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Tuesday, 2 June 1942

Mr PROWSE (Forrest) .- When I rise to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the House, honorable members may be sure that the matter is most important. Last January, I was invited to attend a meeting which was convened by the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmens Imperial League of Australia, and various road boards in the southern part of Western Australia for the purpose of considering the manpower problem in the dairying, potatogrowing and fruit-growing industries. Speakers pointed out that the sons and employees of agriculturists had been called up for military service and that the principals were unable to carry on their businesses. For some years, a large number of aliens, including Italians, have been admitted to that portion of the State. Some of them have become naturalized and have acquired land; others have leasedland. These aliens are now enjoying a regular Christmas, and are making little fortunes out of our misfortune of being at war. The meeting carried a resolution in favour of the conscription of all aliens into labour corps, and directed me to convey it to the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin). I did so. At that time, the Government had under consideration methods of dealing with the problem of alien labour in our midst, but no practical action has yet been taken. A few weeks ago, another meeting was summoned by the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmens Imperial League of Australia, in conjunction with other organizations, and the secretary of the Waroona-Harnel sub-branch of the league wrote to me, on the 2nd May, as follows : -

At a largely attended meeting of the above sub-branch on Friday last, the following resolution was carried: - " That this meeting disapproves of the inactivity of the Federal Government, aud its dilly-dallying with the urgent, and necessary national safeguard of conscripting all aliens into labour corps ".

My sub-branch requests that I place same in your most capable hands.

Yesterday I received a copy of the Harvey-Murray Times, the front page of which bore in prominent type the following headline: "Whole South- West up in Arms over Alien Question ". The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) will recollect that 1 have brought this matter to their notice in the past, and they promised to make investigations. When an appeal war. launched for fruit-pickers, the Government announced that it would co-ordinate and utilize alien labour for the benefit of the country in which they have taken shelter. Speakers at the second meeting to which I referred alleged that Italians had demanded 2s. a bag for digging potatoes; the usual price is1s. a bag.

Acceptance of their exorbitant demands meant that the Italians earned over £2 a day, whilst our own men were fighting and risking their lives for 6s. a day.

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