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Friday, 2 December 1938

Mr PROWSE - Even a professional man may have a family of fair size, and, desiring a home adequate to his position, may require a maid or maids.

Mr Curtin - A working man whose wife has the same number of children as the wife of a professional man, may require a maid.

Mr PROWSE - The wives of some working men have daughters who could help considerably to solve this problem if they were prepared to take paid positions as domestic assistants. The article concludes -

It was learned that a shortage of domestic workers is not peculiar to Perth. Similar shortages are apparent in Melbourne and Sydney. Fifty girls recently taken to Sydney by the Salvation Army were engaged by employers as soon as the ship berthed at the wharf. The officer in charge declared that he could have placed 200 girls in employment immediately if ho had had them available.

One of the most important problems that this country has to face is that of increasing its population. As the writer points out, the local labour market would be improved rather than injured, by the entry of the right kind of immigrant. I know the writer of this letter, and the circumstances under which he works. He is an orchardist and a dairyman. I myself ran a dairy of over 100 cows until two years ago, and I know the. drudgery that is associated with the work. I had milking machines and concrete yards, &c, but I could not prevent wet weather, slush, cold mornings, and early rising. The3e things are inherent in dairy farming, but the industry itself is very necessary. As this writer says, if our own people will not do the work, we must get some one else to do it. The country i3 not yet sufficiently populated, and refugees and white aliens would think it heavenly to be allowed' to do the work offering in Australia. If our own girls are doing the work that was formerly done by men, and have no taste for domestic work, so that householders cannot get help, is it unreasonable to admit immigrants?

There is another phase to this problem. People will not go in for large families if they are unable to obtain maids to assist them in their housework. We know that house owners are in the habit of asking prospective tenants if they have any children, and maids are no less particular. They also want to know if there are any babies to look after. Thus, people are being forced into flats where they can more conveniently do the little work that has to be done, but this is detrimental to the country's welfare. After all, home life is the best for our people. Ono doctor remarked recently that he did not know what would happen to the stomachs of the people, who were going in more and more for scrap meals, because no one was being trained to prepare food properly. Housework is an honorable occupation, but our .people seem reluctant to undertake it. It is not often that I take the risk of incurring unpopularity by speaking on the motion for the adjournment, but I consider this matter to be one of major importance, and I hope that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. McEwen) will give to it his close attention. I do not oppose the suggestion that 15,000 Jewish refugees should be admitted to this country during the next three years, but we should be able to obtain as well British migrants, and migrants from other white countries.

Mr Holloway - The honorable member does not want them to come here to milk cows, does he?

Mr PROWSE - They can do that if necessary. The wives of our own farmers are doing it now, and .they are not inferior to Jewesses.

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