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Thursday, 10 November 1921

Senator FOSTER (Tasmania) .- There is one phase of the immigration policy in relation to land settlement which I have wished for a long time that the Government would deal with. I refer to those companies which, in the different States, acquire large areas of land, which they cut up and boom, and on which they settle immigrants, who have absolutely no chance of success. There is one such company operating in Western Australia, which has recently attracted attention owing to its advertisements of the sale of land. I do. not want to criticise that particular proposition, or others of a similar nature.

Senator Drake-Brockman - There is every indication that the particular venture to which the honorable senator has referred is going to be a great success.

Senator FOSTER - That may be so; but . I have seen other ventures with similar indications that have worked out very badly.' I know of a number of people who have come out to Australia, and gone on to settlements promoted in this way, who regretted that they ever saw Australia. I admit that the difficulties are great, from the point of view of the Government. If immigrants are brought to Australia, and by advertisement or other means are induced to take up blocks of land, they ought to be provided with some sort of Government certificate or Government recommendation on which they can rely. I would suggest that the Commonwealth, in conjunction with the States, might consider the introduction of such a scheme. I have in my mind one area that was cut up for orchard land, where, it was afterwards proved, there was never any possibility of the settlers succeeding. I know that as a result of this venture a number of people who otherwise would have come to Australia as good settlers were lost, and our fair name was dragged in the mud in two British-speaking countries, because of the bad deal the settlers received. I suggest that when large estates are being cut up, and offered under the terms and conditions that some of them have been offered, there ought to be an arrangement between the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments, which control the land, whereby an investigation would be made by the agricultural experts of the States, and a certificate given which would be a guarantee that the land offered to a prospective purchaser was what it was represented to be. There is one man in Melbourne who says that he is prepared to sell land adjoining the property that has been referred to in Western Australia for 10s. an acre.

Senator Drake-Brockman - That does not necessarily mean that the other land is no good.

Senator FOSTER - The Minister has said that it is impossible for a man in Australia to . obtain land.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did I say that it was impossible to obtain land?

Senator FOSTER - The Minister said it was impossible to obtain holdings in this country unless the settler had capital.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Exactly; that is so.

SenatorFOSTER.- If the land adjoining the property in Western Australia can be acquired by the Government for 10s. an acre, and if people are settled on it and left to put on their own improvements, it would not be tremendously expensive to the Government, nor would it require a large capita] by the immigrant. If there are Crown lands unoccupied it should be the policy of the Governments concerned to see that they are made available for settlers before they are brought to this country.

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