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Thursday, 15 May 1924

Mr LACEY (Grey) .- I support the mot-ion, and commend the honorable member for Angas for having submitted it. I expected to hear the Prime Minister promise that the Government would introduce an amendment oi the Immigration Act, to achieve- what the honorable member -for Angas suggested, and I still hope that the Minister for Home and Territories will appreciate the justice of the claim which has been made, and .recommend the removal of a very unnecessary embargo upon German immigrants. Although the Prime Minister says that the Act provides for the restriction of German .immigration for a period of only five years, I take an entirely different view of the provision dealing with the matter. Paragraph rye of section 3 of the Act says -

The period of five years after the commencement of this paragraph, and thereafter until the Governor-General, by proclamation, or otherwise determines, any person who, in the opinion of an officer, is of German, AustroGerman, 'Bulgarian or Hungarian parentage and nationality- and so on. In my opinion, by the use of the word "otherwise," the paragraph may be continued in operation after the period of five years has elapsed. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) says that the war should be forgotten and the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) and I say the same thing. It terminated in 1918, and we should not keep up the war spirit until 1925. I remind honorable members that a Treaty of Peace was signed with- Germany, and was ratified by this House in 1922. Are wc, notwithstanding, to say to the people of Germany " We are not prepared to allow you, with whom wc have concluded a Treaty of Peace, to come to our shores." Many of those who would come to Australia fl:om. Germany now, if they had the opportunity, would not be persons who actively participated in the war. There are many young, men, now about 20 years of agc] who were too young to take part in the war, who would be glad to come to Australia. We were told that the war was to be a war to end war, to ensure the freedom of our people, the protection of small nations, and many other things, and just in the same way Germans who actively participated in the war were told by those responsible for it, and who conscripted their services, that the course followed by Germany was right. They were at least loyal- to their own country, and1 though they participated in the war, they did nothing to bring it about. The Prime Minister said that a. large number of Germans have come to Australia since the termination of the war. Only a few days ago, in answer to a question I put to the right honorable gentleman as to the number of immigrants who have come to Australia since the wax, and their nationality, I was informed that since 1920 only 407 people of German nationality have come to this country. These people came here largely for business reasons. Honorable members will no doubt be interested to learn the numbers of immigrants of other nationalities who have come to this country since 1920. According to the figures supplied1, in answer to my question, I find that since that year, 1,783 Greeks, 7,015 Italians, 593 Russians, 1,776 Scandinavians, 568 Swiss, aud' 1,472 Dutch immigrants have come to this country. Only 407 Germans have been admitted to Australia in five years, and yet the Prime -Minister has said that the- Act has been administered in a liberal, spirit. I have said that the Germans admitted came here for business reasons, and not as immigrants. I wish honorable members to recognize that the immigrants of the other nationalities to which I have referred, as u rule carry on business here for a limited time, and having made some money return to their own countries. That doo* not apply to the German immigrants who came to Australia in the past. They have settled here permanently, and have been good citizens of this country. When the people of the other nationalities mentioned have made a certain amount of money in. Australia they can be persons of independent means in their own country, because of the conditions existing there. The Prime Minister has, on many occasions, emphasized the fact that what Australia requires is immigrants who will settle on the land and become producers. That has been the contention of many honorable members on the other side. I find that in the last report of thiMidland Railway Company of Western Australia, the chairman, referring to tho class of immigrants we require, said -

One thing must be borne in mind. What Australia has to offer is the opportunity of occupation on the land. While there is room and to spare, the real opening and inducement is for men and boys who are prepared to work on farms, even if inexperienced, and foc women experienced in household duties.

If the chairman of that company had bec-n advocating the immigration of German people, he could not better have described the qualifications of those whom we might expect to come from that country. Judging by the experience of the past, the Germans who will come here if the restriction upon their immigration is removed will be of the class he refers to. As the honorable member for Angas has said, the German people arc more like ourselves than are the people of other race?. In the district which I represent there arc many towns and. villages of which a large number of the residents are Germans. The farms occupied by Germans are ideal farms, and it should be remembered that German people were the first to go to many of the. districts in which they at present reside. They did the pioneering work in places to which other people were not prepared to go. Many of the farmers on Eyre's Peninsula are Germans, and a>r» doing exceptionally well because of their great industry. They have proved ideal settlers and farmers, and the great majority of them have been loyal to Australia. I think that we might very well remove the restriction upon the immigration of people such as. these. Professor Cassel has said that the position in Germany to-day is such that a majority of the German people must starve or migrate. Are we going to say to these people that we shall prevent them coming to Australia, and, so far as we are concerned, they may starve in Germany, although we have signed a treaty of peace with their country ? Conditions were not normal when this restriction upon German immigration was proposed; I remind honorable members that it was said by- those responsible for the restriction that we would not in future trade with Germany. While supporters of the Government may be prepared to exclude Germans from Australia, the fact remains that we are to-day trading with that country. The Commonwealth Statistician, in his report dealing with exports, says -

The following tables show a decrease in proportion of Australian exports to the United Kingdom. This was not entirely due to tho relatively smaller purchases of Australian produce by the United Kingdom, but was in some measure the effect of an increasing tendency towards direct shipment of wool, skins, &c, to the consuming countries - notably to Belgium, France, and Germany - instead of distributing the trade through London.

Dealing with imports, I find that in 1917-18 we imported from Germany goods to the value of £18,055, and in 1921-22 the figures had increased to £85,976. Referring to exports., I find that in 1917-18 we exported nothing to Germany, In 1918-19 the value of our exports to that country was £1,608. In 1919-20 it was £16,520. In 1920-21 the value of our exports to Germany had increased to £1,457,199, and in 1921-22 it was £4,003,726. Whilst honorable members are not prepared to allow Germans to come to Australia, they are prepared to accept them as customers for our exports. It should be borne in mind, as the honorable member for Angas has pointed out, that our enemies of to-day may be our allies of to-morrow. In the Napoleonic wars we were with Germany against France. In the Crimean war we were with France against Russia. In the last war we were with France and Russia against one of our former allies. It may be possible that on some future occasion Germany will be an ally of Great Britain. The war has ended, and we have signed a definite peace with Germany. Let us honour that peace, remove tho restriction upon the immigration of Germans, and give them the same right to come to this country as we give to the people of other nationalities.

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