10th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
J. Newlands) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I should like to know if the Leader of the Government in the Senate is yet in a position to answer a question which I asked him several days ago as to the number of boards and commissions that have been appointed by this Government.
– The reply is not, ready yet, but the honorable senator will be informed at an early date.
Commonwealth Government’s Purchases
– On the 20th May, Senator Barnes asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs the following questions: -
I am now able’ to furnish the honorable senator with the following information : -
Copper Wire - Home .’and Territories, 3,300 yards, £51 ls. 7d. Of Unknown Manufacture - Home and Territories, 5,280 yards, £74; Trade and Customs, 5 lb., 9s. Hd.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
What was the number of -
What was the number of officers and employees engaged as -
– The PostmasterGeneral states that the desired information is being obtained and will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has furnished the following replies: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
In view of the loss of life and the destruction of property on the 9th inst., consequent upon the stifling atmosphere in the Ardglen single-line tunnel on the Main Northern line,
New South Wales, and as practically the same conditions may exist in the proposed singleline tunnels on the Kyogle to Brisbane railway - will the Minister state what is the estimated cost per lineal yard for - and what is the annual estimated loss if double-line tunnels are constructed?
– The information will be obtained and furnished at a later date.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Glasgow) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the ‘Petroleum Prospecting Act 1926.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Bill received from House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
Debate resumed from 14th July (vide page 4115), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This is one of the most important measures that has been introduced in this chamber during my short term in the Senate. Under an agreement entered into between the Commonwealth Government and the British Government in April of last year, a large sum of money is to be made available by the British Government by way of loan on the most liberal terms. As the proposed scheme is an extensive one, and a minister with his numerous departmental duties to attend to could not possibly give it his personal attention, the Government proposes to appoint a commission, which will be subservient to Parliament, to control the work of development and migration. Frequent reference has been made to the allegation that migrants of an undesirable type reach Australia ; but it is hoped that in consequence of the additional vigilance which will be displayed by the authorities only those who are men tally and physically fit, and who are likely to make good citizens, will in future be permitted to come here. As has been frequently stated, our population should be much larger, and I am sure it is the desire of every one that a great number of Britishers will settle in the Commonwealth. Some honorable senators opposite seem to be under the impression that migrants are to be picked up in a haphazard way in the big cities of Great Britain; but it is the intention of the authorities to select only suitable migrants from all parts of the British Isles. I remind Senator Hoare, who continually used the word “English,” that I, as a descendant of Scottish parents, prefer the term “ British,” which includes all citizens of the British Isles. As Senator Barnes and others are under the impression that there’ is insufficient land available in Australia for our own people who desire to engage in rural pursuits, I have interviewed the Closer Settlement Board in order to ascertain the position in regard to land settlement in this State. I was supplied by it this morning with the following information: -
The number of local settlers placed on the land under the Closer Settlement Act and the Discharged Soldier Settlement Act from the 30th June, 1923, to the 30th June, 1926, is 4,561. The land allotted to that number was 1.422.357 acres.
– What is the value of the land?
– It varies according to the locality.
– What have the returned soldiers to pay for the land they assisted to protect?
– The Government have repatriated soldiers at a cost of several millions. The Closer Settlement Board further states -
The area of land purchased by the Closer Settlement Board available for application is 102 blocks consisting of 15,233 acres. The area of land purchased by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission available for application comprises 72 blocks consisting of 4,255 acres.
Payments for that land can be made over a period of 36½ years.
– Will the Government assist intending settlers on that land by advancing them £1,000 as is proposed under this agreement?
– The State Government will advance £625 to settlers for the purchase of stock and implements.
– The best settlers we have had in. Australia started on the land without any financial assistance.
– The Victorian Mallee lands have produced magnificent wheat yields, and according to the information supplied by the Closer Settlement Board there are 248 Mallee blocks consisting of 226,590 acres available at the present moment.
– At what price?
– At from 10s. to 20s. per acre. The purchasers have 40 years in which to pay for the land, and no interest is charged. Senator Barnes should bring this information under the notice of his friends who require land.
– Is the interest capitalized in the price per acre?
– No. For the information of the Senate, I produce a plan which shows that there is a large area of mallee land available in Victoria to-day for those who require it. The State Governments, particularly the Government of Victoria, are anxious to settle people on the land,
– The mallee land referred to by the honorable senator is on a railway line.
– Yes, it is very conveniently situated. In regard. to the Riverina district, the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of the States of South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales are now engaged in the work of locking the river Murray for the purpose of conserving the waters that annually run to waste down that stream, and utilizing them for irrigation purposes. Several locks have already been completed.
– The land in the Riverina has all been taken up. Senator ANDREW.- Possibly, but the estates which lie along the river Murray can and are to be acquired for subdivision. There will be room for thousands of farmers.
Senator <- GRANT - At what price?
– Everything has its price. A man cannot buy a suit of clothes withtout having to pay for it. There were in New South Wales in 1924 17,944,557 acres of unoccupied Crown land. I do not say that it is all. good or reproductive land, but a considerable portion of it must be. In 1923 there were 13,005,729 acres of unoccupied Crown land in Victoria and 96,65S,729 acres in Queensland. In 1924 there were 101,506,895 acres of unoccupied Crown land in South Australia, 8,851,884 acres in Tasmania, and 377,347,455 acres in Western Australia.
– Western Australia is some State!
– It is. In 1924 there were 195,484,934 acres of unoccupied Crown lands in the Northern Territory. I advise Senator Needham to read Mr. Donald Mackinnon’s article on Western Australia, in which he says -
The farms already alienated by the Crown are sometimes large, running up to 4,000 aeres; an area of 1,000-aere farms would produce better results; but .there is no landhunger in the West.
During the course of this debate it has been mentioned that there were .4,000 applicants for a block of land at Henty, in New South Wales.
– I did not say that there was any land-hunger in Western Australia. I was speaking of New South Wales.
– If there is any land-hunger in New South Wales, all that the disappointed land applicants have to do is to migrate to Western Australia, where there is plenty of land available. Mr. Mackinnon goes on to say -
When the pressure’ for land comes owing to short supply - and that is some years away - these large farms will, no doubt, be subdivided. Crown land is cheap, with a range from 3s. 9d. to 15s. an acre. As to the yield, 30 bushels is frequently mentioned. The State average is 12 or 13 bushels; but whatever these figures may show it is a significant fact that in 1901 Western Australia produced 774,000 (bushels, in 1923 19,000,000 bushels, and in 1924 23,887,397 bushels.
I need not read any further. What I have read indicates that there is plenty of land available in Australia. Among those organizations which have taken up the question of migration is that noble institution known as the Salvation Army, which is doing very fine work in this direction. I propose now to quote an article dealing with the views of Commissioner Lamb, the head of the migration activities of the Salvation Army, who came to Australia after visiting America early this year and made a keon study of migration problems here. The article is as follows: -
Salvationist’s View. Says Britain Must ‘ Use Both Legs. - Commissioner Lamb. “ We are manacled by economic dogmas, and have reached a choice of action or disaster,” said Commissioner Lamb, of the Salvation Army, giving the Colonial Institute his views on migration, formed on his recent world tour, which included Australia.
Commissioner Lamb urged amended legislation to provide for extensive farm training in England, especially of youths, and the payment of a dole to the dependants of the trainees, a ten-years’ programme of intensive migration, and the creation of a commission to carry out the proposals.
It is quite evident that Commissioner Lamb is an advocate of the inauguration of a scientific scheme of migration - “ We must develop a continuous elastic policy of co-ordination of the dominions,” he said. “ The pioneers were not ballasted by Blue books. We have forgotten how to adventure. We must develop a long view, or perish. We undertake meagre expenditure on migration and pay out £500,000,000 in demoralizing doles.”
The suggestion is that a considerable portion of the money spent in doles might be devoted to a migration scheme -
In Australia the “economic bug” has infected its victims with the belief that migrants are competing for existing jobs; but the malady has yielded to treatment. New Zealand i’s ready to receive more migrants. Much preparation is necessary.
The press supports every argument for extensive migration. Britain ought to spend more than the dominions on it. Mr. Bruce is developing a big scheme, but Australia is not the whole Empire. Similar schemes should be launched elsewhere.
The Western Australian group scheme is most interesting; -but the evils of isolation must be avoided.
Hitherto we have moved like cripples. Let us use both legs and speed up.
– Did Commissioner Lamb say anything about the 60,000 unemployed in Australia?
– If honorable senators opposite would clear up the industrial troubles in Australia there would not be half that number of unemployed here.
– We are not the Government. Why does not the Government clear them up ?
– If the referendum is successful they will be cleared up. When I was in Western Australia about ten weeks ago a vessel landed some immigrants at Albany, and a special train was provided by the State Government to take them to Perth. I was on that train. The majority of the migrants on it were young ladies, and I was very much impressed with their type. On the following morning I went to the Salvation Army Home to see what arrangements had been made on their behalf, and I found that a very fine system waa in operation. The practice was for the Army officials to get in touch with prospective employers, and if there was not a sufficient demand for the labour that was available, those who failed to secure employment were kept at the home until positions were found for them. They kept in touch with the young ladies after they entered employment, and a very homely club was provided to which they could go when they had a. night off. This organization could well handle a big percentage of the migrants who come to Australia. Victoria has acquired in the Gippsland district an area of 6,000 acres of land, which has been offered to the Commonwealth Government for use in connexion with this scheme. The Victorian Government is prepared to go right ahead with the negotiations, so that migrants may be put upon that land immediately. It is of fine quality, and highly productive.
– Is it proposed to give female migrants £1,000 each to make a start on a farm 1
– The females follow different occupations. The wives of men who go on the land will have provision made for them, and single girls will no doubt be placed in other occupations. Another movement that is interesting itself in migration is the Big Brother movement. It will confer a great benefit on Australia. If we can induce young men to come to Australia and imbibe the atmosphere of this country, they will grow up as good citizens because they will acquire experience and a knowledge of local conditions at an impressionable age. The gentleman who is at the head of that movement is to be commended for the interest that he is taking in the boys upon their arrival in Australia. The activities of the movement ought to be embraced in this scheme. The more we interest public organizations the better for the migrants as well as for Australia. Migrants will be nob only producers, but also consumers, and additional work will be provided in fulfilling their requirements. It may be necessary to defend Australia at some future date and our ability to repel invasion will be increased if we secure a larger population than we now have. The migrants after their arrival in Australia will link themselves up with organizations that have as their object the development and defence of this country. The scheme has untold value in every direction. The early pioneers built up a great country. Any migrants that we may now receive will be the descendants of relatives of those great pioneers, and they will have not one whit less pluck and grit.
– Was there a migration scheme in existence when those pioneers came to Australia ?
– No ; they had the necessary pluck and grit to shoulder the task without assistance. When mv late father arrived in Australia he had only 10s. in his pocket, and he never knew want. Although honorable senators of the Opposition agree that we need migration, they do not offer any suggestion for bringing migrants to- Australia.
– I did.
– They have simply indulged in destructive criticism. Their contention is that Australia should not be made a dumping-ground for the surplus population of other countries. On the other hand, they claim that, during the period that the Labour party was in power in the Commonwealth, a greater number of migrants came to Australia than was the case in any other similar period. How do they reconcile those statements?
– We attracted them here by offering them employment. Nobody was out of work during that period.
– I hope that we shall have a repetition of those conditions very shortly. At that time there were no State Labour Governments, and the necessary employment was provided by Liberal Governments. The Ministry is to be commended for having brought down this excellent measure. I am pleased to give it my support. I feel sure that it will be carried, and that it will prove to be one of the finest measures that this Senate has passed.
– ;Six of the finest billets in Australia are to be provided under it.
– If, as a result, Australia has added to her population in a couple of years an additional 500,000 good citizens, will it not have been worth while? In my business I pay for quality, and I get good results. The Commonwealth Government will have to act similarly to ensure the success of this scheme.
– As this is the first time that I have addressed the Senate since you, Mr. President, have occupied your present position, I take this opportunity of congratulating you on your election to your high office. I trust that you will long occupy the position; but, whether your occupancy of the chair is long or short, I trust that it will be a happy time for you and one of benefit to us. While I agree with Senator Findley that we are prone to regard those matters in which we take a keen interest as being of paramount importance, I concur in the statement of the Leader of the Senate that no more important measure could be brought before this Parliament than one dealing with development and migration. I am strongly of the opinion that, unless, within a reasonable time, the empty spaces of this great continent are filled with people of our own race, economic conditions throughout the world will cause them to be occupied by people whose sentiments and morals are different from ours. For that reason I am prepared to assist any government which is endeavouring to deal with the problem of populating this country. I prefer that a Government should attempt something and fail, rather than that it should do nothing at all. While I am in accord with the Government’s desire to develop this country, and for that purpose to bring migrants here, I am not in favour of the appointment of a commission, which will not only be costly, but will also be unable to do what is expected of it. T have not that strange infatuation for commissions which the Ministry seems to possess. It would appear that the Government, anxious to shirk its responsibilities, appoints commissions to do its work.
– The British Government is doing the same thing.
– I am referring to the Government now in office in Australia, whose settled policy appears to be to appoint commissions to undertake difficult tasks. This is not the first bill for the appointment of a commission which Senator Pearce has introduced into this Chamber. No mother ever fondled her first-born more tenderly or spoke of it more lovingly than does the Minister of a new commission which he desires should be appointed. No father ever looked forward more optimistically to the future of his clever son than does the Minister to the results which will accrue from the appointment of a new commission. On each occasion that a bill for the appointment of a commission has been before the Senate, the Minister has spoken of the able men who will constitute it. From his remarks one would gather that these men are capable of performing miracles. Men of that calibre are to be appointed to this commission. I was reading lately a book, written by E. T. Raymond, a brilliant English journalist, dealing with the life of Disraeli. In this book, entitled The Alien Patriot, Disraeli is pictured as a hero. The writer says that Disraeli was about 70 years of age when he became Prime Minister of England, and practically dictator of that country, by reason of his majority in both Houses of Parliament; that, although he was anxious to carry out some of the ideas of his youth, the fires of his ambition had, to some extent, been quenched, and, moreover, that he was surrounded by a conservative party, and consequently unable to accomplish all that he desired. For those reasons the writer said that Disraeli then did what all stupid or tired politicians do - he appealed to the people of England to save themselves by their own energy, and then he appointed a royal commission. The Minister, in introducing this bill, gave various reasons for the appointment of a commission, included among which was the statement that Ministers now were so busy administering their departments that they had no time for anything else. It would appear that Ministers are regarded as something in the nature of overpaid clerks. There was a time when Ministers were expected to enunciate the policy of their departments, and to prepare a programme to be carried out by others. Apparently, that is not the case to-day. It seems now to be the view that commissions should be appointed to propound policies for Ministers. If the Government persists in this policy, its supporters, instead of being proud of Ministers, will be forced to regard them as beggars in thought and bankrupt in ideas. We have a right to ask whether the commissions which have already been appointed have justified the expectation of the Minister. Some years ago a bill for the appointment of a Public Service Board, comprising three commissioners, was introduced by the Minister. I remember his eloquent words on that occasion ; they have echoed in my ears ever since. I remember how optimistic the Minister was concerning the appointment of that commission. At the time I was opposed to the Government’s proposal, because I did not think that the anticipations of the Minister would be realized. I had occasion to read the speech again the other day, and though I may not be a good judge of English literature, I should say that it would be difficult to find language couched in more glowing terms than the Minister used in his anticipations in regard to the work of that body. We were told that the appointment of the board would lead to the adoption of scientific methods to ensure the coordination of the various departments, and that we should have a contented Public Service, rendering the highest service to the community. I sometimes think I am a direct descendant of the doubting Apostle; but, in any case, like an historic figure in Biblical history, I was almost persuaded by the Minister. I invite honorable senators to read what the Minister said on that occasion, and then ask themselves if the Public Service Commission has done all that was expected of it. Another similar body appointed by this Government is the Shipping Board. I doubt if any ohe is particularly proud of what that board has done, but I do not propose now to say anything about it, because we shall have an opportunity later to discuss its operations. The War Service Homes
Commission was another body of which great things were expected. That commission was appointed, not by the present Government, but by a former National Government, and I think we have to admit that it broke the heart of one of the finest men we have ever seen in this Senate.
– The public demanded the appointment of that commission.
– Yes, but unfortunately it shortened the days of the responsible Minister, the late Senator E. D. Millen. Another body, the appointment of which has been approved by the Senate, but which, up to the present, has not been authorized by another place, is the North Australia Commission. As that body has not yet been appointed, it is impossible to say whether or not it will be successful. Much, of course, will depend upon the calibre of the men who’ will receive the appointment. I suggest that it may be difficult to find these super-men, these commissioners, who will be expected to perform tasks beyond the capacity of the ordinary man. The Migration Commission, also, will call for men of more than ordinary ability. The names- of two gentlemen have already been mentioned. I refer to Mr. Gepp and to Mr. Gunn, the Premier of South Australia. Whether either, or both, will be appointed, I cannot say. In any event, I shall offer no criticism, but it has occurred to me that, as Premier of South Australia. Mr. Gunn could do more for migration than he could do as1 a member of the Migration Commission. As a commissioner, Mr. Gunn could only be a party to reccommendations submitted to the Government, whereas in his position as Premier he would be able to take definite action. I pass now from the commission, and turn to the general subject of migration. I agree with many of the remarks made by the Minister. Senator Pearce stated that Australia was capable of absorbing only a. limited number of migrants, but that we could increase our absorption power by the construction of well thought out developmental works. That was sound reasoning. I agree with the Minister. I always like to find myself in agreement with him. Then the Minister went on to say that it was easier to bring migrants to Australia than to provide suitable employment for them. Again I agree with the Minister. But, after having said that, Senator Pearce emphasized that an increase in population was not a menace to employment. He said that, even before the discovery of gold in Western Australia, there was a strong tide of migration to that State from the other States and practically every country, without restriction, and he went on to show that the position with regard to employment had never been better. I suggest that his argument was hardly consistent with the ideas underlying this bill. Another statement by the Minister, which 1 heartily endorse, was that we must have markets for all that we produce. I remember a friend of mine telling me of a conversation which he had with a German some years prior to the war. When he asked his German friend who was the greatest man in the world, the German’s reply was “ Bismarck.” When asked who was the second man in the world,, he again replied “ Bismarck,” and when asked who was the third man in the world his reply once more was, “ Bismarck. “ So it is with regard to- migration. If I were asked what was our most pressing need, my reply would be “ markets, markets, markets.” The Minister told us further that our best market was the British market. Whilst he was speaking I interjected, as I thought very pertinently, “ What are we going to get back 1” As an Australian I’ am deeply interested in that phase of the subject. It is all very well to send our products to England, but what every Australian should demand to know is, “ What are we going to get back in place of the things we send overseas?”
– Why bring up that unpleasant subject f
– It is not an unpleasant subject. The Minister did not furnish a very satisfactory reply to my question, contenting himself with the remark that I could deal with it at some other time. I ask now, “ What are we going to get back V A little while ago I happened to be present at an address delivered by Mr. Bankes Amery, the British migration representative, at the Colonial Institute in Sydney. In the course of a most interesting speech, Mr. Amery showed, by means of lantern slides, how much beef, butter, eggs and other primary products were consumed annually by the people of England, and how much of those products was being supplied by Australia. He stated that, if we could increase our supplies to the British market, we should be able to employ more people in this country, and altogether he put up a strong argument for migration along those lines. I believe he was right, but as he is an English official, I did not think it fair to ask him what we would get in return, though I submit that it is a fair question to ask the Minister now. It is obvious that it will not be ‘of much use to send Australian products to Great Britain unless we get something in return. Let me remind honorable senators of the position of the Tasmanian apple-growers. I believe at present there are about 2,000,000 cases of Tasmanian apples in England. The Tasmanian growers fear that they will not get a fair price for them.
– Probably they will not get enough to pay expenses.
– I understand that, unless something happens to improve the market, the Tasmanian orchardists would have been better off had they allowed the apples to rot on the trees. If, however, they could get 20s. a case for their apples, they would be jubilant. The more value they can get in return for their produce - and this remark applies to all primary producers in Australia. - the happier they will be. But we must remember that the policy of this Government is to prevent commodities of other countries from being introduced into Australia. That is the settled policy of the Government. And yet it is asking people to migrate to Australia !
– The honorable sena- tor must not talk protection !
– I am not talking protection or freetrade. I think I am talking plain commonsense. The orchardists of Tasmania would like to get 20s. a case for their apples, but probably they will not be able to get more than 9s. The people of Australia would be in a better position if the Tasmanian orchardists could get a higher price for their apples. About three years ago I paid a visit to Leeton, a district in New South Wales, where a great quantity of fruit is being produced. I had a letter of introduction to a gentleman who probably knows more about irrigation and fruit-growing than any other man in Australia. When I asked him about the future of Leeton, he said, “ I can tell you if you can inform me what prices we are likely to get, not in Australia, but in London, for our produce. If present prices continue we shall be all right.” In other words, the prosperity of Leeton, according to that gentleman, depended upon what the orchardists there could get back for their produce. I say, therefore, that it is impossible to dissociate migration from markets. The Minister was right when he said that we must have markets for our products. I understand that Australia utilises only about 5 per cent., or at the most, 10 per cent, of its wool clip. If our manufacturing processes were further extended to provide the whole of our .requirements, we should still be handling in this country only 30 per cent. of the wool clip, and be exporting the balance. Fully 60 per cent, of the wheat grown in Australia is exported, and the same can be said of other products. One of the most important problems which the commission will have to solve is that of finding suitable marKets for Australian products, and I should like to know if it is the intention of the commission to develop trade in oversea markets or increase the home markets. Increased population will, of course, improve the possibilities of the home market, but for many years we must expect to dispose of a large proportion of our produce overseas. Reference has been made to the fact that a large number of migrants came to Australia between 1910 and 1913.
– Because a Labour Government was in power.
– It is true that a Federal Labour Government was in office during those years.
– But there were not Labour Governments in the States.
– As Minister for External Affairs at that time, I came in close contact with migration matters, and it is interesting to note that the number of migrants who came to Australia annually during those three years was about the same as is expected under this proposal. In those days it was not necessary to appoint a costly commission to stimulate migration or to extend special facilities in the way of financial assistance to those desiring to settle in Australia. It is true that the land tax was a factor, but the prosperity in Europe was largely responsible for the satisfactory position of migration at that time. European countries were purchasing our products to a greater extent than previously. Germany, for instance, was buying Tasmanian fruit at prices highly satisfactory to the’ growers. If there is general prosperity in Europe and heavy tolls are not imposed in Australia in the form of Customs duties, Australia is also likely to progress. During 1910 to 1913, there were scarcely any unemployed in Australia, and the Customs duties were not as high as they are today. In America the Customs collections have never amounted to more than 6 dollars per head of the population ; in Australia we are paying 22J dollars per head.
– That is because their tariff is sufficiently high to be effective.
– Our tariff amounts to four times as much per head. If protection is of benefit to a country we should, therefore, be four times as prosperous as America, and if it is a burden upon the people, then we have to carry a burden four times as heavy as that carried b)’ the people of that country. The Minister referred to the possibility of 10,000,000 settlers being placed on the river Murray lands, where I believe there is sufficient land available for the settlement of a large number, but it is useless to consider such a proposition unless profitable markets can be found for the commodities thev produce. If a Minister for Markets and Migration cannot assist in finding profitable markets for Australian produce I do not think a highly paid commission can do so. I hope the commission will be the success, which some honorable senators anticipate, but personally I am very doubtful. It has been said that Mr. Gepp is to be appointed chairman of the commission, and that the Premier of South Australia, Mr. Gunn, may possibly be a member. T have nothing whatever to say concerning the qualifications of these gentlemen, but I believe that Professor Griffiths Taylor, a gentleman whom I have only met on two occasions, would render excellent service to Australia in that capacity. Although perhaps not an organizer, I believe he knows more concerning Australia and its possibilities, particularly in the matter of production, than any other person in Australia. Increased settlement and development is ur gently needed, and I hope it will not be many years before there will be many millions of people in Australia speaking our language, and possessing those ideals and aspirations which have made the British Empire the greatest the world has ever known.
.- It is generally admitted that our open spaces are a menace to Australia. In Queensland, as well as in some of the other States, there are thousands of square miles of unoccupied country which, although the climatic conditions are satisfactory, is not being put to any practical use. Last year I visited India, a country with a population of 320,000,000, and I realized then more than I had ever before the necessity of increasing our population. The question of migration is of the utmost importance to Australia, and I cannot understand members of the Labour party, who say they believe in migration, opposing this measure. India could carry its own population comfortably, and provide its people with all the necessaries of life, but for the misgovernment that has arisen through British interference. It is one of the richest countries in the world. It had a system of land tenure and a. civilization when the people in the British Isles were savages, and there was no poverty there until the advent of the British. I know something about the unemployment referred to by honorable senators opposite. It is most degrading that a man in full health and strength, and willing to serve in the development of his country, should be compelled to roam about begging a living. But the problem of unemployment must be faced in a proper way. Our friends opposite, who prefer to face it in an intolerant and unbrotherly way, should take a lesson from the Labour party in Great Britain, which looks upon it from an Imperial stand-point. Dr. Haden Guest, M.P., addressing a meeting of the Independent Labour party, said -
Every penny we spend on migration is investment; every penny we spend on poor relief or mere unemployment relief is only maintenance money, and is consumed once and for all. We have the man-power and the capital; the dominions have the land and the natural resources - in the name of common sense let us take up vigorously the task of bringing these two things together.
That is a statesmanlike utterance. Dr. Haden Guest is a prominent member of the British Labour party, and he has. done good service to Australia. On his return from a visit to Greece, Turkey, and the Smyrna district of Asia Minor, his public condemnation of the filthy conditions under which the dried fruit industry is carried on in the Eastern Mediterranean countries induced thousands of people in Great Britain to buy Australian dried fruits whose existence on the London market was previously almost unknown to them. Miss Margaret Bondfield, who was a member of the MacDonald Ministry in Great Britain, also spoke at the same meeting of the Independent Labour party. She said -
The settler who is of the right type, who goes out under proper safeguards and settles under the right conditions, will find ampler opportunities overseas than if he remained in this country. He can be assured of employment under healthy conditions, with the reasonable prospect of becoming a farmer on his own account, and he will be at least sure of a sturdy independence and comfortable livelihood for himself and his family, with wider opportunities for his children.
The British Labour party is not anxious that Great Britain should lose any of its people, but it recognizes that the country is over-crowded, and that help should bc extended to those who are anxious to emigrate. In fact, it recognizes, in the words of Dr. Haden Guest, that it is n “ good investment “ from the point of view of the Empire and the race. I bless the day when I landed in Australia with my family, and I have always been willing to leave the door open to people of my own race to come here and enjoy the privileges and benefits I found awaiting me. In the past the Labour party might have had good cause for objecting to wholesale immigration, but the argument that capitalists, by introducing a surplus population, might bring down wages in Australia, cannot hold good now that arbitration courts fix certain rates oi wages, hours of labour, and conditions of working. No matter what numbers may be brought to Australia, our standards of work and rates of pay cannot be altered. The only danger is that there may be unemployment.
– Is not that a grave danger J
– My friends opposite take a very narrow view. They speak about brotherhood, comradeship, and internationalism, but it is only so much talk on their part. Their efforts are all directed towards shutting out those who were not fortunate enough to be born in Australia, and they raise all sorts of unreasonable objections to immigration. They say that they are afraid of bringing down the standard of Australian _ comforts. To my mind, it is unbrotherly for those who enjoy the benefits obtainable in Australia” to prevent people of our own race from coming here to help us in developing our country. A great deal has been said about the uselessness of appointing a commission. I am not in the least afraid that this country will be run by commissions. Whilst I believe that Parliament should fulfil its own functions, I also realize that there are many things that it cannot do without creating a great deal of prejudice. Development and migration are matters that ought to be lifted out of the field of party politics, and the Government has done wisely in placing them in the hands of a non-party commission. Let us realize what would happen if that were not. done. We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that while we have five Labour Governments in the States and a National Government in the Federal arena, anything done by any Government is judged from a party aspect. Every State Labour Government is more or less controlled by outside influences, and even if a State Ministry attempted to associate itself with the Commonwealth Government in doing something practical, it would bring a great deal of trouble upon itself. If we have capable men on the proposed commission, they ought to be able so to deal with the State Governments that the party aspect will not enter into the question at all. Each member of the commission will become a specialist. If the commissioners devote the whole of their time, as is proposed, to to the question of bringing migrants here to fill our open spaces - the most important that tho people of Australia have before them at the present time - they ought, in consultation with the State Governments, to work out a system by which immigrants, instead of being thrown on the streets, will be distributed just exactly where they are required. A Government department could undertake this task, and if the Government had proposed to entrust this work to such a department, under, a permanent head, I should have felt inclined to support it for the reason that the men who would be engaged in the work, would become specialists and would be likely to make a success of it. But J. think a commission should undertake the duty. It is useless to contend that a commission will be more costly than a Government department. If we gave the work to a Government department,’ which would deal with nothing but these matters, we would have to increase the Public Service. I take it for granted that the officers of the public departments are already fully occupied with the tasks entrusted to them, and that if any extra work has to be done, it means the appointment of additional officers. The creation of a special Government department would, therefore, be just as costly as the appointment of a commission, and it is quite possible that the officers of such a department would not have the ability possessed by the members of a commission. In any case, if “ the commission does its work effectively, the cost will not be worth speaking of. We have heard a good deal of talk about bringing out the right class of immigrants. Some people are very anxious to confine our immigration to British people. It is quite natural that we should think that the people of our own race are the best, but the British race to-day is a mixture of Saxons, Danes, Normans, and Romans. The Anglo-Saxon race, which dominates the world, is a mixed race, but it has not yet reached its apex of development. Other characteristics are being developed that I and my forefathers did not possess. The introduction of different races might effect an improvement in the character of the Australian. During the persecution of the Huguenots a large number of Frenchmen left their native country and went to England, where they established industries, and played a large part in directing England’s steps along the way that has led to its present industrial position. Although I am strongly in favour of my own race, I am not so race blind as to think that we are the only people who should populate Australia. We should encourage other races to come here and blend with ours, thus supplying the characteristics that we lack. The British race does not possess all the virtues of humanity. By mixing with other races we shall secure those characteristics that are so necessary for the complete development of our race. We should open our doors to people whom we can assimilate. I am intensely British and imperialistic. I believe in the future destiny of the British race ; but I cannot shut my eyes to the virtues that are possessed by other races.Consider the case of the Italians. I have seen them in Queensland and Western Australia, and I have inspected them quite impersonally. In nearly every case I have found them to be a credit to the country from which they come, and I have had to acknowledge that they are the right stamp of migrant for Australia. We should allow them to mix with our own race to the extent that they can be assimilated.
– The honorable senator is treading on dangerous ground.
– I do not care how dangerous it is. I am expressing an honest opinion, which some honorable senators opposite dare not do. Why are the Italians taking the places of Australians on sugar farms and other lands? It is because the Australians dispose of their properties to them, realizing that in that way they derive a greater financial advantage than they would by continuing to work their properties. The Italians do not compel them to sell. Why have those migrants done so well in North Queensland? The secret of their success is cooperation. Why cannot Australians become imbued with that spirit? The foundation of democracy is co-operation, and that policy must be adopted if we wish to build up a democratic people.
– Would the honorable senator care to have an Italian marry into his family?
– If a female member of my family wishes to marry an Italian she is welcome to do so; it is more her business than mine.
– The honorable senator would strongly disapprove of such a union.
– I should not. I cannot understand racial prejudice. I may be peculiarly built, but it has no appeal to me. Although I am a Scotsman, I have never in my life been associated with Scotchmen. In my early days I spent ten years in London; and I have been in Australia for 40 years. I have nothing to say against Scotchmen; they are my countrymen, but I think that the members of other nations are at least as good as I am. If we isolate ourselves, we shall never develop Australia. Mention has been made of the influx of foreigners into America. What is the result to-day 1 The Americans are a race with which very few other races can compare. The typical American is superior to the majority of other people, because he is the product of several other races. At bottom he is Anglo-Saxon, because he believes in constitutional government and development by constitutional means. Those who have studied races, and know their particular virtues, recognize that Australia is developing along similar lines. Certain types are growing up that are proving to be excellent citizens. So long as we continue to develop in that direction we shall be on safe ground. I have no time for any person who adopts a dog-in-the-manger attitude. The British Government is acting very generously towards Australia under this agreement. There have been repeated complaints that Australians will be prevented from going on the land. I point out that the British Government is permitting a portion of its loan to be used for the settlement of Australians on the land. I ask the Leader of the Senate if that is not true.
– That is so.
– Honorable senators of the Opposition say that there is not sufficient land for Australians, let alone migrants from Great Britain. If an Australian goes on the land, his place can be filled by a migrant. We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that, in every State, the sons of farmers are crowding into the cities as fast as they can. It is, therefore, necessary to find other persons who will take their places in. the country, because Australia must be developed. If a boy who has been born in the country can do better work in the city, let him obtain employment there, and fill his place with a city dweller. In Queensland blocks are balloted for. Hundreds of persons enter the ballot with the object of obtaining the first selection of the block, and when they do they sell it to somebody else. It is purely a matter of speculation. Efforts have for years been made to stop that practice, but they have not proved successful. The consequence is that many Australians have to pay high prices for land which they desire to cultivate. With that state of affairs existing, it is idle to say that, if migrants are brought to Australia, they will prevent Australians from going on the land. Considerable stress has been laid upon the necessity to provide markets for primary products. I have inspected the River Murray irrigation scheme, and have read an account of the Leeton undertaking. In Queensland there is a big scheme known as the Dawson Valley irrigation scheme. Those two settlements, together with a third in New South Wales, are capable of absorbing hundreds of people if markets can be provided. The best market that any nation can have is the home market. By increasing our population,, a market within Australia will be found for many of our products. We must face the fact that because of the high cost of production in Australia, even some of our primary products cannot compete with those of other countries in the world’s markets. The finding of markets is essential to success. That is a matter which would come within the scope of the commission, and to which it would do well to devote its energies. Ministers have not the time to do that work. Men accustomed to handling big schemes, possessing great business ability, and able to devote their whole, energies to the work, should be given the task. The commission should also endeavour to induce men with capital to establish new industries in Australia. The woollen mills now operating in this country have all been founded by men brought from England. The same is true of our cotton industry. We must have experienced men to guide any industry in its early stages. It has been said that our vast empty spaces constitute a danger from the defence point of view. I am not afraid that any foreign nation will attempt the invasion of this country, although I believe that other nations resent the many indiscreet remarks, which are made from time to time by some Australians. In my opinion, some unwise sentiments bave been ex- . pressed, even during this debate. With Shakespeare, I agree that -
There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, Bough hew them how we will.
Australia was not discovered by Britishers, but it was left to the British race to people it and to make it a part of the great British Empire. That was not an accident or coincidence. I firmly believe that in accordance with the divine plan, Australia was left to be developed by the British nation. Although not born in this country, I am as patriotic as any Australian. I love Australia. I recognize, however, that Australia is safe only because of the strength of the British Navy. I have every confidence in the future of Australia and of the British Empire. The British commonwealth of nations has, I believe, a mission to fulfil in the evolution of humanity and the betterment of the world. Reform by constitutional methods is a principle ingrained in the British race. Adherence to that principle will enable us to do more in the future than we have done in the past. We frequently hear of Australia’s liability to invasion by Asiatic nations. History contains many examples of civilizations which have been overcome from the outside. Improvements of communication has done much to bring the different nations together. In that direction alone the Anglo-Saxon race has done much. Australia’s safety is within the Empire. I am a firm believer in granting self-government to India. India is the mother of Asia. Her population is equal to one-fifth of the population of the world. The granting of selfgovernment to India would mean safety to Australia, because the whole of the resources of India would then be at the disposal of the British Empire. That Empire will never achieve its purpose, or occupy its proper place in the world, until India is given a dominion status and the right of selfgovernment within the Empire. Australia could then proceed to her great destiny. It is a wonderful country, and I have the utmost faith in its future. The only real problem confronting us is that of the conservation of water. Every other problem will be solved by science and the determination of the people. I trust that the problem of water conservation will be tackled in a proper manner. Australia’s losses from the periodic droughts to which she is subject are tremendous. Such losses are irrecoverable. Queensland, at present, is losing millions of pounds.
– The honorable senator has advanced good reasons for the construction of a railway from Bourke to Camooweal.
– By increasing our population, many of our difficulties will be solved. The British race has always developed best where it has been subjected to hardship and suffering. I do not want any one to suffer. Carpets, lounges, and limousines are all right in their place; but my experience is that development follows those who are prepared to work and to tackle the various problems with which they are confronted. Australia has progressed because men have been prepared to tackle the forest as it stood. In days gone by, men lived in “humpies,” and worked long hours in moleskin trousers, yet they were happy, and contented. Now the people all seem to want pianos, gramophones, and motor cars. I do not object to those things; they are signs that we are progressing; but hard work never yet killed any man. The future of Australia is in the hands of her own people, and 99 per cent, of them, if left alone, would do their best. Only by recognizing the necessity for hard work and by increasing our population will this country be developed. For that reason I intend to vote for the second reading of this bill.
– So much has been said regarding the various phases of this bill that very little is left for me to put before the Senate. I am of the opinion that the matter before us embodies a great experiment, which certainly deserves to be successful. Had tha bill contemplated merely the bringing of migrants to our shores, I should have felt that the appointment of a commission was unnecessary; the existing departments could do that work. As, however, developmental work is also to be undertaken, there is scope for the energies of the best men available in the Commonwealth. It may happen that the able men whose names have been mentioned in connexion with this commission, and who have been successful in other spheres, may not be the best men for the purpose, but we can do no more than give them a trial. As large sums of money are involved, it is desirable that the most suitable men be obtained for the positions.
I need not dwell on the advantages which a proper system of migration would confer on Australia, because they have already been mentioned by other speakers. By increasing our population, especially by the introduction of people of our own race, we shall provide for our own defence and meet the objections which are certain to be raised by various members of the League of Nations as to the empty spaces in this great continent. The more people we have in Australia, the more there will be to share the great burden of debt incurred in connexion with the Great War and for other purposes. Then there are the general advantages that accrue from additional population, that is to say, an increase in the avenues of employment for people already here as well as for those who come to Australia. I suppose there will be openings for the new-comers in our secondary industries, but I assume that the majority of them will be placed on the land. On this point T am reminded of the statement made by Senator Grant that land is not being made available in the different States. 1 think Senator Andrew replied very effectively to the honorable senator. While Senator Grant was quoting figures showing that there were hundreds of applicants for certain blocks of land in New South Wales and also in Queensland, I interjected that those were special blocks, and that the applications, for them were largely of a speculative character. In many instances, practically every one in a district in which a special block is thrown open lodges an application, knowing quite well that even if they have no money they can readily secure financial assistance on the security of the land as a sheep-carrying proposition.
– Or they may sell the lease.
– Exactly. The fact that for some blocks there are thousands of applicants is not evidence that there is no land available. Within the next three years a large area of suitable land will be open for selection in Queensland. I will say that, although I am opposed to the present Labour Government, it certainly has sound ideas in regard to the distribution of land. Possibly it will make the mistake of making the land available in areas that are too small, but evidentally it is determined to bring about a better distribution of suit able areas, and, as I have said, in the course of a year or two there should be plenty of openings in Queensland for migrants as well as good Australians. Unfortunately, as my colleague, Senator Reid, said this afternoon, much of that country is at present in the throes of a drought. Droughts recur periodically, and we must be prepared to face them, . but the country which is at present suffering in this way has wonderful recuperative powers, and I feel sure that if the land-holders can get assistance to restock with sheep they will be on their feet again in a few years. In addition to the possibility of a considerable area of good land being made available within the next three years, we have in Queensland millions of acres which are suitable for agriculture, dairying and particularly cotton-growing. It ‘ was to stress this phase of our migration proposals that I rose to take part in the debate. In my opinion cotton-growing offers better inducement for close settlement than any other branch of primary production. An area of 10 acres, 20 acres or 30 acres is sufficient, in conjunction with dairy farming or maize-growing. A man and his family can look after a crop of that size quite easily. Moreover, cotton will grow on land that is unsuitable for other purposes, and although the price may fluctuate somewhat, there will always be an unfailing demand for more than we can produce in Australia. The industry is passing through temporary difficulties. We were hoping that the Government would grant a bounty of 2d. per lb. for raw cotton, but unfortunately the Ministry does not see its way clear to give more than l£d. Perhaps in view of the effect of cotton-growing on migration generally the Government will reconsider its decision. At all events, I shall do what I can to help’ in that direction, though I think that even with a bounty of 1 1/2d. a lb. cotton-growing will be an important factor in ensuring successful land settlement. A great deal has been said about unemployment in Australia. I am satisfied that, as land settlement increases, unemployment will not be particularly pronounced. It is also suggested that it is the desire of the British Government to dump a large proportion of its unemployed population into Australia, regardless of how the migrants fare after their arrival. I have just read in the Umpire Parliamentary
Journal the debate which took place in the House of Commons on this subject. Perhaps it will interest honorable senators if I quote a few extracts from a speech made by the Right Honorable L. S. Amery, Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and the Colonies. He said - “ We have no right to push, or even encourage, the people who, under our existing industrial system in this country, have found themselves stranded and in difficulties, and who are. perhaps, no longer fitted for any other life than that for which they have .been trained - wo have no excuse if we push them out, only to find themselves no less stranded elsewhere. We have no right to shake off our responsibility in that way. Nor have we any right, from the point of view of our relationship with the Dominions, to try to send out to them people who arc not really going to make a success of their life on the other side, or to be really valuable elements in the community which they join.”
It was, however, undoubted, the Secretary of State said, that a better distribution of population in the Empire might do a great deal to help the whole economic situation in Great Britain, and in that sense help the unemployment problem.
In all these questions what they had to consider really, looking upon themselves as citizens of a great Empire, was what was the most efficient distribution of their population for their own well-being, for the raising of the standard of living, for the strength of the nation and of the Empire. They had to consider that question of efficiency both from the point of view of a sound geographical distribution and also from the point of view of a sound distribution as between industries of different kinds - as between primary production, agricultural production, mining, and the great secondaries.
There was a great deal to be said for encouraging, by practical measures of all sorts, those who wished for an opportunity of a new life overseas by making the passages easy and making reasonable arrangements for their reception at the other end. Reference had been made to men who went out to come back because they were unfit. It by no means followed that all those men were unfit. Quite possibly a little training might have given them a chance when they started at the other end. Anything that could be done in the way of organization and co-operation between the Governments to give a better chance to those who wanted to go overseas was well worth while doing.
Those sentiments indicate that the people in the Mother Country appreciate the situation in Australia quite as much as we do. Reference has been made by several speakers in this debate to the influx of Italian migrants. Naturally, this subject interests me as a Queenslander. Whilst I agree with other honorable senators that our object should be to en courage the migration of the people of our own race, I do not think that we should raise any objection to Italians. Certainly the migrant from north Italy is about as good a settler as we can get from any part of the world.
– It would be difficult to work the sugar farms without the Italians.
– I agree with the honorable senator. We are on delicate ground when we oppose Italian immigrants in the way that is being done in certain quarters at present. I have received a letter from a nephew of mine in north Queensland. He tells me that not long ago an Australian returned soldier sold his farm to a- number of Italians on terms very advantageous to him, and by way of reprisal, when the Italians sent their cane to the nearest sugar mill, there was a strike amongst the sugar workers, with the result that the cane produced by these Italians was held up. I do not know how the trouble was settled, but I hope that good sense prevailed. Racial discrimination of this kind is bound to involve us in international difficulties. And, after all, Italians are very good settlers and they are entitled to our respect. We have heard a great deal, from time to time, about the brotherhood of man. I wonder sometimes why those who subscribe to the principle do not work together in amity in northern Quensland. I hope that the suggestions made by Sir Arthur Rickard, in London the other day, will bear fruit. It will be remembered that he said that this problem of migration should be looked upon rather as the business of transferring some of the population, the wealth, and the manufacturing power of the Mother Country to the dominions. ‘ I think that most of us are agreed that eventually the population of those little murky islands in the North Atlantic must be more evenly distributed than it is at present. I believe that this bill will assist in that direction. If it does, the scheme will be well worth the risk we are taking, and the money that will be expended upon it. I trust that the bill will be passed, and that, when it is translated into action, the migration proposals of the Government will be entirely successful.
– I must thank honorable senators for their very friendly criticism of the bill. It has been exhaustively discussed, but I do not propose to touch on more than two or three of the points that have been raised. Senator Needham drew attention to the fact that the migration agreement was not ratified bythe Commonwealth Parliament. I point out to the honorable senator that the document is an agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Government of the United Kingdom. In due course, Parliament will be asked to provide sums of money, on the loan estimates, to enable the Commonwealth Government to give effect to it. That will really be the ratification of the agreement. The honorable senator also referred to the number of foreign migrants who had come to Australia in recent years. His figures did not go far enough, so I propose to put the matter right. Foreign migrants in 1924 totalled 8,317, and in 1925, only 6,637. Having regard to our population of 6,000,000, these figures are insignificant, and no one can reasonably magnify them into a menace.
– There has been a decrease.
– Yes. It has been stated by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) and others, that’ only unemployed persons in Great Britain are being brought to Australia. They overlook the figures which I have previously quoted showing that of those brought here only 15 per cent, were unemployed when they left Great Britain. The Leader of the Opposition also quoted from an article in the Daily Guardian, which made it appear that a large number of migrants arriving in Australia had been returned to Great Britain because they were mentally defective. Taking the whole of those returned for that reason and others, they represent only 2 per 1,000 of the migrants who have come to Australia. I would remind honorable senators that it is very difficult in many cases to detect mental deficiency by a medical inspection. During the war period we found, in connexion with enlistments for the Australian Imperial Force that although physical defects were easily noticeable, it was necessary to keep a person under observation for some days in order to discover any mental deficiency, and that it was impossible to do so by means of a medical examination lasting only half an hour. As a matter of fact, the Commonwealth has been severely criticized on the ground that some of its regulations are considered to be too severe. Senator McLachlan said that the agreement was based mainly on land settlement. 1 propose presently to quote a few extracts in order to show that he is under a misapprehension. This misconception on “the part of the honorable senator and others is based on clause 1 of the agreement. Senator McLachlan said -
Apparently under the migration agreement all the efforts of the commission are to be directed to the immigration of men-folk. Although there is ample room in Australia for more domestics to help our women-folk, there apparently is no provision to deal with that aspect of the question. I should like to know if all the duties in connexion ‘with immigration are to be given to the commissioners t
The answer to that is that it is provided in the bill that the commission shall assume control of the migration staff, which means that, in addition to its work on the developmental side, it will control the whole of the migration activities on behalf of the Commonwealth. The commission will, therefore, be controlling all classes and sexes, whether they be land settlers, domestic servants, boy farm trainees, or others. The question whether migrants will be adult males or females, boys or girls, domestics or other classes of workers will rest very largely with the States. It will be for the States to determine what class of immigrants they require. Senator McLachlan stated further -
I am particularly concerned with the fact that there seems to be no provision for parliamentary control .over the money to be expended under this scheme. We are certainly incurring a great risk in handing over to commissioners the control of such a large sum of money. The liabilities of the Government will, I hope, be fully explained by the Minister.
Expenditure on behalf of the Commonwealth, I would point out, must be authorized by the Commonwealth Parliament, and in view of that I suggest that the parliamentary control which the honorable senator desires is sufficiently ensured. The total liability of the Commonwealth Government is clear when the main agreement is read ir. conjunction with the subsidiary agreements entered into between the Government and the Governments of the States.
For the information of honorable senators I desire to submit further particulars in order that the position may be clearly understood. Under the main agreement between the British and Commonwealth Governments, which was concluded on ‘the 8th April, 1925, it was provided by clause 4 that -
The Commonwealth Government undertakes to raise all necessary loans required by the State Governments in connexion with the agreed undertakings, and to issue the proceeds of such loans to the State Governments as required at a rate of interest not exceeding £2 per centum per annum for the first five years, and £2 10s. per centum per annum for the succeeding five years.
Under the subsidiary agreements concluded by the Commonwealth with all the Governments of the States, except New South Wales, it is provided by clause 7 that-
Subject to this agreement, the State Government shall, in respect of the moneys issued to the State Government in pursuance of this agreement, pay to the Commonwealth Government interest : -
for the first five years, at” the rate of 1 per centum per annum;
for the succeeding five years, at onethird the rate payable by the Commonwealth Government in respect of the loan from which the moneys are, or are deemed to have been, issued; and
thereafter, at the rate payable by the Commonwealth Government in respect of the loan from which the moneys are, or are deemed to have been, issued.
Assuming that loans for the purpose of the agreement are raised on a 5 per cent. basis, and further, assuming that the whole amount of £34,000,000 is taken up by the Governments of the States, the liability of the Governments concerned in respect of interest contributions will be as follows: -
At the expiration of the ten-year period over which the agreements operate, the States become responsible for the loan moneys issued to them, and if the whole £34,000,000 is then outstanding, the interest liability thereafter is- the responsibility of the States. As regards the interest contribution payable by the British Government, lump sum payments at the rate of £130,000 for every £750,000 of . loan money issued to the States are made to the Commonwealth, representing the present value, actuarially computed, of the British Government’s contributions of half the interest for the first five years and one-third of the interest for the second five years. The reason for this provision in the agreement is that the act under which the British Government is authorized to contribute will cease to operate after 1937, and it would not be possible for half-yearly or yearly payments to be made for the full ten years in respect of loans issued after1927. The computation is based on a 5 per cent. interest rate, but provisionis made for the lump sum payment to be raised or lowered to meet any variation from 5 per cent.
A good deal of confusion has arisen in regard to the commission, and the agreement. The agreement does not provide for the appointment of the commission. That is provided for in the bill itself ; but the introduction of this measure together with the appointment of a commission is a recognition by the Government that land settlement is not the only question to be considered, and that migration does not wholly depend upon land settlement. Senator Chapman suggested that, not only the annual report, but all subsidiary reports made by the commission to the Minister should be made available to Parliament. Provision is made in the bill for the general report of the commission to be tabled in Parliament, as is done with the reports of the Tariff Board and the Federal Capital Commission. Although there is a statutory obligation upon the Federal Capital Commission to submit its general reports to Parliament, it was always my custom when Minister for Home and Territories, and it will also be the policy of my successor, to table any other reports of general interest. I desire, however, to remind Senator Chapman that some of the reports submitted by this commission may bo of a confidential character. For instance, there may be : some relating to the establishment of new industries and containing information which should not be disclosed to possible competitors with those who have supplied it to the commission. There may be reports portions or perhaps the whole of which may be confidential, and which should not be tabled. I agree with Senator Barwell that the co-operation of the churches and the Young Men’s Christian Association has been of great value, and should be encouraged in the future. The desirability of this co-operation is so obvious that I am sure the commission will do everything possible to cultivate it. There has been some criticism of the clauses in the agreement dealing with land settlement - particularly, I think, on the part of Senator Barwell - as indicating that the Commonwealth Government wanted to tie up this question with that of land settlement. The provision in the agreement to which, reference has been made was inserted at the special request of the Governments of Western Australia and Queensland, made at the Conference of Premiers convened by the Prime Minister in February, 19.25. Senator Findley was rather jocular at my expense when I said that the eyes of the world were on Australia in connexion with the question of immigration. I suggest that Senator Findley should confer with Dr. Evatt, of New South Wales, and his co-delegate when they. return from the International Labour Conference recently held in Great Britain. He should obtain their impressions of what they heard there. After hearing the speeches delivered at that conference I think they received a rude shock. They came to the conclusion that although some people here are under the impression that we are hidden away and forgotten, the eyes of the world, and even the Labour world, are on Australia, and that other nations are not satisfied with our immigration policy. I suggest not only that Senator Findley and his colleagues should interview these gentlemen on their return, but that they should confer also with the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Charlton) and ascertain the opinions he formed as a. representative of Australia at the Assembly of the League of Nations at Geneva. It is true that the question of immigration was not formally discussed there, but there were informal discussions from which he was able to learn the viewpoint of some of the other nations, of which he was not aware when he left Australia. Senator Findley sought also to be rather jocular at my expense when I referred to the pos- ‘sible dangers of allowing Australia to remain as sparsely populated as it is. In order to show that I am not without some powers of observation I remind the honorable senator that I saw dangers ahead in 1911, when I was a member of the Labour Government to which he referred. I attended an Imperial Conference in that year and heard Sir Edward Grey lay1 down what was then the foreign policy of the Empire. He told us then what was the position in Europe. When I and my colleagues, Mr. Andrew Fisher and the late Hon. E. L. Batchelor, returned to Australia we informed the Labour Cabinet that, in our opinion, there would be war within three years, and we induced the Labour party at that time to vote £750,000 for the purpose of obtaining munitions of war, because we believed there would be a European war within three years. We obtained the last of the war material requisitioned just in time to enable the Australian Imperial Force to be thoroughly equipped for the field. I was not far out on that occasion. Senator Findley also seems to ‘ think that there is a possibility of conflict arising between the commission and the Victorian Bailways Standing Committee and Closer Settlement Board. There is no reason why there should be ‘any conflict between the different authorities. As the State Governments consider it necessary that scheme should be reported upon by their Railways Standing Committees or Closer Settlement Boards, is it unreasonable that the Commonwealth Government should also have a commission to report to it, seeing that for the first ten-year period, at any rate, we shall be finding as much as, if not a little more than, the States will have to find? I do not see anything unreasonable in that. We have as much right as the States to have these schemes reported on. Senator Findley referred to the Otway Forest scheme. Quite a number of schemes, including the Otway Forest scheme, have recently been put up to th-3 Commonwealth Government by the States of Victoria, South. Australia, and Western Australia. I invite honorable senators, especially Senator Thomas, to look through them, and to say if a minister, even with the assistance of his department, could pass an adequate judgment upon them. The reference of these schemes to the Commonwealth must be taken as evidence of the earnestness of the States; otherwise the whole thing would be a farce. And why should they be referred to us if they are not to be adequately examined? How could a Commonwealth minister pass judgment, for instance, on a drainage project for the south-west of Western Australia? What would he know about it? Could he even get proper advice in. his own department upon such a project? .If these schemes are to be adequately reported on, there must be a commission capable of giving advice upon them. Senator Lynch seems to think that the agreement provides that, out of every 10,000 immigrants brought into Australia, 3,750 must necessarily be settled on the land. That is not so. The figures 3,750 relate to families. The agreement provides -
The Secretary of State undertakes to make payment to or to the account of the Commonwealth Government during the currency of the Empire Settlement Act (12-13, Geo. V. Cap. 13) and within the limitations thereof, of contributions in the proportion of £130,000 for every principal sum of £750,000 certified in manner to be agreed to have been expended from time to time in Australia on agreed undertakings under this agreement provided that: -
It does not say that they must be settled “ on the land “- and within ten years after the date of this agreement there shall have been included in every 10,000 assisted migrants received into and satisfactorily settled in the State concerned -
Again it does not say that they must be settled “ on the land “ - such a number of assisted migrant families ‘without capital as consists in the aggregate of 3,750 persons, provided always that in assessing the total number of migrants settled in respect to the total amount issued to a State Government under this agreement regard shall be had to the provisions of clause 6 with respect to undertakings under clause 1 (k) and the proportion provided for above shall in so far as is necessarybe modified accordingly.
There is no condition that these 3,750 persons must be settled on the land.
– The 3,750 may be men, women, and children iu families?
– Is it not intended to apply the £1,000 referred to in the agreement to every person settled on the land?
– Yes ; but that does not mean that 3,750 persons out of every 10,000 must actually be settled on the land.
– Does it mean that a family of five settling on the land will be entitled to £5,000 ?
– Ho. Another point that has caused Senator Lynch some apprehension is the fact that the contribution of the British Government is on account of nominated as well as selected migrants. In this connexion it is interesting to note that, of the present migration, no less than 60 per cent, consists of nominated migrants. Senator Lynch has suggested that the Public Works Committee of this Parliament could investigate the various schemes submitted by the States. I doubt if the Public Works Committee would have the time to do so. The investigation of such matters would need the appointment of a number of additional, members to the Public Works Committee. Senator Lynch, who has been, a member of our Public Works Committee, knows the work that it has to do. I am sure he must recognize that it would be impossible for the members of that committee to carry out these investigations in addition to the work they already have to do, and at the same time fulfil their duties as members of Parliament. Honorable senators opposite have spoken of the great volume of immigration that took place between 1910 and 1913, when Labour held office in the Commonwealth. They claim that the policy put into force by Labour was sufficient to induce* immigrants to come to Australia. As a matter of fact, in most of the States during that period there were Liberal Governments in office. It is a mistake to think that there was no assisted immigration at that time. From 1910 to 1913, the. steamer fare from the United Kingdom to Australia was £14, and of this amount the State Governments paid £8, so that the immigrant had to find only £6. From 1921 to 1926, the steamer fare has been £33, of which amount, the British and Commonwealth Governments have provided £22, leaving £11 to be- paid by the immigrant, as against £6 paid by the man who arrived in the period from 1910 to 1913. Senator Thomas will get cold comfort from a glance at the figures relating to our imports and exports. He suggested that we should buy more goods from Great Britain, and that it would be an advantage for Australia if its imports exceeded its exports. As a matter of fact, during the last eleven months our imports have exceeded our exports by £2,000,000, and the Treasurer estimates to raise £40^000,000 through the Customs House thi year. That does not seem’ to indicate that Australia has ceased to import, or that there is any present danger of goods- not coming into this- country. Apart from, this- scheme altogether, honorable senators opposite seem to lose sight of the fact that Australia can offer more than any other country in the world to an immigrant. It can offer the best climate in the world, a continent free of racial troubles - those who have been outside Australia know what that means - equal political power to all citizens, a maternity allowance fop, his children, free education, plenty of technical schools, agricultural and State banks that will assist the settler on the land, State regulation of industry, protection to the wageearner by shops and factories acts* wages boards^ arbitration tribunals, and workers’ and seamen’s compensation acts. And when he reaches old age, it will pay him a pension superior to any that is paid elsewhere; From the point of view of the wage-earner, is there any place outside Australia that can offer so much to an’ immigrant? Australia offers him a fairer deal and a better chance than any other country on the face of the earth.
– In those circumstances, why do we need an expensive commission.?
– We do all that is needed to bring the immigrant here, but we have also to see that there is employment waiting for him when he arrives. It will be the duty of the- commission to assist in the development of: industries and finds out means by which, we can increase the employment available for those who come here. Senator Sampson has told us that the Tasmanians Government has expressed its gratification at the offer of the Commonwealth Government to place at the disposal, of the State the services of this commission and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research to investigate its potentialities and utilize its resources. Every State has resources that are lying dormant,, but we must have skilled and able men to discover how they can best be utilized. We can do that only by research and by. bringing forward schemes, not for government, but for private enterprise to carry out. We need a stocktaking, of our resources, and we need to make them known. There is no government department in Australia that can give to the British capitalist, who is anxious to invest his money in Australia, all the information he must have before starting an industry here. How many government departments could tell a British paint manufacturer where in Australia the clays and ochres he needs can be obtained, the quantities available, and the probable cost of production?
– It does not require the appointment of an expensive commission to supply that information.
– No; but it needs some one to direct the energies of existing departments;. In- every State department there is probably a mass of information, which, if it were brought together and made available, would.be of extreme value, but much of which is most likely hidden away in musty pigeon-holes, forgotten and not utilized. The proposed commission will be an active agent in the utilization of such material.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put.. The- Senate divided-
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a ‘second time.. In committee:. Clauses’ 1 and 2 agreed to. Clause 3> -
In this act,, unless the contrary appears - “ the principal Migration Agreement “ means the agreement dated the. eighth day of April one thousand nine hundred’ and twenty-live made between the Secretary of State for the Colonies audi the Government of. the Commonwealth of Australia in relation to the migration of suitable persons from the United Kingdom to Australia, and includes any amendments to that agreement which are agreed’ to between the’ parties, thereto.
– I move -
That the definition of “ principal Migration Agreement” be left out.
The object, of my amendment is to attack the principal migration agreement. When I addressed myself to the second reading of the measure the other day, I said that that agreement had not been ratified by this Parliament. As a matter of fact, it has never come before this Parliament. The right honorable the Minister (Senator Pearce), when replying this afternoon to the second-reading debate, said that it was not necessary that the agreement should be ratified by this Parliament. He gave us the gratuitous information that, if the bill becomes law, Parliament will be called upon to vote certain sums of money to operate the scheme. Before that is done, Parliament should have a chance of considering the agreement upon which the bill is based. I claim that the definition of “ principal migration agreement’ “’ is the vital portion of the bill!, and, if it is excluded the machinery clauses will1 fall to the ground. One of the main provisions in. the agreement is that every in tending farmer mus* lie1 given £1’,000. During my speech on the) second reacting of the- bill, I expressed a doubt as to’ whether that sum. was sufficient to establish a- man1 on1 a farm in Australia. Senator Chapman^ out of his farming knowledge, inter interjected that many persons’ had’ engaged i:n- that industry with a much less amount. When- the- honorable senator addressed himself to- the measure,, however, he frankly admitted that it was not sufficient.
– Iia some cases, when- l’and Kas to be purchased’.
– Which clause of tine agreement limit’s the amount to £1,000?
– The Minister will find that that, amount must be paid.
– Tha honorable senator is quite wrong. For every £1,000 that is advanced to a State Government it must provide one new farm.
– That is- exactly the point at which I am driving:
– It is not. The honorable senator said that £1,00©^ was tie limit.
– The point that I was: trying to make was that £1,.000 would not be sufficient.
– There is nothing,- to prevent a State Government from advancing £’10’,000.
– The- Minister possesses a happy knack of dod’ging his responsibility. He is now trying to- lay the responsibility on the States. He knows that the Government of which- he’ is a member has no land of which it can dispose. Neither ‘he nor the Government as a whole can shirk the responsibilities that will attach to them in the initial stages. The advance is to be at the rate of £1,000 for- each farm’.
– That will be the- obligation of the British Government-.
– It will be nothin? of the sort.
– Bead clause $ of the agreement.
Sena/tor NEEDHAM. - I do not read it as the Minister’ does. I’ know him well enough to- admit that he can make white appear to be black, and vice versa.
– The honorable senator cannot read into the agreement the interpretation that has been placed upon, it by the Minister, that any man- who is settled1 on’ the land can be advanced £1Q,00&
– Is it expected that an experienced . farmer in Great Britain will leave his holding there to take part in a similar industry in Australia? He will not. The Minister has admitted that we shall not get land settlers under this scheme. Those who come out will enter into competition with our unemployed. How can we hope for success unless experienced men come to our assistance? We should first assist our own citizens by settling men on the land.
– The Closer Settlement Boards of the States are doing that to-day.
– I do not think that the Closer Settlement Board in Victoria has been a. very great success.
– The Government of the State of Western Australia says that it has 6,000 new farms available for Australians or any one else.
– The Western Australian Government will give first choice to Australian citizens.
– Does the honorable senator contend that in Western Australia there -is not sufficient land to meet the needs of both Australians and migrants?
– I do not propose to be led into the trap the honorable senator is setting for me. I do not say. that there is not sufficient land in Western Australia. If the honorable senator was present when I spoke on the second reading he will know that I said that, except in Queensland and Western Australia, some difficulty will be experienced in obtaining lands that are adjacent to railways.
– They need not necessarily be Crown lands.
– Then I shall not confine my arguments to Crown lands. In Queensland and Western Australia there is ample land available. But why should we bring people from overseas when we already have here men who are eager and willing to settle on those lands? We should first satisfy the land hunger that exists in Australia. Even those who come out under this agreement will not be experienced farmers; they will not be accustomed to our climatic conditions and will not have an understanding of our methods. It must be admitted that men who are accustomed to farming in England, Ireland and Scotland would face. a different proposition if they came to Australia.
– Did the honorable senator experience any difficulty in adapting himself to Australian conditions when he came to Australia?
– The honorable senator entered Parliament about two years after his arrival in Australia.
– It is a different matter to make a success on the land. When I left the Old Country I had no knowledge of Australian conditions, but on arrival here I immediately sought to adapt myself to local industrial conditions. We are not now dealing with industrial matters, but with a very big scheme under which the Commonwealth Government will place upon the people of Australia the burden of a £34,000,000 loan. The Minister has just stated that the British Government will be liable for a certain period. After the expiration of ten years that Government will vacate the field and leave the Commonwealth and the States of Australia to “ carry the baby.”
– At the end of the ten-year period the liability of the Commonwealth Government will cease, and the whole of the liability will fall upon the States.
– That is the interpretation of the Minister. According to my reading of the agreement, the liability of the Commonwealth will not cease at the expiration of ten years.
– T - The honorable senator is wrong.
– I think that those honorable senators who have read the agreement will agree with me.
– Does the honorable senator mean that the Commonwealth Government will be liable for the repayment of the loan?
– It will be liable “ for the payment of interest upon the loan.
– I repeat that it will have no liability after the ten-year period.
– The liability will remain after ten years. But we should not accept the liability, even for ten years. The agreement should first have been submitted to Parliament, and, if approved, this bill could then have been introduced.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Establishment of commission).
, - I hope that this clause will be negatived. The. expenses of the commission are altogether out of proportion to the financial interests concerned. The Minister said that the financial responsibility of the Commonwealth for the first ten years would be about £5,500,000, and that thereafter the States would shoulder the whole burden of the borrowed money and the interest thereon. Five million five hundred thousand pounds spread over a period of ten years represents about £550,000 a year. It is proposed to appoint a commission - on a scale which, if not grand, will at least be expensive - to watch over that expenditure. I say emphatically that if an arrangement has been entered into by the Government for the appointment of any person to act as chairman of the commission, that action is tantamount to ignoring this legislative chamber ; it is the worst parliamentary episode that has occurred during my 25 years in the public life of this country ; a gratuitous insult to Parliament, and particularly to this Chamber. I do not say that the Government has entered into any such arrangement, but, according to the press reports, it would appear that it has done so. Already certain sections of the community and of the press appear to be only too ready to avail themselves of any opportunity to speak disparagingly of this Chamber. Is the Senate a mere appendage of another place, a machine ‘ for saying “ ditto “ to the policy of the Government? I have repeatedly refused to subscribe to that view in connexion with this and other governments, believing that this Chamber should be just as independent as is another place. There are people who appear to think that any policy enunciated by the Government will be accepted by the Senate. I, for one, will never tamely submit to that sort of thing. On previous occasions I have protested against attempts to disparage this Chamber; my action on this occasion is due to no ill-feeling towards the present Government. I am, however, concerned with the preservation of our constitutional rights, and the dignity and prestige of this Chamber. If honorable senators must accept whatever proposals the Government introduces, then the sooner the death-knell of this Chamber is sounded the better. We are the custodians of a sacred trust, which was given to the Senate under the Constitution. What right has any government to anticipate our decisions? To do so is to offer the Senate a gratuitous insult. The Minister says that the expenditure under the agreement will be about £500,000 per annum. To look after that amount it is proposed to create an expensive commission. The salary suggested for the chairman is £5,000 per annum, with a less amount for each of the other commissioners. It is safe to say that the expenses of the commission will be not less than £30,000 or £40,000 per annum. Victoria has three Railways Commissioners to control an asset, not of £500,000, but of some £200,000,000 or more. The establishment of this commission is not justified. The work for which it is to be appointed could be done just as effectively and economically by the authority to which I referred in my second-reading speech. Instead of appointing this expensive commission the Government should authorize the Public Works Committee to investigate and report upon all public works contemplated in furtherance of its migration proposals. I realize, of course, that a devolution of power is unavoidable in certain cases.
– Why not delete the clause.
– That is my purpose, but I do not advocate the striking out of the provision relating to the appointment of the commission without suggesting something in its place. I propose that a committee already constituted, and a .committee, moreover, that has rendered extremely valuable service to the Commonwealth shall be charged with the responsibility, which it is sought, to place upon this .commission. The Public Works Committee was established in 1911. Since that year it has inquired into and reported upon a vast number of public works, and by its recommendations it has saved the taxpayers of this country hundreds -of thousands of pounds.
– Annually ?
– Yes, annually. As honorable senators -are aware, the yearly allowance for that committee is £2,000.. Spread over its nine members that sum represents about £200 a year for each in return Tor which its members in the course of their investigations travel throughout the Commonwealth at their own expense. I happen to be a member of that committee. It ‘so happened . that I had the Mil backing of ‘the Government for that post of honor, .and it can easily be gathered that I much appreciated it, although I could have secured the position without the Government’s backing. But that, by the way. I have said that since its appointment the committee has inquired into a .great variety of public works proposals., and has saved the taxpayers of the Commonwealth hundreds of thousands of .pounds. In 1916, the programme of works referred to the committee for investigation and report totalled about £1,700,000. In 191’8,’ it was £4a000,000; and m 1922, £7,’000,000. In 1924, it dropped back to £1,593,000. Spread over the thirteen or fourteen years that have elapsed .since the committee was appointed, the .average value of public works proposals investigated by it would fee a shade lover £1,000,000 a year. I submit that the committee is in a better position to advise the Government with regard to -public works to be carried out in connexion with their migration agreement than the members of the proposed Migration Commission will be. The Minister said just now that the Public Works
Committee was so fully occupied with other matters that it could not devote the time necessary for the thorough examination of public works contemplated under the migration agreement. Let us examine the position and see if what the Minister has said can be substantiated. The British Government proposes to advance to the Commonwealth £34,000,000 by way of loan spread over a period of ten years. The period might be longer but, for the purpose of my argument, we will say that the money is to be expended within ten years. That would be an average of about £3,000,000 a year. Let us assume that the whole of it is to be expended on works. We know that it will not be. The proposed loan includes provision for £1,000 being given to every migrant who settles upon the land.
The CHAIRMAN” (Senator Plain).The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I understand that there is no amendment before the committee, so that those honorable senators who are opposed to the appointment of the commission will vote against the clause. If it is struck out the bill will be worthless.
– Not necessarily.
– Absolutely. Without the clause providing for the appointment of a commission, the ‘bill will have to be dropped.
– !That would -not matter very much.
– I can -understand Senator Findley -saying that, because .’he is. entirely opposed to migration.
– That is a wrong statement to make.
– I base my conclusion on the honorable .senator’s speech, and on the fact that he voted against the bill on the .second reading.
– I voted against the second reading because I am opposed to the one-sided .agreement upon which it is based.
– Senator Findley is opposed to the ‘migration proposals of the Government, lock, stock, and barrel. I am afraid that ‘Senator Lynch has misunderstood the purpose for which the commission is to be appointed. He seems to be under the impression that the only responsibility of the commission will be in regard to the liability of the Commonwealth to pay interest on the loan of £34,000,000. because’ repeatedly he quoted the interest; payment- of £5.00Q>000. If, that were all, the commisssion had to do,, we should not propose’ its appointment.. The; point to bear in. mind is that, apart altogether from our obligations in regard to interest, we shall have to provide for the expenditure of a capital sum of £34,000,000 on our migration proposals’. Necessarily various schemes will be formulated’, and to ensure the wise expenditure of the money available, it. is imperative’ that all proposals shall be thoroughly examined by a. body of competent men specially charged with that responsibility. I have no doubt that every State can, in connexion with soldier settlement, produce some scandals due to> incompetence audi absence of thorough investigation, I recall one such scandal’ im Queensland,, namely, the settlement of returned) soldiers on an area known as Beerburrum. When I was Minister for Defence in 1909-, we asked the Queensland Government if- it could offer us a suitable area, of worthless land within reasonable, distance of the principal centres of population which we could utilize as a manoeuvre area. The Government of the day* offered us this Beerburrum area, which, it was stated’., was worthless for cultivation purposes.
Debate, interrupted under sessional order.
Sitting suspended- from fi. SO to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 3rd’ June (vide page 257’6), on motion by Senator Grant -
That, in- the opinion of the Senate, New Guinea* Ordinance- No.. 5 of. 1926, relating- to the establishment of. an advisory council,, should be amended by inserting at’ the end: of subsection’ (2) of section 4 the words, “ and’ two representatives elected: by the adult white residents.”
[8 .0] . - If the motion were agreed to,, the Advisory Council would, in addition to the present members, consist of two members elected by the- white population of the territory.. Sub-section 2 of. section 4 of the Advisory Council Ordinance reads -
The- council shall consist of the Government Secretary, the Treasurer, the Commissioner of Native Affairs, the Director of Public Health, and the’ Director1 of Agriculture. ©to 15th May, 1924, Senator- Grant moved that, immediate1 steps be taken by the Government to* provide for- the election, by the local- adult residents, of a committee) of nine of their number te. advise the Administrator on all; matters, affecting the territory. This* motion, was. opposed, because the adult white non-official population of the territory was small,, and it was. thought that an elective, advisory body was not justified. The white population, of the territory’ consists, almost entirely of Government officers, and of employees of. the Expropriation. Board, who are. of quasi-official status. In the circumstances, an election could not, be expected to result, in other than persons of. official or quasi-official status, being elected. The Advisory Council as at present constituted, ensures that all matters, affecting the more important requirements of. the territory shall be dis.cussed by experts in such matters,, and the council can reasonably claim to be a. representative body. When further progress has been made in connexion with the disposal of expropriated properties,, it will be’ opportune to consider the: question of adding elected representatives, to the council. As honorable senators, axe aware, ‘ the expropriated, properties are now being disposed of, and, until the sale is completed, the non-white official population of the territory is not likely to increase. In these circumstances, the Government cannot accept the motion.
– In opposing’ the motion’ submitted by Senator Grant, the Minister for1 Home and Territories. (Senator Glasgow) has not. submitted very strong arguments He bases his objection to- it on the ground that the white popul’ation in the territory of New Guinea is not sufficient to; justify their direct representation on the Advisory Council. The number of white residents may be small, but they should’ be afforded the opportunity to elect their representatives to1 the Advisory Council, particularly as that body frames the ordinances under which they live-. The Minister stated that if such representation were granted, it would merely result in two additional officials being appointed, but as white residents of other territories have an- opportunity to’ elect their representatives, a similar concession should be afforded to these people. We- believe in the principle of elected representatives, and, as it will not be long before there will be a larger white population in New Guinea, I trust that, notwithstanding the Government’s opposition, the motion will have the support of the Senate.
– The position, as I have stated previously, is so clear and convincing that I trust there will be little opposition to the motion. There are at present about 1,500 white residents in the mandated territory of New Guinea. The overseers on the plantations are, almost without exception, men who were formerly resident in the Commonwealth, and who have always been accustomed to vote for the election of those who frame the laws by which they are governed. These men are, I may safely say, exceptionally well educated, as also are their wives. As many of these people who are living on the outlying islands, such as Aua and others in the group, do ‘ not come in contact with white residents of other islands for months at a time, it is only reasonable to give them the right to elect two representatives on the advisory council. In Papua the white residents have a voice in the election of the advisory council by which they are more or less governed. The present Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Pearce), when Minister for Home and Territories, clearly and definitely promised that an alteration would be made when the white population in the mandated territories increased. Since that statement was made a considerable number of the plantations in New Britain have been disposed of, in almost every case to returned soldiers. It has now been decided to dispose of the balance of the plantations in New Britain, and at a later date similar action will be taken in connexion with those in New Ireland. When the sale is completed, the persons now employed by the Expropriation Board and by the administration will become members of the civil population, and will expect to have a voice in the election of the Advisory council. I am not asking the Senate to go to that extent on this occasion; but as a number of plantations have been disposed of in New Britain, and more are about to be sold, the time should be opportune to make the alteration I suggest. If I were asking that all the positions on the Advisory Committee should be held by men elected by the adult white population I should have no hope of carrying such a proposal. The section of the ordinance I am seeking to amend reads as follows : -
There shall be an Advisory Council for the Territory of New Guinea. The council shall consist of the Government Secretary, the Treasurer, the Commissioner of Native Affairs, the Director of Public Health, and the Director of Agriculture.
My exceedingly moderate request is to add to this the following : - and two representatives elected by the adult white residents.
No objections have been raised by honorable senators opposite to that proposal. However much some people may desire to prevent the extension of the franchise, there is to-day throughout the various nations a strong movement for local government and self-determination. In South Africa there is a strong feeling for independence, amounting in many instances to a demand for complete severance from the British Empire. In Egypt there is an almost irresistible demand for home rule. Senator Reid could tell us in a convincing manner that when the time is opportune the people of India will assert their right to govern themselves. In our Commonwealth every man and woman, 21 years of age or over, who is not otherwise disqualified, is entitled to vote at elections, for the House of Representatives and the Senate. Why should we refuse to extend to our fellowcountrymen in New Guinea the right which every other adult in the Commonwealth possesses? I expect that in the very near future a demand will come from the residents of the Northern Territory of such a character that we dare not refuse it. They have a voice, but not a vote, in another chamber, but they are not represented in the Senate. That state of affairs cannot last very long.. In New Guinea there are some hundreds of virile Australians doing the actual pioneering work required at an outpost of the Empire, enduring hardships, separated from the rest of the Commonwealth, very often separated from their families, and for months at a time seeing no other white people. Why should we deny them the right to elect two members of the Advisory Committee ? Who are we that we should select the men to administer their affairs? I think that 99 per cent, of the residents of the mandated territory are either natives of Australia or have been residents of the Commonwealth. At any rate, they are all acquainted with the responsibilities attaching to local government, and when I’ visited the territory about two years ago I found on the part of the residents a strong desire to have the right of trial by jury and the right to elect representatives on the Advisory Committee. As I am only asking that they should be given the right to elect two members of the Advisory Committee out of seven, no harm could result from the adoption of my proposal. On the contrary, I think it would be highly advantageous to give to the residents of the territory something to which I think they are fully entitled, lt is deplorable that very often people who for a long time have been deprived of the franchise and have ultimately secured it are exceedingly reluctant to extend it to others. I am not one of those. People in nearly all the British dominions have the right to exercise the franchise. No good reason can be shown why the hardy, virile pioneers in the mandated territory should be deprived of the small right I propose to extend to them. Therefore I submit my proposal to the Senate, fully confident that on this occasion the modest request I have made will be agreed to.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the negative. Motion negatived.
In committee (Consideration resumed) :
Clause 4 (Establishment of commission).
– Some misapprehension appears to exist regarding the functions of this commission. It seems to be assumed that its sole duty will be that of reporting upon schemes that are submitted by the States for participation in the expenditure of the £34,000,000. As a matter of fact, that will be merely incidental to its duties. It will have to handle the whole question of the selection of migrants, their passage to Australia, their absorption upon . arrival, and subsequent supervision. It will have to report not only upon schemes that are submitted by the Governments of the States, but also upon schemes that are advanced “by private enterprise or companies for the development of the resources of Australia. Already there await its consideration several propositions that are altogether dissociated from those that have been submitted by the States, but which, on their appearance at any rate, may have a very important effect upon the labour market in Australia by establishing and developing new industries. Let me give an illustration of what I mean by mentioning one scheme of which I have some knowledge. In one of the States there is a mineral deposit that possesses considerable value, but has never yet been worked in Australia. Tests have been made. It is known that quantities of the mineral are available, and there are companies which are prepared to develop it. So far, however, there is an absence of knowledge in Australia regarding the best methods for working, that mineral, and, in consequence, there is an inability to attract the necessary capital, because it is not known what risk will attach to the undertaking. The commission may be asked to report upon that matter. It might be proposed that the Government should assist the company by guaranteeing it the interest on the capital involved until the work is actually in hand.
– Could; not that advice be obtained -through the Migration Department ?
– That department consists of -public servants, who have not been selected because of any special capacity f or .dealing with that kind of problem, although it -is quite a /good staff, and compares favorably with .any other branch of the Public Service. Such .a matter must be investigated by highlytrained business men, possessing .considerable expert knowledge, that would enable them to judge whether .the venture was likely to succeed, and, if it did, what effect it would kay* on .Australia. If, as a result of investigation, action were taken by the Government and the industry were ‘established, >a mineral that is now lynig idle and undeveloped would he the means .of providing a greater amount of employment, adding to ‘the “wealth of the nation, and -establishing other industries. What time have members of the ‘Government to inquire into -such a project5? It opens Tip a wide field for a -commission of this kind. Senator Lynch -argued that t/he ‘Government had ignored Parliament in regard to the selection of members of the commission. Is it not reasonable to suppose that, as common-sense men, the members of the Government would look round for the best men who were available, and ascertain if -they were willing to accept these positions should they be offered to them? ‘That is what has been done. In that regard if Parliament rejects the bill, there will be no legal obligation on either the Government .or .Parliament. 1 remind honorable senators that the projects which are awaiting investigation cannot “be proceeded with until the commission has been appointed. In taking the action it did, the guiding motive of the Government was to .save time. T think it will he .agreed that that was a wise action. There has been no ignoring of Parliament. .If this clause is struck out, the heart of .the HH will be removed. The Government considered the advisability of having .these projects investigated by parliamentary committees or departmental .officers, but it was felt that the task was so -big that the full time of capable men outside must he devoted to it. I assure Senator Lynch that extravagance will not be indulged in, and that the salaries and expenses of the commission ‘ and its ist-adf will be a mere bagatelle if their labours result in the development that we think is possible. The States have very many schemes awaiting our ‘consideration. I venture to -assert that they will welcome independent inquiry. Nearly every -‘State has lost thousands of pounds by ‘adopting schemes for the -settlement of returned soldiers which were not properly investigated. Some men were put ‘on ‘unsuitable hand, others were not given sufficiently large -areas. ‘On the river Murray returned soldiers were compelled -by the Government to grow doradillo grapes. When they encountered difficulties, they approached the Commonwealth Government, not the State (Government which was responsible for the decision that they must grow “those grapes. The Commonwealth Government had ‘to introduce and pass legislation, and incur a considerable expenditure, to save them -from ruin and starvation. Is it not better to have schemes weighed and tested from every point of view before .they are embarked -upon? Although there may be some failures, we shall, at any rate;, have a better chance of success than we should have if we accepted ill-digested schemes. When money is cheap, there is always a danger that it will be wasted. This money will he cheap to the States for at least ten years, and,;on that “account, there will be .a greater temptation to neglect the exercise of due care .and caution than there would be if they had to bear the full responsibility immediately. I appeal te the >committee to retain the clause.
Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) [8&9%. - The more closely l examine the .bil’L, the stronger becomes my opposition to it. Clause 4 provides for the appointment of a commission of four members. There is no justification for the creation of such an expensive institution. As I said yesterday, it will be a super-parliament.. Accepting the statement of the Leader of the Senate the members ;of the commission will be -supermen. Each will be .selected because <of -his special ‘qualifications and. his fitness for the position. ‘The members of the local bodies in the States will (be ‘mere pigmies compared with these supermen.
It is as well for the committee to understand what they will be called upon to vote for at a later stage of our deliberations. Speaking of the commission, the Leader of the Senate has said - - The task of investigating all undertakings or schemes proposed by the States under the main migration agreement and the supplementary agreements entered into between the States and the Commonwealth will rest with the com- . mission. Under those agreements, it is contemplated .that the States will submit to the Commonwealth schemes for the ‘development of Australia. These schemes are subject to approval by both the British and Commonwealth Governments.
I cannot recall any ‘bill which provides for so much circumlocution. The various States have bodies which undertake certain works. In Victoria there is a Parliamentary Standing Committee which deals with all railway matters. .It visits the northern, the southern, the eastern, and the western portions of .this State. It makes exhaustive inquiries into proposals for railway .construction, and from .time to time submits recommendations to the State Parliament. The Parliament may or may not approve of those recommendations. Under ordinary circumstances, if. such approval were given, the work would be proceeded with. Under this scheme, however, if the Parliament of Victoria, acting upon the recommendation of the Railways (Standing Committee, approves ,of the construction of a certain railway, and desires to defray the expenditure out of this loan, the proposal will have to be investigated by the commission that is to be created under this bill. If the commission does not approve of it, it cannot be proceeded with under this scheme.
– Why should it ?
– The Commonwealth will be partly responsible.
– If the commission disapproves of it, it can be revived only by resolution of both Houses. Even if it approves of it, it must receive the further approval of the Commonwealth Government and the representative .of :the Imperial Government.
– The Commonwealth Government will act as the .agent .of the British Government.
– I have stated the position correctly. When he submitted the bill, the Leader of the Senate did not tell us that the Commonwealth Government would act as the agent of the British Government. These are his words -
As the British Government has its representative in Australia, no delay will be occasioned through the scheme having to be referred to Great Britain for consideration.
– That is “a fact.
– That presupposes that the ‘Commonwealth ‘Government and the representative of the British Government must approve of any scheme ‘before it can be carried out. What work can the commission do that cannot ‘be done by the various bodies now existing in the different- States? The Leader of the Senate said that the commission would assist in the establishment of new industries. Does he think that British manufacturers are not aware of the possibilities in Australia regarding the industries in which they are interested ?
– Unfortunately, many of them are not.
– In reply to .Senator Barwell, the Leader of the Senate mentioned a number of industries which had been established -in Australia during recent years..
– Many of those industries were established here as .a result of information .supplied ‘by the Government.
– They were established hene because of our policy .of protection. Manufacturers in other countries know how Customs duties affect the sale .of their products. Most British manufacturers of importance have .either an ‘agent or an agency in Australia. They know how their business is affected by an increase or a reduction of Customs duties. If sufficient inducement offered they would establish their industries here without any representations having to be made to them by ;a commission. A representative of a Swiss firm of manufacturers whose business had ‘been seriously affected by the tariff some time ago visited Australia, with the result that the firm decided to establish a branch in Bendigo. That decision was .arrived at because of information obtained as to the effect .of our tariff. We already have a Tariff Board which is capable of doing ail the work (that this commission would he called .upon to do ‘in that respect.
The members of that board, in the course of their investigations, pay periodical visits to the several States, and, after making inquiries, submit reports to the Government. No body of men in Australia is more familiar with Australian industries than is the Tariff Board. In reply to Senator Lynch, the Leader of the Senate saidthat it was the duty of the Government to look around for suitable men to fill important positions. I remind him that some time ago legislation was enacted authorizing the appointment of a commission to control Northern Australia. Has anything been done towards appointing men to that commission, which was to supersede the Northern Territory Land Board? Although the land board has been in existence for about eighteen months, so far no regulations for its guidance have been gazetted. In view of that delay, it is idle to talk of this commission getting work done quickly. Because of the Government’s inactivity, leases and licences in the Northern Territory are held up, and men who desire to improve their holdings are unable to do so. There are no surveyors in the Northern Territory, and the lessees there do not know the boundaries of their holdings. It is ridiculous for the Leader of the Senate to say that this commission will work expeditiously.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I hope that the amendment will be agreed to. The proposal for the appointment of this commission has been condemned by Senator Lynch and Senator Thomas, who are both supporters of the Government. I hope that when a division is taken, Senator Thomas will vote for the amendment. Senator Pearce said that this commission was necessary to determine the value of a certain mineral, which is known to exist in Australia. In order to discover the value of that mineral, it is proposed to appoint a commission of four men, and to pay them high salaries. Although it is generally admitted that the discovery of oil in Australia or any of the mandated territories would prove of incalculable! value to this country, the Government has not introduced a bill to appoint a commission of four men for that purpose. It engaged the services of a geological expert.
Dr. Wade was brought from England for the purpose of making investigations. Could not the same policy be adopted in connexion with these migration schemes? To-day, in the Popo district of Papua, in places recommended by Dr. Wade, men are engaged in drilling to ascertain the existence or otherwiseof mineral oil. Surely, it is not necessary to add another commission to the almost numberless commissions which exist ! SenatorFindley’s remarks as to the authority of Parliament in connexion with developmental works, were contradicted by the Minister. Clause 2 of the agreement bears out Senator Findley’s contention. That clause reads -
If the Commonwealth Government concur in the proposed undertakings, and are satisfied that the proposed works are such as will directly contribute towards the settlement, whether on the land or otherwise, of suitable assisted migrants, they shall submit details of the proposed undertakings to the Secretary of State for approval by him, or in his behalf, in such a manner as he may determine. In the event of the said proposed undertakings being approved by the Secretary of State and by the Commonwealth Government, they shall be certified in manner from time to time to be arranged, as “ agreed undertakings “ under this agreement.
– That bears out what I said.
– Of course; but the Leader of the Senate denied it. The agreement goes on to state-
In the event of the said proposed undertakingsbeing approved by the Secretary of State and by the Commonwealth Government, they shallbe certified in manner from time to time to be arranged as “ agreed undertakings “ under this agreement.
Clause 3 provides -
The Commonwealth Government agree that the Secretary of State may appoint a representative to act with them in connexion with all undertakings proposed under this agreement, to ascertain the progress of each agreed undertaking, and to furnish the Secretary of State from time to time with all necessary information; and that all facilities shall be given to the representative for this purpose.
It will be seen, therefore, that all undertakings by the States that are parties to this agreement must, in the last resort, receive the approval, not of the Commonwealth Government, but of the Secretary of State for the Dominions. That is the point which Senator Findley stressed. The names of certain persons likely to receive appointments to the commission have been mentioned. May I remind the Minister that last year, when he was introducing the Northern Australia Bill, he emphasized the urgent need for the appointment of a commission to recommend and control developmental schemes in the Northern Territory. Nothing was said then about the probable appointment of any persons to that commission. The bill received the royal assent on the 8th June, 1926, and although six weeks have elapsed since then, we have heard nothing about the appointment of that commission. Though this measure has not yet passed the Senate, the names of certain gentlement have been canvassed in the press a3 likely to be appointed to the commission. I agree with Senator Lynch that this is an insult to Parliament. Senator Pearce has said that the Government is under no obligation to appoint the persons whose names have been mentioned.
– Certain names have been mentioned in the press in connexion with the Northern Australia Commission.
– That is so; but it is strange that at least two gentlemen should be mentioned as likely to be appointed to the Migration Commission before this bill has been passed. I know one of those gentlemen very well; but I have no desire to comment upon his ability or his fitness for the position. The appointment of the commission will merely add another excresence ;to the body politic. The Leader of the Senate has urged that the Government should have the benefit of expert advice for the proper development of our natural resources. That statement is ridiculous. We know what our resources are. All that is necessary is the courage to tackle them. If the Minister for Markets and Migration is incompetent, the Government should secure another minister. There has been a suggestion that before long the Departof Markets and Migration will become too big for one Minister to handle, so in all probability we shall be called upon soon to consider a bill to create a new department and appoint another minister. If that is done, we shall then have a Minister for Markets, a Minister for Migration, and the Migration Commission. Surely there must be government responsibility somewhere. Rather than that the Government should continue this policy of appointing commissions, it would be better if the Prime Minister carried out his own suggestion, and appointed a dictator to carry on the administration of public affairs. Already we have about 27 boards and commissions, and we do not want any more. I trust that the clause will be deleted.
– The more we consider the position the more strongly should we resist this attempt by the Government to appoint another commission with such comprehensive and far-reaching powers. There will be nothing to prevent the commission from travelling to Siberia, going . up and down Africa, jaunting through Europe and North and South America, spending some time in Japan, or wandering away to the Pacific Islands. There is not the slightest justification for its appointment. I cannot get it out of my mind that in proposing to create another body the Government is desirous of providing some of its friends with highly-paid positions. The salary of the chairman will, it is understood, be about £5,000, and the successful applicant will be appointed for not. less than seven years. As a matter of fact, he will be in a better position than the Prime Minister himself. If this were a proposal to pay £5,000 a year to members of Parliament, the Government would not support it. The commission will have authority to interfere with the functions of State Governments. I do not deny that, on occasions, both State and Commonwealth Governments are guilty of serious mistakes. I think that the proposal to have single-line tunnels on the Kyogle to South Brisbane railway is a criminal blunder. I feel sure it will one day mean the death from suffocation of drivers and firemen, and possibly passengers. The State Public Works Committees will strongly resent any interference with their proposals by the commission. What will happen if that body attempts to interfere with works recommended by the River Murray Commission ? Instead of appointing another commission to inquire into proposals relating to public works, it would be far better to strengthen the personnel of existing bodies. The commission, it seems, will be empowered to examine and investigate any undertaking or scheme proposed by a State under the principal migration agreement or any supplementary migration agreement.. This commission will be clothed with such extraordinary powers that it will almost completely override the authority of this Parliament and. ‘ alao the State Parliaments. I cannot imagine any government submitting such a proposal. As it. is also proposed to give the commission very extensive powers in regard to the control, and supervision of works, it will doubtless come into conflict with, other authorities. The deletion of this clause will! not necessarily destroy the bill, as the Minister states, because the proposal, I understand, is to increase the powers of the Public Works Committee to enable it to conduct the investigations which this commission .is to undertake. There are, I believe, about 27 commissions, boards and committees endeavouring to solve the problems which the Government is. either unwilling, or too tired, or too lazy to settle.. There are two welldefined lines of thought in this country, one endeavouring to regulate industry, and another to open up and maintain fresh avenues of employment, and allow those engaged in industry to control their own destinies. These two sections are more” or less striving for supremacy, and apparently this is an endeavour to regulate that section’ which is in the ascendancy. A competent officer once said that it would pay the Government to have an - officer supervising the operations of every workman, but that is a policy to which I do not subscribe. This commission will be one of the most highly-paid and irresponsible bodies that could be suggested. The chairman is to receive £5,000 a year for a term of seven years, and the deputy-chairman, whose salary is not mentioned, will be appointed for a term of five or six years at a very substantial remuneration. There is no justification whatever for interfering with work now being undertaken by the .States in a most efficient manner. An amendment of the Public Works Committee Act in the direction suggested would meet the case, and at the same time save a considerable sum of money. If the Government wishes to go in for a scheme of complete unification and entirely destroy the activities of the States, it will find that the public opinion of the Commonwealth is distinctly against it. It was suggested the other day that, instead of the spoils collected at the
Customs House being distributed to the States in the form of per capita payments, certain financial adjustments should be made between, the Commonwealth and the- States. But the State Premiers, threatened the Commonwealth Government in such a way that the consideration of that proposal, has been temporarily postponed. If the Government submitted a policy embodying unification, they would receive substantial support from honorable, senators on this side of the chamber. The Government is now endeavouring to superimpose upon the Public Works Committees of the Commonwealth and States, and an almost innumerable number of board’s and commissions, yet another commission. That is entirely unjustifiable. I intend to support the deletion of the clause with a view to inserting in its stead the provision which has been suggested.
.. - When we are discussing proposed expenditure of this description, I think it necessary to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.] I think it desirable to recapitulate the reasons why I am opposing this clause. The proposal is to appoint a commission to safeguard the Commonwealth in respect of its responsibility for a sum of £5,500,000. The Minister, when replying to the debate on the second reading, did not deny that that would be the extent of the financial responsibility of the commission over a period of ten years. The right honorable senator, in his lame defence of the proposal to appoint a commission, cited our early experience in connexion with the War Service Homes Commission as a justification for it. This will not be a vagrant body; it will have lawful and visible means of support, but it will have no lawful justification for its existence. According to information supplied, which has not been disputed, there are already 25 or 30 commissions and boards in existence to carry on the affairs of the Commonwealth. The time has undoubtedly arrived when another commission should ‘be appointed to inquire whether so many commissions are warranted, to ascertain what service these commissions and boards are rendering, and whether they are earning their money. It is not disputed that under this agreement the Commonwealth is interested to the extent of only £5,500,000, representing interest payments. A sum of £3i,000,0QQ is to be borrowed from the Imperial authority by the Commonwealth, acting on behalf of the States, and that amount will be handed over to the States, which, in their corporate capacity, will be the re-borrowers. In respect of that amount the Commonwealth will have no responsibility unless the States, as sovereign authorities, go bankrupt, or grossly abuse their trust. The Minister cited the War Service Homes Commission as a justification for the appointment of this commission.
– The honorable senator is under a misapprehension. I did not mention the War Service Homes Commission.
– I understood the Minister to refer to the fact that a large area of land in Queensland was parcelled out for the settlement of returned soldiers, and that a commission was appointed to inquire into the matter.
– That had nothing to do with the War Service Homes Commission.
– Very well, let us first consider the War Service Homes Commission. According to the latest report, the War Service Homes Commission, which consists of only one man, up to the 30th June last year dealt with 28,000 applications, and is controlling, an expenditure of £18,000,000. The total applications from men requiring to be accommodated number 64,000, involving an expenditure of £40,000,000. The Commonwealth Standing Committee on Public Works has been in existence for fourteen years, and the value of the works referred to it during that period has been £19,000,000, an’ average of £1,800,000 a year. Of the £34,000,000 to be spent on development and migration, about £9,000,000 will be devoted to the settlement of people on the land and in occupations in secondary industries, leaving £25,000,000’ to be made available to the States, or an average- of £2,500,000 a year over the full period of ten years: Therefore, the commission which it is proposed to appoint will be called upon to control an expenditure of £2,500,000 a year for ten years. When the States of New South Wales and Vic toria found it necessary to construct some border railways connecting the systems of the two States, the Governments of those States asked their Parliamentary Standing Committees to inquire into the projects, which involved an expenditure of £3,400,000. In the same year in which that investigation was made, the New South Wales Parliamentary Committee on Public Works reported on State works under construction to the value of £7,000,000, in addition to which there were works awaiting construction involving an expenditure of £11,000,000. There was no fuss about the examination of these projects, no high fees were paid, and the work was done by these Parliamentary Standing Committees in addition to the work they were already doing in their respective States. For instance, the New South Wales Standing Committee on Public Works . during 1916 investigated projected expenditure in the State amounting to- £7,000,000, and border railways estimated to cost £3,400,000, the total expenditure involved being about half the total proposed to be spent under this migration scheme. Yet no expensive commissions were appointed. The States got to work expeditiously and economically by utilizing the existing machinery for investigating projects involving the expenditure of public money. Where is the need for the Commonwealthto appoint a commission to inquire into the small expenditure proposed to be incurred by it under the agreement with the Imperial Government?
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator’s time has expired. Senator REID (Queensland) [9.39].- I have not heard from Senator Lynch or honorable senators opposite anything to convince me that it will be wrong to appoint the proposed commission. An inquiry into a proposal to build border railways or connect the railway systems of two States is a small temporary matter compared with the permanency of the work that will have to be undertaken by the commission. Furthermore, the Parliamentary Standing Committees investigate works within their own spheres on definite proposals referred to them by their respective parliaments, whereas this commission will, be dealing with human, beings. Surely the task of shifting masses of humanity into a new country, and settling them under strange conditions,, will require the controlling hand of men different from those who may quite easily be entrusted with an investigation into the need for a public work. Since I was a boy the functions of government have completely changed. In the old days parliaments passed laws, but their attitude towards commerce and industry was that of laisser- faire. Today, however, the demands of industry and commerce have driven those parliaments into all kinds of activities; and the* best way in which those activities can be controlled is to place them in the hands of people who understand them. Some people do not seem to be able to adapt themselves to the new era in which they are living. I do not say that every commission has proved a success, but since I have been in public life I have found that commissions generally do excellent work. Senator Findley has talked about the work done by the Tariff Board, but there is no comparison between the investigations conducted by that body and the work that this commission will require to do. The Tariff Board deals with existing industries.
– And with suggested industries.
– Only under extraordinary circumstances does it deal with suggested’ industries. In nine cases out of ten, it deals with existing industries and existing conditions. It creates nothing; it merely helps to build up something required by the people of Australia, and it has nothing to do with making arrangements to bring human beings to Australia and settle them in strange surroundings. The proposed commission will be dealing with phases that have not hitherto been dealt with in Australia. One of its functions will be to furnish information abroad. How much was known about Australia by the leading newspaper writers and proprietors of newspapers throughout the Empire, and in other parts of the world, who met in conference here last year? They admitted that they had been more or less in ignorance of the conditions here, and we have testimony from people who have been to Great Britain, that investors who approached them to get information about this country, had an erroneous impression of the industrial conditions here, and the idea that there was too much government interference. How much do Australian citizens, who have not come from abroad, know about the conditions elsewhere? How much do the people elsewhere know about the conditions in Australia? Our lack of development is principally due to the fact that people in the northern hemisphere are ignorant concerning us. The newspapers of Great Britain take no notice of us whatever. Every person who returns from the Old Country tells us that. One of the tasks of the commission will be to remove that disability. It will get into touch with people, who are seeking to make investments here, and give them all the information they require. That will tend towards the development of industries in which immigrants will find employment when they arrive.
– This commission will be a marvellous institution !
– It will not be a marvellous institution, but it will be a body of sensible men, acting in a sensible way. Honorable senators opposite are telling us the same old tale. They want to keep out immigrants, and their opposition to the’ appointment of a commission is merely a backhanded way of opposing the bill. They really have no objection to a commission, but they want to humbug the people outside. I do not believe that the people will allow themselves to be humbugged. Nobody could have a wider field than will be covered by this commission. Several honorable senators have referred to the cost.
– What will be the cost ?
– I am not troubling about the cost. If the commission brings to Australia the proper class of migrant, and introduces capital, the wealth of this country will increase rapidly, and the cost will be a mere song. The suggested remuneration is not too great for men of ability. I give the Government the credit of desiring to make the scheme a success; and to that end I believe that it will choose the best men available. I was unable to follow the arguments that were advanced by Senator Lynch in opposition to this clause, and I hope that the committee will agree to it. I have the utmost faith in the ability of the Government to make this one of the best commission’s that have been appointed for the development of Australia. I want to see Australia developed, no matter what it costs.
If the- members of the commission showed that they were incapable of carrying out the duties allotted to them they could be removed from their offices and replaced by others.
– The committee is entitled to a fuller and clearer statement from the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) respecting the duties that the commission will be called upon to undertake. The right honorable gentleman has made many statements regarding this body, and some of them have been to a certain extent contradictory. One statement that he made was that the commission would be called upon to see that the expenditure was economical and wise. He was referring to the ?34,000,000 that is to be loaned by the British Government. That is a liability which will have to be borne by the various States. It is a reflection upon the capacity of the governments of the States and the different local bodies throughout Aus tralia to say that the money for which they will be liable may not be wisely or economically expended by them. Earlier in the day the Leader of the Senate said that a number of valuable reports were pigeon-holed in the various States, and had become more or less musty and fusty. He added that it would be a duty of the commission to go to the various departments, ferret out those reports, digest them, and then advance proposals based upon them for the development of Australia. Senator Reid contended that this would be an all-powerful commission which would develop Australia’s unlimited resources and unbounded possibilities. If he is correct,’ it will do what no Government has been capable of .doing in the history of Australia. If there are in Australia such intellectual giants, men with such an- immense business capacity and broad vision, compared with whom other men are mere pigmies, it is a wonder that the Government did not discover their existence sooner and appoint them to the North Australia Commission. In the Northern Territory there is work awaiting big men, and no one would cavil at high salaries being paid to such men. But for months the Government has taken no action to appoint a commission to develop that portion of Australia, which is six times as large as the State of Victoria. The Leader of the Senate has many times told honorable senators of the latent resources of that lonesome land ; its vastness, and its immense pastoral and agricultural possibilities, and of the danger with which Australia is confronted because of its emptiness. The North Australia Commission will be entrusted with the development of the Northern Territory, and this Migration Commission also will have the power to outline a policy for the development of that portion of Australia. There is also a Land Board, which it was said would be superseded by the North Australia Commission. Although it was appointed eighteen months ago, no regulations have been drafted for its guidance, and no leases or licences have been granted, because the board is powerless to act. That there is not a strong desire on the part of the Government to have the North Australia Commission appointed is evidenced by the fact that the Estimates which we shall shortly have to consider make provision for payments to members of the Land Board. At an earlier stage, I said that any scheme would have to be recommended by local bodies of experts, then approved of by Parliament, and, after having been investigated by this commission, the blessing of both the Commonwealth Government and the Imperial Government or its representative would have to be bestowed upon it. The Leader of the Senate said that that was an incorrect statement of the position. I quote from Hansard to show that it is correct. The following question was asked by Senator Barwell : -
Has Mr. Bankes Amery full power to approve on behalf of the British Government?
Senator Pearce replied
I cannot say that he has;, but no doubt he will advise the British Government from time to time, and, if they express their disapproval of any scheme, they will refer the matter to the Commonwealth Government.
It will be a never-ending procedure. Local bodies will recommend schemes; State Parliaments will approve of them ; this super-Parliament will endorse them, and they will then come before the Commonwealth Government and the representative of the
Imperial Government. If the representative of the Imperial Government does not approve of them, the Imperial Parliament will be consulted, and they will then be referred back to the ‘Commonwealth Government. The right honorable gentlemansaid that the Governmentwanted to push on with the appointment of the commission because schemes were awaiting its consideration. I have heard similar tales many a time and oft. By whom are these schemes to be considered? By four gentlemen, who are to do more for Australia than the Commonwealth Government is able to do - by men who, according to the Leader of the Senate, will be able to do what no existing bodies that have been appointed by the ‘Commonwealth Government can do. What will the . commission be able to do that is not being done efficiently and well by local bodies and Parliaments? The members of the commission will be mere novices compared with the men who are on existing bodies that deal with migration and developmental works. The Government of the State of Victoria makes every possible provision for land settlement, railway construction, and irrigation works. It is a reflection upon the capacity of the gentlemen who fill high and responsible positions on local bodies to say that this super-Parliament will be able to do the work “better than they are doing it.
– Why, then, nave all the States except one signed the agreement?
– I referred to that aspect of the agreement yesterday. The State Governments experienced considerable difficulty in finding money for developmental purposes. The money obtainable under this agreement will certainly assist them for a time ; but it is not cheap money. The whole liability will rest on the States. If, at the end of ten years, the loan has . not been repaid, the interest will have to be borne by the taxpayers of Australia.
– By that time sufficient additional taxpayers will have been brought here to pay the interest.
– Because of the operations of this commission, Australia, according to the Minister, is to advance by leaps and bounds. The commission, so it is stated, will be expected to assist in the establish ment of new industries ; to find in the different States land suitable for settlement; to show those engaged in industry the way to run their businesses, and to reveal to the world the opportunities offered by Australia. One would think that people engaged in business do not understand what they are doing. Is’ there a British manufacturer of importance who is not familiar with the possibilities in Australia from a business point of view’?
– There are hundreds of them who are not.
– Most big English manufacturershave their representatives in Australia, who are able to keep them well informed as to the conditions in this country. Senator Pearce says that there is a possibility of discovering a mineral, which shall be nameless. Apparently, no geologist in Australia is aware of its existence. Yet this nameless mineral is ‘to bethe means of establishing mighty industries in this country. It would appear that all the geologists of Australia are Rip Van Winkles.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– When my time expired I was referring to the experience of New South Wales in connexion with its Public Works Committee. In 1916 that committee inquired into a proposal for the construction of railways across the border of New’ South Wales and Victoria involving an expenditure of £3,400,000. For the information of Senator Reid,who said that . that . committee inquired into railway and tramway undertakings only, I propose to quote from . a list of the various proposals which it investigated. The list is a long one, and . I shall only read a portion of it, as . follows : -
A tramway from the Bellevue tramwayto the Watson’s Bay . tramway, near Double Bay.
A system of sewerage with ocean outfall.
Deviation . of the Great ‘Western ‘railway betweenRaglan and Kelso.
Deviation and duplication of the main western line ‘between Locksley and Wambool.
Dwellings for workmen at Clifton.
Tramway from . Cook’sRiver to Rockdale.
The value of the works - referred to that committee for investigation was £12 , 500,000. Under this proposal the outside value of thework to be undertaken by the commission will beonly £2,500,000 per . annum. That is to say, the State .authority in New South Wales accomplished, without additional expense to the State, six times the work which will be required of this commission.. In the face of that fact, what necessity is there to appoint a commission? Clause 1 of the agreement sets out the nature of the various undertakings in which the commission may engage -
Advances to settlers, including persons settling or in process of .settlement <on farms for the purchase of stock, equipment, housing materials, &c. (Ti) Advances to farmers and other rural employers for the erection of cottages for employees.
Those are all State .activities, most of which have been undertaken by the States with -success for many years. This commission is to be .appointed to supervise the work of the States, .and will be regarded as a meddling body.. Nevertheless, some honorable senators are prepared to Tote for its establishment. I may be as a voice crying in the wilderness, wasting words in protesting against the inexcusable - I shall not say outrageous - proposal to expend £40,000 per annum upon a commission to supervise works which up to the present have not -been clearly defined, but winch, in any case, are already efficiently and economically performed by the States, and in which, moreover, the Commonwealth is interested to the extent of £5,500,000 only. The Imperial Government is the lender, and the States the borrowers; the Commonwealth Government acts merely as agent. The money necessary to meet the expenses of the com mission would do much to bring within the reach of citizens many desirable facilities which have “been refused for lack -of funds. Forty thousand pounds represents interest at % per cent, on £800,000, which would be sufficient ,to build 80 miles of railway at £10,000 a mile, or 160 miles of railway at £5,000 a mile - the price paid for the transcontinental line. That money could with ‘advantage be directed into reproductive channels. There is no warrant for the appointment of this commission. For my part, I shall not be a party to seeing the taxpayers’ money wasted. On all .sides we hear the cry for economy. Why should we waste £40,000 per annum on this commission when the Federal Public Works Committee could without additional cost do the work which this commission is to be .asked to perform? When it was proposed to link the railway systems of New South Wales and Victoria, and South Australia and Victoria, it was not thought necessary to appoint a special commission for the purpose. The .existing machinery of the States was utilized. Their Railways Standing Committees dealt with the proposals without incurring additional expense to the States.
– The honorable senator is ignoring the .most important powers of the commission.
– I have enumerated them all, and not -one -of them is outside the powers possessed by the existing ‘State bodies. Senator Barwell cannot deny that. Let us -suppose that under this agreement the development of an irrigation scheme in South Australia is contemplated. The Government of that State will at once appoint engineers to report upon it, if it involves the expenditure of any portion of this loan of £34.000,000. In due course, the proposal will be investigated by the State Public Works Committee, which will make a recommendation to the State Parliament Then, according to this bill, it must be submitted to the commission, to be approved or disapproved by that body.
– Then it will come “ before the Commonwealth Government, and be submitted to the Imperial Government for approval.
– Exactly. But we should remember that the State Government will be borrowing the money, and no matter who calls .the tune, the State taxpayer will have to pay the piper. The Commonwealth Government “mli be in the position of an intermediary; it will act as an .agent for the loan, and its liability will be limited to £5,500,000 in respect of interest payments - quite a trifling obligation compared with the liabilities of the State Governments. I have nothing to say about the appointment of the North Australia Commission, but I have no time for the Federal Capital Commission, and, had I been here, I should have voted against its creation. This commission will be a superfluous body. It will serve no purpose, except, perhaps, to spend the hard-earned cash of the taxpayers of the States. I have no doubt that the clause will be agreed to, but I have made my protest against it, and I have put on record the splendid work done by the Public Works Committees of the Commonwealth and the various States. I have shown that the New South Wales Public Works Committee in one year inquired into proposals involving an expenditure of £12,000,000 - about onehalf of the amount which will be expended under this migration agreement on public works, for we must not forget that at least £10,000,000 of the loan will be expended in settling migrants on the land. There is no warrant for the appointment of the commission. The State Governments, being responsible for the repayment of the loan, will scrutinize the expenditure of every shilling. If I borrow money, I take good care that no mortgagee interferes with the manner in which I cod duct my business.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
Question - That the clause stand as printed - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 -
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) “10.231. - I move-
That after the word “ members,” the words “ one of whom shall represent the trade unions and one the primary producers,” be inserted.
My purpose is to secure representation on the commission of two important sections of the community. In this Chamber we have four representatives of the Country party in Senators Chapman, Carroll, Abbott, and Andrew. Since the Government, by the appointment of so many commissions, has given up its pretence to administer’ the affairs of the Commonwealth, it is as well that the workers, as well as the primary producers, should be represented on the commission.
– The party to which I belong has always been solicitous for the welfare of all sections of the community. If Senator Reid casts his memory back to the days when he was a member of the Labour party, he will recall that it has done very much indeed for our primary producers. It is quite conceivable that in the appointment of persons to the commission, the Government may secure experts in finance, but with no knowledge of land-settlement conditions ; and since the bulk of the loan money will be expended on works calculated to promote land settlement, it is essential that at least one member of the commission should have an intimate knowledge of land problems. I trust that the committee will accept the amendment.
[10.291. - The Government cannot accept the amendment. It is undesirable to stipulate that any particular class or section of the community shall have special representation on the commission. The Government, in mak-. ing its selection, naturally will give consideration to the diversified nature of. the duties of the commissioners, and will endeavour to secure the appointment of a well-balanced commission. Consideration will be given to all phases of our national life. It would be extremely inadvisable to tie the hands of the -Government in the manner suggested. I ask honorable senators to trust the Government to consider the claims of all interests in order to obtain the services of a well-balanced commission.
– I think it necessary that the primary producers should have representation on all commissions and boards dealing with primary production; but as this commission is more in the nature of a general authority, the appointment of its members can safely be left in the hands of the Government. I trust, however, that it will make a selection in such a way that the various interests concerned will have adequate representation.
– I listened with considerable interest to the kind solicitations of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) on behalf of the primary producers. The honorable senator should, however, remember that many saw-mills in New South Wales in which primary producers are interested are closing down owing to the action of the New South Wales Labour Government in passing an amending Workmen’s Compensation Act, which has a detrimental effect upon primary production. The honorable senator should also recall that if it had not been for the action of the “ Wilson army “ in Queensland, the products of primary producers would have been allowed to rot on the wharf. Little interest was taken on their behalf by the Labour Government in that State. In appointing this commission, the Government will select those who are most suitable for the important duties to be performed, and will- doubtless give careful consideration to the various phases of. industry into which the commission will inquire. The present Government consists of members of the National party and of the Country party, and I have no doubt that in appointing the commission Cabinet will make a wise selection. The commission will not only investigate the questions of land settlement and migration, but will also inquire into the position of our secondary industries, and the possibility of British manufacturers establishing works in Australia. As a representative of the primary producers, I am willing to trust the Govern ment in this instance, and I am delighted to find that the Leader of the Opposition and his followers have seen the evil of their ways, and are now willing to assist those whom I represent.
– It. is impossible to introduce any reform without some section of the community feeling that it is seriously inconvenienced. We were recently informed, on what we considered reliable authority, but was subsequently found to be most unreliable, that, following upon the introduction of a 44-hour week in New South Wales, a certain firm of manufacturers had transferred its business to Victoria. When the matter was investigated, it was found that an arrangement had previously been made to transfer its business to the Victorian side of the Murray. We are now told that, following upon an amendment of the New South Wales Workmen’s Compensation Act, a large number of saw-mills in that State have been closed down. It is true that a number have closed down. The representatives of Tasmania have frequently stated that saw-mills in that State have . been closed down owing to the insufficient protection afforded against importations of foreign timber. Notwithstanding such utterances, some of the saw-mills are still working, and, in the near future, the industry in New South Wales, which is temporarily dislocated, will resume operations. The people in New South Wales were tired of the old Workmen’s Compensation Act, and, when a Labour Government was returned to power, they determined to have the act amended.
– What has this got to do with the bill? ‘
– The honorable senator was willing to listen to Senator Andrew when he was criticizing the action of the New South Wales Government, and he should permit me to reply without interruption. Surely I have the right to deny some of the statements which Senator Andrew was permitted to make. When the Commonwealth Bank Board was appointed, certain interests were represented.
– Are any of the members of the board directors of private banks?
– I. do not know, but I am sure that some are closely associated with other financial, institutions-. The request of the Leader of the Opposition, that the primary producers and the workers should have representation upon the commission, should receive the support of honorable senators, and particularly of those who profess t©’ represent primary producers. I asked the Leader of the Opposition to give the names of the representatives of the so-called Country party in this chamber,, because I was somewhat in doubt as to who they were. On all occasions’, particularly when divisions, are taken, they range themselves alongside the Government, and, to all intents and purposes, are members of the Nationalist party.
– That is not so.
– There is no line of demarcation- between the Nationalist and Country parties.
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the amendment.
– I shall endeavour to do so. The records show that immigration, under the different systems employed by the Nationalist Governments, has proved a failure. There is no reason why the working people should be taxed, as they will be through the Customs and in the form of income tax-
– Order !
– I was merely saying that I do not see why the people should be taxed, as they will be through the Customs House, in order to find money to bring settlers to this country, and to meet the costs of ai very expensive commission. The request of the Leader of the Opposition is quite in accord with modern thought ; it is recognized throughout Australia that the time has arrived when workmen should have some voice in the control of industry. In some instances provision has been made in that direction. Surely when one of the main objectives of the commission is to survey the alleged potential or real latent resources of the country, a matter in which the primary producers will be directly interested, there can be nothing objectionable in a proposal to have on this commission direct representation of the primary producers, as well as those connected with the trade unions-. I think that it would greatly improve the personnel of the commission. For that reason, the Government should, accept the amendment put forward by Senator Needham.
Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) (10..48]. - The majority of the committee is favorably disposed towards the appointment of this commission which will be vested with considerable powers. It will deal with immigration and. land settlement, and’ it will take into consideration, so we are informed,, the possibilities of establishing, new industries, as well as closely examine established industries. The prosperity of Australia depends wholly and solely on the successful development of primary and secondary industries. Some people entertain the idea that it can make substantial progress by the development of primary production .alone, without the imposition of those Customs duties which make it possible for secondary industries tot be established. There are none more anxious for the welfare and betterment of the man. on the land than are members of the Labour party. They know the hardships and the difficulties that confront the primary producers. As a matter of fact, many members of the Labour party in the Federal and State spheres were born and reared on the land, and until .a few years ago some of the richest men in the party had extensive interests in land. It is, therefore, quite incorrect to say that the Labour party is not solicitous for the interests of the man on the land. The party recognizes that Australia cannot make progress unless serious consideration is given to the need for cultivating land. It was the imposition of a substantial land tax by a Commonwealth Labour Government that led to the breaking up of a number1 of big estates in various parts of Australia which had been lying in a virgin state for a large number of years. That tax did more than anything else to make available large areas of land for Australian-born who for years and years had been waiting in vain for an opportunity to get on the land. The result is that where a few sheep and cattle were grazing in years gone by, there are now well-established farms and fairly wellcircumstanced farmers. The principal difficulty confronting the primary producers is that of finding profitable markets for their produce. We are informed that the proposed commission will endeavour to find them new markets, but the best of all markets for the man on the land is the local, or home, market. I believe that if we had representatives of the primary and secondary industries on the proposed commission, some of the difficulties of those engaged in those industries would disappear. At the moment, our keenest efforts should be directed towards establishing more and more industries in Australia, .and providing more and more employment, not merely for Australians, but also for those who will be brought here under the immigration scheme ; and the two sections of the community mainly interested in that aspect are the most fitted to have representation on this commission. We have technical schools and other educational institutions fitting the Australian youth to occupy positions in secondary industries, and we have agricultural colleges and similar institutions educating young men in Australia to follow rural pursuits. The only objection raised to Senator Needham’s amendment, if it be an objection, is that the Government can be trusted to make a wise and judicious selection. It would be a very wise .and judicious selection if the committee insisted on the representation of the sections of the community to which I have made reference. I hold no brief for Senator Lynch, but he has had a very wide experience in many directions in Australia. To-day he is on the land. According to his own statement, he knows something, of the hardships of the man on the land, and that it is often difficult to find markets for the commodities produced by the man on the land. . It is not that I want- to see Senator Lynch on the commission, but if a man of his type were appointed it would be very helpful to the producers of Australia. Honorable senators are apparently prepared to vote blindly for the clause., in the “belief that the Government will get four men immeasurably superior to any other four men, or 400 men, on local bodies throughout the Commonwealth. The primary producers are becoming a very active force in Australia. Realizing what can be done by unity and co-operation, they are going in more and more for co-operation, with the result that they are getting a better return for their labours. .Senator Plain in days gone by was associated with the Labour party, and knows that what I have s.aid about the men associated with that party and about their attitude towards the primary producer is correct. As a primary producer, he knows that it would be well for his interests, and that of others who are on the land, to be represented on .this commission. No one is better qualified than a member of their own organization to represent the primary producers. If I were a member of the Country party supporting the Government, and a primary producer., I should lose no opportunity .of seeing that the interests of the party I represented were given full recognition by the Government.
– We have direct representatives in the Government. Surely they ought to be able to look after our interests!
– The Government will have little or nothing to do with the work of the commission. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has told us that they are so busily engaged with other matters that they have no time to devote to these schemes.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
; - I support the amendment. If the Government were wise, it would accept it. We have heard during this debate a good deal regarding multifarious matters, some of which are relevant to the bill, while others are, in my opinion, irrelevant. The outstanding point is that, if a commission is to be appointed, every unit in Australia should have representation upon it. We propose to invite people from the Old Land to come to Australia. I, as a member of the Labour party, will welcome every one who comes. When I heard some honorable senators opposite say that the Labour party was opposed to migration, I was more amused than annoyed. Senator Andrew, this afternoon, delivered a most extraordinary speech. Although I have the greatest admiration for every honorable senator, his was one of the most foolish speeches to which I have ever listened. I say advisedly that the Labour party has made it possible for the present Government to invite migrants to this country. Those who came out in the early days-
– Order! The honorable senator is not dealing -with the amendment.
– I propose to connect my remarks with the amendment. We want upon this commission representatives of every section of the community. Those who came out here in the early days did not receive any assistance; they came because they had to leave their own country to seek better conditions. As time went on, they discovered that it was necessary for them to form labour organizations. Secondary industries were created, and Australia is to-day a secondary producing as well as a primary producing country. I submit that my remarks were not irrelevant when I said that those people who came out here in the early days wished to improve, not only their own condition, but also that of those who came after them.
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator to confine bis remarks to the amendment.
– With all due deference, sir, I submit that my remarks are quite in order, as you will see if you will follow my line of argument. I am referring to the constitution of the commission. We should have upon it men who represent every section of the community. We have in this country scientific men, men who have a knowledge of the land and of secondary industries, and they are all men of character. The members of the commission must have the capacity to choose migrants who will be suitable for Australia. We require artisans for certain of our secondary industries. What would be the use of bringing out men and women who were not suitable for Australia ?
– That has nothing to do with the amendment.
– I say that it has.
– I rule that it has not.
– I am not opposed to bringing migrants to Australia. All I desire is that these who come here shall be given “a fair deal.
– Order ! I have asked the honorable senator to observe order in debate, and he has refused to do so.
– I have not refused to do so.
Question - That the amendment (Senator Needham’ s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Clause agreed to. Clause 6 -
– We have heard many statements regarding the salary that is to be given to the chairman and members of the commission. Parliament should know exactly what those salaries are to be. The bill should make specific .provision in that direction; otherwise we shall simply sign a blank cheque, and the Government will be able to- appoint any one it pleases at whatever salary it thinks sufficient. I am not contending that £5,000, or even £10,000, is too great a salary to pay. My argument isthat Parliament, and not the GovernorGeneral, should determine the amount. The Governor-General means the Government of the day, so that the Government will determine the salary of the members of this commission without the matter being referred to Parliament. When it was decided to appoint a High Commissioner for Australia, his salary was fixed by Parliament. That precedent should be followed. The salary of these four commissioners should not be left to the Government to fix. Sub-section 2 of clause 6 reads -
The chairman, the vice-chairman, and the other members of the commission shall severally receive, in reimbursement of their travelling and other expenses, such sums as, or sums calculated at such rates as, the GovernorGeneral -approves.
I am not so concerned about the travelling expenses as about the salaries to be paid. I ask the Leader of the Senate whether he is prepared to accept an amendment setting out the salaries to be paid to the commissioners?
.- When the bill for the appointment of the Federal Capital Commission reached the -Senate, it contained a clause fixing the salaries of the commissioners; but, in committee, the Senate decided that it would be better to give the Government a free hand to select the best men available, and for that reason the provision for a definite salary was omitted. The Government, to use an expression which has been used in this debate, was given a blank cheque. So far as I am aware, there has been no criticism of the salary paid to the Federal Capital commissioners. Similar action was taken in connexion with the commission to administer Northern Australia. The Government does not intend to pay extravagant salaries. It has been suggested during the debate that the chairman of the commission is to be paid a salary of £5,000 per annum. That may or may not be the case, but, even should he be paid that salary, it does not follow that the other commissioners will receive anything like that amount. I can assure the Senate that the Government will not pay more than the men are worth. As, however, the Senate so clearly expressed its views recently in connexion with the salaries of the members of the Federal Capital Commission, I feel that the same course should be adopted in connexion with this bill.
– The statement of the Leader of the Senate is not satisfactory. I remind him that the framers of the Constitution fixed the salary of the Governor-General, stipulating that it was not to be reduced during the term of office of any occupant of that position. Similarly, the total expenses of the Public Works Committee and Public Accounts Committee, which are not to exceed £2,000 per annum in each case, were fixed by Parliament. The fees for members of royal commissions or select committees are also fixed. Parliament should know the salaries to be paid to the members of this commission. If, as has been freely stated, the chairman of the commission is to be paid £5,000 per annum, his salary will exceed that paid to the Prime Minister. While I think that the Prime Minister is insufficiently remunerated for his services, seeing that his allowance of £2,500 per annum is only £400 more than is paid to the President of the Senate, I consider that no officer should be paid a higher salary that is paid to the Prime Minister. It is also undesirable that the Government should have a free hand in the matter of travelling and other expense.a for members of the commission. No company would leave the salary payable to its manager a matter for conjecture. We on this side objected to the appointment of a commission, believing that it would lead to overlapping, but our views were disregarded. Now we are asked to leave the Government free to pay to the members of the commission any salary that it pleases. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition will move an amendment to provide a definite salary for the members of the commission.
. -Although the Leader of the Senate said that the Government would not pay extravagant salaries to the commissioners, but only what they were worth, I am of the opinion that a definite offer has been made to a certain gentleman to accept the office of chairman at. a definite salary. Having failed to get the committee to agree that a commission is unnecessary, we on this side are anxious that the taxpayers of the Commonwealth shall know exactly the remuneration to be paid to the members of the commission. If, as has been hinted, the gentleman whose name has been mentioned is considering the acceptance of the chairmanship, naturally he will expect a remuneration corresponding with the salary which he is at present receiving, and according to current reports he is now getting £5,000 a year. He may be well qualified for his present position, but it does not follow that he will be specially fitted for the chairmanship of the commission and worth £5,000 a year. When the first Governor pf the Commonwealth Bank was appointed the salary for the position was fixed at £4,000 a year. That gentleman, lately deceased, had immense responsibilities; but, fortunately for the Commonwealth, he was specially fitted for his high and honorable position, and it is due to his wise administration that the operations of the Bank have been signally successful. Can any comparison be made between the duties which he had to perform and the work which the Chairman of the Migration Commission will be called upon to undertake? Again, is there any comparison between the work which the High Court judges perform and the duties of the chairman of the commission. The judges of the High Court are men of exceptional qualifications, well fitted for their honorable posts. The salary of the Chief Justice is £3,500 a year, and the salaries of other judges are £3,000 a year: We should not. pay a higher salary to the chairman of the commission, because, notwithstanding; the qualifications which the gentleman to be appointed is’ said to possess, his responsibilities cannot be compared with those of members of the High Court of Australia.. The public iff entitled to know why it has even been suggested that such a princely salary should be paid to the chairman of the commission. No sane person will, suggest that the responsibilities- of the members of the commission will be greater than those of any other principal official in the service of the Commonwealth. The salary of the Chairman of the Federal Capital Commission is £3,000 a year. When the bill for the creation of the Northern Australia Commission was under consideration, the work to be performed by that body was definitely outlined by the Minister, and in view of the stupendous problems which the commission would be called upon to handle, the Government was given a free hand in the appointment of that commission and the salaries to be paid. The work which members of that body will have to do will be infinitely greater than that which will be laid upon the members of this commission. I want something more definite than we have had up to the present from the Leader of the Senate as to the intentions of the Ministry and the salaries which it proposes1 to pay to ap- pointees under this bill. Why has the name of a certain gentleman been so prominently before the people during the last few weeks? Is it because, he is in receipt of a high salary, or because of the influence exercised by interested persons to secure his appointment? I believe1 it is possible to secure from within the Public Service men of greater experience and longer training, who are as well fitted to fill the position of chairman. I have not heard of any great activities having been manifested by the gentleman referred to in the fields of industry, commerce, or land settlement. I believe that he is a man of strong personality, highly qualified for the work that he is called upon to perform, and possibly well worth the salary he receives in his present position.;: but it does not follow that he is pre-eminently fitted for the chairmanship of the commission, and, therefore, worth a salary of £5,000 a year. We have heard a. lot about co-operation and co-ordination - high-sounding phrases that have become so hackneyed that one gets tired1 of their repetition - with the State authorities, and . so on. As> a matter of fact,, I anticipate that members of the Migration Commission will content themselves with, the examination of migration schemes that have been carefully thought out by experts in the various States’, and I have no doubt that those experts are as well qualified as - and maybe, better than - members of the commission will be to express a sound opinion concerning such, proposals: The Government: cannot be trusted in this matter. Government in this country is’ too much in the hands of commissions and’ boards. Whenever the Government is up against a difficult proposition, instead of tackling it in a statesmanlike way, its: first thought is to get rid of its responsibilities by creating another board’ or commission. It is significant that, as a the number of boards and commissions multiplies, salaries become higher. The Government began in a very modest way. Members of the earlier boards or commissions received moderate salaries, but latterly the Government is prepared to pay almost any amount to enlist the services of men who are credited with the possession of certain qualifications. The Government came in on the slogan of economy and efficiency.. We hove no evidence of either economy or efficiency in connexion with this scheme. It is cumbersome and complicated in the extreme.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– I move-
That the words “ Governor-General “ subclause 1, be left out with a view to insert in lieu’ thereof the words “Parliament of the. Commonwealth.”
The purpose of my amendment is to ensure that the remuneration of members of the commission shall be determined, not by the Governor-General, but by Parliament. We have precedents for this course in the case of the High Commitsioner, the salary for that office being determined by the Parliament.. Parliament in proceeding in its slow but wise way has determined the salaries to be be paid to judges of the High Court, and a measure has been passed in another place in which provision is made for retiring pensions to judges. The allowances of members of this and another place are fixed by Parliament. If the remuneration of the High Commissioner for Australia in London, the judges of the High Court, and of the representatives of the people are fixed by the legislature Parliament should also determine the salary to be paid to the members of this commission.
– As the members of the commission will have very important duties to perform there is no valid reason why the salary of the chairman, who should be a highly qualified man, should not receive the sanction of Parliament. It is entirely beyond my comprehension why a position of this kind should be remunerated at such a high salary, particularly as the Auditor-General, for instance, who holds a most important post, receives less than £2,000 per annum. Considering the numerous commissions and boards appointed, and also those contemplated, it is time Parliament took decisive action and fixed the salaries while the bills under which they are appointed are under consideration. This heaven-born genius, possessed of the concentrated intelligence of the ‘ages, will control a . commission which is to supersede the authority of not only State Governments but railways standing committees and public works and finance committees1 acting under them. As I am not prepared to’ leave this matter in the hands of the Government, I intend to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition’ (Senator Needham).
Question - That the amendment (Senator Needham’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to. (Friday, 16 July, 1926.)
Clause 7 -
Of the members of the commission, the chairman shall be appointed for a term not exceeding seven years, the vice-chairman for a term not exceeding six years, and each of the other members for a term not exceeding five years.
– I move -
That the word “ seven,” sub-clause (1), be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “five.”
The purpose of this amendment is to reduce the period of the chairman’s appointment by two years, and if it is agreed to I shall move further amendments to reduce also the periods of appointment of the other members of the commission by two years. It has been my endeavour throughout to maintain the control of Parliament over the commission. First of all I opposed the appointment of a commission. Then I tried to get representation on it for two great interests in this community - the trade union movement and the primary producers. Next I endeavoured to give Parliament some control over the payment of salaries. In each effort I have failed. My endeavour is now to limit the period of appointment of the members of the commission chosen, as it will be, not by Parliament but by an executive which itself is not elected by Parliament. This commission is setting out, so we are told, on an unblazed track; but, in my opinion, it should bc given a trial. If the chairman has not made good in five years he will not make good at all. When Senator Findley and I were . actively engaged in the industrial world we were not given appointments for seven years, seven weeks, or seven days. We were appointed subject to giving satisfaction, and if we did not give satisfaction our services were liable to be dispensed with summarily. Yet to-day we are asked to appoint men at handsome salaries for a long term, of years. My amendment is to reduce that term by two years in each case.
– In the appointment of commissioners it is always more or less dangerous to make the period of appointment too long. In my opinion, Parliament should have full control over any commission; once a man is appointed for a fixed period to a commission it is hard to remove him without litigation. I do not want to see the Commonwealth engaged in litigation with one of those who are engaged in the Public Service. It spoils the morale of the service. I am sorry that the Minister responsible for keeping us here to-night is not listening to the debate. He should have permitted honorable senators, as well as the staff, to adjourn at the usual hour until tomorrow morning, when we should all have been fresh and better able to do our work. A big principle is involved in this clause. In my opinion, it would be advisable to appoint persons to responsible positions like this on probation. After they had proved themselves, their term of office could be fixed. It is essential that the members of this commission shall have a wide experience of marketing arrange ments, for it will be necessary for them to open up markets for the produce that the migrants will grow. The marketing problem must be looked at from the point of view of Australia. I read in a well-known Australian journal a short while ago, that the best Australian fruit was being sold in London as “ best Calif Californian,” and ordinary Australian fruit as “ best Australian.” It should not be possible for merchants abroad to do that sort of thing. Australian meat is the equal of meat sold here for ls., brings only 3 1/2d. per lb. abroad, and one does not need to attend two or three universities to discover the reason for it. This commission should prevent that kind of thing. I am glad that the Government, by introducing the tariff that was before us recently, has shown a desire to develop secondary industries in Australia; but undoubtedly most of the migrants that will come here under this scheme will be engaged in primary production. If we could obtain the services of a man like Mr. C. P. G. McCann, a South Australian, who was employed by the South Australian Government in London at £700 a year, and later accepted the management of one of the principal Argentine meat-works at a salary of £8,000 a year, we should be fortunate. We need men of wide capacity ; and if we can get them I should not be averse to paying them a high salary. I regret that the Government will not inform honorable senators of the salaries it proposes to offer to members of this commission.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 1.15 a.m. (Friday).
– The amendment does not go far enough. It should be possible to review the position in less than five years. Honorable members in another place are appointed for a period of three years only, and representatives in this Chamber for six years. Why should the term of the chairman of the commission be seven years? It must be remembered that the commissioners will not be subjected to examination before appointment.” Although their duties will be important, they are not so important as those of members of this Parliament. The chairman of the Federal Capital Commission has a shorter term of office than seven years. Even the Governor-General is appointed for only five years.” Honorable senators know that it is very difficult to remove mcn from positions to which they have been appointed. Because the Government has given no sufficient reason for the long terms provided in the clause, I support the amendment.
– Although a majority of honorable senators are in favour of the appointment of a commission, I hope that they are not committed to the periods set out in this clause, as the terms for which the commissioners are to be appointed. The main agreement referred to in the bill covers a period of ten years, which is only three years more than the chairman’s term of office.
– Marketing will still have to go on.
– I do not think that the commission will be able to do much to find markets for our surplus production. That markets cannot be found is not because there is now no commission in existence. Bather is the reason to be found in the chaotic conditions existing in Europe, and the financial depression there. The restoration of credit in Europe will mean much to Australia. Great Britain is Australia’s best customer; but, because of the financial difficulties of other European nations, Great Britain cannot find markets for her products. I agree that markets must be found for our surplus production; but they will not be found by providing a long term of office for the chairman oi the commission. The amendment, if agreed to, would result in better work being done by the commission, because its members, realizing that they were on trial, would endeavour to justify their appointments. There is no guarantee that the work of the commission will be satisfactory. Because I believe that better results would accrue from a reduction of the terms of office of the commissioners, I trust that the amendment will be agreed to.
– This clause provides that the chairman shall be appointed for a term not exceeding seven years, the vicechairman for a term not exceeding six years, and each of the other members for a term not exceeding five years. There is no guarantee that the persons to be appointed will be fit for the positions and, therefore, the terms of appointment, in my opinion, are too long. There” is no reference in the clause to the remuneration to be paid to members of the commission, but we may take it that the chairman will receive not less than £4,000 a year, and the other members £3,000 and £2,000 respectively. Since our export trade in primary products is already well established, there is no justification for the appointment of commissioners to advise our primary producers as to the marketing of their produce. The Minister for Markets and Migration should be entrusted with this responsibility. I venture to say that Sir Victor Wilson, who, until recently, held that portfolio, carried out his duties in an efficient manner, and I have no” doubt that his successor will be as conscientious in the discharge of his duties. The Minister made reference to a certain mineral which, he suggested, might be discovered by the commission, and might prove of inestimable value to the Commonwealth. I challenge the Minister to state definitely what this mineral is, and, if he has any information on the subject, to disclose ;t. Why does not the Minister take the committee into his confidence? And why have we not heard from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in connexion with the matter ? As I am interested in mining, I trust the Minister will name the mineral to which he has referred, even if he does not disclose the. locality in which it is to be found; otherwise the commission will doubtless receive credit to which it is not entitled.
– Sub-clause 2 provides that every person appointed as a member of the commission shall, on the expiration of his term of office, be eligible for reappointment. As the Minister has stated on previous occasions that only men possessing the highest qualifications will be appointed, and as their offices are not likely to be declared vacant owing to misbehaviour, it is only -reasonable to assume that the terms of the appointees will be extended. A measure of such importance should not be rushed through the Senate in this way, but I suppose the business of Parliament is being expedited to enable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) to attend the forthcoming Imperial Conference. “Within a few weeks Parliament will be in recess.
– I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the amendment.
– My remarks are relevant, as I intend to connect them with the question before the committee. After Parliament goes into recess, the Prime Minister intends leaving to attend the Imperial Conference, at which matters of international importance will be discussed, and I suppose questions vitally affecting the trade and commerce of Australia will be considered. Doubtless the agreement between the Secretary of State for the Dominions and the Commonwealth Government will be under consideration, and the Prime Minister, on behalf of his Government, will inform the Imperial authorities that, under this measure, a commission has been appointed the chairman of which is to hold office for seven years. It has frequently been found that persons who have been appointed to important positions for a long term of years have been able to take advantage of technical provisions in measures which have been hurriedly disposed of.
– I rise to a point of order.- I thought we were discussing the tenure of office of members of the commission.
– The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the amendment.
– As the Minister is not taking any interest in the debate, he is unable to appreciate the relevancy of my remarks. It is possible that within twelve months the whole scheme may collapse, or the policy of the Government be altered, in which case the chairman of the commission, who is appointed for seven years, will be entitled to receive £35,000 for one year’s work. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham), because I believe that, if the members of the commission are appointed for a shorter term, they will render more efficient service in order to secure reappointment.
Question - That the amendment (Senator Needhams) be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Clause agreed to. Clauses 8 to 12 agreed to. Clause 13 (Powers and functions of commission).
– After detailing the powers and functions of the commission, this clause provides that they may be given “such other powers and functions as are prescribed.” I think the committee is entitled to an explanation of the need for giving such unlimited powers to the commission.
– The powers of the commission are detailed in the clause, but, as it may be called upon to report or advise upon something not covered by the clause, the words “ such other powers and functions as are prescribed “ are employed in order to overcome the formality of having to bring in an amending bill. Those additional powers will be prescribed by a regulation, which must be laid on the table of Parliament. If an honorable senator objects to the regulation, he can. move to disallow or amend it, and, as his motion must take precedence of all Government or other business, it cannot be side-tracked. If the Senate is of opinion that the regulation should not be allowed, or should be amended, it will agree to the honorable senator’s motion.
– But if Parliament is not sitting at the time, the commission can- go on with the work.
– Tes ; but it must be remembered that the commission has no executive power. It can only report and make recommendations to the Government; it cannot sanction any expenditure, Therefore, there can be no harm done, even during the few months when Parliament is not sitting, if it is authorized by regulation to do something not covered by this clause. Clause agreed to.
Clause 14 (Restriction on approval of migration proposals).
– This clause provides - (1.) Subject to the next succeeding sub section, the Commonwealth shall not approve of any undertaking or scheme proposed by a State under the principal Migration Agreement or any supplementary Migration Agreement which has not been recommended by the commission for approval. (2.) The Commonwealth may approve of any such undertaking or scheme if each House of the Parliament -by resolution approves of the undertaking or scheme.
I ask the Minister to explain what method will be adopted, if the commission has refused to approve of any undertaking or scheme, in order to secure the carrying of a resolution in both Houses of Parliament to approve of the ‘undertaking or scheme.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council) (2.11 a.m.]. - This provision is to meet a case where the commission has reported against an undertaking or scheme proposed by a State and where it is the opinion of the Government after full consideration that it should be proceeded with. The commission is not the absolute master of the situation, and
Parliament is not deprived of its power. The Government or a member in either House can move a motion that the scheme be proceeded with, and if both Houses carry the motion it will be an authorization to proceed with the scheme. The object of the clause is to retain the supremacy of Parliament. Clause agreed to.
Clause 15 (Appointment of officers).
– It appears to me that all appointments in connexion with the commission will be made, not by the Government or the Public Service Board, but by the commission. Will the Minister explain why this should be the case!.
– The Federal Capital Commission is given the same power:
Clause agreed to.
Clause 16 (Engagement of experts).
– A little while ago the Minister told us that the Government did not consider itself capable of carrying on development and migration, and would need the assistance of - experts. With that object in view, it has brought in a bill to provide for the appointment of a commission. Now we find that the commission itself is to be given power to call in the assistance of experts.
– That is quite right.
– Yes;, but where is it to end? It brings us back to the original position. The Government itself could have obtained the advice of experts without the appointment of a commission which evidently will not have sufficient’ ability to grapple with all the ramifications of migration and development, because it is expected to require the services of experts. I wonder whether the experts themselves when they are appointed will need to seek for other advice to assist them in advising the commission, so that the commission may advise the government.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 17 to 19 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Senate adjourned at 2.17 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 July 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260715_senate_10_114/>.