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Friday, 1 December 1911

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) . - Ordinarily I should be found in hearty accord with Senator Walker's amendment, because I believe that a very good principle lies at the back of it. That is, that when the general taxpayers provide money for a great enterprise such, as this, they should reap some of the added value given to the land, and some of the advantage accruing from the laying out of that money. It is a principle with which the party to which I belong has been associated ever since we have had a separate existence as a party. But the present circumstances are not ordinary. They are extraordinary. Would the acquisition of this land be of advantage to the Commonwealth? On the contrary, would not the acquisition of it add to the responsibilities of those who are spending the money ? Examining the question in the light of such information as is at our disposal, I am driven to the conclusion that, instead of it being an advantage to the Commonwealth to get this land, it would be a serious disadvantage and an added responsibility. I must oppose Senator Walker's amendment for that reason. If it were carried, what would the effect be? We should become possessed of an enormous quantity of land. The representatives of South Australia and Western Australia would then continually clamour for this Parliament to undertake huge expenditure to develop that land. Consequently the Commonwealth, instead of being saddled with the responsibility of an expenditure of £4,000,000 or £5,000,000, with an annual deficit of from £80,000 to £100,000, would possibly be required to spend another million or two every year.

Senator Ready - We should want another Department to look after the land if we got it.

Senator GIVENS - That difficulty does not concern me seriously, because the Commonwealth is already in possession of a large quantity of land, and we must necessarily provide machinery foi managing and developing it. If we acquired additional land along the route of this railway, it would not be a very serious added disadvantage to manage it also. But my great objection is that the land, instead of being a sort of recoupment, would be an additional burden. 1 wish to dissociate myself from the idea that we must spend millions in settling people upon the poor lands of

Australia. As long as we have thousands and thousands of acres of good land in Australia - perhaps the best and most productive soil in the world - it seems to me to be a suicidal policy to howl about developing the poorer lands. Let us develop those enterprises which will give us a return of 50 per cent., rather than those which will involve us in a loss of 50 per cent. every year. Until we find that there is a shortage of good land upon which to settle people we ought not to bother about settling them on poorer areas. Heaven knows, the unfortunate pioneer settler has difficulties enough to contend with, without our manufacturing more for him; and, while we allow, with the one hand, the bowelless corporation and the soulless land-grabber to monopolize thousands of acres of the best land in. this country, it is foolish to talk about forcing settlers on to the poorer land. That is a policy of which I can never approve.

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