Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 26 June 1930

This is good solid advice, but will it be complied with? We think not. If the land in question was shown to be ideal for the purpose it would never be allowed to revert back to its present occupation. The trouble with Victorian wheat-growing, except in certain districts, is the production of grain is too much of a gamble. The rainfall is insufficient and uncertain, and farming is too precarious for inexperienced men to undertake. People are now " settled " on land which is impossible. Sons of Victorian farmers are leaving the State because there is no suitable land to farm. They migrate to the Northern State, and the West, where wheat-growing is now progressing beyond all expectations on land formerly held by land monopolists and speculators. The Midland Railway is a case in point. Formerly the land adjacent to the railway was cut up in blocks. The good land was held by the Midland Company, and the poor areas thrown open to the public. This lias been altered of recent years; and now Westralia, under a sound Labour Government, is becoming the granary of the Commonwealth. This Australian State, one time ridiculed under the appellation of the Three S's ( " Sand, Sorrow and Sore eyes " ) is under shrewd legislation becoming a marvellous land in transformation.

Under the six years' administration of the Collier Government, the wheat industry has extended in Western Australia and vast holdings of private enterprise have been subdivided in the interests of people coming from the other States to

Duy land in Western Australia. I remember reading some remarks made the other day by Sir James Mitchell, the new Premier of Western Australia. He said that he was not totally opposed to the Scullin Government's appeal to grow more wheat; that, while he did not go out and support it holusbolus, he would not say anything that would be likely to injure what Mr. Scullin was endeavouring to do in the interests of the nation. In this chamber we have heard references to the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. Honorable senators opposite have termed the Australasian Council of Trade Unions a bolshevik organization, a collection of communists, strikers, disloyalists, and have applied to it many other abusive epithets. Mr. Duggan, its president, in reply to some remarks made by a Mr. Linton, said - " If Mr. Linton devoted his efforts to getting employment for the unemployed he would then get more production." Mr. Duggan continued : " The appeal by Messrs. Scullin and Hogan for greater production of wheat was not an appeal to those already engaged in this work to work harder or longer. It was a sensible suggestion that land now used for other purposes should be devoted to wheatproduction. In other words, to increase the acreage for the production of this necessary commodity. The workers are already producing more than they can buy back, and it is only natura) that with more employment for the thousands of unemployed increased production would be the inevitable result."

Many of : the arguments advanced by the Opposition have been to the effect that we should not produce more wheat. Personally, I think that there is an underconsumption of wheat in Australia.

I believe that I shall be in order if I refer to the lengthy diatribe of the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Sir George Pearce) upon Russia and wheat-growing on State farms in that country. The right honorable senator contended that the Australian Labour Government was following in the footsteps of the Russian Soviet. Following a very wearisome custom he trotted out a very dilapidated bugbear, and indulged in a considerable amount of hysterical piffle about the red bogy that threatens Australia. That was all bunkum. I have in my hand a work by a very eminent' gentleman who is known throughout the English-speaking world, Dr. E. J. Dillon, one of the most prominent scholars of Europe. Dr. Dillon spent many years in Russia under the regime of the czars in the capacity of professor in a Russian university, and he wrote this very interesting work on that country. The volume was issued last year. It is in the library and will be available to honorable senators who desire to peruse it. Here is an extract -

European Russia, when I wrote my report many years ago, comprised nearly 1,237,000,000 acres, of which 1,019,000,000 were registered. Nearly one-fifth of that surface was found to be unproductive and two-fifths were at the time under forests. The remainder was partly meadow and pasture ground, and partly arable land, in the ratio of two to three. Two-fifths of the registered acres were the property of the Crown, one-third (317,000,000 acres) was held by the Feasants' Communes, and onefourth part was owned by some 500,000 private proprietors. The system which obtained amongst the rural peasant proprietors was, to a very large extent, that of communal holdings. The peasant in those days was prevented from improving his method of agriculture owing, mainly, to usages which he was powerless to break through. One of these was the three-field system, which was firmly established and religiously observed. The distance of the peasants' abodes, often in large villages as much as 10 or 12 miles from thu holdings of the bulk of the inhabitants, was another deterrent. Then, again, security of tenure, an indispensable incentive to improvement, was made impossible by the periodical redistribution of the holdings. To-day, therefore, despite many adverse circumstances, the annual output is potentially much greater than in that epoch; in fact, if the country has not yet become again the granary of Europe the reason is not in the quality of either soil or labour.

Since the Soviet Government has been in power in Russia that country has adopted a different system of wheatgrowing, wi;th considerable, ((success. Now, I do not think that the United States of

America possesses business men of higher calibre than those to be found in the Motherland. I hold the belief that the British Empire has just as shrewd business men as has the United States of America. Unfortunately, the Mother of Parliaments has been controlled by Conservatives, while the House of Lords has been guided by the blue-blooded nobles of - England. That combination decreed that Great Britain should not trade with Russia until that country liquidated its national financial obligations.







Suggest corrections