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Thursday, 10 November 1921

Senator FOLL (Queensland) .- It ' was my intention to briefly refer to the points raised by Senator Wilson, in regard to the staff at Australia House, andour immigration policy. A few weeks ago, when travelling from Port Darwin to Brisbane on a vessel which had come from Singapore, I came into contact with probably over twenty men of a desirable type who had either been rubber planters, or had been managing rubber plantations in the East., On account of the severe fall in the price of rubber, and the suspension of operations on the plantations, they were turning their attention, to Australia. Many of them were well educated ex-Imperial officers, and were likely to 'prove desirable settlers. Some of them were wending their way towards Sydney, but I suggested that they should leave the vessel at Brisbane. I tried to persuade them to remain in Queensland, because of the great advantages that State enjoys over the more thickly-populated States of New South Wales and Victoria. There are more Crown lands available in Queensland". I communicated with the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) and with the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook), asking whether something could be done forthesemen on arrival. The Government had been impressing upon us the desirability of encouraging immigration, and they were offering certain facilities in the shape of assisted passages from the Old Country. These men, however, were travelling at their own expense, and I could get absolutely nothing done for them by the Government. The only assistance rendered was that given by a private body, known as the New Setters League. I am not blaming Mr. Gullett or Mr. Mapleston, whom I saw in connexion with this matter, for the simple reason that they have no authority to assist people coming to Australia. I venture to say that those officers themselves do not know just where they stand. There has been no definite policy laid down so far in regard to immigration. I was under the impression that facilities for land settlement were available for ex-Imperial soldiers, the same as for our own returned soldiers. Our men, of course, have first preference; but I ascertained that the facilities for ex-Imperial service men had been cancelled, and that they were now entitled to no benefits under the Land Settlement Scheme. The men to whom I have referred informed me that in Singapore and other parts of the East it is impossible to obtain any information about Australia, although it is only a few days' sail from those countries. The men told me that they could secure particulars about openings for settlers in Canada, Rhodesia, and other parts of South Africa. When I pointed this out to Mr. Gullett he agreed that it would be a good idea to have information concerning the Commonwealth made available in the East. There are hundreds of men in the East to-day who, on account of the failure of rubber, are turning their eyes towards Australia. Every boat from Singapore that calls at Port Darwin is bringing down a number of these planters. Some effort should therefore be made by the Immigration Department to meet these boats, and see that these men are welcomed to Australia. They would certainly make good settlers.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What is the nature of the help that you suggest should be made available?

Senator FOLL - Is it the policy of the Government to bring people into the country and leave them to settle themselves ? Assistance might be given in the matter of information, for instance. I would go further, and supply free railway passes to enable the men to look for land."

Senator de Largie - That is a matter for the States.

Senator FOLL - The Commonwealth is going in for a policy of immigration in conjunction with the States.

Senator Wilson - There must be coi-

Gperation or disaster.

Senator FOLL - Yes; and the Commonwealth is equally responsible with the States.

Senator Payne - Are not passes supplied in Queensland forthe purpose of inspecting land?

Senator FOLL - I believe that if a member of Parliament approaches the Minister for Railways, a pass will probably be provided; but there is no general policy laid down. It seems deplorable that no information- is made available to these men, who are not only paying their own expenses, but are already acclimatized to the tropics, and have had a good deal of colonial experience. New South Wales is offering considerable facilities for ex-Imperial soldiers.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is the one State that first of all definitely refused to deal with ex-Imperial soldiers' until it had settled its own returned men.

Senator FOLL - There was some announcement by the New South Wales Government in the matter. Western Australia is, I think, shaping better than any other State in connexion with immigration. The Minister for Repatriation will probably remember the correspondence which took place concerning the men to whom I have referred, and I wish to know if he will give instructions that information be distributed in the East for the purpose of advertising Australia.

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