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Thursday, 13 October 1949


Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Minister for Information and Minister for Immigration) . - My remarks in reply to the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) will be brief, because his observations do not merit much attention. The contribution of platitudes, sophistries and plain humbug of which he has delivered himself, does not delude anybody. If we wait until every person in this country is housed before we bring one migrant here, we shall never bring any migrants here; and if there is one country in the British Commonwealth of Nations that needs population more badly than Australia does, I invite the honorable member to name it.


Mr Turnbull - That is not the point at all.


Mr CALWELL - If the honorable member will remain silent, I shall address the intelligent sections of the chamber. If we wait until everybody who wants a house is housed, we shall be waiting for the next ten or twelve years, because we are so far behind. This Parliament, and State parliaments, have inherited a legacy of neglect from the parliaments, Commonwealth and State, that governed Australia in pre-war days.


Mr Fuller - Will not the new Australians be engaged on building homes?


Mr CALWELL - As the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) very sapiently remarks, the people who are coming to Australia are helping to build homes for those who are already here and for those who will come later. We are employing a considerable number of migrants in brickworks and cement works, and in making tiles for roofs. Approximately 400 of them are employed in the steel industry in New South Wales, and others are employed in the timber industry, and in the steel works at Whyalla, in South Australia. During the period of two years in which they are under contract to this Government, we shall utilize their services in the way that is most beneficial to the Australian community. It is all very well for the honorable member for Wimmera to say that he considers that we should bring migrants to this country. He says, in the next breath, that the Government should concentrate expenditure on providing houses for Australians. To-day the matter is not one of money. This Government is not worried about money when it comes to doing the things that are necessary. That is why we have committed this generation and posterity to the expenditure of £200,000,000 on the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. This scheme is under the able leadership of the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon). Such a scheme was not thought of by the Opposition parties when they were in office, and if the Parliament consisted of members of the mental calibre of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton), the Snowy Mountains scheme would not have been thought of in 1,000 years.

What we are doing in the matter of migration is to bring people as quickly as we can to fill the 250,000 jobs that are vacant in Australia, because we just have not got the men and women here to fill them. "We are bringing in people not only to develop our economy and expand our industry, but also in order that we may help to build the population of this country in such a way and so quickly that the Commonwealth shall not be as defenceless in the future as it has been in the past. I have kept this matter out of the field of party politics, and the stand that I take has been amply supported by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). He is entirely at variance with the honorable member for Wimmera, who generally specializes on rabbits and mallee roots. We have to expend money on the housing of the unfortunates who are coming here from abroad. Where does the honorable member for Wimmera think that they will live? Does he expect them to live under guin trees ? They have no relatives and f riends to take them into their homes and look after them. I am conscious of the difficulties of Australians, but we have to take risks and suffer inconveniences. It is rather hard on some people; but Australians ran many risks at other times, and endured unnecessary suffering during the financial and economic depression. In those days, the Opposition parties were in office, and they failed dismally to house the people. That is why they have been languishing in the cool shades of opposition during the last eight years. When they were in office, they demonstrated that they were only a rabble. We shall expend £4,000,000 in a profitable manner in providing austere conditions for the newcomers. The migrants will help to produce more than the equivalent of the £4,000,000 that we shall expend on them. They will rear families, and provide bornes and many of the other things that Australia requires. The honorable member for Wimmera should endeavour to keep a sense of balance when he speaks in this chamber.


Mr Turnbull - What about the extensions to Parliament House?


Mr CALWELL - That is not my particular responsibility. The honorable member appears to consider that the larger Parliament is not necessary. If there is one honorable member who is not necessary, it is the honorable member for Wimmera himself. I am sure that he would not he missed if he did not return after the forthcoming general election. However, the Parliament has decided to increase the number of honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives, and the new senators and members must be properly housed, and given the normal amenities that are available in- a parliament house. However, I leave such matters to the Minister for Works and Housing. I suggest to the honorable member for Wimmera that he should refrain from criticizing migration, because it is a very popular subject with the Australian people. Indeed, 90 per cent, of Australians want our migration plan to succeed. This year, we shall gain by net migration, that is, there will be a surplus of arrivals over departures of approximately 147,000 people, and with the surplus of births over deaths, numbering 100,000, the population of this country will increase by 250,000 next year. That has never happened before in our history, and that is the justification for the proposed vote.







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