10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. SirLittletop
Groom) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Commonwealth Offices at Brisbane.
Mr. MACKAY presented the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, together with minutes of evidence and plans, relating to the proposed erection of Commonwealth offices at Brisbane.
Ordered to be printed.
Mr.R. GREEN. - Does the Government intend to bring forward a bill to create the necessary machinery for the taking of a Local Option Poll at Canberra? If so, when will the bill be presented to the House?
– No decision on the matter has yet been reached by the Government.
Frosts in Murray Valley.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of the recent disastrous frosts along the MurrayRiver Valley, and the consequent ill effects to the dried fruits settlements in Victoria and South Australia? If so, what action docs the Government propose to take? If the matter has not yet been brought to the notice of the right honorable gentleman, will he cause inquiries to be made as to the manner in which the Government can assist those affected?
– The very unfortunate visitation of frosts which has occurred in the Murray Valley during the last few days has been brought to my notice, and I have already received a communication on the subject from the Development and Migration Commission which is investigating generally the economics of the dried fruits industry. The Government is now considering whether any effective step can be taken to assist the settlers who have suffered.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs received the report of the Tariff Board regarding the proposed duty on tomato pulp? If not, when is the report likely to be made available, and a decision upon it reached by the Government?
– The report of the Tariff Board has been received, . and as soon as it has been considered by the Government, it will be laid upon the table of the House.
– In regard to the recent raids on certain business premises in Melbourne in connexion with the nonpayment of income tax, will the Attorney-General inform the House of the nature of the specific charges to which certain defendants will, as the honorable gentleman told the House yesterday, plead guilty?
– The charges, speaking from memory, have been laid under sections 67 and 68 of the Income Tax Assessment Act.
– I wish to know the nature of the charges to which these people are to plead guilty, and how the Attorney-General has acquired the knowledge that they are going to plead guilty. Is that course of action the result of a compromise on a criminal charge?
-Without reference to the documents, I am not prepared to state the precise terms of the charges. I understand they are charges brought under sections 67 and 68 of the Income Tax Assessment Act, which relate in general terms to non-payment of income tax with intent to defraud. I use only general terms. Regarding the second part of the question, on the advice of counsel, the Crown Solicitor and the Commissioner of Taxation, an agreement has been made, and one of the terms of that agreement is that the parties are to plead guilty to the charges.
– I wish to know whether this case has been withdrawn from the court.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral any objection to disclose the names of those persons who are prepared to plead guilty of a criminal offence.
– I am unable to supply thatinformation. There are several persons concerned, and I believe that the documents are at the Crown Solicitor’s office in Melbourne.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware of any precedent for the alleged fact that an agreement has been entered into between a person charged with an indictable offence and the Crown as to the plea that the person charged will make when, in due course, he is submitted for trial before a jury of his countrymen ?
– If the honorable member will refer to the Act which I have already mentioned he will see that this is not a proceeding before a jury. The action to which he has referred has been taken on the advice of counsel, with the approval of the Commissioner of Taxation, the Crown Solicitor, and the Solicitor-General. I also consider the procedure proper.
– Having regard to the complaints made in connexion with the demands of the Performing Rights Association upon showmen and others throughout Australia, will the AttorneyGeneral have inquiries made so that if it be deemed necessary or advisable, legislation may be introduced to meet the altered circumstances which have recently arisen ?
– The subject of royalty charges in respect of the performance of musical works has received a great deal of attention from the Government and from my department. I have discussed the matter with representatives of the interests concerned, and the latest information in my possession is that the dispute is reaching a more satisfactory footing, and that a marked diminution in the volume of complaints is noticeable. The dispute cannot yet be regarded as settled, but I hope that a practical adjustment will be reached, which will remove the cause of complaint. I have previously mentioned the difficulty of legislating satisfactorily on the subject, and no practical suggestion for overcoming the trouble has been made to me from any quarter.
– I rise to make a personal explanation concerning a question I asked yesterday in regard to the Government’s housing scheme. As a preliminary to the question I mentioned the large increase of population in New South Wales since the Lang Government had assumed office, and you, Mr. Speaker, called me to order and said that honorable members must not, when asking questions, give information to the House. You evidently misunderstood my intention, because my statement of fact was necessary to enable me to elicit the information I desired. I thought that that was in accordance with the practice of the House. You, Mr. Speaker, also said that a question on the same subject appeared on the notice paper. I hope that my eyesight is not defective ; but I cannot see on the notice-paper any reference to a housing scheme.
– The honorable member preceded his question yesterday with a statement of fact. The purpose of questions is to elicit information, not to give it. That rule has been invariably enforced. After the honorable member had asked his questions, a minister interjected that the same matter was the subject of a question upon the notice paper, and I therefore disallowed his question. Apparently the honorable minister was under a misapprehension, and I unwittingly did an injustice to the honorable member. I make that statement so that the honorable member may, as usual, appear in a fair light before his constituents.
– Will the Minister for Works and Railways inform the House what programme, if any, is in hand or in contemplation for the establishment of further water supplies in Central Australia along the stock routes and for general developmental purposes?
– That matter is now under consideration by the Works and Railways Department and the Department of Home and Territories.
– Have any printed reports been prepared dealing with the activities of the Development and Migration Commission? If so, are they to be made available to honorable members ?
– No reports of the Development and Migration Commission have yet been printed. I understand that a report dealing with the activities of the commission for the current year is in manuscript and will be printed as soon as completed. The Act provides that it must be laid on the table of the House, and I anticipate that it will be available within the next four weeks.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that a certain amount of dissatisfaction exists amongst the postal workers stationed at Canberra, because of the accommodation provided ? Will the honorable gentleman make inquiries with a view to removing existing grievances?
– The Deputy PostmasterGeneral for New South Wales has already been in touch with the officers concerned, and all efforts are being made to provide suitable accommodation.
– Will the right honorable the Prime Minister inform the House what steps are being taken to comply with the terms of the agreement recently made between the Commonwealth Government and the British Australasian Tobacco Company regarding the carrying out of experiments and investigations into the tobacco growing industry in Australia?
– Advertisements have been inserted in newspapers throughout the world in order to obtain for Australia an expert who will be able to advise us in our experiments. Those experiments will cover both the cultivation and the processing of tobacco. A salary of £2,000 a year has been offered, and we are confident we shall be able to secure a really first-class expert who will be of the greatest assistance to us in connexion with our contemplated research work. Until that expert arrives it will not be possible to advance our experiments very far, but meanwhile the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research is working in active cooperation with the British Australasian Tobacco Company.
– Are any of the moneys received from Germany by way of reparation to be used for the purpose of reducing our war loan indebtedness, or will they be used for some other purpose ?
– The recent amendment of the Sinking Fund Act provides that such moneys shall go immediately into the sinking fund.
– I wish to know whether the report of the Commissioner on the Morobe Goldfields has yet been made, and if so, when it will be available.
– The report has not yet been received. It will be made available immediately it is received.
– Is it a fact that Dr. Darnell Smith, a New South Wales Government bacteriologist, has gone abroad to report on the applications for the position of director of tobacco grow ing experiments? If so, is the recommendation of Dr. Darnell Smith to be accepted by the Commonwealth Government?
– I have not, as yet, any information as to the first portion of the honorable member’s question - whether Dr. Darnell. Smith is being asked to investigate the claims of those applying for the position; but I assure the honorable member that no recommendation will be final or binding. The qualifications of all the applicants will be considered.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that consequent upon the closing down of some of the minesat Broken Hill owing to the decreased price of lead a good deal of unemployment exists in that city? Is he also aware that numbers of Italians and other foreign immigrants are constantly arriving on the Barrier? Two days ago 36 arrived. Will the Prime Minister inform the Italian and other foreign immigration authorities of the unemployment that exists in Australia and suggest to them that migration from their various countries should be curtailed?
– The Italian ConsulGeneral has already advised his Government of the position which exists in some of our great industrial centres, such as Broken Hill, Wonthaggi, and Port Pirie, and the Italian Government has decided not to is.sue passports’ to any Italian subject who proposes to proceed to those centres.
Tariff Board Report
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs inform honorable members whether the Tariff Board report on the proposed duty on copper and/or other mineral products has been received? If so, when does he propose to lay it on the table of the House ?
– I am not sure whether the report has been completed; but if not, it is on the eve of completion. Until such reports are considered by the Government they cannot be laid on the table of the House, for, as honorable members will see, my first duty is, obviously, to protect the revenue.
– It is extremely difficult for honorable members sitting on the back row of benches in this chamber to hear some of the remarks that are being made to the Chair. I should like to know, Mr. Speaker, whether anything can be done to improve the acoustic properties of the chamber?
– After the House risesthis week I shall consult the architect on this matter. It would assist honorable members who sit on the back benches if those who addressed the Chair would raise their voices slightly. On account of the exceptional acoustic properties of the chamber which we occupied in Melbourne honorable members have a tendency to speak in a conversational manner. I had a test made last evening, and found that the remarks of one honorable member could be heard quite distinctly in every part of the chamber. However, I shall have the matter investigated during the week-end.
The following papers were presented : -
Nauru - Report to the Council of the League of Nations on the Administration of Nauru during theyear 1926.
New Guinea - Report to the Council of the League of Nations on the Administration of the Territory of New Guinea from 1st July, 1925, to 30th June, 1926.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
Nos. 12 and 13 of 1927 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 14 of 1927 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 15 of 1927 - Australian Workers’ Union and the Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 16 of 1927- Australian Postal Electricians’ Union.
No. 19 of 1927 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
Nos. 21 and 22 of 1927 - Aims, Explosives, and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 23 of 1927 - Commonwealth Telegraph. Traffic and Supervisory Officers’ Association.
No. 24 of 1927 - Commonwealth Public Service Professional Officers’ Association.
No. 26 of 1927 - Commonwealth Public Service Professional Officers’ Association.
No. 27 of 1927 - Commonwealth Public Service Meat Inspectors’ Association.
No. 28 of 1927- Arms, Explosives, and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 29 of 1927 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 30 of 1927 - Commonwealth Public Service Professional Officers’ Associa- tion.
No. 31 of 1927 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 32 of 1927 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 33 of 1927 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
Nos. 34 and 35 of 1927 - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union of Australia.
No. 36 of 1927 - Arms, Explosives, and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 37 of 1927 - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union of Australia.
No. 38 of 1927 - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union of Australia.
No. 39 of 1927- Commonwealth Temporary Clerks’ Association.
No. 40 of 1927 - Arms, Explosives, and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 41 of 1927 - Postal Overseers’ Union of Australia.
No. 42 of 1927- Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.
No. 43 of 1927 - Commonwealth Postmasters’ Association.
No. 44 of 1927- Third Division Telegraphists’ and Postal Clerks’ Union.
No. 45 of 1927- Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.
No. 46 of 1927- Commonwealth Telephone Officers’ Association.
No.47 of 1927- Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Trade and Customs Department.
No. 48 of 1927- Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Trade and Customs Department.
No. 49 of 1927 - Third- Division Telegraphists’ and Postal Clerks’ Union.
No. 50 of 1927- Third Division Telegraphists’ and Postal Clerks’ Union.
No. 51 of 1927 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 52 of 1927 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 53 of 1927 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Nos. 54, 55, 56, and 57 of 1927 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia and Australian Postal Electricians’ Union.
Minister in charge of Repatriation, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the fact that since the allowance of 10s.6d. per pensioner per week in Government institutions was fixed by the Government the cost of maintaining inmates has considerably increased (South Australia to15s. 8d. per head), will he review the matter so as to make the payment equal to an amount not exceeding 16s. according to the cost of maintaining each pensioner in such institutions?
– As announced in the budget yesterday, the Government has given consideration to anomalies in the present method of dealing with invalid and old-age pensioners who become inmates of public institutions, and has decided to call a conference of representatives of the Commonwealth and the States with a view to placing the matter ona more satisfactory basis.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Will he include in the list of schedule roads subsidized for making and maintenance the Outer Harbour to Largs Bay section of Military-road, South Australia ?
– The section of the Military-road (South Australia) referred to by the honorable member has not been included in the five-years’ scheme submitted by the State Minister and approved by me. Any proposal to include such road in the Federal Aid Roads scheme should in the first place emanate from the State Department and be submitted to me for determination as to whether it came within the classification of roads set forth in the Federal Aid Roads Agreement.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government consider the advisability of approaching the South Australian Government with a view to securing a variation of the agreement concerning the construction of the North-South Railway, offering in lieu of such construction to make the road passable for traffic from the southern boundary of the Northern Territory to Daly Waters, thereby saving an enormous expenditure on a railway through country which is practically a desert for the greater portion of the way, and which railway, if constructed, will have practically nothing to carry except occasionally a few cattle, and must entail an enormous annual loss.
– The agreement with South Australia was entered into in fulfilment of obligations incurred at the time of the transference of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is prepared to perform all its obligations, but the Government will consider the advisability of discussing with the Government of South Australia the alternative proposal suggested by the honorable member.
Minister in charge of Repatriation, upon notice -
What is proposed to be done regarding requests that have been made on behalf of returned soldiers, who have been incapacitated as a result of spinal troubles and double amputations, that free motor cars should be made available for their transportation when required.
– A statement indicating the Government’s intention in regard to this matter was contained in the budget speech delivered yesterday.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
How many members of the Public Service are still awaiting classification ; and what steps are being taken to expedite the completion of this work ?
– The information will be supplied later.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– A full reply will be furnished as early as practicable.
asked the Prime Minis ter, upon notice -
– The following is the answer to the honorable member’s questions : - 1 and 2. No formal arrangement in regard to immigration has been entered into with any of the countries mentioned, but in the case of nationals of each of the following countries, namely: -Greece, Albania, and Jugo-Slavia, the British consular authorities have been requested to arrange that, as far as practicable, not more than 100 vises per month should be granted for travel to Australia. Migrants from the whole of the countries mentioned must satisfy the general condition of admission to Australia in regard to health and character, the possession of valid passports or equivalent documents, and the possession of landing money amounting to at least £40 per adult, or, alternatively, landing permits granted as a result of maintenance having been guaranteed by relatives or friends in Australia.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In connexion with the Defence estimates, will he give consideration to helping in every way rifle clubs throughout the Commonwealth, which are such a valuable adjunct to defence?
– It is the policy of the Government to give rifle clubs every possible consideration.
asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice -
What are the amounts in money orders for 1926-27, and also for 1926-21, that have been remitted from post offices at Broken Hill, Port Pirie, Whyalla, Kalgoorlie and Townsville, to residents in Italy and Greece ?
– Inquiries are being made, and the information asked for will be supplied as soon as it is available.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and the information asked for will be supplied as soon as it is available.
asked the Minister for
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– I desire to draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to a question placed on the notice-paper by the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen). The question refers to the agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australia for the construction of the northsouth railway, and thus suggests an alteration of it -
Thereby saving an enormous expenditure on a railway through country which is practically a desert for a greater portion of the way, and which railway, if constructed, will have practically nothing to carry except occasionally a few cattle, and must entail an enormous annual loss.
Is the honorable member in order in expressing his political views in a question by which he appears to be seeking information ?
– The honorable member’s point of order must be sustained. It is not in order to express opinions or to use argument in the statement of a question, the object of questions being to elicit information, not to give it. But, because of the tragic happening last night, and the late receipt of the question, my attention was not drawn to it until this morning, after the notice-paper had been issued. Had I had the opportunity, I should have asked the honorable member responsible for the question to frame it in terms which would not infringe the parliamentary rule to which attention has been drawn by the honorable member for Adelaide.
– I accept theexplanation.
– I lay on the table of the House the report of the Council of the League of Nations on the administration of the territory of New Guinea from the 1st July, 1925, to the 30th June, 1926, and move -
That the report be printed.
.- I believe that during the recess the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Marr made a trip to New Guinea and Papua, at the instance of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), who accompanied the Minister, and not the parliamentary party which also went there. Why he did so I do not know, except that he thereby travelled on a large vessel while we were cooped up in a small one. The question of dealing with the mandated territory should, in my opinion, receive more attention than just the mere printing of a report to the League of Nations. The conditions in New Guinea as I saw them, and from what I heard of them, should at least engage the attention of this House, and an inquiry should be made respecting the position there. While I do not desire to make a speech on this motion, I hope that we shall have a statement from the Minister for Home and Territories. I took the opportunity to read the local papers of New Guinea, and I know thatthe Minister has been waited on by responsible bodies regarding alterations that should be made. I have had the privilege of reading the report of a conference called between the missionaries in the mandated territory and the department itself, and I might suggest to honorable members that that report contains some staggering information. Apparently the conditions have never been considered by those responsible for the administration of the territory. I raise this point so that the report may not merely be printed and forwarded to honorable members to read - I want to get some little result from the suggestion of the honorable member for Perth. I want to know what the Minister discovered from his trip, and what is to he the action of the Government regarding what I know to be the many anomalies in the mandated territory.
– As the honorable member has said, the Minister for Home and Territories has just visited Papua and New Guinea. He went there for the express purpose of looking into, the administration and general position of territory which is the very sacred responsibility of the people of Australia. The Minister has already submitted a partial report and he proposes, later, to submit his full report to Cabinet. I can assure the honorable member that later in the session the Minister himselfwill make a full statement to honorable members, and that when he does so there will be full opportunity for discussion in this House.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. It is very difficult to hear what is said, because there is so much noise and vibration in the chamber. I heard some allusion to my self by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), but I could not catch the exact import of his words. I do not wish to do him any injustice; but I understood him to say that I had made some report or suggestion to the Minister or the Government about the control of affairs in New Guinea.
– The accoustics evidently have played a trick on the honorable member. I said that he proposed a trip to New Guinea and did not take part in it.
– I presume that I am the master of my own movements. As a matter of fact, I did propose a trip to New Guinea, and I went there; but that is beside the question. I understood the honorable member to suggest that I had made representations to the Government on this matter.
– The honorable member for Adelaide made no such suggestion.
– Nothing, of course, could be more incorrect. It happened that the Minister travelled on the same steamer as that taken by me. I understood the honorable member to say that my suggestion should not be listened to and that the recommendation of a conference at Rabaul should be ignored.
– That is not what the honorable member said.
– If I have misrepresented the honorable member for Adelaide, I apologize ; but it was very difficult on this occasion, as on others, to understand the exact import of the honorable member’s remarks. I repudiate any such suggestion as that offered by the honorable member. There seemed to be an inference that I had said something that I had no right to say.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 28th Septem ber (vide page 65), on motion by Dr. Earle Page -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- At the conclusion of my remarks yesterday I pointed out that one of every four persons who had come into the Commonwealth in the last six months was a nonBritish migrant, or that at least 25 per cent. of the arrivals were from countries other than Great Britain or British dominions. I now propose to touch upon immigration in general. I, believe that we should deal with the subject in a systematic manner, and I have complained on previous occasions that this is not done. When we were considering the appointment of the Development and Migration Commission, I urged that it be permitted to take stock of Australia, as it were, in order that it might suggest developmental work whereby employment could readily be found for immigrants. However, the advice given from my side of the House was disregarded. The Commission was appointed, and during the period of its existence many migrants have come to Australia under the agreement with the British Government. I find that 66,247 persons have arrived in Australia under the agreement.
– Is that for a period of twelve months?
– I should think so; but I have not the exact dates before me. Prior to the adoption of the agreement, the cost to Australia for each migrant was £9 7s. 10d., and, notwithstanding the fact that we were told that the cost under the agreement would be reduced, because the British Government was finding so much money and paying so much of the interest, the cost per head to-day is £12 3s. 3d., or an increase of £2 15s. 5d., making a total increased cost with respect to the 66,247 arrivals of about £183,000. I submit that honorable members were under the impression that the agreement would result in a reduction for each migrant, whereas, in fact, the cost has been considerably increased. I am not disapproving of the work of the commission. I believe that there is useful scope for such a body; but I take exception to the commission and the Government bringing to Australia people who cannot be absorbed readily in employment. It is ridiculous to go on in this way when many thousands of our own people, not only in the areas referred to by the Prime Minister to-day, in reply to a question, but in every industrial centre, are unemployed. The commission should have certain work ready for the migrants when they reach Australia. When we can find employment for all our own people who are now in search of it, we should welcome as many migrants from Great Britain as we can readily absorb. The Prime Minister has stated that the solution of the problem of unemployment has been receiving the consideration of the Government, and the Development and Migration Commission has been asked to furnish a report to the Government on certain phases of the problem, which will be dealt with in conjunction with the report of the royal commission on unemployment and national insurance. He has further stated that the commission will present a report as early as practicable, because the more rapid development of the resources of Australia is one of the most helpful means of combating unemployment. It is evident from the Prime Minister’s statement that no provision has yet been made to absorb the migrants as they arrive. He understands that something will be done, but he is still awaiting a report showing where the migrants can be placed. Nevertheless, the Government is endeavouring to increase immigration. We cannot develop Australia on sound lines by placing large numbers of people somewhere in Australia, leaving it to chance whether or not they can find employment. A few moments ago the Prime Minister stated that the Italian and other governments had been advised not to allow emigrants to go to certain parts of the Commonwealth. What is to prevent persons from first going to one part, and from there making a move to any other district in which they may desire to settle ? From any point at which they land they might ultimately find their way to Broken Hill, where already is industrial trouble on account of the low price of lead.
– I do not suppose that intending migrants are asked to what part of Australia they intend to go.
– The honorable member may be right; I am merely commenting upon the Prime Minister’s statement that the authorities abroad are requested to advise intending migrants not to go to certain areas. In the interests of our own people, we should regulate migration. If when we want population we cannot get sufficient people within the Empire, we can seek them elsewhere. I have nothing to say against the people who are arriving in Australia from foreign countries. They may be excellent citizens, and of exemplary character.
– Some of them ! .
– There are exceptions in every community, but I am not objecting to the foreigners on account of their character. My complaint is against wholesale migration before any scheme for the absorption of the newcomers has been evolved. In this matter the Government is putting the cart before the horse. Having a large sum of money at its disposal, the Government can easily ask Australia House to send out large numbers of migrants, but that policy does not help Australia if the migrants are not effectively absorbed; it is merely doing injustice to them and to the people already here. What is needed is a well thought-out policy for the proper regulation of this great national problem. It does not follow that, because Australia has vast emptyareas, people can be brought here without provision for them having been made in advance of their arrival. I had hoped that the Development and Migration Commission would deal with this matter. I am ready to believe that the Commissioners are doing good work, and that it is necessary for them to make investigations and. submit reports before great developmental works can be put in hand by the Commonwealth and State Governments, but until those works are about to be started’ the immigration scheme should be in abeyance. If the Government were to follow that policy no objection could be offered to the scheme, but the practice of dumping new arrivals upon an already overloaded labour market cannot be justified.
For a long time the Commonwealth arbitration system has not given satisfaction.
– Not to anybody.
– I admit that, and the dissatisfaction is caused by the delays incidental to the system. Arbitration cannot be expected to retain theconfidence of those who have occasion touse it for the settlement of their industrial disputes if they cannot obtain redress within a reasonable time. When parties to a claim have to wait from twelve months to two years to have the matter dealt with by the court dissatisfaction on the part of all concerned is inevitable. Further than that, a union which has been registered under the Commonwealth Act cannot escape from the control of the federal court.
– Except by refusing to obey an award.
– The court has ruled that parties registered under the Commonwealth Act must remain under it for ever.
– Until they are deregistered.
– Yes; but the honorable member would not urge that industrialists, in order to get redress, should adopt a course which would bring about their compulsory de-registration. That sort of thing we desire to avoid. In some industries awards which have been in operation for two or three years have expired and the parties cannot get a re-hearing; neither can they take their plaint to any other tribunal. The result is resentment throughout Australia against the Commonwealth arbitration system. That is not in the best interests of the country. A Commonwealth arbitration system is necessary, and the federal court should have greater power to provide for uniform conditions throughout the Commonwealth. The tendency, however, with industrial unions particularly, is to endeavour to return to the jurisdictionof the State arbitration courts. They find they are unable to do that, and, if the existing state of affairs continues for any length of time, a development which I do not think desirable will take place. If men are bound to acourt to which they cannot have access, and are, therefore, compelled after an award has expired, to continue, working without redress of grievances, their confidence in arbitration will be destroyed and they will be forced to adopt a course of action which otherwise would not appeal to them. The purpose of industrial arbitration is to prevent or settle disputes between employers and employees; but if the system is to be a success redress must be reasonably prompt. If men have to wait two or three years before they can get to the court, it is idle to tell them that they must not cease work. From time to time we have been told that the act will be amended and anomalies rectified; but year after year goes by and nothing is done. Additional judges have been appointed to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, but more judges are required now than were necessary a few years ago, because this Parliament has enacted that any proposed variation of the standard hours of work can be dealt with only by a bench of three judges. When Mr. Justice Higgins presided over the Arbitration Court one judge could fix the hours, and I do not know what justification can be found for now requiring three judges to be occupied with this question, when a lot of other work is awaiting their attention. Some of the judges should be liberated to attend to the accumulation of plaints, so that the hearing of them might be expedited. Because of the preference of both employers and employees for tribunals to which they can have ready access, local tribunals are coming into favour. The Attorney-General has told us that,under the Commonwealth’s limited powers in regard to arbitration, local tribunals cannot be appointed by the federal authority ; but the States can create then and are doing so. Such tribunals are giving satisfaction, and it is unquestionable that, where they’ are in operation less industrial trouble is experi enced, The parties have confidence in them ; they can get a decision in. a f ew weeks, and consequently no stoppage of work occurs. The Commonwealth arbi tration legislation is taking second place to State legislation, and many unions now registered under the federal act are en deavouring to escape, from it.That the; cannot do without incurring punitive de registration. Even if they doescape from the Commonwealth court by any means the employers can, by proving the existence of a dispute in more than one State, bring them under the federal jurisdiction again. I hope that the Government will take immediate action to place the Commonwealth Arbitration Court on a better footing than it occupies at the present time. If that is not done we shall not be able to blame the unions for any industrial trouble that should arise.Our desire is to create confidence in the arbitration system, for without that confidence it cannot succeed. Therefore, it is desirable that this Parliament should promptly redress the grievances of those who have dealings with the court.
At the request of my constituents, I propose to say a few words about the postal facilities at Cardiff. At the present time the residents are inadequately served by a semi-official post office conducted by a private person, and they claim that an important suburb with a population of 4,000 people in close proximity to Newcastle is entitled to up-to-date conveniences. Recently the residents renewed their application to the department that the present office should be made official, but that reasonable request was refused. It is not my custom to occupy the time of the House with small local matters, but I mention this subject because my constituents are indignant at the treatment they have received. In addition to sending a numerously-signed petition to the Postmaster-General, they have asked me to voice their grievance on the floor of the House. I hope that the Postmaster-General will make further inquiry into the matter with a view to doing something to meet the growing requirements of that very important dis trict.
.- I assume it to be the custom of the Treasurer to ask for Supply on the basis of the Estimates for the previous year, and that the honorable gentleman does not intend to use any of the present appropriations for new expenditure.
– No new services are provided for in this Bill.
– Then I would like the honorable gentleman to explain what appears in the schedule of the bill, at page 5. Under the heading, “ Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research,” is included- £5,000 for “ Animal nutrition problems, including investigations into mineral deficiencies in pastures”; £900 for “radio research,” and £1,250 for “ unforeseen and urgent investigations.” I cannot find similar items in last year’s Estimates.
– There is special regulation dealing with those matters. The amount of £28,700 is deducted lower down on the page.
– The expenditure will not be incurred on these items until they have had the approval of Parliament ?
– The expenditure was approved by resolutions that were before the House five or six months ago.
– It appears to be a departure from last year’s Estimates. Some of the amounts may have been approved by resolution of Parliament, but the estimates of expenditure have not been passed by Parliament. The Treasurer will take authority by this bill to incur that expenditure.
– That is not so. Later I shall explain the exact position at length.
– To me it seems wrong in principle that the Treasurer should take authority in a supply bill to incur new expenditure or commence new enterprises without obtaining the authority of Parliament on a specific vote. Quite a number of items dealing with proposed new expenditure occur in the Estimates themselves, and I take it we shall have an opportunity to discuss them, and that the Treasurer will be guided by the opinions expressed.
Commonwealth Ministers are prone to make use of a term that has been bandied about a good deal lately in the Commonwealth. The honorable gentlemen appear to be greatly intrigued by a term which they have not explained to the House. I refer to the “geophysical” survey of Australia. The Prime. Minister, during his recent tour of North Queensland, delivered speeches at Townsville, Cairns, and a number of other places, and frequently endeavoured to interest his audience by discources on geophysical prospecting and what it could accomplish for the moribund mining industry of the Commonwealth.
– What does it mean?
– I understand that such a survey involves the use of certain physical science in the search for minerals
– A sort of diviner’s rod.
– Something of the sort applied scientifically. The torsion balance is employed extensively in Sweden, with a great deal of success; but the. whole thing is in a state of evolution at the present moment. Every Department of Mines in Australia has interested itself in the question for the last five or six years. Consequently I was amused to note the Treasurer’s reference yesterday to his discovery of geophysics, and also to read the Prime Minister’s references to it. Mr. Gepp, the chairman of the Development and Migration Commission, speaking at Atherton, on the dairying and maize industry, also dealt with geophysical research. I hope it may be productive of good results. Apparently the Commonwealth Government has taken up the new toy with some enthusiasm, and Ministers are endeavouring to tickle the ears of the groundlings with learned discourse on obscure sciences. An insignificant amount has been appropriated for the geophysical survey of Australia, an amount that appears to me to be paltry when compared with the magnitude of the results anticipated in the Prime Minister’s speeches.
The chief problem facing Australia with regard to its mineral wealth, and the mining industry generally, is not the devising of methods to locate mineral deposits. We have numberless mineral deposits throughout Australia already located and well known. Our difficulty is to work those deposits commercially. Most of our mineral deposits are of low grade, and the metallurgical problems connected with their extraction are great. Transportand other problems render the handling of our mineral wealth unprofitable, and we are not going to solve our difficulties by” the employment of methods bearing fanciful titles. Far better results would be achieved by granting practical assistance for the development of known resources.
I have experienced some difficulty in inducing ministers to listen to representations regarding matters which concern my electorate, and now take the opportunity to voice my grievance. I have been in communication with the Prime Minister with regard to Cockatoo Island Dockyard, and the right honorable gentleman has been good enough to send an officer of his department to Sydney to make investigations into some of the minor grievances of the persons employed there. That official interviewed some of the representatives of the men, but, so far, we have received no decision regarding the matters brought under his notice. Some of those matters relate to outstanding claims for compensation by persons who have been injured, and to allowances in lieu of furlough. These matters have been held over for a long time, and I urge the right honorable gentleman to hasten his decision.
The representatives of the men of Cockatoo Island wished to bring a very important matter before the Prime Minister, but, unfortunately, the right honorable gentleman was unable to receive a deputation. I refer to the policy of the Commonwealth Government towards the Cockatoo Island dockyard. That policy appearsto me to be hostile. The dockyard is at present working on a very restricted scale, fewer than 1,000 men being employed, whereas it has employed over 4,000 men. Recently the High Court dealt with the tendering by the Cockatoo Island Dockyard for private contracts. The legality of such work being undertaken by the dockyard was questioned, and the High Court decided against the acceptance of the work by the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. In my opinion the case should never have been brought before the High Court. It was imperative, in the public interest, that no decision should be given to prevent the dockyard undertaking that and similar work in order to keep the men and the equipment employed. A contract for turbo-generators was lost to Cockatoo Island, and no other Australian firm secured the tender, which went oversea. That was the result of an unsound policy. I am aware that the Government wished to avoid creating a precedent, but in this exceptional case the interest of the community should have been paramount. Had the Government withheld consent for the reference of the case to the High Court, its action would not necessarily have affected other- cases. As a result of the action of the Government, we have Cockatoo Island in the unhappy position of working to only one-third of its capacity. Many men are being turned away from work, and others have been threatened with dismissal, by reason of the imminent completion of all work on hand. The action of the Government has a very far-reaching effect, as it will deter local authorities and other outside bodies from having work executed by the Cockatoo Island dockyards because of the fear that the dockyards have no legal authority to undertake such work. The only work of any considerable extent now being carried out there is on the seaplane carrier, and that is fast nearing completion. The Government should endeavour to rectify the position. If it is necessary to amend the Constitution in order to enable the dockyards to undertake outside work, such an amendment should be proposed. ‘ The Commonwealth authorities themselves claim that the dockyard is the best shipbuilding and repairing yard in the southern hemisphere, and it is melancholy to reflect upon the huge, number of efficient machines that are now out of employment at that yard. An effort should be made to keep the staff together, for” the men have come to regard the workshops and shipbuilding yards as a place of more or less permanent employment. A very fine staff has been built up at Cockatoo Island. The general manager and others, who are in a position to speak with authority, would, I am sure, frankly admit that the technical staff and permanent employees are a most efficient body of men, and it is an unhappy thing to see them being dispersed. It would be most difficult to get them together again should they be required. I suggest to the Prime Minister that all naval work required for Australia should be done here. It is little short of a tragedy t» contemplate such work being sent overseas. The two cruisers that are now being built abroad for us should undoubtedly have been built here. The factor of cost should not have weighed so heavily with the Government. I do .not say that Cockatoo Island should, be kept busy building cruisers merely for the sake of providing employment, but I do say that all the naval work which Australia requires should be done here. What would it matter if the cruisers had cost a little more by being built “in Australia, for the money would have circulated here? So long as the work is being done efficiently - and it is the responsibility of the Government to see that work is . done efficiently - there is every reason why it should be done here. It seems to me to be a policy of despair for any government ‘to sit back quietly and excuse itself for sending work abroad on the ground that it could .not .be done efficiently in Australia. A government has at least equal opportunities with private enterprise to get work done efficiently here. If it is aware that inefficient or extravagant methods are being employed- in any of its under-, takings, it should take immediate steps to improve the system. This Govern ment has made some slight attempts , lately to encourage the building up of . manufacturing enterprises in Australia by imposing what it regards as effective ‘ duties on certain commodities. Perhaps it has not gone so far as it might have gone in that direction ; but at least it has proclaimed that it favors the establishment of secondary industries here. It is to be assumed, therefore^ that it considers that private enterprise can operate efficiently. I do not think that . the public will consider that any minister justifies himself for sending work overseas by merely saying that it can be donemore efficiently there than here.
Some little time since I made representations to- the Minister for Defence ou behalf of the municipality of Leichhardt for a grant to restore the roadway in Charles-street, Leichhardt, to the condition in which it was prior to the Government commencing to build its ordnance store there a short time ago. This is a large brick building, and the cartage of the heavy materials required for its construction entirely destroyed the surface of the road. The Minister, in reply to my representations,, stated that there was no precedent for making such a grant. The municipality was asking for only £500, and I think that the Government might very well have acceded to. its request. The circumstances of this case are singular. I understand that the Government has only one ordnance store in the State, and it was solely responsible for cutting up the road. There is an analogous case which might guide the Minister in giving a favorable reply to my request. The New South Wales Government built a store in the same locality some little time ago, and, in carting the material for it, destroyed the road surface in Augustastreet. In reply to a request for a vote to repair the damage it agreed to pay an amount of £750, which represented threequarters of the cost of restoration. I cannot understand the Commonwealth Government denying such a reasonable application.
– There are many eases like the one the honorable member has described.
– I doubt whether any of them are as strong as the one I am putting ; but if they are, I should be quite willing to assist honorable members to secure a favorable decision in respect of them. I am not suggesting that the Commonwealth should subsidize municipal councils, for I know something of the difficulties connected with that matter. I trust that the Prime Minister will give some consideration to these representations. I understand that. the application was refused following upon a Cabinet decision; but it is such a reasonable request that I still trust that it may be granted.
The Prime Minister stated this afternoon that the report of the Development and Migration Commission will shortly be presented. I do not know whether it is to be a complete report, covering all the commission’s inquiries up to the end of the financial year, or simply an interim statement of its activities.
– It will be a general report.
– I do not desire to pass hasty judgment upon the commission ; but .judging by the numerous references to its activities that, one sees in the press, I am rather afraid that the whole scheme will fail. That remark is not intended as a reflection upon the personnel of the commission. I believe that every member of it is an able . and a highly educated and well-informed man. But the magnitude of the task allotted to the commission seems to me to be beyond the capacity of any body of men to discharge successfully. The Government appears to have passed on to the commission a large share of the responsibility which it should be carrying. The chairman of the commission is apparently a very capable man, but neither he nor any other man can be expected to be an authority on all the matters which have been referred to him. Many problems have been presented to the commission in the course of its extensive travels throughout the Commonwealth, but .1 doubt whether a solution has been found to any one of them. Is it expected that honorable members will wait patiently for the commission to complete its investigations into these problems before themselves attempting to find a solution of them? Perhaps the report will disclose what is intended in that regard, or possibly the Prime Minister may enlighten us on it during the session. It really appears to me that the commission provides the Government with a more or less effective way of shelving its responsibilities. I regret that the Prime Minister has not so far taken an opportunity to inform honorable members of the business which will be placed before them during the session. I understand, of course, that we are merely resuming after an adjourn-, ment; but the adjournment was protracted. We have been called together to resume work,, . but we do not know anything at all about the nature of the task before us. I think the Prime Minister, in ordinary courtesy to us, should have outlined the sessional programme. That would have been informative and useful to honorable members ; but all we know, so far, is thatwe shall be required to deal with the budget and the estimates. At the ceremonial opening of this building last May, the Prime Minister, in reply to a casual question, indicated that there was a good deal of business to be transacted when Parliament re-assembled in Sep:tember. There certainly is much business that should be done. I trust that the right honorable gentleman will take an early opportunity to show honorable members the courtesy of outlining the programme which he desires fulfilled. I am sure that he could easily obtain leave to make such a statement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Issue and application of £4,069,925).
. Is it not usual for Ministers to reply to questions raised in the debate on the second reading of a Supply Bill? I think we are at least entitled to that courtesy.
– I agree with the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) that every honorable member is entitled to the courtesy of a reply to any point that he may raise, but I would inform him that I intend to deal with the points that have arisen under the different departments as they are discussed.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
.- During the second reading debate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) dealt at some length with the migration to Australia of persons other than British subjects, and also touched upon the question whether further immigration into the Commonwealth should not cease. These matters were considered and fully discussed some eighteen months ago, when the Development and Migration Bill was before Parliament, and I think one thing that was then generally acknowledged was that by the mere bringing of an unlimited number of new citizens into Australia we shall not solve the problems of population and development. To develop successfully the resources of Australia, and to populate it, and to maintain our present standard of living, we must adopt a plan which will co-ordinate development and immigration, increasing our absorption power, and thus making it possible to settle immigrants satisfactorily under what we term Australian conditions, and conditions which we are determined to maintain. The principle was affirmed, and is the principle upon which we are now operating. The Development and Migration Commission has been established, and its main concern is a consideration of the general problem of development, and in particular definite schemes that have been submitted by the States to the Commonwealth. The basic principle supporting such schemes must be the increase of the absorption power of this country. Since the commission was appointed, schemes have been submitted by the States which would cost something like £11,000,000, and schemes which will cost £4,000,000 have actually been approved by the Commonwealth, and are being carried out by the States with moneys supplied at a cheap rate of interest over a period of ten years. Other schemes which are still under investigation will, I trust, in due season be approved; but they will be approved only if they are truly developmental, and designed to increase the absorption power of Australia. One such scheme is the Dawson Valley project in Queensland, in which the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) is interested. That has recently been investigated by the Developmental and Migration Commission.
– Has that scheme been approved ?
– Not yet. It is still under consideration. There is a great deal I could say about that scheme and others, but this is not the time to do so. The Leader of the Opposition last night spoke of the large amount of our public borrowing, and the vital necessity for curtailing it to the minimum. He urged that borrowed money should not be spent for other than truly developmental purposes. The Development and Migration Commission is also investigating various industries. The Council for Scientiffic and Industrial Research, too, is doing good work- by bringing the aid of science to our industries so as to increase their efficiency and our absorption power. I think that the Leader of the Opposition last night accepted it as a principle that we should bring into Australia as many people as we can economically absorb.
– That depends on the country of origin of the migrant.
– I am speaking now of British immigrants. I do not think that the Leader of the Opposition will quarrelwith what I have said in this connexion so far. The gravamen of his charge was that more people were being brought here than could be economically absorbed. If I understood him aright, his suggestion is that we should not bring into Australia any more people until such time as we have thoroughly investigated the problem of Australia’s development. We have laid down a definite policy, and taken the first steps towards carrying it out. There has already been a tremendous increase in the absorption power of Australia. But as Australia is placed to-day, we could not pursue the course that the Leader of the Opposition has suggested, because his suggestion would mean that no more migrants would be brought into Australia. To that the Government could not agree. I remind the honorable member that under the assisted-passage scheme, migrants have either to be requisitioned by a State Government, or come under what is known as the nomination system. Every nominated migrant brought to Australia with the assistance of the Commonwealth and the British Governments has to be approved by a State Government. In addition, there are the juvenile migration schemes, such as the Dreadnought scheme and the Big Brother scheme. I do not think that anybody in Australia takes exception to them. The only way in which we could stop people from coming to Australia would be by laying it down definitely that no more are to come here, and the Government has no intention of doing that at present. As to the influx of foreigners, it has been suggested from time to time that there is an overwhelming number of foreign migrants, and that their increase is so rapid as to be a matter for serious alarm. When the subject was previously considered, I stated that in view of the rate at which foreigners were coming into Australia, we need have no anxiety for the next ten years; that until that rate was greatly increased there would not be a material reduction in our racial purity within a period of from ten to twenty years. From figures which have been brought up to date it is apparent that there has been much exaggeration in regard to foreign immigration, and that, I suggest, is very undesirable. The following are the figures respecting immigration : -
The whole question has been examined closely on a statistical basis, and we have to take into consideration the increase of population by Australian births. At present approximately 98 per cent, of our people are of straight-out British stock.
– Is the Prime Minister sure of that?
– Yes. There is no evidence to suggest anything else. A further statistical fact is that 98 per cent, of the births in Australia are of British parentage, so that we are maintaining satisfactorily the proportion of those of British strain in Australia to-day. The figures prove that at present, there is no menace to our racial purity. We have assumed a definite attitude by our White Australia policy in the determination to maintain highly economic standards and racial purity. There is nothing in the statistics to-day to justify us in doing anything, on the ground that action is needed for the maintenance of our racial purity, which would be regarded as hostile by practically every country in the world. The Leader of the Opposition stated last night that immigration is a domestic matter, but he knows as well as I do that that view is not very enthusiastically accepted by a great number of the nations. On that point we fought hard at the Imperial Conference, and we are determined to continue the fight to a finish, but we must recognize the view adopted by other nations. Let us consider the matter from the angle of the present position in Australia. The facts are that unemployment is less acute to-day than it was two years ago, and is only about as prevalent as it was twelve months ago. I am supported in that statement by the figures supplied by the various trade organizations to the Commonwealth Statistician. I have asked the Statistican to prepare the latest figures for me. There could not be a worse advertisement for Australia than the repetition of the statement that we are in a hopeless economic position which is leading us into tremendous industrial troubles, because of unemployment. The matter is of great concern to every honorable member, and to the people of Australia. Only by reference to actual statistics can we test the accuracy of these statements. The figures for the June quarter - the latest available - show the percentages of unemployment in the various States to be as follows : -
– Do those percentages refer to unionists?
– Yes. Whatever our individual views due to our knowledge of the situation in a particular corner of the Commonwealth, not one of us is able to speak with authority upon the actual position except in the light of the official statistics. It has been stated that the flow to Australia of Southern Europeans and other foreigners is the chief cause of the present unemployment.
– Does the right honor- able gentleman include the Maltese among the British immigrants?
– Yes. They are British subjects as much as the honorable member is. We cannot arrogantly claim that we are a white people, and suggest that the Italians, for example, are not. It would be better for Australia if we recognized that European Nationals are just as white as we are. The end will be disaster for ourselves if we adopt the arrogant attitude that we are better than other people.
It is alleged that nothing is being done to ensure that non-British migrants shall not be admitted to an extent beyond the absorption power of Australia.
Innswer to a question to-day, I outlined the position as applying to Greece, Jugo-Slavia, and Italy. In reply to another question, I mentioned that the Italian authorities themselves are taking direct action to prevent the occurrence of the very thing of which complaint has been made. I do not know whether honorable members have taken the trouble to read the report of the Migration Commissioner in Italy in regard to the migration of Italians to Australia. This report was sent to me from Great Britain, and I issued it to the press of Australia. If honorable members opposite have not perused it, I suggest that it would make very interesting reading for them. Another fact to which I drew attention today was the action taken by the ConsulGeneral for Italy in Australia in connexion with migration to big industrial centres such as Broken Hill, Port Pirie and Wonthaggi. The Leader of the Opposition asked me whether the Government proposes to utilize the power conferred by the act which we passed some two years ago to bring into operation the quota system. He also referred to the fact that the United States of America had adopted that system. I point out to the honorable gentleman that there is a very considerable difference between the position of Australia and that of the United States of America. Although that country is somewhat smaller in area than Australia, it has a population of 115,000,000. America, therefore, can say to the world with considerable justification, “We have reached the point of economic absorption, and we are perfectly entitled to introduce the quota system.” I suggest to honorable members that they should hesitate seriously before demanding that the Commonwealth, with a population of only 6,000,000, should take similar action. To do so would be practically to challenge the whole of the white races of the world. If the specific question that the Leader of the Opposition puts in the statement he made last night is whether the Government proposes, at the present time, to apply a quota system of immigration with regard to Europeans, my reply is that we are not. On the facts to-day, there isno menace to our racial purity, and there is not sufficient evidence with respect to the industrial situation to suggest that there is any fear of our standards of living being undermined by the present influx of migrants, whether British or otherwise.
The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) referred to two or three subjects. He spoke of the Development and Migration Commission, which I do not propose to deal with at the moment. He. did not discuss it, other than to express the hope that good results would follow, and to say that he was prepared to suspend judgment until he had received the report of the commission’s activities. At the beginning of his speech, however, the honorable gentleman rather fell from the high standard . that he has established, and which we expect from him, when he indulged in some rather cheap gibes on the subject of geophysical prospecting. I do not think he was in his happiest vein, because I do not know, and neither does lie, whether great results will accrue from the action now being taken ; but there is a probability of very great benefit from it. He remarked that various State mining departments had been considering the subject for the last few years. That is so, and I think other mining departments, and the -mining world generally, have been hopefully contemplating for the last five years the possible results of geophysical prospecting. But we have not reached the point at which it can be considered to be on a practicable basis. Considerable developments, however, have taken place in the last eighteen months. At the end of last year, the matter was considered at the Imperial Conference, and there seemed to be the germ of great possibilities in it. The British Government agreed to set up a technical committee to inquire fully whether it was within the realm of practical affairs, and after the report had been received, to consider whether the matter should be taken further, with a view to an investigation upon an Empire basis. The report of the technical committee was that there was’ quite sufficient evidence of the latent possibilities of this new method of prospecting, and the question of where experiments could be carried out arose. “We represented that
Australia was the most undeveloped continent in the world, with the greatest possibilities of mineral development. It was said that there was no greater or better field for testing the theory than this country, and I am glad to say that our view prevailed. The Empire Marketing Board has agreed to co-operate. An investigation will be carried out here, and I believe that this will be to the greatest possible advantage of Australia. I am sorry if the honorable member for Dalley’ imagines that this is one of the subjects I have been introducing to. tickle the ears, of the electors, as he put it. I had no such intention. The matter is one of the utmost interest to the people, and, in particular, , I should imagine, to the mining departments to which he referred. Another matter with which the honorable member dealt was the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. I regret that I was not able to receive a deputation on the subject in Sydney,, but the Minister in charge of Health (Sir Neville Howse) was good enough to receive it for me, and all the representations to him have been forwarded to me. Departmental officers are investigating the various points raised, and I hope that it will be possible for me to let the honorable member have a decision on all of them in the near future. I remind him, however, that many of them are very old and difficult to deal with. Of course, he sees no difficulty in them, because he has now the honor to represent the constituency of Dalley in which the Cockatoo Island Dockyard is situated.
– I know that many of the representations should be seriously considered, and some of them should be granted.
– I do not propose at this stage to deal at length with the activities of the dockyard,- and the policy to be pursued in the future, because this matter will assuredly come under consideration in connexion with the report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Commonwealth Shipping Line, although the two matters are entirely distinct. I do not think that the honorable member -was putting forward his considered view when he said that the Attorney-General should not have issued his fiat in connexion with the .action, taken some time ago before the High Court. In certain circumstances private rights can be exercised only with the concurrence of the Attorney-General, and it is necessary for him to make his name available to enable a person to seek in the courts what he considers to be his just dues. In normal and ordinary circumstances, there is an obligation on the Attorney-General to allow such action to be taken. In this particular instance, the proceedings which the Attorney-General authorized were intended to get fromthe High Court an interpretation of the powers which this Parliament had given to the Cockatoo Island management. In other words, what was sought was merely an interpretation of a Commonwealth statute; but, in the course of its decision, the High Court saw fit to deal with the constitutional power of the Commonwealth to legislate as it had done in regard to Cockatoo Island Dockyard. Although I would be chary about expressing an opinion upon a legal matter, I believe that the Attorney-General would consider well before he allowed his name to be utilized to challenge the constitutional powers of this Parliament. All that was involved in the proceedings which he sanctioned was an interpretation of a law already made by this Parliament.
– We can amend the law.
– We can if the court’s interpretation is not acceptable to Parliament, provided that the proposed alteration is within the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth. I believe that the honorable member for Dalley will, upon further consideration, modify his statement that there was no justification for the Attorney-General allowing his name to be used in connexion with these decisions. My colleague now informs me that he has been asked for his fiat to challenge the constitutional right of the Parliament to legislate on this matter, and has refused it. The general policy of the Government in connexion with Cockatoo Island dockyard has been clearly defined on many occasions. The Government does not favour, and never has favoured, the principle of government trading, and the conduct of ordinary business activities by government instrumentalities. At the same time the Government recognizes the special circumstances of Cockatoo Island. Repeatedly representations have been made to me that this establishment should not be allowed to work for other than government departments. I have always refused to act on such promptings, pointing out that, although we are opposed to government trading, yet, as in the interest of defence it is necessary to maintain a dock, we shall not allow the work done there for government departments to be unfairly loaded by refusing to allow the dockyard to carry on the trading activities usual in a similar establishment under private control. But to insure that no in justice shall be done by the operations of the Cockatoo Island dockyard, Parliament provided in the Commonwealth Shipping Act of 1923 that the establishment shall pay all rates, taxes and charges which any similar private enterprise would be required to pay. The Government has done nothing to restrain Cockatoo Island dockyard, within its legitimate functions, from tendering for and doing work for other than government departments, and competing with private firms upon fair and level terms. When, however, I am urged to extend its activities into other spheres, my answer must be that its purpose is to’ do ordinary dockyard work. The story of the contract for the new cruisers has been told and retold so often and the reasons for the Government’s action in letting the tender abroad have been stated at such length, that it would be waste of time to go into the matter again. But I challenge the statement of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) that the price paid for work done in Australia is immaterial, because the money is circulated amongst our own people.
– I said that the cost should not be the governing factor.
– The honorable member did say that; but his speech on this subject left the impression that, in his opinion, cost was not a serious consideration, because the money circulated in’ Australia. However, a discussion of the economics of this matter is not appropriate at this stage.
The only other matter mentioned by the honorable member with which I wish to deal is the application by the Leichhardt municipality for a grant in respect of a road said to have been destroyed or greatly injured by the defence activities of the Commonwealth. Through my own constituency runs the PointNepean road, and my constituents claimed that, because the military authorities make use of it the Commonwealth should give assistance to the local municipality. The Government did not see its way clear to grant such assistance; but I was solemnly reproved by a Melbourne newspaper for having dared to even receive a deputation on the subject. The Commonwealth cannot accept the view put forward by many municipalities that if a road leading to any naval base, arsenal, or defence depot passes through their territory, the Commonwealth should contribute to the cost of that road.
– The Leichhardt road was destroyed during the construction of the ordnance stores.
– The honorable member’s contention is that the road was used by the military authorities in connexion with building operations, and that it was destroyed by them and by nobody else.I admit frankly that that does seem to put his claim in a different category. But I have heard these distinctions urged so often and found them all grading so closely into each other, that I am not prepared at this moment to admit a Commonwealth liability even if the facts are as he stated. However, I shall look into the matter and see what can be fairly done.
.- I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister say that the Government has approved of four reports submitted by the Development and Migration. Commission, and that other reports by that body are under consideration.
– I referred to schemes submitted by the States and approved by the Commonwealth Government on the recommendation of the commission.
– The right honorable gentleman said that he understood me to say earlier this afternoon that until the commission had completed its investigation of the problems of development in all parts of Australia, nothing should be done to give effect to the migration agreement. He has misunderstood my attitude. On many occasions 1 have said in this House that the commission should prepare, and the Govern ment approve of works to be carried out, which would absorb the migrants when they arrived here. I have never advocated a general cessation of immigration until all the investigations by the commission are completed, if they ever can be completed. There will always be in Australia scope for a commission of this character, but my complaint was that the Government was putting the cart before the horse, by bringing immigrants to our shores before the commission had evolved a developmental plan which would absorb them upon arrival. The unemployed in our midst should be first absorbed, and when all our own people are at work there is no reason why 10,000 or 20,000 people should not be brought here, provided that employment can be found for them without detriment to those already here. I conceive the commission’s job to be to evolve schemes, which, through the expenditure of public money, will create work for the people already here and many others to come. My claim is that we should set about this business in a systematic manner. The commission should go into these problems and present its report to Parliament. Having that report, honorable members should be able to deal effectively with matters that come before this House from time to time. I do not wish the right honorable gentleman to misinterpret me, but I want it distinctly understood that I object to migrants being brought to Australia when no provision is made for their absorption in employment. If we have 10 per cent. of our population unemployed that proportion is altogether too large for a young country like ours, and while we have such a large proportion of unemployed we are not justified in spending money to bring more migrants to Australia. We, on this side of the chamber, are as anxious as any one to see Australia populated and developed, but we want that to be brought about without hardship to our own people.
The Prime Minister referred to the proportion of Europeans coming to Australia, and laid great stress on the fact that, with the exception of 2 per cent., the whole population of Australia was British. The right honorable gentleman proceeded to demonstrate that during the last twelve months 50,000 British people arrived in Australia, as against 10,000 from other countries. Those figures indicate that we are departing from our previous ratio. The Prime Minister went back over the last twelve months and stated that his figures were official. My figures were taken. for the last six months, and were from the same source as those of the right honorable gentleman, and they show that the percentage of non-British migrants for that period was 20 per cent. If something is not done to curb the admission of non-British people to reasonable dimensons the 2 per cent. of foreign strain in our population of which the right honorable gentleman spoke will speedily increase and very soon reach startling proportions. The racial question does not operate greatly, because we have a White Australia policy which precludes the entry of Asiatics. The problem is concerned only with European nations, and there is no question of the colour line. We realize that the inhabitants of Italy, or any other European country, may be good citizens in their own countries’ or in Australia. The Prime Minister intimated that we did not desire to become embroiled in international complications. I heard that aspect of the question thrashed out when I attended a meeting of the Assembly of the League of Nations. There it was generally conceded that every country has a complete right to do what it likes so far as its own people are concerned ; that the matter of migration is a domestic concern. It was held that, no . matter what umbrage any country might take, that was the, law of nations recognized throughout the world. America, Canada and New Zealand regulate the admission of outside races, and it is only when that course is proposed in Australia that one hears this obstacle raised. . There is no reason why this Government should not stipulate a quota and adhere rigidly to that quota. The Prime Minister stated that Jugo-Slovakia and several other- nations had been restricted to 100 a month; but there is no limitation with regard to Italians. There the question is open. Provided they are able to show that they have capital they are admitted. That should not continue. It is imperative that immediate action should be taken by this Government. Recently I attended a number of meetings at Newcastle and there I saw the most deplorable conditions so far as unemployment is concerned. I then saw more unemployed in that centre than has ever existed previously in its history.
– Where do you obtain authority for your statement that there was more unemployed than previously. Have you any statistics to support it?
– The right honorable member for North Sydney was not in the chamber when the Prime Minister endeavoured to demonstrate that unemployment is now . less than was previously the case The right honorable gentleman quoted figures for two or three years showing that there had been a decline from 11.5 to 6.8 per cent.
– Those figures were confined to unionists.
– My experience has been that there is more unemployment in some parts of Australia than was ever previously the case. I refer specifically to Newcastle, where there are now 2,000 unemployed registered at the unemployment bureau, from which they receive aid to support their families. Such a condition oft things is a menace to the progress of our glorious country. Those menare not wasters; they are splendid citizens,anxious to work. The time has arrived when the Government should act in this matter. Personally I take no alarm at the statement that to impose a restriction upon foreigners would cause international complications.
– The same bogey was raised in connection with the White Australia policy.
– That is so. Who has a better right to this country than our own kith and kin ? If necessary, we have the influence of the Empire behind us, but I do not think one need entertain the slightest fear that other nations will interfere with our domestic affairs.
– Some of them object to the principle of discrimination.
– Some may, but you will have objections to anything. It does not’ follow because you or I object to something that it is not right’. There is an international code which recognises that migration is purely a matter of domestic concern, and if we find prevail ing conditions unsatisfactory we should endeavour first to safeguard our own citizens. We cannot hope to develop our country and make it prosperous if we bring in indiscriminately a large number of people for whom there is no work. Unemployed citizens are a burden on the country and their services must be utilized. The problem must be dealt with from the economic point of view and not in any haphazard fashion. We are now borrowing £34,000,000 to assist migrants to come to Australia. It is COntended that the interest is low, but the fact recains that it is now costing us much more per migrant than it did formerly. I said nothing against the inauguration of the Migration Commission because I thought it might do good work. I have always contended that the commission should show us where we could absorb our migrants so as best tot develop Australia. Our country is capable of absorbing them, but it is necessary to set about the task in a systematic manner. I hope that the Government will give serious . consideration to the problem, with a view to taking whatever action is necessary to safeguard the interest of our own people and to find them employment. When we have a scheme whereby we can absorb our brothers and sisters who arrive from oversea then let us take them by the hand and welcome them. We want them, and there is plenty of room for them. It is only a question of properly doing our job, of organizing in such a way that our migrants will be absorbed promptly and effectively. When that is done we shall develop our country along satisfactory lines.
– The question raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is one of first importance. Unhappily I was not in the chamber when he began his speech, but I gather that, in substance, his argument is that the influx of population should have a definite and constant relation to employment. With that I entirely agree. It follows, therefore, that the question of immigration is entwined about the national policy of this country. By national policy, I mean those laws and tendencies in the country which express themselves economically in terms of enterprise, and direct that enterprise along certain channels. In Australia, for many years now, we have adopted the policy of protecting Australian industries. It would be very hard to say what is the exact attitude of a certain section of this Government towards that policy, but the attitude of the National portion of it is perfectly clear and definite. I should not like to go any farther than that. It i3 generally admitted that in the present state of civilization a great problem that now confronts people everywhere arises out of the rapid increase in the world’s population. This problem is one that compels the attention of every legislature. The main facts are not in dispute. In the last 100 years the population of the world has doubled itself, and this rate of progress continues. The east is densely over-populated. We are a western civilization - in fact the farthest outpost of western civilization, at the very gateway to the east. If there is any government that can afford to ignore this great world problem it is not this Government. We are a people of British stock. We are one of the partners in the British Empire. Everything of greatness and progress in this country, is the result of the qualities inherent in the British race. It is not so very long’ since we came here, and any one who questions the fitness of this race to colonize and people a country must surely be convinced by looking around at what we have done in 100 years. If the reports in the press may be relied upon, it is certain that the influx of migrants of other than the British race has alarmingly increased during the past few years. The Leader of the Opposition deplores this, and so do I. He has asked that a quota should be fixed. He considers that we have the right to fix a quota. I entirely agree with him. If we have any rights at all - and we claim that we” have the right of self-government without any limitation whatever - surely we have the right to say who shall come into thi3 country and who shall not come into it. Some vague observations that have been made on this subject by members of the Government would lead one to believe that this right to say who shall come into Australia is in doubt, and that we must consult other nations on the matter. From that opinion I strongly dissent. It is for us to say who shall come here, and under what circumstances they shall come; and for us alone. We have a precedent in the action of America, but the attitude adopted by that country was not by any means unprecedented. J apac has observed such a policy for many years. It is well known that she imposes upon aliens very many limitations. Aliens in Japan may not hold land, for instance. It cannot be denied that there is a sufficient volume of British migration available for our needs. The ex-High Commissioner, Sir Joseph Cook, on his arrival at Fremantle lately, stated. in an interview published in the press, that we could have as many British migrants as we pleased. I am not going to say for one moment that the British race has a monopoly of the qualities necessary to build up a civilization. Every country has its own virtues. I shall not pretend for an instant that the British race is superior to any other, but that it is different from others will not be denied. An homogenous populalation has tremendous advantages over a cosmopolitan one. Once more, let us look at the United States of America. We are appalled at the result, in that country, of an indiscriminate migration policy which extended over a long period of years. It has created conditions which, although in some respects favorable to progress, are not such as commend themselves to us. If the problem thus created is the price America has paid for progress, it is in our eyes far too high. The effect which has followed the encouragement or permission which has been extended to foreign migrants of a certain class to enter this country is to be deplored. Recently there was a strike in North Queensland, which threatened to involve the whole country in an industrial conflagration in which the just and the unjust alike would have been consumed. When and how did that strike originate? It is not denied that it arose out of some trouble in the Johnstone River district, and that those responsible for it were foreigners.
– I should not care to say that.
– I do not think it is. quite fair to suggest that the South Johnstone trouble was due to foreigners.
– I do not know. I was not there. But the press certainly gave one the impression that it was so.
I have been informed that in some towns in North Queensland English is almost an unknown tongue, which is cultivated by the few. It cannot be denied that foreigners have been pouring into North Queensland during the last few years. I have already referred to certain observations made by some members of the Government respecting this foreign migration. It has been suggested, if not explicitly stated, that foreign nationals have the right to settle here, and that if we dared to close our doors against them we should be in some danger of armed interference with our rights. I do not agreee with that for one moment. I should be the last to say one word against Italy, which has behind it a great civilization, and is now the stage upon which a vast experiment in government is being tried - an experiment in which the ideals of democracy have been trampled underfoot. Fascism may be the best’ method of government for Italy ; I shall not say whether it is or is not. But I say that the class of Italian coming to this country is in the main undesirable. I do not deny that these people are industrious ; but that may be said with even greater truth of the Chinese. No people in the world are more industrious than the Chinese. If the price to be paid for a White Australia is the colonization of the tropical parts of the country by Southern Italians or Sicilians, the price is too high. When we are dealing with the Chinese or other eastern races we know exactly where we stand. There is very little probability of the hybridization or mongrelization of our race. I am a stalwart believer in the superiority of homogenous peoples. It has been one of our proudest boasts that we are 97 per cent, a British people ; but if we continue to allow foreigners to enter the country without limitation, and fail to announce firmly but respectfully to the whole world that we intend, as suggested by the Leader of the Opposition, to enforce a quota policy in respect to migration, we shall soon have no right to boast of our British racial purity. In my opinion the quota policy is reasonable. We are entitled to say what we regard as the proper quota of other nationals that should be allowed to enter Australia. If our choice was between an inadequate number of migrants or the admission of all-comers, one might hesitate; but that is not the position. An ample supply of British migrants is available. I do .not know what percentage of our population is of foreign nationality, birth of race, but we should not water . the British stock down. Whatever the proportion may be, it ought to be preserved. Now is the time to deal with this question, while it is still compassable. Once we allow other nationals to enter Australia in sufficiently large numbers, vested interests will be created, which will make their influence felt in our legislature. These aliens will be able to put their foot in our national gateway, and keep us from closing it. In the circumstances, I think that the quota is the proper and straightforward way to meet the situation. When we first passed laws to deal with migration we were in our swaddling clothes: now we are a nation. Our voice is heard in the councils of the nations; our representatives sit with theirs in the Assembly of the League at Geneva. Therefore the Government would do well to consider the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and give legislative effect to it. When I had the honour to occupy the position of head of the Government of this country, I laid it down that the migration of persons not of British stock should be limited to the proportions then existing; that, for example, if Italians numbered 1 per cent. of the total population, that percentage should not be exceeded. That was a clear and definite policy. But one Government . follows another, and each administration has its own policy. An administrative decision is liable to modification, but a law remains in force notwithstanding a change of Government. If we followed the example of America, and prescribed definitely a quota of immigrants for each nationality, our people and those of other countries would know exactly where we stand. I urge the Government to give this matter its careful and immediate attention. I agree, as I have said, with the Leader of the Opposition that the introduction of population must bear a constant relation to the opportunity for employment. Our duty, is first to our own people. I do not deny that with an increase of population new opportunities for employment are created; but the policy of this country should be so clear and definite as to obviate any doubt whatever as to what it is. There should be no fear that it will be changed or modified at the will of a government. I can hardly accept the statement of the Leader of the Opposition that there is more unemployment to-day than normally. I know of no figures which bear out that statement. Yet it is clear that the number of unemployed in a country has a clear and definite relation to immigration. When we examine the classification of industries in this country we see that the number of persons who find employment in the secondary industries has been continually increasing during the last ten or fifteen years. Every one who gives calm consideration to the industrial situation must rest satisfied that the national policy of this country - I speak of the encouragement of Australian industries - has more than justified itself. What this country would be like to-day if we had not adopted such a policy I shudder to think. The industries of this country are now taking such substance and dimensions as to bid fair, given due encouragement and support, in accordance with varying circumstances to make Australia one of the great manufacturing countries of the world. The East is at our door, and there is nothing to prevent us from catering for the needs of its vast multitudes. But two things need to be done, and both involve the taking of definite steps, preceded, of course, by a definite declaration. One is the encouragement of Australian industries, and the other is insistence on the principle that migration must bear a constant relation to opportunities for employment. It is not my intention in the few moments at my disposal to go into this matter in detail, but the Government has established a commission, and has allotted to it certain duties in relation to immigration and development. Development, of course, has to be considered in relation to the primary, as well as to the secondary industries. I do not suggest for one moment that it is within the limited powers of the Commonwealth under the existing Constitution, to develop this country adequately, or to control all those avenues along which development must proceed; but we can give a lead. Some matters are entirely under our control, one being the protection of our Australian industries. Of course the Government has accomplished much indirectly; that is, it has done indirectly rather than directly that which had to be done. The admission of persons other than of British stock should be dealt with by fixing a quota as I have suggested. There is a suspicion in the minds of many people that far too many foreigners are coming here. I have not one word to say by way of criticism or condemnation of foreigners as such; but having the opportunity to choose, as we have between men and women of British stock and foreigners, we naturally prefer the former. It is particularly galling to our own people, and conducive to industrial unrest, to bring into this country, when there is unemployment, people of foreign stock who have not been schooled . in unionism, which is part of the gospel of the worker of this country, and are, therefore, ready to offer their services at lower rates than those to which the Australian workers have grown accustomed. To do this raises the suspicion in the minds of the workers that the object of bringing immigrants here is to break down our standards of living, and to undermine general principles of labour which Australians regard as in the last degree vital to themselves and their country. This matter is of great importance, and I sincerely hope that the Government will give it adequate consideration.
– I am one of those who believe that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in stating that the population of this country is still 98 per cent. British, is sadly in error, and I certainly question the figures that he has quoted. Judging by the influx of Southern Europeans into Australia, it is apparent that the percentage of British stock here is diminishing. It is about time that the parliaments, governments and various other organizations throughout Australia gave voice to the slogan “ 98 per cent. British stock throughout Australia.”
– Some of the State Governments are blocking the introduction of migrants of British stock.
– The honorable member is quite wrong.
– The State of Victoria is doing so.
– It will be found that as soon as sufficient development has taken place in this country, there will be no barrier raised against the influx of a certain proportion of immigrants. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) clearly pointed out that the operation of an immigration policy, when unemployment is rife, is disastrous not only to the people of the country concerned, but also to those who are taken there under that policy. Why should we induce people from other parts of the world to come here when unemployment exists?
– If we adopted that policy, while any unemployment existed in Australia, we should never increase our population.
– Many of the Prime Minister’s supporters in this Parliament, and in the State legislatures, are taking a very gloomy view of the heavy influx of southern Europeans into the Commonwealth. To do what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) suggests, the Government has merely to bring into operation sub-section 1 of section 3k of the Immigration Act, which provides that : - 3k. (l)The Governor-General may by proclamation prohibit, either wholly or in excess of specified numerical limits, and either permanently or for a specified period, the immigration into the Commonwealth, or the landing at any specified port or- place in the Commonwealth, of aliens of any specified nationality, race, class, or occupation, in any case where he deems it desirable so to do -
because they are deemed unlikely to become readily assimulated or to assume the duties and responsibilities of Australian citizenship within a reasonable time after their entry.
The Prime Minister has said that the Consul-General for Italy has indicated to the Government that southern Europeans do not intend to seek employment at Wonthaggi; Broken Hill and in other industrial districts. A most undesirable state of affairs exists, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, where organizations are providing lodgings under conditions which should not be allowed under the Health Act. I understand that in these lodging-houses even beds are not provided, and that southern European migrants are sleeping on the floor. It may be interesting to honorable members to know that, in some of the countries from which these migrants are coming there’ are organizations which advance the £40 required under our Immigration Act to enable Italians to land in Australia; but shortly after their arrival the money, is returned and used over again for the same purpose. A statement issued by Mr. E. T. McPhee, the Acting Commonwealth Statistician, shows that during the year 1926-27, 15.2 per cent, of the total migrant’s arriving in Australia,’ were southern Europeans. The figures for other countries were - United States of America, 0.4 per cent.; western Europeans, 0.5 per cent.; central Europeans 2.7 per cent.; eastern Europeans, .1.9 per cent. In view qf these figures it would “be interesting to know how the Prime. Minister can say that the percentage of Britons in our population is not decreasing. I agree with the right honorable member for Worth Sydney (Mr. Hughes) that it is time this Parliament moved in the matter, as I know of nothing more likely to cause industrial trouble in Australia than an undue influx of persons likely to facilitate the lowering of wages and the general standard of living- of our people. I suppose honorable members are aware of an incident which occurred in the Prime Minister’s electorate; when daggers and other weapons were used by Southern Europeans upon some good ‘ Australians, some of whom were taken by the police and brought before the court. It was found, however, that a certain number of Southern Europeans were equally ‘to blame. Had these Australians been fined or imprisoned I believe that every foreigner would have been forcibly re-: moved from the district. Who has a better right to employment in Australia than the Australian- people ? This country was founded by Englishmen, Irishmen and Scotsmen, and their descendants are now carrying on its development. As they have been able in the past to do this successfully, surely there is no reason why they should not be allowed to continue that work. The Prime Minister has suggested that if an embargo is placed upon migration from certain countries, international complications’ may arise. Signor Mussolini, who controls the affairs of Italy to-day, has distinctly said that he does not want Italians to leave their own country. This is- a translation of his words -
Let us speak quite clearly. What are 40,000,000 Italians compared to 90,000,000 Germans, and 200,000,000 Slavs. Let us turn towards the west. What are 40,000,000 Italians compared to 40,000,000 Frenchmen, plus the 90,000,000 inhabitants of France’s colonies, or compared to 46,000,000 Englishmen, plus 450,000,000 who live in England’s colonies. If Italy is to amount to anything it must enter into the second half of this century with a population of at least 60,000,000 inhabitants. (Cries of assent).. You will say: But how can they live in our territory? This same argument very probably was . used in 1815, when in Italy there lived only 16,000,000 inhabitants. Perhaps it then seemed most absurd that in the same territory it was possible to find, . with an infinitely, higher standard of life, food and homes for the 40,000,000 Italians of the present day.
A copy of his speech is doubtless in’ the possession of the Prime Minister or his officers. If it is true that Mussolini wishes to keep the Italian people in Italy, and is anxious to increase the population by 20,000,000, surely the Government need not be afraid of restricting the num”ber of Italians entering the Commonwealth. In the case of Italy there ia not the slightest danger of international complications arising. I believe statistics will disclose that very few of these people, are becoming naturalized . British subjects. I am aware that a reciprocal treaty was entered into about 40 years ago between the Australian colonies and Italy, in which certain conditions were laid down. As the situation has altered since that treaty, which is operating detrimentally to the interests of Australian people, was signed, it should be rescinded. According to the published speech of an Italian consular official in Melbourne, meetings -are held at which, only the Italian language is spoken, and those who attend are told that they must be patriotic, and stick to their own country. What is meant by that?
Surely it is that they must get all they can outside Australia for the benefit of their own country. These Southern Europeans, who are earning money here, do not intend to spend it in buying Australian products and assisting our industries. How can they become good citizens in such circumstances? I have the greatest respect for the rights of other nationals, and have conversed with men from foreign countries who offer no objection whatever to our White Australia policy.
– Has the Government any policy in this matter?
– Apparently it is afraid to act. A Federal Minister once said that if effect were given to a suggestion I made that not a . ship would come to Australia. While British interests require our wheat and wool, shipping will always come to Australia. Certain State instrumentalities in Victoria, such as the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works and the Electricity Commission, employ a large number of foreigners under the contract system. In the electorate represented by the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill), a contract involving £14,000 was let a few months ago on which practically every man employed was an Italian. Many Greeks and Italians cannot speak the English language, and an interpreter is employed who receives their pay, and distributes it amongst them. Whether one favours trade unionism or not, there is no question as to the desirability of maintaining our present standards of living. A huge population is not so important to Australia from the defence point of view as people of the right quality. It is a mere subterfuge for the Prime Minister to take refuge behind the bogey that international complications would result from the adoption of the quota system. I am personally acquainted with Greeks, Italians, Spaniards and Frenchmen, and I am proud to call them my friends; but I believe that the average foreign migrant now entering Australia is desirous of earning a competence and returning to his birth-place. It would be well to know how many of the recent migrants have become naturalized British subjects. I admit that America has succeeded in making good Americans of foreigners. Some people assert that that country would hot have become as great as it is to-day had it not been for the influx of foreign population. I believe, however, that if America could be colonized afresh, the inhabitants would object to the admission of foreigners, irrespectiveof nationality. I am told that in some parts of Australia Italians hold sway to such an extent that notices regarding employment are seen, stating “ No Australians need apply.” The only people in this country who can be considered to have a prior right to it are the Australian aboriginals. At the time of Washington, the United States of America, with a population of less than 6,000,000, practically declared their independence against the greatest maritime power the world had known - Great Britain herself. Therefore, I contend that 6,000,000 Australians are quite capable of determining their own domestic legislation. No country has a right to interfere with the domestic affairs of another, and if any power insisted upon sending its migrants to Australia against the wishes of the people, that would be a breach of international law. The Prime Minister’s policy is one of sophistry and cowardice. He should fearlessly put into operation the section of the Immigration Act that empowers the Government to introduce the quota system. All the nations are aware of that provision in our act, and none would think of taking exception to our action if we decided to put it into operation in a manner conducive to the best interests of our people. I am not so puffed up as to say that we are the finest people in the world ; but I do hold that Australia should control its own domestic affairs, as other countries do. In the- last 100 years Australia has made wonderful strides. Visitors from abroad who study communities with observing eyes have expressed astonishment at the progress made in Australia in so short a period. Although complaint is heard about the Government bringing migrants here at the public expense, I would sooner the Government assisted Britishers to come here than that Southern Europeans should come assisted by their own people. Those arriving to-day have no capital, andwe cannot shut our eyes to the fact that neither the Greek nor the -Italian, as we know them to-day, is comparable with the ancient Greek or Roman.
– The honorable member knows more about the moderns than he does about the ancients.
– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) must admit that, owing to the mixture of blood, the Southern European is not now the man he was in days gone by. I do not say that the British have a monopoly of the fine qualities in mankind; but, having regard to the history of Australia and the fact that this country has been developed up to the present stage mainly by people of British stock, I venture to suggest that we should adhere to the policy by which our progress has been achieved. The race from which we have sprung are the best colonizers the world has known.
– The honorable member will soon be claimed as a good conservative.
– When a business has been conducted successfully on certain lines, the managing directors do not lightly decide to alter their policy. I claim, therefore, that as people of British stock have done well here, Australia will be safer in their hands than in the keeping of others. It is fair to ask how many of the migrants from southern Europe have become naturalized British subjects. Are they prepared to become good Australians, or do they desire to remain aloof until they can return in comfortable circumstances to their own countries? Mussolini, intent on increasing the population of Italy, imposed a bachelor tax. Speaking in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, he said -
This tax on bachelors, which is to yield from 40,000,000 to 50,000,000; do you really believe that I introduced it merely to raise money? No. I merely took advantage of this tax to give the nation the lash of a demographic whip.
Mussolini desires population in Italy, and he proposes to tax childless parents. When the Italian Government deals with the subject of overseas migration, it speaks of its efforts at colonization, evidently hoping that under suitable conditions the migrants will eventually return to their own country. The Prime Minister should show a firm hand, and put into effect the power conferred by the Immigration Act. I am sure that, if he did, there would not be a protesting voice from any country in Europe.
.- The speeches of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) have set me thinking. The former said that the worker objects to employment being taken from him by foreigners, and the latter mentioned that in certain contracts for public works foreigners are almost exclusively engaged. I have been wondering whether these men are members of the labour unions of Australia. I understand that they are all unionists, and must abide by the awards of the arbitration courts in regard to wages and hours of work. If they do these things with the consent of the unionists of Australia, why are they employed in preference to Australians? That is a matter which should be carefully considered.
– They are readily accepted for employment if they are willing to take lower wages than those paid to unionists.
– I presume that they are paid for the services they render. If. we wish to keep Australia white, it will be necessary for all workers to give efficient service and help to bring about maximum production. There is no other, or royal road to national prosperity. The honorable member for Marybyrnong referred to the White Australia policy. I am sure he will agree that migrants from the British and other Nordic races are the most desirable of all overseas people for settlement in Australia; but there is a good deal in the probable viewpoint of the League of Nations on this important subject. There is work in Australia for’ three times its present population, and there is no occasion for a policy of slowing down, or for shorter hours. Increased production and work are the essentials for the development of the Commonwealth. Therefore no one should complain about a little addition to our present population. What amused me most in the speech of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was his observation that unemployment in secondary industries was increasing. What is the explanation? Will it be argued that the present measure of protection for such industries is insufficient? As a matter of fact they are enjoying such abnormal protection that one would think, if they were carried on efficiently, that the position of all those engaged in them would be ideal. Unfortunately, that state of affairs has been unattainable in Australia up to the present. We are not selling any of our secondary products abroad. This, to my mind, is the weakness in our industrial development. With industries organised on an efficient basis we should be able to find employment for three times the present number. We have the finest country in the world, and I feel sure that if our people are prepared to work eight hours a day, we snail soon be in a much better financial position.
.- I view with grave concern the inordinate increase of alien immigrants. Concern about that aspect of our migration policy is widespread throughout Australia. Every thoughtful Australia u realizes that an increasing flow of aliens may have far-reaching effects in the Commonwealth in the immediate future. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) on more than one occasion has intimated that if any attempt is made from this end to stem the tide of alien immigration, especially from southern Europe, delicate international complications may arise. I have followed the deliberations of the League of Nations fairly closely for some time, and I commend the attitude of the delegates from Australia during any discussion concerning the jurisdiction of governments over migration. Certainly it should be within the province of a government to determine the character of the people whom it admits to its shores. When the protocol was being debated at the’ Assembly of the League of Nations a year or two ago, the Japanese delegates made strong representations that immigration should not be included in the list of matters to come under the heading of domestic jurisdiction. As was to be expected, the Australian delegation strongly resisted the attempt, which might have undermined the policy of white Australia. Sir George Pearce, our principal representative at the present Assembly of the . League of Nations, also has been called upon to handle a delicate situation within the last few weeks. As one member of a committee that inquired into a domestic dis pute between Hungary and Roumania, he felt some diffidence about attaching his signature to the finding of that body because of the possibility that, at sou:« future date, his attitude might be quoted as an argument against the maintenance of Australia’s policy. I understand that he withheld his signature until he had a definite assurance that his acquiescence in the finding would not be regarded as an admision that the government of a country had not the right to be master in its own house. We cannot expect to maintain our white Australia policy unless we insist on the right, at all times, to determine the character of immigrants to this country. In the circumstances the Prime Minister’s disinclination to use the power which the Commonwealth Government possesses for a more stringent regulation of alien immigration is incomprehensible. He fears that international complications may arise because of the status of certain governments in the council of the nations. We should, without hesitation, establish our right tu determine all such questions. The hypocritical attitude of the Government is illogical. The regulations governing the entering of alien migrants should be tightened up. Under the Immigration Act of 1925 the Government claims to have absolute power to determine who shall be permitted to enter Australia. But the figures disclose a serious position. In 1921 the total population in Australia of persons of Italian origin was 8,135. Since then, and up to the end of the last financial year, there was an increase of 20,979. There has been an increase also of Greek migrants. In 1921 there were 3,654 Greeks in the Commonwealth. Since that year we have added another 5,008 to the number. Not long ago a deputation from the Australian Natives’ Association waited upon the Prime Minister, and pointed out that the proportion of aliens arriving in Australia in 1926 represented one-tenth of the total immigration stream, and that in the first five months of this year it had increased to one-fourth. To that deputation the Prime Minister gave an answer which did not do him justice. He said -
Arrangements were being made with different countries in a diplomatic rather than in an aggressive way to control migration. For example, not more than 100 Greeks or Albanians were allowed to come to Australia each month.
One not familar with the figures regarding new arrivals would come to the conclusion that the Prime Minister realised the danger, and was coping with it in an appropriate way. The number of Greeks who arrived in Australia in 1926 was 683, which I consider an excessive number, but the Prime Minister has arranged that not more than 100 Greeks shall come to this country each month. In other words, he is prepared to receive’ 1,200 Greeks a year, or almost double the number that arrived here in 1926. In effect, he has issued an invitation to the people of Greece to double their migration to Australia. He will find it difficult to justify that attitude, when the people know the actual facts regarding new arrivals. Another significant fact is the diminution in the number of. southern Europeans that are becoming naturalized in Australia. It- is remarkable that although the influx has increased during recent years, the number of naturalization papers taken out has decreased. In 1921 the number of Italians admitted into the Commonwealth was 1,278. During that period 182, or about one-seventh, calculated on the basis of new arrivals, became naturalized. In 1926, although the arrivals increased to 6,102, only 154 took out naturalization papers; that is to say, the proportion of naturalizations to arrivals decreased from one-seventh to onethirtyninth. These southern Europeans are not being assimilated in our population, and they are not adopting Australian standards of living. The £34,000,000 that is ‘ being made available under the migration agreement to provide work and land for people of British stock, is in reality - creating opportunities for people from souther i; Europe; taking advantage of that expenditure, they practise thrift so that they may return with their savings to their native country. That policy must mean the direct impoverishment of Australia. I shall be interested to receive from the Postmaster-General a return of the postal remittances from Australian industrial centres to the countries in southern Europe. I have been told that 60 per cent, of those engaged in mining operations at Broken Hill are of foreign origin, and my observations on a recent visit to that centre seemed to confirm that statement. To a greater or lesser extent the same conditions exist at Kalgoorlie, Wyalla, Wonthaggi, and other places ; in fact, the northern districts of Queensland have so large an Italian community that an Italian consular agent is stationed at Townsville.
– Although a consular agent is stationed at Townsville, that, centre has not a big Italian population.
– My remarks apply to the surrounding district. Honorable members will endorse my statement thatit is difficult for an Australian to get em- ployment on the canefields above Bundaberg. The present stream of alien immigration is too great for the welfare of this country, and even of the foreigners themselves.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to S p.m.
– I left Adelaide last Monday. On that day a boat conveying a number of immigrants from southern European countries called at Port Adelaide and disembarked for Adelaide 100 of its contingent. A further 500 were to be conveyed to the eastern States. The Adelaide News reported that the new comers “to South Australia included Cyprians, Greeks, Jugo-Slavs, CzechoSlavs, Italians, French, Bulgarians, Albanians, a Serbian and a Jew. Similar contingents have been arriving in Australia far too frequently in recent years. A considerable degree of unemployment has for some time existed at Port Adelaide, and the citizens of that city have exhibited marked disapproval of what they consider is an unfair encroachment on their opportunities for obtaining employment. The newspaper report to which- 1 have referred also stated that some of the newcomers were met by friends, and that it appeared they had employment to go to. In every city in Australia, as well as in other large industrial centres, there are big armies of unemployed, and we should be recreant to our trust if we failed to protest against the influx of these people, who are making it more difficult for our own citizens to provide for those who are dependent upon them. The recent arrivals are not skilled artisans; they have been accustomed to manual labour, and their competition with Australian workers renders the economic, position for the latter most acute. A percentage of those who come here probably have some financial stability. That fact, however, does not lead to their entering useful occupations. On the contrary, they engage in the hawking of goods that have been manufactured in the countries whose nationals they are. Hawking is a most undesirable way of gaining a living, which we had practically eliminated, but, unfortunately, of recent years it has been made quite a profession by a large number of newcomers from foreign countries. A percentage of these persons have sufficient means to enable them to procure an interest in some business. The fish, confectionery, and cool drinks businesses in the various States are almost exclusively either owned or controlled by southern Europeans. We should realize the right of Australians to receive preferential treatment in employment, because they bear the brunt of our existing financial obligations, and will be responsible for the liabilities that will rest upon us in the future. This class of immigrant receives every assistance in obtaining employment, yet when they have made a competence they do not continue to reside in Australia, but on the contrary return to their own countries, and we receive from them no compensation in the way of taxation and the advantages that accrue from a larger population. A remarkable statement is credited to the Liberal Premier of South Australia, Mr. Butler, in respect to Australians being given preference in employment on government works. At a meeting of the Women’s Branch of the Liberal Union held at North Adelaide in July last, he is reported to have said that he thought Australians should not ask for preference in employment; they should be prepared to compete with others in the open markets. He also said he was confident that Australians could work as well and as hard as any of those persons who had come from, southern European countries. I emphasize “hard.” It is apparent that in certain quarters there is a desire to use these people as a lever to lower the standard of the Australian and the
British worker. It has been my misfortune to see some of these newcomers working under conditions that no Australian or British subject would be willing to accept. Every honorable member is aware of the struggle that is constantly in progress for the improvement of the living conditions of the worker. The shearers and every other class of worker have for years been directing all their energies towards an improvement in the accommodation that is provided ‘for them. The intrusion of this class of immigrant is likely to have the effect of lowering the standard that is at present observed in the employment of our people. Unfortunately, advantage is taken of their ignorance of our standards by many of those who employ them. The conditions which exist in the countries from which they have come are altogether out of harmony with those that we rightly consider to be the privilege of every Australian citizen; I revert to the statement made by the Prime Minister in answer to the protest of the Western Australian branch of the Australian Labour party. The right honorable gentleman then said -
Delicate international questions would be raised if any drastic action were taken to exclude southern Europeans, who were mostly Italians and Jugo-Slavs.
It is quite evident that the right honorable gentleman is riot prepared to use the powers that he possesses, and that rightly, ought to be exercised by him, to protect Australian workers from this unfair infringement of their rights. He also raised another issue, and I invite honorable members to consider whether it possesses the merit that he claims for it. He said -
Additional population was also vital from the defence point of view, particularly in view of the. restrictive legislation against Asiatics. The whole position regarding alien immigration was being closely scrutinized by the Commonwealth, and due attention would be given to further restrictions if found advisable.
If recent experiences do not render it advisable to further restrict the influx of these people, I fail to conceive what justification the Government requires. I raise a further point. What advantage is this class of person likely to confer upon us from a defence stand-point? They are not our nationals; they owe allegiance to a foreign country, which possesses the right to enlist their services even though such action may he opposed to the interests of this country, in which at the moment they enjoy the blessings of employment under excellent conditions. A curious feature of the Prime Minister’s statement is that in one breath he refers to the raising of delicate international questions by the taking of drastic action for the exclusion of southern Europeans; and in the next breath he stresses the necessity for populating Australia on account of certain action that has been taken against Asiatics. If delicate international questions are likely to be raised by restricting the influx of southern Europeans, how much greater is that likelihood when similar action is taken with respect to those who are nearer to us? The right honorable gentleman’s excuse is a paltry one, and lacks substance. We are proving in the Pacific that delicate international questions are not raised by such action against a nation which, in the opinion of some people, has ulterior designs upon this country. We desire that the Prime Minister shall exercise the powers that he possesses for the protection of the rights of our own citizens. Sir Joseph Cook, who recently vacated the distinguished and important office of High Commissioner for Australia in London, has expressed his views on this question. He is reported to have said -
But the migration problem is essentially a home problem.
That is our contention. But the Government holds a different view. It believes that we should consider the position of foreign countries. Sir Joseph Cook said -
But the migration problem is essentially a home problem, one for Australia to determine, involving questions of organizations and finance, and the employment and the absorption of new settlers. The problem was not to find suitable migrants in London, but to find employment for them here in Australia.
Sir Joseph is quite correct. The trouble is at this end. Migrants are eager to come here to share the privileges offered by this country, but, unfortunately, economic circumstances .are preventing our own kith and kin from the United Kingdom coming here, while people from southern European coun tries are coming without restriction, even without being subjected to a dictation test. Many such persons now arriving in Australia are scarcely able to speak a word of English.
In respect to land settlement as a means for meeting the situation, I desire to direct members’ attention to the fact that there are many applicants for every block of land that is thrown open for selection in Australia, and we could solve our unemployment difficulty if it were economically sound to place our own people on that land. Some say the Labour Party does not welcome migrants, that it does not desire to see people come to this country. Never was a greater misrepresentation of a policy uttered. The Labour Party is not opposed to migration, but it is opposed to inviting people to come to Australia to share in the distress occasioned by unemployment, which is so rife in the large industrial centres and cities of Australia. When we rectify our economic anomalies, no party will be more pleased to welcome our kith and kin from overseas to share in the joys and rewards offered by Australia than the Labour Party.
– The Victorian Labour Party has blocked land settlement.
– The honorable member is aware that that is not a fair representation of the case. For over 50 years convervative governments have controlled Victoria, while the Labour Government has been in power only a few months. Any effort by the Labour Party to open up land in Victoria for settlement would find active opposition from the Liberals and Conservatives in the Legislative Council of that State. That has been the experience of Labour Governments in other States, particularly in South Australia. There we desired to open up land oh which to settle our returned soldiers.
– They are well settled.
– Some of the richest lands in South Australia are locked up in” the possession of large landholders, and when it came to a question of resuming those lands for our soldier settlers, the command came, “Hands off,” and the Conservatives would not allow the resumption. I understand that the new Liberal Government in that State is proposing a restrictive measure of legislation providing that any resumed lands must not be over the value of £5,000. The result will be that no area of the rich and fertile lands which I mentioned will be resumed. That illustrates the hollow hypocrisy of the party represented by honorable members opposite, the people who promised to do so much for our returned soldiers; who intimated that those returned men were to share the greatest benefits that life held in store. I trust this Government will realize its obligations to the citizens of Australia by making available to them the privileges at its disposal. Among our unemployed are many returned soldiers, and it is a tragedy to have newcomers arriving from southern European countries and enjoying the advantage of immediate employment, while our own countrymen remain unemployed. The protests of the Australian Natives’ Association, the Labour party, and other public spirited bodies to the effect that Australian interests should be first considered are fully justified, and should commend themselves to every thoughtful and public spirited citizen. I ask this Government to put into effect the policy which it has so frequently preached and so seldom practised - the policy of preference to Australian citizens. “When that is done we shall have no difficulty in finding room for our kinsmen from overseas.
.- I have listened with considerable interest to the protests from honorable members opposite against the immigration of the Mediterranean people. The Committee, however, would have been more impressed if the attitude of honorable members opposite had been more consistent. The fact is that they are, and always have been opposed to immigration of any kind. I can confidently challenge honorable members opposite to quote a ‘ speech made by them in favour of the migration of Britishers to this country. To-night they expressed hostility towards Italians. Yesterday their hostility was directed towards Asiatics. To-morrow, if there are no other migrants, their hostility will be directed towards the British. I share with all honorable members the desire that the blood of Australians shall be kept as purely Anglo-Saxon as possible, but I do not subscribe to the views enunciated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), that it is possible to inaugurate in this country a hard-and-fast quota against the. entry of foreigners from Europe. America certainly has a quota, but our position differs entirely from that of America. It is one thing for America, with a population of 115 millions - after having opened its doors very generously for a century or more to the entry of the citizens of all European nations - relatively to close its doors and impose a quota against foreigners, and quite another thing for a young country like Australia, with a population of six million people and an area of three million square miles, to do a similar thing. Such action would bring ridicule on Australia from all parts of the world, as the most selfish and foolish people among the civilized nations. We can inform foreigners that we Wil limit our quota only when we have demonstrated to the world our resolution and capacity to bring into Australia year by year as many British people as the country will absorb. When we have done that we shall be able to stand up to foreign countries without any risk of our restrictive measures being misunderstood.
Our migration policy, while now more satisfactory than it has been in recent years, is still not entirely satisfactory. This Government, to its great. credit, has placed this vital question on a better footing by appointing the Development and Migration Commission. That is a good beginning towards the solution of the problem, but a very important additional step needs to be taken, and until it has been taken, the work of that commission cannot do credit to Australia or to itself. At present the Commonwealth works in co-operation with the States in th;s matter, and has no power to bring out a migrant, selected or nominated, until that migrant is requisitioned by one of the States. So long as that condition of affairs continues, : immigration to Australia will be unsatisfactory, and bring discredit upon every federal government which engages in it. During the last few years the policy of migration has been disrupted again and again because of changes of governments in the various States. The Western Australian scheme of migration was disrupted suddenly some time ago because of a change of government. In Victoria this year the same thing happened at a time when over 400 persons who had been accepted by the federal migration authorities in London, and whose individual capital ranged from £200 to £6,000, were ready to embark for Australia. That addition to our population and wealth was lost. A few years ago South Australia had a boy migration scheme in operation, which, though not ideal, was working well. A change of government put an end to that scheme for a time, although recently it has been put into operation again. While such things occur, migration will be a reproach to Australia. The sum of £34,000,000 was made available to Australia by the British Government conditionally upon our absorbing a certain number of migrants for each £1,000,000 advanced; but although a representative of that government has been in Australia two years hawking that money about, he has succeeded in placing only about £6,000,000 of it. The work on which that money is to be expended would probably have been put in hand in any case. The whole thing is a tragedy. The Government should consider taking over the entire control of migration, or as nearly so as is possible. There should be one authority to determine the class and the number of people to be brought to this country, and to provide employment for them after their arrival. Until something of that kind is . done, no scheme of migration can be satisfactory. For the Commonwealth to undertake that responsibility no amendment of the Constitution would be necessary. In the past the objection to one central migration authority has been that the States control the land on which the migrants would be established. For many years we have laboured under the delusion that land settlement was the most important phase of migration. It is not. Last year 40,000 migrants arrived in Australia; but probably not more than 200 of them have definitely settled on the land. With the exception of Western Australia and Queensland, none of the States has available Crown land suitable for migrants. I suggest that, with the exception of land settlement, which should be retained by the States, the Commonwealth Government should accept the full responsibility in matters of immigration. If the States can engage in a system of nominated migration, there is no reason why the Commonwealth Government should not do the same ; nor is there any reason why the Commonwealth Government should not establish employment agencies for selected migrants in the way that the States already have done. The Commonwealth would then have to prepare, in cooperation with the trade unions, and the employers’ organizations, a census of the Australian labour market. By that means vacancies to which migrants could be appointed would be disclosed, and efforts made to fill them. During the last twelve months numbers of nominated migrants who should not have been brought here arrived in Australia under the nomination system of migration, which is in the hands of the States. That should not have been possible. I desire to make it clear that I have no thought of flooding this country with migrants, or of depressing the labour market; nor have I any desire that the present standard of living in Australia should be lowered. Nevertheless I do not agree with the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) that there is necessarily a close relation between migration and unemployment. In a great country like this with a complex industrial system, it is obvious that, at times, there will be unemployment in some industries, as there is now in Australia in the various mining centres, while in other industries there will be a distinct shortage of labour. It would be the duty of the proposed Commonwealth Employ- . ment Agencies to provide employment for the maximum number of people, with the least possible prejudice to the Australians already here. I commend these suggestions to the consideration of the Government.
.- With an agility which is increasing from day to day, the Prime Minister attempts to side-step awkward questions. The right honorable gentleman appears to have lost the candour which characterized him a few years ago. When I asked him to-day whether, in view of the unemployment existing at Broken Hill in consequence of the low price of lead and the large number of Italians and others who were seeking work in that city, he would take steps to prevent the wholesale migration to Australia of southern Europeans, he replied that the Italian Consul-General had been in communication with his Government, with the result that passports would not, in future, be issued to Italians seeking employment in the silver and lead mines at Broken Hill, the coal mines at Wonthaggi, and the smelters at Port Pirie. But he did not say whether the Government would take steps to prevent the migration to Australia of southern Europeans - Italians. Greeks, Jugo-Slavs, Maltese and others - who have been flooding this country during the last six years. Later, when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), refusing to accept the Prime Minister’s evasive reply, asked a further question, the right honorable gentleman referred to the responsibility of his Government in migration matters. One recalls the statesmanlike stand adopted by the late Sir Henry Parkes and other men of his time. They were not concerned with international complications. When confronted with the difficulties connected with the immigration of Chinese to Australia, Sir Henry Parkes took a firm stand in the matter, which contrasts the more clearly when compared with the jellyfish attitude adopted by the present Prime Minister. Apparently, Ministers do not realise the amount of unemployment existing in Australia or the keen competition for the work that is available. Many of those seeking employment in this country can scarcely speak a word of English. It would appear that the Government desires to increase Australia’s population at any price ; or it may be that it desires to give a quid pro quo to that section of the community which subscribes so liberally to the funds of the Nationalist party, and assists the candidature of the men who oppose the nominees of the Labour party. We are, it is said, confronted with delicate international problems; but one wonders how long we can be so threatened before the Government will develop sufficient backbone to tell those in authority in these countries to mind their own business. An incident occurred recently in Tasmania which, to me, was disquieting. An honorable member of Parliament had the temerity to express his view on Italian nationals. He was immediately attacked for doing so by an Italian and, in my opinion, those who assailed him altogether over-stepped the mark. At a later date the Consul-General for Italy published certain matter in the press. It would appear that these gentlemen, emboldened by the spineless attitude of this Government on the immigration of southern Europeans, are assuming that they have the power to dictate the domestic policy of Australia. Quite a number of the members of this Government have, at one time or another, visited Geneva to attend assemblies of the League of Nations, and it appears to me that they have been overawed. They have come to think so much about the League of Nations that they have permitted other nationals to dictate the policy of Australia. I strongly protest against this. Apparently the trouble began through Great Britain making a treaty with Italy. Australia was not consulted on the matter, either when the document was being drafted or when it was being signed; but it seems that she must consider herself to be bound by it, until a stronger Government is in occupation of the benches opposite. Three years ago, I, together with some other honorable members of this Chamber, travelled through the north of Queensland and found that many towns from Innisfail northwards were practically Italian communities. On the train on which we travelled part of our journey there were 250 Italians, most of whom were fromthe north of Italy. None of them, so far as I could learn, were able to speak English. Generally speaking, they were a fine type, and I believe that ultimately they will make good citizens. The tragedy of the business was that hundreds of Australians who were out of work were obliged to compete with them for the employment that was offering. There are in Australia many little communities of Italians with their own schools and clubs and with stores, the proprietors of which import Italian foodstuffs, who have no idea whatever of beaming Australian citizens. They are Italians first,”” and Australians afterwards. They refuse to become assimilated with our communities, and will not take up the responsibilities of citizenship. But they are quite prepared to accept the wages which have been won by our trade unions and the Labour party. Another reason why they refuse to become citizens here is that they fear that, by so doing, they will become liable to taxation. That is no small factor in causing them to retain their Italian citizenship. During the war the Italian Government conscripted quite a number of their nationals in Australia, and I am ashamed to say that the Commonwealth Government made Australian soldiers available for that purpose. If a Labour government had been in office these Italians would not have been torn from their homes and children, and deported. Many of the Greeks, Jugo slavs, Maltese, and Italians here would become nationalized if steps were taken to prevent them from settling into small communities of their own people. The average Italian who accepts our standards of living becomes a good citizen of Australia. Many instances of that kind have occurred at Broken Hill; but I am sorry to say that the great majority of these people keep to themselves. “We have been able to enrol some of them in our trade unions at Broken Hill, in North Queensland, in Western Australia, and. at Port Pirie ; but a considerable time elapses before they come to realize what trade unionism is. When the Italians go into rural areas, as they have done in New South Wales, and take up station work or agricultural pursuits, they are able to compete successfully against Australians for whatever work is offering, and the employers obtain very cheap labour. As a matter of fact Italians are competing successfully with Chinese, as ring-barkers and scrubcutters, which is an indication of the lowness of the wage for which they will work. I do not suppose that 10 per cent, of the foreigners in Broken Hill have become naturalized. In my opinion the Government should take steps to oblige them to accept some of the responsibilities of citizenship, for they are earning their livelihood here under much better conditions than those which prevail in their own country. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) in reply to the statements made on this subject by. the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and other hon orable members on- this side of the chamber, stated that this country needed increased production. One was able quite easily to see what he wanted. His only concern is that a supply of cheap labour should be provided for farmers and squatters. I could give particulars of twenty cases in North Queensland in which ^ Italians have been compelled to sue their employers for their wages. That has also occurred in other parts of the Commonwealth. It is disgraceful that employers should take advantage of the ignorance of these people who, because they live in their own small communities, and are not in touch with trade union organizers, are ignorant of the ruling rate of wages, and are left to the mercies of the employer. One wonders whether this is a factor in causing the Government to permit the entry of these people into the Commonwealth in unrestricted numbers. It appears quite certain that the Government favors indiscriminate migration to Australia. The Prime Minister stated this afternoon that the Consul-General for Italy had been approached by the Government, and that he had in turn approached the Italian Government, and pointed out the condition of the mining and smelting industries at Broken Hill, Wonthaggi, and Port Pirie, with the result that passports were being refused to immigrants who purposed going to those localities. Apparently passports are still available for migrants who propose to settle in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, or Hobart. What is there to stop these people, after their arrival in the country, from immediately taking the train for our mining and smelting centres ? The foreign population at . Broken Hill to-day is very high, but the standard of living of the people is deplorably low. Six, seven, or eight persons live in a four-roomed house, and many of them are content with half a loaf of bread, a quarter of a pound of cheese, and half a pint of sour wine for their meals. Some of them are satisfied with half a loaf of bread, and a couple of strong onions, garlic. Unfortunately, they know of no other standard of living, and, as they settle in their own communities, they have no opportunity of learning Australian standards. Their foodstuffs cost very little per week. The result is that the day after pay-day the money order section of the post offices in the localities where they live is crowded, and Australian money is being sent out of the country. These people also make considerable deposits in the savings banks. They live on an altogether lower standard than the Australians. It should be our business to do all that we can to improve their mode of life, otherwise they will become a grave economic danger to the country. Because of this, the Labour Party will continue to object strongly to them entering the country as they do at present. The ideas of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) to-day are very different from what they were when he first entered this chamber. Then, apparently because the Government had not adequately recognized his great capacity as an immigration officer, he made no bones about his opposition to its immigration policy. To-day he is a .super-apologist for that policy. He says that he would not mind if the Labour party confined its hostility to nationals of other countries, but he finds it hostile to all forms of immigration. The Labour party is. opposed to any system of immigration that places hundreds of men in competition with one another for one job ; but the Government apparently believes that a country which has 40,000 or 50,000 unemployed to 6,250,000 inhabitants, is on a sound economic basis. While there is fierce competition for jobs there is hope for the employers. As public men, we cannot fail to realize that unemployment is acute in Australia to-day. We see it when, we go into our constituencies, we see it as we travel about Australia, and we read of it in the newspapers ; yet some honorable members would not take one step to prevent migration to this country. On many occasions the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) has put forward the fallacious argument that the more people you bring to your country the better off you are. In other words, if you have 12,000,000 instead of 6,000,000 people, the burden of taxation and the cost of government are halved. But if in a country with a population of 12,000,000 there are 3,000,000 unemployed, some one has to keep them, either by means of un- employment insurance, as adopted in Queensland, or by assistance from benevolent institutions or by direct Government grants. The honorable member for Henty admits that there is unemployment in Australia, and he would solve the matter by having a kind of super-labour agency. For instance, if a mine closes down at Broken Hill, he would have the machinery of this agency put into operation immediately to find out where the men thus displaced could be suitably employed. That scheme would work if there were other places in Australia to which the unemployed miners of Broken Hill could be sent; but the trouble is that in all the States at the present moment there are huge numbers of men out of employment. What is the use of talking about finding jobs by means of a labour agency when there are no jobs available? At Broken Hill recently 1,200 men were thrown out of work. Previously a large number had lost their employment at Newcastle. It would require a fairly big labour agency to find work for even half that number, because there is certainly no work available for them in New South Wales, and each of the other States has its own unemployment problem.
-^- Is the drop in the price of lead that brings about the unemployment at Broken Hill likely to be permanent, or is it only temporary?
– The mines affected at Broken Hill are practically worked out. It is exceedingly costly to work the older mines such as the Broken Hill Proprietary and -Block 14 particularly, and to a smaller extent the Broken Hill Junction, but the more recently developed should have a life of 30 or 40 years, and should pay handsome dividends, even at the present price of lead. There is not much chance of anything happening in New South Wales to absorb the unemployed in that State, who already number 8,000 or 9,000. By its efforts to re-open the Mount Morgan mine, the Development and Migration Commission is trying to put life into something which is dead. A mine is a hole in the ground out of which comes so much wealth, and once you have taken out that wealth it is just as well to forget it. To try to bolster up mines which are dead is useless, and probably the money spent on all such wild cat propositions will not help us very much. The Development and Migration Commission would do better to follow a course suggested by the honorable member for Henty, some little time ago, and it would not be amiss to recall to my apparently short-memoried friend what he said only a few months ago. Speaking of the Migration Agreement he said -
At present three of the States are hesitating about participating in it. That is due wholly to the fact that the great mass of the people with small incomes - men on wages, or small salaries - are not satisfied that under the proposed scheme large numbers of migrants can bebrought into Australia without serious prejudice to those already here. We shall never proceed far with migration until we remove that fear. I think it can be removed very simply, and that migration can be made popular with every class of the community, even including the great body of trade unionists. That will be achieved, however, only by propounding such a scheme as will convince the Australian people that no newcomers will be brought here with the assistance of the Government, unless there is waiting for them work and sustenance beyond what is needed by those who have preceded them.
Yet now we hear the honorable member criticizing honorable members of the Labour Party who want those conditions established. Can the honorable member say to-day that the Government has the confidence of the great mass of the trade unionists of this country in its immigration policy? It has not, and the honorable member knows it yet he is hypocritical enough to stand here to-day unmindful of what he said only a few short months ago.
– The words I uttered a few months ago still stand.
– If the honorable member still believes in the policy he put forward when speaking of the Migration Agreement, he has a convenient idea of what constitutes public morality. Discussing the Migration Agreement, he went on to say -
I should like to see the problem referred to a committee of experts, representing the rural industries, the secondary industries, all other important interests, and. particularly the Trades Hall,because migration will never flourish as a national movement until it enjoys the co-operation and blessing of organized labour.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The discussion on the Supply Bill has been based mostly on immigration, which I regard as one of the most prominent issues before the people of Australia to-day. In this morning’s press I read that resolutions objecting to the influx of southern Europeans have been carried in South Australia by the Returned Soldiers’ League, the Australian Natives’ Association, and the Labour Conference sitting in Adelaide. If, in the opinion of honorable members opposite trade unionists cannot be regarded as sincere in their desire to develop and populate Australia properly, surely the bona fides of the Returned Soldiers’ League and the Australian Natives’ Association cannot be doubted. Surely those organizations are entitled to ask the Government to take heed of their opinions on foreign immigration. We are told that the Government is not favorable to mass immigration, that consuls have been appealed to, and that immigrants of certain nationalities are not permitted to land at specified ports, such as Port Pirie, Townsville, and other places where there are industrial activities in which they could . be quickly absorbed. This prohibition is useless, because they land at every capital city and quickly pass to industrial and mining centres. We know also that Italian immigrants all have the prescribed £40 as pocket money, but we have been told, and I suppose there is a substratum of truth in the statement, that the same £40 goes round until it is worn at the edges and can be recognized as having been used previously. Subterfuges of this sort can easily be overcome, and the fact remains that too many immigrants from Mediterranean countries are arriving in Australia. It is felt not only by the trade unions and the other bodies I have mentioned, but also by the people of Australia generally that it is not in the best interests of this country as a whole to permit this influx. That feeling finds expression in all sorts of ways; there is seething discontent among the people; yet the Government seek to avoid the issue. I did not hear the speech of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), but I know what he would have done if he had been in power to-day. Instead of anticipating complications, he would first have imposed restrictions on immigration, and then awaited the complications. The progress of Australia is revealed by the production statistics. A Liberal member in the South Australian House of Assembly speaking last week said, “ It is time someone began to speak of the achievements of this Australia of ours, and of what has been accomplished within the short period of 100 years by its sparse population.” Instead of inviting people of other countries to look at our open spaces - that is the policy of the Government - we should tell them what we have done. It is all very well for the honorable member for Henty to challenge Labour regarding its immigration policy, but we have a country and its conditions to protect, and we should do so. Honorable members opposite are continually crying out that we must populate this country, otherwise other nations will decide that we have no right to hold it. In other words, they are trying to buy a fight. We have every right to hold this country, because we have worked along sound lines. We have had the experience of other countries to help us. ‘ Our people in the main are healthier and better educated than other peoples, and are at least equal in type. We boast of our productivity and our savings and general bank deposits. Our production statistics are comparable with the world’s highest. We may express our opinions on foreign migraration in Jack Blunt fashion, but nevertheless we often express what is in the minds of others who are not game to give utterance to them. No one can doubt the sincerity of the Labour party on the matter of immigration. Let me quote from a newspaper published in South Australia, which is owned and controlled by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. The company controls the Adelaide News, and, I think, the Barrier Miner, and the Port Pirie Recorder. Last Thursday the Adelaide News contained a leading article dealing with the sugar industry of Queensland. It referred to the iniquity of the Commonwealth Government in providing a subsidy so that the sugar could be produced by white labour. I certainly approve of the employment of white labour in the sugar industry. The Labour party originally backed the agitation for the abolition of Kanaka labour in the sugar
Mr. Yates. industry, and was successful in its efforts. It was said at that time that the industry would be ruined and that Queensland would return to virgin bush. All those jeremiads have been disproved. The shibboleth of to-day has altered to some extent from that of yesterday. Honorable members behind the Government advocate immigration because it will bring about a cheaper class of labour, and permit of further exploitation of the people. They say, “Look at our unprotected north and north-west,” and they are still looking at those territories. Those who have any sense will marvel at what we have done, and are still doing, in the north and north-west of Australia. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company, through its official organ, has shown what is at the back of its mind in regard to foreign immigration. The’ Adelaide News published a paragraph to the effect that the sugar industry did not provide many avenues of employment in Queensland itself for Australian born men and women and that it was rapidly approaching the stage at which it would be an Italian monopoly. The honorable member for Henty shakes his head. When he was in Adelaide the same newspaper boosted him, and I suggest that if the Broken Hill Proprietary Company was not responsible for that article, then perhaps he himself wrote it. I am not Australian born. I was very young, however, when I left the land of my birth, and I say without hesitation thai Australia will do me. I shall do everything in my power to prevent this country, or any portion of it, from becoming an Italian settlement. Since the war we have heard much of the phrase, “peaceful penetration,” and if the present position in Australia has come about to any extent through Mussolini’s efforts at peaceful penetration, then it is up to this Government to let the scales fall from its eyes and to take the necessary action to protect Australian citizens.
– The statement that the sugar industry of Queensland is becoming an Italian monopoly is absolutely untrue
– That may be so. But the honorable member cannot gainsay the fact that there appears- periodically in the newspapers various .items of news in which Italians and the use of daggers and stilettoes figure prominently.
– The southern states are trying to kill the sugar industry in the north.
– The Labour party is always prepared to swing solidly behind any industry in Australia that is worth protecting. To digress for a moment from the subject under discussion, let me say that General Sir Granville Ryrie has already earned for himself in London some distinction for his departure from academic language. The Council of the League of Nations, like the High Commissioner’s office, is fast becoming redundant. I am not alone in that view, a Liberal member of the South Australian Parliament, discussing the AgentGeneral’s Bill, stated that the High Commissioner’s office in London was not worth a shilling a year to the Commonwealth. So it is with the League of Nations. Statements concerning immigration have been made at Geneva similar to those made in this House, ostensibly with the desire to bring about peace, but that will come about only when men truly desirous of accomplishing peace confer together at Geneva. We can at least register before the public of Australia our objection to the Government immigration policy. When a French steamer called at Port Adelaide with indentured Annamite labour for New Caledonia, there were also on board 112 southern Europeans. They were ridiculed by thepopulace of Port Adelaide while walking along the streets. I wired to the Prime Minister calling his attention to the matter, and he replied to the effect that I must be careful about what I said of the incident. I know full well that the majority of the people of Australia hold views similar to those of the people of Port Adelaide. Only the day before yesterday another batch of southern Europeans arrived in South Australia. One of the newspapers published a list of the names of the immigrants, and it was very curious reading. Those immigrants have gone to Broken Hill and Port Pirie, but only seven Italians were among them. The rest were from the Balkan States. Does the Prime Minister suggest, when he refers to international complications) that if we take action some Balkan State will send us an ultimatum? Ye gods and little fishes! Surely Australia is not afraid of an ultimatum from any of the Balkan States, or even from Italy. That nation knows that Australia is a self-governing country, and while it is so we need never be afraid of doing the right thing in the interests of Australia, whatever international complications may arise therefrom. The honorable member for Henty has said that the Labour party is against Italians to-day, some other foreigners tomorrow, and the Britishers the next day. The Labour party takes a close view of immigration. The Barwell Government of South Australia instituted a boy immigration scheme. Boys were brought here from England, and I understand that there have been seven suicides amongst them. It is claimed that the lads have been settled on the land, but I suggest that the number of boys who have committed suicide is greater than the number who have been effectively settled on the land. Of course, those who settled on the land are now men, and as such, entitled to the full rights of citizenship. The present Government of South Australia intends to improve on the scheme. After the boys have served a certain period, they are to receive £300 to enable them to settle on the land. The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. DuncanHughes) recently sold some land at an average price of £11 2s. 6d. per acre. I should like to know how many acres of that class of land could be purchased for £300.
– I should like to know how many boys committed suicide ?
– The latest report was seven.
– Were not more than seven boys settled on the land?
– I doubt whether the number of boys settled on the land was greater than the number that “gave up the ghost.”
Mr.Foster. - I understand that 90 per cent: of the boys were settled on the land.
– The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) and the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes), should produce a list showing the actual number of these youths, who have settled on the land.
– Such a list could easily be obtained.
– The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) should ask one. of the liberal members in the South Australian Parliament to move for a return to he tabled in the House of Assembly showing the names of the boy migrants and the localities in which they are settled on the land in their own right.
– The honorable member should have obtained the figures before making these assertions.
– I am positive that I could not obtain accurate information if I attempted to do so; but I am sure the honorable member for Wakefield and many other honorable members know that with the wages paid these boys for the work they are doing they cannot possibly acquire land even if they do not spend a single penny on their maintenance. They cannot even undertake share farming on the money they receive. A farmer in South Australia openly stated that the boy migration system was merely a cheap labour scheme.
– Many other boys are still waiting to come to Australia.
– That may be so. I do not say for a moment that they are of an unsuitable type, and after becoming accustomed to the conditions here will not make useful citizens. Those who enter industry will naturally join unions the organizers of which will see that they are not exploited. I endorse the view expressed by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) that if we are to have migrants they should be of our own nationality, and that not until we can absorb more than are available in Great Britain should we look to other countries. Britishers should not be the last to receive consideration. I am also in accord with the opinion expressed by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullet), who advocated a fixed immigration policy. Migrants should not be brought to Australia as the Prime Minister inferred merely to assist in ensuring the defence of Australia, whilst at the same time they prevent good Australians from obtaining jobs. Opportunities should be made available for further land settlement. Where is settlement to be undertaken? The honorable member for Henty said that Queensland and Western Australia were the only States in which migrants could be profitably absorbed. The Western Australian land settlement scheme is the best in the Commonwealth ; but ‘ there are also splendid opportunities in Queensland. I do not think many migrants from Great Britain would make first class farmers until they had been in the Commonwealth sufficiently long to become accustomed to Australian conditions. There is no land available in New South Wales or in South Australia.
Mr. Nelson. They should go north.
– I shall shortly give the honorable member the experiences of a man who went north. We cannot expect migrants without money from an industrial country such as Great Britain to settle in Central or North Australia. They would become old men before they succeeded. We should allow those conversant with Australian conditions to obtain the land, and then tha sons who had become experienced farmers could perhaps successfully settle in Central or North Australia. Men who have been “jackerooing” for a while may succeed, but new settlers cannot possibly do so.
– Why not provide them with opportunities.
– Opportunities are not provided for our own people, as the following statement, dealing with applications for farm areas in New South
Wales and published in the Standard of 15th January, 1927, shows: -
It may be said that many of these applications were duplicated; but even so, this return shows that insufficient land is available for experienced local farmers, apart from the demand for blocks for men who may have been bus drivers in London or employed in factories in Yorkshire or Nottingham. Tor the information of the honorable member for the Northern Territory I shall give the experience of a young man who was employed, on a verminproof fence in Central Australia. This young man, who possesses some literary talent, supplied a number of articles and photographs to one of the newspapers. In the first place he came to Australia two or three years before the outbreak of war, without receiving financial assistance from any government ; but with an assurance from his parents that if he could obtain land they would help him. He came to South Australia, then went to Victoria, and later to Central Australia. At the outbreak of war he was among the first to enlist and served throughout the campaign. Later he was employed at Tidworth in connexion with the demobilization of the troops, but eventually returned to Australia. Like many other diggers he married, and then unsuccessfully endeavoured to obtain land. He was compelled to return to the north, leaving his wife “and child behind.
– What government was in power when he applied?
– I do not know what government was in power when he first applied; but his second application was made last year. He wrote asking me if I could do anything to assist him in obtaining a block for which he was applying. I wrote to the Premier of New South Wales (Mr. Lang), spoke to Mr. Willis on the matter; and did what I could, but he was not successful. Last year he made £200 out of fox skins, which he obtained from the land he was trying to secure. Last February he bought a motor lorry in Adelaide and took it back with him, so he is not a “dud.” Why should we hinder a returned soldier who is anxious to become a settler on the land from pursuing the avocation on which he has set his heart? Of course, the Labour party is anxious to prevent a reduction of the standard of living which it has fought for many years to establish; but it is a dastardly falsehood to say that the,party is hostile to the advent of brother Britishers from overseas. As soon as I returned from New Guinea, I received a letter from the would-be settler of whom I am speaking giving me the number of the block for which he was applying in New South Wales, and asking me if I would get in touch with Mr. Horsington, the Minister of Lands there. I have received the following reply from Mr. Horsington: -
I have just received your letter of the 13th inst. in relation to your desire that your cousin should acquire a block of Crown land in the western division of New South Wales. I certainly shall do whatever is possible to assist in this direction, but you will note that my activities will be limited, as I understand there are over 900 applications already lodged for the block this young man particularly desires to acquire.
The block in question is situated at Tintinallogy, via Menindie, river Darling, New South Wales, so it is far removed from city attractions.
No proper plan of migration has yet been evolved, and it remains to be seen whether the Development. and Migration Commission will be able to formulate a practicable scheme. There is no justification for twitting members of my party with opposing immigration. I well remember the industrial conditions that obtained in this country when the Labour party came into existence, and we are proud of the standard of living that has been .attained. The statistics show that the wealthy section has not suffered in consequence of the improved conditions now enjoyed by the working man. In spite of what has been said about Labour rule in New South Wales, there is no more flourishing population than that found in that State. The big factories constantly being erected there are not put up merely to keep the workers in employment, but to enable the wealthy class to obtain the 10, 15, 20, or 25 per cent, profit that will be shown despite the high wages and the shortened hours of employment.
– The honorable member has been criticizing the administration of the Lang Government for years.
-r-Not at all. The previous Labour Governments in New South Wales had gone as far as it could in opening up the lands of that State. The late
Labour Government in South Australia proposed a compulsory repurchase act before the elections, but the measure was duly rejected by the Legislative Council. The Labour party has always fought for the right of the Government to acquire a man’s land at his own valuation, plus 10 per cent.
– A great deal of land can be purchased at that price.
– Is the honorable member afraid of a measure that would give effect to that policy? The time is coming - and honorable members opposite realize it - when the owners of large estates will be compelled by force of circumstances to part with some of their land to prevent red revolution and Bolshevism. If we continue to run railways through fertile country that is allowed to remain idle, the interest bill will become too burdensome for the taxpayers to bear. It is all very well for the Prime Minister to remind us that £70,000,000 has been sunk in railways. He should also point out that that sum is not earning the same interest as his business establishment in Flinders Lane, because the railways run through untilled paddocks, containing great trees just as they did before the railways were constructed. Public money has been borrowed for many works that have outlived their usefulness. As in the case of many farms that have been swept by cyclones, the mortgages remain. The time is coming when we shall have to break up the big estates. When a measure for that purpose was introduced in South Australia it . was promptly rejected by the Legislative Council, which represents vested interests. A bill has now been introduced for .the “ acquisition of land for developmental purposes,” but it has about as much chance of being accepted by the Upper House in my State, if its real purpose is to bring about the cutting up of large estates, as a snowball has of getting through hell. When a Government boasts that it desires to encourage immigration, it is side-stepping its obligations, unless it gets busy in a practical way, and endeavors to ascertain how many immigrants Australia is capable of absorbing. It should then endeavor to determine where new settlers can be placed, and an effort should be made to find out how many each large estate is capable of accommodating. Genuine would-be settlers should be given a chance, and a suitable applicant for land should not be required to compete with 900 others for two or three blocks.
– The South Australian bill, to which the honorable member has referred, deals with land that will be useless until a great deal of money has been spent in reclaiming it. It is a proper measure.
– According to the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), any bill, if it is to be acceptable to the Legislative Council of South Australia, must be a proper one, and the man who determines whether or not it is a proper measure is Sir David Gordon. When he has made his speech on a measure in that House, the bill either lives or dies. There was a time when the honorable member for Wakefield was a good Liberal, and stood behind Charles Cameron Kingston, but his wings have been badly singed. I have hope that he will yet realize that the Labour Party is not opposed to immigration. Evidently the Government cannot hold the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), and it is obvious also that it will have to bring the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) to heel before long. The gravamen of the charge made by honorable members opposite is that the Labour movement is opposed to immigration. That is not correct. We- are not afraid of migrants; we welcome them; but we object to the conditions of labour which have been established here being reduced by the brand of migrants which some honorable members opposite appear to favour, because we are convinced that it will’ not fit in with the general scheme for the development of this country. The class I refer to are being admitted because they are malleable material. The honorable member for Forrest said this afternoon that they were being admitted into the unions. That is true. We are accepting them in the ranks of trade unions to prevent their exploitation by the employing class. All through the ages we have been obliged to organize against the danger of exploitation, so we cannot be blamed if now we take- all the measures necessary to safeguard our privileges. My friend, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) knows how in South Australia we had to battle to prevent our people from being throttled by the dead hand of the past, as represented by the Legislative Council in that State. I remind him of the time when he obtained a promise from the late Hon. C. C. Kingston that he would not leave State politics for the Federal sphere until he had obtained household suffrage for the Legislative Council of South Australia. I have .no doubt that he remembers when Mr. Poynton and the late Mr. Roberts voted with the late Mr. V. L. Solomon to defeat the Kingston Ministry. The honorable member then absolved Mr. Kingston from his promise. Those were the days when the honorable member for Wakefield believed that the people should be more adequately represented in the legislature of the State than they are to-day. We are told that they are about to get the dual vote. The Government stands condemned for its inactivity in regard to immigration, and for not forcing the State Governments to come together, to prevent the introduction of a class of immigrants whose presence in this country would be detrimental to its best interests.
– Reference has been made by some of the speakers who have preceded me to the closing down of Broken Hill mines, and the consequent unemployment that now prevails at that centre. The position, as I understand it, from information obtained from the public press, is entirely different from that stated by one honorable member to-night. I have taken the trouble to look through the files of the newspapers, and to refresh my memory as to the facts as represented, at any rate, by responsible people, who control the mines at Broken Hill. I hold no brief for them and have no financial interest in Broken Hill mines, but, in common fairness, I think it is only right that the other side should be presented. Mr. W. E. Gardner, the manager of the Sulphide Corporation, has stated, according to the Sydney Morning Herald of 24th instant, that he is taking on as many as possible of the men from the Junction mine. It is reported, also, that those companies which are continuing operations are weeding out the foreigners and replacing them, with Australian and British workmen. According to Mr. H. G. Darling, the chairman of directors of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, the principal cause of the prevailing unemployment is the low prices of metals and the supplementary factors are the reduced working hours for the underground men from 35 to 30 hours a week, with a consequent reduced output; a reduction in shifts from three to two, and the effect of industrial legislation including child endowment and workers’ compensation, which have increased the cost of production to his company by about £36,000 annually. He states that the mines have now reached a point at which operations cannot profitably continue. He adds that his company could overcome the difficulty of low prices and even the effects of the 44-hour week if production could be increased, but unfortunately, with the low prices for metals it is not now possible to pass any of the increased charges on to the public. It is obvious to every one that, if the operations of a company do not permit of dividends being paid, capital will go out of the industry. The mine managers believe, and I think every unprejudiced person shares that belief with them, that the real solution of the present difficulty lies in greater production. We should remember that the mining companies, in common with all other industrial concerns, have no purse of Fortunatus, out of which wages may be paid when production is below the level of a remunerative selling price. Wages are paid out of production; they must be earned before they can be paid. If production in industrial enterprises is not sufficient to pay wages people will not invest their capital in an unprofitable concern, and if production ceased wages also would cease. It is futile to shut our eyes to patent economic facts. I shall not suggest that some statements were made to-night by honorable members who had their tongues in their cheeks for the purpose of decoying the electors of New South Wales into giving a mistaken vote in the State elections. Apart from that, I thought it only fair to put before the committee another side of the case as presented in the press to substitute plain fact for nonsensical fiction. It seems to me that the reasons for closing down which, I have mentioned are reasonable, fair, honest, and sincere.
– The debate so far has related mainly to migration. I am not opposed to the introduction of new population from abroad, because I regard such a policy as necessary for the development of our outback spaces; but any scheme of migration must go hand in hand with a progressive development policy. Numerous commissions have been appointed to evolve such a policy; but, unfortunately, they have not yet produced any practical suggestions for the economic absorption of migrants as they arrive. I expected that by this time some reasoned proposals would have been made by the North Australian commission; but I was informed to-day by the Minister for Home and Territories that no such sugestions had been made. If, as I believe, the fundamentals of development are roads, railways, and waterways, there should be ample scope for recommendations by the North Australian and Central Australian commissions. The best way to settle migrants is to put them on the land. Some honorable members think that that policy is not practicable, and the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) called attention to the fact that hundreds of people apply for one block of land. That condition does obtain in the congested States of the Commonwealth, and is inseparable from closer settlement, andthe resultant increased demand for land; but I maintain that any man who has sufficient money to buy land at the high rates demanded in the southern States has sufficient upon which to retire. In the far-flung spaces of the continent, however, the whole capital of a person can be invested in stock much more profitably than in land at from £10 to £15 per acre; land at that price will never yield enough to pay interest on the capital expenditure. I submitted to the Development and Migration commission a proposal which I consider sound, and which would have met the circumstances related by the honorable member for Adelaide. Under the Migration Agreement £1,000 is made available for each person settled on the land, and one Australian may be settled for each migrant so placed. My proposal was that groups of from 15 to 25 young Australians, who have experience of the land - for instance, sons of men who have made good under adverse conditions - should be settled on alternate blocks in Central and Northern Australia. Migrants, preferably from Great Britain, should be set to work with the Australian settlers for twelve months, and then allowed to settle on the other blocks of the group. I believe that by such a policy many thousands of migrants could be profitably engaged on the land, particularly in cattle and sheep raising. I am aware that the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) has declared that Central Australia is only a desert; but it is refreshing to have the contrary testimony of other honorable members who have recently visited that little known portion of the Commonwealth. I concede that the honorable member for Riverina honestly stated his impressions, but he travelled rapidly over the cattle track that had been eaten out, and saw nothing of the country on either side.
– I saw average country.
– I undertake to say that the honorable member did not see half a dozen settlers along the track he traversed. At the northern end of the route, when he deviated eastward on to the Barkly Tableland, he saw country which, in his opinion, will carry thousands of settlers and 10,000,000 sheep. Had he made a similar deviation in Central Australia he would have admitted that there is ample opportunity for prosperous settlers. Thereare already from 300 to 400 settlers in that country; none of them had any money when they selected the land, and there is not one failure amongst them.
– Most of them want to get away from the country.
– That is true. Some men who settled there only six years ago now want to leave the country, but they are demanding £20,000 for the assets that they have built up in that time. There is no wilderness in Central Australia, and I have backed my opinion by placing my own sons on the land there. A man may “ kid “ to the public, but not to his own family. ‘ I say that advisedly. I am satisfied that the honorable member will live to retract the statements he has made regarding Central Australia generally, but particularly in connexion with railway communication in the Territory.
Mr.R. Green. - That is the worst railway line that has ever been constructed in Australia.
– Here is another honorable member who speaks without his book. It will be found that this line will pay for itself in a shorter space of time than any that has so far been constructed in the far-flung spaces of Australia. The honorable member forRiverina has suggested that cattle and sheep will not be trucked from the Territory. He knows nothing of its mineral potentialities. On one occasion I introduced to the Minister of Works andRailways (Mr. Hill) a deputation representing from eight to ten of the biggest landholders in Central Australia, When he informed them of the freight that would be charged on the completion of the railway to Alice Springs they said “ Get it up there as soon as you can and we will keep it busy with our cattle.” If the honorable member forRiverina exercised keenly his sense of observation when he traversed the Territory he must admit that ho did not see a poor beast in any portion of it.
-It was the best season they had had for many years.
– I have seen it in the worst season experienced over a period of twenty years, and even in those conditions one could not see poor stock. Any man who is acquainted with cattle country, and will view the matter impartially and fairly, must come to that conclusion. The railway will develop some of the finest mineral country in Australia.
Mr.R. Green. - All our mineral fields are being closed down; yet the honorable member talks of opening up another !
– It is true that mining has declined, but it cannot be denied that that has been the pioneering industry in the development of every State, and it will occupy a similar role in the development of the Northern Territory.
– Does the honorable member consider that it would be good business to build an expensive railway on the mere off chance of discovering a rich field?
– I do not for a moment consider that this is an extravagant expenditure. Had I done so I should not have advocated it. I believe that it is one of the soundest investments into which the Commonwealth has entered both from the point of view of opening up an additional centre of productivity and from that of defence. We have heard quite a lot regarding the necessity to populate Australia. Here we have areas that lend themselves to such a proposal. Whilst this Parliament was located in Melbourne the honorable member forRiverina on one occasion said that 12,000,000 sheep ought to be running on the Barkly Tableland. If they were distributed over a number of small settlements, how many families could be provided for? Yet the Barkly Tableland comprises only a corner of the Territory ! On the Victoria River Downs there is country equally as good, with possibilities just asgreat.
– I know there is some good country that the railway will not open up.
– The honorable member travelled at such a pace that he did not see anything of the country. I am satisfied that in another five years the settlement in the north will absolutely confound all its critics.
I recently visited the goldfields in the Mandated Territories, and found that the white residents are perturbed regarding the conditions under which mining leases are granted. A great deal has been said regarding the possibilities of mining development. Doubtless they are great. I have seen country that showed traces of gold from the beach to the fields. But it is equally true that unscrupulous promoters are endeavouring to foist a number of shows on the public in the southern States of Australia, and unless precautionary measures are taken by the Government one of the greatest “wild-cat” orgies that Australia has ever known will be indulged in. I suggest that the Minister should see that every claim put forward for flotation in the southern States is subjected to the report of the commissioner, or the goldfields warden. The granting of big leases is a question of vital importance, affecting the fundamental principles of mining. The men on the fields in the Mandated Territory have been anxiously awaiting the report of the commission.
– The report will be submitted to-morrow.
– There is another question that relates to the conditions of mining in the Mandated Territory. Dredging leases have been granted for what are essentially diggers’ boxing’ propositions. There appears to be a good deal of confusion as to what constitutes a dredging lease, and what a lease for a box and digger. Amendments are about to be made to the ordinances, and I suggest that the matter he clearly defined. The definition tff sluicing should bc “ Any ground that is entirely worked by water.’’ 1 refer to the use of a nozzle or of hydraulic pressure, so forcing the wash or earth up a standpipe or through races. It is not sluicing in the true sense when dirt is washed by hand and put into a box. There are fields where a man can recover 80 or 90 ozs. of gold a day, but no man can do that with a little 4ft. or 6ft. box. This field is a box proposition, essentially a diggers’ field, and I suggest that something along the lines I have detailed should be adopted so that the miners may know exactly where they stand. I understand the Treasurer is now prepared to report progress.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 10 a.m. to-morrow.
House adjourned at 10.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 September 1927, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1927/19270929_reps_10_116/>.