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Wednesday, 9 March 1904

Mr McCOLL (Echuca) - Without indorsing the views which the honorable member for Wentworth 'has advanced, I think that we may all congratulate him upon his debut in this House, for the speech which he has just delivered was characterized by good taste, courtesy, and moderation. I dare say. that many of his views will find general acceptance, although in regard to some of them the honorable member and myself are as far asunder as are the poles. Possibly, when he can rid himself of the influences of the environment in which he has lived for so many years, and of the Philistine press with which he has so long been familiar - after he has enjoyed the company of the more liberal-minded men who sit around him - he will modify his views. The honorable member must be aware that it is not the fault of the Government, nor, indeed, of this Chamber, that the site of the Federal Capital has not yet been selected.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The fault rests with' the Government.

Mr McCOLL - The honorable membjr must know that several eligible sites were submitted last session, and that one was selected by us ; but that, in consequence of a disagreement with another place, it was impossible for us to finally dispose of the matter. I have no objection to the selection of a site, but I shall strongly oppose . the expenditure of any large sum upon the establishment of the capital. I shall certainly oppose very vigorously the spending of any loan money upon that project, although I believe that a site should be selected at the very earliest opportunity, so that the matter may be quietly put to rest for all time. When the Address in Reply was under consideration last session, I complained that the GovernorGeneral's Speech, then before the House, contained no proposals whatever to assist our people in producing more and thus earning more; that every proposal was one for the expenditure of money, and that the speech was destitute of any proposition to earn it. I also said that what we desired was practical legislation, so that we might have peace and rest, economical management, and the development of the country to its fullest extent. I pointed out that after all, if we were to win the hearts ofl the people, it would be necessary for us to set our faces in that direction; that we needed work for the people, help for the producers, and markets for their products. I am glad to say that in the Governor-General's Speech, now under discussion, a step has been taken in that direction. A beginning, of course, has to be made, and in making the proposals contained in paragraphs 5, 6, and 7, the Government have gone as far as they can towards the submission of matters of great interest to the bulk of the people of this country. We hear a great deal about the present political position. It is being discussed at great length in certain sections of the press, and an endeavour is being made by those sections to make the position appear more entangled than it really is. If they had their way they would, doubtless, still further complicate the situation; but I, for one. am not much concerned about it. If we talked less, and did more, it would be much better for the Commonwealth. The position will adjust itself. Whether we have a Labour Government, a Government comprising members of the present Opposition, or the present Ministry in power, I feel certain that the good sense of honorable members, together with the watchfulness of press and public, .will keep that Government from going far astray. Our duty is not to worry about the political position, but to discharge the business which comes to our hands in the best possible way. Matters will surely right themselves. We must remember that the system which allows of the return of honorable members by a minority, is responsible for the present position. It places men who seek to" enter this House at the mercy of faddists and cranks who may be strong in their own particular districts, and prevents large questions of great importance to the country from being dealt with fairly and on their merits. Other considerations to the exclusion of the more important ones come into play, with the result that matters that ought to be dealt with are shut out. Much has been said about the Labour Party, which appears to be regarded by some persons as if it were another Frankenstein about. I do not agree with all the views which the members of that party hold, but, at the same time, I do not regard them in the adverse light in which they are regarded by some persons. I think that the members of the Labour Party are as honest, and earnest, and anxious for the good of all classes of the community as are the members of other parties. In some matters, however, I believe that they are going too fast, and that in other directions they are going too far. They desire to accomplish too much at once, and by reason of views' expressed - I do not say by the leaders of the party, but by members of it - they are bringing upon themselves that suspicion as to their motives and objects, which the leader of the Labour Party admitted on Friday last existed in the minds of a number of people.

Mr Fisher - To what planks in our platform does the honorable member object ?

Mr McCOLL - I do not propose to canvass the whole programme put forward by the Labour Party. I agree with a considerable part of it, but later on I shall refer to some portions of it to which I object. The critics of the party seize upon the views of the extremists as representing those entertained by the party as a whole. The leaders themselves are not responsible for the views which all the members of the party express. But when proposals are put forward from platforms on which the leaders themselves stand, and are allowed to go uncontradicted, it is only to be expected that the representatives of other large interests in this country feel themselves likely to be attacked, look upon the party with suspicion, and have fears as to what will be the result if ' it should get into power. If the Labour Party honestly desires to secure the welfare of this country and to reconcile the other parties who. differ from its views, its members must be moderate in the opinions they express and in the rate at which they seek to travel. I trust that before the close of the present Parliament - before we go to the country again - we shall see that our electoral laws are altered in such a way that no man will be able to sit in this Parliament unless elected, by a majority of the people of his electorate. Until we secure that reform we shall not get down to great principles, nor shall we have great parties. There should not be three parties in this House; there should be only two. But under existing conditions three, and possibly four or five, parties may be seen in this House at no distant date. One section of the community, which looks upon the Labour Party with great suspicion, is that which I represent. Many of my opponents assert that I have too much sympathy with the party, and indeed that was one of the cries raised against me at the last elections. I do not speak for owners of large estates, but I should be heartily glad if it were possible for the farmers of this country and the Labour Party to get into accord with each other.

Mr Webster - They are in accord in New South Wales.

Mr McCOLL - It would be an immense benefit to the members of the Labour Party themselves if that end could be secured. I would urge the Labour Party, in any views put forward by them, as well as in any legislation they seek to carry, to show a regard for the interests of the great body of producers. I would urge them to refrain not only from expressing any opinion that mightbe considered harmful to the producers, but also from putting forward legislation which the producers themselves consider would be harmful to them. If they adopt these tactics I believe that they will find that the farmers in many districts have far more sympathy with them than they themselves believe. A section of the press invariably represents the Labour Party as the enemy of the farmer, and calls upon the farmer to put it down. That, however, is not the feeling of many of the farmers themselves. They have learned of late years to modify their views to a considerable extent, and only moderate dealing and fair play are required to win their sympathy, and, perhaps, in time, their support. For myself, I would say, with the wise Hebrew of old - " If the thing is of God, it will prosper ; if it is not, it will come to nought." If it is founded on justice, truth, righteousness, and fairplay, it will succeed ; but, if not, it will fail as other wrong movements have failed in the past. I commend to the perusal of the leader of the Labour Party two poems of Whittier. Whittier was a true democrat, and a true poet. The first of these poems is entitled " Democracy," and has for its motto the text -

Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them.

In the poem which he has addressed to the reformers of England, he sets forth what they should have in their minds as the ideal which they should strive to attain. He says -

Blessing the cotter and the Crown,

Sweetening worn labour's bitter cup,

And, pulling not the highest down,

Lifting the lowest up.

If the Labour Party make those lines their motto, they will find that all classes will speedily join with them ; but when members of the party express the view that thrift means theft, and property means robbery, one cannot wonder that men who have been thrifty and careful in making provision for themselves and their families regard them with suspicion.

Mr Frazer - What member of the Labour Party has used those expressions ?

Mr McCOLL - They have been used over and over again by members of the party, though I do not say. that they are to be taken as the views of the party. Those sentiments have been expressed on public platforms. I indorse two of the remarks made by the honorable member for Gippsland yesterday, though I shall not dwell upon the subjects of them, because he dealt with them very fully - I refer to the legislation which brought about the exclusion of the six hatters, and the endeavour to prevent the employment of black labour upon oceangoing steamers. I think that we should certainly try to modify that section of the Immigration Restriction Act which prevents labour coming here under contract, so that white men shall not be prevented from entering Australia. In my opinion, it will be sufficient to provide that labour contracts made outside the Commonwealth shall be absolutely void here. If we do that, employers in the Commonwealth will have no hold upon men brought here to perform labour, because those men will come in free from any obligations to them. While far too much has been made of the six hatters incident, if Has, undoubtedly, created a very bad impression in Great Britain and elsewhere. In view of our want of population, we should try rather to lower than to raise barriers against immigration, though, of course, we must give fair play to our own people. As to the cry for a White Ocean,, while there is much in the views put forward, I think we should see that the action we take is a moderate one. The farming population are afraid that if we aim at the total exclusion of black labour from vessels coming here from abroad, they will suffer severely through an increase in freights. I am not prepared to say whether that will or will not happen, but I think that to prevent friction and to secure harmony, some concession should be made. Some criticism has been expressed in regard to the conduct of the late elections which I do not regard as any too severe. I have never in any of my experience of elections seen such bungling before.

Mr McDonald - Who was responsible?

Mr McCOLL - The officers in charge of the administration of the Act were in some cases responsible, while in other cases the trouble was due either to the faultiness of the Act, or to the shortness of time in which preparations had to be made. The proper conduct of elections is of the utmost importance, and one of the greatest mistakes made was in intrusting the carrying out of the provisions of the Act to men who had had no previous experience of elections. If the electoral officers of the States who had previously acted had been chosen, the mistakes which occurred, and the friction which was caused, would not have happened. There was too great an endeavour to get things done cheaply, to save money, and to bring the expenditure within the sum named by the Government as the probable cost.

Mr Mauger - The Government profess to have saved £40,000 on the elections.

Mr McCOLL - They have had men working for days and weeks- without remuneration. No doubt many of these men were public . servants, but they should have been remunerated for the extra work done by them, even if the remuneration came to a few thousands of pounds. The smallness of the vote recorded is not to be wondered at. It is all very well to decry those who did not vote, and to blame them for not using their privileges, but there are considerations which are. sometimes overlooked in a criticism of this kind. Most of the farmers of Australia had, prior to the elections, been suffering from a drought of seven or eight years' duration. At the time of the elections they had the promise of a very bounteous harvest. But with the chance of a change of weather, every minute was precious to them in getting in their crops. It was not to be wondered at, therefore, that those who had to work in the fields were unwilling to spend half a day or a day in recording their votes. I maybe told that they could have voted by post. The Act certainly gave them the right to do so, but many farmers who tried to exercise that right were unable to get the necessary papers. I know of eighteen in one district who were unable to record their votes, . because they could not obtain the necessary papers. Another reason why the vote taken was a small one is that the legislation of the Commonwealth Parliament hitherto has not come home closely to the people. We have been engaged chiefly in the passing of technical machinery enactments which have not closely touched their interests, their feelings, or their hearts. Consequently, they were, to a large extent, indifferent as to the result of the elections. But possibly, with the promise of more practical legislation next session, the people may show greater interest in future elec-, tions. One thing I should like to urge upon this and any future Government is that it is desirable to avoid the holding of elections between November and February, because the farming population, the most important section of our people, is then busily engaged in harvesting its crops.

Mr McDonald - What month would the honorable member suggest ?

Mr Glynn - September or October.

Sir William Lyne - October would be as good a month as any.

Mr McCOLL - October would be a good month. In any case, the three months of harvest should be avoided, so that men may not be taken from necessary work when conditions are unsettled. I hope that the Electoral Act will be amended in the light of experience, and made as perfect and satisfactory as possible. The Treasurer is deserving of our best thanks for having had a Conference with the Treasurers of the States in reference to the consolidation of the debts of the States. The question is a large and important one, and I do not see how he could have done better in regard to it than to call that Conference. The result, so far as things have gone, is one with which we should be highly gratified. Possibly after the discussion which has taken place, a second Conference will be able to discover a solution of the difficulties which now face us. If so, the consolidation of the debts of the States will in itself be almost a complete justification for Federation, because of the enormous saving in interest which it will effect. It will, moreover, prevent extravagant expenditure, by restricting future borrowing, which is much to be desired. Another matter referred to in the Speech is the question of population. No doubt the decrease in our population is a very serious matter, considering the responsibilities which we have undertaken. The public debt of Australia at the present time is about £60 13s. per head of population, or about £142 per head for the bread-winners of the country, male and female. For the male bread-winners, however, who alone have to carry this burden, it amounts to about £180 per head. Every able-bodied man whom we can induce to come here will increase our wealth, and take his share of the burden of debt ; but to go on piling up debts while we are losing population is an act of great folly, and will create serious danger to the Commonwealth. I hope that future debts will be incurred only for works which, if not directly reproductive, will at least be indirectly so. We need not only more people, but an admixture of new races. The Anglo-Saxon race is strong and virile because it is made up of a mixture of races, and the opinion in the United

States is that that country is strong and progressive because its population comprises representatives of almost all the races of Europe. The admixture of new blood brings with it new ideas and methods, and that has made the United States strong and progressive. We shall not be a strong and progressive people if we determine that only persons of our own race shall come here. In the United States, Germans, Swiss, Italians, and persons of other continental nationalities are to be found, together with members of the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic races. In some places these foreigners occupy townships of their own; but generally they mix with the population, and that helps to make the race strong. We should not refuse admission, to desirable immigrants, no matter from what country they may come. In the case of animals, continual inbreeding results in a loss of strength and character, and nations are subject to the same deterioration unless they have an infusion of new blood to impart new vigour. The population problem is interesting in its relation to the White Australia question, which is looked upon by many, and by sections of the press as if it were entirely new. It is, however, fifty years old in this country, and there are many still amongst us who remember the very serious' Chinese riots which took place in the fifties, and the very strong effort that was made in some of the mining districts to drive away the Chinese. From 'that time until the present, there has been a very strong feeling in all the States that we should pass legislation that would have the effect of reserving the country for those whom we deem fit to associate with us. The question is not a new one, even in- England, because from the time of Edward VI. down to the reign of Elizabeth, legislation of an extremely drastic character - far more so than that brought forward here - was passed for the. purpose of keeping out undesirable aliens. In 1889 a Commission was appointed in England to investigate the circumstances under which large numbers of aliens were coming into the country, and in 1898 a Bill providing for the exclusion of aliens was brought before the House of Lords. Therefore, we are only following in the steps Of the old land when we express by legislation a determination to keep this country for those who are fitted to add to the strength and vigor of the race. As I said .before, however, I think we are going too far in excluding our own fellow-subjects, and I hope that the legislation now on the statute- book will be modified. There are some dangers to be avoided in connexion with our White Australia policy. We must take care that it does not result in an empty Australia. If we do not fill up with desirable immigrants those portions of the continent which- are at present unsettled, we shall leave them open for the advent of undesirables. We have vast areas in the northern parts of Australia which are accessible by means of good harbors, and absolutely open to Asiatics and to the inhabitants of the Indian Archipelago, and if we do not settle those parts with people of a desirable character, most assuredly they will be filled up by aliens. They will come: here in spite of us, and probably in such enormous numbers that we may occupy the position of undesirables and have to leave them in possession of the country. The trend of events in the Far East should make us extremely careful with regard to this matter. If we do not balance the White Australia policy with another which will bring in fresh population, all our legislative devices with a view of maintaining the purity of the race will surely be doomed to failure. The northern part of Australia would afford a congenial home for Asiatics, and it would be impossible for us to long prevent them from establishing themselves there. It may be asked - " Where can we secure the necessary immigrants?" I would point out that we can procure many desirable colonists by making draughts upon the populations of Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and other parts of Europe - people who would be capable of settling upon the land and turning it to the very best advantage. In connexion with this matter, we must consider the necessity of making land available for settlement. It will be of no use for us to encourage immigration, unless, we have land upon, which we can place our immigrants without delay. Further, before finding land for people beyond our shores, we should first of all provide land for those who are already amongst us. It may be interesting and instructive to honorable members to learn that in Victoria, from the 1st February, 1903, to the 31st January last, 17,000 applications were received for land. I do not mean to convey that these applications, were sent in by separate individuals, because many persons were so anxious to secure land that they paid application fees for three or four allotments, on th-.' chance that if they missed one they might secure another. The 17,000 applications, however, were lodged by 7,500 applicants. Of these, 3,700 have been granted land, so that we still have in Victoria to-day some 4,000 persons who have applied for land during the last twelve months, and whose demands are still unsatisfied. I am simply giving the facts with regard to -Victoria, with whose circumstances I am best acquainted, but I have no doubt that similar experiences are being met .with; in other States.

Sir William Lyne - In New South Wales the demand for land has been much greater, and, if anything, more difficulty has been experienced in meeting it.

Mr McCOLL - That gives so much more point to my argument. I find that at Lake Buloke, in the Wimmera district of Victoria, 103 allotments were thrown open for selection, and 1,350 persons lodged 5,000 applications. Then again, in Gippsland, in the southern part of the Colony, and with an entirely different climate, eighty-four allotments were applied for by 462 persons, who lodged 700 applications. These instances serve to show that a number of intending selectors are still landless. I notice in the report of the officer in charge of the Lands Department in Tasmania that a similar state of affairs is disclosed. The report, which is for the year 1903, says -

More persons have, I believe, visited Tasmania, with a view to settlement, during the last twelve months than for the previous ten years put together. The value of private lands has in consequence increased in these parts, in some cases, from ro to 25 per cent., and land selection has been greater than at any period since the introduction of the system.

The demand for land, even on the part of our own people, can only be met by extensive resumptions, because, in the case of Victoria at any rate, the State does not possess land enough to supply the needs of intending settlers. The paragraphs which appear in the newspapers from time to time .announcing that so much land is to be thrown open, need not be noticed, because in most cases the land in question is of very little value, and would prove of no use to intending settlers. In Victoria, the only land available for any large population is away in the far north, and cannot be utilized until our water resources are developed. I am aware that in Western Australia and Queensland there are large areas open for settlement. I do not care in which State the people settle; I would as soon see them settle in other States, so long as they can secure the land necessary to enable them to live and bring up their families in comfort. Our first duty is to provide for the wants of our cwn people, and afterwards to encourage immigration. If we enter upon an immigration policy without first taking care that our own people are sufficiently provided for, we shall act very foolishly, and I think that the strongest representations should be made to the States Governments with a view to induce them to make available the State lands which they possess, or to adop't a comprehensive system of resumption. If they prove unwilling to do so, and it is still desired to pursue an immigration policy, I should favour the borrowing of money by the Commonwealth for the purpose of purchasing estates upon which to settle our people.

Mr Johnson - At ruinous prices - it would never pay.

Mr McColl - Does the honorable member know anything about the subject?

Mr Johnson - I ought to.

Mr McCOLL - Does the honorable member know anything about the subject as it relates to Victoria ?

Mr Johnson - I think I know as much as does the honorable member - or probably a little more.

Mr McCOLL - Whether that be so or not, I shall give the honorable member the benefit of the little that I know. I was Minister for Lands in the Administration of which the honorable member for Gippsland was the head. Provision had been made upon the statute-book for the resumption of land,- but had never been put into operation until I took office. I occupied the .Ministerial position for only a short twelve months, but during that time I resumed three large estates and left behind me a recommendation for the resumption of another. In addition to that, I purchased a property at Moreland, within three miles of the Melbourne Post Office, and settled upon it a number of artisans and others, and gave them homes. I will tell the honorable member the result of that action. There are now fifty families settled there, holding from one to two acres of their own. They have thirty-one and a half years within which to pay the purchase money, the payments being made somewhat after the building societies' plan, in sixty-three half-yearly instalments. The honorable member can go to Moreland and see the result of the experiment for himself.

Mr Johnson - I do not say anything as ' to the experiment, but I contend that land settlement can be encouraged in a much better way than that proposed by the honorable member.

Mr McCOLL - If the honorable member would hold his tongue I should be obliged. Four country estates were resumed, upon which 189 families are now settled, whereas there were only four families in occupation previously.

Mr McDonald - Is that in Victoria?

Mr McCOLL - Yes. The total sum which has been spent in the purchase of these estates is a little over £201,000. As showing that the system has proved a success, despite the bad years which we have recently experienced, I may mention that the arrears of payments at the present time represent only 1 per cent, of the rents, which, of course, also include the purchase money. No more gratifying experiment could possibly be entered upon, and the results show that the policy of land resumption by the State is a sound one if it be faithfully and wisely carried out. Of course, in the absence of extreme care it is possible to purchase land at too high a price, or land which is not suitable for the purposes to which it is to be put, and if that be done, it necessarilv follows that the State will suffer. ' But the fact remains that to-day in Victoria the arrears of payments upon re-purchased estates total only 1 per cent., and there is a profit to the credit of these estates, a large amount 'of which has been expended in- improving them in various ways for the settlers. I mention this because we cannot enter upon a policy of encouragement to immigration unless we have a clear understanding with the States as to how they intend to find the land upon which immigrants are to be settled. I have shown the results of the experiment in Victoria in order that the public may know that this is not a wild, hair-brained, socialistic scheme.

Mr Fowler - It is socialism, all- the same.

Mr McCOLL - Yes. But socialism of a class that I like. Our credit foncier system is socialistic, and so also is the control of our water-works by the State. I do not condemn socialism because of its name, but only because of its application in certain cases. If we are to attract immigrants from other countries, we must see that the land is prepared in advance of their coming. In -this connexion it would be well if the States purchased estates, held them back for a year or two, and forwarded plans of them to the countries from which we desire 'to attract population. In some cases in Queensland, where the policy of resumption has been pursued, it has been customary to set apart one-third of the land for allotment to persons who have not been resident in the State for three months. The idea underlying this practice was that newcomers should not be elbowed out by those who had been longer resident in the country. I repeat that we must have the land available for settlement before the immigrants arrive, and we must be able to offer it to them upon reasonable terms. This class of settlement is progressing to a wonderful degree in California. There, they have a body known as the Californian Promotion Committee. It is formed chiefly of business and professional men, and is maintained by subscription. There is a central committee in San Francisco, and in every county in the State there are two or three members of the committee. They have rooms set apart for the purpose of disseminating information relating to every part of California. If an individual desires to ascertain the best localities in which to enter upon the growth of citrus fruits, for example, the information is promptly forthcoming. So it is in regard to the dairying, pastoral, and agricultural industries. Intending settlers are taken in hand and advised of the localities which will suit their requirements, and they are shown the land. Hence we find that during the past ten years the population of California has increased from 1,213,000 to 1,500,000. As evidencing the production in this State, I need only mention that in 1900, 528,908 tons, each ton containing 2,000 Ids. of fruit, were despatched by rail and sea.

Sir Malcolm Mceacharn - Is not this encouragement to settlement undertaken by private companies in California?

Mr McCOLL - Yes.

Mr Deakin - A good deal of it is undertaken by public-spirited citizens who make nothing out of it.

Mr McCOLL - Exactly. It is carried out by gentlemen belonging chiefly to the business and professional class - men who love their State and who love this work. Of course the encouragement of immigration will necessarily mean recasting the State agencies at home. At the present time they are scattered about in all directions, and frequently come into conflict with each other.

Altogether they are woefully defective. What we require is one central building in which all information concerning Australia can be obtained - a building presided over by one head. At the present moment the existing agencies are costing Australia from £25,000 to £30,000 a year. I am sure that the expenditure of less than half that sum would provide a thoroughly satisfactory salary to a good man, meet the salaries of the assistants, and allow of the work being performed in a very much better manner than it is now. All necessary information relating to our land laws, our railways, our water facilities, and indeed, to almost everything else connected with Australia, should be obtainable in such a building. Then if we develop a (large export trade, and establish an agricultural bureau working in the States, we shall have to place the inspection of exports under the Commonwealth, because all shipments of produce are looked upon as Australian, and not as belonging to the particular State from which they come, a bad shipment prejudicing Australia as a whole. Of course, other countries are competing with us for immigrants, notably the United States, Canada, and South Africa. But in no essential element are we behind those countries. We have the climate and soil and every other necessary condition. We have land upon which we can grow all products. In Canada the land, for nearly half the year, is as hard as an asphalt pavement. There, buildings are an absolute necessity for the housing of stock; here they are merely a convenience. Further, we have facilities for growing special products such as are possessed by very few other countries. There are certain staples which probably any country in the world can produce ; others again which are universally required can be produced only in special districts. We possess those districts, and we should utilize them to the fullest possible extent. Of course we cannot hope to attract a large number of immigrants to our shores without making the best possible use of ou-r water resources. That subject, however, iis too large for me to discuss now, but under a motion of which I have given notice, I hope' to be able to debate it at a very early date. Concerning preferential trade, it seems to me that those who oppose it take a somewhat narrow view. It is not merely a question of a 5 per cent, or a 10 .per cent, duty - it is not only a question of profit - but one of the solidarity and unity of the Empire. That is' what Mr. Cham berlain has in his mind, and those who read Mr. Balfour's pamphlet will be convinced that his desire is to make the Empire homogeneous. Otherwise disintegration will sooner or later result, and we know what will follow. However, preferential trade is not at our doors yet. Whilst it was right to insert a reference to that question in the Government programme, there is no need for us to occupy too much time in discussing it now. We have simply to let the people in the old land know that we are prepared to consider them, to give them fair play, and to do what we can to bind the Empire together.. The questions of agriculture and immigration are intimately connected with the establishment of an agricultural bureau. I trust that, ere long, the Government will see their way to institute a Department of that kind. In the United States it has rendered most invaluable service. We should have a similar Department here working in conjunction with our State agricultural bureaux. In New South Wales there is a Department which cannot be excelled in any part of the world. It possesses splendid men, who are doing magnificent work - work, in the benefits arising from which the whole of Australia should share as far as possible. In regard to all these matters I think that the Government might well take the opinion of members who represent agricultural constituencies in this House. Indeed, seeing that we already have three parties here, I do not know why we should not have a fourth - an agricultural party. I am sure that the honorable member for Gippsland would make a splendid head of it, and possibly we should be able to render good service to the Commonwealth. I am aware that provision is promised in His Excellency's speech for bounties for agricultural products. That is a project upon which we shall have to embark very carefully. Personally, I am not opposed to the system. A good deal has been done in Victoria in that direction, but whilst in some cases the system has been successful, in many others comparative failures have resulted, simply because no supervision was exercised over the expenditure and the future of the industries to be benefited. I take the same view regarding the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill as that which is entertained by the honorable member for Gippsland. I desire that its provisions shall not be made applicable to the farming or dairying industries, arid I am also opposed to' State servants being brought within the scope of- the Bill. I wish also to point out that a section of the press is busily engaged in representing that the failure of the Government to secure satisfactory tenders for a new mail service was entirely due to the embargo which was placed upon the employment of : coloured labour on these vessels. I know I that- in these tenders provisions were included, notably at the instance of the honor able and learned member for Bendigo, the honorable member for Kooyong, and myself, for the better and safer carriage of perishable products. Those provisions were inserted because the system under which these ^products have been carried for years past nas spelt ruin to a large number of our .' people. I should like to know whether those provisions have not had the effect of limiting the number of tenders received, equally with the prohibition which applies to the employment of coloured labour?

Mr Deakin - A good deal more so.

Mr McCOLL - At the same time, the press arid other critics of the Government insist upon asserting that the failure of the Commonwealth to secure suitable tenders has been due simply .to the one condition. I was under the impression that it was due in a large measure to the other, and that impression has practically been confirmed. I trust that nothing will be done at the present juncture towards the appointment of an Inter-State Commission, for on that point I am entirely in agreement with the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne- I feel satisfied that matter's which are the subject of conflict between the States themselves or between the Commonwealth and the States, can be amicably settled by means of conferences. An interchange of views by the representatives of the States and of the Commonwealth should be sufficient to bring about satisfactory results without the appointment of an expensive tribunal. I trust that the lengthy programme submitted by the Government will be carried out. If it is, I feel that so far, at all events, as the practical measures set forth are concerned, we shall have done something to place ourselves on better terms with the people of- Australia, and to secure for us the approval of our constituents when next we have to meet them.

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