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Friday, 2 December 1927

Senator ANDREW (Victoria) .- I commend the Government for its intention to "reduce taxation. It proposes to reduce both income taxation and land taxation, the reduction pf the latter being in pursuance of its policy of assisting the primary producers. If anything can be done to stabilize the finances of this country, it will be a step in the right direction, because the time has come when we should call a halt in our expenditure, both public and private. Last year our trade balance was £20,000,000 on the wrong side. Unfortunately, owing to bad seasons, it is estimated that there will be a loss this year of £17,000,000 in wheat, and £6,000,000 in wool, and the adverse trade balance will amount to, approximately, £73,000,000. The time has arrived when this and other Parliaments should seriously consider the financial position confronting Australia, but I have no doubt that the Commonwealth Government is giving the matter its closest attention.

I was surprised to learn in reply to a question I asked the other day that the Government did not consider it necessary that representatives of the goldmining industry should be allowed to put their case before the Tariff Board. It is astonishing that such a decision should have been reached when the representatives of the copper-mining industry were allowed to do so. In view of the decline of the gold-mining industry, which has been of such great assistance in the development of Australia, it is disappointing to find that its representatives are not to be allowed to state their case. We have bee,n informed from time to time by highly-qualified geologists that large quantities of gold should still be available in Australia. In the vicinity of Bendigo there are 100 miles of reef, only 20 miles of which have been exploited, and from which £86,000,000 worth of gold has been taken. If such great wealth has been won from such a comparatively short distance, it is only reasonable to assume that there must be a considerable quantity of gold still remaining to be mined. Mr. Dunn, the Victorian Government Geologist, has said that the prospects ii: tin Bendigo district are favorable, and I suppose the same can be said of many other places in Australia. A commission which investigated the conditions of the gold-mining industry in Western Australia reported that large quantities of payable mineral could be mined in that State if scientific prospecting methods were adopted. In 'some instances sinking is done to a depth of 100 feet or 200 feet, and has then to be abandoned, but if scientific methods are adopted payable mineral may be mined at a much lower cost than is possible without the application of those methods.

There are so many anomalies at pre* sent in connexion with soldiers' pensions that a thorough investigation should be made into the present system. I know of a soldier's widow who has three chi.dren, and who receives a pension of only 6s. 9d. a week, 3s. 9d. of which is for her*

Self, ls. 2½d. for one child, ls* 1-Jch for another, and 9d* for the third. No sane person will say that a woman can keep herself and three children on 6s. 9d. a week. I have brought this matter under the notice of the Pensions Department, but up to the present I have not received any satisfaction* I have been promised the papers, and when they are made available I shall carefully peruse them, in an endeavour to ascertain why such a small amount should be paid. Another case that has been brought under my notice is that of a soldier who had portion of a leg blown off; in consequence of which a generous country allows him a pension of 14s. a week. His case has also been brought under the notice of the department, but as yet has not been satisfactorily settled. It is difficult to understand why Such low pension rates should be paid, particularly when a man receiving a 50 per cent* pension, and wish' ing to have it increased to 100 per cent, because of alleged total disability, was informed that he could not be paid a higher rate unless he agreed to be de clared mentally deficient. He was as mentally alert as I am, yet he is now re*ceiving the higher rate. When such glaring anomalies exist, the Government should institute a thorough inquiry. If it did so I believe it would save money, as many persons at present receiving full and half pensions are not entitled to them.-

As it is the intention of the Government to spend further money on the lighthouse service, which I am pleased to note, I trust it will also endeavour to develop some of the outer ports in Australia on which Sir George Buchanan reported some time ago. I notice that the Victorian Government is adopting some of the recommendations' of the Outer Ports Commission appointed by it, and intends to proceed with the development of Welshpool, in the Gippsland district. If more of our outer ports were developed trade and population would be decentralized, and large tonnages would then shipped from the outports, and primary producers would be saved large sums in railway freights.

Foreign Migration is now assuming such large proportions that it is time careful consideration was given to the subject, perhaps in the direction of adopting the quota system. It should be the policy of the Government to attract as many suitable Britishers as is possible, and at the same time regulate the flow of foreign migrants to Australia. The Salvation Army has been doing wonderful work in the matter of migration, and, for the information of the Senate, I quote the following from a letter I have received from that organization : -

During the last six years the Salvation Army has escorted to Australia nearly 7,000 souls - men, women and children - the bulk of whom we have taken full responsibility for. These arc generally made up of young women domestic servants. We meet them, house them, and fix them in situations. In addition, we give them three years personal aftercare, and during that period, with the most of them, at any rate, we are in regular touch. We have young women's clubs established for their entertainment and encouragement. There are hundreds of positions available for such. In Western Australia we have a lodge which cost &),500, and which is for the use of the British young women and widows. A great many of those who have come to hand are farm youths, and here, again, we find that there are many applications for this class of labour. We have nineteen officers throughout the Statu centres whose whole time is devoted to the assistance of new arrivals. Over 400 widows, in addition to their children, have come here, and I think I can say that practically all are doing very well indeed. I have some splendid letters from some of them within the last few days. Then numbers of young men have come, but they have gone to the country for farm work.....

The Salvation Army's organization in the Old Country is perfect, as it trains ou its own farms for a period of six months young men who wish to come to Australia. They are then presented at Australia House, where they are medically examined, and, if physically fit, come to Australia. As we spent £200,000 last year on migration, I trust that the Government will consider the advisability of assisting this organization which is doing such good work in the direction I have mentioned.

Senator Sir George Pearce - It is being assisted.

Senator ANDREW - I am glad that such is the case. The Big Brother movement is also a fine organization. Mr. Richard Linton, the chairman of that organization, states -

The first shipment of boya arrived under our auspices in December, 1925. To date we have delivered into Victoria 009 boys; in New South Wales, 48fi. T might mention that since the inception of the movement we, in Victoria, have been working on a monthly requisition of 25 boys per month..... It might interest you to know that the move' ment is appealing to parents at Home so much that our London organization has sufficient boys up till next March, and stopped recruiting in June last, which, I think, you will agree is most regrettable, particularly as we find a regular flow of foreigners coming into our country. It must be obvious to you that for every foreigner who arrives here it makes it doubly difficult to place a Britisher. We can claim 98 per cent, success with our boys. They are working enthusiastically on the land in all instances, and the ambition of the majority is to bring out, at a later date, their parents; and, further, we find that the boys are the best recruiters, for they are corresponding with their chums and schools in the Old Country urging their friends to come to the Commonwealth under our auspices.

Perhaps the Government might also assist the Big Brother movement, which is doing very fine work in selecting the right class of lads, and arranging foi them to be kept under supervision on and after their arrival in Australia.

I read only this week that the National Dairy Council at Ottawa has urged the Canadian Government to end the Australian trade treaty, and also to immediately apply a dumping- clause against New Zealand butter. The Canadian Council of Agriculture supported the demand. The delegation was received by the Prime Minister and eight members of Cabinet. Australia imports from Canada a great deal more than she exports to Canada. It behoves us to watch the movement to check the entry of our primary products into our sister dominion. I commend the Government for assisting the primary producers by reducing land taxation.

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