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Thursday, 4 October 1956

Mr BRUCE (Leichhardt) .- The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Harold Holt) has stated that the Government is anxious to increase the population of Australia. In that objective, T entirely concur. In north Queensland I have been in touch with various kinds of immigrants over a period of approximately 50 years. The Lebanese and Syrians almost invariably send to their own countries for their wives. The Greek people do so also, but not to the same extent to which the Lebanese and Syrians follow that practice. I agree entirely with what the Minister has said about the necessity to increase Australia's population, but I hope during this speech to let him know that he and the Government are not doing their best to bring about such an increase. If we are to increase our population, two methods are open to us. The first is by immigration, and the second is by natural increase.

The early immigrants who came to nord Queensland from England, Ireland, Scoland, Wales, Italy, Greece, Finland, Syria and Lebanon were not brought out by th; thousands as is the case to-day. They married in this country with the result tha we have thousands of young people, Wit parents of various nationalities, who wen born in this country and have become goot Australians. That is the only proper way This business of teaching new Australians as they are called, the Australian way of life, after they have been 30 or 40 years in their native country, will not work. They cannot possibly be taught the Australian way of life because their associations and social connexions before they come to Australia are too strong. The earlier form of immigration, although not sufficiently rapid, did add to the population of Australia. Today, of course, the necessity to populate Australia has become more urgent than ever before.

In their desire to increase population, the Minister and the Government have overlooked certain fundamental facts. Children must have both a father and a mother. The Minister seems to overlook the fact that in propagation in either the vegetable or animal world the female of the species is essential. The Minister should know that, but he seems to have made up his mind that the laws of nature can be overlooked. It is a very serious matter indeed when a government thinks it can overrule the laws of nature. As a result of the immigration policy there is, in the Cloncurry mining district, a surplus of 5,000 males in a population of approximately 50,000. That area includes that in which are located the Rio Tinto uranium, the Mount Isa copper, silver, lead and zinc deposits and the surrounding cattle country. I shall tell the Minister later, if he does not know, about some of the results of the segregation of this huge male population. Apparently, he is so innocent that he does not know of those facts; and he thinks he can overrule the laws of nature. The fact is that these males cannot increase the population of Australia. The female of the species is absolutely necessary for (that purpose regardless df how many .males are -brought into the country. Natural increase .is what. we want .more dan anything else. The logical and .sensible thing to do would be to bring out at least tvo shiploads of women in lieu of the shipleads of men that are being brought out at present. Shiploads of about 1,000 men are b,ing landed in the north at least once or tvice a year. The men are landed at ports ir the north, but subsequently many of them break their agreements and go south ti Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and other cties, where there are employment problems.

The Minister, acting through his depart.nent, should -endeavour to adjust the .disproportion of the sexes. Some .people will say that in .order to do that, we must .deal with living conditions. That is quite logical. Let me tell the committee that every company and sub-contractor in this area provides a home for .every married employee on the job. The Government could well .send somebody up there to learn something about the building of .houses. The companies provide homes for all married employees. In addition, they have provided bowling greens, tennis courts, drive-in picture theatres and other amenities. As a matter of fact, in many respects there are more amenities there than there are in Canberra. Prospective immigrants, quite naturally, want to know about hospital facilities. There are fine hospitals at Mount lsa and Cloncurry, and the hospital at Townsville is one of the best in Australia. To each of those hospitals is attached a maternity ward. -So there is nothing to cavil about as far as :the care of womenfolk is concerned.

Some Australians have astonished me by asking, " Who would go out to a place like that? " They visualize the back country as it was twenty years ago. They had not the faintest idea of what it is like to-day. In the area about which I am speaking, the State government and the churches have provided first-class educational facilities. Many women now living in places where conditions are sub-standard, compared with Australian conditions, would be only too pleased to go to this area. They would go there under better conditions than did the British -pioneers who opened up and developed that pan of the country in the early days. There is not :the slightest doubt that these .immigrants aTe keen to get married and to rear families. They like big families. Therefore, the logical thing to do is to maintain a balance between the number of males and females.

There are higher educational facilities :in the area. At Charters Towers, an old mining town, the various churches provide facilities for higher education that are equal to those provided anywhere else in Australia, and the State Government has established hostels for the youngsters who go there for their higher education. So there is nothing that the Department of Immigration has to do to make the conditions what they should be other than to ensure that there will be a balance of the sexes.

When we read of a sensational shooting or stabbing, we find that very frequently a new Australian is involved. What is the reason for .that? Even in other parts of the country, when there is one lass for two or three lads, the lads sometimes fly to the gun or the knife to eliminate some of their competitors. This is due .to the fact that many of the immigrants who have come here are not living in .natural and normal circumstances. It is a mistake to believe that it is their habit to fly to the. knife. That happens in any part of the world where there is an unbalance .of the sexes. There is another point which it is just as well to mention. Conditions like these lead to an increase of homosexuality. We do not want that to happen. If we want to make the best use of our immigration programme and build up our population, that is one of the things that we must take steps to avoid.

I emphasize again that all that is required of the Minister and the department is to ensure that in the scheme of immigration there will be a balance of the sexes. It does not require a brilliant intellect or specialized knowledge to realize that that is essential. I have been in touch with this matter for so long and I regard it as so serious that 1 could not help but take advantage of this opportunity to emphasize to the Minister and the Parliament the necessity to streamline our immigration programme in such a way that we shall get the very best value from it.

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