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3-264 (Original)

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author,male,Higinbotham, George,44 addressee
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Clark, 1975
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[...] in the Times newspaper, some short time ago, a paragraph put forward this view very forcibly. It said [...]
That is exceedingly candid; and, viewed in the light of the language employed by several English public men, is, I am sure, a perfectly truthful representation of the feeling which influences public men in suggesting an increase of emigration from England. Now is it our duty to assist English politicians in exporting this class, which is the only class they wish to export? ("No.") I am glad we are now making some progress towards agreement.
I am speaking of a class which, in consequence of poverty, and the physical and intellectual weakness which poverty in the long run brings upon the individual, are unable to meet their fellow citizens on equal terms, in the battle of life, and who, therefore, are pushed to the wall. These are the persons I speak of, and, in reference to them, I am free to admit that they are not the best, or indeed a good element in forming the population of a new country. But how will you prevent England from exporting her paupers? You have never been able to prevent it under the' regulations hitherto framed. The parson has always been able to get rid of the poor, "shiftless," incapable parishioner.
I have long thought over that question, and I have been utterly unable - unassisted as I have been by any discussion in Parliament or in the press - to see any national or public advantage that is derived from an artificial system of immigration by State money. I don't know whether the view be one which may not be censured by the honorable member for West Melbourne (Mr. Langton); but I would be glad if he would explain to me how it is that an artificial system of this kind can be consistent with those principles of freedom of trade which he professes, and which I, for one, believe in and practically approve of. [248] I have always believed that the material prosperity of a country - and it is only the material prosperity of a country that is affected by immigration - depends not upon the actual numbers of the population, but upon the proportion that exists between the labouring population and capital, and the proportion borne to both of them by the natural resources and riches of the country. If this country is able to maintain in material comfort and prosperity five millions of people, I suppose that that population will not necessarily be more prosperous than a population of five thousand. It may be more prosperous, it may be less, but its prosperity will not be affected by the actual numbers of the population. It will be affected by the proportion between population and capital, and the proportion of both to the natural riches of the soil. If that be so, I want to know why we should endeavour - with a view to national, public interests - artificially to increase the population of the country? Our population is increasing by natural growth - by the growth which Providence decrees to all countries. It is suggested to me that it increases in an improvident manner. Certainly it increases with alarming rapidity. But having pointed out the natural means by which population will grow, I ask why we should adopt an artificial means? What is the national or public interest which induces us to aid the natural means by this artificial process of increasing the population? I have never heard an answer to that question. I cannot conceive an answer.