10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. Newlands) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following paperswere presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for War Service Homes purposes at Yeerong-. pilly, Queensland.
Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1926,. No. 87.
Message received from the House of Representatives, intimating that it had agreed to the following resolution: -
That Mr. Manning be discharged from attendance on the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Law, and that Mr. Donald Cameron be appointed in his place.
Bill received from House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
Debate resumed from 9th July(vide page 4007), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Although this is merely a machinery measure, the fact that it deals with the problem of developing Australia, makes it one of the most important that we are likely to be called upon to consider. No scheme for the development of a country can be put into operation without the necessary financial provision, or without a sufficient supply of human energy to enable industries, once they are established, to be carried on. The problems of development, finance, and immigration are, therefore, interwoven, and I am fully in accord with the policy of the Government as outlined in this bill to proceed with development and immigration side by side. I can understand the Labour party objecting to indiscriminate immigration, but I cannot understand it objecting to a policy of development which is bound to provide a considerable amount of employment for the workers of Australia. Water schemes, railway and road construction, the erection of schools and similar works, which must be taken in hand immediately to bring about the necessary development, most assuredly must absorb a large amount of labour. It has been claimed that the migration agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the British Government is of special advantage to Great Britain. The Prime Minister (“Mr. Bruce) has told us that when he was in England there were 1,500,000 unemployed. That number, I understand, has since been considerably increased. We have also been informed that in doles of various descriptions the British Government has paid over £300,000,000 in about five years. Unquestionably England is faced with a most acute economic problem which has developed into a political problem, and one can readily understand the British Government being agreeable to the transportation of some of its unemployed to the dominions. To my mind, it is a wise policy to keep these Britishers within the Empire. While England is faced with this temporary difficulty, is there anything wrong with a policy for transporting some of its people^ to a country like Australia, which is crying out for more population, particularly when the British Government is prepared to give us financial assist ance? The safety of Australia and, indeed, of the Empire depends upon the maintenance of this Imperial sentiment, and Imperial sentiment will be fostered by the migration of Britishers to the dominions. We hear much of tho danger of war, concerning which there is a wide divergence of opinion. On the one hand we have those who say that Australia is in danger of invasion at any moment, while on the other there is a public opinion that scouts the very idea of war. It was only Britain’s preparedness and the might of the British Navy that saved Australia from invasion during the great war. Our security is wrapped up with that of the rest., of the Empire. Lack of population is one of our great weaknesses, and here we have a chance to remedy it. Even if we are to be controlled in the future by a court pf international law, it is . necessary that Australia should be peopled and developed. One of our representatives at the last Assembly of the League of Nations said, on his return to Australia recently, that he had sensed an unmistakeable desire on the part of representatives of other nations to lift the question’ of immigration from the domestic to the higher plane of international politics. The Labour party strongly supports the policy of a White Australia, but at a recent international Labour conference in Great Britain a large number of Labour delegates, including a majority of the British Labour delegates, strongly criticized that policy. We had the first international attack upon our White Australia policy from the Labour, delegates there assembled, and it seems strange that the Labour party in Australia will not endeavour to meet some of the complaints against that policy by supporting these proposals. The greatest argument against our White Australia policy is that a mere handful of people is controlling this vast continent and is not making the best use of it. Although this bill embodies definite attempts to remedy the present defects, some of the leaders of the Labour movement in Australia are opposing it, Under the agreement, it is proposed to expend £34,000,000, and in view of the losses which have been incurred in connexion with developmental works generally, this proposal should be critically examined. The Government has said that it is necessary to appoint some body to carefully scrutinize the various schemes submitted by the States, as it is impossible for a Minister or the Cabinet to devote to their examination the necessary time to determine whether or not they are likely to be a success. I agree that it is necessary that some properlyconstituted authority should fully examine developmental proposals. I am somewhat exercised in my mind as to the extent to which the Parliament will have control over the commission when it is appointed. I understand, however, that the expenditure will have to be approved by Parliament. Under clause 14 of the bill, the Government may not approve of any undertaking which has not been recommended by the commission. That is a wise provision, since under sub-clause 2, which provides that the Commonwealth may approve of any such undertaking or scheme to which each House of Parliament, by resolution, approves, the Parliament will have supreme control. Clause 18 provides that the commission shall once in every year present to the Minister a report upon its work during the preceding twelve months; but more frequent reports should, I think, be submitted. Sub-clause 2 of clause 18 sets out that the Minister shall cause a copy of the report to be laid before each House of Parliament, within 30 days after receipt thereof, if Parliament is sitting, and, if Parliament is not sitting, within 30 days after the next sitting of Parliament. I understand that interim reports will be made to the Minister, but some method of keeping Parliament in closer touch with the work of the commission should be devised. The interim reports submitted to the Minister should also be tabled in Parliament. If a State scheme were rejected by the commission, there would doubtless be an outcry on the part of the people of that State, and honorable senators should be able to obtain promptly the fullest particulars to enable them to reply to the criticisms of their constituents. The commission will operate under the agreement entered into in 1925 between the Secretary of State for the Dominions and the Commonwealth Government, so that in passing this measure we shall practically ratify that agreement. Certain concessions are to be made by the British Government provided the conditions of the agreement, with the spirit of which I am in entire accord, are complied with. I approve of the proposal to inquire into the possibility of establishing new industries, but I have very grave doubts as to whether some of the clauses in the agreement will not defeat the objective which the contracting parties have in view. I refer to the clauses dealing with land settlement. Clause 1k of the agreement deals with the settlement of persons upon farms. Paragraph a of clause 6 of that agreement reads -
For every principal sura of £1,000 issued to a State Government in connexion with agreed undertakings for the settlement of persons upon farms the State Government shall provide one new farm.
One thousand pounds is not much with which to settle a man upon a farm.
– Is it possible to do so with that sum?
– In new country, where land costs practically nothing, many men who started with less than £1,000 have been successful; but where land has to be repurchased its cost alone may exceed that amount. In such cases £2,000 or £3,000 is necessary to start a man on a satisfactory basis. It must be remembered that any expenditure in excess of £1,000 will have to be met by the State Governments, the British Government giving no assistance, and accepting no liability therefor. Paragraph b of clause 6 of the agreement reads -
Within twelve months of the issue of the said principal sum to the State concerned, one assisted migrant family, consisting on the average of five persons without capital, shall sail direct from the United Kingdom to the State concerned, and shall bo received into and satisfactorily settled in that State.
Although the clause is somewhat ambiguous, it would appear from clause 1 k that that means that those families must be settled on the land. Paragraph c reads -
At least one-half of the new farms provided by the State Government shall be allocated to assisted migrants who have sailed from the United Kingdom since the 1st day of June, 1922, and have not been resident in Australia for a period of more than live years at the date of allocation.
I do not think that those who drafted the agreement realized the effect of that paragraph. They seem to have had the idea that in Australia there are numbers of nice farms available for Britishers. I have had considerable experience in land settlement. One third of the wheat produced in South Australia is grown in mallee country, from which fifteen or twenty years ago not one bushel of wheat was obtained. I have watched the progress of those districts, and seen the success which has attended different settlers there. While one has made good, his neighbour frequently has failed.
– It is the same everywhere.
– Quite so. I want, however, to guard against failures. The agreement provides for the settlement of families, withan average of five persons, without capital. In South Australia it has generally been the experienced men - sons of farmers with many years’ experience on the land, or men who have saved a few hundred pounds in order to get a start - who have been successful. An inexperienced man taking up land is severely handicapped. He does not know the time to burn the scrub, or the kind of day most suitable, whereas an experienced man gets a much better burn, and, as a result, reaps probably 2 or 3 bushels more to the acre. Those additional 2 or 3 bushels may mean the difference between success and failure. In order to ensure success, men must be hard workers, willing to battle against privations. They cannot afford to make mistakes. Most inexperienced men work their land insufficiently. Some, however, work it too much, with the result that it runs together, and in the hot weather the crop is scorched. A man without farming experience will probably sow his seed during a dry spell, and, because of the grain malting, suffer severe loss. In the pickling ofwheat, also, experience tells. Wheat insufficiently pickled produces smut, whereas over-pickling may result in the wheat not germinating properly, because some of the grain will be killed. Because of the technicalities associated with wheat-growing, the inexperienced man cannot hope to attain the same results as his more experienced neighbour. I say, advisedly, that unless we place thoroughly experienced men on these farms we shall be courting disaster. Even if we obtained a number of experienced farmers from England - which I do not expect - they would require to become accustomed to Australian conditions. Farming in England is very different from farming in Australia. It may be possible to train unmarried men by placing them with Australian farmers. That is the best and cheapest method of training them. But there is very little demand on Australian farms for inexperienced married men. In the first place, Australian farmers usually have insufficient accommodation for married men with their families. It is practically impossible to train English migrants, with families, to Australian conditions. The Governments of the States are being called upon to meet not only the capital cost of the farms, but also a proportion of the cost of training migrants. I have here the report of the British Oversea Settlement Delegation to Australia. On page 54 we find this statement in the report -
Again, to start farming under present-day conditions, a considerable amount of capital must be available, and we feel that, as a general rule, it is but fair to require the’ settler to recognize his responsibilities by providing a proportion of the capital himself. Thefact that his own resources are engaged in the venture will give him an additional incentive to carry it through to success. Where a man has nothing of his own to lose, the temptation to withdraw under the discouragement of initial difficulties often proves too strong.
– And it is the man without capital who is to be brought out to Australia.
– Yes, and under the agreement each assisted migrant family must consist of five persons. We have settled a great number of people on the land in South Australia, but, in every instance, we endeavoured to ensure that the settler had some capital of his own. Even in those circumstances, the State was obliged to write off a considerable amount of the loss that was incurred. In view of our experience in South Australia, I submit that we shall be taking a great financial risk if we attempt, as is proposed under this agreement to settle inexperienced British migrants without capital on the land. I believe that millions of acres of suitable land are still available in Australia. I believe, also, that we have in Australia a sufficient number of experienced men with, at least, some capital to take up’ and develop the whole of the country that can be made available. In my opinion, it would be better to give these men the opportunity to do so, and by further developing our primary industries in this way to open up to British migrants other avenues of profitable employment, in which many of them are already trained. I understand that the agreement may be varied in certain respects, and I submit that this phase of the migration problem should receive careful consideration in order to ensure the successful settlement of new agricultural areas in Australia. I should like now to deal briefly with the subject of boy migrants. Some years ago, in South Australia, the Barwell Government launched a scheme - the principle of which has been adopted by some of the other States - for the introduction of boy migrants from the Mother Country. The lads were placed with approved farmers for training in farm practice, and received a certain wage, portion of which was paid direct to the boys as pocket money, and the balance held in trust for them until they reached the age of 21 years. It was further provided that, after a lad had received a sound training in farm methods, he should be entitled to obtain from the State a loan of £300 with which to start farming on his own account. The sum, as honorable senators will admit, was very small. The point I wish now to emphasize is that under this agreement at least one half of the new farms to be provided by a State Government must be allocated to assisted migrants who sailed from the “United Kingdom after the first day of June, 1922, and who, at the date of allocation, had not been resident in Australia for a period of more than five years. This provision appears to cut out the boys who arrived in Australia, under the Barwell scheme, after the 1st of June, 1922. I fail to understand why they should be cut out; they will have had more than five years’ training, and, therefore, should be well qualified for inclusion in this new scheme. It is very desirable, I think, that some of these lads should be included in the quota of 50 per cent, of British migrants to be settled on the land. I hope, therefore, that the scheme will be so amended as to include them. I cordially approve of this great national policy of immigration, which, I feel sure, has the endorsement of the people of Australia. We are faced with a huge non-productive debt of some £400,000,000. Obviously, if we are to reduce that debt and the interest per head, we must increase our population. Our defence expenditure will be the same whether we have a population of 6,000,000 or 12,000,000. If we can double our population, we shall very materially reduce our per capita expenditure on defence; and also solve many other problems. I believe that the Migration Commission has a splendid, and, in fact,, a unique opportunity to do great work for Australia. Under a proper system of development, many thousands of acres of new lands will be opened up successfully, our cities and towns will develop and prosper, our prestige will be enhanced, and our national safety assured.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL (South Australia) [3.39].- I cannot allow this bill to pass without offering some Comment. I have given a great deal of attention to migration schemes. The right honorable the Minister (Senator Pearce), when introducing the bill, stressed the importance of migration, and said that the eyes of the world were on us to see what we were going to do with our country. I also stress that phase of the question. Migration is a subject of importance, not only to Australia, but also to the Empire as a whole. Australia is a. vast territory of undeveloped resources, and with a populationcarrying capacity which is almost illimitable. If we are to hold this great heritage for ourselves and the Empire, we must make reasonable progress in the business of populating and developing it. We may take it for granted that mankind, in the aggregate, will never agree to the proposition that a territory as vast and as rich as Australia can be held by a mere handful of people only partially developed, for any great length of time. Already, the density of population in other parts of the world, compared with Australia, creates a danger that ought not to be overlooked. The density of population in’ Great Britain is more than 200 times as great as that of Australia ; in the whole of Europe it is 60 times as great ; in Asia, it is 30 times as great; and over the whole of the earth’s surface the proportion is as 16 to
No country took a larger part than Great Britain in the setting up of that court for the peaceful settlement of international disputes. If the policy of a White Australia were referred, for settlement, to that international court, and the overpopulated countries of the world declined to support our claim, we should either have to submit to the finding or turn traitor and cut ourselves adrift from the League of Nations. Those are not pleasing alternatives. I am not for a moment speaking against the White Australia policy, although I have no doubt that some of my friends of the Labour party will say that I am. I say again, as I have repeatedly said, that I believe in populating Australia, as far as possible, with white people. The point that I am making is that if we wish to maintain our White Australia policy, and justify our claim to the right to exclude coloured people, we must do our duty by populating and developing Australia. I mention this aspect of the matter merely in order to show that the question is of vital importance from an Empire point of view. We are apt to forget, and even to entirely overlook, the tremendous responsibility which our lack of enthusiasm in regard’ to migration, combined with our White Australia policy, places upon the Mother Country, as the foremost member of the League of Nations. The peril which ‘our attitude towards migration entails, is constantly being referred to in the Old Country. Only a few days ago, at a labour conference, which was held in England, we were adversely criticized by members of the Labour party on this account. That the Imperial Government is alive to the seriousness of the position is evidenced by its readiness to provide £34,000,000, at low rates of interest, to assist migration to Australia. That money will be received at special rates of interest for only ten years; ultimately, the full rate of interest will have to be paid. That undoubtedly places upon us the obligation of seeing that the money is wisely spent in developmental and reproductive work. Other portions of the Empire have shown, from time to time, that they regard this matter of populating and developing Australia as one which touches the very foundations of Empire unity. Strangely enough, it is in Australia alone that apathy is displayed towards it. It is in Australia alone that there seems to be no proper conception of its vital nature. I have had a good deal to do with migration, aud I realize fully the difficulties which stand in the way of a satisfactory solution of the problem; but I also know that for the most part those difficulties are by no means insuperable. It is quite true - and here I agree with members of the Labour party, although I think they go further than I do–that we cannotopen the floodgates and allow an unlimited stream of migrants to enter Australia, even though they be eminently suitable in regard to race, health and character. Our powers of absorption are undoubtedly limited. The artificial restrictions that we have placed upon production in Australia limit the possibility of expansion in our secondary industries, because they make it impossible to export our surplus manufactures to any appreciable extent. I admit that the greater our population, the greater our home market. But the point. I want to make at present is that, to all intents and purposes, our manufacturing possibilities are limited to our home market; hence a very real restriction upon expansion in that direction, and also upon our ability to absorb migrants. Here is where I disagree with the members of the Labour party: Those restrictions notwithstanding, a great deal can be done to absorb desirable migrants, and we should act to the limit of our powers. Every newcomer who is satisfactorily settled in Australia adds not only to our wealth, but also to our security. We should undoubtedly arrive at a decision quickly as to what is reasonably possible in the immediate future in the direction of the satisfactory settlement of desirable migrants. Some well-defined, wellthought out, well-organized plan should be devised for establishing and maintaining a steady stream of migrants. It is essential that proper arrangements be made for their reception and absorption upon arrival. Those arrangements should be made in advance. The statement made by many members of the Labour party that it is madness to bring people to Australia unless arrangements are made beforehand for their accommodation and employment is quite right. Speaking with some knowledge of the subject, gained when I was in Great Britain in 1922, I can say that there are tens of thousands of splendid people in the United Kingdom anxious to come to Australia, but until they know that there is some definite assurance of a welcome and of housing and employment for them, on their arrival they are afraid of making the venture. Who can blame them? We ought not to ask them to come here until we are ready to receive and house them, and give them work. One of the first questions that crops up - I think it was mentioned by Senator Needham - is what immigrants should we bring to Australia? I think that every one who is in favour of ian mi’gration will agree that preference should be given to migrants from the Old Country. The over-population of Great Britain at the present time is such that many of its people must migrate in the near future, and it is the duty of the dominions of the Empire to see that no appreciable proportion of these people is lost to the Empire. I was very glad to hear Senator Needham say that above all things we need to maintain the manpower of the Empire ; but J should carry that statement further, and say that, in order to strengthen the Empire as a whole, we should have a proper distribution of that man-power. In the proper distribution of the man-power of the Empire Australia certainly has its part to play. We have the space and the ability to absorb a very large number of British emigrants. The next question is - what class or classes of British migrants should we assist to Australia? Personally, I think that we could take some of all classes, but particularly do I think we should take young people - boys and girls. Some Australians do not think it is desirable to bring young people to this country; but in this connexion I should like to point to the report of the British Oversea Settlement Delegation to Australia, published in May, 1924. It speaks very strongly on this subject, saying -
We have ‘been very much impressed and encouraged by what we saw of the work of the three main schemes of boy immigration.
Those were the South Australian scheme, the New South Wales scheme, and the Queensland scheme. The report goes on to say -
There is no doubt that youth is a great asset for any migrant to a new country. Boys will naturally adapt themselves more readily to new conditions than men, whose character, tastes, and habits are already formed. Further, we consider that if regard is had to the average prospects open to such boys as these in Great Britain, the* opportunity offered to them in Australia is a remarkable one. They are learning a highly skilled occupation, and at the same time accustoming themselves to the conditions of the country. They will emerge from their apprenticeship with a thorough practical experience of farm work, and by the time that they are old enough to take up land of their own. they should be financially in a position to do so. We could not but be impressed, too, with the readiness with which boys from urban areas took to a country life, and the satisfaction which they found in it.
We feel, however, that the migration of boys to Australia ought to be confined to definite schemes of training or apprenticeship such as those described above, and we very much hope that any further demands for migrants from this source which may be put forward, will be accompanied by provisions and safeguards on the lines which have already proved so successful.
In South Australia we inaugurated and carried into effect a scheme for bringing boys to Australia, and, as Senator Chapman has said, it proved very successful. Boys between fifteen and eighteen years of age came out for apprenticeship as farm labourers, and there were many features in the scheme of an extremely desirable character. The scheme itself was fully referred to by the British Oversea Settlement Delegation, which reported very favorably upon it. Under it in less than two years 1,444 boys were brought out to South Australia, and over 90 per cent of them tire doing well to-day. It is quite true, that some of the boys have gone away from their original jobs on farms; but they have become absorbed in the life of the State, and have proved very desirable immigrants. Unfortunately, the scheme was abandoned by the Labour Government as soon as it came into office, but had the Liberals retained office, by now there would have been about 3,000 boys brought out under that scheme. Mr. Wignall, a Labour member of the House of Commons, who was one of the British delegation, went to a great deal of trouble to ascertain how that scheme was working. He went all through the country, and on his return to Adelaide told me that, although he had seen between 500 and 600 boys, there were only three or four cases in which complaints were made. These complaints were of a trivial nature, which could be, and were, fixed up immediately they were brought under the notice of the authorities. Although Mr. Wignall had been in touch with the members of lie Labour party in South Australia who were opposed to the scheme, he made the statement, which was published in the press, that it was the most successful immigration scheme that had been put forward. He was strongly in favour of the emigration of British boys to Australia. I mention this matter because I intend to show that it is possible to bring a large number of immigrants, boys, girls, and families, to Australia at little cost and with little trouble, and without going in for expensive land schemes or setting up costly institutions. However, the operation of the boy scheme illustrates what I intend to say in regard to the matter. The boys brought out under the South Australian scheme were placed with approved farmers who requisitioned for their services before their arrival. The result was, when the boys arrived at Port Adelaide, they went direct from the steamers to their new homes in the country districts. Had similar schemes been in operation in all the States of Australia, we might easily have taken from 8,000 to 10,000 boys a year. It is a matter of common knowledge that the lack of domestic servants in Australia is having a. very serious effect upon the economic life of the community. I think it is one of the great causes of the low birth-rate in Australia. What is possible with a scheme for bringing out boys should also be possible with a scheme for bringing out girls for domestic service. It should also be possible to bring out a large number of families without having any costly machinery or land-settlement schemes. In this connexion the Government might seek the co-operation of such institutions as the Young Men’s Christian Association, the churches generally, Masonic lodges, Rotary clubs, and various other institutions interested in migration both here and in Great Britain. All these bodies I have mentioned are willing to give their active support to such a movement. The churches, for instance, have their organizations spread throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Their various congregations know the requirements and the possibilities of absorption of immigrants in their particular localities. Many congregations could very well nominate two or three or more families, or it might be merely one family a year, but all could do something to assist in the carrying out of such a scheme. When I was in office in South Australia, I convened a conference of representatives of all the churches in the State, and I outlined to them a scheme similar to that which I have just mentioned. My suggestion was most enthusiastically received by the sixteen denominations represented. All of them promised their support, and some immediately set to work to establish machinery for giving effect to the scheme-; but, unfortunately, the advent of the Labour Government put an end to their activities. The first person to introduce the system of group nomination migration from Great Britain to Australia to the churches of this country was Mr. Cyril Bavin, general secretary of the British National Council of the Young Men’s Christian Association, which body had commissioned him to come to Australia as a representative of the churches in Great Britain to make arrangements to carry out a scheme which had commended itself to them. Among their adherents the churches have many young people who are anxious to emigrate to Australia, but the clergymen advise them not to give up their present positions or leave their present homes until there is some definite assurance that in Australia they will be welcomed, as well as accommodated in homes and provided with work. For the sake of their growing families, these sons and daughters of the churches in the Old Country are open to an approach such as this scheme makes possible. And surely it ought to commend itself to us in Australia. We badly need more people to populate our sparsely populated areas. I agree with the Minister (Senator Pearce) that we want the best we can get. If the churches take a hand in the choice of Australia’s new-comers, then the level of the incoming citizenship is likely to be raised, the process of assimilation is likely to be facilitated, and any possible cause of local friction -will be removed. The responsibility upon the churches or the other organizations which may take up such schemes as this is that of advising their country congregations to nominate one or more families in a year, and to indicate by a detailed statement the class and type of persons they are able to absorb in their midst. Each nomination, of course, would go through the approved church and ‘ Government channels to the representatives of each in_ the Old Country. The church sending in a nomination would be expected to guarantee the newcomer a job and suitable accommodation for himself and his family if he had one. That scheme has already been proposed by the churches in Great Britain, and the churches in Australia are prepared to co-operate. The Young Men’s Christian Association has .been selected by the churches in Great Britain as the one agency through which all denominnations may be approached without prejudice. I strongly urge the Government to adopt a scheme such as this wherever it may secure the co-operation of a State Government. Of course nothing can be done without the cooperation of each State, but it is a scheme from which I am sure very good results would undoubtedly flow. It only needs organization both here and in the Old Country, but that organization should be quite a simple matter. I have mentioned three schemes - boy immigration, girl immigration, and family immigration. There is a fourth, which, perhaps, should have been mentioned first, that of the ordinary individual nomination system which is now the main channel of immigration to Australia. Schemes, for the nomination of individuals, of boys and girls, and of families, are the best that can be devised, as they are easily controlled and entail very little responsibility upon the Government. In each case the nominator is” in Australia, and is ready to welcome the newcomer, and to provide the migrant with accommodation and employment. On arrival, nominated migrants can proceed direct from the steamer to their new homes which, in nearly all cases, are in the country. Under such schemes, there1 is no dislocation of industry, and unemployment does not follow their inauguration. Honorable senators have referred to the undesirability of bringing migrants to Australia while there are already large numbers of unemployed here.
– That is the intention.
– It is not. Surely honorable senators opposite admit that migrants can be absorbed in Australia. If it were intended to enter into a scheme the result of which would be to increase unemployment, I should not support it for a moment. It is quite possible to absorb a large number of migrants without increasing the number of our unemployed.
– It cannot be done in this way.
– There are certain provisions of the agreement . of which I do not approve, and which I hope will be amended. One was mentioned by Senator Chapman. This agreement, likeothers which have been suggested in thepast, places too much importance upon land settlement. At a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers in 1923, I introduced a resolution, which was later agreed to, asking the Prime Minister to suggest to the Imperial Government that it should not be compulsory for migrants to settle upon the land. It would be a far better proposition to allow our own people, acquainted with the conditions of rural work, to settle upon the land, and to arrange for their places to be taken by migrants.
– What would be the advantage of placing additional settlers on the land when many of the returned soldiers, who have been financially assisted, are unable to make a success of their operations on it?
– Their failure - where there has been failure - is, to some extent, due to the fact that many of them were unaccustomed to rural work. It has been a case of placing round pegs in square holes.
– The South Australian Government, of which the honorable senator was the leader, was responsible for placing men on the river Murray lands, the capital value of which has been written off to the extent of £2,000,000.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.That has been the experience of all the States, particularly of New South Wales and Victoria. It was the Vaughan administration which preceded the government of which I was the leader, that was responsible for the policy of placing a large number of returned soldiers upon the river Murray lands. The honorable senator’s interjection illustrates how useless it is to endeavour to settle inexperienced men on the land.
– That will be the result of this scheme.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Yes, it may be, and it is a feature of the agreement of which I do not approve. If we could receive the necessary financial assistance from Great Britain, it would be preferable to place our own people on the land and allow migrants to follow the work to which they are accustomed.
– That would assist in making the scheme a success.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Yes. It is pure folly to stress land settlement in agreements of this kind. Land settlement should not be made a feature of the proposals. At the meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers to which I have referred, I succeeded in carrying a resolution that the Imperial Government should be approached for assistance on the understanding that we absorbed a certain number of migrants who need not necessarily be settled on the land. All the States agreed to the resolution, which the Prime Minister undertook to submit to the Imperial Government. It is foolish to force migrants unaccustomed to farm work to take up land, particularly when there are sons of farmers in Australia waiting to do so.
– Most of them wish to live in the cities and towns.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Some do, but there are others who want land and cannot get it. Under the nomination schemes I have mentioned there is no necessity to formulate land settlement proposals, as the migrants could be absorbed in a natural way. The duties and responsibilities of the Government would be to establish and maintain in Australia and in Great Britain migration departments, _ to formulate and conduct schemes, enter upon publicity campaigns, receive nominations, and to be satisfied in regard to the bona fides of the nominators and their ability to provide accommodation and work for the nominees. Its officers would also have to be satisfied concerning the suitability of the nominees, and would make arrangements for their transport and financial assistance, and for their welcome by migration officers and nominators. Arrangements would also have to be made for accommodation of migrants at the ports of disembarkation, and for their transport to the country. In the case of boy and girl migrants, periodical inspection would be necessary. If these simple and satisfactory methods were adopted, there would be no necessity to set up elaborate migration machinery. The powers of the commission extend, of course, beyond migration. In the matter of migration the Commonwealth cannot do anything unless at the request of the States which have their migration departments.
– Are the Commonwealth and State departments not already amalgamated ?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.No. At present the Commonwealth and the States are co-operating. It is the duty of the States to submit requisitions to the Commonwealth, which undertakes to select migrants in the Old Country, to provide financial assistance to cover the cost of transport to Australia, and then to hand over the migrants to the States at the ports of disembarkation. It is the. responsibility of the States to see that the migrants are properly placed. Whilst Labour is in power in the States, migration will, I think, be stringently restricted; but Nationalist Governments will do everything possible to encourage migration. Although the States welcome the co-operation of the Commonwealth, they will not submit to its dictation. They wish to carry out their own schemes in their own way, with their own machinery. I would not support the bill if the commission had power to deal only with migration, but as it will have authority to encourage the development of the resources of the Commonwealth, to investigate the means of developing industry, whether primary or secondary, and the possibility of establishing new industries, I shall support it. It will be the duty of the commission to survey the economic position and the economic possibilities of Australia, and in doing so, it will doubtless co-operate with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. That is being done in America by the Department of Commerce, the chief executive officer of which is Mr. Hoover, a mining and metallurgical expert, as also is Mr. Gepp, who, I understand is likely to be appointed chairman of the commission. Mr. Gepp is a man of great ability, not only in his own particular sphere of science; he also possesses great organizing ability and business capacity. His appointment would be a guarantee of success if he could be assured- of the cooperation of the governments of the Commonwealth and the States. Without their co-operation, Mr. Gepp, with all his ability and experience, would be practically helpless. I hope the time is not far distant when all the States will be blest with governments broad-minded and far-seeing enough to realize the vital, importance of adopting some satisfactory scheme of migration, and when the appalling apathy of the people of Australia generally regarding migration will be a thing of the past. In launching a sound scheme of migration, we shall be doing our duty to ourselves and to those who follow us by populating our country and developing its resources; we shall be assisting the Old Country materially in her time of trouble, and last, but not least, we shall be strengthening, not only the sentimental ties which bind us to our kinsmen overseas, but also, and that in no small measure, the very foundations of Empire unity. I support the second reading.
– -For many years almost every anti-
Labour Government in Australia^ in both the State and Federal spheres, has brought forward immigration proposals with the object of inducing people from overseas to come to this country. If schemes and orations could have accomplished that object, the population of Australia would be many millions more than it is to-day. We have here another scheme, and with it more orations. This might be called a blotting-paper scheme, because its object is to absorb a certain number of British workers within a specified period. Great Britain contains today, as honorable senators know, a vast army of workless men and women - a greater army of unemployed than has existed for many years. That country is suffering from an acute trade depression, due, as all observing men must admit, to the aftermath of war. There was a belief in the minds of many during the progress of the war that, after its termination, the sunshine of prosperity would come to the victorious nations. But those who have a proper appreciation of the problem know that the vanquished in war are really the victors. The Imperial Parliament to-day has serious problems to face. It is endeavouring, not to solve, but to minimize the .unemployment difficulty. If it can do that by means -of this agreement, it will be relieved of a difficult problem at a nominal cost. The proposal is that the taxpayers of Australia shall be loaned £34,000,000 at certain rates of interest. The total liability of the British Government will be £7,000,000. But the people of Australia, in order to obtain the benefit of that £7,000,000, must guarantee, through their respective governments, that during the next decade 450,000 British migrants, most of whom, doubtless, will be workless when nominated, will have land or work provided for them in Australia. How are we to do that? This scheme will not do it. In introducing this bill the Minister (Senator Pearce) said that it was the most important that had been submitted to this Parliament. That phrase sounds familiar. I have frequently seen it in Mansard. He also said that -
Australia is the greatest undeveloped country in the world, and the eyes of the people of all nations are upon us, to see what we intend to do with it.
I fancy that I have heard that phrase before. I have an idea that it was chorussed from one end of Australia to the other during the election campaign last year. The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Senate then said that the enemy was “ within our .gates,” and that the eyes of the world were centred on Australia to see what we were going to do, regarding the deportation of two men. It is an exaggeration to say that the eyes of the people of all nations are centred on Australia. If it were true, it would be evidence that Australia is “well on the map.” Senator Pearce further said that “ universal peace has not yet been secured;” that “to be forewarned is to be forearmed,” and that “ our national existence is at stake.” The right honorable gentleman, during the progress of the war said that it was a war to end war. Later, after hostilities had ceased, he said that peace in the Pacific had been guaranteed for ten years, by the Treaty signed at Washington. According to observing men the peace of the world was practically assured ‘ for a number of years by the Locarno Treaty. Yet we .are now told that our national existence is at stake. T remember when the Leader of the Senate, as a christian, a peace lover, a believer in international brotherhood, entered his protest against war in any shape. Later, he like myself, became a member of a Labour Ministry, and was given the portfolio of Minister for Defence. I regret that his association with that department resulted in a change of view.
– What has all *Ms to do with migration?
– I am dealing with the Minister’s statement that our national .safety is at .stake. Now the Leader of the Senate, instead of being a peace lover, seems to be haunted by the fear of invasion. When, some time ago, he went to the Northern Territory, his first impression of it was, not its emptiness, or its possibilities, but the danger which it constituted to the defence of Australia. Now he sees further dangers. According to him, unless we adopt this scheme, our national existence is at stake. During the next ten years Australia’s population is to be augmented by 450,000 under this scheme. Apparently, that addition to our population will ensure our safety ! I enter my protest against this scheme having been brought before us in- this way. Fifteen months ago the agreement between the Commonwealth and Imperial Governments was entered into. Now a bill has been introduced to ratify that agreement. Moreover, if newspaper reports are correct, overtures were made some time ago to a certain gentleman with a view to his accepting the position of chief commissioner at the princely salary of £5,000 per annum - a greater remuneration than that paid to any Commonwealth public servant. Why should negotiations of that kind have been entered into before Parliament had approved of the Bill embodying the schemes which would be placed under that gentleman’s control ? The commission, according to the Minister, is to be a sort of superparliament,composed of super-men. What will it he able to do that has not been or could not be done by the States? Victoria has its Railways Standing Committee, which inquires into all proposals for the construe- . tion of new railways or tramways. At present, that committee is inquiring into proposals for three new suburban and fifteen country railways. Of the proposals submitted to it 60 per cent, have been recommended, and 40 per cent, rejected for various reasons. The committee’s impartiality has never been questioned. It is admitted that it has assisted materially in the development of the State and in preventing unnecessary or extravagant expenditure. Yet it does not necessarily follow that Parliament will act on its recommendations. If that committee after exhaustive inquiries, recommended a certain scheme, and that recommendation were approved by the Victorian Parliament, that -scheme, under this bill, would still have to he referred to this commission before it could be proceeded with.
– No; only if they wished to spend any o’f this loan money on those works.
– The agreement would never have been accepted by the State Governments if they had not been in financial difficulties. They approved of it, because they knew that they would be able to get money for developmental work, including railways. But if any portion of this proposed loan money is used for railway construction the proposals will have to go before this super- parliament of four commissioners for their endorsement. According to the Leader of the Senate, if the commission disapproves of a proposal which involves the expenditure of any portion of loan money obtained under the agreement, the Federal Government will not take it up, except upon a resolution passed by both Houses.
– The State Governments could carry out works that had not been approved by the commission, but they would have to find the money.
– We hear a great deal about the need for cooperation and co-ordination. The commission will not be more competent to advise as to developmental schemes than are existing State organizations. Let us examine the position in Victoria. In this State there is a Closer Settlement Board, with authority to purchase estates and subdivide them for closer settlement purposes. It also retains the grazing and agistment fees, controls a training school for married migrants at Lara, and places single migrants on approved farms where they may gain experience. Migrants belonging to the industrial- classes are handled by a migration bureau, which also is controlled by the Closer Settlement Board. Its operations are confined to dry farming areas. What are known as “ wet “ farmers are transferred to the Water Commission. Is it proposed, under this scheme, to interfere with the functions of the Victorian Closer Settlement Board, and must all proposals made by that body, if they involve the expenditure of any portion of this loan money, go before the commission for approval? Apparently that is the position. Apparently, also, the commission will have authority to approve or disapprove of schemes recommended by the Victorian Closer Settlement Board. This strengthens my assertion that the Migration Commission will, in a sense, be a superparliament, a body superior even to a State Parliament. The Victorian Water Commission, as I have stated, controls all settlement schemes within irrigation areas, and it exercises the same functions as the Closer Settlement Board. Will the Migration Commission be set up in authority over the Water Commission in regard to the settlement of migrants on irrigable land, if the Victorian Govern ment proposes to participate in this loan money? Then, again, there is in Victoria another body known as the Country Roads Board, which is concerned chiefly in the construction of roads calculated to benefit settlers and settlement. It determines which roads shall be built for developmental purposes and which shall be regarded as main roads or State highways. Again, according to the Leader of the Senate, if the Victorian .Government proposes to utilize for road construction any portion of the loan money available under this agreement, all such schemes must be reviewed by the commission; and if that body disapproves of any such proposal the Commonwealth Government will only take it up upon a resolution of both Houses, or the State may proceed with the work and provide the money itself. We are told, further, that it will be the function of the Migration Commission to encourage the establishment of new industries, .as well as to assist existing industries. Does not the Tariff Board carry out that kind of work ? Senator Reid. - No.
– Of course, the Tariff Board is charged with that responsibility. Its members pay visits of inspection to existing industries.
– The board does not concern itself with the establishment of new industries.
– Members of the Tariff Board, I repeat, pay visits of inspection to established industries, take evidence from interested persons, and from time to time advise as to the possibility of bringing new industries into existence. Senator Reid, must be aware that some time ago a proposal was made, to establish a company for the manufacture of newsprint in Tasmania. Experts visited other countries to test the suitability of Australian woods for the making of paper pulp. They proved in: disputably that newsprint could be manufactured on a commercial basis in Australia, but representatives - of certain, newspapers, including the protectionist press in Australia, appeared before the Tariff Board and gave unfavorable evidence with regard to the establishment of that industry. The Government offered a bounty, which, in the opinion of the persons interested, was not sufficient. Representatives of the company,’ so we have been informed, have since’ secured ‘the necessary capital in London, so that before long the industry should be started in Australia. This is my answer to Senator Reid’s statement that the Tariff Board does not concern itself with the establishment of new industries. There is no need to appoint this Migration Commission, the members of which will be paid princely salaries, to advise British manufacturers about the possibilities of establishing new industries in Australia. British manufacturers are already well represented in this country by their agents or agencies, and they are well informed as to the situation. If there is any doubt about the accuracy of this statement, I invite honorable, senators to peruse Ilansard of the 24th June, 1926. On that day the Leader of the Senate, replying to a statement made by Senator Barwell, gave a return covering two and a half pages of Hansard, containing the names of British firms already established in Australia. It would appear, therefore, that the Australian field is well known to British manufacturers, and that the new commission will not be able to help any more than the tariff has assisted those who feel that their market has been affected. By high tariff duties we have opened the way to manufacturers who wish to establish themselves in Australia. There are some people who entertain the idea that Australia’s progress has been slow. As a matter of fact, visitors from other lands are amazed at the wonderful progress made in Australia since responsible government was given to its people. I was pleased the other day when I read a statement made at a dinner given to Australians at the Hotel Cecil in London, that our increase of population and revenue in 137 years had exceeded that of Canada over a similar period, and that of the United States in 160 years. Sir Joseph Cook said that Australia. had established a record in this respect. Some persons have a hazy idea that population is synonymous with prosperity. If that were the case those countries which have the largest populations would he the most prosperous and progressive. As a matter of fact, the countries in which there is a great density of population present the greatest disparity in the division of the wealth of the people. A few persons have all that they desire, whilst millions live in wretchedness, and a large number in absolute misery and degradation. Others hold the belief that the safety of a nation is dependent upon the number of its people. If that were true the nations which have the biggest populations would be free from aggression. Numbers do not guarantee safety to a nation, or freedom from aggression. I sincerely trust that we are becoming free from international complications. I detest war, and I do not like the defence view-point being constantly trotted out, and alarms being sounded regarding Australia’s security. I wish that people would be more Christian, and that they would preach the gospel of “Peace on earth, goodwill towards men.”
– Both at home and abroad.
– Yes, both at home aud abroad. If there are wars in the future they will, in my opinion, be decided, not as were those in the years that are gone, but largely by the use of aircraft and submarines, and they will be decided in a few days or in a week. Now I wish to answer those who say that the Labour party is opposed to any and every form of migration. In all seriousness, I say that the Labour party has assisted the population of Australia more substantially than has any other party since the establishment of federation. Some persons may doubt that statement. If any honorable senator opposite has such a doubt, let him listen to the following statement that was made by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) in his second-reading speech : -
During the three years ending the 31st December, 1913, 124,000 assisted migrants were introduced into the Commonwealth. The annual average for the three years was over 11,000, the record year being 1912, when 46,712 migrants were introduced and satisfactorily settled.
What government was in power during that period? It was a Labour Government, of which Senator Pearce was a member. Those migrants came to Australia, not merely because there was a Labour Government in power, hut hecause the imposition of the land tax by the Labour Government had the effect of breaking up many big estates which for years had remained in a virgin state, and those lands became available for settlement. It is an economic truism that when one person is satisfactorily settled upon the land work is provided for two others.
– How many big estates were broken up as a result of the federal land tax?
– Dozens of big estates in Victoria were broken up, because those who owned them believed - erroneously, of course - that the tax would ruin them. I know men who disposed of their estates after the tax became operative, because they were under the impression that it would make their land unprofitable. . That would have been the result if they had allowed the land to remain in a virgin state. Some persons bought land from the original owners, and, realizing the possibilities that lay ahead, subdivided it, and made large profits. On some of those estates which previously carried a few sheep and cattle, there are now well established farmers.
– The collections from the land tax axe as great to-day as they were when it was first imposed.
– A greater amount is now collected, because there has been a marked appreciation in land values. The imposition of that tax not only led to the settlement of people on the land, but was also the means of work being provided for skilled artisans in different parts of Australia. The industrial activity in the capital cities is largely the result of that tax. Prior to its imposition, there were many small buildings in some of the most valuable portions of the city. Every week some of these buildings are being demolished, and mighty edifices arc being erected upon the land on which they stood. It would appear that some governments have made preparations to carry the scheme into effect before Parliament has had an opportunity to express an opinion upon it. The writer of an article in the Warrnambool Standard, of the 1st of May, said -
Victoria has made an admirable proposal for participating in the £34,000,000 migration agreement between Great Britain and the Commonwealth. The plan, which has been approved by the State Cabinet, by Mr. Bankes Amery, who represents the British Ministry in connexion with the migration agreement, and by the Director of Migration (Mr. Hurley), provides for the settlement of 1,000 men in the Beech Forest district at a total cost of £1,000,000. It is proposed to settle migrants on areas which had been abandoned principally on account of the absence of good roads and the difficulty of clearing the land. Under the agreement, money may be borrowed at nominal interest for the purpose of constructing developmental works, and the Ministry considers that if the blocks are subdivided into farms of from 50 to 100 acres, and the settlers provided with reasonable facilities, they should be able to make good.
It is proposed to spend £1,000 on the settlement of each migrant. In addition to the land, he will find on arrival a furnished house and the necessary fencing. These items will absorb about £600, and it is suggested that the remaining £400 should be advanced to each settler at the rate of 14s. 4d. a day for nine months for each of three years, in payment for work done in State forests within a reasonable distance of his home. The remaining three months of each year could be spent by the settler in improving his property and acquiring a knowledge of farming, for which purpose instructors would be provided by the State. The land will be suitable for dairying, potatogrowing, pig-raising, and poultry farming. Most of the land has been partly cleared.
– What is the name of the writer ?
– He writes under the nam de plume of “ Democrat.” The heading to the article is “ National Notes.” The writer is apparently well informed, and doubtless is the paid publicity agent of the National party.
– The honorable senator is assuming a lot.
– I assume that the writer would not make those statements unless he was pretty well primed.
– The honorable senator assumes that the Otway Forest scheme has been approved by the Commonwealth Government.
– I do not. I have not said so. My contention is that before this bill has even been considered by the Commonwealth Parliament, a portion of the scheme, which affects Victoria, is according to the writer of this article, well in hand.
– What does the honorable senator mean by “ well in hand “ ? Does he mean that it has been approved ?
– It has, apparently, been approved by the State Government.
– But not by the Commonwealth Government?
– I did not say that it had been approved by the Commonwealth Government. As a matter of fact, that Government does not intend to consider any scheme. Senator Pearce himself told the Senate that the Commonwealth Government would not do so.
– What I said was that these schemes would be referred to the commission.
– Exactly ; but that means that they will be considered by the commission, and not by Cabinet. In fact, Senator Pearce said that Cabinet’s time would be so occupied in dealing with other matters that it would not have the opportunity to give serious consideration to these schemes or proposals, and that, therefore, they would be sent on to the commission.
– And the commission will report to Cabinet.
– I admit that I read the speech of the right honorable gentleman hurriedly; but my impression is that he told us that if the commission turns down any proposal submitted by a State Government the Commonwealth Government ,vill, not take it up.
– The Commonwealth has the power to take it up.
– I know that it has; but the right honorable gentleman said that it would not do so, and” that any scheme condemned by the commission would be taken up by the .Commonwealth only on the passing of a resolution by both Houses of this Parliament.
– I have not come to a conclusion in regard to any scheme which I have not seen. I have not seen the one referred to by the honorable senator.
– The right honorable senator must have come to a determination on this scheme. I have endeavoured to show that the work which this new commission will be called upon to do is already being done efficiently in Victoria, and, no doubt, with equal efficiency and in a businesslike way by bodies already in existence in the other States.
– Does the honorable senator claim that the Otway Forest scheme is a good one?
– I do not know enough about it to express an opinion.
Many years ago, before a railway was built to the Beech Forest, men went down there and put all their earnings and energies into the development of an area, which to-day is more or less overrun with bracken and rabbits. According to the writer of this article, it can be made an excellent place for the settlement of immigrants if good roads and other means of communication are provided. But my objection to this arrangement with the British Government is that under it those who have lived in Australia for a period not exceeding five years will be on the same footing as the oldest Australian inhabitant. It does not matter how long a person has lived in the Commonwealth, or what his experience may be, he will have no greater claim for consideration in regard to land settlement than the man who was assisted to come here a month or two ago. Although those who felled the mighty giants of the Beech Forest devoted the best years of their life to an honest and almost superhuman effort to make good, they had to abandon their holdings, and new arrivals are now to be put on the same plane as them, or, indeed, on a better plane, for they are to be assisted in various directions. New arrivals are to receive the same consideration as any one of the 6,000,000 of our population.
– Would the honorable senator give them votes ?
– Of course I would, when they had complied with the residential qualification as provided in the Constitution, and in the Electoral ActBut my first duty is to Australians. I would first bring about the settlement of the Australian born on the land, and provide work for them. There are some people who cannot look at things except, through Imperial spectacles; they are worried because there is an army of unemployed in the- Old Country, and they are anxious to assist the Imperial Government because it is faced with difficulties. But we have an army of unemployed in Australia. It may not be as big this year as it was last year, but a few days ago it made its voice heard, and its presence felt, as a deputation- to the Lord Mayor, asking for work. If any honorable senator has . any doubt on the matter let him go to the Trades Hall, Melbourne, where there is a register of’ the members of the unions who are out of work. He will find that at present there is a considerable army of skilled tradesmen out of work in the metropolitan area, and at the same time a considerable number of men are out of work throughout the State of Victoria. Under the agreement with the British Government we guarantee to find employment for 450,000 people. What work can the Commonwealth Government offer them? It might guarantee some work at the Federal Capital, but I venture to say that if advertisements were inserted in the newspapers calling for artisans for the Federal Capital, stipulating the payment of Australian rates of wages and the observance of Australian conditions of labour, there would be no difficulty in getting a sufficient supply of workers there. We must remember that in May next most of the big works at the Federal Capital will be completed. To-day there are about 3,000 workmen employed in the territory, but I am disposed to believe that there will not be a fourth of that number employed after the main buildings have been completed.
– Of course, ]f 3,000 workmen will be employed in the Federal territory for some years to come, there will be something doing there, but I do not imagine that anything like that number will be required. The probability is that many of the workmen now engaged at Canberra will be added to the unemployed after this year. The Leader of the Senate says that the Commonwealth has no land. It has six times more land than the State of Victoria, What does it propose to do with it? Not long ago it passed a bill under which a commission was to be clothed with most extensive powers for the development and peopling of that lonesome region known as the Northern Territory. It was to submit to Parliament a policy so embracing and comprehensive that it would provide work for a considerable number of people, and at the same time perhaps open the gates of opportunity for land settlement in the Northern Territory. But the Government has done nothing as yet; it has not even appointed the commission. When that commission does come into existence, is it to be shorn of its powers by the commission which is to be appointed under the Development and Migration Bill?
– Will there be duplication or overlapping if
– I hope that in his reply Senator Pearce will answer the points I am raising. In introducing this bill he said that the commission to be created under it would have power to initiate a policy for the Northern Territory. Thus it would appear that it wlil have the same power as the Northern Australian commission.
– This is all very interesting, but I did not happen to say what the honorable senator attributes to me.
– I understood the right honorable senator to say that the new commission would have the power to initiate a policy for the Northern Territory. I shall find the quotation directly. I have no faith in this proposition. Narrowed down, it is a onesided agreement, to the advantage of the Imperial Government. Works, such as railways and roads, land settlement, and the development of industries that will be undertaken as the result of the loan, would have been undertaken in any circumstances.
– But for the money required we would be expected to pay 6 per cent.
– We shall pay the principal and the major portion of the interest for which provision is made under the agreement. The total liabilities of the British Government over the whole period will be about £7,000,000, and for that amount of money the ‘people of Australia will have to guarantee land and employment for 450,000 British immigrants.
– lt is a good scheme.
– Yes, for the British Government; but not for the Australian taxpayers.
– Because all the work to be undertaken by the commission would, in any circumstance, have been done by the State authorities, and the money for it could have been raised without such binding conditions as are embodied in the agreement. [Extension of time granted.’] I am not at all favorable to this proposal, because I do not think it will benefit the Commonwealth or the class to which I belong. Some would not hesitate to suggest that millions of migrants should be dumped in Australia, because they believe that the larger the population the greater will be our prosperity. They are not at all concerned with the welfare of those engaged in the hard workaday world. They do not wish every man and woman to be fully employed, because in such circumstances there is a lack of competition for the work available with the possible consequence of higher wages prevailing. Some who believe in dumping human beings into Australia in order to flood the labour market, raise the strongest possible objection when it is suggested that imported goods . should be dumped into this country to the detriment of our own industries. The members of the Labour party are not likely to encourage either by this or any other scheme anything that savours of dumping to the detriment of the working class. We are not opposed to the introduction of migrants of the right type, as is shown by the fact that when we were entrusted with the affairs of the Commonwealth from 1910 to 1913, the number of migrants to Australia was far greater than it had previously been. The substantial progress that was so apparent during those years has not since been equaled. According to official statistics and to a statement of the Minister (Senator Pearce) more migrants came to Australia during that period than for a number of years before the advent of the Labour Government. The commission will be a superfluous institution, which cannot do more than is at present being done by existing boards. It will have to obtain the information that has already been gathered by those associated with immigration and land settlement, and in investigating the position of our industries will duplicate the inquiries already completed by the Tariff Board. If it conducts investigations into the possibility of development in the Northern Territory it will be duplicating work which the Northern Australia Commission is expected to undertake. If the Government is really anxious to promote the development and general progress of Australia it should devote its energies to the Northern Territory, the development of which should be considered in a nonparty manner. I have the greatest affection for the land of my birth, and I am grieved to see such a large portion of it so sadly neglected. When the Government speaks of migration schemes and the necessity of peopling our great waste spaces it should first consider that empty .cradle in the ‘ north which although six times the size of Victoria has a population of only 2,000 or 3,000 persons. Why is the Northern’ Territory empty? Not because the land is unsuitable for settlement or that there is an absence of navigable streams; but because this and preceding Governments have not seriously tackled the problem of its development. No problem is too big to be tackled even if it cannot be solved. The construction of roads and railways, the conservation of water and the provision of those other conveniences which make for a higher and better civilization should be the first, consideration of any Government. Prior to the war I frequently referred to the necessity of tackling the development of the Territory, and I was informed that even preparatory work would cost millions. When I suggested that the expenditure of £15,000,000 or £20,000,000 should be incurred in opening it up some were astounded. At that time those who spoke in millions were considered to be fit only to occupy an institution not far removed from this building. To-day we are accustomed to big figures, and an expenditure of £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 on the proper development and settlement of the Northern Territory would be fully justifiable. The Northern Territory is a portion of Australia that should first be developed by the Commonwealth. The States can look after their own business ; and it is the duty of the Commonwealth to do its own work first. The only activity shown by this Government, in the territories under its control, is in connexion with the construction of the Federal Capital, a work, by the way, that I have never opposed. If the Government had shown the same interest in the Northern Territory as it has displayed in Canberra there would be some inducement for people to settle there. Settlement cannot be expected when there is an entire absence of those conveniences and comforts which make for progress in a civilized community. I am full of hope concerning the future of the Territory ; but I have little faith in the present administration, which has done nothing substantial to encourage development in the north.
– No administration has ever successfully tackled the development of the Territory.
– The only serious attempt was made by a. Labour Government.
– And it made an awful mess of it.
– Successes have been built up on failures and the administration to which I am referring proved that it was possible to make the Northern Territory a valuable asset of the Commonwealth, Cotton, sisal hemp, tobacco, and many other commodities that we import from tropical countries can be commercially produced in the Northern Territory. In conclusion, I remind the Senate that the Government has committed the country to this scheme before Parliament has had an opportunity to consider it. It even went so far as to offer a certain gentleman the position of chairman of the commission before a bill providing for the appointment of the commission was presented to Parliament. I have nothing whatever to say concerning the special attainments and qualifications of the proposed chairman, but the Government should have first passed the bill and then appointed the chairman. This Government, however, does not do things in that way. It selects the officers and then introduces a bill under which it obtains power to appoint them. For the reasons I have given I intend to oppose the second reading of the bill.
– I oppose the second reading of this bill because it is unnecessary. Its main objective appears to be to provide good positions for men who have managed to get into the good graces of the Government. If ever there was an illustration of spoils being given to the victors, this bill presents it. It has been freely stated that Mr. Gepp is to be appointed as chief commissioner for a term of five years, and that other commissioners are to be appointed for varying terms. The bill interferes with the work of the States, which hold the land that under this bill it is intended to develop. It has been said that Great Britain is over-populated. I do not believe that. In its issue of the 29th May, 1926, the Commonweal, a London publication, contains the following:
Low) Banbury wants to Work Harder. “ This is a poor country which has lost a good deal of its business,” says Lord Banbury, “ and the only way to regain that business is by working longer hours and working harder.”
Lord Banbury has not got it right. This is a country rich in natural resources. It is inhabited by a vigorous, enterprising, and orderly people. But it is a simple people, easily misled by soothsayers and word-spinners like the noble lord. It will even cheer him when he talks of working harder, although well aware that he has no intention of increasing his output - unless it be of talk.
The people are poor, but this is not remarkable, seeing that of the total wealth production in one year - £3,000,000,000 - more than onethird £1,100,000,000 - is taken from them in taxation. Also, some £600,000,000 more is taken by a few Land Lords as rent. Over 50 per cent, of the wealth produced by the labour of the workers - Lord Banbury is not in this class - is taken from them, and still they keep on working. Yes, they are indeed a simple people.
There are many large estates in Great Britain which are used solely for sheltering a few deer in order to provide amusement for a few wealthy millionaires, probably from the United States of America. Great Britain is not overpopulated while those estates exist. We are told, also, that there are 1,500,000 unemployed in Great Britain to-day, to whom £60,000,000 per annum is being paid from the Consolidated Revenue. Seeing that the landlords of Great Britain receive £600,000,000 annually from their tenants for the right to live in the country, the return of £60,000,000 is really a small item. While those landlords would probably be prepared to continue to return to their tenants that small propor-tion of the amount received by them as rent, they evidently desire to dispose of some of the unemployed. For that purpose it is proposed to lend £34,000,000 to the Commonwealth. That is the amount generally stated, although I cannot see where it is specifically mentioned in the agreement. For the first ten years Australia will be called upon to pay only a nominal rate of interest on the amount borrowed, but thereafter the full rate of interest, probably about 5 per cent., will have to be paid. The effect of this arrangement is really to increase our national debt by £34,000,000. No genuine effort has been made to attract people to Australia. There is no such effort today. Australia has made marvellous progress during the comparatively short period that it has been in the possession of the British race. In the Commonwealth Year-Booh it is recorded that at 6 o’clock on the morning of the 20th April, 1770, the mainland of Australia was sighted by First-Lieutenant Hicks. For a while nothing was done; but on the 26th January, 1788, Captain Phillip took possession of the country at Port Jackson. The development which has taken place in Australia since that time shows that we have advanced with the older countries of the world. What is there in London, Paris, Edinburgh, Berlin,, or any of the other big European cities that cannot be found in Melbourne or Sydney? I admit that there is ample room in Australia for a much larger population; but why attempt to evade facts? Seeing that when the last census was taken there were more than 35,000 unemployed persons in the Commonwealth, it is not surprising that there is no desire on the part of many in the community to increase our population. They know that many who would come out under a scheme such as this would soon swell the ranks of the unemployed. It is not easy to secure land in Australia. Home sites near any of the capital cities of Australia are beyond the reach of the ordinary man in receipt ofthe basic wage and with a wife and family to keep. For that reason, he is compelled to continue to pay rent. The people who would come here under this agreement would be in the same position. In March last, for a block of land at Lake Cowal, in New South Wales, 413 applications from men resident in the Commonwealth were received. Many of those men were experienced farmers, possessed of both money and machinery; but 412 of them were disappointed. If the Commonwealth Government is so anxious to get people to settle on the land, why does it not make representations to the Government of New South Wales to make adequate provision for men on the spot, who are seeking land and would make first-class settlers?
– That is the duty of the State Government.
– While such conditions exist, the Government should not seek to increase the public debt by £34,000,000 in order to bring additional people to Australia.
– The block referred to by the honorable senator was a special o(ne. There is plenty of land available in Australia for settlement, as the honorable senator knows.
– In August of last year 2,200 applications were . received for three blocks of land in Grafton. Many of the applicants possessed capital and machinery, as well as a knowledge of farming conditions in Australia, but no land was available for them. Yet the Commonwealth Government, instead of helping them to obtain land, makes arrangements for the importation of settlers from Great Britain. In my opinion, British farmers are not likely to prove as successful as our own people,who understand local conditions. All the evidence goes to show that the Government of New South Wales does not intend to make land available. Recently, at Moree, in the north-west, there were no less than 1,200 applicants for one block.
– That was splendid pastoral country.
– Very likely it was.
– There is any quantity of land available in the Northern Territory, and it can be had for nothing.
– I am speaking about the position in New South Wales. The Government of that State, I repeat, is not making land available. The onlyway in which we can effectively solve our unemployment difficulties is .to provide land for the people. We never hear of a farmer being out of work, although very often, so it is said, farmers work from daylight till dark. Here is another instance of the land hunger in New South Wales: At Armidale, not very long ago, there were 90 applicants for one block of land.
– There is plenty of land available in Western Australia.
– 1 am not concerned for the moment with the position in that State. My purpose is to put on record the ‘extraordinary demand for land in
New South Wales. Some time ago a block of land in the Narrandera district attracted no fewer than 4,000 applicants, all of whom were experienced men, well qualified to take possession of that land.
– Is the honorable senator aware that there is a Labour Government in office in New South Wales ?
– Yes. There is a Nationalist Government in office in Victoria, and the same difficulties confront a man who wishes to get land in that State.
– The honorable senator is referring to pastoral lands. Why not give us figures about agricultural lands ?
– Very well. Perhaps the honorable senator will recollect that, a few months ago, there were over 1,000 applicants for a block of agricultural land near Henty, on the main southern line. How can the Government expect honorable senators to support the bill if ‘the Governments of the various States are not prepared to make land available? Ever since Australia was handed over by the British Government to a handful of people-
– And the honorable senator wishes Australia -to be controlled by a handful of people?
– -Nothing of the kind. If I had my way, I would put in force a land policy’ that would very quickly treble the population of Australia. All that is required is to make the conditions attractive, and the people will come here of their own free will, just as they go to the United States of America. South Australia, in its ‘earlier years, adopted this policy of importing people from Great Britain. As land was then available at 10s. an acre, naturally large areas were taken up by settlers who urgently required farm assistants. All the newcomers were quickly placed as farm labourers, but, when they discovered that they could get land for 10s. an acre on extended terms, they promptly left their employment to go into the business of land-owning themselves.
– A very wise thing to do.
– Of course it was, tut the reactionaries who had control of legislation - and that type of man is not yet extinct in South Australia - took prompt steps to keep the newcomers in their place. They increased the price of land to £1 an acre, with a result that immigrants were compelled to remain longer in employment before they could take up land on their own account. As a matter of fact, all our legislation up to the present has been designed to keep the people off the land. If there was a genuine desire to encourage land settlement, land would have been made available on the easiest terms.
– The other day I read in a newspaper article a statement that land could, be obtained in Western Australia for from 5s. to 10s. an acre, in blocks of from 1,000 to 4,000 acres.
– Ten shillings an acre might be too much for some land in Western Australia. Certainly I would not pay that price for some portions of the Nullarbor Plains country. If I had my way I would tax the land so heavily that no man would be able to hold it unless he put it to its highest use.
– Would not that be equivalent to confiscation?
– Not at all. A man would either have to use his land or sell it.
– If it were taxed too heavily he would not be able to sell it.
– The effect of my policy would be to compel people to put land to its highest use, or, as an alternative, get rid of it. There is no import duty on men, but if a man wishes to acquire a home site he has to pay a licence for the right to live. That is not the way to encourage land settlement. Nevertheless, that is the policy of this Government, which Senator Chapman is supporting. If an alluvial goldfield is discovered in Australia - and I remind honorable senators that gold-mining is “not more profitable than wheat-farming or dairy- farming - no man is allowed to fence in 3 ‘ or 4 miles of the field. On the contrary, if he fails to work his own claim another man may come along and, following an application to the warden, push him off.’ If he, in his turn, neglects to work his claim, another man may apply - to the warden and have him removed. A different method is adopted in connexion with primary production. A man may get hold of a valuable piece of country, and instead of putting it to its highest use, may hold it from year to year in the hope that some day he will obtain a high price for it. There is no possible hope of justice being done to the people under existing land laws. I read the other day that the workers of Great Britain paid the landlords of the Mother Country £600,000,000 for the right to live there.
– What is the capital value of land in Great Britain?
– I am not in a position to answer that question, but I know that it is very great. If honorable senators will study the Historical Records of Australia, published by Dr. Watson, they will find that from time to time the various governments initiated schemes to bring immigrants to Australia. I have already stated that if there is a genuine desire to attract more people to Australia, the terms of land settlement should be made more attractive. I can imagine no more damaging statement than that which appeared in the Melbourne Age newspaper a few months ago to the effect that nearly 4,000 people applied for one block in New South Wales, and that 3,999 were disappointed. That statement, if circulated in Great Britain, would deter many people from coming to this country.
– Under this scheme the land will be provided for them.
– I am not so sure about that, but I am certain that if land is provided, it will be very costly. Land will not be provided for nothing. If honorable senators look at clause 1 of the agreement, they will see that it makes the following provision: -
The Commonwealth Government shall endeavour to make arrangements with the State Governments -
for suitable areas of land to be made available for development and settlement; and/or
for such public works to be carried out as will tend to promote the development of Australia and directly’ or indirectly to increase opportunities for settlement.
Before anything is done in the way of advertising in Great Britain or of bringing people to Australia, we ought to know whether the State Governments are prepared to make their land available, and at what price. In the early days migrants came to Australia and took up land unassisted. To-day migrants must be taken by the hand, and spoon fed for an indefinite period. According to recent statements, £3,000 is required to settle a person upon the land. To thousands of people in Australia £3,000 represents a fortune, upon which they could retire and “live happily ever afterwards.” There is no surety that those upon whom that £3,000 is spent will make a success of land settlement. The agreement further provides -
To this end, the State Governments will be invited by the Commonwealth Government to submit to them full details of any undertakings proposed, such details to include the estimated total cost of each undertaking classified under appropriate headings, such as -
acquiring or resuming alienated land; .
clearing of land or preparing it for farm settlement;
construction of roads, bridges, &c;
construction and equipment of de velopmentalrailways, tramways, &c. (directly conducive to new settlement but not including main trunk railways) ;
construction of hydro-electric and water conservation or other similar works, in and for the purposes of rural areas ;
construction of irrigation farms;
advances to settlers (including per sons settling or in process of settlement on farms) for the purchase of stock, equipment, housing materials, &c.;
advances to farmers or other rural employers for the erection of cottages for employees;
construction of sugar mills, butter factories, and similar enterprises tending to assist in the development of rural areas ;
settlement of persons upon farms;
any other undertaking or expenditure agreed upon.
It appears to me that the action which we are proposing will result in a repetition of the failure which has characterized every scheme of migration that has been undertaken since we have had responsible government in the various States of the Commonwealth. Looking through the historical records of Australia one finds innumerable references to the unemployed problem and schemes relating to migration, all of which have been to a greater or less extent a failure, because those who have had charge of them have not proceeded in the right way. To substantially increase the population of Australia it is absolutely essential first of all to make land available for settlement. Under this proposal land will not be made available except at a price which will preclude successful settlement.
Some little time ago the assurance was given that the Tweed River district of New South Wales was eminently suitable for the growth of bananas. The authorities even went so far as to impose a duty upon imported bananas. Coincidentally with that announcement those who held the land disposed of it at abnormally high prices to_ returned soldiers. In some cases I believe as much as £125 an acre was paid. Bunchy top developed and, at least for a time, it has destroyed the banana industry in that district and the land has reverted to the original owners. The prices which the returned soldiers paid were a mere nothing compared with those which settlers will be asked to pay under this scheme. The salaries of the commissi oners and ‘ a large staff will make it necessary to charge the unfortunate settlers an extraordinarily high price for land. The main object of the bill is to give spoils to the victors. The Government is doing its level best to delegate the whole of its duties to various boards and commissions. Where is the necessity for a Minister for Markets and Migration if we hand over nine-tenths of his work to a commission ? Many people would like to see the population of Australia substantially increased. At the present time it numbers 6,000,000 people, which is equal to only two persons to the square mile. If the conditions are made attractive, many migrants will be induced to come to Australia. The worst form of advertisement is that to which I have previously referred, in which it is stated that 4,000 applications were received for one block of land. The only way in which land will be made available is to tax it so heavily that no man will be able to hold on to a square foot unless he uses it to its utmost productive capacity.
– It is not my intention to traverse the bill from stait to finish. My remarks will be confined to that portion of it which relates to land settlement in Australia. I was rather struck by the reference of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) to the glorious climate and the vast empty spaces of Australia. Why are those spaces empty when we have a glorious climate and splendid land ? No person enters into any business unless he can make money out of it. A tremendous amount of sentiment is indulged in regarding the ties of emplire in relation to the development of this country. Land settlement, however, is undertaken not for sentimental reasons, but with the object of making a living out of it. That was the motive which actuated the original pioneers. Senator Grant has said that there is no land available in Australia for settlement. With all due respect to him I say that there are millions of acres available, and it can be procured if any one can be induced to take it up. That it has not been taken up and developed is very largely the fault of the Commonwealth Government. That is not mere assertion on my part. In support of it I can point to an admission by the Government itself. It recently issued a statement, which appeared in the daily newspapers of the 19th May last, in which it advanced proposals for placing the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States upon a different footing. In the course of that statement it said that the Commonwealth alone could reduce indirect taxation; that that was not within the province of the States. It went on to state that already indirect taxation had been reduced by £750,000 a year, and that, when the finances permitted, further reductions would be made, because it was recognized that the present impost retarded the national development of Australia and hindered the development of our overseas markets. Immediately a migrant is settled upon the land he is penalized, because, as a result of the increased costs due to the indirect taxation imposed by this Government, the advance which is made by the State for the purpose of developing his holding is worth only 13s. 4d. in the £1.
This bill has been framed by the Government to give effect to the agreement, and since it has already been signed, no argument that we can advance will lead to its alteration. Although the bill does not come up to my expectations in all respects, I approve of the proposal to administer it by a board of commissioners. To my mind it is not within the province of a ministry to administer a measure like this. At any rate, that is the experience I have gained in Western Australia. I feel sure that a great deal of money will fee saved to the Commonwealth and the States by entrusting the administration of the scheme to a commission, provided that the men charged with thatduty are fit to do the work. I do not know who will be appointed, but as the scheme deals mainly with land settlement, I sincerely trust that some of the commissioners will know something about land settlement, and the difficulties attaching to it, and be competent also to judge the value of land. If I read the bill correctly, the old agreement between the “Western Australian Government, the Commonwealth Government and the Imperial Government, will be superseded by that which forms the basis of this measure. It is quite openly recognized in Western Australia that many of the men who were placed on farms under that agreement were settled on unsuitable land. Quite recently the State Minister for Lands has admitted that a. number of them must be removed to other blocks.
– Queensland has had a similar experience.
– I quite believe it. Mr. Bankes Amery, the representative of the Imperial Government in Australia, has praised the Western Australian scheme as being the outstanding feature of . the whole enterprise, but I know that it is far from perfect. Those of us who realized what was likely to happen, strongly urged the previous Government of Western Australia, and also the present administration, to place the settlement of immigrants under the control of a board that would have some knowledge of the task entrusted to it, and would be likely to take every means of informing itself as to the best means of carrying it out. Our advice, however, was not accepted. I congratulate the Commonwealth Government on its proposal to appoint a commission to administer this scheme. As some honorable senators opposite have said, there may be a little duplication and some clashing with existing State authorities; but such things have happened before. We all come into this world to find that everything in it is owned by others. We have to find a place for ourselves, and we do so without a great deal of friction.- I hope that this commission, when it gets into working order, will co-operate harmoniously with the existing Federal and State boards.
– Why should that body have the power to turn down- pro posals which “have been seriously considered and recommended by State bodies 1
– It has no power to turn down a State proposal unless the State is asking for assistance under this scheme, and surely it is right if a State is asking for assistance to carry out its proposals, that all who are concerned should take counsel together, so that we may get the best scheme possible before public money is spent upon it.
– The States have made many mistakes in’ soldier settlement.
– I have a considerable amount of sympathy with the returned soldiers and immigrants who have not made a success of their undertakings. It is not altogether their fault that they have failed. ‘ After all, many, grievous mistakes have been made in our land settlement schemes, and it would be a miracle if there were not some failures. It- has been said that quite a number of the immigrants from Great Britain are absolutely unsuitable. T have never been to the British Isles; but, having read of the deplorable conditions under which great numbers of the people in the Old Country live, the wonder to me is that we are getting such a good class of immigrants as are .coming to Australia. I am satisfied that, although there might be some improvement in regard to the quality of some of the migrants from Great Britain, we have not a great deal to complain about. Our .own parents were migrants to Australia. Certainly conditions were different when they came here, but, like the immigrants of to-day, they had a great deal to learn. I do not quite understand the provision in the agreement that immigrants shall receive the same rate of wages as Australians of similar experience. As they will have absolutely no experience of Australian conditions, it will be exceedingly difficult to pay them the same rate of wages as Australians of similar experience. The rate of wages to be- paid to immigrants until they are settled is linked up with the declaration of several honorable senators that nothing must be done to reduce the standard of living in Australia. I agree with that declaration, but I want to know what standard is referred to. It . has been said, during the course of the debate, that dairymen and others engaged 011 the land are doing marvellously well, but the dairymen, the wheat-growers, the wool-growers, and others engaged in rural occupations work very different hours from those prescribed for organized labour in the centres of population. In fact, I will go so far as to say that butter would cost at least 5s. a lb. if .the basic wage and other conditions applied to organized labour were extended to those who are endeavouring to develop our rural areas. Therefore, when we talk about doing nothing to reduce the standard of living in Australia, we must have a clear conception of the standard we have in view. There is a certain amount of unemployment in Australia, just as there is and always will be in every country.
Sitting suspended from G.SO to 8 p.m.
– In Australia it is largely a question of whether unemployment is real or otherwise. By the means which the Government proposes to adopt under this bill, settlement should be increased and production stimulated. Some time before I left Western Australia I was informed by the Government Analyst that wheat at 6s. a bushel represented only one-third of the price of bread, and the cost of bread, as we know, has a considerable effect upon the cost of living. Even if bakers were supplied with flour free of cost, -bread would still be 4d. a loaf, as against the 6d. a loaf now charged. This indicates that the producer is not receiving a fair deal. Until producers receive greater consideration, I do not think this or any similar measure will be of much assistance to them. Production and distribution costs* are such that they have a restrictive influence upon production in Australia, and production is not likely to increase until conditions are altered. Australia is not populated as it should be, and production is not what we should like it to be, merely because it does not pay to produce many of the commodities we require. I was rather interested in Senator Findley’s description of the Northern Territory as “ our glorious and sunny’ empty north,” in which people should desire to settle. I remember, however, that when a Labour Government was in power it offered, free of cost, areas of 5,000 acres in the Northern Territory to those who would settle on the land there, and that Senator Findley and others of his party were not attracted by the offer.
– I think the honorable senator is wrong.
– I am sneaking only from memory.
– That Government offered areas of from 1,250 to 5,000 acres.
– Whatever was the area offered, the proposition was not attractive to Senator Findley and his colleagues and supporters. However fertile the country may be, it is useless to seriously consider its development unless the commodities it is capable of producing can be sold at a profit. Some time ago meat works were established at Wyndham, in the north-west of Western Australia. Theoretically it appeared a good proposition to assist small cattle-breeders, who had difficulty in finding a market for their stock; but on 28th March, 1925, the Colonial Secretary of Western Australia, who administers the department controlling the meat works, said that during the preceding four years 107,000 head of cattle had been treated, for which £450,000 had been paid, and that during the same period £577,000 had been paid in salaries and wages. In other words, the Government paid £4 8s. 6d. a head for the cattle, and -paid those who handled them £5 13s. 9d. a head for skinning and dressing them. Those figures, which do not include shipping and other charges which had to be incurred in order to place the meat on the London market, indicate the extent to which development is being retarded in this glorious country, with its vast open ‘spaces. Similar figures could be produced in connexion with many other primary industries in Australia, with the exception, perhaps, of the sugar industry, which is in a particularly favorable position. I sincerely trust that when this measure is enacted, and the commission is engaged upon its important work, it will profit by the mistakes which have been made in the past by Federal and State Governments, and that it will use to the best possible advantage the money which is being advanced by the British Government. It has been said by some that the agreement will operate to the advantage of Great Britain; but it must be remembered that Great Britain has her interests to protect, and that, if the agreement does not protect Australia, it is the fault of those who signed it on our behalf. I am an Australian native, but I have always contended that the Mother Country has treated Australia very generously, and that it is our duty to absorb her surplus population. “With a country consisting of 2,974,000 square miles and a population of only 6,000,000, we should be able to profitably absorb hundreds- of thousands of migrants without in any way detrimentally affecting our own people. We have to depend upon production for our national existence; but, up to the present, an efficient scheme for the effective settlement and development of Australia has not been formulated. The average wheat yield in Australia is from 10 to 13 bushels an acre - in Western Australia it is from 10 to 12 bushels - but there is no reason why the commission, in co-operation with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, should not be instrumental in increasing the average yield .by 2 or 3 bushels per acre. I was not born in the Wimmera, but I was taken there as a child, and I can remember when the wheat yield in that district was about 9 to 12 bushels an acre. It is much higher to-day, hut there is no reason why it should not be further increased. Many years ago, in this very chamber, when the Macpherson Grant Land Bill was being considered by the Legislative Council, the representative of the Northwestern province, the late Sir James McBain, was asked how many acres of land in the Wimmera District were suitable for wheat growing. He replied, “Not a single acre.” To-day, however, the Wimmera is one of the best wheatproducing areas in Victoria. What has been the reward of those who have endeavoured to-improve the position of Australian producers? I recall the late William Farrer, who devoted the whole of his life to the improvement of our breeds of wheat, and, without offending any one, I think I can say that that gentleman was responsible to a greater extent than any other individual for increasing our wheat yield per acre, and in so doing adding millions to the wealth of this country. What did he receive for his services? Not so much as an ordinary prizefighter obtains, for bashing the head of another human being into a shapeless mass. Even the wheatgrowers gave him .no tangible evidence of their appreciation, nor have they since his death done anything to perpetuate his memory. That was the reward paid to one who endeavoured to increase the wealth of this country, and to place it in the position which the Minister said he hoped would be the result of this legislation. If his hopes are to be realized, it will be necessary to exercise great care regarding the personnel of the commission. Speaking to the representatives of the Chamber of Manufactures in Sydney recently, the Prime Minister said that the Government intended to get the best men possible to act on the commission. Seeing that the success of the scheme depends upon finding markets, I hope that the Government will not make the mistake of appointing any Australian manufacturer as a member of the commission. Australian manufacturers have so far been unable to find overseas markets for their own products. Markets outside Australia are essential to the success of this scheme.
– As a new senator, I desire to congratulate Senator Carroll on his maiden effort in this’ chamber. I desire also to congratulate the Government on having introduced this measure. So anxious am I that it shall become law that I shall not address the Chamber at length on this occasion. I shall confine myself chiefly to one aspect of the bill to which I trust the commission will devote particular attention. Senator Carroll said that he hoped that the Government would not appoint any member of the Chamber of Manufactures to the commission. The whole of his remarks were based, as, unfortunately, our immigration policy has in the past been based, on the assumption that the only class of immigration with which Australia should be concerned is immigration associated with land settlement.
– This bill is 05 per cent, in that direction.
– I do not think so. The bill is so framed that 95 per cent, of the immigration efforts of the commission could be directed to channels other than land settlement.
– The money would not be made available in that case.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator. I believe that provision to that effect has been deliberately, and may I say wisely, made in the agreement. I have had a long practical experience on the land. I know the difficulties associated with pioneer life; and I say deliberately that if Australia has to depend for its future population on land settlement alone it will be a long time before we can say with any degree of assurance that we have reached a state of security. The task of developing this country is more than 6,000,000 can accomplish. I agree with Senator Carroll that unless markets for our produce can be found it is unprofitable to occupy the land. It is useless to send men 60 miles from a railway to grow wheat. Wheat-growing cannot be undertaken profitably beyond a certain distance from the means of communication with markets. Those of us who have experienced the difficulties of pioneering know what a struggle it is to obtain a living from the land without proper means of communication. One glance at the map of Australia is sufficient to show that a great task confronts our 6,000,000 people in developing so great a territory and bringing it within reasonable touch of export markets. For a considerable time I have held that to accomplish that task we must turn our attention more than we have done in the past to other means of attracting population to our shores, and of increasing our wealth. An enormous expenditure will be necessary to develop so large an area.
– We are confronted with the unemployment difficulty.
– Is the honorable senator so short-sighted as to believe that an increase of population necessarily means more unemployment ? Does he not think that the establishment of industries for the manufacture of articles which now have to be imported will provide employment for a much larger population? The honorable senator has only to consider the experience of the United States of America. For many years there has been a continuous stream of migration to that country. Long before there were any arbitration courts in this country, or organized labour had set out to secure higher wages for Australian workmen,, the United States of America, notwithstanding that stream of migration, was paying higher wages than are paid “in Australia to-day.
– They had land, which they made available. That is not the case with Australia.
– I do not think that honorable senators opposite really believe in the short-sighted policy which from time to time they advocate in this Chamber. While it may be a popular policy, it is one which, if persisted in, will result in putting Australia lower and lower in the scale of progressive nations. I rose to appeal to the Government to assist the commission, when appointed, by every means in its power to establish great industries in this country. I believe that they are essential for our future security. The bill expressly makes provision in that direction. For a long time we have been living in a fool’s paradise..
– Particularly in regard to our fiscal policy.
– The honorable senator appears to have ore idea only. He subscribes to a fiscal policy which belongs to past ages.
– Greater men than the honorable senator have advocated freetrade.
– I do not agree with them. But I am not now dealing with either freetrade or protection. Year after year large sums of money are voted for defence purposes. I have often wondered what would happen to Australia if its defence ever became a vital issue. So long as the British Navy had control of the sea we should have nothing to fear; but I ask honorable senators what would have happened during the great war if one of our allies had ranged herself against us? Could we have defended ourselves for 48 hours? Senator Pearce, who was in charge of the Defence Department at that time, knows that if an expeditionary force of sufficient strength had been dispatched against Australia, we could not have held out for 48 hours.
– That was because we sent our men away to the other side of the world.
– If no man had left Australia, we could not have held out for 48. hours.
– Are we in any better position to-day?
– That is the point to which I have been leading. The bravery of our men, and their fitness for the work which they undertook, was proved times without number on a hundred battlefields during that titanic struggle which lasted from 1914 to 1918. Nevertheless, if every man in Australia were trained to a hair, under conditions of modern warfare we should be absolutely powerless to do anything of an effective nature unless we could maintain an adequate supply of munitions. The question of Australia’s defence per se will never arise unless, owing to circumstances over which either we or Great Britain will have no control, we are thrown upon our own resources. In such circumstances, even if we had an enormous air force, not many weeks would elapse before we would not have a plane to fly with. If I were asked to choose between adding another squadron or two to our existing air force, and spending £500,000 a year in the training of its personnel, or spending £500,000 a year in the establishment of peace-time factories capable of the manufacturing of aeroplanes and internal combustion engines, I should vote for the latter every time, because I believe that they are vital from a defence point of view.
– How does the honorable senator associate his remarks with the bill?
– Undoubtedly defence could be linked up with these migration proposals, by making the condition that, if a bounty were given for the establishment of those industries which I believe to be so vital for the defence of Australia, for every Australian employed they must give employment to at least one migrant. I believe that some portion of the amount to be provided by way of loan by the British Government could be diverted - if not directly, certainly indirectly’ - to the purpose I have mentioned. The migration policy developed on these lines, besides bring ing a large number of people to Australia, would create a larger home market which, I venture to suggest to Senator Carroll, is infinitely more valuable to our primary producers than a market overseas.
– In nearly every case where a new industry, has been established, a certain number of skilled men have had to be introduced to start it.
– That, of course, is inevitable. If we spent a large sum of money to start the motor car industry in Australia, we should have to introduce skilled artisans from overseas to establish it. In this way secondary industries which are .valuable to Australia from the defence point of view may be definitely linked up with migration schemes.
– Should we build our own warships?
– It would be far better to complete our . arrangements for land defence before we commenced building our own warships. The value of the industries to which I have referred, and many others which could be mentioned, lies in the fact that they also cater for the peace-time needs of the community. If Australia were attacked to-morrow, and if international relationships were such as to make it impossible for Great Britain to come to our aid, we should be absolutely powerless within a few days; simply because we have not the means to ensure an adequate supply of munitions. Therefore, I am glad that the Government proposes to consider other’ proposals apart from land settlement schemes. I suggest that the Government should in connexion with its migration scheme take definite steps, to encourage the establishment of those secondary peace time industries, which during war-time could be utilized for defence purposes. I would advocate the allocation of a considerable proportion of our defence vote to that purpose. The adoption of that course will, I am sure, ensure greater security to Australia in the future than anything which we have done up to the present. I do not wish to be misunderstood. I do not suggest that the Government should discontinue its present defence policy, but, having regard to the expansion of our defence activities, I think it would be infinitely preferable to give attention to the development of those industries which are essential to the defence of Australia, and which at the same time would provide large avenues of employment in the production of articles to supply the everyday needs of our people. I congratulate the Government upon what it is doing. I thi nlc it is proceeding on right lines. I hope that the bill will shortly become law, that there will be no delay in the appointment of the commission, and 1 wish the commissioners - whoever they may be - success in their great undertaking.
.- I agree that there is need for a greater population in Australia. The agreement which has been entered into between the Commonwealth and the British Governments makes provision for a grant of up to £1,000 for every British migrant who takes up land in Australia. Possibly this scheme would lead to a certain amount of development, if the land were not held by people who are prepared to exploit not only the British migrants but also Australians. If .the Commonwealth Government provided land and made £1,000 available for every Australian who wished to settle on the land, there would be such as rush that there would be no unemployment in the Commonwealth. There are thousands of Australian farmers’ sons; men trained in farm practice waiting for an opportunity to take up land. Whenever blocks are made available there are thousands of applicants.
– Not in every State.
– Yes, in practically every State. Under this agreement the Government proposes to introduce thousands of British migrants, without regard to their fitness for land settlement. We may be quite sure that Britain will not send the best of her people to Australia.
– We have been getting a very good sample up to the present, at all events.
– Yes, I have met a certain number of them, and I know how they fared after they landed. One man had to work on a dairy farm for twelve months for £1 a week, because no Australian would take the job on. No Australian should offer such a rate of wages to any one. This is going on all over Australia, with the result that a large number of Australians are out of work, because they cannot get Australian standard wages. I can visualize the situation in Great Britain. No man is likely to leave Great Britain if he can make a decent living there. The trouble in Great Britain is due to the fact that the land is held not in small holdings, but by wealthy people who are not prepared to put it to its best use. This is one reason why Great Britain has a million and a half of unemployed to-day, and why intending migrants are looking to Australia.
– A great many of the migrants are industrialists.
– Many of them are coming to Australia because they cannot get land in Great Britain. If the British Government spent the £34,000,000 which it proposes to advance to Australia, in settling British people on the lands of Britain, it would be doing something for the benefit of not only Great Britain, but the world at large. It seems strange that whilst we cannot provide sufficient land for our own people, we should be prepared to accept an agreement which provides for the expenditure of money in the construction of roads, railways and other works, and the settlement of 450,000 Britishers in ten years. We are told that every migrant who takes up a farm will be given £1.000. Australians would take that sum with both hands if they were given the opportunity to go upon the land. I can understand the readiness of Great Britain to adopt an agreement that will enable her to make provision for her surplus population, and render less acute the difficulties caused by unemployment. She has been misinformed by the Government of this country regarding the opportunities that exist in Australia for the absorption of a large number of migrants. We must take a common-sense view of this matter. It is of no use to try to smother up facts. Senator Greene appeared to be concerned about the defence of Australia. He said that a population of 6,000,000 persons was not sufficient to hold this country, and contended that if a properly-equipped raiding expedition were sent here we should not be able to hold out for 24 hours.
– He is not very far wrong.
– I do not pose as a military expert, but I know something of the spirit of my countrymen. I agree with Senator Greene that the best and most inexpensive form of defence for Australia is air defence. Not long ago I had a conversation with a gentleman who occupies a very prominent position in the Air Force, and had a distinguished career in that force during the war. I asked him, “ Can you give me your opinion privately as to whether air or sea defence is the more suitable for Australia?” He said “Air defence.”
– If you ask a sailor the same question he will tell you that sea defence is the better.
– I said to him, “ What could you, as an airman, do with a battleship?” He said, “Give me six planes, with two men in each, and I will undertake to sink the biggest battleship that has ever been built. If we had bad luck we should lose two planes and four men ; but we would sink that ship with all her complement.” That opinion fortifies me in my disagreement with the action of the Government in having two battle cruisers, that could be sunk by an airman in twenty minutes, constructed in Great Britain at a cost of upwards of £5,000,000.
– Can the honorable senator mention one capital ship that was sunk by aeroplanes during the war?
– I cannot. I am merely passing on to honorable senators the opinion that the expert gave me. What would be the use of an airship if it lacked effectiveness? Why are Great Britain, France, Germany, and every other great nation at present experimenting with air defence?
– They are not forgetting other arms of defence.
– All those great nations have been cradled and nurtured in warcraft, and they are now turning their attention, not to battleships, but to air defence. What country would bo foolish enough to think that it could conquer Australia with battleships if we had an efficient air defence? The time will come when a courageous government will say to the people who own the lands of Australia and are not working them properly, “ We have men who are capable of making greater use of those lands and we shall, therefore, take them from you.” Australians will first be settled j and even when they have been provided for there will be plenty of opportunity for other people.
– Where is all this land that is not being used?
– It is all over Australia. In South Australia two or three months ago I was told by a primary producer that his principal trouble was the obtaining of labour. He said, “ I offer £5 a week for a man to- drive a stripper in harvest time, but I cannot obtain one.’ I said, “ How long would that job last?” He said, “About five weeks.” I said, “ Do you really expect anybody to come from Adelaide or Melbourne for five weeks at £5 a week?” He said, “Well, that’s my offer.” I asked, “How much land have you?” and he replied, “ Eleven hundred acres.” I said, “ What area could you work yourself that would give you a living?” He replied, “ Three hundred acres would be ample for me to make a living.” I said, “ Why do you not work that 300 acres and give two or three other men a chance to make a living on the remaining 600 acres? You would not then need to bother about securing a man for five weeks’ work.” Individuals like that expect to have men waiting at their gates looking for five weeks’ work in the year. The ‘ intelligent worker in Australia will not now do that sort of thing. The intelligent employer expects his temporary hands to return, like Diogenes, to their barrels, when he has ceased to need their’ services, and to remain there until he again requires them. Taking a common-sense view of the situation in Australia, I believe that this scheme will do little good. We have so far failed to provide employment for every Australian who needs it, and while we have unemployment here it is impossible for us to offer decent conditions to men who come from across the seas. Under this proposal, there, will be a flood of people coming to Australia and they will interfere with the economic conditions of this country. We cannot live by cutting each other’s hair.
– The protectionist’s idea is that we can.
– In order to populate Australia, we must first make the conditions so attractive that the best men in Great Britain will be induced to come here. From 1910 to 1913 a greater number of migrants came from Great Britain than had come for a number of years previously. They were not assisted in any way; they came here because of the conditions that were offered under a Labour Government. I do not claim that Labour possesses all the wisdom of the earth ; but it is an indisputable fact that during that period the migrants who came to Australia were given ample opportunities to make good. That is the only proper system for the settlement and development of any country. If we could dump in Australia the whole of the population of Great Britain, would progress or development be assisted ? The Mother Country has upon her shoulders the trouble of unemployment, and she is prepared to pay £34,000,000 to get rid of it. Australia is not making provision for the absorption of the migrants that are to be sent here.
– That £34,000,000 is to be merely a loan.
– I am aware of that. Australia is not even prepared to make provision for absorbing her own people, yet wo are told that we are to make history by spending £34,000,000 of British capital in the settlement of 450,000 British immigrants, which would still leave Great Britain with a million unemployed. Suppose we give each settler £1,000, where will we get the land for them when we cannot get land for Australians ? There is something radically wrong with this proposal, and I shall be no party to it. The Commonwealth Government has plenty of money, plenty of opportunity to develop Australia, and plenty of power to do it, and it should use its power to make provision for Australians whom we can trust, because we know they are trained in all the jobs that we can offer to them for the development of this country. I believe that the Mother Country would acclaim the offer of one of its offspring first to make provision, at its own expense, for its own people, before taking steps at the expense of the Mother Country to make provision for her people. Let us say to the Mother Country : “ Although you have many unemployed, whomit is apparent you will never be able to employ, and although we have millions of acres of land, we find it almost impossible to settle our own people, but we intend to do it. We have the money and the legislative power, and we propose to give every Australian who desires to settle on the land the backing of £1,000, because we believe that he will be a better asset to us than your countrymen. When we have employed every man already in Australia, except, of course, those who are unemployable, and when we have no longer unemployment in our midst, we shall then be prepared to offer to the surplus population for whom you cannot find employment, the opportunities we afford to our own countrymen.” I believe that if the Government made that offer of a backing of £1,000 to Australians, it would be accepted, not by wasters, but by men who are trained to rural occupations, and who are only too anxious to engage in those occupations even without the backing of £1,000. I believe that the course I have suggested is a commonsense one, and that if this country is only big enough to put up a proposition like that to the Old Country, it will be received there with acclamation. It is ridiculous to talk of bringing unemployed from overseas to a country where there are already 50,000 unemployed, and I shall not be a party to it.
– Whether or not the introduction of this bill signifies that the Government is dealing with a strategic or defence problem, I view it as a matter of first importance to Australia. We are living in a country of large proportions which, fortunately enough, can accommodate our own countrymen from the small isles in the North Sea, but which on account of its size, climatic advantages, and natural resources, must naturally be the cynosure of very jealous eyes. With such a valuable prize in our possession we need to see to it quickly that we are immune from attack. We can easily recall to mind how careless and easy-going the European nations have been in the past in the matter of discovering new lands. When in 1870 Great Britain annexed the Fiji Isles, Bismarck is said to have remarked in his gruff way, “ Where the devil is Fiji?” That was not very long ago, but in the years that have passed since then not only Germany, but every other nation with an eye for pegging out claims for its own people and its future populations, has been roaming the earth seeking, even in the least inviting parts - Central Africa, for instance - pieces of it, and contending strongly against one another to get them. Therefore, when I direct attention to what has so often been proclaimed before, the glorious possession we have in this country for the settlement of our own kith and kin, it is to remind, honorable senators that we must keep abreast of the need for ensuring its safety. Our first need is an increase in population. Although in the past we have made efforts to ‘ bring people to Australia by very seductive methods, those efforts are now being reinforced and encouraged by the willingness .of the Mother Country to help us. In the past we gave free passages and free land to people who came here; next we gave free passages; then we gave assisted passages, and now’ comes the last and most inviting method of all, that of a paternal Government asking people to come here on easy terms and on their arrival acting towards them as their employer, their constant friend, and general provider. How unlike is the position of those who come here under such inviting conditions to that of those who came here years ago and had to forage for themselves. Perhaps it was just as well that they had to do so, because it made them better men. I doubt whether the coddling method now proposed will have the. most beneficial effect on those who come here. It may be played upon and used for the purpose of extracting .advantages without paying anything in return. I am wholeheartedly in agreement with the scheme in the main, but there are features of it, and particularly of the bill which has been brought in for the purpose of aiding and consummating the scheme, with which I am not at all enamoured. The arrangement with the Old Country is a very good bargain for Australia, but it is an equally good, if not a better, bargain for the Old Country. As I have already said, in days gone by people were invited to come here - they were almost seduced to come here - but the void created in the Old Country by their’ departure was filled by people flocking to Britain from neighbouring islands and from the Continent. At present, however, the British Government realizes that unless it can get rid of some of .its population its position will be almost intolerable.
After a hurried glance at the pro,posals for the distribution of the immigrants under this scheme, I am afraid that it has not been stipulated clearly enough that the countryside requires a very much larger share of those who may come here than is at present proposed. As I understand the position, a State will be offered about 10,000 persons every year for ten years, and, roughly, a. third of those are to be asked to go on the land, while two-thirds are to be absorbed in our secondary industries. In other w.ords. a gre.at number of them will be absorbed in our towns and. cities. I should like to know if that portion of the scheme has been well and thoroughly thought out. Is it right to induce only one-third of these people who come here to go to the countryside, which offers, such vast scope for development and so much opportunity for advancement to any one who has any grit in him? That arrangement can, no doubt, be improved upon as we go along, but it almost expresses a want of faith in the ability of our countryside to provide a decent and suitable living for men who have come here. I think we. shall have a great deal of difficulty in settling onethird of them on the land.
Taking the normal conditions for the immediate past years, as disclosed by the Commonwealth Year-Booh, we have not been able to absorb in our countryside a number of people even remotely approaching 2,200 a year, the proportion which, under the scheme, is to go to the countryside each year. On page 213 of the Commonwealth YearBooh there are some very interesting, but very -dispiriting, figures concerning land settlement in Australia. In New South Wales, in 1914-15, holdings of from 1 acre to 50 acres, running up in regular succession to 50,000 acres, alienated and in process of alienation, numbered 93,000. From 1914-15 to 1920-21, during what is considered an improvement period owing to the imposition of the Federal land tax, the number, instead of increasing, actually declined. In the latter period only 72,000 holdings were alienated or in process of alienation, showing a reduction of 21,000. Before commenting further on the figures for the other States, it should be stated that the method of recording statistics is most unsatisfactory; the periods in the different States vary, and consequently it is impossible to institute a reliable comparison. In Victoria, the number of holdings alienated or in pro- cess of alienation in 1906 was 52,000, whereas in 1919, or thirteen years later, it had increased to 72,000. Whilst the number of holdings in New South Wales decreased by 21,000, those in Victoria increased during the same period by 20,000. What is the position in South Australia? During the five-years’ period from 1916- 17 to 1921-2, the number of holdings of the same class alienated or in process of alienation was 23,000 in the first year and 23,000 in the last year of the period mentioned; so that the central State, notwithstanding the optimistic opinions of some honorable members, has remained stationary in the matter of holdings created by the alienation of Crown lands. In Western Australia the position is slightly different, as for the fiveyears’ period from 1917-18 to 1921-22 there has been an increase from 15,000 to 16,000. In Tasmania there has also been a slight increase. It is regrettable that similar figures are not available for Queensland, which is a young State and one in which primary production and de- velopment is carried on extensively. It will be seen from the figures I have quoted that the loss of New South Wales has been made up by Victoria - one State has been progressive’ and the other retrogressive - and that there are therefore only three States in which Crown lands can be alienated. During a period of ten years, the Government expects to settle 2,250 migrants ‘annually, whereas during the periods . I have mentioned only 409 new holdings have been taken up annually. Some discrepancy may intrude on account of the varying periods, but sufficient is shown to indicate that at present there is nothing to lead us to hope - that when this scheme is consummated extensive settlement will follow . What ‘areas of land are available in the different States? I recently read a report in a South Australian’ newspaper to the effect that the South Australian Government had conducted a diligent search to ascertain the area of land which could be profitably settled in that State, and found that only 500,000 acres were available somewhere beyond the river Murray, which is” necessarily the least-inviting portion of South Australia, and which in comparison with the land already taken up is of poor quality. When that area has been settled, what is to be done? The Govern- ment, through- the commission, will be thrust back upon the expedient, concerning which we have heard so much and in connexion with which so little has been done, of resuming large areas of land adjacent to railway lines or wellmade roads. There is only a small area of -Crown lands available in Victoria or South Australia worth considering, and also in New South Wales except in parts of the State where the rainfall is inadequate. The only way in which 2,250 migrants can be settled annually is by undertaking a thorough system of land resumption in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, as Queensland and Western Australia are the only States in which Crown lands are available. As this measure does not provide for the resumption of land, apparently the scheme has been drawn up without adequate provision being made for the effective settlement of migrants. It is useless indulging in a fanciful flight of imagination, which will not lead us anywhere, and which will perhaps bring the Government into contempt. It is also proposed to advance capital to the extent- of £1,000 each to migrants settled on the land. For those undertaking fruit-growing .that might be ample; but fruit-growing is a rather precarious occupation at present, as is clearly shown by the action taken by the Government in assisting fruit-growers. It is ridiculous to suggest that £1,000 will be of any use to prospective wheat-growers. Most of that, amount would be absorbed before the first bushel of wheat was bagged, even if they obtained the land free of cost. If, on the other hand, they were compelled to pay £7 or £8 an acre, ‘ as many returned soldiers have done, the amount would be totally ‘ inadequate. The proposed commission is superflous, and can ‘be regarded as a ministerial buffer. It will have to do the work of ministers, and will be an agency upon which all the responsibility will be thrust. Surely there are sufficient boards in, operation without appointing yet another commission, for which there is no possible warrant. What are its duties to be? Amongst other things, it will have power to conduct negotiations whether within or beyond Australia for the establishment of new industries in Australia and the development of existing industries. Already instrumentalities are established for that purpose. The Tariff Board, for instance, has conducted investigations into the position of existing industries ‘ and also into the possibility of establishing new industries. We have trade representatives in Washington and, I believe, in the East, who are doing work which this commission is expected to perform. The commission is also to consider prospective development in Australia. Except in regard to future development in territory under Federal control there is no scope for its activities. We ignore the fact that the State Governments are effectively developing the territories under their control. Is it to he expected that the State Governments will allow the members of a Federal commission to invade State territory and to perform work which they are doing. The £34,000,000 which is to be loaned by the British Government is to be expended during a ‘ period of ten years. Some of our Commonwealth departments are not overworked. In my opinion, the Works and Railways Department could do more than it is now doing. The vote for that department last year was about £430,000. The Works Departments of some of the States are doing more than is the Federal Department. The vote for the South Australian Works Department last year was £445,000, a little more than that for the Federal Works and Railways Department. For the Queensland department £275,000 was voted. The amount allocated by the New South Wales Parliament to its Works Department was £1,275,000 - practically three times the amount voted by this Parliament for the Commonwealth Works and Railways Department. These State departments are capable of carrying out works of great magnitude. Moreover, nearly all the States have their Public Works Committees to inquire into proposals of this kind. I am against the proposal to create a commission, because I believe that it would be called upon to perform work which would bring the Commonwealth into collision with the States. It certainly would be asked to perform work which could as well be performed by the Stats departments, and I cannot see any reason for incurring the additional expense. I suggest that, instead of appointing this commission, the Commonwealth Public Works Committee, or a branch of , it, should inquire into the various schemes which may be initiated, working in conjunction with a committee appointed by the State concerned. After deliberation, reports could be submitted to both the Commonwealth and State Parliaments. That would avoid a great deal of circumlocution, and preserve harmonious relations between the States and the Commonwealth. Under the bill as it now stands, the commission will have power to veto the recommendations of the various State Governments. While I support some of the proposals contained in the bill, I shall be forced to vote against it for the reason that I consider that there is no necessity for the appointment of this commission. Should there be a majority against the bill, the Government has ample means at its disposal to deal with the situation which will then arise. Should the second reading be agreed to, I shall, in committee, move that certain clauses be deleted.
– It was not my intention to speak on this bill, but I have been so amazed at the trend of the debate that I feel it incumbent upon me to do so. The short title of the bill is significant. It reads - “Development and Migration Act.” Honorable senators will observe that development comes first, and after it migration. That is the proper order. The bill is designed to deal with the two biggest problems confronting Australia - the development of the country, and its population by people of our own race. I do not agree with Senators Needham and Lynch that this commission is unnecessary, or that the Government, which professes to be a business government, should directly grapple with this complicated and difficult problem. Although the Government may have the ability to deal with this problem in a painstaking and scientific manner, it has not the time to do so. Migration will follow develop- “ ment, as surely as night follows day. The problems confronting Australia ‘with regard to development have never really been faced. At no time have the various Governments, either State or Commonwealth, made a careful stocktaking of their resources and the best means of developing them. That will be one of the duties of the commission. Under the agreement with Great Britain, schemes will be submitted by the States for the approval of the Commonwealth Government. It is impossible for this Parliament to examine thoroughly the various schemes which may be submitted. Personally, I find it difficult sometimes, within the limited time available, to understand the. various questions with which we are called upon to deal in this chamber. Other honorable senators probably experience the same difficulty. It will be the sole duty of the commission to do this work, and, provided that the right persons are appointed, it should render valuable service to Australia. A list of the articles which we now import, but which ought to be produced here, is enough to make a self-respecting Australian gasp. That matter would come within the scope of the commission. I congratulate the Government on having introduced this measure, which, I believe, is a step in the right direction. For years, I was State Immigration Officer in Tasmania, relinquishing the position about 15 months ago. My experience then taught me that there was a tendency to speak optimistically regarding our future, without analysing the position. We talked airily of our great open spaces, and the need for a greater population, but we did not make a careful study of the position. That will be done by the commission, and so long as it is properly constituted, I have no doubt that great good will result from its appointment. Honorable senators need have no fear that “an influx of the right type of immigrant will cause further unemployment. The experience of other countries is that development, instead of increasing unemployment, provides further opportunities for employment. The commission will also undertake a survey of Australia’s labour requirements. I believe that the appointment of the commission will help to solve our unemployed problems. Necessarily, it will have to keep in close touch with the Minister for Markets and Migration, because the right marketing of commodities intended for export must go hand in hand with the expansion of migration schemes. The fact that every proposal must be examined by the com mission is important. The final decision, of course, will rest with the government of the day, but I direct attention to the provision that the Government shall not. approve of any scheme upon which the commission has reported adversely. That is a very wise arrangement. The Government, of course, may reject a scheme approved by the commission, but may not proceed with any scheme that is condemned by that body.
– Unless it is instructed to do so by resolution of both Houses.
– That is so. It would be damnable if it were possible for the Government of the day, for political purposes, to carry out a scheme which, after exhaustive examination by the commission, had been reported upon adversely by that body.
– Does the honorable senator say that the final decision’ with regard to any scheme rests with Parliament ?
– If the honorable senator reads the agreement again he will find that the final decision rests with the Imperial Government.
– It has been stated during he debate that Great Britain is desirous of swamping Australia with large numbers of her unemployed. It has also been inferred that the quality of the migrants lately has not been up to Australian standard. After three and a half years’ experience as a migration officer in my own State, and as one who came into personal touch with about 1,100 immigrants in the first eighteen months, I can say, without fear of contradiction, that, physically and mentally, they are the equal of the average Australian citizen. Of course, a certain numper of misfits have come out, but the percentage has been very small indeed. Unfortunately, there has been a tendency in the press of Australia to magnify any little slip made by a new settler. This is hardly fair. We had a somewhat similar experience when we returned from the war. Frequently one read in the newspapers that “Bill Jones, a returned soldier,” had been arrested on a charge of being drunk and disorderly, or that “ Tom Brown, a returned soldier,” had been guilty of some misdemeanour. . As an association, we strongly resented the unnecessary publicity given to such incidents, and stated that it was only fair that the newspapers should give the same prominence ‘ to the misdoings of “Bill Snooks, who “was eligible to enlist but did not do so.” In this way we succeeded, to. some extent, in overcoming that prejudice .to returned soldiers, which was fostered mainly by unwise press publicity. In the same way, we should endeavour to give new settlers a fair deal. I have had occasion to direct the attention of newspaper proprietors in my own State to this matter. I believe that the little slips made by new settlers have been featured because they represented what newspaper men would call good ‘ ‘ copy. ‘ ‘ This sort of thing does riot help, and, unfortunately, it has created a certain amount of prejudice against new settlers. I speak with great feeling on this matter. I have been keenly interested in the migration movement for many years. Prior to the war I was a member of a migration league, a purely voluntary body that did” very good work in Tasmania in the years 1912, 1913, and 1914. “When I went to the war, I shall never forget the wonderful courtesy and uniform kindness with which I and other Australians who were wounded in the war were treated in the Mother Country. The least we can do now is to extend the glad hand of friendship to new settlers coming from Britain, and do what. we can to smooth away the difficulties in their path. I hope, therefore, that we shall see less of this press publicity with regard to any slips “made by new-comers. I welcome .the bill, especially because of the good it is likely to do for my own State. Tasmania has been in a position of serious difficulty for many years. She is like a business man who, owing to financial stringency, ic unable to take advantage of his assets. Tasmania has wonderful natural resources in minerals, timber,, and “white coal,” but; unfortunately, she is unable to develop’ them. We are hoping for much from the- operations of this commission, because of the promise’ made by the Prime Minister following the ‘report on Tasmania’s finances submitted by Sir Nicholas Lockyer. I” take it that the Migration Commission, acting in conjunction with .the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, will investigate Tasmania’s position, and that important recommendations will be made as to the development of its natural resources. I do not agree with those honorable senators who say that the commission is unnecessary, and that the problem of migration and development should be left to Parliament. Parliament has not the time to deal with it. It is essential that we should “ appoint the very best men available to study the position from a scientific and economic aspect, and recommend schemes for the solution of this difficult problem. I am glad that at last a start has been made, and on right lines, to handle this problem of development and migration. I welcome the bill, and will give it my support.
– The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat adopted a very optimistic attitude. He appears to think that the Government’s migration policy will solve Australia’s unemployed problem. This difficulty, I remind him, confronts every civilized country. Under the agreement the Government of Great Britain proposes to lend Australia £34,000,000 at 1 per cent, for the first five years, with the right of renewal for another five years at the same rate. In other words, Britain is practically making a gift to Australia of £34,000,000 for ten years. If the British Government was sincere, in its desire to solve its unemployed problem,, it would’. apply that .sum of money to the repurchase qf the useless deer parks which are held by the idle rich in England, and make that land available, for its people. England is- at present . importing an enormous .quantity of ‘grain. If its :supplies were cut off for a month, its people would starve. Why does it not solve its unemployed problem by purchasing land that is now lying idle, and placing unemployed people upon it? Mr. Macdonald - not Mr. Ramsay- McDonald, but one of the Conservative members of the House of Commons - made- the statement, when discussing this agreement, “This is a cheap way of solving our unemployed difficulty.” He- then went on to state that -there was a great shortage of agricultural labour in England. If that. is so, how -will it be possible to send to Australia good agriculturists ? We in Australia have not solved our unemployment problem. During the winter months of last year 60,000 persons were unemployed in this country. That is a disgrace to any nation. Yet we intend to bring out here thousands of migrants. The Government says that they are to be placed on the land. I say to the Government that charity should begin at home. If we have any land or money to spare, why not. give bona fide Australians an opportunity to on the land? The Labour party is wrongly accused of being absolutely opposed to migration. No exception is taken to the claim of the manufacturer that goods should not be allowed to be dumped in Australia from overseas ; that we should erect a tariff wall and increase employment by manufacturing all that Australia requires. We agree with that sentiment; but, when we claim that unemployed persons should not bedumped in Australia, we are accused of being selfishly unpatriotic. If it is right for the manufacturer to look after his interests, is it not equally right for us to say, to honorable senators opposite, that labour should not be allowed to be dumped into Australia. Senator Samp son urged that we should not fear that these migrants will accentuate the unemployment problem. But we know, from bitter experience, what it means to be unemployed, and we claim that, so far as it is humanly possible, work should first be found for Australians who are unemployed. We are -afraid that injury will be done to the’ people of Australia if we have a big army of unemployed. I want to know where these migrants will be ‘placed, and what they will grow if they are settled on the land. According to Senator Chapman, they will grow wheat. He claimed that £1,000 was sufficient to enable a man to start farming. As a practical farmer’ he ought to know that that is not nearly enough. Implements, horses, and other working plant are costly, and for the first year at least there will be no return. The settler will have to borrow to tide him over his initial difficulties, and he will have a millstone around his neck for many years. Senator Chapman said that we should -be careful to see that the men who are. brought out here have some -knowledge . of land matters, as otherwise they would be likely to make mistakes. Can it not reasonably be assumed that they will” follow the example of their neighbours? The most experienced farmers in Australia are sometimes guilty of errors of judgment. I worked on the land among farmers for about seventeen years, and I claim to have a little knowledge of farming. Frequently weather conditions govern the success or the failure of various crops. I agree that we should exercise care in the selection of migrants. That is all the more reason for giving Australians the first opportunity of going upon any land that is available. They would not need to be trained. Senator Chapman boasted of the Barwell boys’ scheme in South Australia, and endeavoured to prove that it was a huge success. In plain language, it was simply a system of sweating. The State Government said that the boys would work for a certain number of years on farms in South Australia, and that each would then be given £300 to commence farming on his own. behalf. Any one who possessed a knowledge of the matter knew that that’ was a lie. A number of boys became disgusted with the way in which they were treated by their employers, and some of them committed suicide. . I am hot insinuating that all the farmers were bad masters.; they were not. .Some of them treated the boys as they should be treated. But how many of. those boys are on the land to-day ? Not one. The Barwell Government also introduced a scheme for the compulsory purchase of some of the big estates in South Australia, the intention being to place returned soldiers upon that land. “The measure passed “ the Legislative Assembly, but- the Legislative Council inserted in it a clause that ruined the scheme; “ That chamber contended that if a squatter was keeping one stud ram on his property, that property could not be compulsorily purchased. Senator Chapman was one of those Legislative Councillors who gave preference to a stud ram over a returned soldier. It is contended that the migrants who will come out under this scheme will help to develop Australia and make’ it progress, and, if heed be, . assist’ in its defence. Will ‘the scheme not prove ^equally advantageous to England ? The debt, per head of the population in
England will be increased. On that argument we are being wonderfully generous to ourselves, but are paying no heed to the straits of the struggling masses in England. Senator Chapman also argued that. if we increased our population, our expenditure for defence could be reduced ; but that argument will not bear investigation. Every nation which has a larger population than Australia spends more on defence than we do. England; for instance, spends a great deal more than we do. ‘
– And she can afford to do so.
– We shall neither reduce our debt nor our expenditure on defence by merely increasing our population. The more people we have here, the more we shall have to spend to defend Australia. Another fallacious argument that Senator Chapman used - and I trust that I am not being too severe on him - was that if more people were brought to Australia more work would be available for those who are here, for food and clothing would have to be provided, for the new-comers. If that argument could be substantiated, we should expect destitution to be practically unknown in countries with a large population, for there would be so many people there that work would be available for everybody ; but the reverse is usually the fact. Countries with dense populations have more destitution than countries with small populations. Population has very little to do with destitution. Before the glorious Seddon Government of New Zealand assumed office, soup kitchens were established all over the country to provide food for the starving poor, but soon after it took control of the country’s affairs the soup kitchens disappeared, and so did the unemployed, and New Zealand came to be known as God’s own country. But after the death of Mr. Seddon and the assumption of office by a new government, the old conditions re-appeared to such a degree that one New Zealand writer said -
I am New Zealand born. Once I looked upon New Zealand as being God’s own country, but to-day I refer to it as a hell on earth.
The government of a country is responsible for the condition of its people. I judge a nation, not by the vast wealth of the few, or by the big banking accounts of its idle rich - if I may be pardoned for so describing them - but by the prosperity of its toiling masses. England has a huge unemployed army. In my opinion, her policy of paying doles to the unemployed is wrong. If she were sincere in her desire to abolish unemployment, she would say to those who own huge areas of country there, “ You must give up your land so that we may settle the unemployed upon it, and in that way increase our production.” But she is not adopting that attitude. The statement of Mr. Macdonald that I have already referred to was most unfair, and should not have been made. What does the Government intend that the settlers it proposes to place on the land shall grow? Does it contemplate extending its irrigation settlements and increasing the number of persons growing fruit in this country ? That policy will hardly pay. We have already lost hundreds of thousands in persisting with it for our returned soldiers. If inexperienced Australians have not been able to succeed on the land, how can we expect success to attend the efforts of inexperienced Englishmen, who are totally unacquainted with Australian conditions? Before the Government thinks of increasing the number of persons on the land in Australia, it should try to provide markets for those who are already engaged here in primary production. Our overproduction of fruit is a problem that is crying aloud for solution. The Labour party believes in a sound policy of migration, but it is totally opposed to allowing large numbers of people to be dumped here without proper provision for them. I think no one will dispute that we ought to increase our population as rapidly as we can by reasonable means, and, if possible, by introducing people of our own nationality; but the best way for us to do it is to make conditions in this country so attractive that people who are prepared to migrate will come here of their own accord. If we do our duty in that direction we need have no fear that we will not get a sufficient number of immigrants. I shall vote against the bill, because I regard it as our first duty to do something for the mighty body of unemployed we have every winter. During our summer months we have scarcely sufficient labour to meet requirements, but as winter ap- preaches we have & big army of unemployed. Some means ought to be discovered of meeting that situation. It is unfair to ask the workers to provide labour in the summer and do the best they can to earn sufficient to buy bread for themselves and their families during the winter. When we have overcome that problem, we can bring in immigrants, British preferably, but if they are not available, then Scandinavians, who make good citizens, are a hardworking people, and a credit to any country in which they live.
Debate (on motion by Senator Andrew) adjourned.
Bill received from House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator PEARCE, read a first time.
Senate Adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 July 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260714_senate_10_114/>.