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Thursday, 23 June 1904

Mr FRAZER (Kalgoorlie) - I am heartily in sympathy with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat when he expresses a desire to see Australia supporting a much larger population than we have at present. Nevertheless I disagree with his idea that the present is an opportune time to attract to our shores a number of immigrants from foreign countries. I share the opinion which is entertained by the honorable member for Moira, that the honorable and learned member seeks to attack this question from the wrong end. The experience of Western Australia conclusively demonstrates that as soon as conditions are established which will permit our own people to go upon the land so soon will they settle there. Looking over the figures relating to this matter, I find that when responsible government was granted to Western Australia the population of that State was only 50,000, whereas at the present time it is about 240,000. Of that number, it is safe to say that 80,000 are engaged in mining. Surely that fact proves that as soon as the lands of the States are thrown open for selection numbers of citizens throughout Australia will be anxious to settle upon them. The deapth of employment in Australia at. the present time certainly demands that, before offering inducements which are calculated to attract immigration from abroad, we should make some provision for our own people. Until it has been conclusively shown that there are no Australian citizens who are willing to settle upon the land when it is made available for selection, I shall oppose schemes to attract immigration from foreign countries. The experience which Western Australia has had of a large number of Italian immigrants-

Mr Johnson - Immigration at the present time would only swell rents.

Mr FRAZER - Immigration, I hold, would have the effect of swelling the ranks of the unemployed. Western Australia has had experience of a number of foreigners - not of a very desirable class - who were attracted to Kalgoorlie, where they obtained employment in mining and woodgetting, to the disadvantage of our own people. In my judgment, it should be the aim of this Parliament to establish conditions which will, make Australia an attractive place for British subjects rather than for foreigners. Until ample proof is forthcoming that the introduction of foreign immigrants will not disadvantage our own people, I shall oppose their admission.

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