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Thursday, 10 November 1921

Senator WILSON (South Australia) . - Provision is made in this vote for the expenditure of £3,850 in connexion with the High Commissioner's Office in London. I desire to ask the Minister in charge of the Bill' (Senator E. D. Millen) what has been done in the direction of staffing the High Commissioner's Office with Australians ? During a discussion in the Victorian Parliament a few days ago, the statement was made that people seeking information in regard to the Commonwealth at Australia House come in contact with officials many of whom have never seen Australia. Would it not be practicable to staff Australia House with Australians possessing a knowledge of the conditions prevailing here, so that visitors and those intending to settle in the Commonwealth could obtain all the information they desire, instead of being misinformed, as is very often the case at present?

Senator Duncan - Officers are now being exchanged.

Senator WILSON - That may be so; but I want the policy of having Australia House staffed with Australians to be firmly established, so that those seeking information concerning the Commonwealth can obtain all the particulars they desire. I am sure the Government realize that this is most essential, particularly if they desire to achieve the object for which the expenditure is being incurred. It has been said by public men that it is quite a common occurrence for visitors to Australia. House to be passed from one official to another, many of whom do not know anything concerning Australia and its possibilities. Our products should be displayed in London to the best advantage, and the actual conditions obtaining here should be described by persons who are fully conversant with all the circumstances.

Senator Rowell - That is done to a large extent.

Senator WILSON - I am expressing the opinions of those who have returned; to Australia during the last few days. One gentleman assured me that it was difficult to obtain any reliable information at the High Commissioner's Office.

Senator Reid - Are there not any Australians there?

Senator WILSON - Very few. I am sure the Government desire to achieve the very best results in this connexion, and I trust that immediate consideration will . be given to this phase of the question, particularly as the Government are now pursuing a vigorous immigration policy which will result in large numbers seeking information to which they are rightly entitled. If this expenditure in to be incurred, it is our dutyto see that those visiting Australia House are supplied with reliable information when they desire it.

It is generally admitted that we need a great many more people in the Commonwealth; but great care should be exercised in seeing that those who come here are experienced rural settlers. I am not prepared to support any expenditure on immigration unless, it is in the direction of encouraging country workers, because it will be useless to bring out artisans and city workers, and thus assist in further overcrowding our metropolitan areas.

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