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Friday, 9 July 1926

Senator GRAHAM (Western Australia) . - There is much in this bill which appeals to me. I am an Australian, and desire to see Australian sentiment encouraged. In order to hold this great continent we must have population. What better population could we obtain than people of our own kith and kin? I take exception to Senator Duncan's remark that Senator Needham, when dealing with this bill, spoke not his own thoughts, but the views of the Labour party. Was Senator Duncan expressing his own views or the views of honorable members on his side of the chamber? For Australia to be a self-contained nation, a much greater population is necessary. I am satisfied that hitherto . the right class of migrant has not always been chosen. That is a result of bad selection. Many of those who have come here have done so under a misapprehension regarding Australian conditions. I am not prepared to say that there has been deliberate misrepresentation, but I say fearlessly that many migrants who have been selected as land settlers in Australia had, at the time of their selection, never seen a plough or been on a farm. Is it any wonder that they have proved failures in Australia ?

Senator Needham - That is not their fault, but the fault of the system.

Senator GRAHAM - That is so. I do not blame a man for wanting to escape from uncongenial surroundings in the Old World and to get to sunny Australia, but something is wrong when migrants selected as trained farm labourers are found on arrival here to know nothing about farming. When they realize their unfitness for the work for which they have been selected, they are forced either to accept positions as apprentices on farms or to seek other employment. The result is harmful. Some of these migrants may for two or three seasons work for a mere pittance on farms rather than be thrown out of employment.

Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.

Senator GRAHAM - I agree that if we are to ensure the development of Australia on satisfactory lines, we should secure the best type of migrants. Before the luncheon adjournment I saidI was afraid that in many instances there was something wrong with the method of selection in Great Britain. I have in mind the case of one man, and I suppose that was not the only case, who made application for an assisted passage under the Government's migration scheme. He was selected and approved, but prior to his departure it was ascertained that he had been a cab-driver in London and probably had never been on a farm in his life. However, he was apprenticed for a fortnight to a farmer in the west of England in order to gain a little experience, and was then approved for a passage to Australia as a farm labourer. That man subsequently was placed on a farm in Western Australia, and, of course, he failed. I have no desire to reflect upon any government officials, but it has occurred to me that if migration agents in Great Britain receive £1 for each approved migrant - as I understand they do - it is possible they recommend persons who, in other circumstances, would have no chance of selection. The results of this system are seen in the subsequent failure of the migrants in this country.

Senator Foll - Even after a person has been recommended by an agent in England he has to pass the necessary examination.

Senator GRAHAM - Yes, but evidently there is something wrong with the system, otherwise we should not have unqualified migrants being approved for land settlement in Australia.

Senator Pearce - The only man who made a success of f arming in the Northern Territory was a runaway sailor.

Senator GRAHAM - That exception proves the rule. Only one man in a thousand would make a success of farming in Australia unless he had previous experience.

Senator Reid - Many of our pioneers had no previous experience of land settlement.

Senator GRAHAM - I have nothing to say against our pioneers. My point is that there is something wrong with the system that permits of a shipwright or mechanic employed in the heart of London - a man who has never been on a farm in his life - being recommended as a qualified immigrant for land settlement in Australia. Such men can know nothing whatever about farming. I admit that in Australia there are millions of acres that could be occupied profitably if we had the right class of immigrant, and I believe that before many years have elapsed we shall have a steady flow of British migrants. I hope that they will be of the right class. One honorable senator said this morning that by encouraging the best type of immigrant we should, in course of time, build up a strong and virile race, and that we should do all that is possible to encourage and strengthen a healthy Australian sentiment. We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the great majority of the people of Australia have sprung from British stock.

Senator Thompson - And do not let us forget it either.

Senator GRAHAM - I do not forget it. Our purpose should be to keep Australia racially pure so that we shall be able to hold it against aggression in the future. Australia is God's own country. Ifwe attract to it the right class of people, it will always be a desirable land to live in. We must not forget, however, that we owe a duty to those who are already here. They should have an equal chance. It is true that many Australians, and especially those who have been born in our capital cities, do not care for farm life. Nevertheless, there is keen competition by other Australian sons, lads born in our rural districts, for all blocks of land that are made available. Senator Needham yesterday cited instances of between 300 and 400 applicants for certain areas that were made available, and Senator McLachlan admitted that in some cases the successful applicant was as lucky as the winner of Tattersalls sweep. To ensure successful settlement and a fairly quick return, suitable lands adjacent to railways and other means of transport, and close enough to city markets, should be made available. If people have to take up areas in heavily timbered country, it will take them from eighteen months to two years to get their land cleared. In my State, as Senator Kingsmill mentioned this morning, settlers under the group system are paid a state rate of wages whilst engaged in clearing their blocks.. In this way they receive the necessary assistance to carry them over a difficult period. That system works satisfactorily. As the cost is added to their blocks, it has to be paid eventually by the settlers themselves. I agree with the main purpose of the bill. Senator Duncan this morning referred to the attitude of certain extremists on both sides of this chamber. I was pleased that Senator Duncan subscribes to the view that there are extremists in the ranks of Government supporters, because I was under the impression that, in the opinion of honorable senators opposite, the extremists were all on this side. I recall that when I entered this chamber an honorable senator opposite, upon being introduced to me, expressed surprise, I suppose, at my appearance, because he said, "Why, I thought you were an extremists and a bolshevik; I find that, after all, you are like any other man." It is gratifying, therefore, to know that in Senator Duncan's view honorable senators on this side of the chamber are not so extreme in their opinions as other people appear to think we are. A great many people run away with the idea that unless we populate this, country, theJapanese or the Chinese will swarm down in their millions and take possession of it. I am inclined to think, with Senator Duncan, that we need have no apprehension on that score. I. am satisfied that, whatever may be the political colour of the Government in power, it will always be prepared to take the necessary steps to defend Australia. Senator Duncan also had something to say about the brotherhood of man, and the attitude of a certain section of the Labour party towards migration. We have heard that before in this chamber. I should like to know what is wrong with the principle underlying the brotherhood of man if it is carried out in its entirety, as our Saviour intended it to be. If we had a real brotherhood of man, there would be little bitterness among the people of the world.

Senator Kingsmill - Even brothers do not always agree.

Senator GRAHAM - Senator Duncan referred to the fact that persons holding socialistic ideas may be brought to Australia under this agreement.

Senator Duncan - That is not what I said. I was referring to extremists on the honorable senator's side who hold those views.

Senator GRAHAM - But for the united action of the workers in the years that have passed, we should not be as well off industrially as we are to-day. I hope that the workers will continue to unite in order that they may hold what they have gained. Senator Kingsmill referred to a pet hobby that he said he had ridden before in this chamber. I agree with the views that he expressed in regard to it. While he continues along those lines, he will be on the right track. I endorse his suggestion that some system should be evolved to bring to Australia fishermen from the northern parts of Scotland, or from some other countries, to engage in fishing operations in the seas that lap our shores. The fishing industry is to-day controlled by a ring, and although this is a land of plenty, it is not possible for the ordinary working man to have fish upon his table as frequently as he might. I should like to see the Government offer some inducement to fishermen in the Old World to come to Australia and engage in that industry. Right along the coast of Australia the seas are teeming with fish, and it should be retailed at a price that would enable any person to have a fish diet at least two or three times a week. Fish is cheaper in Kalgoorlie, after having been carried 400 miles from Perth, than it is in Melbourne.

Senator Kingsmill - And better.

Senator GRAHAM - That is so. The Government has expended money in a lavish fashion in granting bonuses and giving other forms of assistance to various industries. This industry has been absolutely neglected. I hope that a number of industries which are undergoing a period of idleness will, before long, be. working profitably for the benefit of the whole community.

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