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Wednesday, 26 November 1941


Mr SPEAKER (Hon W M Nairn - Order ! The subject which the honorable member is now discussing has nothing to do with the Land Tax Bill.


Mr CALWELL - No, but it is germane to the arguments of the honorable member for Barker, whose remarks were applauded by honorable members opposite. The people of Australia have nothing to thank the " squattocracy " for. The honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden), who is titular leader of the Country party, laughs, but the honorable gentleman is a practising accountant and what he does not know about the land would fill libraries. I have no doubt that when members of the United Australia party are re-united he will cease to be Leader of the Opposition. The vast majority of the farmers of Australia are represented in this House by members of the Labour party ; they are hopelessly in debt to the financial institutions of Australia and their plight is grave. It is the banks that ruin the farmers; the land tax cannot be blamed. What this country does need every generation or so is an agrarian revolution which will break up the large holdings that accumulated again after every sub-division. Land in Gippsland, formerly owned by the cattle king, Tyson, which was subdivided into small pastoral allotments, is reverting to its former condition, and either the Commonwealth Parliament or the State Parliament will have to do something about it. After the last war a great many returned soldiers, city-bred men as well as farmers' sons, who wanted to go on the land, could not procure allotments because the land was locked. Vast stretches of country are still in the same condition, and the owners will have to be forced, either by means of a land tax or by some other means, to subdivide their properties in order that the closer settlement which we need so much shall be achieved. There is, therefore, every justification for the land tax. The anxiety which honorable members opposite displayed when they were in power to reduce theland tax, even in times of financial stringency, showed that they are more concerned in the preservation of the interests of the squatters than in the interests of the country at large. Honorable member? opposite jeered when I said that the squatters had never been of any real use to the country. It is true that they have grown wool, but wool could have been grown in Australia without their aid. Honorable members opposite may jeer as they like, but constitutional, industrial and social reforms have been won in this country despite the intransigent attitude of the squatters. The memorable events of the Eureka Stockade resulted from the actions of a squatterridden Legislative Council in Victoria. The reactionary and stultifying upper houses of Australian parliaments were, until several decades ago, dominated by squatters. The progress achieved by Queensland has been due to the fact that it abolished its upper house, whereas Victoria's progress has been retarded by the fact that it. has not been able to destroy its second chamber elected on a restricted franchise. At one time one had to possess £3,000 worth of equity in an unalienated freehold property in order to be elected to that house. Honorable members opposite who are the political heirs of the people who put the land to ill use in the past do not like to be reminded of the evils that those people perpetrated. Having delivered a well-deserved lesson to honorable members opposite, I leave the House to resolve the question.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.







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