, and failure results. A man when leaving hig native country is likely to say to his friend or relative, “ When I am settled on my ranch in Australia, I will write to you” to join me “; but the tale changes when he finds that he has been let in, and he writes back, “ For God’s sake, do not come.” Such letters are a bad advertisement to Australia, and slander the country. But it is possible to settle people here with satisfaction to themselves, and with benefit to the country. To do so, however, it is necessary to employ brains. Some years ago, the Kyogle estate, in Northern New South Wales, carried between 10,000 and .20,000 head of cattle, and employed only eleven boundary riders, of whom seven were blackfellows. An enterprising Victorian syndicate bought that estate, tabulated the assets, sold the cattle, employed surveyors to subdivide the land into 500 dairy farms, and sold it to small holders. The members of the syndicate declared that it was necessary for the development of the estate to make 18 miles of railway. Here it was decided, would be a suitable town site. A’ survey was made. Although that was in 1905 I understand that the town now comprises about 3,000 people. It is a flourishing settlement. There are 500 prosperous dairies, and about £50,000 worth of butter is produced annually. There are plenty of people ready and willing to go upon the land if they can be directed and assisted to settle in suitable places. If a body such as the Kyogle Syndicate can do so remarkably well - despite the conditions of its original land purchase - and can effectually settle people upon a site where, with the aid of a little capital and ordinary persistence they can make a success of their activities, how much greater are the opportunities for the Commonwealth and the States to direct new settlers along the same paths towards prosperity? The various Governments are in a position to make land available for which new settlers would not be required to pay “ through the nose.” ‘ If this country will only take up the subject of immigration with sincerity, and whole-heartedly, as great a success as has been achieved by the Kyogle Syndicate must follow. There are any number of Crown land areas which are eminently suitable for the settlement of new immigrants. In the electorate of Swan there are hundreds of thousands of acres which could be made available - excellent fruit-growing and dairying country upon which grows a wealth of timber to-day. If a railway were run into that locality and the land were cut up and ear-marked by those who have known the country all their lives, so that the various blocks might be devoted to the purposes for which they are best suited, prosperity would certainly become the portion of the settlers thereon. There would be no need to demand such fabulous prices as the Kyogle Syndicate asked, and the Government would not seek one shilling by way of commission. The new settlers might well be left to apply their capital in the development of their holdings, and the Government should not ask for anything in payment for the land until after the first five years. Along lines such as those, effectual occupation could be brought about, and Australia would eventually, carry many millions more people than are here to-day. Every man who enters this country at present is liable to become a bad advertisement for Australia unless the Governments, State and Federal, get right down to their task, sincerely and practically. I shall not oppose this vote; I would not have opposed it if it had been still larger. There is nothing Australia needs so much as additional population. I trust that my remarks may induce honorable members to convince the various State Governments to take action upon the lines marked out in Canada, so that new settlers may be definitely placed as soon as they arrive. There must be no question of distributing immigrants in the same haphazard fashion as one might introduce a new variety of bird to’ the country - that is to say, by merely scattering a few males and females promiscuously about the landscape. British immigrants axe of the same blood as Australia’s pioneer settlers. If we can give them practical assistance during their initial years of endurance they will, undoubtedly, make good. Those characteristics which enabled the first settlers to establish themselves firmly and successfully in Australia will be revealed in the make-up of the latest arrivals if only they are given a fair chance. There are considerable numbers of people who want land in Australia to-day and are ready to put money into their efforts along lines of development; but they cannot be expected to “ plant “ themselves. - That task is one for the Governments of the country. My electorate is nearly as extensive as Victoria. It embraces wonderful land, but only those people who have been bred and born (there can say what the varying localities are best suited for. An English newcomer could not be expected to know the conditions and apply himself to them; he would need advice. The land should be cut up for immigrants. They should not be too freely spoon-fed, but should be free to devote the whole of their capital to the most suitable purposes. If the Governments were to enter upon practical activities they would be able to attract new settlers just as readily as, and provide them with land much more cheaply than, Mr. De Garis has been able1 to do with respect to a certain portion of the electorate of Swan. The fact that there is a certain amount of unemployment in the cities cannot be gainsaid : but it is equally certain that there will be still more exten- ave unemployment in the capital centres if. more people cannot be persuaded to take up land: And, if the inhabitants of the cities cannot be induced to go out into the country, the Governments should secure people from overseas and encourage them to do so, in order to save the residents of the cities.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) desires that the whole of the item under consideration shall be struck out. The’ reason behind his motive is that he sees in immigration a menace to the people already resident in this country. The ‘honorable member says, in effect, that the more people there are in Australia the less work there is available. If the’ honorable member has not said that, and if he does not stand for that sentiment, he will agree that the converse must be true, namely, that the more people there are in Australia the more work is there available. The honorable member, for Swan (Mr. Prowse) summed up the situation in a better way. It is not a question of how many people there are in this country, but of what those who are here are doing. If honorable members are asked, in what does the wealth of Australia consist, they are driven back step by step until they come eventually to the basic fact of Australia’s raw material. There are people in Australia, certainly, who take its various raw materials and transform them into manufactures; but, ultimately it is true that the wealth of the Commonwealth is primarily its raw material. This we produce in great abundance; but we could produce our raw material still more abundantly, because there are practically no limits which may be set upon our fertile areas, or - if there are limits - we are so far from having reached them that they need not be considered.
Reference has been made to the condition of unemployment in Australia. In touching upon the scheme agreed to at the Premiers’ Conference, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) signified his approval, I understand. At any rate, he did not disapprove. But the honorable member has said that until the scheme has been put into effect there should be no immigration of any kind, and he has proposed that the whole of the item under consideration shall ba struck out. Yesterday, when I ex- plained the details of the schedule coming within the control’ of the Prime Minister’s Department, I pointed out exactly the purpose of the sum of £162,000. And this afternoon, by way of interjection, I said that in the main, if not entirely, the immigration to Australia now, comprises nominated persons. The honorable member for Hunter stated that it was the custom of people here to nominate their friends for passages when they had no employment in which to place those friends upon arrival. I ask the Committee to consider facts ‘ and figures. The honorable member for Hunter would have .the Committee believe that unemployment, to the extent of its existence in Australia, is aggravated by immigration. May I be permitted to point out, at this juncture, that the unemployment existing here .to-day is considerably less extensive, perhaps, than in any other country in the world ? Under the scheme of nomination by friends in the Commonwealth, the total number of- immigrants who entered Australia during the seven months from the beginning of March last to the end of September was 7,240 - an average of about; 12,000 per annum. I am to be provided with statistical details concerning the number of those who left Australia during the same period; but the figures are not, at the moment, in my possession. Until I receive them, I must fall back upon my own. experience. Upon the vessel on which I travelled to England recently there ‘were ‘about 900 persons in the third class. On the ship on which I came back to Australia there were 1,100 steerage passengers. I feel confident that when the figures have been made available they will show that the total, of newcomers barely balances those who are leaving Australia. Whatever else may be the cause of unemployment, therefore, it will be apparent that it is not due to the influx of large bodies of immigrants. The trouble really lies in a direction indicated by the honorable member for Swan. We have a few great cities strung ‘around the fringe of this continent like glorious, flaming jewels; but, inland, there is an almost barren countryside. There is no way of overcoming the handicap of our empty spaces but by encouraging more and more people to go out upon the land.
Additional statistical particulars have just been placed in my possession. I have already indicated the total of newcomer’s for the period covering March to September of this year. Whereas the incoming stream consisted of 7,240 persons, the number of those who departed from these shores during the year ended 30th September last was 55,679.
– How many came into Australia during that period who were not assisted immigrants?
– I do not know. The honorable member for. Hunter (Mr. Charlton) would strike out the item having to do with immigration on the ground that the Government’s policy is greatly adding to the total population of Australia. Unfortunately, Much is not the case. What are the facts of immigration? For they involve the beginning and ending of our national salvation. If we cannot create conditions which, of themselves, will insure an influx of the right kind of population - the kind which will enable us to hold as well as to develop this country - we are undone. All our talk concerning the vastness of our heritage will have proved unavailing. Owing to the distribution of power as between the Commonwealth and the States the Commonwealth authorities have very little land outside of the Northern Territory, which they can offer to settlers. Consequently, there must be co-operation with the States. The Commonwealth has done its part in this business; it has created an organization which is capable of bringing out immigrants at the rate of. 100,000 a year. This great machine is ready, but.it willnot go round, and it must not go round, until there are places to put the immigrants. The honorable member fori Swan (Mr. Prowse), the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), and ‘all of us are agreed that it is of no use to call more people into our cities. There is no need to do that; I am glad to say that, at the recent Conference, the Premiers came to a business-like arrangement. Our experience in repatriation has shown; us that much of the money expended has been used in putting a certain settler off the land and putting a soldier settler on it. The States, of course, have control of the lands, and the Commonwealth tells the States that if they cannot continue to find room,we cannot go on with immigration.
Further, we say immigrants must be put on land which, belongs to the Crown, or which can be obtained so cheaply as not tol make -it impossible to deal with the matter in a great, comprehensive way. We approached the different States, all of which are not. simi-larly situated. In Western. Australia, for example, while we have not a concrete scheme, one is being prepared, and on’ general principles we are agreed. The Premier of Western Australia, who controls a great part of this immense continent of ours, is ready to work in with the Commonwealth. . It matters nothing to us, as a Parliament, to which State the immigrants go; it will be just as satisfactory to us if they all settle, in Western Australia. What we require is people on the land, and, of course, we have to make arrangements with every State to that end. I believe we shall be able to do so; at any rate, the Premiers have agreed to make available given areas of land, for which they shall be responsible. As the honorable member for Swan said, the suitability or otherwise of the land so provided must be determined by men who know the subject, and with that I agree. Of that subject the Premier of Western Australia has knowledge himself, and has at his disposal men whose opinions are entitled to consideration. I hope, however, that we can, say that of every State; at any rate5 we can of Western Australia, which I take as an illustration. The Commonwealth Government, having approved of the State scheme, will then find the money in order to develop the land, provide railways, roads, and so on, and make it available for settlement. We shall then be . able to make a contract with the States to enable us, first of all, to give the intending immigrants in England a guarantee of employment on developmental and preparatory work, and also guarantee to him land which he may select. That Bis the scheme, and the Government confidently believes that the Premiers are in earnest. We quite recognise that there are States and States. Some States are able to take more immigrants than others, but there are several States with great areas of Crown lands. There are other lands besides Crown lands, and I agree with the honorable member for Hunter that those who have such lands available should make an offer on the lines of the Kyogle estate settlement,’ so that the Commonwealth may include, them in its scheme. The Commonwealth will not be found lagging or backward in considering such propositions. It is of no use sending people into the waterless areas, or placing them on unsuitable land ; it is of no use putting people .in the wilderness, no matter how fertile the land, unless4 there is access to market. We, therefore, require railways,’ roads, and so on, and that work cannot be carried out without expenditure. This is a matter that affects Britain and the whole Empire. Britain has far too many people, while we have far too few. I did what I could to impress on the British Government the necessity for co-operation, and I have now made a suggestion to them in regard to the very scheme to which I have referred.
Leaving the broad general question of immigration, I come back to the point raised particularly by the honorable member for Hunter that one of the factors in producing unemployment is the number of persons brought out as immigrants. The number brought out in seven months under our -scheme is 7,2’40, while the. total number of people who left Australia in eight months was 55,679. From these figures, now before me it would appear that some 1,187 more left Australia than arrived, including immigrants of every sort and kind. I think that is final and decisive, so far as the honorable member’s point is concerned. Whatever is the cause of unemployment in this country, it certainly is not a great influx of immigrants. The fact that more people left Australia than came in reflects on every one of us, and on every institution in the country. This , condition of affairs ought not to be allowed to continue, and if any honorable member knows a ‘better scheme than that which the. Premiers of the Commonwealth agreed upon let him put it forward, and in God’s name let us adopt it. Let us have some definite scheme, and remember that nothing can be done unless we are prepared to do what is necessary in a big way. I agree with the honorable member for Swan that it is no good bringing people here in twos and threes. I can speak for Sir James ‘Mitchell, who is prepared to ‘do his part, as we are prepared to do ours; it is for every other State to follow. I hope that the Committee will not strike out this item. If it is struck out, it will be impossible for us to give effect to the Premiers’ scheme to which the honorable member for Hunter referred.
– Is not this item for the purpose of assisting immigrants, while the Premiers’ scheme is on other lines?
– This item is a part of that scheme. It was agreedwith the Premiers on the occasion of the last Conference that they should take the responsibility of bringing the immigrants out. We say that too few have been brought out, and that it is no good our spending the money as we have hitherto done - the business must be entered upon in a comprehensive way or’ abandoned., If the Committee says that it is against this scheme I shall not go on with it, but if the Committee think with me that immigration is vital to the welfare of Australia, and that it is only a question of what is the best scheme, ‘then I ask honorable members to discuss the details with me - let us approve the scheme if we can, and, having done that, let us go on with it. .
I hope the honorable member for Hunter will not press his amendment, because the vote is part of that scheme to which he has referred wilh a certain amount of approval.
– The position I take is that unless we have a scheme properly prepared to absorb immigrants, we are not justified in passing the money to bring them here.
– I have told you that this vote is in anticipation of the scheme.
– Western Australia is going on with the scheme now.
– This money now being voted will not be spent unless the States have agreed to take a certain number of immigrants ?
– I would not-quite say that. I feel confident that the money will not be spent in at least some of the States, unless that is so.
– That is not my point. The arrangements that exist in London at the moment are such that the Commonwealth is only taking immigrants who are nominated, or whom the States have said they are ready to accept and deal with.
– I do not think it is in the public interest to discuss those points at the present moment. It is for the Committee to express an opinion whether the Premiers’ arrangement with us is on the right lines; if it is, and we get the money, we shall go on with the scheme, . but if not, matters will be left where they were.
– You rely on the States doing the settling part of the business, and they are responsible to the Commonwealth for the money advanced?
– The States put forward a complete scheme, agreeing, like other contractors, to do certain definite things, and that scheme was approved. Let us say that the scheme involves the expenditure of so much to makethe Crown lands and other lands suitable for settlement; the States engage to authorize us, amongst other things, to promise to each immigrant that he shall be engaged in the work of developing and preparing the land for settlement, and, secondly, shall have the opportunity to select a suitable block. That general scheme is concrete and definite;and the scheme in each State will stand on its own merits. The scheme in Western Australia may differ from that in South Australia. I submit that the position has been fairly put, and I hope the honorable member for Hunter will not insist on his amendment.
.- All thinking men, who have the welfare of Australia at heart, must readily admit that a small number of people such as we are cannot be expected toh old a large continent like Australia without making some ‘ attempt to get more population into the country. But before we embark upon a policy of wholesale immigration, we ought to see that our: own affairs . are put in order, and that the people who are brought to Australia will have a reasonable prospect of obtaining employment and prospering in the country. One of the greatest necessities of Australia is land settlement, and such an unlocking of areas as will enable those people who are already resident here to be provided with land. In New South Wales, land that is thrown open for selection is allotted by ballot, and it is not uncommon for hundreds of persons to apply for one block. Thousands of people in Australia are anxious to obtain land, and cannot get it, and our first and imperative duty is to see that land is made available for those of our people who need it. It is a ridiculous policy to put obstacles in the way of Australian residents obtaining land, but to provide that if people come to Australia from overseas land will be made available for them and facilities offered them to settle upon it. Our late visitor, Lord Northcliffe, haa pointed out the folly of our present policy. He said that the imperative need of Australia was that land should be made available for those Australians who need it. If we adopt that advice, we can then reasonably invite other people to come from overseas to help us populate the country. Let us first make land available for our own people, and afterwards we can provide for immigrants from the Homeland. Another factor that enters into the consideration of this question is the problem of unemployment. The Prime Minister alleged that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) had argued that an increase in the population would mean an increase inunemployment. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not advance that argument; but the Prime Minister’s contention, that the greater the population the greater the amount of employment, means, when carried to its logical conclusion, that those countries which have teeming populations should be at the highest point of industrial development and prosperity.. We know, however, that, on the contrary, countries such as China and India, with their teeming millions of population, are amongst the lowest in the social scale. The prosperity of a country does not depend upon the size of its population, but . rather upon its legislation, the manner in which , the country is governed, the extent to which land is available for the people, and the opportunities that exist formen already in the country toearn a decent living and develop themselves physically and mentally. Those are the factors which make for a greatand prosperous nation. Whilst I am prepared to admit that increase of population must ha.ve an important bearing upon the prosperity of Australia, it does not by any means represent the whole of the case. Before we invite others to flock to these shores, we must afford our own people full opportunity of earning a good living, and rearing their families in decency and comfort. To-day, thousands of returned soldiers are walking the capital cities of the Commonwealth, searching in vain for employment. One honorable member said that there were only 3,000 unemployed soldiers in the whole of the Commonwealth. That statement is obviously incorrect; it must relate only to the number of unemployed members of a certain organization of soldiers.
-The honorable member is quite wrong.
– In one State alone more than 3,000 unemployed soldiers will be found.
– In Melbourne a few days ago 608 waited as a deputation upon the Lord Mayor.
– And about the streets of Sydney to-day are thousands of returned soldiers. They are not members of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League, and it is only to the members of that body that the figure of 3,000 relates.
– That is quite wrong. .
– I challenge the honorable member to prove that the total of 3,000 represents the whole of the unemployed soldiers throughout the Commonwealth. Our first duty is to insure that employment is provided for the people in Australia. The easiest way to obtain the right class of immigrants is to see’ that the land is unlocked, that our natural resources are developed, and that the iron and steel industry, and other industries which are indigenous to this country,are fostered. If we do that and nothing else we shall have a steady stream of thousands of desirable immigrants. The moment a demand- for labour is created labour will flock here.
– That is not our experience in the northern agricultural districts of Victoria.
– In the agricultural parts of New South Wales we find, that those who complain most that they cannot obtain labour expect men to work at about half the ruling wage.
– The fanners in northern Victoria are offering £4 5s. per week and keep.
– If the honorable member will tell me where men can obtain work at that rate we shall send them’ there very quickly.
– Are they men who knowany thing about agricultural work?
– They know quite as much about it as does the honorable member; I do not know whether that is saying much or little. There could be no more striking commentary upon the conditions in Australia than the statement by the Prime Minister that in seven months 7,240 immigrants had been introduced, and in the same period 55,679 people had left the Commonwealth.
– There must be something wrong with those figures.
– The Prime Minister advanced them in support of his case, and if they are accurate it is the greatest condemnation of the administration of affairs in this country that we have ever heard.
– I am sure the Prime Minister made a mistake.
– Probably there is something wrong with the figures.
– Possibly the Prime Minister mentioned the total number of departures overseas on the one hand, and on the other hand the total number of assisted immigrants brought to Australia.’
– That may be; but the Prime Minister sought to show, in support of his argument, that immigration would not interfere with employment, that more people were leaving the country than were entering it.
– During the ‘war, many people could not visit Europe, and large numbers are taking the opportunity of doing so now.
– Admitting that we. cannot hope to hold this large continent with a handful of people, what is the soundest policy for us to adopt? Surely our first endeavour should be to unlock the lands. . One of the evils from which Australia is suffering to-day is that most of the country towns are land-locked. In New South Wales there is no possible chance of obtaining land in the vicinity of some of the bigger towns. Thousands of people are desirous of taking up land who have no possible chance of getting it. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) mentioned the Kyogle district; what chance has any man with a small amount of capital to obtain land in that district? The rich dairying country along the northern coast of New South Wales is beyond the reach of any but a comparatively wealthy man, because the land has become so valuable, and it has passed into the hands of certain combinations.
– That is not so.
– It has passed into the hands of people like those who started the Kyogle Estate settlement.
– I do not think the original owners of Kyogle land hold a single acre to-day.
– Then, what arrangements have the Government entered into with the States to make the land available?
– There is any amount of land available in Queensland.
– If that is so, why cannot the people of Australia who want land obtain it? No one knows better than does the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Austin (Chapman) that there are thousands of applicants for any block of land made available by ballot for settlement in New South Wales. There is such a big rush that a man may wait until he is grey-headed before he is successful in obtaining a block.
– Where does this happen ?
– I have seen it happen time after time in New South Wales. Our first step should be to make land available. When the Queensland and New South Wales Governments talked of introducing legislation that would have the effect of unlocking land and making it available for small occupiers, the financiers of Great Britain said, “ Hands off.”
– The honorable member is speaking of something that has nothing whatever to do with this issue.
– Why did the British financiers tell the Treasurer of Queensland, and afterwards the New South Wales Government, that they must drop certain clauses from their proposed land legislation ?
– Because what was proposed to be’ done was an act of robbery.
– It is always said to be an act of robbery whenever there is an attempt to make land available. The pressing problem of Australia to-day is to get a sufficient population to hold this continent, and our first step towards that end should be to unlock the land, and then develop industries which will give avenues of employment to our people. It is not sufficient merely to say that we propose to spend money on bringing people out here, and throwing them into the cities.
– That is just what it is not proposed to do.
– If the Government are about to launch out on a scientific and well-thought-out policy of immigration, the sum of £162,000 would prove to be hopelessly inadequate. As a matter of fact, this money is merely sought for a publicity campaign. Honorable members should have a proper scheme laid before them, and when they know that it is a sane proposal, and one that is likely to give us the people we need for the proper development of Australia, I am sure they will be prepared to vote ten or even twenty times the amount now asked for. We need people in Australia, but we do not want them to come into our cities to swell the ranks of the unemployed.
– No one . wants that. . There is plenty of land available.
– Every honorable member representing a metropolitan constituency knows that numbers of people who have been brought out from the Old . Landand dumped into the cities are looking for work. They have come to see me, as a member for a metropolitan district, asking me to try to get work for them at Cockatoo Island or in some other Government institution. These are people who have, come out to Australia under an assisted’ immigration policy. An immigration policy that will do this is suicidal and ought to cease at once. For that reason I am opposed to the item in the schedule which, so far as I can see, is only needed to enable the officers of the Immigration Department to indulge in a huge publicity campaign.. We know very well that they ‘ have decided to go in for a great publicity campaign in Great Britain. They propose to flood that country with pamphlets and give free cinematograph shows, at which Australia can be made known to the British people as a land flowing with milk and honey.
– So it is.
– I admit that it is; but, unfortunately, the milk and honey are locked up. When we unlock the door and make them available, we can bring out immigrants to help us develop our country. In the meantime I oppose the expenditure of money purely upon a publicity campaign; that will not help to solve the real problem of immigration. This is a problem that ought not to be tackled in a paltry way. We first must unlock our land for small occupiers; and then we must build up industries to provide employment for our own people who are now unemployed; and when we have done all this, we can safely launch out on a vigorous policy of obtaining more people for Australia.
.- When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) was referring to the number of immigrants coming to Australia, I went to the telephone and communicated with the Statistician’s Office, asking how many people had left the Commonwealth for a given period. I was informed that 55,679 people had left Australia during the year ending 30th September last.
– Were they tourists ?
– They were people of every description. I gave these figures to the Prime. Minister, and he made use of them. Thereupon some one interjected from the Opposition benches, “ How many people came into Australia, including immigrants, during the same period?” I went out of the chamber and again telephoned to the Statistician’s Office, and was told that the number was 64,492. Unfortunately, I had simply memorized the number of departures, and thinking that it was 65,679 instead of 55,679, I subtracted the 64,492 arrivals from 65,679 departures, and informed the Prime Minister that 1,187 more people had left Australia during the period than had arrived here. When the Prime Minister left the chamlber I had a glance at the papers, and found I had made a mistake. Instead nf there being an excess of departures over arrivals, the population showed a net gain of 8,813 people for the period.
.- The departure of a certain number of people from Australia does not affect the question of immigration. Most of them are tourists or commercial people visiting Europe or America, and they will all re- turn to this country again. Whether there has been a net increase or net decrease in the population in this regard has no bearing on the real question at issue; and I cannot understand why the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) quoted the figures he did. One speech delivered in the Committee this afternoon which should induce honorable members to support the. amendment is that delivered by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse). If the methods advocated by the honorable member are put into operation every Legislature in Australia will have at least two years’ work ahead in usingup people already in the Commonwealth before any need will arise to go’ abroad for others. What is happening in regard to land settlement in New South. Wales is typical of what is taking place in otherStates. If four or five blocks are put up for ballot there is a rush of 500 to 700 applicants for them.
– That is not peculiar to the present time. The same thing has been happening for years.
Mir. LAZZARINI. - I am not saying that it applies to the present only ; but it shows that there are a lot of landhungry people in Australia.
– Does it show that?
– What else does it show? Does the honorable member infer that all these applicants are dummies?
– No; but if a piece of land is submitted at considerably less than its market value, and the allotment is to be made by ballot, obviously a large numlber of people will apply for it.
– Does ‘the honorable member think I have so little knowledge of the rural districts of the Commonwealth as to believe that in any part of Australia land is being offered for sale to-day at ridiculously low prices?
– It is being offered at low prices by the Government.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) referred to-day to soldier settlement.
– But Crown lands are almost invariably offered for sale at prices below the market value.
– It is to be hoped that the Labour Government in New South Wales is not profiteering in Crown lands.
– It is not. Honorable members lose sight of the fact that Crown lands are offered for sale subject to the condition that they are available only to those who do not own any land. Hence the fact that there are so many applicants for every block of Crown land offered for sale proves that . we already have in Australia, a great number of land-hungry people.
– But Crown lands are’ put up for sale at considerably less than the market value.
– It may be that the prices at which they are offered are below those asked for freehold land.
– In addition to that they are offered on far more favorable terms than those on which freehold lands can be purchased.
– That is no answer to my contention that the fact that so many people apply for every block of Crown land put up for sale shows that we have thousands of land-hungry people already in Australia. While we have throughout the country a demand for land by people already here it is absurd for the Commonwealth Government, or any State Government, to enter upon a wholesale policy of immigration with the object of settling immigrants on the land. The Prime Minister has said -that the arrangement arrived at by the State Premiers provides that every immigrant is to receive £12 by way of passage money, and a further advance of £16 if required, and that this advance of £16 has to be repaid within twelve months of the arrival of the immigrant in Australia. Do honorable members opposite think we are so stupid as to believe that a man, whether married or single, who has so little funds that he has to apply for an advance of £16 on coming here is likely to make a success of land settlement?
– Some of our most successful settlers are men who, when they went on the land, had only an axe and’ a billy-can.
– They were not so successful as were those who got to work with the branding iron.
– Quite so. I honestly believe that this proposed vote of £162,000 will be used not in assisting immigrants but in carrying out abroad a huge advertising scheme, with the object of attracting people to our shores.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) when questioned by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce), and one or two others, refused to say definitely how the money was to be expended. When he was asked whether it was to be used solely in connexion with the States immigration scheme he ignored the question. He was asked also whether any portion of it would be used in settling immigrants on the land, independently of State cooperation, but his only answer was that it would not be in the public “interest to reply to such an inquiry. My belief is that the money will be used abroad in a huge publicity scheme with the object of bringing people to Australia before adequate preparations have been made for their reception and absorption. We know that with the object of solving the unemployed problem in Great Britain a scheme has been propounded under which it is proposed to send to Australia tens of thousands of ex-service men and others. I shall not oppose that scheme, or any other by which it is proposed to relieve the over-populated countries occupied by white races by sending some of their people to Australia; but before such a scheme is entered on those of our people who wish to go on the land must first be provided for, and those of our workers *ho are out of employment’ and cannot obtain work either in the rural districts or in our cities must have employment found for them. That must be done before people are brought here to further congest the labour market. I shall support the amendment which has been moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for the omission of the item. If the proposed vote of £162,000, together with a still larger amount, were devoted, for instance, to increasing the maternity allowance and improving the lot of the most desirable of all immigrants - -the Australian baby - it would be far better. As it is, this money will be wasted if it is devoted to a big publicity scheme in other countries, with the object of bringing here people who will soon find themselves in distress.
.- For some twenty years we have had an annual debate in which the vital importance of immigration has been stressed by nearly every honorable member who has - addressed himself to the subject. The latest commentary on the beneficial result of parliamentary debate is to be found in the remarkable statement made a little while ago by the ‘ Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), which, even after being corrected by the Government Whip (Mr. Marr), shows that our immigration policy has been, to all intents and purposes, absolutely futile: I am not one of those who would advocate a promiscuous immigration policy; but I suggest, as has been so often urged, that we cannot pretend to hold this continent with the handful of people at present scattered around its coasts. That of late years, at all events, has become an absolute truism. For a long time Australia might have been regarded, in so far as land settlement is concerned, as the special heritage of the British Empire. ‘I fear, however, that that privilege cannot be maintained much longer unless we develop an active policy by which people of our own race will be brought to Australia and settled on the land, to their, own advantage _and very much to the benefit of the country. The total amount to be devoted this year to the purposes of this vital policy of immigration is, in’ relation to its importance, a mere bagatelle. We have something like £250,000 on the present year’s Estimates for immigration purposes. Having regard to the cost pf bringing an immigrant into Australia, ‘such a sum is absolutely insignificant and unworthy of the situation. As I have said already, I should like to see some millions of pounds diverted from our futile defence policy and applied to a genuine scheme to settle immigrants on Australian lands.
Honorable members of the Opposition have expressed the fear that the introduction of immigrants means the accentuation of the unemployed evil in Australia. Undoubtedly, there is considerable unemployment; and I think, with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), that that condition of affairs is likely to be worse before it becomes improved. We, therefore, must have regard to the rights of our own people within Australia in connexion with employment. I do not believe in a policy that would bring one man into Australia to take another man’s job. There is no need for that, although I admit that at present it too frequently happens. Western Australia appears to be the only State in the Commonwealth that has an effective method of taking charge of an immigrant when he arrives, and keeping in touch with him until he gets on the land. That is absolutely necessary in all the States. Any one moving about Melbourne in the ordinary way quite frequently comes in contact with recently-arrived immigrants who are looking for a job. I have come in contact with some of them. I have met men who had never been outside a city in the Old Country except for an occasional trip to the seaside or into the country, but who had been allowed to come here as assisted immigrants on entering into an undertaking that they would go on the land. When such a man is challenged, he usually says, “ It is useless for me to go on the land “ ; and if he is asked what object he had in view in giving such an undertaking, he replies, “I thought I would be able to get a job in one of your big cities.” He recognises that no punishment is likely to be meted out to him for having secured under false pretences the money of the country to bring him here only to add to the unemployment in our cities. A well thought out and effective system of land settlement in Australia is the best possible remedy for unemployment in the cities. I wish that doctrine could be hammered into the heads of our people until they appreciate its importance. Here we have vast areas of land -waiting for the introduction of a little capital and a little more labour in order to create wealth for every one, and to giye to the secondary industries in our towns that employment without which the policy of Protection is a mere slough of despair. It hasbeen suggested that we should develop our iron and steel industry to provide employment for our people; but I wonder if the honorable member who made the suggestion realizes how easily the present equipment for the production of iron and steel could overtake the requirements of Australia. We have been, indeed, a little bit previous in establishing this magnificent industry - because magnificent it undoubtedly is - and our duty by it is to settle people on the land as quickly as we can, in order to increase the demand for its products.
Mr.Fenton. - Does the honorable member say that there are no imports of steel into Australia?
– No; but if importation were prohibited, we have the means for supplying the whole of our requirements, and yet give employment to no more than a mere handful of artisans. Our true policy in connexion with the development of city industries is to settle on the land, not a few hundred, but tens of thousands. The country is staggering hopelessly under a load of debt which it cannot sustain indefinitely, and relief can come only by spreading . the load over a larger number of shoulders. We can best do this by inducing sturdy immigrants to take up the waste spaces of Australia, ‘and there create wealth both for themselves and for the community.
I would like to see something definite in the way of a policy put before Parlia-. ment at this juncture. The Prime Minister, when asked what course would be pursued as between the Federation and the States, was somewhat taken aback. Resolutions were passed by the last Conference of Premiers, but remembering the long string of such Conferences through many years - Cup Conferences, I might fairly call them - at which resolutions have been carried, and the little amount of work done or progress that has resulted, I am somewhat doubtful of the value of even the best resolutions without the provision of machinery to carry them into effect. I desire close co-ordination between the Federal and State authorities in this regard. We have, I believe, a very capable officer at the head of our Immigration Department, and I suggest that if we are going to take up this work in earnest as ‘a vital necessity to Australia in those regards that I have indicated, we might very well appoint a Minister for Immigration, who would be directly responsible to Parliament, and could keep in touch with the State organizations, and co-ordinate action throughout Australia. We shall have to concentrate probably for some time on the States which possess large areas of unalienated Crown land, and more particularly the States of Western Australia and Queensland. Having been a pioneer’ settler in Western Australia, I make a suggestion which I think of . some importance, though not based on my own experience, because I had a fairly practical knowledge of land matters before coming to this country. Even in Western Australia, where the opportunities for settlement, on the land are better than in any other State, immigrants having applied for and taken up land are left to their own resources; but assistance is most material to ‘a settler when he has gone on the land. I think that settlement should take place in defined areas. A mistake has been made in allowing one man to settle here, another there, and a third elsewhere. It has resulted in sparse settlement over wide areas, the settlers frequently being unable to keep in friendly touch. They have” been remote from towns and villages, and although the older people have put up with their conditions, the younger will have none of them, and gravitate to the cities. Land settlement should be developed in particular areas. I do not think it right to put any man, even the .best Australian, on to a piece of country heavily timbered with virgin forest, and say to him, “ Now, get to Work.” -.1 have known one magnificent specimen of mankind after another become, in a few -years, a pitiful wreck, carrying through with his axe in his hand until he has become broken-hearted and broken physically. In many instances, others have benefited by the work done after the pioneer has gone under. I suggest that, by the application of suitable appliances clearing could be done by the State more cheaply and effectively than by the individual. In Western Australia, thousands of acres could be so cleared at a cost of, perhaps, £1 an acre.
– Is not that much the scheme adopted at the Premiers’ Conference ?
– I am afraid that it does not go so far as that. I suggest that to give settlers a fair chance they should have an opportunity to .get a little return almost immediately. That will not be possible if they are left to their own resources. Even Australians, and to a much greater degree immigrants, sometimes make the most ridiculous mistakes when left entirely to themselves. A man going from one part of Australia, to another may make a complete mess of his affairs because of unfamiliarity with the new conditions; and how much more likely is the immigrant to do so? I have seen many pathetic failures; men going on the land full of hope and energy, to be- gradually beaten by the terrible task with which they have been faced, working, for the most part blindly, and dispirited by continuous failure. If there is anything on which we are justified in spending money at the present time, it is’ a definite policy of land settlement which would give men a fair chance of developing the country to their: own advantage, and to that of the community. I hope that before very long a definite scheme may be put before us, with proper machinery, and co-operation between the Federation and the States, and that we may thus provide for the settlement of immigrants at the rate, not of a few hundred per month, bub of at least 100,000 in the course of a year.
.- * The difficulty in which we are placed arises from the fact that neither the Federal nor any ‘ State Ministry . has 2>laced before, its Parliament a concrete proposition affecting immigration. Everything is in the clouds. When this Parliament is asked to vote money for a certain purpose a well-considered plan should be laid before members. I believe that every member would accord such a plan reasonable support.
– Every man would have his own plan.
– Not necessarily, though members might be able to suggest improvements on the plan submitted to them. We are now asked to vote money without having a scheme before us. Immigrants are to be brought here to settle on the land. In the past, each State has promoted such immigration, but in Victoria I have seen immigrants, many of them ill-selected for the work, settled on irrigation areas and elsewhere, who, though doing well for a time while spoon-fed and helped, have gradually wearied of country life. I have known men to come from Tyntynder South, in the Swan Hill district, and, putting a pistol at <the head of Ministers, say, “ Unless you find us employment in the Government workshops or elsewhere, we shall send back to the Old Country bad news about Australia.”
– Some immigrants have been put on land that would not sustain a wombat.
– Generally speaking, the men who have come from the cities of Great Britain to settle on land, having had no experience of rural pursuits, have not made a success of it. At least 75 per cent, of such men will fail on the land.
– That was not the case with our forefathers
– Many of them came from country districts in the homeland.
– Does the honorable member think that relatively more immigrants than Australians fail?
– Yes. Mr. Delprat, until [recently the general manager of the Broken Hill Company, has stated that there is no more adaptable man in the world than the Australian. The adaptability of the Australian is displayed on the land and in the workshop, and particularly has it been displayed on the battlefields of Europe. Here were men who know nothing of ordinary soldiering or warfare, who in a very short time made themselves first-class fighting men. I do not wish to see any repetition of our past failures in immigration. I quite agree with the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Fowler) that immigrants, who are brought out here to be placed on the land, ought to be trained ; and I think that idea lies at the kernel of the resolution arrived at by the Premiers’ Conference. The proper method is, first, to have selected and nominated immigrants, ‘and, on their arrival here, they should be first invited to clear the land on which they and others will subsequently settle.
– That is the wrong policy !
– If men are brought from the cities of Great Britain, I know of no other way of making them suitable for country pursuits than allowing them to do the preliminary developmental work under proper supervision.
– The employment of incompetent men in the work of clearing means over-capitalizing the land.
– If the honorable member will read the Conference resolution he will see that that is a leading idea in the agreement.
– Did you ever know any body of settlers to be successful under professional advisers?
– If all the experts and professional advisers of our rural community were removed, that community would be made immensely poorer than it is at present. We spend hundreds of thousands of pounds in providing horticultural, agricultural, and grazing experts, experimental farms, colleges, and so forth, in order to make our men on the land more scientific in their methods. At the Premiers’ Conference it was resolved that the States and Commonwealth should cooperate, on conditions approved by both, with a view to providing employment for immigrants in the preparation of the land for settlement, and, further, that the immigrant should be subsequently afforded an opportunity of settling on that land, the States to submit concrete schemes, and the Commonwealth to borrow the necessary money if the schemes were acceptable.
– If these immigrants clear the land the cost will be three times what the land is worth.
– The work is to be done co-operatively, and, in any case, I suggest the addition of a working party of good, experienced Australians, with the latest machines, and under supervision. Under such circumstances I guarantee that the land would be cleared much more cheaply than by any other means, and, at the same time, the immigrants would be given the necessary, training as settlers. I disagree with the honorable member for Perth when he suggests that nothing can be done for immigration by the development of the secondary industries. If we introduce immigrants other than those prepared to go on the land, we must provide employment for them. The statistics show that we import millions of pounds’ worth of iron and steel goods that ought to be manufactured here, and which, if they were manufactured here, would mean customers for the men on the land. I represent a city constituency; but I heartily approve of decentralization. I speak in the interests of city residents when I say the immense population of our capitals will, if some , scientific remedy be not found, prove absolutely ruinous to Australia. We certainly require more people in the country districts than are there at present ; and I am prepared to do everything in my power to induce immigration which will mean additions to our rural population. There ought to be a strict selection of immigrants in the Old Country.
– Never before was there such strict selection from a health point of view.
– We must have people of good physique. We have heard a good deal about the scheme of immigration that is to be prepared, but we have no scheme before us; and certainly the Prime Minister (Mir. Hughes) was altogether at sea with regard to his figures. In 1920, the last year for which we have complete figures, the arrivals were 100,109, and the departures 89,669 - a difference of nearly 20,000 in favour of arrivals. Up to 1910 the assisted immigrants to Australia numbered 686,000; in 1911 they were 39,000; 46,000 in 1912; 37,000 in 1913; and in 1914 there were 20,805. I suppose that during the war years the immigrants would number only a few hundred, but in 1920 they were 8,796.
I remember, when land was being sought for the settlement of returned soldiers, that Mr. Clarke, who was associated with the Government in this work, made most caustic remarks on some of the propositions put’ before him. He said that amongst the propositions were some of the most “ rotten “ ever put before the Government, and that owners of land were trying to palm off on the Government absolutely the worst land that was for sale. I dare say there are still people prepared to sell the Government undesirable areas. We must be careful, not only in the selection and training of the immigrants, but in the selection of the land on which they are to settle. I shall vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Hunter to mark my disapproval of the neglect of the Government to place before the, Committee any concrete proposal in regard to immigration. In connexion with our soldier settlements many serious mistakes were made, and the most serious, perhaps, was that the Commonwealth provided the money, and left the States to use it as they chose. There ought to be some Commonwealth supervision over such expenditure.
– There is a complete answer to that.
– But there were also mistakes made by the States themselves.
– Surely the honorable member is not opposed to assisted immigration ?
– I object to immigration when there is no scheme for the absorption of the immigrants. I know that to-morrow I could get in touch with halfadozen people in Victoria prepared to devise and carry out a nomination scheme for immigration which might not be in the interests of the community generally. From a Labour stand-point, I say that there might be such a scheme employed for the purpose of placing rural workers in a worse position industrially than they are at the present time. In my . opinion some of the State Governments would lend themselves to schemes of the kind, and in this connexion I can point to South Australia.
– The honorable member is quite wrong !
– I believe that the Premier of that State would readily lend himself to a scheme of that sort.
– Then you know nothing about that gentleman.
– If a proper scheme had been placed before us I dare say that members on. this side would. not have been found opposing it. I oppose this vote in the hope that when a proposition of a similar kind comes before us in the future the Government will accept their proper responsibility, and present a comprehensive plan.
.- I rise more particularly to deal with certain statements in reference to unemployment amongst returned soldiers. When the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) made reference to the considerable unemployment amongst these men, I interjected that the number idle was some 3,000, about 970 of whom were in Sydney. The Leader of the Opposition, in answer to that interjection, suggested that I was referring only to men who were members of the Returned Soldiers’ organization. It happened that the president of the Australian League, Captain Dyett, was in the gallery, and in an interview I had with him he assured me that the figures I have mentioned represented the whole of the men registered with the League, but that by no means all were members of the League.
– I accepted your statement at the time.
– But the honorable member for Dalley did not, and it is only fair that I should make the matter clear.
– Have you any idea of how many returned soldiers are unemployed in Victoria?
– I did not ask Captain Dyett for those details. I shall support the Government’s immigration proposals whole-heartedly, because I know from personal experience the need that exists for doing everything possible to encourage the settlement of the right type of people on the land. We, who are intrusted with the responsibility of legislating for the people, would better serve the interests of Australia if we were to familiarize ourselves more with its wonderful possibilities. During the last re- cess I went as far north as Cairns, and had the privilege of going into the hinterland and seeing for the first time something of the wealth of that wonderful district.. I know the southern part of Queensland very well from an intimate association of thirty odd years, of which about twenty-eight were spent on the land in carving out a home for myself and family. I am satisfied that we shall not only have to be careful in the choice of the people we bring out to Australia - and I understand a great deal more care is being exercised to-day than at any time previously - but we shall also have to afford them every inducement to remain on the land when they have been placed there. I know what land settlement means. I had some years of experience as a pioneer, and have known what it is to take my axe and a few things, including a tent, upon my back and make a start to clear a scrub selection. I know what heart-breaking work it is, and how many people become disappointed and disgruntled as a result of the hardships under which they have to labour. Therefore we should not be satisfied with merely bringing people into the country and placing them on the land; we should insure that they are given every consideration and assistance within our power. Of course, by the division of control between the States and the Commonwealth we are handicapped in a great measure, but surely the wisdom of the Federal and State Parliaments is capable of formulating some scheme which would make the people who are invited to settle on the land more con- , tented and give them a greater prospect of being very much more prosperous than many of their predecessors have been. More than one honorable member has referred to the necessity for giving expert advice to those people who come from abroad to take up land. Whilst a great many people resent that sort of thing, I believe that on the whole it would be a very wise policy to settle immigrants in communities and give them the advice of men who have had practical experience of Australian conditions. Previous experience on the land in Great Britain is. helpful to some extent to a man settling in Australia, but the agricultural conditions in the Home Land and Australia are vastly different, and many of our new settlers would be more contented, and go to work with much greater heart, if they felt that they were supported by some experienced person who would give them that assistance and guidance which they need so much in the earlier days of their life upon the land. Much has been said about the risk of creating still further unemployment by bringing more people into the country. The same cry has been raised ever since I have been in Australia. Nor is the big demand for choice blocks of land a new feature. I have known of blocks on the Darling Downs, Queensland, to be thrown open for selection and entice two or three hundred applicants per block. That condition of affairs is not peculiar to the present day; indeed, it will always be found that when good Crown land is made available for selection there will be a big demand for it.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) made special reference to what the States had done in regard to soldier settlement. On a former visit to Queensland I made it my business to inspect at first hand the soldier settlement at Beerburrum. I went through that country in search of land over thirty years ago, and I do not think it would have been possible for the Queensland Government to have found m the wholeof the State a worse tract of land than that on which they are to-day settling soldiers. At the time of my first visit it was open for selection under freehold tenure at 2s. 6d. per acre, payable in equal instalments over a period of five years. The very fact that that land remained available for settlement until about 1917 is a sufficient indication of the poor quality of the soil. Only last week I was speaking to a returned soldier who has been unfortunate enough to secure one of these blocks, and he confirmed the statement made to me by the overseer on the occasion of my visit to Beerburrum about twelve months ago. I say, without hesitation, that it is the most inferior country I have seen : it grows nothing but grass-tree and sugar gums, and clearing, before it can be brought under cultivation even for the growth of pines, costs £27 10s. per acre. A fine millstone to tie round the necks of returned soldiers ! But that is not all. I was assured that before the first planting of pineapples can take place it is necessary to spend from £2 10s. to £3 per acre on manures to insure growth. The re- turned soldier to whom I spoke last week told me that more than £3. worth of manure per acre was required, and that expenditure has to be repeated annually.
– How many soldiers are settled there?
– The estate comprises about 40,000 acres, and is divided into holdings of from 15 to 40 acres each.
– What do the soldiers expect to grow ?
– Pineapples and a little other fruit, and, owing to the glut, they have already had considerable difficulty in disposing of their produce. If we are to encourage immigration greater care must be exercised in choosing the land as well as the settler. On the Atherton Tableland, at the back of Cairns, millions of acres of the finest country in Australia is available for settlement.
– There must be something wrong with the honorable member’s figure of £27 10s. per acre for clearing sugar-gum land.
– That is the statement made to me by the overseer. The work is done by contract, many soldiers being incapable of doing the hard work of grubbing heavy timber. The man who has advertised Australia best is the Digger, and’ unless he can be given better conditions than those offered, to him, in some States at any rate, our effort to encourage immigration will prove futile. I know of certain Victorian properties that were put on the market in 1913 at £8 5s. per acre, but some generous-hearted man, in order to assist the Digger when he returned, offered the land to the Government for soldier settlement at £14 per acre. Naturally, the Government did not avail themselves of the- offer.
– That was. unusual.
– The vendor could not understand why, and’ he considered that the Government were not doing a fair thing by the- soldiers, because he had happened to find two men who had no knowledge of land, but were quite willing to undertake this financial responsibility. It was not until three separate inspections had taken place that this land, was finally turned down. I repeat that we cannot be too careful, not only in the choice of immigrants, but also in the choice of land on which we settle them., If we desire to populate this country by. immigration, I know nothing that will assist more than to make happy and contented the people we- place on the land., We cannot do that unless many of the disabilities under which they labour today are removed. The sooner we as a people appreciate that fact, and legislate in order to afford the settlers whatever assistance is in our power, the better it will be for the Commonwealth., It is all very well for honorable members to denounce the Government for not having done all that they think should have been done in the direction of settling our lands..
– Hear, hear! Talk is cheap.
– It is indeed cheap. In a paper I saw the other day, the. statement was made that, during the last seven years, in Queensland no less than 6,000 people, who had been engaged in primary production, had left theland. I do not know that any one can blame the Commonwealth Government for this. All honorable members are tarred with the same brush, even if the “kapok” is not applied. They seem! to be glad’ to take advantage of any weakness displayed by the Government they happen to be opposing for the time being. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) claimed that this vote of £162,000) for immigration was- to be spent on a publicity campaign. He will find on, page 32 of the general Estimates: that, under the heading of Immigration, an, item of £40,000 is provided for salaries, administrative, and other expenses, including office requisites, travelling expenses, publicity material’, and freight to London on exhibits. This money is to be spent upon Australian organization. Another item under the same heading is £48,000 for salaries, administrative, and other expenses, including postage and telegrams, office requisites, travelling expenses, advertising, publicity, and all other expenses’ excepting passage money,; which money is to be spent upon the London organizatioin. Clearly the money we are voting now is not to be expended upon any publicity campaign, but is for the purpose of paying the passage money of assisted immigrants, as stated in the item itself.
– The honorable member for Gwydir.
Mr.Stewart. - I rise to a point of order. I would like to ask what method is adopted in calling on members who desire to speak. For the last three hours I have been endeavouring to speak on the amendment submitted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr.Charlton). That honorable member was followed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), and when the right honorable gentleman concluded his remarks, I endeavoured to catch the eye of the Temporary Chairman, but the honorable member ‘for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) received the call. When he sat down, I promptly rose, but the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) received the call. When he sat down, I rose again, but the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) received the call, and he was followed by the honorable members for Perth (Mr. Fowler) and Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton).
– The honorable member has omitted to mention the fact that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) also spoke.
– At any rate, I would like to know whether the procedure adopted by the Chairman is to call on an honorable member from one side of the chamber, and then an honorable member from the other side, and whether members of the Country party are entitled to recognition.
– It is just as well that the honorable member has asked from the Chair some guidance in regard to the procedure followed in calling upon honorable members to speak. The procedure I adopt - and it has been followed, as far as I can ascertain from the book in front of me, by those who assist me occasionally - is to call first upon the Government side, and then upon the Opposition side, and then upon the Country party. The book in front of me shows that that order has been fairly well observed to-day. If half-a-dozen members rise in one party or another or if members of all parties rise, it is impossible for me to call upon more than one. When I resumed the chair after a short absence, I. was informed on behalf of the Country party that the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Robert Cook) was entitled to receive the next call when a member of that party was dueto be called on to speak, but later on a further communication was made to me that the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart), also a member of the Country party, desired to speak. In the circumstances I suggested that the party should be asked to mention the name of the honorable member it desired to have the call, and I was subsequently informed that the honorable member for Wimmera was to be called. However, when the time arrived the honorable member was not in his place.
– After beinghere for hours I went out of the chamber for a few moments.
– But the fact remains that the honorable member was not in the chamber at the time. Had he been present I should have given him the call ; but he was not here, nor was the honorable member for Indi. I had then to resort to the usual practice of calling upon the honorable member for Corio (Mr. lister), an honorable member on the Government side of the chamber, and now, following the same procedure, Ihave given the call to the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham), an honorable member on the Opposition side. The next call will be given to a member of the Country party if he rises to speak. The fault is not mine if he does not do so.
. Honorable members of the Labour party have had to submit to a good deal of misrepresentation in regard to their policy upon immigration. With other parties in the House we recognise that Australia, under a proper system of development, is capable of supporting many more people; but we are not in favour of a haphazard policy of immigration that . simply amounts to the expenditure of large sums of money belonging to the taxpayers of Australia, and . achieves nothing tangible except, perhaps, the dumping down of large bodies of men and women in localities whore they come into keen competition with the workers already here, and render their struggle for existence harder than ever at a time when Australia is suffering from the aftermath of the war. I shall support the amendment, because I regard the present time as inopportune for bringing to Australia the class of men the vote is designed to assist. I understand that under the immigration scheme at present in force each immigrant is given £12, which he may supplement by borrowing £16 from the Immigration Department, providing £10 of his own. This enables him to pay the passage money, which is in the neighbourhood of £38. and he is landed in Australia with not more than a few pounds in his pocket. Yet we are told, that this scheme will assist in peopling our empty spaces. My lifelong experience on the land enables me to say emphatically that it will not do so. It will induce workers in Great Britain to sell out their homes and come to Australia, only to find themselves out of the frying-pan into the fire, because here they will come into keen competition on a market already oversupplied with labour. We can well understand that honorable members on the Government benches would be only too pleased to have a surplus of labour in Australia. They do not want the workers to enjoy the standard of living which the Labour party advocates. They realize that the greater the surplus of labour the better chance there will be of reducing wages and bringing down the standard of living to the level at which they would like to see it. The Labour party are against bringing out men to Australia by means of misrepresentation. It is misrepresentation to induce people to come out here with nothing in their pockets, believing they can pick up money. Furthermore, it is not fair to our own people. There are men in Australia who are hard up, and who would be only too pleased to go into the back country, but the Commonwealth Government will not make them a present of £12 each, as in the case of the immigrant.
In regard to settling land already opened up, my experience, after having taken part in land ballots for a good many years, is that there are hundreds of applicants for any land that is a business proposition. Of course, there are many blocks of land lying idle in Queensland, and there are some in New South Wales; but they are not business propositions.
– Why not? There are millions of acres of land belonging to the Crown in Queensland which are splendid business propositions.
– I can guarantee that if the honorable member can show me any land which is a business proposition he will find hundreds of applicants for it. But I do not know where that land is which may be described as a business proposition but for which there are no applicants.
– It all depends on what you call a business proposition.
– I regard settlement on the land as a business proposition. I would not expect a man to slave on a block for fifty years before he secured ‘sufficient to provide himself with a comfortable home. We should npt expect any man already in Australia or any immigrant to slave on scrub land under all sorts of disabilities, keeping his children without education, bringing them up to be little better than working bullocks. There are hundreds of such blocks available; but I would not expect men to come to this country and be placed upon them. In the Gwydir district thirty years ago a railway was built across the plains with the idea of bringing about closer settlement, but there are only four railway stations in 65 miles of that line, which runs through the most beautiful land in New South Wales. A Bill has just been introduced into the State Parliament for the purpose of breaking up that land; but, so far, it has continued to be held, as it was held thirty years ago, in large holdings.
– Is that not due to want of Government organization to provide for settlement on the land?
– No. It is largely because Governments, of which the present Commonwealth Governmentis a type, have not been prepared to take the action necessary to throw open that land for closer settlement. Whenever a Labour Government has been ready to take action to bring such areas under closer settlement, their strongest opponents have been members of the National party and the so-called Country party. When the Queensland Government proposed to take action in this direction, supporters of the Nationalist party went so far as to send to London a delegation to thwart their efforts by destroying the credit of the State. They could not have got a harder slap in the face than they received when, despite the efforts of that delegation in England, the Queensland Government floated, in the United States of America, the loan they required. It is hypocrisy on the part of these people to say that they desire closer settlement, having regard to the fact that when an opportunity offers to assist a State Government to carry out. such a policy, they do all they can to hamper them and to restrict their financial arrangements abroad. Honorable members know that my statement is correct. They know that when Mr. Storey, the late Premier of New South Wales, went to London an attempt was made to force his hand. It was only because the Queensland Government succeeded in raising its loan on the United States of America- market that the Government of New South Wales was able to make its necessary financial arrangements in London.
– Is the honorable member in favour of the New South Wales Land Bill, to which exception was taken at Home?
– I have not seen it.
– Order! I remind the honorable gentleman that the matter to which . he refers is now before the State Parliament, and has no bearing on the question under consideration.
– I referred to it only to emphasize the point that when members of the Nationalist party have an opportunity to bring about closer settlement they refuse to take advantage of it. Considering that we have millions of pounds locked, up in our State railways, it is ridiculous to talk of spending further loan moneys on a policy designed to settle immigrants on the lands of Australia, when we cannot find blocks for those already here and anxious to go on. the land. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) knows that men from all parts of Australia apply for any areas of good land offered for selection in his electorate. There are thousands of men in Australia who are anxious to take up any land that offers ft reasonable business proposition. That is the position all over Australia. The class of immigrants that we want are not men whose passage-money has to be paid for them.
– What class do we want ?
– We want men who, before leaving Great Britain, have proved that they are capable of saving enough money to pay their own fares to Australia.
– The honorable member suggests that we want capitalists?
– I. say that the class of men we want are those who, before leaving the Old Country, show that they have the capacity to save. We do not want to bring here penniless men. What chance will they have of settling on the land?
– Is the honorable member’s test of a man’s worth the amount to the credit of his banking account ?
– A man who will not “save money in England is not likely to be an asset to this country.
– Does the honorable member say that a man who has not been able to save money in the Old Country is of no use to us? Is that the honorable member’s test?
– There are honorable members opposite who say of men already here that they are worthless because they do not save money.
– The honorable member is making a dreadful charge against the English people.
– It is the same all over the world.
– The honorable member really ought not to make such a statement.
– I again appeal to honorable members to cease interjecting. Interjections lead to disorder, are manifestly unfair to the Chair, and make it almost impossible for Hansard, in the confusion of voices, to correctly report the honorable member who is speaking.
– I was pointing out that this money would not be spent in assisting the. desirable class of immigrants that we want. We want men with money and experience to come to Australia. We do not desire to bring here men who will hang about our cities and who are prepared to take another man’s job at a lower wage than he is receiving. We have had many examples of that kind.
– Do not forget that the men who made Australia what it is came out without money or experience.
– If we go back still further, many good men were brought here as convicts, but the honorable member would not say that we should allow more convicts to be brought here.
– Still, it is no crime to be poor.
– It is a crime to induce men without means to come here in the belief that they are going to better themselves, when, in reality, they will be forced to compete with others in an already over-supplied labour market. It cannot be denied that we have in Australia at the present time a surplus of the most desirable class of labour. We have men with special claims for consideration - returned soldiers and fathers of families - out of work. Week after week appeals are issued on behalf of hungry women and children in our big cities j yet we are asked to vote £162,000 to bring here penniless immigrants who will help to swell the ranks of the unemployed. There is nothing statesmanlike in such a proposal. To give effect to it will be simply to add to the misery already existing in Australia.
– The honorable member does not claim that unemployment in Australia is due to immigration?
– It is one of the causes of unemployment. A penniless immigrant - ^because he is penniless - is prepared to work for a lower wage (ian is the man already in a job. I have known a man to .be discharged and an immigrant, who was prepared to work for a lower wage, to be put in his place. That sort of thing contributes to unemployment. There might be some reason in a proposal to bring here men with money aud experience as farmers - men who are prepared to work on the sharefarming system - or capable artisans for whom employment may be found in the new avenues of industry that we expect, as the result of the Tariff, to open up. The type of immigrant we. want is not the man for whose passage out here we have to pay. By spending this £162,000 on the settlement of land-hungry men0 already in Australia we could achieve far better results and at the same time open up avenues of industry for immigrants who might afterwards come here. The only/ result of the expenditure «sf this sum of money on immigration will foe that we shall bring to Australia a large body of men who will be quickly disillusioned and who, taking the first opportunity to return to Great Britain, will constitute the worst advertisement we could possibly have. Immigration agents we know are selected because of their ability to draw beautiful word pictures of the opportunities in Australia, and many men will be disillusioned.
– And the opportunities are here.
– If they exist, why is it that thousands of deserving men, including hundreds of returned soldiers, are unable to get work?
– The honorable member knows that many of them will not leave the city.
– Does the honorable member say that many returned soldiers will not leave the cities ?
– I do. Many of them will not.
– Many of them will not go on the land.
– What about the men who are prepared to go on the land but cannot obtain blocks? Ever since I reached the eligible age I have been balloting for land, but have not been able to secure one.
– Not in the district in which -the honorable member has been trying to get a block.
– I have tried in various parts of New, South Wales and Queensland; in short, wherever there has been a ballot for a block that offered a good business proposition. As many as 700 men have gone to a ballot for four blocks of land at Longreach, Queensland.
– What was the area of the blocks ?
– They ranged from 10,000 to 15,000 acres. A block of 10,000 acres is necessary in that part of Queensland to provide a reasonable living for a man. Does the honorable member object to a man holding such an area? Will he oblige the Committee by stating the acreage of his holdings ?
– I do not object to a man holding such an area.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– I again appeal to honorable members to restrain themselves. I do not desire to name any honorable member, and I ask all parties to help me to maintain order.
– I am sure, sir, that no one desires to defy your ruling. The trouble is that some honorable members can only interrupt because they have no fixed ideas of their own. If this vote of £162,000 were spent in developing hew markets for our primary producers - if the facilities of Australia House were used, not for immigration purposes, but in endeavouring to secure new markets for our wool, wheat, meat, hides, jams, preserved fruits, and other products - greater encouragement would be given to the men already on the- land, and an inducement would be offered to people with money and experience to settle in Australia. I hope that this item will not be passed. We should, at least, have submitted to us a definite scheme of immigration. It will be open to the Prime Minister’s Department, according to the statement made here this evening by the Prime Minister, to spend this sum on a big publicity campaign that will achieve nothing. It can be used to pay the whole of the passage money of intending immigrants who, when they reach here, will have nothing with which to make a start. The more surplus labour we have in Australia the greater will be the demand on the part of employers to reduce wages. They will say that the law of supply and demand should operate, and that as there is much surplus labour, wages should come down in order that the law of supply and demand should operate and more employment be found. Thus the last stage of immigration will be worse than the first. It is not a question of bringing millions of people to Australia in order to provide more employment. If employment and prosperity depended solely on population, then, as the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony^ has pointed out, China, India, and Japan should be the most prosperous countries in the world. We know that they are not. Poverty and degradation and the lowest standard of living prevail there. What is required is proper organization. If the men already in Australia who have experience of farming, and who are inured to hardship, were assisted to settle on the land, they would create avenues of employment for the men who came after them. Instead of asking men to go into heavily timbered country, such as has been spoken of this afternoon, opportunities should be given for settlement on land already (opened up by railways. If this were done, there would be a different tale to tell, and more people to bear the debt that presses so heavily on the community to-day.
.- Having for a long time been of the opinion that the cut-throat competition, between the States to secure immigrants is not in the best interests of Australia, I shall support the retention of the item which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has moved to om IL The arrangement with the Premiers, under which, the Commonwealth secures the immigrants and the States undertake to settle them, is a common-sense one, and should have been made many years ago. May I describe my own experiences in London when, in 1908, I visited; several of the offices established there by the States to stimulate emigration te* Australia? My first visit to London wasmade in 1905, when, being curious to see Canada, I crossed to the Dominion in a Canadian emigrant ship. I did the same thing again in 1907, and in 1908. In consequence of statements that had been made to me by Englishmen who had emigrated to Canada, I went to the offices of .several of our Agents-General, posing as an Englishman who desired to emigrate to Australia to take up land there. Being a good Victorian, I went fr* to the offices of the Victorian Agent-Gen^ ral, and was there given pamphlets which were splendidly illustrated with pictures of rosy cheeked Australian girls picking apples, and beautiful pastures with dairy cows crossing streams - in short, a presentment of the State as an earthly paradise. I was also furnished with figure?, about exports, imports, mining, and other industries, and much other information. 1 remarked to the officer in charge that I had heard that New South Wales was a good place to go to, and asked him if he could give me any information about that State. He said that he had no information about it to give me, being on the staff of the Victorian Agent-General, but that he could assure me that, while there was a good deal of land available for selection in New South Wales, theclimate was not as reliable as that of Victoria. “As a matter of fact.” he added, “during the great drought of 1902 over 20,000,000 sheep perished there.” When I went to the office of the AgentGeneral for New South Wales, the officer who saw me pitched a very good tale, provided me with literature about the
State, showing it to be as Victoria was pictured, a land flowing with milk and honey, and gave me a glowing account r f its possibilities. When I mentioned Victoria to him, he said that the State was prosperous, and contained some of the best land in the Commonwealth, but that the sons of thousands of Victorian farmers had crossed the Murray into New South Wales in search of land, and, “obviously,” he said, “ if they could not obtain land in Victoria it would be difficult for a newcomer to do so.” I then went to the office of the Agent-General for Western Australia. He deserved a rise in salary, he put the case for his State so well. It was, he informed me, six days nearer to the Home markets than the eastern States, and the agriculturists there had two markets to send to - the overseas market and the local market; because local requirements of primary produce were not fully met by local production. He gave me figures showing the imports from the eastern States. He mentioned the area of this wonderful State, its possibilities, and the sparseness of its population. I said that Queensland also looked large on the map, and appeared to be sparsely populated. “Yes,” he replied, “ Queensland is a very big State; but, between you and me, its climate is hardly suitable for Englishmen. The heat in summer is terrific, and the mosquitoes would eat one alive.” An intending emigrant who had visited the various Australian offices would have collected a large bundle of pamphlets containing pictures and statements of fact and statistics; would have heard of the good farming land in Victoria, but would know that the sons of Victorian farmers were crossing the Murray to get land in New South Wales, where, . in 1902, 20,000,000 sheep died of drought; and would remember the mosquitoes in Queensland. In the end, such a man would go to Canada, our Governments waiting in vain for him. In contrast with the bungling and mismanagement of the Australian State offices were the good methods of the Canadian Government. I took advantage of the opportunities provided by that Government. Canada had but one immigration office in London, and sought immigrants, not for one district or another, but, for the Dominion. Her officials did not extol the advantages of Ontario over Mani- toba, or of Saskatchewan over British Columbia. They recognised that prosperity within a country will, like water, find its own level; that if one district is more prosperous than another, the movement of population between them. will soon equalize matters. The first question you were asked in the’ Canadian office was, “ To what part of Canada do you desire to emigrate?” Should the intending emigrant say that he did not know, he would be asked what kind of farming he intended to follow. If he said mixed farming, he would probably be advised to go to Ontario or New Ontario ; if he said wheatgrowing, to Saskatchewan or Alberta; or, if fruit-growing, to British Columbia. There was thus a continuous stream of emigration from the Old Country to Canada. Canada had this advantage over Australia, that the fare across the Atlantic was only £5 5s., whereas the lowest fare to Australia at that time was £14. I frequently asked fellow passengers why they .had not gone to Australia, and their reply was usually that it was cheaper to go to Canada and, if they failed there, easier to get back to England. I found, too, that most of thom had a brother, cousin, or some other relative in Canada who was doing well there, and had advised them’ to come out. It is through the mail-bags that an immigration policy is made or broken.
The basis of any large immigration scheme must be, as previous speakers have indicated, land settlement; chiefly - I do not say wholly - on Crown lands. Before any such scheme can succeed - and I speak feelingly on this subject, because, eight years ago, I went back to the northern Mallee and set myself to the task of hewing a home there out of the bush - the States must make the conditions easier for those who settle on Crown land. In Victoria - and I speak not only of the north-western parts, known as the Mallee, but also of the Beech Forest district and Gippsland - the settlers on Crown land do not get a fair deal. Men who take a wife and family into the bush, to make -a living on land that has previously produced nothing, should be given a title to it free of charge, provided that they comply with certain conditions of residence and improvement. Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.
– When we adjourned for dinner, I was stressing the necessity for the development of our Crown lands, which should be the basis of a comprehensive immigration scheme. As an illustration of what a vigorous development of Crown lands will do, we have before us the history of the United States of America. One of the greatest and most rapid examples of the settlement of vast areas of virgin country that the world has, probably, ever seen occurred there, say, between 1860 and 1885. There was a rush such as has rarely been seen; and the cause was the fact that land was cheap - it was cheap land that caused the agricultural boom in the United States of America. The land settlement conditions in Victoria are not such as are likely to create a similar rush. The conditions in this State will have to be radically altered if we are to get anywhere near a comprehensive scheme of settlement. I am well aware that this is a State matter, but the Commonwealth is interested, inasmuch as it has to advance the money to finance the absorption of the immigrants.
Perhaps my own experience as a settler on Crown lands in Victoria will not bo uninteresting - not that I desire to talk about myself, but my experience is typical of that of many others. I worked as a farm labourer in northern Victoria, saved a few pounds, and then endeavoured to get on to Crown lands, for the reason that I had not capital enough to undertake an improved block. I applied through the various Land Boards for a block of Mallee land, and for two solid years, though I applied again and again, I was unsuccessful.
– Who kept, you off, the landlords?
– Yes; they evidently considered I was not a desirable settler, or not likely, to be a successful one. There I was, an Australian, who had never been on the land before, and it was not until after a lapse of two years that I was able to get a block.
– You were lucky !
– If, as I gather from the interjection, there are cases similar to mine to be found in other States, I think that before we embark on a large scheme of immigration, more than one State will have to overhaul its system of land settlement. Let us take the case of the settlement of returned soldiers on Crown lands. In northern Victoria these men are charged for the land according to the classification, and for first-class land they have to pay £1 2s. 6d. an acre:
– Have returned soldiers to pav that?
– Yes; that is the price, on extended terms, for virgin land. These men are given an advance of £625 towards the cost of clearing, and that money, of course, has to be repaid. I have always maintained that the men who went overseas and fought are entitled to a block of scrub land without any such charge. If anybody has earned a right to a piece of this country, and scrub at that, it is those men. As a member of the Victorian Parliament I fought in support of the adoption of that view and failed; and to-day returned soldiers are being settled on the same terms, which, no doubt, will continue to be imposed so long as they can be induced to go to the northern parts of this State.
– Is there not the difficulty that if land were now given for nothing, an equivalent would have to be given to every soldier?
– And if so, I do not know that we would be doing too much. I am not advocating the indiscriminate giving away of Crown lands, but if these men are prepared to erect a residence and cultivate the land, it is not asking too much to grant them a free title to a living area.
– Do not the majority of soldiers prefer improved properties ?
– They did, but I have a shrewd suspicion that a good many will regret their decision. I hope there will be no failures, but if there are, I think very few will be fouud amongst those who went on Crown lands ; the failures will be amongst those who have been placed on high-priced land, with a burden of interest around their necks: In fact, such repatriation is the repatriation of the wealthy land-owner, and not of the returned soldier. A “digger” who went overseas to fight comes home only to work, in order to find interest to keep the wealthy land-owner in idleness; that, boiled down, is only too frequently the case under our repatriation scheme.
I should like to say a few words in regard to the immigration scheme itself, and, first of all, as to the class of immigrant. A good deal has been said from the Opposition benches about unemployment in this country. I recognise that there is a regrettably large amount of unemployment, and I quite appreciate the point raised by my honorable friends opposite, and understand that portion of their criticism of the immigration scheme. But there seems to me to be rather a strange and anomalous situation. When I was in the country last week I saw, not hundreds, but thousands, of acres of hay unstooked for want of labour, and in every town I met farmers who had left their farms in search of men. At the same time, in our big capital cities there are men unemployed; and it would seem as if there was a lack of organization somewhere.
– There are thousands of men looking for work in the wheat districts of New South Wales, and cannot get it.
– I am now stating facts relating to northern Victoria.
– Do you not think there is something wrong in a system which permits that sort of thing ?
– There is something wrong somewhere, and it suggests need for inquiry, with a view to devising some scheme whereby surplus labour in one part tff the country may be moved to another part where there is a shortage. It is a dead less to the country when there are unreaped crops, and machines and horses are idle for lack of men to work them. The class of immigrant that is undoubtedly wanted is, first of all, farm labourers; and secondly, domestic servants. Then, I strongly urge that in any scheme of immigration special efforts should be made to attract young people from the ages of, say, fourteen to eighteen to this country. Such immigrants are absolutely the best that we could attract from the point of view of agricultural requirements. Young people are always more adaptable than the old, and more readily absorb the ideas and fall in with the mode of living of a new country. Another very important point that should not be lost sight of is the necessity for supervision on board ship. It was found some time ago, on the emigrant ships to Canada, when there were large numbers offering, and there was a good deal of overcrowding, that considerable dissatisfaction was caused, and the emigrants landed in rather a nasty mood. Many of them regretted long before they reached the new, country that they had left the old one. AsI say, strict supervision should be exercised by the Commonwealth over the ships used for immigrants. It would also be an advantage if instructors were placed on board to give lectures; and those instructors should, if possible, be Englishmen who have been to Australia and made good. If such lectures were given they would do a good deal towards helping the immigrants to find their feet when they got here. Then we must not forget that on arrival a good reception is worth much. Many of us who are settled here do not realize the feelings of those strangers arriving in a strange land: and if would be very helpful, indeed, ifthey found a welcome.
– There is a movement to that end.
– I am well aware of the fact, and my remarks are really in support of that movement. When the immigrants arrive in a capital city, no matter which, they should be taken straight a’way to the country, not left hanging around the streets. I am now speaking from the agricultural point of view; and I suggest that for farm labourers there shouldbe depots in the leading agricultural centres where labour is scarce. There also should be, I do not like the term “ barracks,” but there should be some equivalent, where immigrants might have board and lodging. These institutions could be utilized as labour bureaux, with a manager to each. The farmers and other employers would soon know where to go to look for labour, and the managers could keep the authorities, say, in Melbourne, acquainted with the requirements of the district.
– If there were no Ialbour for these men, does the honorable member propose that they should be maintained in those hostels?
-With proper management, I am positive there would be no congestion of men in such depots as I suggest. In regard to employment, developmental works, such as the construction of railways, will be found a useful means of giving new arrivals a start in the country, but construction work of that kind is not the most suitable training for a man who is to go upon the land. Many of the areas we shall have to settle are those in which the rainfall is1 light, and the standard of farming necessarily high. Farming is one of the most difficult sciences to successfully practise. Many people think that all one need do to become a successful farmer is to acquire a piece of land, a team of horses and some agricultural machines, and then’ to proceed to make money. Many people hold that opinion until a couple of years’ experience teaches them otherwise.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I have taken a very deep interest in the policy adopted in the State of “Western Australia for the reception of immigrants. Every honorable member who has spoken has suggested the need of some organization for dealing with the immi-^ grants on their arrival in Australia. Western Australia in the last few years has made a greater effort to encourage immigration than has any other State, with the result that not only has the number of immigrants increased, but agricultural production has increased 100 per cent. During the last few months we have discussed various suggestions for increasing production. I thin£, that development of the secondary industries should proceed side by side with the development of our agricultural resources. I would be the hist in the world to favour the introduction of immigrants to take the place of wage-earners who consider that they are not getting a fair remuneration for their labour. But immigration has advanced beyond that stage; if it has not, the people. at the head of affairs are not fit for their positions if they cannot devise some means of removing the possibilities of wage-cutting by that means. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) has spoken of the consequences of the lack of organization in England. Recently the Agent-General for Western Australia, at the request of his Government, made a determined effort to get immigrants, and the organizer who was sent to England to assist in that work was not a man with experience on the land, but was a good railway officer. I contend that when we are choosing.’ men for an immigration mission we should select only such as are well acquainted with conditions on the land and the job to which the immigrants will have to apply themselves on arrival. It is not the province of the Federal Government to interfere with any domestic legislation or administration by the States; Settlement on the land is purely a State matter, and each State should be allowed to work out its own scheme, the Federal Government assisting financially. ‘ The immigration agents sent from. Western Australia found that they could get more immigrants than the Government could’1 provide land for immediately. The sum placed in this schedule for encouraging immigration is altogether inadequate. All the votes to which we have agreed so far have been mainly for the purpose of making conditions on the land more congenial. Every honorable member is desirous that more money should be spent upon postal, telegraphic, and telephonic services, and those are’ things which will assist immigration ; but I believe it would be a sinful waste of money to employ immigrants in clearing the land which they are to cultivate later. I speak with a knowledge gained through association with a big investigation into this question. We found that when the larger farmers in a district had work to offer, they gave it to any neighbouring selectors who had had previous experience of Australian farming conditions. It was natural to prefer the Australians to the immigrants for that reason, and thus the latter were deprived of the opportunity of gaining experience and earning money. There has been a good deal of talk of unemployment. Undoubtedly there are unemployed at the present time : but there are also unem-. playable, and the difficulty is to separate the two. If unemployment exists to the extent which honorable members opposite allege, the problem might be partially solved by engaging gangs of men to clear land in advance of settlement,” so that it will be ready for occupation by the immigrant selector on his arrival. The average Australian would be of more use on that class of work than would the average immigrant. There is laud in Australia, that can be cleared for £1 per acre. If a . gang of 100 men were employed in a dis.trict they could clear 100 acres per- day..
– Does the honorable member reckon that a man can clear 1 acre of scrub land per day.
– I say there is land that can be, and is being cleared, for £1 per acre.
– It cannot be done.
– It is done.
– There is land, available for immigrants to-day that has been cleared for £1 per acre. It is the duty of the States to give this work of preparing land for the immigrants to men who b thoroughly understand it, and then hand over the cleared land to the immigrant or local selector who wants it. That policy will do a good turn to both the selector and the State, but particularly to the immigrant, because the land will not be over-capitalized, as it will be if inexperienced new arrivals are employed to do the preparatory work. The Commonwealth might assist this policy very considerably by advances of money. All the men who are unemployed do not desire work on the land ; but .1 am sure that if work were available at which a man could earn 15s. or £1 per day in clearing land, no man would remain unemployed long unless he were one of the unemployable. If big gangs of men were engaged on this work they could use up-to-date methods. On much of the land of which. I have spoken , the scrub could be rolled down and burnt off very cheaply, and the land would soon be in readiness for the immigrant to start cultivation. The Prime Minister spoke of an advance of £16 to a man to enable him to develop his land. I think that in addition to clearing the land in advance, it is the duty of the State to also supply the selector with a certain number of stock, say, two or three cows and sufficient horses and machinery, with which to work his holding. Make the cost of the stock and machinery a charge upon the property. ‘ Then if the selector, after having been given a reasonable opportunity under the most advantageous conditions cannot make a success of his holding, the State should step in and transfer the block to somebody else. I believe in child immigration. I have had the opportunity of seeing at least one scheme which has proved a big success in # Australia, and I know that a gentleman who is representing a body of people in Great Britain interested in child emigration to Australia is willing to give £1 for £1, up to £25,000, if the Commonwealth Government will assist this form of immigration. When the children are brought out, the State takes charge of their education until they are nineteen years of age, but when they have reached that age, they are fully educated, not only on ordinary lines, but also in regard to Australian conditions, and consequently make good Australian citizens. I have seen some of the scholars in one institution who are now on the land doing exceedingly well.
– At what age would the children be brought out here?
– At ‘ anything between fourteen and fifteen years. The amount provided in this schedule for immigration is not too much. Notwithstanding the resolution passed at the Premiers’ Conference, I contend that it is the duty of the Commonwealth Government merely to assist immigration, and not to interfere with the domestic side of it, allowing the States to continue doing the work they have been carrying on for many years past. Under the -organized scheme now in operation in Western Australia, the Australian desirous of taking up land can do so under most excellent conditions. He is not only given certain moneys from the Agricultural Bank; he is also assisted by the Industries Assistance Board with machinery, stock, and everything necessary. The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) says that it is impossible for him to get land. That may be so in New South Wales, but it is not impossible for him, or any. one who is genuinely looking for1 land, to get it in Australia, and under the very best of conditions. Those honorable members who say that they cannot get land are speaking of a very small portion of the Commonwealth.
– I did not say that it was impossible to get land; I said it was very difficult to obtain any.
– I know that the honorable member did not say that it was impossible to get it.
– It is possible to get it at a price.
– Land that will grow wheat under payable conditions, or upon which mixed farming can be carried on at a profit, can- be obtained in Western Australia at anything from 9s. to 20s. per acre, and that price is not unreason- able. There is a large area of such land available. II ia all very well for honorable members to say that people are land hungry. Many men who were land hungry in Victoria years ago went to Western Australia, and are now on the land there doing exceedingly well.
– How far are they from a railway?
– A railway runs through a great deal of their land. I do not want the Committee to judge the whole of Australia by the conditions existing in the eastern States. I know that there is very little Crown land available in Victoria, that can be said to be of any use, and most of the forest land of that State still available is not firstclass land. . Much of the Crown land still available in New South Wales is also not first-class land, but, nevertheless, there is much non-alienated land in Australia on which I would like to see immigrants settled. An honorable member has said that the State AgentsGeneral are fighting one another in London. They are not only doing that, they are also vilifying Australia by saying that certain portions of the continent, in comparison with their own State, are no good. That is the sort of thing we want to avoid, and it is in that direction that the Commonwealth can do good work. The Commonwealth authorities ought to do the * shovel work in London, leaving the rest of the task to the States. An honorable member has spoken of the conditions prevailing on boats which bring out immi- grants. I suppose that during the last three and a half years I have seen more of the people coming out to Australia in these boats than has any other man in the Commonwealth. With the exception of three, I have been on every steamer bringing back our soldiers since demobilization commenced. I am aware that the conditions on some of the boats upon which immigrants arrive are not all that could be desired, just as they were not all that could be desired upon some of the vessels that took away our troops in the first instance, but there has been a big improvement. One difficulty which confronts the Immigration Department is the fact that whenever conditions on any boat are criticised, invariably the reply is that the Board of Trade Regulations in Great Britain allow them to carry actually more persons than they have oh board. Societies have been formed all over Australia to welcome immigrants. This is a step in the right direction, hut it would be better if hostels or immigrant homes were provided in every State, so that immigrants on their arrival could be housed until land is made ready for them. I give point blank denial to the statement that returned soldiers anxious to get land cannot obtain it. So far a3 Western Australia is concerned, no returned soldier wanting land has been prevented from getting it. If the Commonwealth Government provides the money necessary for the foundation work of immigration, it is the duty of the States to do their part in housing immigrants on their arrival, in putting them on the land and in keeping them there.
– We can only keep them there- by putting them on land under good conditions.
– The conditions can be made sufficiently good to keep them there. If we put people on the land through the agency of the States, the States must do all they can to keep them there.
– In the northern Mallee people formerly sneeringly described as immigrants are among the best farmers to-day.
– The same remark applies equally to other portions of the Commonwealth. Some honorable members who have had the opportunity of going through the Mallee land know that there is much of it available to-day. The .State will not be doing its duty if it does not make use of it, putting people on it and giving them a chance of successful settlement, as has been done in Western Australia. In this way we shall be deriving great good from our immigra-tion policy, leading to that greater production which alone will enable Australia to reach that desirable stage at which its exports will exceed its imports.
.- It is very interesting to hear the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Foley) advocating immigration. I hold in my hand a newspaper clipping showing that British soldiers who have travelled through Western Australia looking for work have written to a Conservative organ, stating that men are employed there on farms at £1 and £1 5s. per week, and that the only inducement held out to, them to regain qm the. land in Western Australia w.a,s employment in clearing la-nd a,t 15s. per. acre. I can understand hpiw ii is that some, honorable members are anxious, tq get. immigrants here, and put them, on good L^d;, !hut where has the Commonwealth, any goo,d land?. The S,ta,tes have it ajl. It, is impossible for the Commonwealth, to. put, people on any land.
– The. article, mentioned by the honorable, member appeared i» a Ballarat newspaper.
Mr.Mahony. - It is, an, interview, with a soljctier from Western Australia..,
-There ia another side to this, question of immigration. I represent a, Sydney constituency,. In. Sydney we haye, many unemployed, and I am convinced that the people of that city would not be. in favour, of the. Government spending a, large sum. of money in assisting people to come to this country, to. further, congest, an already glutted labour market.. Ioi the absenpe of any organized scheme >fqr- settling immigrants on the land I shall, vote against ‘ money being spent on immigration. I haye seen, an immigrant with. his. wife and children land hero wjth no one to. meet, him, andno one to direct him. to a, place where he could obtain accommodation.
– The trouble is-, that our big cities are overcrowded.
– Men, prefer to remain inqur cities where they can earn a fair, living, rather than be sweated in the country. Men do not leave the town for the country because they know that they cannot obtain in rural districts anything like the return for their- labour which employment in a city offers-. It is. cruel to advocate a big immigration, policy unless we can provide for- those who- are brought here under- it. When New. South’ Wales, some years agOj was encouraging, immigration-, the. Government provided- a. large I immigration t bureau, . orj barracks, where - new. arrivals . could: be-: housed, for . a few- weeks until’’ employment could be found >f or- them. Immigrants,; on arrival, were met by -Government., official? and assisted to find employment.- No. such; scheme is proposed . in this . case. . Thet Federal Government, has its principal immigration machinery in Great Britain.. I should like to.-know whatithat. machineryis costing. The: Director, of- Immigration-. -Mr. Percy Hunter- whose -offices are -in: Australia House,, receives £1,500 04 £,2,000 a year, and has a staff to assist him. We also have an immigration staff here. Are we to spend, all this money on the preliminary arrangements for carrying out, an immigration policy The best way to attract, people to Australia is to make the country prosperous. W,e could haye no better advertisement than we should have if people were able- to write to their friends in the Old Country saying, that there was plenty of employment at reasonable, rates of. wages offering in. Australia. But whilst, we have in this House, and. elsewhere, men. howling for economy,, for the cutting, dowm of public expenditure, a<nd the stopping of public works* it, is wrong, to encourage, immigration. We- are told that immigrants must be settled on the land,. I am a city man,, and would, not gp on the land. I should’ probably be a failure as a farmer, since t have had. no experience of farming operations. There are thousands of. people in the Old Country who are anxious tocome here, but who, like myself, have had. no. experience as agriculturists. Themajority of them,, if- placed on the land; would not- succeed’. Some, no- doubt,, might be successful, because the fact that they were prepared’ to travel so ‘far with the object of: bettering- their condition would show that they were men- of grit’ and spirit. Something- more than grit, however, is needed. What is wanted-‘ isalso capital. Then, again, when an immigrant lands- here he should be assisted- to find employment. He should’ receive sympathetic treatment, but he gets none. The Government seem to think that, having brought a man and his- family ‘here;, they have done all that should be ex? pected- of them, and- they- are left to- “ paddle their- own canoe.”
– That may be done by the Labour- Government’ of 1 New South’ Wales, (but -it is -not done here.
– So far- as immigration’ is concerned, Victoria has nothing” of which to boast. ‘Most of- the unemployed’ in New South Wales, to-day. have, comer from, other States- because the LabourGovernment there are making, special” effprts to find, work- for t”he unemployed. If - w.e. were, carrying, out- a. vigorousscheme, of . public works, and. had. madeproper provision for the employment . of immigrants on- their arrival hprej . I should be- prepared to vote, for -this item.i If, for instance, the Murray Waters Con?.- serration scheme ‘had been, completed, with the result that we had thousands of acres of irrigalble land ready for settlement, I should not object to this proposal, nor should I object if the unification of our railway gauges, which . would provide employment for thousands of people, was about to be carried out. We have, however, no big public works going on at the present time.
– We do not need public works to provide employment.
– The honorable member thinks, apparently, that we need only to grow wheat. I remind him that we require to develop out secondary, as well as our primary, industries. Although we have a population of only a little over 5,000,000, we produce- far more wheat and meat than we can consume, and are anxious to find overseas new markets for our surplus products. If we were not producing sufficient for our own requirements, I could appreciate this demand foT the settlement of more people on the land ; but we are actually producing more corn and meat than we can consume. The result of the over-production of wheat in Australia is that the bottom has fallen out of the wheat market. We have, however, to pay 9s. a bushel for wheat intended for flour for local consumption, whereas our wheat is selling overseas for 5s. per bushel. ‘Our primary producers are making local consumers pay double rates for their bread and meat, and we are supplying our jam manufacturers with sugar at special rates for the manufacture of jam for export, so that foreigners may get cheap jam. The local consumer is being “hit up “ in order to keep the primary producer on the land. When are we ‘to hear the last of all this nonsense?Can we employ the people whom it is proposed to bring here? Are we to put more people on the land, so as to bring about a greater glut in the market?
– We shall have to “go slow.”
– Some of the farmers do; although they do not let their employees go slow. Our party stands for the development of this country on sound lines. With a strong demand for all classes of labour, it would be unnecessary to encourage immigration. The fact that plenty of employment was offering -would itself attract immigrants to Australia. Eor the three years immediately preceding the war, we had a Labour Government in power, and it did so much to develop the prosperity of the Commonwealth ‘that thousands or immigrants were attracted to our shores.
– What were the fares from Great Britain to Australia in those days?
– As soon as the Commonwealth Line is in full swing I hope that ‘freight’s and fares will come down. I shall oppose this item, but should it be agreed to, I hope that the whole bf it willnot be spent on a publicity campaign, or the building up of large immigration staffs in England and Australia. It would be better for the Government to join with the Governments of the States in organizing for the proper reception of immigrants when they land here, and in providing them with employment by means of a vigorous public works policy. We cannot hope to secure prosperity by increasing taxation to get rid of our war debt, and at the same time stopping all public works. The best way to make this country prosperous is to inaugurate a bold policy of developmental public works. If that be done this country will very soon go ahead. There are other items to which I should like to refer, but as I do not wish to prolong the debate I shall content myself with the statement that I intend to vote for the amendment.
.- According to the speech made bythe honorable member who just resumed his seat the prosperity of this country can. be assured only by the borrowing of large sums of money for expenditure on public works.
– I do not wish to be misrepresented. I did not say that we should borrow for public works.
– I think the Hansard report of the honorable member’sspeech will show that he said that the best way to bring about prosperity and to provide employment in this country was to borrow money for a bold policy of public works.
– I did not say we should borrow money for the purpose.
– I do not know how we could otherwise obtain the necessary funds to carry out Huge public works designed to provide much employment.
– There is plenty of money here.
– There will he some difficulty in finding it. I am somewhat pessimistic with regard to the financial outlook. I feel that we can get hack to our old time prosperity and that the Tariff with which we have just been dealing can be made of some value to this country only by increasing, production. If we cannot induce large numbers of people to settle on the land, and so to provide markets for those employed in the secondary industries in our cities there will be little hope forour big centres of population in the future. I am rather surprised that honorable members of the Labour party realizing the necessity for a. larger population and for increased production are not prepared to support a scheme designed to achieve those objects.
Mr.Fenton. - We are prepared to support a sensible scheme, but no details of this proposal have been given. The Government have no scheme.
– I have no desire to enter into details relating to matters that are absolutely within the control of the States. Are not honorable members opposite aware of the enormous influx of population into Canada, and the consequent increase in its production as the result of a live immigration policy? Canada is much closer to Great Britain than we are, and has the magnificent markets of the United States of America alongside, and those of Europe within a few days’ sail. That certainly is a great advantage, but with a glorious country such as we have we should be able to induce thousands of immigrants to settle here. Will any one say that our present population is sufficient? How are we to carry on unless we have a greatly increased population?
– Will any one say that those who have been on the land during the last two years have not done well ?
– The majority of those who settled on the land have done remarkably well. I have read with great interest the articles . recently published in the A ge in regard to land settlement in the Western District of Victoria, showing not only closer settlement there, but a wonderful production of wealth. We need to increase our population and increase our wealth. Not long ago the North Australian Development League had displayed in the Queen’s Hall a copy of a map which was published in Japan only a few weeks after the Armistice. It showedin outline Australia, and within its borders, making a band round the coast were drawn to scale the area of every country of Europe except Russia. Any one examining that map must have been startled by the contrast between the immense territory occupied by the few millions who populate Australia and that which supports the teeming populations of Europe, a territory in which we demand unfettered control, but which we have yet done little to develop. With our glorious climate and fertile soil we might well have in the near future a population of 15,000,000 or 20,000,000, and. we must make special efforts to increase our population if we wouldhold what we have. During the last decade the increase of our city population has been altogether out cf proportion to that of our rural population, which has relatively decreased. We must have more people settled in the country to increase our production. If this is not done, and we have a bad season, there will be misery and destitution in the cities. None of us desires that. We wish our people to be prosperous and contented. Western Australia is trying to establish a big immigration scheme, and desires the ‘assistance of the Federal Government. I hope that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will withdraw his amendment.
– There is no fear of that.
– Some of those who come here from abroad will remain in our cities; but no honorable member on this side of the chamber wishes to attract immigrants to increase our city populations. I should like the State Governments to formulate schemes which may induce people to leave the cities and go on the land, giving them assistance to settle there. Some time ago in Western Australia a good many members of the Public Service had to be retrenched, and Sir James Mitchell, the Premier of the State, made an area available to them, giving them special concessions if they would settle on it. The consequent settlement at Yorkrakine has been marvellously successful. Then, again, when during a time of depression a number of wharf lumpers were unable to get work in Fremantle, many of them were settled under Government super- vision in the country, also with, success. Recently a large number of the Labour members of the Western Australian Parliament, with others, have made a tour of the country, and in the local newspapers they have made known how greatly they have been impressed with the possibility of establishing a large population in the south-western districts of the State. Mr. De Garis hopes to settle about 7,000 persons at Kendenup on a comparatively small area which was formerly occupied by very few, and land is being bought there at high prices. We want the States to make definite proposals to the Commonwealth Government. Western Australia is doing this, and the Prime Minister has promised to lend - not to give - money to all the States in aid of schemes for land settlement of which the Commonwealth Government approves. We have promised to aid the States to finance good solid schemes of land settlement.
– I asked the Prime Minister whether the money would not be available until the schemes had been approved by the Commonwealth Government.
– The schemes must be approved before an advance is made. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) told us in regard to the item under discussion that the sum of £12 is advanced to immigrants for passage money, and in some instances an additional £16 is lent to them. Australia has now its great opportunity to profit by the desire of persons in the Old Country to settle abroad. A large number of British reservists and men used to rural occupations are leaving their homeland to go to Canada and to the Argentine, and I am satisfied that if we make good proposals, we shall attract a large stream of immigration to this country, and settle immigrants on the land.
– That is not being done.
– It is being done in Western Australia, at any rate. In the south-western part of that State there are large areas of country now carrying good timber, which is well suited to fruitgrowing, and also makes good grazing country when cleared. Then, again, in its eastern belt there are many hundreds of square miles of good agricultural country. The State has an enormous mileage of railways; indeed, too large a mileage compared with its population, and we wish to take advantage of the present position to realize our hope for the development of our territory. I wish to see population increase largely both in Western Australia and in Queensland. If it does, there will be a big increase in production. We need to produce more. We have an enormous debt, and the more persons there are to shoulder it, the less will be the per capita burden. It was my experience on the goldfields of Western Australia that every miner carried four other persons on his back. Indeed, it is wonderful what a large community a prosperous agricultural or mining district will support. This Parliament having adopted a fiscal policy to insure the local manufacture of most of our requirements - a policy with which I have not been entirely in agreement - we must, if it is to succeed, and if the men engaged in secondary industries are to be kept in employment, increase our rural population. I ask the members of the Labour party not to regard immigration as inimical to the interests of Labour. If we can increase our population and our production, it will be better for Labour and for the community as a whole.
– I have listened to-day to the most remarkable speeches from the Opposition side of the Chamber; speeches that have been inconsistent from beginning to end. The statements that have been made only need probing to be shown to be wholly false. One might suppose, from these speeches, that we were now considering a proposal to flood our cities with immigrants, whereas it is proposed, not to bring immigrants to the cities, but to rectify the balance of city and country populations, which for many years has needed rectification. One of our great evils has been that our cities, for years past, have been getting more crowded, while the population in the country districts has been decreasing. The proposal before us is for the filling up of waste spaces, and one would think that the representatives of the densely populated industrial districts would welcome it as the best thing that has been before Parliament for many a long day. The Commonwealth Parliament has merely to find the money for land settlement, and need not worry about the details; they are the concern of the State authorities. The unanimity of the Premiers at the recent Conference, in regard to immigration, was most pleasing to me. A few weeks earlier the Premiers of New South Wales and Queensland were not friendly to the immigration movement, hut the other day, when all the Premiers met in conference with the Prime Minister, and the excuse which they had made for noncooperation, namely, the want of money, was removed, they fell into line, and indorsed the proposal that was put fairly before them.
– Who told the honorable member that?
– Does the honorable member dispute the statement?
– Then a false report of the proceedings of the Conference has been published officially.
– The £162,000 provided for in the item under discussion is not to be a loan to the States.
– No. Such a sum would be inadequate for this great work. Urgent as is the need for economy, I would vote for much larger expenditure than is proposed to stimulate immigration, because if there is one thing that the country needs it is population of the right type from the Old Land. This is needed in tho interests, not only of Australia, but also of the Empire.
– What is the right type?
– I told the honorable member in this Chamber about a month ago. Those who will be selected by the authorities under this scheme will be men of the right type. The immigrants are also to be nominated, and when they come here, those who have nominated them will take charge of them, and see that they are found employment, not in the cities, but in the country. Further - and this is one of the finest features of the scheme - intending immigrants are submitted to a medical examination almost as severe as that to which ‘the man who enlisted for the war had to submit. This means that we shall secure a finer class of immigrants physically than fever left the shores of the Homeland to settle the waste places of this country.
– Waste places?
– When I say that, I mean the empty spaces, and empty spaces are waste places.
– Worse than waste places !
– Quite so. We are criminally guilty and unworthy to hold this country if we are not prepared to take every opportunity to people and develop it. The highest moral right to own a country is not a parchment right, but is the power to keep and use it. If we are not prepared to reach that moral standard, so surely as night follows the day we shall not long hold this country. We now have an opportunity that is absolutely unique in our history, and unique in the history of the United Kingdom. The leaders at Home have come to recognise that the Old Land is overcrowded, leaving no room for development; and they desire to give relief by sending their people to the best and most promising places within the Empire. Such an opportunity we have never had before; and yet we find that there is not a vestige of assistance to come for this great movement from honorable members opposite. They raise all sorts of excuses, as we have heard in the course of this debate. Only the other day, let me repeat, two Premiers, belonging to the same political section as honorable members opposite, said at the Premiers’ Conference that what kept them back from adopting this scheme was the lack of funds; but when the funds were promised by the Prime Minister they readily fell into line.
– Not unconditionally.
– Certainly not, but on the very best conditions - the conditions that surrounded the scheme prior to the Conference. Those conditions provided that no immigrants were to be brought into the cities, but were to develop the country districts, and increase our primary production. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) is one of the most decent fellows we ever had in this House - though he may get a little wrong in his judgment occasionally - and even he spoke disparagingly of primary production, the farmers, and the wheatgrowers, insinuating that sweating was practised in the rural industries. Then the honorable member admitted that he knew nothing about the matter ; and there was evidence in his every word that he did not. Let me tell that gentleman that if it had not been for the wheat-growers, and the wheat production in Australia, we should not have got through last year, or through this current year, as we have done. If there is one thing needed it is to leave the cities alone for a time, and to pay our attention to broad acres and to the interior of the country. Then, again, I think.it was the same honorable member - though if it was not, I should like to get a “shot” at the honorable member who was responsible - who held up this miserable rag of a newspaper -
-It was the Register, of South Australia, which supports the honorable member.
– Which, is the Register? But I know too much of the miserable tactics of the honorable member who interjects to take any notice of what he says. Here we have another advertisement for Australia by the Labour party; and what is it? We are told . about some disastrous failure in the immigration scheme; and I got hold of the newspaper from which the honorable member for South Sydney was quoting. In that paper is given the case of a blacksmith striker, twenty-two or twenty-three years of age, who came as an immigrant to this country with 800 or 900 others, and was sent into the interior, where he worked for 25s. per week and his keep. That is not the standard wage in this country.
– In what newspaper are these statements published?
– In the Daily Herald of Adelaide, of which I do not think I have ever bought a copy, although it has been in existence almost twenty years. If that newspaper were worth anything, I should buy it every day.
– How do you know that it is not worth anything if you have not read it?
– I have heard a good deal about it. I have seen thousands of workmen going to their employment in some big industry in the mornings, and all reading the newspapers, but only 10 per cent, had the Daily Herald. I concluded that they knew the worth of the paper, and took the “tip.”
– Do you always follow such a lead?
– I follow, every decent man who can teach me anything, but I have never known the honorable member to be in a condition to do so, though I have seen him many a time trying to twist and misrepresent. Now let me turn to this poor blacksmith striker, who caine to this new country.
– Will the honorable member please discuss the matter before the Chair ?
– I am discussing the immigration policy, and the case of an immigrant brought out under that policy to Western Australia, a case that is quoted by honorable members opposite to damage our immigration prospects. I wish to show the falsity and hypocrisy of their whole attitude.
– He was a returned soldier.
– That does not alter the position one iota; unfortunately, there are wasters among the returned soldiers as well as elsewhere. This blacksmith striker came out to Australia to be the architect of his own fortune; and, as I say, he obtained work in the. country. However, he did not like the conditions; he did not like anything in the country, and trekked back to the city.
– Do you think 25s. per week and keep enough ?
– I dare say that it was twice as much, or a good deal more, than he had been getting under normal conditions in the Old Country. However, this blacksmith, striker is not the type of man we want for, this country. He is not the type that subdued the forests, and, in a comparatively short time, made Australia what it is to-day. It is a great mistake to imagine that, in order to make this scheme a’ success, we must bring immigrants from the Old Country and clap them down on their own. farms at once.’ Such a course would be an utter impossibility to begin with. These men require to be acclimatized, and must have time to understand the conditions of the country. Even assuming that they were all experienced farmers and farm labourers from England, we have to remember that there the treatment of the. soil, and all other conditions of rural industry are quite different from; what they are here, and it would be wise to give them experience for a year or two before they are allowed to “go on their own.” The financial assistance to be given by the Government is not only to provide land, but to do all that is essential in the development of new areas in the shape of roads, waterworks, railways, and so forth. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Foley) has said that the land for immigrants ought to be cleared.by the unemployed from the big cities; but I know too much to believe that the unemployed from the cities would undertake such work. What is required is to utilize the immigrants in that direction, and thus give them “ colonial experience “ to fit them for the future.
If ever there was a promising scheme of immigration it is the one before us, and we ought to embrace the opportunity. What is the best way to relieve ourselves of our crushing debt? The way is to develop primary production, and increase the population, because as we increase the population we decrease the debt per head. Why is it that honorable members opposite have “no time” for this scheme? It is because their leaders outside have given the verdict. But it is too late in the day to cast dust in the eyes of the people of the country, who know as well as we do that the dictum given outside is followed inside, though only half-heartedly by some who, if allowed, would like to do better.
– I am quite sure that if froth, bubble, and wind can build up a case, a case has been built up admirably by the honorable member (Mr. Richard Foster) who has just resumed his seat. That honorable member told us that he is prepared to follow anybody who would teach him, hut, in the same breath, he admitted that he reads only those newspapers that “barrack” for the political party with which he is associated.
– I did not say anything of the kind. The honorable member is grossly misrepresenting me.
– The honorable member produced a paper containing an interview with a returned soldier, and instead of taking the statements of that man. on their merits he denied their accuracy.
– I know they are not true.
– Instead of considering them on their merits, he went out of his way to libel the returned soldiers generally.
– That sort of “twaddle” will not do.
– The honorable member cannot wriggle out of it in that way. To use his own words, he said, “ There are wasters amongst returned soldiers as well as in every other section of the community.”
– Is not that true?
– I am not going to oast a reflection on those who have given their services to their country, particularly when numbers have returned after rendering a service which enabled the honorable member for Wakefield, and others of his type, to live in affluence. The honorable member for Wakefield, with others, enticed them to go abroad to fight for him, and in so doing he offered nothing but the highest praise; but now he has used them he adopts the amazing attitude of characterizing those who do not agree with him as “wasters.”
– That is a very unfair remark.
– I am sure the Minister for Works and Railways does not agree with the honorable member’s statement.
– I do not agree with the way the honorable member is misrepresenting the honorable member for Wakefield.
– Merely because the interview was given to a paper which did not support the policy of the honorable member, he criticised the man in a most unreasonable way. I do not wish to do the honorable member for Wakefield an injustice, but I have quoted his own words, and surely he cannot find fault with me for doing that. Let us examine the position in regard to the so-called immigration policy of the Government: The honorable member for Wakefield said that he embraced the scheme, but he did not give us the slightest indication of what it was.
– The honorable member knows the policy of the Government.
– Does any one know? Under this Bill, provision is made for the expenditure of £162,000 for assisting immigration, but there is not one -word of explanation as to what the scheme involves, and. how the money is to be expended.
– If the honorable member does not know, he should be ashamed to make such an admission.
– If the honorable member is conversant with all the details, he should have enlightened the Committee. I would not object if the total amount involved was ten times greater if some comprehensive scheme had. been adopted for assisting immigrants when they reached here. On page 32 of the general Estimates, provision is made for the expenditure of £88,000 for office and publicity expenses.
– Does the honorable member object to that?
– I object to spending about lis. on office and publicity expenses for every. £1 expended on passage money. According to the Estimates, £40,000 is, to be expended on salaries, administrative and other expenses, including office requisites, travelling expenses, publicity, material, and freight to London on exhibits. On the London organization £48,000 is to be spent on salaries, administrative and other expenses, including postage, telegrams, office requisites, publicity, and all expenses excepting passage money. This is the proposal which the honorable member for Wakefield and others of his party who are advocating economy are supporting. 13 this huge expenditure to be incurred in providing cosy billets, as is done in the Defence and other Departments? Honorable members on this side of the Chamber have not changed their opinions since our first immigration policy was drawn up, and at that time the present Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) - whom the honorable member for Wakefield now follows in a docile manner - was a member of our party. It would be interesting to hear the views of the right honorable gentleman as expressed in his publication The Case for Labour. On page 8 of that little publication there are two facts quoted in connexion with unemployment. He gives one, and then went on to give the other, which referred to immigration. He said -
A complete admission of the foolishness of our present national policy, and quite inconsistent with it, is that in many countries, among them Australia, there is an insistent demand for immigrants. Nothing can be more inconsistent with the advocacy of immigration than the neglect to utilize the whole of the available labour in the community. To cry for more men and to decline to employ those already here is folly or worse.
Is there anything wrong with that? A little later on he said -
Upon the land question defence and immigration are absolutely dependent. Without land, talk of immigration is mere babble. Without land we cannot secure sufficient population, and we ought not to advertise resources which, however splendid, are monopolized by an unpatriotic and selfish few.
I suppose the right honorable gentleman still possesses those views, but he does not dare to advance them because they would be contrary to the opinions held by his docile followers. Honorable members on this side of the Chamber would be glad to see our population increased five or tenfold, but we do not advocate immigration without a comprehensive scheme of land settlement, and provision for finding employment for those who are here. We strongly object to the publication of misleading information in Great Britain, and to bringing people here before arrangements have been made for placing them in suitable employment. There is one excellent way of making provision for immigrants, and that is by pushing on with irrigation projects such as the Murray River Waters scheme. Not onefourth of the men are engaged on the weirs to-day who should be engaged there. There is a policy of “ go-slow” on the part of the Government. They are not making provision to employ as many men as should be engaged upon those . works.
– There was an industrial dispute extending over nearly twelve months.
– That was because of the divided control, which continues to hamper the progress of the works. The Murray River Waters Commission has control of one part of the works and the State Government of New South Wales has control of another part.
– The men on one side of the river were expected to work for less than the men on the other side.
– The men employed on the Victorian side were not being paid as much as were the men employed on the New South Wales side, and a dispute was bound to arise. No move has been made by the Government to bring about unified control on those works.
– The honoralble member knows that this Parliament has passed the necessary legislation, and that the only Parliament that has not done so is that of New South Wales.
– What are the Commonwealth Government doing to bring about a settlement of the dispute? The Lower House in the New South Wales Parliament passed the Bill to which the Minister refers, but the Legislative Council rejected it. The members of the Legislative Council are the friends of the party in power in the Commonwealth, and I should like to know- what the Prime Minister and his colleagues have done to induce their friends in the Legislative Council to change their views. In any case, more should be done to bring about unified control. I know of nothing that will be more effective in securing for immigrants land under suitable conditions than will the successful prosecution of irrigation works. Instead of only one Mildura we should have fifty Milduras along the Murray River alone. If some comprehensive scheme of land settlement is carried out in conjunction with this expenditure no member on this side of the House will oppose it.
– If honorable members opposite are allowed to do so.
– I assure the honorable member that I will support him to the uttermost as far as he likes to go in bringing the right class of immigrant to Australia, if he will advocate, in conjunction with immigration, a comprehensive scheme of land settlement. We are asked to agree to an item of £162,000 in this schedule; and in the general Estimates to a further amount of £88,000, making a total of £250,000 ; and yet the Government have not indicated anything to link up that expenditure with any detailed and comprehensive scheme to insure that when people come here land will be available for them. There is a number of fine schemes promoted by individuals; but we desire the. Federal and State Governments to unite on somebig and definite plan for making lond available for the immigrant.
Under present conditions, whenever a block of land is thrown open for selection, there are from seventy to eightyapplicants for it. Whilst, I shall support right up to the hilt any comprehensive scheme of immigration, and whilst I desire to see the right kind of immigrant brought to Australia, I will not agree to the expenditure of a single penny on this project in its present form, unless it is linked up with some scheme for making adequate provision for the immigrants when they arrive.
.- Whatever may be the wisdom or otherwise of expending this money at all, I would like the Minister in charge of the Bill to point out on what business principle passages for immigrants are provided for out of loan funds. I ask the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) if he thinks it is a good business proposition to use loan money in paying the passages of people who may depart from Australia theday after they arrive. I understood that it was an essential business axiom that only capital expenditure should be met out of capital; all other expenditure should be paid out of revenue only. Loan money is certainly capital. That is a point that many honorable members who have discussed this question seem to’ have overlooked. On those grounds, even if on no other, I shall certainly not vote for the amount appearing in this schedule.
– I think the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Wienholt) referred to one of my pet subjects, namely, the application of loan moneys to’ what is in no sense capital expenditure. After a very long debate I do not wish to delay the Committee by traversing this subject again; but I raised this question last year, particularly in connexion with the expenditure on Australia House. I had very grave doubts as to whether that expenditure could be regarded as legitimate capital expenditure chargeable to loan. I mentioned on that occasion several types of expenditure which I think are admitted, to be legitimately chargeable to loan funds, and I shall briefly remind the Committee of what they are. We can. charge to loan account, as it is called in connexion with national finance, war expenditure, ‘and also expenditure which is of a non-recurring nature- and of very great magnitude, and by means of a sinking fund spread the repayment over a period of years, thus avoiding that upset of the taxation scheme which would result if the whole amount had to be paid out of the revenues of any one year. Another principle which has been introduced in later years, I think particularly owing to the actions of Australian Governments, is the expenditure of loan moneys on great enterprises which, by reason of their character, are likely to be productive to the extent that they will pay their own interest bill from actual earnings. I entirely agree with> the honorable member for Moreton that it is very difficult to see how the payment of the passage of an immigrant can be regarded as capital expenditure. With regard to the actual amount set down in the schedule for immigration, I am certainly in favour of the proposed expenditure being incurred. I do not propose to repeat what has been said regarding the desirability of immigration from a national point of view ; but I should like to say a few words in regard to the present position, and what is being done. I have heard statements made to the effect that money is being expended, and that the amount provided in this schedule will be expended, in flooding Australia with unsuitable immigrants who will add to the number of unemployed, and increase the flood of labour in places where there is no- need for more individual workers. That statement of the position is absolutely wrong. From my own observation on a recent visit to London, I can say that no people are being assisted to come to Australia save those who are directly nominated by somebody already - in this country or those of a class for which the States specifically ask. The different State Governments are sending to the Commonwealth Immigration Branch in London requests for certain types of labour of which they are short. These at the moment almost entirely comprise domestic servants and farm labourers, and no money is being spent at the present time by the Commonwealth to provide assisted passages for anybody but persons belonging to those two classes. I sincerely hope that until such time as the scheme which the Premiers’ Conference evolved comes to fruition, no uncontrolled flood of immigration will be directed to Australia, because it would undoubtedly do more harm than good.
– In regard to the nominated immigrants, is there any restriction as to occupation?
– No. That is an obvious point which I would not have thought it necessary to deal with, had not the honorable member raised it. I think we are all clearly of opinion that we should not place upon those who have come here, made Australia their home, and found it a place in which they can have a fair opportunity to develop their lives, any restriction which would prevent them bringing to this country relatives whom they left in the Old Country. It may. be suggested that the honorable member, and those who think with him, do not wish those people to have that right. I do not think the honorable member could seriously Hold such a view. I have in mind a man who camel from England to Australia and tried to make his way in this country, and when he succeeded in saving sufficient money to pay for the passages of his wife and mother, he sent for them. There must be hundreds of people in that position, and surely honorable members will take no exception to their nominating for passages to Australia those whom they left behind. It will be disastrous if we depart from the policy we are now following of studying very carefully the types of people we bring to Australia. We should only proceed with any great and elaborate scheme of immigration when we are quite sure we have completed all the ground work, and that the new arrivals will not be faced with a hopeless outlook. When that ground work is complete I do not fear that any class in the community will, on the ground that ft will interfere with the rights and privileges of those already here, take exception to our increasing our population, and, consequently, our productiveness and means of employment.
– In reply to the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Wienholt) I would point ‘ out that it has been the practice in several of the States to charge expenditure on immigration to loan funds. In New South Wales, the expenditure on immigration represented .39 per cent, of the total loan expenditure in that State to 30th June, 1919; in Queensland, 4.74 per cent.; in Western Australia, 1.05 per cent. ; and in
Tasmania, l.50 per cent.; or an average of 1 per cent, in those States out of loan for the purposes of immigration.
– You are following a very bad example.
– Not necessarily. Of the percentages I have quoted, Queensland has the largest. The money has been used for the purpose of bringing to Australia families who settle here permanently, and assist in production. It is perfectly justifiable expenditure. The cost of immigration is added to the public debt, and the increased population means greater general prosperity.
– There is more to be said in favour of immigration expenditure coming out of loan money than can be said to justify many other items which are placed in that category.
– If Australia had to launch a big immigration policy involving large expenditure, it would be hardly fair to take the requisite money from the revenue of one particular year. At the recent Premiers’ Conference, it was agreed -
That the States and Commonwealth cooperate on conditions, approved by both, with a view to providing -
For employment being found for the immigrant in the preparation of land for settlement; and
For subsequently affording him an opportunity of settling upon such land; the States to submit concrete schemes, and the Commonwealth to borrow the necessary money if such schemes are accepted.
The States are in control of the land, and the Commonwealth Government are prepared to co-operate with them in the development of any immigration policy which will result in people being settled on that land.
.- I shall support the amendment. The amount of £162,000 set down would be ridiculous if there were any serious need for immigration in Australia. If the Administration were honest in their efforts to promote settlement, a much larger sum would be needed. It is quite evident that this amount is merely placed on the Loan Estimates as a sop to that section of the community which desires a policy of immigration to be pursued. If it is hoped to fill Australia with people, the Government should set about making the conditions here such as will attract population from other countries, so that immigrants will come here of their own free will. The policy of the present Administration, however, places impediments in the way of the inhabitants of other countries settling in Australia. While the Government are clamouring about the vital necessity to fill our empty spaces, barriers are raised to keep various branches of the white races out of Australia. It appears to me that the Government are acting in this matter at the dictation of the Imperial authorities.
– There is no dictation on the part of the Imperial Government.
– We should help our fellow men.
– The honorable member believes in helping his fellow men when they are in Downing-street. History seems to be repeating itself. Subsequent to, the Napoleonic wars, the British Government pursued somewhat the same policy as is now being adopted, that is, emigration to the Colonies was stimulated with a view to ridding Great Britain of the problem of unemployment due to the economic situation. In Great Britain to-day there are something’ like 2,000,000 unemployed, and the fact cannot be denied that negotiations have taken place between the Australian and British Governments for the purpose of helping the Imperial authorities out of their economic difficulty. There are thousands of people in Australia to-day who are anxious to take up land, and are denied the opportunity of doing so. Cases have come under my notice in my own electorate where returned soldiers are unable to obtain land. The so-called Country party, which complains of the parlous condition of the agricultural industry, tells us that the way to improve the position of that industry is to place more men on the land. Will the stimulation of immigration at the present juncture improve the conditions in the factories and workshops, and in the mining industry, which is practically paralyzed ?
– As the result of strikes.
– It is the result of the mismanagement of the so-called captains of industry. It would not im- prove conditions in the mining industry in Australia, or relieve unemployment in manufacturing centres, if a policy of dumping men here from other lands were adopted. It would only place the men who are now unemployed in competition with the newcomers. The paralysis of the mining industry at Cloncurry, Mount Lyell, Broken Hill, and other districts, is due to the economic chaos in Eurone. If we cannot get rid of our wool and wheat in the European and other world markets, all Australia will be crippled. The only way to attract new settlers is to do what the United States of America did, and make the country so attractive that other people will see the manifest advantages to be had from residence here.
– By land-grant railways?
– It was land-grant railways which filled Canada.
– In Australia, the people who got in early secured the land. Certain companies did the same thing in Australia as elsewhere, but they called their railways tramways. The United States of America filled up its empty spaces because the people of Europe found across the Atlantic a haven of rest from the ills that beset them in their own countries, and because conditions in America were very much better than they were in their homelands. They were welcomed with open arms. They had greater freedom. In Australia, however, we are following the very reverse of that policy. After the war that was to confer freedom upon suffering humanity, and after people had emerged from their hysteria, they awakened to the fact that they had lost a great deal of the freedom they had previously enjoyed. Restrictions are now imposed which did not previously exist; and although some people are protesting that Australia is in great danger because it has not sufficient population, barriers have been put up to prevent certain white nationalities ‘from coming into the country. When the world is suffering from economic chaos resultant upon the war, we are told that the way in which the farmers can be helped to get better prices for their products is to bring men. here to grow more primary products and so come into competition with those already on the land. We are also told that the way to increase the prosperity of manufacturers’ employees and mining employees is to. flood the country with more labour, which will compete with men already out of work. This will give great satisfaction to the exploiters of Australia. It will enable them to join in the world-wide campaign now in progress to reduce wages and increase working hours. In Britain, America, and Europe, those people who rule and rob the world are now engaged in a campaign to reduce the standard of labour on a world-wide basis, so that the burden of the cost of the war may be transferred to the shoulders of the workers of the world. The game is being played by all nations, and if there is any real desire on the part of our Government to flood this country with immigrants, it is because they want to play this same game, and also help the British Government to get rid of the excess population of Great Britain. It is ludicrous, however, to contend that an expenditure of £162,000 upon immigration is evidence of a genuine desire on the . part of the Government to fill Australia with people.
Mr.Stewart. - It is a start in that direction.
– Does the honorable member suggest that a Government which really believes that Australia is in danger through lack of population regards £162,000 as a sufficient sum to place on the Estimates for the purpose of encouraging people to come here?
– A big scheme like this cannot be started in a hurry. Until the States get into line, the Commonwealth Government cannot get going properly. In any case, is the honorable member growling that there is not enough money on the Estimates for this purpose?
– No, I am not growling on that account, but I am pointing out the inconsistency of people who complain about the paucity of population in Australia and yet place a ludicrous amount on the Estimates for the encouragement of immigration. It is obvious that they are not sincere.
– How are you going to vote ?
– To cut out the whole of this expenditure. I am opposed to the adoption of any policy of immigration until Australian conditions are such that it will not be necessary to spend thousands of pounds on propaganda for the purpose of encouraging people to come here; because then our conditions will be so superior to those prevailing elsewhere that the world’s population will flock here in its thousands and millions, just at it did to the United States of America when the conditions in that country were demonstratively superior to those prevailing in Europe. It is useless for honorable members in the Country party, who complain day after day about the onerous conditions under which the man on the land has to work, and about the difficulty he has in getting a fair price for his commodity, to turn round now and say that Australia needs population so that the production from the land may be increased. The real object behind the agitation for immigration is the securing of cheap labour. The people who really want immigration are those who would like to see thousands of men competing for one job. They realize that when a large number of men are available for a small number of jobs, and when competition for employment is keenest, the power of the workers’ organizations is at its weakest point.
– That is not the reason which is actuating the Country party.
-As honorable members in the Country party are so silent, one can only conclude that they have no reason for advocating a policy of immigration.
– The honorable member knows that we have a good reason for advocating such a policy.
– It has certainly not been demonstrated in this Committee. In any case, although honorable members opposite may have different labels, the objects of the Country party are identical with those of the Nationalist party, and if what we see in the newspapers is any criterion there will soon be no reason for the two parties opposite to have a separate existence. This item on the Estimates being so ludicrous, it makes one think that the Government are not sincere in their immigration policy. It is because I do not believe they are sincere that I intend to vote for the amendment. If they are sincere it makes the position all the worse from my point of view, and gives me greater justification for the action I propose to take.
– There are in Tasmania to-day more people out of work than I ever remember being unemployed at any previous period. Nearly all the timber mills in the south, and many in the north have closed down, and most of the base metal mines have ceased operations. Yet labour is required in country districts. The question may be asked, “Why do not the people in the cities go out into the country districts?” Those who have had practical experience know that it is quite feasible and logical for a scarcity of farm labour to exist alongside considerable unemployment in the cities and mines, because men following certain callings are quite unfitted to do other classes of work, tinder conditions entirely strange to them. I understand from men whose opinion is worth taking, and whose word I accept, that there is at the present time a considerable number of men usually employed in coal mines who’ are now working short hours or are out of employment altogether. But it would be absurd to take a man who has been working in a coalmine from his boyhood and put him on a farm. He would be obliged to learn an entirely new set of conditions. In the same way, one would not expect the ordinary farm worker to suddenly become an expert coal miner. Therefore it is quite possible and feasible that unemployment in the cities may exist alongside a scarcity of labour in farm work. It comes as a shock to one to realize that above a line drawn from Cairns, in Queensland, through the Northern Territory to Western Australia, there are- to-day 30,000 less white people than lived in that part of Australia twenty years ago, when the colonies federated. Right at our doors Java, about the size of Victoria, has a population of 40,000,000 people, and close by is Asia with its teeming millions, who, under the constant increase in their numbers, cannot make a decent living. Our empty North would be to them a paradise. The time will come when Australia will be obliged to declare that she is effectually occupying that portion of her territory. If I thought that one penny of this vote was to be spent in bringing casual labour to Australia to compete in the cities, where there are already many thousands of men out of work, I would not vote for it. The Minister in charge of this Department must accept full and complete responsibility for the way in which the money is to be spent.
– How does the honorable, member propose to keep agricultural immigrants on the land when we cannot keep our own people on the land ?
– I know that one of the great problems Australia has to face is the continuous drift of men from country districts to the cities. One can hardly wonder at it. The average sawmill bush hand in the district I represent is working more or less in wet weather for six months after the first blow of his axel For six months of the year the workers of the hush are employed under wet and very undesirable conditions, compared with which the lot of the city worker, earning a better wage, is most enviable. Is it to be wondered at, therefore, that whenever there is a little shortage of work in the country, these men drift to the towns and cities? Everything done by this Parliament since I have been a member of it has been in the direction of making life easier in the cities and harder for those who live in the country. The damnable Tariff which we have just passed-
– Order! I must ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, Mr. Chanter; but may I saythat if we continue to make the conditions of life in tho country harder, then, assuredly, may we expect workers in country districts to drift into the cities and other centres of population. It is absurd tosay that anything more than a beginning has been made in land settlement in Australia. Although it may be true that comparatively small areas of land remain in the hands of the Crown in New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania, official figuresshow that in Western Australia about 95 per cent, and in. Queensland 94 per cent, of Crown lands are at present unalienated. Therefore, we must look to those States to absorb any substantial influx of population, and it is there that population is most wanted. I am convinced that the only way to settle the northern parts of Australia is a system of community settlement. We will never get men to take up blocks of land under any other system out in the wilds, cut off from all the conveniences of civilization.
Population is urgently required right throughout the northern portion of this continent. I impress this point on the Committee. If the vote is agreed to, the greatest care should be taken to see that immigrants introduced to Australia do not come into competition with the people who are already here, some of whom find it difficult to keep in employment. The system of community settlement should be kept to the forefront. I am convinced that if the Government would bring down a scheme on these lines, to settle the waste spaces in the northern portions of Australia, no one would raise a voice against it. I know some of the objections that are at present being urged against immigration. The objectors argue, and very often not without some reason, that whilst immigrants are encouraged to come here, ostensibly to engage in country occupations, a considerable number do not go to the country at all, whilst others who do take up rural occupations remain there only long enough to say that they have been into the country, and then they drift into our cities. The strongest argument I heard against this vote came from the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) himself. If the figures quoted are correct, it would appear that more people are leaving Australia than are coming to the Commonwealth.
– The figures supplied to the Prime Minister were incorrect, but the matter was put right immediately.
– When the Leader of the Government introduces a matter like this, and quotes figuresin support of his statement, he should see that his figures are correct.
– I understand that the question arose whilst the Prime Minister was speaking. He thereupon asked that the information be obtained. Incorrect figures were supplied, but the matter was put right immediately afterwards.
– If the figures were incorrect, that, of course, ends the matter. I do not intend to support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), because I think that if there is one thing that Australia must face, it is a vigorous and honest attempt to settle the waste spaces of this continent, and I hope that in the preparation of any scheme with this end in view the merits of community settlement will be carefully investigated.
.- As usual, we have listened to-night to honorable members on the opposite side grossly misrepresenting the views of the Labour party. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in his opening remarks stated that our Deputy Leader (Mr. Charlton) had declared that immigration was a menace. Nothing was further from the honorable member’s mind.
– I made no such statement.
– The honorable member did not. He made it clear, as did other honorable members of the Labour party who followed him, that we recognise the necesity for more population in Australia. We say, however, that it is essential, before we enter upon a policy of immigration, that work should be provided for those already here, and land made available for those now in Australia who want to settle on the land. Until that is done, we do not believe that more immigrants should be introduced. To say that we regard immigration as a menace, and that we are entirely opposed to the introduction of more immigrants is to grossly misrepresent our position. We realize to a greater extent perhaps than does any other party that immigration is necessary, but provision must first of all be made for the people already here. The best system of immigration would be one under which there were brought to Australia men who were prepared to settle on the land after provision had been made for the land-seekers already here. While it is true, as said by the Prime Minister, that there is practically no limit to the fertile lands of Australia, there is a limit to the fertile lands that are actually available for settlement. Unfortunately the greater part of our lands - certainly the whole of the best land of the country - is locked up in large estates held by a comparatively few individuals, and rich financial institutions. If a desirable block of land is made available for settlement in any part of Australia, and particularly in NewSouth Wales, there are from 300 to 900, and sometimes as many as 1,100 applicants for it. That illustrates the difficulty of obtaining a block.
– It is almost as difficult to obtain a block by ballot as to win a prize in Tattersall’s sweep.
– The chances are almost as remote. The honorable member’s interjection suggests that even the members of the Foreign Country party recognise that there “is not sufficient land available for those who desire to settle on the soil.
– I do not think the honorable member is justified in applying that term to members of the Country party.
– We do not mind.
– This question of immigration - of bringing unemployed men and women from England to further crowd the labour market here - is of vital importance, and I hope, sir, , you will see that I am not interrupted. The necessity for effective land settlement should be recognised by every member of the Committee. Those who have a knowledge of rural conditions will agree with me that every town in the settled inland districts has reached a certain stage of progress and development, and that, with few exceptions, these towns are either stationary or going back. That is due to the fact that the greater part of the land which surrounds them is held by a few individuals. The towns are land-locked, and until such time as those lands are made available, and the position of the men and women on the land is improved, we shall not be carrying out effective land settlement in the truest senseof the term. For that reason, and also because the labour market in every part of Australia is overcrowded, I am opposed to the spending of this £162,000 on immigration. As the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) pointed out, we are asked to vote not only this amount, but together with other items on the Estimatesinchief, a total of £250,000 for immigration purposes this year. I cannot recognise the justice of spending that money in bringing people to Australia when we know that the labour market cannot absorb ‘ them, and that there are hundreds, in fact thousands, of women and children practically starving owing to the fact that their bread-winners are at present unable to obtain employment.
I view this project with grave suspicion. It appears to me to be part of a world-wide movement by employers to bring down wages, and to reduce the living conditions of the workers. We were told . this afternoon, by way of interjection by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), . that many employers in New South Wales would take on more hands but for the basic wage. We were informed by him that if men would work for £2 or £3 per week, they would be able to find employment. That clearly indicates that the desire on the part of those who wish to attract immigrants to Australia is to assist in the world-wide movement to bring down, wages, and to reduce the workers’ standard of living. Some honorable members have said that, in certain parts of Victoria, great difficulty is experienced in obtaining farm labourers. To me it is remarkable that such conditions should prevail here. In every farming district in New South Wales, hundreds of men are -looking for work, and both the town and country newspapers report that farmers are finding no difficulty in obtaining the necessary farm labour. It has been stated by some hon.orable members that there are more unemployed in New South Wales,- where a Labour Government is in power, than in any other State. The inference is that owing to the fact that they have better living conditions and better wages in New South Wales, the unemployed in Victoria have gone over there in thousands to share in those better conditions and better wages, with the result that the farmers in Victoria today, owing to their short-sighted policy, and the short-sighted policy generally of other employers in paying low wages, are unable to find the necessary number of employees to carry out harvest work. Another reason is that the employers in New South Wales, being desirous of discrediting the Labour Government, are carrying out wholesale dismissals. The Commonwealth Government, by dismissing thousands of employees at Cockatoo Island and elsewhere, are contributing their quota to the number of unemployed.
– The honorable member has a wonderful imagination.
– I may not have a wonderful imagination, but it is not difficult for me, or for any one else, to see the facts as they are. There is no member in this Chamber who realizes more than the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) that what I am saying is true. A sum of £250,000 is to be expended this year in connexion with immigration, and a large part of it is for publicity work. I do not know whether Lord Northcliffe’s papers are receiving a subsidy from the Commonwealth Government, but, in order to give the Committee an idea of the publicity work carried on in England, I will read a short extract from one of Lord Northcliffe’s papers.
– I would remind the honorable member that this item has nothing whatever to do with publicity work.
– We have been told by the Prime Minister and others who have spoken in support of this expenditure of £162,000 that it is necessary to spend the money in order to see that the right class of immigrant is obtained. We are told that it is necessary to carry on a publicity campaign.
– Order ! The honorable member will have an opportunity of dealing with that matter upon other Estimates.
– I agree that nothing is said in this schedule about the money being spent for publicity purposes. We are not given any indication how it is to be spent. I wish to read this extract, seeing that it deals with immigration. It is headed “Homes and Spouses for English Girls in Australia,” and it reads as follows : -
We cannot do without the girls!
From Australia there comes an urgent invitation, supported by the Government, with exceptional offers. In the State of New South Wales, an ideal country with a .perfect climate, there are a hundred thousand more men than women. The demand for girl workers greatly exceeds the supply, whilst particularly good posts, carrying with them big salaries, comfortable homes, and an unconventional healthy life, are going begging.
Probably no working girl who goes to Australia will do better for herself than the domestic servant. There is nothing to be feared in service in Australia. On the contrary, the capable girl will have reasonable working hours, good home, and a salary of £1 to 30s. per week. On her evenings off she can go for delightful moonlight excursions on the rivers or sea. She will be enabled to lead a healthy, pleasurable life, and she will fmd her employers good-hearted people, like the hospitable country folk at Home. If she is unhappy she has only to inform the Government Department, who will see that she is not overworked or underpaid. If she settles in
Sydney she can go for splendid boat trips on the harbour at night. She will probably reside on the North Shore-
– I think the honor able member has read quite enough to show that he is not in order.
– One more line and the extract would be finished. I regret exceedingly that I am unable to place the last line before the Committee. As far as spending the money is concerned, I think it will be clear to any member of this Committee that the desire of England at the present time is to get rid of the most useless of her population, and to retain at home the most able-bodied, the best, and the most effective workers to assist her to build up her industries, which have been so sorely dealt with during the war. For that reason, I. believe the present time is not suitable for obtaining immigrants from England or elsewhere. I want to reiterate, emphasize, and re-emphasize, if necessary, the fallacy of the idea of bringing additional men and women to Australia. They must increase the number of unemployed. It is our first duty to provide work for the unemployed in Australia. It is necessary and advisable first to see that land is made available for those in Australia who desire to settle upon it, and afterwards for those from England or elsewhere who desire to settle upon it. The immigrants we want, if any at all are required at the present moment,are men and women who are prepared, and are able, to settle on the land successfully. We recognise that there is room in Australia for a much greater number of peonle than 5,000,000; but, in order to settle more people, land will have to be made available, and conditions will have to be much more comfortable than those experienced by the pioneers in the past or by the majority of people on the land today. We have heard a great deal about the prosperity of men settled on the land, and of the fabulous fortunes they are making out of primary production. The answer is obvious. If conditions are so favorable, if money is to be made in abundance by settling on the land, it is a marvel that there is not an influx to the country from the cities instead of to the cities from the country. There is no better means of settling people on the land than by providing for the storage of the tens of millions of gallons of water that now run to waste, by constructing weirs and impounding water for irrigating the fertile irrigable lands of Australia. I intend to vote against this proposal, and when we come to the other £88,000 I will vote against that also.
Question - That the item, “ Immigration,” £162,000 (Mr. Charlton’s amendment) be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 24
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I shall be glad if the Minister will give the Committee some explanation of the items -
Purchase of properties and sites -
Land in Federal Capital Territory, £19,500. and -
Federal Capital at Canberra -
Towards cost of establishment, £272,476.
.- I, too, should like to have from the Minister information about the items mentioned by the honorable member for Bass, and also about these items -
Purchase of properties and sites -
Land for Commonwealth Offices, Sydney, £25,000. and -
Commonwealth Offices, Sydney -
Towards cost, £15,000.
– Must no money be spent in Sydney?
– I am not objecting to the expenditure of money in Sydney, but I should like to know what will be the position if - though it is not at all likely - the Committee, should unfortunately agree to the proposed expenditure at Canberra. We have recently spent money in making alterations to this building, and are we going to commit ourselves to other expenditure which would be equally useless were the Government and Parliament to be removed to the Federal Capital?
If we are to pass the vote for Canberra, and this Parliament is to be transferred to the Federal Capital, how can. it be necessary to spend so many thousands of pounds on Commonwealth offices in Sydney and Melbourne?
There is an item of £38,000 down for land for defence purposes generally, of which amount it is stated that £26,714 is to be appropriated under this Bill. I should like to know just what this item covers?
– The first item referred to by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis), £19,500, is for the acquisition of land in the Federal Capital Territory. Of this amount, £9,155 was appropriated last year. Only £10,345 is on the Estimates for appropriation, this year. Of the total sum of £19,500 theCommonwealth is committed to £2,360., In addition, negotiations are proceeding for the acquisition of the freehold of certain areas of land in the Federal Capital Territory. The New South Wales Government gave the Commonwealth all the Crown lands in the Federal Capital Territory free, but there are certain freeholds in the Territory which it is necessary that we should acquire, and we must pay for them. Negotiations are taking place in connexion particularly with two properties, and the larger sum is required for the acquisition of land in the catchment area of the Cotter River. This land must be acquired in order that the water supply may for reasons of public health be kept pure.
– Will this vote cover the whole of the freehold land that will have to be acquired?
– No. There are other areas in the Federal Capital Territory, that may still have to be acquired.
– Is it proposed to acquire the other areas?
– At present all that we are proposing to acquire is covered by the limited amount of this vote. For obvious reasons I do not state exactly the amounts estimated to be necessary, but more than half of the vote will be for the acquisition of land in the catchment area of the Cotter River.
– How much mere land are we likely to acquire?
-That is a matter of policy for the future. I may inform the honorable member that over £700,000 has been spent in the acquisition of land in the Federal Capital Territory, but as we received a general revenue of £33,000 last year from the Territory, the acquisition has been a good investment. Some explanation was asked of the item of £38’,000 for land for defence purposes generally. It is for commitments in respect of sites to the amount of £7,100. The balance is for new proposals. Land is required at Kelvin Grove, near Brisbane ; at Rutherford and Liverpool, inNew South Wales; Woodside, in South Australia; and for drill-hall sites in various’ parts of the States.
– I suppose the Government have already arranged for the purchase of these areas?
– The commitments amount to £7,100, and the balance of the vote is required to give effect to new proposals. Another vote about which some explanation is sought is one of £25,000 for land for . Commonwealth offices in Sydney. The Public Works Committee after visiting Sydney recommended the acquisition of a piece of land in that city for the erection of Commonwealth offices. It will be moreeconomical for us to erect a building of our own to accommodate Commonwealth
Departments than to continue the occupation of offices scattered all over the city. We have had the same experience in this regard in Victoria, Queensland, and the other States. In Western Australia, we are proposing to add two stories to the Perth Post Office for the housing of Commonwealth activities, and we shall save money by doing so.
. -With respect to the vote of £25,000 for land for Commonwealth offices in Sydney, the Chairman of the Public Works Committee, Mr. Gregory, has assured me that the erection of Commonwealth offices on that land will result in an absolute saving. We shall have much more accommodation, and the interest on the money required to purchase the land and erect the building will be considerably less than we are already paying by way of rent.
– What is the building to cost?
– Plans and specifications for the building axe being prepared, and will be immediately referred to the Public Works Committee.
-I thought it right to give the Committee the information supplied to me by the Chairman of the Public WorksCommittee. I believe that considerable savings might be made if, in other capital cities, the Commonwealth erected buildings for the accommodation of its Departments . instead of paying huge rents for offices widely separated from each other. I am certain that savings might be effected by the adoption of that course in Melbourne.
– Order! I do not wish to strictly enforce the Standing Orders, but I have frequently appealed to honorable members to restrain themselves, and to allow every honorable member his undoubted right to address the Committee without interruption. If honorable members will peruse the Standing Orders they will, I think, find none more drastic or mandatory than standing order 58, which, I am sorry to say, is so much abused, and which I have frequently appealed to honorable members to observe. That standing order provides that -
No member shall converse aloud or make any noise or disturbance whilst any member is speaking, or whilst any Bill, Order, or other matter is being read or opened; and in case of such noise and disturbance being persisted in after the Speaker has called to order, the Speaker shall call upon the member making such disturbance by nome, and such member will incur the displeasure and censure of the House.
Yesterday I had occasion to appeal to honorable’ members to assist the . Chair, and not to put me in the position of having to enforce a standing order of that kind. It would be regrettable and distasteful to me if I had to call on any honorable member by name. I. therefore, appeal to honorable members, in their own interests, to observe the Standing Orders. It is not I, personally, who make the appeal; but it is my duty as Chairman to hear everything that is said in order that I may give a ruling if desired at a moment’s notice. I cannot do that if I do not hear what transpires, and very, often I regret to say that inability is in consequence of the general conversation. Again, I call attention to the fact that an honorable member is entitled to say what he has to say without interruption or being drawn away from the sequence of his thoughts. Every honorable member is entitled to have an accurate record of his remarks in Hansard, where they stand for all time; and I am sure it must be sometimes quite impossible for the reporter to hear accurately, owing to the disturbance in the chamber. I appeal to honorable members on all sides, and of all parties, to assist me by refraining from interjecting, and indulging in conversation in such a way as to interrupt a speaker.
– There is a vote of £38,000 for land for defence purposes generally. May I point out that no attempt has been made to discuss the shipbuilding items, or the provision for Cockatoo Island, because of the arrangement made yesterday that the whole of these matters shall be discussed on the statement the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) recently made to the House.
– Or on the general Estimates.
– Or on the general Estimates. I look with great hope to results from the Washington Conference; and, in my opinion, all expenditure on Naval Bases, buildings for defence, and the like, should be held in suspense until we have some knowledge of those results.
– The item of the Ordnance Stores, to which I have just referred, cannot he held in suspense.
Mr.McWILLIAMS.- I repeat that, in my opinion, the whole , of the expenditure on defence works, or at least on the new proposals, should be suspended. If these items are passed, we ought to have some assurance that the expenditure will not be embarked on until we know the result of the Conference. For all we know, we may be compelled to “ scrap “ many of the votes we have already passed. Other countries are pleading that they be allowed to retain works which are said to be absolutely necessary for their protection, and those countries are not meeting with a favorable response. Under the circumstances, we ought to wait until we know exactly the conditions in the matter of defence, not only of Australia and the Empire, but of the world, after the Washington Conference has terminated. The suspension that I suggest may be necessary for only a few days, or a few weeks.
– The statements of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams) are very elevating. I remember that when this country was in a state of trepidation in regard . to the outcome of the war, there was no cavilling as to the expense of defending this country. I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that 60,000 Australians sacrificed their lives in the defence of the Commonwealth and the Empire; but when it comes to paying the bill, . we find, as evidenced by the remarks of the honorable member who has just resumed his seat, that there are people who take exception to the cost. I am just about “full up” of that attitude towards expenditure of the kind. What would have been our position if we had not been successful in the war? Those who protest against this expenditure are not those who sacrificed their sons in the defence of the country. What were the young Australians told when they were asked to enlist ? Was it that after some had sacrificed their lives and others had been maimed those who remained should be thrown out of employmentby a policy of retrenchment promoted by spineless politicians who will not stand up against a press agitation? Was that the proposition put before those men as a result of whose fighting the country is free to-day? Do honorable members think for a moment of the feelings of the parents of our dead soldiers or of the feelings of men who are maimed and wrecked ? Yet honorable members say that we must retrench to the extent of throwing those men out in the streets. But for the sacrifices made by our soldiers Germany would be in possession of this country to-day, and would honorable members in the corner be dictating to Germany as to what the taxation should be? I am sick of this sort of thing. Men who made money during the war are not prepared now to stand up to the cost of protecting the liberties we enjoy, and they raise an economy scare.
– It is a pity that, we do not economize more.
Mr.POYNTON. - The honorable member is in good circumstances; but if our enemies had not been defeated his position to-day would be very different. It is about time that somebody spoke in protest against this agitation. During the twenty-five years I have been in political life I never previously heard such arguments as those which have been advanced to-day for the reduction of this expenditure. I would sooner go out of office to-morrow and break stones in the streets than submit to the ignominy to which we are asked to subject ourselves.
.- I also should like an explanation of the item, “Land for Defence purposes generally, £38,000.” The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has on several occasions moved for the reduction of items of defence expenditure; but the vote of the Committee has been against us. It is useless, therefore, to move for a reduction of this item; but I rise to again emphasize the fact that this party is opposed to any increase of military expenditure. Our attitude is in sympathy with the trend of pulblic opinion throughout the world. Our policy for the time being should be, at any rate, to mark time. Upon this item we take the same stand as we did on other items of military expenditure, and we desire that a full explanation as to the purposes for which the money is required shall be given to the Committee.
– Of this amount £7,100 is for definite commitments. New proposals include ordnance store sites at Kelvin Grove (Queensland), Rutherford and Liverpool (New South Wales), and Woodside (South Australia). These Buildings are required for the storage of military goods which we already possess. A considerable sum is for drill hall sites in country towns, including Hornsby, Cootamundra, Goulburn, Maitland, Cottesloe, South Perth, Seymour, Warracknabeal, and Renmark. The whole amount is comprised of a number of small items, and as it has already been cut down to a minimum, I ask the Committee not to further reduce it.
.- There is an item of £25,000 for land for Post and Telegraph purposes. I understand that the original allocation was £105,000. I represent an electorate in which the suburban development within the last few years has been very rapid, and there are a number of places, such as Bankstown, Pairfield, Wentworthville, and Harris Park, in regard to which I had an assurance from the Department that appropriations for. the purchase of post-office sites would be submitted to Parliament. I should like to know what particular sites the Government propose to purchase with the amount of £25,000.
– Commitments absorb £2,300 of the total of £25,000. They include access to No. 1 Exchange, Sydney, Dee Why Exchange, and Bellata Exchange. Sites proposed to be purchased include the following in New South Wales: - City East (Sydney), Warren, Lakemba, Griffith, Mayfield, Stockinbingal, Port Kembla, Wickham, Branxton, and Teralba. The balance of the item is made up of small acquisitions of that description, mostly for country post-offices in the several States.
-These are days of economy. We have listened to proposals to cut down defence and other expenditure, and even a reduction of honorable members’ salaries has been suggested. It is fitting, therefore, that I should move -
That the item, “Federal Capital at Canberratowards cost of establishment, £272,476” be reduced by £ 100,000.
– If the honorable member’s amendment is placed before the Committee, will it be competent for another honorable member to move for fie reduction of the item by a larger sum?
– I have a prior amendment. I desire to move that the item be deleted.
– I am willing to withdraw my amendment temporarily.
.- I move -
That the item, “Federal Capital at Canberra - towards cost of establishment, £200,000,” be left out.
It is a purely childish policy to attempt to build the Federal Capital in a piecemeal way by voting £200,000 for it one. year, and £160,000 for it in anotheryear, and so on.
– Is the honorable member agreeable to increase the vote?
– No. I know that a compact has been made by which the Federal Capital must be built in New South Wales, and I am quite willing to carry it out when the Commonwealth is in a position to do so, but I think, that the whole work should be intrusted to a Commission with power to borrow upon the rent-producing asset we have acquired from the . State Government. I do not expect to be in this Parliament when it moves to Canberra, but we can never hope to get there in a reasonable time on these dribbling expenditures, which are really placed before Parliament for approval for the sole-purpose of catching votes. It is really a waste of money, because heavy depreciation must take place on every work on which money is spent in this way before further funds can be provided. The Commission to which I suggest the building of the Capital should be intrusted would in time provide us with a proper Capital, which would be a paying concern. It should proceed on well-defined lines, because as the city grew and ground rents came in, there would be a great asset upon which further money would be borrowed for the ultimate completion of the whole scheme.
.- I am quite aware that nothing said in this Committee will alter any vote that is to be cast on this question, and that it is user less to reiterate argumentsalready advanced against the expenditure of money at Canberra at the present time. We have been hearing, during the present sittings of Parliament, a great deal of talk about economy, and unquestionably the activities of the Commonwealth are hampered by a’ lack of funds. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Wise) has told us that a great deal of the useful work of his Department is being rendered absolutely impossible owing to this lack of funds. Honorable members on all sides of the House are pouring in complaints about the lack of postal and telephonic facilities in their several districts, and they say that whenever a request is made for the extension of these facilities, the invariable reply is made that there are no funds available. I am, therefore, at a loss to understand how honorable members who make complaints of that nature, and are met with that answer, can afterwards come forward and vote for the expenditure of £272,476 at the present time on buildings at Canberra.
– It is. only for economy’s sake that the amount is not £470,000.
– That is not much of an argument. No reason has been shown for spending this money at Canberra at the present time. We should be guided in the consideration of expenditure of money in this direction, as we were in regard to the expenditure of money on defence, namely, that not one penny should be spent unless it be absolutely necessary. It has not been shown that the expenditure of money at Canberra at the present time is necessary. A large amount of money has already been spent there, and I think that every honorable member would be quite agreeable to spend a sum this year sufficient to prevent the deterioration of the work already carried out.
– The odd £72,000 should be sufficient for that.’
– I think it should be sufficient for this year; in view of the stringency of the financial position. The £200,000 proposed to be saved could very well be spent on postal and telephonic facilities . in those districts which require them.
– The Advisory Committee onCanberra recommended the expenditure of £417,400 in the first year, but the Government are only asking for an expenditure of £200,000 upon essential works this year, in addition to the balance of the £150,000 appropriated last year for the same purpose. In regard to the £72,476, the position is that this amount remained unexpended from last year’s appropriation at the 30th June last, but expenditure having continued since that date, in all a sum of £130,274 has been absorbed. The unexpended balance now stands at about £20,000. The programme has been curtailed to one of very modest dimensions.
.- I support the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson) . Not one honorable member has failed to rise in the Chamber and advocate the extension of telephonic facilities in his electorate. I have just completed a trip out-back, and I am satisfied that we are not doing a quarter enough for the people who are helping to develop Australia in the back-blocks. I have journeyed for 600 miles in one stage and not seen a telephone. The centre of Birdsville, on one of the most important and oldest stock routes in Australia, is 240 miles from the nearest telephone line.
– What connexion has this with Canberra?
– If this money could be taken from the Canberra vote, it could be added to the provision for the Postal Department.
– That cannot be done.
– At any rate, what we can save in this direction now can be devoted to the other purpose next year. Honorable members all talk economy, but there is apparently no desire on their part to economize on this item.
– We shall soon see.
– Yes, we shall soon see whether honorable members are anxious to. give facilities to the men outback. We say to our youngmen, “ Go on the land,” but are we prepared to help them when they do so? I have already pointed out in this Chamber that if we stayed our hands for a year or two we could do a great deal more with the money proposed to be spent at Canberra. 1 have pointed out how the rush to obtain building material for War Service Homes and the Federal Capital caused a rise in the price of such material. The position is still the same. This is the one item in the Estimates that can and should wait.
– Except that it has been agreed to and made part of the Constitution.
– It has certainly been embodied in the Constitution, and for that reason I did not vote against the items for the acquisition of land in the Federal Capital Territory. I am in favour of honouring the compact with the people of New South Wales, but I ‘con tend’ that it is not necessary to do so to-day. 1 know what the voting on this amendment will be, but Australia will be able to see what honorable members are prepared to refuse postal facilities to people in the backblocks in order that this particular expenditure may be made.
Sitting suspended from 12.0 (midnight) to 1 a.m. (Thursday).
.- Ear reasons which I desire briefly to indicate I shall vote for the amendment. I disagree with the view taken up by many honorable members in opposition to the fulfilment of the constitutional contract for the building’ of the Federal Capital. The objections to the building of Canberra are not based on broad national lines. “I am deeply conscious of the opposition which was offered to the honouring of another agreement which was entered into at the inception of Federation. I refer to the compact for the construction of the East-West Railway. Those who opposed the construction of that line are to-day opposing the building of the Federal Capital. It appears to me that the scheme for the building of Canberra is not sufficiently definite. I do not believe in the tinkering methods that are being pursued. Much of the money that has already been passed for the establishment of the Capital is being spent on the building of cottages by day labour, and there is a serious risk of faulty and lax supervision. We shall probably have in respect of them a repetition of the experience we have had in connexion with the building of War Service Homes. In my opinion, whatever moneys are voted for the building of the Capital should be expended in accordance with a com plete scheme for its establishment. I should like the true financial aspect of this project to be brought before >the people of Australia, for this is a question that materially concerns . them. While many look upon any expenditure of public moneys at Canberra as absolute waste, I venture to think that quite a number of corporations would he prepared, in return for a hundred years’ lease of the 1,000 square miles of Federal Territory, to build the Capital. Carnegie made his money, not so much out of the production of iron and steel, as out of the building of the city of Pittsburg and the revenues he- received by way of rentals. We have spent something like £1,000,000 on Canberra, and we have in the Federal Territory what I consider to be very excellent country. The Commonwealth Government is anxious-to encourage immigration, and I think it should lay down a definite policy in regard to the lands of the Territory. The lands there should be leased for short and not long periods. The Territory is capable of developing a big dairying industry. At the proper time a loan should be floated to provide for the complete establishment of the Capital, and I believe that the revenue obtained from the leasing of the lands would be sufficient, not only to provide for interest, and sinking fund, but eventually to free the States from, any financial obligation in regard to it. Many advantages are to be derived from the transfer of the Federal Parliament to Canberra. When we meet there we shall have a National Parliament in the fullest sense of the term. There is an old saying that those who live nearest to church are mostly late, and that saying has an application to this Parliament.
– Those who live nearest to this Parliament are the first to go home when we sit late.
– Quite so. When we meet in the Federal Capital I think we shall transact the business of the country with greater expedition. We shall be removed from the influences which operate here, and will be able to represent the States more impartially than is at present possible. “I wish it to be understood that while I shall vote for the amendment, I am not totally opposed to the building of Canberra ; I merely object to the form inwhich the proposal is put before us. A complete’ building policy should be devised and carried out as soon as a land policy for. the Territory has been agreed to.
– A definite policy has been laid down for us by the Advisory Committee.
– My fear is that there is grave risk of losing money by tinkering with the building of the Capital in this way. I have observed a good ‘ deal of prejudice against Canberra in this city. Certain sections of the press are very prejudiced. They are influenced perhaps by the fear that it will cost them £10,000 or £15,000 a year to telegraph to Melbourne reports of the proceedings of the Parliament when we meet at Canberra.
– The Age views the question from a broad, national stand-point.
– That newspaper, when the Bill providing for the’ construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway was under discussion, declared that the line would pass through a sandy desert. I defy any one to point to any sand along the line on the West Australian side. It passes through beautiful saltbush plains which, given a water supply, are capable of carrying millions of sheep. I am afraid that there is a lack of candour onthe part of the opponents to this scheme. It is astonishing how inconsistent some people can be when consistency does not suit their purpose. That section of the press which is opposed to the building of the Federal Capital besmirched a great territory by referring to it as a veritablesahara of sand. When the then Premier of Western Australia took up land along the line the same section of the press, scenting what it thought to be a scandal, declared that he had taken up 700,000 acres of the most beautiful pasture lands in Australia. And this was the very land which it had previously described as a desert !
– Which statement was correct?
– Both were incorrect. It is not the finest pasture land in Australia; but it is certainly not a Sahara. Speaking quite impartially, the people of Australia decided that the Commonwealth Capital should be established in neutral territory. They decided also that the Federal Parliament should not meet here for more than ten years, so that the period of transfer is overdue by ten years. In the present state of our finances the policy being pursued by . the Government in regard to Canberra is not satisfactory; it will merely add to the neglected properties of the Commonwealth. I desire to see the Capital built in accordance with business-like methods, and if such a scheme is proposed the . people, no doubt, will approve of it.
.It is to say the least astonishing that we should be called upon in the early hours of the morning to discuss a question of this magnitude.
– It is all very well for the Victorian members to oppose the transfer of the Parliament to Canberra.
– I attend to my duties in this House as well as does any honorable member. Those who complain of having to sit all night are free to leave at once for their homes. I for one intend to enter an emphatic protest against the expenditure of this money at the present juncture. Those honorable members who recently have been crying loudly for’ economy, and some of whom have been consistently voting for economy, have an opportunity of clearly demonstrating their sincerity. We have cut down the Defence Estimates. We have cut down the expenditure upon the Air Force, which is very important for the defence of Australia. It is necessary that we ‘ should establish beyond a shadow of doubt an efficient Air Force, whether naval, military, or civil. We have already had the lack of post-offices demonstrated. I have protested against the starvation of the Post Office, and I think that honorable members were quite reasonable in protesting against that. We were told that there was no money for the erection of post-offices or for connecting country districts with the telephone. It is an absolute waste of money at the present juncture to spend £200,000, or even £100,000, on works at Canberra. The Advisory Committee has reported that it will take a considerable time to establish the Capital and to make it fit for habitation by Parliament. One would not be so strongly opposed to legitimate and straightforward construction when the financial position of the Commonwealth is easier, especially if, under the votes cast year after year, something of a permanent nature is constructed. . The report says that most of the buildings which will be erected during the first three years will be of a temporary nature. . It is not pretended that Parliament House shall be a structure worthy of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– Do you think we should start’ with a monumental structure? .
– I do not think we should start now at all. I believe in honouring any contract.
– When it suits.
– Yes, when it suits. It has taken a long time for it to suit some members of this Parliament. It has taken them a long time to find out suddenly that it is necessary to build a Capital to-day. We have just passed through a critical time in the history of the Commonwealth and the Empire. We have certainly entered into an obligation under the Constitution; we recognise that, but no time limit is mentioned. The contract simply says that Parliament . shall sit at the Capital when Parliament directs. While there is an obligation under the Constitution, there are certainly greater obligations resulting from thewar.
– Why cannot we honour both?
– We can honour both, but we should honour . one first, and the one we should honour first is that which we owe to the nation. First, there is the obligation to establish returned soldiers in civil life; and, secondly, there is the necessity for reducing the taxation which ‘bears so heavily upon the shoulders of the people. It is not fair or just to the people to heap upon them a further expenditure simply because it is said that we have to “honour a contract.” It does not affect me personally whether the Capital is in Melbourne, Sydney, or elsewhere; I will follow it. I am prepared tosupport the removal of Parliament, if needs be, to Sydney, but nobody . seems to want that. According to the report, we are to spend at Canberra, within the first three years, £1,750,000. We have already spent nearly as much as that -on the Capital Site itself. Would it not be better if the Government were to grapple with the financial situation, and have some regard for the years which are approaching, when we shall have to redeem some of the loan moneys that we have had” to borrow to carry us through the war. Twenty years ago we knew nothing about the war, yet to-day the Government is “ economizing.” We cannot get a post-office or a letterbox in a constituency, but an expenditure of £200,000 is proposed on a Capital that is not necessary. I am really astonished at the spendthrift attitude of the Government in bringing in a measure like this, propounding a wild-cat scheme under the pretence of pacifying and satisfying a few members from New South. Wales, while neglecting its duty to the great bulk of the people in relieving them of taxation.
– I am about “ fed up “ listening to men talking of “economy” and of “honouring a contract made by the people of Australia,” and of a “ wild-cat scheme for spending money at Canberra.” They have no hope of getting the proposal defeated. They are listening now, as they have always done, to the cry of the Age, the Argus, and the other newspapers of Victoria, and are showing evidence of that mean spirit which talks about economy at a time like the present. They are fighting against the expenditure of money at Canberra, although they know that they have no chance of success. The only complaint I have to make is as to the inadequacy of the sum on theEstimates. It is ridiculous to provide a paltry amount like £200,000. If it was £500,000, or £1,000,000, I would very enthusiastically support it. It is the duty of every elected representative to this House to see that the compact entered into with New South Wales is honorably observed. We have been told, ever since the site of the Capital was decided on, that the “ time is not ripe” for spending the money. If by some unfortunate circumstances the Seat of Government should be in Victoria at the end of 100 years, we shall still hear the same argument that “ the time is not ripe, but we believe in honouring the contract at some distant day.” If some people had their way, the Capital would never be shifted from Victoria. The time to perform any good work is the present time, and no good purpose can be served by delaying it.
.During the past few weeks we have debated at considerable length the expediency of reducing expenditure, and if there is any item in which it can be truthfully said, that a reduction ‘can be made without inflicting hardship on any individual, it is this for expenditure on the Federal Capital. It will certainly be said outside that if we cannot find money for the extension of telephone communications, the building of post-offices, and the other necessary works that have been mentioned to-night, we should not spend it on the erection of the Federal Capital. I have been informed by the Minister to-day, and have received a letter to the same effect, that, although it is necessary that a lighthouse should be erected in a certain position, and that life is endangered for the want of it, he cannot find the money needed to pay for its erection. If we spend money on building the Federal Capital when we have not money to spend on the erection of lighthouses for the protection of human life, we shall be guilty of doing a great wrong. The construction of the city of Canberra is in no sense a necessary work, and it will not assist the development of the country. For- these reasons, and for many more which it is unnecessary to recapitulate at this late hour, I shall vote for the amendment. The expediency of going on with the Capital at the present time has already been fully debated, and it is, therefore, unnecessary to speak at length about it now ; but I could not allow a vote to be taken without protesting against what I consider unreasonable expenditure. In spite of what has been said by members opposite, I think that the vote to be taken is by no means a foregone conclusion.
– I wish to make my position on this- matter clear. I am not opposed to- the removal of the Parliament to Canberra at the proper time,, but that, time is. not now, and will not come within the next few years.. I make occasional visits, to Sydney, but I hear very little said there in support of the Canberra proposal about which the representatives of New South Wales are so keen ; in fact, during a sojourn of six weeks’ there it was not mentioned.
– Has the honorable member ever seen Canberra?
– I have not. In my opinion, if a referendum were taken tomorrow, the people would reject by a large majority a proposal to proceed with the construction of the Capital there now. I do not think that the people desireus to authorize the expenditure of millions on a project which we have done without for twenty years, and which we could do without for a few years longer. The position to-day is very different from that of seven or eight years ago. It is a surprise to me that those members who are so keen about our removal to Canberra did not, when members of pre-war Parliaments, make a move to have it brought about.
– We did.
– I. have told my constituents, that the removal of the Federal Parliament to Canberra must come about, but in the present financial condition, of the country I cannot vote for it. I recognise the obligation, incurred by the Commonwealth when the Constitution was accepted. In. my opinion, a most immoral condition was attached by New South Wales to the acceptance of the Constitution. The bargaining by which it was preceded was, to say the very least, discreditable to public men. While the agreement must be kept, I do not think that we should remove this Parliament to Canberra for at least the next four or five years. Members, ‘of course, might talk against the project all night to no purpose, . but I have a duty to my constituents, and I wouldbe unworthy of my position did I not express what I believe to be their views as well as my own.
.- In my opinion the wrong site was chosen for the Federal Capital, and were it. possible, I would, vote against the spending of a penny on the site that has been chosen. But it is, of course, too late- to alter what has been done. In every part of Australia large sums have been spent by the Federal Government. The construction of the transcontinental railway has been referred to during this debate. No doubt; there are many . persons in ‘ Australia who would say, even to-day, that that railway should not have been built by the Commonwealth. Yet it has served’ a most useful purpose, and will be even more useful in time to come. Other big expenditures have been made by the Federal Government, and we cannot cavil at any expenditure which has for its object the development of Australia. As for the building of the Federal Capital, it has been said that we cannot afford to go there. I contend that we cannot afford to stay away from the Capital much longer, and that the sooner we get there the better. I have recently seen a statement of the amounts annually expended in rents for Commonwealth offices in this city.
– How much would be saved by removing Parliament ta,Canberra t »
– The exact figures are to be found in Hansard. By removing to Canberra we would save many thousands of pounds per annum which we now spend in renting offices in Melbourne.
– We would still have to rent those offices after we had removed to) Canberra. »
– If that is so, no advantage would be gained by going there; but I contend that the money can be saved. Before I became a member of the House I sat in the gallery one day and heard the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt), who was then Acting Prime Minister, tell members what it would cost to shift a certain number of officials’ and their families to Canberra. If we are going to erect at the Federal Capital buildings for the housing of our officials, we shall no longer need many of the offices which we now. rent in Melbourne and in the other State Capitals. Therefore, I shall vote against the amendment, although my constituency is further from Canberra than it is from Melbourne. If next year money can be obtained under fair conditions, and we are getting a fair amount by the leasing of land at Canberra, I shall be prepared to vote for a still larger expenditure than is proposed now. I do not know whether this item includes buildings, but if it does, I may say that, lately, I had an opportunity of seeing those now in course- of erection; and I say, without fear of contradiction, that their construction is faulty. The architects who put in one-brick partitions do not know their work ; and I trust that the Minister, with his officers, will go into this matter and see that the permanent buildings are not of the same character.
– The buildings referred to’ were designed by the Government architects, and the plans examined by the architects of the Advisory Committee; and all these professional men are satisfied that they are of good design.
Question - That the item, “ Federal Capital, Canberra, £200,000,” be left out (Mr. Atkinson’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the negative. t
– On behalf of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Burchell), I should like some information regarding the item of £179,500 for Naval Bases. The honorable member I have mentioned would like to know what is the future policy of the Government regarding the Henderson Naval Base.
. -Of the £179,500 the sum of £33,970 is for the Henderson Naval Base, and that is mostly for expenditure already incurred. The Navy authorities decided that they could not proceed with the work for the time being, and, accordingly, we have had to restrict the expenditure.
– Is it the intention of the Government to follow the same policy regarding other Naval Bases?
– Very much the same policy has had to be adopted in regard to the other Bases.
– I think the Committee ought to have some information regarding these huge votes for defence purposes. For instance, there is £10,000 for research laboratory, Maribyrnong; £5,000 for arms and ammunition, Inspection Branch; high explosives factory Maribyrnong, £25,000; buildings for chemical factories, Maribyrnong, £5,086; buildings for engineering factories, Maribyrnong, £5,000; buildings for fuse and cartridge-case manufacture, Footscray, £5,000; erection of ordnance stores, £99,000; Naval Bases, £179,000; and (engineeringand other works at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, £8,380. We ought to have some explanation regarding these enormous sums, amounting, I suppose, to between £200,000 and £300,000, before we are asked to vote them. The works at Maribyrnong have cost large sums, Parliament being called upon every year to vote many thousands.
– The actual amount to be expended on Defence matters on the items referred to by the honorable member, taking the appropriations of last year and this year together, total about £300,000, and of that amount £202,229 represents commitments, leaving a comparatively small balance.
– The items I read out are amounts proposed to be voted this year.
– With the exception of £12,580 for the Lithgow housing scheme, £74,162 for mobilization stores, and £99,051 for ordnance stores, the items provided in the schedule are in development of. the approved Government policy and the policy adopted by Parliament.
– Do you mean. that the money has been spent before we are asked to vote it?
– The vote, in the case of Lithgow, is for the completion of a contract to build a number of houses. The policy to which I have referred is that the Commonwealth should become, as far as practicable, self-contained in the manufacture of necessary war munitions, and to this end provision is being made, as funds will permit, for the gradual establishment of munition factories within the Commonwealth. Most of the machinery necessary to equip these factories has already been purchased, and is now lying at Maribyrnong and Lithgow. The amounts provided in the schedule will enable a start to be made with certain of the buildings necessary for housing the machinery. At the outbreak of the recent war, all war material which was on order for the Commonwealth in the United Kingdom was taken over by the Imperial Government; during the whole period of the war we were unable to obtain from overseas any arms, ammunition, or high explosives, and, with the exception of rifles and rifle ammunition, the Commonwealth was not in a position to manufacture. The necessity for self-containment in this regard is obvious. The Government does not propose to establish factories capable of coping with war requirements, but merely a nucleus capable of development in time of actual necessity, and of providing a means whereby allied establishments in the commercial world and staffs can be readily diverted to the manufacture of munitions, should the occasion arise. At present, we have no factories for making gun ammunition, machine guns, revolvers, high explosives, and field guns, and there is no filling factory in which gun ammunition, bombs, or naval mines can be filled with explosive charges. Of the amounts shown in the schedule, there are no commitments in respect of the items, building for machine guns, &c, Lithgow, £10,000;. high explosives factory, Maribyrnong, £25,000 ; building for chemical factories, Miaribyrnong, £5,686; buildings for engineering factories, Maribyrnong, £5,000; and buildings for fuse and cartridge-case manufacture, Footscray, £5,000 - a total of £50,686. There are ordnance stores to be erected in Queensland, and I have already referred to the buildings to be put up in South Australia andWestern Australia. For ordnance stores there £99,000 is set down, of which £96,000 represents commitments. One of the largest of the works provided for is the completion of the ordnance stores at Leichhardt, which it is expected will be finished about April or May of next year.
– The commitments to which the Minister has referred are not very satisfactory. The Committee will pass these items now, and next year other proposals will be submitted to us, and we shall be told that they also are commitments. I move -
That the vote of£ 1,099,245 for works under the control of the Department of Works and Railways be reduced by £50,000, that amount to be taken out of Defence works.
-Will the Minister explain the proposal to spend £179,500 on Naval Bases?
– Nearly the whole of that amount is for commitments. Speaking from memory, only £25,000 or £27,000 provides for new works. That expenditure is in connexion with the winding up of works at the Flinders and Henderson Naval Bases.
– I am more than surprised at the action taken by the Country party, which is another instance of the inconsistency of “honorable members in the corner. Yesterday when I moved an amendment to reduce the vote of £400,000 for the Air Service, which is a new branch of Defence expenditure, honorable members in the corner accepted the Minister’s explanation that it included certain commitments. Where, then, were those members who speak so much about retrenchment? They were voting with the Government, as they always are. It is about time that the . country was made acquainted with the hypocrisy of honorable members in the corner.
– Order !
– I withdraw that statement. I admire consistency, but I hear so much about the economy of the Country party, notonly in this Chamber butoutside on public platforms and in the press.
– The honorable member was not consistent in his vote on the explosives duties.
– My vote then was given for the protection of life. Honorable members in the corner constantly parade as the economy party, but if an amendment is moved by the Opposition in the interests of economy, they vote against it.
– It is only a difference of opinion as to what form economy should take.
– The Minister has put up a stronger case to-night in regard to commitments than he did in the vote for the Air Services; yet honorable members in the Corner now seek to reduce the proposed vote by £50,000. I will not record a vote against that proposal; I favour economy in defence all the time, but I instructed the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) earlier in the evening to state that in view of the fact that I can get no support for any amendment I move, I would take no further action in regard to Defence expenditure. Having received that information, honorable members in the corner now put forward an amendment for the reduction of this proposed vote, believing that by so doing they will gain some kudos.
Question. - That the proposed vote be reduced by £50,000- put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so-resolved in. the negative.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 2 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
The first ‘business to-morrow will be the resumption of the consideration of the general. Estimates. ‘ I am. also anxious that the House shall deal at an early date with the motions that appear on the businesspaper in reference to works at the Federal Capital, in order that they may he proceeded with continuously.
Quostion resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned al 2.14 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 November 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19211123_reps_8_98/>.