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Friday, 16 July 1915

Senator STEWART (Queensland) . - We are now entering upon a new era so far as the question of finance is concerned in Australia. Hitherto we have been, developing our resources by means of borrowed money, found in the London money market, but now not only has our expenditure been largely increased, but we are told by the Mother Country that for developmental purposes, and, indeed, for other purposes, we must depend on ourselves. For one, I welcome that position. No doubt the present circumstances are unfortunate, not only for Australia, but for other portions of the world; but it is through adversity that nations, as well as individuals, learn wisdom. Here in Australia, ever since this country has been settled, we have been wasting our resources in a most unbusinesslike fashion. We have borrowed money year after year from London for the building of railways and other public works, and we have allowed a certain section' of the people to put into their pockets the added value which the expenditure of that- money placed upon the land. That ia the policy we have been following in this country up to the present, and any one who cares to examine it without prejudice can only come to the conclusion that it is the most unbusiness-like and foolish, as well as the most wasteful, policy in which any nation could possibly engage. I hope that stern necessity will compel a revision of that policy, and I trust that, for the future, when the people of Australia spend money on rail. ways or other public works, the value which will be added or created by that expenditure will find its way into the public Treasury rather than into the pockets of private individuals. Last year, even if the war had not broken out, we would have been in the unfortunate position of having a deficit to meet. Our revenue last year was somewhere about £22,000,000 or £23,000,000.

Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.

Senator STEWART - We all feel that the ultimate fate of Australia depends largely on the outcome of the war. If the Allies win, I suppose we shall be all right. The bill will be to pay, but in time probably it will' be met. A large portion of the burden can be passed on to posterity, which is only fair, because if we hold Australia we are holding it, not only for ourselves, but for those who come after us. At the same time, it is evident that the present situation in this country ought to be changed, and that speedily. Here we are in a country many thousands of miles away from Europe, and yet our fate depends almost wholly on the success of Britain and her Allies. It ought to be the ambition of every Australian to see this country independent, self-contained, and self-supporting, able to maintain her position without outside assistance, and to defend herself against foreign aggression. It is not only possible to make a beginning towards realizing that policy, but it is our bounden duty to do so, and the circumstances of the war give us a splendid opportunity of making a departure which ought to have been made many years ago. If we want to be a country able to maintain its independence, no matter what may happen to the Mother Country, the first essential is a larger and larger population. According to the latest figures, our numbers now approach 5,000,000. The increase since Federation has been about 25 per cent. In a young country like this the natural increase, with the increase through immigration, ought to be very much greater than that. In some periods young countries have doubled their population in a much shorter time than we have taken to increase from 3,000.000 odd to 4,000,000 odd. We ought to bend all our energies towards the accomplishment of a policy which will have this result. This large increase of population can be accelerated in one way only - that is by providing profitable opportunities of employment, not only for the people we have here now and for their descendants, but for many millions of. immigrants from other countries.

Senator Guthrie - From Germany?

Senator STEWART - I do not want to preach a homily about Germany, but if there is one thing I despise it is the man who sees in Germany, our enemy of to-day, an impossible friend in the future. I remember when France was the traditional enemy of Britain, and the old women used to frighten the children by telling them that they would hunt " Boney " on to them. I can remember when not only Britain, but Australia.,, was afraid of Russia. Our enemy of today may be our friend of to-morrow.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Our enemy of today is making it more and more impossible, through his brutality, to make friends with him than was the case with any of those enemies of the past.

Senator STEWART - I would ask honorable senators who think that the last word in brutality has been uttered in connexion with the present war to read history. Any one who does so must know that if you fight with a country to-day you are friendly with it to-morrow, and that your friend of to-day may be your enemy to-morrow. W.e see the same thing in politics and in every-day human life. To say that the people of Germany are to be segregated, marked out as the curseof God and man for all time, is to mesomething so unthinkable that I cannot regard with anything but horror people who give utterance to such a sentiment. Nations, like individuals, go mad at times. Probably that is the case with Germany at the present moment, but I am sure that, twenty years from to-day, this great war, which is going to have such tremendous results, will hardly be mentioned. People will have begun to think about other things, and there will he the free movements between the peoples of different countries that there were before the war. The human race is not going to segregate itself in sections because, unfortunately, one nation has at some time or other been at war with another nation. If that kind of spirit were to be carried into the daily life of the nation, the people of' one country would not speak to or visit those of another, or take or sell their goods. But that kind of thing is impossible. The human family is like a great sea, and I have no doubt that within a comparatively short period Australia will welcome German immigrants. Many of the Germans settled on the land of this country are the best farmers we have.

Senator Guthrie - Their wives are.

Senator STEWART - If the honorable senator studied the subject, he would know that the employment of women in the fields gives to the people of a country a stamina that nothing else will give. Why is it that in some of the move thickly populated manufacturing districts of Europe the people are becoming degenerate ? Their women have not the opportunities of getting the physique that the women in some other countries have. The healthiest, strongest, finest women I ever saw were what we call in Scotland the " outworkers " - the women who work in the fields. They are better there than sitting on a stool operating a typewriter, or standing behind a counter in a stuffy shop, or taking down shorthand from dictation.

Senator Ready - The honorable' senator would like to see them pulling the teats of a cow.

Senator STEWART - That is a much more healthy occupation than some I have named. I advise honorable senators to read a book recently published by Olive Schreiner, who shows that, if the physique of our women is lowered, the physique of the race is lowered. Instead of it being regarded as a reproach to Germany that a large number of her women work in the fields, the fact is really one of Germany's great sources of strength. I trust Australia will have 20,000,000 people within a comparatively short period. T care not from what corner of the world they come so long as they are of the white race. I want no coloured people here. I want people of the white race to make their homes here, and help to build up a great Democracy below the Southern Cross. Australia may one day be. a city of refuge for the people of Great Britain, for no one knows what is going to happen to the Mother Country in the near future. Every other great Empire has had its day and disappeared, and who will say that Britain will not disappear as a great Power. I believe she will. Every day is bringing that possibility nearer, and one of my principal reasons for urging Australia to adopt a policy of expansion and growth is that, when that day comes, there will be a home here for, perhaps, millions of exiled Britons. The only way in which that expansion can be brought about is by providing abundance of employment at good wages, and the one great essential is that the country shall be available to the people. That is what we lack, because the lands of Australia are not available to the people.

Senator Millen - You have not disappointed us.

Senator STEWART - And I hope the honorable senator will not disappoint Australia. The lands of Australia are not now, and never have been, open to its people. They never will be open to them if the party with .which the honorable senator is associated has its way. Australia can never be anything until that is brought about. The farmers of Scotland, some years ago, sent a deputation to spy out the land of Australia. They had heard great tidings of the huge areas of beautiful country available under. the Southern Cross, and thought they would come out and see for themselves. I have no doubt that if their report had been satisfactory, thousands of stalwart Scottish fanners would have come out here, and thrown in their lot with us; but the tale that these Commissioners took back to Scotland was of an astounding character. They said that there was no good land available - that all the good land was monopolized.

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