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Friday, 23 July 1920


Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN (EdenMonaro) . - I can see no reason for the antagonism displayed towards this measure by certain honorable members: opposite. I fail to appreciate the attitude of honorable members who profess' to represent country districts, particularly, in the light of the speech delivered by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Hay). The ostensible reason for the opposition to the Bill has to do with the matter of duplication. That will continue so long as we work under the Constitution as it stands, but I trust that the forthcoming Convention will rid us of our troubles in this respect. Duplication, no matter where it has existed, involves additional burdens on the taxpayer. This measure, however, points to true economy and efficiency. The remarks of the honorable member for New England were highly informative; they were not merely a record of what might be done, but of what has been done. The honorable member himself has given practical proof. He was the owner of the big Berry Estate, in New South Wales, which included some of the richest land in Australia. But, practising the principles which the honorable member expounded when discussing this Bill, he converted that estate into a number of small holdings. All his former tenants became independent farmers - owners of their own broad acres and cottages. Some critics said that in so changing their outlook these people were foolish; but the fact is that they are contented in their independence to-day.

The honorable member for New England has a dozen times endeavoured to demonstrate why men should have the best. He truly says we cannot afford to have anything to do with inefficiency, either in respect of labour or in the matter of the expenditure of capital. Last night the honorable member gave us some startling figures. He stated that, in a dairy 'herd test in his district recently, the results showed that one cow in one year produced butter worth £8 4s., while another cow gave a return of £72. We all know that a lot of time and money are spent in the advocacy of these theories, but, unfortunately, they are not put into practice very often. We really want less talk and more, practical application of sound economic theories, and I look for good results from the establishment of this Institute. For a long time we have been preaching decentralization. What have we done up to the present? Honorable members on both sides of. the House are in accord with the policy of breaking up big estates, so that we may be able to place men, women, and children on land at present occupied by sheep, and substitute the school bell for the cattle bell. So far we have not done very much in that direction. I. do not advocate the settlement of our soldiers on land in the " never-never " country. I prefer to see them on estates within the fresh-food zone. These areas will then be converted from sheep runs into smiling homes, and we shall have arrived at the true solution of the problem of utilizing our big estates. It is idle to advocate a policy that virtually places the settlers at the throats of owners of big estates; though I favour taxation, when properly applied, because I believe, if an owner does not put his property to its. best use, some pressure should be brought to bear upon him.


Mr Ryan - Something in the nature of a gentle squeeze ? .


Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - Yes ; and I may add that my honorable friend has proved himself to be an expert in that business. It would be as well, perhaps, if we had some pf the legislation that he has given us up north. I know the honorable member for West Sydney is with me in my desire to see the big estates, especially those close to our principal markets, cut up for closer settlement, because if we drive our soldiers and other settlers out into the "nevernever " country, they will not have much chance of success. And, after all, why should we do that? I have in my mind an estate almost adjoining that .owned by the honorable member for New England, who has himself settled about 300 soldiers on the land. It comprises about 1,000 acres, and if made available, I feel satisfied that a soldier could make a good living on 10 acres. This would be much better than offering a man 500 acres away back in a locality from which he is not likely to get transport for his produce. These results, I maintain, will follow the passing of this Bill. We talk about co-operation. What does it mean but recognition of the principle that capital and labour must go hand in hand? Consequently, any scheme that makes that possible, that demonstrates that interests are identical, ought to commend itself to every honorable member.

I regret that there appears to be a desire to block the Bill on the ground that it might lead to duplication of activities, because this difficulty will adjust itself. Although the framers of our Constitution were wise in their generation, we have discovered the weak links in the chain, and it must be our purpose now to remove them and prevent unnecessary duplication of Commonwealth and State services, so that the burden upon the taxpayer may be lightened, lt is idle to tell me that we cannot afford to go on with this proposal. This country, with a common -sense Government, is capable of achieving anything, and if we can make land settlement easier, if we can induce a large number of people to make their homes on the land and become taxpayers of this country, we shall have gone a long way towards the solution of all our present problems. I have no time for the pessimists. This is the greatest country on God's earth, and we can do a great deal if only we go the right way about it. I only wish to God we had a common-sense business-life Government

Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!


Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I am satisfied we would not get. a commonsense Government from honorable members opposite, who have just cheered my remark.


Mr Lavelle - Why not have an election, then ?


Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - We have just had an election, and I am afraid it proved pretty disastrous to the honorable member's party. I remember when I was a boy-


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon J M Chanter - Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the Bill.


Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - I was merely going to say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that when honorable members talk about an election they remind me of the story that boys in dark places usually whistle to keep their courage up. Honorable members who talk about an election are in the same position. I have fought a good many elections. This is my twenty-ninth year in Parliament, and honorable members opposite, who challenge me on that score, cannot frighten me by talking about an election. I invite any one of them to come to my district and I will take a fall out of him.


Mr Gabb - What is this - science or industry ?


Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - The honorable member has been well named.







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