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Thursday, 23 June 1904

Mr FULLER (Illawarra) - I rise principally for the purpose of emphasizing the necessity of immediately passing a Bill to provide for the appointment of a High Commissioner to represent the Commonwealth in the old country. I was under the impression, when we passed the Immigration Restriction Act, that its principal object was to make Australia a desirable place for white men. We know that many exaggerated statements have been made in connexion with that legislation, and many of these have been referred to during this discussion. These all point to the necessity of arranging for the representation of the Commonwealth in London, at the earliest possible moment. We have been tol'd that we need population. The progress of New Zealand, in recent years, has been attributed to her liberal land policy, which has led to the development of the agricultural and other primary industries.

Mr Chapman - It has also been due to her fiscal policy.

Mr FULLER - The honorable member foi Moira directed attention to the respects in. which our Tariff fell short of requirements, so far as the encouragement of rural industries is concerned. The New Zealand Legislature was particularly careful to exempt from Customs taxation all implements and tools of trade, an'd, in fact, everything required by those who are engaged in agriculture and other allied industries. . They saw that no advantage would be derived by rural industries from Customs duties, and they therefore left them unhampered as much as possible. We were told, when the question of giving bonuses for manufactures was under discussion, that the success of Canada was due to her fiscal policy, but now the honorable and learned member for Ballarat tells us that it has been due to the stream of immigration which has flowed into that country. The honorable and learned member also pointed out that the honorable member for Franklin, as a free-trader, should not entertain any objection to the introduction of Italian labour, because it was the cheapest.

Mr Deakin - The honorable and learned member has missed my point. I told the honorable member that the labourers who were imported into America were the sweepings of Europe1, and were introduced because they provided the cheapest 1 about. I further mentioned that, as a free-trader, he had no right to complain of the employers going to the cheapest market for what they required.

Mr FULLER - I would point out that this cheap labour comes from protectionist countries, such as Italy and Germany, which, during the Tariff discussion, were held up to us as models. From what has happened under the Commonwealth Tariff, it does not appear that our policy is particularly calculated to attract population. My principal object in rising was to impress upon the Government the necessity of appointing a High Commissioner as soon as possible, so that our interests with regard to immigration and other matters may be properly looked after in London. Time after time, our products have been dealt with in England very much to our own prejudice. In some cases, butter has been sent from Australia and forwarded to Denmark, where it has been packed in fresh boxes. Thence it has been sent back to London, to be placed on the market as firstclass Danish butter. It is necessary that all such matters should receive the closest attention, if the interests of our producers are to be protected. I do not suggest that the High Commissioner should be a mere commercial agent. Probably it will be necessary for the various States to retain commercial agents in London ; but there is no reason why the High Commissioner should not have under him a staff of officers who would be able to see that our products are properly placed upon the market. I trust that the Prime Minister will give every consideration to this important matter.

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