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Thursday, 24 November 1927

Senator GRANT (New South Wales) . - The problems of migration and unemployment are closely interwoven. Senator Payne has stated his beliefs as to the reason for unemployment. Naturally h6 had in mind the small island of Tasmania. The conditions which he described as existing there do not exist in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, or Western Australia. In- those States considerable numbers of men are unable to find employment. Senator Sampson informed us this afternoon that the annual exodus from Italy to South America for many years averaged, between 200,000 and 300,000 people, until the ' governments of the various American countries cried a halt. Now Senator Sampson wishes that outflowing tide of emigrants from Italy to be diverted to Australia. He says he would welcome Italian migrants. If they came here in such large numbers I should like to see them settle in Tasmania. There are at least 1,500,000 people out of work in Great Britain. To stave off a revolution the British aristocracy have agreed to pay exceedingly heavy taxation in order to provide almost the equivalent of a living wage for those people. Senator Payne knows only too well that the real cause of unemployment in Great Britain, as elsewhere, is that the people cannot get access to the land. England, with its 700 people to the square mile, is the most densely populated country in Europe, and yet the land there is in the hands of fewer than 1,000,000 people. The rest of the population in England have to pay to those land owners rent in some form every week, or every month, for the right to live in that country. The same conditions obtain in all the British Dominions. The land is held by a limited number, who levy toll upon the rest of the people. The Duke of Westminster as a mighty landlord compels the citizens of London to pay him about £1,000,000 a year for the privilege of living in that city. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) and his colleagues in the Cabinet are fully aware of the real cause of unemployment, and yet they take no steps to remedy' the position. What happened in South Australia recently? Following a change of Government 2,000 railway employees were dismissed. This was the act of a Nationalist government. Is it likely, in view of the prevailing distress due to unemployment there, that, the South Australian representatives in this chamber would agree to the influx of large numbers of workers from other countries to that State? I do not know what is the position of Tasmania; but I know that there is a drift of young men from the island State to the mainland, because the conditions are so much better over here than in Tasmania. There, too the land is held by a limited number, to whom the rest of - the population have to pay rent for the right to live and work on it. New South Wales now has the inestimable blessing of a Nationalist Government, but up to the present that government has done nothing to deal with the unemployed problem. As a matter of fact, no government in New South Wales has attempted to do that in what I consider is the only proper way. -The laws of that State, like the laws of all the other States, make it almost impossible for native-born Australians to secure farming or pastoral lands. In a recent issue of the Sydney Morning Herald there appeared a statement that thousands of people had made application for a limited number of blocks of land that had been thrown open for selection. Their one desire was to get away from the unemployed difficulties of Sydney, and to employ themselves profitably on land of their own. As only a limited number of blocks was available, thousands of people were doomed to disappointment. In the early history of South Australia, migrants from the mother country secured employment with land-owners, and as land then was only about 10s. an acre, they did not remain long in employment. Instead, they went on the land themselves. To ensure a steadier market for labour, the land-owners conceived the idea that if the price of land were increased not so many people would be in a position to take up land for themselves. Accordingly that plan was adopted, and with .the desired result. That, indeed, has been the policy in all the States throughout their history. The arguments which we have heard from honorable senators supporting the Government as to the cause of unemployment in Australia are so much piffle.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.Sir John Newlands). - Order! The honorable senator is not in order in describing as "piffle" arguments used by other honorable senators. I nsk him to withdraw that remark.

Senator GRANT - If it is objectionable, Mr. President, I shall' withdraw it. It seemed to convey just what I thought. Honorable senators opposite cannot ignore the facts. Senator Payne complained of the increasing population in., the large cities of the Commonwealth, and suggested that that was the cause of unemployment.

Senator Payne - It is to a great extent.

Senator GRANT - That is not so. ' To-day one-half of the work of Victoria, is done in Melbourne. The same may be said of Sydney. This is an age of massproduction. It is cheaper to manufacture commodities in the cities where labour is highly organized, than iri country districts. The primary producer benefits by this arrangement, because it would not be possible to manufacture farm machinery and implements more cheaply in small centres than it is in the larger cities of the Commonwealth. The mechanic in the city is just as necessary for the development of this country as is the man working on the outskirts of civilization.

Senator Payne - That is true, but we do not want to encourage overcrowding in the cities.

Senator GRANT - Anyone who studies the trend of modern development must realize that what is happening in Australia is happening all over the world. London has nearly 8,000,000 people. That is due to the service it renders toGreat Britain, to other parts of the Empire, and to the rest of the world.

The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator has exhausted his time.

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