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Wednesday, 12 October 1927

Senator ANDREW (Victoria) .- The discussion on this bill seems to have centred on the Government's migration policy, whereas the measure before us contemplates the borrowing of a sum of money for various purposes.

Senator Needham - Including migration.

Senator ANDREW - For migration the sum of £300,000 is to be set aside. The question arises whether the money to be borrowed should be obtained in Australia or elsewhere. The Treasurer will, no doubt, seek the advice of financial experts before completing the negotiations for the loan. In consequence of the present season not being so good as we expected earlier in the year, a number of primary producers will probably require financial assistance. If we strain the local money market we shall injure our primary producers. A large percentage of the money to be obtained will be expended on reproductive works. Although a large sum is to be appropriated for postal purposes, the Postal Department, as now managed, is a satisfactory business undertaking, in addition to being a great public utility. Money spent in extending our telephonic and telegraphic services will assist to develop the country and keep the people on the land. Unfortunately, conditions in Australia tend towards centralization. In some States more than half of the population is centred in the capital cities. The policy of the Postal Department should, to a certain extent, check the drift of people from the country to the cities. We cannot evade our obligations arising out of the war. We must do all we can for the men who left Australia to fight for their King and country. I feel sure that no honorable senator will raise any objection to all legitimate expenditure incurred on their behalf.

The debate on this Loan Bill, I repeat, has been directed chiefly at the Government's migration policy. I have studied the position very carefully, and find that, for the last seven months of this year, the total of arrivals from overseas was 63,264. Of that number 52,394 were British, and 10,870 were immigrants from 30 European countries. During the same period the departures totalled 39,362, and included 35,496 British and 3,866 other Europeans. The net gain to Australia for the period mentioned was 23,902. Of that number only 7,004 were migrants of foreign extraction. These figures show that we are maintaining our presentstandard of racial purity and keeping this country British as much as possible: the more British we have here the better.

The expenditure under the Home and Territories Department is chiefly for properties upon which, if necessary, the Government could realize. The same may be said of the expenditure under the Defence Department, one of the principal items being £100,000 towards cost of construction of buildings and works generally foi' the production of munitions at Maribyrnong and Footscray, Lithgow and Wakefield. Under the Department of Trade and Customs, the principal expenditure is for lighthouses, which, as honorable senators will admit,, are very necessary to ensure the protection of shipping around our coasts. Under Works and Railways there is a contemplated expenditure of £1,345,000, to further the Government's policy- to provide railway facilities for people in Central and Northern Australia. The United States of America, in its earlier years, was in much the same position that Australia occupies to-day. Railway construction work was undertaken to induce the people to settle on the land, instead of requiring them to face all the hardships of a pioneering life and then come, cap in hand, to the Government with requests for railway communication. The present policy is a sound one, because it is calculated to open up large areas for production. Under the Department of Health the expenditure proposed is £36,000 for serum and health laboratories and acquisition of properties and sites. This depart- ment is a most valuable one. The health of the people is of paramount importance. We need have no fear as to our future progress if our people are healthy. Cancer, tuberculosis, and other kindred scourges are causing the authorities grave concern. Unfortunately, tuberculosis has levied a heavy toll upon the people of Australia. Owing to faulty ventilation in so many mines, in former years, mining was an exceedingly unhealthy occupation. Happily tuberculosis appears to be declining, but, on the other hand, the mortality rates for cancer are steadily rising. Research work in connexion with all such diseases is of the greatest importance. Most of the expenditure contemplated under the bill is for works of a reproductive character, and it is only reasonable that posterity should bear its share of the burden.

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