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Thursday, 10 November 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) . - I protest against any remarks of mine being interpreted as decrying Australia, belittling its possibilities, or introducing a note of pessimism. I yield to no one in my belief in this country, but we should not rush after a flighty ideal without recognising the practical difficulties in the way of its attainment.I ask the Committee to realize that we have been talking of immigration in Australia for fifty years. We have spoken of filling our empty spaces, and getting the right type of people, but we have done practically nothing, for the simple reason that we have not made preparation for immigrants before inviting them to come out. I ask. Senator Guthrie to say, from his practical experience, what sum is necessary for the equipment on small holdings of the various classes of farmers whom he has in mind.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - It must be done, but it takes money.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes; and as the majority of the people coming here must be men with very little capital, it means that we shall have to find money for them., if we are to settle them on the land. If we bring them out from England without giving them, some preparation for rural life, we run a tremendous risk. They must be financed and acclimatized. It means time, organization, and money. That is what weare trying to do under the arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States. It is best for us to dispense with slogans, and get down to bedrock, as an individual would do in prosecuting his own business. I ask honorable senators to accept my assurance that I believe they are behind me in this matter; but many of them, who are not from rural districts, do not see- the opportunities as I do. I notice them everywhere, but, standing between the opportunities and the men we wish to invite to Australia, is the one need - preparatory work and capital. If we grapple with this question successfully we can ask people from overseas to become citizens of this country. Senator Senior has asked me what period is covered by the contribution to the cost of the Secretariat of the League of Nations. It is not possible to give the period, because the accounts do not come in quite regularly, but the sum of £9,000 represents about four months under the old scale. A scale more favorable to Australia has been adopted, and it will make our contribution less in future. The item " Shipping and Mail Service to the Pacific Islands, £12,000 " represents a period of three months.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Treasury Department.

Proposed vote, £103,700.

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