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Thursday, 15 July 1926

The CHAIRMAN - Order !

Senator GRANT - I was merely saying that I do not see why the people should be taxed, as they will be through the Customs House, in order to find money to bring settlers to this country, and to meet the costs of ai very expensive commission. The request of the Leader of the Opposition is quite in accord with modern thought ; it is recognized throughout Australia that the time has arrived when workmen should have some voice in the control of industry. In some instances provision has been made in that direction. Surely when one of the main objectives of the commission is to survey the alleged potential or real latent resources of the country, a matter in which the primary producers will be directly interested, there can be nothing objectionable in a proposal to have on this commission direct representation of the primary producers, as well as those connected with the trade unions-. I think that it would greatly improve the personnel of the commission. For that reason, the Government should, accept the amendment put forward by Senator Needham.

Senator FINDLEY(Victoria) (10..48]. - The majority of the committee is favorably disposed towards the appointment of this commission which will be vested with considerable powers. It will deal with immigration and. land settlement, and' it will take into consideration, so we are informed,, the possibilities of establishing, new industries, as well as closely examine established industries. The prosperity of Australia depends wholly and solely on the successful development of primary and secondary industries. Some people entertain the idea that it can make substantial progress by the development of primary production .alone, without the imposition of those Customs duties which make it possible for secondary industries tot be established. There are none more anxious for the welfare and betterment of the man. on the land than are members of the Labour party. They know the hardships and the difficulties that confront the primary producers. As a matter of fact, many members of the Labour party in the Federal and State spheres were born and reared on the land, and until .a few years ago some of the richest men in the party had extensive interests in land. It is, therefore, quite incorrect to say that the Labour party is not solicitous for the interests of the man on the land. The party recognizes that Australia cannot make progress unless serious consideration is given to the need for cultivating land. It was the imposition of a substantial land tax by a Commonwealth Labour Government that led to the breaking up of a number1 of big estates in various parts of Australia which had been lying in a virgin state for a large number of years. That tax did more than anything else to make available large areas of land for Australian-born who for years and years had been waiting in vain for an opportunity to get on the land. The result is that where a few sheep and cattle were grazing in years gone by, there are now well-established farms and fairly wellcircumstanced farmers. The principal difficulty confronting the primary producers is that of finding profitable markets for their produce. We are informed that the proposed commission will endeavour to find them new markets, but the best of all markets for the man on the land is the local, or home, market. I believe that if we had representatives of the primary and secondary industries on the proposed commission, some of the difficulties of those engaged in those industries would disappear. At the moment, our keenest efforts should be directed towards establishing more and more industries in Australia, .and providing more and more employment, not merely for Australians, but also for those who will be brought here under the immigration scheme ; and the two sections of the community mainly interested in that aspect are the most fitted to have representation on this commission. We have technical schools and other educational institutions fitting the Australian youth to occupy positions in secondary industries, and we have agricultural colleges and similar institutions educating young men in Australia to follow rural pursuits. The only objection raised to Senator Needham's amendment, if it be an objection, is that the Government can be trusted to make a wise and judicious selection. It would be a very wise .and judicious selection if the committee insisted on the representation of the sections of the community to which I have made reference. I hold no brief for Senator Lynch, but he has had a very wide experience in many directions in Australia. To-day he is on the land. According to his own statement, he knows something, of the hardships of the man on the land, and that it is often difficult to find markets for the commodities produced by the man on the land. . It is not that I want- to see Senator Lynch on the commission, but if a man of his type were appointed it would be very helpful to the producers of Australia. Honorable senators are apparently prepared to vote blindly for the clause., in the "belief that the Government will get four men immeasurably superior to any other four men, or 400 men, on local bodies throughout the Commonwealth. The primary producers are becoming a very active force in Australia. Realizing what can be done by unity and co-operation, they are going in more and more for co-operation, with the result that they are getting a better return for their labours. .Senator Plain in days gone by was associated with the Labour party, and knows that what I have s.aid about the men associated with that party and about their attitude towards the primary producer is correct. As a primary producer, he knows that it would be well for his interests, and that of others who are on the land, to be represented on .this commission. No one is better qualified than a member of their own organization to represent the primary producers. If I were a member of the Country party supporting the Government, and a primary producer., I should lose no opportunity .of seeing that the interests of the party I represented were given full recognition by the Government.

Senator Chapman - We have direct representatives in the Government. Surely they ought to be able to look after our interests!

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