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Thursday, 15 July 1926

Senator ANDREW (Victoria) . - This is one of the most important measures that has been introduced in this chamber during my short term in the Senate. Under an agreement entered into between the Commonwealth Government and the British Government in April of last year, a large sum of money is to be made available by the British Government by way of loan on the most liberal terms. As the proposed scheme is an extensive one, and a minister with his numerous departmental duties to attend to could not possibly give it his personal attention, the Government proposes to appoint a commission, which will be subservient to Parliament, to control the work of development and migration. Frequent reference has been made to the allegation that migrants of an undesirable type reach Australia ; but it is hoped that in consequence of the additional vigilance which will be displayed by the authorities only those who are men tally and physically fit, and who are likely to make good citizens, will in future be permitted to come here. As has been frequently stated, our population should be much larger, and I am sure it is the desire of every one that a great number of Britishers will settle in the Commonwealth. Some honorable senators opposite seem to be under the impression that migrants are to be picked up in a haphazard way in the big cities of Great Britain; but it is the intention of the authorities to select only suitable migrants from all parts of the British Isles. I remind Senator Hoare, who continually used the word "English," that I, as a descendant of Scottish parents, prefer the term " British," which includes all citizens of the British Isles. As Senator Barnes and others are under the impression that there' is insufficient land available in Australia for our own people who desire to engage in rural pursuits, I have interviewed the Closer Settlement Board in order to ascertain the position in regard to land settlement in this State. I was supplied by it this morning with the following information: -

The number of local settlers placed on the land under the Closer Settlement Act and the Discharged Soldier Settlement Act from the 30th June, 1923, to the 30th June, 1926, is 4,561. The land allotted to that number was 1.422.357 acres.

Senator Grant - What is the value of the land?

Senator ANDREW - It varies according to the locality.

Senator Grant - What have the returned soldiers to pay for the land they assisted to protect?

Senator ANDREW - The Government have repatriated soldiers at a cost of several millions. The Closer Settlement Board further states -

The area of land purchased by the Closer Settlement Board available for application is 102 blocks consisting of 15,233 acres. The area of land purchased by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission available for application comprises 72 blocks consisting of 4,255 acres.

Payments for that land can be made over a period of 36½ years.

Senator Barnes - Will the Government assist intending settlers on that land by advancing them £1,000 as is proposed under this agreement?

Senator ANDREW - The State Government will advance £625 to settlers for the purchase of stock and implements.

Senator Givens - The best settlers we have had in. Australia started on the land without any financial assistance.

Senator ANDREW - The Victorian Mallee lands have produced magnificent wheat yields, and according to the information supplied by the Closer Settlement Board there are 248 Mallee blocks consisting of 226,590 acres available at the present moment.

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