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Wednesday, 19 October 1910


Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I have to admit that I approach the consideration of this measure with a feeling of depression, and that feeling is intensified by the levity with which the Honorary Minister receives my declaration. The depression which I experience arises from the fact that upon matters of major importance this Senate is rapidly losing all claim to be regarded as a deliberative body. I say that without any desire to challenge the methods by which the members of the Government seek to give effect to the collective decisions of the Labour party. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, in moving the second reading of the Bill, intimated very plainly that it was idle to deliberate upon it. He said that he was so satisfied that it was a perfect measure - an opinion which he doubtless entertained when it left the Cabinet, as well as while it was being remodelled in the other Chamber - that he intended to resist all amendments. That was a plain statement to the effect that the Senate might save itself the trouble of discussing the Bill, because he and his party intended to sit tight and to resist all amendments of it, no matter what might be their effect. Hitherto it has been the practice, upon matters of big State import, for Ministers to declare that, whilst they intended to adhere tenaciously to the principles of a Bill, they were prepared to give consideration to any amendment which was designed to make it more workable. But the Vice-President of the Executive Council has practically put a pistol at the head of the Senate by affirming that the Government will resist all amendments to this measure. Such a declaration can proceed from only one of two causes. It arises either from a desire to give effect to the behests of the party with which he is associated or from overwhelming egotism.


Senator Rae - Put it down to that. Let him beat the blame.


Senator MILLEN - I am merely offering these remarks to explain the feeling of depression which I experience in approaching the consideration of this measure, lt has been said that it is put forward for the purpose of fulfilling the mandate which was received from the people at the last elections. That being so, it is necessary for us to learn what was that mandate. Obviously the country cannot approve or disapprove of anything that was not submitted to it. What was referred to the electors of Australia for their decision on the 13th April last? In this connexion I intend to quote from the manifesto issued by Mr. Fisher.


Senator Gardiner - Why not quote from the Labour platform? A statement made by a Minister must not be regarded as outlining the policy of the party.


Senator MILLEN - Here is the means which the Prime Minister adopted of acquainting the electors of Australia with the intentions of the Labour party if they were returned to power. It was not the Labour Conference which appealed to the electors, but the party which is under Mr. Fisher's leadership. It propounded its programme and received the verdict of the constituencies. Here is what that party published on the occasion in question -

Land monopoly is the curse of Australia. With immense areas of fertile land within reasonable distance of great centres of population, blessed with a regular rainfall sufficient to support 50,000,000 people in comfort, a population of less than 5,000,000 cannot obtain land for its own limited requirements.

That was the text from which Mr. Fisher and his friends preached to the electors, as justification for this land tax.


Senator Rae - The honorable senator admits the truthfulness of that.


Senator MILLEN - I am not questioning the truthfulness of the statement now ; nor am I prepared to admit it I neither admit nor condemn it. I am merely inquiring how far the appeal for votes, which was given on the 13th April- for I readily admit that the votes were given - has been justified. I am trying to show what it was that Mr. Fisher asked the people to approve. He first states that land monopoly exists. Following this, he goes on to say -

It is useless and even dangerous to invite people to a country unless we make preparations to receive them.

That followed naturally ; and then the Government were to apply, as a remedy, a land tax which was to start at id. and rise by such graduations as were necessary to make it effective. Of course, I have merely taken a few points out of Mr. Fisher's statement.


Senator Ready - Does not the statement say anything about a tax of 6d. in the £i ?


Senator MILLEN - lt does not say a word about 6d., nor did any other member of the Federal Labour party say a word on that point before the electors.


Senator Rae - Yes; I said that I would go for a tax of half-a-crown, if necessary.


Senator MILLEN - I should have exempted Senator Rae, except that 1 thought it was unnecessary, as, like the heathen, he is known to be a law unto himself. If the rest of his party had declared for a tax of 4d., he would have declared for something else. My object now is to show what it was that the Labour party submitted to the electors, and what it was that the people believed in and approved of. Their contention was that, because there was land monopoly, it would be dangerous, first of all, to invite immigrants to Australia, and that it was essential to return to Parliament a Labour Government which would bring in a land tax to destroy land monopoly, and make land available; so making room for immigrants who should come to Australia.


Senator Rae - The tax should be high enough to be effective. I think the proposed tax does fall a bit short in that respect.


Senator MILLEN - I have shown what was the appeal made by the Labour party to the country. It is quite clear that the country accepted those statements and indorsed them. The electors gave a verdict for carrying out the necessary measures to cure the state of affairs which then existed. But, since then, a great change has happened. Much has occurred to break up land monopoly. The monopoly which existed then no longer exists. There may have been a scarcity then; but it is quite clear that no scarcity exists to-day. Land is now available in all the States upon easy and reasonable conditions. For my authority for that statement, I refer to that interesting pamphlet which has recently been published, and which is clearly not intended for circulation in Australia, but for consumption in Great Britain. It was issued for the benefit of the farmers and the labourers of the Mother Country. To show how fully that charming and interesting document comes into conflict with the official manifesto of the Labour party, I propose to read a few pertinent paragraphs from it. On the first page is a foreword by Mr. Batchelor, in which he talks about - extending to farmers an invitation to take advantage of the opportunities that exist for prosperous settlement in Australia.

Compare that statement with the appeal made to the electors, in which they were told that land monopoly was the curse of Australia. Now we have this Minister of External Affairs issuing a pamphlet with all the emphasis and assurance of a Labour Government's indorsement, in which he appeals to English farmers to come here and take advantage of the opportunities that exist for prosperous settlement in Australia.


Senator McGregor - That statement was made in anticipation of the land tax.


Senator MILLEN - My honorable friends may trifle with the question if they like. It is their peculiar way. They are face to face with a nasty fact, and it is plain that they are trying to laugh it out of court.


Senator Gardiner - Is it not a fact that two anti-Labour Governments have since gone out of office - in South Australia and in New South Wales?


Senator MILLEN - This pamphlet was published on the 15th August. That sort of argument might be all very well in a bush camp ; but it is ineffective here, where we are engaged in serious business. I know that my honorable friend does not for a moment think that this pamphlet was issued with the intention of informing people in Great Britain that an opportunity for settlement would be created in consequence of legislation to be passed. at some future time. We have heard much in New South Wales during the past few weeks about the awful plight into which the small settlers of that State have been plunged, owing to a non-sympathetic Government being in office; but the electors of that State were never told, on the authority of the Fisher Government, as the farmers of

Great Britain have been told in this pamphlet, about -

The prosperity of Australian farmers and their lavish outlay on up-to-date machinery and good live stock.

But if our farmers are so prosperous, and if their prosperity has been demonstrated by this lavish outlay on good live-stock and up-to-date machinery, the State authorities cannot have been so unsympathetic, or behaved in so harsh a manner as has been so freely represented during the last few weeks.


Senator Rae - - No one ever said it was so.


Senator MILLEN - Everywhere I went in New South Wales during the recent campaign I found that attacks were being made on an unsympathetic, apathetic Government headed by Mr. Wade, and 'the electors were led to believe that not until they put in office a sympathetic Government, headed by Mr. McGowen, could any improvement be expected.


Senator Ready - Did not the honorable senator go round preaching black ruin to the farmers on account of the Federal land tax?


Senator MILLEN - I never preached black ruin, because I think that the farmers have too much common sense to allow my honorable friend's party to ruin them. The pamphlet goes on -

An enormous area of wheat land has been made available to the selector by the construction of spur railways, and when those lines which it is intended to construct are completed a further large area will be opened.

If there are such enormous areas of land available, there cannot be such an amount of monopoly as has been represented. There can be no monopoly if there is any justification for statements of this sort. Appealing to another class of farmers, the pamphlet says -

Land for dairy farming in Australia is not -as cheap as wheat land, for instance, but there is no difficulty in the new-comer securing on easy terms excellent unimproved land in settled districts at prices ranging from as low as £2 per acre to £10 per acre.

There is certainly not much land monopoly when you can go straight into a dairying district and settle, with all the facilities for social intercourse and approach to the markets, on land obtainable at £2 per acre.


Senator Rae - Unimproved ; and it may cost from ^30 to £40 per acre to improve the land.


Senator MILLEN - But the British immigrant is told in this pamphlet that there is no difficulty in securing easy terms, and that excellent unimproved land can be obtained at £2 per acre.


Senator Lynch - That is to say, easier terms than the settler could obtain in his own country.


Senator MILLEN - I can see now that the Fisher Government made a mistake in not calling in the aid of my honorable friends opposite, in order that the necessary qualifications might be inserted in this pamphlet before it was published ! The pamphlet goes on -

Important irrigation schemes have been undertaken in Australia. Extensive tracts of irrigated lands are now ready for occupation in areas ranging from 15 to 20 acres to 200 acres and over. On such lands dairy farming can be conducted under the most favorable conditions. . There are available for settlement in all States large tracts of partly cleared and improved land which can be prepared for cropping at trifling cost and without any delay for burning off.

Statements of that kind were never made during the appeal to the electors before the 13th April. Here is one of the choice plums in this very rich feast -

The market gardening industry is therefore one in which men from the Old Country and their families who have had experience in the work can find splendid openings. In the big cities and country towns the consumption ot vegetables all the year round is enormous, and the prices obtainable are remunerative.

Mark this description of a country where land monopoly is supposed to be rampant -

Everything can be grown in the open, and small allotments within easy reach of big markets and areas of marvellously rich alluvial soil on the banks of permanent water-courses can be procured without difficulty.

Would it be possible to obtain areas of rich alluvial soil on the banks of watercourses in a country where land monopoly exists ?


Senator Lynch - It has never been seriously contended that the monopolists had grabbed all the good land. They have left skirts of it here and there.


Senator MILLEN - I do not see any passage which justifies that statement in the appeal made to the electors by Mr. Fisher. If the Labour party in their appeal to the electors on the 13th April made what they believed to be an honest statement, what justification is there for this pamphlet issued at the cost of the electors of the Commonwealth by the present Government? And, on the contrary, if the statements which have been sent Home under the authority of this Administration are accurate, then the appeal which they made to the electors is capable of being designated by only one very short Saxon word.


Senator Long - An Australian word would be better.


Senator MILLEN - It is a word which has become Australian by easy adoption, though when it is used in this country an adjective is generally applied to it. The pamphlet goes on -

The land laws of New South Wales are very liberal..... Large areas of Crown lands are still available for selection in New South Wales, and 9,000,000 acres of unsettled land is to be found in the Central Division of that State.

That may be true.


Senator Gardiner - 'With the Government that is now in office in New South Wales, that will be the case.


Senator MILLEN - But the statement here made is that the lands are now available for selection. There is no qualification such as the honorable senator suggests. Again -

A man with a little capital will experience no difficulty in getting a start in New South Wales. Speaking of Queensland, they say -

Large areas are available on easy terms. The area at present occupied represents only a small proportion of the lands fitted for highly profitable use.

With regard to South Australia, we read -

Large areas of land are about to be opened for settlement..... Lands comprising 360.000 acres are open to application in various localities.

See how the scribe can differentiate between the present and the future when he wants to do so.


Senator Findley - The Verran Government are now in power in South Australia.


Senator MILLEN - See how the scribe can draw a clear line between the lands which are open and those which are about to be opened. If he had not been depicting the condition of affairs which the Fisher Government held exists to-day he knew enough clearly to have shown, if he had wished to do so, that he was portraying a picture which would exist at some future time. As regards Western Australia, I shall dismiss that State with one quotation -

There are millions of acres of unalienated lands in the State available for settlement.


Senator Gardiner - The grass is still growing.


Senator MILLEN - My honorable friend is wrong. In New South Wales, unfortunately, there are a good many districts where grass is not growing, and the season has completely changed since the advent of a Labour Administration. As I happen to be interested in those districts, I might go further and say that I can clearly trace the hand of the Government in that affliction. As Senator Findley seems to be interested in these quotations, may I remind honorable senators of a little incident which occurred here one afternoon last session, when Senator Russell, of Victoria, raised this very question, and in intensely indignant tones denounced the State Governments for sending to the people of Great Britain an intimation that land was available here, and inviting them to come out? The honorable senator was indignant, but when Senator Findley by an interjection which almost scorched the chamber, so intensely warm was he on the subject, followed him up, I felt that there was no answer to be made on that occasion. But how does he stand, to-day?


Senator McGregor - He is full of hope.


Senator MILLEN - He is now defending the very statement which he then denied. He said then that it was a cruel, shameless procedure for the State Government to tell English farmers that it had land available for them.


Senator Findley - When it had none.


Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator is now sending Home an intimation telling persons that land is available.


Senator Findley - So it is now that we have a Labour Government. There is plenty of land available in Victoria now that estates are being cut up.


Senator MILLEN - Since the honor able senator spoke there has been no change in that regard.


Senator Findley - A very great change.


Senator MILLEN - Has there been a change since the 13th April, which has made millions of acres of land available in Western Australia?


Senator Lynch - The advertising columns of the press are full of auctioneers' announcements of subdivisions.


Senator MILLEN - I am dealing with the 9,000,000 acres of land, which, according" to this Government, are available in the western district of New South Wales, and the millions of acres which are available in Western Australia.


Senator Findley - I was speaking about Victoria.


Senator MILLEN - No, Senator Russell spoke generally of Australia, denouncing the attempts of State Governments to proclaim abroad that there were openings here for farmers and labourers, and Senator Findley joined him on that occasion.


Senator Findley - In respect of Victoria.


Senator MILLEN - It was not a question of Victoria at all. My honorable friend has always professed to take a continental view of things. He had no regard then for the man whose vision was limited by the banks of the Yarra. He was very different on that occasion from the man who is listening to extracts from this book to-day. There was, and had been, for many years no form of settlement so bitterly denounced by the Labour party as share farming. In introducing this Bill, Senator McGregor referred to share farming as a means by which the landlord was able to extract the life blood of the man who worked the farm.


Senator Findley - That is very true in some cases.


Senator MILLEN - Yet, in this pamphlet we find an appeal to Englishmen to come out and take advantage of the opportunities which exist here for share farming. If it was fair and honest to tell the people of this country that share farming is a means by which a vampire landlord can extract the farmer's life blood, it is monstrously cruel to invite persons in England to come here and subject themselves to such conditions. Yet we have this pamphlet setting out for the consideration of English farmers these attractions -

In several parts of the wheat belt there are many opportunities of farming on shares for the man who if accustomed to the cultivation of grain crops.

Then follows a setting out of the terms on which share farming is carried on. It goes on to say that the usual practice is for" the man to find the plant and the landlord to provide the land, but it adds that in cases he has been known to find the plant for picked men. Then it holds out this encouragement -

Thrifty labourers have succeeded in providing the necessary implements and stock out of a few years' savings. For practical dairy men with children over 14 years of age -

Have honorable senators forgotten the indignation with which the question of employing child labour on dairy farms has been denounced from 100 Labour platforms? Whatever indignation was expressed towards the ordinary .method of share farming, it became as nothing to the white heat into which honorable senators worked themselves when they depicted children who ought to be at school or in bed, working to swell the pockets of avaricious parents.


Senator Givens - Very likely the parents might have been forced to do that by the exactions of the landlords.


Senator MILLEN - Exactly j but there is no reason why a Labour Government should ask other parents to bring children here to submit to the same conditions. This pamphlet tells practical dairymen that there are reasonable openings for dairy farming on shares. Here is what the Government say on the subject -

For practical dairymen with children over 14 years of age there are reasonable openings in dairy farming on shares .... the returns being divided on an equitable basis.

If this Labour Government were honest in telling the English dairy farmer that he could come here and find reasonable openings for dairy farming on the share system, and that the returns would be divided on an equitable basis, they had no justification for the words in which they denounced share farming in this country. The quotation continues -

In many cases, to take a farm on the shares for a year or two will prove the most profitable course for the labourer who has acquired Australian experience and has saved a little capital which he wishes to supplement with a view to purchasing a farm of his own.

There is the advice which Senators McGregor, Pearce, and Findley offer on behalf of a Labour Government behind which they must have the support and approval of those who sit on the Ministerial benches. The English farmer is being told on the authority of the great Labour party in Australia, and of a Labour Administration, that there are all these advantages here and he is advised to come and enjoy them. He is told that the best means he can adopt is to become a share farmer.


Senator Givens - I did not authorize or approve of that advice.


Senator MILLEN - My honorable friend cannot help it, and he certainly has my heartfelt sympathy in this connexion. I have already read from the Fisher appeal to the people the statement that it would be wrong and iniquitous to invite additional labour to Australia under existing conditions. But not content with inviting farmers to come here, with telling them that land can be obtained on easy terms, in this pamphlet we find a direct appeal to labourers to come and supply the demand which exists in Australia for labour. In order to show how gently my honorable friends approached the

English labourer, let me read a quotation. They were afraid that he might come out, thinking that he might have a few days' idleness and not know what to do with himself, and so gave him an assurance that if he did not find a job immediately he need not be troubled. They said -

Men may camp in the open without a tent, and outdoor existence is by far the most pleasurable method of enjoying life.

If an Australian employer were to make a statement in those terms, what would be said? Yet we find Senators McGregor, Pearce, and Findley sending this appeal to the labourer of Great Britain to come out, and telling persons that if they did not get a job at once, if they could not find a roof to put over their head, outdoor existence was by far the most pleasurable way of enjoying life. There is not an honorable senator on the other side who is prepared to get up and say that the statements I am reading square with the appeals which they addressed to the electors.


Senator Gardiner - And they do not square with facts either.


Senator MILLEN - I am not now arguing that question, but pointing out the contrast between the appeal which was made to the electors when their votes were solicited, and the action which is now being taken by the Government when it is securely entrenched on the Treasury benches. One of their first actions has been to spend the money of the taxpayers in sending this appeal to the farmers and labourers of Great Britain.


Senator Long - The unfortunate part of the business is that it is your appeal, and this Government has practically indorsed it.


Senator MILLEN - I never made this appeal.


Senator Long - It was practically made by the previous Adminstration.


Senator MILLEN - No, it never drafted the document or approved of its issue.


Senator Long - Did they not collect any portion of the information?


Senator MILLEN - I am not concerned with what they collected. I assert that the previous Administration never sent out this document or approved of it, and had it been prepared to do so there would have been a vacancy in the Cabinet. I know too much of this country to say that it is possible for men to get land which they can clear without delay. I have been too long associated with pastoral life to know that, whatever the conditions may be, that cannot be done without delay. Yet we find such silly statements appearing in this pamphlet. On pages 49, 57, and 64 the Government deplore the scarcity of labour in the dairying, fruit-growing, and tobacco industries, and state it is retarding the expansion of those industries. Honorable senators can see how far that squares with the statement that it would be criminally wrong to invite fresh English labour to come out until the land monopoly had been broken up. On page 117 we read -

Employment is guaranteed to skilled agricultural labourers and domestic servants who have been granted assisted passages. In these callings the demand generally exceeds the supply, and, as a rule, the new arrivals are allotted places at once.

Turning to the newcomer, the Fisher Administration say -

He will find that it is extremely easy to get into the ways of the country, and that if he is ambitious to save he will be able to have plenty of healthy and interesting recreation without drawing upon his savings.

I do not mind stopping here to invite the Government to tell me and other senators how we can have this healthy and interesting recreation without it costing us a little. Yet they sent Home that message to English farmers and labourers.


Senator Gardiner - In walking about looking for work.


Senator MILLEN - That is probably what the Government meant, but as English labourers are not quite familiar with the form of humour which my honorable friend practises, it would have been more honest if the Government had stated in plain language what is meant by this healthy and interesting recreation. Here is the final paragraph with which I propose to trouble honorable senators, and which is full of food for thought -

For the hard-working, steady farm-worker who aims at becoming a freehold farmer on his own account, the most remote farm where the only expenditure is on the few clothes and little luxuries like tobacco, are the finest places imaginable. A man who gets £1 a week, with occasional additions for harvesting, &c, will, before the end of many years, be able to save sufficient to make a very fair start on his own account.

How many Labour lectures have been hung around that text in the last few months ? I challenge my honorable friends opposite to show me any statement made by a Labour advocate anywhere which does not write across that quotation, as large as possible, the words "absolutely false." Here, again, is an appeal from a Labour Administration to workmen in the Old

Country to say that if they come out here there is hope that in a short time they will become freehold farmers on their own account. Just now we were informed that this was written in anticipation of Labour administration in the various States. But we know very well that if that anticipation were realized there would be no more freeholds issued in any of the States of the Commonwealth. The State Labour parties are pledged to put an end to the freehold tenures, which are held out in this pamphlet as an inducement to immigrants. We know that the majority, if not all, of the State Labour parties in the Parliaments which have immediate control of the lands of the Commonwealth are directly pledged against the issue of any more freehold titles.


Senator Long - I notice that Tasmania is not boomed very much in the pamphlet.


Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator will find that Tasmania is also referred to as a State in which land is available for settlement. When I was dealing with the millions of acres of the other States, I may be pardoned for having omitted a quotation referring to Tasmania. But the honorable senator, if he looks through the pamphlet, will find the statement made that even in Tasmania, where land monopoly has obtained a bigger hold than in the other States, and where necessarily there is less land available because of the greater area of the other States, there is still land available for the settlement of immigrants.


Senator Lynch - In the subdivision of big estates people will be unable to get land except on a freehold title.


Senator MILLEN - My honorable friend does not know very much about what is going on in the State Parliaments if he talks in that way. In New South Wales a battle royal was fought by the Labour party in support of the contention that repurchased lands should only be subdivided on the leasehold principle.


Senator Lynch - I was not talking of repurchased land.


Senator Gardiner - The Wade Government proposed to attach a condition to freehold.


Senator MILLEN - Senator Gardiner reminds me that the Wade Administration proposed to provide for the issue of freehold titles to which a condition shall attach interfering with the future handling of the land.


Senator Rae - That is a negation of freehold.


Senator MILLEN - What is proposed is a conditional freehold, and I have no hesitation in saying that it marks the introduction of the biggest land reform that Australia has yet witnessed.


Senator Lynch - I was talking of estates privately subdivided.


Senator Ready - The subdivisions of those estates must be freeholds.


Senator MILLEN - Do the paragraphs I have read from the pamphlet deal . with such estates? They refer to the millions of acres of Crown lands available for the settler upon easy terms. They refer to the State as a sympathetic landlord, to Governments in this country as paternal Governments. I emphasize again the statement that this pamphlet was issued by the present Labour Government of the Commonwealth. The statement printed for the information of workmen in the Old Country is that they may hope on coming out here to secure State lands on easy terms, and by a little industry ultimately to acquire a freehold title for them. I say that the Labour party are against freehold titles. In my own State, apart from the fact that they have on their platform the nationalization of land, whicli, of course, is fatal to freehold titles, they have constantly pursued the ideal, and whenever the matter has arisen in the State Parliament have voted for leasehold as against freehold. We are told that this pamphlet was written in anticipation of the advent of the Labour party to power. That party is in power now in the State of New South Wales, and do honorable senators mean to tell me that they will be prepared to grant freehold titles to. land? The fact is that our honorable friends opposite found it convenient to tell on? tale before the 13th April, when they were looking for votes, and were appealing to the prejudice and passion of land-hungry people.


Senator McGregor - Then the honorable senator admits that there were landhungry people?


Senator MILLEN - There are always people hungry for the good things of this world. If Senator McGregor were placed in front of a heap of sovereigns, there would be a sovereign-hungry man in their neighbourhood as long as the honorable senator hung about. I do not claim to be different from my fellow senators in that regard.


Senator Rae - The honorable, senator would admit that I might be serious in such circumstances.


Senator MILLEN - I have no doubt that, in such circumstances, the honorable senator would be found to be the most serious man alive, much to the detriment of the lawful owner of the sovereigns. I should be very much surprised if my honorable friends seriously undertook to defend the action of the Government in issuing this pamphlet. If they did, they would be impaled upon the horns of a dilemma. I say that if they would defend the pamphlet, they would do away with all pretence for the passage of this Land Taxation Bill ; and if, on the contrary, they stand by the Bill, and their appeal to the electors prior to the 13th April, they should insist upon the withdrawal of this pamphlet.


Senator McGregor - No; when the policy of the Government is carried out, the statements in the pamphlet will be true.


Senator MILLEN - Then, the least they can do is to send Home a message to say that the Labour Government of the Commonwealth is so ignorant of the ordinary meaning of plain English words that, although they have said in this pamphlet that these opportunities to become possessed of freehold titles to land exist now, what they mean is that they will exist when the legislation which they propose takes effect.


Senator Long - Was not the information supplied by the State Governments, and the pamphlet compiled by them?


Senator MILLEN - I should like the honorable senator to show me where that statement is made in the pamphlet. In the very first paragraph of the foreword signed by the present Minister of External Affairs, there is the statement -

In extending to farmers and farm-workers an invitation to take advantage of opportunities that exist for prosperous settlement in Australia, the Government of the Commonwealth ....

It is clearly the Government of the Commonwealth who (are responsible for the invitation expressed in these words.


Senator Long - Let the honorable senator read the concluding paragraph.


Senator MILLEN - I have shown that the pamphlet bears, on the face of it, the intimation that it is the Government of the Commonwealth who accept the responsibility for-issuing it.


Senator de Largie - Does the honorable senator desire that we should cry "stinking fish"?


Senator MILLEN - No; but I think my honorable friends should have told the truth on both occasions. I wish them, if they say that this pamphlet is true, to admit that they made a false appeal to the electors prior to the 13th April ; and if they stand by that appeal, to write down this pamphlet as false.


Senator Rae - I say that it is false and rotten, and I absolutely repudiate it.


Senator MILLEN - Some of my honorable friends have been trying to seek comfort from the fact that the statements In this pamphlet are intended to indicate the condition of affairs which will exist in the happy by-and-by. Senator Long falls back upon the concluding paragraph ofthe foreword of the pamphlet. I shall quote the first and last paragraphs. They are as follow : -

In extending to farmers and farm-workers an invitation to take advantage of opportunities that exist for prosperous settlement in Australia, the Government of the Commonwealth ....

That is the Fisher Labour Administration. They are the persons who extend this invitation ; and, in the final paragraph of the foreword, the statement is made -

The contents of this book have been compiled from information furnished by responsible authorities, to whom this opportunity is taken of expressing the thanks of the Government of the Commonwealth.

They are so anxious to send this message Home, and so convinced that these opportunities do exist, that they deem it to be their duty to thank these reliable authorities, whose statements they indorse and accept. They thank them for the assistance rendered in the good work to which they put their hands.


Senator de Largie - It was written in anticipation of the passing of this Bill.


Senator MILLEN - Half-a-dozen of my honorable friends opposite have tried to get a little comfort out of that ; but, if the statement be true, the statement that the schoolmaster is abroad in Australia must be read in a sense entirely different from that which it usually conveys. Are we to understand that opportunities which now exist means opportunities which will exist?


Senator de Largie - There is very little difference.


Senator MILLEN - If the honorable senator cares to defend the pamphlet, I have no objection ; but there are some honorable senators sitting behind the Government who are honest enough . to say that they are not prepared to do so.


Senator McGregor - But what about the Bill ?


Senator MILLEN - I am justified in referring to these matters, because I have pointed out that the Bill rests upon the appeal made to the electors that there is no land available in Australia that we suffer from land monopoly, and that land taxation is necessary to correct the evil. I have quoted from this pamphlet to show that, on the authority of the Fisher Administration, there is in Australia an abundance of land available for settlement on easy terms, an abundance of openings for workmen who, if they come here, may have the assurance that by a little industry they can hope before long to become freeholders on their own account. I shall not go into the merits of the contradictory statements to which I ha.ve referred. - 1 have served my purpose in showing that (he contradiction exists. If the statements in this pamphlet are correct, the Land Tax Assessment Bill ought to be withdrawn, and, if, on the other hand, honorable senators refuse to stand by the statements on which they appeal to the country in their advocacy of the taxation of land values, the pamphlet ought to go.


Senator de Largie - There may be land available in some of the States, and not in others.


Senator MILLEN - If the honorable senator will read the pamphlet he will find that it deals with all the States.


Senator de Largie - It does not make the assertion that there is land available in all the States.


Senator MILLEN - It does. It says -

There are available for settlement in all the States large tracts of partially cleared or improved land which can be prepared for cropping at trifling cost and without any delay for burning off.

I cannot go through the whole of the quotations I have made again, but if Senator de Largie knew anything at all about the pamphlet he would know that twothirds of it is devoted to Australia as a whole, and the remaining third to chapters on each State giving details of the land available in each. My honorable friends cannot wriggle out of the difficulty in any way. They must either accept or reject this pamphlet. It is false if the statement made before the 13th April is true, and if the statements made in the pamphlet are true, those made to the electors by our honorable friends opposite prior to the 1.3th April were not true.


Senator Long - The pamphlet is a picture of things, not as they have been, but as they will be.


Senator MILLEN - I have admitted that my honorable friends are entitled to whatever comfort they can draw from that, but I am s.ure that in their hearts they are satisfied that the statements in the pamphlet do not square with their election addresses, or the manifesto issued by the Leader of the Government they support. I wish now to direct attention to the position which will be created in Australia owing to the fact that both Federal and State Governments have the power to tax land. I do not intend to raise the constitutional question at all. My own opinion is that the Commonwealth Parliament is entitled to impose the tax which the Government propose in this Bill. I leave the constitutional aspect of the question to those who are better equipped to deal with it. What I ask honorable senators to consider is the practical effect of the Commonwealth intervening with the imposition of a tax upon land. We very frequently hear references to New Zealand, but may I point out that there is a wide difference between New Zealand and Australia ? In New Zealand there is only one authority empowered to levy land taxation, if we except local authorities exercising delegated powers. In Australia we have two authorities equally capable of imposing and collecting a land tax. That brings into view the possibility of a good deal of confusion, and it may be disaster. Throughout Australia the party to which my honorable friends opposite belong are pledged to land taxation both for State and for Federal purposes. In some of the States they go further, and where they have adopted a municipal platform they advocate land taxation for municipal purposes as well. In New South' Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, the Labour party have adopted municipal platforms, and in those States they are committed to raise revenue for Federal, State, and municipal purposes by taxation on the unimproved value of land.


Senator Rae - Not in every State.


Senator MILLEN - Speaking generally, the Labour party is committed to land values taxation for Federal and State purposes. Further, wherever they have a platform dealing with municipal matters they are committed to the same method of taxation for municipal purposes. I believe that I am accurately stating the position.


Senator Rae - In New South Wales it was never intended that the land tax should be duplicated.


Senator MILLEN - Only a little while ago, when I attempted to quote from the manifesto of Mr. Fisher, Senator Gardiner interjected that I ought to quote from the Labour platform. Now that I do so Senator Rae is not content. The platform of the Labour party in New South Wales clearly says that that party is in favour of a graduated land tax.


Senator Rae - If the State Labour party were returned to power before the Federal party, it was to impose the tax, and vice versa.


Senator MILLEN - There is nothing in the platform to show that.


Senator Gardiner - It has been publicly stated at the various Labour Conferences. The idea was that there should be only one land tax, and that it should be imposed either by the State or the Federal Labour party - whichever was returned to power first.


Senator MILLEN - I have a right to assume that the party went to the country upon its printed programme, which provides for a land tax.


Senator Gardiner - It went to the country on the understanding that there was to be no double land tax.


Senator MILLEN - I have nothing whatever to do with understandings. I merely desire to show that both the State and Federal Labour parties, when fresh taxation is required, wish to impose a land tax. In such circumstances, where are we going to land ourselves? Let me remind honorable senators that in South Australia, if a deficiency occurs in the revenue, the Labour party propose to make it up by levying an additional all-round land tax. One of the first acts of the present Labour Government of that State was to increase the land tax.


Senator Rae - That ought to be very gratifying to the honorable senator.


Senator MILLEN - I am merely pointing out the direction in which my honorable friends are seeking to carry Australia.


Senator Findley - The other day the honorable senator attempted to preserve to the community the whole of the communitycreated values in land.


Senator MILLEN - Does the Honorary Minister agree with that? If so, why did he vote against my proposal?


Senator Guthrie - Because it was a trap.


Senator MILLEN - When there was a chance of preventing the community from being " taken down " by land-owners whose land might be required for public purposes, the honorable gentleman refused to act. Evidently he would sooner see the land-owners get away with a considerable sum of money at the expense of the Com-; monwealth than support a proposal which emanated from the Opposition. I repeat that the tendency of the Labour party, throughout Australia is to collect revenue for Federal, State, and municipal purposes by means of a land tax. Where will such a policy land us? Here are three separate bodies, each seeking to supply its own needs by a tax upon land. That this is the ideal of the party is confirmed by certain remarks which were made by the VicePresident of the Executive Council in introducing this Bill. He said -

In South Australia in 1894 another step forward was taken.

Now, a "step forward" implies progress. What is his idea of a step forward? The next sentence reveals it. He said -

An additional land tax was imposed.

But even if land values taxation be ideally the most perfect form of taxation there must be great possibility of confusion and chaos when we have three separate bodies attempting to supply their needs in that way. Land will only bear a certain amount of taxation.


Senator Gardiner - Let us get rid of the State Parliaments.


Senator MILLEN - My honorable friend has already twice avowed his belief in Unification this afternoon. My point is that we cannot continue to have two governing bodies indefinitely taxing land for their own purposes without the stronger ultimately absorbing the weaker.


Senator Rae - What about the States and the municipalities?


Senator MILLEN - The municipalities are only exercising powers which have been delegated to them by the States. The States have full control over their own land taxes as well as over the tax which is imposed by the shires. But in the Federal arena the position is different. The effect of this tax will be to reduce values for the time being. But as the shires must have the same revenue as they previously received, they will, as land values decline, be compelled to increase the rates.


Senator Rae - That will not be any real increase.


Senator MILLEN - Nothing that this Parliament can do can destroy the value of land. But it is possible to transfer the value of land from the individual to the State by means of taxation.


Senator Rae - That is a good thing.


Senator MILLEN - I am not arguing that question. At present, I wish to make it abundantly clear that, unlike New Zealand, we occupy a difficult position, owing to the fact that two authorities are empowered to impose a tax upon land. In reality, we have three taxing powers, one of which is compelled to resort to land for revenue purposes, whilst the other two evince a strong disposition to have recourse to it. Each of these authorities realizes that the others are taking a portion of the value attaching to land. This operation has only to be pushed far enough to absolutely deprive the individual of his land values and to leave these three bodies wrangling amongst themselves for a division of the spoil.


Senator Rae - That is purely imaginary.


Senator MILLEN - I do not think so. Land can bear only a certain amount of taxation. When we impose more than is. in the £1 upon land values, the land does not cease to have a value, but the State has annexed the value. By means of this form of taxation the freeholder can eventually be deprived of his proprietary rights. That is the ideal al which Henry George aimed. His view was that, by collecting the full rental value upon property, ownership in it was destroyed. If the Labour party succeeds in its mission, both the States and the Commonwealth will be tempted to exact as large a share as they can out of land values. But I cannot imagine that this state of things can continue indefinitely. I cannot believe that the people will be content to allow the Commonwealth and the States each to collect taxation upon land without either paying any regard to what the other is doing, lt is not business. It does not appeal to our common sense that we should have this one commodity taxed by various agencies. For that reason some remedy will have to be found. Either there will be a tendency on the part of the Federal Labour party to press land taxation further home, or, in the other alternative, there will be a movement in the direction of Unification so as to bring the whole of the land of Australia under the Federal authority. There does not appear to be a via media. One of my objections to this tax is, therefore, that it necessarily brings into operation certain forces which, sooner or later, will compel us to unify in order to get away from the difficulties which this Bill will create.


Senator de Largie - If the States exercise common sense they will allow the Federation to impose the land taxation. There need not be Unification then.


Senator MILLEN - But the States want revenue. Where are they to get it from ?


Senator de Largie - From the Commonwealth.


Senator MILLEN - That means another arrangement between the States and the Federation. Were such an arrangement in force there would be no reason why there should not be one land tax.


Senator de Largie - That would be one alternative.


Senator MILLEN - It would. At present we are taking two bites at a cherry. A much better arrangement would be for the States and the Federation to come to a mutual understanding under which one land tax would be levied and the proceeds distributed.'


Senator de Largie - That would prevent anomalies. We cannot fix our Customs duties to suit the direct taxation of the States.


Senator MILLEN - My honorable friend's interjection confirms what 1 am stating - that the Federal authority, by means of this land tax, creates the difficulty of overlapping, and that some means will have to be found to get over it.


Senator de Largie - It is much easier for a State to prevent that overlapping than for the Commonwealth to do so.


Senator MILLEN - I do not know that it is. The Federal Government starts today with a land tax which honorable senators opposite will admit is fairly high, and which, I have not the slightest doubt, will be increased as time goes on, if the Labour party remains in power. The tax will be recognised as a regular means of obtaining revenue. But the States also will probably impose land taxation.


Senator Rae - There is an alternative - they can increase their income taxes.


Senator MILLEN - At any rate, the tendency will be for the State Labour parties to tax land. They must do so if they are to carry out their pledges.


Senator Ready - The Fusion party in Tasmania have imposed a land tax.


Senator MILLEN - That confirms what I have stated. I am trying to show that the tendency in Australia is such, that the

States will have to follow the lead of the Federation and look to land taxation for raising revenue. I am also showing how inconvenient it will be to have two or three authorities all levying taxation on the same commodity.


Senator Rae - There is no reason why they should not harmonize.


Senator MILLEN - At any rate, there is an undesirable state of affairs which should not continue any longer than we can help. There are two ways out of the difficulty. One is that ' suggested by Senator Gardiner, which is Unification. The other is that suggested by Senator de Largie, which is an arrangement between the States and the Federation by which one tax would be collected and the proceeds distributed. But that arrangement would make the States subordinate to the Federation. It is inconceivable that the Commonwealth Government will abate its land taxation. It will npt decrease the amount of its tax out of any regard for the finances of the States.


Senator de Largie - The States would be no more dependent upon the Commonwealth in regard to land taxation, if such an arrangement were made, than they are dependent now upon the Federation in regard to Customs taxation.


Senator MILLEN - But the arrangement with regard to Customs taxation has made the States subordinate to the extent that they do not know from one year to another how much revenue they will receive.


Senator de Largie - They know for the next ten years.


Senator MILLEN - They really do not, because some members of the Labour party have publicly stated that they did not. pledge themselves to the ten years' period, and that they are quite prepared to break the arrangement that has been made.


Senator Rae - Not without grave reasons.


Senator MILLEN - That is an admission that if grave reasons presented themselves the arrangement would be altered.


Senator Rae - No Government would alter the arrangements lightly.


Senator MILLEN - Perhaps they would alter them heavily. The same remark applies with regard to a land tax. The Federation will raise whatever tax it likes; and as we have to levy a uniform tax, even if we made an arrangement with the States, a State that wanted more revenue would probably get less than it required, whilst a State that could do with less would get more than it needed. The effect, I say again, will be to help forward those forces which undoubtedly are making for the unification of Australia. My honorable friends opposite have spoken as though the duplication of a land tax by the State Labour parties would help forward the purpose of the Federal land tax. But such is not the case. What is meant is that the State Labour parties shall levy a tax on estates below ,£5,000' in value. But I desire to point out that, in proportion ;is they do that, they will nullify the effect for which the Federal land tax is alleged to be imposed. The object of making the Federal tax progressive is to bring about the bursting up of big estates - to make it cheaper for land-owners to hold their land in blocks less than £5,000 in value. But if land taxes are also to be imposed by the States on lands under £5,000 in value, the land-owner will suddenly find that there is no inducement to cut up his estate.


Senator de Largie - A State tax on lands below £5,000 in value would also, in all probability, be progressive-


Senator MILLEN - That does not affect my point. Suppose that the Federal land tax were id. in the /'i on estates over ,£5,000 and up to, we will say, £20,000 in value. Suppose that a landowner in New South Wales says, " I have £25,000 worth of land, and, to escape the Federal land tax, I will subdivide my property into blocks each worth £5,000." As the result, no Federal land tax would be paid by him. But then the State comes along and says, " We will impose a tax of id. in the £1 on estates under £5,000 in value." As a result, the land-owner would realize that it would be just as well for him to retain his land in its aggregated state.


Senator de Largie - The Federal tax on a £25,000 estate would be more than id. in the £1 ; and it would therefore be worth the while of the land-owner to cut up his estate.


Senator MILLEN - My honorable friend misses my point. Let us assume that a land-owner under the Federal tax would have to pay to the Commonwealth Government £100 a year. Suppose that the land-owner said, " To avoid the payment of this tax, I will subdivide my estate." Then, however, the State Government would come along and levy a tax on estates under £5,000 in value, so that the land-owner would still have to pay £100 a year. The result, of course, would be that there would be no inducement to cut up the large estates.


Senator Rae - We shall have to remove anomalies of that kind when they arise.


Senator MILLEN - It is not likely that the Federal Parliament will surrender its land taxation. On the contrary, the tendency will be for land taxation to grow. But as the States also levy land taxes on estates below ^5,000 in value, the effect will be to minimize or nullify the bursting up properties of the Federal tax. That is a point which I think honorable senators opposite have not considered. Another object aimed at by the supporters of this Bill, as I understand them, is to secure cheap land for settlers.


Senator Rae - And also to secure revenue.


Senator MILLEN - I am leaving the revenue aspect of the case for the present. The effect is to be to make land cheaper for men who want to settle.


Senator Long - To make it more available.


Senator MILLEN - That is the same thing. But what do honorable senators mean by cheap land? The only way in which I can define cheapness is by saying that an article is cheap when it is obtainable for something less than men are ordinarily prepared to pay for it. A sovereign is not cheap if you are asked 20s. for if. It is cheap if it is offered to you for 19s. 6d. My definition of cheapness is a price at which something can be obtained for less than men are ordinarily willing to give for it.


Senator Findley - If the honorable senator had to pay 25s. for a sovereign, that would be abnormally high, would it not?


Senator MILLEN - If the value of a sovereign were by some means inflated to 25s., and I was able to obtain one for 24s. 6d., that would be cheap.


Senator Rae - There is a fallacy involved in that argument.


Senator MILLEN - I was rather amused, during my recent trip in search of health in New South Wales-


Senator Rae - Which was not very successful !


Senator MILLEN - It was; to the extent that it brought affairs to a more satisfactory condition than they were in on the 13th April last. In one farming centre I visited, I was very much amused and somewhat instructed to find a Labour advocate assuring men with small holdings that they need not be afraid that the land tax would depress their land values, and in proof of his assertion he pointed to the case of New Zealand, where he said that, although a land tax had been in operation for twenty years, land was worth more today than ever it had been. I commend this statement to my honorable friends who are telling electors in other parts of the world that the effect of this tax will be to lower values, and to make land more available.


Senator Findley - Perfectly correct.


Senator MILLEN - I have to thank Senator Findley for expressing in a few terse words my conviction on this matter. It may temporarily depress land values, but I contend that you cannot permanently secure for this or any other country cheap land, unless, of course, you have a periodic confiscation and redistribution.


Senator Rae - But a temporary cheapness would enable many persons to get hold of land who otherwise would not. be able to do so.


Senator MILLEN - Does a man part with cheap land at a low price; does the ultimate user of any land get cheap land? Let us look at what is happening practically in all the States. New South Wales is making such Crown lands as it has available at prices below their market values. These are cheap lands in the sense that the State is offering them to settlers at prices less than those for which they were obtained in the open market. But do the ultimate users of these lands get them more cheaply on that account? Does the man who draws a lucky marble .in a ballot, and obtains a settlement lease of the nominal value of 30s. an acre, sell the land at a cheap rate? Does the ultimate user of a block obtained in that way get it at a cheaper price? No. Of course, a number of these persons retain possession of their land. A man who obtains a block at a cheap price invariably says, " I intend to sell this land at its full market value," with the result that the ultimate user must pay full value for it. All the efforts of the State to acquire cheap land for its people have resulted in some men walking off with unearned increment to a very large amount. You cannot permanently secure cheap land to the users of it.


Senator Ready - Only by the leasehold system.


Senator MILLEN - I never sympathized with the land users of Ireland until I became a tenant of the Crown in New

South Wales, and I can assure the honorable senator that I do not wish to hear any more about Crown leaseholds.


Senator Ready - They seem to be very successful in New Zealand.


Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator ought to go and talk to some of the men under the Crown before he makes that statement, because they certainly do not tell me that.


Senator Rae - How does the honorable senator account for the tremendous anxiety to pay a premium in order to secure some of these Crown leases?


Senator MILLEN - How does my honorable friend account for the extreme anxiety of men who have leaseholds to get freeholds? In New South Wales, a block of land is thrown open for conditional lease, or homestead selection, and the news is wired all over Australia that there are 100, 200, or 300 applicants for it, and you hear about land monopoly and land hunger. It is not land hunger, though there is a healthy demand for land. But the fact is that there would be as big a rush of applicants if I formed a Tattersall's sweep, and said, " Rut your money in, and if you are not successful, you shall get it back ; but if you are successful, you will win £1,000." That is exactly what is happening with settlement leases, and in proof of my statement, let me direct attention to pamphlets which are issued by a dozen estate and stock and station firms in New South Wales. You will read of a settlement lease at a certain rent, and with improvements detailed, which it can be seen at once amount to £200 or £300, and the advertiser is asking for that block 5s., or 1 os., or 15s., or 20s. per acre, as a premium for the goodwill of the leasehold. What happens? The ultimate user of the block will not get cheap land. On the contrary, he will have to pay full market value for it, but the man who bought it at a low price from the Crown will walk off with, according to the quality of the land, anything from £500 to £2,000.


Senator Rae - There is a big percentage of actual users who make homes on the land.


Senator MILLEN - Yes ; but ultimately they must part with the land. In Australia, there are very few blocks which remain in the same families for any considerable period. In a young country, with men moving about, and enlarging their operations, there is a greater tendency to sell one home and form another than there is in an old established country.


Senator O'Keefe - So long as they sell to persons who will put the land to its best use, is it not all right?


Senator MILLEN - The aim of this Bill, we have been told, is to make land available to the people, but all the efforts of New South Wales to do that have failed so far as the ultimate user of land is concerned.


Senator Long - They have failed because of the difficulty to discriminate between the land settler and the land dealer. That is impossible.


Senator MILLEN - My honorable friend, with his transcendental ability, could not do that. Suppose that all the lands of Australia were vested in the Commonwealth Government, and that it decided to cut them up into blocks of £5,000 value, and to present a block to every man who wanted land, do my honorable friends believe that it would be possible afterwards to obtain cheap land in Australia - that it could be obtained more cheaply than it can to-day? The next man who came along and wanted a block would have to pay full market value for it. Under this Bill you may depress land values to enable persons to secure land from the present holders more cheaply than it can be obtained now. But your problem will again present itself in the course of a very few years. The next men who will want land will be confronted with the difficulty which confronts land-seekers now.


Senator Rae - We shall try some other method then.


Senator MILLEN - The same method will do. All that you need is to keep on, by process of legislative confiscation or compulsion, taking land from one class to give it to another - you only want to alter the details, and you can resort to this process every five years. My honorable friends have no right to be generous at the expense of individuals or classes. Speaking with some knowledge of this subject, I am convinced that all the efforts which New South Wales has made to provide cheap land for its people have, in the end, made that land dearer. The effect of offering settlement leases, homestead selections, conditional leases on easy terms at so much below their market value, has been that persons have come along and offered the holders more than the land was worth, considering the obligation to the Crown which it carried. It has sent up the values of freehold estates. Let me give an illustration. Take the case of a conditional lease. A man comes along and takes the land from the Crown at the nominal value of £1 an acre. He is required to pay a deposit of 2S. per acre, and there are three acres to one acre of conditional lease for which he pays quite a nominal rental, and at the end of his lease, which is a long one - from thirty to forty-two years - he has the right to convert it into a freehold on the present" value of £1 per acre. Another man will come along, and say to him, " You owe the State £1 an acre on this conditional lease." The land is worth 30s. per acre, and, therefore, he ought to offer to the holder 10s. per acre, owing the Crown £1. But he will offer £1, because he says, " I have not to pay the £1 to the Crown for a long period." He gives the holder more than the actual value of the land. The result is that on paper the holder is paid £1 per acre for land which carries an obligation of £1 to the Crown. In the popular mind the idea has been to stamp that land as being worth £2 per acre. When the freeholder alongside that holding is approached by this buyer, he says, " No, you gave my neighbour £1 per acre for land which was mortgaged to the extent of £1 ; therefore you shall also give me £2 per acre for my land." The net result of the efforts of past Governments and Legislatures in New South Wales to provide cheap land has been to raise land values.


Senator Guthrie - Was not that because they allowed speculation in land?


Senator MILLEN - Are my honorable friends on the other side stopping persons from speculating now?


Senator Guthrie - I hope so.


Senator MILLEN - I never saw such a magnificent chance for a man to speculate in land as is offered under this measure. It will open the widest door to speculation which has ever been opened in Australia. Its . effect will be to largely destroy the equity of redemption. It will bring many a man who is staggering under the load of a heavy mortgage into such a position that once land values fall he will be hopeless. The man who holds the mortgage will say, " There is no inducement for me to carry this person any longer." A man with sufficient capital to lift the mortgage, can get the land at two-thirds of the value at which it stood before this Bill was passed, and by going through the process of subdivision make a fortune.


Senator McGregor - Cannot the man who has such a mortgage make a fortune, too?


Senator MILLEN - All that he is entitled to is the amount that is mortgaged, and when he can get that he is satisfied.


Senator de Largie - Who will get the balance ?


Senator MILLEN - The speculator.


Senator McGregor - Cannot the other man become a speculator?


Senator MILLEN - The mortgagor has not a" sixpenny-piece to jingle on a tombstone. He is helpless.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - -Suppose that the value of the land drops below the value of the mortgage?


Senator MILLEN - The mortgagor is ruined all the same, and, in addition, something has been taken from the mortgagee, no doubt to my honorable friend's intense satisfaction. I want to deal now with another aspect of this matter, and that is the somewhat changed attitude which my honorable friends adopt as to the reasons for this Bill. We know that prior to its presentation the object was the bursting up of estates. On looking through the speech of Senator McGregor, I find that he addressed himself to the necessity for raising revenue. But before I quote what he said on the subject, let me remind him of the manifesto whicli I have read. There was no word in that about raising revenue from land taxation. The purpose was to destroy land monopoly. At the Brisbane Conference, Mr. Batchelor said that what they proposed would be destructive of revenue, and several other members of the Conference indorsed the statement.


Senator de Largie - It will destroy a certain amount of revenue.


Senator MILLEN - The Government are proposing a tax of id. in the £1, rising by gradations to an amount necessary to make it effective. If that is to be done, and the object of the tax is attained, they will not be able to get revenue from it.


Senator Rae - The honorable senator will admit that that would take time.


Senator MILLEN - My contention is that that is the point of view from which the proposal was placed before the public. Now Senator McGregor dwells upon the revenue-yielding aspect of this measure.


Senator Rae - So does the Argus.


Senator MILLEN - But my honorable friend does not always take the Argus as his guide, counsellor, and friend.


Senator Rae - No ; but the honorable senator does.


Senator MILLEN - I do not; nor the Argus or any other newspaper. Senator McGregor, in introducing the Bill, said -

Every honorable senator must realize that in order to carry on the Government it is necessary to tap almost every avenue for the purpose of making up the revenue required.

This is the statement we have from the honorable senator in submitting a Bill which is intended to be effective in the bursting up of estates which, if realized, would mean that no further revenue would be forthcoming from this source.


Senator McGregor - That depends on where the honorable senator thinks that land monopoly begins.


Senator MILLEN - There is no doubt as to where Senator McGregor thinks it begins, because the Government propose to start this taxation upon estates of over £5,000 in value. We know well that when Protectionists speak of "effective" protection what they mean is the imposition of a duty so heavy as to effectually prohibit imports. Similarly, when honorable senators speak of an effective land tax designed for the purpose of bursting up estates, it can only be said to be effective in so far as it succeeds in the bursting up of estates, and to the extent to which it succeeds it must destroy revenue.


Senator Rae - By a gradual process.


Senator MILLEN - I am not concerned as to whether the process would be gradual or not. Of course, we know that all that is anticipated could not happen in twentyfour hours. What I wish to direct attention to is Senator McGregor's assurance that we must tap almost every avenue for the purpose of making up the revenue required. Whilst the honorable senator lays down as a canon of taxation that we should tap almost every avenue, the Government are clearly proposing to derive the revenue they require from only one avenue. There is no attempt to touch any source of wealth other than that represented by land. The honorable senator went on to say -

We believe that with respect to defence and other matters direct taxation is the proper source from which the greater portion of the revenue should come.

Though the honorable senator said that he clearly did not mean it. What he meant was not direct taxation which applies to all forms of direct taxation. The honorable senator meant to refer only to this special form of direct taxation. I am at a loss to understand how it can be contended that the cost of defence should be a charge upon only one form of property in Australia.


Senator McGregor - It will not contribute the whole of the amount necessary.


Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator did not say so. What he said was that, with respect to defence and other matters, direct taxation is the proper source from which to derive revenue. Why should one form of wealth only be asked to contribute towards the cost of the defence of the country?


Senator McGregor - We can only deal with one thing in one Bill.


Senator MILLEN - I remind my honorable friend that in the Budget statement he made he showed that the amount of revenue to be received from this taxation would be sufficient for the purpose, and that there would be no need to look elsewhere for revenue.


Senator McGregor - No, I did not.


Senator MILLEN - I have no doubt that the figures put forward are open to serious challenge, but I was assuming them to be authentic.


Senator Rae - Are we not getting a big revenue through the Customs?


Senator MILLEN - That is not my point. I am referring to the statement made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that wealth should pay for the defence of the country. Senator Rae indorsed that statement.


Senator Rae - And I do now.


Senator MILLEN - But Senator McGregor did not mean it. The honorable senator meant to refer to only one form of wealth. To my mind, there is nothing logical in saying that the defence of the country shall be a charge upon the land, whilst the shipping around our coasts, which is much more liable to attack in the event of a hostile demonstration against this country, should go scot-free. I see no objection to the wealth of a country making a liberal contribution to the cost of its defence, but I say that the canon of taxation laid down by Senator McGregor, though sound, is violated in this Bill.


Senator McGregor - We cannot carry out everything in one Bill.


Senator MILLEN - But the honorable senator does not mean to do so.


Senator Rae - If the honorable senator has any income, he may have to pay up.


Senator MILLEN - In answer to that interjection, I may say that I believe that this Bill is merely part of a system by which my honorable friends opposite, whether they know it or not, are seeking to make a raid upon those who have something in this country.


Senator McGregor - What would be the use of raiding those who have nothing?


Senator MILLEN - I do not believe that my honorable friends ate viewing this matter from the stand-point of justice. It is sufficient for them to know that there is a class possessing wealth to justify them in making a raid upon them.


Senator Rae - Absolutely. What would be the use of making a raid upon a man who has nothing?


Senator MILLEN - There is no reason why we should not make a just demand upon all sections of the community. This is the first of a series of measures which can only be regarded as legislative pillage. There is no justice in this measure.


Senator McGregor - It is justice.


Senator Rae - Does the honorable senator mean to say that the majority of the Australian people have authorized us to pillage from themselves?


Senator MILLEN - No, they have not done so. But honorable senators have behind them a majority of people who have authorized them to pillage from a small number who are not of their way of thinking.


Senator Rae - That small number have hitherto been pillaging from the lot. We can get home on them now.


Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator means to say that the reason why we are asked to pass this Bill is that because in the past minorities have done an injustice to the majority, now that the majority are in power they should in turn get even with the minority.


Senator Rae - Recover what was robbed from them.


Senator MILLEN - By robbing back.


Senator Rae -No, it would be restitution.


Senator MILLEN - Wjiat the honorable senator calls " restitution " I call "pillage."


Senator St Ledger - Why stop the restitution at estates worth less than . -£5,000 ?


Senator MILLEN - That is a pertinent question, and the answer to it may be read throughout this Bill. It is robbery if it is done in small parcels when the money is taken from those whose votes support my honorable friends opposite, but it is only restitution when it is taken from those who are not of their political way of thinking.


Senator Rae - The honorable senator has answered that himself by saying that the State Parliaments can tax the rest.


Senator MILLEN - I have said that to the extent to which the State Parliaments avail themselves of that opportunity they will destroy the effect of my honorable friends' progressive land taxation. I should like to say a word or two upon what, for lack of some more precise term, I may euphemistically call Senator McGregor's estimate of the revenue yield under this Bill. In this portion of his address the honorable senator was unable to exclude from his remarks evi- dences of the class bitterness and feeling to which he and his party appeal. He spoke of the big taxpayers " doing " the Government, and said that the small taxpayers are taxed to the uttermost farthing, whilst the wealthy land-owners are not' taxed on more than a quarter of the real value of their estates. That is a strong indictment of those controlling the shires in this country.


Senator McGregor - And it is true.


Senator MILLEN - I challenge the honorable senator to produce anything worthy of the name of evidence in support of the statement.


Senator McGregor - I could do it.


Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator can make assertions and may submit the unsupported assertions of others, and tell us that he believes them to be true.


Senator McGregor - I can bring my own experience.


Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator's experience does not entitle him to speak for a whole series of shires. I say that his statement is an indefensible exaggeration.


Senator Givens - There must be a grain of truth in it if it is an exaggeration.


Senator MILLEN - No stronger indictment was ever launched against the local governing bodies' of Australia than the statement that the small man has been taxed to the uttermost farthing, whilst the wealthy are not being taxed on more than quarter of the value of their property. If that be so, I ask what my honorable friends opposite have been doing, in view of their strong representation in the State Parliament, that they have not long since put in a plea for the small man who is taxed to the uttermost farthing, whilst the big man has been allowed to escape 75 per cent, of his obligations? As a matter of fact, the statement cannot be supported.


Senator Long - The honorable senator may find ample evidence of the truth of it in Tasmania.







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