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Tuesday, 13 December 1927

Senator HOARE (South Australia) . - Senator Herbert Hays is apparently under the impression that honorable senators on this side of the chamber wish to assist in depriving farmers of their properties. That is not so. The amendment moved by Senator Greene has been submitted with the intention of giving the large land-holders an opportunity to escape payment of portion of their land tax. Even if it were adopted I do not think any more land would be brought under cultivation. Reference has been made to the share-farming system, concerning which I know something.

Senator Ogden - Has the honorable senator ever tried it?

Senator HOARE - No; but I have known others who have done so. Between Hallett and Uooloo in the middle north of South Australia, a large tract of country was owned by a person named Melrose, who say an opportunity of having it developed under the sharefarming system. He advertised for sharefarmers to work the land, for which they were to receive one-third of the returns. The land-owner supplied the land and the seed wheat, while the share-farmer had to provide the farming implements, horses, labour and everything required to till the soil. These share-farmers worked for three years, but eventually, when they=gave up, they were little better off than when they commenced. I was in the vicinity at the time and know the actual returns they received.

Senator HERBERT HAYS (TASMANIA) - Did the owner of the land derive any benefit?

Senator HOARE - He was the only one who did. The men who did all the work got very little, whilst the land-owner increased his bank account to the extent of many thousands of pounds.

Senator HERBERT HAYS (TASMANIA) - If "the landowner made so much the share-farmers must have benefitted.

Senator HOARE - Yes; but the benefit they secured was not comparable with that gained by the owner. They had to provide the implements, horses and labour and work very hard, whilst the landowners did practically nothing. I remind Senator Herbert Hays, who said that there was ample land available in Australia for genuine farmers, that at Albury, in March, 1925, there were 1,900 applicants for 98 blocks, and at Lake Cowra 413 persons applied for one block. At Grafton, in August, 1927, 2,200 land seekers applied for three blocks, and at

Moree, in September, 1925, there were 1,205 applicants for one block. Two years later, 1,070 persons applied for five homestead farms, and 129 for one Crown lease.

Senator Herbert Hays - That does not prove that the land then offered was the only land available.

Senator HOARE - It proves that there were hundreds of applicants for a very few blocks. Victoria is not the only State that has experienced a shortage of land.

SenatorMillen. - The facts mentioned by the honorable senator are an indictation not of a shortage of land but of speculation.

Senator HOARE - Then there must be many speculators. I do not know whether the honorable senator is well acquainted with South Australia, but he must realize the value of closer settlement to that State. The policy of the Labour party is not to take people off the land, but to place a greater number on it. There is no necessity for me to recite what the Labour party did in 1910 with the object of placing more people on the land. I would remind the Senate however that in the first three years of the operation of the Land Tax imposed by our party, £30,000,000 worth of land was subdivided. Since the inception of this legislation, as shown by the tenth report of the Commissioner of Taxation, approximately £100,000,000 worth of land has passed from taxpayers to non-taxpayers. That means that estates of an unimproved value of £5000 and over have been subdivided, to this extent, into holdings of a less value. In a certain district in Victoria four brothers held 400 acres of land, on which they were able to run nearly one sheep to the acre. Adjoining their block was an area of 30,000 acres, which was held by . a squatter, and on which he was running only one sheep to every four acres. It will thus be seen that closer settlement leads to the running of a greater number of sheep to a given acre. That also has been the experience in South Australia.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator surely does not mean to say that land which is adjacent to good land is necessarily capable of carrying the same number of sheep?

Senator HOARE - Certainly. Those who take up comparatively small blocks engage in mixed farming, and are thus enabled to carry proportionately more sheep. I could mention 'areas in South Australia that were formerly big sheep stations, but are now carrying a greater number of sheep, and, in addition, producing thousands of bushels of wheat. That is an indisputable fact.

Senator Herbert Hays - Many successful wheat-growers to-day are not running sheep on their properties.

Senator HOARE - If the honorable senator is referring to the whole of Australia, his statement is incorrect. Almost every farmer in Australia who has the necessary room is carrying sheep as well as growing wheat, because it pays him to do so. I am constantly being brought into contact with these men in our State, and years ago I myself engaged in dairy farming. I know that the conditions under which share farmers work are closely akin to slavery. They are employed with only short breaks from Monday morning to Saturday night, and they get a very small return for their labours. I cannot see any necessity for Senator Greene's amendment. It will not have the effect of placing more men on the land, but, on the other hand, it will enable the big land-owner to dodge his responsibility

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