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Thursday, 10 November 1921

Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) . - I did not intend to speak on the Department now under consideration, but the pessimistic . and "Doubting Thomas " attitude adopted by the Leader of the Senate on the question of immigration impels me to say a few words.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable senator say that it is pessimism to point out the task ahead of us?

Senator DUNCAN - The Minister did more than that. He threw a number of pails of cold water upon an immigration scheme which, after listening to his remarks, I am convinced he has not had an opportunity of inquiring into. I refer to the scheme put forward by Sir Joseph Carruthers, which has been indorsed by every section of the public in New South Wales that has had an opportunity of hearing the scheme explained.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - It is indorsed by the New Settlers League.

Senator DUNCAN - I have no doubt that Senator E. D. Millen has not had an opportunity of hearing Sir Joseph Carruthers, of reading the literature explaining the scheme, or of acquainting himself with its essential features. Listening to the honorable senator, one would suppose that Sir Joseph Carruthers and those supporting him in his magnificent ideal had proposed to place a million farmers on a million farms in a few weeks' or in a few months' time.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not care whether it is weeks or months. What is proposed cannot be done for £30,000,000, and I do not regard it as pessimism to say so.

Senator DUNCAN - The attitude adopted by the honorable senator shows that he does not know just what Sir Joseph Carruthers' scheme is. He does not know that it is proposed to co-operate with the British Government in this matter.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I know that Sir Joseph Carruthers' scheme is. simply the scheme I put to the British Government six months ago, and I know their answer regarding it.

Senator DUNCAN - The honorable senator may have put a scheme before the British Government six months ago, and they may not at that time have looked upon it with the friendly eye with which, according to all reports, they now regard the scheme put forward by Sir Joseph Carruthers. Senator E. D. Millen must be well' aware that in New South Wales there are millions of acres of Crown lands available for settlement and which might be settled very easily and in a very economical way under a scheme operating over a series of years. It is not proposed by Sir Joseph Carruthers that large sums of money should be spent in the repurchase of estates already privately held. Look at Renmark and Mildura as schemes of settlement. There are two settlements on our greatest river carrying thousands of families and paying handsomely.

Senator Senior - Does the honorable senator know the history of those two places ?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Could we start a Mildura without money?

Senator DUNCAN - There is room for a thousand Milduras and Renmarks in Australia. There is plenty of land available for such settlements.

Senator Crawford - There would be no market for the produce of the settlers.

Senator DUNCAN - It would not be necessary that all those settled upon such areas should grow fruit. They might turn their energies to the production of other things. The land is available, also the water for irrigation purposes, and a market might be found for the produce from such areas.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Can the honorable senator tell me how much capital per settler was required at Mildura?

Senator DUNCAN - I am not in a position to say. It is proposed that Sir Joseph Carruthers' scheme shall cover a period of years. It is further proposed that it shall be operated on the group system, and the settlers will assist each other in clearing the land. Half the capital required is to be found by the British Government.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The British Government flatly declined to advance the capital, and gave me good reasons for their refusal.

Senator DUNCAN - -So far as I know, the British Government have not declined to assist the Sir Joseph Carruthers' scheme; .1 believe that they are prepared to .support that scheme.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Sir Joseph Carruthers has never said that the British Government will support his scheme. He has only said that he should be sent to London to ask them to do so.

Senator DUNCAN - I do not know whether the British Government will accede to his request or will decline to do so, but assistance from the British Government is an essential feature of .his scheme. The scheme is sound enough, and there is no reason why the British Government should not co-operate with Governments in Australia for the settlement of British people in this country. I believe that the scheme can be carried to fruition. The land is there, and the money to carry out the scheme will be available if the British Government will stand in with Australian Governments. It should not cost the enormous sum to Australia which Senator E. D. Millen seems to imagine it will. We should give every encouragement to a scheme of that sort. We should not say that it is impossible, and content ourselves with pointing out the difficulties which must be overcome. Difficulties have had to be overcome in the carrying out of every big national project. In my opinion, every credit is due to Sir Joseph Carruthers and those associated with him in his great scheme for the work they are proposing to do, and the magnificent enterprise it is proposed to display. I wish them,'.personally, all kinds of good luck, as it would be entirely in the best interests of Australia should such a scheme bc carried out, even to half the extent of success which those supporting it desire. If we can get half-a-million settlers on halfamillion farms, or a quarter of a million settlers on a quarter of a million farms, under the scheme, "wh'6 will then .say that it is a failure ? The ideal is a magnificent one, and though it may f all short of complete accomplishment something well worth while may be done under it, and that will be infinitely better than doing nothing because of this and that difficulty in the way. That is not .the spirit in which to deal with the great question of immigration and land development in this country. We 'should have large ideals, and .should refrain from belittling those who are animated by large ideals.

Senator GUTHRIE(Victoria) [410|. - :I did not intend to speak on the immigration question , .at this juncture. I hoped to do so at a later stage, when considering the paltry amount set aside by the Government in the Budget for immigration. I regret the pessimistic tone of the remarks made by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen). I am one of those optimistic Britishers and Australians who have a great faith in their country, but who, realize that at the present time we are living in a fool's paradise, because we are occupying one of the largest and richest countries on the globe with a handful of five and a half millions of people, and are not able to defend ourselves. We must realize that in other countries facing the Pacific there are hundreds of millions of people of other races jostling each other for elbow room who must by force of circumstances cast their eyes to unoccupied land such as this. The great menace to Australia, to the peace of the world, and to our Empire at the present time is the fact that Australia is dangerously large, rich and empty. It is therefore to be regretted that any honorable senator should, make remarks which, rightly or wrongly, might be construed by people outside to indicate that immigrants are to be induced tei come to this ' country who will not do1 well when they come here.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator will permit me to say that I was pointing out only what it is necessary to doi to receive them.

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