10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Eon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Mr. LATHAM presented a petition from Mr. Henry Short, of 22 Chrystobelcrescent, Glenferrie, Victoria, praying for the redress of a grievance relating to the method of collecting income tax.
– Can the Minister for Defence tell me what type of aeroplane was used by the two aviators who crashed yesterdayat Werribee with fatal results ? Was it of the same type as that which fell recently at Canberra? Are all aeroplanes thoroughly overhauled before trainees are permitted to make flights in them?
– The machine which crashed at Werribee yesterday was of the same type as the machine that met with an accident at Canberra.
– Were they both gift aeroplanes from the British Government?
– Yes; of the D.H.9 type, the second type of machine in which pupils are trained. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowden) need not have asked whether the machines are carefully overhauled before any flight is made in them, because having been Minister for Defence he knows the care which is taken, and is aware that a log is kept showing the use and condition of every plane. A good deal of discussion has been provoked by these accidents, which have been only too frequent, but it is overlooked that the number of students now undergoing training is much larger than it was. I have issued an instruction that an inquiry must be held into the whole subject of aviation in Australia, and I hope to give to the House at an early date a full account of the conclusions arrived at.
– I am pleased to hear that the Minister for Defence proposes to institute an inquiry into the whole subject of Australian aviation; but in view of the statement in the press to-day that the aeroplanes in use at Point Cook are obsolete, and of the Minister’s admission that the aeroplane which crashed yesterday is of the same type as other aeroplanes which have met with many accidents, I should like to know if the Minister will make it a public, and not a departmental, inquiry’?
– I do not propose to have a public inquiry, because there are not’ available in Australia a sufficient number of persons who are competent to weigh the evidence to be given in such an inquiry. I shall carry out what I have promised - a definite and full inquiry into the practice of Australian aviation, and after that investigation has been made, if the Leader of the Opposition is still not satisfied, further action can, if necessary, be taken. The honorable gentleman, who holds a position of responsibility, must be aware that statements are. frequently published in newspapers merely for the purpose of increasing sales.
– The Minister has admitted that all these accidents have occurred in the same type of machine.
– Yes, and they are occurring in that type of machine all over the world. Our machines include the Avro and De Haviland types, which are used in Great Britain for training under similar conditions.
– I should like to know if the Minister for Defence can furnish comparative tables showing the number of fatalities due to aviation disasters and the death rate through ordinary civilian motor traffic accidents?
– I shall attempt to procure the information desired by the honorable member. One of the main purposes of the investigation I have ordered will be the ascertainment of the number of accidents in comparison with those in other countries where flying training is undertaken. It would be rather difficult to obtain correct figures relating to motor car accidents; but those who read the newspapers on Monday mornings know how frequently such accidents occur at the week-ends even in our small community.
State Governor’s Private Secretary
– The Navigation Act prohibits the travelling of interstate passengers on foreign registered vessels, and I should therefore like to know from the Minister for Trade and Customs why permission was granted to Mr. Davidson, the private secretary to the newlyarrived Governor of Victoria, to travel by the Royal Mail steamer Cathay between Australian ports?
– It is within my province to give permits, under certain circumstances, to persons to travel on the Australian coast on steamers not registered in Australia, and when the request was made to me that the private secretary of the incoming Governor of Victoria should be allowed to accompany His Excellency from Adelaide to Melbourne, I unhesitatingly gave the necessary permission for him to do so, for the convenience of, and as an act of courtesy on the part of a Commonwealth Minister to, the King’s representative in this State.
– I should like to know if a statement in the press that the Treasurer proposes to modify his proposals in regard to the per capita payments to the States is correct ; and if so, to what extent those proposals will be modified ?
– The financial proposals of the Government will be outlined in the budget.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs yet in a position to
Bay whether any definite decision has been arrived at in regard to the encouragement of the cotton yarn industry?
– No definite decision has yet been arrived at. The matter is still under the consideration of the Government.
– I should like to know whether the Minister will, at an early date, come to the long-looked-for decision in regard to the payment of a bounty on the production of raw cotton?
– I can merely repeat my reply to the honorable member for Parramatta - that the matter is under consideration - but it is hoped that a very early announcement may be made to the House in regard to both matters. (See page 3786.)
– I should like to know if it is possible for the Prime Minister to give honorable members an idea of the number of guests likely to be invited to the opening of Parliament at Canberra? We are constantly receiving letters and being interviewed by prominent citizens who are anxious to know if invitations may be extended to them, and if the right honorable gentleman could supply the information for which I am asking it would be of considerable assistance to us.
– I quite realize the difficulty in which practically every honorable member finds himself at the present time in connexion with this matter. A committee has been appointed to consider the arrangements in connexion with that ceremony, and I hope that in the near future it will be in a position to submit a report to the Government as to what it will be practicable to do in the way of providing for official guests. I should, however, point out that, as Canberra is as yet only in the making and the accommodation .there will be very limited, it will be most difficult to make provision for the number of distinguished persons whom it might otherwise be considered desirable to invite to the opening ceremony. Honorable members should bear this difficulty in mind when representations are made to them by persons who are anxious to attend the opening ceremony.
– If Parliament is not sitting when the committee referred to by the right honorable gentleman has concluded its investigations, will honorable members be circularized, so that they may know what is proposed?
– It is difficult to say when the committee will report; but as soon as a decision is arrived at the fullestinformation will be supplied to every honorable member.
– Has the Prime Minister had any definite reply to the invitation sent to England to a member of the Royal Family to open the Commonwealth Parliament at Canberra?
– I have not officially stated that a definite invitation has been extended to a member of the Royal Family to open the Commonwealth Parliament at Canberra, though I have said that the Government and the people of Australia would greatly welcome a visit from one of the royal princes. No arrangement has been completed in connexion with such a visit, although the Government is still hopeful that such an arrangement may be made.
– Has the Minister for Markets and Migration the informa tion in regard to immigration for which I asked on the 9th June?
– I regret the delay that has occurred in supplying the information for which the honorable member asked. It has been due chiefly to the fact that many of the figures required by the honorable member had to be taken from financial years ending on the 30th June, and compiled in a different manner in order to show the result for the calendar years. The information asked for is as follows : -
What was the number of unassisted immigrants who arrived during that period ( 1920 to date), and what were their nationalities? - lt has’ been the practice for some years to record arrivals of persons in Australia without particularizing as to the proportion of such persons who are immigrants and the proportion who are returning Australians and visitors. It was not until 1st July, 1924, that the Commonwealth Statistician commenced the compilation of statistics showing separately the arrival of immigrants, visitors, and returning Australians. Following are statements showing -
Number of unassisted immigrants who arrived in the Commonwealth during the year1925, and their nationalities. - British. 19,310; Austrian, 9; Belgian, 53; Czechoslovak, 37; Danish, 85; Dutch, 81; Esthonian, 64; Finnish, 119; French, 201; German, 143; Greek, 602; Italian,. 5,827; Jugo Slav, 834; Maltese, 388; Norwegian, 41; Polish, 163; Russian,’ 462.; Spanish, 87 ; Swedish, 47 ; Swiss, 195; Turkish, 7; United States, 346; other white people, 142. Total, 29,243.
Franchise fob Residents.
– In view of the rapidly-increasing population at Canberra, I should like to know from the Prime Minister if it is possible to grant the residents of the Federal Capital Territory direct representation in this Parliament, and if in the near future the franchise will be extended to them?
– The parliamentary representation of persons residing in the Federal Capital Territoryis obviously one that will have to be determined sooner or later; but at the present time I have no announcement to make as to the action to be taken.
– Is there any truth in the rumour that the Government proposes to postpone the taking of the referendum, and has recently cancelled large printing orders? In any case, in view of the confusion among the general public on this question, the probability of the defeat of the proposed constitutional amendments, and the consequent needless expenditure of £100,000, or so, will the Government take into consideration the postponing of the referendum, particularly as there is a possibility of the postponement of the Imperial Conference?
– I cannot grasp what the honorable member means by the word “postponement.” I have noticed that it has been used before. No date has been announced for the taking of the referendum. The requirement of the Constitution is that, when legislation has been passed through both Houses, authorizing the submission of the proposals to the people, a referendum must be held not earlier than two months and not later than six months afterwards. The Government has every intention of submitting the proposals to the people within the prescribed time.
Rural Credits : Housing Scheme
– Does the Government intend to introduce a measure to amend and liberalize the Commonwealth Bank Rural Credits Act, to make it of more use to the primary producers of this country?
– The Rural Credits Department of the Commonwealth Bank is at present functioning satisfactorily.
– Its scope is not wide enough.
– That may be the opinion of the honorable member, hut it is so constituted as to be able to perform the functions that the Government think necessary. Whether some other modification of the Commonwealth Bank to enable long-term loans to be granted is necessary is a question of Government policy, as to which the Government’s intentions will be made known in due course.
– Is it a fact that the Rural Credits Department is operating through the various private banks of the Commonwealth ?
– The Rural Credits Department is operating in many cases directly. For instance, two wheat pools in Victoria are being financed through the Rural Credits Department of the Commonwealth Bank. In other cases co-operative societies and other institutions are operating through their own banks, which have been able to arrange finance through the Commonwealth Bank.
– Private banks?
– Yes. That is provided for under the act. The Rural Credits Department is functioning in the way this Parliament intended, and I have no doubt that it will continue to expand and be of great benefit to the people of Australia.
– Is there any truth in the statement that the Commonwealth Bank has refused to undertake the financing and supervision of homes in accordance with the Government policy?As many persons are awaiting the fulfilment of the Government’s promise to assist them to obtain homes, I should like to know when the housing scheme will be put into operation?
– The answer to the first part of the question is definitely “ No.” The Government’s housing proposals will be brought down to the House when the opportunity arises.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Can he state the amount that has been paid to the engine-drivers’ representatives on the Coal Industry Tribunal since its inception, and how that amount is made up?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Total fees, £552; total fares, £343 2s. 10d.; total travelling time, £157. Total, £1,052 2s10d.
Debate resumed from 1st July (vide page 3754), on motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I have listened with interest to the speeches on this bill. The development of Australia is the most important matter facing this Parliament, and we should approach it in a spirit of equity and unselfishness, and with an earnest desire to act in the interests of the general community. Various reasons have been given for supporting the bill. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) dis- cussed it from the point of view of defence. We all recognize that one of our primary duties is to make our position secure against enemy invasion, but I see a greater danger than that confronting us. We rightly believe in the White Australia policy, but possibly its maintenance may be gravely menaced, particularly in view of our membership of the League of Nations. The representatives of various nations attend the meetings of the League, and, unfortunately, few of them see eye to eye with us respecting the White Australia policy. Grave danger confronts us from that source, because other nations rightly say that we are not justified in maintaining that policy while we continue to close our doors to people who are anxious to settle here. It is therefore necessary that we should populate this country, as. far as possible, with members of the white races, particularly our own kith and kin within the British Empire. Although in the past there has been a steady flow of immigrants to this country, yet our development has not been commensurate. I realize the difficulty of obtaining the right type of immigrant. Certain people who have come here have returned to England and decried Australia. They have given us an exceptionally bad reputation on the other side of the world. There has unquestionably been a great deal of misrepresentation in England regarding conditions in .Australia. I listened with interest to the speech of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), and his graphic description of the film depicting the rapid rise to affluence of one individual who- had settled in Australia. I know that immigrants have come here believing our conditions to be far better than they actually are. It is a wrong policy to paint a rosy, but misleading, picture of the conditions in Australia. We should place the true position before the people of the Homeland, and thus encourage the right type of man to settle in this country. I well remember the methods of recruiting that were adopted 40 years ago in England to encourage people to emigrate to Australia. Apparently the same methods, to some extent, are being used to-day. ‘ When a youth, I listened to the tales of some of the recruiting agents, and now that I have experienced Australian conditions I know how great was the misrepresentation. The dissatisfied migrant is a great handicap to the successful development of Australia. The bill provides for development and migration. The scheme it embodies is timely, and if it is controlled by men of the right type it must have very beneficial results. Land settlement is the greatest problem that confronts us to-day. The present system does not attract the best class of migrant or even the best type of Australian to settle on the land. In my early life I had some experience of pioneering under very difficult conditions, and I know the unattractiveness of the farmer’s lot. But those who have stuck to the job have been the backbone of the country, and have done more to lay the solid foundations of Australia’s prosperity than any other section in the community. The average land-seeker to-day, however, looks for a home as close as possible to a railway and markets. When I selected land in 1903, I went 40 miles from a railway, and settled down in a district which had no prospects of having railway communication for many years. I did that in order to get good land at a cheap price; I was considered a fool for so doing, but within a few years I had many neighbours, and as a result of our pioneering efforts against great odds, that district is to-day prosperous and highly improved, with railway communication, and most of the amenities of civilization. I have had to reap my harvest with a sickle, thresh it with a flail, and sell the wheat for ls. 6d. per bushel. I have had to sell maize at 8d. per bushel, . bags included, and prime baconers at 25s. each, and pay from 30s. to 35s. a ton to rail my produce to market.
– The honorable member lived on his losses:
– We who selected land under those conditions did not live; we merely existed. But we had hope, that essential quality in men working on the land. When we engaged in dairying we had. to pay 7½d. per gallon for the carriage of our cream to the nearest factory. Having been through such experiences,
I understand fully the difficulties of land settlement away from the railways. There has been much discussion of the amount of money to be made available for each settler under the scheme now before us, and many honorable members have said that £1,000 is not sufficient to settle a man on the land. I admit that for the acquisition of an improved or choice block in a convenient district, £1,000 is quite inadequate, but, as I said in the House recently, the . future of land settlement in Australia lies not iu the acquisition at high prices of blocks already improved, but rather in the opening up of the large tracts of good virgin country still available in every State of the Commonwealth. In Queensland and Western Australia, and in other States to a lesser extent, millions of acres of land is available for closer settlement by men of the right type, but they must have the assistance of governments, particularly in the provision of good roads and railways to enable them to get their produce to the market. Because Australia is now producing more of some commodities than it can consume, it has not reached the limit of its agricultural and pastoral production. Ours is essentially a primary producing country, and as there is abundance of land available for selection upon easy conditions - certainly hardships are involved, but they only help to prove the man - -people should be encouraged to select that land rather than land near their relatives “in established districts. We can increase our agrarian population only by developing the back country. Millions of acres of land are unstated for cultivation, but vast areas are eminently adapted for stock raising and agriculture, and much of that which is now being utilized to some extent is not being put to the best use. If the commission will tackle this problem scientifically, it can do a great deal to solve the difficulties associated with land settlement. Australians and migrants can be encouraged to take up land if rural life is made more attractive, and much can be done in that direction by the wise expenditure of the money to be made available under the agreement with the British Government. I understand that the gentleman who- has been offered the chairmanship of the commission is a man of vision and great capabilities, and if he has colleagues of the same calibre, and they apply their intellects to the problem of developing: the country, nothing but good can result from their efforts. An amendment of the original agreement with the British Government provides that up to 50 per cent, of the money to be advanced may be applied to the settlement of Australians on the land or the development of Australian industries. When the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) was speaking last night, I interjected that, unfortunately, the average Australian is not disposed to endure the hardships incidental to land settlement, particularly in the back country. My experience in Queensland has convinced me of the truth of that statement. The bulk of the successful farmers .in that State were born outside Australia.
– The honorable member is wrong.
– Statistics will prove my statement to be correct. The majority of the successful farmers iu Queensland came from overseas. I know of big communities of Germans who have made a success of agriculture, and of other settlements of Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Irishmen, but I do not know of one settlement of native’ Australians.
– There are big groups of Victorians in Queensland.
– They are few and far between. Many years ago a number of !N”ew South Wales and Victorian wheatgrowers disposed of their properties at good prices, and, attracted by cheap subdivisions in Queensland, acquired fairly large holdings there. They are the exceptions; the great majority of successful settlers were not born in Australia. To make the land attractive, particularly to the Australian born, we must, assure the settler of greater facilities than were enjoyed by the men who did the pioneering work in the past. The spectre of unemployment is apparently the chief obstacle to the Labour party’s acceptance of the Government’s scheme. I have a good deal of sympathy with them in that regard. Any man who can feel for his fellow, men must view with horror the spectacle of men looking in vain for the means of earning a livelihood in a country like Australia.
Honorable members representing industrial centres know bow frequently the spectre of unemployment stalks through the land. Many hundreds of men, who are desirous of working, are deprived, for various reasons, of constant employment. Unfortunately, it is not always the fault of the employer.
– Is it not the fault of the employer when he puts Australians off one day, and puts immigrants in their places the next?
– The employer has a perfect right to choose his employee, ju3t as the employee is entitled to say whether he will work for a certain employer.
– That is only equitable.
– Of course. A great deal of industrial unrest is due to the fact that the rights of both parties are not recognized. Reference was made by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) to the necessity for the construction of railways, from the point of view of defence. I think that lie had in his mind the need for the unification of the railway gauges of Australia, and the construction of certain strategic lines. While- this work would provide a considerable quantity of employment, it would not necessarily he a profitable undertaking. As to the value of such railways for defence purposes, I entirely disagree with the honorable member, because, under modern conditions of warfare, attack is most likely to come from the air. We know that it would be possible for airmen to travel from 100 to 150 miles, or even more, from a mother ship lying off the coast, and to return in a short space of time. If Australia were attacked, the enemy would attempt, at the outset, to destroy the railway bridges over our principal waterways. I suggest, therefore, that adequate provision should be made for road transport, because roads are less vulnerable than bridges. While railway transport could be disorganized, perhaps, for many months, by the destruction of important bridges, it would be more difficult to interrupt road transport.
– But if bombs were dropped on the bridges over which the roads passed, would the result not be the same ?
– Roads may deviate around water-courses in a way that railways cannot. If the Hawkesbury bridge were bombed from the air it would be difficult to move troops north or south; but if there were good roads further from the seaboard than the coastal railway, they would be most useful for defence purposes. The bill provides for assistance to secondary industries. Since land settlement is undoubtedly a matter for the States^ and the commission can only act in conjunction with, and on the advice of, the States, I desire to know if it is proposed to provide the States with money for the development of secondary industries on socialistic lines. If so, it seems to me that the bill may tend to block progress. At the present time there are Labour Governments controlling the destinies of five of the States, and their policy provides for the socializing of industry. While I approve of land settlement, I certainly do not desire to see the socialization of secondary industries consummated.
– The same arguments could be applied to land settlement. The policy of Labour governments is the socialization of land.
– Labour governments are not so likely to attempt to put their policy into effect regarding the land as regarding secondary industries. I have made a fairly close investigation of some of these industries, and I am averse from anything in the nature of their socialization. We should return to the old order of things. If the bill will assist to subsidize State enterprises, we should view that aspect of it with disfavour.
– But the money to be provided can be spent on water works and railways. Are they not State enterprises ?
– They are not the enterprises that I fear. 1 have seen enough in recent months to justify me in opposing any tendency in the direction I have indicated. It would mean the building up of more Government departments, in which the employees are bound hand and foot by red tape. Progress would be brought to a standstill, because the people would be robbed of their independence. I hope that the Government will take whatever steps may be necessary to prevent money being expended in that direction.
Speaking generally, I approve of the principles of the bill. I realize that its success will largely depend upon the calibre of the men appointed to administer the scheme. If that administration is sound, the measure will prove a timely one, calculated to assist considerably in the development of this great country.
.- The bill is designed to deal with two matters that I consider rank among the most important with which the House could concern itself. While I realize the urgency of the subjects of migration and development, I am opposed to the bill, not because I feel that we should not formulate any scheme of migration, but because I believe that it puts the cart before the horse. I object to the appointment of the proposed commission, because much of the work expected to be carried out by it should be done by this Parliament and the government of the day. I fear that past and present governments have been too prone to appoint commissions, which mean that the duties and responsibilities of Ministers are, to a large extent, transferred to outside bodies. In addition to the expense incurred by the appointment of the commission, extra expenditure is involved by the creation of useless staffs, which mean considerable additions to an already overloaded Public Service, and by the building of costly offices. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) referred to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, and suggested that it would assist the commission in making inquiries by indicating just in what respect industries could be assisted, and what schemes should be adopted to bring about increased development. It seems to mc that the Government could do much at the present time without waiting to appoint a commission. If it were not dominated by importing interests, but were willing to tackle the great matters awaiting solution, it could make greater headway by taking early and practical steps to foster secondary industries. That, I believe, is the solution of the problem of migration and development. It has been suggested that the object of the bill is not to increase the population in- the cities, but to develop, the country. I sympathize with the Government in that desire. It would be unwise to adopt any scheme that would have a tendency to in crease the population of our cities at the expense of the rural districts. Our Customs revenue is steadily increasing, and if the Department of Trade and Customs, supported by a sympathetic Government, were prepared to do the right thing towards our secondary interests, these would make greater headway than could be achieved by the appointment of half a dozen commissions. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) and the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook) both stated that 96 per cent, of our exports consist of primary products; but that is only to be expected in view of our neglect to encourage the establishment of secondary industries here. The largest single item of exportation from Australia is wool, which we do very little to manufacture here. I submit that we should be wise to turu our attention to the manufacture here of all the valuable primary products that at present we are exporting in the raw state. Japan, which grows no wool at all, manufactures 25 times the quantity of woollen goods thai we do. If we were to place a duty on wool exported in the raw state we should go a long way towards setting up many manufacturing industries here. If all our” wool had to be semi-manufactured before it could be exported, I am of opinion that work would be provided here for 150,000 men, and that that would lead to an increase in our population by about 500,000 people. That is the way for us to encourage migration. We are told that public men in the Old Country are enthusiastic about the Government’s migration scheme, but I think we should hear a different story if we were to take steps to encourage woollen, cotton, and linen manufacturing here. At present no encouragement whatever is given to the flax industry, although we could grow flax equal to the best produced in Ireland or Egypt. We are importing annually between £11,000,000 and £12,000,000 worth of /linen and cotton piece goods, and I can see no reason whatever why we should not manufacture the bulk of it here. A. bold policy of encouragement for these industries would not only stimulate our primary production, but also bring about the establishment of many secondary industries. Not only farm workers, but also textile operatives would then be needed from the Old’ Country. By encouraging the flax industry and the manufacture of linen goods we should be able to turn out larger quantities of linseed products, and manufacture many more varieties of paper than we do at present. We should be manufacturing a great part of the millions of pounds worth of wearing apparel that we import annually, and until we are prepared to take some definite steps in that direction we shall be unwise if we embark upon a big migration policy. The Government could act along these lines without appointing a commission, and in my opinion it is its plain duty to do so. The Textile Recorder of 1924 gives some interesting figures in regard to the textile industry, which show that the number of cotton mills in Great Britain the previous year was 1,943; in the United States of America, 1,692 ; and in Japan, 244. It will be seen, therefore, that Great Britain had 251 more mills than the United States of America, and 1,699 more than Japan. The number of spindles in Great Britain was 59,818,000 ; in the United States of America, 37,055,000; and in Japan, 4,750,000. Great Britain thus had 22,763,000 more spindles than the United States of America, and 55,068,000 more than Japan. The number of bales of cotton consumed in Great Britain was 2,667,000; in the United States of America, 7,058,000; and in Japan, 2,402,000. Thus, in spite of Great Britain’s larger number of mills and spindles she consumed very much less raw cotton than the United States of America, and very little more than Japan. This is a serious state of affairs, for it means that much valuable textile machinery in Manchester, Bradford, and other English cities is lying idle, and that many textile operatives there are out of work. Seeing that we have so much wool, and it is likely that we shall produce large quantities of cotton in the near future, it would be highly desirable, in my opinion, for arrangements to be made to transfer this idle textile machinery, and many of tho idle textile workers, to Australia, so that our raw material could be manufactured here. Recently I pointed out in this House that Great Britain was exporting about £20,000,000 worth of textile machinery annually to Japan, China, aud other countries. In these circumstances, she cannot expect to maintain her supremacy in the textile manufacturing industry. Her salvation, in my opinion, would be the establishment of textile mills in her dominions where the raw material is available. If the Government would impose an export duty on raw wool and sheepskins exported from Australia, it would practicaly oblige British and other manufacturers abroad to begin operations here. The policy of prohibiting the importation of manufactured cloth and the exportation of raw wool was adopted by England in 1066, and was maintained for centuries, with the result that she became the leading manufacturing country in the world. We could not do better than follow the example that she set. Personally, I would not hesitate to impose an export duty on Australian raw material. At present we are sending 7,000,000 sheepskins abroad annually. If these had to be treated in Australia, work would be available here for tens of thousands of operatives. The objection that this policy would adversely affect our primary producers could be overcome by providing compensation for them from the revenue derived from the duties, but I do not think that there would be an adverse effect.
– If such a policy were adopted, would it not be likely that the price of wool would drop in proportion to the export duty that we imposed?
– I think not. It is common . knowledge that Australia produces the best wool in the world, and that there is a world hunger for it. I submit that we should take advantage of our good position. British and Continental buyers would just be as anxious to get our wool whether there was an export duty on it or not. We should not allow these valuable primary products to leave our shores except under conditionsadvantageous to our country. Brazil placed an export duty on cotton, with the result that she now has 243 cotton mills operating, which provide employment for 106,000 workers. If that policy is sound for Brazil it is sound for Australia. In my opinion, placing an export duty on our raw material would be just as likely to encourage secondary industries as plac- ing an import duty on manufactured, goods.
– Does Brazil export her manufactured cotton goods.
– She does.
– I am afraid that, in comparing Brazil with Australia, the honorable member is overlooking the wages aspect of the matter.
– That is not so. In the excellent speech which the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) delivered, to which I listened with great interest, he stated that it was not the arsenals, but the great industrial concerns of England, that enabled the Allied forces to win the war. I had the opportunity of inspecting many British industrial enterprises during and after the war, and I was delighted to see them so efficiently conducted. Surely the argument advanced by the honorable member should stimulate us to strengthen our secondary industries, so that if war should occur here we should be able to manufacture our own munitions. That is the policy of the Labour party. We are firmly convinced that it is highly desirable for us to encourage greater industrial expansion. That does not mean that we are overlooking the need for land settlement, nor does it necessarily follow that the expansion of secondary industries will cause a still greater aggregation of population in our capital cities. The adoption of the policy I have enunciated will provide ample work for woollen mills, and encourage the .establishment of tanneries and many other subsidiary industries in country districts. The demand for blocks of land that are thrown open for settlement from time to time suggests that there is not sufficient suitable land available for the settlement of Australians who want to go on the land, and since the bulk of the immigrants from the Mother country are not agriculturists, but industrialists, from Birmingham, Manchester, and other populous centres in Lancashire and elsewhere, who, even if they had the opportunity to get land, would not be suitable as settlers, it is obvious that we. should direct our attention to the development of our secondary industries. We do not wish to have a repetition of failures such as occurred in connexion with our soldier settlements. We should take every care to prevent the settlement of misfits on the land, and the extravagant expenditure of public money. I listened attentively to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins) last night. A few months ago I had an opportunity to go through his electorate, and noted that the wealthier farmers are gradually buying up smaller farms and estates, with the result that country which, a few years ago, supported several families is now being held by only a few farmers. If any honorable member challenges my statement I invite him to study the statistics furnished by the Department of Education in New South Wales. These show that, owing to the decrease in population, many country schools have been closed.. This Government has not taken any practical steps to prevent the aggregation of large estates. We cannot allow the present suicidal policy of exporting so much of our raw materials to continue, while on the other hand, bringing, shiploads of British workers to Australia in vessels laden to the plimsoll mark with manufactured goods. Our textile industries must be developed. High Customs duties are of no use if they are not effective. I would favour increasing duties on certain commodities by 150 per cent, in order to shut out the manufactured products of cheaplabour countries, which by competing with Australian secondary products, so seriously damage our manufacturing interests. If we encourage our secondary industries, as I suggest, we shall provide a wider field for the profitable employment of Australian operatives, and also create an attractive market for our primary products. At present we import enormous quantities of wattle bark from South Africa. The development of the tanning industry in Australia will lead to the manufacture of leather goods iu large quantities. The expansion of the tanning and wool-scouring industries will mean the further development of other industries, such as soap-making, and the making of gelatine. I hope that the Government will not shirk its. responsibilities in this matter, but will take action to stabilize and establish important secondary industries, which will provide employment for operatives from the Old Country, give us an increased -population, and lead to the much needed internal development of the Commonwealth.
.- The majority of honorable members who have spoken in this debate have recognized the necessity for making large additions to Australia’s population. The objection has been raised that the Government has not created a public opinion favorable to immigration. It has not been generally recognized that the initiative in this direction lies with the States. I have a number of persistent correspondents who are continually writing to me asking why the expensive migration organization of the Commonwealth is not showing better results. It is with this object in view that the Government proposes to appoint the Migration Commission^ and I commend the Ministry for breaking new ground. I take it that one of the principal duties of the commission will be the investigation of conditions, and the advising of the Government concerning the development of existing industries. No more important work could be entrusted to any body of men.
– That is what the Tariff Board is doing now.
– The Tariff Board deals with existing industries. It will be part of the duty of the proposed commission to investigate the possibility of establishing new industries.
– The Tariff Board does that.
– Then I am afraid that the Tariff Board has not done quite as .well as was expected. If the operations of the commission prove successful, it should meet the objections that have been raised by honorable members opposite to the migration proposals of the Government. It is unfortunate that members of the Labour party are not co-operating with th National party in this matter. Every time immigration is mentioned, honorable members opposite question the wisdom of introducing more people to Australia, and suggest that the only effect will be to make competition for work keener and bring about more unemployment. I remind them that in a country like Australia, which depends so largely on its primary products, a certain amount of seasonal .unemployment is unavoidable. If the commission can suggest the establishment of industries that will provide employment when ordinarily there is a lack of it owing to our seasonal operations, some good will be accomplished. I do not suggest that the British Government has not a good reason for its generosity in connexion with the terms upon which it proposes ‘ to make £34,000,000 available to the Commonwealth. For the first five years we shall be required to pay only 2 per cent, of the interest bill : for the next five years only 2i per cent.; and thereafter, I presume, we shall be expected to bear the full amount of it. It is well known that Britain, with its population of 47,000,000 people, and with the annual increase of population, is faced with serious unemployment difficulties. 1 believe that its authorities are not unmindful of the conditions in Australia. They are aware that a section of our people is against immigration for reasons that ave well known; and, therefore, they have decided to make money available to enable the Commonwealth Government to launch out on the establishment of new industries that will create fresh avenues of employment in the Commonwealth. It is not suggested that all the migrants who will come to Australia under this scheme will compete with Australian operatives in our secondary industries. The idea is to enable the State Governments to provide national works that will result in creating new industries aud perfect those already in existence. I doubt if any one will object to the expenditure of this money on schemes such as irrigation, in order to make the dry areas of Australia available for settlement. Some honorable members appear to be under the impression that we have no suitable land available.
– It is not developed; that is the trouble.
– I remind honorable members that, in 1922, only 111,548,394 acres, or 5 per cent, of our total area of 3,000,000 square miles had been alienated; that the area in course of alienation was 57,568,439 acres, or 3.02 per cent., and 949,884,653 acres, or 49 per cent., were held under lease or licences. The unoccupied land comprised 7S4,7 38,353 acres, equalling 41 per cent. In other words, 91 per cent, of the lands of Australia was still at the disposal of the various Governments. It is absurd to suggest that a considerable proportion of this area cannot be utilized for production. Any State Government should be condemned if it allows any man to say that he cannot obtain land for settlement. It is customary, nowadays, even for native-born Australians to apply for land along our railway lines and close to existing towns, in preference to areas in less-favored localities; but I am sure that, before many years have passed, a great deal of land which at present is regarded as second-class country will be gladly taken up for settlement. There are so many industries that the new-comers can enter that I expect that the commission will be able to make very useful suggestions. Good work is being done at Elcho Farm, near Lara, Victoria. I read the other day that 300 families, representing 1,500 persons, had passed through that farm. Migrants are taken direct from the ship to the farm, where they receive a thorough training in the raising of sheep, cattle, pigs, and poultry, and are also instructed in dairying. In a very short time they are able to take up land for themselves.
– A man cannot become an expert in those industries in a short time.
– Any one who has had experience on the land can adapt, himself to Australian methods in a period of six months. I do not suggest that a man can be taken out of a factory and converted into a farmer in six months, but the farm labourer with experience of farm work in the Old Country can quickly adapt himself to our methods.
– But we are not obtaining that class of migrant.
– It is evident that we are, because the Victorian Government has already trained 300 families, and the reports of inspectors regarding the settlers are entirely satisfactory. I recommend the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) to make in quiries into the work of that training farm. He will also find that the new settlers benefit by the supervision of experienced officers of the Lands Department for a period after they have secured land of their own. It is a mistake to think that an enormous number of persons are anxious to migrate from the United Kingdom to Australia. It was reported in the Empire Review recently that the Overseas Settlement Committee had taken a ballot of prospective migrants as to the country they preferred to go to. The result is not flattering to Australia. Thirty-three per cent, of the migrants preferred South Africa, 22 per cent. New Zealand, 20 per cent. British Columbia, 14 per cent. Australia, and 11 per cent, other countries. It would appear that the advantages offered to the people of Great Britain in Australia are either not well known or are not perfectly appreciated.
– One of the causes of Australia not being more favoured is the great distance between this country and England.
– The high steamer fares between England and Australia have to be taken into consideration. I have repeatedly asked the Commonwealth Government to reduce the fares to Australia. I have pointed out that Canada is obtaining desirable migrants because of the lower fares operating to that country. The steamer fare to Canada is £3, as compared with four or five times that amount to Australia. Our organization is not satisfactory, and should be altered by the Government. I expect great things of the commission. It will certainly be an expensive body, but if the men selected as members of it are fit for the job they will be able to do much to develop our industries and thus find work for migrants. The Commonwealth and British Governments have given this matter very careful consideration. The Empire Settlement Act, which was passed in 1922, made £3,000,000 available to the British dominions at a low rate of interest, and it is significant that only £1,250,000 has yet been claimed by them. We need not be despondent about the opportunities for land settlement in this country. In the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 16th June I read the following head-lines: -
That journal contends that Australia, with irrigation, may become a great rice producing country. When I visited Mildura recently, I was astonished to find water laid on to settlements 40 miles from the river Murray where the rainfall is only 8 inches per annum. I saw a navigable stream where previously there wasonly a trickle of water, and . hundreds of farmers on small areas of land quite independent of the rainfall. What .. has been accomplished at Mildura can also be accomplished in many other parts of Australia. In theDawson Valley of Queensland millions of gallons of water are being impounded, and when the scheme is complete it will provide many opportunities for extending settlement. We need not, for one moment, be pessimistic about land settlement if it is properly handled. Great Britain has decided to give us a ten years’ preferences on our products, and that will surely materially improve the outlook for increased production in this country. The right honorable the Prime Minister, in his second-reading speech, did not explain one or two features of the bill. It is not clear to me whether the raising of the money will be an obligation of the Commonwealth or the States.
– Will it be advanced by the Commonwealth to the States?
– Yes, and the States will be under an obligation to repay it to the Commonwealth.
– Five of the States have signed the agreement, and I wonder whether they are satisfied after reading this clause of the bill : -
The Commonwealth shall not approve of any undertaking or scheme proposed by a State under the principal Migration Agreement or any supplementary Migration Agreement unless it hasbeen recommended by the commission for approval.
That does not appear to place the States in a very desirable position, for it gives to the Commonwealth the final decision in every case. We ought not to humiliate the States in administering this legislation.
– It is essential that there should be a safeguard.
– As the States will eventually carry the liability, we should not treat them as school children, and insist that their schemes shall be examined by a Commonwealth commission, and be subject to the veto of the Commonwealth Government. Very great tact will be necessary in rejecting any scheme that is favoured by the States.
– The final control by the Commonwealth Government is not provided for in this bill, but is in the agreement which the States have signed. The schemes of the States have to be approved by the Commonwealth and British Governments. The honorable member must agree that that is necessary.
– I realize the desirability of preventing the States from carrying out unwise schemes, but the members of the State Governments recognize their responsibilities, and are not likely to submit any unreasonable scheme.
– Schemes undertaken at great cost in the past have been complete failures.
– That criticism would apply to some of the undertakings of State Governments of every political complexion.
– And by the Commonwealth.
– I strongly commend the Government for striking out on new lines. I believe that the commission will perform useful work for Australia in association with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and that both our primary and secondary industries will benefit, with the result that there will be room in Australia for a greatly increased population.
.- This bill has already been extensively discussed by a number of honorable members, and although the subject is admittedly an important one, it has been examined from so many angles that very little remains to be said about it. As I understand the bill, it provides for the creation of an authority to supervise the expenditure of the £34,000,000 loan from the British Government which was arranged for by the Prime Minister without consulting this Parliament. The agreement provides that for every principal sum of £75 issued to a State Government under the agreement, one assisted . immigrant shall sail direct from the .United Kingdom to the State concerned, and be received into and satisfactorily settled in that State. If full advantage is taken of the money to be provided under the agreement, 450,000 new settlers must be absorbed within a period of ten years. I ask the Prime Minister, is it not true that the agreement operates as from 1922?
– That is not so.
– Does it not apply to migrants who have come to Australia since 1922?
– In the case of a migrant who sailed subsequent to 1922, if not more than five years have elapsed since his arrival in Australia, he can be placed on a farm under the scheme. We need not settle a migrant immediately he arrives.
– The commission proposed under this bill will be confronted with the job of arranging for the absorption of a large number of immigrants who are already here ; but I do not intend to go into that phase of the question at this juncture. Both parties in this Parliament agree that the population of Australia could be increased, but we strongly differ as to the means and the methods to be adopted. The Fisher Labour Government did more, by the erection of Australia House in London and by making available adequate funds for advertising Australia, to stimulate immigration than any other Government that had held office up to that time; but, then, unemployment was practically non-existent and prosperity generally manifest. Honorable members on this side of the chamber are sincere in their statements that this is not the time to stimulate migration to Australia. Developmental works should first be undertaken, and, to use a phrase which has become hackneyed by constant repetition, our own unemployed provided with work and hungry land-seekers born in Australia supplied with blocks on which to settle. I regret that the Government has not arranged for a general investigation by a royal commission or some other authority to ascertain how best to solve those pressing problems, and the best means to bring about an agreement between the various interests and parties concerned. Migration is admittedly unpopular in Australia because for years past migrants who, it was thought, would engage in agricultural pursuits have entered into direct competition with the workers in secondary industries. Many employers actually give preference to migrants when vacancies occur in their works. When unemployment is so prevalent, it is not surprising to find wage-earners regarding migration schemes of this character as a direct menace to their welfare. I listened with a great, deal of interest to the speech of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), who, in the matter of immigration, has devoted many years to the service of the Government and his country. Whatever our criticisms of his opinions may be, we admit that he possesses a wealth of knowledge on the subject. I frankly confess, however, that I was disappointed with the speech of the honorable member, who discussed the question from the viewpoint of his party. An analysis of his speech shows that he damned this bill with faint praise. The honorable member suggested that development should precede migration, but he is supporting a measure the very basis of which is that migration shall precede development.
– Not at all.
– Provision is made in this agreement for the absorption of a certain number of migrants over a fixed period of years, regardless of the progress of developmental schemes. That will naturally create chaos. Developmental work should first be undertaken as the honorable member for Henty suggested; but the first to be absorbed should be our own unemployed workers. The honorable member for Henty did not criticize the Government’s proposals as fully as he seemed to desire, principally because an agreement had already been entered into with the British Government. If the honorable member had unburdened himself of .his experience of developmental and land settlement problems he could have given the House some valuable information. The inference to be drawn from the honorable member’s remarks is that, in tackling this problem, the Government should have been more careful concerning the conditions under which the loan from the British Government is to be raised. The honorable member in that statement endeavoured to placate public opinion, because we have unemployed in our midst, and developmental works should be undertaken before any. arrangement is entered into for the absorption of a large number of British migrants.
– The honorable member should recognize that not a penny of the £34,000,000, proposed to be raised, need be taken up, and that the States need not be under any obligation until it has been shown by investigation that developmental schemes will increase our power of absorption.
– The States will have power to use the money to be raised. If some of the States, which are in need of financial assistance, accept the offer they must be prepared to settle migrants.
– Four of the States which have signed the agreement are controlled by Labour Governments. .
– Yes; but that does not affect the position. I do not intend to criticize the action of State Labour Governments any more than the honorable member for Henty criticized the Government of which he is a supporter. The States may be hard pressed for money, and may have excellent reasons for accepting the offer. The fact that the proposal has not been unanimously accepted by the States will be a big factor in making it unworkable. Further, I submit that the manner in which this agreement has been negotiated is calculated to lead to confusion. No one can prophesy . the result of its operation. The Government propose to establish an elaborate and expensive organization which will add- to the confusion already caused by. the existence of so many boards and authorities, the operations of which are not in any way coordinated. The Tariff Board is inquiring into the needs of secondary industries, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research is investigating the difficulties of industries, and the proposed Migration Commission will be handling problems similar to those into which the two authorities I have mentioned are inquiring. Unless action is taken to coordinate these various activities considerable confusion will arise. There is no need to establish an elaborate organization of this nature. The first duty of the Government is to reduce unemployment to an absolute minimum, and to allow the States themselves to deal with the problem of migration and land settlement with its accompanying financial obligations. The fact that there are four parties to the agreement will ultimately prove that “ too many cooks spoil the broth.” In this instance the Imperial Government, which is loaning the money, has detailed its officers to supervise expenditure, and to see that the obligations entered into are faithfully carried out. Mr. Amery is to scrutinize every item of expenditure on behalf of the British Government. The Commonwealth Government, which is to distribute the money, will be responsible for its proper expenditure and repayment. The Migration Commission will possess sufficient power to override the authority of State Governments and in effect can impede the carrying out of the policy of this Parliament.
Lastly, the State Governments will be charged with the responsibility of settling migrants on the land. Who is. to settle disputes ? Each party under this agreement has certain powers and certain rights of veto. No attempt has been made to place full responsibility upon any authority; and until that is done no one will be to blame. There will be a repetition of the chaos mentioned by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) in connexion with the administration of the War Service Homes Department. We have had experience in the past of bureaucracies, actuated by the highest possible motives, which have embarked upon ambitious schemes on which millions of pounds are being wasted. The persons to be appointed to the proposed commission may be estimable gentlemen, possessing the highest possible qualifications, but they will lack that responsiveness to public opinion and sense of responsibility which rests in Parliament. The best way to ensure efficiency in handling any great problem, including that of migration, is by providing for Ministerial responsibility, which is the basis of our political system. In establishing these numerous authorities, the Government has practically deprived Parliament of the right to consider any subject. The Government is appointing boards to control various important undertakings, and if only one or two more are appointed the doors of Parliament might very well be closed. Whatever the qualifications possessed by the persons to be appointed to this commission, the limelight of public opinion will not be directed upon them. They will not be responible to public opinion as is the Government and the Parliament. It is the mistakes of a government which checks the operations of the policy - too many mistakes lead to political disaster. The honorable member for Wannon said that when administering the War Service Homes Department he was controlled by a bureaucracy for which the Government of which he was a member was responsible; but he was unable to check the mistakes made.
Silting suspended from 12.59 to 2.15 p.m.
– It would appear that whenever it is in doubt, or is con fronted with a difficult problem, the Government resorts to the expedient of appointing another commission. My principal objection to the agreement is that the money is to be borrowed, and migrants brought here before a proper scheme for their absorption has been decided on. In this connexion the question of the limit of Australia’s capacity to absorb migrants arises. According to the Commonwealth Year-Booh, the rate of increase of population in Australia is greater than that of any other country. Then there is the problem of finding markets for our produce, which was referred to by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), and has frequently been mentioned by the Prime Minister. We have subsidies, bounties, and boards of control in connexion with our various products, all with a. view to finding markets for them, but these are not coordinated by one controlling authority. This bill should have been deferred until more normal conditions had been reached, and unemployment reduced to a minimum. In ordinary circumstances Australia requires agricultural migrants, but should they come here - and at present, we have the utmost difficulty in obtaining them - we could not find markets for their production. There is no necessity to stimulate migration in order to develop our secondary industries. As labour is required, it can be obtained, as it has been obtained in the past in connexion with new industries, by importing it, when local labour has not been available. Agriculturists in Great Britain have near at hand a market for their products. That fact, coupled with the long distance separating Australia from England, does not make Australia alluring to these persons. I desire to see agricultural migrants come from Great Britain, when we are in a position to receive them, but the statistics for the past few years show clearly that we are not getting them. While I do not want to see American conditions repeated in Australia, it is undoubtedly a fact that much of the prosperity of the United States of America and of continental countries is attributable to their large peasant population, who produce for their own needs, and do not look abroad for markets for their products. To a great extent, they live on a communal basis.
They buy manufactured goods, but they have no difficulty in finding markets. I am not advocating that we should bring people of that class here; but, if Australia had a large peasant class, the problem of finding markets for her produce would not be so pronounced as it is now. The Government should give more attention to the mental development of migrants. In spite of the explanation given by the Minister for Markets anl Migration (Mr. Paterson) recently, in reply to a question by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook), the problem of the mentally-defective migrant is f. serious one, and should be thoroughly investigated. It is true that, as a result of the visit of the present Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse) to England two or three years ago, there has been a more rigid medical examination of migrants; but still greater attention should be given to mental condition. The Government of the United ‘ States of America has placed the control of migration and labour under one authority, with the result that overlapping and confusion have been reduced to a minimum. Mr. Davis, the Secretary of the Department of Labour, with whom I have been in correspondence on a number of occasions, in 1923 submitted to the President a report in which he referred to the problem of the mental development of migrants. He pointed to the enormous percentage of alien mental defectives who were in the asylums and gaols of the country, and a charge on the American people. Most of them entered America before restrictions had been placed on immigration. That report is worthy of the careful consideration of honorable members.
– They were not Government migrants.
– No. So far as I know - I speak subject to correction by the honorable member for Henty - the United States of America has never found it necessary to assist migrants. The natural prosperity of that country and its proximity to Europe have been sufficient attractions.
– And also the fact that the fare from Europe is £5 only.
– Although I have referred to the peasant class as a means of increasing population and of over coming the difficulty of finding markets, I should be loth to see Australia inundated with foreign migrants. I want to see our British stock maintained. I would like to think that Australia’s future population will be composed, for the most part, of supermen, both physically and mentally. Mr. Davis, in his report, said -
The magnitude of the problem of the alien in America, both as it affects America and as it affects the alien, was clearly demonstrated by the reports of the last census. We have a total white population of 94,820,915, of which number 58,421,957 are of native-born parentage. Of the remainder, 15,694,539 are of foreignborn parentage, that is, both parents were born abroad; 6,991,665 are of mixed parentage, that is, one parent was born abroad; and 13,712,754 are foreign-born. This means that we have 36,398,958 who, in the present or past generation, are or have been linked with a foreign allegiance. The figures are even more striking when we consider our urban population. There are 24,556,729 native-born whites of native parents in our cities. But there are 26,063,355 whites of foreign birth or foreign stock in these cities, and of these 10,356,983 are foreignborn. Of our nearly 14,000,000 foreign-born whites, less than half are naturalized citizens.
The experience of the United States of America in connexion with migrant; shows that southern Europeans, who constitute the bulk of the migrants who have entered that country during the past 30 or 40 years, are migratory in the true sense of that word. They come, and they go; they make their money, and then they leave the country in which it was made. We must consider all these factors in attempting to build up a great nation in the Pacific. It is interesting to note that the great increase of population in the United States of America during the past 106 years has been chiefly the result of natural increase. Between 1820 and 1923 its population increased as the result of migration by 35,000,000, but of that number only 8,000,000 were from Great Britain. In one year only during the past 36 years has the number of migrants from Great Britain to the United States of America exceeded 100,000. A great number of them went from Ireland, some to escape living tinder the British flag, and others because of economic conditions. The problem of inducing British migrants to come here and satisfactorily absorbing them requires the attention of super experts if the best results are to be obtained. Aus- tralia has not the advantages and potentialities of the United States of America, which is much nearer to the European market. “When in England I took the opportunity to observe conditions there. I also visited the United States of America. I agree with the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) that people are deterred from coming here, not only by the amount of the fare, but by the great distance which would separate them from their kinsfolk in England. Geographically, the United States of America stands to Great Britain in much the same position as New Zealand stands to Australia. The failure to discover oil in Australia, and other considerations, have contributed to our difficulties in dealing with this problem. The only potent argument that has been advanced in favour of stimulating migration is that Australia is in a defenceless position; but as that has been effectively dealt with by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) and other honorable members on this side, I shall say no more than that, in my opinion, we need not fear aggression bv any other nation. With the Prime Minister’s statement that Australia is in no immediate danger I heartily agree. The Government should have waited until conditions had again become normal and the world’s trade balance was restored before proceeding in the direction indicated by this bill. We have not yet returned to the conditions which existed before the war. The world is still disorganized, and in a state of flux and ferment. Until European conditions are more settled than they are at present there is no possibility of stabilizing markets, or of developing on a permanent basis our overseas trade. The argument that population is needed to provide for our defence is fallacious.
– Would not an increased population assist our defence?
– We have no reason to fear that any other nation will in the immediate future act aggressively towards Australia. Our ability to absorb a greater population is met by our natural increase, and the normal rate of migration to this country. Reference has been made to our trade with the United States of America. There is room for development in that direction. Australia’s
Commissioner in New York is doing good work, despite the ignorance of the people of that country regarding Australia. That ignorance is certainly gradually being overcome, but, at the same time, I think the Government ought to give more publicity to Australia in America with a view to inducing American firms to establish branch factories here, and Americans generally to invest their surplus funds in Australia. I was astounded at the ignorance of Australia even among well-educated people in America. I found, in conversation with the sophomores at the Columbia University, New York, whom I addressed on Australia, that despite their education and culture, they were very ignorant concerning this country. For the expansion of our trade we depend to a great extent upon the knowledge that other countries have of our possibilities, and the Government would be well advised to give more attention to the matter of giving even greater publicity to Australia in America. While I was in London some years ago, I had the opportunity of reading a book called The Opportunity in Australia, written by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett). It is a book well written in that graphic style which the honorable member has always displayed as a journalist, but I do not agree with some of the conclusions arrived at. One amazing feature in the foreword of the book, which should be. a big factor in inducing Americans to settle in Australia, is the observation “ It is no use blinking the fact that the temptations to drink in Australia are many and great.” I do not accuse the honorable member for Henty of having written that, but I think he should not have allowed it to be incorporated in his book. It is a phrase that is calculated to induce an undesirable type of immigrant.
– The honorable member knows that I did not write that, and he might as well say who did write it.
– This comment was written by Lord Chelmsford, who supplied the introduction to the book. Lord Chelmsford also wrote -
Let me protest here against the habit too common in England of sending ont young men to Australia who have a tendency to drink.
I think that protest should also be extended to the migration of those who have committed crimes. The Government should strongly protest against the tendency of many English authorities to send persons of the criminal type to Australia. I read the book of the honorable member for Henty with a great deal of pleasure, and I commend it to honorable members. It is useful in supplying would-be settlers with a knowledge of the conditions prevailing in Australia. But it exposes the . very foundation of the economic difficulties we must face in any land settlement policy. The honorable member, speaking of his own early days on a farm, says -
Our block, like the rest of agricultural land in northern Victoria, was taken up from the Crown at 20s. an acre, payable in twenty years. . . . The land had in ten years advanced in value to about £3 an acre.
I presume it has gone on advancing in value; it is that inflation of land values which is the principal obstacle to land settlement in Australia to-day. The honorable member paints the following beautiful picture of his early life: -
What climbs we had up those kindly great plough-horses’ legs to ride home from the paddocks at night ! What blisters on our tender little feet ! What appetites for the cold mutton, which, month in and out, awaited us for our tea ! What depth of unbroken sleep, and what rubbing of eyes when awakened in the darkness of those winter mornings !
No doubt the honorable member has painted an accurate picture in his book, but it is one which is not calculated to induce many migrants from cities to undertake agricultural pursuits. In conclusion, I wish to say that I am against the agreement, because now, when there is a large number of unemployed already in Australia, is not the time to stimulate immigration; because our first duty is to provide land for our own land-hungry citizens, and work for our own unemployed; and because the scheme will be costly. The fact that there must be a lack of coordination among the multifarious authorities who will be charged with a portion of the responsibility for inducing immigration, will render it largely unsatisfactory, and must ultimately cause it to break down.
.- I do not think that the workers of Aus tralia are as unpatriotic and as unmindful of the interests of their own country as one would be led to believe they are from the remarks of honorable members opposite. Every honorable member opposite has commenced his speech by saying that Australia needs more population, and can stand a great deal more development; and has then proceeded, in the name of the workers of Australia, either to damn this bill with faint praise or absolutely condemn it. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) opposes the bill because he considers it is putting the cart before the horse, and because it is placing the responsibility for the administration of immigration beyond the reach of Parliament. Every honorable member opposite who followed him has spoken in the same strain. While declaring that more population is necessary, and that the Commonwealth’s power of absorption can be stimulated, each has protested that Australia lacks the capacity for great development to enable it to carry a larger population than it has at present. Boiled down, the argument of honorable members Opposite is that our working classes are so satisfied with their economic conditions that they do not want more immigrants. I hope I am not doing an injustice to this bill, but that is how I interpret the attitude of honorable members opposite. I presume that the Leader of the Opposition, in saying that the Government is putting the cart before the horse, suggests that the proper method is to set up elaborate machinery for settling the people on the land, and then arrange to borrow the money afterwards. I think that the best idea is to make certain of the amount required, and then get to work. The honorable member reminded me of the absent-minded but scientific farmer who installed a small saw-mill on his plantation to cut his own shooks for his pineapple cases, and made all sorts of other elaborate preliminary arrangements, but neglected to plant any pineapples. The honorable member’s suggestion that we should not hand over the powers of Parliament to an outside body is tantamount to saying that Parliament should directly control the delivery of mails, or carry out all sorts of functions of that type, which it would be absurd, even if it were possible, for
Parliament to do. It is quite sufficient for Parliament to exercise an overseeing jurisdiction, retaining the power of veto or approval of the operations of persons who are actually carrying on these activities on its behalf. The honorable member for Yarra, (Mr. Scullin) told “the House that the £34,000,000 would come to Australia in the form of goods. In that statement he was supported by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) and others. He went on to say that the cause of unemployment in Australia was the importation of goods, and that Australia had suffered for years from the floods of imports. He was quite correct in making that statement; but it is equally true that if the workers and consumers of Australia would decline to buy other than. Australian goods the inrush of imported goods would promptly cease. People import only when there is a market for what they import. For years past, we have had Labour Governments in five out of six of the States. The total indebtedness of the States is £603,000,000. Of this amount £80,876,000 has been borrowed within the Commonwealth, £21,900,000 from the Commonwealth Bank, and the balance has been raised overseas. During the last four years, the States have increased their indebtedness overseas to the extent of £128,486,795. These State Labour Governments ought to be roundly condemned by honorable members opposite, inasmuch as they have been the chief offenders in the matter of importing goods. It is their borrowing which has rendered possible the great influx of goods so deeply de- plored by the honorable member for r That honorable member also told us that in his electorate there were two or three families living in one house; but he did not tell us that this was partly due to the high cost of building, or that the bich cost of building is due to the fact that some bricklayers have the mistaken idea that if they go slow on the job, and do half a day’s work for a full day’s pay, they will make a job for another bricklayer. Unfortunately they only succeed in making building so expensive that people will not build houses, and consequently they ultimately lose their own jobs.
– I answered that argument by saying that the great bulk of the houses to which I was referring were built before any living bricklayer was born.
– That may be true; but these people are bound to occupy old houses, because the bricklayers to-day are not building new ones. I agree with the honorable member for Yarra that we must develop our secondary industries; but the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) wants us to guarantee markets before we introduce immigrants. One would suppose that a market could be picked up in the same way as a gold mine can be discovered. We cannot go out with a prospecting pick, and if we see something which we think is likely material, tap it with a pick, sound it, and declare it to be a market. Markets are not found readymade in that way; they must be built up. The only way in which we can build up a market is to stimulate the primary and secondary industries of the country, and produce at a reasonable cost; but that cannot be done unless we have industrial peace. There is at present not much inducement for any one to put money into industries, or even to advance money to them.. A great deal of money has been spent in Australia iu industrial fights. If a small percentage of that money were invested by the workers in the corporations and companies by which they are employed, they would share in the profits, and place themselves in the position of the miners of Charters Towers, Cloncurry, and the other northern fields, who share in the prosperity of the industry by buying shares in the mines, having a say in the. management, attending the meetings of the companies, and becoming personally interested in the success of the enterprises, while at the same time drawing their wages. The result of this system has been industrial peace and greater efficiency, and a record of satisfactory work which has encouraged other individuals to invest money in the mining industry. This has led to development in this industry, which was speculative, and did not offer the surety of return that is common to most commercial enterprises in Australia to-day. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) both said that we ought to settle our own people on the land, and I agree with them. We could do it, and do it well. . It would be a good thing if we could advertise throughout Australia that the Government was prepared to receive applications from Australians or immigrants now in Australia to settle on the land, and that it would give them the same facilities and assistance that are offered to newly-arriving immigrants from overseas. We could then weed from the applicants those who were not suited for farming work, leaving a substantial residuum of men used to the country and its conditions, and who had obtained their experience in Australia. There are at the present time in Australia large areas of Crown lands open for selection on reasonable terms. If any honorable member desires information on this subject, I undertake to obtain for him inside of a week from 250 to 300 pages of descriptive matter with respect to agricultural farms of good sizes, and in suitable areas in Queensland, on which a man could obtain a comfortable living, provided that he were of the right type. It has been said that a man settling on the land wants to have regard for his animals, and to have an interest in his work, and that he should be prepared to sit up at night nursing a sick pig to save its life. If a settler has his heart in his work, he does not need much capital. Men of that type do not make failures of land settlement. Honorable members have said that it requires from £2,000 to £3,000 to settle a man on the land, but I know of men who started on the land with about £200. They made good, and are now wealthy. These men took up miners’ homestead leases, now called miners’ homestead perpetual leases, which entitled them to 640 acres, costing not more than £20 in the initial stages, and, in later years, an annual payment of £8. They built their homes, sunk wells, and gradually bought their stock and plant. They engaged in mixed farming, and produced maize, cotton, citrus fruits, grapes, pigs, and poultry. A good worker can make a handsome living in Queens land. I know one man, a Mr. Griffiths, who years ago took up a farm at Charters Towers. After his initial expenditure, he did not have £50 in ready money. He has reared six children, and is now making more than £1,000 a year. When he went on the land he had had no farming experience. He was originally a wood cutter and carter, and he decided that the only way in which he could improve his position in life was to take up land.
– Most of our original settlers were not farmers.
– They accepted the doctrine of work. There are many such cases. I know a family, Australianborn, who settled at Pentland. Practically all the sons went to the war, but I am sorry to say that not all of them returned. They settled on the land without capital, but they had big hearts, brains, and grit, and eventually made a success of farming. They struggled through their bad times, determined to win, and they did. I agree that we should settle our own people on the land. We should stimulate settlement of our own people on the land by giving suitable applicants the same facilities that we offer to immigrants from abroad. I know there are thousands of men who would be only too glad to take up land under such conditions. They are the right type, and would make a success of farming. By increasing production in that way,we could absorb many migrants in the cities, and thus create more markets and more employment. Honorable members opposite take the attitude that the Nationalists are the enemies of the working class, their one desire being to beat them to the dust, and to reduce their wages and standard of living. Yet, when speaking on this bill, they seem to think that it is only right that the Nationalist Government and its supporters should stimulate production, and develop Australia, and to reap the reward for the working class without any effort on their part. That doctrine is wrong, and I am quite satisfied that the workers themselves do not believe in it. They are quite willing to work to assist the development of this country. I expected a more helpful criticism of this measure from honorable members opposite. It is essential that, in order to increase development, we should construct more roads and railways. I agree with the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) that when people are out of work, they should be employed on road construction rather than be given a dole. There is plenty of scope in Australia for absorbing them on this work, but it is largely a matter for State administration and control. If the State Governments would accept their responsibilities, and live up to a quarter of the promises that they have made, we should have a better state of affairs in Australia to-day. In 1913 Mr. Theodore, the then Leader of the Opposition in the Queensland Parliament, said that with a Labour Government in office for two years one workman out of work would amount to a condemnation of Labour’s policy. What do we find ? Under a Liberal administration the out-door relief payment was under £8,000, but the year before last, under a Labour administration, the payment was £2S0,000. I believe that when’ the Labour party came into power in Queensland it honestly believed that it could improve conditions, but for the last five years it has known full well that the evil of unemployment has become worse.
– What does out-door relief mean?
– It means an enormous army of unemployed.
– That answer will not do.
– The honorable member is right, it does not do. The dole system should be discontinued, and also the practice of telling the workers that it is their duty to fight their employers, to strangle their industries, and, at the same time, demand higher wages for a lower output. If we get away from that idea, and if the working people are allowed by their leaders . to accept their responsibilities, which I am sure they are ready to do, we shall soon have a different state of affairs. The system of piecework is opposed by the Labour leaders, but those who are working under that system are earning good money, and are glad to do it. The shearers, the sugar workers, and some mine workers are employed under that system. Their output is satisfactory, their health is not injured, and by making good wages they are in a position of economic independence. We must adopt the system of piecework if we are to put our house in order. Up to the present we have not made a success of immigration, and if previous* Parliaments have failed in this respect, surely it is time that we tried other methods. The bill proposes a new method, and I therefore welcome it. We must have an economic survey of the position. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) stated that the appointment of a commission would cause an overlapping of authority, but I do not agree with him. I think that the commission will consist of men with sufficient brains to co-operate with other authorities, and to evolve, eventually, an effective immigration scheme. Much has been said on this bill from a defence point of view. I shall not labour that subject, because the gallantry of the Australians in the field has long been proved. So far as I am aware we are not making munitions or implements of warfare that would be effective in our own defence, but the development of our secondary industries will enable us to advance somewhat in that direction. I hope that we shall never need to use our secondary industries for defence purposes, but at least we should have the capacity to do so. Referring particularly to the provisions of the bill, I find that clause 14 provides that the Commonwealth shall not approve of any undertaking or scheme proposed by a State under the principal agreement unless it has been recommended by the commission for approval. Sub-clause 7 of clause 5 states that at any meeting of the commission two commissioners shall form a quorum. Under those circumstances it would appear that two commissioners sitting together could veto any proposition made by a State, and I welcome the statement of the Prime Minister that it is intended to amend clause 14. Everything that can be regarded as essential in the development of Australia is covered by the agreement in paragraph a of sub-clause 1 of clause 1. Part of that clause states -
The State Governments, will be invited by the Commonwealth Government to submit to them full details of any undertakings proposed.
Unless clause 14 is amended, two commissioners will be able, to administer the whole of this legislation. I therefore welcome the proposed amendment of clause 14, and I hope that it will take somewhat of the form suggested by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes). Under clause 3 of the agreement, the Commonwealth agrees that the Secretary of State may appoint a representative to act with the Commonwealth Government in connexion with all undertakings under the agreement. I would be grateful if the Prime Minister would give to the House some information regarding the nature of such representation, and how the British representative will function. Doubtless, that has been adequately provided for. This bill is a definite and desirable effort to stimulate the immigration of our own kith and kin. There is room for them in Australia, and their happiness and prosperity are assured. In helping to bring them here and establish them on the land we shall be making for the greater glory of the flag under which we live, and the Empire of which we are proud to be nationals. This scheme will be beneficial, not only to the people already in Australia and those in the Old Land, but also to civilization at large.. I am not unmindful of the fact that Australia has a wonderful record of development, but it can do better. We have an enormous export trade and a too-large import trade, but I believe that by organized development of our resources, and a regulated inflow of population, we can double, treble, and even quadruple our sales .overseas, to the greater advantage of Australia and the Empire.
.- For the last twenty years, in this and the Victorian Parliaments, I have listened to speeches similar in spirit and verbiage to that which has just been delivered by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis). Repeatedly I have heard members relate in glowing terms how this country can be populated and developed, but each big influx of immigrants has produced the same sad and distressing conditions. Nowadays, one cannot pick up a daily newspaper without reading of some immigrant who has committed a crime or is out of work. In Victoria, hundreds of immigrants are unemployed. Talk of how to settle people on the land is cheap. Everybody must be aware of the difficulties that have to be contended with - notably the landlordism and the large amount of capital required to establish a man upon the land. Those facts are carefully concealed from the immigrants. What has been the history of forced land settlement in Victoria A number of Anglo-Indian officers wore settled a few years ago in the Western District. Most of them started with from £300 to £1,000 in ready capita], and some had pensions up to £300 per annum for three years. Yet, notwithstanding their monetary advantages, their gratuities, and allowances, and the fact that they were able to buy sheep at remarkably low prices, fully 10 per cent, of them have been driven off the land. In some districts they cannot get a pennyworth of credit.
– The principal trouble is that the land is over-capitalized.
– It is. That is the point I want to make, because that evil will continue under this bill.
– The failures are due to the folly of placing inexperienced new chums on the land.
– Many of these settlers are in arrears with their obligations, and fully 10 per cent, of them have left their blocks after four years’ occupation. The Government placed many returned soldiers on the land, but every one who wanted to be a primary producer was not accepted. A soldier applicant for land in Victoria had to undergo examination by a board of experts as to his knowledge of how to work land, and had to get a qualifying certificate. Yet, notwithstanding that all the soldier settlers were presumably qualified for rural occupations, hundreds are hopelessly insolvent to-day, and when their abandoned holdings are sold up by the Lands Department, the incoming tenants have to pay between £400 and £1,000 for accumulated arrears. Not 10 per cent, of the returned soldiers have met their obligations to the Closer Settlement Board.’ The municipalities and Roads Boards are generally hard up for money, and they have incurred a great deal of extra expenditure in providing roads for the soldier settlers. Yet hardly one has paid any of the rates due to the local governing authorities. Nearly all the returned soldiers engaged in mixed farming, dairying, and the production of dried fruits have failed. In the growing, of sheep and. wheat, a few have been successful. A circular issued by the producers of dried fruits says that with a production cost of £28 12s. per ton they are losing £6 7s. 8d. on every ton of fruit. We have heard sorrowful tales told of the dairy farmers - how they and their children work long hours on seven days in the week, and yet make less than the basic wage. Admittedly, the dairy farmers are not meeting with great success; and neither are the producers of dried fruit and citrus fruits, or those engaged in mixed farming.
– On what are we all living?
– The honorable member will not deny the pitiable conditions of the returned soldiers and the failure of many of the Anglo-Indian settlers. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) spoke of the fortunes made out of the production of wheat. Honorable members opposite omit to mention the fact that those fortunes were made during the war at the cost of the lives of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, because the war was the cause of the high price of wheat. Notwithstanding the depressing stories we hear of the economic condition of Russia, the fact remains that that country has ordered 200,000 tractors, and that probably next year its production of wheat will exceed the prewar total. If that prediction is verified, the price of wheat in the world’s markets will drop considerably. Only the men engaged in the growing of wheat and sheep in Australia are making a success on the land, and the outlook for the wheat-grower is not re-assuring. The honorable member for Corio interjected that the failure of the Anglo-Indian settlers was due to the over capitalization of the land. That is partly true, and it is one of the reasons why I oppose the scheme which the Government has submitted. Too many .of these migration projects have failed. Flag-waving, lipservice patriots may profess to love their country so dearly that they desire the population to be increased in order to ensure the safety of the country and increase production, but their secret objective is to sell their land to the Government at high prices, regardless of what happens to the men who settle upon it. Instead of borrowing millions of pounds to bring people from abroad to settle on our lands, the Government should devote its attention to assisting, the returned soldiers and Anglo-Indians who are struggling to make a living from the soil. Their position is deplorable.
Reading this bill, and listening to the speeches of the honorable members opposite, a stranger would think that every man settled on the land’ was making good. The reverse is the case, and our first duty is to put our house in order, and ensure the success of people who are already on the land. Some honorable members have contended that we should adopt this scheme in order to assist Great Britain. I am opposed to that idea. Great Britain is one of the richest nations in the world, thanks to the enormous wealth produced by the working classes, but monopolized by a few. The British people created their own difficulties. Australia did not cause unemployment in Great Britain, and if we were to take 5,000,000 of her people to-morrow, the problem of unemployment would recur there within ten years unless, in the meantime, the existing social conditions were changed. What are British statesmen doing to cope with their country’s difficulties? The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) told us that they are not attempting to solve the problem, but are telling the people that all will be well because they are arranging for Australia to take and find work for the Old Country’s surplus population. They advance no scheme for the settlement of their people on their native soil. One would imagine that England is a hungry country whose soil will produce nothing. If British statesmen would subdivide and settle the lands of Great Britain, if they would show more regard for human beings than for deer and the game preserves of a few wealthy Americans, the British people would be in a better position to solve their own industrial problem. With all Britain’s wealth and resources, the only solution of the coal crisis that has resulted from weeks of discussion, is that the coal-miners shall work an extra hour per day. I would that some of the conservative politicians and mine-owners had to work in the mines.- Students of the coal problem know that extra working hours will not provide a remedy for the present uneconomic conditions of the industry. For many years the owners of the mines, instead of keeping their properties in repair and up to date, have been starving them in order to draw increased dividends. The result is that the mines are not in a condition to compete economically against coal produced on the Continent of Europe. A few landed proprietors in Britain are drawing immense royalties; but when the unfortunate coal miners ask for fair treatment, they are immediately told to submit calmly to a reduction in wages and an increase in the hours of their employment. When I was in France, I picked up the London Daily Mail one morning, and read a speech ‘by Mr. Lloyd George, who appealed for the unity of the Empire. He said to the trade unionists, “You have the destinies of this Empire in your hands. When the war is over, make it a land fit for heroes to live in.” But the authorities in Great Britain have made England a land fit for heroes to leave. Those who fought for the Empire are now advised to leave their native country and try their luck in the dominions. Members of the Labour party have no illfeeling toward those who come to Australia from Great Britain. We do not desire to keep Australia a close preserve for those already here ; but I strongly protest against bringing out immigrants when there is land hunger in Australia, and when many of the people already settled in rural life find it impossible to make a success of their holdings. For -practically all our primary products, we have insufficient markets. Instead of encouraging our secondary industries, thus reducing our imports, and providing home markets for those settled on the land, this bill will simply increase the value of the land held by the wealthy class, and help to. build up city interests. It would be impossible to find homes to-day for 100 new families in Melbourne, since there are no vacant houses. Is it surprising that the working classes are opposed to assisted migration? Only a fortnight ago, a factory not 7 miles distant from Melbourne dismissed between 400 and 500 employees within two or three months, owing, it was alleged, to a shortage of work. But on a certain Saturday, seven immigrants arrived from the Old Country, and on the following Monday four of them were given employment in that factory. It would be expecting too much of human nature to ask the workers to approve of a scheme that would mean to many of them displacement in their employment by new arrivals from overseas. I have no faith in the claim of the Ministerial party that a large population would solve all our industrial and other problems. The troubles of older lands that have had large populations for many years are even greater than those of Australia.
– No one has suggested that increased population will solve every problem.
– It has been said repeatedly. We are told that if we had a population of 12,000,000, all would be well with Australia. All might be well with the owners of large tracts of land, valuable city blocks, and the city newspapers. A few of the professional classes are strong advocates of assisted migration. If 100 lawyers from abroad, with qualifications equal to those of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), were suddenly landed in the streets of Melbourne, there would be opposition from the union of legal men to which he belongs. The Government is prepared to grant facilities for settlement to people from abroad, while thousands of men in Australia are now looking for land. The tory premier of Victoria (Mr.. Allan) stated, in the first instance, that he would have nothing to do with the Government’s migration scheme; he said that there was no land in Victoria on which more people could be settled. He told the truth then ; but later, when pressure was brought to bear upon him, he signed the migration agreement. It is not surprising that our railway fares and freights are high when we see trains running through vast tracts of unoccupied country. Along the railway lines between Melbourne and Ballarat - both via Bacchus Marsh and via Geelong - there are large tracts of practically unoccupied country. The owners of that land have no desire to see human settlement upon it. Their only wish is to retain the land for any purposes for which they care to use it. If land were available at a fair price, there would be room for the successful settlement throughout the Western District of Victoria of millions of people; but until the land laws are radically altered - particularly those of Victoria - there is not much chance of bringing about closer settlement. I should be unfaithful to my electorate if I cast a silent vote on this bill. The Government is prepared to do for people coming from abroad what it is not willing to do for Australians. If the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) desires to increase the population of this country, he should look after the workers, and see that the landless are given an opportunity to make a success of rural life. That would be the best advertisement Australia could have. Once we let the world know that there is a good chance of earning a comfortable living on the soil here, immigrants will come to Australia of their own free will, and without assistance, as they did in the early days, when they braved uncharted seas. Thousands of them, risking all, came out in the old “ wind-jammers “ ; but they were men and women of the right type. They thought that, beneath the Southern Cross, there was an opportunity to earn a livelihood under decent conditions. “We did not see their names in the police court records, as we do those of new arrivals to-day. A clergyman connected with one of our charitable institutions recently deplored the fact that 19 per cent, of those who obtained chari-j table relief had arrived in the country only within the last couple of years. The right class of people will come here at their own expense if they know that they will have a chance to go on* the land and work for themselves, instead of having to spend practically a lifetime for the benefit of existing land owners. I do not believe that a large population is necessary for the defence of Australia. This country is in no immediate danger. The honor-, able member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) voiced a number of vague generalities.He did not want to see immigrants brought here if it meant putting Australians out of work. He did not want settle-‘ ment if our own people could not obtain land ; but he wanted a large population so that the country could be defended. He also said that there was no yellow peril. His speech was full of inconsistencies. I do not believe that there is any danger of war in the near future. The human race is much more intelligent than it was 50 years ago. I have no fear of the Japanese, and I deplore the fact that many honorable members on the Ministerial side mentioned Japan as as a possible attacker of this country. During the great war, Japan was one of our most faithful allies, and since its conclusion she has been the first to respond to every proposal for disarmament. - She was one of the most cordial supporters of the Washington Conference. When other conferences have been proposed, she has been the first to acquiesce in them. If Australia minds her own business, and does not interfere with other powers, there will be no danger. But if trouble should arise, there are 600,000 Australians capable of bearing arms, and they will see that this country is defended. They will defend it at any cost. The Labour party advocates that the population should be increased by building up industrial and agricultural classes under prosperous conditions, and giving the people on the soil some interest in the land of their birth and adoption. If that policy is adopted no foreign foe will be able to take possession of Australia. But by the scheme now proposed, the Government will merely fill Australia with the derelicts of the Old Land, and impose extra taxation on the toilers of this country. It is useless to bring out immigrants in large numbers, give them a job in the city for a week or two, and then send them into the country to work for 30s. or 35s. per week for a month or two, after which they will be kicked out and driven back to the capital cities as derelicts. Is Australia expected to take as immigrants the victims of the capitalistic system of Great Britain? The maintenance of those persons should be a charge upon the capitalists of the Old Country, and not upon Australia. If the British working people are not wise enough to alter their social conditions, they must suffer for it; but we should be foolish if we permitted similar conditions to be perpetuated in Australia. I have little faith in the bill before us. Although the chairman and members .of the board may be gentlemen of a most estimable character, after a while they will become susceptible to the influence of the government of the day, and will do its bidding. Honorable members opposite adopt the view of the late Sir George Reid, who once said, “In the plenitude of time, when our millions shall become tens of millions, and when labour shall be cheap, then, and not till then, shall we become a great producing nation.”
The spirit responsible for that utterance still exists in Australia. There is still a class here which thinks that a large army of migrants should be introduced to break down our standards of living, and to add to the number of our land-hungry people. It is quite prepared to settle men on the land who, with their children, have to work eighteen hours a day for seven days a week to make a living; for it knows that the introduction of more land-seekers will increase land values, which is exactly what it desires. Honorable members opposite have said that no scheme of migration can succeed unless it has the hearty support of the Labour party. I assure them that honorable members on this side of the chamber will always be bitterly hostile to the policy of spending the money of our toilers in bringing people here to lower our standard of living. The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Abbott) may laugh; but I assure him that that is our fixed determination. We shall offer undying hostility to such a policy. The proposed migration commission will unquestionably do the bidding of the Government. I venture to say that if it were proposed to import wheat to compete with our locally-grown wheat, honorable members opposite would raise a terrible din; yet they expect us quietly to acquiesce in the introduction of migrants to compete with the unemployed in Melbourne for any work that may be available. I have lived among working people all my life, and I have met many unfortunate migrants; who have appealed to me for assistance. I have had far too much experience to be deceived into injuring our working class. We have toiled too long and arduously to build up our present standard of living from what it was in’ the days when men had to work for 30s. a week, aud some miners for 10s. a week, to stand idly by and see it broken down again. There is a section that holds the view that no country -can be great without a lowwage population, but such a condition of things shall not be brought about here if the hostility of Labour can prevent it. I have no objection to people coming to. Australia, of their own free will; but I am totally opposed to the policy of assisted migration. This commission will undoubtedly comply with the request of the employing interests which support the Government. If we approve of the scheme, we may put the five State Labour Governments in Australia in the position of being unable to give effect to what they consider to be a sound migration policy, and that will be most unfair. I shall vote against the second reading of the bill: If I had my way, I should fight every line of it, for I am totally opposed to spending the hardearned money of our working people in bringing migrants here to break down the conditions that now prevail.
– I shall not need- to occupy much time in replying to the debate, for a good deal of the opposition that has been offered to the bill is plainly due to a complete misunderstanding of it, and to a wrong conception of the intentions of the Government. The real proposals of the bill have not been indicted. General approval has been given to the view that it is highly desirable that Australia should be populated rapidly; but it has also been stated quite clearly that it would be a tragedy for us to embark upon any migration scheme which would be likely to destroy or impair our standards of living, which have been won after many years of effort, or to diminish the general prosperity of our people. I assure honorable members that the scheme involves nothing of that description, for -it may be carried on concurrently with the maintenance, and also with the ad- vancement of our existing standards. It is quite apparent that a good many honorable members altogether misunderstand the functions of the commission. . They have really based their remarks upon the agreement that was recently entered into with the British Government, and the supplementary agreements that have been entered into with some of the State Go- vernments. The bringing of people to Australia is a relatively unimportant part of these proposals, for they go much further than that. They open up the whole question of how we may best realize our ideals in populating and developing this greatcountry, and, at the same time, maintain the standard of living that our people now enjoy. It will be the task of the commission to consider the solution of this problem which is to-day exercising the minds of not only the . Commonwealth and State Governments, but of every thinking person in Australia also. I believe that it will do invaluable work in that connexion. It will render possible a measure of co-operation between the Commonwealth and ‘ State Governments which to-day is impracticable. Obviously the Commonwealth Government cannot be constantly calling the State Governments into conference to consider the lines along which our development shall advance. The commission will be entrusted with that duty, and I feel sure that it will have the hearty co-operation of all the State Governments in discharging it. The primary function of the commission is to examine our present position and the possible methods by which we can rapidly develop the Commonwealth, and to make recommendations on the matter. It has been suggested during the debate that because an agreement has been entered into with the British Government an automatic flow of migrants into Australia is certain until the whole £34,000,000 has’ been expended, and we have discharged our obligations in connexion with it; but that is not the position. In my speech in introducing the bill I stated that we had made it quite clear to Great Britain that we have no unlimited power to absorb migrants, and that’ we were determined not to create in this country an almost unsolvable problem of unemployment such as faces Great Britain today, yet were prepared to absorb as many British migrants as possible on lines which would not affect our standard of living. Under the agreement, the State Governments are authorized to submit developmental schemes to the commission for investigation, but are not under obligation to do so ; and I trust that any schemes that they submit will take into account their absorption power. The commission will investigate all the schemes that are submitted to it, and will recommend their adoption or otherwise; but its attitude, also, will be governed by the fundamental principle on which the agreement is . based, namely our absorption power. Australia will not be under any obligation to take migrants that she cannot absorb. I am sure that that will meet with the approval of every honorable member in the House. The subject of unemployment has been introduced frequently into the debate. Obviously, that is a very important matter which the commission will have to consider. It will have to determine whether there is unemployment in Australia of men who are willing to work; and, if so, how work may be provided for them. I have no doubt that it will make an early recommendation with the object of avoiding the depression that occurs from time to time, and make employment in Australia regular. It will, undoubtedly, consult the State Governments on that matter, and that will really be the starting point in its great task. It has been urged constantly during the debate that Ave should not flood Australia with migrants; but I remind honorable members opposite that at present there is no big government scheme in operation for bringing migrants here. The Dreadnought boys’ movement and others like it are afoot; but migrants, generally speaking, are only being introduced here at present under the nomination and requisition system. Before the Government can participate in a big policy of migration it must ensure that development is marching forward quickly enough to absorb new-comers immediately they arrive here.
– “Would it not be better to cease bringing people here until the commission has recommended methods of solving our own unemployment problem?
– The suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition that we should put a barrier round Australia and say that nobody should be brought into the country while we have a single unemployed person here is absurd.
– I did not suggest that.
– That is the only interpretation that can be put on the honorable member’s interjection. The very small number of migrants now coming to Australia are either nominated by friends or requisitioned by the States. I have no desire to introduce a political aspect into the debate, but five of the States have Labour Governments at present. The nomination and the requisition systems are controlled by the State Governments.
The Commonwealth Government is really in the position of an agent for them, if any such risk as has been suggested really existed, the State Governments would be able to guard against it. None of the things are happening which honorable members opposite fear. I can assure them that, if such a danger did present itself, I should be as ready as any individual in the community to take means to protect the community from it.
– There is an average of between 34,000 and 35,000 people arriving in Australia annually now.
– I should be as much opposed as anybody else to the introduction of migrants beyond the absorption power of the Commonwealth. It is to prevent that that the bill was introduced. This agreement, I suggest, is complementary to the work to be done by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. The purpose of that body is to consider and advise on problems in relation to industry, and it will be the duty of the proposed commission to consider generally all such problems associated with the general development of the Commonwealth, and especially to advise as to the best methods to be adopted for the absorption of migrants. Surely both of these institutions must commend themselves to honorable members. I venture to say that those who have spoken against the measure have done so because they have misunderstood the proposal. ‘ Every speech I have heard from them has been really in favour of the bill, although I cannot subscribe to some o? the views that have been put forward, as to what should be the correct attitude of the Government. All the arguments advanced by honorable members opposite as to how this problem of migration should be handled are arguments that could have been used by supporters of the bill. Consequently, it is not necessary that I should deal with that aspect of the subject at any greater length. The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. DuncanHughes) raised the .point whether the commission will control the migration of British subjects only, or migration generally. I think the honorable member was under a misapprehension. The commission will be concerned only with schemes designed to increase the absorption power of the Common wealth, and the machinery necessary for their adoption. It will have nothing whatever to do with the number of British or foreign migrants that may be brought to Australia. That phase of the migration policy will be controlled by the Commonwealth Government. Let us consider, first, the introduction of British migrants under the nomination or the requisition system. The commission will advise the Government with regard to the scheme, and will control the machinery to give effect to the Government’s proposals. The control of policy will be entirely in tha hands of the Ministry. Similarly, migration from countries outside the British Empire will be controlled, not by the commission, but by the Commonwealth. I think the position is now clearly understood by all honorable members. Another point was raised during the debate. It was suggested that ii> some way the commission would be able to override Parliament, and perhaps defeat the purpose of the bill. As drafted, clause 14 may be capable of that interpretation, but I wish to tell the House that no such intention was ever in the Government’s mind, so the redrafting of the clause should put the matter right. The intention is as I outlined it in my second-reading speech. The Government wishes to utilize the services of the commission to investigate migration schemes, and if, after an exhaustive inquiry, the commission came to the conclusion that a certain scheme was not likely to lead to substantial development, or to increase the absorption power of the Commonwealth, it would not be right that the Government should proceed with it, even though it might believe that the commission’s view was wrong. But it would always be open to Parliament to say whether it should be adopted.
– Would there be any obligation on the part of the Government to bring such a scheme before Parliament?
– If the Government believed in a scheme of which the commission did not approve, and desired its adoption, obviously it would submit it for the sanction of Parliament.
– What would be the position if a State Government objected to a scheme?
– That is a question which we can deal with at greater length in committee. It was stressed by several honorable members, including the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) and the honorable member for Boothby. I wish it to be clearly understood that the Government has no intention of preventing Parliament from expressing its opinion upon any scheme which has been approved or disapproved by the commission. This bill, I repeat, is a sincere effort to deal with what is probably the most complicated problem that has ever confrontedAustralia. I believe that, after a full consideration and with a complete understanding of the measure honorable members opopsite will realize that the Government’s intention is to organize schemes to increase progressively the absorption power of the . Commonwealth, and more rapidly to ensure its development, without destroying any of the standards which we have built up for ourselves.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma.
Message received from the Deputy of the Governor-General recommending certain amendments.
In committee (Consideration of the message of the Deputy of the GovernorGeneral) .
– I move. -
That the amendments recommended by His Excellency the Governor-General’s Deputy be agreed to. .
The procedure that is being followed in this instance is provided for by section 58 of the Constitution, and has been used on a number of occasions- for instance, with the Customs Tariff 1921. When a bill is presented to the GovernorGeneral for his assent, His Excellency asks the Attorney-General whether any amendments require to be recommended by him; and not until the AttorneyGeneral has certified that no amendments need be made does the Governor-General give his assent. The purpose of the procedure is to enable the draftsman, on a final perusal of a bill, tosuggest any formal corrections and consequential amendments that may be necessary as a result of amendments made by the committee, the necessity for which is often not apparent until a late stage in the progress of the bill through the two Houses, when, owing to the forms of parliamentary procedure, amendments may be difficult to make. The suggested amendments are now placed before the committee for its consideration. They have been recommended to the Governor-General, in the ordinary way, by the Attorney-General. None of them will alter the incidence of the tariff, for they are all directed at removing possible ambiguities, and making the intention of Parliament clear.
.- I cannot see anything in these proposed amendments to which objection can be taken’; but there is a possibility that they may impose additional duties.
– I give the honorable member my assurance that they do not.
– I do not wish to reflect on the honorable the Minister, but is such an assurance sufficient? He commenced by saying that he was submitting these amendments for the consideration of honorable members. They could have been placed on the notice-paper without detriment to any one. Their publication would not enable any one to evade duties by withdrawing goods from bond. Is there any special reason why the consideration of these amendments should not be deferred until Tuesday next? I have no objection to them provided they merely carry out the decisions of the Parliament; but honorable members ought to have an opportunity of perusing such legislation as this before being asked to give their approval to it. If the honorable the Minister will agree to postpone this matter until Tuesday, there will be nothing in the natureof obstruction from me.
– I give the honorable member my assurance that there is nothing new in the proposed amendments. The reason for asking the House to pass them this afternoon is that it is the intention of the Government, by the exercise of my powers under the Customs Act, to bring the new tariff into operation on Monday morning next, so that all the items which the Parliament decided should be admitted free shall be admitted free from Monday morning.
-What will be the effect of the proposed deletion of five lines from item 419?
– -There are two items imposing duties of 27½ per cent. British preferential, 35 per cent. intermediate, and 40 per cent. general on X-ray transformers, and one of them, being redundant, is proposed to be struck out.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
.- (By leave.) - For some years the Common wealth Government has been jointly engaged with the Governments of the cotton-growing States in guaranteeing prices for seed cotton based on the system of grading, and under this system the industry has made a beginning in Australia, particularly in Queensland. Australian-grown cotton meets with very strong competition overseas, except in the highest grades and qualities. For some time there has been dissatisfaction with the system of guaranteed prices. The Government decided last year to deal with this industry by means of a bounty, in the same way as are certain other industries. The question of the amount of the bounty, and the conditions under which it was to be paid, were referred to the Tariff Board for report, and the board has now recommended a bounty of a flat rate of 2d. per lb., subject to certain conditions. This report is being laid upon the table of Parliament. The Government has given the whole question its very earnest and serious consideration. It realizes that the industry cannot properly develop upon a national economic basis ifit has to depend entirely on oversea markets. The present average price for American middling cotton lint on the world’s market is about10d. per lb. It takes, roughly, about 3 lb. of seed cotton to make 1 lb. of cotton lint. It will be seen, therefore, that the world’s parity average price for middling seed cotton is about 3d. per lb., so that the bounty proposed by the Tariff Board is 60 per cent. of the world’s parity value of the product. There does not appear to be much prospect of a considerable increase in the price of cotton overseas, and Australia will always meet serious competition in those markets because of the low-priced labour of other cotton-growing countries. The Government is of opinion that to pay a bounty of 2d. per lb. under these circumstances would result in creating artificial prosperity in the industry on an uneconomic basis, and that when the bounty was reduced or ceased altogether, the industry so created would again die out. The Government is, however, fully seised of the importance of the industry. Cotton is a vital necessary for defence, and is a raw material for some of our most important secondary industries. Cotton growing will be a means of developing our. northern sub-tropical lands. The Government believes that it is possible to establish the industry under certain conditions on sound economic lines. Australia imports about £12,000,000 worth of cotton goods anually. The spinning of cotton yarns and the manufacture of cotton goods have been commenced in Australia, and to an extent are already providing a local market for Australian cotton lint. Establishments now exist capable of making cotton yarns and using 2,000,000 lb. of cotton lint annually. The total Australian crop of seed cotton last year was 12,000,000 lb., equal to 4,000,000 lb. of cotton lint. In the previous year there were 17,000,000 lb. of seed cotton, equal to about 5,600,000 lb. of cotton lint. It will be seen, therefore, that Australia is now utilizing a quantity of raw cotton equal to half of last year’s production. It is found that cotton yarns cannot, at the present stage of development, be made entirely of Australian cotton, but 50 per cent, of Australian cotton can be so used. With present output there would thus be provided a local market for 1,000,000 lb. of Australian cotton lint, or 3,000,000 lb. of Australian seed cotton, one-fourth of last year’s crop. Australian cotton lint sold in the Australian market at world’s parity would realize more to the grower than if exported and sold on the - world’s market, and this would further assist the Australian grower of seed cotton. The Government believes that a sound economic policy is not only to encourage the growing of cotton, but also the spinning of cotton yarn in Australia. By encouraging the spinning of cotton yarn and the consequent manufacture of cotton goods in Australia, we shall enable a far greater proportion of the Australian, cotton crop to receive the enhanced price of the local market. There is no reason why the whole of the Australian - cotton crop should not eventually be disposed of in Australia. For these reasons, the Government proposes to ask Parliament to grant a bounty, probably on a graduated scale, on the spinning pf cotton yarns. The Government is also of opinion that Parliament should be asked to grant a bounty of l$d.. per lb. for. five years on all seed cotton, except the low grades at present known as Grades. D and XXX; on which it proposes a bounty of f d. per lb. ; but these low grades constitute only about 5 per cent, of the total crop. ‘ A perusal of the Tariff Board’s report will indicate that, if the growing of cotton is to be . established in Australia, it will be accomplished by small farmers who do not rely wholly on cotton-growIng, but who arc associated with such occupations as dairying, pig and poultry raising, &c. It is essentially an industry for individuals, and not for plantation schemes on a large scale. Under present conditions, it does not appear possible for the industry, if conducted on a plantation scale, to succeed in competition with the markets of the world. The commitment of the Commonwealth on the basis of a 17,000,000-lb. crop under the proposal for a bounty ou’ seed cotton and on cotton yarn, will be at least £150,000 per annum, or £100,000 more than the present expenditure by the Commonwealth on this industry. Many of the contentions in support of a bounty of 2d. per lb. on .seed cotton appear, to. be based on calculations and charges that assume that such overhead expenses should be wholly borne by the growers’ cotton crop; but if, as will almost certainly be the case, and as the facts show is the case to-day, the growing of cotton is associated with other like industriesby individual growers, the spreading of these charges over . the whole ‘ of the growers’ activities would considerably reduce the estimate of the cost of production of cotton. The Government makes these’ proposals in the belief that they constitute a sound economic basis for the industry which will ensure steady progress with good prospects of permanent success, and that only in this way can the industry become a permanent national’ asset to the Commonwealth.
Bounty on Seed Cotton and thb Spinning of Cotton Yarn.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I am glad to learn that the Government propose to pay a bounty on seed cotton and the spinning of cotton yarn; but am disappointed’ to find that, after such a. long delay, a bounty of 2d. per lb., which the . cotton-growers desired, is not to be granted. I am afraid that l½d. or l¾d. per lb. will be inadequate to meet the requirements of the cotton-growers of Queensland. However, the Government has announced its decision, and we must accept it.
– Can the Minister say when he is likely to announce the graduated scale for the bounty on cotton yarn, and whether’ the proposals will be dealt with before the end of this session?
– The amount of the bounty on cotton yarn will be decided at a not distant date. It is the intention of the Government to deal with this matter before Parliament goes into recess.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 July 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260702_reps_10_114/>.