10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Prime Minister, read the newspaper cablegrams stating that the .Canadian Government has been defeated, and that a general election is imminent, the result of which cannot be known until after the date fixed for tha Imperial Conference? In these circumstances, does not the right honorable gentleman think it wise to suggest that the conference should be postponed until Canada can be represented at it?
– I have read in the press that the Government, led by Mr. McKenzie King, has resigned, and that a general election may bo held in November. There is, however, no definite information that a general election will follow this crisis in the Canadian Parliament. If an election has to be held, the date of the Imperial Conference ma/ have to be reconsidered. Doubtless this matter is now receiving the attention of the British Government.
– Will the Prime Minister say how many , of the States have accepted the Commonwealth offer of a grant for road construction, and when the House may expect a statement by him in regard to this matter?
– The Governments of Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia have definitely indicated that they propose to take advantage of the Commonwealth offer. I understand that the Government of South Australia intends to adopt a similar course, but the intentions of the Government of New South Wales have not been indicated. The Commonwealth’s proposals will form part of the financial policy of the Government to be stated in the Treasurer’s budget speech.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will consider the advisability of appointing a woman to assist the Tariff Board when it is inquiring into items for the use of women and children, particularly apparel and the materials for making it?
– The honorable member’s suggestion will receive consideration.
– Adverting to the reply of the Minister for Defence to the honorable member for Corio and to myself with reference to the probable abolition of the boys’ training ship Tingira and its transfer to Geelong, and to the Minister’s statement that the whole question of boys’ training was under review, will an opportunity be provided to the Parliament to discuss this vital matter before any decision is reached, or, if the Government has arrived at a decision, before it is put into operation?
– The proposal referred to in the first portion of the honorable member’s question is still under consideration. I suggest that the second part of the question might be put upon the notice-paper.
– “Will the AttorneyGeneral inform the House whether, in accordance with the new Arbitration Act, the deputy presidents of the Arbitration Court have been asked to continue their work, but to confine themselves to cases already part heard? Is it true that the new court, when appointed, will deal only with general matters and not with specific plaints? If so, will not the work of the court become greatly congested within the next six months? Will the Attorney-General consider the advisability of introducing a small amendment of the Arbitration Act to allow the two deputy presidents to deal with cases already listed, the hearing of which otherwise might be delayed for a considerable time ?
– The amending Arbitration Act provides for the continuance of the powers and functions of the deputy presidents of the Arbitration Court, in order that they may determine part-heard cases ; but it is not correct to say that the new court about to be constituted will deal only with general matters. It will function under the act until amended, in accordance with the existing constitutional powers of this Parliament, or with the further powers which the people are to be asked to confer upon this legislature. In the circumstances, there is no need for the amending bill which the honorable member has suggested.
– During a recent debate in this House, the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories promised that consideration would be given to the suggestion that distinctive names should be attached to those areas now known as Northern Australia and Central Australia. Has the Minister any information on that subject to give to the House?
– I did promise that this suggestion would be brought under the notice of the Cabinet, but the pressure of other more urgent business has prevented it from being dealt with. I hope, however, that, in the near future, the Government will be able to attach appropriate names to those very important parts of Australia.
– The post office building in William-street, Sydney, encroaches on the roadway and seriously interferes with pedestrian and vehicular traffic there. Does the Postmaster-General know when that monstrosity will be removed?
– I know that this matter has caused the honorable member much concern; but the department is doing its best to have the building removed, and if the honorable member has been in that vicinity lately he will have noticed that it is now being removed. There was more involved than the mere removal of the post office, because it housed a telephone exchange, the removal of which has necessitated an expenditure of a sum of about £200,000. It is expected that a new post office on the existing site will be ready within nine months’” time.
Pronunciation of Canberra
– Has the Prime Minister noted the extraordinary differences of pronunciation given to the name of the. Federal Capital by many authorities and by the press? Will he confirm the pronunciation given to the name by Lady Denman when she christened the city, placing the emphasis on the first, not on the second, syllable?
– I am afraid that I cannot satisfy the desire of the honorable member that I should give the official pronunciation of Canberra. I remind him, too, that the object of questions is not to elicit opinions from Ministers.
– Will the Prime Minister consider bringing down a bill to settle, once for all, the pronunciation of the word Canberra?
– The honorable member’s suggestion will receive consideration, but I foresee that the AttorneyGeneral’s Department may have difficulty in expressing exactly the intention of Parliament in its draft of the measure.
Protection of Native Women
– In connexion with the projection of certain works in the Northern Territory, has the Prime Minister received from the Women’s Service Guild of Perth a request to make arrangements for the special protection of native women; and if so, will he take steps to comply with it?
– I have received representations, and they will be given con1sideration.
Chairman - Dismissal of RETURNEr Soldiers.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Importations from Germany and England.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What proportion of the 8,110 cwt., value £9,770, of electrical conduit piping, tariff item 152b, that was imported into Australia since the 1st January, 1!)26, came from Germany, and what proportion came from England?
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister repre.senting the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Wunabugbug, Tovakundum, Wangaramut, Kabaira, Vunakambi, Vunacoco, Gavit, Tovanakus,Rangarere, Pondo, Upper Seeberg, Lassul, Nambung, Neinduk, Vunabere, Galtum, New Massawa, Old Massawa, Guntershohe, Bioko, Inabui, Makada, Kapsu, Matupi Farm, Mortloche Group (Custodian’s interest only), Bomana. The chairman of the Expropriation Board has been asked by radio to forward as soon as possible details of the monthly output of copra from those properties.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Public Service: Transfer of “Exempt “ and Temporary Employees.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -
Whether the information regarding migration, asked for on the 9th June(Hansard, page 2814), is yet available?
– A considerable amount of work is involved in the preparation of the information asked for by the honorable member, but I hope to be able to furnish him with a reply to his question to-morrow.
asked the Prime
Minister, upon notice -
– Mr. Lazarus is temporarily occupying the position of assistant private secretary, as published in Commonwealth Gazette, No. 54 of the 17th June, 1926, at a salary of £450 per annum. Mr. Lazarus, who formerly was associated with the Herald, was selected in accordance with the usual custom to accompany the Australian delegation to the forthcoming Imperial Conference in the capacity of publicity officer. It is a practice dating backto many Conferences to select an active member of the press for this purpose rather than detach the regular Commonwealth publicity officer from the Prime Minister’s Department, which is naturally always considerably weakened during the absence of an important delegation. Mr. Lazarus was taken on in advance in order that he might familiarize himself with the many and complex subjects with which he will have to deal, and he naturally has access to these documents. At the conclusion of the Conference, Mr. Lazarus will relinquish his duties.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he furnish a list of the commissions and boards established by the Federal Government from 1st July, 1917, to 31st December, 1922, and from 1st January, 1923, to present date, and the total cost to the Government of such commissions and boards?
– A list will be furnished on the lines indicated.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and a reply will be furnished at the earliest possible date.
Movements of Chairman - Salary and Expenses
asked the Prime Min ister, upon notice -
What expenses, if any (a) in Australia,
– The information is being obtained.
Loans to Private Banks
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether the Commonwealth Bank lent the private banks the sum of £15,000,000 in notes during the year 1925 at4½per cent.?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
No. The Commonwealth Bank at no time has lent private banks the sum of £15,000,000. To clear up misconceptions, I will narrate the exact facts that gave rise to the suggestion. In the year 1924, exchange difficulties became intense, and transfer of money from London to pay for the sale of Australian products overseas cost about £5 in every £100. This was serious, but worse was threatened because it appeared that exchange was likely to break down altogether, so that the money could not be transferred at all. In these circumstances, the Commonwealth Bank came to the rescue, and undertook to lend to the other banks, if necessary, a sum not exceeding £15,000,000, the banks to pay interest to the Commonwealth Bank at the Bank of England rate of the day. The exchange position immediately was relieved, and money was transferred from London to Australia in payment for primary products at a cost of £3 10s. per cent. If this action had not been taken by the Commonwealth Bank, it seems clear that the sale of primary products would have had to be suspended for a time, and gold would have had to be brought from America. Then, on the resumption of sales, the primary producers would have been compelled to pay an extravagant rate to get their money from London. Though the Commonwealth Bank undertook to lend £15,000,000 to the banks, as a matter of fact the highest amount lent at any time was only £2,800,000. This was in February, 1925, and the whole of the advances were repaid by July of that year.
Debate resumed from 29th June (vide page 3611), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- When the debatewas adjourned last night I was about to reply to two questions asked by the honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley). The honorable the Leader of the Opposition said that much of the land in this country was not put to proper use, and when I asked why, he replied, “ Because the owners will not put it to the best use.” The honorable member for Darling then interjected, “ There is a lot of good agricultural land in the electorate of the honorable member for Wakefield that is used for rearing sheep, but is admirably suited for agriculture.” In 1923-24 the South Australian Government led the way towards the resumption of the most valuable of the estates in South Australia, which were being used for rearing sheep while hundreds of farmers were wanting land within the rainfall line. The Government made a very successful move, which was anything but pleasing to the holders of the resumed estates, but they, however, soon recognized that, in the national interests, it was right that their lands, which were of good quality, with excellent rainfall, should be made available for subdivision into relatively small areas. At that time, there was not much to choose between producing wool and wheat. Wheat was as low as1s. 9d. a bushel, and wool, certainly not of the best quality, was being sold at from 4d. to 4½d. per lb. The State Government bent its energies to the subdivision of the large estates, which were progressively subdivided as the demand arose for Binaller holdings. In almost every instance they were acquired, not by compulsion, but by arrangement. The temper of the people demanded the change, and the owners wisely realized that they were not able to resist the pressure of public opinion. But the position to-day is entirely different, for there are no squatters’ estates left in the Wakefield electorate. Indeed, there is not a big pastoral estate held by a squatter within the rainfall line in South Australia. The electorate of Wakefield, in common with other districts within the rainfall area, has world-renowned breeders of stud sheep, and we have no longer to demand that these estates shall be cut up, but we have to think very seriously whether we have not gone too far in cutting up the valuable preserves of the breeders of the best stud stock in the world. Honorable members know that wool and wheat, particularly wool, carried us through our troubles during the long period of the war. I wish to inform the honorable member for Darling that five or six breeders of first class stud sheep are selling large areas of the remaining portions of their estates because costs are so high that they cannot show a profit on their business. These breeders are taking up a mere song, enormous areas farther back in Western Australia, and they have taken the best of their sheep with them. They have thus given an impetus to the development of the woolproducing industry in Western Australia. That move is of great importance to that State. It would be a calamity if the Government went beyond reasonable bounds in interfering with the breeders of stud stock, for that might result in Australia losing the type of carcass and merino wool sheep for which this country is famous the world over. It has been stated by intelligent men that we are doing wrong in allowing our best stud stock to be sent from Australia to other parts of the world. Some of the most valuable merino rams that this country has ever produced have been sold to the Government of South Africa.
– The best the world has ever produced.
– I thank the honorable member for his correction. It is contended that we are stimulating the production in other countries of a quality of wool which will run Australia out of the market.
– The honorable member means that they must constantly introduce new blood ?
– Not only that, but they have not the right type of country. An American visitor who inspected a good many of our flocks some little time since made the startling statement that we were cutting our own throats from the wool-producing point of view ; hut subsequently one of the most eminent Bradford men, who was visiting Australia, said that that was rubbish, and added that the two factors that gave Australia her prominence in wool producing were her type of sheep and the characterstics of her country. He also observed that we could be certain, with reasonable care, of maintaining our supremacy, while those who bought stud stock from us could be just as certain of witnessing some deterioration in the standard of their sheep on account of not having country as suitable for them as ours is. There are some States, notably, New South Wales, in which big properties could still be subdivided with advantage. In 1906 and the following three years, Australia witnessed one of the worst continuous droughts over her agricultural and grazing areas that she has ever known. During that time, six or seven sons of South Australian farmers, each with a waggon and team, trekked from their homes into New South Wales and camped near Wyandra in country which was at that time in a shocking condition. The men on whose land they were shifted them several times, but at last a Mr. Green, who had a property of 60,000 or 70. 000 acres in that district, was attracted to them. They told him that if he he would give them a chance, they would not only wine off his bank overdraft for him, but would make him a wealthy man. Mr. Green was sensible enough to give them a chance, and they fulfilled their undertaking to such a degree that after a few years Mr. Green was able to pay off all his debts and build a mansion of 40 rooms on his estate. That was the beginning of vigorously extending great agricultural developments in New South Wales. We have no room within our recognized rainfall areas in Australia for estates of 70,000 acres, and any that are still left should be subdivided. I am glad to know that, subject to the passing of this bill through Parliament, the chairman of the proposed board will be a brilliant and thorough scientist, a wonderful organizer, and a man of world-wide reputation. That is an assurance to us that there will be no rule-of-thumb business about the opera- tiona of this board; and that the problems that it will be required to solve will be looked at from every stand-point. I trust that the other’ members of the board will also be thoroughly qualified, but, at any rate, we are certain that its chairman will be a sheet anchor of common sense. To-day, the price of wool has dropped from the high rates that ruled during the war, but wool-growing is still very profitable- and, if present prices are maintained, it will continue to outrival wheat-growing for pride of place among our primary industries. For my own part, I would rather have sheep than corn to-day.
– But the honorable member would not buy land at its present prices for wheat-growing 1
– I should never dream of doing so. I am afraid that some honorable members may think that the picture I have drawn would warrant them in declaring that the outlook is too gloomy to justify the hope that this board can do anything worth while, but I have no intention of leaving that impression on their minds, and I propose now for a few moments to look at the subject from another stand-point. My purpose so far has been to issue a warning against repeating, in our unoccupied country, the mistakes of the past, and to urge that extreme caution shall be used in trying to settle our dry areas. Within the rainfall areas in Australia, we have excellent agricultural land that is already settled, and also areas where the rainfall is so heavy that the land is sour and wet and unattractive to the man with the plough. I am sure that science will aid us in bringing that land into profitable production. Within the last six or eight years, South Australian land-owners, in these wet areas, have begun to appreciate very highly the qualities of subterranean clover. This plant has been known in Australia for the last twenty or thirty years, but its valuable qualities have not hitherto been properly appreciated.
– It has done wonders in Western Australia.
– And it will do wonders iu other places.
– It has trebled the carrying capacity of some of our land.
– I intend to show that it has increased the carrying capacity of some land sixfold. In the Mount Barker district, in South Australia, where the best land is worth anything from £20 to £30 an acre, subterranean clover has been grown with wonderful results. This, and the application of phosphatic treatment to poor lands in the- Mount Barker country, and to other areas with a rainfall of 20 inches or over, has opened up a new source of wealth of which our people had* never dreamed.
– I sowed £14 worth of seed last year, and none of it germinated.
– That is quite possible; but I know men who own thousands of acres on which successful germination has been obtained, and they have run from five to eight sheep to the acre for nine months of the year.
– That is quite true; but the rainfall is the deciding factor.
– That is so. It must be 20 inches or more per annum. It does not matter how heavy the rainfall is, so long as heavy dressings of superphosphates are applied. The magnificent potato and lucerne land in the neighbourhood of Mount Barker, in South Australia, will grow almost anything; but it will not produce subterranean clover successfully unless superphosphate is liberally used. This plant has been raised successfully on poor land that was not worth more than £2 or £2 10s. an acre, and that carried a meagre quantity of stock. After three or four years’ growing of the clover, however, this country carries eight or nine sheep to the acre for three-fourths of the year, and the value of the land has risen from £2 10s. to as high as £15 and £16 an acre. The south-eastern portion of South Australia contains millions of acres of wet, sour land, and I suppose that 4 acres of it would not carry one sheep under the old conditions. Subterranean clover is now extensively sown in that district, and land that was formerly regarded as next to worthless- yields splendid returns, astounding everybody, and making the possessors of those wide areas rich men. In my opinion there is ample room in Western Australia for progress in agriculture and sheep-breeding, and if the work is done on up-to-date lines, the growth of the clover in that State should prove most remunerative. It contains huge areas of sour land that is too wet for agriculture, but treated with heavy dressings of superphosphate, and planted with this clover, it should give a large production of wool. Such success is promised that the past struggles of pastoralists in that State should soon be forgotten. The scope for the settlement of migrants :n Western Australia is so great that within 20 years that State should be able to absorb most of the settlers that Great Britain proposes to send here under the present agreement, provided that the new arrivals receive reasonable treatment at the hands of the Government of the State. For some years Western Australia has had a community settlement; but honorable members will recollect- what Mr. Wignall, a member of the House of Commons and a frontrank man in the British Labour party, said about it. He was specially commissioned by the Imperial Government to visit Australia, and he obtained firsthand information regarding the conditions of those settlers. His heart was in his work, and honorable members who heard him have the happiest .recollection of the speech he made in the Senate Club-room. He won the admiration and esteem of all with whom he came in contact, irrespective of their party opinions. When he returned to Great Britain he made a remarkable impression on the members of the House of Commons. No doubt, the good seed sown by him is bearing ,fruit to-day, judging by the earnest desire of Imperial statesmen to do all that is humanly possible to transfer the surplus population of the Old Land to Australia and other dominions. Of all parts of the Commonwealth, Queensland, the richest Stats, probably has the greatest future. The regrettable thing is that it is not controlled by a sane government. The conditions that obtained there twelve or fifteen years ago have changed.
– Kanaka labour!
– There were no kanakas in Queensland even 20 or 25 years ago. Honorable members opposite are always ready to indulge in subterfuge when the faults of their policy are shown. Queensland has a great variety of soil conditions. It is not a wheatgrowing country, and never will be. Its climate is unsuitable for that purpose; but it will grow something better than wheat. It is a State of almost infinite possibilities, and I shall be disappointed if it is not in a position to take a considerable number of migrants, and treat them well. The way in which new settlers are dealt with by the State authorities will be of the utmost importance. I propose to refer again to the community settlement in “Western Australia. A number of migrants were brought out from the Old Country when the government of that State was led by my old and esteemed friend, Sir James Mitchell. He had the heart of a lion, but was possibly weak in discretion. No doubt, if he had an opportunity to launch the scheme again, he would do it on right lines. It is the failures of the past that point the way to success.
– The opening of the wheat belt in that State was not a failure.
– Certainly not. The community settlers were paid good wages to work upon their own blocks, although they were creating their own wealth.
– Sir James Mitchell did not settle individuals on individual blocks; he placed groups of individuals upon groups of blocks.
– Yes, but the clearing and other preparatory work was done at enormous cost, and the large overhead expenses with which the blocks were loaded made it impossible for the selectors to succeed. Men of grit, who are able to continue on their holdings, and put up with semi-starvation until they can own their own block, may in 20 years win through, but that is not the sort of encouragement to give to migrants from overseas. I
– What did Mr. Wignall say about those settlements?
– He was rejoiced to see upon broad acres men who had never expected to own an acre of land. He was impressed by their cheerfulness, which may have been due largely to delight at meeting him; but, although he investigated the settlements intelligently, and formed a good estimate of their possibilities, he did not realize their inherent drawbacks as fully as he would if he were here to-day. It is much better to leave men to do their own pioneering work. The most successful settlers have been those who were not spoonfed by a go vernment, but, starting without a penny of capital, slept under wire fences, and stuck to their job, until they created an asset for themselves. New South Wales is the one State in the Commonwealth that has declared that it has no room for the immigrants who are to be brought to Australia under this scheme; yet a few years ago Sir Joseph Carruthers roused the people of New South Wales with his slogan, “ A million farms for a million men.”- Perhaps it is just as well that New South Wales is not adopting this scheme at present; but when that State comes into line with the others, it will offer as much chance of success as any other State. As for Tasmania, the excellent report of Sir Nicholas Lockyer, a hard-headed business man, stated that that State needs more people to carry its burden of debt and development, and until it has a larger population it will not find a way out of its- financial difficulties. In proportion to its size, Tasmania has extensive areas that are still in a state of nature, and it offers great opportunities for settlement and development. The application of science to industries throughout the Commonwealth during the last 25 years has doubled and trebled the yield of wealth per acre, and there is still great scope for further development along those lines. “Victoria is a garden State, a rich and fascinating part of the Commonwealth, which, in proportion to its area, has three times as much land in the good rainfall area as has South Australia: But, because the latter State has a big percentage of Scotchmen in its population, it has flourished in spite of natural disabilities. Victoria has undoubted possibilities, and can be left to work out its own salvation. In the River Murray valley, if anywhere, scientific brains are needed. The great locking and irrigation scheme along that stream was started with a capital of about £4,000,000, which has been increased to £8,000,000. Before long the money invested in it will be £10,000,000, and ultimately perhaps £12,000,000, but this great undertaking is being handled by competent men. I pay my testimony to the work done by ‘ the members of the engineering board in the construction of locks and weirs. We owe much to the knowledge and ability of a gifted young -man who was recommended by one pf the greatest civil engineers in the United States of America. Barrage and irrigation works of such magnitude as are being undertaken on the River Murray had never been thought of in Australia before, and this young man told me that every engineer on this board would be qualified to fill a prominent post in the United States of America. I do not think the engineers have made any serious mistakes. The increase of capital has been required in order to enlarge the enterprise and enrich an enormous area of land. Can we expect a return from this capital expenditure of probably £12,000,000?
– We shall get a return in time.
– Yes, if the enterprise is properly handled. The Murray is the Nile of Australia, and we have been guilty of criminal waste in allowing it to empty its liquid wealth into the sea for so many years. I ask honorable members to think seriously of the magnificent opportunities that the Murray presents. I do not urge a hasty development of fruit and vine’ culture, in excess of the absorption capacity of our markets, but its valley is capable of growing profitably, amongst other things, long staple cotton. The cotton industry in Queensland has not had a fair chance. It started well, but last year the season was so dry that a successful crop was unobtainable. Along the Murray valley, however, there is no drought. When the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was Prime Minister, he invited a committee of experts to report upon the possibilities of cotton cultivation in Australia. They included the president of the council of the cotton industry in Lancashire, and a representative of Rylands, also a third, whose name for the moment I forget, the biggest cotton operators in the world. They were convinced that Queensland can produce cotton of the very best type.
– The greatest handicap is the want of labour for picking the cotton.
– That is true, but some day the ingenuity of man will devise mechanism for picking the cotton bolls as they ripen. Cotton-growing is easy work, but it is essentially a family job. There is a big future for the cotton industry in Australia, and it should provide an attractive occupation for Lancashire mcn, whose families, for many generations, have been engaged in the manufacture of cotton goods. The experts to whom I have referred said that the soil in the Murray valley is capable of growing a better type of long staple cotton, than Egypt has yet produced, and as the cotton crop in America is de- * predating owing to plant diseases, the Lancashire interests must look ahead and assist in the development of cotton cultivation in Australia, which they predicted will some day be the world’s cotton field. Honorable members may have seen the annual exhibition by Foy & Gibson of materials woven from Australian cotton; products of finer quality could not be seen anywhere. The success of this immigration scheme will depend entirely upon the personnel of the commission. We must have four sound, hardheaded business men. These positions must not be sinecures for unqualified men.
– Would the honorable member give such a commission power to override Parliament?
– The commission will have no power to override Parliament. With due respect for the opinion of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers), the commission will have power to recommend only.
– I referred not to Parliament, but to the Executive - the Government.
– The migration agreement is really a partnership. It concerns the Imperial Government, the Commonwealth Government, and the individual State Governments. The Commonwealth Government is responsible to the Imperial Government for the proper expenditure of the money.
– “Under clause 14 the commission will have power to veto any proposals made by the States.
– That is so, and I hope that it will veto some proposals. We dp not want political interference in respect of the immigration scheme. Although this Parliament has little direct power under the bill, yet it is supreme respecting the provision of money.
– That will only create a deadlock.
– Let us have a deadlock, sooner than disaster. If things are right there will be no deadlock; but if they are wrong, the sooner there is a deadlock the better for Australia. I do not take the fearful view of the bill that the honorable member for Wannon takes. I see great possibilities in it. I admit that there are also grave dangers possible under it.
– Parliament has every power in respect of other expenditure of money iu the Commonwealth.
– Precisely, but in that* case the project is not assisted by the Imperial Government. That Government is satisfied to leave its interests in the hands of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The Commonwealth is only borrowing the money.
– We are borrowing it, and lending it to the States at a low rate of interest for ten years.
– The terms are generous.
– They are exceedingly generous. Australia has in 25 years increased its population by 2,000,000, despite the intervening war and its immense liabilities. Canada has during the same period increased its population by 3,750,000, although it had a much bigger initial population and is closer to Great Britain. Canada’s harvests are reaped every year largely by mein from the United Kingdom who visit the Dominion for that purpose, and then return to their own country. Canada has in that way an enormous ‘army of advertisers in the United Kingdom. The facilities1 given by the Canadian-Pacific Railway and the Canadian Government have largely brought about that country’s development and growth of population. Lord Strathcona, who was chairman of that railway at the same time as he was High Commissioner of Canada in the United Kingdom, was one of the most distinguished citizens of the Empire. He was beloved both in Canada and in Great Britain. The Canadian Pacific Railway Company under his management was always prepared to construct lines to precede settlement. It is surprising that Australia, without any special facilities at all. has been able to increase its population so considerably during the last 25 years
.- The bill provides for the development of Australia and migration thereto, and for the appointment of four persons to a commission with extensive duties and great responsibilities. Although it has not yet been determined what salaries shall be paid to the commissioners when appointed, I should say that the chairman will receive not less than £5,000 a year and the other three commissioners not less than £3,000 a vear each. The commission will have the right to obtain the advice of experts, who,’ of course, will be paid high fees. I should say that at least £30,000 will be the annual cost to the Commonwealth to put the machinery of this scheme in motion. It is extraordinary that the Government should be so desirous to rid itself of responsibility by placing’ it on the shoulders of other bodies. The Prime Minister himself admitted that the Government was not competent to carry out the immigration scheme, and it had therefore decided to place the responsibility upon the shoulders of a commission. The commission, when considering matters such as the development of the sugar lands in Queensland and the cotton lands in New South Wales, will no doubt call in numerous experts to advise it, and I suppose that they in turn will be able to recommend the appointment of special investigators. The commission will have power to investigate the condition and development of existing industries, whether primary or secondary, and the establishment of new industries. It will have power to visit other countries and to negotiate with the commercial or industrial departments of, say, Sweden, England, Germany, or France respecting the development of new industries in this country. It will also be able to control and supervise works, and to construct railways or irrigation canals. It will be able to construct huge works costing many millions of pounds. The British Government is lending the Commonwealth Government £34,000,000 at 4 per cent. The States participating in this allegedly cheap money, and also the Commonwealth, will each pay interest at the rate of 2 per cent, for ten years, but at the end of that period the States will accept the whole of the liability and the Commonwealth will be freed from it.
– The honorable member’s figures are wrong respecting the rates of interest to be paid. The States will pay 1 per cent, for the first five years and about 1$ per cent, for the second five Years on the basis - of the loan costing 5 per cent.
– The honorable member will find that at the end of ten years the rate of interest paid by the States will have been about 2 per cent. I have no doubt that Great Britain would be prepared to make available, not £34,000,000, but hundreds of millions if it could get relief from the extraordinary conditions existing in that country to-day. The British Government is spending something like £60,000,000 a year to supply its people with food, clothing, and shelter and to avoid a revolution. It has had an extremely hard struggle since the war, and it would be a great relief to it if for every £1,000 of the £34,000,000 it is lending, one British subject could be sent to Australia. I aid not sure that the commission will be able to administer the immigration scheme successfully, and, therefore, I oppose the bill. I quite appreciate the attitude of some of the supporters of the Government. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Poster), enthusiastic as he is, is not too sure of the bill, and advises caution. He said that the Government should be careful to see that the scheme is carried out properly: When we take into consideration the way in which the returned soldiers of this country were settled on the land - “ settled “ in more ways than one - we can see that the same bribery and corruption which took place then mav take place Tinder the commission provided for in this bill.
– It will be more likely to take place under the commission.
– That may be so, because those who managed the soldier settlement were the officers of the Lands Departments of the different States, and they knew the quality of the land they were handling. The British Government lays down an important qualification, that for every £1,000 of the £34,000,000 to be made available one man must be settled on the land. We did not obtain such a result with soldier settlement ; in fact, we found that we could not do it for £2,000 a settler. The cost of settling returned soldiers on the land has been anything up to £3,000 for each settler. Certain States - including, I frankly admit, States in which Labour governments are in power - have accepted the scheme, and have undertaken to settle migrants on the land at a cost of £1.000 each. I do not think it can be done. However capable the commission may be, we cannot reasonably expect it to do something that no one has vet been able to do. A State may accept a loan of £5,000,000 and may submit -a scheme which the commission may accept. The scheme may include a proposal to construct a railway at a cost of, £3,000,000, with the object of opening up certain lands. After that £3,0U0,000 has been spent, the State borrowing the money will have to show that the required number of men has been settled on the land. If lands have to be compulsorily resumed, surveyed, and subdivided, and the many attendant charges met, the State concerned will have to appeal to the Commonwealth or to the British Government to be relieved of its liability to place a man on the land for every £1,000 spent. The Commonwealth Government has already played no unimportant part in solving the labour problems of Great Britain. I would do everything possible to assist the unfortunate workers of Great Britain, provided that in so doing I was not injuring the people of Australia; and if migrants are to come to Australia I would rather they came from. Britain than from any other country. The Government that brought down this bill to provide more employment and to create openings for more workers is the Government that did so much to send employment out of this country. Honorable members will recollect how this Government, in a burst of patriotic sympathy with the Mother Country, decided to send £5,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money to England in order that the unemployment, starvation, and degradation of the workers of the Clyde and the naval shipbuilding yards at Home might be, to some extent, relieved. While sending work from Australia to the unemployed of the Clyde, the Government left the ironworkers of Australia unemployed. If that £5,000,000 had been spent in Australia, it would have helped to provide work for many of the unemployed in this country. This Government, with consideration for all countries but its own, decided to send that work abroad. Every government’s responsibility is first to its own people, before even the people of the Mother Country. The primary object of the bill is to bring more population to Australia, and to place on the land men who are capable of cultivating it. We cannot obtain from the British Isles people suitable for the land; they are not available there. They have not been available there for the past 20 years, and they are not likely to be available for the next 20 years. Much land is out of use in England, although that country does not produce all its own foodstuffs. It has been said in the House of Commons, and in many articles on migration, that it is foolish of the dominions to expect from the Mother Country migrants suitable for land settlement. Some honorable members and others -wish to see this country increase its population -with great rapidity; but why the hurry? The rime Minister has put forward the argument that if we are to hold our country for the white races, we must be prepared to defend it against a hostile force. Does that mean that the League of Nations, of which we are a member, will .turn to us and say, “ Australia, you have so many million acres of land which are not being’ put to their proper use, and you have raised barriers against the entry into your country of the members of coloured races. We ask you to remove those restrictions, and to make your country available to those who need and desire it.” The Prime Minister was exaggerating when he made that statement. Australia has to work out its own destiny, and will do so, I have.no doubt, without the aid of the League of Nations. The attitude of the International Labour Conference which was held recently was indicative of that of all such conferences to the ambitions, aspirations, and outlook of Australia. It is difficult for a person 12,000 miles away to realize the psychology of such a conference and its view of our aspirations, particularly with regard to the White Australia policy. Some representatives ot other countries say, “ We will accept your White Australia policy, foolish as it is; but what about those races which are not coloured, such as the Italians, the Jugo Slavs, the Maltese, and the Greeks?” We of the Labour party would not allow migrants to come to this country until the landless have land and the workless have work; but even if we wanted them, we would not be prepared to take the dregs of Europe merely because they were human beings. -
– Or even because they were white.
– We have a great responsibility, but that does not compel us to rush headlong into any scheme that promises to give us an addition of 2,000 to our population every year. It needs to be emphasized that Australia is among the foremost nations of the world in the matter of increase of population. The right honorable the Prime Minister stated the increase of the population of different countries over a period of 20 years. He said that in that period the population had increased by 30,000,000 in the United States of America, by 3,750,000 in Canada, by 41,000,000 in China, and by 13,000,000 in Japan. He did not state the percentage of increase, and to that extent his figures were misleading. After quoting those figures, he referred to the paltry increase of 2,000,000 in the population of Australia in the same period. It was quite improper of him to paint such a picture to the disadvantage of this country. During the past ten years we have added 2 per cent, to our population, and in this respect we stand with New Zealand and Canada at the head of the list of the nations.
– The object of the right honorable the Prime Minister was to show the increase of population relatively to the size of the different countries.
– The honorable member must agree that a comparison, except of percentages, is ‘unfair.
– The right honorable the Prime Minister, in answer to an interjection, did say that there was a greater percentage increase of population in Australia than in any other country.
– The Commonwealth Statistician, Mr. Wickens, has supplied me with figures showing the percentage increase of the population of. the most important countries of the world from 1881 to 1921. The increase in New Zealand, which is at the head of the list, was 23 per 1,000 of the population per annum. Australia is second on the list, with an increase of 22 per 1,000. per annum, and the other countries follow in this order : The United States of America, 19 per 1,000 per annum; Canada, 18 per 1,000 per annum; Japan, 11 per 1,000 per annum; England, 9 per 1.000 per annum; Scotland, 7 per 1,000 per annum; and Spain, 7 per 1.000 per annum. Ireland is at the bottom of the list with a decrease of 3 per 1,000 per annum.
The Commonwealth Statistician has also made available the information that at the present rate of increase the population of Australia will be 10,000,000 in 1951. It is difficult to say whether the rate will be maintained for 20 or 30 years, but, in my opinion, modern inventions and means of transportation will lead to wonderful developments. I believe that in less than ten years huge international air liners will be operating, which will be of great advertising value to Australia, and will lead to a rapid increase in her population. But even at the present rate of increase it is estimated that in 1986 our population will be 20,000,000; in 2026, 40,000,000; and in 2056, 80,000,000. Although we shall not be worrying about vital statistics in 2056, we must recognize that the period between 1926 and 2056 is inconsiderable in the life and development of a nation. This Government is confirmed in the habit of appointing boards to take over the responsibilities which it should carry. In the course of this debate I have jotted down at haphazard, as they have occurred to ane, particulars of various government boards that are operating. My list is as follows : - Commonwealth Shipping Board, which has taken over the management of the Commonwealth Government line of ships and the Cockatoo Island Dockyard ; Nauru Island Phosphates Commission, though its appointment was inevitable, and I do not blame the Government for it; Meat Council; Repatriation Commission; Tariff Board; Federal Capital Commission ; War Service Homes Commission ; Northern Territory Commission ; Dairy Produce Export Control Board; Dried Fruits Export Control Board; Murray Waters Commission : the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research the Deportation Board, of which I should like some information, by the way; and the Commonwealth Board of Trade, in addition to which we have our representative on the boards of Amalgamated Wireless Limited and the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. 1 have no doubt that any honorable member, after a few minutes’ thought, could add a dozen more boards to the list that I have given. In my opinion, we shall act most unwisely if we take any steps that might lead to large numbers of migrants coming here indiscriminately. Years ago the Government of. the United States of America, at the behest of its commercial magnateswho desired to get rich quick, encouraged any kind of migrant who was: healthy and could work to settle in the that country. No inquiries were made as to educational attainments, mentality, or morality; a man was sufficiently , qualified for admission into the country if he would work. But thinking people in. America have long foreseen the inevitable result of such a policy, and the whole nation is to-day confronted with a most serious position in consequence of it. The nationals who migrated to America years ago did not .become Americanized, but set up settlements of their own in almost every big city. It is quite easy, in the iron and steel, and also the coal districts of America, to find colonies of Greeks, Maltese, southern and northern Italians, and numerous other nationals, who were brought to the country merely for exploitation purposes. This motley multitude of mixed nationalities constitutes a grave problem in the United States of America. In order to prevent any addition to the difficulties that they are facing in this regard, and to ensure that, in the future, the great proportion of their immigrants shall be of the Nordic race, the Americans have instituted a quota system, similar to that which we have in operation, to control immigration. They decided, first of all, to take the 1892 quota, but soon dis- . covered that that would not give the results that they desired, and so they are now taking the 1881 quota. In my opinion, Australia, in the future, will be faced with a position similar to that which confronts America unless extreme care is taken in controlling her migration policy. I realize, of course, that the proposed board could easily be prevented from permitting undesirable migrants from coming here, for Parliament could limit its power in that direction, or even disband it. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), in a characteristic speech, has argued that we should agree to this bill, for it would enable us to help the Old Country to solve her problems. Ever since I have been in this Parliament, the honorable member has given expression to similar flag-flapping sentiments, and I am informed on reliable authority that he has done so throughout his whole political career. He would be well advised to give his own country a little more attention and other countries a little less, for, as the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) aptly pointed out last night, he is supporting a government that exports work but imports workers. The honorable member, on at least five occasions in the last three years, has accused the bricklayers of Australia of going slow, and has said that they lay 50 per cent, less bricks iti a given time than did the bricklayers of twenty years ago. If he would read a little more about industrial happenings in other countries, he would find that, with notable exceptions of the Leverhulme, Ford, and Fry type, capitalists in every land are accusing the workers of their own country of going slow. Only recently I read an article on English industrial affairs in which it was alleged that the workers of that country were constructing less, winning less coal, and generally producing less in a given time now than they did ten years ago. The bricklayers there also were accused of doing less work than formerly. One wonders whether, if these British workers concerning whose welfare the honorable member for Wakefield is so interested, were to come to Australia, he would accuse them of going slow just as he now accuses our own people of doing so. To my mind it is unpatriotic of honorable members opposite to constantly attack the Australian workman. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), prior to and during the last election, did this for political purposes, but immediately after the election he admitted that Australia was comparatively free from strikes. That fact, however, had not prevented him from bringing down his ludicrous Deportation Bill. I maintain that Australia is more free from strikes than any other country. Trade unionists, whether their party has been in or out of power, have been able by the weight of numbers, to secure industrial conditions unparalleled in the history of civilization. The policy of the Labour party on the subject under discussion is clear and definite. It states -
We believe that the present immigration policy of the capitalist governments is directed to flooding the Australian labour market, reducing working class standards, and the providing of cheap labour to sweating employers. We ‘ arc emphatic that public money should not be expended for these purposes.
We declare that Australia is capable, under good government, of supporting in happiness a, much larger population; but to protect our fellow workers from being deluded from false statements into leaving home and kindred merely to become tools of sweaters, we insist that land, housing accommodation, and employment be provided for overseas immigrants before they are invited to come to Australia.
– That places development before migration.
– Yes; and, although the Labour party is in a minority in this House, its policy regarding immigration has the approval of, not only the workers, but also a large number of other people. But, even if support of that policy were confined to the industrialists, no immigration scheme could be carried out successfully without the cordial approval and co-operation of Labour. The appointment of commissions and the creation of cumbersome machinery will not solve the problem. First of all, there must be no doubt that those who desire land will have itmade available to them. At Darlington Point, New South Wales, a few days ago, there were over 4,000 applicants for one ‘block. At Grafton, a few weeks ago, 4,000 applications were received for a few blocks, and there has been equally keen inquiry at Narrabri, Nyngan, Moree, and other places in New South Wales. I realize that the applications were not all made by bona fide land seekers; but, if we reduce the figures by 25 per cent., we obtain a fairly correct estimate of the number keenly desirous of getting land. Since there is no need to bring large numbers of immigrants to Australia for defence or any other purposes, I oppose the bill in its entirety.
.- I am surprised at the attitude assumed by members of the Opposition. They are apparently trying to make this all-important measure a party one, although no bill should be further removed than this from party politics. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) made many good points, such as the necessity for a searching inquiry as to the area of suitable land available for settlement. Australia cannot bc expected to remain in the possession of the comparatively small population of 6,000,000, in view of the overcrowded condition of other countries at no great distance from her own shores.
Our most pressing need is provision for defence; and I have always contended that our best means of defence is a large white population engaged in primary and secondary industries. I was interested to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), who pointed out that there are large areas of land available for settlement in various parts of the Commonwealth, and I agree with him that experts should be appointed to ascertain the acreage available, its locality and value, and the purpose for which it is suitable. In Queensland, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory, there are millions of acres of good land awaiting settlement. It is absurd to say that those parts are useless. If reasonable facilities, such as roads and railways, were afforded, water provided, and markets found, it could be turned to profitable use. Several large estates have been re-purchased in the Roma district, in Queensland. Water was thought to be scarce there, but artesian bores have revealed the presence of unlimited supplies of it. An inquiry should be held into the number and nature of developmental works that might be carried out advantageously, because I take it that the money available could be spent in various directions, such as on road construction and water conservation. Much has been said about the drift of the population to the cities. As I pointed out in this House a few days ago, it is largely caused by the legislation that has been placed on the statute-books by past governments, both in the State and Federal arenas.
– What legislation?
– Legislation of an artificial character that has resulted in the building up of the cities at the expense of the country.
– What is the “ artificial legislation “ ?
– Legislation governing hours and pay and conditions of labour of those engaged in secondary industries. If these rates of pay and conditions were applied to rural industries, the cost of production would be so great as to render the exportation of many of our primary products impossible. I agree with the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) that, if the country had been as well catered for as the cities, that drift would never have occurred. When we hear of a dairyman, whose assets are worth £1,600, obtaining an income of only £170 per annum, out of which he mustsupport a family, while his son, who is single, earns £312 a year in the city, there is something radically wrong. If the wages and hours of employment in the country could be made as attractive as those in the cities, there would be no talk about an exodus from rural life. At present 96 per cent, of our export trade is represented by primary products, and it would be impossible to retain that trade if the artificial conditions that obtain in the secondary industries were applied to rural pursuits. The opposition of the Labour party to this migration scheme is explained by the proceedings at the Labour conference now being held in England, and the meetings of the various trade and labour councils from which honorable members opposite take their directions. All parties receive more or less direction from the organizations with which they are associated. The workers’ opposition to migration is founded on the fear that the new arrivals will compete with them in the labour market. I would be the last to support any policy that would have that effect; but I sincerely believe that if our population were doubled by a wellorganized and carefully-regulated scheme of migration, every worker in Australia would be infinitely better off. The misfortunes of some of the soldier settlers have been advanced as a reason for abandoning migration and land settlement. Honorable members will credit me with having some knowledge of the conditions and requirements of the man upon the land, and I say that governments will be simply courting disaster if they attempt to establish men in primary production under the conditions that applied to many of the soldier settlers. There is very little truth in the statements that have been made that exorbitant prices were paid for land for closer settlement. The cause of the failure of many of the soldier settlers is “to be found in the conditions under which they started. To the cost of, say, 150 acres of land worth £10 per acre had to be added expenditure on fencing, the building of a house, the making of yards, and the purchase of a small dairy herd and implements. By the time the farm was equipped it had cost nearly £15 per acre, and as the selector was starting from scratch, he was not able to pay interest on that debt. A few estates and isolated farms may have been purchased at excessive prices, but the majority of the re-purchased areas, if submitted at auction, would realize more than the prices paid for them by the Government. The Federal Government has assisted materially those soldier settlers who were threatened with failure, and I hope that the State Governments will do likewise, because I regard the Australian-born as the best settler. It is a source of deep regret to me that so many sons of farmers, who thoroughly understand the rural indus* tries, are coming to the cities to seek employment.. The reason why they arc leaving the land I have already indicated. The rural producer requires from State and Federal Governments more sympathy and scientific guidance. The primary industries present problems that are just as difficult as those associated with the secondary industries, and as they are paying almost the whole of the interest and sinking fund in connexion with the national debt, the Commonwealth should co-operate with the States in trying to put them on the best possible footing. I am very pleased that this Parliament came to the assistance of the dairying industry, by giving to those engaged in it complete control over the export of their produce. As a result of the new administrative machinery that has been brought into existence, the quality of the butter has increased to such an extent that it is now quoted in the British market at only 2s. per cwt. less than Danish butter, whereas until recently it was 6s. lower- in price. This is due to the adoption of the Kangaroo brand, uniformity of grading, and the general improvement of the conditions relating to export. Progressive development of the dairying industry is essential to any scheme of migration and land settlement. I believe that fully SO per cent. of the dairy cowa’ in Australia should be spayed. The average annual production of butter-fat per cow is about 160 lb., whereas it should be nearer 300 lb. By promoting the expansion of this and other rural industries, the Government can increase the scope for immi- grants, as well as the Australian-born. As a practical man, I tender my advice for what it is worth. I am convinced that it is impossible for any mere association to bring about a general improvement in an industry. For the last 20 years, I have been on the executive of the Butter and Cheese Factories Association, and I am one of the three members of the Victorian Dairy Advisory Board. During that time, I have been working incessantly to raise the standard of the industry in the manner I am advocating to-day; but our progress has been tediously slow, and has been retarded by the apathy of Ministers and Government officers. “We should aim at attaining a standard nearer to that which obtains in Denmark. A Federal council is now working in co-operation with the State advisory boards to promote fodder conservation, herd testing, the improvement of herds, the production of a better quality of butter, and the establishment of colleges for the education of factory managers. We are now asking that this committee of experts shall be given statutory recognition, so that it may have greater authority to place the important dairying industry on a better footing. If that policy is pursued in the near future, Australian dairy produce will be worth nearer £80,000,000 annually instead of only £40,000,000 as at present. Tobacco cultivation is another industry which has been shamefully neglected. We frequently complain that the manufacturers do not bring science and the latest machinery to their aid in order to improve their output and make better use of their by-products. The application of science to primary production is equally essential. Australia is” sending £3,000,000 per annum to America for tobacco leaf, and the percentage of the locally-grown article used in Australian manufacture, notwithstanding that its quality has been affirmed by experts abroad, and has improved considerably in recent years, has been reduced from 14 per cent, to 6 per cent, in the last four years, Australia should supply at least 50 per cent, of its requirements of tobacco leaf, and that would give profitable employment to 5,000 growers. The Government should, through the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, come to the aid of this very neglected industry. The export of meat is another industry that cries aloud for serious attention. The following statement shows the imports of frozen and chilled meat into Great Britain : -
The imports of pork products into Great Britain represent, roughly, 10,000,000 pigs yearly, which is, approximately ten times the total number of pigs in the Commonwealth. Australia’s share of this enormous trade is nil. The high cost of production in Australia makes it impossible for us to compete successfully with other countries. The firm with which I am connected accepted an order recently for 500 pigs, and immediately it attempted to buy, the market advanced 10s. a head. Climatic conditions are all in our favour for pig-growing, and yet so soon as pigs fallbelow 7d. per lb., dressed weight, growers will not continue in the business. New Zealand produces pork at from 5d. to 5½d. per lb. The pork industry should be placed on a similar footing to that of other rural industries, and thus enable us to multiply enormously our exportation of pork products. Some honorable members seem to think that our population is sufficient, and that we should be content to rest on our laurels. That would be playing a very dangerous game. With the assistance of scientific research and co-operation, we can add considerably to our primary and secondary industries. Although the secondary industries are receiving great benefits under the tariff, yet they provide only 4 per cent. of our total exports. I am pleased that the Government is appointing a council of scien tific research. We cannot expect an immediate improvement from its operations, but I believe that it will ultimately be of great benefit to the primary and secondary industries, and thus help to absorb immigrants who are willing to work in this country. I have had practical experience of the type of young men coming to these shores, and I have found them equal in many respects to our own people. They adapt themselves immediately to their work. Recently two immigrants confessed to me that they knew nothing of farm work, but in less than a month these lads knew a great deal about it. They were ready and willing.
– What wages do they receive ?
– They receive £1 a week and their keep. The wage increases according to conduct, energy, and enterprise. The bill proposes to appoint four persons to the commission, but, in addition, I should like to see appointed an honorary representative of each State. Those representatives could besupplied with railway passes on all lines, and act as connecting links with, and appointed by, the States. Their practical experience would prove of great assistance to the commission. Much has been said about the powers of the commission.For the benefit of my constituents, I shall quote two clauses of the bill. Clause 13 reads -
The powers and functions of the commission shall include the following: -
In relation to the development of Australia -
the consideration of matters in relation to the development of the resources of the Commonwealth, whether by cooperation between the Commonwealth and the several States, or otherwise;
the investigation of the condition and development of existing industries, whether primary or secondary, in the Commonwealth, and of the possibility of establishing new industries therein ;
the conduct of negotiations, whether within or beyond Australia, for the establishment of new industries in Australia and the development of existing industries therein;
the making of reports and recommendations to the ministerupon matters dealt with by the Commission in pursuance of any of the last three preceding sub-paragraphs ;
the exercise of the prescribed powers of control and supervision of works; and
such other powers and functions as are prescribed; and
the examination and investigation of any undertaking or scheme proposed by a State under the principal migration agreement or any supplementary migration agreement, and the making of recommendations thereon to the Commonwealth ;
the framing and submission to the Commonwealth of other undertakings or schemes in relation to migration which appear to be of advantage to Australia ;
the control of the staff employed by the Commonwealth in connexion with migration; and
such other powers and functions as are prescribed.
Clause 14 reads -
The Commonwealth shall not approve of any undertaking or scheme proposed by a State under the principal migration agreement or any supplementary migration agreement unless it has been recommended by the Commission for approval.
Those clauses confer great powers upon the commission, and with that I am in hearty accord. I believe, contrary to what the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) has stated, from my experience of the butter and other industries, that a practical and scientific board will prove of great benefit to the country, and be able to give very valuable advice to the Minister for Markets and Migration. It may happen that a syndicate interested in the subdivision of estates may try to exert influence on the Government.
– Does not the honorable member think that a commission couldbe more easily influenced than a Government ?
– No; because the Migration Department is under the control of one minister. Ministers come and go, and when a minister, through being misinformed, recommends a certain proposi tion to cabinet, it is invariably accepted. It would be very difficult to misinform a commission consisting of practical men. This is an important measure, and should not be discussed on party lines. To develop Australia on sound lines, we must give effect to a practical scheme of immigration. The most important thing to do is to make a searching investigation to determine the area of Crown lands available. I do not advocate the purchase of freehold land, except in special places, because it is too dear: but there are millions of acres of Crown lands the suitability of which for settlement has not been determined. Detailed information about the land available, and the kind of holdings required, should betabulated. It is imperative that we should do that before we attempt to settle migrants. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) correctly stated that the mistakes and failures of the past had tended to educate us. The States are now in a better position to handle the problem of land settlement than they were before the settlement of ex-soldiers was attempted. I shall support the second reading of the bill, and when it is in committee I shall endeavour to assist in making small amendments which are necessary for the successful working of the scheme.
– I regret that the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) delivered such a long speech relating to his experience in producing butter, bacon, and pigs. I am not aware that there is anything about those matters in the bill. His discourse may be useful to persons who contemplate settling on the land, and possibly to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, but the object of the bill is to develop Australia on broader lines than that.
– Does not the honorable member consider that we should make arrangements for employing the migrants before they arrive here ?
– We are doing that. We have already solved the problem of production. We are producing more than we can consume, and our chief difficulty is to find markets for our surplus production.
– Does the honorable member suggest that we should sit down and cease producing?
– This country stands in the front rank of progress.
– It stands alone in the matter of unoccupied territory.
– Fancy an honorable member with ideas like that being elected to this House! This country is still young, but we have honeycombed it with railways, roads, and bridges, and we have a population of over 6,000,000. I am ashamed to think that I am associated in this Parliament with men who have such small ideas of their country. The -bill provides for the creation of a commission, the personnel of which is not disclosed. That commission will be entrusted with the development of this country, and will Ixa charged with the duty of attracting population from oversea. Both those objectives are desirable ; but the question is, “ Are we prepared, at the present time, to hand this work over to a commission?” There are in this country six State parliaments and the Commonwealth Parliament, in which there are experts like the honorable member for Indi, who are well versed in all matters connected with the land. To hand this work over to a commission is a reflection on the parliaments of this country. If migrants are brought here, will they be settled on the land or employed in the secondary industries? Great Britain cannot afford to lose any of her rural population. If she desired to- develop her own countryside, she could employ the hundreds of thousands of acres of virgin land that is now used for hunting and other sports of the wealthy. If she wished to solve the problem of feeding her population, she could develop those idle lands. I admit that she cannot feed the whole of her population, but she is not even trying to do anything towards that end. The cry throughout Great Britain is, “We must find an outlet for our surplus population.” Australia has plenty of land, and I should be the last person in this House to refuse to assist those who wish to come here. Any man or woman who has the courage to go 12,000 miles oversea to make a new homo is a good class of migrant. The dull and indifferent usually remain at home, but those who come here have courage, and will make good citizens. The Labour party takes a logical stand. It is not opposed to populating this country with migrants from Great Britain, but it says that, before they are brought here, we should, by a comprehensive scheme of development, provide a market for their labour. Honorable members of the Opposition have pointed to the opportunities that the Government has to use the tariff to promote secondary industries. We are only trifling with the tariff. Enormous quantities of manufactured goods are being imported, and the tariff merely provides the Government with revenue. Members on this side do not look upon the tariff as merely a source of revenue. It should rather be regarded as a means of establishing local industries. We are prepared to pay a bounty on the growing of cotton, but we would not stop at that. When the cotton has been grown, there is a great opportunity to employ Australians to manufacture it. Therefore, we would give a. bounty for the manufacture of cotton yarn. Over £12,000,000 worth, of cotton goods is imported annually into this country, and if we wish to increase our population, the establishment of this industry presents a means of doing so. The paper-making industry could employ thousands of work people. This party considers that this country should also manufacture all its requirements of glassware, and of many other things. If this Government establishes secondary industries on a sound footing, population will come to this country without any expensive scheme to bring it here. I was a member of this House when the Fisher Government adopted a policy for the development of this country. It built the transcontinental railway, it built cruisers in this country, and it carried out a vigorous policy in the Postal Department. The result was that the population increased rapidly without any wholesale scheme of immigration.
– That Government spent £50,000 a year in development, and the rates for migrants were reduced almost to nothing. Its policy was an active immigration encouragement policy.
– But it did not borrow money for the purpose, and the migrants came here without an expensive migration scheme. It undertook the responsibility of development, and this Government should do the same. We could attract population to thi3 country by a system of effective protection. How can the proposed commission establish new industries except by increasing the Customs tariff? Will the Government ask the commission to indicate industries that can be established, or will the commission have to confine itself to land development? The Prime Minister’s speech said nothing about the duties of the commission. I know very little about land problems, but I know that at present migrants are being brought here without any preparation whatever for them. If they are fortunate they are met on arrival by a few interested ladies, who give them a cup of lea and say to them, “ You go up into the country and you will be quite all right.” They go into the country, but they are not all right; and, after finding it impossible to get work, they return to the cities. Honorable members will bear me out when I say that one of our worst experiences is interviewing men who, having come to this country with high hopes of success, find themselves totally unable to get work and have to beg for a crust to eat or a place to sleep. I suppose we have all asked such men, “ “Why did you come out here?” and have been told about the wonderful advertisements of high wages and good conditions in Australia that they read in England. The fact is, as the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) has told us, that the good wages are £1 a week, and the good conditions their keep. I am opposed to the adoption of any immigration policy which does not include the provision of work for the migrants to take up as soon as they arrive. If we had a number of farms with houses, implements and seed already on them that we could hand over to immigrants with families, there might be something in this scheme; but that is not the case. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) said that that would be spoon-feeding the migrants; but surely even he believes that this scheme involves Government assistance for those who come here. I contend that the State Governments, which control the land, are far better able to initiate an effective policy of land settlement for migrants than the Commonwealth Government is. I trust that the commission will be a success, but that will be impossible unless its first care is to establish public works for the migrants to engage in on their arrival. If we flood this country with migrants who can find no work, they will return to their homeland and give Australia a bad name that will hinder rather than help our development. I met a disappointed migrant in Sydney only last week. Although he was a young, intelligent, attractive looking man. he had been here for five mouths and had not been able to get work. I am glad to say that I was able to find him a job for the time being. Of what use is it for us to bring migrants here unless we have work ready for them to take up immediately. This commission should spend a couple of years in establishing works for migrants Before it does anything to bring them here. Notwithstanding that Australia is developing rapidly, and that our population is increasing faster proportionately than that of almost any other country, we are being told continually that unless we populate the country we cannot expect to hold it.
– That is what is troubling me.
– Well, it is not troubling me. I have heard that story for the last 40 years. In view of the fact that we were able to send 400,000 men overseas to participate in the recent war, I do not think that any country will attackus without good cause.
-I would rather hold Australia by populating it than by fighting for it.
– It has been estimated that in another twenty years we shall have a population of 12,000,000. We. shall be wise to make- haste slowly. The United States of America opened its doors wide for the world to come in, and I think it regrets now that it did so.
– I do not think so.
– Then the honorable member should do a little more reading and thinking.
– Look what Australia would have lost had the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) not been permitted to come here !
– I admit that I came to the country for the country’s good. I am sure that the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) will agree with me when I say that it would be foolish for us to bring migrants here without having work for them; but I admit freely that people who have grit enough to come 12,000 miles to a new country are likely to make good citizens.
– The object of this scheme is to provide work for migrants.
– It should be provided before ‘ the migrants come here. The development of our primary industries does not -present a problem to us, for they are developed so well that we are in a difficulty to find markets for our over-production ; the problem that we have to solve is the establishment of secondary industries. If the Government could show us that this scheme would be successful in that connexion, I should be very glad. In my opinion, we should act wisely if, instead of setting up this costly commission, we co-operated with the State Governments in developmental projects. If we make the conditions sufficiently attractive, people will be glad to come here, without special inducements being held out to them.
.- I have listened with a great deal of interest to this debate, and with some surprise to some of the speeches that have been delivered by honorable members opposite. It appears to me that their view of the urgency of the question is out of perspective. In my opinion, the matter is urgent, not only from the point of view of population, but also of defence. The time is rapidly approaching when we shall have to put aside our domestic ideas as to the wisdom or otherwise of adopting a comprehensive migration policy. After Senator Drake-Brockman’s return from Geneva, where he represented Australia at the Fifth Assembly of the League of Nations, he delivered a speech in the Senate which I commend to honorable members. He said that he had sensed an unmistakable desire on the part of the representatives of the nations there assembled to lift the question of migration from the plane of domestic, on to the higher plane of international politics; and he stressed its great importance in affecting the relations of different nationals. Honorable members will remember having seen quite recently in the press the report of the sensational debate on our White Australia policy that occurred at an international Labour conference held in London. The majority of representatives there from the Orient, as well as the majority of those who represented the British Labour movement, strongly opposed our policy; but I am glad that Dr. Evatt, a member of the New South Wales Parlia ment, who is visiting Great Britain, took up the cudgels on its. behalf, and caused the conference to take a more reasonable view of the matter. That incident indicates that we must look at this as a question of international politics. Reference has been made during the debate to the possibility of this scheme enabling us to assist Great Britain to solve her acute unemployment problem. I trust that we shall not lose sight of that aspect of it. We owe our very existence to Great Britain, and it ill becomes us to sneer at her, for we should look to her at once in any time of national disaster. In that circumstance, if we can possibly help her- to solve her problems, it is incumbent upon us to do so. Whatever may be the position of the other selfgoverning dominions in the Empire, it cannot be denied that Australia and New Zealand are absolutely dependent upon the goodwill of Great Britain. Our position is entirely different from that of the Dominion of Canada, which has at her back for defence purposes the whole American continent; and we are also in a different position from South Africa, where, I am sorry to say, there seems to be a desire to “ cut the painter.” Australia must- sink or swim with Great Britain. If by any reasonable means we can introduce into this country migrants of the British race, and relieve GreatBritain to some extent of a pressing responsibility, we should by all means do it. Being 12,000 miles from the heart of the Empire, we surely must consider it wise to bring to a successful issue as soon as possible a proper scheme of development and migration.
– Would the honorable member confine immigration to Britishers ?
– I shall deal with foreign migrants shortly. Australia, with a population of only 6,000,000, has potentialities exceeding those of the United States of America. With its long coast line it is most vulnerable, and it would be difficult to defend, yet we flaunt the challenge of a White Australia before the teeming millions of the Orient, whose envious eyes are ever cast upon us. If only . for the sake of national safety, it is imperative that we should develop our heritage to the fullest extent. References have been made to the small percentage increase in our’ population. The honorable member for
Darling (Mr. Blakeley), who scorned the warning given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), referred, probably without realizing the significance of . his remarks, to the importance of this aspect. The population of Australia increased during a given period by 2,000,000, and that of Japan increased during the same period to the extent of 13,000,000. But while Australia’s natural annual increase is only 140,000, that of Japan is almost 1,000,000.
– And the house room remains exactly the same in each case.
– Yes. The excess of births over deaths in Australia is practically insignificant, and therefore it is necessary for us to look for a suitable class of migrants. Naturally, we desire to give preference to people of our own kith and kin, and it is regrettable that the various schemes that have’ hitherto been introduced for migration and development have almost without exception failed to produce the results expected, sometimes on account of the inhospitable “ views publicly expressed, but more often, perhaps, because of unsuitable officials. I am quite prepared to give credit where it is due, and I have no hesitation in saying that tinder the present scheme the problem is now being tackled in an earnest endeavour to meet the needs of the nation.
– Tha trouble under this plan is that the commissioners will be appointed for seven years, and if they are not successful it will be impossible to dispense with their services.
– I shall come to that aspect of the matter. We have the privilege of showing preference to British migrants, bub if we refuse to admit any migrants at all, we may be faced with the necessity of accepting the nationals of other countries whether we like them or not. It is useless to say that the League of Nations would come to our rescue. The claims of other nations have to be considered by the League. A certain proportion of the present population of Australia is composed of people with oriental ideas, and they do not favour the White Australia ideal. If we do not solve the problem of keeping Australia white, others will do it for us. That would mean an influx of migrants that we could not control, and a position might arise somewhat akin to that obtaining in the United States of America. Reference has been made to the anxious eyes cast upon Australia by Southern’ European migrants. I think that the honorable member for Darling referred to “ Italians and the dregs of Europe “ ; but Australia must be prepared to deal with the problem of this migration. I am familiar with the conditions under which Italian migrants live in Australia, and I take no exception to them because of their nationality. I do not object to Italians on the score that they are not white. They have been white men from the day’s of the Roman Empire that existed before the British Empire was dreamt of. If we are to judge nations by their achievements in art, science, and literature, I suggest that the Italians occupy as proud a position as any white race in Europe. If one thinks of the name of a great” personage of British nationality, he can easily conjure up the name of some Italian who has similarly contributed in a large measure to the advance of civilization. It is unfair, therefore, to regard Italian migrants as in any way inferior to British migrants. The Italians themselves do not ask for preference over other migrants, but when they conform to our immigration laws, they expect to be treated at least as well as other nationals. I have no objection to the admission of a certain proportion of foreigners of white extraction, irrespective of their nationality, provided they conform to all the requirements of our immigration laws. Now that the people of Latin races have been prevented from entering the United States of America to the same extent as previously, other outlets must be found for the surplus population of Southern Europe, and if this Parliament is not prepared to assist in bringing Australia to a full state of development, pressure will assuredly be be made on it from such directions that it will not be left for Australia to determine what quotas of foreign nationals are to be admitted. When Mr. Gillies was Premier of Queensland, and a number of Italian migrants were about to land in that State, he telegraphed to the Prime Minister peremptorily requesting him to prevent their entrance. I suggest that matters of international importance should be dealt with through diplomatic channels in order to avoid giving offence to other powers. Unless we can prove that there is good reason for our desire to reduce the number of migrants from foreign countries to certain, quotas, we are liable to cause trouble. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) did not appear to be particularly happy in his remarks about this measure. He seemed to forget the fact that, when supporting the North Australia Bill, he said that it would be an excellent idea if a certain proportion of the money to be made available under the migration agreement could be used for the development of that part of the Commonwealth. For the rest he merely laid emphasis upon what he regarded as the economic menace of flooding the country with immigrants. There is no intention on the part of the Government to flood Australia with new settlers to such an extent as to cause a serious menace to the workers. For many years it will be necessary, as the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) pointed out, to develop our secondary industries vigorously. But between primary and secondary producers I draw no distinction, since each section is dependent on the activities of the other. Despite our tariff wall, Queensland in the last ten years has absorbed only an additional 1,600 employees in its secondary industries. “While the population of the State has increased by only 14 per cent, in that period, its taxation has increased by 280 per cent.
– The war is largely responsible for that.
– Railway construction has helped in that direction.
– I shall be delighted to enter into a discussion with the honorable member concerning the Queensland railways. The State department is losing £2,000,000 per annum under the present Labour administration. The secondary industries are indispensable as a means of providing markets and lucrative employment for our people. Unfortunately, most Australian rural occupations are seasonal. While the annual crops of wool, wheat, and sugar are being garnered, there is abundant employment at high wages, and the workers are happy and contented; but when the harvesting period is over, great numbers of people slide down the great plane that leads to the cities, and tem porarily, at least, are unemployed. Unless and until the Commonwealth develops schemes such as that outlined in this bill, we cannot, even with the aid of a protective tariff, develop our secondary industries sufficiently to give profitable employment to our people, and provide a home market for- primary produce. I listened with interest to the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) relating how he, when an incipient primary producer, was compelled to leave the land, whereas had the leasehold system been in operation he would still be indulging his natural predilection for a life on the land, instead of representing an important constituency in this House. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) stated that on one occasion 4,000 persons applied for one block of land. If the disappointed 3,999 are still looking for land, I advise them to apply to the Queensland Government for leasehold blocks. Two years ago, 1,800 blocks in the Burnett district were made available for selection, and only 850 were taken up. Of those 850 settlers, already 150 have found that they cannot make a living under leasehold conditions, and have left their holdings.
– When the railway is completed, and there is a means of getting produce to the market, a different tale will te told.
– I predict that if the existing leasehold conditions still obtain when the railway reaches the settlement, the balance of the leaseholders will leave by the first train.
– How does the honorable member expect to settle migrants on the land when the native-born will not stay there ?
– Had the freehold been available, and taxation been lighter, the Burnett settlers would have had a chance to meet their obligations.
– Will the migrants escape that taxation f
– Any settlement scheme in accordance with this bill will be preceded by an investigation by the commission, and I hope that any men placed upon the land in accordance with the commission’s recommendations will have a good opportunity to make a living. We have heard a good deal said about the advantages which the leasehold system offers to the individual. Honorable members opposite who advance that argument are doing merely lip-service to a plank of their party’s platformin order to tickle the palates of their supporters. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) cannot deny that under the leasehold system there are 23,000,000 acres less under cultivation in Queensland than there were ten years ago; nor can he deny that when the site of the Trades Hall in Brisbane was resumed recently, and a lease of it was offered to the Trades Hall Council, that body refused it, and asked for the freehold.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the bill.
– I was merely replying to some arguments advanced earlier in the debate. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) never misses an opportunity to talk of the returned soldiers, and condemn the present Government for its action towards them. Persons who are possessed of virtue rarely find need to parade it, and every returned soldier throughout the length and breadth of Australia knows how honorable members on this side have stood in defence of their rights. When referring to the post-war services of members on this side of the chamber, the honorable member for Hume would do well to recollect the disservice that was done to the soldiers during the anxious period of the war by the people with whom he is associated.
– On a visit to the Burnett settlement, I was informed by many of the settlers that they had made from £400 to £500 each last year by growing cotton and maize, and they expect to do even better this year.
– Those settlers who have corresponded with me tell a different story. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) seems to be terrified by the powers that this bill will confer upon the proposed commission. He need not fear any commission that is composed of men of the calibre of Mr. Gepp. Even the honorable member for Wannon referred to him as the master mind of Australia, and if the Government can induce four of the master minds of this country to direct its immigration and development policy, Australia must benefit substantially. A Minister of the Crown, giving only part of his time to a particular subject, must remain a tyro in respect of it; and the country will fare much better if experts are appointed to devote the whole of their time to the development of migration and development in co-operation with the States. No honorable member can point to any board appointed in the past that has not justified its existence. I am confident that when a commission is concentrating upon this great problem and working in collaboration with the States, a sound and practical scheme will be evolved which will mean much to the development of Australia. I should like to see the provisions of the bill broadened so as to cover the development of the Mandated Territories. I assume that this scheme will be applicable to the Northern Territory, but it is our bounden duty to promote, so far as is practicable, the development of those territories over which we hold mandates ; and, when the committee stage is. reached, I shall suggest that a certain portion of this money shall be allocated for that purpose. This bill will have my whole-hearted support. Australia is held by only a handful of people, and when we see the populations of other countries, particularly those in the far East, overflowing their native boundaries, we must realize that the peopling and development of our island continent is an urgent problem, for which we should make every effort possible to find an early solution.
– I congratulate the honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott) upon his speech. He was the first honorable member to direct attention to the fact that immigrants other than those of British stock may be dealt with under this bill. There seems to be a general assumption that the terms “migrant” and “migration “ refer only to people of British origin. There is no justification for that reading of the bill. The dictionary defines “ migration “ as meaning - among other things - the movement of persons and tribes from one country, locality, &c., to settle in another, or their removal from one place of residence to another. There is no etymological distinction between migration and immigration, but for sentimental reasons we have chosen to differentiate between their uses. No court would hold that the term “immigration” excluded British migrants, or that “migrants “ referred only to persons of British stock.
– The honorable member is surely not contending that under this bill migrants can be introduced from countries other than the United Kingdom?
– As I read the bill, migrants from foreign countries, as well as from the United Kingdom, may be admitted. There is nothing to suggest that migration refers only to British migrants ; but if, as I believe, that is the intention of the Government, it should be expressly stated in the bill.
– This bill incorporates an agreement under which £34,000,000 is to be advanced to the Commonwealth bv the British Government.
– The honorable member will not find in the bill any phrase which would prevent a migration agreement from being made with some foreign country.
– But we must read the agreement as well as the bill, and the agreement provides for an advance of £34,000,000 to be expended in bringing migrants from the United Kingdom.
– Does not the honorable member realize that reference is made in the bill to other migration agreements?
– Clause 3 says that the principal migration agreement is that between the Commonwealth Government and the British Government.
– That does not exclude any other agreement, and I speak as one who has had some small experience in studying the drafting of bills. I may be wrong, but, if so, I prefer not to be interrupted while my remarks are unfinished. No doubt, under the bill the Government intends to provide chiefly for British immigration, but the fact that it relates to development and migration indicates, in the absence of an excepting clause, that the control of all immigration is contemplated. That being so, I am perfectly free, and the honorable member for Herbert (Dr. Nott) took the same view, to deal with the whole subject of immigration.
– Under the bill, the commission would take over the complete management of immigration.
– That is a point which I wish to put to the Minister in charge of the bill. It appears to me that there is a certain vagueness in its terms. That is quite right and proper so far as the intention is to prevent the adoption of any cut-and-dried scheme before the commission ha3 been appointed; but there is an undesirable vagueness about certain of its provisions. Although the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) does not agree with my view of its scope, I think that he will probably agree with me that, if this bill is to apply to foreign as well as to British immigration, it is well that the House should know that fact in advance.
– The House would never agree to the bill if the amount of £34,000,000 were to be used to bring foreign migrants here.
– HUGHES. - This matter was first mentioned by the honorable member for Herbert, but I propose to go further into details than he did. I wish to deal with several general points. The first is whether the commission is to have any say respecting the immigration of people of foreign descent, even if that say is limited to the giving of advice. In other words, is this commission, when formed, to have the right to say to tho Government, “We wish to express our views on the immigration of foreigners “ ? If it is not to have the right, and if its work is to be confined entirely to British immigration - although I see no indication of that in the bill - honorable members will agree with me that its scope is relatively limited. If, on the other hand, the commission is to have a say in regard to immigration generally, another question arises, which was mentioned by the honorable member for Herbert, and also by Senator Drake-Brockman in another place since his return this year from the meeting of the Assembly of the League of Nations. I regret that a parliamentary rule prevents me from quoting from his exceedingly interesting speech, and I shall, therefore, refer to the speech that I delivered in this House last year, when the Immigration* Bill was being discussed. The few opinions that I tried to establish at that time have been more than amply confirmed by what has occurred since. I hope that I have made it clear to the House that I am now considering the general subject of immigration. I wish to refer to three points that I put forward last year. I then suggested, first, that the people of Great Britain had shown themselves somewhat lukewarm about the principle of White Australia. That is confirmed by an extract from Foreign Affairs-, an American quarterly review, issued in October, 1925. That review contains a very interesting article on the White Australia policy, written under the nom de illume of “ Sydney.” It is of no use to blink facts which are patent to every one outside this chamber. A new situation is gradually arising, which we ignore, or at least do not discuss. This subject is being discussed in the press, by the man in the street, and is being dealt with in review articles. It is well, therefore, that it should be’ raised in this House, and that I should carry a step further what I said last year. The writer of this article, discussing the fact that more interest is now being taken in the general theory and principle of the White Australia policy than formerly, says -
But the main reason is that Australians have realised the change which has taken place in their relations to the rest of the world, and in particular to the other members of the British Commonwealth. To-day it would not be (if it ever would have been) sufficient to ask tlie British nation to take a policy upon trust and to join unquestioningly in defending tlie people responsible for it. A nation burdened with debt and with taxes incurred in an exhaustive struggle may still be ready to maintain its obligations whether of interest or sentiment but could not be expected to do so without knowing that the claims upon it were founded, not on selfishness, but on justice and on an ideal in which all democracies are interested. A policy, participation in which may add to the annual expenditure on defence, must be explained with sufficient clearness to a democracy which is deeply and primarily concerned with the alleviation of poverty at Home. Again the new status of the dominions, ill-defined as it is, carries with it the obligation that the convictions and claims of one member of tlie partnership shall be justified to the others. More especially is this true of a policy which through injudicious defence or careless administration may be interpreted as placing the people of Australia and India in opposition. The possibility of misconstruction has been disclosed on many occasions.
I do not agree with every statement in the article, but it is obviously written by a man possessing a full knowledge of the subject, and appears in what I think the first review on foreign affairs in the English-speaking world. The magazine is published in America, and is therefore brought to the very doors of the people of the United States. The article was contributed by an Australian corre- spondent presumably residing in Sydney. When such things are being said at large, it is not wise for this House to ignore them. The second point that I wish to refer to is that, in spite of the mixture of blood which has taken place in America, if British people had to mate with those of any other nation, they would prefer those of the United States. Some people claim that the American nation is not a nation in the ordinary sense, but with that opinion I disagree. The American people - and I know a little about them - have a strongly-developed sense of nationhood. The late John Morley, in Notes on Politics and History, published in 1913, referred to the absorption by a population of new modifying elements, and ended with this sentence -
Yet the political nationality of the United States, their high and strong self-consciousness as a nation, is one of the supreme factors in the modern world’s affairs.
That seems to me to confirm the argument which I used in this House last year. My third point is, perhaps, the most important : it is that we should not be Unreasonable in our attitude towards European races. I urged last year that if the quota system which was laid down under the Immigration Bill, then under discussion, was to be put into effect, that should be done reasonably, and we should be particularly reasonable in our dealings with the peoples of Western Europe. I do not say that any unreasonable quota has been applied under that legislation, because I am not in a position to know. I hope that the Minister will give some particulars about that before the debate ends. But, generally speaking, the people of the western world believe that the attitude of Australia with regard to foreigners is not reasonable. Any one who has closely read the newspapers must know that to be so. I read in yesterday’s Argus the following report of some remarks by Sir Roderick Jones, the chairman of Reuter’s News Agency -
Expressing his approval of the White Australia policy, Sir Roderick Jones said that he considered that emigration from Europe would be beneficial so long as the migrants were hard workers and prepared to observe the laws of the country. If Australia did not take as many white people as it could get, it would excite the cupidity of peoples who were not white. It was for the people of Australia to maintain the white standard of living.
That is a terse, sane, and sensible way of looking at the matter; it assumes the White Australia point of view. Australia should not be unreasonable in these matters. If honorable members want further evidence of the feeling which is growing overseas, they need read only the reports in the newspapers during the past week of the World Labour Migration Conference. That conference was representative of Labour in all countries. The British representatives included Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, Mr. Arthur Henderson, Mr. George Landsbury, and Mr. C. P. Cramp. The Australian representatives at that conference informed the Australian Press Association that there was opposition to the White Australia policy, and that was only to be expected at a congress at which only five English-speaking countries - Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa, - were represented, as against seventeen European and Asiatic countries, including India. If there are seventeen representatives of coloured races to five representatives of white races, doss it not follow that, even in a purely Labour conference, the division of opinion on such a matter will be in the ratio of seventeen to five ? Australians are relatively few in number when compared with those who do not approve even of the first principle of a White Australia, and any man is foolish who does not take that fact into account. A sub-committee of the conference was appointed to consider this matter, and, according to the Argus of the 28th June, they managed, after a bitter fight, to formulate this declaration -
That the inrush of migrants into immigrating countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa, might in certain cases endeanger workers by depressing wages and lowering conditions. Nevertheless, it affirmed that it was ihe duty of all governments to solve migration problems in a manner conducive to international peace, good-will, and the protection of the interests of the migrants.
I am forced to ask at this point whether the attitude of the Opposition in opposing this bill can possibly be imagined, even by honorable members of the Opposition, to be “ conducive to international peace, good-will, and the protection of the interests of the migrants “. That is a formula which was arrived at after much discussion,’ and it throws on every one some responsibility to try and see - to state it shortly - that a fair thing is done. Is the attitude of honorable members of the Opposition in opposing the migration, even of British people, likely to be conducive to a kindly feeling by those people for Australia? Before the sitting is suspended for dinner, I wish to come to the point up to which I have been working. I consider it my duty to warn honorable members, and the people at large, that, unless we are reasonable in the way we control and prohibit the migration of people who have claims to come here, we may eventually have to choose between the League of Nations on the one hand and a White Australia on the other. That will be a difficult choice, which, it appears to me, is coming nearer to as. There are many people who say that in such a crisis they would stick to the White Australia policy and abandon the League of Nations; but would that be of any avail to this country unless Great Britain and the rest of the Empire endorsed our view ? That is something for my honorable friend from Adelaide to answer.
– But I am a “ pommy.”
– That fact, perhaps, makes it all the more essential that the honorable member should justify his attitude regarding the immigration of others, who, like himself, may some day become useful members of this House.
Sitting suspended from. 6.28 to 8 p.m.
– I wish to make quite clear my attitude in regard to our White Australia policy. I am a believer in a White Australia, and a disbeliever in a black Australia. I do not believe in mixing the black and white races, nor do I believe in a pseudo “ White Australia.” Some advocates of the policy seem to favour excluding other people from Australia irrespective of their similarity in culture, type, and general outlook. I said here a year ago, and I repeat now, that the old distinction that we drew was largely racial, but is becoming economic, and the tendency is to push it to such an extreme that the policy may be totally defeated. By being reasonable, we may retain an essentially White Australia; but by being unreasonable, for economic considerations, we are in grave danger of losing everything. It is highly desirable that the proposed commission should enlist all possible local support and sympathy. Many institutions and societies, which have been established in
Australia to give expression to the wish of our people to welcome and extend a helping hand to those who leave the Old Country with the object of settling here, have done and are doing admirable work in that way. I know, something about the work of the South. Australian branch of the British Immigration League, which was formed about ten years ago, and we are all acquainted with the objects of the Big Brother movement, the “Victoria League, and other kindred organizations. The commission would be well advised to seek the sympathy and help of these organizations, and net run counter to them. The South Australian branch of the British Immigration League, in the three years of uninterrupted activity it enjoyed from 1910 to 1913, was able to settle in South Australia over 2,000 immigrants without a penny of cost to the Government, and at a cost of only £1 13s. 9d. a head to itself. Most of the immigrants were of a good type, and have done well. The branch acted in conjunction with the Central - unemployed - body in London, the Central Immigration Board, London, the Kent Colonization Society, and other similar bodies. Its general practice was to have applications closely investigated in England, and to select only migrants of good character. An intending migrant had to get a reputable person in England to guarantee the repayment of his passage money. A training farm was established in England by the central authority of the league to fitmen to take up farming operations in Australia. If the passage money of a migrant was not repaid, the guarantors were liable for the payment of it. The migrants were met on their arrival here, details about them having been forwarded to reach Australia a fortnight earlier than they did. In some cases 50 or 60 arrived in a body. They were able to obtain advances, and implements and household necessaries were provided for them without deposit, repayments being made by weekly instalments. The league undertook to keep them in board and lodging until it obtained employment for them. The local committee in Adelaide included representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Manufactures, the Employers’ Federation, and farmers, builders, and contractors. A register of employers re- quiring labour was kept up to date and cables were sent to the central body regularly, giving the number of mechanics, unskilled labourers, &c, that could be placed, and a considerable amount of advertising and propaganda was done. I understand that the league is prepared to co-operate with, or place at, the disposal of any approved body, all the information it has available. The good will of such organizations would be invaluable to the commission, and if it were secured, a big step would be taken to bring the scheme to a successful issue. I agree with the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) that the prospective chairman of the commission (Mr. H. W. Gepp) has already shown that he has a good grip of the essential factors in the situation. Some years ago, the report of an address which he delivered was circulated to honorable members, and I read it with a great deal of interest and profit. It pointed out the necessity of Australia concentrating upon the development of those secondary industries which were likely to be of greatest value to the country, especially as concerns defence; and, by inference, the desirableness of discarding those that could never be of much value to it. The proposal to appoint this commission re-introduces the whole question, which we have already debated several times this session, of the desirableness of Parliament delegating to subordinate bodies detailed work of this character. On that point, I direct- the attention of honorable members to a paragraph in John Stuart Mill’s Representative Government, published some sixty-five years ago, which seems to me to be a very lucid statement of the case : -
But while it is essential to representative government that the practical supremacy in the State should reside in the representatives of the people, it is an open question what actual functions, what precise part in the machinery of government, shall be directly and personally discharged by the representative body. Great varieties in this respect are compatible with the essence of representative government, provided the functions are such as secure to the representative body the control of everything in the last resort.
There is a radical distinction between controlling the business of government and actually doing it. The same person or body may be able to control everything, but cannot possibly do everything; and in many cases its control over everything will be more perfect the less it personally attempts to do.
The commander of an army could not direct its movements so effectually if he himself fought in the ranks or led an assault.
In that connexion, may I mention that General Ludendorf, in his book, stressed the fact that he’ was always able to realize the details of a position more accurately when he was supplied with information by his officers than when he visited the lines and made his own examination. The introduction of the personal equation, he said, was apt to upset his level judgment. The extract continues -
It is the same with bodies of men. Some things cannot be done except by bodies; other things cannot be well done by them. It is one question therefore, what a popular assembly should control, another what it should itself do. It should, as we have already seen, control all the operations of government. But in order to determine through what channel this general control may most expediently be exercised, and’ what portion of the business of government the representative assembly should hold in its own hands, it is necessary to consider what kinds of business a numerous body is competent to perform properly. That alone which it can do well, it ought to take personally upon itself. With regard to the rest, its proper province is not to do it, but to take means for having it well done by others.
In my opinion, that is a sound and almost classical statement of the case for a central body delegating power to subordinate bodies. I should like to refer to two or three clauses in the bill. Clause 13 seems to me to vest in the commission certain powers which, while not essential to its operations, may cause serious trouble, particularly to the commercial community. The power of investigating the condition and development of existing industries, whether primary or secondary, in the Commonwealth, and of determining the possibility of establishing new industries therein, seems to me to be almost identical with that vested in the Tariff Board, although it is not delegated in exactly the same language. Those administering large businesses have quite sufficient to do in coping with the inquiries of the Tariff Board without being troubled unnecessarily by those of a second body. Personally, I consider that the powers conferred under clause 13 are too wide, and should be limited, so that the commission could obtain all the information it needed without adopting an inquisitorial attitude towards employers.
– There might be conflicting recommendations by the two bodies.
– That is quite possible. The powers of the commission would be. wider than those of the Tariff Board, because it would be able to investigate the conditions in any primary or secondary industry. I do not suggest that it would not exercise those powers wisely; but it might be well for the Parliament not to make the powers unnecessarily wide at. the outset. The honorable member for “Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) referred to clause 14, and I am quite in accord with his view of it. The quotation that I read to the House from Mill seems to me to run quite counter to this clause, which provides -
The Commonwealth shall not approve of any undertaking or scheme proposed by a State under the principal migration agreement, or any supplementary migration agreement, unless recommended by the commission for approval.
I agree that the Parliament should not come to any definite decision before hearing what the commission might have to say; but the Parliament should be able to overrule the commission’s decision.
– I am quite prepared to amend the clause if it means that Parliament would be bound by the commission’s determination. The clause was drafted with the intention of preventing the Executive from adopting any scheme reported against by the commission without reference to Parliament.
– That overcomes my objection. I merely desire to point out that the ultimate power should rest with the Parliament. I suggest that the clause might be altered to provide that “ no undertaking shall be approved by the Parliament unless it has first been submitted to the commission for a report thereon.” It would be only fair to provide that Parliament should not decide upon any scheme without giving the commission an opportunity to express an opinion. In clause 16, reference is made to the engagement of experts, and I wondered what an expert in migration matters might be. I should imagine that the principal experts would be those officials who have been occupied for some time in this particular work. In looking through a book by a German professor the other day, I found an expert described as “ A man who can prove his qualification for a job by having been at the job for a long time, having presumably obtained it through examination.” Although an officer may have been employed in connexion with migration for a considerable period, there have been no examinations in order to ascertain who are experts in this matter. I cannot tell who these experts are, and if they are to be called in I cannot imagine that their services could be obtained at salaries under £500 a year, the sum mentioned in clause 15.
– The honorable member apparently does not realize that that clause merely prevents the commission from appointing officers at salaries of over £500 a year without the sanction of the Minister.
– Then it would be possible to appoint an expert at a higher figure than that if the Minister so determined.
– Yes; but the experts referred to are the officers required on the developmental side of the commission’s activities.
– I am grateful for the Prime Minister’s explanation. Last evening the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) remarked that he was speaking, not to this House only, but also to the general public. I submit that every speech delivered in this chamber on this bill is, in the larger sense, addressed to the world. While X do not imagine that the eyes of the whole world are necessarily always riveted on. this. Parliament, at the present time I realize that, owing to the vastness of Australia’s empty spaces, and the importance of the problem of dealing with the surplus population in other parts of the world, the attitude, of this Parliament on the general subject, of migration, whether it happens to he of British or foreign stock, is being keenly watched. What is said in this debate will be noted on the other side of the world, and, therefore, I hope that honorable members opposite will realize that the matter should be kept out of the arena of party politics. The attitude of Australians towards other countries will be judged by the action that this Parliament takes on the present proposals.
.- If the fate of the White Australia policy rested with the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes), Australia would not be safe from the menace of coloured labour. Presumably, the honorable member has been influenced to some extent by another South Australia!) politician, who has strongly advocated the introduction’ of coloured labour. The writings of Mill, .whom the honorable member quoted, infatuated me in my young days, but Mill had no policy suitable for a progressive country like Australia. The object of the bill seems to be to deprive this Parliament of the control of the finances and destiny of the Commonwealth. I compliment the honorable member for Boothby upon the matters that he has brought under the notice of the Government, ‘ and I am indeed glad that he has seen fit to point out, as I have done on numerous occasions, the danger of appointing boards or commissions whose ideals may be entirely foreign to those of the people generally. Since the Government takes little notice of suggestions from honorable members on the opposition side of the House, it was particularly refreshing to me to hear the honorable member express opinions entirely in accord with my own. The Government’s attitude cannot be said te be flattering to the Imperial authorities, who, in their anxiety to flood Australia with immigrants, are evidently unable to formulate a policy that will enable Britain profitably to employ its own people. Owing to the inability of the -British manufacturers to .keep their industries going, they suggested to the Baldwin Government that it should lend to the Com.monwealth £34,000,000 in connexion with a migration scheme, the object being to foist British goods of that value on the Australian people. When the Treasurer was speaking, I interjected that the money would be sent to Australia in the form of goods, and he replied that it would come as cash. I am surprised that he should attempt to mislead the House by such a statement, because it is common knowledge that all exchanges are effected by credits, and that not a threepenny-piece crosses the ocean except in the pockets of travellers. The Treasurer professes to believe in the protection of Australian industries, and according to the Argus and other free- trade journals, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) is a prohibitionist. Repeatedly when he was a private member the honorable gentleman protested against the policy of borrowing abroad instead of within Australia, and so retaining the interest in this country. Apparently he now subscribes to a policy which is a continuance of the principle he denounced, and involves the flooding of Australia with British goods, to the detriment of local secondary industries. It is a remarkable fact that when honorable members opposite change from the back benches to the Ministerial bench their views change with chameleon-like rapidity. I suggest to the new Minister for Markets and Migration (Mr. Paterson) that he should not follow the example of some of his colleagues, but should be loyal in office to the principles he professed as a private member. For the information of honorable members, I quote this criticism of the Minister for Trade and Customs and the Government’s immigration proposals - “ Borrowing abroad clashes with our policy of protecting our own industries,” said Mr. Pratten recently, “ and our national policy of protection is not complete unless we are selfsupporting in regard to our public finance.” There is nothing ambiguous about this. It is a clear and definite statement of a fundamental truth. It is the most important truth that Australia has to learn to-day. The £34,000,000 migration loan is no different from other loans. Britain is not going to send us money - she is going to send us £34,000,000 worth of manufactured goods. If Mr. Pratten favours this loan, lie goes back on his definite statement quoted above. If he does not favour it, ho should not silently acquiesce in it. It is up to Mr. Pratten to say just where he stands.
The Minister for Trade and Customs is continually advocating that Australia shall be self-contained. If our protective policy were really effective, very little money would be raised by the Customs Department j but some honorable members who profess protectionist principles act as if they were freetraders. I never do anything to belittle this land of my adoption. I suspect that behind this enthusiasm in certain quarters for immigation is some scheme which is not in the interests of Australia. What is the need for the haste that is being shown other than the desire of the British and Commonwealth Governments to help the British manufacturers? The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) quoted a speech made in England by the
Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). Such remarks should never have fallen from the lips of any Australian, and as Prime Minister the right honorable gentleman should have placed the interests of Australia first and left other parts of the Empire to look after themselves. The development of Australia has been remarkable. Within 140 years a large and prosperous community has been established here, with conditions of living, traditions, and ideals, that are an example to the rest of the world. At the end of the eighteenth century the population of Australia totalled only 5,000. One hundred years later it had increased to 3,765,000, and at the end of the first quarter of the 20th century it’ was nearly 6,000,000. Those figures indicate very rapid progress, especially when regard is paid to the fact that our people enjoy conditions better than obtain in any other country. Since the census in 1921, the population of the Commonwealth has increased at the rate of 117,000 per annum - 70 per cent., or 82,000 by natural increase, and the balance of 35,000 by immigration. Great gold discoveries have caused the rapid influx of people to other countries, but the settlement which followed was not of the permanent character of that in Australia, and the prosperity was only ephemeral. Some honorable members have made extravagant statements about the drift of population from the country to the cities. That evil is not peculiar to Australia. If I were a German I should naturally wish to see Berlin, and if I lived in the French provinces I should want to go to Paris. The gregarious instinct of mankind, and the desire for gaiety and life, are responsible for much of the drift from the rural areas to the great centres of population. Another fact to be remembered is that, owing to the development of mechanical invention and the application of advanced knowledge and science to industry, fewer hands are employed now than formerly in connexion with the production of foodstuffs. I suppose that fewer men are employed in the primary industries to-day than when I was a boy. Immigration to America reached such proportions that Congress was compelled to limit the influx. Of the 3,036,789 square miles in the United States of America, 1,500,000 square miles is utilized for farming. I understand that the American Congress acted on the principle that every nation should be able to feed itself, and that it is economically unsound for population to increase at a rate disproportionate to the production of foodstuffs. Congress had a national stocktaking. Lt surveyed the land that was not suitable for the production of foodstuffs - the surface of rivers, lakes, and swamps, and land too steep for cultivation or occupied by railways and cities - made allowance for the area that must be devoted to pastoral purposes, and came to the conclusion that, as there was not, in the United States of America itself, a very large area capable of producing foodstuffs, the country could not be overrun with immigrants if provision was to be made for the natural excess of births over deaths among the American people themselves. One American writer recently declared that more of the good things in life should be left for those already living in America, the idea being that an inrush of immigrants, which might possibly interfere with the existing standards of living, would deprive the people of America of some of the privileges enjoyed by them. At a recent function in London, at which Lady Cook, the wife of the High Commissioner, was present, Miss F. Taylor, of Melbourne, said that Australia needed women with capital to take up land settlement. I cannot understand how this lady came to make such a statement. I do not think that women would succeed in the arduous task of trying to make virgin land productive. In New South Wales, a gentleman who occupies a position in. the Upper House - I call it the Chamber of Fossils-
– The honorable, member should not speak disrespectfully of other legislatures in the Commonwealth.
Mi-. WEST.-As the House of which I am speaking is not elected by the people, I do not regard its members as legislators.
– They are legislators, and as such are entitled to respect.
– At any rate, a member of that body put forward a scheme for 1,000,000 farms, on which he proposed to settle 1,000,000 people. I think that men who make proposals like that ought to be in mental hospitals. This gentle man is a large land-owner, and some time ago was mixed up in land transactions. There has been more scandal in New South Wales in connexion with land resumption than in connexion with any other phase of the State’s development. Land has been resumed at a value which rendered it quite impossible for the purchaser to make a living on his block, and at the same time pay interest on his capital outlay. We are told by Mr. Allan, the Premier of “Victoria, that there is no need for the Migration Commission to look for land in his State, because it is not available. Yet honorable members say that there is any amount of land available in Australia for the settlement of immigrants. It is time steps were taken to make it known overseas that the land is not available for this purpose. Quite recently, some people who are connected with the charity organizations of Melbourne, gave evidence before a commission that half of those who were compelled to seek their assistance were immigrants who had come to Australia within the previous twelve months, and that some of them were not mentally fitted to compete with Australians in the employment market. Facts like these rivet themselves on my memory, and it is no wonder that I do all I can to prevent people from coming to Australia to occupy the unfortunate position of those who, through their inability to compete with active, lively, energetic Australians, are compelled to walk the streets of our cities and be a burden on the benevolent institutions of the States. I come now to the probable cost of the scheme proposed. British manufacturers are always willing to lend money to those countries to which their goods are sent. I have no desire to frighten honorable members, but I think the taxpayers will put an end to the scheme when they realize what it will cost and what damage it will do’ to Australia’s industries. I presume that the interest payments will gradually increase until the tenth year, when the amount payable will probably be £1,360,000. For the previous nine years it will probably total £1,800,000. I estimate that the cost of administration will be £20,000 a year. The chairman is to be paid £5,000 a year, and each of the other commissioners will very likely receive £3,000 a year. Each commissioner will need a clerk, a typist, and a messenger. There will also be office expenses. At any rate, I have estimated the total cost of interest and office expenses at £3,360,000 over the ten years. Adding to this the amount of the loan itself, there will be at the end of ten years an addition of £37,360,000 to our public debt. Judging by the type of immigrants we are getting, by the time the £34,000,000 has been spent, many of those who have been brought to Australia at this enormous cost will be in their graves. Others will be in institutions. Judge Bevan, of New South Wales, has told us that a large proportion of those who appear before him for trial, are recent arrivals from the other side of the world. The £34,000.000 will be paid to us, not in. money, but in goods, and the people who are sent out to Australia by the aid of this money, will assist to introduce into Australia articles which could very well be produced in Australia itself. It would not make very much difference if the £34,000,000 came to us in gold instead of goods. When I was a youth, I heard that New South Wales had borrowed £4,000,000 from Great Britain. I went to the wharf to meet the vessel that I thought would bring the money to Australia, and, of course, I was disappointed. I had not then learned that loans from Great Britain are re-paid by our exports to that country, and that actually no money changes hands. When developmental works, such as railways, harbours, and public buildings are constructed from loan monies, they become assets, but the loan of £34,000,000 for immigration purposes will be of no benefit to Australia, and will saddle posterity with an interest burden in the same way as the war debt of. £400,000,000. The British Government has shown itself to be incompetent to deal effectively with its unemployment. It is incurring enormous expense in the payment of unemployment doles, and the money would be better spent in employing the men on work of public utlity. That Government is now trying to foist its undesirable citizens on Australia. It has not forgotten that at one time . Australia was the dumping ground for criminals from Great Britain. It is time that Ave stopped this practice. What is the use of bringing immigrants here when we have no means of employing them? Nothing is so injurious to a nation as unemployment. It breeds discontent among the workers, and is therefore a dangerous element in the community. Unemployment- must react on the prosperity of a nation. The vested interests of Great Britain have not the people’s welfare at heart. The British Government subsidized the mining industry to the extent of £35,000,000 solely to assist railway and shipping interests. Those activities are considerably overcapitalized. They cannot show a reasonable margin of profit, and at the same time give to the workers fair wages and conditions. Many large firms, such as Vickers and Company, have considerably reduced their capital with the object of returning to pre-war conditions. The bill has nothing to recommend it. Many of the Government’s supporters view it with disfavour. The sooner that we have a change of government the better. After the experience of the maladministration of the Conservative Government of Great Britain, the people there would be only too glad to come to Australia if a Labour Government were in power. They would be prepared to suffer hardships for the first few years, knowing that prosperity is inevitable under the regime of a Labour Government. We are proud of Australia, and we should do nothing to upset our present high standard of living. We should not encourage immigrants to come here while we have no means of absorbing them. Canada has made great strides in railway construction. The government there granted certain lands to the Canadian-Pacific Railway Company. Railways were constructed, and the land made available for settlement. When the settlers failed, the blocks were re-sold at a considerable profit. Canada obtained her railways under a system that would not be tolerated in Australia. Our railway line from the . eastern States to Western Australia is one of the longest in the world. With the aid of water conservation, many of our desert lands have been successfully cultivated. Much has been accomplished in Australia in the short space of 50 years. We should open up additional avenues of employment before we attempt to bring immigrants here. Any sane person would refuse to go on the land under the present unfavorable conditions. We cannot prevent the drift to the cities. This House would be wise to refuse to accept from the British Government a loan of £34,000,000 for immigration purposes. The whole scheme has apparently been undertaken at the instigation of the British Government, which, in view of the difficulties surrounding it in the matter of unemployment in Great Britain, believes that as a result of this agreement it will be relieved of some responsibility. I do not think for a moment that the authorities in Great Britain consider that the scheme will be the success which the Prime Minister and some of his supporters anticipate. It is a pernicious system to spend loan money in bringing new settlers to Australia, as the debt thus incurred will have to be borne by the future generations. The Government should adopt the policy of the Labour administration of 1910 to 1913, when over 87,000. immigrants were brought to Australia yearly without the expenditure of one penny of loan money. I inquired if the proposed expenditure could be investigated by the Public Accounts Committee, but was informed that as a question of policy was involved no such investigation could be made by that committee. I desire to remove the impression in the minds of many persons that honorable members on this side of the House are opposed to immigration in any form. We are only opposed to immigration schemes under which large numbers of persons are brought to Australia for whom no employment is available on arrival. When in Sydney a few days ago I was informed that from 400 to 500 men were awaiting work where the construction of the Kyogle to South Brisbane railway is to be commenced. Those men are not loafers, as some would suggest, as many of them possess credentials from foremen of government departments or private contractors. A good deal of preliminary work has to be undertaken before a start can be made with the construction of the line.
– Is not that the fault of the State Government?
– It cannot be the fault of the State Government, as theamended agreement submitted by the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) was only ratified by this House on Friday last. I am objecting to the action of the Govern ment in bring more people to Australia when so many deserving Australians are vainly seeking work. The proposals of the Government are so unsatisfactory that I trust honorable members will oppose the second reading of the bill.
– Although this is really a machinery measure it is, I think, one of the most important which has been submitted for the consideration of Parliament. The bill embodies a serious attempt to provide machinery to deal in a practical manner with the population and development of Australia, which are two of the most pressing problems we have to face. Honorable members opposite who have adversely criticized the bill, still appear to be obsessed with the idea that every wage earner brought into this community will be a competitor for work of which they say there is insufficient for those already here. The idea rests upon fallacy, as it is a well-known economic maxim that increased population means an increased demand for products of labour, and is a contributing factor to increased general prosperity.
– If the people have access to the land.
– Of course. They must have access to the land; and in Australia there are millions of acres awaiting development. We cannot expect a community consisting of only a handful of people to be allowed to continue indefinitely, without molestation, to occupy this vast continent. Hitherto our protection has been the might of the British navy, which alone has stood between us and the danger of losing this country. Our limited population, which occupies only part of the fringe of our coastal area, would be quite inadequate to protect this country against any powerful foreign nation that was looking for vacant land upon which to settle its surplus population. Not far from our shores there are over-peopled countries whose increase is in a very much greater ratio than our own to the area of the country. The true basis of comparison as to the growth of countries is not the percentages quoted by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), but a percentage based on the figures showing the increase in population in comparison with the acreage of the country. Judged by that standard, we are in a very serious condition. We must, if we intend to preserve this nation, take effective steps to develop the land of this country and to fill the vast, empty spaces, which are the envy of many people who realize that we have failed to make use of the magnificent heritage which we have received from the British nation. The idea that bringing more workers into the country will prejudice the interests of the wageearners here has been exploded. Half a century ago the same idea prevailed in the United States of America. When that country had a population of 25,000,000, attention was drawn to the large numbers of immigrants from Great Britain and other parts of Europe, and the cry was raised by the industrialists that the local labour market was being flooded, and that the chances of employment of American workmen would be proportionately lessened. But when the population had increased to 50,000,000, the general prosperity of the country, and of every individual in it, had relatively increased, and, when the population had increased to 100,000,000. the conditions of industry were better still.
– Is population the only factor ?
– It is the main factor, because every unit added to the population creates a demand for the production of several other units, so that if more units are added to the community the demand for the production of the workers must be increased. Therefore, the introduction of more labour into a new country, instead of being a menace to the workers, benefits them by increasing the demand, and expanding th« market for their production.
– But only so long as the migrants are absorbed into industry.
– Quite so. I agree with those honorable members on this and the Opposition side of the House who hold that we should first provide means of employment for those who are here, and that we should not continue to bring migrants into this country unless we have the means of profitably utilizing their labour. The question of natural opportunity arises here, and in my view the main function of any Government is primarily to see that, so far as possible, equality of natural opportunity is provided for every one; and, secondly, the preservation of law and order and constitutional government on sound prin ciples. I agree with the view that, so long as the natural resources of the country are monopolized by a few persons to the exclusion of those who desire to develop them, so long shall we have to face the problem of poverty of a section of the community; but with equality of opportunity I have no fear of the effects of introducing more labour into this country. I believe that the Government, in bringing forward this bill, is desirous of organizing migration scientifically, and in the best interests of the country. The idea that the British Government is advancing this money merely to get rid of the unemployed and unemployable of that country, is a mistake. According to the Herald of this evening, that point was raised at the Empire Press Union Migration conference, which is now in session. The report of the proceedings states -
The Dominions Secretary (Mr. L. S. Amery) pointed out that it was a false perspective to regard migration as merely relieving Great Britain’s unemployment, which must be solved in Britain. The true basis of partnership of Empire communities was the fully developing of each and not overstocking the dominions’ labour markets. The press should not paint Eldorados and unduly emphasize failures, but give knowledge interesting to poor men and ambitious middle-class families.
Those remarks show that the British Government is alive to the importance of not sending migrants here for the purpose of overstocking our labour market. To do that would be disastrous ; but we have our trade unions, which, I should say, can be trusted to look after that aspect of the matter.
– How can trade unions prevent the labour market from being glutted if migrants are dumped into the country.
– The great majority of the migrants who come here will be, of course, wageearners, and will probably be absorbed into the different trade unions, which will then be able to exercise a beneficial influence on the conditions of employment. Further than that, we have our arbitration courts, wages boards, and other tribunals for the regulation of wages and for ensuring to the workers a standard of living compatible with the dignity of Australian labour. I ‘ have never been an advocate of cheap labour. I believe that “ the labourer is worthy of his hire,” and that well-paid labour, productively and congenially employed, is one of the greatest assets that the country can have. I see no reason why Australia, with her natural opportunities, should not give a lead to America in the matter of industrial conditions.
– Did America subsidize immigration ?
– It was not necessary. The cost of the transportation of migrants from the older countries to America was comparatively small. The great steamship companies carried them at nominal rates, and the journey occupied only five or six days. Therefore, the need for assisting migration to America did not loom as a necessity to anything like the same extent as it does in Australia to-day. I am hopeful that those who regard themselves as the direct representatives in this House of the industrial section of the community will, for the time being at any rate, lay aside their prejudices, and try and give the Government credit for sincerity.
– We know them too well to do that.
– There is always that spirit of suspicion and distrust, which, if not inherent in the Opposition, seems at least to have obsessed a section of honorable members opposite. It is a spirit that goes far to mar the effectiveness of some of the legislation which many honorable members on this side think would be of great benefit to the workers of this country. Honorable members on this side are just as anxious as honorable members opposite can be to see that the wage-earners of Australia are in as comfortable a position as it is possible to put them by means of legislation. Our attempts at industrial legislation have certainly been based upon thehope, at any rate, that whatever we try to do in that direction will have that result. But whilst every criticism directed against the defects of the bill will be welcomed, it will be a matter for regret if, for the time being, we cannot put aside party prejudices and approach the consideration of this bill purely on its merits. Its merits are great,’ provided the intention of the framers is carried out bv the commission to be appointed ; but, “like all other measures designed for the improvement of the conditions, especially of the wage-earners, and of the community generally, everything depends upon its wise and intelligent ad ministration. The best project in the world can be marred by faulty or inefficient administration. Whether this scheme is going to succeed or fail will depend largely upon the personnel of the commission ; upon their experience, their calibre, their capacity for understanding and handling the problems with which they will have to deal, and their sympathetic administration generally of the powers to be conferred upon them.
– The States are the buttresses of this scheme.
– Whilst that may be true, unless we have a competent commission in control of the. scheme, the States may make mistakes and the whole underlying principle of the bill may be destroyed.
– But, after all, the States will be the chief administrators.
– To a large extent, but under the control of the commission. Some exception has been taken to the provision that the Commonwealth Government shall not approve of any undertaking or scheme proposed by the States under the principal migration agreement, or under any supplementary migration agreement unless it has been recommended by the commission. When I read that ‘provision in the bill, I was very doubtful of the wisdom of its inclusion ; but I was glad to hear the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) say, while the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) was speaking, that it was due to an error in draftmanship, and that the limitation was intended to apply only to the executive for the time being. I agree with the honorable member for Boothby that, in some respects, the powers and functions of the proposed commission are too wide, nor are they confined even to those which are specified in the bill. It appears to me that, in some respects, there will be, inevitably, a. certain extent of overlapping with the functions of the Tariff Board, as has been pointed out by the honorable member for Boothby, and we may have conflicting recommendations as the result of differences of opinion between members of these two bodies. But there is a proviso that the powers and functions to be exercised by the commission shall be as prescribed. What is to be the nature of those additional powers and functions is not indicated, but perhaps the
Minister will be able to clarify the position when we are dealing with the various clauses of the bill in committee, and we may be informed of what is in the Government’s mind in regard to that particular sub-clause. I think that the operations of the proposed commission, especially if working in conjunction and in co-operation with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, are likely to result in the substantial development of this country’s resources, and in an increase in the settlement of people on the land. For this reason I shall heartily support it, subject, of course, to certain amendments to be considered in committee.
– I think that the honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson), who has just resumed his seat, has hardly done himself justice. Possibly this is because he and other honorable members of his ilk, to whom we have listened for years, did not speak their minds upon this subject. They have not dealt with the taxation of land values, which is their political creed. No doubt the honorable member would have spoken more effectively had he been free of the party shackles. He expressed the hope that the discussion on this bill would not be conducted in any party spirit. I suggest that when we are in the committee stage the honorable member should on the first clause deal with the merits of the single tax principle.
– The honorable member and his party would be the last to subscribe to the single tax doctrine.
– I will go the whole of the distance with any honorable member who will stand for a policy of taxing the unimproved land values in order to secure for the people of this country the vast amount of unearned increment that is at present withheld from them. Instead of applying that principle to this bill, it is proposed at the expiration of ten years to load posterity with the interest burden of this £34,000,000 which is to be borrowed from Britain for the development of migration schemes. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) the other night spoke about this policy of borrowing abroad. We have also heard the slogan, “ borrow robust.” It is now proposed to borrow another £34,000,000. Honorable members on this side of the House are ac- cused of opposing migration schemes. Nothing is further from the truth. We are prepared to welcome the introduction of suitable men and women for the development of this country, but we do not wish to see them jostling Australians for jobs, and in the process bringing the citizens of this country to a lower standard of living. That is our position. The people of England have nothing to fear from the attitude of the Labour party towards migration. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) said last night that he was speaking, not so much to the House as to the country, and that the country was entitled to know the real purpose of the bill. He essayed to discuss the scheme as a non-party proposal, and, according to the report in the Melbourne Aye, he said -
The scheme was a magnificent effort to help the Old Country in her hour of need.
Honorable members will note that the honorable member for Wakefield had nothing to say about Australia’s need.
There should not be any unemployed in Australia.
The honorable member knows that there are unemployed in the country, and that it is impossible to avoid a certain amount of seasonal unemployment; He does not employ his men all the year round. He obtains the labour to garner his harvests, ‘ and does not care “ tuppence “ what happens to his seasonal workmen at the close of the harvest. The honorable member went on to say -
Men in the building trade were only laying one-third of the bricks of workmen years ago, and were receiving double the wages.
This from the non-party advocate of the Government migration scheme ! Honorable members opposite have referred to our open spaces and. the need for the introduction of more people to defend Australia. Incidentally - this phase of the subject has not been particularly emphasized - an addition to our population will mean that there will be more people to bear the burden of taxation, and also to increase the profits of those who have “ soonerized “ this country.
– Naturally, that would be one effect of the policy.
– And that is what the honorable member for Indi is looking for. He is quite prepared to support a policy which will bring more people to this country and so spread the burden of taxation over a greater number, but he is not particularly anxious that newcomers should cut into any of the land which he holds. The report of the speech of the honorable member for Wakefield proceeds -
Yet they . were trying to keep others out. It was time they began to take stock and get of the type of men who had made Australia what she was to-day.
I am quite prepared for men of that type to come here ; but before we could expect them to be as successful as their predecessors we should need to settle them under similar conditions. That would mean that in South Australia, for example, they must be given land within Goyder’s line of rainfall for £1 an acre, or a city block for next to nothing. If that were done - and I know that it would not be considered for a moment - any settler could achieve success. Even if the expected migrants were given similar conditions to those which the honorable member for -Wakefield enjoyed when he came to Australia, the)’ would succeed. The proper method to settle any empty spaces that we have is to throw them open for application by men who are already here. The Government may rest assured that thousands of our people would be glad to get land on reasonable terms. I have a letter in my pocket from a cousin of mine who came to Australia two or three years before .the war, and, like myself, went overseas on active service. He is at present residing with his wife and child on Albemarle Station, on the Darling River, and is rabbiting and fox-trapping for a living. He told me in the letter that he had made several unsuccessful applications for a piece of land in western New South Wales, and intended to apply for one of two more blocks that have become available. He- asked me to tell him the best method to adopt to secure a block. I could only advise him to apply in the ordinary way. I have mentioned his case because it is typical of thousands of others. I am not so confident as some honorable members opposite seem to be that the Government has a real desire to settle our vacant land. The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. DuncanHughes), and several other honorable members opposite, have said a good deal about our White Australia policy during this debate, and have suggested that un-. less a much larger population is rapidly settled in this country it may be taken from us by some hostile nation. In my opinion, that is balderdash. There is no likelihood of Australia being attacked. The so-called menace of the East has troubled some of our people since the war; and the big German push of 1917 seemed to frighten many of them. I was in the front line in France at that time, and we were told that it caused thousands of Australians to rush to the recruiting office. But rumours of menaces from foreign nations have been circulated periodically in Australia for many years. I can well remember that from 1882 to 1884, what was known as the Russian scare agitated the whole of South Australia. The newspapers took it up after the Kelly gang sensation subsided. In those days a flag was flown from the tower of the General Post Office to notify an incoming English mail, and the people were informed that when war was declared with Russia a light would be displayed at the top of the flag-pole. It has not yet been seen there. I do not see any menace to Australia in either Southern Europe or Asia. The publication of speeches such as the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) and the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) have delivered during this debate are more likely than anything else to cause trouble for Australia. The tenor of their remarks was that our White Australia policy was untenable, and could not be maintained. While the honorable member for Boothby was speaking I interjected that if he was not trying to tear up the policy he was, at least, trying to tear a good piece off the edge of it. He referred to certain resolutions that were passed by the Overseas Migration Congress in London; but, as the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, the English people do not understand the Australian psychology nor their attitude on this question. More controversy in respect to our White Australia policy is excited by speeches delivered here than by those delivered abroad. When honorable members suggest that the teeming millions of Japan and China look with longing eyes towards the empty spaces of Australia they are inviting trouble. The late Senator Bakhap, who had a wide knowledge of Chinese and Japanese affairs, said more than once that these eastern peoples would not think of Australia as suitable for their surplus population, for they had much more congenial territory available near at hand in Manchuria and Korea, and he spoke from a much wider knowledge of the subject than any honorable member of this Parliament possesses. The eastern peoples have no predatory designs on Australia. The remarks of honorable members opposite may be described as a poorly expressed opposition to the principle of a white Australia. They are not new. In the early days of that policy we find that influential journals, like the Melbourne Age and Argus and the Adelaide Advertiser and Register, said that if the kanakas were sent from Queensland that State would stagnate, because it was impossible to grow sugar with white labour. Their only concern was that plenty of cheap coloured labour should be available. “What has come of the prophecies pf the Jeremiahs of that time? In the words of one honorable member, that land is now blossoming as a rose. The White Australia policy was adopted by the country in the face of great opposition. The conditions existing at that time in Queensland in connexion with the employment of kanakas were, awful. The kanakas were in a state of semi-slavery. Those experiences should be a guide to us in the future. Men sitting in conference in London know little of Australia and the principle underlying its White Australia policy. We on this side are prepared to welcome any migrants so long as they will : not lower our standard of living or act in opposition to the sentiment of this country; but honorable members may rest assured that any policy which has as its object the lowering of that standard will be fought tooth and claw by the Labour party. That brings me to the question of the introduction of Southern Europeans, whose standard of living is not comparable with ours. These people, who do not conform to our community life, should not bc permitted to stream into this country ad libitum. We have a right to maintain our own standard of living. Should the day ever come when Australians will be called upon to defend their country, they will not be found wanting.
– Does the honorable member not think that, without population, Australia is in danger ?
– No. I think that our natural development, will be sufficient. Only during recent years have we heard this cry of “ stinking fish.” Good patriotic Australians did not speak like that in years gone by, because they had confidence in their country. No section of the community is willing to do more to develop this country on sound lines than is the Labour party. When the honorable mem ber for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) said to-day that in his electorate there were no estates larger than they ought to be, he was speaking a half-truth only, because he knows that in his electorate there are holdings which are not being used to the best advantage.
– I know much to the contrary, and can prove it.
– On some future occasion the honorable member will have the opportunity to give us particulars of the estates in his electorate that are kept for sheep although they comprise some of the best laud in South Australia.
– I told the House this afternoon why those lands were being kept for sheep.
– The honorable member said that they were used to breed stud sheep, but I am satisfied that, if sufficient inducement were offered, the men now owning those estates would sell their heritage to any other country. They are doing so now by selling their stud rams and ewes to other countries. Stud ram.! valued at £60,000 were recently shipped to South Africa, and some of them were wrapped in better coats than have many of the working people of Australia.
– Sixty thousand pounds does not represent many stud rams.
– I know that; but the number would be sufficient to lay the foundation of that competition of which the honorable member spoke. While he was speaking I interjected that South Africa obtained its first wattle seed from South Australia, and that in consequence the wattle industry in South Australia is now practically dead. Only the other day I was informed by a member of a commission in Adelaide, which is inquiring into secondary industries, that, whereas in years gone by leather was exported from South Australia, it was now being imported. Scarcity of population is not the cause of Australia’s lack of development. The fault lies in the methods employed by those controlling both our primary and secondary industries. I am ashamed of some honorable members opposite for the way in which they continue to decry this country. I am a “ pommy,” but. nevertheless, I think Australia is God’s own country, and its people the best in the world.
– It is a good country badly managed.
– It is the best managed country in the world, despite what honorable members opposite say. The Labour party is accused of being opposed to the development of Australia, yet it stands for a tariff which will do much to make the country self-supporting. By developing our secondary industries, we shall make it possible for large numbers of immigrants to be absorbed. England will not rob herself of agricultural workers in order to send them to Australia. Most of those who will come here from the Old Country will be artisans, and if we are to treat them properly we must develop our industries to provide employment for them. Members of the Labour party love their country, and desire to see it expand and progress. No one knows better than does the honorable member for Wakefield, who has been in the political life of South Australia for many years, that in the early .days of the Labour party in that State it advocated the subdivision of large estates. The honorable member for Wakefield must admit that it was the agitation by the Labour party for the bursting up of large estates, and the force of public opinion behind their policy, that led to thousands of contented families being settled on country formerly used for raising a few sheep. When George Fife Angas selected land in South Australia in the early days, he chose some of the best country to be found there.
– Does the honorable member know that he had to buy it?
– I have the authority of Mr. Crawford Vaughan, an exPremier of South Australia, for saying that when Mr. Angas went to Collingrove near Angaston, he stood on the highest hill he could find, and, looking around him, said, “I claim all the land that I now see, and all the land that I” cannot see I claim for my son John.”
– I do not believe that Mr. Vaughan ever invented such a story.
– I have given the honorable member my authority for it. Mr. Angas, patriot that he was, did not go to
England for immigrants, but to Germany. He laid the foundations of the villagesin the Angaston district- that are largely populated to-day by settlers of German’ origin.
– That is true; but why did he obtain German settlers?
– I suppose that they were just as glad to set sail from Germany as many of our early colonists were to leave England. 1 admit that,, next to British migrants, the most desirable are those of the Nordic races.
– The honorable member should not forget that George Fife Angas was chairman of the South. Australian Company, and was responsible for the English people coming toSouth Australia.
– Yes; but it is well known that he was also responsible for the German settlement in the district to which I have referred.
– Those settlers left Germany to escape military persecution.
– That is so. The peopleof Australia, even at the present stage of our history, have not escaped entirely from that. Any scheme for placing people upon the land in a manner that will enable them to make a success of their holdings will have the cordial support of the ‘ Labour party ; but as the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) stated, the Government has put the cart before the horse. The inquiry and recommendation by the Commission should be made before the Parliament is asked to pass a bill involving the expenditure of £34,000,000. The honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson) remarked that the British Navy stands between Australia and the danger that threatens it owing to the overcrowded condition of certain foreign countries. It has frequently been asserted that if it were not for the British Navy, Australia would be at the mercy of any predatory nation; but, assuming that we do rely upon the protection >£ that Navy, are we asking for more than we have given to the Mother Country? When Australia was made part of tin-. Empire, some of the statesmen iu the Old Land doubted thf wisdom of retaining the Crown colonies. There was no well-considered scheme for the develop- ment of Australia as a means of strengthening the Empire. Captain Cook simply landed here, and claimed this country tor Great Britain, just as George Fife Angas claimed land for himself at Colliingrove in the early days of South Australia.
– The statement was not true, and that honorable member should not defame a great colonist by repeating it.
– I am not prepared to
Bay that Crawford Vaughan did not know what he was talking about. He was a great authority on land questions, but I admit that nobody made a greater mess of land administration than he did. Let no one think I desire to “ cut the painter” or to break “the crimson thread.’* I am as- loyal to the land of my birth as is any person in this chamber, and I do not think that Great Britain endorses the attitude adopted by some jingoes in this country when one attempts to talk common sense in regard to the relations between Australia and the Mother Land. How was this country first colonized? Captain Cook took possession of it in the name of the’ King, and, later, its value as a place for the investment of the surplus wealth of Great Britain was realized. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) will recollect an estate in South Australia that was administered by the late Mr. C. G. Kingston and his brother. In the early days of Australian colonization two old ladies, conducting a little store in Shoreditch, sent out £25 or £30 to be invested in land in South Australia. A portion of the land they acquired is in the suburb in which I live. The story of the unearned increment of that investment reads like a fairy tale. The original investors never came to Australia, nor did the following generation, and the third generation, who also are absentee landlords, are still drawing a huge revenue from it. Australia was not settled by Great Britain under any definite scheme of colonization and development.
– Compare the Constitution that Great Britain gave to us with what we might have received from France or Germany.
– If the honorable member is asking me whether I would sooner be a foreigner or a Britisher, I must pro claim my loyalty to the race to which I belong; and if our virtues are to be measured by other people’s vices, some of us may be classed as angels. Australia was annexed to the British Empire, but no set scheme of development was propounded; no special inducements were offered to people ‘ to come here and settle. But when cheap labour was required, the Old Country sent ‘out convicts, and a lot of good men went to their graves bearing unjustly the brand of the criminal.
– No convicts were sent to South Australia.
– I am speaking of Australia generally. Will the honorable member deny that the manner of Australia’s colonization was such as I have described? By the labour of the convicts, and the initiative and energy of the pioneers, we have built lip a nation that is Great Britain’s second-best customer. Each year we send to her from £20,000,000 to £30,000,000 as interest on loans in addition to the amount paid to keep her factories going and to alleviate the problem of unemployment. When we ask Great Britain to protect Australia, are we not asking her to’ safeguard her own interests? Is a British squadron maintained in the China Sea for the protection of Chinamen? No: it is to protect the moneyed interests of Great Britain in the Orient, and surely we, as scions of the British race, have at least a sentimental claim upon the guardianship of . the Mother Country should trouble arise. The statement that we are under an obligation to the British Fleet for the protection it gives to us will not stand analysis in the light of common sense and fair play. Has not Australia played its part in the Empire’s bothers and troubles? When the Soudan trouble occurred, Australia did not stand aloof; it could not do much, but, in proportion to its resources, it sent a contingent to help the Mother Country. The Boer War is now recognized to have been engineered for political purposes; nevertheless, the honour of the Empire was involved, and Australia, as a cub of the old lioness, took part in the brawl. And in the Great War, what a splendid record Australia established ! Sixty thousand of the flower of its manhood gave their lives to Great
Britain, and our own people incurred a debt of £300,000,000, the interest on which will be for many years a burden upon them. The honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson) may say that we cannot expect the British Navy to stand by us always; but Great Britain would bring eternal infamy upon herself if she allowed Australia to be menaced by any other country. “When honorable members speak as they do about the defence of Australia, their tongues are in their cheeks; they have in mind the White Australia policy. If I understand the feeling of our people, that policy is to be maintained, and those with whom we are associated must be made to recognize that we have borne the heat and burden of the day to make this country worth while for the white races.
– The honorable member surely does not claim that the Labour party is the only one that has stood for a White Australia?
– No ; but it is the only party that has not at some time either opposed that policy or damned it with faint praise. The Labour party stands for a White Australia, and for the maintenance and, if possible, the improvement of the conditions obtaining in Australia. If there is any opposition to that policy, it does not come from us.
– It comes not from honorable members opposite, but from their supporters.
– I think I can challenge that statement, because, although I have attended many conferences of the Labour party - Federal and State - I have never yet heard any serious argument raised at those conferences against the development of Australia under the White Australia policy, or any statement that the application of that policy is likely to bring about the dire results forecast by honorable members on the other side of the House. I do not approve of any portion of the agreement with the British Government. I am opposed to the principle of borrowing money outside the Commonwealth, because I claim that, if it is necessary to borrow money for the purpose of settling immigrants on. land in Australia, the money should be raised in Australia. If the people in Australia who have money to invest will not lend it for that purpose, then I suggest that we should establish credits, as was done when the safety of the Empire was threatened. It is useless to say that it cannot be done. People can do anything they make up their minds to do. When the first war loan was proposed to be raised in Australia, we were rather timid as to what could be done. Mr. Fisher, the then Prime Minister, was afraid to go ahead. As a matter of fact, the circumstances were sufficient to shake the confidence of any man in a proposal to create credits in the name of the nation. However, he conferred with the leading financiers of the various States in connexion with his proposal to borrow £20,000,000 locally, and be was advised by them to take the money in instalments of £5,000,000, as they were required. The idea was supposed to be a good one, because it was considered that, by the time the first £5,000,000 had been spent, the money having percolated through the ordinary channels of trade, would again be available for investment. Mr. Fisher adopted the proposal, and Parliament accepted it. At that time, tha right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) declared that Mr. Fisher was well advised to accept the advice of the bankers to take his loan in £5,000,000 instalments, for the reason that there was not £20,000,000 of working capital in the Commonwealth. He said that if £20,000,000 were obtained from Australian investors, it would mean the destruction of commerce, and would result in industrial chaos. Events proved that, although the right honorable gentleman had, a few months earlier, been Treasurer in the State of Victoria, he knew nothing of the financial resources of the Commonwealth. The very source from which he said £20,000,000 could not be obtained was subsequently able to provide £200,000,000, and had the war continued for another’ nine months, could have provided another £200,000,000. However, I am suggesting now that if it is necessary to borrow money to place people on the land, we should borrow the money locally, and engage Australians to construct roads and bridges at the rates at which immigrants are to be employed. If, then, we need more people, we can easily open the doors, aud give them any assistance we think necessary.
-On one occasion, when the Tight honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) went to England to raise £3,000,000,’ the money was not available. He was then State Treasurer.
– That is quite possible, but necessity knows no law. The money may not have been available when the right honorable member for Balaclava tried to get it in London, but what happened during the financial deadlock, when,, at the outbreak of war, the Bank of England and other banks closed their doors? The British Government issued a paper currency, using the credit of the nation to support it. In the same way, in Australia, we utilized the credit of the nation to enable us to carry on the war, and I am suggesting that we should do it again for the development of Australia.
– We shall have to do it some day.
– I hope the day will soon come when we shall adopt that sensible course. A few weeks ago, a visitor to Australia said that ours was a land of borrow or burst. We are placing an’ enormous burden on posterity. We are anxious to develop Australia, to people it, aud to make the progress that rightly we should make, but there are other means of doing it than by going cap in hand to the British money lenders as we have been doing in the past, Why cannot we utilize the money we are borrowing to place our own citizens on the land, particularly those men who went overseas to fight for us, or their sons? Not until we have opened up profitable avenues of employment, should we invite immigrants from Great Britain to come here to enjoy our prosperity. I have tried to visualize in what way we can effectively settle immigrants in this country. There is only one scheme that is likely to be of any use, and that is the group settlement scheme that has been adopted in Western Australia. The Premier of South Australia (Mr. Gunn) was very timorous about the migration agreement. He appointed three commissioners, including an official from Roseworthy College and the Secretary for Lands in South Australia. They were sent throughout the length and breadth of South Australia to ascertain what land was available for settlement. I do not think that their report has yet been submitted. But, visualizing the situation, the only avail able land for settlement is in the outback country, and the bulk of it would show a loss on the first three years’ operations. We have had the experience of our soldier settlements. We borrowed and spent millions of money on that scheme; and what is the position to-day ? “We are writing off millions of pounds. Some of the settlements have benn successful, but there is no market for the produce. We are up against a blank wall respecting the soldier settlement scheme. I ask any honorable member supporting the Government to put forward a concrete and sound scheme of land settlement. Our returned soldiers were fleeced in respect of the prices that they paid for their land. They were fleeced by the patriots who flag-waved them when they went to the war. In the district. represented by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) £11 8s. an acre was the minimum price obtained for the Canowie estate, and the great bulk of that land was bought by the persons who lived adjacent to it.
– Who sold the returned soldiers the Beerburrum lands? ‘
– I do not know. The Government of South Australia bought land known as The Pinery at £21 an. acre. A valuer was called in, and he assessed it at £6 an acre. He reported that it was too wet for farming, and too dry for fishing. The sale of the Beerburrum land . may be a similar instance of imposition. The man who sold The Pinery “ sold “ the returned soldiers. If ‘ we make a success of settling strangers on the land and a failure of settling our returned men, we shall be disgraced in the eyes of the world for all time. The Labour party is not opposed to the principle of immigration, but before we agree to the bill we’ should like to know whether better methods of settlement are to be adopted, and whether the people who come out here to go on the land will be thrown on the industrial market, and thus accentuate unemployment. The Labour party would welcome any scheme that would help to develop Australia.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Gullett) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
The following paper was presented: -
New Guinea - Report to the League of Nations on the administration of the Territory of New Guinea from1st July, 1924, to 30th June, 1925.
Ordered to be printed.
Bounty on Queensland Cotton-growing.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed-
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has yet come to a decision in regard to the payment of a bounty on Queensland cotton. I have received a letter from the secretary of the Central Queensland District Council of Agriculture, in which he states -
The District Council regrets that the announcement is so long delayed, as the delay threatens to have an effect on the acreage to be planted during the coming season. It is now that preparations for planting should be made in order that a good seed bed might be in readiness to receive early planting. With the air of indefiniteness as to what might be offered in the shape of a bounty, caution will certainly be exercised by the growers in determining the acreage to prepare.
This matter is of great importance to central Queensland, which produces 75 per cent. of the cotton grown in Australia. The cotton growers naturally want a definite pronouncement from the Government respecting what bounty it is prepared to give them. The Government announced when the session opened, in its policy speech that it had decided to substitute a bounty for the guaranteed price. There is no justification for the delay, because the Tariff Board submitted its report on this subject nearly two months ago. and the Government has since had the matter in hand. As a representative of the cottongrowers in Queensland,I ask the Prime Minister to disclose his intentions; if not now, at least within a few days.
– I have already informed the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) and other honorable members representing Queensland who have raised this question, that the Government is at present giving the most careful consideration to the payment of a bounty on cotton. I hope to make a definite announce ment at a very early date. I have received constant representations from Queensland senators and from members of the House of Representatives - particularly the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. J. Francis) and the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Hunter) - whom I have informed that the Government is doing everything possible to expedite a decision, recognizing as it does that as this is the planting season a definite and early statement is of great importance to the Queensland cotton growers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 June 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260630_reps_10_113/>.