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Thursday, 8 July 1926


Senator NEEDHAM - The Commonwealth Government may be asked to incur a further liability.


Senator Pearce - In Western Australia the agricultural bank is at the disposal of settlers.


Senator NEEDHAM -If is evident that the British Government itself is sceptical in this regard, because it has limited its liability to £100. The question also arises whether we are likely to get the most suitable settlers if we place migrants on these farms. Will English farmers leave their holdings to come here? When I was secretary of the Trades Hall in Perth I came in contact with a number of migrants, not more that 25 per cent. of whom were fitted for farm work. I cannot imagine the British farmer leaving his farm to come here.


Senator Pearce - I had a letter by the last English mail from a relative of mine asking for particulars regarding obtaining land in Australia, as he desired to settle here.


Senator NEEDHAM - He may be the exception to the general rule.


Senator Andrew - I heard recently of a man who was willing to give up a position returning him £8 a week ibo settle on the land in Australia.


Senator NEEDHAM - Under the bill, a board or commission is to be appointed consisting of four members to be appointed by the Governor-General. The powers of the commission are set out in clause 13. This bill is an admission on the part of the Government of its inability to do anything towards the development and progress of Australia. The Minister said that Parliament and Ministers are too busy to devote their time to this allimportant question. Why, then, has the Department of Markets and Migration been created ? Is it not possible for the Minister to bring to his aid experts, by paying them good salaries ?


Senator Andrew - That is what he is going to do.


Senator NEEDHAM - He is not. He is giving to a commission a task which be himself should perform. The control is being removed from Parliament, in accordance with the policy which this Government has adopted since it has been in office. About eighteen months ago the Prime Minister suggested that it might be well for Australia if a dictator were appointed to control affairs. Instead of that, he is gathering around him' a number of directorates which are taking from Ministers and from Parliament the control which they should exercise. The number of boards which the Government has created is evidence that it recognizes its inability to govern, and feels it must resort to boards and commissions to do the work that it either cannot or will not do. I now wish to touch on another phase of this question. While it is essential that markets be found for our produce, it can scarcelybe said that the appointment of a commission is necessary to discover those markets. I was under the impression that the finding of markets was one of the functions of the Department of Markets and Migration.


Senator McLachlan - -What portion of the bill deals with markets ?


Senator NEEDHAM - The agreement deals with it. Under this bill, the commission is given exceptional powers. Honorable senators should recall what happened in connexion with the repatriation of our soldiers when considering the appointment of further commissions. This commission will have power to override the State Governments, because the bill provides that the Commonwealth cannot approve of any scheme or undertaking initiated by a State unless approval to that scheme has first been given bv the commission or it has first been approved of by both Houses of Parliament. Under this scheme the States will submit schemes for development. For instance, the Western Australian Government might desire to extend its system of group settlements ; but if the commission says " No," it will be unable to proceed. Too much power is being vested in the commission. Parliament should be supreme: it should govern, and not be governed. Clause 13 a(ii) deals with the investigation of existing industries by the commission. When speaking on the tariff recently, I mentioned that many of our industries were either inefficiently managed or were equipped with out-of-date machinery. In that connexion it is hoped that the recently appointed Council of Scientific and Industrial Research will assist to establishour industries on a sounder basis. Is it the intention of the Government to ask the commission to compare our industries with those of the United States of America! Why should we delegate powers to different boards to enable them to override the decisions of Ministers and of Parliament itself? The party to which I have the honour to belong is not opposed to immigration. It recognizes the need for peopling this vast continent of ours and developing its resources; but it does not think that the Government, by introducing this bill, has adopted the right means of doing so. Therefore, it is our intention to oppose the second reading.

Debate (on motion by Senator Duncan) adjourned.

Senate adjourned at 9.47 p in.







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