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Friday, 2 December 1938

Mr PROWSE (Forrest) . - I rarely speak on the motion for the adjournment of the House, but on this occasion I direct the attention of the Government to a matter of considerable importance. To-day 1 received a letter from a constituent, in which he states -

I am writing in the hope that you may be able to do something to relieve the evergrowing shortages of domestic help and agricultural labour,especially in connexion with dairying. It is now practically impossible to get people to undertake dairyingand many are being forced out of it. Somerset recently interviewed six boys who were looking for a job, and not one would take on milking, with every convenience, good wages and quarters. It is not now a question of wages or conditions, but simply that the Australian will not take on this work. Somerset, who handles about 100 cows, will probably have to go out of it.

Mr Brennan -Could he not use milking machines?

Mr PROWSE - Two years ago 1 was milking almost 100 cows with machines, but 1 experienced the same difficulty as this dairyman, although my employees bad food similar to my own, and lived and slept under my own roof. My correspondent goes on to say -

The same thing applies to other forms of farm work, and especially to domestic labour, even where the conditions are ideal. I believe that they are paying35s. a week in Perth now for girls that arc not worth 15s. In town this isan inconvenience, but in the country a real disaster, since you cannot go out for a meal, and have fewer conveniences and cannot get any one in to do scrubbing and washing. When we are without a maid it costs 15s. a. week to send washing down toBunbury for three people. If this state of affairs is allowed to continue it will seriously afreet the productive capacity of the Commonwealth. The immediate result is that all the young people are going offthe land. In this district the average age of the farmers is nearly 50 and there are practically no young ones coming on. At the moment, it would be possible to get an unlimited number of refugees who would do farm and domestic work. They would not be displacing any labour but would increase employment for everybody by enabling properties to be worked and developed properly. If Australians have decided that they will only take the white collar jobs, wo must get others who will do the work. There can be no doubt that the best form of defence is increased population. I do not think that there is much risk of the development of minorities. We have thousands of Italians in this part of the State. All seem to hate Mussolini and you will notfind a single child that can speak Italian. In one school here where there are only two children who are not

Dagoes, there was not one who could speak or understand Italian. They all want to be thought Australians. As far as the refugee question is concerned, it seems to me that there is no distinction between the man who pushes them into the torture chamber and the man who says, as we do, " Now that you are in. although we have plenty of room and unlimited jobs for you, will not let you out." . . .

I enclose a cutting from the West Australian dealing with the domestic labour position.It reads equally true if you substitute farm labour ". If you are able to do anything to assist the country in this direction, you will earn the gratitude of everybody.

I shallquote a few paragraphs from an article published in the West Australian of the 26th November last. It begins as follows: -

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