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Thursday, 8 July 1926

Senator NEEDHAM - It may appear so at first sight, but a closer study of the agreement will disclose that the rates will be higher than some suggest. If the interest for the following five years were 6 per cent., all the parties to the agreement would each pay 2 per cent. I should like the Minister to explain if my contention is correct, as it is only right thatwe should know exactly the interest to be paid.

Senator McLachlan - Does not clause 4 fix the interest at £2 per centum for the first five years, and not more than £2 10s. per centum for the next five years?

Senator NEEDHAM - It is not clear.

Senator McLachlan - It is rather obscure.

Senator NEEDHAM - Yes. I think we can safely assume that for the second five years the interest will be 6 per cent., and that the three parties to the agreement will each pay 2 per cent. Two salient points in the agreement bear out the view I previously expressed that Great Britain is safeguarding her position. For instance, Great Britain will pay interest for only ten years, after which the whole of the responsibility will fall upon the people of Australia. The second point to which I wish to direct attention is contained in clause 11 of the agreement, which reads -

The total contributions of all descriptions paid by the Secretary of State under this agreement shall in no case exceed the sum of £7,083,000.

That is very definite. Sub-clause 2 of clause 5 provides -

That for every principal sum of £75, issued to a State government .... one assisted migrant shall .... be received into it and satisfactorily settled in that State.

That is une oi the obligations attaching to the loan. Paragraph g of clause 9 provides that -

That in any case assisted migrants shall be found suitable employment in Australia at the same rate of wage as Australians of similar experience. . . .

What right has the Government to guarantee to persons overseas permanent employment to the detriment of our own people ?

Senator Pearce - Not to the detriment of our cwn people.

Senator Findley - The Government does not guarantee employment to the Australian people.

Senator NEEDHAM - No; but employment is guaranteed to British migrants before they come to Australia. If the guarantee were reversed and employment first provided for Australian citizens, we could then give preference to those from Great Britain. With the exception of appointing a royal commission to inquire into the question of unemployment and other kindred subjects, the Government has not done anything to solve one of our most pressing problems. To comply with the conditions of the agreement,the Government must give preference to migrants.

Senator Pearce - That is an obligation ofthe States four of which have Labour governments.

Senator NEEDHAM - In commenting upon theterms of this agreement, I am criticizing the State governments as well as the Commonwealth Government. Paragraph 2 of clause 5 of the agreement provides that -

There shall have been included in every 10,000 assisted migrants received into and satisfactorily settled in the State concerned such a number of assisted migrant families without capital as consist in the aggregate of 3,750 persons. ...

I presume that means that, for every 10,000 migrants received by a State, 3,750 without capital shall be settled on the land. For every £1,000 which the States receive, they must provide immigrants withone farm. We have had an unfortunate experience in settling returned soldiers on the land, some of which was purchased at exorbitant prices, and it would be interesting to know if migrants are to be settled on land of the type of that sold to returned soldiers with such disastrous results in Victoria. Hundreds of them, after having struggled to make a living, were forced to give up their holdings. In nearly every State commissions have been appointed to revalue the properties. I understand that under this agreement 50 per cent, of the farms purchased with this allegedly cheap money may be offered to Australians. Why hot give our Australian citizens who are anxious to settle on the land the first chance? I should like to know where, excepting Queensland or Western Australia, in a convenient situation, any good, cheap Crown land is available.

Senator Pearce - The Western Australian Government says that it can provide 6,000 new farms.

Senator NEEDHAM - I have here an extract from' the Melbourne Age of the 9th June, 1926, which reads -

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