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Thursday, 10 November 1921

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - In the Prime Minister's Department there is an amount under Miscellaneous" for a contribution of £9,000 towards the cost of the Secretariat of the League of Nations, and I desire the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) to explain what period that amount covers.

There is also an amount of £12,000 for a shipping mail service to the Pacific Islands, and I desire to know if the amount is a recurring one.

I did not intend to enter into the discussion on immigration; but I desire to disabuse the mind of Senator Duncan, who believes that Mildura 'and Renmark are wonderful examples of what can be done by closer settlement. It is just as well to realize that the difficulties which may be experienced in connexion with an extensive policy of immigration occurred in the early days at Renmark and Mildura. Those who are acquainted with the position will recall that in both instances the Government were appealed to, and I believe that in the case of Renmark, South Australia had to pay, approximately, £200,000 to assist the settlement in the early days. It is quite feasible to believe, provided the funds are available, that .a. large number of people can be settled in the Commonwealth ; but it isimpossible to do> it without the expenditure of a very large sum of money. Wewould be very ill-advised if we launched out on an immense immigration scheme which had not sufficient financial backing to insure its success.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator will be regarded as a pessimist directly.

Senator SENIOR - I do not call one an optimist who ignores the difficulties that occurred in similar circumstances in the early days. We have only to revert to the early history of the places that are lauded to-day to find that the statement of the Minister is amply confirmed. I do not suggest that closer settlement at these places should not have been undertaken, or that they have not been a great success. We had similar experiences in connexion with the village settlements along the River Murray, which have been held up as shocking examples; but they paved the way for the present success that has been achieved in connexion with the irrigation schemes along the Murray.

Senator Wilson - Chaffey Brothers' efforts have never been acknowledged by the public as they should have been.

Senator SENIOR - The honorable senator is correct. If it had not been for the pertinacity manifested by the Chaffey Brothers success would not have been achieved. These men were far-seeing, and had absolute' faith in the ultimate success of the work in which they were engaged. I believe, quite as firmly as Senator Guthrie does, that there is an absolute need to people the vacant spaces in Australia; but we must exercise discretion in doing so, because we must not overload those who are already here, and thus bring every one down.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - The more people there are the lighter will be the burden.

Senator SENIOR - It would be possible to settle many millions in Australia; but it is impracticable to make them all cultivators of the soil- without incurring the expenditure of many millions of pounds.

Senator Wilson - If we did not provide for them we would " settle" them in another way.

Senator SENIOR - If they are nob provided for they will be settled in an entirely different way. It is well known by those who 'visited the village settlements that it was estimated that 10 acres were required to settle a man on orchard land, and that to cultivate the block and bring it up to the stage at which it would maintain a settler would mean an expenditure of at least £200 per acre.

Senator Wilson - And in keeping with the Minister's statement it would mean £2,000 per man.

Senator SENIOR - Yes, that is to. bring it up to the self-supporting stage. It is obvious, therefore, that it is equally expensive to settle a man agriculturally as to settle one horticulturally. If we are to do it in a proper way we must be prepared to shoulder heavy expenditure.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - It did not cost £2,000 per man to settle the Mallee farmers, and many of them have made a great success of the work.

Senator SENIOR - The conditions are not what they used to be, and I can look back many years and recall the day when settlers in one of the healthiest and most prosperous districts in Australia made a success of their undertakings after overcoming numerous obstacles. I can remember the case of a settler who took his family 300 miles from Adelaide in a covered spring dray; which held all his belongings. Immediately he arrived at his destination he started to work, and in less than twelve months rented a section of land from a farmer who was settled there, and who was unable to cultivate the portion he leased. The area was taken up by the new settler under a deferred-payment system, and he had to fence and clear a certain area in five years. He had no capital on which to operate, and was compelled to work elsewhere, whilst others cultivated the land for him. He continued for five years, and in that time had earned sufficient to purchase land elsewhere for himself. That is not done to-day.

Senator Duncan - No. Men require ready-made farms with, a modern dwelling.

Senator SENIOR - What I have mentioned was done in the early pioneering days; but that is not the practice at present. It appears to be the« policy to establish a man on a well-stocked, uptodate farm with a modern plant and a commodious dwelling. The demand now is for men to be established on the land on an altogether different basis, and if we are to bring people from England to take up farm work with all the privileges now expected we shall have to shoulder a very big responsibity.

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