Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Tuesday, 6 December 1927

Senator NEEDHAM - I quoted figures recently to prove that the influx of Southern Europeans was lowering the percentage of people of British stock coming to Australia.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - The honorable senator knows that not one foreigner is assisted to come to this country.

Senator NEEDHAM - I know perfectly well that this Government could keep out these Southern Europeans if it liked, but it does not want to do so. The migration policy of the Labour party is well known. We are in favour of a sane migration policy, but we want to see the people of Australia placed in employment before Ave open our doors to others. Senator Pearce has spoken about the unemployed in Great Britain. We also have unemployed in every State of the Commonwealth and in the Federal Territory. The criticism of the Development and Migration Commission by Senator Findley and others is warranted. The commission has not been the means of adding a single British migrant to the population of Australia, despite the fact that it cost us over £100,000 for the first year of its existence. We have this commission super-imposed on a Department of Markets and Migration, whose duty it was to bring out migrants and settle them in Australia. The combined activities of the department of Markets and Migration and this exceedingly costly commission have not added one adult to the population of Australia. Let me remind the right honorable the Leader of the Senate, who so glibly hurls accusations at honorable senators on this side, that before he went to the Geneva conference he spent some time travelling through Great Britain for the purpose of inducing people to come to Australia, and that up to the present not one person has landed here in response to his appeal.

Let me remind him, also, that shortly after his tour of Great Britain, the High Commissioner perambulated the Mother Country on the same mission, but likewise without any tangible result up to the present. Why continue this farce? If the Government were in earnest in their desire to populate this country, they would go about the business in a different way.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Western Australia - Vice-President of the Executive Council [9.47] . - Returning to the subject which I was discussing when my time under tlie Standing Orders expired, I wish to make a further explanation with regard to two other items. One is Item No. 6 - " Training domestics overseas, £5,000." No one will deny that there is a serious shortage of domestic labour in Australia, especially in our country districts, where it is almost impossible for a housewife to obtain assistance for work in the home. There are literally thousands of girls unemployed and available, particularly in the northern counties of England, where the cotton industry is carried on. They are an excellent and healthy type, who would make splendid domestic servants but they have no knowledge of domestic work, because they have been engaged all their lives in factories, and have not had the opportunity to gain experience in house work. It is proposed to make provision to enable those girls to get a certain amount of training in domestic service. Surely that is most desirable, in the interests of not only the girls themselves but also Australia. The other item in which there is an increase, and to which I wish to direct attention, is No. 8 - " Subsidies to voluntary organizations for the after-care of migrants, £12,500." Most honorable senators will have read during the last few years statements, unfortunately many of them true, that migrants after landing in Australia have been allowed to drift and in some cases have got into trouble. This has been our experience, particularly with a number of young migrants. The Development and Migration Commission is now making an effort to help organizations in the several States to look after these young people.

Senator Guthrie - The New Settlers' League is doing good work in that direction.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - A number of bodies, including the New Settlers' League, the Big Brother movement, and especially the Salvation Army, are doing a magnificent work in the aftercare of migrants in Australia. Although these organizations are all operating on a voluntary basis, necessarily they have to incur a certain amount of expenditure. The Government feels that it is a duty of the taxpayers to shoulder some portion of that liability. This accounts for some portion of the increased vote. I do not know whether honorable senators opposite object to this proposal. Would they prefer that these young people should be left to take care of themselves? That is not the Government's policy. We believe it is the duty of the Government to see that these migrants have a fair chance to moke good in Australia. It is now the responsibility of the Development and Migration Commission not merely to get migrants from England, and arrange for their transport to Australia, but also, in conjunction with the various organizations in the States, to see that there is a reasonable chance of their becoming absorbed in the population of this country.

Suggest corrections