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Wednesday, 12 October 1927

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland) (Minister for Defence) [8.20]. - I do not know how this discussion arises on the proposed vote now before us. Not one penny of the money is to be devoted to foreign migration - it is solely for the purpose of assisting migrants from Great Britain - yet Senator Needham has raised the question of foreign migrants. No foreign migrant enters Australia unless he pays his own passage, and has in his possession £40 on landing here, so that he will not be a charge on the State. Statistics show that at the present time the proportion of Britishers in Australia is 98 per cent., and according to the latest figures in regard to births, 98per cent. of the children born in Australia are ofBritish parentage. There is no indication that this very large proportion of Britishers is being interfered with. Senator Needham has tried to prove that the Commonwealth Government is endeavouring to encourage people of other than British origin to come to Australia. On the contrary, every effort has been made to discourage the migration of such people. We, however, cannot put a ring fence around our continent and prevent every one from coming here. After all, the Italian belongs to a very old civilization, a much older civilization than the British, and he is as white as we are. But while honorable senators opposite attack the Government in regardto foreign migration, they are opposed to all forms of migration to this country. I question whether we havea moral right to prevent white people from coming to such a large country as we possess, seeing that it is so sparsely populated, whereas a very large part of the old world is thickly populated. It is an obligation on us to see that our country is populated and developed, and it is an obligation on the Government to see that the people who come to Australia have employment. The Government holds that development should precede migration, and it is doing all it possibly Can to open up the great resources of this Continent, so that when people arrive here they may find employment. Honorable senators must realize how essential it is to spend money judiciously in assisting migrants to come to this country. We have a very fine type of manhood here, and by the records of the Australian Imperial Force show that a tremendous number of those who left Australia to fight in the Great War were the descendants of migrants. Why should those who have come here and now enjoy the privileges and the very high standard of living we have in this country, seek to prevent their own kith and kin from coining to Australia? This discussionhas arisen on a vote to assist British migrants, and not foreign migrants, to come to Australia.

Senator Sir HENRYBARWELL (South Australia) [8.25]. - I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) to this extent, that it is a matter of the utmost importance to Australia that we should only assist such migrants as can be immediately absorbed in the industrial? and social life of our country, and that the migrants so assisted should be, as far as possible, people of our own kith and kin. The item relates only to assisted migrants, and the Government does not assist any one but Britishers at the present time. But the further question raised by the Leader of the Opposition is whether we can prevent people who come here at their own expense from entering Australia - whether we should prevent any one belonging to any other race from coming here.

Senator McLachlan - Does the honorable senator think that matter is quite relevant to the item?

Senator Sir HENRYBARWELL.No, but the matter having been raised and debated, I want to say that it has a. very serious international complexion.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain - The item in the schedule does not give the Chairman any guide as to the exact purpose to which the money is to be devoted, but the Minister for Defence having now made it clear that not one penny will go to assist foreign migrants, the debate must be limited to the question of assisted migrants.

Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL - I quite agree with you, Mr. Chairman ; but the debate has been allowed to proceed on totally different lines and statements have beenmade which ought to be refuted. It is of the utmost importance to do so in view of what has recently taken place at the League of Nations, where an endeavour has been made to take migration out of the sphere of matters of domestic concern and make it an international question. Once migration becomes an international question we know the stand which will be taken by other nations unless Australia does everything possible to develop its resources and people its territory. Great Britain will be placed in a very peculiar position if a vote goes against her and us at the League of Na- tions. She must abide by it, or must repudiate the League itself, which she has done so much to build up. I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for permitting me to say this. Now, on the question of assisted migration, I want to say that, if sound methods are followed, a great deal may be done to enable Australia to accept a constant and ever increasing flow of migrants. It is unnecessary, I think, to stop all migration until the Development and Migration Commission has laid out grandiose schemes that can be proceeded with. There are forms of migration that can be pursued right away and which should have been going on constantly for years past.

Senator Sampson - Boy migration?

Senator Sir HENRYBARWELL.Yes, there was the boy migration scheme, which was stopped by the Labour Government in South Australia. It was the best of all schemes ever devised. It was praised not only by legislators of Australia, but also by the British Empire Migration Commission that visited us. Did not Mr. Wignall, a Labour member of the House of Commons, say that of, all the schemes he had inquired into, there was none to beat the boy migration scheme of South Australia ? He said that he had interviewed 600 or 700 boys who had been brought out to Australia under that scheme, and that there was not one who had cause for complaint. One or two minor matters were fixed up immediately he referred them to the authorities. Fortunately, a Liberal Government has been recently returned to power in South Australia, and the scheme is to be revived. The nomination system is the simplest that could be adopted. Under it a friend or a relative undertakes to receive, house, and find employment for the migrant immediately on arrival. Variations of that scheme could be adopted. One would be to have families nominated by public or religious bodies, which would undertake to receive and find accommodation for them on arrival. There is also a big demand in Australia for girls for domestic service. It is against the best interests of the social life of this country for housewives to be unable to obtain suitable girls. There are in England many girls who would be willing to come to Australia to engage in those duties. A similar scheme could be applied to the migration of artisans. The Liberal Government in South Australia of which I was the head, induced contractors to requisition for a certain number of artisans, and to undertake to find accommodation for them. The introduction of artisans to Australia would not increase unemployment; it would have a contrary effect. There is at the present time a shortage of artisans, and necessary works have to be postponed on that account. If there were a greater number the unskilled labourer would be kept more fully occupied. I have mentioned only a few of the methods that could be adopted in all the States. The trouble with which the Commonwealth is confronted is that it cannot bring migrants to Australia without a requisition from the Government of a State unless it can place them in its own territory. The Governments of the States now send to the Commonwealth a requisition setting out the number and the class of migrants they are prepared to receive. It is the responsibility of the Commonwealth to select those migrants in England, and arrange for their transportation to Australia. As soon as they arrive here the State Government concerned is responsible for their absorption in the industrial and social life of the country. Therefore, if there is any fault to be found it rests at the door of the different State Governments, and not that of the Commonwealth. The Labour party undoubtedly takes the view that Australia cannot absorb any more migrants. That is a mistaken idea, and is likely to lead to trouble with the League of Nations. If we continue along the lines that we have been following in recent years it will become an international question, and not only we but the Old Country also may be involved in serious trouble.

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