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Wednesday, 14 July 1926

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - As a new senator, I desire to congratulate Senator Carroll on his maiden effort in this' chamber. I desire also to congratulate the Government on having introduced this measure. So anxious am I that it shall become law that I shall not address the Chamber at length on this occasion. I shall confine myself chiefly to one aspect of the bill to which I trust the commission will devote particular attention. Senator Carroll said that he hoped that the Government would not appoint any member of the Chamber of Manufactures to the commission. The whole of his remarks were based, as, unfortunately, our immigration policy has in the past been based, on the assumption that the only class of immigration with which Australia should be concerned is immigration associated with land settlement.

Senator Carroll - This bill is 05 per cent, in that direction.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not think so. The bill is so framed that 95 per cent, of the immigration efforts of the commission could be directed to channels other than land settlement.

Senator Carroll - The money would not be made available in that case.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not agree with the honorable senator. I believe that provision to that effect has been deliberately, and may I say wisely, made in the agreement. I have had a long practical experience on the land. I know the difficulties associated with pioneer life; and I say deliberately that if Australia has to depend for its future population on land settlement alone it will be a long time before we can say with any degree of assurance that we have reached a state of security. The task of developing this country is more than 6,000,000 can accomplish. I agree with Senator Carroll that unless markets for our produce can be found it is unprofitable to occupy the land. It is useless to send men 60 miles from a railway to grow wheat. Wheat-growing cannot be undertaken profitably beyond a certain distance from the means of communication with markets. Those of us who have experienced the difficulties of pioneering know what a struggle it is to obtain a living from the land without proper means of communication. One glance at the map of Australia is sufficient to show that a great task confronts our 6,000,000 people in developing so great a territory and bringing it within reasonable touch of export markets. For a considerable time I have held that to accomplish that task we must turn our attention more than we have done in the past to other means of attracting population to our shores, and of increasing our wealth. An enormous expenditure will be necessary to develop so large an area.

Senator Barnes - We are confronted with the unemployment difficulty.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the honorable senator so short-sighted as to believe that an increase of population necessarily means more unemployment ? Does he not think that the establishment of industries for the manufacture of articles which now have to be imported will provide employment for a much larger population? The honorable senator has only to consider the experience of the United States of America. For many years there has been a continuous stream of migration to that country. Long before there were any arbitration courts in this country, or organized labour had set out to secure higher wages for Australian workmen,, the United States of America, notwithstanding that stream of migration, was paying higher wages than are paid "in Australia to-day.

Senator Barnes - They had land, which they made available. That is not the case with Australia.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not think that honorable senators opposite really believe in the short-sighted policy which from time to time they advocate in this Chamber. While it may be a popular policy, it is one which, if persisted in, will result in putting Australia lower and lower in the scale of progressive nations. I rose to appeal to the Government to assist the commission, when appointed, by every means in its power to establish great industries in this country. I believe that they are essential for our future security. The bill expressly makes provision in that direction. For a long time we have been living in a fool's paradise..

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Particularly in regard to our fiscal policy.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator appears to have ore idea only. He subscribes to a fiscal policy which belongs to past ages.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Greater men than the honorable senator have advocated freetrade.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not agree with them. But I am not now dealing with either freetrade or protection. Year after year large sums of money are voted for defence purposes. I have often wondered what would happen to Australia if its defence ever became a vital issue. So long as the British Navy had control of the sea we should have nothing to fear; but I ask honorable senators what would have happened during the great war if one of our allies had ranged herself against us? Could we have defended ourselves for 48 hours? Senator Pearce, who was in charge of the Defence Department at that time, knows that if an expeditionary force of sufficient strength had been dispatched against Australia, we could not have held out for 48 hours.

Senator Barnes - That was because we sent our men away to the other side of the world.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If no man had left Australia, we could not have held out for 48. hours.

Senator Needham - Are we in any better position to-day?

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is the point to which I have been leading. The bravery of our men, and their fitness for the work which they undertook, was proved times without number on a hundred battlefields during that titanic struggle which lasted from 1914 to 1918. Nevertheless, if every man in Australia were trained to a hair, under conditions of modern warfare we should be absolutely powerless to do anything of an effective nature unless we could maintain an adequate supply of munitions. The question of Australia's defence per se will never arise unless, owing to circumstances over which either we or Great Britain will have no control, we are thrown upon our own resources. In such circumstances, even if we had an enormous air force, not many weeks would elapse before we would not have a plane to fly with. If I were asked to choose between adding another squadron or two to our existing air force, and spending £500,000 a year in the training of its personnel, or spending £500,000 a year in the establishment of peace-time factories capable of the manufacturing of aeroplanes and internal combustion engines, I should vote for the latter every time, because I believe that they are vital from a defence point of view.

Senator Needham - How does the honorable senator associate his remarks with the bill?

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Undoubtedly defence could be linked up with these migration proposals, by making the condition that, if a bounty were given for the establishment of those industries which I believe to be so vital for the defence of Australia, for every Australian employed they must give employment to at least one migrant. I believe that some portion of the amount to be provided by way of loan by the British Government could be diverted - if not directly, certainly indirectly' - to the purpose I have mentioned. The migration policy developed on these lines, besides bring ing a large number of people to Australia, would create a larger home market which, I venture to suggest to Senator Carroll, is infinitely more valuable to our primary producers than a market overseas.

Senator Pearce - In nearly every case where a new industry, has been established, a certain number of skilled men have had to be introduced to start it.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That, of course, is inevitable. If we spent a large sum of money to start the motor car industry in Australia, we should have to introduce skilled artisans from overseas to establish it. In this way secondary industries which are .valuable to Australia from the defence point of view may be definitely linked up with migration schemes.

Senator Graham - Should we build our own warships?

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It would be far better to complete our . arrangements for land defence before we commenced building our own warships. The value of the industries to which I have referred, and many others which could be mentioned, lies in the fact that they also cater for the peace-time needs of the community. If Australia were attacked to-morrow, and if international relationships were such as to make it impossible for Great Britain to come to our aid, we should be absolutely powerless within a few days; simply because we have not the means to ensure an adequate supply of munitions. Therefore, I am glad that the Government proposes to consider other' proposals apart from land settlement schemes. I suggest that the Government should in connexion with its migration scheme take definite steps, to encourage the establishment of those secondary peace time industries, which during war-time could be utilized for defence purposes. I would advocate the allocation of a considerable proportion of our defence vote to that purpose. The adoption of that course will, I am sure, ensure greater security to Australia in the future than anything which we have done up to the present. I do not wish to be misunderstood. I do not suggest that the Government should discontinue its present defence policy, but, having regard to the expansion of our defence activities, I think it would be infinitely preferable to give attention to the development of those industries which are essential to the defence of Australia, and which at the same time would provide large avenues of employment in the production of articles to supply the everyday needs of our people. I congratulate the Government upon what it is doing. I thi nlc it is proceeding on right lines. I hope that the bill will shortly become law, that there will be no delay in the appointment of the commission, and 1 wish the commissioners - whoever they may be - success in their great undertaking.

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