9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Before any business is called on, Iwish to ask the Prime Minister - 1. Whether he is aware that the fact thata Government has lost control of the House is regarded as the severestcen sure which can be passed upon it? 2. As this House, by deliberate vote, took the business out of the hands of the Government yesterday, does the right honorable gentleman intend to follow the procedure followed in Great Britain and at once tender his resignation to the Governor-General ?
– The incident to which the Leader of the Opposition has referred was of suoh a character that the Government does not propose to take the action suggested by him, nar would the circumstances warrant it. The honorable member, perhaps naturally, rather exaggerates the importance of what took place. Last night the Government, in compliance with what I understood was the desire of the Opposition, allowed a debate to be adjourned, and I moved the adjournment of the House in order to allow honorable members to get homeat a reasonable hour. For some few days past the Government has understood that it was the desire of the Opposition that the House should not sit for unreasonably long hours. Personally, I have incurred most undeserved odium for actions designed entirely to meet what I understood were the wishes of the Opposition in that regard. Understanding from the Opposition last even ing that it was their desire that we should adjourn, I agreed that we Bhould doso; but apparently honorable members opposite completely changed their mind. They did so with suoh dramatic suddenness that most of them had their coats and hats on when their decision to continue sitting was arrived at. The members of the Government, and honorable members supporting the Government, understood it was the wish of the Opposition that the House should adjourn, and although honorable members opposite had not proceeded to their homes, members supporting the Government had done so, believing that the adjournment had actually taken place. In those circumstances, the Leader of the Opposition did what might be interpreted, as taking the business of the country out of the hands of the Government. I can assure him, however, that if, last night, the control of the business was taken out of the hands of the Government, the Government will very soon take it back into its own hands today. I do not propose to follow the advice tendered by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I wish to take the point of order that, inasmuch as the motion carried at the close of last night’s proceedings was, “ That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair,” the House was not adjourned, and the proceedings of yesterday and those of to-day constitute a continuous sitting. On that account, I contend that the present procedure is irregular. The House must resume where it left off last evening, and must follow the order of business as it then appeared on the notice-paper. I consider my objection fatal to the procedure at present being adopted.
– I do not know that the honorable member’s objection affects the business before us. I took the chair to-day under standing order 29, which provides that -
The Chair shall be taken by the Speaker at the time appointed on every day fixed for the meeting of the House.
To-day has been fixed by the Sessional Orders for a meeting of the House at 11 a.m. I consequently took the chair at that hour and read prayers, and I am prepared to rule that the procedure, so far, is regular.
– I rise to a point of order. “When you, sir, took your place I rose to take a point of order to question your reading of the prayers. I considered the procedure irregular, inasmuch as you were not taking the chair as in the ordinary way at the beginning of a new sitting. You were merely resuming the chair, and not opening a new sitting of the House. After you had commenced the reading of the prayers, obviously I could not persist with my point of order. But before you commenced I endeavoured to catch your eye, to raise the point of order that the procedure you were about to adopt was irregular.
– As I have ruled on this question, the subject is not open to further discussion except by the method provided by the Standing Orders.
– I rise to ‘ a point of order. I direct your attention, sir, to standing order 37, which reads -
The House can only be adjourned by its own resolution, except in the cases mentioned in orders No. 29, 31, 32, and 33, when the Speaker adjourns the House without putting a question.
Standing orders 29, 31, 32, and 33 deal with cases where the lack’ of a quorum is reported. It is clear from standing order 37’ that the House can adjourn only upon its own resolution, and as no such resolu tion was passed last evening the House has not adjourned, and to-day’s proceedings must be part of a continual sitting.
– Order! The honorable member is out of order. I have already ruled on that question, and I shall hear no further points of order upon, or discussion of, it except such ‘as are permitted by the Standing Orders.
– I ask the Minister for Works and Railways if he will make inquiries into an allegation concerning what seems to savor very much of extreme action on the part of the Repatriation Commission in the case of a digger named Lemaire. It is stated that lie has been turned out of his home for a debt of £24. “Will the Minister make inquiries into the truth or otherwise of the statement, and if he considers that any injustice has been done to this returned soldier, will he see that the case is taken into consideration, and the man suffers no loss?
– The honorable gentleman’s question should have been addressed to me. I promise to inquire into the facts of the case if the honorable gentleman will supply me with the details.
– I addressed a question to the Treasurer about a week and a half ago, desiring that he should supply a list of the names of leaseholders whose land tax will be remitted under the Land Tax Assessment Bill we have been considering, and the amount of tax in each case, outstanding. I later asked the Prime Minister whether he would get an answer to my question. I wish the Treasurer now to say yes or no to the question whether he will give me the information, or refuse to give it ?
– The information desired by the honorable member will take weeks to prepare.
– It will be neces-. sary to send to the other States to obtain some of the information. As soon as this, is available the honorable member will receive it.
– I ask the Treasurer if it is the intention of the Government to give effect to his proposal to increase the invalid and old-age pensions this session?
– I should like, sir, to ask you a question on procedure for the purpose of eliciting information. I am not going to cavil at your recent ruling, but I should like to know whether we are to understand from your ruling that all that will be necessary in the future to close a sitting of this House will be for the Speaker to leave the chair, and that no resolution for the adjournment of the House will be necessary. You will readily perceive that this is a most important matter.
– The question put by the honorable member is important, and I ask him to give notice of it.
– Am I to take that seriously ?
– Order ! The honorable member is out of order.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government to appoint a Commission to inquire into the administration of the “War Service Homes Department in view of the statements made in this Chamber reflecting upon it?
– I received a letter last night from Mr. Rodgers with regard to this matter. I believe that the letter is published in the press to-day. It is at present under consideration, and I shall reply to Mr. Rodgers, telling him what action the Government are prepared to take.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government to carry out the promise made by himself and other Ministers to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into certain transactions connected with the administration of the War Service Homes Department?
– The promise to which the honorable member refers appeared in the Governor-General’s opening speech, and was repeated in this chamber by various members of the Government. It was that a Royal Commission would be appointed to inquire into one specific contract in connexion with which there appeared to be grave suspicion that something irregular or improper had occurred. That Commission will be appointed. I hope to be in a position to announce the name of the Commissioner in the next day or two.
– In connexion with the appointment of a Judge to inquire into certain sugar purchases, I understood the Prime Minister to say that the High Court Judges had refused to act, and that Sir Edward Mitchell was to be appointed a Commissioner. I ask whether the right honorable gentleman is prepared to allow the Justices of the High Court to go on strike, and refuse to do the work for which this country pays them.
– I think that the question contains a most improper suggestion regarding the High Court. I have indicated the circumstances in which my request was declined. It was to maintain the independence of the Judiciary, that the Judges took the action to which the honorable member refers.
– The full import of the question of the honorable member for Ballarat was not apparent to me when he asked it; but honorable members know that the practice of Parliament is that nothing shall be said reflecting upon Judges.
– They are only our servants, and why should they not do the. work of the Government? You are living in the stone age when you rule in that way.
– The honorable member for South Sydney is out of order.
– I know that.
– The honorable member for Ballarat must withdraw his question.
– I shall not withdraw it.
– Then I name the honorable member, and call on the Prime Minister to vindicate the authority of the Chair and of the House.
– It is my duty to take very definite action.
– This is the most scandalous proceeding that has ever taken place in this House.
– It is my duty to take very definite action.
– Does not the Prime Ministerwelcome the opportunity?
– It is in accordance with the Prime Minister’s policy to take such action.
– Unfortunately, . the Speaker is falling into the same mistake as the Prime Minister.
– There are many things about which we may have differences of opinion, but nothing, I think, will be regarded as more vital to a free people than the preservation of the absolute independence of the Judiciary. Before taking definite action, I appeal to the honorable member for Ballarat to withdraw his remarks.
– On a point of order-
– No point of order can be heard at this stage. A question of order is now before the Chair.
– I protest that this procedure is quite wrong.
– The honorable member for Ballarat has heard the Prime Minister’s request to him to withdraw.
– Mr. Speaker–
– I can hear no point of order at this stage.
– If the honorable member for Ballarat will not withdraw-
– I have not yet been asked to withdraw. I am waiting to speak.
– The Chair has asked the honorable member to withdraw what he has said.
– Can I submit a point of order?
– Not at this stage, but later.
– It will then be too late.
– The Prime Minister has asked for a withdrawal of the question, but the honorable member for Ballarat states that he did not hear the request. If the honorable member desires to withdraw, I shall be glad to hear him.
– If my action in referring to the work which the High Court Judges should do is improper then evidently the Prime Minister acted improperly in asking them to do it. He saw nothing wrong with the question until you, Mr. Speaker, took it upon yourself to raise objection to it. I strongly object to that. A railway employee who does not do his work is booted out quick and lively, and yet he does not get anything like the wages of the Judges of the High Court. The Supreme Court has refused to act in an inquiry instituted by the Victorian State Government. These Judges do little or no work. This so-called economy Government is paying a huge sum of money to a Conservative, Sir Edward Mitchell, to preside over the sugar inquiry.
– Will the honorable member resume his seat. An invitation has been given to him by the Leader of the House to obey the order of the Chair, and I insist upon knowing whether he proposes to do so or not. He is not in order in making a long speech; he must comply with the direction of the Chair.
– Do not forget that the circumstances were exceptional. The question was accepted by the Prime Minister, who replied to it.
– The Prime Minister saw nothing wrong with the question until you, Mr. Speaker, interfered.
– If I were the honorable member, I would not withdraw.
– In the circumstances I very much regret that the honorable member for Ballarat will not withdraw, and it is my duty to now move -
That the honorable member for Ballarat be suspended from the service of the House.
– I move -
That the Prime Minister be no further heard.
– The question is, “ That the honorable member for Ballarat be suspended from the service of the House.”
– The honorable member for Hume has moved that the Prime Minister be no further heard.
– I have put the question, which must be decided forthwith.
– The whole procedure is irregular. Do you, Mr. Speaker, intend to allow an illegal procedure relating to the expulsion of an honorable member to take place?
– I have ruled that the procedure is regular.
– You, Mr. Speaker, cannot, by your ruling, make a legal action illegal. We shall probably take this matter to the Courts.
A division being called for -
– I appoint the honorable members for Maribyrnong and Hume to act as “ tellers for the “ Noes.”
– I shall not act.
– Nor shall I.
– There are two methods of procedure open to the Chair when honorable members will not act as “ tellers.” The Speaker may appoint “ tellers “ from the “ Ayes “ or give a declaration as if no division had been called for. I invite the honorable members for Hindmarsh and Werriwa to act as “ tellers.”
– I decline to act.
– I also decline.
– I invite volunteers from the “ Noes “ to “ tell “ the division.
– We are on strike, like the Judges.
– As there are no volunteers, I declare that the “ Ayes “ have it. I now request the honorable member for Ballarat to withdraw from the chamber.
– This procedure is utterly illegal, and I do not recognise your ruling.
– Willthe SerjeantatArms be good enough to remove the honorable member for Ballarat?
The honorable member for Ballarat was thereupon escorted from the chamber
– I have received an intimation from the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent national importance, namely, “the action of the Government in not bringing in a Bill to enact the Referendum, Initiative, and Recall.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– I thank honorable members for permission to speak on a matter which has, for thirty-five years, been a serious study for me. I shall put a few reasons why this House should adopt this proposal. Honorable members will honour me by glancing at an epitome which was placed by me in the records of Hansard for 25th March, 1920, relating to the most important questions that stirs politics to-day. This motion was carried unanimously by the last Parliament: -
I regret that the Government could not then see their way to permit that Bill to be carried. The genius of the British race has embodied the referendum and the initiative in its latest Constitution, and thus the Irish Constitution is the highest and most advanced of any under the British flag. I recorded, in the House on 25th March, 1920, that no less than fortysix separate referendums had been taken in the United States of America within a period of sixteen years. This House, in. a previous Parliament, indorsed the principles of the referendum and initiative, and the last Constitution evolved from the
British race, and indorsed by the House of Commons and even by the House of Lords, embodied them. In 457 cities in the United States of America the referendum has been the most powerful means of putting down graft of every description. A map published in the Melbourne Age, which has been insistent and persistent in its advocacy of government by the people outside, shows that if the United States of America be divided into two equal parts by a perpendicular line, all the States on the western side have the initiative, referendum, and recall in some shape, and all but two of the States on the eastern side have adopted in their Constitutions this most advanced principle of political economy. All the municipalities in Australia conduct referendums. The Prime Minister will recall that when he was given that most enthusiastic reception in Perth a few months ago, the then Lord Mayor of the city, Sir William Lathlain, received an almost equally cordial -greeting. Sir William had desired that the City Council should buy a certain block of land on which to erect a nobler town hall. He put the question to the test of a referendum, and, not only did the citizens of Perth reject his proposal, but they removed him from the Lord Mayoralty. That is one of many instances I could quote regarding the operation of the referendum. I have said on many a platform, and I say it again with all reverence, that the Almighty never created any thing his own equal or superior. Then, why should Parliament, which is created by the people on one day in every three years, be permitted to make itself superior to, and more powerful than, its creators? It is absurd. Holding that view, I have for thirty-four years given my electors the right to drag me out of Parliament at any moment. That should be an example to honorable members who fear that if the principle of the recall were embodied in our Jaws, some wealthy and powerful individual might be able to exercise his influence to put a member out of Parliament. I have fought, possibly, the most powerful man in Australia - -one who had the greatest command of capital through himself and his friends - and I know that for a paltry £50 he could have obtained signatures to a petition for my recall, but be did not do it because he knew that the people would be aware of the circumstances and would inflict a more severe defeat upon him if he appealed to them again. If this principle I am advocating is embodied in our laws it will be the greatest means of putting down the jobbery, robbery, bribery, and corruption, that are rampant in this beloved Australia of ours. A statement has been made from this side of the House that 5,000,000 bushels of wheat disappeared from New South Wales - some of it was stolen - but not a man was prosecuted. If that wheat had been loaded on . lorries, each carrying a ton, and they bad been ranged end to end, they would have extended from the Sydney General Post Office to the Melbourne General Post Office. That immense quantity of wheat disappeared; but if the people .fully controlled Parliament that could never occur. A proposal was made by a Swiss Government to bestride the great Continents of Europe and America by sending an agent to establish in the United States of America a branch’ of the International Bureau, which has been so beneficial, and has’ been adopted- by no less than “fifty countries. If I had been a member of the Swiss Parliament, I would have voted for it. The sole expense would have been £4.00, the salary of one officer. There would have been no expense on account of offices, because accommodation for tha Bureau would have been found at the Swiss Consulate in Washington. But the Swiss people had not been consulted. A petition for a referendum was immediately drawn up, the scheme was rejected, and the officer was withdrawn from America. I want the people to have more power. Does any honorable member think that if the people had the right of the initiative this Parliament would be closed during the absence of one amongst 112 members t No. I do not object to the Prime Minister going to England. I think he is one of the best men to undertake the mission ; but I deny his right to lower the status of this Parliament by declaring that 112 men elected by the people are not fit to legislate for the benefit of Australia. Included amongst the Ministers are two old Trojans who have had large experience. No honorable member is the superior of the Attorney-General (Mr. ‘ Groom) in knowledge of the rules of the House, as they apply to the passage of
Bills. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Austin Chapman) has had years of parliamentary and Ministerial experience; he may have undertaken the onerous duties of a Cabinet Minister against the advice of some of his best friends, but his knowledge, at any rate, would have been available to those of his colleagues who are less experienced. Therefore, the closing of Parliament is absurd, and I cannot understand how any honorable member can consent to it. Are we not told thatwe work for only a fewweeks or months during the year, and for the rest of the time are free? Let any man go to my office at 513 Elizabethstreet, and then declare that a member’s duties consist only of attendance in this Chamber. Three years I filed the documents relating to over 10,000 individual cases. If there were ten letters to one case, they were included in one dossier. Fifty per cent. of the cases came from outside myown constituency. I discontinued the office and the maintenance of the records after that experience. Important measures are to be submitted to this House which need the fullest consideration. I believe the Minister for Works and Railways was sincere in his desire to remove difficulties in connexion with War Service Homeswhen he made bitter remarks concerning a predecessor without the latter having an opportunity to reply. But does he think that his Billwould have been carried except by force majeure? If the Government had not curtailed the debate, some of the accusations would have been modified, and certain inaccuracies would have been disclosed in the Minister’s statement; but, by the use of its majority, the Government secured the passage of the Bill without adequate debate. It is futile to deny that bribery and corruption are rampant in our midst. Any one who makes such a denial does not tell the truth; and if hewill back it up with a statutory declaration, I shall prosecute him for perjury. I offer greeting and thanks to the Age for publishing, on 27th October, 1922, the following statement : - “This ‘inner circle’ is the head and front of Money Power - in large capitals. It receives almost fabulous cheques from shipping, pastoral, commercial, importing, mining, and financial concerns, and in dark secrecyit allocates the money to various branches of the
Nationalist party, for expenditure along definite lines carefully laid down by the union itself. The main avenues of expenditure may be sot out as follow: -
I impute no improper motive to any honorable member, for I believe that every man elected by the people enters this House with the heart and will to do what he considers best for Australia. But I remind honorable members that some of the keenest and best minds in the world have indorsed two, if not three, of the principles I am advocating. I know that honorable members are afraid of the recall; but it would have been included in our Constitution but for the accursedwar. That is one of the reasons why I loathe the thought of that war. Andrew Fisher,who never lied, but always carried out his promises, if it were humanly possible to do so, promised in his election speeches that if he were returned to power hewould introduce legislation to provide for the referendum and initiative, and also to provide pensions forwidows and children. He would have given effect to his promises had it not been for the accursed war. Could anything be more potent to prevent the horror ofwar coming upon this country than the people having the right to declare whether they would or would not. engage in war? To realize what a horrible thingwar is, honorable members have only to recollect that more men, women, and children died indirectly through the war than those who were engaged in it. We should give the people of Australia the right to express themselves on this subject. Honorable members know how hard it is to resist the call of battle when once it is sounded. I could not resist offering my services. I was rejected by
Dr. Ryan in the first week of the war because I was over sixty. I wanted to volunteer to try and save life. I believe that if the voice of the people could be heard, it would be sounded against the closing of this Parliament. The people would not prevent the Prime Minister from going to the Imperial Conference, but they would prevent him from closing this Parliament during his absence. I shall read only one more quotation to honorable members. It is a paragraph from a circular that I issued to the electors, and it reads as follows: -
No country, no matter how richly endowed by Nature, can contain a contented, happy race of human .beings if the laws governing them are unjust, or are badly administered; whereas history shows clearly that countries poorly endowed with natural resources can possess a healthy, happy, contented people if the laws are just and firm, founded upon a democratic constitution. The true foundation for a Democracy must be the referendum, the initiative, and the recall.
God never created anything more powerful than Himself! Therefore, if God never permitted any created thing to make itself more powerful than Himself, I now ask you this question: Why do you allow the created thing called Parliament to make itself more powerful than you, the electors, and therefore the creators, of that Parliament? You know well how members have broken faith, voted contrary to their promises, broken their pledges, and turned complete somersaults, and yet you cannot punish them until the end of the Parliament. .From a long political experience, I know that, during three years, the people forget much and forgive more. I therefore urge every one of you to fight for the referendum, the initiative, and the recall, so that when it is safely embedded in our Constitution, you can control Parliament every day of every year it exists. This will stabilize laws, and prevent unjust Acts toeing passed bv a retrograde Parliament. The Labour party, the Nationalist party, the Australian Natives’ Association, the Age, Soc., support’ the referendum, the initiative, and the recall, whilst in the past Gladstone, Salisbury, and others supported the referendum, and now the last Constitution created and indorsed by the British House of Parliament, viz., the Irish Constitution, contains the referendum and initiative; and lastly, I succeeded in carrying -unanimously a resolution of Parliament instructing the Government to make the referendum and initiative law. Why has it not been placed in our Constitution?
This Parliament should not be forced into recess during the absence of the Prime Minister, and if the people had the means of expressing themselves they would say so. The ‘principles ‘I am advocating have been indorsed by almost every politi cal party. When I tell honorable members that gentlemen with such divergent views as Mr. Gladstone and Lord Salisbury accepted these principles, they will realize that I am not advocating the policy of only one party. I consider it urgent that we should embody these principles in our Constitution. I am within the shadow of seventy years of age, and I want to see the referendum, initiative, and recall made the law of my beloved country before I pass out.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney.) on his persistent and able advocacy of the referendum, initiative, and recall. Unquestionably, it is time that these principles were included in the laws of this country. Recent proceedings in this Parliament have proved that to be so. During this session the representatives of the majority of the people in Australia have been prevented from expressing their views on legislation introduced by the Government. If the people had an effective way in which to speak their mind they would object emphatically to the closing of this Parliament.
– Particularly so, if they were here often.
– If the ‘ people could come here and see what goes on they would be more unanimous still.
– Does not this proposal deal only with the initiation.’ of legislation?
– I am dealing with the referendum, initiative, and recall, but for the moment I am stressing the point that if the people had the right to recall their representatives they would do so, in view of what is happening in this Chamber. The existence of that right would do away with, the necessity for anything like the warmth of feeling which exists among honorable members, and we would not have the spectacle of the party in power exercising its voting strength to deny ‘honorable members on the other side of the House the opportunity to express their views. That position would be almost impossible. Up to the present, I have been favorable to the referendum and the initiative, but I must admit now that I am almost converted to the recall. I believe that the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) is quite right in saying that these three principles are essential to the proper conduct of the business of the country. The people of Australia are dissatisfied with the existing legislative methods, and I believe they would take steps to recall their representatives if they had that power. I will even go so far as to say that if the power existed it would be exercised before the Prime Minister had time to reach” Great Britain. The people would demand the resignations of their members, because no self-respecting people would willingly tolerate for a moment the methods of this Government. It is farcical to attempt to rush business through this Parliament in a few weeks which should really take twelve months. Unfortunately, unless the Government is defeated on the floor ‘ of the House, the people will have no opportunity for nearly three years to say what they think. If they had, I am bold enough to say that they would not consent to the Government treating members of the Opposition with an utter contempt of their rights and privileges because it happens to be in the majority. The Government is, without doubt, treating the Opposition with contempt, notwithstanding that the Opposition represents the majority of the people of the Commonwealth. A combination of circumstances has enabled it to adopt this attitude. An amendment of the Constitution may be required to enable us to give legislative force to the principle of the recall of members, but that principle is necessary to protect the people. The Government methods are quite a new departure in parliamentary procedure. Nothing of the kind of thing we are at present experiencing has ever occurred in the history of the British Parliament, to my knowledge.
– It is quite unprecedented.
– This Government is creating precedents every day. Right through the history of the Mother Parliament, it has been the custom, when a Government is defeated on the floor of the House, for it to resign immediately. Governments have realized that such a vote takes the business of the country out of their hands. But this Government does not respect the precedents established by the Mother of Parliaments, and it has taken , a course which is unparalleled in the history of the British
Empire. It is taking this course in consequence of its lack of strength and its inability to see the position in which it is placing the. country. I do not wonder that the honorable member for Melbourne has brought this matter before the House at this juncture. He has done the country a service in so doing. I have no doubt whatever that the people would give effect to his proposition if they were able so to do. If the recall of members were possible, the business of this Chamber would be conducted in a much more reasonable way, and the rights of all honorable members would be respected. The Government would not strain the Standing Orders, which are necessary to control the business of the Chamber, for the purpose of subduing the Opposition. If the recall were staring it in the face it would take good care to see that it acted properly, and would not attempt to rush important Bills through the Chamber without discussion. It would not have asked the House to deal with the “War Sendee Homes Bill as it did. The matters dealt with in that Bill have been before this Parliament for two or three years. Every honorable member desired to express his views upon them. The Bill was not a party measure, and never has been. All honorable members desired to make it as perfect as possible for the benefit of the returned soldiers. An Imperial Conference is to meet in London on a certain date, however, and the Prime Minister is afraid to leave the affairs of this country to be dealt with by his colleagues. Honorable members were denied the right to deal with the measure effectively. That would not have been so had the power to recall, members rested with the people, and honorable members would not have been so brave and bold. If honorable members knew that they had to face their constituents, their behaviour would be very different from what it has been during the last eleven or twelve weeks. During that time we have been provided with ample evidence to justify the motion before us. How appropriate such a motion is this morning, in view of what happened last night! In spite of its defeat, the Government quietly proceeds with business as if nothing had happened. Last night the Government found it impossible to adjourn the House, ;md it was necessary to vote Mr. Speaker out of the chair. This was quite against the wishes of the Government, because it was the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) himself who called for the division that went against him. All this tends to show that this is no longer a deliberative assembly. I have expressed that view on many occasions, and I am sorry to have to express it again; but my justification is the manner in which the business is conducted. Although we have been sitting thirteen hours a day for five days a week, I shall not be surprised if we are asked to sit on from now until to-morrow. With the power of recall such conduct on the part of the Government would not be permitted. The people have common sense if we have not, and they realize that the conditions here are not such as to enable their representatives to’ give their best to the country. They realize that, for mental work of the kind, a day of six hours at the outside is enough. But there is no thought of giving our best to the country. After a general election, the Government, during the first two years, lets business “ slide “ ; but when we are within a few months of the end of the Parliament frantic efforts are made to make the people believe that business is energetically and properly conducted. To give the people power once every three years is not enough. It has been amply demonstrated that a party may come into this House without a majority of the people behind it, and then coalesce with another party of diametrically opposite views. This has occurred after these parties had during the elections bitterly condemned one another; but when they reach the haven of rest for three years they compromise on their principles with the one and only object of retaining the Treasury bench. All this is quite plain to the people of the country ; and it certainly would not happen if the people could recall their representatives. We talk a great deal about party government, but I fancy that the power of recall might prove one of the first and most effective means of breaking the system down. The people, and not individuals, would then have control of Parliament.
– Instead of the Prime Minister.
– I :- used the word “ individuals “ because the Prime Minis ter alone cannot control Parliament. There is no doubt that the people realize where Parliament is drifting. They remember the millions squandered because of faulty legislation and administration, and would, if they had the power, declare that it must not continue. Honorable - members would be recalled to their constituencies and asked to explain, and if their explanation was not satisfactory, they would have to resign. If the people had more power, while Parliament was sitting their representatives would not be “gagged “ when endeavouring to express their views. Ministers would think twice before they used the “ gag “ for the purpose of bludgeoning honorable members.
– They have not learned to think once yet.
– I quite agree, for, if they had, they would regard their position as very grave. Instead of meeting the House as usual this morning, the Government and its supporters would have met and decided on the resignation of Ministers. The Attorney-General (Mr. Groom) laughs, but nobody knows better than the honorable gentleman what the usual and proper procedure is.
– Does the honorable member say that we ought to be guided by precedent in this matter?
– I say that when the business is taken out of the hands of the Government, it is the duty of the Government to resign.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am in hearty agreement with, the motion. The proceedings of Parliament recently demonstrate the absolute necessity for the recall as part of our Constitution. We have seen constitutional practices, and the usual parliamentary procedure, ruthlessly swept aside. There have been instances innumerable of Government supporters deliberately breaking their election pledges, and such members should be recalled for their treachery. We have the instance of the present Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart). We have heard that honorable gentleman denounce the payment of a bounty of £400,000 to certain people, and ask how much of the money went into the Nationalist funds. To-day, that same gentleman swallows his own words, and, as a member of the Government, supports a measure to pay a similar bounty to another private firm. Then there is the case of the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), an ardent advocate of new States. Tie went to his constituency, the “ north coast “ district of New South Wales, and told the people that, if he were returned to power, he would see that new States were created. How he has misled the people who returned him, and disregarded the mandate given him! In the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) we have a gentleman who, the other day, voted to abolish private members’ day, but only yesterday he gave notice of motion to introduce a private measure on his own account. Could hypocrisy go further? Such a man as that is unworthy of the confidence of his constituents, and should certainly be recalled.. One can easily see how the rules of Parliament may be ruthlessly set aside - how some person, in the position of Speaker or Chairman of Committees - may flagrantly strain and break the rules of procedure merely to suit the political ends of the Government, and of the party to which he belongs. This has occurred in many countries of the world, and in such cases the recall becomes a paramount necessity.
– A few honorable members opposite would be recalled after the exhibitions from that side!
– I ask that the objectionable phrases used by the honorable member be withdrawn. He spoke of “ exhibitions “ on this side of the House, pointing directly to myself and’ the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) .
– I did not point particularly to any one.
– Will the honorable member for Batman tell me what is the objectionable phrase referred to?
– The honorable member for Riverina said that honorable members on this side had been making “ disgraceful exhibitions.”
– I did not say that.
– I regret that, for the moment, I was in consultation with the Temporary Chairman of Committees, and did not hear what was said. If the honorable member for Riverina used that phrase, I a’sk him to withdraw it.
– What I said was that if the people had the power of recall, they would recall members opposite, who’ had been giving such “ exhibitions “ lately. If that is out of order, I am prepared to withdraw the word.
– I do not think that the word “ exhibitions “ is out of order, but the implication suggests that it would be better to withdraw it.
– Very well, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw it.
– The honorable member for Riverina voted to remit, in round figures, £1,000,000 of taxation for the benefit of the wealthy merchants of this country, and also to pay £200,000 to the beef barons and squatters. Should not the people have an opportunity to recall such a man as that - one who panders to the wealthy and disregards the rights of the workers.
– Voting to put money into his own pocket!
– I should not like to say that.
– The honorable member for Bourke has just said that I have been voting to put money into my own pocket, and I ask that the statement be withdrawn as utterly untrue.
– If the honorable member for Bourke suggested that the honorable member for Riverina, as a member of Parliament, did that, of course.it was improper, and the statement must be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it with pleasure.
– We could readily understand the desire of the people to recall the Government Whip for failing to do his duty properly, and allowing the Government to be embarrassed by a defeat on the floor of this Chamber. The people would naturally like to be in a position to recall an individual who has fallen down on his job. Honorable members opposite, who should be supporting the Government, sneak home to their beds, and are tucked up warmly whilst the Government is being dashed to pieces on the political rocks in this Chamber. Men who so disregard their duties to the Government and this country should be subject to recall. Honorable members and Ministers who deliberately ‘ break their pledges to the people; occupants of the Chair, as Speaker, or Chairman of Committees, who disregard the Standing Orders in order to suit the political party to which they belong, should also be subject to recall. In the circumstances I heartily support the motion submitted by the honorable member for Melbourne, and I hope the House will carry it.
– I appeal to honorable members to deal with the motion immediately, and permit us to get on with the serious business of the country. I admit that the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) has always taken a great interest in the subject of the referendum, initiative, and recall, but it involves a big political problem, which is worthy of serious consideration and debate, and I presume that whilst, by his motion this morning he desires to give publicity to the principle he is advocating, he does not seriously expect that it can now be dealt with in all its aspects. I suggest to him that he should permit the motion to be negatived, and enable us to go* on with the business on the paper. There are certain aspects of the recall which are, perhaps, worthy of discussion. An honorable member suggested that a member who voted for the meat export bounty should be recalled, but it is more than probable that the struggling cattle men throughout Queensland, who are putting up the biggest fight in their pioneering life, would desire the recall of those who have done their best to prevent the Government from coming to their assistance.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– It has been suggested that the people might like to exercise the recall in view of the way in which we are carrying on at present. They might wish to do so if they were aware that the Opposition has been deliberately blocking business by wasting time when the most serious measures are before the House.
– I rise to a point of order. The statement made by the AttorneyGeneral, that members of the Opposition are deliberately wasting the time of the House, is offensive, andI ask that it be withdrawn.
– The statement is not in accordance with parliamentary practice, and I ask the Attorney-General (Mr. Groom) to withdraw it.
– I apologize to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). If honorable members opposite did not deliberately oppose the business of the House they acted in such a way as to obstruct it.
– Is that in order?
– That has been permitted.
– The people might form their own opinions as to whether certain honorable members should not be recalled in view of what has taken place in this Chamber this morning. Honorable members have asked why the Government has not acted in accordance with precedent.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member confirms my statement.We have been told that when the business is taken out of its hands it is in accordance with precedent and practice for the Government to resign. In this case history is repeating itself. I find from Hansard, for 1909, that when Mr. Deakin was in office - and we all recognise his knowledge of Constitutional practice and Government - the same thing happened as happened here last evening. “When the Minister for Defence at that time moved the adjournment of the House the motion was defeated, the voting being fourteen Ayes to twenty Noes.
– Cut that out.
– I am not going to cut it out. Mr. Fisher, who was looked upon also as a man well informed on political practice and procedure, moved “ That the House do now adjourn,” and in doing so said -
It is desirable to direct particular attention to the present state of affairs. It is a pitiful spectacle when honorable members opposite talk so loudly about the necessity for going on with the business, and do not remain ‘here to support the Government.
The House adjourned on that occasion oh Mr. Fisher’s motion, but when it met next morning, without protest from the Leader of the Opposition, the Government proceeded with the business in the usual way, just as we are doing to-day. The fact is that the Leader of the Opposition, at that time, knew more about political practice and procedure than to make a fuss. Honorable members opposite have told us that we should follow precedent, and I point out that we are following the precedent set in 1909. The Leader of the Government has taken absolutely no notice of the peculiar incident which occurred last night, but which did not, in the slightest degree, reflect the true opinions of either the House or the country. This morning the Leader of the Opposition made an outcry with a view to creating certain public opinion outside. He appealed to precedent, and the Government is acting in accordance with precedent.
– Iask the honorable gentleman to resume his seat. I find it impossible to follow the argument of the Attorney-General, because of the noise from certain parts of the Chamber. I ask honorable members to respect the call of the Chair.
– I ask honorable members to follow precedent, to deal with this motion at once, and allow us to get on with the serious business of the country.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member in order in not addressing you, sir?
– The AttorneyGeneral, I understand, is addressing me.
– Then it is with his back turned to you, sir.
– I appeal to honorable members who wish to assist in the conduct of the business of the House to allow the motion to be negatived in order that we may deal with the Loan Bill and other important measures on the paper for which the people outside are waiting.
– The Attorney-General has gone to a great deal of trouble to dig up from the pages of Hansard a precedent for the action of the Government. We expected that the honorable gentleman was going to relate that a Labour Government did something like what the present Government have done in order to justify the procedure that has been followed, but the honorable gentleman has only submitted, in support of the action which the Government has taken, the fact that, in 1909, a Government of the same kidney as honorable members opposite did just what they are doing now. Why did the honorable gentleman bother to do that? I do not wonder that you, sir, should say that you could not follow him. I do not think that any one could follow such a line of reasoning. The present is a most appropriate time for the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) to bring forward his motion. He requires no better justification for it than the proceedings of last night in this Chamber. I think it was Sir Henry Parkes who said that, for the control of business to be taken out of the hands of a Government, is the severest form of censure that could be passed upon it. I wonder the AttorneyGeneral did not refer to that authority. The Prime Minister came up smiling this morning, and says that nothing shall prevent him from taking his trip overseas. Nothing short of a charge of dynamite will prevent him. He comes here and talks pleasantly, and all the little marionettes that stand round him are prepared to confirm everything he says.
– I hope the honorable member does not forget that the matter under discussion is the question of the referendum, initiative, and recall.
– I happen to know the constituents of the honorablemember for Riverina very well, and I wish they could have seen his unseemly conduct in the Chamber early this morning.
– The honorable member is not in order in using the words “unseemly conduct.”
– I leave that to the honorable member’s constituents.
– I ask that the honorable member should withdraw that remark.
– I ask the honorable member for Hume to withdraw the words in question.
– I shall leave out the word “ unseemly “ and say that I wish his constituents could have witnessed his conduct in this Chamber.
– I am not ashamed of my conduct.
– I remember when the honorable member said that he would not stand for the composite
Ministry and that he would never agree to it. He, and the honorable member for Echuca, said that they would accept no responsibility for the fusion, and a few days afterwards they said that, although they did not believe in the fusion, they had been to their constituencies and found that the feeling there was that the composite Government should have a chance. They expect their constituents to lead them, but the electors cannot always be oh the doorstep of Parliament waiting to lead their members. Their members should be able to lead them. The people in the Echuca and Riverina electorates should have the opportunity to recall these gentlemen.
– It is a clear case for recall.
– That is so. The Postmaster-General stated that from the front of this building he could shoot the profiteers in Flinders-lane. He, no doubt, included the Prime Minister. Yet he has joined up with these profiteers. That is another very good reason why we should have the recall. With that institution the honorable members would not be hel e.
– Does the honorable member recollect when the electors of Indi recalled him?
– I recollect something about the honorable member.
– I suggest to the honorable member for Hume that it will be conducive to orderly debate if he addresses the Chair and not honorable members.
– Through you, Mr. Speaker, I remind the honorable member for Gippsland that I remember a statement that he made to his constituents of Gippsland. I differed from my constituents of Indi on the question of conscription. They took one road and I took another. The attitude I then took was adopted by the people of Australia. I went to a neighbouring constituency that had the same opinion as myself, and I was returned by an overwhelming majority. I did not go among the electors to find out their views and then fall into line with them.
– The honorable member knew what he was doing.
– In reply to the last interjector, I wish hiselectors could have seen him early thismorning returning to this Chamber wearing an overcoat over his pyjamas. They would want to” recall him to ask him: where ho had been at that hour of the: morning.
– Will the honorable member now return to the subject of the debate.
Mr. PARKER MOLONEY. I thought I was showing excellent reasons why we should have the recall. If the people of this country read Hansard they would discover in its pages excellent reasons why we should have the recall. Every day the proceedings in this Chamber are an argument for it. One day an honorable member will move that the old-age pensions be increased to £1 per week, yet later a Bill comes down providing for only 17s. 6d. A question of vital importance to the constituencies of Riverina and Echuca was the proposed wheat guarantee of 4s. per bushel. What attitude did their representatives adopt? They said ‘” No,” and a few days later agreed to the payment of a subsidy involving hundreds of thousands of pounds to the wealthy meat exporters. The majority of their constituents are wheat-growers, and they should have the opportunity to recall these honorable members. No doubt the honorable members for Riverina and Echuca, in the interests of the wealthy lease-holders, will support the proposal to remit the taxation on leaseholds. They may have an argument for .their action, but at all events they should treat every section of their constituents alike. Why make fish of one and flesh of the other? There was an attempt to treat the motion of the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) lightly, but no subject is entitled to more consideration than is that of the recall. By its institution the people would be the real masters of this Parliament, and not a “ snap “ majority. We recently had the spectacle of one section of this Parliament fighting the Nationalist party tooth and nail. Every word it uttered against the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes) at the last elections was a’ charge against the present Prime Minister. He and other members of this Government acquiesced in every action of the previous Government, yet the Country party have since joined with them, and that is the most eloquent argument why we should have the recall in this Parliament.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Attorney-General (Mr. Groom) has seen fit to give us a lesson on how to conduct ourselves. This gentleman has occupied Ministerial office in Governments of every shade and caste for the last twenty years. He is a true Vicar of Bray. Whether there be a Tory, Liberal or Labour Government in power, he is quite prepared to accept the Attorney-Generalship. ‘ It is time his constituents took steps to recall him. Only a few months ago “the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) told the people of this country that it was all-important that the Government should appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the scandals relating to the War Service Homes, yet it is still delayed. It is only fit and proper that his electors should have the right to recall this gentleman and ask him, now he is a member of the Ministry, why he has not kept his promise to them. Only a few months ago the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) fought strenuously against the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Chanter) in the last Nationalist Government. He then was prolix in his denunciation of the crimes of that Government. He stood as a representative of interests that were diametrically opposed to the Nationalist Government. He became the exponent of sincerity and honesty in public life. The honorable member is a man of immense wealth, he’ occupies large estates, and is a tenant of leaseholds from the Crown. The proposed remission of taxation, if it will not put. money into his pocket, will, at any rate, be very much to his benefit. Therefore, his occupation of a seat in this House has been very profitable to himself.
– The honorable member is ‘taking a good deal of liberty. I ask him to connect his remarks’ with the motion.
– The honorable member’s constituency was deluded into accepting him on his word of honour. He pledged himself to be distinctly hostile to the Nationalists, and, having obtained votes upon that pledge, he now sells his principles to serve the Government he was elected to oppose. That instance illustrates how important it is that the principle advocated by the honorable member for Melbourne should be brought into operation. We advocate the recall, feeling sure it will never apply to ourselves, but will be applicable every day to our opponents. This Administration, which opposes State enterprises, yet in- ‘ dorses gigantic subsidies to private enterprise, and day after day votes great sums of public money, to the beef barons at one/ time, and to the sulphur kings on another. These wealthy gentlemen come to this building to negotiate with the Government. Behind the curtains of this cham- ber the Government and their big business colleagues conduct their negotiations to. decide whether a bounty paid shall be a quarter or half-a-million pounds. The ‘ Attorney-General charged the Opposition with obstruction. It is the duty of the Opposition to endeavour to delay everything we consider bad or inimical to the public interest. It is our duty to put up a barrier to prevent the perpetration of another scandal, another act of corruption, or another act of bribery of big business in order to win its support at the next election. Everything we do to that end is for the benefit of the. public and the country. The- Government have indicated various measures that will be proposed for appropriating public money and lavishing it upon those who already have abundance of this world’s goods, and for dealing with men of small means in such a way as to deprive them of some of the rights and privileges they have earned. The recall should apply, not only to members of this Parliament, but also to all public servants who are employed by Government. Thousands of men are employed in Connexion with instrumentalities of the Commonwealth Government to carry on the business of this country. They are secure in their positions; they have a definite tenure; their emoluments are continuous, no matter what happens to the Government. They never have to run the risk of elections; they are not at the mercy, or affected by the ebb and flow, of public opinion. Therefore they should be obedient to the wishes of the Government. When called upon to discharge a public duty, they should do it, and, if any of them will not, because of their dignity and status, meet the obligation cast upon them as public servants, they should be recalled. In 1903, large numbers of railway men thought they were in the right in refusing to do certain things. At once the machinery of the law was put into operation, and, as the laws of the day were not sufficient, new laws were enacted to make them obedient of the will of the Government of the day. A coercion Act was introduced, and additional penalties were imposed. Any man who subscribed a few shillings towards the support of a striker’s family came within the scope of the criminal law. If any of the strikers assembled to discuss their differences they were liable to prosecution and gaol. Time after time, in connexion with ships and railways, those .who are the permanent servants of the State or Commonwealth are called upon to obey the law and the will of the Government of the day, and when they refuse new laws are enacted to compel them to obey. To them applies one form of recall, and when the existing laws are insufficient, Governments make new laws to drag them from their positions. That law which applies to every public servant, and is enforceable against every public functionary, however important and highly placed, is a law of righteousness. But whensoever .any group of officials is permitted, by’ reason of its position and status, to defy the Government and Parliament, and to stand upon its rights, its members are not only acting criminally, but are doing more injury to the country than are the poor devils who, in order to increase their wages or reduce their hours of work, refuse to do the bidding of the Government. Those are men over whom we should properly have the power of recall. The law of coercion and violence to comp.el men to do the will of the Government should apply to Judges of the High Court and Supreme Court equally with other employees of the Government; and when they refuse to perform the duties which the Prime Minister imposes upon them, they are. no longer worthy to occupy their positions. That is my small contribution to this debate, and I feel sure, judging by the silence with which honorable members have been listening, everybody is convinced by the arguments I have advanced.
.- AS the honorable member for Bourke has rightly indicated, it is the duty of the Opposition to oppose and criticise, and. the motion now before the Chair affordsus an excellent opportunity to do those things. Especially does it afford us a chance of advocating and applauding the principle “of the recall. “When the Prime Minister came to this * House at the beginning of the session, he promised the people that he would put before Parliament ,a programme of which we could easily dispose in the time at our disposal. If it is our policy and privilege, not believing in the Government’s programme, to give opposition to it, I call attention to’ the notice-paper in the closing hours of the session, and inquire whether the Government has done its job, or we have done our job the better. “When the Prime Minister was parcelling out this work - and I am using this incident as a striking illustration of the value of the recall - he, doubtless, said to his party, if we may judge by his actions, “ I have referred to the Standing Orders, with which I was quite unfamiliar until this moment, and all I have to do is to move ‘ That the question be now put.’ The question will be put and carried; I shall then proceed to the next business, and by that means I shall be able to do twice as much business as is in the programme which the Government has so far drawn up.” So the honorable member started to move, early one evening, “ That the question be now put,” and he was still moving it, and the question was still being put at 10.30 next morning, and he had not then carried out one item on his programme. Thus did the Opposition, in the exercise of its rights and privileges, teach the right honorable gentleman a very useful lesson. The Government, not having been successful with the motion “ That the question, be now put,” and having found that that method did not advance business very much, referred again to the Standing Orders and discovered therein an instrument called the guillotine. The Prime Minister decided that all the heat» and anger and delay involved in moving ‘ That the question be now put “ would be avoided by the application of the guillotine, and business would be automatically and smoothly transacted.
– Before the honorable member’s time expires, will he be good enough to apply his remarks to the motion?
– If ever I do, it will be before my time expires. If the electors, who returned the right honorable gentleman by a narrow majority, recognising as they did that he was flirting with the Country party and the Nationalists at the same time and was quite prepared, if his Nationalist leader fell, to make an alliance with his enemies so that he might be on the winning side, whichever it was - if these electors could individually be confronted with this notice-paper and be apprised of the fact that the policy which he had pledged himself to carry out is not being carried out ; if they were informed that, instead of doing the work of this Parliament, he has created chaos, confusion, and ill-will in this country, and with these conditions existing he is proposing to go abroad and seek the solace and rest and all the other comforts that come from legislating abroad amongst those to whom he will not be responsible, the right honorable gentleman, instead of going to London would be going to Flinders, and after that to God knows where, but perhaps back to Flinders-lane, to which he properly belongs. And then this House, restored to its position as a deliberative assembly, could, in a sane and deliberate manner, and not under those hectic conditions which have prevailed lately, do the will of the Australian people in giving effect to an Australian policy. . As the honorable member for Bourke said, it is of no use to threaten honorable members on this side with the referendum and recall. We have a policy and a programme; we come here pledged to give effect to it, and to the best of our ability will do so. But those honorable gentlemen opposite who go from pillar to post, who, having propounded one policy before the elections, found it more convenient to preserve their positions by making an alliance with their late enemies, would have something to answer for if the recall were applied to them to-morrow. Therefore, I commend the honorable member for Melbourne for having proposed this motion. It was never more apt and opportune than it is to-day. If the Government is satisfied with its performance, it is easily satisfied. We are satisfied with ours. We have held Minister alists up to obloquy, and justly so; we have exposed them in respect of their policy, if they have one; we have shown that they have failed to redeem their promises to the public; we have shown that the closing down of an Australian Parliament, in order that the Prime Minister may attend one abroad, is not a policy that can easily be given effect to in a modern Democracy ; and we have shown, amongst other things, that the motion moved by the honorable member for Melbourne should be carried.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolvedin the negative.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This amending Bill has become necessary in order to provide for a less expensive system of administering the
In come Tax Act, and to bring it into greater uniformity with the State Acts; and permit of the States collecting taxes with the minimum amount of extra work. The great difficulty in the past in securing a uniform return, or in simplifying the system of collection, was due to the great divergence of opinion that existed between the Commonwealth Government and the States as to taxation of dividends at their source. The Commonwealth practice waa to follow the dividends into the hands of the shareholders, and to disregard the companies so far as the distributed profits were concerned, but to impose a tax on undistributed profits; while the States imposed a flat rate on the companies’ profits, and, with the exception of Western Australia, did not follow their dividends at all. The Commonwealth Government have determined to vary its procedure in collecting income tax by imposing the low flat rate of ls. on companies, and following the dividends into the hands of individuals whose incomes- would be assessed at a rate greater than ls. in the £1 on the present graduated scale. A re-
bate of the shilling, which has been paid by the company, will be made to these individuals, but the amount of the dividend will be reckoned in fixing the graduation rate. In the case of persons whose income rate would be less than ls:, the dividend will not be pursued, nor will it be taken into account in determining the rate of tax to be paid on their total income, thus practically equalizing whatever overpayment may have been made in connexion with it. The question of overpayment of rate in connexion with tha dividend is relatively unimportant, because dividend taxes usually are paid by the company, and not by the shareholder, and in the case of a small impost is not likely to affect the rate. The rate that is being imposed will mean a substantial reduction of taxation on companies, judging from the experience of those years the final figures of which have been collected. From’ 1915 to- 1921, the proportion of dividends distributed to the total profit earned are as in the following table : -
The present rate of tax on companies’ dividends is 2s. 5d. in the £1. At a rate of distribution of 50 per cent., this averages ls. 2£d., and the suggested rate is ls. ‘
The second alteration that is being made is in connexion with the return of live stock. The law is being altered to enable owners to return their stock at cost, or at market value, at their option, instead of according to the schedule rates which have previously been applied.
With regard to the natural increase, a choice is offered to stock-holders to return their stock at market price or at standard schedule, or to disregard them altogether, and simply deal with them on a basis of cash receipts and disbursements. It has been found in Queensland and South Africa that, if the cash basis is applied to the whole of the stock and not merely to the natural increase, it invariably proves in the long run disadvantageous to, the taxpayer as forced sales of live stock on account of drought conditions or extensive sales in one year of accumulations of the surplus during preceding years, may materially affect the graduated scale of income, and losses of live stock through death cannot be claimed as a deduction from revenue. To some degree, these difficulties are offset by the operation of the averaging system adopted two years ago. The taxpayer must make his choice of the system under which he desires to be taxed, ,but, once made, the choice must be irrevocable. This system of taxing stock on its market value will overcome the constitutional difficulties that have arisen in connexion with the High Court decision in the Cameron case, which was referred to it by the Supreme Court of Tasmania. In that case, it was held that to impose different rates for the different States was unconstitutional. This amendment will put the stock-owner on exactly the same footing as a merchant, and live stock will be treated at market value just the same as dead stock. It will also bring about uniformity between the States of New South Wales and Victoria and the Commonwealth. Victoria has the alternative mentioned, and New South Wales will operate either way.
The third alteration to bring the various Acts into line is the provision to fix the net annual amount due in respect of the taxpayer’s own residence at 4 per cent, of the capital value of the property, subject to the deduction of interest on borrowed money secured on the property. In its present form, the law provides that the gross income assessed shall be 5 per cent, of the capital value of the property. From this, the cost of repairs effected during the year and interest on income secured by mortgage of the property may be deducted The alteration of 5 per cent, to 4 per cent, will bring the Act into line with the Victorian Act, and I understand that the New South Wales Government contemplates taking similar action. The norelative alteration will provide for the disallowance of any deduction of moneys expended by the taxpayer for ‘repairs to his own residence. A considerable . amount of difficulty is experienced in administration with regard to these repairs, and this difficulty will be eliminated by the proposed change. There is no reason to believe that the effect will, on the whole, be prejudicial to the taxpayer, as it is practically allowing 20 per cent, of the rent to be used for repair purposes.
The reduction of the taxable income of oversea shipping interests is contemplated from. 10 per cent, to 7-J per cent, of the total freights and passage money. The present provision requiring the payment by the owners or charterers of oversea ships of tax on 10 per cent, of the freight earned in Australia has be.en found to be somewhat oppressive, and out of relation to the existing conditions. It was intended really to be applicable only to the excessive wartime profits. At present many companies are not making profits. The reduced percentage was approved after considering the representations recently made by shipping companies for a reduction of the percentage to 5 per cent., and the rate of tax to’ ls. 6d. in the £1. As the tax payable under that proposal would be the same as that which will be payable at ls. in the £1 - as proposed for companies. - upon 1 per cent, of the freights, passage money, &c, the latter percentage was adopted for calculating the taxable income of oversea shipping interests having their head offices located outside Australia.
The present section 30, which provides for certain rebates in respect of business income where the rate of tax on that income exceeds the present company rate of 2s. 5d., needs alteration in view of the intention to reduce the company rate to la. With a view to making the section permanently applicable, although the rates may be subsequently changed, the wording of the proposed new clause is general in character.
An amendment of the existing penalty of 10 per cent, of the tax for failure to lodge returns, or include income in returns, or pay taxes by the due date, is proposed to be made by substituting a new penalty for such breaches of the law, of 10 per cent, per annum on the amount of the tax involved. The present provision in section 56 of the principal Act for a penal tax of 10 per cent, on the tax unpaid in cases of belated payments of tax has been found to be harsh in operation, and has been the subject of much complaint. The proposal now made for the substitution of additional tax at the rate of 10 per cent. per annum on the amount of tax unpaid, will remove any reasonable ground for complaint. It is proposed to alter the penal provisions of section 67 of the principal Act on similar lines to the alteration of section 56 to which I have just referred so far as the 10 per cent. penalty is concerned, and my remarks in that connexion are applicable to this case also. There are a few additional amendments of a minor character. One is an amendment of section 23 (1) i of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1922 to permit the deduction of calls paid on shares in companies mining for oil. This is inserted because it is regarded that mining for oil is in the same category as other mining operations. Consequential amendments of the principal Act following upon the main amendments referred to above are also made. . These alterations have been suggested by the result of a continuous study and consultation by the most expert officers that we could obtain. Various State officials have also been consulted on the matter. I have also had valuable assistance from several members of the Taxation Commission, especially Mr. Mills and Mr. Missingham, M.L.A. A general desire was found to exist in every quarter to harmonize, as far as possible, the taxation provisions of the Commonwealth and the States, and the Commonwealth Government has considered it to be wise to make the alterations I have already outlined. It will be found, however, that the income tax return to be sent out by the Commonwealth, and which now becomes uniform with the State return, is almost unaltered. In fact, 99 per cent. of the form will remain as it was last year. Arrangements have been made with New South Wales for a uniform return. It is hoped that Queensland and Western Australia will agree to a similar arrangement, and I think Tasmania will also do so as soon as the new Government is constituted. Victoria and South Australia are just now finalizing their provisions.
– That will necessitate only one return.
– Yes. It is found that 99 per cent. of the form re mains as it was last year, so that the Federal taxpayer will be very little inconvenienced by the change made. “Arrangements have been finalized with New South Wales for a uniform return, and also for collection. Negotiations are at a very advanced stage with Victoria and South Australia, but have not been finalized.
– The averaging system will remain?
– Will Victoriaand New South Wales agree to that?
– That is a matter for the State Parliaments to consider, and does not affect the uniform return. New South Wales already has the averaging system for primary producers, but Victoria has not. It is hoped that both Queensland and Tasmania will come to, a similar arrangement. As I said before, Western Australia is already collecting the Commonwealth tax through the State machinery.
– Is there any provision for payment by instalments?
– No; that matter can be considered in Committee. I may say that in consultation with the New SouthWales authorities I found that the idea they had - whether they will carry it out I do not know - was that the Federal and State taxes should be collected at different times. I ask the concurrence of the House in the alterations suggested, and for a speedy despatch of the Bill, which, after all, is one for consideration in Committee.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
Bill received from the Senate, and, on motion by Dr. Earle Page, read a first . time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Bank Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1923, No. 110.
Inscribed Stock Act - Regulations amended -Statutory Rules, No. 109.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Bankstown, New South Wales, for postal purposes.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s Message) :
Motion (by Dr. EARLE Page) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue and moneys be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to authorize the raising and Expending of certain sums of money.
.- I should like to know why the order of business has been changed. On yesterday’s notice-paper, “Ways and Means appeared third on the list, with the Loan Bill seventh, whereas to-day that order is reversed for no reason that has been disclosed. I understand that the ‘Loan Estimates should be dealt with before the Loan Bill, because the Loan Bill covers the Loan Estimates. We, on this side, intend to vigorously debate those Estimates, because we consider that the country is unnecessarily committed to indebtedness. Much of the money is wasted, and the Estimates, to my mind, should be dealt with first. We passed all the Estimates last week with the exception of the Loan Estimates.
– The Loan Estimates are given for the (information of the House; they are not considered in detail like the ordinary > Estimates.
– The same principle is involved. In the Loan Estimates are the amounts to be borrowed for certain purposes, and I take exception to many of the items.
– We never go into Committee and deal in detail with the Loan Estimates; it is not the practice of Parliament.
– But the orders of the day appeared in a different sequence yesterday.
– The Works Estimates have been allowed to go through on several occasions in order that works might be proceeded with.
– There is no urgency in this case, because the House will be up next week. Will the Loan Bill contain all that is in the Loan Estimates ?
– We have not seen the Bill, that is the trouble.
– We are following the usual practice.
– That may be, but I do not want to be “ caught napping.” I wish to know where the Opposition stands. Does the Treasurer say that all the items will appear in the Bill?
– And may be discussed on the Bill?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Dr. Earle Page and Mr. Groom do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Dr. Earle Page, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Loan Bill contains authority to raise £4,500,000. This amount is made up as follows: -
Clause 2 of the Bill authorizes the Treasurer to borrow the amount of £4,500,000. The total of the expenditure set out in the schedule to the Bill is £19,024,874. There is, however, authority under previous Loa’n Acts to borrow £15,756,865, and by taking additional loan raising authority of £4,500,000 it is thought that a sufficient margin will be available to cover expenses of borrowing, including possible discounts on the flotation of loans.
The chief items of expenditure contained in the Bill are as follows: -
The total of the estimated expenditure, as shown in the Estimates recently submitted to Parliament, was £18,945,622. The difference between these two totals, namely, £79,252, represents the amount which it is estimated will remain unexpended at the close of the year out of the provision for post-office buildings. As loan appropriations do not lapse at the close of the year, it is necessary to ask Parliament to appropriate the full amount required, notwithstanding that it is expected that £79,252 will not be expended at the 30th June next. When dealing with the loan proposals of 1923-24 in my Budget speech, I gave to the House a detailed explanation of the chief items of expenditure. It is not necessary, therefore, to repeat this information at this stage. Full explanations are, however, available of the whole of the provisions of the Bill, and will be furnished, if so desired, when the items of the Bill are under the consideration of the Committee.
Clause 4 appropriates the amount of £6.124,426. The total expenditure provided in the Bill, of which details have previously been given, is £19,024,874; unexpended appropriations available under previous Loan Acts amount to £12,900,000, and the amount, therefore, for which further appropriation is necessary, is £6,124,426.
Of the total expenditure of £19,024,874, we shall be able to recover £9,000,000 from the States for loans for immigration and soldier land settlement, and £3,000,000 from returned soldiers in respect of War Service Homes. In addition, there is portion of the amount of £500,000 for immigration passage money which will be recovered. The balance of the expenditure to be borne permanently by the Commonwealth is between £6,500,000 and £7,000,000. This will be subject to an annual contribution of 10s. per cent, to the National Debt Sinking Fund. Generally speaking, it may be said that the expenditure will result in the creation of a revenue-earning asset, and will earn sufficient to cover interest and sinking fund contributions, or else in the creation of a permanent asset which will outlive the period covered by the sinking fund contribution for the redemption of the loan.
Clauses 5 and 6 deal exclusively with loans to be raised for the States for immigration purposes. Clause 5 enables the Treasurer to make advances to the States out of any moneys in the Commonwealth Public Account pending the raising of a loan. Clause 6 appropriates money to enable the Treasurer to pay for a period of five years one-third of the interest on loans raised for the States for immigration. This is in accordance with arrangements made with the Imperial Government whereby interest on loans raised for the States entering into agreements with the Imperial and Commonwealth Governments will be paid by the three Governments for the first five years in equal shares. Clauses 5 and 6 are exactly similar provisions to those . embodied in the Immigration Loan Act of 1922.
– This Bill provides for very heavy loan expenditure, and before Parliament will be justified in .passing such a measure it must closely scrutinize it to see whether we are warranted at this juncture in adding such a large sum to the national debt. If the expenditure will do what the Treasurer claims for it, there will be justification for it, but I have grave doubts whether the “Bill does not provide for borrowing money without proper provision being made with regard to its expenditure. I refer honorable members particularly to the expenditure proposed in connexion with immigration. The Bill covers an item of £500,000 immigration passage money for assisted immigrants. A sum of £4,000,000 has already been appropriated for immigration. An additional amount of £1,000,000 is being provided for under this Bill, making a total of £1,500,000 outside the £4,000,000 already appropriated. That is a very large sum of money to provide for immigration. The question is whether this Parliament will be justified in adding £1,500,000 more to the amount already appropriated for this purpose unless it can be shown that the money will be expended to the advantage of the Commonwealth. In view of the unsatisfactory condition of affairs in connexion with immigration, he would be a very brave man indeed who would claim that our immigration system is satisfactory. “We have had many complaints on the subject. Almost every week many newspapers criticise the existing conditions connected with immigration. It must be evident to every reasonable man that where there is >so much smoke there is fire. It is about time we got down to bedrock and knew where we really are in this matter. It is not sufficient to say, in a’ light and airy way, that Australia requires population to lighten its load of debt, when, as a matter of fact, in order to secure a few immigrants we are adding to the load of debt by millions of pounds. Under this Bill, authority is to be given for borrowing £4,500,000., It is idle to talk of establishing sinking funds to redeem the national debt if at the same time we are to go on increasing the debt by borrowing further huge sums of money. I am not against borrowing money for reproductive purposes. If it can be clearly shown that it is in the interests of the country that we should borrow this money, it will be -a good paying ‘ proposition, but up to the present, unfortunately, we have had no scheme placed before Parliament to justify the borrowing proposed. No satisfactory scheme of immigration has been proposed by the State Governments. Western Australia appears to have the best scheme, but we hear frequent complaints that men brought to that State have been deceived, many have stowed away on ships in order to get back to the Old Country, and some have been stranded in the State. It is evident that there is something sadly lacking. Are we justified, when we have thousands of our own people unemployed, in adding to the public debt for the purpose of bringing more unemployed into the country? Is that true development? We know that it is not. The first thing which should be done is to place the immigration policy on a satisfactory basis. A scheme should be systematically worked out, and we should know the number of immigrants that can 1 be absorbed, and the occupations for which they are required. Provision should be made for the selection of suitable immigrants’. All the evidence which honorable members on this side can gather goes to show that there is no proper system and no satisfactory .control of immigration at the present time. We have been told at different times through the press and by public men that the class of immigrants who are coming here are not the most desirable people we could have in the interests of the future welfare of the country. We are not justified in adding to the debt of the country to bring out unsuitable immigrants. The suitability of the immigrant should be a first consideration. If he is to be settled on the land, he should be a man who knows something about land. It is useless to argue that any man may be put upon the land and will make a success of land settlement. There are quite a number of men in this Chamber who might be successful in many walks of life, but if they were put on the land they would be dismal failures. The same thing applies to immigrants. They are not being wisely selected, and we have made no proper provision to absorb them even if they were. A fundamental feature of any immigration scheme should be proper preparation for the absorption of immigrants on their arrival. The State Governments practically control land settlement, and they should work out a proper scheme of immigration, which could be carried into effect after they have found employment for their own people, and, especially, have found land for . those who are in search of land. In almost every State there are thousands of young Australians, sons of farmers, endeavouring to secure land. If a block is opened for settlement in New South “Wales, hundreds of persons ballot for it.
– That applies also to Queensland.
– Yes, it is like going into Tattersall’s sweep, there is so little hope of success. While that condition of things exists, we are solemnly asked to vote more money to bring people out here to settle upon the land. The first thing we should do is to find employment for the people and make land available for immigrants. We should then arrange to bring out people who will be suitable for land settlement. That should be the foundation of. any scheme. The first thing which should be done by the State Governments is to break up the large estates which are not now being put to the best advantage. One can go into any State to-day and find the best lands of the country tied up in very large estates.
– It is npt so in Queensland.
– I hope that Queensland is an exception, and, if it is, that says much for the Queensland Labour Government. Honorable members are aware that in all of the States there are great areas of good agricultural land being used for grazing. We bring out new settlers, and ask them to go into the outside districts, where they will be practically removed from civilization, and will have no facilities for getting produce to market. In. New South Wales, the best land is not open to selection, and what is available is far removed from markets, with no facilities to get to those markets. This country should be developed on proper lines, and the first step is to make large estates available for settlement. If a large land-holder will not put his land to the best use, and employ, labour, the State should take control, and make it available to a number of settlers for agricultural purposes. The country derives its principal revenue from the soil.; indeed, everything springs from that source. Land should not be tied up1 by a few individuals. These anomalies were created when Australia was in its infancy, when it was quite common to give large grants of land for the breeding, of cattle. Millions of acres in New South Wales were given away. Is it fair to allow large holdings to remain intact, and, at the same time, to bring people here without making land available to them ?
– That applies to other States besides New South Wales.
– The honorable member took exception when I stated previously that this applied to all the States. I agree that it doe’s.
– It should not be so. Western Australia has plenty of land available.
– Complaints have been made from time to time by immigrants who are brought out here to settle in Western Australia. I admit that some of them have been able to get land on satisfactory terms, and to make a living. Western Australia is the best of all the States in that respect. ^
– I do not admit that.
– Then the honorable member agrees that the Labour Government of Queensland is doing good work. With the exception of Queensland, where the conditions are satisfactory, Western Australia has the best immigration policy of all the States. No proper provision is made for immigrants.. If the Com-, monwealth has to borrow money for the States, they, should make some provision to absorb our own people before taking those from overseas. It cannot be said that we are doing this. The Government are satisfied to borrow money,charging the interest to this country, to allow the States to bring immigrants here to join the great throng of unemployed. In Melbourne we see the spectacle of thousands of able-bodied men without employment, their wives and little ones practically starving. They are willing to work, but they cannot get employment. This matter cannot be lightly passed by, and should receive the serious consideration of this House. Our national debt is increasing year by year, and yet a large expenditure is made in directions from which no return can possibly be expected. I do not object to expenditure on reproductive works, such as those of the Post Office. We have already appropriated £4,000,000 for immigration, and this Bill involves another £1,500,000. It is a monstrous proposition. In any case, it will not bring many immigrants to this country. In the Budget debate I showed that the expenditure of £5,000,000 would provide for only 1,000 immigrants. It is far from satisfactory to spend so much money on so few people. The Government’s policy of immigration is blindly supported. Honorable members opposite shout from the hill-tops that we require to populate Australia, and that we must have immigrants. They care not for the consequences. They have not one thought for the men and women in this country who are suffering the pangs of hunger, the policy being to bring more people here to share their privations. Without some definite scheme, the Bill is not justified. First of all, provision should be made to absorb the unemployed in Australia; secondly, action should be taken to make land available in close proximity to railways and markets, affording reasonable prospects of success to the settlers; and thirdly, there should be proper supervision in Great Britain to select a suitable class of immigrant. Will any one say that the selection of immigrants is satisfactory ? Not one honorable member will admit that it is.
– Silence gives consent.
– The following is an article on immigration which appeared in. the Age on the 23rd March of this year : -
If a million people could be brought forthwith from Britain and dumped down in Australia, this country would not be benefited, but probably ruined. Despite our “ vast undeveloped resources,” there would be no work for them to do, and instead of being, as they now are, a charge upon over 45,000,000 people, they would become a ruinous charge upon 6,000,000 people.
No one denies the truth of that statement. The British Government is at its wits’ end on the unemployment problem. At, present there are 1,500,000 unemployed in Great Britain, and the Ruhr situation is making the position worse. In consequence, Great Britain is looking for outlets for her surplus population, and Australia has been chosen as one. The article continues -
Talk about filling our empty spaces and pouring immigrants into Australia as if the only problem were how to find shipping space for their transport from Britain is the most foolish of generalities. It has never led to anything in the past, and will lead to nothing in the future. Yet it appears to be the only basis upon which politicians make their speeches, and, what is worse, it appears to be the only basis upon which we have established an immigration organization that is costing Australia about £80,000 a year. We have talke.d immigration, and we have attempted to organize immigration on nothing but vague generalities, until the public has almost lost all faith in Governments being able to do anything else but multiply the number of billets in the Public Service, and are half inclined to leave the problem towork out its own solution. All the mistakes and tragedies of unsuccessful immigration have been made through Government arrangements. The sole object of the organization in London seems to be to collect as many persons as possible for shipment to Australia. Once they are on the water no doubt the authorities breathe a sigh of relief, and enter in their reports that so many more new settlers have been obtained for Australia. What may happen to these new settlers when they arrive is quite another story. They may have been, and often are, selected without any regard for their fitness for the class of employment they expect to find in this country. Their willingness to embark upon a new life about whieh they are sublimely ignorant seems to be their chief recommendation in the eyes of the immigration agents. If they are desirous of going on the land, they probably find that the opportunity officially offered to them is to take up a type of farming of which they have had no experience, on land which our own land seekers do not think worth taking up. If they are not farmers, they probably find it even more difficult to get the employment they expect in this country than it was in the country they have left.
That has very much to do with the rush for land in Australia. In Great Britain, the unemployed look for work day after day, only to return home disappointed. One can quite understand how anxious they are to seek their fortune in a new world. These men are selected by our agents, and on arrival here are found to be unsuitable. The cost of administering the Immigration Department in England is £80,000 per annum. The agents there receive about £1 per head for immigrants. The administration is in a shocking condition, and nothing has been done to remedy it. Recently the officer in charge of this Department in Great Britain, and drawing a huge salary, came out to Australia to assist in the Nationalist campaign at the last elections. That was a fine state of affairs. It should never have been permitted. Mr. Garden, secretary of the Sydney Labour Council, who arrived in Australia on the Hobson’s Bay, was reported in the Argus of 20th April, to have said that some of the selected immigrants on that vessel were mentally deficient, and that there were sixteen sub-normal prospective new settlers in the party. In commenting on that statement the Argus of that day in a sub-leader stated -
It is disquieting to be told that among the immigrants on hoard the Hobson’8 Bay, which reached Melbourne yesterday, are some who are mentally defective. . This is not mere hearsay, but the testimony of fellow passengers, and it is supported by tragic incidents that occurred on the voyage. Errors are certain to be committed at the outset of a new movement, and it may prove to he a blessing in disguise that the possibility of undesirable people coming to these shores has been demonstrated so soon. There remains now to provide against any risk of repetition. It should be easy to trace the cases on the HobsOn’s Bay, and to deal with those responsible for having passed the emigrants as “fit.” The afflicted persons themselves should be sent back. This will be as much in their interests as in those of Australia. There could be no greater hardship than to send a man or a woman requiring tender care away from relatives and friends to a strange country, as has happened to those unfortunates. Immigration agents, perhaps, cannot be dispensed with, but they should be selected with the utmost care; and the strictest supervision should be exercised over them. Moreover, a plan should he devised under which they would be liable to penalties for passing undesirable persons.
In view of those statements from reliable quarters we should look into the conditions before we vote millions of pounds for the purpose of bringing out more people. An article in the Age of the 22nd April includes these passages -
When new population can he absorbed in the life of the community - when it can be set to profitable productive work - it means new national wealth. It creates a larger demand for all that the primary producer, the manufacturer, or the trader has to sell, and it makes additional work for every trade, profession, or calling:
That is a very true statement with which everybody will agree. All that we on this side of the House urge is that immigration should be on a sound footing.
Australian politicians and officials have been talking loosely in England as if this country were shouting across the waters, “Let them all come; the more the merrier.”
That is exactly what we are doing. We are providing additional money to bring out immigrants, we are saying, “ Let them all come, the more the merrier,” and we are not giving the slightest consideration to their welfare.
Apparently the interests behind emigration from England are busy creating one of those booms in which “ mass thought “ is strong enough to flout reasonable criticism and ascribe it to unworthy or anti-Imperial motives. Australia believes in immigration, but not the less it will watch developments with sane businesslike common sense, and a keen regard for its own welfare. ,
There is a lot of sense to that article, and it does credit to the gentleman who penned it -
Talk of our millions of acres of fertile valleys when the land will cost from £5 to £20 an acre is the wildest nonsense. Yet without bringing new country into use wholesale emigration from Britain to Australia will mean, a mere shifting of the Old Country’s unemployment and poor-relief burdens on to Australian shoulders. Instead of receiving shiploads of new national wealth, we shall receive shiploads of, poverty. We cannot he asked reasonably to charge ourselves with the support of the Englishman’s myriad poor relations. Newcomers must he guaranteed by their own supplies of capital. The British Government and people must he ready to devote to the establishment of their unemployed abroad a ‘fair proportion of the £50,000,000 a year they spend to save the unfortunate from starvation at Home.
That is very true. I said at the inception of my remarks that the British Government is going through .such stress and strain, and has to meet such heavy expenditure in connexion with her unemployment, that it would be very glad to get its idle .population shifted away. That condition of affairs is very unfortunate for our brothers and “sisters in Great Britain, and it has arisen chiefly out of the state of Europe. Great Britain is an importing nation, and is dependent upon foreign markets for the sale of her goods. The disturbed state of Europe has closed a big proportion of those markets, and unemployment is increasing daily, and no one knows what will be the outcome. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is at his wits’ end to finance the various demands upon the Treasury, and the latest cables indicate that the Government does not know how it will be able to provide for the unemployed during the coming winter. The position appears to be almost hopeless. We are sorry for our kinsmen, but we are not justified in spending more money to increase unemployment in Australia. An aggravation of our difficulties would not remedy the existing state of affairs in Britain. I can quite understand the Imperial Government urging migration in order to reduce her own burden, but there is no reason why we should spend money in. making the conditions in Australia worse than they are -
Thus free immigration, to Australia at all events, depends upon large, liberally capitalized projects to construct railways in the interior and in the north and north-west; to bring new provinces under cultivation, and to equip them with suitable industries. Plans like these have to be prepared, or talk of immigration by the million means the advocacy of a scheme to swamp Australia with poverty.
A common argument in favour of shifting Britain’s poverty-stricken masses to Australia without troubling about the terms is that we need them to protect us from a possible foreign enemy.
I have quoted sufficient from that article to show that it supports my point of view. We are not against immigration; we are in favour of it if the country can absorb the newcomers. We would welcome our brothers and sisters from overseas if we could provide employment for them, but we are not willing to delude them by bringing them here when there is no employment for them, and forcing them into the Police Courts on a charge of vagrancy, as has happened in some cases. Is not the dissatisfied immigrant the worst- advertisement Australia could have? If newcomers are disillusioned, and find that the conditions are not such as were represented to them abroad, they write to their friends regarding the treatment they have received, and the poor prospects before them, and state that they are anxious to get back to their own country, notwithstanding the millions of unemployed there. Such statements get circulated throughout England; and do they help Australia? Are they not a blow to our prestige as a nation? Yet the Government is asking Parliament to vote this money without first having made proper arrangements with the States. We say that the Commonwealth should first make arrangements with the States for land to be made available, then ‘ settle bur own people, and absorb our unemployed, and finally bring out migrants. Money so spent will be. well invested, but not if each migrant is to cost £1,000. That is too much. Moreover, we should endeavour to get the right class of men. There are some men who have probably £200 or £300 of their own capita], and who, if given land in proximity to markets and railways, would make good in a very few years. Those would be the best and cheapest immigrants that Aus- tralia could get. The first requirement is to make the conditions suitable for immigrants. We are told that the best immigration scheme is that of Western Australia, and I shall quote the views or a member of the House of Assembly in that State -
PERTH, Saturday. - Mr. John Thomson, member of the House .of Assembly for Claremont, interviewed at Albany on his return from a five months’ visit to the United Kingdom, indulged in outspoken criticism of Australia House. The office of the High Commissioner, he said, should be abolished. ‘ Failing that, the post should be filled by a young and vigorous business man, who would devote his time to the furtherance of immigration and the marketing of Australian produce rather than to attending banquets and social functions.
That is a very strong statement by a member of Parliament who has been abroad. I do not know whether it is correct, but I should think that a repre sentative man would not make such allegations without some justification. He continued -
The warmest friends of the Premier (Sir. James Mitchell) could not wax enthusiastic over the type of immigrant at present reaching this State.
Even if we admit that the Western Australian scheme is satisfactory, Mr. Thomson says that the type of immigrant arriving under that scheme is not such as to arouse enthusiasm. In other words, unsuitable people are being brought to Australia at the expense of the public.
– If that is so, the immigration scheme is on a wrong basis. We cannot continue spending millions as though they were pounds. When ] first entered this House £1,000,000 wai considered a great sum, the expenditure of which was a grave matter. But since the war Governments think no more of spending £1,000,000 than they thought of spending £5 at one time. The annual interest bill of the Commonwealth alone is £30,000,000, and the combined debt of Commonwealth and States is over £900,000,000- a staggering load to be borne by 5,500,000 people. Where are’ we going? Are we travelling along the narrow and sure path that leads to national development and. prosperity ? No; we are following the highway that leads to de- struction. It is time we drew rein, and that those who are in responsible positions rectified the present mistaken policy, so that at least -we may not continue wasting public money, and increasing our load of debt. This is a matter that requires immediate attention. Mr. Thomson continued -
Documents and reports which have- reached Government officials in Perth indicate that large numbers of immigrants who apply at Australia House for selection are sent to these agents to have their papers filled in. In one month an agent put through 500 applicants, and, presumably, collected from -shipping companies a bonus of £1 on each.
That is a fine state of affairs. There is in London a High Commissioner’s Office - I have the greatest respect for Sir Joseph Cook - and a big staff, costing the Commonwealth about £80,000 per annum. And yet we are told by a public mau, who I suppose is reliable -
– I think so.
– We are told that one agent obtained 500 immigrants, for which he received a commission qf £1 each. What are the Commonwealth’s immigration officers doing ? For what is the Commonwealth spending £80,000 per annum on the High Commissioner’s Office ? These agents are mere scalp hunters’. They remind me of the shanghai-ing of sailors at Newcastle many years ago. One man there had the reputation of making a very large income by employing touts to decoy sailors who were drunk, and then shanghaiing them on vessels that required crews.
– Do the agents in London get any remuneration from the Commonwealth ?
– I do not’ know, but evidently a very loose system is in operation. It is immaterial whether the bon w is paid to the agent by Australia or by the shipping companies. In any case, what right have shipping companies to meddle with immigrants ? If the immi_gration scheme were properly organized, why should the shipping companies have an organization for collecting immigrants. Probably agents are employed to get into the poverty-stricken portions of London, and pitch fairy tales to unfortunates about gold to be picked up in the streets of Australian cities. For every man they catch in this way they get £1. When the men arrive in Australia they are unsuitable, and fail. Can we afford to continue voting money to be wasted in th”a fashion? I use the term “ wasting “ advisedly. We are getting no return for the money so spent. I have a number of articles on this subject, from which I could quote, but I -.will satisfy myself, by giving the headings of one more. They are as follows, “A Gigantic Lie; Immigrant’s Opinion of Publicity; Sweepings of London.” We are receiving articles of this description every week. I shall not read any more of them, , because in the circumstances in which we find ourselves these days, I have to do too much talking. As this matter is of so much importance, I shall test the House by moving an amendment. One must take every step possible to put the position clearly before the public. By their vote on my amendment, honorable members will be able to say whether or not they approve of the wasteful expenditure on our present immigration system. It may be said that I should take my action at a later stage, but I do not want honorable members of the party with which I am identified to bq accused of not showing at every opportunity their disapproval of the present system. If this Bill passes it second ‘ reading,’ it may be said .that we had agreed to its contents. I make it clear that I do not take exception to the Bill except in so far as it relates to immigration. It provides that £4,000,000 is to be borrowed for immigration, and, another £1,500,000 is provided in addition to that. It is staggering to think of that amount being spent to “bring people to this country when it already has so many unemployed. Honorable members know that this Parliament has had to .vote money for road-making purposes, to provide a little bread and butter for the able-bodied men who are walking our streets seeking for employment. Shall it be said that in these circumstances’ we deliberately spent a huge sum of money to bring others to Australia to join the throng? Any policy of immigration should be placed upon a proper , footing. With a. view to giving the House an opportunity to express its mind on this matter, I move the following amendment -
That al! the words after “ That “ he omitted with a view to inserting in lieu thereof - “ the expenditure as proposed in the Bill is excessive by at least £1,500,000 until the Government has taken steps in the following direction :_
Provision should first be made to absorb the unemployed in Australia.
Action should be token to make available landa in close proximity to railways and markets, which would afford a reasonable prospect of success to settlers, and
There should be proper supervision in Great Britain for the purpose of selecting a suitable class of immigrant.”
I regret that I have had to frame this amendment whilst addressing the House, but business is brought before us so rapidly these days, that one is not able to keep up with it. He would be a very smart man who could maintain the pace that the Government is setting.
– Honorable members have no time even to read the Bills.
– That is so. We are like a machine. I know that I leave this House at 12.30 a.m., and am back again at 9 a.m., and even then it is impossible to keep oneself acquainted with what goes on.
– It is sausage-machine legislation.
– I do not move this amendment to obstruct business, but because the matter should be settled immediately. If we allow the Bill to pass this stage we may be accused of having condoned the actions of those responsible for the administration of the immigration policy. Honorable members must realize that what we are doing now will determine the policy to be adopted for the next twelve months. In view of the opinions expressed by the authorities I have quoted, I think that we cannot for a moment consider allowing the present system to continue. Week by week we receive evidence that the situation is serious. Consequently, I feel thoroughly justified in moving my amendment. I hope it will receive fair consideration from honorable members. It is unfortunate that the statements I have made have not been heard by more honorable members. It is not to be expected that members will remain in this chamber all the time the House is sitting. Any one who is compelled to sit here continuously will realize that others would not remain in their places such long hours unless similarly constrained. I excuse them for being absent, but I feel that we owe it to the country to place our immigration policy on a proper footing.
.- Honorable members opposite seem suddenly to have realized that immigration is an important matter. Frequently of late they have argued to show how highly necessary it is that we should develop a vigorous policy. To my mind, some of the arguments which they conceive to be strong are very foolish. One such is that we need immigrants to defend Australia. It is remarkable to me that this argument should be brought forward more constantly now than it was ten years ago, when a neighbouring nation was arming to the very teeth, and when we were told that we might expect that and other nations to attack Australia. There was no talk then of bringing immigrants here to defend the country; but now, after the war to end wars has been fought, and when the most friendly sentiments are being expressed towards Australia by the great neighbouring nation of Japan, honorable members opposite are arguing strongly that we must bring people from Great Britain to defend Australia. Why was not that argument used ten years ago? In view of all the circumstances it is no wonder that large sections of the Australian people regard the remarks of honorable members opposite as a means of hiding the real motive underlying their great anxiety to fill Australia with people from the’ other side of the world. The real purpose of those honorable members is to bring so many people to this country that there will be such competition between man and man for the work that is available, that the wages and the standard of living in Australia will be reduced. Australia is not likely to be attacked by another nation, and this argumentadvanced by honorable members opposite is mere foolishness. But they make another great contention to support their views on immigration. They say that Australia has a war debt of between £400,000,000 and £500,000,000, and that this debt could be reduced by so much per head if we brought another couple of million people here. They argue that as we have a population of only 5,500,000, the debt is so much per head, whereas if we had a population of 7,000,000 or more it would be greatly reduced. I do not think the people of Australia will be carried away by talk of that description. If it were possible to fully engage in profitable industry all the people now in Australia, and if we had so much work that we could also employ another 2,000,000 of people, then the presence of the extra 2,000,000 would enable Australia to reduce her war debt; but it is senseless to talk of bringing millions more people to Australia when we are not able to find work for those already here. The newcomers would only be an extra burden on the country. Some honarable members are keen on expressing results through averages. I am sorry that I do not see my honorable friend from Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) here, nor is the honorable member forRiverina (Mr. Killen) present.
Mi-. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Watkins). - The honorable member for Barton must not address honorable members personally.
– I bow to your ruling, sir. I will put my argument this way : If my friend, the honorable member forRiverina (Mr. Killen) and I were to walk into the chamber, and some one said, “ Two men walked into the chamber who averaged 6 feet in height,” a person outside hearing that remark would have a very wrong idea of the height of the two persons. The honorable members opposite who argue on the law of averages with respect to immigration and the national debt also mislead people. Supposing for a moment that their argument would hold water, it must be remembered that Great Britain has an enormous war debt, and if the loss of 1,000,000 of her population were to really increase the indebtedness per head of the remaining population she would not be willing to let them go. Honorable members must remember that we cannot have things both ways. These are very foolish arguments to use to uphold their policy. . It is said that land is being made available for immigrants, but we contend thatthe first, or, at any rate, an equal opportunity must be conceded to the people of Australiatouse those lands. That, however, is not being done. Enough has been said by my leader (Mr. Charlton) on this aspect of the question, and I shall not delay the House by saying more. But I ask honorable members opposite, who; occupy positions of responsibility, to give consideration to another point to which I feel sure the Government has not paid the slighest attention. I propose to give some facts and figures in order to impress on honorable members opposite the great importance of this matter. It has been said, by my leader, that not sufficient supervision has been exercised over the selection of immigrants, and there is ample evidence to bear out the statement. I know there are many who think that that does not matter, so long as we secure a certain number. Honorable members opposite may not regard it as of importance; indeed, they evidently do not, or, no doubt, there would have been proper supervision. My leader read an extract from a newspaper in which immigrants arriving here were classed by the welfare officer as the “ sweepings of the cities of the Old Country.” That officer was appointed, I suppose, by the immigration authorities, either here or on the other side of the world, and there could not be a more damning indictment against the character of the people who are coming to Australia. I remember reading another statement by that officer which perhaps, is even more damning. He referred to the introduction of a class of people into Australia who are, after all more dangerous to us than criminals and idiots. It is to this phase of the question that I wish honorable members opposite to pay some little attention. In Australia, very little attention is paid to the mentally defective or feeble-minded members of the community. In other parts of the world, especially America, the subject has been closely studied. It is true that in Victoria and New South Wales some attention is being paid to the cases of feeble-minded children. In Australia, and particularly in Victoria and New South Wales, a certain class of crime has been committed altogether too often within the last six months. It is a crime largely against children, which could not be committed by normal human beings. The conclusion is that these abhorrent crimes are committed by persons who are far from normal. Those who have studied the question, class such persons as mental defectives or morons. These unfortunate persons present a strange phenomenon in our present social state, and it is a question of how far it is the outcome of the economic and industrial conditions. There are persons born into the world who mentally develop to a certain limited stage and, then,for some reason or other, make no further mental progress. Those who study the question in America have been able to gauge by certain tests the mentality to which these people attain. They have set down a . certain graduated scale, applicable to children ranging from the age of three or four up to thirteen or fourteen, and determining the mental stages at which an ordinary normal child should arrive at each year. It has been found that mental defectives never reach a higher stage than that of a child of seven or eight, and sometimes, nine years. But the important point is that while these defectives never reach a stage of strong mentality, they do reach the highest development in those instincts which make them a danger to society.
– And physically, too.
– Yes. In sexual development they reach the highest stage, and, owing to the fact that they have no control over their sexual impulses - no more than infants - they become, in later life, the greatest danger to society. One such case recently occurred in my own electorate. If honorable members care to make a study of the question, I strongly recommend them to read the works of Mr. G. T. Spaull, B.A., Sydney University, Dr. Eastabrook the Eugenics Record Office of the Carnegie Institute,Washington, and Dr. Goddard, of the Laboratory of Sociological Research, New Jersey. If they read the history of the Jukes family in America, they will recognise the serious importance of the position. It may be thought by some that- the introduction into a community of one or two persons of weak mentality might involve no danger; but let me give some facts about one or two persons who entered America a few generations ago. The Jukes family was investigated for the first time by Richard, Dugdale, in 1875. He was led to the investigation because, in the course of some other work, he found in a certain township several persons awaiting trial under different names, all of whom were connected by marriage or in some other way. He found, in the first place, that this family had sprung from a mentally defective woman who had married into the Jukes family. He examined 540 descendants, and found 180 who were born in poorhouses, 140 who were criminals, 60 who were habitual thieves, 50 women leading sexually immoral lives, and 40 more women venereally diseased. There were a few cases undetermined.
– The Jukes family are well known and notorious.
– And it is well known that that family sprang from one mentally defective person. When this family was last studied in 1915, there were 2,822 descendants, and the proportion of drunkards, criminals, and so forth, was about the same as in 1875. At this date they had cost their country $2,093,000. Every criminal found amongst them was a mentally defective person. That does not mean that all the feeble-minded were criminals, but that all the criminals happened to be persons of feeble mind. These facts and figures ought to impress on honorable members opposite the great importance of insuring that no such persons are admitted to Australia. There is another example of the kind in the Kallikak family - and here I may say that these names are fictitious, it being felt that the real names ought not to be published. This second family is a remarkable illustrationof the influence of heredity. The most recent works I have read on this subject are more than twelve months old; and at that time scientists were endeavouring to ascertain whether or not feeble-mindedness could always be depended on to follow the Mendelian law of heredity, but had not reached a determination. It had been established, however, that a feeble-minded man may mate with a normal woman, and have normal children, but every one of those children has the power to transmit feeble-mindedness to his or her children.
– That is the Mendelian law.
– Yes, it, appears to approach it. The Kallikak family sprang from a man, a member of one of the best families in the Old Country, who became a colonist in America three or four generations ago. He happened to mate with a feebleminded woman, and there have been 480 of their descendants examined. Of these, 143 were feeble-minded to a very low degree, 36 were illegitimate, 33 sexually immoral, 24 were confirmed alcoholics, 46 were found to be normal, and others were undetermined. A feeble-minded person is very likely to become criminal, because he is very often driven into criminal practices in order to make a living.
– Unfortunately, these defectives are most prolific.
– That is the unfortunate thing, as the honorable member says. It is proved by the statistics to which I have referred that these people are indeed, very prolific. The procreative instinct seems to be abnormally developed in them. That indicates the importance of prohibiting the entry of even one of these persons into Australia. They are more dangerous than idiots, because idiocy is easily detected, and we confine the idiot in an asylum, whilst these persons are allowed to roam at large, to make assaults upon our people, to become criminals, and transmit these feebleminded and criminal tendencies to their descendants. In the institutions for research in America, where feeble-minded persons are gathered, those in charge have come absolutely to the conclusion stated by Dr. God dar d, “that no amount of education, or elevating environment, can change a feeble-minded or mentally defective person into a normally-minded person. He gives several examples of a number of persons whom he has under observation for a . great length of time. He refers to one person, whom he calls “Arthur Bigg,” and says that this young man is now nineteen years of age. He has been with him since the age of three. His father and mother were both feebleminded. He is a young man, of fine physical proportions, comely in appearance, kind, quite willing to work, and able to perform some manual labour under direction. He has- even been taught to drive a lift. But his mental age is not above that of nine years. He has very strong sensual instincts. We can well understand that, if ‘accompanied by some person to speak for him, a young mau of that type, with fine physical proportions, would be looked upon by the immigration officials, or by an immigrant agent, as a most desirable immigrant to send to Australia. When he arrived here we can understand also that some people might regard him as a most desirable young man for work upon a farm.. No doubt his services could be secured for comparatively low wages, and he would be quite prepared to take any direction given him. But it is easy to realize’ how dangerous he would be ‘iri such a position. I will mention another case’, that of a young, girl, who has been in one of these institutions for a number of years. This is the case of “Nellie C.” She is said to be quite pleasing iri appearance, kind and affectionate, can wait at table, wash clothes, and perform, under direction, household duties. Yether mental age is that of ten ‘years. There is a great cry for domestic servants here, and I suggest that a young lady like Nellie C. might very easily find her way to Australia, under our immigration system. She would be looked upon probably as a most desirable domestic servant, and yet she could very easily be imposed upon by any unscrupulous person. The writer from whom I have quoted goes on to say, regarding the last case 1 have mentioned, that if the young lady in question left the institution she would become the prey of the first designing rascal she happened to meet, because she has no control over her instincts, which, unfortunately, would be in the direction of vice. I have quoted from the records of men who have given their lives to the study of these questions. I say that here is evidence of the great danger of admitting even one or- two such persons to Australia. The welfare officer, whose name was mentioned earlier in the debate, said that there was one family of mental defectives on the ship by which he travelled to Australia. The father was a’ mental defective. That was his opinion, and I am not in a position to say whether his statement was true, but I impress upon honorable members opposite that this is a very serious and important matter. A great responsibility rests upon the Government to see that such people are not admitted to Australia. Unfortunately, every country has its own share of these unfortunates, but we should let each country consume its own smoke. We have some of them ourselves, and institutions, I understand, are being established in New South Wales and Victoria for the care of such people. In America, most drastic action has b.een taken in regard to them, action so drastic that I doubt very much whether the people of Australia would consent to it. It should not be a very difficult matter to prevent the admission of such persons to Australia. There is no reason why they should be selected as immigrants because certain tests which are not scholastic tests, but general intelligence tests, can be “applied to them, and feeble-mindedness can by this method be detected. The Government should remember that a tremendous responsibility rests upon them in connexion with the eugenic aspect of immigration. If they neglect or shelve it, and even one of these persons is admitted to this country, the result may be very serious to our people. The very grave danger of under-estimating the importance of this matter becomes only the more apparent when we remember that weare about to tap a great reservoir of human beings, amongst whom we may expect these people to be more numerous than they are in America or Australia. We are tapping the reservoir of the great manufacturing cities of the Old Country. We know that the war statistics show that the physical condition of the people of the Old Country has seriously deteriorated within the last fifty years. Although there is no intimate connexion between physical condition and feeble-mindedness there is some connexion between early sickness and feeble-mindedness. The wretched conditions under which many people in the Old Country are living, with their attendant sickness and misery, have produced a great number of these people, so that by an undiscriminating selection of immigrants we should run great danger of bringing quite a cumber of these undesirable people to Australia. Dr. Goddard and Dr. Eastabrook both say that only the trained observer can detect these people. I would, therefore, impress upon the Government its responsibility to have some person who can be fully relied upon performing the work of selecting immigrants.
– We have a most highly capable man examining intending immigrants.
– If the honorable gentleman tells us that, then I tell himthat the most capable man in England must be very incapable indeed, because we know that one of these unfortunate persons arrived in Australia within the last three or four months, and has since been charged with one of the most abhorrent crimes that could be mentioned. How did he get through the hands of the most capable man in England ? Why were there upon a particular boat, according to the testimony of the welfare officer, a number of feebleminded people? If these abhorrent crimes are committed, and criminals are let loose upon the community, it will be no consolation to our people to learn from the Treasurer that after all we have the most capable man in England selecting the immigrants. We want something more than that. We require that the Government shall see that a great deal more care is taken in the work of selection. If the laxity which has been show a to exist is continued, it will not be using too harsh terms to describe it as criminal laxity on the part of the Government.
– I do not propose to confine my remarks on the Bill to the question of immigration, but to refer in general outline to the scope of the Bill. I have already in the Budget debate lodged some protest and expressed some, dissatisfaction with the loan proposals of the Government on the grounds that they are somewhat abnormal, and that, as a matter of fact, I have noted the tendency from year to year, in spite of all we claim to do in the direction of paying off our debt, to continue to increase it. The two main principles which should guide us with regard to the expenditure of loan money, particularly just now, are first, that every £1 of loan money spent shall be really and truly described as reproductive, and secondly, that every £1 spent shall be spent out of the savings of the people, and not by piling up liabilities for posterity. This Bill, I understand, appropriates a sum of over £6,000,000, and gives authority for the borrowing of £4,500,000. The reason why the authority to borrow is for a smaller sum than the amount which the Bill proposes to appropriate, is that there is £1,600,000 of loan money already in hand, and that, added to the £4,500,000 which the Bill authorizes the Treasurer to borrow, . will make up the £6,000,000 to be appropriated under the measure. Thetotal amount of loan money proposed to be spent by the Government during this financial year amounts to £19,000,000. Authority has already been given toborrow £12,000,000 odd, and that sum, plus the amount proposed to be appropriated under this Bill, will make up the £19,000,000. The Government has £1,600,000 of loan money in hand, the Bill authorizes the borrowing of £4,500,000; the Government is authorized under previous Loan Acts to borrow £12,000,000. So that if it pleases the Government can add to the liabilities of the taxpayers of Australia a sum of from £15,500,000 to £16,000,000 during the current year. I think this is a dangerous financial policy, especially in view of the partial failure of the renewal of a loan that has recently taken place. The question of renewal loans is the most important’ financial question facing Australia at the present time. If we are only going to receive under £20,000,000 to enable us to renew a loan of £30,000,000 falling due, and we are at the same time committing ourselves to raising between £15,000,000 and £16,000,000 by way of new loan this year, where are we going to be with regard to our loan liabilities ? I think there are many items in this Loan Bill which might well have been charged to revenue. There are some which might well have been charged to and expended out of the surplus ear-marked by the Treasurer. If the £8,000,000 of surplus had been allocated for the development in many directions of many parts of the Commonwealth, we might have avoided raising any additional loan money this year. If we had done that we should have set, perhaps, the greatest and best example to every Government in Australia to-day of what ought to be done, in view of the serious present and future financial position of the Commonwealth. I shall not criticise in detail the many items of the loan schedules which should, in my view, be charged to revenue, and not to loan. An item that immediately arrests one’s attention is the proposal to raise loan money to deal with a naval base that has already been scrapped. One might well criticise the whole of the amounts proposed to be paid out of loan in connexion with the Department of Defence. For instance, the sum of £25,000 is to be spent in the distribution of medals, plaques, and base records in connexion with the recent war. Surely it will not be contended that items such as these - and there are dozens of them - can be considered to come within the category of reproductive works. Such a work, according to my definition of the term, is one that will return interest on the cost ot construction, and a reasonable sum for deterioration. Unless it will do that, the expenditure will add to the liabilities of the people, present and future. I have already voiced my dissatisfaction with the loan proposals of the Government, and I again do so with regard to these proposals, as presented to us in detail. I do not consider it sound finance to bring down Budgets such as have been submitted in recent years - I am not particularly alluding to the present Budget, but to the three or four recent ones - and to tell the taxpayers that the chief desire is to reduce the national debt, if, at the same time, we bring down Loan Estimates, which are filled with items of expenditure not for reproductive works in any shape or form, but which, if agreed to, will really add to the dead debt oi the Commonwealth.
.- Like the honorable member who has just resumed his seat, I often wonder how the people of Australia are . expected to discharge the debt that is being heaped upon them by way of loan account. In no way is serious consideration given to the matter of meeting our loan obligations. The interest bill to-day is greater than was the total revenue of the Commonwealth in 1913-14. Since that time our powers of production have not materially increased, because the population is not very much greater than it was ten years ago If an honorable member asks for £5,000 for a post-office, at, say, Dog’s Creek, the amount may be put down on the Loan Estimates; but that is all the people of Dog’s Creek are likely to receive for some years, .because there is no possibility at present of borrowing the money. There are some items in the schedule that should not be included in the Loan Estimates at all. I notice a reference to repairs to lighthouses. That may mean the painting of the” structures, and a coat of paint does not last for more than three or four years. Since 1914, when the Labour party went out of office. Governments, unfortunately, have not worried themselves concerning this growing expenditure. Honorable members who take a serious view of Australia’s financial position, do not have the limelight directed upon them ; their attitude is not a popular one. The fact remains, however, that the sooner the seriousness of the situation is realized, the better it will be for the people generally. A number of items that have been put down to Loan Account would never have appeared under this heading’ in the early years of Federation: but this Government has a majority, and it- has become careless in. its methods. The system it is adopting, would quickly lead to ruin if applied in private, commercial life.
– A private business man would have been up King-street long ago.
– Yes. This Government gives away loan money just as readily as a working man presents his weekly wages to his wife; but the difference is that while the average housewife is a careful financier, the Treasurer of the Commonwealth continues to pile up the Loan. Account without regard to the future.
I hardly know how to approach this subject, since the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) intends to’ take a test .vote upon it. I think honorable members ought to go even further than the honorable member for Hunter proposes. Last year I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), as Treasurer, whether he would give the House an opportunity to deal with the subject of the conversion of the loans maturing. I received the usual Ministerial reply, that when the time arrived the Government would take action. It seems quite logical to suggest that the matter of the conversion of loans falling due should be considered before they mature. My idea was that there should be some specific plan decided upon, and that the House should come to a decision, which would result in the matter being dealt with much more satisfactorily than it eventually was. The Government first offered £5 ls. 5d. per cent, for a loan extending over twentyfive years, and, of course, only wealthy companies were inclined to avail themselves of those conditions. Most of the individuals who took up the loan were people who had no hope of living for another twenty -fi ve years. When it was found that the money could not be obtained on the terms offered, it was decided to issue the present loan, at £98/ the term being five years, and the effective rate £5 9s. 6d. per cent., or 9s. 6d. per cent, more than was paid during the war period. Any person conducting his private business on the lines adopted by this Government would soon find himself in the Bankruptcy Court. No- doubt I shall have difficulty in convincing the Government of its misdeeds. It chooses to take a philosophical view of grave problems, because it knows that its life ls destined to be short. , The pity of it is that honorable members on this side of the- House cannot make the life of the Government shorter still. Honorable members will1 admit that no subsequent Government has handled the finances of Australia as well as did a Labour Government during the period 1910 to 1913. lt is a pity that honorable members opposite do not compel the Government to improve the immigration system. Ever since its inception it has been anything but creditable. It is wrongly stated by our opponents that the Labour party is opposed to immigration. No member of the party holding an official position has ever made such a declaration. Some years ago I was secretary of the Sydney Trades and Labour Council, and at the time immigrants were coming to Australia owing to misrepresentation’ and deception. Through a member of the State Parliament I obtained copies of circulars and pamphlets issued in England as immigration propaganda, and. one pamphlet contained the statements that Australian-grown oranges were as large as pumpkins, the smallest being 17 inches in circumference, and that the wives of working men wore white dresses, with pink or blue sashes, panama hats, and often ostrich feathers, because they were so plentiful. That is the sort of extravagant publicity that was indulged in. In two respects Australia is at a big disadvantage in connexion with immigration. Persons in England who are in the early stages of tuberculosis are recommended to go to a country with a drier climate, preferably Australia. Thus a number of people of unsound health come to these shores. If a young fellow of decent family embezzles money, or commits any other foolish crime, which makes him a disgrace and burden ,to his family, he is shipped to Australia. Such instances have been mentioned to me in inquiries I have received from England as to which parts were the most suitable for young fellows who had got into trouble in that way. It is quite understandable that families with marriageable daughters desire to maintain their pride and social status, and they are anxious to get rid of “ the black sheep.” The American immigration laws are very stringent, ‘ particularly in regard to persons suffering from disease. Every immigrant has to go to Ellis Island, New York, and, no matter what his social position, be he even a member of the English aristocracy, he has to pass the medical test. This is a very good system, and helps to preserve the health of the American population. Within the last ‘couple, of years America has limited the number of immigrants to be received’ each year from various countries. The excessive flow of immigration was the subject of a seven years’ investigation by a Commission, whose report is well worth reading. The Commission drew attention to the dangers that arise from taking an undue proportion of immigrants of any one nationality. For many years Carnegie and other great ironmasters have filled their works with cheap labour from southern Europe. These immigrants form their own communities, continue their native language and habits, have their own banks, and buy only of each other. The new arrival, whether he be a Hungarian, or an Italian, or a Lithuanian, goes at once to his own fellow nationals, and takes service amongst them as a menial. Thus this little foreign community has always a supply pf cheap labour. When the recruit has earned a certain amount of money, and acquired a few words of English, he looks for other employment in the big industries of the country. The American - born citizen does not do much of the heavy manual work. He supplies ‘ the brains of industry, and employs cheap European muscle. There is the greatest- difficulty in getting these people Americanised, and there is a very large number of settlements of foreigners who are making little progress towards becoming denationalized. A wholesale system of immigration will be fraught with grave danger to Australia. In the overseas edition of the London Times, I read that the British Parliament had voted a large sum of money ‘ for the assistance of migration, and it was stated by those who supported the appropriation that money spent, in sending people from Great Britain to Australia would be reproductive, inasmuch, as the migrants would become splendid customers for British industries. When I was a young man, it was thought wrong for the Government to assist emigration because it meant a depletion of the productive power of the nation, and if carried very far, would lead to a serious industrial crisis. To-day, the statesmen of Great Britain take the opposite view, that the industries of the Homeland will be assisted by the trans-plantation of its people. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) first intimated his intention to attend the Imperial Conference, it was suggested , that the Commonwealth should be represented by someone who would ,b.e more in sympathy with Australian senti ment. We wish to be a self-contained people, and to establish industries which, will provide employment for our citizens. All immigrants will not go upon the land, and of those who do, many will not remain there. They must be found other employment, and they will look for it in the cities. Honorable members opposite are wrong in thinking that a big proportion of the new arrivals will go upon the land. Many people who come from Great Britain have not previously travelled more than ten miles from their birthplace, and, after being uprooted and transported 12,000 miles, they do not easily settle down again ; they become restless and nomadic.
– But they always come back tlo Australia.
– Nevertheless the Government should give serious attention to this question. ‘ Because’ a suggestion comes from *i member of the Opposition, it should not be deemed unworthy of consideration. We are not necessarily so biased that nothing we suggest is of value to the Government of this country. We are proud of this country. We desire to see it progress along sane lines. We are especially anxious that the people’ who may be induced to come here shall be fit physically to bear their share of the burden left to us as a legacy of the war.
– We recognise the importance of what the honorable member is saying.
– Governments hitherto in loan expenditure have been indifferent, if not callous, as to future obligations. We cannot continue along the lines that have been followed during the past few years. We must put a stop to this “’ Boom, borrow and burst “ policy, as it has been called, and bring prudence to bear in -all our loan transactions. I again emphasize that every million pounds borrowed represents an interest charge per annum of from £50,000 to- £60,000, and I regret that expenditure on some of the works mentioned in this Loan Bill will not be represented by a tangible asset ten ‘years hence. Honorable members should treat these loan proposals as they would their own financial negotiations. No careful business man would incur loan expenditure in connexion with, any business activity thatwas. not likely to be revenue producing, and more or leas permanent in its character. I am specially concerned about the immigration problem. It has been stated that in the main, the immigrants are selected for their suitability for country occupations, but from what I have seen of a number of them, and especially the women immigrants, wearing fashionable footwear and sealskin jackets, I am satisfied that they are not likely to go upon the land., I trust that the Government will give this matter serious consideration.
.- Mr. Speaker-
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed. ]
– There is a quorum present, but whilst the bells were ringing I observed the honorable member for East Sydney leave the Chamber. The Ser.jeantatArms will request his attendance in the House.
The honorable member for East Sydney having returned to the Chamber,
– During the ringing of the bells for a quorum I noticed the honorable member leave the Chamber. According to standing order No. 34 that is not permitted, and I felt it my duty to acquaint the honorable member of that fact. v
– I regret, Mr.’ Speaker, that I did not hear the bells. Therefore, I was unaware that I was offending against the Standing Orders.
– My remarks will be brief. I wish to associate myself with the comments made by ‘the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten) because I feel it is due to myself that I should make my position clear with regard to what I consider is an undue inflation of our loan indebtedness. It appears” to me, as I remarked when speaking on the Budget, that the existence of an accumulated surplus from year to year will lead to very extravagant habits.’ to careless budgeting, and, perhaps, an orgy of loan expenditure. I submit that many items in this Loan Schedule Bill should be provided for out of revenue instead of from loan. I do not propose to deal in detail with the different items which have already been referred to, but I should like to say that by a different arrangement of budgeting at least £3,000,000 out of the £4,000,000 for which the Bill provides might have been provided for out of revenue. In the Budget last year, credit was taken for remissions in taxation to the extent of £3,000,000 and the estimates of the Commonwealth revenue were reduced to that extent. As a matter of fact no such diminution took place, because over £4,000,000 additional revenue was received through the Customs, and, as Ipointed out the other day, the collection of £4,000,000 in Customs revenue means a far heavier burden upon the people, in the form of indirect taxation. As a fact there was no remission in taxation to the extent claimed. All that happened was a transfer of receipts from in- . come taxation to Customs, resulting in a heavier burden, in the way of indirect taxation, upon the general community. I am inclined to believe that this will be our experience again this year. It may appear somewhat impertinent for a private member to question the estimates of the Treasurer who ha3 all the departmental resources available to him for estimating what the revenue is likely to be, but I point out that, although the Customs revenue last year was £32,800,000, the estimate for this year is only £29,600,000, a reduction of £3,000,000. I submit that there is no justification for this anticipated reduction.
– In the previous year the revenue from Customs under the same Tariff was £27,000,000. 4
– But trade is beginning to revive, and undoubtedly it has been active of late. Although in his Budget speech the Treasurer stated that he anticipated a substantial reduction in Customs revenue, I was rather surprised to read, a day or two later, that the Customs collection for the first month of the new financial year was £200,000 more than for the corresponding month of the previous year, and that it constituted a record for any one month.
– But there are eleven months to go, and the warehouses are all full.
– The “estimate of revenue was exceeded last year, and I believe it will be exceeded this year. With so much revenue I do not think we are entitled to expend so heavily from loan. Another £3,000,000 may yet be available to play round with. That is too much money altogether to be played with. Of course, it is easier for the Treasurer to borrow money for public works than to exercise the strictest supervision of ordinary expenditure’ out of revenue, and apply money from revenue for public works. The borrowed money increases our interest bill. Certain items in the Defence Estimates should not be provided for out of loan money. We are compelled to take the Treasurer’s Estimates because we have no means of contradicting him’. He says that he can get the money he wants only by floating loans. I emphatically protest against unnecessary increases in our loan expenditure. I urge the Government to take the greatest possible care to keep down loan expenditure. If, later, we find that the estimate of revenue was wrong, and that far more money was available from ordinary sources than the Treasurer anticipated, and if the Treasurer did not borrow less money on that account in spite of the powers we are now conferring on him, I assure him that he will come in for very severe criticism. I make it quite clear that if my expectations are realized, and the revenue is more buoyant than the Treasurer anticipates, and if he does not curtail the expenditure of loan moneys, I shall criticise the Government adversely. I warn the Government to avoid such a position as I fear may arise.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Barton (Mr. F. McDonald) on the speech he delivered this afternoon. This House should be thankful to him for the information he gave. The matters he mentioned should receive very serious consideration from the Government, and in the light of what he said, the Government should not persist in a wholesale expenditure of money on immigration. If better supervision in that respect is effected the honorable member’s speech will have been of considerable benefit to Australia. The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), by interjection, stated that the Government was engaging experts to apply mental and physical efficiency tests to persons who wished to migrate to Australia; but the facts do not appear to bear that out. That revolting case we recently experienced in New South Wales would not have occurred had -proper supervision been exercised. It is very little consolation to the parents of the child who suffered, to be told that care is being exercised to insure that only suitable immigrants are selected. The honorable, member for Martin (Mr. Pratten) has severely ‘ criticised the financial policy of the Government. He referred to it as dangerous. If the financial policy of the Government is dangerous, the Government is dangerous altogether, and it should not be allowed - to occupy the Treasury benches. Those honorable members who consider it to be dangerous should not support it. The most remarkable thing about the situation is that while honorable members admit that the policy of the Government is dangerous they still support it. I hope that the honorable member for Martin, who is a sound business man, and well qualified to speak on financial questions, will support the amendment which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition. I trust that he will support other amendments moved by this side of the House which condemn the dangerous financial policy of the Government. Many items in this Loan Bill require very careful consideration. We should not agree to the expenditure of millions of money from loans with only the brief consideration that the Attorney-General (Mr. Groom) seems to think necessary. I regret that more information was not given to the House. The second reading speech of the Treasurer gave very little explanation of the items to honorable members. I shall ask for more light on quite a number of items when we are in Committee on the Bill. A certain sum is to be provided for the resumption of estates in the Federal Territory. The Government should give some information on its policy for the resumption of estates. By what method are estates resumed ? How are the values reckoned ? Are the interests of the Commonwealth properly safeguarded ? It is our duty to see that the expenditure . of public moneys is justifiable. Money is to be voted in this Bill for the purchase of land for military and naval purposes, and also for the use of the Trade and Customs and Post and Tele, graph Departments. I am quite prepared to disagree at once with the expenditure of money on land for naval and military purposes, but possibly the land for the other Departments is required. We should have more information on the methods adopted by the Government -to purchase this land. The land transactions in the political history of Australia are such that’ honorable members of this Parliament should make the most careful inquiries to ascertain how Commonwealth money is to be expended in the purchase of land. It has been pointed out that money is to be spent on lighthouses. We have no information on how or where it is to be spent. Will it, for instance, be spent on painting lighthouses ? Such work as that should not be provided for out of loan moneys. If we follow a policy of that description we shall pile up our expenditure out of loan to such a degree that it will never be repaid. Another line in the schedule of the Bill reads, “ Money for offices in London.” Is it proposed to build offices’ in London, or is the money to be expended on offices already there? Another line reads, “ Employment of temporary staff, advertising, and other expenditure connected with the sales of surplus war equipment and stores.” That, of course, has to do with expenditure in the Department of Defence. Surely the surplus military goods will bring a price that will render it unnecessary for us to provide money out of loan to advertise the sale of them. I do not agree with the way in which these goods are sold. It seems to me to be a hole-and-corner business’. The surplus material should be sold by public auction and not to private dealers. The general public should be able (to obtain some of the articles at more reasonable prices than are possible at present. If the articles were sold by public auction, the Defence Department might also be able to get a higher price. By some extraordinary means, two or three favoured individuals in the capital cities seem to obtain control of these surplus goods, and they make a huge profit by retailing them to the general public. The proposed expenditure on immigration and defence and naval purposes out of loan money account for about a third of the total amount. On the other hand, it is proposed to spend only “£12,000 on serum and health laboratories. We would do a wise thing in the interests of Australia to spend only £12,000 on defence and immigration activities, and to spend the larger amount proposed to be so used in improving the conditions of the Australian people/. While we are able to 1 provide bonuses, benefits and “ plums “ for the wealthy classes of this community, as we have done in recent legislation, we should not borrow money to carry out large and necessary public works. The honorable the Treasurer brought certain sinking fund proposals before this House recently. . If he is not careful, he will place Australia in the same position as Great Britain was placed in. Great Britain created certain sinking fund machinery some years ago, and found -that while she was paying £15,000,000 off the national debt she had ad’ded £100,000,000 to it. Australia does not want to do that. If we continue the policy of remitting taxation on wealthy commercial interests and individuals who can well afford to pay taxation, and at the same time pile up the national debt, we shall bring this continent into a position of bankruptcy. It cannot go on for ever; the breaking point will be reached very rapidly. I indorse the remarks oof the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten). After the speech which that honorable member made this afternoon regarding the disastrous nature of the policy ‘ of the Government, I expect that he will cast his vote with honorable members on this side. The amendment of the Leader of tha Opposition seeks to prevent the expenditure of £500,000 by the Commonwealth Government, and the raising of £1,000,000, by the Commonwealth for loans to the States. From the information that I have, been able to gather, the immigration scheme is in a state of muddle. The States are putting forth their efforts individually, and there is no cohesion either between them severally or in conjunction with the Commonwealth. I am opposed to immigration of any kind under present conditions. As Australia will, in all probability, have this Government for a little while longer, and will have to accept its immigration policy, the only thing that remains to be done is .to -attempt to remedy some of the defects that are apparent. There can be no question that the wrong type of immigrant is being brought to Australia. Quite a number of immigrants who are in no way fitted to go into the country districts are being brought from the industrial centres of Great Britain. .They are not even fitted to. take their place in the local industrial field-. <If our rural industries were .languishing because “a sufficient amount of labour was not available, I should not oppose the introduction of immigrants to replenish the labour ranks in those industries.
– Some of our primary industries certainly can do with a greater quantity of labour.
– At £1 a week and “eat themselves.” That is “what the honorable member is advocating.
– On a point of order, I ask whether the reference of the honorable member to cannibalism ought to bo withdrawn.
– I did not hear the honorable member make any such reference. If the practice was attributed to honorable members the remark was distinctly out of order. Did the honorable member make such a statement ? “
– No, it was not intended to be taken in that way. The honorable member for Gippsland is quite well aware of my meaning. Persons who are unhealthy in mind and in body are coming to Australia. We are informed that the honorable member for Calare (Sir Neville Howse) is going to inquire into that matter in England. I believe in recognising merit where it exists. I do not want any honorable member to think that I should have the audacity to criticise the honorable member for Calare in his professional capacity. I have the greatest respect for his ability. Having lived in a town which was not far distant from that in which the honorable member practised for some time, I have seen evidence of his ability. But we on this side, and the organizations- which we represent, are not, and never will be satisfied with having the representative of one political party inquiring into this matter The honorable member for Calare is u supporter of the Government, and it will’ be very hard for him to conduct an independent inquiry when this matter is being fought on party political lines. The party spirit must obtrude itself to some extent. If the Government is desirous of convincing the people of Australia that this unhealthy state of affairs is not going to continue, let it have an investigation made by men holding different opinions on the subject. I do not think that they who are opposed to the present immigration policy will be prepared, to accept anything less. It is useless .to argue that immigrants are being; > brought to -Aus tralia only for the purpose of settling them on the land. That statement is not borne out by the ©very-day experiences of honorable members. I believe there are interests which are endeavouring to swell the ranks of the immigrants’ for the sole purpose of reducing the economic status of the workers to a level approximating to that which exists in ‘Europe to-day. If the machinery of Government, is used to assist such a scheme, a sufficient number of immigrants can be brought to Australia to further crowd an already overcrowded labour market, and the workers will be compelled to accept anything that is offered to them. Statutory declarations are in the possession of many persons which show clearly that some of the large squatting interests in Australia are to-day offering immigrants £1 per week.
– Who are making that offer?
– If the honorable member turns up a reference to this subject which I made some time ago, he will find that I cited the case of a squatter who asked the Immigration Bureau in Sydney to send him men, who would be paid £1 a week. Statutory declarations were made by ten or twelve immigrants to the effect that they were offered £1 a week, and were also told that they ought to work during the first ten weeks for 15s. a week.
– The Melbourne Immigration Office recently advertised for men, and offered 25s. a week.
– Exactly. Applicant after applicant who went to the Bureau in Sydney was offered £1 a week to go into the country. It is a remarkable thing that the great clamour in New South Wales for immigration became intensified a hundredfold when the Nationalist Government of that State decided that the basic wage should not apply .to rural districts. That decision is having an effect on rural production. Last year many of the wheat lands of New South Wales were afflicted with drought to such an extent that practically no crops were obtained. In the southern portion of the State good crops were the rule. The men who ordinarily engaged in harvesting operations in the west and near west found that in those districts they could not obtain work. Many of them trecked to the south looking for employment,. They were offered £1. a. .week, and swu,-. times less, because a surplus of labour. existed. Next year, if there is not that surplus of labour, and the farmers are looking for workers, I shall not blame the workers in the rural districts if they say, “ You took us by the throat last year when you had us at your mercy; now we will take you by the throat, and no wheat will be taken off until we get what we want.” Honorable members will see that the “ diamond cut diamond “ principle has been introduced. It is retarding industry, and rendering it unstable, with consequent irritation, and trouble. The underlying principle of the immigration policy is to bring about a surplus of labour.
T0x. Hill. - I shall use that statement of the honorable member as far and as widely as I can.
– The honorable member is at liberty to do so. I made it in every country district in my electorate. I am prepared to do so again. It is a logical argument. Any farmer who possesses brains can see how he is hit by this practice. A great deal is said about bringing people to Australia and settling them on the land. At the same time, the sons of farmers, who have been brought up on the land, and reared under the conditions that exist in the country, cannot obtain land because of its high price on account of the fact that the best quality land is being held by land monopolists. The statement is made that these young Australians are entering the industrial field . This is because they cannot get settled on the land. I can quote my own case, and that of my brothers. My father was a small farmer, and we were all brought up in the country. Nothing would have suited me better than a country life, and I would willingly go on the land to-morrow if I could get settled under proper conditions. My father was not wealthy, and we found it impossible to do anything in that direction. We therefore drifted to trade and the secondary industries.
– Victorians who go to Queensland are quite satisfied.
– When the honorable member first settled in Queensland it was quite possible to grow wealthy with the abundance of cheap labour. I could supply the names of men in my own electorate who are quite willing to go on the land under the conditions which it is understood the Government are prepared to offer- to immigrants Most of these men are Britishers, and have made every effort to find opportunities for farming. Some of them took up share-farming, only, perhaps, to be left out in the cold in a year or two, and then they had to go into ordinary labouring work. These men are of the class that could make a success on the land if they could only get there. Why does the Commonwealth Government refuse to assist such men? There must be some reason. If the only object of the Government is to increase settlement and rural production, why not take the people at hand ? Whenever there is a ballot for a block of land in New South Wales under decent conditions, numbers of people clamour for it. Generally these pieces of land are small, and are mostly sought by people of the district, who know what the land is worth. As J .said before, Australian applicants for land here know too much, and will not accept blocks on which they would not have a chance. They are not the sort of men to take over land like that handed over to the soldiers - land re’sumed at three times its value.
I understood the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) to say the other night that it was the intention of the Government to discontinue the £5 bonus paid to immigration agents. If an agent under that method, obtains twenty immigrants he receives the comfortable sum of £100; and an agent, under such circumstances, cannot act with the disinterestedness his position requires. We know that during the war many men suffering from diseases were rushed through by the examining medical men, and placed in the ranks. Possibly it was because of a desire on the part of these medical men to get. as many half-crowns as they could; and that same spirit is appearing in the immigration business. It reminds me of the £1 bonus which the Defence Department is giving to school teachers in. the country to shanghai Australian youths into the Australian Navy. It is the policy of the Labour party, and I hope it will ever be, that not a shilling of public money shall be «spent to bring immigrants here to settle on the land until every land-hungry person in Australia has been satisfied. Nor do we desire people to come here to work in the secondary industries while we have an army of- unemployed.
.- Ever since I entered the House I have listened closely and eagerly to’ the debates, and the conclusion to which I have been driven is that Australia can develop only on borrowed money. We never seem to be able to make our expenditure revenueproducing. Borrowing is the order of the day, and to my mind the policy is suicidal. Is there no hope of getting the £400,000,000 for which we became liable during the war period ? Has any effort been made to secure it?
– None at all!
– Then it is about time something was done. Would Australiahave gone to war had she known that this huge liability would be imposed on her? I, for one, do not think so. Whenever an enemy is conquered ho should pay - the loser always pays. Apparently, not sufficient energy has been put into our efforts to obtain redress. I have heard proudFrance maligned for her present actionagainst Germany - for making the demand that that country shall not be permitted to develop until France is placed in a position to compete with her. Germany brought this war on the world, and we in Australia, with a population of 5,500,000, are called upon to endure financial stress because we helped to resist her. We allowed the flower of our manhood to lay their lives down for freedom and humanity ; and those who returned from the war returned only to be taxed. Why should the people responsible for our immense indebtedness not be made to realize that they must pay? Why should money magnates of Germany be allowed to invest their money in neutral countries, and thus put their country in a position to deny the claims made upon it ? Why should the money of these men not be hypothecated? Now it is sought to cast all the odium on France.
As to immigration, what is the use of putting men on the land when there are no markets at payable prices for their produce ? Millions of money have been expended in settling returned soldiers, but it is as silly to settle a man on the land in the absence of payable markets as it would be to send him up in a balloon to explore the moon. I warned the people of Tasmania that, in spending all these millions on soldier settlement they were only courting defeat. No man can make a success if he has to pay 5 per cent. or 6 per cent. on the capital value of his land, stock, plant and equip ment. We are strangling ourselves financially, and bringing ourselves to stagnation and decay. We are doing nothing in the way of reducing our huge debt. What would we get for that national debt if it were put up for auction to-morrow? What is our transcontinental railway or the Northern Territory worth in view of our huge indebtedness?
– How much will you take for Tasmania?
– Tasmania is all right, but her misfortune is that she has to pay towards all the “wildcat “ schemes of the Commonwealth. Tasmania has been groaning under oppression, and suffering blows ever since the inception of Federation. Yet I have heard that little State bitterly “ slated “ here. But honorable members who thus treat Tasmania do not know what they do. Tasmania is the gem of the Southern: Seas. Tasmania, which is the Cinderella State in the Federation, has to contribute to support the wild-cat schemes undertaken on the mainland. The Government should devote serious attention to the establishment of additional secondary industries, so that larger numbers would be manufacturing those commodities which we are using and consuming. It is ridiculous to send the wool which we produce thousands of miles overseas, where it is made up and then returned to Australia in the form of wearing apparel for the Australian people. There are, I believe, a few Free Traders in this Chamber, but I have no hesitation in declaring that under Free Trade Australia could not possibly prosper. As Australian industries have to be carried on under Arbitration Court awards, they must be protected. Is there any Free Trader in Australia who would dare to say that the present standard of wages and conditions in Australia could be maintained under a Free Trade policy ? Australia has a debt of over £400,000,000, and it behoves us to do all in our power to assist the Government in reducing expenditure. I shall always be prepared to support any proposal quite apart from party interests, if I think it in the interests of the Australian people.
– The honorable member forDarwin (Mr. Whitsitt) suggested that Australia should demand payment from Germany, but that is impossible while the French are retarding production in the Ruhr. . 0
– German money is invested in neutral countries.
– I have studied both sides. of the question, and have come to the conclusion that whilst the present. relations existing between Germany and France continue, it is very unlikely that Australia will receive any money from the source mentioned. What can this Government do to secure payment? Great Britain cannot obtain payment from France, and, consequently, this Government can’ not demand Australia’s share. The honorable member for Darwin made passing references to finance, Tasmania’s position, Free Trade, and Protection, but did not deal with a single item in the measure before the House. It would appear from the Bill that money is to be borrowed for painting and coaling ships, and in the purchase of foodstuffs for those who man them. A sum of £40f000 which is to be expended on non-reproductive work should not be taken out of loan money. Where is the £88,000 to be spent on naval bases?
-On the present bases.
– Notwithstanding the decisions of the Washington Disarmament Conference, £88,000 is to be spent on the maintenance and perhaps the extension of Australia’s naval bases. That is not reproductive work. By entering into the war we considerably increased our national debt; but what effort is being made to reduce it? It is true that we have established a sinking fund, but we are borrowing more than we are saving. When the composite Ministry was formed it was understood that business would be conducted on a sound basis, but no effort is being made to reduce our heavy liability, although we have an accumulated surplus of j£7,000,000. As ‘the profits on the note issue are a little over £1,000,000, the Commonwealth Bank has £400,000 due to the Government, and £900,000 is being given away in the form of reduced postal rates, surely we are in a position to reduce our annual interest bill. During the war Great Britain < expended on our account a very large sum in maintaining and victualling our troops overseas. The money was borrowed by Great Britain from America a.t ‘5 per cent., which rate we are paying Great Britain, but after negotiations between the British and American authorities, the interest payable by Great Britain was reduced to 3^ per cent. Cannot the Treasurer negotiate with the Chancellor of the Exchequer . to see if Australia’s , interest rate cannot also’ be reduced to 3$ per cent., as Great Britain should no.t make any profit on the transaction. According to the Bill, loan money is to be expended on the con-‘ struction of lighthouses and to pay the rents of buildings occupied by Commonwealth Departments in Sydney. I presume this is being done to show a fictitious surplus. It is also proposed to spend a very large sum on immigration, and to- distribute the amount between the States, but we do not know on what basis. Why cannot the Government undertake to settle migrants in the Northern Territory, particularly as the States land settlement schemes are fairly well developed. From what I have read there are large tracts of valuable land awaiting development in the Northern Territory, and as we have recently passed a Bill authorizing the construction of a railway in that portion of the Commonwealth, we should assist those engaged in constructing the line by granting them land on which to settle when that work is completed. Large areas of land in the Northern Territory are leased at 6d. per square mile per annum, and settlement there, should be encouraged, instead of allowing the States to spend Commonwealth money. Land settlement in. the States can be overdone. It will probably be difficult to (find markets for our wheat, and a loss of £500,000 has been incurred in the sale of fruit. If more people are to be engaged in fruit-growing, where is the product to be marketed? A man will spend four or five years bringing his orchard into full bearing, and will then be faced with a glutted fruit market. We should not risk the reputation of the country by settling more people on the land unless there is a market for their produce. The people of Tasmania produce plenty of fruit, and they have great reason to complain that adequate shipping;.-,- facilities are not afforded for its export. The policy of the Government is one of drift. It is prepared to bring to Australia 1,000,000 immigrants per annum, and I ask where is it going to put them ? During the luncheon adjournment I walked down a street in this city, and saw men shaking boxes, in which they were collecting money for the unemployed. That is a nice advertisement for a young country. We have less than 6,000,000 of people in Australia, and there are many of them out of employment. People in the Old Country may well doubt whether they should come to Australia when they read in the press that great unemployed demonstrationsare being held in every State, and that the Commonwealth is advancing money to the States for roads development to provide for the relief of the unemployed. The type of immigrants we have been receiving lately has been criticised; but while some may not have been up to the best standard, I have seen many who are fine specimens of manhood and womanhood. We cannot expect that any country will send us only the best of its citizens. Some persons have objected to a man with a touch of consumption being allowed to land in Australia. I have known people to come to Australia suffering from consumption. They have gone to Queensland, where there is a warm climate, have been cured of the disease, and are now healthy and successful citizens. I have some humane feeling in me, and I will not say that we should close the door upon people who come out here in search of health. Australia is their land just as much as ours. We cannot claim to have made this land, and weshould not be so selfish as to keep out persons who come here in search of health. Persons in the early stages of consumption should not be prevented from coming to any State in the Commonwealth.
Mr.Fenton. - The health of our people is the first consideration.
– Yes; but the people to whom I refer are our people. We all belong to the same family. I feel degraded when I hear the way in which some people talk of preventing the admission of persons in ill-health. I know that people who, although when they arrived in Australia they were . not expected to live for six months, have, because of the better climate and conditions they have enjoyed here, had good health restored to them.
– They would not have got into a condition of bad health if Great Britain were properly governed. Their condition has been due to the rotten system under which they were living.
– Of course, sanitary homes and good conditions of employment will prevent much sickness. I have complained that the Government has never included a sufficient vote in the Estimates to prevent the spread of disease. Parliament could engage in no more noble work. We should devote considerable sums to the assistance of scientific men who are endeavouring to find some cure for such diseases as cancer, consumption, and diabetes. I believe that honorable members would not hesitate to pass considerable votes to aid in the discovery of means to protect the human race against the ravages of these maladies.
– There is a sum on the Estimates for the building of labora tories.
– I am glad thata start is going to be made in this direction. The Treasurer is a medical man, and he knows the suffering caused by sickness. If the Government will go ahead in this direction, honorable members on this side will not cavil at votes submitted for the purpose. I understand that we are to have a report from Sir Neville Howse, who is going to Geneva to represent Australia at the Assembly of the League of Nations, on the alleged cures for a variety of diseases. I hope that on his return the Government will go into this matter in a whole-hearted way, and make a real effort to eradicate these diseases from our midst. I trust that the Government will go in for a vigorous policy of development. There is a railway proposed through the Treasurer’s electorate, in connexion with which the Government should give some assistance.
– If we are given a new State or two we can carry these works out for ourselves.
– I know that Queensland members travelling here through New South Wales have to change at the borders of the State because of different railway gauges. New South Wales has nearly completed the construction of a second railway to the Queensland border on a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge. It goes through beautiful country. I believe that negotiations have been conducted with the
Queensland Government to have this line carried on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge right into the city of Brisbane. I ask the Federal Government to push on with that proposal. It would be a reproductive work of great value to the country.
– We have been pushing the matter all the time.
– Then I hope that the Government will do something more than push. I hope they will find the money. If they do, I believe the New South Wales and Queensland Governments will construct the line. We have had several reports upon the adoption of a uniform railway gauge for the Commonwealth, and yet every year railways are being constructed in the different States on varying gauges. According to the reports of Lord Kitchener and other experts, it is essential for the proper defence of the Commonwealth that we should have a railway linking up the States on a uniform gauge. Why should not the Government enter upon that work when so many men are out of employment. It would have been well if the Government had undertaken the unification of the gauges when thousands of men were returning from the Front. They could have been absorbed in that work. While they were getting back pay and war gratuity everything was well with them, but now large numbers are unemployed in all our cities. I consider that both Federal and State Governments should undertake national works, to give the people employment. I suggest that during the recess there should be a conference of Commonwealth and State Treasurers and Ministers for Works and Railways, and that the conference should draw up a big scheme that would absorb all the labour unemployed throughout the Commonwealth. That would do more for the development of the country thanwe can expect from immigration. It would also assist immigration, because the knowledge that work was to be obtained here would attract people from every part of Europe. I remember that when the Fisher Labour Government was in power it went in for a vigorous policy. It was responsible for the construction of 1,100 miles of the East-West railway. That absorbed labour, and was a national work. The Fisher Government took its courage in both hands, and completed that work, and no one will to-day contend that they did not do the right thing. The construction of railways in the Northern Territory will pay if it is followed up with land settlement. We are informed that there is good country there for raising all kinds of stock. It is near the Eastern markets, and with railway transport for stock to the sea-board, there would be a great future for the Northern Territory. We have had reports that there are vast mineral deposits in the Northern Territory that would be opened up and developed with railway transport to the sea-board. I agree with the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) that the Government should offer a bonus for the discovery of minerals of a paying character. We should revive the conditions of the old prospecting days when men, assisted by prospecting votes, went out and discovered gold and silver. That policy should be adopted for the development of the Northern Territory. I have read several reports by Sir Joseph Carruthers, of New South Wales, on the subject of immigration. He proposed “ a million farms for a million people,” but that, in my opinion, is too big a scheme for New South Wales. It would involve the State in a very considerable debt. We might do much better by building railways.
– Or roads.
– Yes,I believe that in some cases roads would be better than railways. In fact, I think the day is coming when we may have to change our views on the subject of the construction of railways. If we went in for a policy of railway construction in the Northern Territory, there is no reason why we should not settle the people engaged in the building of the railways. We could offer them inducements to take up land along the railways. It is only wasting the money of the country to construct railways if we do not make provision for the settlement of. people who will provide traffic for them.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I desire to inform honorable members that a distinguished member of the Japanese House of Peers, Baron D. Obata, is within the precincts of the House.
With the concurrence of honorable members, I shall provide him with a distinguished stranger’s seat beside the Speaker’s chair.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
Baron Obata thereupon entered, and was seated, accordingly.
.- It is not my intention to enter upon a long dissertation concerning this Bill. I recognise that the Government is very anxious to get on with the business of the country, and it would be bad policy on the part of its supporters to do anything to delay that business. Honorable members, whatever their views, are indebted to the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten) for his very timely warning regarding the necessity for facing the problems of Government, and getting a grasp of the truefinancial position of this country, so that we may be saved from the many pitfalls with which we are surrounded. The public debt of this country is increasing continually, and while it is only to be expected that the expenditure of a young country awaiting development should increase, we must bear in mind that we are piling up a big burden, the weight of which must, in the course of time, press very heavily upon the people of Australia. Exception has been taken to the manner in which this debt has been periodically increased, but it is well to remember that a great deal of it will eventually be repaid by the States, to whom it has been lent. The position is not very reassuring, considering the sparse population of the continent in which we live, and for which we legislate. On reference to the latest statistics, I find that the total debt of the Commonwealth and States amounts to £934,485,705. The Commonwealth portion of that debt is £410,996,316. A large part of the war debt, which comprises the major portion of the total debt, is redeemable during the next seven years. That debt was incurred during a time of pressure, and this country has to meet, between now and the 30th June, 1930, no less a sum than £241,746,090.
We are paying interest at the rate of 4½ per cent. to 6 per cent. No one can foresee what the rate of interest will be in the future, but there is some justification for saying that when we come to redeem the loans, it will not be so high as it is to-day. In that event we shall be relieved of the payment of a considerable amount of interest. Nevertheless, we ought to walk very warily. I believe I am expressing the opinion of all members of the House, and of a large number of people throughout the country, when I say that Australia can afford to borrow judiciously providing we get something approaching a fair return for the money we invest in this country. Exception has been taken, and I think wisely, to certain items in the Bill. These are items which should have been met out of revenue, rather than out of loan money. I hope that in the future the Treasurer will arrange to meet temporary expenditure out of revenue, rather than out of loan moneys. Much has been said during the discussion of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). The object of that amendment is to reduce by £1,500,000 the sum provided for immigration, as a protest against the immigration policy of the Government. I cannot say that I am in accord with the Leader of the Opposition in that regard, because I recognise that Australia’s greatest need to-day is population. I am reminded of an incident which occurred some years ago at an Eisteddfod in Toowoomba, Queensland. At one of the sessions, when impromptu speeches were to be delivered, a number of those who had entered for the competition were called upon the stage and, in their turn, drew from a hat a slip of paper on which was written the subject on which they had to speak. A prominent Toowoomba resident, Mr. Tardent, drew out of the hat the question, “What, in your opinion, is Australia’s greatest need?” This man was recognised as an authority on a large number of subjects, and he could speak by the hour at almost a moment’s notice. The audience was expecting an interesting address from him, but to some extent he disappointed them. Drawing himself up, he threw out his chest, and said, “ Ladies and gentlemen,
Australia’s greatest need’ to-day is babies.” The audience could not do otherwise than agree with him. There can be no question but that the greatest need of Australia to-day is children, and preferably Australian children. If Australia cannot get sufficient children in the natural order of things, we must look elsewhere for our increased population.
– Why does hot the honorable member tell the Honorary Minister (Mr. Atkinson) to get a wife?
– If I had my way I should put such a tax on bachelors that they would be compelled “ to look for wives. In Australia, with its large, vacant spaces and its tracts of undeveloped country, we naturally look to settlement on the land as a means of providing for any extra population we may be fortunate enough to obtain. Honorable members have often complained that all the good’ land is locked up, and that settlers are asked to go a long way from civilization, and assist in developing the country under very adverse conditions. I would like to know whether the settler of to-day is any different from the settler of thirty or forty years ago. I am sometimes inclined to think he is. He does not seem prepared to take the same risks, to accept the same responsibilities, or to put up with the same hardships as were endured by the pioneers of thirty or forty years ago. It is regrettable that it is so, but whenever the question of immigration, is mentioned, and the settlement of the people on the land is suggested, one hears the dictum that the Government must build railways for these people, and must do everything possible to provide them with easy access to markets. It is also contended that we should supply them with markets. I do not object to that, but I contend that we are rearing in this country a race of people who have not the independence and initiative which was so very ably demonstrated by the pioneers of two or three decades,, ago. It is said that when we put these people on the land they must be in close proximity to a railway. There are in this country considerable areas of the best land still available for closer settlement. I had the privilege last year of going to Cairns, and in the hinterland there I saw some of the finest agricultural land that could probably be seen in Australia. There were millions of acres of it, and all that it requires for its’ development to-day is energetic men who are prepared to put up with the hardships associated with the initial stages of settlement. I feel satisfied that those who settle there will have no reason to regret it. When I was there I was given to understand that, although there was plenty of land available on most advantageous terms, settlers could not be induced to take it up’, because the north country had received a rather bad advertisement from the supposed, excessive heat in summer time. The districts of which I speak, however, possess an extremely good climate;
– The honorable member refers to the tablelands, 3,000 feet above sea level?
– Yes. There is no doubt as to the fertility of the soil, and the settlers there are reported to be doing remarkably well. We should do something in the direction of assisting people who are unaccustomed to Australian conditions, by placing them upon ready-made farms. Personally, I favour the group system. I do not agree that the type of immigrant now coming to Australia is inferior.
– We should not deceive immigrants in order to attract them to our shores.
– Certainly not. Forty years ago, when the Queensland authorities were combing the agricultural districts of Great Britain for immigrants, misleading statements were made, and many people came out here thinking that they would quickly become wealthy, and that there would be nothing to mar their success. It is a mistake to place only the rosy side of the picture before prospective immigrants. They should be given to understand that there will be some disabilities against which they must contend. If the true position is placed before the people of Great Britain, there will be less cause for complaint in future than there is even at present. I am confident that the great majority of the immigrants are of a most desirable type, and I do not concur in the statement of the honorable member for Barton (Mr. F’. McDonald). He sounded a word of warning; but it was unwise for him to generalize.
– That is hardly fair. He spoke of only one family.
– He merely quoted a case.
– If that is so, I gladly withdraw my remark, and apologize to the honorable member. If it were decided, to prepare farms on the group system, a splendid opportunity would be afforded to find profitable work for the unemployed in Australia to-day. If necessary, the men could be placed in camps, and they could be employed under the best possible conditions in making farms ready for people from the old land. We could always give preference to Australian applicants.
– There are many people now waiting for land.
– It is quite true that a land hunger exists. There were hundreds of applicants for a single block in Queensland thirty years ago, and we shall always have numerous applications for choice properties. Nevertheless, there are tens of thousands of acres available to-day for men who are willing to go on the land. Parliament should see that when it advances money to the States for the encouragement of settlement, the States in their turn do everything possible to make the conditions more attractive than they have been in past years. I know what pioneering work in the Australian bush involves. Years ago I took up land 40 miles from the nearest railway. I was told at the time that I was mad to do so ; but the people who said that to me came into the same district later and, owing to the fact that the Government had built a railway through it, they had to pay six or seven times the price for freehold land that I had been charged. I know something of the loneliness of country life, and I have very strong sympathy for the womenfolk who, with their husbands, make their homes in the outlying parts of Australia. The best way to overcome this drawback, is to settle these people in groups. Married couples from Great Britain who probably have had little experience of farming life, and probably no experience tinder Australian conditions, should certainly be settled in groups under the control of somebody who has a good knowledge of farming in the particular district to which they are allocated. Many heart-burnings and many failures would thus be avoided. Young men should be encouraged as much as possible to serve an apprenticeship to agriculture. It would be more difficult to provide this preliminary training for married folk, because the average farmer would be unable to provide them with, decent housing accommodation. Stricter supervision in the choice of immigrants is certainly necessary.
The honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Whitsitt), in a racy speech before the dinner adjournment, made some reference to the development of Australia, and he asked what the Government waa doing to secure that portion of the reparations likely to come to the Commonwealth when Germany met its war obligations to the Allied Powers. We know* perfectly well that iri its present condition Germany is incapable of paying anything, and, if the Continental Powers, particularly Belgium, which suffered so much during the war, are unable to secure satisfaction, it is unlikely that Australia will receive any financial benefit. I was amused to hear the honorable member advocate the extension of our secondary industries. I am in favour of assisting the secondary industries of this country; but if German goods are brought here to enable Australia’s share of the reparations to be paid in kind, I can see nothing but failure for many of our secondary industries. We should hesitate before wo accept anything in the form of payment of ‘ reparations in kind. Let me tell honorable members, and particularly the Free Traders among them, that, notwithstanding the additional Tariff imposed .on many goods entering Australia, there has been a considerable increase in Customs duties. It has not reduced the importations; the Customs revenue has increased. I have heard honorable members speak of the necessity for doing something to still further, develop the textile industries. I find that during the year 1919-20, the duties paid on apparel and textiles amounted to £3,444,292; in 1920-21, £6,195,545; in 1921-22, £4,514,541
Australians wear clothing made of Austraiian cloth. I think a tailor, examining the suits of those honorable members who advocate the claims of the Australian textile industry, would be surprised at the number he would find weaving imported cloth. There is need, also, for an extension of the manufacture of agricultural machinery. During the last five years no less a sum than £17,261,436 has been collected in Customs duties on agricultural implements. That does not indicate that the Tariff is restricting importations.
– It has made implements much dearer than they should be.
– That is a matter of opinion. A few weeks ago I had the privilege; of introducing to the Minister for Trade and Customs a deputation representative of all the manufacturers of agricultural machinery in the Commonwealth, and a strong case was made out against any reduction of the existing Tariff on farming machinery and implements. ‘I think the deputation put forward very reasonable arguments in favour of. the maintenance of the present duties. The Minister asked whether, if manufacturers were given some encouragement, they could manufacture cream separators. The members of the deputation assured the Minister that if they were given reasonable protection and assistance they could produce separators in Australia. Since then one agent for separators has reduced his price considerably. I am inclined to think that the reduction was intended to prevent any action being taken by the Government to encourage local manufacture. I hope the Government will take to heart the very wise advice uttered by the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten)’, and keep a pretty tight rein on the finances during the next few years.
– I rise to draw attention to the remarkable change in the attitude of the Government. Not only the press, but also members of the Opposition, are in doubt as to what will happen next. On one night while the House was dealing with an appropriation of £50,000,000, there was a fifty-fold application of the “ gag.” Next morning business was allowed to meander along quietly. After that the Government applied the guillotine vigorously. To-night debate again meanders along, and even the Government’s own supporters are off the chain, and allowed to bark. But I understand that the Government, applying neither “ gag “ nor guillotine, is preparing to protect its supporters against influenza or some other epidemic, and has obtained a number of blankets, so that in the midnight hours those supporters may slumber serenely on the benches behind Ministers, while we poor outcasts df the Opposition will have no means of keeping ourselves warm except talk.
– I should like to know what these remarks have to do with the Bill.
– I was thinking that it might be necessary to include in the Bill provision for the raising of a loan to purchase blankets for the Opposition. Three Ministerial members have been permitted off the chain this evening, and have spoken on various matters. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) is an earnest advocate of the secondary industries, and thinks there should be a great development of the textile industries. I agree with him. They employ at the present moment about 5,000 people, but they could employ 25,000. There is great scope for the development .of industries which would provide increased employment for a larger population that, would consume greater quantities of the fruit produced in the district of the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill). But the industries are not permitted to develop in this way. Without coming into competition with private enterprise, a textile industry, at Geelong, controlled by the Commonwealth might have expanded until it was able to supply the entire requirements of the continent, employ thousands of operatives, and provide thousands of voters for the honorable member for Corio. But .in the moment of crisis the honorable member decided to stand beside the Government in using the guillotine, and to vote against the continuance -and expansion of a textile industry controlled By the Govern1ment. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten) has pointed out that the Government, had it the capacity which he possesses, but which it failed to incorporate in itself, might have saved £8,000,000 for immigration and other purposes mentioned in this Bill without raising additional loans. But while the honorable member denounces the Government he will support it; while opposing its policy he will vote for it. The honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Whit- sitt) talked to us of the woes of Tasmania, that gem and Cinderella of the Southern Seas, that is being ground under the heel of a tyrannical Government. The honorable member might have said -
I saw my country bleeding clay by day
Beneath the weight of tyranny and woe,
Her fertile plains to foreigners a prey,
Her children oppress’d bythe tyrants’ hand.
Could any son of Tossy call a truce,
And see his land a second time despoiled by Bruce?
And could he still support him? He could. Now I come to the principles underlying the Bill. The schedule sets forth loan expenditureamounting to £19,000,000, of which £12,900,000 has been appropriated by earlier Acts, and £6,000,000 is to be appropriated by the Bill. Of the total of £6,000,000, an’ amount of £1,500,000 is to be applied this year for the purposes of immigration. The Leader of the Opposition has moved an amendment to eliminate the proposed expenditure upon immigration. I indorse the amendment. Why do we need immigration? Because, we are told, we have a wide and empty country of vast expanse, a country as large as the United States of America, and within its shores we could place many of the great countries of Europe. It is occupied by only a few millions of white people - “ a white streak in a yellow sea,’/ somebody has said - and it is necessary that we should have ten, fifteen, twenty, or even one hundred millions of people, so that the Country may be as great as the United States of America. What a grand and glorious thing it would be if our population were multiplied twenty times, providing twenty times as many shoulders to bear the financial burdens imposed upon us by the war ! Is not that a noble ideal ? Certainly ! Is it not a great national ideal ? It is ! Should not our vast empty spaces be occupied ? They should ! The ideal is grand. And how shall it be realized? The tendencies of the peoples of the world at all times have been to migrate from one country to another under certain circumstances. I propose to take as the text of the little sermon I am about to deliver the following lines from The Wanderings of the People,by A. C. Haddon-
When reducedto its simplest terms, migration is caused by an expulsion and an attraction, the former nearly always resulting from dearth of food or from over-population, which practically comes to the same thing.
Through all the ages, population, unassisted, by immigration schemes, has moved from one point to the other by the force of expulsion in the one direction and the force of attraction in the other. People have marched through all the centuries, in all forms of difficulty, as the Huns and the Vandals marched - when either the forces of nature or invading nations made their old homes repellant to them - to other portions of the globe, where probably the future held out to them at least some hope of betterment. Just as the men of Flanders and of Central Europe marched, in their thousands in the days gone by to England to extend its glories, attracted by the lure of greater opportunities, so in the middle of the last century thousands from the Old World, attracted by the discovery of gold, flocked to Australia and the west coast of the United States of America. What were the circumstances of those days? Was there assisted immigration? No. Were the conditions of Europe deplorable? Yes, as they are to-day. Were the needs of these people great? They were. Were their pockets well lined? They were not. The attractions of new lands holding out new hopes lured men from England; Ireland, Scotland, and Wales to America and this country. The very best class of men, men who had sufficient means to pay their way to America or Australia, and the courage to take their fortunes in their hands-
– Chiefly courage.
– Their courage was their chief possession. The greatness of the AmericanRepublic and the position that Australia occupies in the eyes of the world is due to the soundness of the original stock, because the more unfortunate of their fellows, those condemned to live in the slum areas in the cities of Europe - the more poverty-stricken, those whose manhood had been sapped by the callousness of Governments - were compelled to remain behind. And by the departure of the more courageous for other lands the weaklings who remained at home obtained, perhaps, a better chance. That is one form of immigration, and upon that we stand. Do we say that this country should be kept exclusively for those already here? No, we say that either the lure of gold or the lure ofbetter social conditions will always operate. The lure of gold is no longer the compelling attraction. The attraction, then, upon which’ we must rely must be improved social conditions in this .new country, and the development of its resources’ by a wise Government. We must have wise Governments using the instrumentalities within their reach to stimulate the economic development of the country and to make it a magnet drawing to it people from all parts of the world. We want this country to be, as it were, a magnet to other peoples, not by reason qf its gold resources; but of the higher hopes it offers for the future by reason qf its better Social conditions; wealth is not held by the few, but is spread among the masses. That is the greatest magnet we could have. Let us offer the attraction of good social and economic conditions, and we shall get all the population we need. Since we depend no longer upon the lure of gold, we find that the Government have hired agents in the different countries of the world. They are to be found in the villages of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, acting as recruiting agents, and being paid 10s. or 20s. for every person they can induce to come to this country. I understand that these recruits guarantee prospective immigrants good wages and better social conditions than they are able to enjoy in the Old Country. And like the former recruiting agents in the South Sea Islands, these recruiters are devoid of any sense of responsibility. Their only desire is to swell their earnings by getting so many head of human cattle a week. As a result of these methods, we cannot’ possibly expect to get the best class of men, for the simple reason that . they are not attracted. The only people who respond to the lure of the recruiter are those poor devils of men who, perhaps, are out pf work, or, if in work, are anxious about the health of a wife, a daughter, or a son. Possibly they are told, and believe, that if they come to Australia everything will -be all right. This system of recruiting is an abomination. Consider its effect upon a man in a job in the Old Country, who, for the, sake of his wife and children, deems it advisable to come to Australia. He decides to come to Australia, and so he sells his home and furniture, withdraws what money he may have in the bank,and gets an assisted passage to this glorious land of Australia. He will have been passed by the medical authorities in the Old Country, but if within a period of three years the medical examination in Australia under this scheme proves unsatisfactory, his wife or he himself may be deported. Thus this, man may find himself back in England, out of work again, and obliged to start life afresh. The fact that he had been accepted in the Old Country before coming to Australia should be sufficient. There should be no risk of deportation. Every immigrant who comes to this country should be accepted as a good and worthy citizen, and provided he .keeps within the law he should hot run the risk of deportation either upon a medical 1 examination or for the expression of political opinions. We know, of course, that the man who when in employment starts to “ scab “ on his fellow men in case of a strike, is a good and worthy citizen! For him there is no risk of deportation! On the other hand, if he becomes a spokesman for his fellow workmen, if he stands up for the rights of unionism and becomes an exponent of the principles of labour, he is an agitator, unworthy of Australian citizenship, and liable to be deported, without- trial and without any inquiry.
– So long as he keeps within the law, the honorable member says, he should not be interfered with.
– Quite right. So long as a man keeps within the law he should have perfect liberty to express any political opinions he. might hold. That has been the inherent right of British people through the centuries. No man should ever be punished for his political opinions. Now let us consider the position of this country. We are in possession of an immense territory, comprising 2,974,000 square miles of country, great in comparison with the western portion of Europe, with its immense rivers, its mountains towering into the clouds and capped with eternal snow. Yesterday, the Treasurer, when moving the second reading of the Land Tax Assessment Bill, pointed out that neither man nor beast occupied one-fourth of this great country. He also said that onehalf of the total area was held under lease. The Treasurer talks of this territory carrying 100,000,000 of people, and yet he declares to the world that from a productive point of view this country is so poor that neither man nor beast can live upon one-fourth of its area. Let us consider now the position of the men who are occupying these leasehold areas. We are told that whatever they raised would cost more than they could get for it. What hope is there for a country like that? Is it worth a fraction of the cost of putting people on it, and of providing the people with postal, telegraphic, and other facilities? It would not pay for the telegrams that would pass over it. Now, let us turn to another part of this great continent, spoken of by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser). He told us that Queensland, was the only State that had land capable of development. He did not care what was said about the other States. Queensland was the only one, in his opinion, that had land available for settlement. It is significant that Queensland is controlled by a Labour Government, which has opened up its large areas. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) also spoke about Queensland. He told us that some years ago when certain areas of land were thrown open, four and five, and even six hundred people applied for some of the blocks. How can it be said that plenty of land is to be had when so many people go after one block?
– They were favorite blocks.
– The fact is that there are always hundreds of applications for available blocks of land. More people in Australia want land than can get it.
– It is only fair to say that to-day there are many thousands of blocks of land awaiting settlement in Queensland.
– That statement will do me all right. It suits my argument. I accept it as being true. Queensland is ruled by the Labour party, and its land is available because the Labour party’s doctrines, have been put into practice .
– The land was there long before the Labour party came into power.
Dr.Earle Page. - The honorable member for Bourke does not accept that statement; it does not suit his argument.
– It does not suit my argument, because it is not in accordance with history or present-day facts. Any body who knows anything of Queensland knows that years ago this land was not available for settlement. Queensland was dominated by the bankocracy and the plutocracy. Many honorable members will remember Hardacre’s “ gridiron map.” It was proposed to give millions of acres away to railway magnates. The land was monopolized by a few people, but the Labour party has made it available to many. The position of Western Australia has been described to us. We have been told what beautiful country it is. One honorable member told us that Western Australia comprised a fifth of the whole of the Commonwealth. I had a look at the map, and I found that the people livedin only a quarter of its vast territory. The rest of it was so poor that nobody would go near it until they had some great incentive. Of course, when sufficient inducement is given to people, they will pour out into the coldest regions of the earth, such as Alaska. Wherever there is the lure of gold or the hope of gain in these vast continents, men will swarm into them. People will go wherever there is a few acres of grazing land that will carry a few sheep or cattle. They poured out into Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie in the early days. The lure of gold drew them there. They have been attracted into many parts of Australia where there is a decent cattle run or pastoral country that will carry sheep. The Leader of the Opposition quoted some articles from the press on the subject of immigration. I propose to quote one other statement. It appeared in the Melbourne Age on 15th July, and reads -
The best friends of immigration are those who show the weakness of faulty plans, who want to build on the results of experience, and who are not blinded to the truth by an imaginative optimism that, after all, may be largely affected or political.
Bearing in mind that statement, let us consider Western Australia a little more. That State has an area of 600,000 square miles.
– Nine hundred thousand square miles.
– It does not matter, anyway.
– I rule that any figure that the honorable member quotes is in order.
– I thank . you, sir. That is one of the results of a life of mutual friendship. I will give honorable members the exact figures now. The land of Western Australia embraces a territory of 624,588,800 acres. The area cropped in 1916 was 8,056,374 acres, and in 1922 it was 7,704,242 acres, or a decrease of 352,132 acres. While loan money has been poured out like water in Western Australia, not only has the area under crop decreased as I have stated, but the number of live stock in that State has seriously declined. Sheep, cattle, and pigs are fewer now than four years previously, the net indebtedness of the State has increased from -£36,733,150 to £46,837,217, and the net debt per head from £119 to £136. Western Australia has spent large sums of money on immigration policies. We are told that in the last three years 12,000 men and women have been brought to Western Australia by the Government. It will surprise honorable members to know that 8,000 of that number have since left Western Australia. The people who come find either that they cannot get a living in the State, or that they have to push out the native-born population. This position also arises, that the t natives of Western Australia have to leave their home State, and come east, in order to get work. With the exception of Queensland, the area of land under cultivation is steadily diminishing all over Australia. Honorable members know what the position is in Victoria. The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) described the position of the fruitgrowing industry, and some remarks on that subject were made also by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). They both agreed that the great need of the country is not so much to increase its production, as to secure markets for what is already produced. The Prime Minister said that the increase in production would be arrested unless fresh markets could be discovered.
– The honorable member should take into consideration that there are vast areas in Australia that will grow cotton, and we can develop a big cottongrowing industry.
– That is a new industry; but I am discussing at the moment the industries which already exist. Honorable members know that in this House we have had to vote large sums of money to keep certain industries alive. The people engaged in the fruit-growing industry are having a most difficult time, and honorable members who are supporting the Government have at different times informed this House, the press, and the country of the inability of the people who are at present on the soil to gain a decent living. They say that the reason is the existence of rapacious middlemen and the difficulty of securing markets. That is no mere statement of mine. The honorable member for Echuca and thousands of other people will indorse it. It is pointed out that the middlemen get lOd. for every Id. that the orchardist gets of the value of his product. That is to say, the rapacious middlemen gain more from the honest toil of the workers in both the field and the factory than do the producers themselves. Yet what are the Government doing to protect the producers? One of the greatest problems that this country has to face is the finding of markets. The markets of the world are diminishing, and Europe is falling to pieces. When the wages of the consumers fall, as they have fallen to the extent of hundreds of millions of pounds’ in Great Britain since the war, it stands to reason that the people will have less purchasing power. Not only have the wages fallen in Great Britain, but they have also fallen in France, Germany, Sweden, and Norway. That means that people are not able to purchase the goods which they once could purchase. To reduce the wages of the workers is to destroy the markets of the world. Children in many parts of the world are barefooted’ to-day. Men, women, and children, have to go hungry, and, consequently, the chief producing countries of the world are paralyzed. The Prime Minister said that production could only be -extended when markets were available for the produce. How futile, then, is the policy of the Government in spending millions of money to bring people into this country to, settle upon our soil and grow produce which cannot be sold ! Some people say that we need these immigrants in order to defend this country, but one important newspaper has pointed out that an increase in the population does not necessarily mean an increase in the power to defend the country against an enemy. The same newspaper stated that a vast population may be more of a menace than a help, because they may become a drain upon the financial resources of the country. Money which may be needed to defend the country may be used to feed the people. The Government are spending this huge amount of money on immigration as a sop to some -of the factions which support it, but this party will not agree to large numbers of people being brought here to live lives of poverty and uselessness. I have discussed the position in Queensland and Western Australia. Now let me turn to South Australia. The honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) yesterday described the plight of the settlers on Eyre’s Peninsula. He said that they not only needed markets for their goods, but also special protection against a rapacious shipping company. They were vigorous, hardworking people, and yet they could make no ‘headway, because this company was so extortionate. He told us that within the last four years the freight on goods to «a,nd from Eyre’s Peninsula has increased by 400 to 500 per cent. Where the company was charging 2s. 6d. a few years ago it is to-day charging 14s., a sevenfold increase. What these people needed, said the honorable member for Grey, was not a greater settlement upon the soil, but a relief from the crushing imposition of the shipping companies. It cannot be said that the wages of the workers have caused the increase in shipping charges. The wages of the men , have gone up by about 75 per cent, as a result of the increased cost of living, but the freights have increased by 700 per cent. It is no wonder that the people in that locality are crying out for relief. This company has been making huge profits, ‘ out of which it has purchased new ships. When it buys a new ship it waters- its stock. Honorable members were told that the company had issued three shares for every one that its shareholders previously held. It was necessary, therefore, to make a profit upon four times the amount of the original capital. Government, not in the interest of a faction or of a class, but in the interest of the whole of the population, demands that the producers from the soil shall be defended against, not merely invaders from without, but ex ploiters within our own territory. Look at this little State of Victoria, which is the smallest on the mainland. ‘ It contains an area of. something like 88,000 square miles. It is as large as England, Scotland, and Wales. It is probably the best watered and most fertile of all the States. It has the greatest railway facilities. It has an immense hinterland which stretches across the River Murray, and, not considering for the moment artificial boundaries, it is the natural outlet for the resources of. the Riverina. There is no patch of Australian territory which possesses the facilities that are possessed by this little State of Victoria. How many people should it carry? The fact of the matter is that its population is insignificant compared with its facilities and its natural resources. Yet, what happens to its population ? It cannot even retain its own population. Tt is like Tasmania in that respect. It is like Western Australia. I quite recognise that the honorable member for ‘ Swan » (Mr. Gregory) will say that in the case of Western Australia the loss of population has been due to the decline of mining. I realize that that has been a factor. The honorable member for Swan, however, will understand that I am speaking of agriculture generally. Victoria does not maintain its population. It is pouring across the Murray and going into New South Wales, because of that State’s immense natural resources in coal; or it is stretching out into Queensland because the Government of that State has come down with an axe upon many of the larger estates, and is making a much larger area of land accessible to the people. After a time there will come an end to that. In England, in Europe generally, and in America, a man may own large estates. He may be a lord. He may own 50,000 or 100,000 acres in Illinois, Wisconsin, or somewhere else; but he cannot use that area as -a cattle or a sheep run, because of the rigors of the winter. He may be a large land-holder, but he has inevitably to cut it up, place tenants on it, and derive rents from it, not as a great rancher, but as ‘ a mere landlord. Whatever it may mean to him, as far as the country is concerned, it means the carrying on of agriculture on small holdings, enabling the country to support a relatively large population. That is not the case in Australia. The very character of its climate makes it possible to carry sheep and cattle iri’ large numbers. It has not a rigorous winter to contend against, and, therefore, the whole tendency is towards aggregation. The western district of Victoria today is carrying a smaller’ population than it carried in the year 1880. Why is that the case ? Because population in the early days spread out in that direction. Then, of course, came, the gradual buying up of the land; farm was added to farm, and the farmers were pushed out into the Wimmera. Then there was a demand for railways in order that those men who had gone further out might have means of transportation for their wheat. There was a demand for schools and for postal facilities, all adding to the cost of government. The aggregator one© more arrived on the scene, and the addition of farm to farm went on throughout the Wimmera until at last in many of the shires there was again the spectacle of the population diminishing; so that to-day it is smaller than it was forty years ago.
Although, many shires are expanding, the same policy of aggregation is going on in others. There are fewer farms, although there is a larger extent of agricultural production. The large-scale farming inevitably leads to the result that the land carries fewer people. Those who are driven OUt drift into the towns and cities, and become distributors, entering into parisitical industries in order to earn their living. The policy of a Government must be to develop co-operative enterprises, ‘ whether it is done individually by the subsidizing of co-operative organizations or under a State or national scheme. Under our laws we merely bring men to Australia to starve on our streets. We are wasting vast sums of money. Any’ man conversant with the situation in Europe, who realizes the reaction .it will have upon this country, knows that our - immediate future is fraught with great danger in regard to bur industries. The Prime Minister himself admits that. We’ are spending large sums of money in bringing tens of thousands of persons into Australia to produce those things for which there are no markets. The future to a large extent depends on the reconstruction of Europe, which at present is in a hopeless situation. Gippsland is another illustration of the evil of aggregation. Our policy should be to prevent aggregation by making it a’ criminal offence. Every aggregator- of land who accumulates that which he can neither use nor enjoy, deprives his neighbour of the possibility of obtaining access to the land in order to develop it. He is destroying the principle of productive agency, and making impossible the satisfying of the enormous demand for land in a country in which there is an abun- dance of land. . The land monopolist is creating a fictitiously high, price, which makes it absolutely impossible for the man who works the land to make a- living out of it. . That is the reason for the failure of the closer settlement schemes all over this State. How many million pounds has the State spent 1 How many thousands of men have been given ‘ State aid, and yet have been driven off the land because they have been unable to get a sufficient price for their products, except during the period of the war? In some cases they have ‘ not been able to earn sufficient to pay the interest on their mortgages. How many millions have been spent on the returned soldiers in placing them upon the land, and giving them a life interest in the country whose liberties they went abroad to protect? When the0 owners of large estates were approached, and asked how much they wanted for their land, it did not matter to them that it was intended to place -on that land the men who had fought and bled for them. They asked ridiculously high prices, disdaining to consider -whether or not, at such prices a man could make a living out of it. The result has been that thousands of our soldiers have purchased land at . prices which make it impossible for the poor devils to hope for a sufficient return. Even at the prices ruling to-day, unless the season is -a very good one, unless the production is marvellous, unless the outlet is assured, it is unlikely that they will make very, much out of it. If they have a bad year, if there is a short crop or a low price, thousands of men must be driven off the soil; because, out of the soil, no matter how hard they may labour, they cannot produce a sufficient return. The law should! make aggregation a crime; because the aggregator makes land dear, and when he makes land dear he makes effective production impossible. When the steamship owners and other monopolistic and ‘ parasitical concerns derive a greater profit than the actual producers, it means the eventual destruction of the country. That is why we are justified in opposing every penny that is being placed upon these Estimates for the purpose of bringing men into this country. They are being lured here by false hopes. It is quite true that some persons come to this country and make good; just as when a number of men are cast into a pit, some of the more vigorous will climb out. There are no conditions so bad that some men will not succeed. But the bulk of the men who come to Australia are induced to do so by false promises. These men are deluded when they arrive. Monopoly should be declared a crime within the land. It deprives other men’ of the chance to develop the country, it raises prices to a point at which men cannot earn out of an industry sufficient to pay interest. The true immigration policy should seek to expand the resources of our country and make this a better land than any other ; a land where equity rules and justice is supreme. “When the opportunities in Australia are greater than they are elsewhere, immigrants will pour into it from- all the corners of the earth ; not as the result of a large expenditure of money, but because, by our legislation, we have made this country a beacon-light to all the world.
.- I indorse the whole of the statements made in the eloquent speech which has just been delivered by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. . Anstey). If any honorable member doubts his figures regarding the reduction in the number of persons in various portions of Victoria and other States, he has only to spend a shilling or two in buying that wonderful book which the honorable member published. In it they will find that every statement has been based upon the Statist’s figures. Australia is borrowing many millions of pounds. The Labour party considers that the amount proposed to be borrowed should be reduced by £1,500,000. No one will deny to a human being, especially from the Home Land, the chance of making good in Australia. Speaking from absolute knowledge .gained during my trip to “Western Australia, I say that these immigrants are made a means for reducing the wages of men in the. country. It is well known that the average “ cocky “ would rather have two men at 15s. per week , than pay one man 14s. per day- - which is the standard wage in Australia. I can remember when, in the old days, I took up land in Victoria, an old farmer, meeting me on the road, gave me a “ lift.” He told me that he had plenty of work, if I cared to come to his place. When I asked the wage, he told me it ‘ was 10s., and that the hours were from daylight to dark. I was at that time wearing a blue jersey, and he, thinking I was a runaway sailor, offered, as 4 a special inducement for me to take a job, to hide me from the authorities. I was a poor, miserable little bank clerk, and yet the Government- placed” me on land carrying some of the heaviest timber in Australia. Those who know the country about 10 miles south of Warragul will understand what I mean. The land laws of fifty years ago were absolutely absurd. My mother was compelled to fulfil the residence condition, and in order to do so it was necessary, in the eyes of the authorities, that our hut should .be built with one room on one side of a line, and another room on the other side. In the immediate vicinity there were twenty-five trees, all over 25 feet in circumference, and I was supposed to clear the land! The land system is little better to-day. There was no excuse for putting any one on land like that, because there were plenty of vacant areas less heavily timbered. Mr. Wignall, M.P., was quite right when he said that, although he had seen thousands of acres, he had not seen any large proportion of land that was not ring-fenced or owned by somebody. The very spiders in this chamber are freer to take up any vacant corner they may find than is the. average Australian to take up a piece of vacant land. When we are wise enough to impose a tax on good agricultural land which is allowed to lie uncultivated, and to continue to levy the tax until the land is put to use, we shall see many areas thrown open. Tasmania presents an example of the iniquity of “the present land system. To my knowledge, an orchard has been taxed up to £80 an acre, whereas on the other side of a fence land quite unimproved has been rated at 10s. an acre. Where is the equity of such incidence ?
I now wish to bring a matter under the notice of the Postmaster-General (Mr.
Gibson). The ladies employed in the Telephone Branch of the Postal Department have to pass a severe examination, and subsequently to perform the most strenuous of all work. If I had a daughter I would regard it as a curse if she had to take up such employment. You, Mr. Speaker, may recall the words of the late Dr. Carty Salmon, when he said thatthere was no more nerveracking employment than that in a telephone exchange. With some cursed idea of economy, a clever, astute officer was brought over from Sydneyto look into the affairs of this branch, and he increased the hours of work. I can only hope that no daughter of his will ever become a telephone attendant. After passing examinations, and gaining all the requisite experience in this strenuous work, a lady employee is not paid as high a wage as that received by a boy messenger of twenty-one years. It is infamous ! The Labour party stands for equal pay for equal work, and no Government can claim to be civilized until it grants this reform. The women in the General Division receive a living allowance of £27, the single men receive £42, and the married men £62, with £13 for every child under a certain age. I regard that allowance of £13 as the forerunner of a pension to children. The other day I had the pleasure of presenting a prize to the mother of the greatest number of children, and the winner had a family of twenty-two. Her husband was in receiptof only ordinary wages. My own opinion is that the State ought to subsidize every child. However, there is a proposition to merge the living allowance into the permanent salary.
– I beg to draw attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– The women employees hope, as I do, that, in this merging, the same amount will be given to them as to the men. I trust the PostmasterGeneral belongs to the advance guard of civilization, and is prepared to give the women absolutely equal rights of citizenship.
This is a year of finance - loan upon loan ! The cursed cross of interest is branded on our children, and our children’s children. A war is made the excuse, and even the children of the men who made the supreme sacrifice at the Front will have to pay their share. Why should this be? There are three intelligent beings in the world - the ant, the bee, and the human. Never in the nest of the ant or the hive of the bee do the young or the workers suffer from privation. The same cannot be said of the human. In this city to-day there are 600 heads of families unemployed, and if we add their wives and children the number of those who are suffering runs into four figures. The Premier of Victoria, Mr. Lawson, and his Government, especially McPherson the mean, who, of all Treasurers, has done the most harm to those in the. greatest need, asked that the names of those men should be supplied. Last Tuesday 600 names were sent in, but all we have heard since is that the Government are making inquiries. To-morrow will be the fifth day, and I ask the State Government whether these people are to starve in the meantime. However, law or no law, I have decided on an action which may get me into trouble, but I am prepared to face the music with a smile.
Before the war, according to Sir George Knibbs, Australia was worth £1,200,000,000. On the 30th June, 1915, after the war had broken out, that wealth had increased by 33 per cent., and was £1,600,000,000. That increase of £400,000,000 would be enough to pay the whole of the war debt. When will we be sensible enough to institute’ what is known as a “ Domesday Book,” similar to that compiled by William the Conqueror, and, before him, by one of the Saxon kings, showing every farm, every house, and every station. The object of this would be to appropriate for ten years all the increased value of the properties for the extinction of our cursed debt. Statisticians tell us that Australia to-day is worth £2,000,000,000, showing an increase of £800,000,000 since before the war. Are we not a foolish race of beings? When one nation of ants fights another there is only one of two endings - absolute death or slavery - the conquerors do not lay the load of interest on future generations. I feel sure that some day we will not permit these debts to remain. I do not for a moment wish any one to think that I am advocating repudiation. I wish to show honorable members how certain citizens of Melbourne treated their country during the war. Some time ago I asked what was the amount of money invested in war bonds without interest, or the amount of interest which had been returned to the Treasury. The answer . I received disclosed numbers in lieu . of names, and showed that a paltry £1,200 Avas loaned to the Commonwealth free of interest, including two sums of £100 each by two unions, and five separate loans of £10 each. Alfred Russell Wallace, when over ninety years of age, said that we were ever reminded that poverty Avas the curse of the human race. He made these four suggestions which appear in his Social Environment -
The Root, Cause, and Remedy,
These four statements of the existing causes of all our social evils cannot, I believe, be controverted, and the remedies for them may bo condensed into one general proposition: that it is the first duty (in importance) of a civilized Government to organize the labour of the whole community for the equal good of all; but it is also their first duty (in time) to take immediate steps to abolish death by starvation and by preventable disease due to insanitary dwellings and dangerous employments, while carefully elaborating the permanent remedy for want in the midst of wealth.
I would not believe in my Creator if I thought that poverty would always be with us. Surely if we have the intelligence we are supposed to possess we can eliminate poverty from the world, and thus allow good men, women, and children to live in a reasonable degree of com- fort. If the bees in their hives and the ants in their nests can do as I have already said, surely we humans with the intelligence we possess should be able to do the same. Parliament should not be closed for month after month when so much remains to be done for the people of the Commonwealth.
.- I regret to think that honorable members opposite have shown by supporting the motion moved by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) that they strongly object to migrants coming to Australia, particularly when our greatest need is additional population to increase the wealth and prosperity of the country. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr.” Anstey), in his oratorical effort, entirely overlooked the future of Australia. What is to be the position of the industrialists in the great cities of Australia if, as the honorable member suggested, our population is not increased and development extended? The honorable member could not see the necessity of settling people on the land, and thus increasing our production, and in the most fervid language described the awful conditions of the new settler. The honorable member first ‘dealt with the social conditions of the people in Australia and those in other parts of the world, but I should like the honorable member to point to any other country on God’s earth where the conditions of the workers are better than they are in Australia. If there is such a country, why arc we not told of it? There may be better conditions under different circumstances in other countries, such as Canada and the United States of America. In those countries, however. an endeavour is made to get the very best out of the workers instead of dragging them down to the one level, as is done in Australia. Is there any other country in which migrants from Great Britain could settle to greater advantage than in Australia? The one great problem for the Governments of Australia, both Federal and State, is to try to increase settlement and productivity. The honorable member for Bourke directed attention to the difficulties of finding markets for some of our produce, but he must admit that with additional population the consumption of locally-produced commodities would be greatly increased. By the imposition of high Tariff duties we are protecting our Australian industries, but what opportunity have we-
– The honorable member is opposed to Protective duties.
– The honorable member believes in Australia using the goods manufactured in foreign countries.
– The product of black labour.
– No; but I have such faith in the Australian workmen that I believe they can produce goods of equal quality to those manufactured in the United States of America or Canada.
– The honorable member is in favour of the importation of cheap goods from Asiatic countries.
– I have had a good deal of experience with men ofthe honorable member’s type, who go to the Chinese for their goods.
– The honorable member cannot prove that.
– I do not think Chinese are mentioned in the Bill.
– The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) should be a little more accurate in has statements.
– I should not care to go to the honorable member for Hindmarsh for a lesson in accuracy. During the Tariff debate we were informed by Protectionists that if our industries were afforded sufficient protection we should be able to compete with other countries; but if there is not to be a big demand for what we produce, how can we prosper ? It is regrettable to realize that some honorable members who believe that Australia can carry a large population are always decrying the possibilities of the country in which they live. We have the world’s markets for our wool, and one has only to peruse our export figures to see the extent to which our production could be increased. We also export meat, wheat, and fruit. An honorable member opposite argued that Australia was being over-populated.
– No one said that.
– Have honorable members considered the quantity of fruit which California exports?
– The honorable member knows that he is not telling the truth.
– Mr. Speaker, I ask that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) be asked to withdraw that remark.
– I did not hear it.
– The honorable member said that I knew that I was not telling the truth.
– If the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) said what is attributed to him it is, of course, unparliamentary and must be withdrawn.
– At your request, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw, but the honorable member for Swan said that honorable members on this side were of opinion that Australia was being over-populated. No such statement was made.
– A mere contradiction does not justify an honorable member in disregarding a parliamentary rule. I ask the honorable member to withdraw.
– As it is unparliamentary, I withdraw.
– I should like to know whether it is competent for me to demand the withdrawal of an incorrect statement by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) concerning the desire of honorable members on this side on the subject of immigration.
– I have been in Parliament for a quarter of a century, and I have heard thousands of incorrect statements. I expect to hear a good many more. Parliamentary life would not be worth living if all the statements made in Parliament were correct.
– In 1912 the value of the export of dried fruits from California was $1,499,000,000. The export trade had developed in 1922 to a value of $39,000,000,000. California has today a magnificent transport trade in dried fruits, and finds markets in Great Britain and European countries. We have in Australia, under suitable conditions, an enormous area available for carrying on the dried fruit industry, and our duty is to develop it. I rose particularly to direct attention to the great necessity of making every effort to develop the north of Australia. We have had speeches in this debate urging the development of the northern part of Australia, and particularly of the Northern Territory. About fifteen years ago it was my privilege to go through the north-western portion of Western Australia, and to make a report generally on the resources of that country. From one of the fields there the returns showed, at that time, that 60,000 tons of ore were treated for a return of 120,000 ozs. of gold. The geological report was that there are thousands of square miles of tin-bearing country there, and many wonderfully rich deposits of copper.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– I was pointing out that in the north-west of Western Australia there are great deposits of copper and tin, and also of asbestos of the finest quality to be found in any part of the world. There are large and rich lodes of galena; and all these wonderful mineral resources »are awaiting development. I believe that in the Northern Territory there are also great possibilities of future wealth. There are better prospects of obtaining mineral ores in these northern parts than in any other part of Australia. I suggested some time ago, dealing with reports on the Northern Territory and the best means to be adopted for its development, that we should appoint three sound, practical men, one of whom should be an engineer, to conduct a special inquiry as to how the northern country might be best developed. A proper investigation would occupy something like two years. In my view it would be futile, as well as expensive, to send members of this Parliament to report on big questions of railway construction for the development of these areas. A member- of this Parliament has not the time at his disposal to make such an exhaustive investigation and report as is required before the Government should be called upon to spend large sums in the development of that great country. I remember a conversation I had with an old friend of mine, Mr. James Paterson, who was for many years . in the district about 150 miles south of Wyndham. He told me that there are millions of acres of magnificent country there capable pf carrying a sheep to the acre. I remember that when the railway from Port Hedland to Marble Bar was built,’ sheep stations were opened up 250 miles south of the railway. Very considerable development in this direction might be confidently expected if reasonably cheap means of transit could be provided. I am hoping that in these northern areas it will be found possible to work tractors with oil instead of coal. If we can provide facilities for settlers, cattle stations will give place to sheep, stations. It is wonderful how wealth is created, and small stations become the rule where reasonable facilities are provided, though .it will, no doubt, take years to build up staple industries in these great northern and north-west areas. I believe that if we could have an exhaustive examination of the resources of the north and northwest of -this country it would be possible for us to develop a scheme by which that country might be permanently and profitably settled. It is a danger to the Commonwealth in its present condition. I have a very great belief in its future because of its wonderful mineral ‘wealth and great pastoral resources. One of the difficulties connected with the production of mineral wealth in the Northern Territory, and the north-west of Western Australia is the absence of timber suitable for mining purposes. The expense of development in those areas requires sensational returns to make it pay. The idea may appear to be somewhat far-fetched, but I have been hopeful that we shall yet be able to devise some means by which the extraordinary tides in the north-west, with a rise of from 18 feet to 30 feet, may be harnessed for the generation of electric power. If that difficulty can be solved, and we can by such a means provide cheap electric power for the interior, it will’ do much to advance the development of the resources of that country. It might be possible to use electric power so generated also for railway purposes. I concede to honorable members on the other side that at present there are some evils associated with conditions in this country which, perhaps, provide an excuse for an agitation against immigration. I refer to the combination amongst manufacturers and business people in the Commonwealth. Combinations exist for the purpose of keeping up the ‘ price of manufactures, and I am hopeful that some action will be taken either by the reduction of Tariff duties, or in some other way, which will enable the people tq obtain the articles they require at a > fair price. I am not dealing with this subject from the Tariff point of view, but I do think that it is a great evil that a number pf manufacturers should combine to keep up prices to the detriment of the rest of the community, and that these People should be specially protected by this Parliament. I ex- press the hope that the Government will make every effort to induce immigrants ‘to come to this country, but I say that only migrants of a first-class type should be brought here. If there is any truth in the statements which have appeared in the press to the effect that there are agents in the Old Country who receive a certain fee for every immigrant they send here, that practice should be stopped at once. An effort should be made at Australia House to bring all the States into line, and to arrange for a common policy of immigration. We do not want the derelicts of the Old Country brought here. We want people who will be able to help us in the development of the resources of the Commonwealth. We may never again within the next one hundred years have the same favorable opportunity that is presented to-day for pursuing an immigration policy. If we do not take advantage of that opportunity, those who follow may have reason to curse their forbears. I hope that a special effort will be made to carry out an immigration policy on right lines, and that it will be successful.
.- It is not my intention to occupy the time of the House for more than half-an-hour or forty minutes, because I am aware that other honorable members desire to speak. Honorable members have been kept in this chamber for such long hours during the last few weeks that many of them are well-nigh exhausted ‘. I have the greatest sympathy with Mr. Speaker in this connexion. I do not know how some honorable members have been able to stand the tests of endurance to which they have been subjected because the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) wishes to go on a world’s tour, and is not prepared to trust the Treasurer to take charge of the House. The speech by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) to which we have listened, was the speech of the average
Free Trader and political huckster - the man who wants to score off his opponents irrespective of the justice of the arguments he uses. The honorable member accused honorable members on this side of being opposed to bringing anybody . to Australia. He said we have definitely stated that we think there are already too many people in this country.
– I spoke of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey).
– The honorable member for Bourke did not say that. He pointed’ out the privations and tribulations through which a great number of the people in Australia are passing to-day, due mainly to unemployment and, to some extent, to indiscriminate immigration - the introduction of a great number of people who are without money, and have no definite occupation to come to when they arrive in Australia. They can only swell the army of unemployed in our cities who are seeking ration doles.
– If the picture is as the’ honorable member for Bourke painted it, we should be sorry to bring anybody here.
– The honorable member for Bourke pointed out clearly that more care should be taken in the selection of immigrants. It is quite criminal to bring to this country thousands of people who are in destitute circumstances when they arrive, and cannot be absorbed. One has only , to live in Melbourne for a few months, as I have done, and be observant, to find out that there are thousands of people in this city who are homeless and must depend on charity or starve. There are big organizations here endeavouring to find shelter, food, and clothing for these people. We see in the local newspapers pictures of little children going to some charity depot for food. The parents of these children are absolutely destitute and unable to do anything to protect their offspring. The honorable member for Bourke, as a representative of an industrial constituency, knows the conditions under which these people are living, and he says that it is criminal to encourage more people of the same type to come here to swell the army of unemployed, and. increase the misery and privation that exist in the crowded industrial centres of Australia to-day.
– The honorable member for Bourke spent more time in referring to the conditions of men on the land.
– 1 can tell the honorable member for Swan that the conditions of those engaged in Australia to-day in the fruit and meat industries are not. good. No one will say that the conditions in the fruit industry at the present time are good. In my own electorate they are better than in most other parts of Australia, but, as elsewhere there is a difficulty in finding a good market for the fruit. This applies with perhaps greater force to Victoria, South Australia, and other great fruit-growing areas. The people engaged in the industry are on the verge of bankruptcy because of the lack of adequate markets and the rapacity of the middlemen, who are niching all the profits from the growers. Many are unable to pay their rent; I was going to say their income tax, but they do not make enough to be liable for income tax. The speech we have heard from the honorable member for Swan is not calculated to help people who are out of employment in Australia. We know that the honorable member, and a number of other Country party representatives who are supporting the composite Ministry, are ardent Free Traders. They are opposed to giving that measure of protection to Australian industries which is essential to their prosperity, and to the prevention of the growing importation from other countries of goods which should be manufactured in the Commonwealth. Theo doctrine taught by the honorable member for Swan is an .anti-Australian doctrine, because it is against the best interests of this young country of which we are all so proud. I am glad that there are no honorable members ‘on this side who subscribe to the Free Trade policy of bringing into Australia goods that are manufactured by ‘ the yellow and black men of other countries at starvation wages. If we stand for building up the secondary industries, we must be prepared to protect them against the competition of goods manufactured in. black-labour countries.
– The importations from those countries are very small.
– That is because of our Australian Protective Tariff, but the honorable member wants to break down that Tariff. If it were not for that Tariff we should have to meet the competition of these black-labour countries, in which men receive a few shillings a week for their work in factories, and little children who should be at school are worked long hours to turn out goods at the lowest possible price. Instead of following the doctrine preached by honorable members opposite, is it not better to build up Australia’s industries, and create avenues of employment for thousands of additional workmen living under decent conditions and bringing up white families 1
– Apparently the result of that policy is unemployment.
– I can quote figures to show the result of the new Protection policy of which the members of the party to which I ha.ve the honour to belong are ardent advocates. It has been responsible for providing employment for many thousands of workmen. But for the adoption of a policy to build up our secondary industries we should be sending millions of pounds to other countries to give employment to other people.
– They have Free Trade in England, but they also have unemployment there.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) reminds us that the result of the Free Trade policy of England is that there are many millions of unemployed in that country, and that since the Armistice, and up to March last year, over £282,000,000 was expended on ration doles by the Government in Great Britain.
– The latest figure given of the expenditure on doles is £400,000,000.
– We know that many millions have been spent to keep the people in Great Britain from starving, because the manufacturers of Germany and other countries have been able to compete successfully with British manufacturers as a result of the Free Trade policy which Great Britain has followed for centuries, and which the honorable member for Swan would introduce into Australia. I find that in 1911 -the value of the output of Australian manufactures was £133,222,090; in 1918-19 it was £249,000,000. In 1920-21 it was £324,000,000. In 1920 Australian manufacturers gave employment to 275,000 persons, paid £52,000,000 in wages; used materials to the value of £187,000,000, and in the process added £104,000,000 to the. value of. those materials. We should do all that is possible to build up the secondary industries of Australia instead of sending our raw material 14,000 miles to the other side of the world.
– Is it not a fact that there are -fewer people employed in our secondary industries now than there were a few years ago?
– We have more people employed in our secondary industries than ever before.
– Of course, we have.
– In any case, is it not better to give employment to Australian workmen than to purchase the finished article for a few pence less, and so to give employment to coloured and child labour of foreign countries? As Australians we should put our country first, ‘and selfish considerations second. Official figures regarding the value of our importations and the value of locally-manufactured articles are a convincing- test of the country’s progress towards national security. The position may be stated thus : -
These figures are in one respect encouraging. They show that the value of locally-manufactured articles increased from £133;000,000 in 1911 ‘ to £324,000,000 in 1920-21, but I regret they also show that imports increased from £66,000,000 in 1911 to £163,000,000 in 1920-21. It should be the aim of all true Australians to curtail importations as much as possible. We should further the policy which the Labour party has consistently espoused for the protection of Australian industries. Every honorable member who has the interests of this country at heart should be prepared to fight the pernicious doctrine advocated by certain honorable members who are supporting the composite Ministry, and who, if. they had their way, would break down our Tariff harriers and allow other countries to flood the Australian market with their manufactured goods. If such a policy were given effect to, it would be impossible for us in Australia to maintain our present high standard of living. Our workers would have to come down to the level of coloured labour in other countries. They would be denied the privilege of an eight-hour days and fair rates of wages if the product of their labour had to compete in the Australian market with -goods manufactured by child labour in China and Japan, where the workers are paid a miserable pittance. Those honorable members who, like the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), preach the doctrine of Free Trade are the real enemies of Australia and incapable of understanding our great national problems. The latest figures published by the Commonwealth Statistician show that last year Queensland was the only State with a substantial excess of exports over imports.
In 1919-20 our exports were valued at £149,823,000, and in 1922-23 £117,000,000, whilst the imports increased from. £98,974,000 in 1919-20 to £131,000,000 in 1922-23. All Australians should make a determined effort to make our exports greater than our imports. This Commonwealth Government has the power to assist materially in that direction. When the imports of a country exceed the exports, the trade balance is against it, and it cannot long continue to buy more than it sells. Only by building up great primary and secondary industries, and find- ing markets for the products of the thousands of primary producers who are today being, exploited by the middlemen, shall we be able to increase the value of our exports beyond the value .of the imports. We can help to bring ‘ that about by asking for Australian-made goods, and insisting upon getting them wherever possible. By a great advertising policy, organized and fostered by the Government, the people could be educated to buy only Australian-made goods. For instance, they might be taught to eat more locally-canned, fresh, and dried fruits at this time when the fruit-growers are experiencing great hardships. America, by extensive publicity, has greatly increased the local consumption of fruit. The consumption of raisins was enlarged very considerably at a time when the producers were on the verge of bankruptcy. An “ Eat more fruit” campaign would greatly assist the fruit-grower. The national progress of this country depends upon greater pro duction, more markets, new factories, the enlargement of old factories, and better agricultural methods. The following figures relating to Australian production, net exports, and home consumption of fruits may be of interest : -
The depression in the fruit industry could be greatly relieved if the Australian people would consume more fruit, and if true co-operative handling were practised. By a system of co-operative control and handling, a great many of the intermediate charges could be eliminated and the producer brought nearer to the consumer. The following figures indicate the possibility of extending some of the secondary industries that are already established : -
For this period in 1923, Australia was Britain’s best customer for Woollen Tissues.
We know that Australia can produce woollen goods, and during the last few years a great many woollen mills have come into existence. . They are going ahead with great rapidity, and I hope that before long local mills will be able to supply the requirements of our people at a reasonable price, thus obviating the necessity for such heavy importations from abroad. The figures relating to im- portation of articles that could be manufactured in Australia show the great scope that exists for other secondary industries if we could breathe into our people a true Australian spirit. But while men like the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), who ‘advocates a Free Trade policy, and the members of the Country party, who are opposed to the building up of secondary industries, have an influence in public life, it is impossible to inculcate in the minds of the people a full appreciation of the necessity for supporting local industries.
– Not only should Australia be supplying its own requirements of woollen goods, but it should be exporting a large surplus.
– Yes; and then we should have what the primary producers would find to be the most effective market, a home market that would absorb the greater portion of their produce. Amongst the imports for the year ended 30th June, 1923, are many that suggest possibilities for extended manufacture in Australia. For instance, we imported £248,000 worth of matches. Match factories in Victoria are going ahead, and it seems to me a pity that such a large sum of money should be sent abroad for the purchase of similar goods. I am informed that the hoop pine used in Bryant and May’s factory at Richmond, Victoria, is obtained from Queensland, and I hope that the Government . will give . the protection necessary to foster that great industry. I commend this list to the attention of honorable members -
Among the Imports for the year ended 30th June, 1923, are many that suggest possibilities for extended manufacture in AUStralia, namely : -
It is the duty of this Parliament to protect Australian industries sufficiently to enable them to compete successfully with the trade from abroad. That £50,000,000, if spent in Australia, would give employment to the immigrants who are being brought out, and to our young Australians, and would give greater scope for the technical colleges and universities that are to-day training men who should be able to find remunerative avenues of employment in their native country in connexion with our secondary industries. If we want those industries to develop, the people must support the policy of Protection that has been so earnestly advocated by the Labour party for many years. I have dealt briefly with markets for our produce,, and with the development of the secondary industries, that would find employment for immigrants and create a home market for the farmers’ produce. Our markets are not all that we desire, and. new ones are needed. < ‘ We could satisfactorily settle on the land a great many, additional people if we had the hearty co-operation of all sections of the people in finding for them suitable and adequate markets for their produce. The Government is not doing enough. The High Commissioner’s office is obsolete. We should try to build up trade with China and Japan, which now buy largely from England, America, and other countries. Why cannot Australia get her share of that trade? We do get some, but we should get more. On account of inefficient trade representation in the East, we have lost a great deal of the trade that should naturally have come to Australia. Queensland should have had a big share of that. I hope this Government will do everything possible to encourage trade with the East. I recognise that Australia should be able to support a much bigger population. We should encourage British manufacturers to come to Australia. The Labour party has been bitterly condemned by its opponents because of its “ alleged hostility to immigration. We do not oppose a wise, sane and discriminate policy of immigration, but we are opposed to bringing thousand’s of penniless people to a dead-end in this country. We do not believe in throwing these friendless and penniless people on the labour market. Dumping thousands of destitute workers from abroad in Australia is an inhuman policy. Such actions as that give rise to the advocacy by honorable members opposite of the abolition of the Arbitration Court and Wages Boards, so that the law of supply and demand may apply to the labour market. Some honorable members opposite who hold those views would be glad to see Australia flooded with thousands of workless men. Competition would then become _ so keen that men would have to work for their “ tucker “ in hard times. Such honorable members like to see unemployment such as exists now in Melbourne, and, I suppose, in the other capital cities. They would like an indiscriminate policy of immigration which would bring thousands of people to the point of destitution with a ‘ view to the abolition of all Arbitration Court awards.
– No section of the community advocates that policy.
– I hear it advocated very frequently in my travels. ‘I hear people ask, “ “Why cannot the unemployed in the city go into the country and work for their ‘ tucker ‘ ?” There are Tory people who would like to see thousands of men in Australia forced to do that.
– That is an absolute libel on the people of Australia.
– It is only the Labour party which prevents the application of a policy such as that advocated by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. M. Cameron) and others like him.
– Rubbish !
– If the workers had to depend on men like the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowden), they would get very little.
– And they would get very little from his Government.
– They would get far more than they would get from men like the honorable member.
– Many people of a certain class in Australia believe in the policy of black labour advocated by the Premier of South Australia (Sir Henry Barwell) .
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– T believe that there is a great deal of truth in Sir Henry Barwell’s statement that plenty of people believe in his policy, but have not the courage to advocate it publicly. Some honorable members in the party opposite believe in black labour for the northern parts of Australia. It has been said, “ Why do you not introduce kanaka labour in your sugar industry?” Those who say such things believe in a policy of wholesale and indiscriminate immigration. An attempt is being made to-day to adopt that policy, and in consequence we find cases like the one recorded in the Daily Guardian, Sydney, on 13th August, 1923. That issue relates the experience of Mr. Daniel Bonarius, of Leyton, Essex, the father of six children. He was lured to Australia by misleading pamphlets issued by the High Commissioner for Australia in England. He says that he met a smart young man at Australia House, who assured him that the pamphlets told the truth. The officer said there was a bright future for Mr. Bonarius in Australia; that he would have no difficulty whatever in finding employment, and that everything would be all right. Mr.
Bonarius is a tailor’s cutter by trade. In his statement in the Daily Guardian, he said -
I saw Mr. Percy Hunter personally. He told me that this was a country of wonderful opportunities. He was sure, too, that I would have no trouble about work out here.
Believing that statement, he left England, and arrived in Sydney in January. He was not able to find a job as a tailor’s cutter, and so made up his mind to do whatever work he could get. Once he had four weeks’ employment with a Georgestreet firm. After an interval he was lucky enough to strike a week’s work with another firm. That is all he had had to do, except for an odd job of a few hours’ duration since his arrival in Australia seven months ago. The Daily Guardian states -
The Bonarius larder is thinly supplied once a week by the Benevolent Society.
Bonarius has no money, and the landlord has obtained an eviction order against him. “ I won’t have any workless man in .my house,” the landlord has told him.
On Thursday next, unless Bonarius can find £10 to pay off his arrears, he and Mrs. Bonarius must go into the street.
That is the result of indiscriminately bringing men to Australia without providing employment for them. The men find that their money soon gives out, that they are destitute, that they can find no employment, and are amongst thousands of Australian unemployed. The Labour party recognises that under proper conditions Australia would be able to absorb a great many more people. I believe that we shall -have here eventually a population of 100,000,000. I would favour a vigorous developmental policy, which would provide lands for people, and create employment by constructing reproductive works; but I do not believe in luring people to this country to starve or to depend upon doles from the Government or from charitable institutions. One honorable member on the other side of the Chamber spoke tonight about the inadequacy of the land available for closer settlement. He stated that there was keen competition for land even in Queensland. I admit that there is keen competition for good land all over Australia. Since the Labour party came into power in the northern State, the Government has adopted a wise constructive policy, and large areas of land have been made available for settlement. The policy of the Queensland Government is to throw open 5,000,000 acres of land, some of which is of the very best pastoral country in the State.’ It will be made available at a peppercorn rental. Not only is leasehold land being offered, but the Government will resume thousands of acres of freehold land to promote closer settlement.
– The same policy was in operation in Queensland, on the Darling Downs, twenty years ago.
– That is not so. At any rate, it was not in operation to the same extent.
– It was.
– The policy of which I am speaking is described as repudiation by certain persons of the honorable member’s political views in Queensland; but the Queensland Government believes that, land must be made available for the people. Thousands of additional settlers will be established in Queensland on these 5,000,000 acres. People are coming from abroad, and also from other- States in the Commonwealth, to take advantage of this progressive policy. The details of the land to be made available are: - Dawson Valley, 1,000,000 acres; north-coast railway, 300,000 acres; Palmerston, 180,000 acres; Capella district, 300,000 acres; Burnett .district, 1,421,179 acres; Callide, 1,074,722 acres; and south-western Queensland, 700,000 acres. A policy similar to that is required throughout Australia. The people already here will take up land if they are able to get it. We know that those engaged in the wool industry in Australia are getting good prices for their wool, and they are holding thousands of square miles of country which should be subdivided for closer settlement. Surely the interests of the great mass of the people should be considered before those of a few squatters. “ That is what the Queensland Government believes, and it proposes to put the land in that State to its fullest” use. I yearn for the day when there will be in all the States, Governments which will give effect to such a policy. It has been said that Labour Governments will not support immigration of any kind. I have a few figures which will throw some light on that aspect of the subject. Actual results show that Queensland is doing more than any other State in the way of effective immigration and the absorption of its own people in’ remunerative employ ment. In the Commonwealth Quarterly Statistics, the net immigration (excess of immigration over emigration) for 1921 is shown in the following figures: - Queensland, 4,584; South Australia,, 4,434; Victoria, 3,375; Tasmania, 2,008; New South Wales, 1,546; Western Australia, 27. The figures for nine months of 1922 also disclose that the excess of immigration over emigration in Queensland is remarkably good. The Queensland figures are 10,839, those for New South Wales 6,432, for Western Australia 2,598, and for South Australia 205. These returns indicate that Labour Governments are not opposed to immigration on sound lines. They will provide for all the immigrants who can be absorbed, but they are entirely opposed to an indiscriminate policy of immigration. Provision should be made to absorb people by opening up big developmental works before they get here. It is only by adopting such means that Australia can be fully developed and made a truly great nation.
.- I consider it to be my duty to put my point of view on this Bill before honorable members. We have had some excellent speeches to-night on immigration. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) has given us something very definite, but for the most part the speeches have dealt too much with generalities. In my opinion, the spending of £5,000,000 on an immigration policy is not warranted under existing circumstances. The trouble today is that money can be obtained too easily, and we spend millions as easily as we formerly spent thousands. The spending of money -has become an obsession in this country. As Sir John Forrest once said, “What is a million”? I wonder if the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) who is in charge of the House, could tell us in a concise way, by interjection, what benefit Australia is reaping from her expenditure on immigration. The people would be very pleased to know what advantage has been gained. What definite policy has the Government in view, and how does it propose to spend this , money? What is the scheme of. immigration? Where is it ? The “honorable ; member’ for Capricornia has said that the Queens- land Government is throwing open for closer settlement 5,000,000 acres of some of the best land in Queensland. On what terms? How will it be given to the’ immigrants? What will be done with it? How will the immigrant get there ? Until we come down to tin-tacks, and thoroughly explain our immigration scheme, so that any one can understand it, we ought not to ask the people of this country to provide £5,000,000 for it. I purpose quoting, because it epitomizes my ideas, an article which appeared in the Melbourne Herald of 8th March this year. It is headed “ Victims of Immigration.” I shall not quote the story related by the victim, who immigrated to Western Australia. Western Australian . members of* this House have stated that there is a splendid scheme of immigration in that part of Australia. If it turns out as portrayed by this unfortunate victim, it is not much of a scheme. The experience of- the man who is schemed into being in the scheme, is preceded by a statement by the Herald writer, who expresses my views in the following words: -
Fully £400,000 is being expended this year by the Commonwealth and British Governments upon the migration movement to Australia. And yet despite this huge and increasing outlay of the taxpayers’ money and the ceaseless platitudes about immigration and all that it means to the Commonwealth, the movement is disgraced by the complete absence of a definite policy and by pitiful incompetence in its administration. Almost every day British men and women who are actively encouraged to leave the United Kingdom land in Australia and find themselves stranded. The utter absence of a comprehensive guiding policy -of true co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States not only inflicts extreme hardship upon many new settlers, who if the promises made to them in Britain were honoured, would make admirable Australian citizens, but it very properly antagonizes Australian public opinion to the whole scheme.
Wilt, Mr. Bruce Act?
The new Commonwealth Government has a unique opportunity to place immigration on a sound footing. The essentials are few and clearly disclosed. No person should be encouraged to come to Australia for whom there is not a reasonably sure prospect of work immediately on arrival, at current capacity wages, but when such persons do arrive here they should be assured of a plain business deal. No spoon feeding is required. Every day one comes across victims of the present system, and the fate of these men, tragic enough in itself to the individual, is the worst possible advertisement for Australia. Here is a very human statement from one of the recent’ arrivals. This young man, -who has had a first-class English University education, and also some commercial experience, tells his own story.
The story of the man is too long to read. It is obviously authentic. His name, the place where he worked, the money he put into the venture he embarked upon, and the result of it are stated. The facts are clear and definite, and honorable members should know them before passing this Bill. Before we are asked to vote on the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), we should be told definitely what the scheme is, and what lies behind it. By what method will the immigrant be brought .here? The scheme carried on as between Australia and Great Britain is a scandal in itself. Neither the Minister; in charge of it nor any other member of the Government can justify the expenditure of the money wasted in the upkeep of the Immigration Department. -Mr. Percy Hunter s position’ is a disgrace to Australia, and would not be tolerated by a Government with any selfrespect. His trip back to Australia, ostensibly to be advised of what the Governmentwas doing, and to co-ordinate the activities in Australia with those in London, cannot possibly be justified. Can any member of this House tell me what Mr. Percy Hunter is doing, and what the Commonwealth is getting in return for his pay? We know only too well that he was brought back to Australia during the last election as an election agent, and yet we are asked to pass another £1,500,000 to carry on whatever work he is doing. We would be recreant to our trust if we passed the Estimates before receiving an assurance from the Government that we shall get full value for the money spent. A sum of £5,000,000. has been, or is being spent, in bringing more immigrants to Australia. At this stage the business goes beyond merely a scandal, and becomes a tragedy in the expenditure of public money. It is not only the Herald that comments on our immigration system. In the Adelaide Register of the 3rd July of this year is printed the testimony of a Western Australian, who is not an irresponsible individual, but one of the members of ‘the State Parliament. He knows of the splendid schemes in operation in Western Australia, and of all they are supposed to accomplish, but was evidently i disillusioned by a trip to, the Old Country. I intend, in this instance, to quote the whole article, because it has reference to the item of £8,400 included in the Bill for the London office: -
Mr. John Thompson, member, for Claremont, interviewed >at Albany on his return from. a fivemonths’ visit to the United Kingdom, indulged in outspoken criticism of Australia House. He said the office of the High Commissioner should be abolished, or, failing its complete abolition, the High Commissionership should be filled by a young and vigorous business man, who would devote his time to the furtherance of immigration and the marketing of Australian produce, rather than to attending banquets and social functions. Australia House should be organized from top to bottom. Une of Australia’s most urgent needs was better publicity.
– Is not the Government now proposing that?
– I do not think so. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) when announcing the scheme spoke of a “ secretariat,” a “ resident Minister in London,” and one or two other things, but his statements were all nebulous. I am not in favour of adding to this incubus at present. If the Government will wipe out Australia House, and all that it connotes, and put in its place a practical method of developing the primary industries of Australia and marketing the products of those industries, I shall be prepared to give it my support. I would support to-morrow the complete abolition of Australia House. I was rather impressed with what the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) said in speaking upon the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. He said that the business ‘ men of Australia had sent to the East two practical men, and that their efforts were producing good results in developing Australian trade in the East. That is the only way to open up markets in other countries. It is no use sending a worn-out politician to “ guzzle “ and “ jazz “ with those who have nothing else to do but spend other people’s money. That is not business, and no business man would do it if he had to pay for it out of his own pocket. I have been a commercial traveller in my time, and if I did not show a satisfactory return I would te quickly told that I would have to improve or resign. Every honorable member knows that that is the position of the representatives of a business concern. Why should there be anything different under the Commonwealth? Why should we be paying an enormous sum of money, amounting to between £50,000 and £60,000 a year, for the upkeep of Australia House? We have now established another “Australia House” in America, and we have again sent over a worn-out politician. Have we any worn-out English politicians in Australia representing Great Britain? Have we any worn-out politicians from America or France to represent those countries here? Yet we in Australia are bluffed to keep these offices open in Great Britain and elsewhere, when we have definite information from those who have been there that they are useless. When reading the speeches delivered on the Estimates two sessions ago I was astonished at the drastic and caustic nature of the criticism of Australia House by Government supporters. They spoke of the faulty methods of management and the enormous cost of the establishment. Have the Government taken any action in the direction suggested in those speeches? Has anything been done to bring Australia House up to date or to make it more useful? The ex-member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) stated that a smart business man living in a suburb of London could do more in a week to promote the business interests of Australia than a man living at the Hotel Cecil or haunting Australia House could do in the whole term of Eis existence. Yet we still have that incubus upon us, and we are still passing money in our “Estimates to pay for it. We have no right to talk to the hardworking taxpayers of this country of the enormous amount of our public debt when we allow them to be saddled with costs like this. We are not honest to those we represent if we do not try to eliminate this expenditure. Let me continue my quotation of the remarks of the man from Western Australia, who arrived back feeling very warm on a subject of which he had seen very much. I have only had one opportunity of being in Australia House, so, personally, I know nothing of the matter. The article proceeds -
An Australian journalist should be sent Home to take charge of this work at once, but he and all other Government servants in London should be limited to a term of three years’ service, thus keeping the London staff of the Commonwealth in touch with affairs at home. The grave defect in the present immigration system waa that it tended to give the best immigrants to the most influential States, to the obvious detriment of Western Australia. The warmest friends of .the Premier could not. wax enthusiastic over the type of immigrant at present reaching this State.
In connexion with Mr. Thompson’s remarks on immigration) ‘an illuminating sidelight has been thrown on the. method of selection of im-. migrants in London, by documents and report-; which have reached Government officials in Perth. It seems that the shipping companies pay £1 a head to the immigration agents reserving passages for immigrants, and it is stated that large numbers of immigrants who apply at Australia House for selection are sent to these agents to have their papers filled in. In a single month one of these agents put through 500 applications, and presumably collected the shipping companies’ f i bonus on each.
According to the above statement these “ black-birding “ practices exist, and all the agent cares about is collecting £1 per head for each immigrant passed. Australia is not likely to get the best class of immigrant under those conditions, and personally I do not know that we should expect Great Britain to give us the best of its manhood. It is not reasonable to suppose that Britain would be satisfied to be left with all the “culls.” A definite policy of settlement has never been laid down. If I propounded my ideas on the subject, many honorable members would not% find them acceptable. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. ‘Lister) suggested group settlement; but on what basis does he want the scheme worked? We are not likely to persuade men with money to live in groups. The idea of the immigration scheme is to relieve Great Britain of its starving surplus population.
– In Western Australia we have fifty-three group settlements in full swing to-day, and many of the settlers are Kalgoorlie miners. Virgin forests like those in Gippsland are being cleared.
– Are they successful?
– Yes, so far.
– I am pleased to hear that; but there will be a lot of difficulty in satisfactorily placing the great numbers of people to be brought out from the Old Country. Despite all the evils of Sir Henry Barwell’s scheme for bringing out boy immigrants, judging by the photographs of some of them, they seem to be of a good type, and should make desirable citizens. No doubt they will be readily employed on arrival, because any farmer would be glad to have a strong boy to assist him; but the trouble will begin when they reach manhood, and wish to settle on land for themselves. The cost of purchasing and clearing land on the West Coast is so great that it will be useless to try to settle these young fellows in that locality, so that I am afraid the system will eventually fail. I do not say that the farmers are not treating these boys fairly; but I am inclined to think that they will, after a few years, drift to the cities, and probably become hoboes. The immigration scheme is nebulous and unsatisfactory, and the only redeeming feature is the group settlement phase of it in Western Australia. I now come to the subject of the Loan Estimates themselves, and let me underline the word “loan.” The Government are ready to “ borrow and bust.” There is no statesmanship in that. I have made my protest against the borrowing system of this and other Governments on many occasions, and I shall repeat it to-night. I protested as strongly as I could when it was proposed to borrow money to pay for the late war. I then stated that I would not contribute one penny to the war loans, and I would not support them by voice or vote. As the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) has said, this mad policy must come to an end. Ministers are like children blowing bubbles; the bursting time must arrive. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten) sounded the same warning; but what honorable members are prepared to advo- cate the cessation of borrowing? The first of the Treasurer’s chickens are now coming home to roost, for he finds he cannot float another loan. It is not because there is no money available; it is simply because investors can get a better rate of interest elsewhere. When they first contributed to the war -loans, their patriotism was in their pockets. A person who declined to lend his money to the Commonwealth during the war period was regarded as being as bad as the Labour man who declared that war was murder. Members of the working class were dragooned into contributing to those loans from their scantily-filled purses. From 2s. 6d. to 5s. per week was deducted from their wages in order that they might purchase a £10 bond. The Treasurer has told us that many of the small investors are not re-investing in the new loan. It is probably because they have not the money with which to do it. I hazarded the opinion at that time that as soon as they were in need of money they would sell the bonds at a discount. There was an advertisement in South Australia stating that Mr. I, R. Killicoat would purchase £10 bonds at a certain discount rate.I have no objection to it being placarded throughout Australia that I hope that the conversion loan and the short-dated loan fail. I shall be glad if the Government find they cannot raise the money. Then Australia will have to begin to finance itself on another system. It does not require statesmanship to borrow money in a country with the wonderful assets that Australia possesses. It is only necessary to offer an interest rate sufficiently high, and the public securities will always be attractive enough to investors. We should not any longer go outside the Commonwealth for the capital we require. Let us institute a system of finance based upon the credit of this country, and let us operate upon it. I made the statement long before I was an aspirant for parliamentary honours that Australia should be financed by means of a paper currency, and that it should be inconvertible. I was told at the time that it was practically impossible to do that, but my words have come true. Today we are carrying on the Commonwealth upon an inconvertible note currency, and we have existed on this basis during the most trying period Australia has ever known. I intend to raise my voice, whenever I have the opportunity, against the present system of finance and the method of conducting our national affairs. Until the whole system is altered, until the fundamentals on which our whole life is built, are altered, we will continue to experience the trouble that besets us at the present time. When honorable members talk about immigration and a number of other matters, they talk with their tongues in their cheeks. The present methodonly means shifting a piece out of the way of the man who is playing the other hand. As a matter of fact, it is not as skilful as a game of chess. It is like a game of draughts, in which, from the first move to the last, the player knows what the result will be. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), on the floor of this House, promulgated a method by which the difficulty might be solved, when Australia first contracted a loan indebtedness on account of the war. He asked that £20,000,000 should be placed to the credit of the Government at. the Commonwealth Bank in order to finance the war. That amount could have been increased to the £400,000,000 which Australia borrowed from other sources. I had £80 invested in a Commonwealth loan. Somebody said to me, “ There is an asset behind that money.” He admitted that a. safe principle of banking was to issue £4 in notes for every £1 of gold held as security. I said, “ Where is the security for the other £3 ? “ To-morrow I could cash my bonds, less the discount. The man who cashed them would not lose a penny. My bonds are, therefore, negotiable to that extent. During the war a lot of persons trafficked in war bonds. If I can use my £80, with what amount of money has the Commonwealth been playing ? Our debt has been built up in that way. As I shall have further opportunities of dealing with this matter, I shall not add to my remarks at this stage.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Charlton’s amendment) stand port of the question - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
– Is it the pleasure of the Committee that the Bill be dealt with as a whole?
HonorableMembers. - Hear, hear !
.- I would not have risen at this late hour but for thegrossly unfair statements that were made earlier in the evening by the honorable member for Swan (Mr Gregory) reflecting upon the Australian Labour movement. The honorable member’s statements were as inconsistent as his attitude generally is upon important public questions. It seems as though there are only two matters upon which he is consistent. Those are, the support whichhe gives to the Government, and the antipathy which he displays toward the Labour movement. He sought to leave an impression in the minds of honorable members and of the people outside that the Australian Labour movement was totally opposed to the immigration of our kindred from overseas. That is quite an erroneous impression to leave in the mind of any person. We realize that in the present circumstances the provisions that are made in regard to immigration are unscientific. We recognise that such provision has not been made as will enable Australia to absorb those who come here - to place them in useful avenues of employment, and give them the opportunity which they expect to receive. The statements of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) do not do him credit, nor do they do justice to the Labour movement. The honorable member spoke much about the “ great Australian spirit,” butI remember when he was aspecial pleader for the interests of foreign trade. I am reminded by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) that the honorable member for Swan stood here prepared to prosecute to the utmost his advocacy of the free entrance of foreign goods into this country, no matter the country of origin or the conditions under which they were produced. The reprimand from the honorable member comes with ill-grace, and certainly does not speak for that consistency which is desirable in all public men. The methods at present adopted under our immigration policy are deceptive. Unfortunate men are lured here by a variety of inducements placed before them by paid agents, with the inevitable result of ultimate dissatisfaction. We desire to maintain the good name of Australia, and our first duty is to provide employment for those already in the country. Personally, I have been in the unfortunate position of having to seek employment unavailingly, with all the responsibilities and anxieties of a home on my shoulders; and to-day there are thousands of men in a similar position. I know an eminent and brilliant engineer, an Australian, whom the Commonwealth Government sent home during the war, in order to secure first-hand information of submarine construction. He came back to Australia, and resumed the practice of his profession ; but by reason of the default of the Nationalist Government in regard to the ship-building policy, he has been placed amongst the unemployed. He was a first class engineer, with a degree, and had proved himself worthy, but that seemed to avail nothing. The experience of that man is the experience of many others, who could well be absorbed in civil occupations if the Government were prepared to turn their attention to the real development of the country. But there is a spirit of indifference abroad. We find the Government ready to associate itself with the British Government in bringing people here to swell the already large number of unemployed. The reason for this is to be found in the fact that the British Government is feeling the consequences of the presence of 2,000,000 unemployed in Britain. Is is realized that nothing is more likely to drive people to desperation than the pinch of hunger, and the lack of adequate clothing in the bitterest weather. In Great Britain to-day the unemployed, victims of a cruel system,if they do not find a shelter in some park or doorway, have to live in the most undesirable of hovels. Can we wonder at the extreme feeling of despair on the part of these poor wretches ? An eminent British statesman has made the statement, as reported in this evening’s newspapers, that Great Britain is responsible for the distribution of £400,000,000 in charitable doles. That cannot go on for ever. The British Government realize that if peace and good order are to be maintained, something must be done, or the people may feel impelled to take matters into their own hands. The remedy now proposed is to send the surplus population to the various Dominions, particularly to Australia. The Commonwealth Government takes its orders from Flinders-lane and Downing-street, and is prepared to enter into an agreement whereby relief may be afforded at once to Britain and to “ big business “ in an extreme emergency. These expedients, however, do not cure the evil, and it is about time we endeavoured to solve the, problem. At the present time, people are being brought from the other side of the world under false pretences, and such a policy is fair to neither the present population of this country nor to those who are induced to emigrate. Of course, I recognise the great need of population for the development of our rich potentialities, but this does not appear to me to be the time for indiscriminate immigration. The expenditure proposed by this Bill is not justified at the moment. The Government ought not to bring people from the other side of the world to share our present disabilities and dissatisfaction. Even in anti-Labour sections of the community there is a feeling that the present efforts of the Government are illtimed. I should like to quote from an article that appeared in the Industrial Australian and Mining Standard -
The writer has recollections of having boarded immigrant ships in Hobson’s Bay, witnessing the arrival of contingents of under-sized youths, intoxicated with the belief that they were about to land in a country overflowing with milk and honey, where money was plentiful and easily obtained. Their awakening was swift and sure. After being marshalled at the docks and Immigration offices, they were sent to jobs in the dairying and wheat-growing districts, cast Into environments wholly new to them, and faced with conditions novel, and, to some, unwholesome. And what was the result? Many of these youths, accustomed to the excitement of city life in Britain, and in many cases unfitted for the strenuous toil associated with Australian farming, drifted back to the cities. Some with initiative, emboldened by , a hard life in English cities, secured employment at hotels, stables, restaurants, &c., and thus their value to the country depreciated very considerably. Some, of course, made good, and to-day may be counted among our most useful citizens.; but the whole policy was wrong, for it failed to make proper selection. In effect, the immigration agents in London set out to secure num bers. That was their chief objective. Hence the partial failure of the whole scheme.
Another regrettable feature of the immigra tion business was the gross misrepresentation of Australian conditions as reflected in the British newspapers and from the street hoardings. Many of the men - and women - who accepted assisted passages to Australia were filled with the belief that once they set foot here everything would be right. Some really believed they were going out to a country where the pool of prosperity was overflowing, where money could be picked up for the mere effort of seizing it. Those responsible for the dissemination of grossly misleading literature reduced Commonwealth immigration enterprise to a farce.
Sitting suspended from 12 midnight to 12.30 a.m. (Saturday.)
– The unsatisfactory conditions that are associated with the present system of inducing immigrants to come here tend to discredit Australia in the eyes of the world. It is a stupid and disgraceful policy. Although we desire to protect our kinsfolk on the other side of the world, we must first consider the welfare of our own people. The Labour party do not object to immigration, but it insists that the system must be run on honest and scientific lines adjusted to our conditions, and that there shall not be any reckless dumping of promiscuous crowds into our midst to increase their wretchedness and the ranks of the unemployed here. The ideal immigration scheme is to put into practical effect a developmental policy that will make not only proper provision for our own people, but offer conditions so attractive that English people will not have to be bribed or persuaded to come here. A scheme on those lines would bring a desirable class of citizen to Australia. The present policy is unsound and harmful, and embarrasses our own people. I hope the Government will realize, before it is too late, how the system of indiscriminate immigration swells the great army of the unemployed, and tends to completely dislocate the affairs of the nation. No steps are being taken to absorb new citizens in useful occupations. It is both treacherous and deceptive to bring immigrants here without making provision for them. The Labour party would be wanting in their duty if they did not place on record their view as to how the interests of the people might be conserved, and, at the same time, do a fair thing to those who have inclinations to settle in this country.
We have in Australia this paradox. The country needs developing, and yet thousands of our own people who are competent to assist in this work, cannot find employment. Unless the Government adopt a progressive developmental policy we shall never be able to consummate our high ideals. The Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the various State Governments, should carry out a broad scheme to make available to settlers millions of acres of land which are today in the hands of vested interests and monopolists. The people on the other side of the world imagine that in Australia there is an incessant cry for workers. They listen eagerly to the tales of the paradise awaiting them here. They anticipate being able to at once settle on the land and begin a life of useful service under generous skies. But they have not the opportunity to secure the fine areas of land which are promised to them, because these are already monopolized by the financial agencies and mortgage companies of Australia and Great Britain. Little or no opportunity is afforded to the people who desire to follow rural pursuits that will, in their latter days, provide for them a sufficient competency. We should open up the vast areas of Australia, and make available avenues of employment to those who wish to settle on the rich and fertile lands that are at present lying idle. We should establish secondary industries in the rural centres to encourage decentralization, and enable those engaged in seasonal occupations to have continuous employment. To do this, we must make the life of the country more attractive and congenial than it is today. Facilities for recreation, pleasure, and communication should be provided. This is the only way to develop the possibilities of this country. It will be the best advertisement for Australia, and settlers from the other side of the world will be attracted by the favorable condi-. fcions. I hope that, in future, the policy of the Labour movement on immigration will not be misrepresented by our political opponents. The purpose of the Labour party is tosecure for every man, woman, and child an opportunity to perform auseful service for Australia. Not only should we protect our own people, but we should prevent our kinsfolk from distant parts from being brought here under an insidious and pernicious system which, under false pretences, persuades immigrants to come to Australia. We must make a great effort to overcome the problem of unemployment. We should devise some scheme to assist the people in their days of adversity and to make this country one of sunshine, joy, and pleasure, so that people who are attracted to these shores will be able to consummate their ambition in life and enjoy to the full the bounties that the Great Creator has provided for his creatures.
– I echo the fine sentiment which has fallen from the lips of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) ; but how his desire is to be attained, in view of the present tangle of Government finance, is an intricate problem. The Loan Estimates do not display one hopeful sign. They are certainly designed by the Commonwealth along the lines of custom and tradition. Before the second reading of the Bill was carried, I suggested that a new system of finance should be established; that we should leave the old rut and discard the old methods. The Labour party, when in power, established a system of finance which could profitably be adopted by this Government. They established a system whereby the Commonwealth financed itself. The Commonwealth Bank was created. We should extend its operations, giving it preference in the matter of Government business and all that the Government can put in its way. I would go further, and make banking in all its forms, the credit system in its entirety, a national function, shutting it out from every other financial institution. It may be said that this cannot be done. I suggest that the Commonwealth, restricted as it is, has more than won out. The Commonwealth Bank and the Notes Issue have provided the only means of reducing our national debt. Very little has been paid off in any other way. As the honorable member for Perth said, we are indulging in an orgy of borrowing. I certainly shall not register avote for the borrowing of one penny. I think the Commonwealth can financeitself, and can come out on top by so doing. The experience of the past four years is sufficient to prove that. When I spoke of financial matters previously, I said that when the Commonwealth first decided to appeal for loans in Australia, it was contended that it would be impossible to raise the money asked for. In the year 1915, the Speaker, before he was elevated to the Chair, ridiculed the idea of the o Commonwealth being able to raise £20,000,000 in Australia. I am glad that statement is on record. It is not my statement. I came out of a factory, and have since had some little experience of commercial life, but I do not set myself up as a financier who knows the in- tricacies of banking business. I can, however, see a fact as clearly as any one. The right honorable gentleman said it’ was absurd . to think of borrowing £20,000,000 in Australia, for to do so would strike at the bed-rock of industry, and would cause chaos and destruction. It was urged that Mr. Fisher would be wise if he asked for only £5,000,000. We have now borrowed something over £280,000,000 within the Commonwealth. This is apart from war certificates and other methods of borrowing apart from loans. That money has been turned over many times, and the system of borrowing has been carried on for the benefit, not of the Commonwealth, but of the financial interests of this country. I wish to put on record the figures relating to trading banks’ deposits to show what a remunerative business these loans have been for the money interests of this country. In 1914 the trading banks’ deposits amounted to £163.854,555. In 1922 the amount had reached £288,545,162, or an increase of £124,690,607. It was a case of juggling with credits. I challenge any honorable member to prove that all this large amount is new money. The deposits in the banks in 1907 were £112,697,969, and in 1914 they were, as I have stated, £163,854,555, which represented a difference of £51,156,586, as compared with an increase of £124,000,000 from the outbreak of war until 1922. It is, therefore, obvious what the borrowing of the money in Australia has done for Australian commercial and financial interests. Those two interests are wrapped up one with the other. .
I now wish to deal with the Note Issue. I want to direct the attention of the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) to it, because he ought to be able to tell the people of the Commonwealth something about it.
The Note Issue is a financial system which has achieved much, and it is the Treasurer’s duty to let the people know whether it can be developed so as to free us from the money-lender, and make us financially self-contained. When the Note Issue was proposed the late Lord Forrest, Sir Joseph Cook, and other Treasurers told a doleful story. They said that our action would be the forerunner of calamity to the nation. When the Labour party forced the payment of old-age pensions, we were told that we would sap the virility of the people, notwithstanding that the measure applied only to people whose virility had disappeared, and who were in the sere and yellow period of their lives. The Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act was one of the most beneficial Acts ever placed on the Commonwealth statute-book. I suggest to honorable members that they should read the debates which took place at that time. Members of the other side went beyond the bounds of common decency in their opposition to the maternity bonus. They went so far as to cast odium upon. our women’ folk, and to impugn their chastity and good name. They said that if we paid them the baby bonus we would create a nation of loose, irresponsible women. That Act has been a success, and it will be a bold Government that will ever go to the country with a policy proposing its abolition. Although it was nibbled at by the. previous Government, prior to the .last elections, that Government was not ‘ ‘ game “ enough to put forward the abolition of the grant as part of its policy. Some individuals, who hold very Conservative seats, occasionally say (hat they would abolish the grant, but no party is prepared to do so. That is an instance in which a policy framed in the interests of the people of this country has made good. To’ return to the note issue, we were told that we were interfering in a realm of which we knew nothing. We were told that instead of doing any good for the country we. would upset its financial basis, and disturb its equilibrium, and that things would not swing properly in the future. Instead of that, the issue has continued. Those who condemned the system said the notes would soon not be worth more than 12s. 6d. or 15s. each, and that a basketful of them would, probably, be obtainable for a small sum. When the issue was increased to £10,000,000, th© warning not© was again sounded. We. were told that we ought not to issue any more notes, because we were getting beyond the margin of safety. At £30,000,000, “ Joe “. Cook put up both hands in holy horror, and told the Government that it was riding very close to a precipice. He tried hard to prevent it falling over. The exigencies of. the times have demanded that the note issue shall be increased to £61,000,000, but to-day one can buy as much with a pound note as with a golden sovereign. The notes will not purchase as much now as when they were first issued, but that is the fault, not of the system, but of the people who rig the markets. Now, when we talk of the note issue, members on the other side smugly tell us of. the margin of gold behind the. notes. Is a gold backing necessary for any paper currency in a nation where the conduct of affairs is in the hands of the people ? I agree with the late Premier of Germany that “If you sunk all the gold in the sea to-morrow, the productivity of the world would not stop. People would have to be fed and clothed, and the world would continue much the same.” The gold backing does not affect the value of the notes. In the summary of Australian financial statistics, Bulletin No. 13, some interesting figures are published. On page 19, the following particulars are given, of investments at the 30th J une, 1922 :-
In other words, the Commonwealth taxpayer is lending himself, as a -State, tax payer,’ money out of his own pocket, and is charging himself interest. If that can be done with the note issue, why should not Australia finance itself entirely by this means? In the majority of instances a cheque on the bank is sufficient. Not even notes are involved. The same old notes and cheques can play the same old joke to;day as they have done from the time of the Goldsmiths in Great Britain, who built up the present financial system. The Australian note issue has proved it- . self efficient, and all that we require is a Government bold enough to put it to its full use. The late Under-Treasurer of South Australia (Sir Thomas Gill), when asked for his opinion, stated that an inconvertible note issue was’ absolutely sound for Australia’s internal financial purposes. I contend that if the balance of trade were kept in our favour, it would be a sound proposal for all purposes. When the stress of war came, the Commonwealth had to make its notes inconvertible, and to-day the people do not require gold so long as the security of the Commonwealth is behind the notes. If all the gold in the Commonwealth Treasury were stolen tomorrow, the people would not move an eyelash. The gold reserve is a fetish that could be done away with. The amount of £29,658,482 returns interest annually amounting to £1,270,511; but at the 26th June, 1922, we had £53,582,011 worth of notes, and I ask the Treasurer what has happened to the interest on the balance? Why cannot the whole of the note issue be earning interest? The private banks are trading on these notes. They are not only receiving interest on them, but, . according to the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) they are lending up to ten times the amount of the deposit held as security for the notes. What is the Notes Board doing? The people are being tricked. Why bring down these loan estimates when the Government has all this money? It is the fault of Parliament that we have not adopted a sane financial system to savo the country from its crushing burden of interest. Against nearly every one of the items in the Loan Bill notes could be issued. Let the alterations to the Adelaide Post Office, which has to be reconditioned, be paid for by means of notes. That principle was adopted in Guernsey, and could be resorted to- in Australia. While I cannot alter th- vote of honorable members upon these estimates, I can give the electors generally my idea as to the best way out of the financial morass through which the Commonwealth is struggling. There would be no “ idle rich “ if the Commonwealth controlled the finances of the country as it should do, since everybody would be employed. Government is finance, and finance is government. That is a nice platitude; but if we see that we have good finance we shall then have a good country and good government.
– There is no less than £18,000,000 involved in the proposal of the Commonwealth to lend money to three of the States for a period of three years for immigration purposes. The States concerned are New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia. The policy outlined by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) at the Conference of Ministers was that these States should borrow annually £2,000,000 each, a total of £6,000,000 per annum, for the three years ending 1925-6. If that £18,000,000 is added to the amounts lent to the States for the settlement of returned soldiers on the land, we have a total of no less than £52,000,000. It may be said that the Commonwealth could not lend money in a more desirable quarter than among the several States, but some of our State Governments have the unhappy knack, when loans fall due, of asking the Commonwealth for a renewal on more favorable terms than previously existed. I understand that under this proposal the States will not pay a fair rate of interest.
– Each of the three States is to pay one-third of the interest.
– The States are receiving very generous treatment indeed. This is not the only liability of the States to the Commonwealth. An amount of £34,145,000 has been advanced for the settlement on the land of returned soldiers, making a total of £52,145,000. Those arebig figures. To South Australians it may sound peculiar for me to make quotations from the speech of a man who, for the most part, is bitterly opposed to the Labour party. I intend, however, to quote from a speech made by Sir Henry Barwell, at the recent Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers. Sir Henry Barwell said -
Believing that the policy followed at the present time by some of the Governments, of placing migrants direct upon the land, is unsound, and not fair to Australians, for it thereby prevents them settling on the land-
– Those statements were made by” The Black Knight.”
– That may be. He may not agree with me in regard to the White Australia policy, or hold the political views which I espouse, but when I find him in agreement with me on any subject I believe I strengthen my case by quoting his opinions, because I thereby place an adverse witness in the box to prove my case. Sir Henry Barwell went on to say - we have not evolved any scheme for the settling of migrants on the land-
I do not know who was the originator of the term “ migrant.” The old term “ immigrant “ apparently did not satisfy some persons. He continued - but we are going ahead vigorously in the opening up of land for settlement by Australians. Although I am satisfied that that policy is sounder than undertaking to bring immigrants to Australia for the express purpose of putting them on the land, South Australia cannot get the advantage of the cheap money that is being made available by the British and Commonwealth Governments for immigration.
A little later, in referring to the immigrants, he said -
Even if they have a certain amount of experience, it has been gained under conditions totally different from those obtaining in Australia.
Those arguments have been used by the Labour party throughout Australia for quite a number of years, but particularly during the last two or three years. Sir Henry Barwell may not admit it, but, judging by his political ideas, I think I should be safe in saying that he is one of Australia’s Tories. Here, then, is an Australian Tory who is in agreement with the policy of the Labour party in relation to immigration.
– Sir Henry Barwell suggests that the honorable member and the members of his party are Tories on that particular point.
– That does not necessarily follow. I believe that the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. DuncanHughes) holds unsound beliefs in regard to invalid and old-age pensions. Yet if he is sound on some other point upon which I agree with him, I am prepared to commend him. I can do that without changing my political colour one iota. There are times in the circle of thought when people who are in opposite political camps come together in theirviews, and find themselves voting on the sameside. It might make the honorable member for Boothby somewhat suspicions if he found himself in the same division lobby as that in which I was voting. I also might suspect that I was voting wrongly if I found myself in the same division lobby as he. Sir Henry Barwell holds very definite and emphatic views on this matter. I believe that he is right in those views. He says that he believes in first giving land to Australians. I believe that it is our duty first to satisfy the land hunger of farmers’ sons. A conference of persons holding similar political views to those of the Country party members opposite was held a few days ago in Perth, Western Australia. The president of that conference, a Mr. Monger, expressed very emphatic views regarding the group settlement system which is being conducted by the Mitchell Government. He was totally opposed to it, and said that it is being conducted on wrong lines. Mr.Robb, Minister for Customs in the Canadian Government, visited Australia during the latter, part of last year. In response to a request made by a newspaper interviewer for a statement regarding the action which was being taken by Canadain relation to the settlement of soldiers upon the land, and immigration generally, he said, “ We are providing land and employment for returned Canadian soldiers and young Canadians before entering on any vigorous immigration policy.” That is the right attitude to adopt. That is the attitude which is adopted by the Labour party in Australia. We say, first satisfy the land hunger of young Australians, give employment to Australian people, and make your country so attractive in an industrial and economic sense that the conditions prevailing here will draw people from the other side of the world. The Commonwealth Government is landing itself in a serious position, by loaning to the State Governments £52,000,000. I should have no hesitation in voting in favour of the loaning of that money if I thought that the schemes which are proposed to lie carried out would prove successful. Time will prove whether ray forecast is correct. I make bold to state that not more than 50 per cent. of our soldier settlement will prove successful. That means that one-half of the money which we are expending on soldier settlement in Australia will practically go for naught. If we pursue the exceedingly foolish policy of bringing men direct from the industrial centres of Great Britain and placing them upon the land, not 10 per cent. of them will prove successful. I warn this Government and Parliament to look at the matter seriously. Honorable members of this House this morning may be dull, sleepy, and tired after one of the hardest week’s work the Parliament has ever gone through.
– It has been one of the best week’s work that has ever been done.
– That may be the opinion of the Treasurer. It has been one of the hardest week’s work that the Parliament has done during my experience. Only yesterday I said that we have put through, in two months, what usually requires six months to accomplish. My fear is that very many mistakes will be found to have been made, and the greater part of the next session of this Parliament will be taken up in correcting those mistakes. I do not question the security which the Treasurer has for the loans he has made and is to make to the States, but I do question the success of the schemes upon which that money has been and is to be expended.
– All those agreements were enteredinto by previous Governments, and we must honour them.
– Not necessarily. A halt must be called at some time or other. If, during this financial year, it is found that a mistake has been made, what is to prevent the Treasurer from calling together the Premiers of the States and tellingthem that he feels that the schemes will not be a success? I complain that the Commonwealth authorities are not exercising a sufficient oversight over this expenditure. What does the Treasurer know regarding the success or otherwise of the settlement schemes ofVictoria, New South Wales, or Western Australia? He knows little or nothing; yet, on behalf of the Commonwealth, he is handing out millions of pounds. He says, “ We have made the arrangements, and no matter how the States carry out the work, we must continue to pay them the money.” I do not indorse that view.I should like to see these schemes 100 per cent. successful. I feel, however, that they will be less successful than have been past efforts. That means that a considerable sum of money will be lost, and instead of having thousands of persons prosperouslysettled upon the land, our experience will be that those men will leave the farms, and return to the cities to seek employment. The land will be left vacant, despite the fact that millions of pounds have been spent with the object of settling it. If the Treasurer considers these aspects of the matter, I feel sure that he will mend his ways.
Bill agreed to, and reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) agreed to-
That towards making good the supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year1923-24, there be granted outof the Consolidated Revenue Fund asum not exceeding £14,776,521.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Dr. Earle Page and Mr. Groom do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Dr. Earle Page, read , a first time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the House,at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. on Monday.
House adjourned at 1.35 a.m. (Saturday.)
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 August 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1923/19230817_reps_9_105/>.