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Thursday, 23 June 1904

Mr LONSDALE (New England) - One of the great needs of this Commonwealth is population of the right description. I do not oppose the immigration of Italians, if they are men of the proper kind. But I have a very decided objection to the indenturing of any population to Australia. I do not believe in anything in the form of semi-slavery. If men come here free, possessing some little capital of their own, and with their own powers can develop wealth out of. the soil of this country, it is a good thing to have them. There can be no doubt that our manufacturing industries languish, not because of the silly reasons which are sometimes given, but because there is not a sufficient demand for manufactured goods in Australia. Until we have a large population our manufactures will not succeed as they would otherwise do. When the demand for manufactures increases largely, the silly talk about helping them by other means will no longer be indulged in. A remark has been made bv the ex-Prime Minister about the connexion between free-trade and cheap labour. The answer to that is that cheap labour is always found where there is protection. I do not wish to raise the fiscal issue; but I must introduce it to the extent of making that reply. The Italian labour of a cheap kind that is introduced into America is from a protectionist country, and is taken to a protectionist country at the instance of the coal barons and the iron barons, who are to be found in both of the fiscal parties. I believe in developing the country on lines that will give every man free play for the exercise of his powers. What we require is not a limitation of freedom, but an increase of it. We want free-trade in land. There is room for multitudes upon rich lands in this country which are now held up by a few ; and when more good land is made available for settlement we shall have a population that will give us an increase of wealth and will assist in the development of every industry. But it is of no use to bring population to Australia unless they are afforded a means of employing themselves. Notwithstanding our large cities, there do not seem to be such means at present. Nevertheless, in all directions there are lands out of cultivation, upon which immigrants could set to and make a living for themselves, and produce wealth, which would be the means of finding employment for a large number of others. People have to go into the cities to starve because they cannot earn a living in the country. The crowding of the population into the cities is condemned. People crowd there because they are forced there. If there were in the States areas of good land available for settlement, this crowding of population would cease. That is the direction from which the salvation of the masses must come. It is of no use to impose restrictions. We must give people a wider freedom, but at the same time we must enable them to use the faculties and powers which they possess. I do not wish any one to suppose that I desire to take anybody's land from him; but I would pass such laws as would compel men to use their land to its fullest value, or let somebody else use it. When such laws are passed, we shall be able to increase the population of this country, and until they are it is user less to flood these shores with immigrants. 1 hope that the Government, if they seek for opportunities to assist in the development of population, will endeavour to bring to this Country the right class of people.

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