Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 21 May 1936


Senator ARKINS (New South Wales) . - I agree with Senator DuncanHughes that the difficulty associated with the adoption of a common language is that of national prejudice. Each nation has its own literature and traditions, its people love their mother tongue, and will not willingly adopt another language. Honorable senators should remember, however, that the proposal of Senator Abbott is for an auxiliary language - an addition to the mother tongue of the people of every nation. The adoption of an international language would not destroy the traditions of any people, because they would still be preserved in their several mother tongues. Senator Duncan-Hughes expressed the opinion that any proposal to make English the accepted auxiliary language would be doomed to failure because of national prejudices in Europe, and I would add also, in the Orient; but I remind him that English is used to-day by approximately 300,000,000 people in their business communications, and is the official language of probably 500,000,000 people. One reason for the great use of English throughout the world is that it is the language of the 127,000,000 people of the United States of America, that great country which was once a British colony. The influence of Britain in India and other eastern countries, and of the United States of America in Mexico, Argentina, Chile and other American republics makes English also known .by an additional 100,000,000 people.


Senator Duncan-Hughes - They speak Spanish principally.


Senator ARKINS - Yes; but the auxiliary language of South America today is English, because, commercially, South America is linked with the north. When Senator Abbott referred to the international thought exchange I asked him whether he would consider the possibility of adopting basic English as an auxiliary language on which an international thought exchange could be baaed. Do honorable senators understand what basic English is? The Oxford Dictionary, which is the most remarkable publication of its kind, contains hundreds of thousands of words which compose the English language; but basic English is reduced to 850 words.


Senator Duncan-Hughes - The same can be done with French or German.


Senator ARKINS - No; Ogden has proved that. Remarkable to relate, many countries, including Japan and various European States, are to-day adopting the idea of basic English because of its simplicity. The Society of Basic English in Great Britain has published many works, including the classics in abridged form, and books on astronomy and economics. Already a book dealing with the League of Nations has been published in which modern English is transposed into basic English. Probably a vocabulary of 60,000 words would be contained in the original work; but on opposite pages the same facts are set forth in basic English, which is limited to 850 words. Honorable senators will admit that that hardly seems possible. English has, unfortunately, become a jargon language. If we desire pure and undefiled English, we are obliged to go back to Bunyan, or to the Old and the New Testaments. As appearing in those pages English is found in all its glory, and it tinkles along in all its simplicity, t desire that Australia should be first among the nations of the world to request the League of Nations to take action to establish an international language. The influence of radio has spread through all countries, and, to-day, there are approximately 90,000,000 wireless sets receiving messages from all parts of the earth. That is representative of modern progress; it leads one to believe that the establishment of an international language is not a remote possibility. Senator Sir George Pearce cited the American Civil War as an indication that language does not tend to preserve peace; but I remind him that history shows that 250 years ago civil, war reigned in England. To-day, however, "the Yorkshireman, the Lancashireman and the Dorsetman are distinguishable from one another only by their dialects, and even these show a tendency to disappear. Reading H. V. Morton's In Search of Scotland, recently, I noted that the author stated that 160 years ago the Highlander was a barbarian. That, of course, is merely his opinion. A means of intercourse to enable men of different races to converse with one another in a common language and understand one another's ideals and aspirations is the greatest incentive to them to work for the maintenance of peace in the world. Is not that peace worth striving for? Recently, I saw a film of the graveyards in France containing hundreds of thousands cf little wooden or concrete crosses in memory of men who were killed in thiprime of their life. Having regard to such experiences, is it not worth while to endeavour to remove the cause of war? Let us not always have counsels of despair. Humanity has infinite possibilities. To be always thinking in the past, and believing that 'to-day we cannot do something to solve the greatestproblem of all - the peace of the world - is a disgrace. I hope that some day the League of Nations will attempt to create an auxiliary language by which men will be able to understand one another, and make a concerted effort to usher in an era of universal peace, when man will work for man, each for each, and all for all.

The population of Australia is a matter of serious concern. Six and threequarter million people hold a continent of approximately the same size as the United States of America. While Australia has not the advantages of the water-ways of the American continent, its average climatic conditions may be superior. The population of the United States of America is 127,000,000. Figures show that the computed average natural increase of population in Australia is 110,000 annually; by 1973, therefore, the population will be about 7,500,000. The following table enables a comparison to be made with other countries: -

Every two years the Russian increase exceeds the total population of the Coin.monwealth, whose low natural increase is. undoubtedly, a serious matter. Public men to-day realize the gravity of it, and the danger is appreciated in Great Britain also. I quote from a document received from the Empire Migration Settlement Group -

During the last few years the problems of Empire migration and overseas settlement have been widely ventilated, and many avenues leading to their solution have been discussed, both in the House of Commons at Westminster and elsewhere.

That a policy of Empire development and settlement is necessary to the welfare both of the United Kingdom and of the dominions, is generally agreed. But it is evident that there are differences of opinion as to whether the time has yet arrived to give effect to such a policy, and as to methods of doing so.

In the hope of its being of service at thin juncture, we have prepared and now offer for consideration, a short summary of what has recently transpired, and of the arguments advanced for and against early action and a change in methods.

The following is a summary of recent events, bearing on the question: -

1.   In the House of Commons, the opinion that the 1922 Empire Settlement Act, with its grant of £3,000,000 annually has not come up to expectations, has been frequently, and warmly expressed.

According to the dominions' secretary's figures over £30,000,000 which might have been expended on Empire migration, is unspent; it is also known that for the last five years over 50,000 persons desirous of migrating have not been accorded facilities to do so. Several attempts made in the House of Commons to amend the 1922 act have come to nothing, the most recent being in 1933, when the dominions' secretary spoke favorably to the principle of the amending bill' then before the House.

2.   In 1932, theJoint Parliamentary Committee on Migration, in its report to the Government, urged an overhaul of migration policy, and machinery, recommending an early resumption of migration, and the better organization of settlement overseas.

3.   In 1033, the Empire Development and Settlement Research Committee issued its report, urging an early resumption of migration. An outstanding feature of this report was its recommendation of large expenditures on Empire development and settlement, as a means of relieving unemployment both in the United Kingdom and in the dominions.

4.   Early ill 1934, over 300 members of the House of Commons signed a resolution urging the Government to take up the question of organized overseas settlement without delay.

In the House of Commons there are" Approximately 600 members, and more than one-half of them are definitely satis fied that the time is opportune for reconsideration of this matter -

5.   In September, 1934, the report of the

Inter-departmental Committee on Migration Policy was published - a document of a negative character, discouraging to hopes of an early resumption of migration. It threw cold water on efforts to organize overseas settlement, and discountenanced in particular group settlements. Nevertheless, it carried matters forward a step in two regards -

(i)   The setting up of a migration board.

(ii)   The suggestion to abandon the 30-30 principle embodied in the 1922 Empire . Settlement Act. and, in certain cases, to increase the contribution up to 75 per cent,

6.   In September, 1935, a two-day Empire voluntary migration conference was held atNewcastle-on-Tyne. Its report, which was warmly in favour of organized migration, with adequately financed and. properly supervised settlement, was presented to the Government on the 24th October, by a committee led by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle.

It is remarkable that, with the solitary exception of the report of the Inter-depart mental Committee on Migration Policy, all the reports and resolutions referred to have been definitely in favour of an early resumption of migration, with organized settlement overseas.

Whether we like it or not Australia must endeavour to secure additional population. A policy of closer settlement in the agricultural and other primaryproducing districts must be adopted. The Empire Migration Settlement Group aptly deals with this point. Although much can be said against bringingmigrants into Australia while our own people are unemployed, there are twosides to the subject, which canbesummed up as follows: -

That migration is not merely a product of prosperity, but is itself a producer of prosperity, for - if properly financed - it increasesemployment, produces a new wealth, creates-, demands for manufactured goods and for services, and acts generally as a fillip to tradeand business.

That where schemes of organized settlement' on the land have failed in the past they havefailed owing to avoidable mistakes, and'that we can, and must, take our lesson from them.


Senator Collings - More unemployment !


Senator ARKINS - We have heard that complaint from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) or his friends for the last 25 years-. I have no doubt that, if we examined the reported utterances of public men when Australia bad a population of only 1,000,000, we should find references to the need, first to provide employment for those already in this country 'before seeking additional population from overseas. The Leader of the Opposition knows very well that in Northern Queensland there is room for at least 10,000,000 people, and that no other part of Australia is so inviting to an aggressor. It is wrong for the honorable gentleman and his friends to object to migration schemes on the ground solely that there are still some unemployed people in this country. If Australia had twice its present population there would be less unemployment than there is at the present time, because then we should have a wider home market, which is the best market for our primary producers. The intense nationalism that has been displayed in other countries is contracting our overseas markets, so we must give more attention to the development of the home market. The circular of the Empire Migration Settlement Group stated further -

That the history ofEmpire migration and of Empire trade shows that migration has never waited on markets; on the contrary, that markets havebeenbuilt up by migration; that " trade follows migration, and migration encourages trade " ; and that " every migrant from the homeland who successfully establishes himselfoverseasis a customer for British goods, and provides employment for other workers both in the United Kingdom and overseas."

This is the reverse side of the picture. People in England recognize that an increase of population in Australia will mean wider markets for British manufactured goods.


Senator Collings - Apparently the honorable senator's suggestion is that Britain should shift its unemployed to Australia. He expects us to attain to prosperity by taking Britain's unemployed.


Senator ARKINS - The honorable senator must agree that we cannot afford to neglect the settlement and development of this country. The statement continued -

That there is no reason for further delay; that it is a mistake to think that migration from the United Kingdom to the dominions is not possible as long as there is unemployment in the dominions; that on the contrary, unemployment - both in the United Kingdom and throughout the Empire - is being fostered by the holding up of migration from the United Kingdom to the dominions.

The right honorable Lord Middleton is president of this organization, and many members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, as well as some of the most influential men in Great Britain, are on the committee. The establishment of a similar council in Australia, to cooperate with the British organization, would have beneficial results to this country. Already we have delayed too long action in this important matter. If a movement were started to set up a similar body in this country, there would be no lack of influential public and business men seeking appointment to it. Within the last few days I have received an interesting letter from Mr. Gordon Bennett, the editor of The Farmer and Settler, one of the leading newspapers in New South Wales circulating among those connected with rural industries. This gentleman is widely known for his valuable contributions under the penname of "Uncle Wiseman", and also as one, who for many years, has taken a great interest in land settlement. He writes -

I hope you have had time to " chew over " carefully my closer settlement scheme.

I have been doing a little speaking on the subject throughout the country during the last few months, and I have been astonished at the very strong opinions that I find existing all over the State in regard to this subject.

I have taken a keen interest in closer settlement in New South Wales, and at various conventions of our party I have submitted resolutions for the furtherance of such proposals. I have been particularly impressed by the scheme submitted by Mr. Prell, an experienced grazier in the Goulburn district. Doubtless, many honorable senators are familiar with Mr. Prell's proposal for specially devised machinery and the application of artificial fertilizers to approved pasture lands, with a view to the settlement of a large number of land-holders on small areas. Mr. Prell is well known as a practical man of wide experience, and I believe that the results which he has reported from his scheme in the Goulburn district are a revelation to many people. It was the subject, recently, of inquiry by a select committee of the New South Wales Parliament.


Senator Gibson - Where would be the market for the produce of those new settlers ?


Senator ARKINS - The principal products would be wool and mutton, and, as the honorable senator knows, very little difficulty would be experienced in selling wool. Nor is it expected that there would be any trouble in marketing mutton and lamb.


Senator Gibson - There is a problem; not a market.


Senator ARKINS - I understand that there is a good market for mutton and lamb in Australia, and I am convinced that the adoption of the scheme would yield excellent results.


Senator Collings - Many people in this country cannot afford to buy mutton or lamb.


Senator ARKINS - I should be very sorry, indeed, to think that there was any truth in the honorable senator's statement. He knows that the average Australian fares very well.


Senator Collings - Thousands of Australians never see lamb, and the present State Government is not doing anything for them.


Senator ARKINS - They are much better off to-day than they were under the government which the honorable senator and his friends supported. It is said that people have short memories ; but I am convinced that the people of New South Wales will not soon forget what happened to them under the State government which preceded the present administration. Mr. Bennett goes on to state -

While my scheme does not exactlyfit in with that of Mr. Prell at the outset, it would receive a decided impetus were Mr. Prell's suggestion adopted, and were he given an opportunity to prove the success ofhis plan by applying it to the area he has in mind. His scheme would only cost about ?35,000. It would provethat tableland country is capable of being improved, with the proper sowing of introduced grasses, to be made to maintain a family on 200 acres.

Mr. Bennett'sproposal is to re orientate the business of grazing - to improve pasturelands by the application of artificial manures, thus encouraging the settlement of efficient graziers on small areas. His experiments have proved that this is possible on the tablelands of New South Wales, and there is no longer need for the continuance of the present system of broad acres in the grazing industry. To my mind he has also devised a workable scheme which I should like to see given a thorough trial in agricultural districts.


Senator Abbott - Artificial fertilizers cannot be applied indiscriminately to pasture land ; only on areas with an adequate rainfall is the system possible.


Senator ARKINS - Mr. Prell's scheme is, I understand, a new idea in pasture development.


Senator Abbott - And a good one.


Senator ARKINS - I am glad to have the honorable senator's assurance that the scheme propounded by Mr. Prell is sound. I know that that gentleman is regarded as one of the most successful graziers in New South Wales, and he is convinced that the application of his scheme to approved areas will be entirely successful. Mr. Bennett continues -

If his scheme works out satisfactorily, and I am confident that it would, and my scheme were applied, there would be an immediate opportunity for hundreds of thousands of land-seekers to establish themselves on homemaintenance areas in the good districts of the State.

I entirely agree with that statement. Admittedly many attempts have been unsuccessful; the attempt to settle returned soldiers on the land was a colossal failure, due in many cases, not to the quality of the land, but to the unsuitability of the settlers. If inquiries were made in the farming districts of New South Wales, and in fact, in any State, it would be found that 90 per cent. of the failures are due to the unsuitability of the settlers. It was once thought that any man who settled onthe land could become a successful farmer, but experience has shown that considerable theoretical training and years of practical work are essential before a man can work his holding profitably. Some may say that that is ridiculous, but as farmers have to combine technical skill with very hard work for long hours, it will be realized how difficult it is to make a success of farming operations. We shall have to do as is suggested by Mr. Gordon Bennett, the editor of the Farmer and Settler, whose scheme has been placed before the people of New South Wales and has received substantial support. It has also been largely embodied in the scheme suggested by the select committee of the New South Wales Parliament. Our natural increase is so small that even 40 years hence the population will not exceed 8,000,000. This is astounding when we remember that we are holding a sparsely populated continent at no great distance from countries in the north occupied by peoples numbering hundreds of millions. In the matter of closer settlement, we appear to be powerless to improve the present unfortunate position.


Senator Collings - Does the honorable senator seriously suggest that we are powerless?


Senator ARKINS - That has frequently been stated. Thank. God there are still in our midst men endeavouring to lay down the foundations upon which an edifice worthy of this young nation will yet be built. One of the main essentials is to rear healthy Australians so that we shall be able to increase our population to such an extent that in the years to come we shall have not 7,000,000, but 40,000,000 or even 50,000,000 people willing and able to develop and hold this great country.







Suggest corrections