House of Representatives
12 March 1931

12th Parliament · 1st Session



Mr. Speaker (Hon. Norman Makin) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and offered prayers.

page 106

COMMONWEALTH BANK ACT PAPER

The following paper was presented : -

Commonwealth Bank Act - Balance-sheets of Commonwealth Bank and Commonwealth Savings Bunk at 31st December, 1930, and Statement of the Liabilities and Assets of tile Note Issue Department at 31st December, 1930; together with the AuditorGeneral’sReports thereon.

page 106

MOTION OF WANT OF CONFIDENCE

Debate resumed from the 11th March (vide page 104), on motion by Mr. Latham -

That the Government no longer possesses the confidence of this House.

That a copy of this resolution be forwarded to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral.

Mr.MACKAY (Lilley) [2.32].- The speech of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) last evening was intended by him to be an enthusiastic defence of the Government, but, like other speakers on the ministerial side, he sought to focus attention upon the so-called sins of pastgovernments, rather than to offer a defence to the charges made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham). If the honorable member for Fremantle proved anything, he proved that he is a whole-hog inflationist. When the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) said some time ago that £20,000.000 worth of new notes would not be of the slightest use, and nothing less than £120,000,000 would be needed, the honorable member for Fremantle was apparently not satisfied ; he would, I judge from his speech, pay off the whole of the national debt by a new issue of bank notes. Yet he took’ particular pains toassert that, he does not subscribe to the Lang policy of repudiation. Repudiation may take various forms; a nation may decline to acknowledge its debt, or it may adopt the slower method of currency inflation, which will just as surely rob the people by . depreciating the value of the £1 sterling. The impression I gained from the honorable member’s speech was that he blames the previous Government for the present state of Australia’s finances. During the general election campaign the present Prime Minister (Mr. Scuilin) told the electors that, if Labour were put into power, its first mission would be to straighten out the finances. The Government has been in office for seventeen months. Does it require seventeen years to straighten out the finances? One would imagine that a government of ordinary capacity would, within seventeen months, have done something towards the restoration of the national credit. No doubt the Prime Minister is a most industrious person. Addressing a meeting during the Parkes by-election campaign, the right honorable gentleman, resenting an accusation of inactivity, said, “I have lived ten years in one.” We all sympathize with the right honorable gentleman because of the difficulties with which he is confronted. Ever since the Government assumed office the members sitting in opposition have offered to co-operate with the ministerial party during this time of crisis, and because we desire to assist the Government in every possible way our criticism was mild when it might have been severe. Our offers of cooperation have been treated with contempt, and as the position of the country daily becomes worse, it is necessary, in the interests of Australia, to propose this motion of want of confidence, and so afford ministerial supporters an opportunity to ask their conscience whether the Government is doing its duty by the nation. The Prime Minister must not resent criticism of the Government’s lack of policy. He has made many important declarations, and uttered many highsounding phrases; he has talked of restoration, stabilization, and mobilization. He has said that the Government is determined to balance the budget, and that Australia will honour its obligations. I challenge any ministerial supporter to show that the Government has given effect to any of these impressive declarations. At the last general election the Labour candidates received the support of tens of thousands of people who believed that a Labour Ministry would deal promptly and honestly with the many urgent problems confronting the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister declared on the hustings that Labour’s first responsibility would be to straighten out the finances. I believe that a small section of the Cabinet was quite willing to honour that commendable undertaking, but a larger or more powerful section decided to travel on. a different route. Weeks and months have elapsed and valuable time has been lost, because, in the words of a former honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) “ the ship of State is being steered from the forecastle instead of from the captain’s bridge.”

Before the Prime Minister left Australia for London he declared with apparent enthusiasm that the agreement arrived at by the August conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers in Melbourne would be carried into effect. Every honorable man endeavours to keep his word. The greatest insult that can be offered to a man is to say that he is dishonest, and that his word cannot be relied upon. There can be only one code of ethics for governments and individuals. That which is dishonest in the individual must be dishonest in the government. The principal resolution of the Melbourne conference was -

That the several Governments represented at th is conference declare their fixed intention to balance their respective budgets for the financial year 1930-31, and to maintain a similar balanced budget in future years.

To that was added this important paragraph -

This budget equilibrium will be maintained on such a basis as is consistent with the repayment or conversion in Australia of existing internal debts maturing in the next few years.

This resolution, which was included in one of the parliamentary papers laid on the table of the House, was stated to have been carried unanimously by the conference. But can any honorable member sitting behind the Government honestly declare that it has made a genuine attempt to carry out its national obligation ?

Mr MACKAY:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931

– I am surprised that the honorable member for Bendigo should suggest that to pay one’s way is the wrong thing to do.

Mr Keane:

– I object to any proposal to sack employees or reduce pensions.

Mr MACKAY:
LILLEY, QUEENSLAND

– Unfortunately, this Government stands convicted of having failed in its national duty. If it had made an honest attempt to give effect to its pledges no one would seek to condemn it ; but it appears to me that it has failed in its duty because it refused to face a national task. It neglected to call Parliament together to authorize the taking of the necessary safeguards, because an election was pending in New South Wales. Apparently government supporters believed that the discussion in this Parliament of our financial and economic problems would prejudice the interests of the Labour party in that State. Consequently, the interests of the Commonwealth were relegated to second place.

The Prime Minister was very cordially received in London, and naturally, he took advantage of any opportunity that offered to discuss the financial position of Australia with responsible financial authorities in the Mother Country. The keynote of his speeches was to be found in the declaration that no further drift in the finances of the Commonwealthwould be allowed. He asserted, with a great show of confidence, that the balancing of the budget was an essential step towards the restoration of Australia’s credit. Referring to the visit of the Prime Minister to England, the London Times made this comment -

The Australian is not a shirker. Ho is ready to pay the price for whathe has had. even if he has to go without in order to do so. What is needed is for the Governments to rely boldly on the people’s support in carrying out retrenchments, without tinkering with quack monetary schemes or coquetting with repudiation. Once resolutely working out salvation on these lines they will find no lack of readiness here to help them over temporary difficulties.

That is a direct intimation that, provided the Commonwealth Government could show that it was anxious to carry out its pledges, ample financial aid would be forthcoming. The Times went on to state -

It had been hoped that Mr. Scullin would return and range himself boldly on the same side with Mr. Lyons and Mr. Fenton, and show himself determined to pursue in the sphere of federalfinance the same sound policy pursued in their States by the Labour Premiers of Victoria and South Australia. That might have meant a breach with Mr. Lang and a section among his own party who share Mr. Lang’s vagaries, but it would have rallied the great bulk of public opinion to his support and cased the situation immediately by restoring confidence in the Government’s intentions. That Mr. Scullin has so far hesitated to take this course is only attributable to his reluctance, as a good party man, to precipitate crises within his party, and partly, it must be feared, to a lack of confidence in the readiness of the Australian people to make the sacrifices necessarily imposed on them by straitened circumstances.

I commend this view to honorable members supporting the Government, because there is a great deal of truth in it. We have had further evidence in cablegrams that have appeared in the press from time to time, that financial authorities in London would welcome an opportunity to assist Australia over its temporary difficulties if, in the first place, this Govern ment was prepared to do the right thing. But there has been so much talk of inflation and repudiation that we could not possibly expect people overseas to rush us with offers of further assistance. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lewis), the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin), and many other Government supporters lose no opportunity to comment adversely upon those whom they term bondholders. They blame the people who have lent us money, but offer no criticism as to the manner in which it has been expended. No one can assert truthfully that our bondholders in London and New York, or in Australia, have at any time evinced a desire to force their money upon us. On the contrary, special appeals have been made from time to time by various Treasurers urging all patriotic people to support Commonwealth loans, the security of which was declared to be unassailable because the revenues of the Commonwealth were behind the bonds. At the moment we are in troubled financial waters, and there appears to be a disposition on the part of honorable members supporting the Government to repudiate the terms of Commonwealth bonds.

Mr Keane:

– Who said that on this side of the House?

Mr MACKAY:

– If the honorable member will read the speeches delivered by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin), and the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), to mention only two, he will admit the truth of what I am saying. If we are to overcome our difficulties, this Government must do the right thing. No one can expect it to balance the budget this year. Probably it will not be possible to do this under two or three years; but we may be quite sure that if we make an honest attempt to balance income and expenditure the confidence of people overseas will be re-established, and the Government will experience no difficulty in obtaining the necessary finance.

Mr Keane:

– What does the honorable member expect us to do?

Mr MACKAY:

– At a later stage I shall tell the honorable member what I think should be done.

When the Prime Minister returned to Australia there was a general expectation that definite, though somewhat belated, action would be taken to improve the financial position. The people of Australia thought that, as the captain had returned, something would be done to assist industry, and so reduce the tremendous volume of unemployment which we all so much regret. But again the Prime Minister failed to do- his duty. At a function held in the Melbourne Town Hall to welcome him on his return to Australia he made this declaration -

While one has to accept the responsibility of government, one must be the Government, and I apply that not to one section, but to all sections. I say it to my own followers, to my political opponents, and to the press of this country. The Government is the Government … I am willing at all times to support sound government, either as a backbencher or as a citizen, and personally I have no over-weaning ambition, but at present I am Prime Minister, and while I am Prime Minister I will be Prime Minister.

That was a most notable speech, which was received with repeated cheers by those present. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has failed to live up to those brave sentiments. Never in the history of Australia has a government shown such vacillation and ineptitude as this Government has shown. Statements of this kind are made not only by honorable members on this side of the chamber, but also by active supporters of the Labour party. I direct the attention of honorable members to the following criticism which appeared in a leading article in the Brisbane Labour Daily Standard following upon the Parkes by-election : -

The Government had been vacillating and dilatory where there was need for firm and timely action to meet the unprecedented difficulties confronting the country.

Could anything stronger than that be said in condemnation of the Government? The force of those words is increased because they were published in a newspaper which is conducted for the definite object of supporting Labour in politics. They are corroborated by certain remarks made by the Labour candidate for Parkes, Mr. Martin, who after the declaration of the Parkes poll, said that he was bitterly disappointed. In that connexion I quote the following paragraph also from the Daily Standard -

Bitterly disappointed, Labour candidate Martin interviewed after the results of the poll had been announced said, “ The people had definitely spoken in regard to the temporizing attitude of the Scullin Government. Mr. Scullin had a clear mandate fifteen months ago for a bold forward policy, but had failed to put it into operation.

It is apparent, therefore, that people outside this House, as well as honorable members within it, are of one mind on this subject. There is a general belief that the Government has totally failed to justify its existence.

On various occasions the Prime Minister has pleaded for the co-operation of all sections of the community, and has indicated that the Government would be prepared to receive advice from all those interested in the welfare of the country. In speech after speech, he has held out the hope that something would be done to improve our position, and the citizens of the Commonwealth were encouraged to believe that in Mr. Scullin they had a leader who would bring them safely through their difficulties and dangers. But the people have been sadly deceived, and they are, consequently, bitterly disappointed. The Scullin Government has, day following day, made some excuse for its failure to adopt a really constructive policy. It has blamed the financial institutions, the employers of labour and the Senate. It has permitted Cabinet Ministers to malign and insult Sir Otto Niemeyer, who came to Australia at the express wish of the Government. The blame for the present unfortunate position of the people of the Commonwealth rests entirely upon the Scullin Government because of its incapacity and want of courage honestly to face the position. Notwithstanding that the Government was returned with a substantial majority, it has lamentably failed to carry out the promises made by the Labour party during the last election campaign. Labour promised to cure the unemployment evil, yet to-day nearly 25 per cent, of the bread-winners of Australia are out of work, and the Government is doing nothing whatever either to find work for those who are now out of a job or to keep those who are still in employment in useful work. The position is critical, and it is no wonder that the tens of thousands of men who see their wives and families starve, are becoming utterly desperate. One of the biggest problems which confronts the Commonwealth is’ how to find. work, for the people, but there is a decided difference of opinion between honorable members opposite and honorable members on this side of the chamber as to how this shall be done. The sup- porters of the Government seem to think that all that is necessary is to spend money on public works whether they are necessary and reproductive or not. They think that by such temporary relief they can meet the position. “We, however, consider that this method is entirely wrong. We believe that the first step to be taken is to restore confidence in Australia, in its Government, and in its industries. If this is done, industry will soon begin to re-absorb the people who to-day are out of work, and prosperity will be built up on a substantial basis; That is the only wise course to pursue.

Notwithstanding that the Government promised definitely to practise economy, it brought down a budget which provided for an expenditure of £4,000,000- in excess of the expenditure of the BrucePage Government in 1928-29. The Government promised to keep up wages, but one in every four workers in the Commonwealth is to-day without any wage at all. Labour promised that if it were returned to power the workers would not be called upon to bear additional suffering, yet one of the first acts of the Government was to impose additional taxation on tea and tobacco. After its return to- power, Labour promised that it would balance its budget ; yet the country is facing a deficit of more than fi0,000,000 this year. The Government has, time and time again, said that it’ will encourage industry; yet it has inflicted’ crushing and, in fact, ruinous additional taxation upon industry to the extent of £18,000,000, taking into account direct and customs taxation, during the present year. In view of the imposition of this staggering burden upon industry,, there is little wonder that Mr. Lyons, when he was Acting Treasurer, said that he was ashamed to bring down measures to impose this additional taxation upon industry. Our optimistic Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) promised that he would provide work for 50,000 additional employees in the secondary industries in this country. The figure, 50,000, was mentioned on several occasions. I do not know whether theMinister meant that an extra 50;000: would be employed each time he used the figure; but the fact remains that there are fewer persons employed in industry in Australia, than before the Minister introduced, his so-called progressive measures.

Suggestions have been showered upon the Government with the object of correcting the position. Conferences of premiers of the different States have been held on sever-al- occasions. Expert officers from- the various State and! Common^ wealth departments have- submitted to the Government well considered schemes for meeting the situation. Meetings of committees of experts from within and without government departments have done similar work. Our various financial institutions have done their best; to help the Government. The ablest economists in Australia have also given their advice to the Ministry. But all the suggestions, although they have been made by the most reliable authorities throughout the Commonwealth, have for some extraordinary reason been treated ‘as valueless, and in most cases with offensive contempt. In some instances, the Government accepted schemes which it promised to carry out,, but which it almost immediately rejected. Its pledged word has been, broken, and the Commonwealth is. now drifting like a rudderless ship. The Government has toyed with the Gibbons inflation scheme for the release of credits, and now proposes to issue fiduciary notes, which constitutes an inflation of the currency, and which prominent economists agree is the last desperate expedient for any government to adopt. The inflationof the currency has been tried with disastrous results in various countries, including Russia and Germany. The ScullinGovernment apparently refuses to realize’ that any increase in the currency without a corresponding increase in production will result in higher prices and reduced wages, and will not add to our national income. Under a system of inflated currency, the standard of living must be lowered, and the cost of production increased. Inflation is a gigantic scheme of dishonesty, and- I am surprised that a majority of’ any party should: honestly believe that inflation is likely to solve any of our present problems. The financial policy of the Government has been condemned by the representatives of churches of all denominations, by leading economists, the press, and the people. On the 10th February, Archbishop Head, in addressing the Anglican Provincial Synod, said -

The economic problem I dare not pass by in silence. I mean the threatened policy of the inflation of the currency. To me ii is not a matter of politics so much as a danger which threatens our moral and religious life, as Australians. It rests upon falsehood, because every note which is issued will have one value on its face, and a smaller value in currency. lt is dishonest, because if. pretends to bring wealth to tile working classes, when, in reality, it will lessen the real worth of their wages at every issue. It is cruel, because it will rob the mass of poor people in the interests of the few who control the issue of the notes. lt is disloyal, for we shall be deliberately paying less than we promised to those who laid down their lives for us in the Great War for the maintenance of the widows and iiic children mid the disabled. 1 shall use any influence that I may have to prevent this misguided hoax from being perpetrated on our Australian citizens.

Inflation is a method which eventually leads to repudiation, and in this connexion Archbishop Kelly, speaking at the opening of the Stella Maris Convent at Long Bay, said -

That while going along Parramatta-road some time ago he noticed a placard, “ If you lose your job, repudiate your debts “. If the King of this world has not a prison here for defaulters, God is not without one. That is not the way to salvation; that is not the way to peace and prosperity.

I am surprised that a proposal to issue fiduciary banknotes should be made by the present Treasurer. In 1923 Mr. Theodore held views on the issue of such notes, which were totally different from those which he holds to-day. If he was right in 1923 he is wrong to-day, and if wrong in 1923, he is just as likely to be wrong to-day. In an interview with a Brisbane newspaper, Mr. Theodore said -

Australia should make every effort to maintain a sound money basis. The world has had many salutary lessons in recent years of the confusion caused by unstable money. Trade is paralysed, commodity prices soar “sky high, wage standards are lost. and national bankruptcy ensues. It is a misconception to think that by adding paper to the currency any additional wealth ,is created. To merely pay higher wages in paper achieves only disappointment, as :the purchasing power of the paper money will be less than the purchasing power of gold by an amount which corresponds to the extent of the inflation.

The present Treasurer continued* -

By inflating the currency, we get into .a vicious circle. Once the issue of paper exceeds thu currency requirements of the community, the value of the money is depreciated, and commodity prices commence to soar.

These are the significant words which should impress honorable members opposite -

None suffers more than the workers, because their wages are paid on the assumption that commodity prices are in gold, and not inflated paper prices. Wages are always less than they should be in countries that practise inflation.

That statement was made in 1923, by the gentleman who to-day is advocating the introduction of a system involving the issue of up to £20,000,000 worth of additional paper money without the necessary gold backing. We are somewhat familiar with the rapidity with which the Treasurer changes his policy. When attending a Labour conference at Emu Park in Queensland, he informed the assembled delegates that if they adopted socialism as their objective they might as well be communists. He also attempted to flirt with the extremists in New South Wales, and having been rejected by them, is now seeking another following.

Honorable members of this side of the chamber are, I contend, more anxious to assist the farming community and to relieve the unemployed than are honorable members opposite. We ar.e .anxious to act in a practical way, and are satisfied that any scheme involving the inflation of the note issue is a mistake. If confidence could be restored in the Government of the country we could obtain such financial assistance overseas as would enable us to fund our existing overseas debt. We believe that an emergency loan could be raised in Australia to help the wheat farmers who a-re in financial .difficulties, and are anxiously looking forward to the time when some relief can be afforded -to the unemployed. Confidence in the Government must first be restored, but it appears that this Government is quite incapable of doing that. The extremists .of the Labour party, who contend that the present financial depression is due fundamentally ,to the failure of the capitalistic system, find it convenient to ignore the fact that the depression has followed a series of devastating strikes. They forget that there has been a falling off in the world prices of our exportable products, and disregard the fact that vast sums of money have been withdrawn from industry by ruinous taxation, which has been rendered necessary by wasteful expenditure on State industrial enterprises, every one of which has resulted in a dead loss to the people. The only remedy offered is a release of credits. Australia began to release credits 50 years ago, and up to date they have been released to the extent of no less than £1,100,000,000. It is well known that our credit is dependent upon our capacity to levy taxation, and the ability of our people to pay that taxation. “We have now reached the limit of our credit, and those who have lent us money are beginning to doubt whether we can tax our citizens sufficiently to meet our obligations.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin), and the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) have advocated an extension of bank credits, regardless of the fact that those credits have as real a limit as is imposed upon our capacity to borrow our savings. I submit that the immediate practical question is, not whether we can release additional credits, but whether we can restore our reputation to the level that it occupied some time ago. I believe that, if the Government proceeds along right lines, that can be done. Because of talk of inflation and repudiation by the extremists of the Labour party our credit has become suspect, with the result that our securities are now at the lowest point at which they have been for many years. I have deep sympathy for the primary producers, and consider that the Prime Minister has badly let them down all along the line. It will be remembered that he ignored the warnings of economists and bankers, and disregarded the advice’ from England and America that there would be a heavy surplus of wheat in all wheat-growing countries, and that consequently prices were bound to fall. Australia has a record crop that is not worth what it has cost to grow. The Labour Premier of South Australia, Mr. Hill, addressing a deputation of farmers at Adelaide, stressed the necessity for rehabilitating the credit of Australia, and went on to say -

He was fortified in that opinion by the statement which the Prime Minister (Mr. J. H. Scullin) had made to him since his return that, if the Melbourne agreement had been carried out, Australia would have been around the corner by the present time.

That is evidence of the los3 by the Government of a great deal of valuable time. Usually the Prime Minister is well worth listening to; but the speech that he made in answer to the charges levelled at the Government by the Leader of the Opposition on this motion was one of the worst that I have heard him deliver. He made no attempt at a defence of the Government. I charge him with having betrayed the best interests of the people of Australia, in an endeavour to placate the extremists in his own party. He has pleased no one, and has brought the people of the Commonwealth to a state verging on despondency. Because of the suggested interference with financial contracts, it cannot be expected that either inside or outside of Australia there will be found people who are willing to lend the Government money in the future.

For the benefit of those honorable members who have a “ set “ on bondholders, I shall endeavour to show where the proposals of the Government, if persisted in, will lead us. It will be remembered that when the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) was Acting Prime Minister, he published in the press figures which showed that our savings banks have 5,000,000 depositors, £141,000,000 of whose money is invested in Commonwealth loans. The extent to % which they will be affected by any interference with existing contracts can readily be imagined. Life assurance companies have in force 2,400,000 policies, and their contribution to. Commonwealth loans amounts to £65,000,000. The Commonwealth Bank, which is the people’s bank, has invested £33,000,000; and friendly societies, with a membership of 600,000, have invested £13,000,000. That is a total of £250,000.000, and is almost onehalf of the total internal indebtedness of the Commonwealth. Action along the lines suggested would have very farreaching effects upon the thrifty section of the people who have made it possible for our loans to be subscribed from time to time. Yet some honorable members opposite would interfere ruthlessly with their savings ! The Government would be well advised to resort to the method of honest endeavour. It must live within its income, just as must an ordinary citizen. There has to be a curtailment of government expenditure by both Federal and State Parliaments.

Honorable members opposite would make it appear that we who sit on this side wish to interfere with invalid and old-age and war pensions. I wish to make my position perfectly clear on this matter. At the present time invalid and old-age pensions are not Id. more than is necessary to keep those who, unfortunately, have to rely upon them. It cannot be denied, however, that very grave abuses have occurred. I shall quote one or two instances of abuses that have come to my knowledge. The first is the case of an invalid pensioner who appeared before the police court to answer the charge of having been drunk while in charge of a dray. Clearly, a person who is capable of driving a dray cannot claim to be permanently and completely incapacitated. The second case is that of a man who drew the old-age pension for a period of five years, although he owned a farm upon which he had a herd of cows, and received a cheque monthly from a cooperative dairy company. One bright day he was found out, and the department compelled him to refund all that he had been paid. While we are all anxious that any person who is completely incapacitated, as well as those who have passed a certain age, and are indigent, shall receive a pension, I do not believe that any honorable member will attempt to defend any abuse of the system. The Auditor-General has pointed out that it has been the custom to allow an old-age pensioner to own a house up to £400 in value, and on the death of the pensioner the property is bequeathed to his relatives. I think that there is something to be said in favour of the AuditorGeneral’s contention that, in cases where a pensioner might well have been maintained by such near relatives as his sons and daughters, the department should have a claim on the property. There is room for a revision of the present pensions system, with the object of eradicating abuses, and making very substantial savings.

A further reduction of the allowance of the members of this Parliament is desirable. This may be an unpopular suggestion, but we must realize that, if we are to do anything effective in the direction of restoring national credit, we must prove to people, both in Australia and abroad, that we are economizing. At the present time not one member is making any substantial sacrifice, and I suggest that one means by which a further saving could be effected would be by cutting down our parliamentary allowance to, say, £700 per annum. There is a 10 per cent, tax on this allowance now, and that is equivalent to a reduction, but, in all the circumstances, a further cut could be made.

I would not go the whole way towards unification, yet the time is overdue when the number of members of State parliaments should be reduced by half. I do not believe that the people of Australia are yet prepared for unification, but as an instalment in that direction the reduction that I have suggested, might well be made. We are told that the cost of the parliaments of Australia rose from £973,000 to no less than £1,407,000 in five years. That is too great an expenditure to expect the people to bear, and one of the results of the present depression should be a reduction of the cost of government. The Leader of the Opposition has shown how £4,000,000 could be saved. Therefore, I urge the Government to reconsider its proposals for economy.

The two parliamentary standing committees, which cost about £5,000 a year, are still in operation. I submit that, with the limited funds at the disposal of the Government, little can be done in the way of carrying out useful works, and it would be a commendable action to suspend the activities of those committees for the time being. Other methods of reducing parliamentary expenditure are available to us. Expensive refreshmentrooms are conducted at this House to provide members with lunch and dinner, while the hotels, at which members are supplied with bed and breakfast, have to be fully staffed at the same time. If the

Government is seriously inclined to economize, why should not our refreshmentrooms be closed? Members could easily take all their meals at their hotels.

Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– Do not members pay for their meals?

Mr MACKAY:

– Of course. My point is that the present arrangement involves an unnecessary duplication of staff, and consequently increased expenditure.

The restoration . of confidence in Australia would enable industry to regain prosperity, and that would largely solve the desperate plight of the unemployed. If the present Government has not the capacity or the courage to face the facts, it should give the electors an early opportunity to pass judgment upon it. It has failed in this national emergency, and the welfare of the people would be best served by the adoption of the motion of censure, and the immediate resignation of the Ministry.

Mr MARTENS:
Herbert

.- The honorable member who has just resumed his seat said that expensive refreshment rooms were conducted in these buildings for the convenience of members, and had not the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked him whether members paid for the meals supplied here, the impression would have been caused that these were free. Personally, I have all my meals at my hotel, as that arrangement best suits my convenience.

The honorable member also said that he did not wish to interfere with old-age pensions, yet he will support the censure motion, which favours a reduction of all pensions. He remarked that he did not believe in the reduction of wages, and that the Opposition did not stand for such a policy ; but it is remarkable that every government in Australia of the same political views as those of honorable members opposite is doing the very things with which the -honorable member says he does not agree. The Queensland Government has reduced wages, and is endeavouring to obtain a . -further reduction of the basic wage in order to balance its budget.

Mr Morgan:

– It is the only State in Australia where, the working . man is on a decent basis.

Mr MARTENS:

– Conditions in Queensland to-day are worse than they have been at any other stage of its history.

Mr Morgan:

-‘That is untrue!

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– That remark must be withdrawn,

Mr Morgan:

– I withdraw it.

Mr.MARTENS. - For fourteen years the Labour party was in office in Queensland, and during that period the employees enjoyed the highest basic wage and the shortest workingweek ever experienced in that State. The cost of living was never lower, and there were fewer unemployed. Thus Labour rule successfully emerged from the severest possible test. The Government provided homes for the people on a more libera] basis than had been adopted by any previous Ministry. If the Treasurer of the Commonwealth were prepared to cross to the other side of this chamber, then, like every Judas Iscariot who has left the Labour party, he would be welcomed with open arms. On one occasion, when Mr. Forgan Smith suggested in the Queensland Parliament that if the present Commonwealth Treasurer would go over to the side of his political opponents he would be welcomed, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition remarked, “ Hear, hear ! so he would.” No doubt the present Opposition in this Parliament would be prepared to receive the honorable member if he crossed to the other side.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– Nothing of the kind. We would not have him at any price.

Mr MARTENS:

– If the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) would cross the floor to the Opposition side he would be regarded by the Nationalist party, while he served its purpose, as the greatest Australian ever born. Referring to the proposed fiduciary currency, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett) interjected yesterday, “ Let us have real money “. When I asked “ What is real money ?”. I was answered only by a loud guffaw. I remind honorable members opposite that 75 per cent. of the money in circulation in this country is not backed with gold. Indeed, it is questionaible to what extent the paper money in circulation has a gold backing. I understandthatthegold reserve hasnever been counted ; that ali that; is done’ is to> weigh the bags in which it is contained. But even assuming that the gold is there, it is not denied that 75. per cent, of the paper money in circulation in Australia has no gold, backing. What is the backing behind the thousands of cheques, that are issued daily in Australia? Do> honorable members opposite say that those cheques have a gold backing? I do not deny that there is some security behind the tokens. The party in opposition today, which condemns the Government for its proposals to innate the currency, indulged, when in office, in an orgy of inflation which the present Government has never contemplated. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) justified that inflation on the ground of public necessity. He said that conditions were not normal when that inflation took place, because the country was then at war. I ask him whether conditions in this country are normal to-day, and whether our present unsatisfactory financial position is not due to the inflation which took place during the term of office of the Bruce-Page Government.

The Government is also blamed by Opposition speakers for the fall in the prices of our principal primary products. They, as well as some honorable members on this side of the chamber, know what pressure was brought to bear upon them to reduce their bank overdrafts. The only way they could do that was to sell their wool. Some of them did so; others did not. Yesterday’s _ newspapers contained the information that the prices realized for- wool in England had advanced by 10 per cent, to 15 per cent., during the week. On. Tuesday last, 10,000 bales of wool were sold in Brisbane at prices which represented an increase of 20 per cent, on the values recently obtained. I am not unmindful of the fact that those increased prices will benefit the Commonwealth as a whole; but I point out how much better it would have been had the producers of that wool, rather than the middlemen friends of the Opposition, reaped the benefit of the higher prices. The Opposition claims that it has the interests of the primary producers at heart; yet it supports those institutions which force the primary producers to sell their products in a low market in order that the middlemen may neap greater profits. The Opposition is as desirous of fleecing the: primary producers aa it is of lowering; the standard of living of the workers of this country.

The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay), accused the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) of havingsuggested that we should pay our debts with notes. The honorable member for Fremantle said nothing of th© kind; heis too intelligent to make such a remark. The suggestion emanated from the massive brain of the member for Lilley himself. The honorable member for Fremantle said that the real wealth of this country is its primary products, and that if primary production is ruined, the currency of the country matters little, because it will be of no value;

The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) said yesterday that the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) had stated that £1,000,000 was such an insignificant amount that it was not worth worrying about. The Treasurer did not say anything of the kind. He did say that, compared with the public debt of the Commonwealth, £1,000,000 was a small amount, and would not have a very great effect on the present financial position.

The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) attributed the present deplorable condition of the country, and the increase in unemployment, to the incapacity of the Government. The honorable member say3 these things although he is- well aware that the party to which he belongs, and the Government which he supported, brought about the present state of affairs. Any reduction to the spending power of the people must necessarily have a harmful effect on the community. Of the primary products of this country, 54 per cent, are sold in Australia at fair prices. So far as I am aware, only a minority of rabid freetraders and calamity howlers on the Opposition benches object to that. Opposition members claim that work could be found for the majority of the persons now unemployed if our national credit was restored so that the wheels of industry could be kept turning.. They are fond of saying these things, and of blaming the present Government for Australia’s economic position; but they do nothing to put things right. They are like their prototypes in England who, rather than purchase Empire products, prefer to buy their wheat from foreign countries, while telling the people of England that Australia owes the Motherland £400,000,000, which amount is in danger of being lost. Foreign countries can obtain all the money they want in London, but the doors are closed against Australia. The reason is that in these foreign countries workers receive about ls. 6d. or ls. 8d. a day, and they want similar conditions to prevail in Australia. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) says that we should so reduce the cost of production that our products will be able to compete with the products of other countries in the world’s market. . In other words, he claims that the cost of production in Australia must be lowered to enable our products to compete with those of foreign countries, in which “ niggers “ are employed for ls. or 2s. a day, or in which juvenile labour is availed of. By their interjections other honorable members opposite showed that they hold similar views.

The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) and other Opposition members who preceded him, stated that had the Niemeyer agreement been carried out, all would have been well. It was impossible to carry out that agreement, because it was a stupid agreement. How could matters be righted in one year when it took the Bruce-Page Government six years to bring this country .into its present deplorable condition? The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) attacked the Government for its inaction. Yet he is not blameless in the matter of our colossal public debt. I remind the House that the right honorable gentleman was at one time the Leader of the Labour party, but that he left it to form the Nationalist party. Later he attempted to form an Australian party. So far as I am aware, no supporters of the last-named party have come forward to offer him a gift of £25,000.

Another honorable member who has signified his intention of supporting the motion before the Chair is the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) - a highly moral person, whose moral make-up is of such a nature that he cannot sit on this side of the chamber now that the honor- able member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) has been reinstated in the position of Treasurer. I remind honorable members that the honorable member for Angas is the gentleman who, on his own admission, lost some money speculating on racehorses, and later attempted to fleece the public with a bag on his shoulder while he called the odds, in order that he might obtain sufficient money to invest in war loans. He is identical with the person who reported some young women at the Hotel Kurrajong for their behaviour in the early hours of the morning.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– I cannot allow the honorable gentleman to proceed further along those lines.

Mr MARTENS:

– Although the honorable member complained of the conduct of those young women, he told the manageress of the hotel that he wanted his room back. Evidently he did not want to miss the fun. The honorable member for Angas has such a high moral standard that he revealed caucus secrets in this chamber. He attempted to justify his action by saying that the things mentioned by him were not secrets after all, because they had already been reported in the press. In common with the press, he was. willing to misconstrue the decisions of caucus. The honorable member, who at one time was a minister of the Gospel, has such a high sense of honour that he was willing to reveal what occurred in caucus in connexion with the appointment of judges to the High Court Bench. He did not say what actually took place ; like a coward he left it at that. I tell the House now what happened in caucus in that connexion; a resolution was carried that the vacancies be filled. That was all that was done. Why did not the honorable member for Angas say so, and not make innuendoes? He was not honest enough to say what was done ; rather, his remarks left honorable members with the suspicion that something of a vicious character was decided on.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– Had not Cabinet already decided that no appointments should be made?

Mr MARTENS:

– Caucus carried a resolution asking Cabinet to fill the vacancies. a

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– After Cabinet had decided not to fill them.

Mr MARTENS:

– Yes, after a lapse of some months.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– Did not the Attorney-General cable urging that the vacancies should not be filled?

Mr MARTENS:

– Caucus reversed its previous decision and asked Cabinet to fill the vacancies. We have been told by honorable members on that side of the House, and by some on this side, that they are anxious to do the right thing; that the public life of this country should be clean, and that their consciences compel them to vote for this motion on the sole ground that the honorable member for Dalley has been reinstated as Treasurer. These honorable gentlemen contend that, until the Treasurer clears his name, he should not be a member of the Cabinet. I suggest that he will never be given an opportunity to clear his name, and honorable members generally know that. The Moore Government of Queensland will never proceed with its case against the Commonwealth Treasurer. Even the Leader of the Opposition has publicly stated that the case is of a highly technical nature, and it is doubtful whether a verdict would be given against the honorable member for Dalley. The Queensland Attorney-General gave the whole show away when he said, “We have got Mr. Theodore where he cannot get away, and if we like we can leave him there.” I suggest that the position in which the Treasurer now finds himself will be left as it is. The attack on him was made for political purposes, and Messrs. Reid, Goddard and McCormack were but pawns in the game played by the Nationalist party. It is well known that the Chief Justice of Queensland refused to have anything to do with the case, on the ground that it savoured too much of politics. It has been alleged that the judgment was not in accordance with the evidence. I say emphatically that the finding of the commissioner was in direct contradiction to the evidence. I regret that the honorable member for Dalley did not go to Queensland during the inquiry; but I believe that, even had he gone, his efforts would have been of no avail, because the judgment was written long before the inquiry was completed.

Mr Maxwell:

– Shame.

Mr Paterson:

– That is a serious statement to make.

Mr MARTENS:

– The honorable member for Dalley has been given no opportunity to clear his name.

Mr Morgan:

– Why did he not go to Queensland ?

Mr MARTENS:

– The Treasurer has said that his departure for Queensland was delayed, because at the time he was busily engaged in preparing the budget. I am prepared to accept that as a reasonable excuse. The honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Morgan) is not fit to shine the boots of the honorable member for Dalley. The Leader of the Opposition has said that he hopes that this House will carry the motion. That statement has been repeated by certain honorable members on this side. Let me tell them that, if they vote for the motion, and by that means aid in the overthrow of the Government, they will have taken the role of Judas Iscariot. It has previously happened that honorable members who have thrown over their party have subsequently complained on the public platform that they had been badly treated, and had not been given a fair deal when they desired to do the right thing by Australia. The same excuse is being made on this occasion by those who are really out to further their own ends. The members of the Opposition have referred to the fact that, in the dying hours of the last session, a certain export duty was imposed on sheepskins by the then Acting Prime Minister. I supported the imposition of that duty, because it was introduced into this House by the Acting Prime Minister. I believe that he was then doing what he thought to be the right thing; but it subsequently transpired that he was so morally afraid of what he had done, and so desirous of placating the Opposition, that he rushed to Melbourne and told the press that, as soon as the House met, the duty would be removed. That honorable member is one of those who now refuse to support this Government while the honorable member for Dalley remains Treasurer. Another honorable member, who only a few days ago was elected to the position of secretary to the Labour party has now signified his intention to withdraw his support from the Government. He claims that his conscience will not allow him to support a cabinet of which the honorable member for Dalley is. a member, and, therefore, he has resigned the secretaryship of the party. These honorable gentlemen seem to be possessed of remarkably elastic consciences. I do not know what promises have been made to them by the Nationalist party. During last Parliament the former representative for Wakefield (Mr. Collins) was promised immunity at the next election if he would support the Government while a fateful division was being taken on the floor of this House. It was said that he interviewed the leader of the Country party at the Canberra Hotel. However, he voted with the Government, and now he is no more politically. Most honorable members who barter their votes meet that fate, except, of course, honorable members like the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) who has adroitly changed from one electorate to another. That is the position. It does not concern me very much which way the vote goes. I believe that the people of this country have confidence in the Government, notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary by the Opposition. This Government has, unfortunately for itself, been handicapped in its efforts to improve the position of Australia by the appointments made by the Bruce-Page Government to high positions in the industrial and financial spheres. Yet, honorable members opposite have had the temerity to ask this Government what it intends to do about the 10 per cent. reduction in wages recently determined by the Arbitration Court. This Government stands for arbitration, but not for those who are to-day adjudicating in the Arbitration Court. The industrial organizations have advised, their members to abide by the decision of the court until they can get a re-hearing of their cases, or some other system is substituted for the existing arbitration system.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– Why are the Public Service organizations now meeting at Canberra?

Mr MARTENS:

– I am referring not to the Public Service associations, but to organizations that come under the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court. The Public Service associations are subject to the decisions and determinations of the Public Service Arbitrator, and I assume that they are here for the purpose of discussing to what extent they can help the Government during the present crisis. Honorable members opposite have condemned the Government for its inaction; but it must be obvious to them that it is faced with the opposition of the Senate, which does as it likes. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), has stated that certain legislation, the object of which was to amend the Constitution, was carried by this House and rejected by the Senate, and he complains that since then nothing has been done. I would inform the right honorable gentleman that this House has had no opportunity to re-submit that legislation to the Senate, because the requisite three months have not yet elapsed since its rejection by that chamber. I sincerely hope that when the opportunity presents itself that legislation will be resubmitted to the Senate and again rejected, and the people generally given an opportunity to endorse our platform, one of the planks of which is to amend the Constitution. This Parliament should be clothed with full powers, and I am convinced that if the people were given an opportunity they would do the right thing, and vote for our platform. Certain honorable members opposite have talked about the moral conduct of the members of the Labour party. I presume that the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Page), when he is on his feet, will deal at length with that subject; but I wonder will he tell us of his seditious actions and utterances in respect of the new State movement in New South Wales? He has advised the people of the area affected to refuse to pay their taxes to the State until there is a change of government. I wonder also whether the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) will tell us why he is so anxious to spend a holiday in gaol, as he recently told the farmers in his electorate. Whatever this party does,is wrong in the eyes of honorable members opposite.

Mr Marr:

– Honorable members opposite will not be much longer on that side of the House.

Mr MARTENS:

– We shall be here much longer than the honorable member expects - longer, perhaps, than the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr). He might not so easily fluke a win at the next election. . I do not believe that the Government has lost the confidence of the House or of the country, and if it is defeated it will be due to the treachery of .those who were sent here to support it.

Dr EARLE PAGE:
Cowper

– Australia is passing through a period of unpredecented depression, but this is not the first time she has faced a similar crisis. The causes of practically all Austalian economic crises have been, the same - the stoppage of the importation of capital from overseas, and low prices for our great export commodities. Each great crisis has proved to be simply a . pause between two periods of expansion and growth, and it behoves us to see that during this present time of depression nothing is done contrary to our traditional policy of honoring our obligations, which would militate against our eventual recovery and delay the neXt period of expansion and growth. In every crisis it has been found that there is only one means by which an improvement can be brought about; that is, by the establishment of confidence in the community. Just as in the case of a theatre fire, somebody has to restore confidence and order to enable the occupants to escape with the least injury to themselves, so it is necessary in this time of trouble that confidence should be restored in Australia to allow the depression to be overcome, and recovery to set in. Nobody can suggest, however, judging by the Government’s record over the last eighteen months, that its continuance in office will assist in the restoration of public confidence. In the first place, the Government has no confidence in itself, and, secondly, the party which sits behind the Government has no confidence in its own leaders. The speeches of the Prime Minister and his supporters in this debate have made it clear that if an honest vote were taken in this Parliament the motion of want of confidence in the Government would be carried practically unanimously. It is evident -that nobody in this Parlia ment has any confidence in the Government, though it is quite probable that party ties will induce many honorable members opposite to vote against the motion.

I desire to examine the paltry, miserable, pitiable defence of the Government put forward by the Prime Minister, the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Blakeley), the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin), and the other Labour members who have spoken. Summed up, their defence amounts to this : “Things were bad when we came into office, and we have made them much worse.” It is necessary to reply to some of the mis-statements and misrepresentations of honorable members opposite. They spoke about an accumulated adverse trade balance of £90,000,000 during the regime of the Bruce-Page Government, and attributed it to that government’s heavy borrowing. According to figures contained in the AuditorGeneral’s last report, however, the actual position is that,, although the public debts of Australia increased in the last ten years by £320,000,000, the Commonwealth debt increased by only £20,000,000, while the State debts increased by £300,000,000. Yet honorable members opposite suggest that Australia’s troubles are due to the excessive borrowings of the last Government. There, is another point also over which honorable members opposite glided skilfully. During the last year in which the BrucePage Government was in office, Australia had a favorable trade balance. During the final three years of that Government’s existence there had been a continued gradual improvement in the trade figures, and for the year 1928-29, the balance was on the right side of the ledger to the extent of nearly £1,500,000. These figures are contained in the Statistician’s statement, and were set out in not only my budget speech, but also that of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore). For the year 1928-29, our imports amounted to £142,500,000, and our exports to £144,000,000. Honorable members opposite suggested that the adverse trade figures of the first few months of last year have been completely cured by the imposition of certain tariffs. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) came into this House as an advocate of low tariffs ; yet he has, perforce, compelled by his association with the Government, to be almost continuously defending the Government’s embargoes, prohibitions, and tariffs, and trying to show that they have been the cause of the improvement of our trade figures. Australia has been in difficult situations before, and has had adverse trade balances. What has happened in those cases? Always, as soon as the importation of capital, either for private or public investment, has ceased or been heavily reduced, a favorable trade balance has been achieved the following year without any heroic tariff measures like this. A classic example occurred in the year 1S79. That was in the heyday of our prosperity, but, because of a financial crisis in the Old World, there was in that year a diminution by £10,000,000 of the capital being brought into Australia, and this resulted in a reversal of the trade figures in the following year - in 1S79 an excess of imports of £6,000,000; in 1880 an excess of exports of £3,000,000. When the flow of capital resumed, the value of imports again overtook that of exports. A similar situation arose in the ‘nineties. There had been for many years during the ‘eighties a great flow of capital into Australia from overseas, and as a result, there had been a series of adverse trade balances. Then the great slump took place. There was a sudden and permanent diminution of external borrowing, and, despite the fact that from 1895 to 1900 a Free Trade Government ruled in New South Wales, there was, during the whole period from 1893 to 1914 a series of favorable trade balances in so far as Australia was concerned without the aid of any desperate tariff restrictions. Every economist recognizes that the cessation of the importation of capital into Australia has always had that immediate result. And history will repeat itself in the next few years. Consequently, there is no need for this excessive imposition of tariffs, an insane policy that has done Australia so much harm, and positively no good, and has antagonized many of our best customers. In April of last year the Prime Minister admitted that all of those embargoes and super duties would affect our trade only to the extent of some £11,000,000, while thb action of the banks in restricting credit necessitated by the Government’s policy had already definitely reduced our imports by the amount of £40,000,000 that year. So that from the point of view of our trade balance, there is no justification for those terrific tariff impositions which our poverty would immediately correct, as in every other country it has been corrected, by depression and low prices.

In a frantic but futile endeavour to exculpate this Government for its unsound administration honorable members opposite have endeavoured to defame the Bruce-Page and previous Nationalist Governments. Abuse of others does not excuse them. The financial sheet anchors which preserve the credit of Australia from absolute ruin in the present crisis were forged by the wise legislation of the Bruce-Page Government, which preceded this Administration: I refer to the National Debt Sinking Fund, the Loan Council, and the Financial Agreement. The National Debt Sinking Fund was placed by me on the statute-book in 1923. It collects a charge of some 30s. per cent, on all loan moneys expended by the Commonwealth Government on public works to redeem their cost before their obsolescence, makes provision for the payment of the old war debt in 50 years, and imposes a definite restriction on borrowing, by these extra annual charges on money raised. Any government that now wishes to float a loan, has to provide a sinking fund for its repayment, in addition to meeting interest on the amount raised. The existence of the fund, and the necessity for making provision, must prove a considerable check on excessive borrowing by the State and Commonwealth Governments. Now this Administration comes along and declares that it will rob that fund to the extent of £2,000,000 per annum, claiming that during its seven years of office the previous Government paid into the fund £14,000,000 more than was necessary under the act to pay off our debts. Had that sum been used for ordinary revenue purposes instead of for redeeming debt the Bruce-Page Administration would have been able to show an accumulated surplus of £9,000,000, instead of an accumulated deficit, when it vacated office. The Bruce-Page Administration was also responsible for the coordination of borrowing by Australian governments by the establishment of the Loan Council in 1924. That was a voluntary body, which prevented any State going upon the loan market until it had the approval of all the other States, and then only through the agency of the Commonwealth. When Mr. Lang became Premier of New South Wales in 1925, he was able to kick over the traces and involve his State in an orgy of extravagant independent borrowing at high rates of interest. The incorporation of the Loan Council in the Federal Constitution, however, prevents a repetition of such dangerous excesses. The people agreed to the necessary constitutional amendment providing for the statutory establishment of the council in 1928, and that safety valve in our financial system was validated by the Federal Parliament in 1929. At its first meeting after the Loan Council had become a statutory body, and bad real power, steps were taken to curtail borrowing in Australia, and by. August of 1929 it had effected a reduction of some 20 per cent. in the borrowing programmes of the various governments of Australia as compared with the previous year. The financial agreement of 1929, and the existence of the Loan Council are the principal factors which now prevent the rich State of New South Wales, through the misguided and injudicious action of its temporary political leaders, from irreparably damaging the credit and solvency of Australia. Another important innovation by the Bruce-Page Government which has prevented tampering with the currency of Australia, was the deletion, at my suggestion in 1924, from the Commonwealth Bank Act of the provision that the Treasurer may, simply by proclamation take back into the Treasury the note issuing power, and authorize the issue of additional banknotes. The Bruce-Page Government deemed it right that in any national emergency which necessitated an alteration of our currency system, the representatives of the people should be consulted. Now it is impossible for any Treasurer to subvert established custom to his own desires in regard to inflation. He must first place his pro posals before Parliament, and obtain its approval.

The speeches of honorable members opposite might make one believe that the Bruce-Page Government was responsible for the present deplorable position of Australia, also that the existing financial crisis is peculiar to Australia, and is not worldwide. It is general knowledge that onehalf of Australia’s present trouble is due to the fall in prices of our commodities upon the world’s markets.

Mr Forde:

– It has been claimed by honorable members of the Opposition that the whole trouble is attributable to this Labour Government.

Dr EARLE PAGE:

– The present Government is definitely responsible for damaging Australia’s credit. That is proved by the fact that, although South Africa and Now Zealand are subject to the prevailing world depression, their stocks are at a much better level than those of Australia, and their credit is infinitely better than ours for the time being. During the seven years of the Bruce-Page Administration Australian stocks maintained their relative position with South Africa and New Zealand. I can advance an adequate answer to the allegations of honorable members opposite that the Bruce-Page Government is responsible for the trouble. In the financial statement delivered on the 9th July, 1930, the then Treasurer stated that during the seven years the BrucePage Government was in office the Commonwealth debt increased to the extent of some £12,700,000 or less than £2,000,000 a year. In answer to a question which I asked the Acting Treasurer last October, he pointed out that during that, same period the amount, that had to be provided out of taxation for the payment of interest on the Com monwealth debt had declined by some £800,000. That proves that the amount of unproductive debt that has been paid off and the reproductive nature of the greater part of the undertakings that were inaugurated by the Bruce-Page Government have enabled the burden of taxation for the purpose of paying interest to be reduced to that extent. As was elicited by that same question, the present position of excessive taxation in

Australia is due to the fact that during that period the States, instead of lightening their burden of taxation by the establishment of reproductive works, increased it to the extent of nearly £6,000,000, for the purpose of meeting interest payments, a burden which fell upon the general taxpayers.

The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) said that it was a terrible thing that the Bruce-Page Government had increased the Commonwealth debt by £12,700,000, while the States had increased theirs by £207,000,000. But the honorable member said nothing of the fact that during the same period Mr. Collier, the Labour Premier of Western Australia, increased the public debt of that State by £20,000,000, and did not effect anything like a proportionate repayment of its indebtedness.

It has also been claimed that there was a continuous decline in the credit of Australia during the regime of the Bruce-Page Government. The answer to that accusation has been given by the Prime Minister himself. In his budget speech of the 9th July last he clearly set out that from the 15fh January, 1929, to August, there was a general decline in the value of all stocks on the English market. The reason for it was that there had been intense speculation in America, a hoarding of gold in France, and in England the bank rate had risen to 6^ per cent. Money was very difficult to obtain. It is, however, worth while noting that, during the whole of the period covered by the figures presented by the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin), the difference between 5 per cent. Australian stock and 5 per cent. South African remained continuously at £5 5s. This is shown by the following figures: -

There was, during that particular period, no decline rh the value of Australian stock compared with that of stocks of other dominions, aud indeed, if one cares to look through the summary of the prices of stocks during the preceding seven years, one will see that, during the regimeof the Bruce-Page Government, there wasnever a time when there was a difference of more than 5 per cent, between the values of South African and Australian stocks. Our credit started to slipimmediately after that period. The position reached in the subsequent months is shown by the following table: -

Thus, from October, 1929, to June, 1930. the difference in values increased from £6 to £14, and during the last month or two it has been over 30 per cent. Australian 5 per cent, stocks in London and America had fallen to £62 where they had been over £90 when we were in office. I venture to say that the cause for this is lack of confidence in the Labour Government of the Commonwealth, and that of New South Wales, at the present time, which has been brought about by various caucus decisions to which publicity has been given, and the threats of repudiation and inflation. There is certainly a lack of confidence in the plans of repudia-tion . or inflation which Labour has proposed for the rehabilitation of the Commonwealth, and as a consequence the investing public is shy of Australian stocks.

The Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Blakeley) drew a harrowing picture of the disastrous effect of the migration policy pursued by the Bruce-Page Government. He said that that Government was worthy of the most -severe censure for having brought into Australia migrants who displaced 200,000 Australianborn citizens from active work. How can that have been possible when the bulk of the new arrivals were by no means adults? From 1910 to 1913 the Fisher Labour Government was in power, and it had an active policy of migration in association and co-operation with the States. As a matter of fact, even now the Commonwealth Government cannot carry out any migration policy except at the request of the States, and no migrants can be assisted by the Commonwealth unless they have been nominated by the States. In 1911, there arrived in Australia 39,796 migrants; in 1912 the number increased to 46,712, and in 1913 it fell to 37,712. The highest number of migrants from 1923 to 1928, when the Bruce-Page Government was in office, was 31,260 in 1926, compared with 46,712 in 1912. I may point out that the bulk of these migrants were boys and girls just about at the school age. If it can be truthfully said that the migrants introduced from 1923 to 1928 deprived Australianborn of employment, it can be said with equal truth of the migrants brought in from 1911 to 1913. In other words, if it is suggested that the last Government was responsible for the introduction of people who threw Australians out of work, a Labour government must be held responsible for having brought about the same result. But it is hypocrisy to lay such a charge against any government. There is always active migration to any country where plenty of work is to be obtained. It is the experience of every country that the percentage of unemployment is always lightest when immigration is, most active. MY. Gordon “Wood, of the University of Melbourne, and a Fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation, has laid it down very definitely in a recent book that “Unemployment is lightest during the very years when migration is heaviest, and vice versa “. There is a certain amount of proof of this in our own experience, because in 1912, when migration was heavy, our unemployment ratio was only 5.5 per cent, compared with 7.1 per cent, in 1926, when the migration figures were much smaller. That is, however, the experience of every country. There are certain natural economic laws from which there is no escape. We may do what we please with the tariff, we may impose all sorts of artificial restrictions, but natural economic laws ultimately force themselves upon our attention and demand recognition. Further proof is to be obtained from the fact that during the last nine months of the Bruce-Page tenure of office, a continual decline in the price of our goods overseas and of our national income was accompanied by a continual decline in the migration figures. The excess of arrivals over departures was only 4,000 compared with 30,000 three years previously, when we were much more prosperous. That decline in migration came about simply because the condition of Australia was not such as to justify migration to this country.

The present Government came into office with a great blare of trumpets, saying that the previous Government had brought into being all sorts of expensive machinery, which was quite unnecessary, and that one of the useless bodies which it would wipe out, and, in doing so, save a great deal of money, was the Development and Migration Commission. We find, however, that the chairman of that commission has been retained as Consultative Adviser to the Government, and I venture to say that for the past twelve months he has worked every day for the Commonwealth at a fee equal to the salary which he was being paid by the previous Government for a full-time job. I think that much more satisfactory work is done by a man employed in a wholetime capacity than by one who is engaged casually, and never knows whether he is to be employed next week or not at ail. No man so situated can make plans ahead. I note that an unemployment council has been suggested. It was exactly what the Bruce-Page Government was trying to bring about through the Development and Migration Commission, acting in co-operation with the States. Of the other members of the commission, Mr. Devereaux and Mr. Gunn are still employed by the Commonwealth in different capacities at similar salaries, and so is Mr. Mulvany. All, under other titles, are still doing much the same work as they did as members of the commission. The same salaries are being paid, but the public is asked to believe that the commission itself is out of action.

I wish now to advance some reasons why the present Government has lost the confidence of the community as a whole. I have already said that it has no confidence in itself. The uneasy bearing and uncomfortable attitude of the occupants of the treasury bench indicate that they realize that their hold’ upon their offices is precarious. Indeed, it is the most pre- carious hold that any government has ever had. On their own confession, they have no confidence in themselves. During the eighteen months they have been in office, they have been trying to implement the policy on which they said they were elected; but now we find that that policy has abjectly failed and is to be abandoned in favour of one which was not mentioned at the last election, but which has since appeared under various guises, a policy of a fiduciary issue, or the Gibbons plan, or inflation. I do not know actually under what name it is now disguised. All past policies of the Government are being scrapped as absolutely hopeless and useless, and Ministers declare that they will start off with a new plan. But they have so little confidence in that plan that, although they had starred.it, carefully disguised under the name of “Restoration and Stabilization”, in the Parkes election, the blow they received at that election was so smashing that when it became a matter of fighting an election in the trueblue Labour electorate of East Sydney, they had not sufficient courage to put up a candidate to represent them. The Government has so little confidence in itself and its policy, that although it intends to try to bludgeon the Fiduciary Currency Bill through this House it had not the courage to put its proposals before the electors of East Sydney. The Leader of the Federal Labour Party (Mr. Scullin), and the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore), who at the last general election was Labour campaign director in New South Wales, were told by the New South Wales Labour party to stand idly by throughout the election, and warned that if they interposed they would be expelled from the party. In their cowardice, they obeyed instructions, but apparently they will be expelled just the same. No previous Commonwealth Government has occupied such a humiliating and degrading position. The Government says that it is opposed to the Lang policy of repudiation, but that disclaimer is mere camouflage, because the ultimate effect of the policy advocated by the Treasurer will be just as ruinous to Australia. It is but another means of gradually destroying the private assets of the people. I call. not understand why the Government persists with a policy which was overwhelmingly rejected by the electors of Parkes, and which Ministers had not the courage to advocate to the electors of East Sydney. If Ministers really believe in that policy the only honorable and manly course is for them to go before the electors and say, “Our first policy has been abandoned ; we propose to substitute another, and we ask your approval of it.” But Ministers completely lack self-confidence. What is the attitude of those who support the Government through thick and thin? Amongst them may be included the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Long), who at a Labour picnic two months ago said that if the Government went to the country the Labour party would be decimated because of the abject failure of its administration and legislation. If that is the opinion of a thick and thin supporter, expressed in the friendly atmosphere of a picnic, what would be the frank opinion of a luke-warm supporter? The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) has used much stronger terms in condemnation of the Government. But let me deal with the party factions rather than with individuals. Until lunch time the ministerial party was split into five or six factions; but so rapid is the process of disintegration that I cannot say how many there are now. The extremists form one faction. They have no confidence in the Government, and apparently the Government has none in them, because the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), and the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) have been thrown out of the Cabinet ; Ministers will have nothing to do with these frank advocates of straight out repudiation and full inflation. The only difference I see between the policy of the honorable member for Bourke and that of the Treasurer is that the former knows where he is going, and accepts the full responsibility of going the whole way. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore), on the other hand, proposes merely to let the tiger of inflation out of the cage, believing that he can recapture it whenever he chooses ; he blinds himself to the catastrophe that must inevitably attend this experiment. The moderate members of the Labour party constitute another dissident section. They also lack confidence in the Government; not only have some of them resigned from the Government, but we are told that they have actually left the party. Every day we may expect further defections, not merely because members disapprove of the new financial policy of the Government, but principally because they have moral objections to the composition of the Cabinet. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) stated last night, and other moderate members have said publicly, that they have withdrawn their support, from the Government because the Prime Minister has admitted to the Ministry a man who was found by a judge sitting as a royal commission in Queensland, guilty of fraud and dishonesty in procuring the State to purchase the Mungana leases for £40,000. That was the rinding of a judge of whom the Labor Daily said that any suggestions that he had not examined the matter impartially would be laughed to scorn. The finding of the Royal Commissioner was -

Messrs. Theodore, McCormack, Goddard, and Reid were guilty of fraud and dishonesty in procuring the State to purchase the Mungana mines for £40,000.

The moneys shared between them as the proceeds of that transaction were fraudulently obtained.

Mr. Theodore was guilty of the grossest impropriety in becoming secretly associated with Mr. Goddard in the Fluorspar Mining Company and the Argentum Mining Company when he must have known that Goddard’s connexion with them constituted, not only a serious breach of Goddard’s duty as Manager of the State Smelters, but as also a breach of the statute under which he had been appointed.

Mr Theodore:

– The right honorable member is pretty dirty in raising that matter.

Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– I shall have something to say later about the land transactions of the right honorable member for Cowper in connexion with the Grafton to South Brisbane railway.

Dr EARLE PAGE:

– I invite honorable members to probe into my past, and if they can find any evidence that I have or had any land within twenty miles of the Grafton to South Brisbane railway I will forfeit £1,000. I want to nail that lie at once. Putrid suggestions of this character degrade the public life of Australia. I have lived all my life in the district I now represent, and every transaction with which I have been connected is known. My electors know exactly how I accumulated any money I may have and how it is invested. It is not hidden under different names throughout Australia. Knowing my record, the electors of Cowper have returned me to Parliament repeatedly, but when the honorable member for Dalley was in the Queensland Parliament, although he went before the electors with all the status that attaches to a State Premier and a man with a long record of ministerial office, the people of Chillagoe, who knew his history, rejected him and elected a. comparatively unknown candidate.

Mr Theodore:

– I was never defeated as a candidate for Chillagoe.

Dr EARLE PAGE:

– At any rate, the honorable member was defeated for an adjacent constituency.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr McGrath:
BALLAARAT, VICTORIA

– I ask the right honorable member for Cowper to refrain from dealing further with a matter that is sub judice.

Dr EARLE PAGE:

– I regret that the interjection of the PostmasterGeneral caused me to introduce that subject.

Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– I shall dig up the right honorable member’s record later.

Dr EARLE PAGE:

– Some of us have questioned the position of the Treasurer because it affects the dignity and honour of every Parliament in the British Empire, but the Postmaster-General said recently that we hate the honorable member for Dalley because we fear him.

Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– That is true.

Dr EARLE PAGE:

– I neither fear nor hate him. At no time in my public life have I shown any hatred or any fear of a political opponent. I try to conduct myself with equanimity and affability towards all opponents recognizing that we are all here to do our job according to our lights. But I have attacked political records of my opponents as my own political record has been attacked probably more often than that of any other member of this Parliament. The criticism of the Treasurer, however, is not based on his political record; it was not that which caused the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) to leave the Labour party, and the honorable members for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) and Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) to resign from the Ministry. The matter involved is one of personal honour and integrity, and the honour and dignity of Parliament, which every member should jealously safeguard. I find it difficult to believe that the members of the Labour party are willing to retain in the Cabinet a man against whose character a very grave charge has been made. Our attitude towards the honorable member for Dalley is not dictated by political considerations. If we were seeking a party advantage we would find it in his inclusion in the Government. During the war when a patient was suffering from gas gangrene, the only chance of saving his life was the immediate amputation of the- affected part ; if that were not done, general mortification would set in. This Government and the Labour caucus, however, has preferred to amputate the sound and healthy limbs and :to retain the gangrenous member, and then dissolution and mortification will result. The object of the Opposition’s protest against the course adopted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin), is to safeguard, the national honour, reputation and advantage, and to help Australia’s credit abroad. If the honorable member for Dalley has any real love of his country, and desires to assist it out of its difficulties, he will resign from the Ministry, and so give greater confidence to investors in Australia and overseas. So long as the stigma upon his reputation is an obstacle to the restoration of public confidence it is his duty to remain apart from the counsels of the nation, and especially not to occupy his present prominent position. The restore tion of confidence is essential, and that is one of the first steps by which it can be achieved.

Even the New South Wales Labour Executive has no confidence in the Federal Government. When the Prime Minister suggested, after his return from London, that he should open the Parkes by-election campaign he was told by the State Executive that he would be allowed to speak only if he advocated a certain policy, which was that which the Treasurer has «ince promulgated. The State Executive, which later adopted Mr. Lang’s proposals for direct repudiation, said to the Prime Minister “so ruinous is the record of your Ministry, so badly does it figure in the public eye that unless you advocate something that will distract the minds of the electors from your devastating record the Labour candidate will have no opportunity to win the seat.” In order to divert public attention from the rottenness of the Government’s record, red herrings were drawn across the trail, but the people become even more frightened of them, and returned the Nationalist candidate (Mr. Marr), with a majority greater than he received in 1928, and almost equal to that he was given in 1925, when Labour was returned with only 22 members in a House of 75. I challenge honorable members opposite to go to the country on this issue. If’ they do they will meet their doom.

Let us consider now the position of the workers. No one can doubt that they have lost all the confidence which, formerly, they had in this Government, because of the failure of its extravagant promises. Unemployment has increased enormously since it took office. A year or so ago, the percentage of registered trade unionists unemployed was roughly one in ten. To-day. day, after sixteen months of Labour administration, it is 23.4 per cent., or, roughly, one in four. All this, it must be remembered, has happened during the regime of a government which, at the outset of its career, promised work for all - a government which displaced an administration that declared it was not possible, in the then circumstances and under its constitutional limitations, to find work for all in Australia. This Government declared, further, that it would not stand for any reduction in wages, and yet the Federal Arbitration Court, the retention of which, in the federal sphere, it made an issue at ‘ the last general election, has lately reduced wages in industry by 10 per cent., despite the fact that last year the Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan) introduced, and passed, an amending bill which he declared would make the industrial sky blue and serene.

Can one wonder, in these circumstances, that the workers have lost all confidence in this Government?

Let us now turn to another section of our people - the primary producers of this country. They too have lost confidence in this Ministry. During the last elec- < ti on campaign, our farmers were led to believe, on assurances given by the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Gibbons), that a Labour Government, if returned, would pay them a guaranteed price of 6s. Cd. a bushel for their wheat. When the Government came into office, it decided to pay the farmers 4s. a bushel, and the Minister for Markets (Mr. Parker Moloney) brought in a bill to give effect to its undertaking. Assisted by other members of the Country party, I did all I possibly could to improve that measure and make it workable. In committee 30 or 40 amendments designed to ensure its acceptance by the States concerned were moved. I was, however, unable to persuade the Government to accept any amendments of real value, despite, I must admit, the urgent representations of the honorable member for Calare who, when he found that he himself had been grossly deceived by his Labour colleagues, seemed anxious to repair the damage that had been done. But what happened with regard to that proposal? On a Friday afternoon, at about 2 o’clock, the Minister in charge of the bill saw me in company with two other members of this House, and two members of another place. We discussed the position, and asked the Minister to delay the division on the second reading of the bill in another place until the following Wednesday so that we could get into communication with representatives from Western Australia, who, because of the disheartening reception of their views at the Canberra conference, had left for their own State. We were anxious to get into touch with them with the object of obtaining a reversal of the instruction from the farmers of Western Australia that the senators should vote against the proposal if the bill went through in its new form. But the Government refused to give us even that short breathing space in a matter of most vital concern to every wheat-farmer in Australia. The vote was taken that afternoon, with the result that certain honorable members who were tied down by instructions from the farmers of Western Australia voted against it. They opposed the bill because it contained provisions which were not acceptable to the States concerned.

Mr Gibbons:

– Yet the honorable member voted for it.

Dr EARLE PAGE:

– It is true that I supported the bill. I hope that I have made my position quite clear. I advocated and voted for the bill because our farmers were in urgent need of assistance. The Government since then has done nothing to fulfil its promise to render some practical form of assistance to our primary producers. At a representative gathering of wheat-growers held in Canberra last year, a proposal was formulated for the imposition of a sales tax on flour. The conference considered the scheme in detail, and showed exactly how it would work. This Government declined to have anything to do with it. It wasted all the year until November or December, when it brought down another bill, under which provision was made for the payment of 3s. a bushel to wheat-growers. Has that promise been fulfilled? Of course, it has not. The Government found itself unable to secure the necessary finance, largely because of the attitude of Mr. Lang, the New South Wales Labour Premier. The latest promise is that wheat-growers will receive £6,000,000 out of the fiduciary note issue which the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) hopes to introduce next week. Again the farmers will be disillusioned. A month or six weeks ago, I wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to summon Parliament, if only for one day, to pass a bill to provide for a sales tax on flour, thus making it possible to render prompt assistance to our wheat-growers. Their position is desperate in the extreme. Throughout New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, thousands of farmers with large areas of wheat garnered, are practically ruined because of the collapse of the market. Some honorable members have informed me that, in their districts, the farmers are not able to harvest the balance of their crops because they cannot obtain sufficient money to carry on. During all this time of trouble, this Government has been inactive, in the sense that it has done nothing of a practical nature. Even if the Treasurer secures the passage through this House of his fiduciary note issue scheme, six months or twelve months must elapse before it will be possible to do anything in the matter. Why should not action be taken immediately? So serious is the outlook for our primary producers that, some time ago, important financial interests, in the several States, realizing that’ the Government was impotent, considered the taking of independent action to secure finance to enable farmers to purchase fertilizers, and make the necessary arrangements for the next season’s planting operations. The scheme which they evolved has, I notice, been adopted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham), and, if it can be carried to fruition, it will give our farmers the assistance which they so urgently need if they are to be rescued from their desperate plight. I fail to understand why the Government objected to the proposal to impose a sales tax on flour, because the bill providing for a guaranteed price of 4s. a bushel contained a provision under which the consumers of wheat in Australia would pay a higher price for their flour, and this was the underlying principle of the sales tax scheme. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde), I assume, expressed the Government’s view when he said it was objected to on the ground that it would increase the price of flour and possibly affect the price of bread.

Mr Riordan:

– The Queensland Government is paying 4s. a bushel to its farmers.

Dr EARLE PAGE:

– That was possible because Mr. Moore, the Premier, early this year, . commandeered all the wheat grown in Queensland, and immediately formulated a scheme for the assistance of the farmers in that State. If the Queensland Government could so readily give relief to its wheatgrowers, surely it was possible for the Commonwealth Government to act similarly if it was sincere in its desire to help the farmers. It has been objected that constitutional difficulties prevented the New South Wales Go vernment from acting in the interests of the wheat-growers of that State, but it cannot be urged that constitutional obstacles would prevent the Federal Government from imposing a sales tax on flour. I therefore urge the Government to give this matter immediate attention. It should be the first business to be brought before this House after the censure motion has been disposed of.

Another section of our people have entirely lost confidence in this Government; I refer to the returned soldiers. Immediately this Government took office, it sought,’ by stealthy means, to do away with preference in government employment to returned soldiers. Ministers and their supporters declared valiantly that they would stand to their proposal of absolute preference to unionists and the abolition of preference to soldiers, but again they failed, for when they saw how the situation was developing, they backed down, and declared that preference to returned soldiers would stand.

I come now to the merchants of Australia. They also now have no confidence in this Government. Because of the frequent changes in the tariff and taxation laws, they do not know where they stand. To-day, a new duty may be imposed; to-morrow, the primage duty may be increased, and, the day after, a sales tax imposed. Under this Government’s regime, nobody really knows what is going to happen. I heard to-day that we are soon to have a revision of the tariff over a wide range of duties. I am not sure who is responsible for the suggestion, but I assume that it emanated from the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) . So uncertain is the trading position that merchants hesitate to stock. During the last week-end, when I was in a country town in New South Wales, I had an interview with half a dozen of the local merchants, who told me that, owing to the many changes in government policy, they did not know what to do. To show how bewildering is the administration of the Customs Act, I may explain that, not long ago, I wrote on behalf of certain business men to the Minister, making a request for the admission duty-free of certain commodities under one of the customs regulations. I received a reply, indicating the attitude of the Minister, and .sent it on to my constituents. But, strange as it may seem, the mail which carried my communication also carried another letter from the department intimating that a mistake had been made, and that the commodities mentioned could not be allowed in duty-free, as promised. This shows that, within 24 hours apparently, ministerial policy is liable to be reversed. These harassing changes, I repeat, are paralysing trade in all directions, and because of the uncertainty of the trading position hundreds, and possibly thousands, of persons who otherwise would be working are being forced into the ranks of the’ unemployed. Another instance of ministerial muddling is related to the manufacture of glass in Australia. Recently the duties were heavily increased on the understanding that immediately the persons on whose behalf the higher duties were imposed would begin manufacturing glass on a large scale in Australia. We find now that, although the duties ‘were increased, as promised, manufacturing will not commence for at least two years. It is, however, significant that the interests concerned, prior to the imposition of the higher duties, imported huge quantities of glass, which they a,re now selling at an enormous profit. I have in my possession an invoice of a merchant in Armidale which discloses exactly what has happened. I find that, in May of last year, a particular quality of glass was being sold at 8#d. per foot, and another quality at ll$d. per foot. To-day, these qualities are selling at ls. 4d. and ls. 7d. per foot respectively, notwithstanding that the merchants imported the glass prior to the increase in the duties.

This Ministry has declared over and over again that it is out to prevent profiteering. It has stated that, if specific instances were cited, a thorough examination of the position would be made. Recently, I forwarded to the Minister information concerning an actual case of what was regarded as profiteering, and after inquiry the Minister advised me that, although it was true that the article in question which had been made in Australia for several years had been selling last year at £48 and was now selling at £66, the departmental accountant re- ported that the sellers said that for many years the manufacturing company had been unable to sell at £48 and show a profit. Consequently it was now charging the higher price in order to secure its profit! ,

Because of the trade paralysis which has resulted from this Government’s administration, the manufacturers themselves now have no confidence in this Government. They were instrumental in securing the return of Labour, on the implied understanding that the Government would impose higher duties to protect local industries; but now they find that, although they are enjoying the protection of higher tariffs, they have to pay other heavy taxes and observe such onerous labour conditions that they reap little, if any, benefit from the higher duties. They are further handicapped by the taxation on raw materials, and the adverse exchange position. For example, the world’s price for rubber has fallen from 12d. per lb. to 4£d. per lb. Consequently, manufacturers in other countries have an advantage over Australian manufacturers, because of the lower prices which they pay for the raw material. Rubber, the raw material for motor tires, is not cheaper in Australia because this Government imposed a duty of 4d. per lb. on the raw material in primage and all other taxes. As a direct result, our people have to pay as high a price as ever for tires. Thus transport, costs are increased at a time when the trend should be downwards, as in other parts of the world. The tariff wall has been raised so high that overseas concerns are rushing in, expecting to be able to charge sufficiently high prices to recoup themselves even if they have to go out when these duties are reduced. This ruinous competition threatens the extinction of manufacturing industries which have been established in Australia for many years.

The consumers have also lost confidence in the Government. I have referred fa what has occurred in regard to glass. J could name half a dozen other commodities that are in the same category. Higher prices have been charged for these goods because additional duties have been imposed, although the goods were actually in the country before the new duties became operative. But, unfortunately, some people ure allowed to import goods without the payment of duty, while other people have to pay duty on similar imported goo “.s. There seems to be no general principle upon which the Government, acts in these cases.

Investors, too, have lost confidence in the Government. The unceasing talk of repudiation, inflation, forced loans - this occurred prior to the floating of the £2S,000,000 loan last year- and confiscatory taxation of interest has had the effect of terrifying investors. The Treasurer has said that one reason why he desires to introduce his inflation bill is that it will tend to reduce the interest burden on the community as a whole. It is advisable, of course, to reduce the interest bill to the greatest possible extent, by proper methods; but surely it is the duty of the Government not to do anything which will deprive bondholders of the return which is due to them on their investments by contract. In connexion with the proposed confiscatory taxation of interest on bonds issued by the Commonwealth and States it has been reported in the press that the 3s. 6d. in the .£1 taxation to be levied is to be divided equally between the Commonwealth and the States. I was horrified when I read that statement, for it would be entirely wrong to allow the States to fax interest in- this way.

Mr Theodore:

– The report, to that effect was not correct.

Dr EARLE PAGE:

– I am pleased to hear the Treasurer say so. In every loan prospectus that has been issued it has been slated definitely that bonds will not. be subject to State income taxation, and it. would be entirely wrong to allow the States, by a side wind as it were, to tax thi3 money. Unfortunately, the Government’s lack of policy has seriously affected the readiness of investors to make their money available for industry and other purposes. A good many people here who have money have become so alarmed by the outlook that they have tried their best to get their money out of the country. One reason why our exchange rate advanced so sharply was, in my opinion, because of this flight of capital from Australia. We need to keep in Australia by a policy that will restore confidence, every penny that is here to-day, in order to carry on our work. The only proper way to secure a reduction of interest rates is to build up the confidence of investors. If investors gain confidence in Australia they will make their money available for business purposes. If plenty of money becomes available interest rates will undoubtedly fall. But if money is allowed to leave the country interest rates must inevitably advance. That is an economic law from which there is no escape. I noticed in the press on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week that £20,000,000 of overseas capital was waiting in Australia for despatch overseas as soon as the exchange rate becomes favorable.

Financiers, like investors, have also lost confidence in the Government because of its failure to effect economies or balance its budget. We have drifted to such an extent in the last eight months that we are now facing a deficit of £13,400,000 in this year’s accounts. I know that our receipts from income taxation will increase in ‘ the remaining months of the financial year, but it seems to me to be inevitable that we shall have a deficit of £14,000,000 at the end of the year. During my term as Treasurer I was criticized because my estimate of customs receipts was, on one occasion, inaccurate to the extent of 3 per cent. The customs estimates of the present Government are inaccurate to the extent of 33 per cent. At the time I made the estimate for which I w,as subjected to criticism prices were steadily and continuously falling; but to-day the Government should be able to frame estimates with a certain amount of confidence because prices have reached bottom. Financiers have no confidence in the present Government because of its failure to recognize and carry out the agreements to face the position which it has made from time to time.

Last, August, the Government, in consultation with the State Premiers and with Sir Robert Gibson and Sir Otto Niemeyer, agreed to effect specific reductions in governmental expenditure ; but that agreement has never been implemented. It is true that a modified budget was brought down, but it provided for actual increases of expenditure in certain directions. It also involved the raiding of- our sinking funds to the extent of £2,000,000, and the imposition of certain additional heavy taxation. But apart from providing for a reduction in expenditure on the post office of £500,000, it really did nothing to meet the critical situation which faced the country. Sir Otto Niemeyer, who came here as the guest of the Commonwealth Government, was treated in a most disgraceful and shameful manner. He was even attacked publicly by members of the Government which invited him to come to Australia, and which actually welcomed him on his arrival. Since that time other conferences have been held. The Melbourne conference, for instance, was understood to agree to certain suggestions by our bankers and financial institutions for the cutting down of costs, but so far nothing has been done to give effect to that agreement. Our financiers would be able and would be the first to assist the Government if it would show a real desire to meet the position. That agreement was made six or eight weeks ago, but the drift still continues. Taxation is being piled up, but the budget is not being balanced.

There are a few things that we could do immediately to avert the crisis which is looming so near. If we would face the position squarely, we should get assistance in taking steps to deal with our unfunded debt overseas, and our financial institutions would lend their aid to that end. At present the banks cannot help to revive industry, because their resources are being over-taxed to provide for government deficits. What we need immediately is some movement to reduce the cost of living and the cost of production, and thus increase the buying power of the community. If speedy action were taken along the right lines in this direction our position would begin to improve, and, though our recovery could not now be other than slow, it would be sure.

Without doubt, the Australian people are sick to death at the failure of the Government to do anything effective to meet our difficulties. This is shown by the springing into life of new organizations, in city and country alike, with the object of forcing the position. We shall not be able to solve our problems by stamping £2 on £1 notes. We cannot increase the wealth of the country by inflating the note issue. That will only add to our difficulties. We must do some thing which will make our Australian £1 note buy £2 worth of goods here. This can be done only if the cost of living and the cost of production is reduced. The first step that should be taken, in my opinion, is to reduce the tariff by 25 per cent. At present storekeepers cannot sell their goods. In my home town of Grafton a fortnight ago a storekeeper told me that, although the price of butter had been reduced by 40 per cent. since 1st January last year, the price of the softgoods which he was putting on his shelves was showing on his new invoices at from 7½ per cent. to 20 per cent. above the price of last year. He asked how he could expect the people in the district whose incomes had been so sadly diminished to buy the goods at these higher prices. The first step to take, with the object of increasing employment and stabilizing industry, is to reduce the cost of living by making possible a cut in the retail price of commodities. This would make possible the recovery of trade. Everybody recognizes to-day that the real problem is how to make retail prices approximate to wholesale prices. Wholesale prices have fallen greatly. The Treasurer’s idea is to increase wholesale prices; but any move of that kind is predestined to failure, because it is totally opposed to every economic law of the universe, because in our exporting industries prices are determined by world markets. We must bring our retail prices down by the same percentages as those which rule in other parts of the world, for our wholesale prices have been forced down to that level in respect of commodities which have to be sold on the world’s markets.

Mr Lewis:

– If we adopt the right honorable member’s suggestion everybody will be ruined.

Dr EARLE PAGE:

– That is not so. The reverse will be the case. Wageearners will find that their wages will have a greater purchasing power, and that is what we want. To increase price levels by increasing tariff duties is utter futility. We must bring price levels down to a figure commensuratewith the depleted income of our people. The Premier of New South Wales is imposing a new unemployment tax of1s. inthe £1 at a time when the people need all their money because the prices of so many things that they need are increasing. The price of tea, tires, and a hundred other things has gone up.

Mr Lewis:

– How is it, then, that the cost of living has come down?

Dr EARLE PAGE:

-The cost of commodities like butter, eggs and other farm produce has fallen. As a matter of fact, our farmers are to-day carrying the whole burden. The Commonwealth Statistician (Mr. Wickens) has pointed out that, although the cost of living has fallen by 13 per cent., there has been a drop of over 20 per cent. in the price of certain primary produce. Unfortunately, our high customs duties have kept other prices up, so the people have not had the full benefit of the fall that has occurred in certain directions. I suggest, therefore, that the Government should at once cut our tariff duties by 25 per cent. If, following upon such a move, a smaller reduction occurred in wages and salaries, the people would not be worse off, because their money would have a greater purchasing power. We must increase the purchasing power of the community. If such a cut were made in customs duties the prices of finished goods would immediately fall, and retail tradesmen, as well as wholesale merchants, would be in a better position to carry on, because of the reduction of the capital required to carry on their business. A reduction in governmental expenditure would naturally follow without excessive hardship, and we should be able to balance our budget within a reasonable period. This would immediately make available more money for primary and secondary industries.

If the Government would announce a policy of this kind it would do a great deal to allay the fear of the community that unavoidable disaster is ahead of us. I understand that the Government is already considering a revision of the tariff. No doubt it has become terrified at the result of the policy which it so foolishly adopted a few months ago. If we begin to balance our budget by a move of this kind, I have no doubt whatever that the financiers of Great Britain will immediately come to our aid. We shall find that we can then fund our unfunded debt in Great Britain on reasonable terms, and that we can obtain short-term loans from English sources to permit the budgets to be balanced inside three years, thus relieving our local banking institutions under conditions which will enable us to stimulate industry and assist the farmers by the local money thus set free. Week after week statements are published in the leading British financial journals to the effect that, as soon as Australia faces the position fairly and squarely, Great Britain will come to her aid. It may be said that the adoption of the policy that I have suggested will cause the return of an adverse trade balance ; but I have already shown that this is not likely to occur if there is no heavy importation of external capital.

Mr Lewis:

– The right honorable gentleman has made a statement to that effect, but he has not substantiated it.

Dr EARLE PAGE:

– For the edification of the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lewis), I shall quote some figures to show the improvement in our trade position from 1893 onwards. That was because the introduction of capital from overseas had been brought to an end. In the late ‘eighties until 1892 there was an excess of imports for many years. In 1892 our imports amounted to £37,000,000, but when the importation of capital decreased the amounts were £25,000,000, £25,000,000, £26,000,000 and £29,000,000 against the export figures of £35,000,000, £35,000,000, £32,000,000 and £32,000,000 in the succeeding years. The figures of the favorable trade balance varied from year to year, but the balance of trade remained favorable and unchanged until 1914. During the greater part of the first five years - from 1895 to 1899 - a Free Trade government, under Mr., afterwards Sir, George Reid, was in office in New South Wales, when, of course, a very low tariff was in operation. New South Wales, which is one of the largest States, and which also has the largest population, had a favorable balance under a freetrade policy, which shows that undue importance can be attached to the tariff in this respect in contradistinction to the imports of capital. From 1893 to 1914 there was a favorable trade balance, due to the fact that external capital coming to Australia was reduced. It was not entirely dispensed with, but although a Free Trade government was in power in New South Wales from 1895 to 1899 the position in that State was satisfactory.

Mr Lewis:

– A period of rising prices.

Dr EARLE PAGE:

– Our only hope for an immediate improvement is a period of rising prices in overseas markets, which would benefit, not only Australia, but the whole world. I have already said that the present crisis is only the pause between two periods of expansion and growth in Australia. It is, in effect, like the drop in the pulse beat - the heart will keep on beating and give the next impulse after the pause. I am not one of those who despair concerning our present financial position and our future recovery once we face the facts of the position ; but I contend that during this depression it is absolutely essential that we should not do anything to destroy our credit or in any way impede a return to financial stability. With an improvement in prices throughout the world, which I am confident will come very soon, we shall begin to dispose of some of our difficulties if we make a start in the right direction now. By adopting policies of despair and debasing our currency or repudiating our debts, we shall ruin our credit for a generation. If we are courageous, and with the guidance of experts fearlessly face the facts, we shall be able to build up our damaged credit and maintain our honour and prestige as a unit of the British Commonwealth of Nations. If the Government adopted such a policy, and the Loan Council disciplined the Premier of New South Wales, our credit would be restored within a few months. It would not be long before we would be in the same favorable position as South Africa and New Zealand, in so far as our credit is concerned, and also experiencing business expansion and general prosperity such as I am sure will eventually return. Repudiation in any form should be denounced, whether it be by default or inflation. We must legislate now in the interests of those who are to follow us, and of Australia as a whole. I am prepared to sink party differences in an endeavour to assist in formulating a policy under which we can secure stability. I have no wish to engage in a bitter party fight; I am prepared to face the position. In any action which has to be taken to rehabilitate our finances, I am willing to join with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham), who said he was agreeable to co-operate, regardless of personal consequences, with all who desire to see Australia get out of her difficulties, in order to secure financial stability, and make Australia a place where the standard of living shall be kept . as high as possible, and where there will be employment for all.

Mr THEODORE:
Dalley · Treasurer · ALP

. - Unrepentant attempts have been made by a number of ex-Ministers of the Bruce-Page Government to disclaim all responsibility for the condition of affairs which exists in Australia to-day. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) perhaps did not go so far as the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Page) who attributed to this Government the whole blame for the acute depression, the unemployment,’ the shrinkage in revenue, the business stagnation, and the loss of public credit from which the Commonwealth is at present suffering.

Dr Earle Page:

– I did not do that.

Mr THEODORE:

– The Leader of the Opposition was apparently willing to concede that this condition of affairs was not ascribable entirely to the present Ad- ministration. How magnanimous is the Leader of the Opposition ! This Government is not responsible for the financial difficulties which exist in Australia to-day. Certain honorable members opposite will not regard our present difficulties as in any sense a legacy - which, in fact, they are - from the Administration which they supported. They contend that during the fourteen years in which the Commonwealth Administration was continuously Nationalist, sound finance was practised, and economic wisdom displayed, and that when the Nationalistsleft office, Australia’s finances were in a highly satisfactory condition. They declare that the sole cause of the present situation is the existence of a Labour Administration.

Before dealing with the financial policy of the Government, I wish to remind some of those opposite of the state of Australia’s finances when the BrucePage Government went out of office: I address those honorable members who have been preaching economy, who have been trying to instil into this Government the necessity for it, and to impress upon us the evils which will arise if we neglect to practise it. They have referred to the high taxation which has been imposed, and to the present state of the public credit. In 1922-23, the year immediately preceding that in which the Bruce-Page Administration assumed cilice, the expenditure of the Commonwealth was £62,800,000; but in 1928-29 the year when it left office, it amounted to £77,200,000, that is, it had increased by £15,000,000 per annum. These are the economizers who, whenever they rise to speak on finance, charge this Government of neglecting to reduce expenditure. In 1922-23, the total amount collected in taxation was £49,S85,000, but in 1928-29, the last year of their administration, the amount so collected had risen to £56,303,000, an increase of £6,400,000 per annum. The right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Page) is constantly referring to the manner in which loans were managed during the period in which he was Treasurer, how he economized with respect to loan funds, and how small was the net increase in the Commonwealth public debt during his period of office. An examination of the figures discloses that the Commonwealth debt maturing overseas in 1923 amounted to £113,000,000, whereas, in 1929, it was £159,000,000, an increase of £46,000,000. It is true that a portion of our war debt had been repaid. The war debt was diminished by the statutory sinking fund payments which had to be provided out of Consolidated Revenue. But of what avail is it that the war debt was decreased when, at the .same time, the Treasurer was borrowing millions overseas to finance public works and for other purposes. The war debt was decreased by £39,138,000, but our ordinary debt was increased by £58,250,000 during his regime. Millions of pounds were squandered, and the right honorable member came to be known as an incorrigible spendthrift. The years during which he was in office constitute one of the- most prosperous periods which the Commonwealth has experienced, because high prices were being obtained for our exports, and there was a condition of general trade activity, with easy access to the money market. The BrucePage Government inherited from its predecessors an accumulated surplus of £7,400,000, and yet left to its successors deficits amounting to £4,987,000. During that period millions of pounds of additional revenue had flowed into the Treasury. Yet, notwithstanding this and the prevalent prosperity, and the absence of such difficulties as are occasioned by drought, low prices for primary products, and unemployment problems, the right honorable gentleman left the Commonwealth finances in the most deplorable condition. In the hands of the right honorable member a surplus was not necessarily a thing to boast about, especially if, as generally happened, it was a result of profuse overseas borrowing. He referred at length to the present position of Australia’s credit overseas, which he attributed to the fact that a Labour Government is now in power. He also referred to our short-term indebtedness, and to the decline in prices of government stocks here, in London, and in New York. Our public credit overseas has indeed vanished. But the right honorable member takes no share of the responsibility for this. Was there no sign of diminution in our public credit while he was Treasurer? On the contrary, the impairment of Australia’s credit was patent to every one. Attention was directed to the matter over and over again, in this House, and in the press. What happened in connexion with the last three loans which the Bruce-Page Government placed on the overseas market when the right honorable member was Treasurer? Did the subscriptions show that there was such great confidence in Australia while that administration remained in office? Was there not rather a definite indication of a loss of credit, and indication of a drift towards its complete destruction. On the 12th July, 1928, a 5 per cent, loan of £7,000,000’ was issued at £98. It was a long-term loan maturing at dates between 1945 and 1975. It was advertised in the usual way, and prospectuses issued, but only 13 per cent, of the total amount was subscribed by the public in the United

Kingdom, the sum of £6,000,000 being left on the underwriters’ hands. In the following January- - only seven months later - a 5 per cent, loan of £8,000,000 was placed on the London market by the right honorable gentleman, with the same dates of maturity, and issued at £98. Of the £S.000,000 only 16 per cent, was subscribed by the general public, £6. 7*0.000 being left with the under- writers. In those circumstances could noi the right honorable member see that Australia’s credit was diminishing? The last long-dated loan Australia was able to raise in London was the loan I have just referred to, issued in January, 1929. From that date Australia has not been able to raise a long term loan for now money in London or New York.

Mr Bernard Corser:

– Was not a loan raised on behalf of Queensland?

Mr THEODORE:

– No new money was raised. There was a conversion loan raised by me us chairman of the Loan (.’(unifil u bom last June, but no longdated loans have been raised for new money since then. After the failure of the loan in January, the Bruce-Page Govern.ment vainly sought an opportunity io obtain mi the London market funds that were urgently required in Australia. It was rebuffed on every occasion. In Sep.temper, 1929, just prior to going out of office, as a last desperate means of raising the wind, that Government sold treasurybills on the London market–

Dr Earle Page:

– Will the Treasurer say how much was for Commonwealth purposes? Was it not £153,000 out of a total of £5,000,000?

Mr THEODORE:

– The right, honorable member interrupted me before I had completed my sentence. I say that his Government was desperately endeavouring to obtain access to the London market.

Dr Earle Page:

– On behalf of the States.

Mr THEODORE:

– For both the States and the Commonwealth. I give these figures to show that even at that time there were indications of that loss of public credit in London for which the right honorable member blames this Government. These twelve-month treasurybills were placed on the market on the 2nd September. 1929, the cost to the Commonwealth being at the rate f £6 Ils. per cent.

Dr Earle Page:

– The discount, rate was 6£ per cent. - the highest that it hud been since the war.

Mr THEODORE:

– The right honorable member cannot get round these definite, hard facts, which indicate that the loss of credit dates back to the time when he was in office. I am not saying that he is responsible for that loss of credit; I am merely refuting his charge that it is attributable to this Government. I have shown that the drift had set in while he and his -colleagues were in office.

The right honorable gentleman lias referred to the difficulty experienced by this Government in raising money at a time when Australia is passing through the greatest economic troubles with which it has ever been confronted, and when its produce is fetching, on the overseas markets, the lowest price on record. In 1928, when only 13 per cent, of his loan of £7,000,000 was subscribed, the price in London for wool was ls. 7d. per lb. and for wheat, over 5s. per bushel, double the prices that rule to-day. Even in those favorable circumstances the right honorable gentleman failed to raise the money necessary to carry on. .Can it be wondered at that, in a leading article headed “ A Smug Critic “, the Melbourne Age, on the 2Sth May last, said -

Tim leader of the federal Country party has taken it upon himself to diagnose Australia’s ills and prescribe remedies. Few people are better qualified to speak of the nation’s financial troubles, for none will deny Mr. Pa.<re the distinction of having made a notable contribution to their creation. But, to the surprise of the community, the erstwhile Treasurer docs not apologize for the appalling muddle he left to his successor; he does not lament his countless neglected opportunities of avoiding some of the stressful difficulties with which others must grapple. At his inglorious going Mr. Page left the national finances in a condition so chaotic that the incoming Government was obliged to take unprecedented action in a desperate attempt to avert disaster. The limit of extravagance and ineptitude had been reached.

Is it not even more amazing that the right honorable gentleman should stand up this afternoon and coolly lay at the door of this Government the blame for all the difficulties that now exist in Australia, and for all that is happening in this country?

Let me examine a little more closely the financial record of the Bruce-Page

Government. The right honorable member said a little while ago that our short term indebtedness in London is so great as to make it almost impossible for us to meet our obligations and commitments. He laid upon this Government the responsibility for that short term indebtedness of £38,000,000. I admit that that is a pressing obligation which will place us in an extremely difficult position unless from month to month we are able to meet the various constituent parts of it. But did that short-term indebtedness arise under this Administration? In October, 1929, when the right honorable member handed over to me the portfolio of Treasurer, the short-term indebtedness in London amounted to £17,600,000.

Dr Earle Page:

– That was State and Commonwealth indebtedness.

Mr THEODORE:

– Exactly; and so is the £38,000,000 to-day. The right honorable member surely made a mistake when he made that interjection. The difficulty with which we are faced in London is an Australian difficulty. A very small proportion of the £38,000,000 represents Commonwealth indebtedness; the balance is represented by overdrafts due by the States or by treasury-bills raised on behalf of the States.

Dr Earle Page:

– Does the Treasurer suggest that I was responsible for the £17,000,000?

Mr THEODORE:

– No ; but the right honorable member suggested that we were responsible for the £38,000,000, which includes your £17,000,000. The right honorable member quoted the price of Australian stocks in London as an evidence of complete lack of confidence in this Government. There is no doubt that the price of our stocks is deplorably low, and that that is the clearest index of a loss of public credit. The right honorable member, however, smugly lays the blame at the door of this Government, and alleges that our stocks began to collapse immediately it came into office. He knows in his heart that that is not true.

Dr Earle Page:

– It is true.

Mr THEODORE:

– Australian stocks began to collapse while his Government was in office. The right honorable member will find, if he peruses the figures that I had embodied in the last budget speech, that the drift has been going on since January, 1929.

Dr Earle Page:

– The relative drift took place in October, 1929.

Mr THEODORE:

– To show that no great faith was held by London investors or the London Stock Exchange in the Government of which the right honorable gentleman was Treasurer, I need say no more than that the loan issued in January, 1929, at £98, was sold in London at £92 15s. before he went out of office. In the face of that fact, can he say that there was no loss of public credit ?

Dr Earle Page:

– Was there not then in existence the biggest depression that has ever been experienced on the stock exchanges of the world?

Mr THEODORE:

– The right honorable gentleman has a different explanation to meet every difficulty.

Dr Earle Page:

– Quote the prices of South African and New Zealand stocks..

Mr THEODORE:

– This is a great country. It has wonderful resources, a splendid future, and a great surplus of assets for all of its liabilities. There is no reason why normally the prices of our stocks should be different from those of South Africa and New Zealand; yet, in September, 1929, before the right honorable member went out of office, 5 per cent. Australian stocks were six points below similar New Zealand and South African stocks.

Dr Earle Page:

– Now they are 32 points below them.

Mr THEODORE:

– Let us see if we can diagnose the troubles from which Australia is suffering, and assign a cause for our financial difficulties. They are due, not to anything that has happened in the last twelve or eighteen months, but to what has happened possibly in the last twenty years, and certainly in the last ten years. It is true that there are in Australia economic difficulties which are common to the whole world, and that arise out of the collapse of commodity prices in the markets of the world. Some honorable members opposite profess to ignore that fact, and blame this Government for all the ills from which the agricultural industry, the pastoral industry, and various other industries in Australia, are suffering. Those of our financial difficulties from which we suffer more acutely than New Zealand or South Africa have their origin in the mismanagement of our finances during not the last ten months, but the last ten years. During his regime as Treasurer the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Page) was partly responsible for an orgy of borrowing on the overseas markets greater than that of his predecessors. In that respect he built up a record that probably will not be eclipsed by any of his successors. In 1927, Australian Governments floated overseas eleven loans totalling £69,700,000. ‘

Dr Earle Page:

– How many were floated in 1926?

Mr THEODORE:

– Does any particular significance attach to that year?

Dr Earle Page:

– Yes; the Treasurer knows as well as I do that for nine or twelve months the market was unapproachable.

Mr THEODORE:

– In 1928, five overseas loans were raised totalling £30,500,000, and in 1929, up to the time that the right honorable member went out of office, three overseas loans, aggregating £25,400,000, were floated by Australian Governments. It will thus be seen that in that period of a little under three years, Australian Governments, of which the right honorable member was the chief financial adviser, floated overseas . £125,600,000, an average of £6,600,000 every two months. For the sake of my argument it matters little that £36,000,000 of that amount was conversion money, the remainder being new money for expenditure in Australia. The right honorable member spoke about the extravagance of this Labour Government, and its reckless unwisdom in regard to finance; yet he was the financial guide to Australian Governments that raised over £125,000,000 in less than three years, and, as a consequence, exhausted the London market for Australian borrowing.

With the exception of the last few months of its regime the Bruce-Page Administration held office during a period of high prices for agricultural products, substantial production, and general prosperity. It ought so to have managed the affairs of this country that it would have been able to withstand the shock of lean years; yet it practically exhausted all our resources and reserves, and when the lean time came the nation was unprepared for it. I invite honorable members to consider the heavy imports into Australia during the Bruce-Page regime. In the six years that it held office the imports of merchandise alone totalled £892,000,000, while the exports of merchandise totalled only £832,000,000, leaving an adverse trade balance against Australia of £60,000,000, despite the fact that that waa a period of prosperity and high prices.

The right honorable member for Cowper has complained about the present shortage of Australian funds in London. When the administration of which he was a member, came into office it found that the funds available to Australia in London totalled £24,200,000. When it went out of office it left a debit balance in London of £49,000,000. Yet the right honorable member wonders why this Government has not been performing miracles in the financial world !

Dr Earle Page:

– It was all private money.

Mr THEODORE:

– It was not all private money. It was no money at all. It was only overdrafts, liabilities and commitments. Let me analyse the figures. On the debit side, for the six-year period from 1923 to the end of 1929, was the £60,000,000 resulting from the adverse trade balance. There was exported, and therefore credited in London, £1S,000,000 of bullion. There was a net increase in the overseas debt of £152,000,000. The Bawra dividend of £9,200,000 also provided funds in London. On the debit side also there was an obligation for interest and services payable in London of £193,000,000, so that, although the right honorable member, when he came into office, found the position of Australian funds in London in credit to the extent of £24,000,000, he left it to the bad by £49,000,000, or an adverse movement of no less than £73,000,000. I am not blaming the right honorable gentleman wholly for that position, but I am directing attention to what happened during his regime, and to the nature of the difficulties inherited by this Government when it took over the administration of the Commonwealth’s affairs.

A few moments ago the right honorable member complained that the Government had been tinkering with the tariff. We were compelled to adjust the tariff to save Australia from default within our first few months of office. There was a very heavy drain on Australian funds in London, on funds that were required to meet governmental obligations there. We had, therefore, to impose prohibitions on many imports in order to check the growth of the demand on London funds. Our action had the desired effect. Take the trade figures for the first seven months of this financial year. The imports amounted to £43,400,000, and the exports to £50,000,000; so we have converted an adverse trade balance to a favorable balance of £6,600,000 for the first seven months of this financial year. Compare those figures with those for the corresponding seven months of the previous year, during most of which the right honorable member was in office. The trade position then existing was wholly the result of the administration of the late Government. Under the Bruce-Page administration the imports for those seven months amounted to £87,000,000, and the exports totalled £56,000,000, leaving an adverse balance of £31,000,000. How long could that position have been allowed to continue? Yet, the right honorable member complains that we took hasty and drastic action in connexion with the tariff schedules. How would Australia have faxed nine months ago if that action had not been taken ?

Dr Earle Page:

– The banks said that it was not necessary.

Mr THEODORE:

– My experience of the banks is that they will say anything that will suit the political requirements of honorable members opposite. When, after six years, the Bruce-Page Government went out of office, it left to its successors an exhausted loan market, an impaired credit at home and abroad in all markets, a heavy debit balance in Commonwealth cash accounts, a heavy drain on London funds, a collapse in revenue in almost every department, a shortage of funds in Australia to meet commitments already entered into, and in some cases, commitments in connexion with which money had already been expended. The late Government also bequeathed to us the herculean task of providing within one year £71,000,000 to meet maturing Commonwealth loans. Is the honorable member proud of that record?

Dr Earle Page:

– Were not the maturing loans which amounted to £71,000,000, contracted three years before we took office?

Mr THEODORE:

– Yes, I think they were ; but when the right honorable member left office he had made no provision for meeting them. On the contrary, lit left the finances in a muddled and chaotic condition.

Mr Paterson:

– The present Labour Government was within a few weeks of having to meet maturing loans, and if the then Acting Treasurer (Mr. Lyons) had not stood with his back to the wall against the caucus, they would never have beer, met.

Mr THEODORE:

– To draw attention to that matter is to pay a compliment to this Government. The honorable member apparently wishes to distinguish between one Minister of it and another; but nevertheless it was the present Administration which successfully dealt with those loans. We have met every obligation that we were required to discharge as a government. Having exploited the loan market until no more money was available, and having depleted the Treasury, the last Government went out of office leaving maturing liabilities amounting to £71,000,000, and no provision whatever had been made to meet them.

Let me read an extract from the Melbourne Age of the 29th September, 1930, which ought to be of interest to exMinisters of the late Government -

It is nearly a year since the Bruce-Page Government was deposed. Its members are still slowly recovering from their surprise, and are affecting to be unconscious that the act of deposition was thoroughly warranted. Trusting, presumably, to the proverb that the public memory is short, a number of exMinisters are seeking to transfer to other shoulders the responsibility and the binnie that belong exclusively to themselves . . .

The new Ministers were faced with no easy or enviable task, and in their efforts to discharge it they are being given meagre help from those from whom they inherited it . . .

Members of the Opposition would certainly be more helpful if they practised greater balance in matters of opinion, greater precision in matters of fact. Mr. Latham, for example, as part of his contribution to public discussion, says that “ Labour members of the Federal Parliament have now ceased to blame the late Government for extravagant expenditure.” It is feared Mr. Latham is expressing an intelligible hope’ rather than a’ defensible belief.

Honorable members opposite aremaking a great cry that this Government should reduce expenditure. Their one slogan, indeed, the whole philosophy of their financial policy, at any rate while a Labour government is in office, is “Reduce expenditure.” Although the present Government has been in power for only sixteen months, it has reduced Commonwealth expenditure, resulting in most cases from actions of the previous Administration, by £2,300,000.

Mr White:

– Largely in the Defence Department.

Mr THEODORE:

– Partly, not largely. The savings in that department amounted to £650,000. The following savings were made by us before the 1 930-31 Estimates were presented: -

Further savings on the Estimates as the result of the examination made by the Acting-Treasurer (Mr. Lyons) are as follow : -

That makes a total saving of £2,310,000.

Dr Earle Page:

– Give us the increases now.

Mr THEODORE:

– First, the right honorable member says that we have not reduced expenditure, and when I show that we have done so, he goes on another tuck. He has said that we cannot hope to restore confidence in London until we have shown that we are in earnest by drastically reducing Commonwealth expenditure in Australia. Whatever Federal expenditure is redundant and unnecessary, and such as ought to be cut out, is being incurred because of the action taken by the party opposite, when in office. Honorable members opposite have spoken of a pampered Commonwealth Service, whose members are enjoying “ cushy “ jobs in times of national stress ; but it is to be remembered that the strength of the Public Service was largely increased under the régime of the BrucePage Government. Does the right honorable member justify the action of his Government in leaving an inflated Public Service when he went out of office, and does he justify now his censure of this Government on the grounds that we have not sufficiently reduced the cost of that great Service?

Dr Earle Page:

– We had a very definite programme in regard to the Public Service.

Mr THEODORE:

– Yes, and I intend to call attention to it. When the right honorable gentleman became Treasurer, in 1923, the permanent employees under the Public Service Act numbered 25,188, and in 1929, when he ceased to be Treasurer, they totalled 28,764. The staff of the Parliament was increased between the years 1923 and 1929 from 78 to 103; and the staff of Australia House, from 143 to 165. The Development and Migration Commission was established with a staff of171, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was inaugurated with a personnel of 181, while the North Australia Commission was begun with 45 officers. But I forbear to go through the interminablelist of extravagances and increases in the Public Service, for the continuance of which the right honorable member for Cowper is now blaming this Government. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), in an attempt to prove that this Government had failed in its duty, pointed out that the only way of saving the country from loss of credit and financial ruin was that the Government should reduce all controllable expenditure. He then went on to define what he meant by controllable expenditure. He pointed out that wages, as well as the pensions of soldiers, invalids, and aged persons are controllable. He suggested that that expenditure should lie reduced by 20 per cent., and, if necessary, by 30 per cent.

Mr Paterson:

– I did not advocate a 30 per cent reduction; I suggested a reduction of 20 per cent.

Mr THEODORE:

– I accept the honorable member’s statement. Apparently, he does not regard interest payable on the public debt as controllable expenditure. It is not controllable expenditure so far as the Government is concerned. I think that I am treating the honorable member fairly when I infer from his remarks that he would cut wages and the pensions of soldiers, invalids, and aged persons by 20 per cent., but would’ not touch, either by a reduction or a special tax, the interest payable on government securities. That inference is justified by his further remark that a reduction in wages and pensions would enable Australia to borrow money in the future at cheaper rates. According to the honorable member, the only contribution to be made by the bond-holder is with respect to any future loans to which he might subscribe. Is the honorable member aware that in respect of the £500,000,000 borrowed in Australia, nearly £30,000,000 is paid annually in interest? If interest rates remain unchanged, bond-holders domiciled in Australia will reap the advantage of the increased value of money, which advantage will grow as costs decline by reason of wages and pensions being reduced by 20 per cent. Under the proposal of the honorable gentleman, those bond-holders would make no contribution to the country’s needs.

Mr Paterson:

– There is nothing to prevent the Government from taking its fair toll from them by means of taxation.

Mr THEODORE:

– The honorable member is in distinct conflict with his leader, who, this afternoon, ridiculed and abused the Government for its proposal to levy a tax of 3s. 6d. in the £1 on income derived from government securities.

Mr Paterson:

– I agree with the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Page) regarding the proposed levy.

Mr Curtin:

– What kind of taxation does the honorable gentleman suggest?

Mr Paterson:

– General taxation on unearned incomes.

Mr THEODORE:

– Does the honorable gentleman suggest that bond-holders should be reached by a general tax on property incomes?

Mr Paterson:

– It is the only honest way of reaching them.

Mr THEODORE:

– The difficulty in relying upon that method arises from the fact that income from ordinary property is taxable by the States as well as by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth cannot impose an adequate tax on a bond-holder without piling up an impossible tax on the ordinary income derived from property, because that income is subject to two taxes, whereas the bond-holder is subject to only one tax. This matter has been discussed with State Premiers, prominent bankers, and commercial men, by the Prime Minister and myself in conference. At these conferences, when I have pointed out this difficulty, and have then put forward my own proposal, which involves an alteration in the value of the Australian pound, so that we should have to pay in interest to the bond-holder only what we contracted to pay him, and would not have to pay off maturing loans with money of greater value than that subscribed, I have been told that it would be better for the Commonwealth to exercise its power to impose a special tax on bondholders. Some of the members of the Commonwealth Bank Board have made that suggestion. Personally, I see nothing wrong in such a proposal ; but evidently the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) does not agree with it. He is content to touch bond-holders only in connexion with future loans. Over £500,000,000 of the public debt of Australia is domiciled in this country and is taxable by the Commonwealth. Some of the loans comprising that indebtedness do not mature until 1.9.65. For the whole of that period, those holders, will, unless something is done, obtain the benefit of lower prices, and will not share in the general sacri- fice which the rest of the community is called upon to face. Is it not fair that we should do something which would enable these people to contribute their fair share of the sacrifice which is demanded of the nation?

Mr Thompson:

– That should be stated in the loan prospectus.

Mr THEODORE:

– It is stated in contracts relating to the loans which are taxable by the Commonwealth. As honorable members probably know, loans aggregating about £90,000,000 of the loans held in Australia are free from taxation by either the States or the Commonwealth, and about £45,000,000 of that amount are held by public institutions. The balance of the public loans held in Australia is all subject to taxation by the Commonwealth.

Mr Thompson:

– The loan prospectus does not show that those loans are subject to special taxation.

Mr THEODORE:

– It was not expected that they would be subjected to a specially high tax. They are, however, not guaranteed against taxation. There can be no guarantee that loans which are subject to Commonwealth taxation will not be taxed above a certain rate. In the case of loans and’ mortgages of a private nature, the borrower agrees to pay to the lender a certain amount by way of interest, and the lender takes into account the rate of taxation payable at the time the advance is made.

Mr Marr:

-What about those bondholders who receive low rates of interest?

Mr THEODORE:

– They are exempt from taxation because they are taxfree loans. All the 3 per cent. and the 3½ per cent. loans, as well as most of the 4 per cent. loans, were issued tax free.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– Should they not be levelled up?

Mr THEODORE:

– The quaint and whimsical member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill), after abusing the Government for proposing to tax securities, now proposes that tax-free loans should be taxed.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– I do not suggest that.

Mr THEODORE:

– Apart altogether from its unfairness, I point out the incomplete nature of the suggestion, of the honorable member for Gippsland to tax arbitrarily by 20 per cent. wages and pensions. Is the honorable member aware “ of the tremendous contribution which has been made, and is still being made, by the workers of this country towards making good the loss of national income. Only one other class in the community - the primary producers, particularly the growers of wool and wheat - have made a comparable contribution. A person listening to the speeches of honorable members opposite might be led to think that the workers were making no contribution, but instead were being paid very high rates of wages. Whether we like it or not, we have to admit that wages have come down as the result of the decisions’ of various tribunals, both State and Federal. The honorable member for Gippsland talks glibly of a 20 per cent. ‘cut in wages and salaries. Does he know that, since the beginning of 1930, the savings effected in wages throughout the Commonwealth, including reductions in the cost of public services, amount to £44,000,000 per annum? That amount does not include anything for reductions in the wages of certain employees, the amount of which cannot be easily computed ; it merely covers persons governed by Commonwealth and State awards. The reduction is a severe one.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– What is the total income on which that reduction has been made?

Mr THEODORE:

– When the honorable member is beaten on one point he endeavours to introduce another issue. I shall deal with the point raised by him in a moment. Does the honorable member realize that the national income, as computed by the Statistician, has fallen from £650,000,000 in 1927 to £480,000,000? That is the outcome of the collapse of commodity markets overseas and the diminished price ruling in the home market. That diminution of national income has enormously increased the proportionate charge upon governments in connexion with the interest bill. Whereas in 1927 the proportionate charge for interest on loans raised for governmental and local authority purposes was about 9 per cent., it is now about13 per cent. of the national income. The altered nature of the burden is one of the problems which governments have to face to-day. We should be recreant to our trust if we did not take it into account.

The honorable member for Gippsland charged the Government with having made a number of promises to the electors which were impossible of fulfilment. He endeavoured to schedule those promises. One would think from his remarks that the Labour party was the only political party that ever made a promise at a general election. It is true that the Labour party promised that, if returned to power, it would deal with unemployment, and endeavour to maintain the Australian standard of living. But did the honorable members on the other side make no promises to the electors? Did Nationalist candidates say nothing about what they would do to relieve unemployment if they again obtained control of the treasury bench?

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– They did not promise to open the coal mines within a fortnight.

Mr THEODORE:

– I remind honorable members that in 1925, Mr. Bruce, the then Prime Minister, promised to deal with unemployment. He said that he would legislate on such lines as would enable the workers to insure against that most deadly cause of his anxiety - unemployment. In 1927, a royal commission appointed by the Bruce-Page Government recommended a scheme of unemployment insurance; in 1928 the Development and Migration Commission made certain recommendations for dealing with the problem of unemployment. Yet the Bruce-Page Government did nothing, allegedly because the burden would ultimately fall upon industry. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) was a member of the Government which made these specific promises, but failed to carry them out.

Mr Latham:

– Although the point is immaterial, I mention that I was not a member of the Government in 1925.

Mr THEODORE:

– The honorable member was Attorney-General in the Bruce-Page Government at the time to whichI refer. I ask him whether he was a member of the Bruce-Page Government in 1928, and a party to the promises made by that Government?

Mr Latham:

– Not in the terms in which they have been presented to the -House by the Treasurer.

Mr THEODORE:

– It may be that the honorable gentleman did not support Mr. Bruce in 1925, when that right honorable gentleman virtually promised the people that he would introduce a scheme of child endowment. It may be contended by honorable members opposite that no such scheme was promised; but the right honorable gentleman put his remarks in such a way as to cause the people to regard them as a definite promise. I have a recollection of a full-page advertisement in theBulletin informing the workers that, under a Nationalist government, they would get a uniform 44-hour week.

Mr Latham:

– That is not so. A 44- hour week is beyond the power of the Commonwealth Government to introduce.

Mr THEODORE:

– Evidently the honorable member has changed his policy. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) has lately been seeking publicity. He is going on the market for a loan of £6,000,000, £10,000,000 or £20,000,000- we do not know exactly what the amount is - in order to assist the wheat-farmers. I refer to that proposed loan because of the extraordinary state of things it evidences. This Government has been in negotiation with the banks, seeking their co-operation, so that it might furnish financial aid to distressed wheatfarmers, and enable them to carry on their business, and to sow next season’s crop; but the banks have been practically adamant in their refusal to assist this Government in that respect. The Leader of the Opposition, who carries no governmental authority or responsibility whatever, now decides that he will come into the picture. He has put a financial proposal before the banks, and the chairman of the Victorian associated banks, in an interview published in to-day’s newspapers, says that his scheme is a good one, and he will co-operate with the honorable member. The banks of this country, while refusing to co-operate with the Government, are apparently prepared to co-operate with a Nationalist Opposition. They are bringing politics into this matter. The Leader of the Opposition has circulated the . chambers of commerce for financial backing of his scheme, but he should know that they will not subscribe their money to unsecured loans, unbacked by the Government. This loan must, in the nature of the circumstances existing in the agricultural districts, be an unsecured loan. The advances must be made to farmers whose security is already pledged to the hilt, who cannot give anything better than third mortgages or other unsatisfactory security for them. Will the members of the chambers of commerce risk their money in a loan issued by the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham), to provide £6,000,000 for the struggling and distressed wheatfarmers of this country? The loan is not likely to be a wonderful success. This attitude of the banks of Australia is deplorable. They are constituting themselves a political organization. They have shown not the least desire to help this Administration in this or other matters, and very little desire to help it at all since it took office. Indeed, they are doing their bust to embarrass this Government; they have used political influence in another place to kill legislation introduced by us, and they were no doubt largely behind the movement to kill the wheat pools of Australia.

Mr Latham:

– The banks have given this Government great and generous help.

Mr THEODORE:

– The trading banks of Australia are largely to blame for the monetary difficulty in which Australia finds itself to-day. A great deal of relief could have been given, and the position of Australia could have been improved, had the banks been more progressive, and better disposed to cooperate with the Government in its efforts to assist this nation.

In conclusion, let me say that in framing the financial measures proposed by the Government, we are endeavouring to cope with the financial problems with which this country is faced. Measures will be submitted to the House, I hope, early in the session, and their fate will be determined in another place. T have no doubt that honorable members opposite, who are so embittered against the Government, will apply their effort? to block and obstruct the passage of those measures. They are using every enGovernment to place Australia on the deavour to belittle the attempts of this road to financial recovery. That is evidenced by every issue of the Nationalist press. Notwithstanding, the Government will proceed with its financial programme. Honorable members opposite speak derisively of the proposal to issue fiduciary notes. If the banks had done their part, there would have been no need for the Government to introduce legislation dealing with the issue of currency; but, as the banks, including the Commonwealth Bank, are determined to resist us - apparently they hope that there may be a change of government - the Government is forced to resort to a fiduciary note issue. The bill providing for that issue will be introduced shortly. There will be certain supplementary and concomitant measures connected with the Government’s financial policy, including a proposal to tax government securities; and a measure to provide for the appropriation and management of an authorized issue of £6,000,000 for the benefit of the wheat-farmers. Legislative authority is also to be sought for the expenditure of £1,000,000 a month to provide work for the relief of the great body of unemployed in Australia to-day.

Mr Latham:

– Why not make it £5,000,000?

Mr THEODORE:

– The honorable member may, in due course, propose an amendment to that effect. I remind honorable members also that it may be necessary to introduce an amendment of the Commonwealth Bank Act to deal with the present gold reserve.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– Why not abolish the bank ?

Mr THEODORE:

– Rather than fail to meet our debts in London as they become due, I would ship, to the last sovereign, all the gold in the Commonwealth Bank to-day. . That may be the only means by which we can avoid default on the part of the Commonwealth. It depends on thiurgency of the debt position in London - short term and other debt commitments. To allay any doubts concerning the proposal for the issue of a new fiduciary currency, or the conversion of the existing currency to a purely fiduciary currency, let me remind honorable member? that in England there has for years been a fiduciary currency unbacked by any gold whatever, a currency in connexion with which, there is no necessity for any metallic reserve. That currency amounts to £260,000,000.

Mr Marr:

– In England there is confidence in the Government.

Mr Curtin:

– The confidence is in the nation, not in the Government.

Mr THEODORE:

– The currency and credit of a country depend upon the faith of its people in themselves as a nation, irrespective of the political party in office. If the measure of confidence in a government is indicated by the price of stocks, the ability to raise money, and to keep cash in the Treasury, then the Nationalist party should never return to office, because, measured by a test of that kind, it has been found wanting. Honorable members opposite speak about the necessity for restoring confidence in the Government, but it is they who are preventing this country from regaining that confidence.. It is they who are always fomenting party prejudice and bitterness; it is they who are creating division in this community; it is they who are destroying Australia’s credit overseas and dragging Australia’s name in the mud. Nationalist members who speak about the necessity for putting aside party differences are actually seeking to fan the party flame. What they mean when they say that the party spirit should be eliminated is that there should be none but Nationalists in the community. They never show any desire to speak nationally, or to act in co-operation with those of other political parties in a wholehearted desire to assist the country. They seek all the time for political and party advantage, they disseminate bitterness and bad faith, and as a result of their efforts this country has suffered and is suffering to-day.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah

– This censure motion is to the effect that the Scullin Government does not possess the confidence of this House, and, consequently, of the country. This Government, which after the last election had at its disposal the greatest majority possessed by any government since the inception of federation thirty -years ago, is this moment in grave doubt whether or not it will survive the motion now being debated. More over, in such straits is it that the only person it can get to speak, not in its defence, but to attack the previous administration, is one possessing the unsavoury record of the present Treasurer, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore). The Treasurer closed his speech this afternoon on a most appropriate note. Mr. Theodore - the gentleman from Mungana - closed his speech on a note of filth. During the course of his speech he did not make the slightest effort to defend the Administration of which he has been in and out for the past fifteen months; he simply repeated the oft-told tale which has been denied and refuted time and time again concerning the alleged sins of the last Government. His speech was typical of the man, with its half truths, veiled statements, innuendoes and insinuations. Of those things his speeches are generally composed, and never by any chance do they contain any solid or reliable facts in support of his own cause, or to the injury of anybody else.

I am compelled by some of his statements to refer to matters which otherwise I should not have touched upon. The Treasurer said that the last Government was responsible for the position in which Australia finds itself to-day. The only witness I need call to contradict him is his own Prime Minister. In his last budget speech, and again during the Ashfield fiasco, Mr. Scullin said that he did not blame any previous administration for Australia’s troubles. There was, be said, a world-wide economic depression, and Australia, like other countries, had been caught in its toils. The Treasurer, therefore, is refuted directly out of the mouth of the Prime Minister whom he is supporting or following or doing something in connexion with.

The Treasurer also made reference to the surplus of £7,000,000 which the last Government inherited from its predecessors, and he asked what had been done with that surplus. That also is an oftrepeated charge, and it has been as frequently answered. Apparently, however, it does not matter how often the honorable member’s statements are refuted. He will go on repeating them if he, thinks they are to the detriment of the last Government, and if there is any chance, in his opinion, of getting away with them. I shall inform honorable members once again what was done with the £7,000,000 surplus, and I ask them to say when I have finished whether the money was not judiciously expended in the interests of the public. The naval appropriations agreed to by this Parlia-ment accounted for the whole of the surplus. There were, however, other surpluses to which the Treasurer did not refer, and these were disposed of in the following manner : - A grant of £1,250,000 was made to the States, and to that, I am sure, no honorable member will take exception. Science and Industry investigations accounted for another £600,000. £500,000 was spent in granting assistance to marketing, and I am sure that the present Minister for Markets will have nothing to say against that. Other appropriations from these surpluses were : Air service equipment, £250,000; civil aviation, £200,000; prospecting for oil and precious metals, £220,000, and purchase of radium, £100,000. I am prepared, as is every other honorable member on this side of the House, to defend every item of that expenditure, and I challenge honorable members opposite to say that the money was not wisely spent in the interests of the people of Australia.

Mr Blakeley:

– £200,000 was wasted in the search for oil.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– I admit that the Minister for Home Affairs ought to know something of that, because, if I am not mistaken, he has himself been wasting some money in the Northern Territory searching for gold or something of the kind.

The Treasurer also referred to the loan expenditure of the last Government. I reply to his mass of figures by one plain statement. During the last seven years of the Bruce-Page Administration the net result of loan expenditure was that the debt of the Commonwealth increased from £364,000,000 to £377,000,000. Id other words, although the Commonwealth debt increased during those seven years by only £13,000,000, additional assets representing postal equipment and war service homes were created to the value of £33,000,000. During those same seven years the public debt of Australia as a whole increased by £220,000,000. but the Commonwealth debt, as distinct from the State debt, was increased by barely £13,000,000. Although it is true that, in accordance with the financial agreement entered into between the Commonwealth and State Governments, the Commonwealth Government borrowed money in the name of Australia, that money was not utilized by the Commonwealth Government, as witness the fact that out of £220,000,000 borrowed only £13,000,000 was expended by the Commonwealth Government.

I have referred upon other occasions to the reverential amazement with which a great many people are disposed to regard the reputation of the Treasurer as a financial expert. They look upon him as a sort of wizard of finance, and he is represented in some circles as being the only person who can save Australia in this time of depression. During the course of his speech the Treasurer read some extracts from the Labour paper of Victoria - the Melbourne Age. The Age, as long as I can remember, has had one shirt to its back - namely, protection. It gave that up a little while ago, and substituted for it another garment woven of intermittent attacks upon the Nationalist party, combined with support of the Labour party, with the evident purpose of drawing to its coffers the pennyha’pennies of the foolish working people of Victoria who might be’ induced by such tactics to buy the paper. That is the paper from which the Treasurer, quoted as being the one most favorable to him. I do not object to that, but in reply I propose to quote what the Bulletin has to say about him, and I propose to come right up to date by quoting from the current issue. This is what it says -

Better to be served by a clever rogue than a dull fool ; and on some such ground many people, accepting Justice Campbell’s findings, consoled themselves on the return of Mr. Theodore to the Cabinet. But it becomes more and more evident that the position of Treasurer and financial guide of the Ministry is not one which ought to be in the hands of any person who is under suspicion of being crooked; and it becomes more and more evident that Mr. Theodore should never have been readmitted to the Government until he had disproved Justice Campbell’s findings, and probably not even then. The question, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, is not, however, whether Mr. Theodore is guilty of what has been alleged against him in the Mungana matter; the question is whether he can be trusted to go straight when it seems to him that it might pay better to go crooked. And, because Mr. Theodore waa readmitted to the Cabinet without that question being in any way settled, it becomes the unpleasant duty, not only of the press, but of Parliament, to regard all his proposals and all his actions with suspicion.

Those are not my words. They are the editorial comment of the Sydney Bulletin, a paper with a circulation throughout the world exceeding that of any other Australian publication. That is the reputation . of the Treasurer in the opinion of a newspaper which circulates far and wide throughout the length and breadth of the civilized world. T emphasize the importance of such a criticism of a man who occupies the second highest position in federal public life, and I say it is not right that he should occupy such a position.

I shall now read a paragraph which refers to the financial ability of the present Commonwealth Treasurer. It states -

After that Mr. Theodore began to thoroughly exploit the reputation which he had made in Queensland as a financier and winner of elections. The Bulletin has shown upon what foundation his reputation as a financier was built - how, in fact, the State public debt sprang from £82 9s. 2d. per head of population in 1015, when he took office, to £109 8s. 9d. in 1924, when he was preparing to leave.

In other words, when this gentleman went to Queensland, that State possessed some money. When he left- it, it was destitute. No doubt the position was reversed so far as his privy purse was concerned. The paragraph continues -

How during the same period State taxes per head rose from £2 2s. 9d. to £4 9s. 2d., far and away the highest in Australia; and how the railways, previously profitable, fairly bolted to insolvency, the losses for nine Theodore years being £417,991, £003,020. £945,372, £1,323,252, £1,087,001, £1,581,000, £1,580,207, £1,292,550, and £1,412,900. His reputation as a winner of elections was built on something more unsavoury. Electorate* were gerrymandered; the Legislative Council, standing in his way, was swept out of existence in defiance of the vote of a referendum : political bribery and corruption were practised right and left. Mr. Theodore may not bo cynic enough to believe that every man has his price; it is fairly obvious that he believes so many have their price that the rest don’t matter. On such a reputation, so achieved. Mr. Theodore, having bought or otherwise obtained a seat in the House’ of Representatives, soon found himself in the forefront of the Federal Labour party, ‘and by virtue of his success in Queensland he waB appointed campaign director when a general election arrived eighteen months ago. It is hardly necessary to recall that campaign. No statement was too wild to make if it looked like winning a vote; no promise too outrageous. The unfortunate miners of Maitland who had been out. of work for a year - at the heginning the victims of a lockout not at all creditable to the owners - were told that if Labour was returned they would be back at work in a fortnight without a cut in either pay or hours. The man who made that promise must have known that it was not even remotely possible to realize it.

I have said that. Every other honorable member in this House has said it. Every reputable journal in the country has said it. The Labor Daily has said it. There is no journal or public man in Australia with a judicial mind that will not condemn unreservedly the unfair and iniquitous promises that were made by that labour campaign director to those miners. And that is not the only disreputable aspect of the matter. According to the statement of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) the present Treasurer extracted from those starving miners, who were living on the dole granted them by the State Government, £1,000 towards the campaign funds of the New South Wales State Labour party. - Could political turpitude sink lower than that? The honorable gentleman knew that his promises could not be fulfilled. Think of his meanness and depravity in extracting that very considerable sum of money from men in such circumstances. Yet, this afternoon in this chamber the honorable gentleman had the hardihood to refer to alleged unfulfilled promises made by Nationalist administrations.

Before leaving the subject of the Treasurer’s financial skill I desire to quote, not the opinion of the Bulletin, but that of Mr. Fred Saidy -

Several honorable members interjecting,

Mr SPE AKER:
Hon. Norman Makin

-Order !

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– Honorable members opposite evidently know this gentleman. He is a VicePresident of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labour party. In view of the recent activities of the executive of that body one can quite understand that it is not wholly acceptable or popular with some honor- able members opposite. Mr. Saidy is apparently an honored member of the Labour party, who has attained the exalted position of vice-president of the movement. This is what he said -

Where is our honour? The movement demands honour and that its servants be free absolutely from ugly shadows.

That is fair enough, and surely unexceptionable. Mr. Saidy continued -

The rhinoceros has his serious rivals among some human beings. Mr. McCormack did have the decency to disappear from public life. Mr. Theodore persists in inflicting himself upon Labour, posing as a master of high finance. An “ability” psychology has been created, and it is a question whether it has real existence. The builder is known by the beauty and stability of his works. Where are the monuments erected by Mr. Theodore on behalf of Labour? I dare any of his misled supporters to point to any.

The northern miners’ lockout, the New Guinea matter, the 44-hour week in Queensland, the reduction in Queensland of wages by an Act of Parliament are just a few things associated with the re-appointed Treasurer.

Later, he proceeds -

Heads I win, tails you lose, is the policy of Mr. Theodore.

Evidently he knew something about the gentleman.. Mr. Saidy goes on to say -

He is against inflation to-day and in favour of it to-morrow. All depends how the wind blows.

And he concludes with these words -

Let Labour beware! Danger, grave danger, is near. Caucus by disregarding ugly clouds that hang very low are sacrificing the Movement, lowering its prestige, and debasing its honour. Labour’s burden is already colossal. With Theodore’s weight it must succumb. Again, Labour, beware!

That is a warning to which Labour could well pay regard. There are hundreds of thousands of honest, decent Labour supporters who now believe every word of that statement. I shall give another short quotation from the same gentleman, who appears to be so popular with honorable members opposite -

You cannot gather figs from thistles. You may whitewash a slab hut, or you may putty a, broken cylinder; but you cannot hide the defects. A moral psychology against wrongdoing in public life is quite rightlybeing built up by ministers of religion, and others. Labourcannot ignore the fact. Referring to this matter at the Ashfield Presbyterian Church, the Reverend R. J. H. McGowan said. “Unprincipled success is failure”. An effective moral artillery will be mercilessly used against Labour by adherents of all denominations later on, which may turn ardent supporters into opponents. The alleged sin is Theodore’s, but the penalty, deserved or not. will be paid, and the punishment borne by Labour.

Every honorable member opposite knows that to be the case, and that the Labour movement is suffering for it. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. A. Green) had the temerity to say, recently, that the Nationalist party feared the present Treasurer (Mr. Theodore), and therefore attacked him. Thehonorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens), in his puerile fashion, made the fatuous statement that we, on this side, would welcome the Treasurer to our ranks if he gave us the opportunity. I guarantee that every member of this party would walk out of the Nationalist party rooms the day that any politician with the reputation of the honorable gentleman walked into them. That is the difference between those on this side of the House, and honorable members opposite.

I propose to refer to one or two of the unfulfilled promises that were made by the Treasurer. Mr. Saidy compared the hide of the honorable gentleman with that of a rhinoceros. I consider that the hide of a rhinoceros is as wet tissue paper compared with that of the Treasurer. That is borne out by the aura of sanctity and virtue with which he surrounds himself when making public utterances.

The honorable member for Herbert interjecting,

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! I have repeatedly asked the honorable member for Herbert to cease interjecting. If he continues to do so I shall be compelled to take the action that I have threatened to take with other honorable members if they persist in. interrupting the honorable member who is addressing the House.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– The rhinoceros hide theory is further exemplified by the promises that were made by the Treasurer at the last election.

Mr Keane:

– Get off that.

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.The honorable member for “ Keane “ says “ Get off that “.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! The honorable member will kindly address the Chair. Also, he is aware that it was the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Keane) who interjected and that an honorable member must be referred to by the name of his constituency. I ask him not to provoke other honorable members into interjecting.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– I have read what the Bulletin has said about the Treasurer’s promises to the miners. I have stated what I think about those promises, and also what other honorable members think of them. Now I recall to the minds of al] the circular that the Treasurer broadcast throughout Australia, during the last federal election, in which he promised, in definite terms, that there would be constant work for all. Those were precisely the words that he used. It was common knowledge that he could not carry his promise into effect, and I revive the matter only to prove how unscrupulous the honorable gentleman is. He will promise anything if he thinks that by such action he can induce anybody to vote for him or for his party. The honorable gentleman promised that there would be constant work for all if the Labour party were returned to office. To-day, according to the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin), there are- 400,000 of his fellow citizens walking our streets looking for work. I do not blame the honorable gentleman’s Government entirely for the prevalence of unemployment that exists in Australia - I know that there is general unemployment throughout the civilized world. But I defy the honorable member or the Treasurer to indicate one single action that has been taken by this Government to alleviate that evil in this country. It has not put forward one proposal, or formulated any policy, that would provide work for a single person in Australia. For the moment, what do I care about how many unemployed there are in other countries of the world? Is not our concern the unemployed in our midst, the pitiable position of the people who wait upon us every week-end when we leave Canberra and arrive in our respective electorates ? What excuse can we give to those- people for the inactivity of the Government? We can simply tell the truth, that honorable members opposite are too busy fighting their own internecine quarrels, sacrificing the good of the community in an effort to preserve their own skins, and to give effect to their personal ambitions, a struggle which makes them totally unconcerned about the- conditions under which our unemployed exist, the people whose votes put them into power.

Bad as was Mr. Theodore’s promise to the workers, I do not suppose a more despicable or disreputable promise was ever made than that which, in black type, and on a green leaflet - I do not know why it was green, the colour probably had some appropriateness - he told the limbless soldiers that, if returned to power, a Labour government could absorb in employment every one of them who was out of work. What subsequently took place in this chamber ? When the Prime Minister was asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) whether he intended to carry out this promise, he demanded, in a high-mannered way, “ Who has made this promise “ ? And when he was told that it had been made in this particular leaflet over the name of E. G. Theodore, Campaign Director, he said, “ I know nothing about it; it cannot be done, and I do not intend to do it “.

Mr Lewis:

– Quite right!

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.The honorable member’s interjection is characteristic of the attitude of many honorable members on his side of the chamber, particularly those of the same type as himself.

I have not exhausted all the promises that were made. Has the Treasurer, who made a song this afternoon about unemployment insurance, forgotten that unemployment insurance was on the platform and in the policy speech of his own leader at the last election? Apparently he has. He would have us ignore the fact that his Government has neglected to give effect to that promise, among many others.

Mr Latham:

– In the budget speech the Prime Minister said that he would not give effect to it.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– Exactly. After promising unemployment insurance to the people he said definitely that he would not give it.

We all remember the hue and cry against the Nationalist Government over the John Brown prosecution, and all the talk there was of what Labour, if returned to power, would do to Mr. John Brown, now deceased. Yet, when it got into power its reply in regard to the prosecution of Mr. John Brown was exactly the same as had been given by the previous Government. I have taken part in many political campaigns in this country, but I do not know of a more hypocritical cry than was raised at the last election in regard to the John Brown case.

There is just one more promise to which I- wish to refer. There are many others upon which I could touch. At Leichhardt, in his own electorate, the Treasurer said that no more taxation would be placed upon the backs of the workers of this country through the Customs Department. Yet this Government, through customs and excise tariffs, has placed additional taxation upon the workers of this country to the extent of something like £18,000,000’.

Dr Earle Page:

– And Parliament has had no opportunity to discuss the schednlcs*

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.That is so. It is all very well- for the honorable “ member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) to endeavour, by sophistry, to prove that the workers have not paid that amount of taxation. If they have not done so it is because the poor unfortunate devils have not had the means to pay. As the pickpocket searches the pockets of his victims until he reaches down in vain for more, with diligence and assiduity the Government has searched the pockets of the workers, extracting 4d. per lb. on the tea the women and children drink, and excise duties on the workers’ beer and tobacco, until there is nothing left upon which it can collect revenue. I have never been able to understand how any Labour government could suggest that the workers should be penalized by a sales tax, which is described as an inverted income tax pressing most harshly on the person at the bottom of the pyramid, and most leniently on the wealthy individual at the top.

Yet this taxation has been imposed by a government returned to power to protect the workers. Is it any wonder that no section of the community, workers or others, can be found in support of the present Administration? I know of no other government so bereft of support after having been in office only sixteen months.

As the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) has aptly interjected, tariff schedules doing the grossest and most cruel injustice to a great number of citizens, have been placed on the table of the House, and the House has been given no opportunity to- discuss them. Had that opportunity been afforded, many injustices which they perpetrated on industry might have been avoided, and many people, instead of being faced with ruin, would to-day be carrying on their businesses at a profit. This Government has steadfastly refused to permit any consideration of its tariff schedules, although among its supporters there must be many who are writhing at the injustices that have been brought under their notice. I understand that during the past few weeks an officer of the Trade and Customs Department has been interviewing manufacturers affected by these schedules, to find out if they are suffering undue hardship, and that the suggestion is that very shortly a new tariff schedule will be brought down.

So far I have referred mainly to the attacks that, during the course of the debate, have been made upon the BrucePage Government. As a matter of fact, it is not that Government which is on its trial. The motion is “That the Scullin Government has lost the confidence of this House.” The Scullin Government is on trial, yet not a single argument has been advanced on the Government side in defence of it. Not one word has been said, even by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin), to indicate that the present .Government has any support in the country. So far as the debate has gone, everything that has been said has been in the direction of excusing the Government, if it has not been an attack upon the previous Government in regard to what happened five or six years ago. I am sure that every honorable member was profoundly disappointed with the Prime Minister’s speech. Although a. devastating attack had been made on his administration by the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister satisfied himself with word-quibbling, attempting to indicate paltry and petty inconsistencies in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. One might reasonably have expected from him a vigorous defence of his administration, a straight-out declaration as to what the Government proposed to do, and a clarion call to the people to back up the Government in its programme for the rehabilitation of this country and the restoration of employment. Instead of that we heard a faltering, paltering sort of speech which was received with profound disappointment throughout the country, and has been described as pitiable and pathetic. It offered no encouragement or inspiration to members of his own party, and has disappointed hundreds of thousands of people who are looking for a lead from this Government. They are looking for it; in vain. If ever there has been a time in the history of Australia when the people have been looking for leadership, and prepared to accept it, it is now; but within human memory there has never been a greater failure to give that leadership than that of the Government we are now endeavouring to scrape off the treasury bench by means of this motion. At one time it had a policy; it had one in August last, when just before he left for England the Prime Minister signed what is known as the Melbourne Agreement. U ndert hat agreement all Australian Governments, Federal and State, pledged themselves to balance their budgets and maintain budgetary equilibrium. They also agreed to provide for overseas debts and various other matters of that kind. At that time the people had confidence in the Government; they believed that it intended to carry out its policy which they accepted as fair and reasonable, and they were prepared to make the necessary sacrifices. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) said last night that he advocated a five-years plan for regaining . financial equilibrium. He did, but he is not Prime Minister; his leader advocated the balancing of the budget in one year.

Mr Curtin:

– That was impossible.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– The honorable member should have told his leader so. Cogent though the reasons of the honorable member for Fremantle usually are, his views are unimportant when compared with those of the Prime Minister, who, having before him all the facts supplied by the Commonwealth Treasury officials, and the advice of Sir Otto Niemeyer, declared that the budget could be balanced during the current year The right honorable gentleman, when introducing his financial statement to the House, said -

Parliament must recognize, however, that no further drift in Commonwealth finances can be permitted, and that the balancing of the budget is an essential step for the restoration of the credit of Australia. The Government proposes to watch the financial position closely throughout the year, and without waiting until the end of the financial year will not hesitate to take immediate steps, if such action appears to be necessary, in order to prevent anyserious disturbance in the budgetary position.

That statement was quoted by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) when introducing his amended budget. The Prime Minister made many speeches to the same effect before he left Australia, and while he was in England. Addressing the members of the Trades and Labour Council in Adelaide, he said -

We have got to remember that we have our honour as a nation, which is as important as the honour of individuals, and repudiation or suggested default would be calamitous to the whole structure of the present system, and would inevitably cause nearly 1,000,000 unemployed. Such suggestions are not to be tolerated, and the only hope of restoring confidence in Australia is to maintain Our equilibrium, play the game, meet our obligations, and, when possible, evolveabetter system.’

Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I do not think the right honorable gentleman spoke in Adelaide.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

-I have quoted from the Adelaide Advertiser of the 23rd August. Had he adhered to the policy he then enunciated, he would have been supported by representatives of all parties and the people. But to-day, because the Government has no policy, and is spineless and inept, there is nobody to defend it; everybody wants to kick it. The Sun of the 29th October published the following cablegram from London : -

Mr. Scullin has emphasized as evidence of the soundness of Australia, the fact that the Communists polled only 9,000 votes at a time when they might have been expected to make some progress; and while he will not comment on Mr. Lang’s win, he adheres to the view that the only way out of Australia’s difficulties lies through economy and readjustment.

On the following day, the Sydney Sun reported that during a conversation by radio telephone with the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Penton) at Canberra, the Prime Minister had said that the financial position in London was most difficult, and stressed the necessity for adhering to the programme laid down at the Melbourne conference. There is also the published statement, so far uncontradicted, that on his return to Australia, he told Mr. Hill, the Premier of South Australia, that had the Melbourne conference resolutions been carried into effect, Australia would have turned the corner. After the Government had decided in the absence of the Prime Minister to reduce the budget by £4,000,000, the Sydney Morning Herald reported -

Mr. Fenton said afterwards that he had had a pleasant chat, and had told Mr. Scullin of all the proposals that had been agreed to in regard to finance. Mr. Scullin, Mr. Fenton said, had expressed approval of the decisions of the Cabinet. Mr. Scullin had added that there was full sympathy in London with Australia and. that prospects there were good.

The policy represented by the Melbourne agreement is the only one this Government has had, and clearly the Prime Minister intended that it should be made operative. But the New South Wales State election occurred on the 25th October and resulted in an unexpected victory for Mr. Lang. As the extent of that victory became apparent, the courage of the Federal Government began to ooze out of its boots. Since that date it has been devoid of courage. There is a well known military axiom that the best means of defence is attack.

Mr Keane:

– Hear, hear!

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.That axiom is approved by the honorable member for Bendigo, who was hailed a few weeks ago as the new leader of thu Labour party. This modern Moses, who was to lead his people out of the wilderness, is now relegated to a position on the back benches. Apparently that is his reward for aspiring to be the new leader of his party. The Government did not adopt attack as the best means of defence ; with the aid of the Treasurer it has produced policies with all the dexterity with which a conjurer produces rabbits out of a hat. It has had one policy to-day and another to-morrow. But it has abandoned each in turn. The fatal influence has been that of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore). If he leant one way, his ministerial colleagues leant with him; if he swayed to the opposite direction, they swayed in sympathy with him. If he took a few faltering steps forward, they followed. When he reversed his attitude, they reversed too. The Government’s attitude has been to do nothing’ but falter and palter. It should have had the courage to fight for its financial proposals. The Prime Minister should have fought for his policy upon his return from London. The Government should have nominated a direct ministerial candidate at the East Sydney byelection, but instead of attacking, it has capitulated; at the first stage of danger it has abandoned the outposts and, ramparts. Had the Prime Minister shown the courage of a leader, he would have retained the admiration of his friends and won the respect of his enemies, instead of being a target for the opprobrium hurled by all sections of the community. Apparently he was too busy fighting for the re-admission of the honorable member for Dalley to the Cabinet, thus hanging about the necks of his party a millstone that will weigh it down to- political destruction. Now, defeated in party councils, Ministers are engaged in internecine war and have their backs to the wall. In what position have the loyal supporters of the Government been placed by the inaction and political cowardice of their leaders? The Lang faction has captured the. machinery of the Labour movement, and if an election were held within the next few weeks, loyal supporters of the Scullin-Theodore Ministry would be thrown to the wolves; they would lose the pre-selection and would be deprived of their seats in this House. That is the sorry predicament of Nev,’ South Wales members of the Labour party who through thick and thin have supported the Government. To that pass they have been brought by their loyalty.

Mr Keane:

– That is where the honorable member would like them to be.

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.It is where they are. One electoral council after another has turned against those

Labour stalwarts whose only offence was their loyalty to a miserable government that had not sufficient fight in it to adhere to a policy and nominate a can?didate in the East Sydney by-election. Not only have those honorable members been left to fend for themselves against their irate and vindictive electoral councils, but they were not allowed to participate in the distribution of the ministerial loaves and fishes. Leaderless and policyless, viewed with contempt by its direct opponents, and covered with opprobrium by the members of its own party tan Government has a more unenviable record than any previous government in the history of the Commonwealth.

When the Prime Minister returned from England he was welcomed on a nonparty basis by all sections of the community. If he had announced a national policy and invited the co-operation of all political sections, no man would have dared to withhold his support. After till, whilst honorable members in this House represent different parties, I have said repeatedly during the present session that if the Government would bring forward proposals that were in the interests of the people and did not involve the spoliation and robbery of the middle classes and thrifty sections of the community I would put party considerations aside and support the Ministry for the sake of Australia. If the Prime Minister had any vertebrae he would have adopted that course, and the members of the Opposition would have co-operated with the Government in the manner I have indicated.

Mr Keane:

– The honorable member has opposed every proposal of the Government.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– But not with the vigour that I might otherwise have shown. When the honorable member for Maribrynong (Mr. Penton) and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) as Acting Prime Minister and Acting Treasurer respectively, submitted amended financial proposals to this House, I knew that they were doing their best in difficult circumstances. We all know that the stiletto was about to be plunged into their back by the man who is now Treasurer in this Govern ment. I was at all times prepared to support them in any reasonable legislative proposal, and I feel sure that if they made a statement in this House now they would acknowledge that honorable members on this side did not offer contumacious opposition to any proposal which they submitted. Let me add that on one or two occasions definite offers of assistance, on a non-party basis, were made from this side of the House, but they were incontinently rejected. I conclude this aspect of the matter by saying that, within my recollection, no Opposition in the history of the Federal Parliament has displayed a more patriotic attitude than have members of the present Nationalist and Country parties in this House in the difficulties that beset Australia. If the Government had had sufficient courage it could have exploited that patriotism and given the people a definite lead towards the rehabilitation of trade and industry. All that was lacking was an ounce or two of real courage. In all my life I have never seen such an exhibition of political cowardice as that displayed by this Government during recent months.

In expressing this view I am not alone. Let me remind the House of statements made by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) during the Parkes by-election. Mr. Lazzarini, I may add, has been a lifelong member of the Labour party. For some reason he is absent this evening. I take the following from an article written by him and published in the Labor Daily of the 5th February, 1931 : -

page 152

QUESTION

THE HOPELESS MESSAGE

(By H. P. Lazzarini, M.H.R.)

However disagreeable it may be to differ with one’s leader, Mr. Scullin’s statement: “ It has been a bitter disappointment to me that the serious economic crisis prevented the Labour Government, upon its assumption of office, from putting into effect some of its long-cherished ideals “ cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.

It is a message to Labour, so hopeless, so destitute of inspiration that to accept it as real, means, perhaps, a lingering, and because of that a more horrible death.

It is not necessary to study . closely the events of the past twelve months. A mere casual glance will convince anybody that fear of the Senate and a double dissolution had more to do with leaving Labour’s ideals severely alone than any economic crisis . . .

The men and women who know Labour, know its genesis, know its heart, and know its soul, will regard such a doctrine with scorn and contempt.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– Of course the honorable member for Bendigo will concur when he knows that his leader is away. Mr. Lazzarini went on to say -

Had Mr. Scullin been a real leader and not a whimperer he would have realized that the crisis he keeps shedding maudlin tears about is Labour’s most wonderful opportunity.

Obviously, Mr. Lazzarini believes that if Mr. Scullin had been a real leader, instead of a whimperer, he would have been regarded as a statesman of some value to the community. Another writer, who signs himself “ T. G. “, also, offered, in the Labor Daily, some post mortem observations concerning the Parkes byelection. This is what he had to say -

Briefly, the defeat is attributable to the fact that though the Labour Government has been in power for fifteen months, unemployment has increased 100 per cent, in that period . . .

Then the question arises as to what extent the Labour Government is to blame for the rotten impressions the existing state of economic affairs conveyed. It cannot be entirely freed from responsibility in this matter. If the Parkes election result has taught it anything, the defeat for Labour may turn out to be a gain instead of a loss.

If it learns” from the defeat that the policy of inactivity it has displayed for the past fifteen months, if continued, is likely to see it on the Opposition benches after the next elections, it may decide to set its shoulders to the wheel in such a manner that the observant voter at the next elections will be obliged to conclude that if it has failed to improve existing conditions it won’t be for lack of trying.

I now present the Labour party’s credentials, as outlined by Mr. Graves, the President of the Australian Labour party in New South Wales.

Mr Brennan:

– One of the nation’s stalwarts.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– Of course ! In a manner reminiscent of one of the prominent figures during the French revolution, Mr. Graves went to the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney, took possession of a room there, summoned his satellites, including every federal Labour member for New South Wales, and proceeded to tell them what they should do and what they should say in the Parkes by-election.

Mr Keane:

– How does the honorable member know that?

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– I get my information from a report which appeared in the Labor Daily, of the 13th January last’. I take the following from the report of the address delivered by Mr. Graves: -

Let us briefly run over the position of the Government. If it adopts the defensive attitude it will be forced to justify its sales tax, tax on tea, tax on tobacco, the increased tax on income from personal exertion and property. It will have to answer the fact that it has sacked more Government employees than any Government since federation. It will have to answer the criticism of curtailed postal facilities, not excepting the 2d. postage, the failure to proceed with the referendum proposal, the banking bills, the arbitration tangle, the present three judges’ slaughter of the basic wage, their attacks on the railway and tramway men, not forgetting the shearers.

On the other side you have your protection policy to your credit, but, unfortunately, its effect has not been noticed, due, of course, to the restrictions of credit. You have distributed one and a half million pounds to the unemployed, but the army is so great, and the effect has been so slight, that you cannot rest upon that action alone. You have made genuine attempts to help the farmers. The Senate blocked you. . . .

Summing up all you have done, the trouble in the country is so deep-seated that your accomplishments have had no effect upon the general mass of the people. They are in want on all sides - business men and workers alike - so, therefore, to win out you must have a forward policy.

These were the credentials and instructions issued to the Scullin Government when it entered the fight for the Parkes seat. I do not know that these testimonials, presented by such an impartial authority as the President of the Australian Labour party in New South Wales, were very helpful to the Federal Government in that contest. What Mr. Graves said on that occasion required no amplification by Nationalist speakers during the campaign. All they had to do was to read the testimonial of the Scullin Government, as prepared by Mr. Graves, and say to the people, “Ladies and gentlemen, these, according to Mr. Graves, are the credentials of the present Federal Labour Government, . which is asking you to return a Labour supporter in the place of Mr. Justice McTiernan.” As the result of an examination of these credentials helped, no doubt, by what Nationalist speakers had lo say in support of Mr. Marr, that gentleman was returned to this House by u majority as largo as that secured by him in 192S.

I digress now to refer briefly to a statement made last evening by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin), who asked what valid ground there was for questioning .the appointment of the two judges to the High Court. There are several very grave reasons for challenging the action of the Government in that matter. In the first place it was made abundantly clear, by returns supplied to this House, that there was no work for these judges. This is established by information in the office of the Attorney-General. In addition, there was the cabled request of the Attorney-General that no appointment should be made by the Government to the High Court in his absence.

Mr Keane:

– That is not so.

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.There is a third objection. It is known that Cabinet had agreed that further appointments were unnecessary, and should not be made. Nevertheless, they were made on the day following the last adjournment of Parliament. I suggest that there was something sinister about the whole business. It should be remembered that the appointments were made during the long vacation. In that vacation only two cases were dealt with, one being the New South Wales Legislative Council appeal case and the other the Waterside Workers’ case.

Mr Keane:

– I rise to order. I submit that the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) is out of order in reflecting upon the judiciary.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– The honorable member would certainly not be in order in reflecting upon the judiciary or in making any extended reference to it.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– I do not intend to traverse your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I merely point out that I was criticizing, not the judiciary, but the Government for making certain appointments. Any one with a grain of intelligence could see that. Let me repeat that the additional judges were appointed early in January, and that the sittings of the court to deal with the only two cases listed in the vacation did not take place until late in February. Consequently, the salary of £3,000 a year paid to each of the new judges was paid during the whole of that time.

But what I object to more than anything else is the caucus of any party, be it Labour, Nationalist, or Country party, instructing a Government to appoint to the judiciary two particular men, and intimating that the caucus would not rise until the Government had agreed, to do its bidding. The history of this country contains no more disgraceful chapter than that relating to the recent appointments to the High Court. Every one who has the interest of this country at heart will agree that the political sphere and the judiciary, should be entirely divorced one from the other. No interference with the judiciary should be tolerated, and no influence should be used by any political party with regard to appointments to it.

I wish to make some further references to the fatal step taken by the Labour party in preferring the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) to the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons), and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton). This action has given a shock to the sense of public morality hitherto unequalled and unparalleled. Such a happening has never before occurred in the history of Australian politics, and has caused the bitterest of protests to be made from all sections of the public. In my opinion, it has been the main factor in causing the present split in the Labour party. No political incident has ever called forth greater protests on moral grounds from non-political societies and churches. The New South Wales Council of Churches, on the 3rd February last, carried the following motion on the subject, and directed that it should be forwarded to the Prime Minister: -

We strongly protest against the appointment of Mr. Theodore to the position of Treasurer of the Commonwealth until he has cleared himself of the charges contained in the report of the royal commission on the Mungana purchases. Such action tends to. lower the moral tone of public life and lowers the ‘standard of ministerial probity that we have a right to expect in the Commonwealth Government.

The New South Wales Council of Churches is representative of all Protestant denominations in the State. Similar protests have been made by the Methodist Church and other religious and public bodies.

Certain remarks made by members of the federal political Labour party in connexion with the reinstatement of the honorable member for Dalley in the Treasury are also noteworthy. On the 31st January, the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) said -

The reinstatment of Mr. Theodore as Treasurer was wrong. Mr. Theodore must vindicate his character. When he does that, it will be time for me to reconsider my vote.

At the same time, the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) said that he “ was opposed to Mr. Theodore’s reentering the Cabinet, because he believed that he should first remove the suspicion which surrounded him “. Another statement made on this subject and published in the Melbourne Argus, of the 30th January last, was that -

No suspicion should surround the public life of any person entrusted with the 1: ill responsibilities of a Minister of the Crown. On ethical grounds alone, Mr. Theodore should not return to office until he has been freed from suspicion.

Those remarks were made by the Speaker of this lion ora bie House.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– Order ! It is not permissible for the honorable member to quote Mr. Speaker. He may quote the honorable member for Hindmarsh.

Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Then I will say that those remarks were made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin). I do not suppose that any member of the House has more clearly, more succinctly, and more accurately stated the views of the general public on this most unfortunate incident. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) made the following remarks on the subject: -

The re-appointment of Mr. Theodore as Federal Treasurer was the most tragic, thing for the workers that has yet happened. The reduction of 1.0 per cent, in wages was bad enough, but the reinstatement of Mr. Theodore was worse.

I could quote the views of the honorable member for Wilmot, and the honorable member for Maribyrnong, but doubtless they will speak for themselves.

Several aspects of this subject have been mentioned in the course of this debate. The Prime Minister suggested that the Queensland Government had not taken criminal proceedings against the honorable member for Dalley, because it was of the opinion that no criminal offence had been committed. But that was not by any means the reason why the Queensland Government did not prosecute the honorable member in the Criminal Court. It did not do so simply because, under the law as it stood, it could not compel certain witnesses to give evidence, and so could not expect to secure a conviction.

Mr SPEAKER:

– It is not permissible for the honorable member to make any references to a case which is sub judice.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

-I was merely dealing with the Prime Minister’s comments on the subject.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member will be in order in replying to the statement of the Prime Minister, but he may not discuss a case which is before the court.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

-I am concerned about nothing at the moment except the honour of Parliament.

Mr Blakeley:

– The honorable member is a fine judge of honour!

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

-I am not judging any man. All I say is that, until the honorable member for Dalley clears himself, not of suspicion or even of charges, but of the definite findings of a royal commission, he is not fit to take part in the proceedings of any parliament in the British Empire. I regret to say that this is the only Parliament in the Empire which would permit him for a moment to participate in its proceedings.

During the course of this discussion, the Prime Minister said that the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) was unfair’ in suggesting that the honorable member for Dalley might clear himself by taking action in the courts on his own account. In this connexion I wish to quote similar views which have been expressed by the Sydney Labor Daily. . I do not, of course, agree with the views that are generally expressed by this journal; but I pay my tribute of respect to it as one of the best means of political propaganda in Australia to-day. This newspaper has won my admiration for the honest, straightforward and courageous stand it has taken in relation to the honorable member for Dalley. It. has declared quite definitely that this gentleman has no right to be a member of the Cabinet under existing conditions. The view it has expressed has the endorsement’ of thousands of Labour supporters throughout Australia. I take my stand with the Labor Daily in the following comments which it made on this case on the 30th October last, and which, incidentally, support the views expressed by the honorable member for Oxley: -

It is said that there is much agitation in the Federal Labour Caucus as to whether Mr. Theodore shall, or shall not, resume the position of Treasurer.

It is alleged that there are elements in the Federal Labour caucus who do favour the resumption of that position by Mr. Theodore.

Why? In what respect have matters changed since the report of the royal commission in Queensland made charges against Mr. Theodore of such a character as led to his resignation ?

We said then, that if ho were guilty of the things of which he was accused, he was not fit to occupy any position in the Labour movement, and that his duty was to face a body competent to inquire into the allegations against him, and give evidence on oath.

Mr. Theodore evidently agreed with us; for he said that he would face a tribunal before which he could give sworn testimony. He asked the Prime Minister to relieve him of office until he had been given the opportunity which he requested.

It was stated in the press that Mr. Theodore had asked the Queensland Government to make a charge against him of criminal conduct. It was also stated that the Queensland Government’s reply to this was that the evidence did not disclose such wrong-doing as would justify a charge of crime, but that proceedings could be taken against Mr. Theodore of a “ civil “ character ; that is, of a character that might justify a claim for “ damages.”

Mr. Theodore, it was reported, objected to “ civil “ proceedings, as insufficient for the purpose of fully demonstrating his innocence, upon which the Premier of Queensland is reported to have pointed out to him that, although the publication of the report of the royal commission was privileged in Queensland, no such privilege existed in the other States, so that Mr. Theodore, if he felt so disposed, could take proceedings for criminal libel against any newspaper that had published the allegations.

The concluding paragraph of that article is as follows: -

This, however, does not dispose of the fact that it is necessary for a Labour leader to clear himself of any imputation that may be made against his political cleanliness, lt is not proper, it is not decent, that Mr. Theodore should re-enter the Federal Ministry - until this cleansing, upon oath, has taken place before a proper tribunal.

Mr Blakeley:

– “Why not stop raking up muck?

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– I am sorry that it is necessary for me to do so ; but the muck is there, and it must be removed.

Mr Blakeley:

– The honorable member is filthy.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– I ask that that word be withdrawn.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I appeal to the Minister for Home Affairs to assist in the maintenance of order, and I ask him to withdraw the word to which objection has been taken.

Mr Blakeley:

– I withdraw it.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

– It has been said that the honorable member for Dalley had no proper opportunity afforded him to establish his innocence before the royal commission. On that point the Labor Daily, in the leading article it published on the 28th January last, said -

We feel that, despite Mr. Theodore’s protestations that he was not given a chance to appear before the commission and defend his honour, at the time he treated altogether too lightly a very grave situation. Budget or no budget in the course of preparation, the average supporter of Labour considers that Mr. Theodore could have proceeded to Queensland and given his vital evidence before the commission concluded its sittings, and at no great sacrifice to himself or the party.

As’ to whether the honorable member is justified in continuing to discharge the duties of Treasurer of the Commonwealth, the Labor Daily, in its leading article on the 8th July last, stated -

Let it be said, at once, that if the statements made in that finding or report are true and strictly just, Mr. Theodore is not only not fit to be a member of any government in this country, he is also not fit to be a member of any parliament, and is particularly not fit to be a member of the Labour movement, in any capacity whatever.

There cannot be any equivocation about this matter. Labour desires to give to the elected administrators of the people’s affairs much wider control than at present; but they must bo men of integrity. If they be dishonest, corrupt or guilty of any form of sabotage, Labour does not want them; Labour detests them; Labour execrates them; Labour banishes them.

A later paragraph in the same article reads -

There is one way, and one way only, that will convince most reasonable men; and that way is for Mr. Theodore to go. into the witness box, and establish his innocence by evidence on oath. No proposal or any appeal to executives or committees, or caucuses, or even electors, will remove from the minds of the people doubts that may exist, unless the course mentioned bc adopted.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! The honorable member cannot proceed along those lines. He may not make any remarks which have a direct or indirect bearing upon the case at present before the Queensland courts. I appeal to the honorable member not to make any quotations from newspaper articles or elsewhere of that nature.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:

-I should be the last honorable member to endeavour to even try to transgress your ruling, sir, and I had no intention of expressing any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the honorable member for Dalley. My object in reading extracts from the Labor Daily articles was to show how the Labour movement in general regarded the position of the honorable member. My concluding quotation from this newspaper is the final paragraph of its leading article on the 28th January, which reads as follows: -

The Labor Daily cannot help but view the vacillating and contradictory action of federal parliamentarians - their lack of understanding of public opinion and appreciation of ethics - with supreme disgust.

This also is my view of these unsavoury incidents which have been forced upon our notice by the action of the honorable member for Dalley. In resuming his duties as a member of this Parliament, and particularly as a member of the Ministry, lie has been grossly unfair to Australia. This is the opinion of tens of thousands of his fellow citizens. I say without the slightest reservation that the honorable member has no right to be Treasurer of the Commonwealth, and that, by continuing in this office, he is doing a great deal’ to increase the lack of confidence that is being exhibited in regard to Australia to-day. The honor able member should retire from the Ministry, and also from the public life of Australia, until he has removed from his name the ugly stains which at present rest upon it.

At present there is no national policy before the country. The issue of fiduciary notes such as the Treasurer proposes is a deliberate attempt to rob the thrifty in this community. As four or five months must elapse before a double dissolution can take place, I should like to know what is going to happen to the country in the meantime. At present our expenditure is exceeding our income at the rate of £1,500,000 per month; unemployment is increasing in the same ratio, but apparently nothing is to be done to meet the appalling situation for at least five months. The trading banks will no longer finance the Governments, which to-day are depending entirely upon the Commonwealth Bank, the board of directors of which Was so grossly abused by the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) this afternoon. I take this opportunity to pay the highest possible tribute to the board of directors of that institution for the way in which it has prevented the workers from being exploited, and the thrifty in the community from being robbed. That board has protected the savings of the people, and I pay them a sincere and genuine tribute for the manner in which they have stood up- to the importuning of this Government. What is to happen unless the banks carry’ the Governments for another five months? That is the position which we have to face to-day. Nothing but an appeal to the people will clear the situation. T believe that this motion will be carried, but even if it should be defeated by one or two votes it is clear that the Government is crumbling to pieces, and that if the Government and its supporters dare to face an outraged democracy they will disappear from the Treasury bench unwept, unhonored and unsung.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– We have just’ listened to one of those cheap outbursts of “ Billingsgate “ from the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill), for which he is noted. When he was told by an honorable member that he should get out of the mud he replied - “I will not get out Of it.” He loves to be in it. He revels in it. He is never happy but when he is in it, and I think we might as well leave him there and continue to regard him as being quite incapable of indulging in useful criticism or offering helpful suggestions on any subjects that are under discussion in this chamber. While the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) was present, he made timid reference to him, but after he had left the chamber he plucked up courage and indulged in a cheap diatribe against the honorable gentleman. One cannot help thinking that he hates the Treasurer only because he fears him. After the Treasurer, who seems to be a nightmare to him, had left the chamber the honorable member said that if Mr. Theodore walked into the Nationalist party room he would immediately walk out. From the way in which he trembles whenever the Treasurer looks at him I should imagine that he would run rather than walk. The honorable member for Warringah reminds me of a child who receives a whipping’ in school, as the honorable member received this afternoon from the Treasurer, and who, when he gets outside and the school-master is not at hand, proceeds to say nasty things about him. He reminds one also of the loud-voiced lieutenant who was always to be found in the rear, and concerning whom his general said that he had the voice of a bull but the heart of a protoplasm.

No useful suggestions have been offered by honorable members opposite, not even by the Leader of the Opposition. They have indulged in the cheapest form of criticism and have not made any helpful suggestions to assist the country in the trying time through which it is now passing. The speech of the honorable member for Warringah this evening was practically the same as his first speech in this chamber. The only variations were his extracts from the Bulletin or the Labor Daily. If there were no Bulletin no Labor Daily, we should not have had a speech from him. If he wishes honorable members to listen to him he will have to reach a higher plane, or he will richly deserve the charge which is laid against him of being incapable of useful criticism. I give that advice to the honorable member for what it is worth.

I compliment the Leader of the Opposition upon his candour. I regret that he did not display more of it. He said -

Only seventeen months ago the Labour party was returned to the House with the largest majority that any single party has ever gained since federation, and Australia has had seventeen months of suffering and distress.

Similar criticism was indulged in by other honorable members, who did not make any further comment. The Leader of the Opposition went on to say -

I do not blame the ‘ Government for the whole of that, nor do I desire to suggest that the Government was responsible for the whole of the difficulties or anything like the whole of the difficulties existing in Australia.

That was a candid admission. He continued -

I recognize, as all reasonable men must, that any government in charge of the affairs of the Commonwealth to-da)’ must be faced with problems of a most acute character.

One would think from the remarks of the honorable member for Warringah that this Government was solely to blame. The Leader of the Opposition suggested that those who left office seventeen months ago were largely responsible.

Mr Latham:

– -I did not suggest anything of the kind.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I was under the impression that the Leader of the Opposition had that in his mind, but whether he believes it or not, the Government of which he was a member is responsible. To-day this country is experiencing considerable difficulties because of six years of mal-administration by the Bruce-Page Government. Honorable members on this side of the chamber have been too generous towards the remnants of the past administration.

Mr Gullett:

– The Prime Minister did not blame the late Government.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I have made the statement in the presence of my leader. Whoever is responsible, our duty is to endeavour to relieve the position. Apparently honorable members opposite who think that the people have short memories wish it to be forgotten that while the Bruce-Page Govern- ment was in office it placed a burden upon the shoulders of this Government, which it has been endeavouring to remove ever since it has been in power.

The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) did not attempt to answer the points raised by the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) in the speech that he delivered this afternoon. It is not my desire to recount in detail the figures that that honorable gentleman placed before this House. We all know what sort of legacy was handed down to this Government by the Bruce-Page Government. A onetime Premier of Victoria, Mr. William Shiels, referring to the legacy that was handed down to him by his predecessor, described it as a damnosa haereditas. It was one of the worst legacies that had ever been left to a government in the State of Victoria; but it was as nothing compared with the legacy that was left, to this Government by the BrucePage Government. The Treasurer, this afternoon, omitted to give some figures that ought to be placed on record; and even those that were given by him are well worth repeating by every honorable member on this side, because of the liability to forgetfulness on the part of the people. Honorable members opposite are trading on the belief that the people have short memories.

When this Government assumed office, it, was faced with a huge adverse trade balance of £70,000,000, that had accumulated during the six years’ administration of die Bruce-Page Government. The loan market was closed against us because of the unprecedented.lv excessive borrowing of that Government which, in the last three years of its administration, raised nineteen loans aggregating £125,000,000. That unprecedented borrowing was reflected in the huge importations of foreign goods, which destroyed Australian industries, and in the peak period amounted to no less a sum than £164,000,000. The decline of our industries had the result of heaping up unemployment in Australia.

If we wish to obtain evidence of the colossal extravagance of the Bruce-Page Government, we need not go beyond the boundaries of this capital city. The sum of £50,000 was spent o nthe foundations of an administrative blocks upon the construction of which a commence ment, has never been made. The renovations alone to Yarralumla, to make it suitable for the Governor-General’s residence cost £70,000; and an amount of £28,000 was expended on the Prime Minister’s lodge. Honorable members opposite would like the country to forget its record of wasteful .expenditure, huge importations, and unprecedented adverse trade balances; but 1 believe that every person who wishes to see the right thing done will admit that the responsibility for the desperate position in which this country finds itself to-day, and the tremendous difficulties that, have confronted this Government during the last seventeen months, ought fairly to be placed on the shoulders of the Bruce-Page Government. If the people have short memories, every available opportunity should be seized to refresh them. If, when the Leader of the Opposition said that this Government was not responsible for all or nearly all of our troubles, he had not in mind the responsibility that attached to his own party, I now give it as my opinion that undeniably the responsibility largely rests upon the shoulders of that party.

Mr Latham:

– The Minister knows that I was referring to world conditions. I stated that quite clearly.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– 1 do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition is prepared to admit that the Government of which he was a member was in any way responsible. He ought to be sufficiently generous to say that a great deal, at all events, of the responsibility lies at the door of that Government. The facts cannot be combated.

Every honorable member who has spoken from the other side of the chamber has referred to the desperate position in which the wheat-farmers of Australia find themselves to-day, and it will not be amiss if I review the facts with the object of placing the responsibility where it properly belongs. If honorable members opposite are labouring under the belief that the wheat-growers have short memories they are very greatly mistaken, because within the last fortnight I have received a deputation of representative wheat-growers from all the wheat-growing States of the Commonwealth, who may fairly be said to reflect the opinion of the wheat-growers as a whole as to where the responsibility lies for the desperate position in which they find themselves. “With one accord each of the dozen speakers who placed before me certain resolutions that had been passed at a recent conference at Melbourne, admitted that if the “Wheat Marketing Bill, introduced by this Government had been passed by this Parliament, the wheatgrowers would not now occupy their present position. With one voice they said that the responsibility for the failure of that bill to become law lay upon the Senate, the composition of which is such at the present time that a majority of its members belong to the Nationalist and Country parties. The Leader of the Opposition may thing that wheat-growers are too busy to devote much time to a consideration of political events; if he does, he can disabuse his mind of that impression. It was refreshing and gratifying to me to learn that they realize who are responsible for the difficulties under which they are labouring to-day. I shall avail myself of every opportunity that presents itself to remove any wrong impression that may be caused in the minds of the wheat-growers of this country by misleading statements of members of the Opposition.

The facts are simple, and they are easily understood. Within two months of the assumption of office by this Government I convened at Canberra a conference of wheat-growers from every State of the Commonwealth. It was the most representative gathering of wheat-growers that had ever assembled at any centre. Having consulted them, the Government agreed to introduce a Wheat Marketing Bill providing for the establishment of a pool, to be managed by the wheatgrowers themselves. That was exactly what they had asked for. The Leader of the Opposition said the other day that we introduced that measure in such a form that it was not acceptable to the States. The fact of the matter is that, when it came before this House, the honorable gentleman opposed it without offering any reasonable or feasible substitute for it. That has been his attitude towards everything that this Government has tried to do to benefit the primary producers. But having done that, he had not the courage to vote against the bill, and it passed this House on the voices. It was sent to the Senate, where it was rejected by the votes of two members of the Nationalist and Country parties. No sooner did that happen, than honorable members opposite accused the Government of insincerity - an accusation that they are still making. It is completely answered by the fact that when the bill was before this Parliament every honorable member of the Government party, both in this House and in the Senate, voted for it. It was defeated by two Country party senators from Western Australia, who said that if an amendment which they suggested were introduced into it they would agree to it.

Mr Gregory:

– It was an amendment that the Minister had turned down in this House.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The honorable member for Swan knows that I stated at the time, and that the Leader of the Senate stated on my behalf and on behalf of the Government, that opportunity would be given in committee to’ insert the suggested amendments, and that if they were inserted I would accept them. But instead of allowing the bill to go to the committee stage they rejected it on the second reading. I place these facts on record, and I challenge contradiction of them.

Mr McNeill:

– The Senate Opposition would do the same again.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Yes, amendment or no amendment. The party represented by honorable members opposite has shown by its actions that it has no sympathy whatever with the primary producers. All it seems to live for is to embarrass this Government when it tries to benefit the farmers.

Mr Jones:

– Was there any lobbying for the purpose of bringing about the defeat of that bill?

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

-^ have never seen such lobbying as was indulged in by representatives of the agents while the bill was before the Senate. It was commonly stated that some of them left Canberra the night before the bill was defeated, remarking, “ Everything is all right ; we have got the numbers.” We may draw our own conclusions as to the meaning of that observation.

The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) suggested that the Government did not endeavour to meet the Opposition and the representatives of the wheat-growers, but let me read one or two statements by representative members of organizations who speak for the wheatgrowers, and by members of the Country party in this House. Mr. Nock, secretary of the Farmers and Settlers Association in New South Wales, -remarked -

The Minister for Markets, right through the framing of the bill, has been most considerate to the farmers’ representatives who met him. Almost every suggested amendment was accepted by him, and the farmers’ interests were protected in every possible way. Few farmers were more disappointed at the rejection of the bill than the Minister himself was.

They admitted that I could not have done more than I did to assist in the passage of the measure. At a conference of wheatgrowers in Sydney shortly after the defeat of the bill, Mr. Trethowan, General President of the Farmers and Settlers Association of Australia, stated -

I am quite satisfied that the Government did its best to carry the bill into operation.

That statement was supported by the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen). The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) and the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) were both generous enough to say privately to me, and also publicly, that I had left nothing undone to meet the wishes of the wheatgrowers’ representatives who met me in conference, and to assist in carrying the bill into law. Yet certain honorable members opposite have been trying ever since to make the farmers believe that the Government was not sincere in its efforts to help them by the establishment of a compulsory pool.

Mr Gullett:

– Did the Government ever have the ghost of a chance of finding the necessary money?

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The honorable member tries to obstruct the Government in every action it takes for the benefit of the primary producers. He opposed the pool in every way. Never do we attempt to raise a hand to help the producers than he and his leader get together in an effort to thwart the Government’s purpose by bringing about the defeat of the legislation it seeks to pass.

Mr Gullett:

– Could the Government have raised a shilling for carrying out that scheme?

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The honorable member has been told times without number, and he knows perfectly well, that before the Government touched this bill at all it had the approval of the Governor and Deputy Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, who said that there would be no difficulty in arranging the necessary finance. The Bank Board also approved of the proposal.

Mr Latham:

– The trouble is that nobody ever believed it.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– It is undeniable whenever this Government attempts to do anything for the distressed primary producers, the Leader of the Opposition pretends he has a better scheme than that propounded by the Government. He seems to live to embarrass the Ministry. He is trying to exploit the disabilities under which the primary producers are labouring. When he speaks of the raising of a private loan he knows that he is indulging in so much idle talk, because, if such a loan were raised, the farmers would be charged interest on the money advanced, and they are in such distress to-day that they are unable to pay any interest. The plan of the present Government is to allocate to necessitous farmers, free of interest, £2,500,000 of the £6,000,000 to be raised for the benefit of the wheat-growers. This money will be a gift to them. When the Leader of the Opposition and his deputy have to choose between political advantage and the granting of relief to the primary producers, politics win. every time, and the producers are cast to the four winds.

Upon the present Government assuming office, it was announced that, after consultation with the growers, its policy was to introduce a wheat marketing bill designed to give the growers control of their own industry. That was a clear and unmistakable policy, and within two months of taking office we proceeded to place the measure on the statute-book; but we were prevented from doing so by members of the party in opposition. That is a brief and accurate statement of the position. My answer to the assertion of the Leader of the Opposition that we had four schemes to provide assistance to the wheat-growers is that we had one clear and definite plan, and it would have been adopted but for ‘the fact that the party opposite destroyed it. If this Government acted as other governments often do, it would have said : “ Our policy was to give the wheat-growers control of their own industry. Our bill has been destroyed in. another place, and that is the end of it.” But we did not rest there ; we did not cast the whole of the blame upon our opponents, because we were not considering the political aspect of the matter so much as earnestly endeavouring to help the farmers; so we proceeded to try to assist them in other directions.

We subsequently tried to give the farmers a guarantee of 3s. a bushel for their wheat. Of course, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) claims that the Government rah away from this proposal ; yet he knows that the Commonwealth Bank took legal advice, and said that effect could not be given to it. The Government was no more responsible for that fact than for the action of honorable members opposite and their friends in refusing to carry the Wheat Marketing Bill. Members opposite are hot honest enough to say that the Government then immediately arranged with the Commonwealth Bank for an increase in the wheat advance from 2s. to 2s. 4d. a bushel f.o.b, and that all farmers in voluntary pools received the benefit of the extra 4d. We again approached the bank and induced it to increase the advance to the full value of the wheat sold from time to time. The Government was defeated on its original proposal, but it. still continues to do what it can for the farmers. It now proposes to make available to them the sum of £6,000,000, of which £2,500,000 will be expended in the form of relief to necessitous farmers.

The moment that scheme was announced, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) rushed about the country in order to get members of the chambers of commerce and private bankers to assist him to prevent the wheat-growers from receiving this assistance. In doing so he merely did what he has done all along. Rather than see the present Government get any credit for having assisted the wheat-growers he would allow the primary producers of this country to continue to suffer. The honorable gentleman is afraid that the Government might secure assistance for wheat-growers, and he goes out of his way to thwart its efforts. In an effort to gain some credit for himself, he has announced a most fantastic scheme for assisting the farmers of this country. It is said that his proposal has the approval of the chambers of commerce, and the bankers of Australia; but where the money is to come from, neither he nor any one else seems to know. If, as he says, the majority of the farmers of Australia are down and out, it is inconceivable that they would be able to pay the interest on any money advanced to them. I do not know how he can expect private people to make advances to farmers whose position is so desperate that they are unable to pay interest. In the event of the money being available to pay interest, how can it be said that the farmers who can pay it are in necessitous circumstances? With a full knowledge of the difficulties confronting the men on the land, the Government proposes to give them a free grant of £3,500,000. In no other way can they be given practical assistance.

Mr Gullett:

– It will be worthless paper.

The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lewis) interjecting.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr McGrath:
BALLAARAT, VICTORIA

– If the honorable member for Corio interjects again, I shall name him.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I have here an extract from a journal capable of expressing an unbiased view of what is going on in the country. No one can say that the Melbourne Age is particularly friendly towards the Labour party. It, nevertheless, can be fearless and fair. In its issue yesterday, the Age stated -

Leaders of the Opposition have been profuse in their professions of desire to help the farmers. That desire the entire Australian people share. The need of many primary producers is admittedly urgent. At the numerous gatherings they are at present organizing the resolutions passed invariably culminate in certain demands. The granting of these demands would mean a drain oh national funds. To deal with this phase of the emergency the Federal Opposition would seem to have no positive policy. An attitude of unreasoning antagonism to whatever the Government may propose cannot be permitted to masquerade as such.

Nothing could be more to the point.

The speeches of honorable members opposite in this debate show to what extent their judgment can be biased. Honorable members of the Opposition have been full of criticism of the Government; not one of them has offered a useful suggestion to help his country in this time of need. Soon after the present Government assumed office, it was approached by some members of the Country party, who urged that wheat-farmers should be given an opportunity to control their own affairs by means of a wheat pool. If that is their opinion, why did they do nothing during the six years that the Bruce-Page Government was in office? It is true that some members of the Country party supported the present Government’s proposal for the establishment of a compulsory wheat pool when a bill for that purpose was before this House. Their desire to assist the Government to help the farmers suggests that during the regime of the late Government, they felt that it was useless to express their views. If what they now urge should be done for the farmers had been done when the government they supported was in office, the farmers of this country would not now need assistance. It is difficult to understand why honorable members opposite attempt to frustrate every effort of the Government to assist the primary producers of this country. Their speeches would lead one to believe that only the farmers of Australia are in sore straits, whereas it is generally well known that the farmers of other countries are in as bad, or even a worse, position. Recently, I passed through Canada where I found that the prairie farmers were indeed in a serious plight.

Mr M CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; NAT from 1925; UAP from 1931

– The Canadian Government did not put a primage duty on their requirements.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The honorable gentleman does not know anything about the condition of the farmers of Canada. The Government of that dominion is faced with a deficit of £20,000,000. Canada has a sales tax which is higher than that in operation in Australia; the rate of the tax was increased only recently. It can truthfully be said that the farmers of Canada are, for the most part, living on the dole. I have here an extract from a newspaper published in Toronto, which, under the heading “Affluent Two Years Ago, Farmers now in Want “, sets out the desperate position of Canada. The article states -

Even in the relatively prosperous area of Stonehenge a year ago, when conditions were materially- better than now, between 40 per cent. and 50 per cent. of the farmers in the municipality found it necessary to accept one or all of these types of relief. This winter the percentage will be materially higher Farther west, as high as 90 per cent. ofthe farmers willneed help before this winteris over.

The farmers of Canada are about to take a ballot to obtain the very thing that this Government tried to give the farmers of Australia - a wheat pool. Sir Graham Waddell, president of the Advisory Wheatgrowers Council, a man whose opinion honorable members opposite will accept, recently said that primary production was in’ a desperate position ; and that the present position of the Canadian farmers was not the fault of governments or of any one else in particular; that their plightwas the plight of farmers throughout the world.

Mr White:

-We know that.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The honorable member makes that admission, yet he supports a. leader who. would make the people of Australiabelievethat the present Government is responsible for the suffering of the farmers in Australia. I know that , in different parts of New South Wales, meetings of farmers and others are being convened. The conveners are endeavouring to make political capital of the misery of . the wheatfarmers. They blame the present Government. As the honorable member for Balaclava has admitted, this position is not confined to. Australia; it is world wide. The Commonwealth Government is the only government that has, up to, date, framed any concrete and positive policy for the purpose of assisting the wheat-growers. Unfortunately, our efforts in that direction were thwarted by the Senate. South Africa now proposes to follow our lead, and Canada proposes to establish a 100 per cent. wheat pool. That was part of the policy that we attempted to place on the statute-book of this country, and it would be operating now had it not been for the obstruction of honorable members opposite.

Mr Morgan:

– Why did the Government sidestep the proposed flour tax.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– It is to the credit of the honorable member that he was the only member of the Nationalist party who supported the Wheat Marketing Bill. Does he still consider that that legislation was framed on right lines or has he changed his mind?

Mr Morgan:

– I would vote for a similar measure to-day, but I would go further and vote for an excise duty on flour which the Government refuses to impose.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– All these subsidiary things would have been easy of accomplishment had the Wheat Marketing Bill been carried, because that was framed on lines that would have overcome certain constitutional difficulties. Some of the States - I believe Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria - propose to fix the price of wheat for local consumption, but that will only be possible if the legislation, which we propose to introduce, is passed. That legislation contains a provision which will control the interstate movements of wheat. I understand that it is the intention of the Leader of the Opposition at all events to oppose the legislation under which it is proposed to raise £6,000,000 to assist the farmer. If that bill is defeated the State legislation fixing the price of wheat and flour for local consumption will also be defeated. Honorable members who are responsible for that will indeed be deserving of the condemnation of the wheat-growers throughout Australia.

I have shown what this Government has done in the direction of assisting the wheat-farmers of this country. Our policy has been misrepresented by the Nationalist party throughout the length and breadth of this country, and now that I have placed the full facts before the House no fair-minded person could contend that this Government has been responsible in any way for the sufferings of the wheat-growers. Had the policy of this Government been given effect, the wheat-growers of Australia would have been in an absolutely safe position, but, unfortunately, because of the obstruction of Opposition members in the Senate to the Wheat Marketing Bill, the Government’s efforts to assist the farmers were rendered futile.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– The Government has done nothing.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The honorable member can, parrot like, repeat that a thousand times, but he cannot get away from the facts which are now on record.

Instead of assisting the Government in its efforts to relieve the wheatgrowers, honorable members opposite have done nothing but waste the time of this House. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) spoke about inflation. He said that he intends to oppose the proposed legislation - one of the objects of which is to assist the wheatgrowersbecause he considers it to be a method of inflation. He should be the last to oppose inflation. He claims to be the originator of the Paterson stabilization scheme for the marketing of butter, yet its very basis is inflation. That scheme, which I have always supported, fixes the price of butter for home consumption above world parity. The honorable member for Gippsland stands for the principle of inflation in regard to butter producers, but not in regard to wheat-growers, despite the fact that the butter stabilization scheme is on all fours with the proposal of the Government to assist the wheat-growers of Australia. I do not know exactly who is the actual leader of the Country party. At one time the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) deplored the wasteful extravagance indulged in by the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), and he has no faith in him as Leader of the Country party. At all events, the Deputy Leader of the Country party says that the policy of that side of the House is to reduce wages and old-age, invalid, and war pensions. Those reductions will certainly take place if the Nationalist party regain office.

Mr GREGORY:
Swan

.- I do not suppose that at any time in the history of this Parliament a motion of censure has been more justified than that moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham). No previous government has displayed the ineptitude and political cowardice of this Government. The Minister for Markets (Mr. Parker Moloney) spoke about captains or lieutenants leading their men from behind, but never before in the history of Australia have we seen such a sacrifice of power and control as that made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) and his colleagues during the past twelve months. The Minister also said that we, on this side of the House, could speak of nothing but the position of the Treasurer who, he said, is a nightmare to us; but I am afraid that the Treasurer is more of a nightmare to the supporters of the Government and their organizations. They realize how dangerous to the party is the reinstatement of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) as Treasurer.

During the debate references have been made to the extravagant loan expenditure of recent years. Figures have been quoted as if the Commonwealth alone were responsible for that expenditure. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) spoke of the great expenditure of loan money, but I should like to point out to him that in Western Australia the loan expenditure increased by no less than £23,000,000 during the six years of office of the Labour party. That applies to some extent to the other States, particularly those in which the Labour party has been in power. The Minister for Markets made frequent mention of the plight of the farmers and primary producers of this country, and he had the impertinence . to say that this Government had been generous to them. Let me say that it is almost impossible to compute the increased charges to the primary producers during the last twelve months, brought about by the imposition of .increased tariff duties on all articles affecting the man on the land. The primage duty of 4 per cent, costs the farmers of this country £200,000 a year on the phosphatic rock and sulphur used for the manufacture of superphosphate, and on the bags they require for bagging their grain. Moreover, the. Government has imposed an embargo on the importation of practically all agricultural machinery, as well as on galvanized iron. Crushing duties have been heaped upon practically every one of the requirements of the primary producers, and yet the Minister for Markets (Mr. Parker Moloney) h&r the impertinence to say that the Government is desirous of helping that very class.

The Minister also referred to the two wheat bills which had been presented to this House. Straight-out bounties have been granted to many other primary industries, but in connexion with the wheat industry it was provided in the first bill that half of the bounty should be furnished by the State Governments. We in Western Australia, who produce a very large quantity of wheat, nearly all of which is exported, would be required under the bill to pay half of any loss that might accrue on the guarantee. I brought forward a specific amendment to the bill in this connexion which would have protected the interests’ of growers in my State, but that amendment was turned down by the Minister. He had five weeks to consider an amendment before’ the bill was finally dealt with by the Senate, but not until the last moment did he indicate his willingness to give favorable consideration to my amendment. When it was asked that the second reading of the bill should be deferred so that some arrangement might be come to in regard to Western Australia, no satisfactory reply could be obtained from the Minister, and the matter was forced to a division. We also sought definite information as to the constitutional obligation which would rest upon the Government in the event of the bill being passed. It appeared that the bill could be put into operation without the Commonwealth Government being . called upon to pay one ‘6d. to the primary producers. Does any one really believe now that the Commonwealth. Bank was prepared to find 4s. a bushel on the wheat produced? The Governor and directors of the bank would have been unfit for their positions if they were prepared to pay anything like that amount.’ If, on the other hand, they were prepared to advance 4s. a bushel then, why can they not find 38: a bushel how in accordance with the bill which Has been passed by both Houses of Parliament? However’; by means of a nice little trick, the guarantee of 3s. a bushel by the Government has been made conditional upon 2s. a bushel being paid for the wheat at sidings. If the Government is really in earnest in its professed desire to help the wheat-farmer’s, let it repeal this provision, and keep faith with the farmers in regard to the 3s. a bushel guarantee. When it was found that the Government was unable to do anything in connexion with the first bill brought before Parliament, a conference was held at Canberra, and it was suggested that a tax should be imposed upon flour manufactured in Australia, and the proceeds distributed, to the farmers, enabling them to receive from 6£d. to 7d. a bushel more for their wheat. Cabinet turned down that proposal, because, it said, it would make bread Id. a loaf dearer. I remind members of the .Government, however, that had the Government carried out its proposal to guarantee the farmers 4s. a bushel, its commitments in that respect would have been equivalent to an extra 7d. or 8d. a loaf on the price of bread. The Government had the opportunity of assisting the wheatfarmers in the manner suggested, but, far from doing that, it chose to heap additional burdens upon the primary producers. I challenge the Government now to repeal the clause relating to the payment of 2s. a bushel at sidings, and to find the 3s. a bushel f .o.b. which it promised. It’ was impossible that the conditions relating to the 2s. a bushel should be fulfilled. Let us have no more flimsy talk about what is to be done in the future, but let the Government take steps now to help those who are suffering severely. The Minister compared the conditions of wheat-farmers here with those of the farmers in Canada. I cannot say what is being done now under the new protectionist Government in Canada ; but I do know that two .years ago the Government treated the primary producers very generously; Mining and agricultural machinery were allowed to come into the country duty free.

I was one of those who objected to the Prime Minister leaving Australia when he did, faking an expensive retinue with him.

Mr Forde:

-His retinue was much smaller than that which accompanied any other Prime Minister.

Mr GREGORY:

– It would have been better for him to have stayed in Australia, where great difficulties had to be faced. The only result of the Prime Minister’s visit was that ah alteration was made! in the system of appointing the Governor-General, and, in my opinion, it would be much better if such a change had not been made. I have nothing to say against the gentleman now occupying the position, but I regret exceedingly that a departure has been made from the old method of appointment. What we want here is a representative of the King, and not of any government. I regret that anything should have been done which might destroy the ties which bind us to the Empire. I take exception also to the manner in which the Government has made appointments to the High Court bench”. I make no reflection upon the recent appointments, but the manner of their making opens the way for the future appointment of some party hack to the position of Governor-General.

Before the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) left Australia, a conference was held to discuss the financial position, and a, resolution was adopted in which all the governments represented at the conference declared their fixed determination to balance their respective budgets by 1931. I recognize that, as events turned out, it was not possible for this declaration to be adhered to completely, but the Government could have made an effort to keep to it as closely as possible. What has become of the Prime Minister’s fixed determination ? Where is his backbone? This Goliath, this tower of strength, this invincible Prime Minister whose word was to be his bond, has shown himself to be only a gingerbread Prime Minister.

Mr Lewis:

– - If he had deserted his principles and gone over to the honorable member’s party, he would have been described as a statesman.

Mr GREGORY:

– I want him to be loyal to the country, and, for a time, to forget party; hut who suggested that lie should join this party? No suggestion emanated from this side that he should become one of a composite government. I know that an attempt was made to injure the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) by sending out to the press false statements to the effect that he sought such a coalition, but no such suggestion was discussed. Honorable members on this side of the House proposed that they should do everything possible to assist the Government in the present circumstances, but they went no further than that; they were prepared to accept their full share of responsibility for any scheme of retrenchment.

Mr Lewis:

– Then why is the party opposite promising certain Labour members immunity from opposition if they go over to the other side.

Mr Paterson:

– That is news to me; I have heard nothing of it.

Mr GREGORY:

– So far as the Prime

Minister is concerned, in tongue, he was a lion, but in heart, he was a mouse. He has sacrificed everything to party. What is the reason for his change of attitude ? Was he jealous of the high encomiums bestowed by the people on the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fenton), and the Acting Treasurer (Mr. Lyons) ? Those gentlemen had just completed the flotation of a wonderful conversion loan. A sum of £28,000,000 was secured, although the public could, by going to the open market, have bought bonds at a price which would have returned them from 1 per cent. to 2 per cent. more than the Government was offering. The public believed the honour of Australia was at stake, and they’ had the pledge of the Government that no inflation would be resorted to, so they subscribed to the conversion loan. The Government, at that time, resisted the angry demands of caucus for an inflated currency. The public will not forget what happened. They will not forget that when the honorable member for Wilmot left the caucus meeting for Melbourne, he was pursued to the railway station by the then Minister for Defence (Mr. A. Green) who implored, “For God’s sake, Joe, do not do anything rash!”. Then, that same Minister subsequently voted against the honorable member for Wilmot, and was rewarded by receiving his job. These gentlemen, for the sake of their principles, quitted office, and placed themselves out side the party with which they had been so long associated, and they did this largely because they objected to the reappointment of the present Treasurer (Mr. Theodore). Where is the gratitude of the Prime Minister to the men who had carried on for so long in his absence, and whose declarations of policy had been made with his full Concurrence?

Mr Lewis:

– Both those gentlemen resigned their positions; they were not removed from them.

Mr GREGORY:

– Those men who were prepared to put their country before their party, and sacrifice their political futures, were thrown aside for one whose record in Queensland is one of disaster to that State, and whose entry into federal politics reflected no credit on himself or on his friends. If those old and respected colleagues of the Prime Minister found that they could not suffer the presence of the Treasurer in the Cabinet, is it surprising that those on this side of the House look upon his return to office as an insult to Parliament and to themselves? I, for one, regard it as such.

The Government has evinced no respect for pledges. We have been presented with the spectacle of a government controlled by caucus, and of a caucus controlled by irresponsibles outside Parliament. That cannot be denied. After seventeen months in office, this Government can point only to a policy of sheer extravagance and procrastination, and the imposition of additional taxation. It has been prominent for its cowardly subversion of ministerial responsibility, its discreditable sacrifice of personal honour, and its adoption of a policy of spoils to the victors, while its ruthless imposts on our producers has brought upon it a contempt and condemnation that is nation wide. In my State there is no question about the opinion of the people. They are disgusted and fed up with this Parliament, and are determined to have a referendum in the near future on the question of secession. And similar opinions are held all over the Commonwealth. Tasmania is complaining of the adverse influence of federation; South Australia is pointing out how it has been injured by federation and the policy of this Government, while in New South Wales some cry for unification, and others for secession. This Government has shown itself to be an absolute failure. Federation has proved futile, the Commonwealth Government continually encroaching upon the powers of the State Governments. If I have any influence I shall do my best to place Western Australia outside the sphere of federation.

Many claim that my utterances are pessimistic. There is no more optimistic person with regard to the future of Australia than I. My pessimism is directed towards the politicians of the country.Throughout the speech of the Minister for Markets (Mr. Parker Moloney) he told us what his Government would do for this section and that section if it were kept in power. Soon we shall all be doing nothing more than taking in one another’s washing. Australia is a marvellous country, and we should be optimistic as to its future. Its latent wealth is beyond computation. It is rich in gold, copper, and other minerals. It has magnificent agricultural and pastoral country, and glorious forests. If we could but govern Australia properly and interfere less with the progress of the people it would be one of the finest countries under God’s sun. The calibre of the people is splendid, too. It is this terrible political tyranny, the domination by one section, that is stultifying the efforts of the earnest few who seek to assist Australia to achieve its destiny. Some parliamentarians are for ever going round and offering something in the nature of a political bribe in order that they may retain their seats in this chamber.

I know that the present depression is world wide. I am also aware of the great depressions that existed in 1866 and 1893, and of the terrible condition of affairs that prevailed in Great Britain from 1822 to 1830, after the Napoleonic wars. I am confident that if the words of Macaulay were brought to realization, and more of the government of the country left to the people, we should make a great step towards recovery. We have overcome depression before, and will do so again.

It would probably be a good thing if a dissolution of this parliament were effected. I do not believe that the people in the cities have recognized the basic fact that it is the country that produces the real wealth of the nation, and that our cities do not produce one commodity with which we can compete on the markets of the world. This Government imposes embargoes and excessive tariffs, which make our cost of production exorbitantly high, so that it is impossible for us to compete in the world’s market. Our primary producers have to bear the burden. They are being strangled by the multifarious customs duties, dumping duties, embargoes, arbitration awards, the high taxation, and by legislative interference with industry.

It must be more generally understood that if we do not produce wealth we cannot enjoy good conditions of living. No man will endeavour to produce unless he believes that the value of his product will be greater than the cost of production. He must have some little profit. The cities cannot prosper and have good conditions unless our basic industries also prosper. If there are going to be any concessions, industrially or otherwise, they should be given to the stalwarts who go upon the land and risk fire, drought, floods and fickle markets.

The Prime Minister promised that confidence would be restored in Australia, but neither he nor his Government has made any attempt to bring about its restoration. Sir Otto Niemeyer was brought to Australia on a special mission, to help the nation with his expert financial knowledge. He came, and submitted his opinion. I make it clear that he did not publish that opinion, but gave it in confidence at the conference of Premiers and Treasurers. It was either the Prime Minister or the conference that published, the report. Sir Otto did not attempt to interfere with Australia’s policy, as was contended by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and others. He merely stated that we must retrench and live within our means. Had we made a genuine endeavour to do so, we should not have had the slightest difficulty in funding that £37,000,000 that was due in London in September last, which would have made our position infinitely easier than it now is. Instead, the Government persisted in its policy of increasing expenditure and decreasing’ its revenues. As a contrast, let me cite the floating of the Indian loan a few weeks ago. About £14,000,000 waa subscribed in two hours, simply because of the confidence which people had in that country.

The present crisis is not a banking crisis. The banks found over £60,000,000 for the Government last year. What right has a Government to spend a single 6d. more than it collects from the people? What right has it to go to the banks, which have the savings of the people, and say to them, “ For the sake of the honour of the Commonwealth, you must make available to us money that would otherwise be going out to the manufacturers, the wheat-growers, and our primary producers generally?” This crisis has been brought about by great extravagance, which must cease. Every effort must be made to reduce our expenditure and to live as nearly as possible within our means. If that is done, there will be very little difficulty in obtaining money from Great Britain to enable us to carry on until the time arrives when further help is unnecessary.

Mr Keane:

– How would the honorable member reduce our expenditure?

Mr GREGORY:

– I am prepared to make one of a committee which would meet the Ministry and accept its full share of the responsibility in formulating and recommending to Parliament some satisfactory solution of the problem which now confronts us. If that were done, there could be no attack on honorable members opposite for making a reduction in salaries, and so forth, as we would take our full share of the responsibility for the action.

Since the establishment of federation numerous unnecessary departments have been created. There has been encroachment after encroachment by the Commonwealth on State preserves, which has resulted in greatly increased expenditure. It is time that we called a halt, if we desire to make federation a success. There is not the slightest doubt that we have been taking too much money from the people. In 1920 the Commonwealth and State Governments collected £116,000,000 from the taxpayers, while in 1929 they took. £190,000,000 from them and still were £6,000,000 to the bad. ‘

Mr Keane:

– Those were all Nationalist Governments.

Mr GREGORY:

– That statement is really too stupid to deserve an answer, and it indicates that the honorable member is deliberately trying to mislead the House. He knows that Mr. Collier led a Labour Government in Western Australian for six years, while Labour was in office in Queensland for a lengthy term. Taxation in 1920 amounted to £56,000,000, while in 1929 it had increased to £88,000,000, and is still increasing. It must be remembered that we have only six and a half million people to bear the burden, which is too great. I ask honorable members to remember the terrible conditions under which our farmers are living. I have in mind a farmer who had been on the land in a northern district for 25 ‘ years. He had a wife, and a son 22 years of age, and had built a home for them on his holding. The collapse came, his position became hopeless. He became desperate, shot his son, his wife, and then himself. Tragedy after tragedy is occurring in my State, because of the impossible burdens that have been placed on the shoulders of the primary producers by this Government. Let it be remembered that when the man on the land is suffering the reaction manifests itself in additional unemployment in the cities. If the wealth is not being produced by the country, it is impossible to employ our workers in the cities. It is dreadful to see tens of thonsands of honest men, some of the finest people to be found in the world, tramping Australia looking for work, and unable to find it.

I do not suppose that I should be in order if I dealt with the policy that should be adopted in the future. I should like to see very drastic changes made in this Parliament, big reductions of tariffs, and the termination of the numerous concessions that are at present given to secondary industries. It is also necessary to repeal the Commonwealth Arbitration Act. Above all, it is imperative that we should re-establish confidence in the Government of the country. If that could be done, Australia would in a few years regain financial stability. The advisory committee of experts recently appointed, whose recommendation that £15,000,000 in Commonwealth and State expenditurecould be avoided ought to be given every consideration, has said -

At the present time the gravest danger to confidence lies in the unbalanced condition of government budgets. Banks have been granting to governments further credits comparable in amount to their added advances to industry. Unhappily, the growing size of budgetary deficits threatens an increasing resort by governments to an expedient which must undermine the purchasing power of the Australian pound. The amount of credit used for ordinary government expenditure will decrease the amount of loanable funds in the community and make less available for capital expenditure, whether by governments or private enterprise. This is a present source of difficulty.

In what position is the present Government placing Mr. Hill and Mr.Whitford of South Australia, and Mr, Hogan, of Victoria, who are doing their best to carry out the promises they made’ at the Melbourne conference?

Mr Lewis:

– The result of their efforts has been to increase unemployment and bring about greater deficits.

Mr GREGORY:

– If the honorable member was not so stupid he would realize that with increased wealth there is less unemployment. According to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) each increased duty would provide employment for many thousands of Australians, Where is that employment ? Of course, the Minister might have thought that he was justified in making that declaration, but wealth is not being created in Australia to-day.

Mr yates:

-The honorable member is mis-stating the fact when he says that wealth is not being produced.

Mr GREGORY:

– The honorable member also is stupid if he says that 100,000 bushels of wheat last year at 4s. were not worth more than 160,000 bushels this year at 2s. The position is the same in regard to our wool. We are not getting the wealth to-day.

Mr Yates:

– The price of the commodities may have fallen, but still the wealth is there in quantities.

Mr GREGORY:

– I disagree with that. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr- Lyons) and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) adhered to the policy adopted at the Melbourne conference. Against them we have Mr. Lang, the Premier of New South Wales, and the honorable member for Dalley (Mr.

Theodore), and the present Government is marching hand in hand with these two gentlemen, one of whom is out for repudiation, and the other for faith and trust. Personally, I cannot see much good in faith and trust without works, and we have neither faith nor trust in the Treasurer. From quotations we have had to-night from the Labor Daily, very few honorable members on the Government side have exhibited much faith and trust in the honorable member for Dalley.

I do not propose to say much in regard to tariff matters, but it has recently come under my notice that several woollen mills are closing down, although the duties on woollen goods range from 70 to 700 per cent., whereas in New Zealand, under a tariff which is 20 per cent. against Great Britain and 35 per cent. against foreign countries, the Mossgiel woollen mill two years ago paid a dividend of 10 per cent. and a bonus of 10 per cent., and not only set aside considerable amounts for depreciation and for its employees’ benefit fund, but also had £50,000 in cash and in government securities. Our people are prevented from doing the same by our Arbitration Act, which creates dreadful animosity between workers and employers. In 1929, through strikes, 4,461,478 working days were lost in Australia, and the workers lost in wages £4,569,305. In the following year the number of days lost was 2,117,000, and the wages lost amounted to £2,300,000. A little while ago the general manager of some nickel mines in New Caledonia, who was paying a visit to Australia, said that his mines in years past had bought all their coal from Australia, and on that account had also bought a considerable quantity of goods here, but that because of the uncertainty due to strikes and increases in the price of Australian coal they had chartered ships to bring out their coal from France, and, having space available in those ships, had also purchased their other requirements in France. The result was that Australia lost a trade valued at £500,000 a year. How can we expect to progress when such things are happening? The people, however, are not fools to be duped or knaves to be bought. In every State we see resentment, exasperation, animosity and indignation. Soviet and communistic propaganda is adding to the flames of wrath and bitterness which, are spreading through every section of the community, and as it is evident there is no hope of reform in this Parliament, I can see no other course than an appeal to the country. If it had been possible to appeal to the GovernorGeneral under section 5 of the Constitution to dissolve the House of Representatives because of the way in which it has failed in the job it has undertaken, I should have preferred it, but I realize that there is no chance of such action being taken. I hope that the motion will be carried. If not, I trust that in the near future we shall be forced to the country so that the people may have an opportunity to express their approval or otherwise of the manner in which this Government has carried on the business of the country and say whether a change is necessary - whether the administration of affairs should be entrusted to a party that will do nothing in the shape of repudiation, but will live within its means and endeavour to bring honour and prosperity to Australia.

Mr TULLY:
Barton

.- I have listened to the debate since its commencement, and have paid great attention to speakers on both sides. If one matter has been discussed more than another it is the position of the farmers and the wheat industry. While the Minister for Markets was speaking on the Wheat Marketing Bill the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) interjected, “ Where would you get the money for the .payment of the guarantee?” When war broke out Australia held in gold £30,000,000. By the time the war was over, it had spent £744,000,000, nearly 24 times more than that amount. When war broke out Britain had in gold coin £60,000,000. When the war concluded it had spent £10,000,000,000, which was 166 times more than the value of the gold coin it possessed. When they counted up the cost of the war the warring nations discovered that they had spent £52,000,000,000, 26 times more than the aggregate gold coin in the world. It is, therefore, quite an easy matter to get sufficient credit to carry on a war, but when a country strikes trouble as we have in Australia to-day, it is difficult to get a few million pounds to help indigent farmers and graziers. Later on I shall deal with the industrial section of the community who are also suffering to the extent that about 400,000 of our men and women are on the dole. Speaking in this House the honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), not on this occasion, but on a previous occasion, said-

We cannot balance our budget and it is not very easy to see how we are going to pay our debts either, unless we can somehow or other provide employment for 400,000 persons who are now out of work.

The Leader of the Opposition and his supporters are endeavouring to throw the whole responsibility for the present state of things in Australia upon the present Government. I say that upon the shoulders of this Government rests not the faintest trace of responsibility for all that happened before it took office; but with the passage of each month its load of responsibility has been added to.

Some estimates place the world’s unemployed army at 18,000,000 adults. Canada is in the throes of the most terrible and terrifying economic crisis. The United States of America, where prohibition is the law, and Canada with its partial-prohibition areas, are just as cursed by unemployment as are the “ wet “ spots in the world. The United States of America grow and manufacture more than the people of that country can eat or use or sell overseas. Great Britain not only manufactures more than she can sell, but sells so little overseas that her trade balance is in the adverse register. Germany grows and manufactures more than she can eat, use, or sell overseas. India, Japan, America, Argentine, South Africa and Brazil cannot use or sell all that they produce. Russia has become a serious world competitor in oil, coal, timber, wheat, corn, and meat, and is speeding up production at an enormous rate. The manufacturers of the world have ceased to have any control over finance, for industrial capital has become subsidiary and subordinate to finance capital. Australian manufacturers largely dependent on bank overdrafts are as much the creatures of the financiers and banks as labourers are the playthings of the captains of industry. In Australia manufactures are languishing because the banks have buttoned up. Credit is the lifeblood of industry. The control of credit is the control of all society. The private control of credit is the modern form of slavery. The present banking system is the most perfect contrivance yet devised by the human brain for making the rich richer and the poor poorer. In 1893 there were banks in this country that were tumbling over like a lot of ninepins, but the governments of Australia came to their assistance. To-day, however, when governments are in need of assistance those banks have not come to their aid to the extent that is necessary. What the nation did for the banks in those years it can do for itself to-day and also for those primary producers and manufacturers who need credit. But I shall not discuss that question at this stage, because next week a bill will be introduced which will give opportunity to both sides to say whether there shall be something in the nature of a fiduciary issue in Australia. I am quite certain of what the decision in this House, at any rate, will be. A fiduciary currency has been circulating in Great Britain for years, and only last year it was limited by act of Parliament to £260,000,000. That amount was fixed in the simplest and crudest manner imaginable. When the maximum amount to be issued was under discussion, somebody suggested that the limit should be fixed at that which had been found necessary during war time. Accordingly, the British fiduciary issue is limited to £260,000,000, and it is not backed by a single sovereign. But, behind the Australian fiduciary issue, will be all the wealth and resources of the Commonwealth. When a bank note is issued in Australia it is secured not merely by the gold reserve, but by the tangible assets of the nation, which have been valued at approximately £3,600,000,000 ! Members of the Opposition have spoken of what the Bank of England has done and can do. That institution, which has developed from pawn-brokers, could not buy even Pitt-street, Sydney, were it not for the fact that it raises money on the London market in the ordinary way. Why are our producers not ‘receiving a fair price for their exportable products ? I recollect my own experience on the land. Certain promissory notes, representing the pur- chase price of machinery, were due between the 1st and the 14th February. We had been holding our wheat for weeks and months in the hope of getting better prices. But, by the 1st February, we realized that we must sell in order to retire the promissory notes. The value of wheat continued to fall, and between the 1st and the 14th February we were obliged to take whatever price was offered to us. The desperate condition of the primary producers to-day is largely due to the fact that Australia has been bludgeoned by the bankers. A year before the arrival of Sir Otto Niemeyer in Australia, ther’e had been formed in London the Bankers’ Industrial Development Company. At the head of it is the Bank of England, and it represents the leading joint stock banks, the chief financial houses, and the insurance companies. A board of economists has been appointed to advise the company as to what industries should be encouraged and what should be destroyed; in other words, what industries shall be given credit and what shall be denied credit. The economists recommended, inter aiia, that the textile industry should be developed. Thus this banking trust became a buyer of raw materials. Naturally, it desired to buy at the lowest possible prices, and when Sir Otto Niemeyer came to Australia he knew that the price of Australian wool would have to be knocked down, because the bankers whom he represented were buyers of wool as well as sellers of manufactured goods. The difference between the price of the raw material and the selling price of the finished article represented an additional profit for the Bankers’ Industrial Development Company, which accordingly declared that Australia should no longer receive high prices for its exportable products.

The Prime Minister has striven manfully to cope with the existing financial and economic position. Having regard to the accumulated sins of our political opponents during the last fourteen or fifteen years, as revealed by the speeches of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, it is small wonder that the position is so serious. There is no need for me to speak at length because the speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) left the Opposi- ti on without a feather to fly with. Honorable members opposite are very ready to quote from the newspapers, criticism of the Labour party, regardless of whether it is true or untrue. Perhaps they would like to hear what the Sun newspaper said of the Nationalist party after the last general election -

Not only have the elections put Labour into office in the National Parliament, but it has given the death-blow to the Nationalist party as it has been developed lately.

That party has been dying on its feet for five years. Year by year it lost its drive, became more purposeless and more sectional. More and more under the Conservative guidance of its chosen leaders, it became the mouthpiece of Toryism, and each day grew more and more suspect with the people as a political engine of the diehards.

The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), speaking in this House on the 16th November, 1927, in criticism of the financial administration of the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Page), said -

Yet beginning with the financial year, 1923, his first year of office, he has increased annually the total taxation of this country by £0,000,000 … I base my opinion as to his non-success as a Treasurer on what he has done in the way of per capita taxation. He might have reduced, and had he lived up to his protestations, he must have reduced our taxation per head of the population. But here is his record; for the first clear financial year that ended June, 1924, he did reduce it. Evidently his conscience was at work then. The reduction amounted to 2d. a head ! He was on the road towards redeeming his promise; but it was his expiring effort “as an economist. In the year ended June, 1925, he increased per capita taxation by 3s. In 1926, he recovered a little, and increased it only ls. 7d. For the year ended June last, it was increased by lis. 7d., and the net performance is a total increase of £9,000,000, or 10s.. a head of the population. I cannot follow a Treasurer who increases per capita taxation on a country so overburdened and impoverished by debt and taxation as Australia is at the present time.

That was in 1927, three years before the present Government came into office. Yet, on the testimony of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett), Australia was even then, during the regime of the Bruce-Page Government, overburdened and impoverished by debt. The honorable member for Henty continued -

Much of our taxation to-day is a legacy from the war, the winning of which meant more to some people than to others. It meant infinitely more to the rich than to the poor. Had Germany won the war and been able to collect reparations from us, and impose other exacting conditions which the Allies were not able to impose upon her, the burden would not have been felt very much by the labourer, the artisan, the salaried man, or even the professional; but the millionaire and the men with £10,000 a year, or £5,000 a year, would have been very hard hit indeed. Therefore, it was for the rich more than for any other class that the war was fought.

Mr White:

– The honorable member should be ashamed to read such a statement.

Mr TULLY:

– Is the honorable member aware that the statement I have quoted was made by his Deputy Leader, the honorable member for Henty, with whom he sits cheek by jowl in opposition to the present Government?

Recognizing that many other honorable members desire to participate in this debate, I have endeavoured to set an example of brevity. I am quite sure that the motion will fail, and that the honours of the fray will rest with the Government. I hope that next week the House .will be able to proceed with practical business, particularly the measure relating to the issue of a fiduciary currency, to which the Opposition has already shown so much hostility.

Mr LONG:
Lang

.-This motion of want of confidence causes me no surprise, Members of the Opposition, who lost all confidence in their own Government when they controlled the affairs of the Commonwealth, can hardly be expected to have confidence in a government formed by another party. The main features of their speeches, during this debate, have been the personal recriminations and attacks upon ministerial members. The debate has lasted for three days, and what benefit is it likely to yield to the nation as a whole, to the unemployed, or to any section of tha community? Prom the commencement of this debate I have listened in vain for any criticism of a constructive nature from honorable members opposite that would assist the Government to lift Australia out of the mire in which it finds itself.

At this juncture I wish to direct attention to a statement made by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), and to correct it in so far as it relates to myself. The honorable member declared that the severest castigation of the Government in this debate came from its own supporters, and he went on to quote from a Brisbane newspaper of the 9 th February a report of some utterances attributed to myself. The newspaper in question deliberately misconstrued what 1 said at the Australian, labour Party picnic on the 7th February. Presumably its report was taken from another section of the press. It credited me. with having stated that this Government had dismally failed. The report was, of course, quite inaccurate. To place the position in its true light, I quote the following extract from my speech as published in the Sydney Sun of the 8th February : -

Quito frankly I toll you the Government has failed up to a certain point. They have failed to administer an obsolete system of financial control.

The Labor Daily of the 9th February reported me as saying, inter alia -

  1. -am not hero to make apologies or excuses for the Federal Government which has been blamed for quite a lot of things it was not responsible for. It was not reasonable to expect a government to undo, in fifteen months, the result of Nationalist maladministration over a period of thirteen years. Quite frankly I tell you your government has failed up to a point only, and they have failed to administer an obsolete capitalistic system of control that has been in vogue in the British Empire for over HOO years.

Those two brief extracts completely answer the allegation of ‘the honorable member for Moreton so far as it relates to me. Never at any stage in my career, either in Parliament or out of it, have I attacked a Labour Government. Any adverse criticism of mine is reserved for those who seek to imperil the interests of that section of the community represented by honorable members on this side of the House.

In view of the present desperate situation of the Commonwealth, the valuable time of this Parliament should be more usefully employed in dealing with momentous questions affecting the interests of the people of this country. ‘ It has been said that this Government has not done much to solve our unemployment problems. I ask honorable members opposite who make this charge, what was done in this direction by the Government which they supported for over thirteen years? Now that they are in the cold shades of opposition, they endeavour to persuade the people that the Labour Government which has been in office for only fifteen months is responsible for all the disabilities from which Australia is suffering to-day. Let us examine the position. How many and what are the character of the industries in Australia which come directly under the control of the Commonwealth Government to the extent that governmental action could ensure the absorption of considerable numbers of our unemployed? Honorable members opposite know quite well that, since the Government is not actually in control of industry, it is not properly blameable for the present position. It is important to remember also that the Government is unable to restrain the great financial institutions of this country from acts of policy which are not always in the interests of the people. Unfortunately, the general distribution of wealth, which should be utilized in the development of industries, is neither directly nor indirectly under the control of the Federal Government. No one knows this better than honorable members opposite. I sincerely hope, therefore, that as the outcome of this debate, there will surge throughout Australia an insistent demand for real economy. By this I mean unification - the setting up of one central government, and the abolition of State Parliaments, State governors, and all the paraphernalia of State governmental institutions. That would be true economy. A movement in this direction would be worthy of all the great political parties in the Commonwealth. The cost of State Parliaments is altogether disproportionate to the amount of influence which they wield in the affairs of the nation.

Honorable members opposite are preaching economy ‘ now because they are in opposition. When a government which they supported was in office, they enthusiastically endorsed schemes for the indiscriminate expenditure of public money, regardless of the consequences to the people. Let me illustrate what I have said with regard to the expenditure by State governments. I find, from the Commonwealth Year-Bock, No. 30 of 1930, that’ the total revenues of the six States in 1924-25 amounted to £99.607,68S, or £16 9s. 7d. per head of population. In 1928-29 it had risen to £119,689,258, or £1818s. 6d. per head of population. The combined expenditures in 1924-25 reached £118,307,300, or £171s. 6d. per head, and in 1928-29 to £120,925,565, or £19 2s. 5d. per head. These figures furnish a strong argument for the abolition of State Parliaments, and the strengthening of the central system of government. If this course were adopted, we should not have the sorry spectacle of the laws of one State being inapplicable to citizens of another State. There would be uniformity in legislation. All sections would be treated alike, because we should be a united people. I have not yet heard one sound argument advanced against a well considered system of unification, which would, of course, mean the abolition of State Parliaments.

I was surprised at the tirade of abuse hurled at the head of this Government by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who associated himself wholeheartedly with honorable members opposite in their attack upon the Ministry on the score of economy. Although the right honorable gentleman had much to say under this head, he omitted all reference to the abolition of State Parliaments which, as I have shown, would be a step in the direction of true economy. That the right honorable gentleman is himself not entirely blameless for our present position is seen from a recent article published by Mr. Burston, of the Melbourne Herald, which stated -

Through the last fourteen years - dating from the time when Mr. W. M. Hughes, most irresponsible of politicians, began the scattering of public money to placate and subject important blocks of votes - the public expenditure has advanced with tremendous rapidity. Each successive State government and each Federal government, seeking security by filling the pockets of the democracy, have joined in a scattering of money, too often with little regard to the value received. Mr. Burston shows that, bad as is the record of the National Parliament, the worst offenders are to he found among the States…..

This is another argument for the abolition of State Parliaments, which are not giving value for expenditure incurred by them. The enactment of conflicting State laws- is a source of irritation to the people, and the cause of a great deal of dissension and constant litigation. Early action should be taken to bring about their abolition. The right honorable member forNorth Sydney said yesterday that fifteen months ago this

Government was returned with an overwhelming majority.’ That is true. But he was not quite fair ; he omitted to mention that it had a majority in one House only. Consequently, all its legislative proposals, designed to give effect, to the Labour party’s platform, received their quietus in another place. Possibly, the right honorable gentleman approves of what happened to some of the measures introduced by this Government.

Honorable members opposite attribute to this Government thewhole of the blame for the troubles that beset Australia to-day. When it came into office fifteen months ago, the difficulties confronting it were greater than were faced by any other government in the history of the Commonwealth.

Sitting suspended from 12 midnight to 12.30 a.m. (Friday).

Friday, 12 March 1931

Mr LONG:

– I disagree with the statements of honorable members opposite that the ills from which we are suffering are the outcome of fifteen months of Labour rule. The Treasurer dealt extensively with the monetary position to-day as compared with the time when the late Government relinquished office, but he had not the opportunity to touch on every phase of the subject. During its term of office the Bruce-Page Government borrowed overseas £55,378,000, and in Australia £3,407,000 - a total of £58,785,000 new money. I do not suggest that the public debt of the Commonwealth was increased by that amount. Actually, it increased by £12,782,000 during the seven years ended the 30th June, 1929. The difference between that sum and the amount borrowed represents redemption of the public debt by sinking fund payments and other means. That honorable members sitting in Opposition who have supported a Government which indulged in that heavy borrowing should now criticize the present Government is evidence of their hypocrisy.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– Order! It is not in order to attribute hypocrisy to honorable members.

Mr LONG:

– I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, and withdraw the term. Honorable members opposite now urge that the Government should exercise economy in its administration. I refe- them to the record of the Bruce-Page Government that they supported. During the seven years of its existence that Government appointed 22 royal commissions, which cost the country £108,449. I ask .honorable members what those commissions have accomplished. Did their appointment result in one additional man or woman receiving employment, or any industry in this country being assisted? Did they in any way benefit any section of the community? Instead of being of benefit to the country, those royal commissions were responsible to some extent for our present unsatisfactory financial position. Yet when the present Government introduced legislation to curtail their activities it was met with satire, ridicule and sarcasm from honorable members opposite.

According to the Opposition, the mere mention of the Government’s proposal in respect of a fiduciary note issue has already had disastrous effects, yet no honorable member opposite raised his voice in protest against an excessive fiduciary issue in England, which had its repercussion in Australia, and is largely the cause of the present depression. According to returns compiled by Mr. Baker, the Secretary of War in the United States of America, the actual cost of the late Great “War to the belligerent nations was £39,000,000,000- more than four times the total amount of gold held by those nations. That illustrates clearly the small part which gold plays in the conduct of human affairs, and proves conclusively that our real currency is paper, with gold a thin veneer to hide the fact. Immediately prior to the declaration of war in 1914, all the gold held in Great Britain was less than £60,000,000. Yet the war was carried on for four and a half years at a cost of approximately £10,000,000,000, or approximately 166 times the value of the gold Britain possessed, and more than ten times the value of the gold held by the world’s six wealthiest nations. In substantiation of that statement I quote the opinion of Mr. Arthur Kitson, a noted manufacturer and employer, who said that our banking system is the product of greed, ignorance, and superstition. Honorable members opposite are so concerned about the fate of of their country and the condition of the primary producers and those engaged in other industries that they hold up their hands in holy horror at the very suggestion that the Commonwealth Government should have the temerity to introduce something that has been in operation in England for a number of years. Their view is well expressed in a letter sent to the Commonwealth Treasurer by Sir Robert Gibson, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board. I shall quote a paragraph from that letter for the information of honorable members opposite, in order to show them that by supporting the censure motion before the House they are practically supporting everything contained in the paragraph. Sir Robert Gibson said in his letter -

Subject to adequate and equitable reduction in all wages, salaries, and allowances, pensions, social benefits of all kinds, interest and other factors which affect the cost of living, the Commonwealth Bank Board will actively co-operate with the trading banks and the Governments of Australia in sustaining industry and restoring employment.

On many occasions honorable members now in opposition have claimed that they do not stand for lowering the Australian standard of living; they have resisted any suggestion that they are out to attack the wages and conditions of the workers of this country; they have professed to be averse from lending themselves to anything that would hit the workers, particularly those on the basic wage. Yet to-day they are found supporting the policy set out in the letter from the chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board which I have read. It would appear that government has become a farce when the elected representatives of the people are unable to give effect to legislation which would benefit the .community generally. Immediately the present Government attempted to deal with fundamental issues, it was told by the Opposition in another place, that it could give effect to only such items of policy as the Opposition majority there, was prepared to pass. That, in itself, is a sufficient justification for opposing the motion before this House. Were the Government in a position to control the wealth production, distribution and exchange of this country, Australia would not be in the position in which she finds herself to-day. When honorable members now in Opposition were on this side of the chamber I did not blame them for the financial difficulties confronting the country, I said that they were responsible up to a point, because they had aggravated existing difficulties by such excessive borrowing that the wealth produced hy the workers was largely taken up in paying interest on the money borrowed.

I do not suggest that, even if the present Government controlled the whole of the wealth of the country, it could at once do away with unemployment. That would be an absurd position to take up, because it is well known that the more general use of high speed machines and other scientific appliances not only displaces man power in industry but also so increases production that the relative consumption becomes less every year. It is, therefore, neither just nor reasonable that honorable members opposite should blame the Government for the present situation in regard to unemployment. I admit that unemployment has increased during1 recent months, but that does not prove that the present Government is to blame. Unfortunately, the Government does not control industry; nor does it control money which, in the last analysis, controls all things. Until the wealth production of the country has been nationalized and placed under the control of the Government, we cannot expect to make much progress. Sir Basil Blackett, at one time Controller of Finance in Great Britain, once said that interest and interest rates on the industries of the country would have to be reduced the world over or industry would break beneath the strain. Honorable members opposite have, with their tongues in their cheeks, stated that Australia’s difficulties have been brought about by the exorbitant demands of trade unionists, and the excessively high cost of production. That may be so, but not in the sense that they have insisted on. No worker in Australia to-day is being paid more than he is justly entitled to receive from the industry in which he is engaged.

I did not support the policy outlined by the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) in all its details when it was discussed elsewhere; but as a supporter of the Government I am now bound to support it under the principle of majority rule. The fact that, in this time of stress, the private trading institutions have refused to assist the Government is conclusive proof that the time is overdue * for the nationalization of the wealth of this country. If honorable members are not agreeable to that, surely they should be broadminded enough to listen intelligently to the proposals that will be placed before them within the next few days to alleviate unemployment as far as possible under present conditions, and to assist the necessitous farmers and primary producers of Australia. Although I represent a metropolitan constituency, I am broadminded enough to admit that primary production throughout Australia must be placed upon a sound basis, otherwise our secondary industries will languish. It will be interesting to learn the grounds on which honorable members opposite intend to oppose the proposals of the Government, but if those proposals are adopted, I have no doubt that they will go a long way towards solving our financial problems. It will be difficult for honorable members opposite to justify their opposition to our policy, particularly in view of the fact that in .England itself there is a fiduciary issue of £260,000,000 in excess of the gold reserves.

Mr Morgan:

– Behind that issue is the credit and confidence of the nation. We have neither.

Mr LONG:

– The honorable member is quite correct, but had it not been for the disparaging, damaging, and carping criticism of honorable members opposite, Australia would have had the confidence of the world to-day. It is true that harm has been done to Australia’s prestige overseas, but no one has contributed more to that than honorable members opposite, who have wasted the time of this House during almost every debate by castigating, belittling, vilifying, and trying to humiliate the Commonwealth Government.

Mr Morgan:

– The cause of the damage is the talk of inflation and repudiation.

Mr LONG:

– Surely the honorable member knows that this Government will not tolerate repudiation. Whatever criticism the honorable member may have to offer in respect of repudiation I advise him to advance it to those who preach that doctrine. I am certainly not an advocate of repudiation. There must be something radically wrong with the honorable member if he thinks that this Government has adopted the policy of repudiation. Let me remind him that on the 7th February last, when a certain proposal was placed, by the present Treasurer (Mr. Theodore), before the Premiers Conference in Canberra, it was supported by the Premier of New South Wales and accepted by the conference. On the 9th February, another proposal, in the nature of a bombshell, was put to the conference by the Premier of New South Wales. The main points of his plan were -

  1. That the Governments of Australia decide to pay no further interest to British bondholders until Britain has dealt with the Australian overseas debt in the same manner as Britain settled her own foreign debt with America.
  2. That in Australia interest on all Government borrowings be reduced to 3 per cent.
  3. That immediate steps be taken by the Commonwealth Government to abandon the gold standard of currency, and set up in its place a currency based on the wealth of Australia to be termed, “ The Goods Standard “.

The Lang plan has not been accepted by any responsible body. It was rejected by the Premiers Conference, and it is not the policy of the Federal Government. I have, on this side of the chamber, colleagues representing constituencies in New South Wales, and they, in common with myself, have refused absolutely to break the pledge governing the Australian Labour Party which we signed, when we were elected to this House, and for so doing have been threatened with political assassination. That surely is a complete answer to the suggestion of the honorable member for Darling Downs, that I am a repudiationistThe honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) unblushingly suggested a 20 per cent, ‘reduction in the payments to old-age and invalid pensioners - the people who pioneered this country, and helped to make it a nation. Honorable members opposite who, in previous debates, have said that they would not be parties to lowering the standard of living in Australia are, in this debate, trying to justify a proposal, which, if given effect, would impose hardship upon our afflicted and elderly people. I would, myself, sacrifice anything rather than reduce the old-age, invalid, or war pensions. Honorable members opposite, instead of trying to embarrass the Government, should show their worth to Australia by advocating the abolition of State Parliaments, State Governors, and the retrenchment of some of the highly paid officers in the various States. Let us have what we were led to believe at federation would eventually take place - one destiny, one set of laws, one constitution and one people. It is idle for honorable members opposite to talk about economy after the exposure by the Treasurer this afternoon of the reckless expenditure and borrowing of the BrucePage Government. Our colossal interest commitments must be met by the industries of Australia. In the final analysis the people who are hit the hardest are those who are on the basic wage in a country which is supposed to be a land of plenty. Honorable members opposite have submitted no concrete proposal either for the solution of our financial difficulties or for the rehabilitation of Australian industries. They have suggested no practical method of developing our resources and of placing many of the unemployed on the. land. I have never yet heard them discuss any schemes of water conservation or irrigation. All they do is to waste the time of this House by moving a motion and debating it for two or three days. Their speeches have contained nothing more than attacks upon the Government and the individual members of the Labour party. I shall vote against the motion, and when it is disposed of, I sincerely trust that in the interests of Australia honorable members opposite will show their mettle and worth to this nation by co-operating with the Government for the benefit of the community as a whole.

Mr. GARDNER (Robertson) [1 a.m.j. - The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Long) remarked in the course of his speech that, unfortunately, the Government did not control private industry and finance. I suggest that it is a very fortunate thing, indeed, that the Government does not. It has made such a poor showing in its own sphere of activity that I should be very reluctant to see its powers extended to include control of private industry. Private finance is the only thing in Australia to-day which is really sound, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) himself has admitted that the only hope for the country lies in the stabilization of private industry. I am afraid that, judging by the Government’s record, industry stands very little chance of recovering under the present regime. Only sixteen months ago the Government came into office with a majority, counting its allies and friends, of about twenty. Now it is fighting for its very existence, and it is even doubtful whether it will survive the division on the motion now before the House. There are various reasons for this. I think that it will be agreed at the outset that, when the Labour party came into existence, before the days of federation, it was characterized by high ideals and solidarity, and it will be further agreed that the party, as it now exists, can no longer lay claim to either of these attributes. At the time the Labour party was formed there was a real need for its existence. It performed a genuine service for the workers in obtaining for them better conditions in the workshops and factories, and, indeed, throughout the whole of the country. The principles for which the party then stood are now endorsed by every honorable member in this House. Eventually, however, the time arrived when everything which could reasonably be asked for on behalf of the worker had been conceded, and a halt had to be called if the burdens on industry were not to become too great. After all, no one can compel capital to enter into industry, nor can industry be compelled to carry on at a loss. There has grown up within the Labour movement, however, a section which professes to believe that much more can still be done. Those belonging to this section are prepared to trade on the susceptibilities of the workers, and seek to goad them into striving for things which are unattainable, and which even the democratic community of Australia is unable to allow them. Such persons are simply time servers, and are prepared to live on the game. Prom them the Labour movement is in grave danger, and, as a result of their machinations, the party is to-day rapidly disintegrating. One of the main causes of disruption is the unhealthy influence brought to bear upon the parliamentary representatives of the party by irresponsible sections outside Parliament, particularly in New South Wales, where control has been seized by men of the “ Jock “ Garden type. These men are actually in control of the selection of candidates for Parliament, and in this way are able to exercise a very strong influence over members of this House. The Labour party, which, despite its division into a State and Federal group, is still one great party, is in imminent danger of destruction through the efforts of these outsiders, with the result that it has lost the confidence of the people, who have grown tired of seeing a government controlled by small, irresponsible groups outside Parliament. The high ideals of the Labour party have been sacrificed, and its boasted solidarity has vanished.

Honorable members opposite have claimed that the Opposition has not put forward a policy of its own. I remind them that, at the present time, it is not the responsibility of the Opposition to do so. When I supported a government drawn from the party on this side of the House, members of the Labour party levelled againt it criticism much more severe than anything which has been said by us against the present Government. In the present instance, the Opposition has taken a stand which cannot be regarded as one merely of carping criticism. The Leader of the Opposition intimated at an early stage in the life of the Government that he, and those who supported him, were prepared to assist in every way possible in the restoration of normal conditions. There was no desire to bring about a coalition, no effort on the part of members of the Opposition to secure the emoluments of office. If the offer had been accepted, it would not have affected the status of any honorable member on this side of the House, and the public will recognize that the offer represented a patriotic attempt by the parties on this side of the House to help . the nation in its hour of trouble.

Mr Martens:

– Yes, so that the Opposition’s policy of destruction might be carried out.

Mr.GARDNER. - It was not our policy which we offered to assist in carrying out; it was the policy enunciated at the Melbourne conference, and embodied in the agreement to which the Prime Minister set his signature before leaving for Great Britain. It must be said to the honour of the honorable member for Maribrynong (Mr. Penton) that he, as Acting Prime Minister, tried to carry out the promise given by his chief, but he was thwarted by caucus. That was a sad day for Australia. The policy agreed upon at the Melbourne conference included the making of reasonable savings, the cutting down_of expenditure, the honouring of commitments, and the avoidance of anything in the nature of repudiation or currency inflation. If the Labour party had assisted the Acting Prime Minister to honour that agreement, it would not now be rent by internal dissension and threatened with defeat. It would have had honour left to it, and would not he in the position in which it finds itself to-day, namely, that while it may survive the present censure motion, it is condemned before long, if it exists as a party at all, to carry on in the cold shades of Opposition. If the Government had adopted a policy of economical administration, it would have benefited the nation much more than by just the actual amount of money saved. If it had been demonstrated that the Government was making an honest attempt to carry out the agreement into which it had entered, it would have restored the credit of the country, and the corner would have been already turned. The Government should have taken steps to ensure that all sections of the community were called upon to make equal sacrifices. That would have had a big effect. But the Australian governments, and particularly the Commonwealth Government, have not hitherto attempted to balance their budgets. Instead, they have indulged in an unprecedented orgy of extravagance which increased their already swollen overdrafts. Many of us may lack an exhaustive knowledge of high finance, but the symptoms of .the present trouble are apparent to all, and the diagnosis simple. By piling up such extensive overdrafts, our credit has been prejudiced. It is futile to speak of gold standards, and of changing our system of finance. Australia cannot .be a law unto herself. She must trade with the other nations of the world. Any economies that might be effected by the schemes propounded by honorable members opposite would be purely local in effect. The reckless financial policy of this Government has depleted our available credits to such an extent that the wheels of industry have been spragged, and unemployment has reached startling proportions. The Government has over-burdened and harassed our primary producers to whom we look so anxiously to provide us with goods for export, and now they are unable to assist in re-establishing our trade balance.

Had caucus supported the Acting Prime Minister, and the Acting Treasurer and honoured the promise that was given in writing by the Prime Minister, Australia would ere this have turned the corner. Instead, the Government has merely indulged in idle promises, and has failed to do anything to relieve unemployment, or to restore confidence in the finances of the nation. Since its accession to office, unemployment has increased from approximately 11 per cent, to about 25 per cent. “While I do not lay that result entirely at the door of the Government, I do claim that if it had honoured the Melbourne financial agreement our creditwould have been rehabilitated, and the wheels of industry would again be turning.

One reason why the Government has failed to restore confidence in Australia is that it has such an unenviable record. The honorable member for “Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) endeavoured to uphold the nation’s prestige, but his efforts were derided, and finally his pseudo comrades cast him aside. It is all very well for the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Long) to claim that this Government does not stand for repudiation. “We know very well that when the honorable member for “Wilmot tried to save Australia’s good name, the suggestion emanated from caucus that we should not meet our obligations. That was sheer repudiation. Because of his sterling honesty, the Acting Treasurer (Mr. Lyons) obtained the support of the members of the Opposition, and all other loyal Australians, and, by a super-human effort, he successfully floated a loan for £28,000,000. That was the opportunity of the Federal Labour

Government. It neglected it, and sacrificed the man who sought to lead the nation out of the slough of despond.

We have heard a good deal about the farmers during this debate. They must be heartily tired of all this talk, which does not put one penny into their pockets. The Minister for Markets (Mr. Parker Moloney) detailed the various schemes which have been propounded by the Government to assist them. He said, correctly, that the first proposal to pay 4s. a bushel for our wheat was rejected by the Senate. He omitted to explain that there was this definite flaw in that scheme, that the Government was totally unable to finance it. Many endeavours were made to obtain a definite pronouncement on the matter from the then Acting Minister for Markets (Mr. Forde), but he would neither say nay nor yea.. It has since been proved that the Government would have needed £18,000,000 to finance the project. It now needs £6,000,000 to help the farmers, and is in a quandary as to how it will raise the amount, its only hope, apparently, being the introduction of a system of inflation. If I know anything about the farmers and the sane citizens of Australia, that v. ill be rejected. How in the name of Heaven could the Government have raised £18,000,000 to help the farmers ? Later, it put forward- another proposal, this time to pay 3s. a bushel to. the farmers for their wheat. Again the obstacle was lack of finance, and the Acting Minister for Markets and Transport once more refused to say yea or nay when asked if the money that was needed could be procured.

Mr Forde:

– The honorable member will admit that his Government bequeathed us an accumulated deficit of over £5,000,000.

Mr GARDNER:
ROBERTSON, NEW SOUTH WALES

– The honorable gentleman was aware of that at the time when the wheat proposals were made, yet he would not enlighten the people as “ to the Government’s ability or otherwise to raise the necessary money to assist the farmers, although he led honorable members to believe that the scheme could be financed. Labour has many times fooled the farmers. Only recently Mr. Lang again hoodwinked the people of New South Wales, but I am sure that in the near future he will be hurled into oblivion, and that no farmer will have any confidence in a proposal which emanates from a Labour government. As a result of all those futile projects our wheat trade has become thoroughly disorganized. From my deductions I believe the only hope for this country to be that the Government will be defeated on this censure motion, and that the Treasury bench will be occupied by those who now sit in Opposition. That is the one method by which confidence will be restored in Australia.

A fiduciary loan has been suggested and, as with all inflation projects known to history, the hook has been very attractively baited. First of all £6,000,000 is to be made available to assist our farmers, and a further £12,000,000 is to be devoted to the relief of unemployment. I recollect many other specious promises that have been made by this Government. The present Treasurer, speaking in my electorate, promised that the coal-mines would be opened within a fortnight if a Commonwealth Labour Government were returned to power. This Government was elected, but, as was obvious at the time to all thinking men, the promise was not honoured. Consequently, it is but reasonable to conclude that the farmers will not swallow this new bait. They are heartily tired of promises. The mere passing of legislation to help the farmer would have been futile in the absence of proper financial provision. As a matter of fact, the second promise of 3s. a bushel did more harm than good to the farmers, because it disorganized sales. The farmers are not likely to swallow the bait that is now offered to them, attached as it is to a policy of inflation to which no reasonable men in the* community will subscribe. The proposed fiduciary currency is vague and indefinite. The Treasurer speaks of reverting to the price levels of 1929, but he does not say how that will be done or how prices will be stabilized. If his plan is adopted, how will those engaged in the primary industries fare? Their income has already been reduced by 20 per cent. The Government poses as the friend of the farmer, but it seems to me that under the Treasurer’s policy of inflation, the primary producer will have to bear the extra cost of living, without any prospect of a corresponding increase in the price of his commodities for some years. The Minister for Transport surely cannot believe that the farmers regard the present occupants of the Treasury bench as their friends.

The result of the by-elections for Parkes and East Sydney are signs of the times. They are two bright spots on the political horizon. It is clear that even in an industrial constituency the hearts of the people beat true. They require only a courageous lead, such as the Prime Minister promised, by word of mouth, and in writing, but which has been made impossible, not by the caucus so much as by those extra-parliamentary organizations which are causing the Federal Labour party to totter to its doom. If the Prime Minister had given that lead, Australia would already have turned the corner towards financial stability. The defections from the ministerial party ensure that this motion will be very nearly successful!, but even if it is not carried-, the Australian people can take comfort from the knowledge that in the near future a government will be in power which will have the courage to carry out a policy of reasonable economies, and regulate government expenditure in an endeavour to help ail sections of the community. At one time the slogan of the Labour party was “ United we stand “. To-day its slogan seems to be, “Disunited we cling to office as long as we can, irrespective of all other considerations “.

Mr. RIORDAN (Kennedy) ‘1.34 a.m.]. - Members of the Opposition have expressed an anxiety to co-operate with the Government, and on at least two occasions have generously offered their assistance to the Labour party to give effect to a policy of which they approve, but which the electors did not approve when it was submitted to them by the composite Government seventeen months ago. If the members of the Opposition had been genuinely desirous of helping Australia out of its difficulties, they would have advised their friends in another place to show greater consideration to the legislation introduced by the Government for the benefit of the primary producers and the workers. The last speaker said that the motion of want of confidence, in the Government will be nearly successful.

Mr Morgan:

– There is not much doubt of that.

Mr RIORDAN:

– Two ministerial members are absent on account of illness, the Parkes seat has been lost to the Nationalists, yet there are still 42 Labour members in this House. One has gone over to the Opposition, and the Adelaide Advertiser has suggested that he be given immunity from opposition at the next general election. Surely the Nationalist party has had enough of traitors, after ‘its downfall in 1929, as a result of its acceptance with open arms of a man who broke from the Labour party a few years ago and endeavoured to destroy it. That renegade was welcomed by the Nationalists for a time, as will be any other Judas who is prepared to betray those who elected him to this Parliament. Not many bouquets have been thrown to the Government, because it has had very little opportunity to giveeffect to its policy. After the general elections the House met in November; after an interval at the New Year, the session was resumed and continued until August. Certain legislation introduced by the Government was eventually rejected in another place. Therefore, the session was comparatively resultless.

Mr M CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; NAT from 1925; UAP from 1931

– The Government made too many promises.

Mr RIORDAN:

– I have never met a politician who did not live by promises, and in that respect the parties in opposition have established a record which the present Government will not easily beat. The House adjourned in August of last year, and was called together in October, mainly to adopt measures for balancing the budget in accordance with the dictates of Sir Otto Niemeyer, who declared that the Government must reduce wages and pensions and other social services. The Opposition has asserted that this gentleman from overseas was invited to Australia by the Government.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– There is no doubt of that.

Mr RIORDAN:

– It matters not who invited him. The important fact is that he was not elected by the people. If Australia is to be governed by a dictator, it can dispense with the upkeep of Canberra, which has produced almost nothing of practical value to the people since its inception.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– As a fairminded man, the honorable member must admit that Sir Otto Niemeyer came to Australia at the invitation of the present Government.

Mr RIORDAN:

– If it will soothe the feelings of the honorable member I will admit that. Sir Otto Niemeyer said that the cost of government must be reduced, that wages must be cut, and further savings effected by curtailment of pensions and other social services. Had the Government been prepared to put that policy into operation, the members of the Opposition would have helped. But the agreement that was made at the Melbourne , conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers on the advice of Sir Otto Niemeyer was not acceptable to the majority of the supporters of the Federal Ministry. The agreement was signed by the Prime Minister and the honorable members for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fen ton) and Wilmot (Mr. Lyons). No three men have a right to sign away the rights of any party. The honorable member for Maribyrnong was elected to this House in the same way as I was, and the mere fact of having been made a Minister of the Crown gave him no right to take action of such far-reaching character without consulting first his party and then the Parliament. A report was prepared also by so-called experts, Commonwealth and State Under-Treasurers, leading economists, and Sir Robert Gibson. These gentlemen also recommended a 20 per cent. cut of wages and a reduction of old-age, invalid, andwar pensions, and social services. No suggestion was made that interest payments should be reduced. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) quoted with approval extracts from the report of the experts, and said that it should be adopted. He charged the Government with favouring a policy of repudiation. Could repudiation take any more objectionable form than breach of the promises given to the dependents of the 60,000 Australian soldiers who died on the battlefield?

Mr Gullett:

– The honorable member talks a great deal of. his sympathy for the soldiers; but what of the policy of preference to them?

Mr.RIORDAN. - Who gets the preference ? Not the rank and file “ digger,” but the “ brass hat.” Of 350 highly-paid appointments made by the BrucePageGovernment, not one was given to a soldier. No preference is given to the “ diggers “ who are camped along the creeks, and are subsisting on the dole. If economies are necessary, the whole administration of the Repatriation. Department should be investigated, with a view to dispensing with the services of a lot of parasites at the military hospitals, who batten on the soldiers. Some of these men will not recommend soldiers for pensions because they fear that their own positions might be jeopardized. Honorable members opposite talk glibly about preference to returned soldiers. Are they award that the man in charge of the Rosemount Hospital, Brisbane, is not himself a returned soldier? During the war he would have been “ tagged “ by the Nationalist party as a disloyalist, and possibly he would have been deported ; but, simply because he subscribes to the party funds, he is placed in charge at the Rosemount Hospital.

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– This Government should be the last to talk about conserving the interests of returned soldiers.

Mr RIORDAN:

– The position in which our returned soldiers find themselves to-day is largely the result of the maladministration of the previous Government. Sydney Truth, in a recent issue, dealt with this matter. It asked quite pertinently if the moneylenders of the Commonwealth’ have forgotten those 60,000 odd soldiers who gave their lives for the defence of this country during the war. Widows and other dependants of deceased soldiers are now appealing for assistance, and even for old boots and old clothes. Yet honorable members opposite suggest that war pensions should be reduced ! If they have the numbers to carry this motion of censure, honorable members opposite are welcome to all that they can get out of it. I shall never agree to the repudiation of the nation’s obligations to the dependants of men who lost their lives during the war.

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– This Government has dismissed more returned soldiers than any other government.

Mr RIORDAN:

– The troubles which have come upon our returned soldiers are, I repeat, due to the administrative incapacity of the previous Government. It showed little concern for their interests when it appointed Mr. Gepp, Sir John Butters, ana others to highly-paid positions during prosperous times. Honorable members opposite are endeavouring to create a psychology for the destruction of this Government, on the plea that the people have lost confidence in it. The newspaper press is largely responsible for this campaign of vilification, chiefly because this Government has taxed newspaper proprietors to the extent of £250,000 a year, although, on the other side of the account, the low rates for press telegrams are still costing the Commonwealth about £200,000 a year. This matter might very well receive the attention of the Ministry, because no one can deny that the press, more than any other institution or individual, has damaged the credit of thi3 country by its unfair criticism and misrepresentation of this Government’s policy. During the Parkes by-election those interested in this attempt to destroy the Government were told that, if they could only hang on for another six months, they would be able to smash it. Under the economy scheme favored by honorable members opposite, returned soldiers would be called upon to make sacrifices, invalid and old-age pensioners would have to suffer a reduction in payment, wages and salaries would be cut by 20 per cent., and large numbers of persons would be forced into the ranks of the unemployed. Many persons who are unfitted for the battle of life would be thrown upon the industrial scrapheap, and be obliged to apply for the old-age pension because of their inability to provide for themselves.

Mr M CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; NAT from 1925; UAP from 1931

– Nobody wishes to smash this Government if it is prepared to do the right thing.

Mr RIORDAN:

– The people, by their votes on the 12th October, 1929, declared emphatically what, in their view, was the right thing to do. They returned Labour to power with a definite mandate to give effect to its platform.

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– Why not give the people another chance to express their opinion ?

Mr RIORDAN:

– If there is a majority in this House in favour of the motion, why put the country to the expense of a general election? If honorable members opposite can secure the reins of office, they will have a majority in another place, so they could give effect to their policy.

Mr M CAMERON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; NAT from 1925; UAP from 1931

– Does the honorable member believe that the motion will be defeated ?

Mr RIORDAN:

– Yes, notwithstanding the determined canvass made this afternoon to induce supporters to vote against the Ministry.

We have heard a good deal about the position in Queensland under Labour rule, and, as one might expect, much misrepresentation was indulged in. Let rae place on record some facts regarding Labour administration in that State. When Labour came into power in 1914-15 the vote for charitable institutions was £41,000. When it went out of office, the vote was £108,000. In 1914-15 the health vote was £16,000; when Labour was displaced it was £24,268. In 1914-15 the vote for the State Children’s Department was £73,000. At the end of the Labour regime it was £209,347. The education vote in 1914-15 was £582,632, and when Labour went out of office it was £1,722,522.

Mx. R. Green. - What about the cattle stations ?

Mr RIORDAN:

– In its venture into the pastoral industry the Queensland Labour Government shared the fate that befell the average pastoralist. But it made a good contract with the British Government for the supply of beef for British soldiers during the war at 4£d. per lb. That contract returned to cattle growers in Queensland £14 per head over the whole period of the war. But the graziers were not satisfied. They demanded an open market. When the Government conceded their demand, the American interests took control of the situation, and cattle growers were forced to accept prices ranging from- 20s. down to 12s. per 100 lbs. for beef. Eventually the Government cattle stations were handed over to Angliss and the big combine, at sacrifice prices, at a time when the general position was steadily improving. I am satisfied that if Labour had continued in office, it would have got out of all its difficulties with regard to the cattle stations.

Those -who talk so much about economy in governmental expenditure, favour the cutting down of all social services, and also reductions in Avar, old-age and invalid pensions, and a heavy cut in salaries and wages, in addition to the 10 per cent, reduction, ordered recently by the Arbitration Court. They are careful to attack only those sections of the community that are not capable of defending themselves. They declare also that inflation, which many supporters of this Government favour, will work harm to the people. I am satisfied that it will not be nearly so disastrous as deflation has proved to be. No one can deny that deflation has been largely responsible for the great volume of unemployment in Australia to-day. Last night, the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) said that a considerable amount of temporary employment could be provided for workless people throughout the Commonwealth but for the heavy insurance rates which employers would have to pay. An insurance policy to cover a casual worker costs about 5d. a month. Although 400,000 persons are practically on the verge of starvation in Australia, every effort made by the Government to make credits available in order to provide work for them has been held up by the banks, which have been told that if they hold out for six months longer the present. Government will go out. The present Government has made available’ £2,500,000 for the relief of unemployment, whereas no previous government went so far as to admit that it was in any way responsible for unemployment. Mr. Bruce, when Prime Minister, said that it was a matter for the States; but since he was defeated honorable members who previously supported his Government claim that unemployment is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. I say that the responsibility rests on all governments, and that the Commonwealth Government can discharge its liability by making grants to the States to relieve unemployment. Some time ago when I was on the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland I found that the Commonwealth grant for the relief of unemployment was being used to find work for

Russian . Finns under State relief. The next grant made by the Commonwealth contained a condition that on relief work paid for out of the grant award rates must be observed. Because of that condition the Queensland Nationalist Government did not want the grant. Later, when £500,000 was made available by the Commonwealth for the relief of unemployment in Queensland, the Brisbane City Council said that it would use the money to continue in employment 250 of its employees, who otherwise would have been put off. Those men had less claim to consideration than had thousands of others who had been unemployed for months. Immediately I heard of the decision of the Brisbane City Council, I communicated with the then Acting Minister of Industry (Mr. Beasley), with the result that the mayor of Brisbane, Mr. Jolly, said that he would find employment for 92 men. The majority of the 5,000 men who applied for employment had been out of work since 1928. Mr. Jolly gave work to the 92 men who were selected, as well as to the 250 whose services were retained, for a period of thirteen weeks, whereas had the intention of the Commonwealth Government been given effect employment would have been found for 1,500 men for a month. In the district represented by the honorable member for “Warringah (Mr. Parkhill), the money made available for the relief of unemployment has not yet been expended. Other grants also have not been expended for the reason that y Nationalist Councils object to paying award rates to relief workers. Since the present Nationalist Government assumed office in Queensland unemployment has increased in that State. Unemployed relief work finds favour with governments who want work done cheaply. There is plenty of work of a reproductive kind which could be undertaken, and, would pay interest and provide a sinking fund. £20,000,000 could be expended in Queensland in providing sewerage systems for towns with a population of over 5,000. Money for this work, which would be in the interests of the health of the people, could be advanced by the banks were it not that they have been advised to withhold advances for another six months. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), said that the present Government must accept responsibility for having reappointed Sir Robert Gibson as Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board for a period of seven years. I understand that that gentleman’s appointment is for twelve months only, or until such time as the Government’s banking legislation has passed through Paliament, or in the event of its rejection by the Senate, until such time as it has been accepted by the electors.

Mr Gullett:

– They will never accept it.

Mr RIORDAN:

– When a Labour government proposed to establish the Commonwealth Bank it was told that it could not do so. Nevertheless, the bank was established. To-day we are told that the fiduciary note issue, even if agreed to, will be worthless. , I remember the time when Commonwealth bank notes - then referred to as “ Fisher’s flimsies “ - were said to be worthless; but during the war period their real worth was proved. To-day the Opposition is endeavouring to persuade honorable members on this side of the House to vote for the censure motion by offering them immunity from opposition at the next election. Already it has gained one or two honorable members to whom the Opposition is welcome. Men who weaken when the going is bad are no good to any party. What is it that causes a man who has enjoyed/the sweets of office for a short period to act treacherously and leave his party? What ti do honorable members think of a man who relinquishes his portfolio because of a disagreement with his party, and yet take3 his seat in the Party room with those who were elected to carry out the platform of the party? A man is either guilty or not guilty, clean or unclean; but, according to British tradition, he is not regarded as guilty until after he has been heard in his own defence and has been convicted. There is more than the pricking of conscience behind the desertion from his party of a man who has signed a pledge to uphold its principles. The right honorable member for North Sydney received £25,000 for smashing the Labour party a few years ago. The banks and other financial institutions of the country are more than willing to ruin the primary industries of this country in order to smash the Labour party again, and destroy the tariff wall which it has set up. With so many thousands out of work the purchasing power of the people has dwindled, with the result that the home market has gradually been destroyed. Only a traitor will desert from his party when the going is hard. Notwithstanding that a few will always be found willing to take the easy track, the Labour party has the confidence of the majority of its members. It would be better for that party to survive, on the casting vote of the occupant of the chair, than that it should retain in its ranks men who are disloyal to its principles. The women and children of this country can no longer be allowed to starve. In the New England district, as well as in the Riverina, the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Page) and others have been preaching sedition against a sovereign government - a thing for which the Government of which he was a member attempted to jail Jacob Johnson, and endeavoured to deport Tom Walsh. These men have endangered the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth. Dr. Earle. Page may wave his flag, although he objects to the waving of the red flag. Most of those who rally round the red flag have less of this world’s goods than have the farmers who have been acting seditiously; and they have just as much right to organize for their own protection, and that of those dependent on them. It is all very well for the 1 6 members of this House, each of whom has a comfortable bed at night, and is sure of three meals a day, to say that men who are unemployed should not be granted a dole. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons), and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) have been, praised by the Opposition for having made a success of the recent conversion loan. Is it any wonder that that loan was successful seeing that bondholders who were receiving 3£ per cent, and 4- per cent, for their money were offered 5-J or 6 per cent, if they converted their holdings ? Had they been truly patriotic, the “ money bags “ of this country would have subscribed the necessary £28,000,000 at 3 per cent., ‘ or at no interest at all, in order to enable men to get back towork, and thus increase the country’s purchasing power, ‘ Notwithstanding the optimism of the Opposition regarding the- success of this motion, the Government still has a majority. It is well rid of those who would desert it at such a time.

Only yesterday the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) referred in uncomplimentary terms to a former member for the Dalley electorate - Mr. Mahony. The happenings to which hem ade reference took place some years ago - before the honorable member swore allegiance to the Labour party. He even went so far as to offer to reveal what took place in caucus with regard to the appointment of judges to the High Court bench. What body has a better right to discuss such appointments than has the Government of the country? If vacancies exist, it is for the party in power to say whether they should be filled or not. Who appointed the judge who recently reduced the basic wage by 10 per cent.? Who appointed a pensioner from Queensland named Lnkin, to the Arbitration Court? Who appointed Knox to his position? Honorable members opposite do not like to have these things pointed out to them. They have no hesitation in making party appointments. We shall net run away because we are afraid of the criticism that may be levelled at us by a scurvy press which has been hot afterthis Government since it was made to contribute its portion to the sacrifice that it was always preaching should be made by the community. So soon as the extra taxation was imposed the price of newspapers was raised SO per cent. and in Brisbane 100 per cent. on pre-war prices.

There is more behind this motion than appears on the surface. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), has been spoken of to-day as one of these men who saved this country from repudiation. Honorable members opposite have criticised members on this side for not being loyal to the honorable member for Maribyrnong when he was Acting Prime Minister; but neither he nor any other member of this party has a right to say what its policy should be. We musthave majorityrule. Honorable members opposite say that caucus secrets leak out. Of course they , do; that applies to their own caucus.It is said that that happens because certain members suffer from a conscience.. That is not the real reason. I know of members of parties in Queensland who had the seat out of their trousers until they developed a conscience. They rented small houses and their furniture consisted of boxes. A few weeks later they were living in a considerably better type of house with expensive furnishings. They were clothed expensively. That was made possible, because of a sudden acquisition of wealth. Honorable members opposite talk about dishonesty. They refuse to acknowledge that any man who stands for Labour is entitled to have the backing of the financial institutions of this country. Another secret which the Country party has not mentioned is that although they won the Clarence seat last Saturday, there were in the field six County party caudidates with six different policies, showing how united that party is. Because of the revolution that is at present taking place in that part of New South Wales, the Communist candidate did not get -much support. He was too moderate.

Mr Gullett:

– Did he support the Lang plan?

Mr.RIORDAN.- With all due respect to Jack Lang, let me say that he is doing the job that he set out to do, and if he falls down on it that is his affair and not ours. Honorable members opposite talk of the failure of this Government to assist the wheat-growers. I remind them that it introduced into this House a Wheat Marketing Bill, which the Leader of the Country party admitted that he supported, although he moved about60 amendments to try to make it workable. Of course we know how egotistical he is. The honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Morgan) also supported that bill. It was sent to the Senate, and thrown out. Honorable members opposite have said that the Government was not sincere; but what more can a Government do than pass a bill through this House and submit it to another chamber ? The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory,), when Iinterjected that Queensland had guaranteed 4s. a bushel for wheat, said . that . even if the Wheat Marketing Bill had been passed. the money for the guarantee would not have been available. Let me inform him that the Commonwealth Bank undertook the guarantee under the bill. If the pool had been formed it would have been our bad luck to have had to bear the shortage caused by the fall in wheat prices. I am inclined to think that the price of bread could have been reduced and that would still have permitted of a guarantee of 4s. a bushel to the wheat-grower. In Queensland the guarantee was from 5s. 6d. to 6s. a bushel to the wheat-grower. The price of bread was fixed under the Profiteering Prevention Act of 1920. Why are honorable members so anxious that this Government should impose a tax of £7 10s. a ton on flour? The States, if they so desire, have power to impose such a tax. In Queensland, under labour rule, the flour was commandeered, and in that State, with wheat at 4s. a bushel, bread is cheaper than it is in New South Wales. One of the things that we should ask the farmer is - what is the profit of the miller? In Sydney when I was living on the North Shore line I paid 6d. a loaf for bread, when flour was only £9 a ton. I went to Mount Isa and paid 6½d. a loaf, when it cost £16 a ton to get the flour from the coast, making the cost of the flour at Mount Isa £25 a ton. At Hughenden, about 200 miles inland, bread was cheaper than at Townsville, at which place the flour was taken straight from the boat to the baker. At Charters Towers bread was cheaper than at Townsville, although the flour had to be carried there 100 miles by rail. Honorable members opposite resort to various devices to prevent the farmer from investigating his own industry. In Brisbane three different bakers called on me and my two neighbours. Who is getting the rake-off? The man who is producing the wheat is paying the expense of extravagant distribution such as was evidenced by those three deliveries.

Mr Gullett:

– Would the honorable member sack two of the carters?

Mr RIORDAN:

-I have no wish to sack them ; I would absorb them into other industries. There is plenty of land in this country awaiting development. Honorable members opposite, when in office, instituted a vigorous immigration policy under the pretence of placing men on the land. They flooded this country with foreign migrants in order to destroy arbitration awards and the Australian standard of living. We have plenty of room for migrants, so long as land is made available to them. Honorable members opposite do not believe in closer settlement. The ex-Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, speaking at Barcaldine, said -

Who would be worried about this drought to-day if this pastoral country were held by big capitalists? The big owners’ capital value depreciates - the value of property goes down under a drought - but he has enough to see him through until the drought breaks. Then he can re-stock his property and go on again, and by the bounty of nature produce in a few years enough to make him as well off as he had ever been.

Mr. Bruce wanted the holdings in Queensland to revert to the big land-owners. Unfortunately that tendency exists to-day. During the regime of the Labour Government in Queensland, men were placed on the land. The opening up of the Tully lands placed 5,000 people in productive occupation. That area to-day is rapidly developing, whereas only a few years ago it was merely scrub land. The opening of the Dawson Valley lands and other lands gave employment to many people. The financial position of that State vastly improved under a Labour Government. When that government left office, various temporary loans had been made to the other States. The following extract is taken from the financial statement of the Queensland Treasurer, Walter Henry Barnes, under date of 2nd October, 1930, one year after the Labour party had gone out of office: -

Temporary loans were advanced to Victoria and South Australia as far back as the year 1913. The practice of lending to the Commonwealth’” Government was adopted in 1926. When I Assumed office the sum of £250,000 was on loan to that Government on account of South Australia. This loan was due- for repayment on the 31st May, 1930, but the date of repayment had been extended from time to time to 5th January, 1031. In addition a further sum of £500,000 was advanced on account ofSouth Australia on the 19th July, 1929, the original date of repayment being 31st December, 1929, various extensions to. 5th January, 1931, having since been granted. On the 17th October, 1929, £250,000 was advanced on account of Victoria, extensions being granted to 31st March, and 3lst October, 1930. £250,000 was advanced on 11th December, 1929, and £500,000 on 18th December, 1929, on account of New South Wales. Both these- advances were repaid on the 30th April, 1930. £100,000 was advanced on the 20th May, 1930, on account of Western Australia, which was repaid on the 1.1th July, 1930. The outstanding advances are £250,000 on account of Victoria, repayable on 31st October, 1930, and £750,000 on account of South Australia, repayable on the 5th January, 1931.

After five years of Labour rule the Government of Queensland was in position to loan money to other States and had loft £4,750,000 in the Treasury, despite tlie increase in the vote for State children from £73,539 to £209,347, and the education vote from £582,000 to £1,722,522. After the Labour party had been out of office one year there was a fall of £600,000 in the education vote. The Opposition think that because there is a bit of a squabble in the Labour family at the moment, it can force a dissolution on this House. Let me inform honorable members opposite that if the Government goes to the country there will be an election, not for one House only, but for two. Honorable members opposite have advised the Government to reduce soldiers, widows, and invalid pensions, but they do not suggest that the offices of the State Governors should be abolished, or that we should do away with the offices of the Agents-General in London, which are the dumping ground for ex-politicians. They content themselves with advocating a reduction of the pensions paid to families which have lost their bread-winners? They have made no gesture in favour of economy other than to suggest that wages should be reduced, and that smaller grants should be made for education and to the hospitals. I remind them that wages have been reduced in South Australia, Victoria, and Queensland, but with all the wages slashing that has been going on, conditions are still becoming worse in those States because the people have lost their purchasing power. No matter what scheme is instituted for the relief of unemployment, so long as it gives men nothing better to do than digging up the roads, no progress will be made. Our salvation lies in getting the people on the land. Critics of this policy may say, “Look what happened to the soldiers who were put on the land “. The unfortunate position of many of the soldiers can be attributed to the jobbery of politicians who made available for them land which was of no use, or for which too high a price was charged. In Queensland where the leasehold system obtained, and land was made available on reasonable terms, many men who had formerly been drovers and bush workers, made a success of farming. There are, to-day, many men with small capital who would be prepared to go on the land if land were available for them. After the war, land was purchased by different governments from their friends, under the pretext of doing something for the returned soldiers, and that sort of thing was responsible for the failure of the soldiers to make a success of farming. Why were soldiers put on to unsuitable, swampy land in areas while there was plenty of Crown land available? There has been a great deal of humbug in connexion with land settlement. In the Northern Territory, there is land enough to feed double the population of Australia if only it were made available.

The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) said that the issue of £12,000,000 or £18,000,000 in fiduciary currency would be tantamount to inflation. Surely no one is going to swallow that from the member for Henty who, when he was a private member, urged his chief to spend £50,000,000 bravely. Later he attacked the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Page), charging him with being the most tragic Treasurer Australia had ever seen. But when he himself was appointed Minister for Customs, he relapsed into silence, and approved of all the actions of the Treasurer whom he had formerly condemned. As soon as he received the price of his silence, he was content to keep quiet. The banks of this- country have spoken about the need for equality of sacrifice, yet these same institutions raised the rates of interest from 6 per cent, to 7i per cent and 8 per cent, on men who, in my district, had gone through three and four years of drought. These same banks have recently erected large premises for renting purposes in every city of the Commonwealth. What sacrifice are they making? The Government seems to have forgotten the need for helping the people in the country districts. An inquiry is being conducted into the price of sugar, and the growers are waiting for the result of that investigation. When are they to learn what price they are to receive for their cane next year? If we are to help the producers, we must act, and act quickly. If the Senate throws out our legislation, let us stand or fall by the Labour platform. The trouble with some members of this party is that they are too much afraid that they might fall. They might just as well fall as try to carry on here with the Senate blocking all legislation. I remind honorable members opposite, however, that we will pick the time for an election, and they will not get away with a single dissolution.

Mr GULLETT:
HENTY, VICTORIA · LP

– Any time will do us.

Mr RIORDAN:

– When that time arrives, my friend opposite is going to be sadly disappointed. Honorable members on that side have had a pretty good time up to the present, because no effective reply from the front benches was made for a long time to their criticism. Ex-Ministers of this Government have been flattered by the Nationalist press, which has praised them for their loyalty. What happened some time ago in Tasmania? A Labour leader there was applauded by the press because he continued to do what the Nationalists had sickenedof -doing, namely, to sack men. When he had finished the . job, he was booted out, receiving the treatment which is reserved for ail political rats. That will be the fate of Lyons if he joins up with ‘the party opposite, but I do not believe for one moment that he will desert the party which placed him in office only eighteen months ago.

The people of this countrywe the slaves ‘of the banks. Our revenue to-day has ‘shrank to about£60,000,000, but our interest ‘bill is higher thanever. There was a seriousfall in the price of wool, andthe Government was able , to correctthe unfavorable ‘balance of trade only by imposingprohibitive duties on the importation of manyarticles. Despite the ‘fact ‘that for yearshigh prices have “been ‘received for wool overseas,and that wheatwasfetchingas much as5s.and 6s. -a bushel, -the country has had -a . series of adverse tradebalances. . Enormous -Sterns of ‘money ‘wereborrowed overseas, And to-daywearepaying “thepiper for the extravagance of the -‘lastGovernment.

Mr Morgan:

– And this Governmemt would be borrowing money to-day if it could.

Mr RIORDAN:

– I hope that we shall never be able to borrow overseas. There is no occasion for this country to borrow money abroad. We should create precedents instead of following the practices laid down by othercountries. Australia has its own bank, through which it financed the war. On the 4th of August, 1914, when the Bank of England was closed, and practically every banking institution declined to carry on in the normal way, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, inaugurated by a Labour Govprnment, functioned as usual. This Government is quite able to put the unemployed to work, and if the bank board holds up the business of the Government, it is the Government’s duty to give effect to its will by proclamation. The unemployed are prepared to -accept the fiduciary note issue; it is better that they should be employed by this means than that they should be walking about the country from one police station to another, begging for their food. Such astate of affairs is a disgrace to a country which, only a few years ago, was prosecuting a vigorous immigration policy. I know men who have walked fromthe Gulf of Carpentaria to Sydney and Canberra - -men whose wives and childrenare dependent for their existence on the miserable doleallowed them by the Government. We should immediately stop the importations of all motorcars and cinematograph films from the United States of America until that country is prepared to take . somegoods from us. Our timber yards were full of imported timber until, fey means ofincreasedtariffs, we stopped further importations. If the parity opposite could again secure office thoseduties would ‘be abolished in -six months.Even now,commercial interests are appealingtotheGovernment to lift the ‘dutyoff this itemand that. Importations onto Australia when thisGovern- ment tookoffice were £160,000,000 per annum.There has been a great falling off in theimportation of goodsfrom overseas. Ifthepeopleof Australiawereprovided with thenecessary purchasing power, those goodscould bemanufactured here, to thebenefitofthecommunitygenerally.

Honorable members opposite attack pensions, wages, and social services such as hospitals and schools. They are actuated only by the desire to assist their masters, who want higher prices for their commodities. They would sacrifice the workers, provided they could please their friends. Despite the story that is told by the press, this Government is prepared to submit itself to, and abide by, the decision of the people. The true story of recent events has not been told, because Labour has no press.

Many of our industries are seasonal in nature, and it is the duty of a really Australian Government to establish a fund that. would enable it to speed up government works during slack seasons, so that men could be kept in constant employment until their regular occupation was ready to absorb them. Instead of seeking a reduction of pensions, let us inaugurate a national insurance fund, a superannuation scheme that would embrace not only the Public Service and the police, but every member of the community. Low premiums could be charged, and every person in his old age could, without indignity to himself, draw sustenance from the national fund. It is infamous that a man who has rendered his country yeoman service should, in the winter of his life, be subjected to the humiliation of having to ask for sustenance. And how scandalous, and typical of honorable members opposite, is the proposal to reduce the pension of £1 a week which is drawn by a man who can earn at the most only a further 12s. 6d. a week ! “Where can anybody secure board, lodging, and clothing for 32s. 6d. a week, despite all these allegations about a reduction in the cost of living? Why should not the Premiers of all the ‘States meet Che Prime Minister and formulate a scheme whereby our unemployed could be financed and placed upon the land? Had such a course been followed, we should not be passing through this crisis, and a market would be available to our primary produce such as tobacco and cotton, and our home market would be improved by getting our people to work.

I feel confident that the Government has nothing to fear from this motion. It has merely afforded honorable members opposite, who profess to be in such a hurry to do something for the nation, an opportunity to hang up the business of Parliament for a week, while they discharged their vicious gases. Had I been the Leader of the Government, I should have applied the gag immediately after the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) had made his speech. It was about the most feeble utterance to which we have had the misfortune to listen. It contained nothing but the advice tendered by Sir Otto Niemeyer, and by the committees of financial experts and undersecretaries, people who throughout their lives have been out of touch with the mass of the people. All that the Leader of the Opposition could propound was a despicable scheme to reduce the earnings of the poorest classes in the community, and mulct them of a few miserable shillings. God help any government that endeavours to bring about such a reduction of wages. I hope that I shall not be a member of it.

I leave the matter at that. I congratulate honorable members on the thrills that they have had during the week from the anticipations which have been provided by the vacillation of those who are disgruntled, perhaps because of thwarted ambition. That is all the satisfaction they will derive from the motion. I am pleased to say that the majority of this party will remain loyal to those who placed them in office, and to the platform of the Labour party.

Mr.R. GREEN (Richmond) [2.52 a.m.]. - This is a dragnet motion, because, had the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) attempted to incorporate in it any specific reasons why the Government should be relieved of office, the business paper would have been positively too voluminous. Consequently, the motion is tersely worded. The Leader of the Opposition gave a brief resume which dealt with the sins of omission and commission of the Government, and he was followed by other honorable members who amplified that long list. I propose to deal with a few aspects of the matter which may not have been ventilated previously. The readmission of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) to the office of Treasurer affords a sound reason for censuring the Government, but I do not propose to deal with it exhaustively, as the ground has been ably covered by my colleagues who have preceded me in the debate. I do wish to quote the opinion of some honorable members opposite on that reinstatement, in order that they may have the opportunity to verify their declarations, or crawl crab fashion out of their dilemma. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) is reported in the Adelaide Advertiser as having said, in January last - “I knowwhat Mr. Theodore said could not be done, and I also know whathe subsequently said could be done; but no one on earth knows what he will do! Like Pontius Pilate of old, I wash my hands of the whole proceeding, for I made it quite clear in caucus that I would not have Mr. Theodore as Treasurer at any price. Without commenting; on Mr. Scullin’s ingratitude and apostocy, it will be doing him no injustice to say that he is a most mystifying enigma ! “

The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) declared -

I could not follow my leader’s line of reasoning and advice. I feel strongly that a wrong decision was reached. Mr. Theodore, on learning the findings of the Mungana Royal Commission, handed his resignation to the Prime Minister. With this decision I agreed. The same position stands to-day.

Then the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) had this to say -

This is the first time I have been at variance with Mr. Scullin, but on this occasion I could not accept his recommendation. I am certainly opposed to Mr. Theodore re-entering the Cabinet, because I believe that he should first remove the suspicion that he is under. I do not judge Mr. Theodore. I know that he is an able man. But I think his ability would be overshadowed while the present charges can be levelled against him.

While Mr. Theodore was under a cloud, it gave the opportunity desired by the Opposition to carry its vendetta further. Mr. Theodore should have first cleared himself, and then been asked to re-enter the Cabinet.

You, Mr. Speaker, in your capacity as honorable member for Hindmarsh, are reported to have expressed yourself in this fashion -

Mr. Norman Makin, M.H.R., stated yesterday that as Speaker he required to exercise every caution in expressing himself upon a matter which may at a later date be the subject of a debate. He did not hesitate to make the community aware of his feelings. He emphatically dissociates himself from the reinstatement of Mr. Theodore as Commonwealth Treasurer. No matter how grave the immediate problems of the Commonwealth may be they could not possibly justify a course of expediency which cuts right across the higher ethical standards which should prevail in public life.

With those few brief quotations, I pass to other subjects, leaving the honorable members concerned to define their position in the matter. The Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members have intimated that the Government no longer possesses the confidence of the House or of the general public. Since this Government assumed office, there have been two by-elections in New South Wales, and on each occasion the Labour vote has been materially decreased, and that of their opponents substantially increased. This week’s Smith’s Weekly has taken the figures for those two byelections as a basis, and proved conclusively that if another general election were to take place now, or in the near future, this Government would be relegated to the Opposition benches. The Labor Daily, the official organ of the Labour party in New South Wales, said in the course of a leading article on the 4th March last -

The “ dumping “ of Mr. Beasley and other Ministers, who have so conclusively proven that with them the interests of the people are placed first, and self and consideration last, was a deliberate insult to the Labour movement in this State.

That insult was made possible only by the desertion of men that the wage-earners of New South Wales had financed and fought into the high places.

The capital-frightened politician is master. The people are just pawns to be used as required. That apparently is the latest gospel according to the majority of the federal caucus.

As constituted, the second Scullin Government is likely to do even less to retrieve the fortunes of this country and its people than the first. And Australia knows too well just how reactionary and impotent was the first.

It proceeded to quote the comments made by various other newspapers. Amongst them were these -

page 192

THE TELEGRAPH

The compelling force in caucus has been the desire to cling to office, literally, until expelled. No one who has seen or heard Mr. Scullin during the past few weeks could esteem him as either physically or psychologically fit for his job.

page 192

QUESTION

THENEWS

The whole Cabinet is besmirched by the con tinued inclusion of Mr. Theodore, against whom the findings of the royal commissioner who investigated his Mungana activities still stand . . .

With a reconstructed Ministry, a split party, a growing deficit, and no plan for helping Australia, the Scullin Government will meet the Federal Parliament, which is beginning to voice the growing public opinion that it is the weakest and most incapable Ministry the Commonwealth has known . . .

THE SUN.

The question for the people to consider is whether the people have gained anything by the shuffle of the political deck.

Having done nothing with enormous skill for eighteen months or so, a government sent to parliament with an overwhelming mandate to get honestly to work and devise a cure for unemployment, and so solve, honestly and permanently, the financial tangles of its predecessors, has come forward with a makeshift policy. . .

During the eighteen months the Prime Minister, in whom the people believed, turned out to be a lath painted to look, more or less, like iron.

During the eighteen months the party, assured of its majority, spent its time in frantic internal intrigues and cabals in which the public interest was entirely forgotten.

The public, then, will regard the reshuffle of portfolios with a cold eye. It arouses no enthusiasm, no hope of reform, no belief. It is a last gasp of a discredited and moribund Ministry.

The Labor Daily concluded - “ And them’s our sentiments,” generally speaking.

The pity of it - that we should have to say so!

Honorable members supporting the Government have made no endeavour to reply to the strictures passed upon the Cabinet by various journals and the members of the Opposition. The reply of the Prime Minister to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) was the most pitiable exhibition by the right honorable gentleman I have over witnessed. On one occasion I accused him of oratorical acrobatics, but I have never heard anything so unconvincing and uninspiring as, his speech on this motion. Of the 35 minutes it lasted, 25 minutes were devoted to a defence of the Treasurer. As if Australia, at this critical juncture, is concerned with any individual member of the Government! The main grounds upon which the Government is condemned are its lack of policy and inactivity. The inclusion of a particular member . is a side issue, although that action is not one of which the Government can be proud. If the

Prime Minister thought that he was interpreting the feeling of the people, the two most recent by-elections must have undeceived him. I shall quote what was said of the Government by the president of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour Party, Mr. J. J. Graves. This autocrat of the Labour movement in that State has on more than one occasion threatened with political extinction honorable members opposite if they do not adapt their views to his. On the 12th January last, just prior to the Parkes by-election, Mr.’ Graves said at a Labour conference in Sydney -

Let us briefly run over the decisions of the Federal Government. If it adopts a defensive attitude it will be forced to justify its sales tax, the tax on tea and tobacco, the increase of taxes on income from personal exertion and property; it will have to answer the fact that it has sacked, more Government employees than any other Government since Federation; it will have to answer the criticism of curtailed postal facilities, not exempting the 2d. postage; the failure to proceed with the referendum proposal, the banking bills, the arbitration tangle, the slaughter of the basic wage by the present three judges, the attacks on the railway and tramway men, not forgetting the shearers.

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– I do not know, but apparently Mr. Graves has some inside information. This week the new representative of East Sydney (Mr. Ward) took his seat in this chamber. I understand that to-day he was refused admission to the Labour party rooms, and certain honorable gentlemen who are associated with him have since been looking for a separate room in which to meet. Yet, if rumour speaks truly, as very often it does, frantic efforts have been made to-night to induce that rebellious section to support the Government. I heard the honorable member for East Sydney declare during the recent by-election campaign that his leader is the Premier of New South Wales. We know that he is pledged , to a financial policy that is opposed to that of the Government, Yet representatives of the Ministry are crawling to him and his friends with a request that they will support the Government in the present crisis. Members of the Labour party do not want the representative of East Sydney in their party room, but they want his vote in the House. The comment of the Labor Daily that the Government is hanging on to office is particularly well deserved. A former Prime Minister was accused of having “ been dragged screaming from the tart shop.” I am afraid that the same stigma will attach to the present Prime Minister. When he returned from London he was full of words, and declared that he would go fearlessly ahead. What he meant by “ ahead “, no one has yet discovered; apparently he did not know. He has done nothing, and the patience of the people is exhausted. The agrarian agitation that is spreading like a bushfire in New South Wales, is caused by the ineptitude of the Labour Government in that State and in the Commonwealth. The farming community is fedup with mere talk.

The Minister for Markets (Mr. Parker Moloney) had much to say this afternoon of what he would have done for the wheat farmers had he not been prevented by the members of another place. He made a pitiable exhibition of himself. Upon his return from Canada he forecast a new reciprocal trade treaty with the Dominion. The farmers await it with interest. They do not trust the honorable gentleman; they recognize that he is merely a talker, and they are afraid that his much heralded treaty will merely serve to push them lower down the economic scale. From Ministers we hear nothing but constant yapping ; nothing is ever done. The Government has no policy. The Labour party talked itself on to the treasury bench by making all sorts of promises which have not been redeemed. “Work for all “ has not been provided. Unemployment has more than doubled since this Government came into office. Another promise relates to the reopening of the coal-mines in New South Wales within a fortnight of the return to power of a Labour Government. I also have in my possession an interesting pamphlet, headed “Labour and the exSoldier “, issued under the name of E. G. Theodore, director of the 1929 Labour Campaign in New South Wales. This document was forwarded to all subbranches of the Returned Soldiers’

League, which, it should be noted, is a non-political organization. Accompanying it was a covering letter in these terms : -

Australian Labour Party, 32, Trades Hall, Goulburn-street, Sydney.

Dear Sir,

I am mailing under separate cover a number of “ Labour and the ex-Soldier “ pamphlets, which we are widely distributing throughout New South Wales.

I am anxious that all your members should be in possession of a copy of this pamphlet, and earnestly solicit your assistance in the distribution.

The pamphlet itself will explain to you and all your members Labour’s attitude in regard to problems affecting the “digger.”

Trusting I shall receive your co-operation in this request,

Yours faithfully,

Edward G. Theodore,

Campaign Director for New South Wales.

Knowing the Treasurer as we do now, we can understand that he would not be troubled by any regard for political ethics when he forwarded that’ pamphlet to a strictly non-political organization like the league. His chief concern was to ensure its distribution to all ex-soldiers in order that they might know what the Labour party was promising to do for them. The Treasurer’s action in seeking that channel for the distribution of party political literature, showed how little he understood the real psychology of the returned soldier. Only those who saw service overseas can really appreciate the mental outlook of the ex-service man. It is exceedingly difficult to explain to the non-soldier just what it is; but it is an intangible something - a feeling of comradeship that is understood only by those who took an active part in hostilities in defence of their country. But the Treasurer was not bothered by any of those finer feelings which govern the daily life of the average man. Certain promises were made on behalf of Labour candidates at that election, and he wished ex-service men to know about them. Let us examine some of those promises, and see to what extent they were honored. One was in the following terms: -

War Pensions - Increase in war pensions to war widows or widowed mothers to a minimum of £4 4s. per fortnight and a pro rata increase to war orphans and dependent children.

No attempthas been made to give effect to that promise. Here is another -

Employment - The placing of partially incapacitated returned soldiers in employment.

To this promise there was the following footnote: -

The placing in employment of the partially disabled returned soldiers is a problem very hard to solve, and but for the sympathetic treatment of some of them by employers of labour it would indeed be extremely hard. These men could be all found positions in thePublic Service doing useful work and therefore distributing the responsibility over the whole of the taxpayers, and not, as now, leaving it to a very few to carry. This could be done without in any way impairing the efficiency of the Service.

So far froman attempt being made to place partially incapacitated returned soldiers in employment, they are being dismissed by this Government. At the present time there are fewer ex-service men in the Government employ than ever before. Only recently six limbless men were dismissed from the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. One unfortunate man was a lift driver in the General Post Office, Sydney. Although his was one of the minor positions, this Government could not retain him in its service, notwithstanding that he was performing his duties quite efficiently. In view of what has happened, we are entitled to assume that this Government intended all along to see that returned soldiers were cast out of their employment in the Public Service. No other government has treated them in this manner. This 100 per cent. non-soldier government has done nothing for our returned soldiers. In the recent reshuffle for Cabinet positions, four new men were taken into the Government, but not one of them is an ex-service man.

Mr Francis:

– This Government has sacked over 300 returned soldiers.

Mr.R. GREEN. - The numbers are much higher than is. stated by the honorablemember for Moretow (Mr. Francis). The figures supplied by the former Postmaster General (Mr. Lyons) to the honorable member for Balaclava(Mr. White) show that between September and November no fewer than 700 ex-service men were displaced’ from employment in the Public Service. Another promise made to returnedsoldiers was that the maximum amount to be advanced’ under the War Service Homes Act would be increased to £1,800. Again no attempt was made to give effect to it. Still another promise was that a bigger appropriation would be made available to the department to overcome delays in providing homes. That also has not been honored. On the contrary, the appropriation has been cut down by more than onehalf. Here is another Labour promise at the 1929 election : -

Anzac Day - The preservation of Anzac Day as Australia’s national public holiday by legislation.

It is now over fifteen months since this Government took office, and yet it has made no attempt to introduce legislation to honour that promise. Could political hypocrisy descend to lower depths than that?

On more than one occasion, on the motion for the adjournment of the House, I have directed attention to the enormous increase in Unemployment among exservice men owing to direct action by this Government. Towards the close of the last session, I pointed out that if effect were given to the recommendation of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, it would be possible to check this drift. In August, 1929, the Public Accounts Committee presented a report on this subject to the Bruce-Page Government, but owing to the sudden appeal to the people, that Ministry was unable to give effect to it. No excuse can be offered by this Government for its inaction, because three Ministers in the first Scullin Government were, prior to their appointment to Cabinet rank, members’ of the J oint Committee of Public Accounts : I refer to the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) who became Minister for Health and Repatriation, but is now deposed; the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) and the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) who are still in the Ministry. ThePublic Service Board, in a report presented to this Parliament in 1929, mentioned that the Board had, from time to time,, given serious consideration to the question of temporary employment in the Public Service, keeping’ in mind the intention of the Public Service Act as to- a proper restriction of- such- employment!. As- I have already stated, the Public Accounts Committee inquired into fin’s subject’ in that year, and in its report to Parliament on the 14th of August 1929, it made the following recommendations : -

In presenting its findings, the Joint Committee stated that there was justification for the criticism by the Public Service Board of Commissioners that there were large numbers of temporary employees occupying positions which are definitely permanent in character, and as there were many temporary employees qualified for permanent appointment, the anomalous position which existed could be adjusted without involving dismissals of temporary hands, particularly by the appointment of returned soldiers who, as temporary employees of long standing had become eligible for permanent status without examination under section 84 (0) (c) of the Public Service Act.

The Committee expressed the opinion that there was no wisdom in not filling permanent positions, because it had been established beyond all doubt that, generally speaking, permanent service is more efficient and consequently more economical than temporary service. The view was held by the Committee that, owing to financial stress, advance of science and changes arising from reorganization, care should be exercised in connexion with all future appointments, so that the permanent establishment should not be unduly increased.

The Committee .added -

Failure to provide for legitimate permanent staff was unsound policy.

As I am a member of that committee I am conversant with all phases of the inquiry into the problem of temporary employment in the Public Service. The committee found that a considerable number of ex-service men, who had been employed for nine, ten and twelve years as temporary officers, were doing work of a permanent character, and were eligible for appointment as permanent members of the Public Service. They could have been appointed years ago, but no action was taken to appoint them. When a reduction of staff became necessary the Government did not dismiss its permanent employees. Indeed, it brought down the axe only on its temporary employees, nearly all of whom were returned soldiers eligible for permanent employment. Had the Government done the proper thing, and made these men permanent, they would have stood their chance with other permanent employees. By the hundreds of dismissals that took place practically only returned soldiers were affected. On a motion for the adjournment of the House I drew attention to the necessity for doing something for these men ; but nothing was done. Seeing that three of the members of the Ministry were members of the Joint Committee on Public Accounts, which made the recommendations to which I have referred, the Government has no excuse for its action. On the ground of its treatment of these men the Government stands condemned.

Let us now consider the field in which the Government has been most active - that of customs protection. Time after time the Acting Minister (Mr. Forde) rose to introduce new customs schedules, and on every occasion he emphasized that the new duties would mean the employment of additional Australian workers. Notwithstanding his optimism, unemployment has doubled since the . present Government came into office. The men who were promised employment are still walking the streets looking for work. The following extract from the Daily Guardian of the 26t’h January, 1931, shows the effect of the tariff -

To-day’s Australian Labour Party’s conference was remarkable for an outburst by Minister for Agriculture Dunn, directed against Australian machinery firms. They held a gun at his ear to get financial guarantees, and were, he said, “ worse than Ned Kelly.”

Mr. Dunn was particularly caustic in his criticism of Australian machinery firms.

After the Federal Government had wiped out their competitors with prohibitive tariffs, they hold a gun at his ear to extort financial guarantees, he said.

They demanded that the Government guarantee one-third of the cost, otherwise they would not deliver machinery to farmers! “ Their actions have been reported to the Federal Government,” he said, “but in order to help the farmers we made the necessary guarantees so that the crops could be harvested.” “ I consider that was an action worthy of Ned Kelly. In fact, it is a reflection on poor old Ned.”

That is one effect of tariffs. Instead of providing employment, it throws men out of employment. The promises made by the Minister have not been fulfilled, and there is no possibility of their being realized. Indeed, I doubt whether the Minister ever expected that they would be fulfilled.

The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) had something to say re- f arding the proposed fiduciary note issue, Peculiarly enough, he dealt with its effect on the man on the land. We on this side suffer from no illusion as to the effect of inflation. In this connexion I desire to quote the statement of a Russian officer who was in Siberia in 1919, shortly after the revolution. Referring to the servant girl employed in the boarding-house where he resided, he said : -

What a good soul she was, a veritable treasure of cheerfulness and willingness, as Russian servants often arc, and a great rarity in Siberia, where help is so difficult to get. She did the work of the whole house, waited upon ten people, including a helpless old lady, and managed the marketing as well - no easy task under prevailing conditions. The peasants simply refused to bring in supplies. They had grown weary of exchanging their produce for paper money which could no longer buy anything. Besides, they had plenty of doubtful notes already - were, in fact, money poor, if one may use the expression, instead of land poor. And they had grown to dislike and avoid the towns. “ All the trouble is brewed in the cities,” I have heard them argue. “ So let the cities starve. We don’t intend to carry them our corn, or even to harvest more than we need for ourselves.” With hunger rampant in the world, I have seldom seen a more pathetic sight than our crops in Soviet Russia left to rot in the fields as a result of this selfish and dangerous philosophy.

That is what happened among the untutored Russian peasants under a policy of inflation. Even they were not prepared to accept valueless paper notes. Their experience will be ours if the Government indulges in inflation. The farmers of Australia are to-day paying for the privilege of working; but they will not continue to work for nothing. ‘ What will become of Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney if the farmers refuse to grow more than will meet their own requirements? Of the population of South Australia 57 per cent, reside in the metropolitan district. The capital cities of New South Wales and Victoria contain 50 per cent, and 52 per cent, respectively, of the population of those States. The industrialists in the cities claim the right to strike. Should the farmers in country districts claim the same right, and give effect to it, all I can say is “ God help the cities.” It is’ true, as has been pointed out many times, that if every one of the cities of the world was destroyed the country could still live, whereas the destruction of the country would mean that grass would soon be growing in the main street of every city. If the fanner is pushed beyond endurance he might say that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Various governments have had regard only for the cities, because it is there that the regimented vote is to be found. The election to this Parliament of a gentleman holding the views of the new member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is possible only in the cities. Indeed, the present Government is in office only because of the heavy industrial vote in the cities. The growing antagonism to the Government in country districts is due to the policy of fostering settlement in the cities at the expense of the country. For that policy the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) is largely responsible. The country districts are, as it were, being held up to ransom. The inflated costs are being passed on to the farmer, who can be likened to a railway buffer, because there the costs end; they can go no further. The farmer has to sell in the world’s market at low values, and to buy in this highly and artificially protected country. Nearly ten years ago the National City Bank of New York issued a bulletin containing a reference to high wages. I would remind honorable members that the Australasian Council of Trade Unions on one occasion passed a resolution to increase wages and lower the hours of work. This is what that bulletin stated in regard to the conditions prevailing in New York at that time -

The fact is that wages are so high that they force unemployment, the public not being able to buy the products at the existing level of costs. Broadly speaking, the people in the town industries must sell their goods and services either to the country people or to themselves. It is plain that the former cannot take their usual share at present prices, and the town populations have nothing to gain by holding up the cost of living on themselves. A general reduction of industrial costs would accomplish two very desirable objects, to wit, provide work for the unemployed and lower the cost of living for everybody.

The position of the United States of America ten years ago was similar to the position of Australia to-day. The people in the’ cities are receiving highly inflated wages; they are keeping up the cost of living to their own disadvantage. Our secondary industries do not export to any extent. They sell their products either to the country or to themselves. The purchasing power of the return to those engaged in primary industries - whether the industry he wool, wheat or mining - has been seriously curtailed. At the same time the city people expect to keep up costs. Because of that, unemployment is rife throughout this country. It is false economics. The Lang policy is - increased wages and less work; but that is not likely to get us out of our difficulties. The lowering of costs to the people would enable them to buy more. It would ensure greater consumption, and, in the end, everybody would be benefited. We should strive for real and not nominal values. The farmer gets real values because he sells in the world’s market. In the cities the position is different. Too long have the people in the cities battened upon the country people, and the country people are getting tired of it. This Government has always placed the interests of the city above those of the country.

Mr Gullett:

– It is a Trades Hall government.

Mr.R. GREEN. - It is ruled by the Trades Hall. It has been reported time and again that the Australian Labour party executive has visited Canberra to dictateto the Federal Labour caucus.

Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931

– That is rot.

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– For the honorable member’s benefit let me quote from the press of the 9th August, 1930. The extract reads -

There was a dramatic development yesterday in the dispute between the State Australian Labour Party officials and the Federal Parliamentary Labour party when the executive officers of the Australian Labour party issued directions to Federal Labour members representing constituencies in New South Wales to attend a special conference at 11 o’clock this morning in the Trades Hall. The Federal Labour members will be called upon to explain the rebuff experienced by the Australian Labour party delegation to Canberra recently when it was refused permission to address the Federal Labour caucus regarding the wireless contracts, preparations for the State elections, and other subjects.

Yet the honorable member for Cook said that federal members are not subject to outside domination.

Mr C RILEY:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931

– We are not subject to the dictation of the Australian Labour Party.

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The honorable member is evidently ‘suggesting that Labour members were called upon to give an explanation only of their actions. The honorable, member who has recently been, elected to this Parliament was supported in the East Sydney electorate by Senator Dunn who, in turn, has just been appointed to the position of Government Whip in the Senate. I understand that he was refused admission to a caucusmeeting yesterday morning. On the 3rd October, 1930, Senator Dunn criticized the present Government. He was reported in the press as follows: -

Senator J. Dunn made it clear to the electors ofRandwick last night that he had a grudge against members of the Federal Labour Parliament, including Mr. Fenton, Acting Prime Minister. “ What do you think,” he asked, “ of such men as Fenton, Hogan and Hill (Premier of South Australia), bending the knee to a person like Sir Otto Niemeyer? I say shame, and. great shame on these men for doing what they have done. Are they fit to be called Labour men? The Sydney press have had a lot to say of what Beasley, M.P., and myself have said about Sir Otto, but I say to hell with him and Fenton and the rest. What kind of men do they call themselves? I am indeed sorry to say that they have bended the knee to such a man?

Senator Rae also assisted in the East Sydney campaign.Recently he was called upon to give evidence in a case in. respect of which certain communists had broken up a house in a suburb of Sydney. Senator Rae admitted that he was in the chair at the Communist Hall, Sydney, when certain decisions were reached, and he was called upon to give evidence to prove an alibi in respect of an individual named Mountjoy who, strangely enough, was the communist candidate for East Sydney. SenatorRae, as the Labour nominee, has since been appointed to the Federal Public Works Committee. Those two bright specimens of Labour members in another place supported the successful Labour candidate for East Sydney last Saturday. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) referred to party intrigue. It would be interesting to learn of the intrigue that took place to persuade four representatives of New South Wales in this Parliament to remain in Canberra to vote on the censure motion. One of those members, on whose vote the Government is relying, has a fellow alderman in the Sydney City Council, who is a prominent member of the Australian Labour Party executive of New South Wales. I refer to Mr. J. S. Garden who, less than two months ago, denied a statement by Mr. L. Sharkey, who recently returned from Russia, that he had been removed from his position as a member of the executive of the Red International. Mr. Garden declared that he was still a member of the organization. That gentleman supported the Labour candidate for East Sydney last Saturday. He also took a prominent part in the Parkes byelection, which was won by a Nationalist. Since that election he has denied a report that he was no longer on the executive of the Red International. This Government cannot hope to get very far if it has to rely upon the support of the newly elected member for East Sydney, and his three friends. I do not know who is the leader of this new party in the House, but one of its members is the Whip of the Government party in the Senate. What a wonderful exhibition of solidarity ! This is what the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) thinks of his nominal leader, as expressed in the Canberra Times of this morning’s date - “ The Prince of Shufflers,” was the expressive epithet with which Mr. J. A. Beasley described the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) last night in connexion with his ruling to exclude Mr. Ward from a meeting of the party.

Honorable members on the other side of the House cannot possibly justify their claim for further support for a government which has so badly fallen down on its job. It has failed to fulfil its promises, or to do anything of a constructive character. It has indeed succeeded in one thing, namely, lowering the reputation of Australia to a depth never before achieved in the history of the country. Judged by the market price of our securities in London, we are now rated lower than some of the Latin Republics of South America. I have been to some of them, and I am ashamed to think that this Government should have brought us to the level of such company. The Government has deliberately increased the cost of living by means of the sales tax. Such a measure is the only definite legislative act I know of which could directly increase the cost of living. The’ tariff does it indirectly, but in this case it was done directly. The sins of the Government are legion. My opinion of the Labour party is that the sooner it ceases to be a factor in Australian politics, the better for the country. It is a party of shufflers, and the fact that it contains some decent men is not sufficient to redeem it. There has been so much internal dissension, such open conflict between those who are in and those who are out, that it is no wonder theGovernment has no policy, because it is being pulled this way and that. The Prime Minister declared, “I will go fearlessly ahead.” But where is he going? Is it north, south, east or west? I am sorry to see some of my friends on the opposite side supporting such a government. They are decent, respectable men, but they are being affected by the company they keep. Might I suggest to them that they cast off the shackles of party and show themselves to be free men? Is it too much to hope that some honorable members opposite will express their real opinion of this Government by their vote on the motion now before the House? If they do that, we know that the fate of the Government is sealed. The Government is tottering to its doom now. It can stagger only a few more steps, even though it survives the division on the present motion. The Government has practically admitted that it can do nothing unless it has a majority in both Houses of Parliament; but even if everything went favorably for it, such a majority could not be obtained in less than five months. Is nothing to be done for the unemployed and for distressed farmers during the whole of that time? The winter is coming on, and the plight of the unemployed should surely stir the compassion of honorable members opposite. If necessary, let us have an emergency cabinet, so that these problems of unemployment and rural distress may be solved. Let us, at any rate, have something other than this interminable yapping which has been coming from the Government and its supporters. I sincerely hope that the Government will be defeated on this motion.

Mr FENTON:
Maribyrnong

– There is, I think, a considerable amount of misapprehension in regard to the Federal Public Service, especially in relation to salaries, and I propose to place before the House some facts I have collected concerning it. I have before me a table setting out the number of persons employed in the Service in temporary and permanent capacities, and as exempt employees, together with the salaries they receive. The table shows that the number of employees in the Service is 32,330, comprised of 28,916 on the permanent staff, and 3,314 temporary employees - a considerable reduction in the past two years. Those receiving salaries up to £312 number 16,000; those receiving from £313 to £399 number 4,908, and those receiving from £400 to £499 number 2,2S6, making a total for these groups of 23,194. The number of minors is 4,557, and their salaries begin as low as £7S a year. It is clear, therefore, that of the total of 28,916 permanent employees, no fewer than 27,751 are in receipt of salaries ranging from £7S a year to £499 a year. I presume that even honorable members on the other side of the House are not desirous of attacking the salaries of the lower-paid public servants ; so that, while considerable savings have been, and still can, be made in the administration of the public departments, no very great saving could be effected by even a fairly heavy percentage reduction of the Civil Service salaries. Any honorable member can check the information that I am now giving by applying for the figures to the Public Service Board or the Treasury. The suggestion has been made that there should be a percentage reduction on the total Commonwealth Public Service salary payment of about £10,000,000, which would permit the Government to effect a saving of £1,000,000 per annum. There are now nearly 10,000 fewer temporary hands employed, which would reduce that sum. For some days representatives of the Public Service Board and the Public Service unions have met in conference to debate the proposal, and I understand that the public servants are going to be asked to say whether they are prepared to accept the reduction. The honorable member for “Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) and I, when members of the Cabinet, met the Public Service representatives, heard their case, and put before them that of the Government. Prom my observations I believe that the federal public servants, even those on comparatively low salaries, are prepared to stand side by side with the other citizens of the

Commonwealth and to shoulder their share of the country’s financial burden. I might point out that prior to the establishment of federation I was a member of the Victorian State Public Service, and I know what times of depression means to public servants. I well remember that in the early nineties, after suffering the imposition of a special retrenchment tax’ for two and a half years, I received an intimation that on the 30th June, 1893, my services would be no longer required. I had to pass out, without any redress. I did not re-enter the Public Service until the electors of Maribyrnong elected me as their Parliamentary representative, some twenty years ago. During my career as a private member of Parliament, and as an active member of the administration, I have made mistakes. No man who participates actively in public life, particularly in an administrative capacity, can avoid making mistakes, and I am prepared to accept whatever blame may come to me for my sins of omission and commission.

There seems also to be considerable misapprehension about our unemployment problem. According to the Commonwealth Statistician there are about 2,000,000 wage earners in Australia, 400,000 of whom are Federal and State government servants, and employees of State and municipal instrumentalities. The remaining 1,600,000 arc employed in private enterprises. Those figures make itapparent that it is the duty of this. Parliament to set the wheels of industry in. motion again as quickly as possible. It is imperative that there should be a. revival of industry, so that additional employment may be given to our people,, and I am confident that honorable members on both sides will do their utmost to attain that object.

I have a very gratifying recollection of the magnificent manner in .which the Australian public subscribed to the £28,000,000 loan that was recently floated by the Commonwealth Government. The bulk of the money that is raised by Federal and State Governments and by municipal bodies comes from institutions in which the masses of the people are directly interested. It is estimated that about £580,000,000 has been raised by those authorities, and the following table shows the sources from which the money has come: -

That accounts for over £450,000,000 of the £580,000,000 borrowed. As was pointed out by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) there are about 5,000,000 depositors in our savings banks, whichare truly representative of the masses of our people. Most of our life insurance companies are mutual, and their contributions are drawn from about 2,400,000 persons, while friendly societies represent about 600,000 members. The Government proposes to impose a tax of 3s. 6d. in the £1 on the revenue derived from bonds by those institutions - really a tax upon the masses of the people in Australia. If a measure of that character comes before this House, I do not think that I shall be able to support it, and so tax that class of people. I recall the position of my own union, which was originally known as the Melbourne Typographical Society, which I joined in the year1885. With the exception of a short period, when I was out of the trade, and practically an employer, I have been a member of that union. During the past six months, because of the depression in the printing trade, its unemployment fund has been heavily drawn upon, and the union has had to realize upon debentures worth about £2,000. Fortunately, it still holds debentures, representing a similar figure, as part of its assets. Many other unions have also been compelled to realize. on their assets. It would be of interest to honorable members to know that during the six months which ended the 31st December last, the Victorian branch of my union contributed just on £7,000 in unemployment benefit payments. I believe that that union’s revenue from interest amounts to something like £78, and that would be taxed under the proposal of the Government, as would the incomes of all the institutions which I have mentioned as being the principal subscribers to Australia’s loans. I regard it as wonderful that out of a total population of about 6,500,000, 5,000,000 of our citizens are savings bank depositors. In Footscray, an industrial suburb in my electorate, 40,000 of the population of about 50,000 are depositors in the savings banks. I am not defending the rich ; they are well able to take care of themselves. That is especially true of those who have large amounts of ready cash. I have always been poor, and am likely to die so. But I remind the House that to the war loans . there were 833,000 subscribers, to the loans floated last year nearly 200,000 subscribers, and to the £28,000,000 conversion loan recently placed on the market over 117,000 subscribers. These figures prove conclusively that the loans are spread over a very wide field, and repre-. sent the savings of a large number . of people.

Another action of the Government of which I disapprove is the appointment of a Public Service Arbitrator at this stage. Doubtless the Government will say that it is complying with a statute of this Parliament and with a pledge given at the last general election. I offer no criticism of the appointee; Mr. Westhoven is one of the best public servants in Australia; but with six High Court judges, three Arbitration Court judges, and one insolvency judge, there was no need to appoint a Public Service Arbitrator. This office was created by a previous Government, and Mr. Atlee Hunt was the first occupant of it. If necessary, a small amending bill could have been introduced to depute this work to a judge of the High Court, and thus the salary of the special arbitrator could have been saved. I may be told that the salary paid to Mr. Westhoven as arbitrator will be only slightly higher than he was receiving in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, but I am under no misapprehension as to what happens when a senior officer is transferred to another position. Another officer is immediately promoted to the vacant office and receives the salary attached to it. I understand that the office of the Public Service Arbitrator costs over £4,000 a year, including salaries. A return presented to this House at the request of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) shortly before

Christmas last showed that the judges of the High Court are certainly not overworked, and, especially after the recent additions to the Bench, the Government had a splendid opportunity to utilize the services of a judge for the purposes of public service arbitration. In the early days of the establishment of the Arbitration Court the president was a judge of the High Court; the first was Mr. Justice O’Connor ; he was followed by Mr. Justice Higgins, and later by Mr. Justice Powers. If we are to continue to provide a special tribunal for the Public Service, we can get a very well-qualified arbitrator from the High Court Bench without incurring additional cost.

In connexion with court procedure generally, there is need for simplification. Legal members will declare, no doubt, that their profession is unfairly criticized, and that the employment of a lawyer very often saves time and money to litigants. The general community, however, has a very different idea, and I have always hoped that at the proper time all procedure in connexion with the law courts will be simplified. As a first step the language of the statutes should be made clearer; the present draftsmanship leans to excessive verbiage, which often obscures the real meaning and intentions of the legislature. I believe that if our laws were made clearer, so that the people could understand them more thoroughly, they would be better obeyed. I trust that where simplification and economy are possible, reforms will be instituted without delay, because I am convinced that for many years we shall have to live on a more modest scale than we have been doing recently.

The Treasurer mentioned yesterday afternoon his proposal to issue a fiduciary currency, and, presumably, I shall, be in order in making brief reference to it. I say unhesitatingly, that what is proposed is inflation of the worst and most damnable kind, and when the bill is before the House I shall certainly oppose it. We hear a great deal of the need for Parliament to have greater control over banks and banking. Some of the best bankers in Australia are not averse to bringing the banking, laws up to date. But I have the greatest possible objection to- any political tinkering with the currency. I shall not agree to it no matter by whom it is proposed. If we start on that course we shall never know whither it will lead us. Whilst this Parliament should have the widest powers, it has not the special knowledge and. ability required to deal with such intricate subjects as banking and currency. I have read many books on these matters in recent months, and I have not found any leading economist who advocates that parliaments or governments should have the opportunity to play tricks with the currency. All advocate that the control of it should be entrusted to experts, who will not be subject to political pressure.

Mr Cusack:

– Experts like Bob Gibson !

Mr FENTON:

– During recent months I have suffered much abuse. Eight months ago I would not have believed it possible for me to tolerate it. But when my leader left Australia I made up my mind that whatever might be said or done I would hold the. fort till he returned.

Mr Gabb:

– And the honorable member put up with a lot in doing that.

Mr Cusack:

– He was damn well paid for it.

Mr FENTON:

– At any rate, I had no hesitation in surrendering my handsome emoluments. As a rule, I do not object to an honorable member letting off steam, but the remark of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro was particularly ungenerous.

Mr Cusack:

– -I shall have something to say about the honorable member later.

Mr FENTON:

– I invite the honorable member to do so. My life has been an open book; I have nothing to conceal. I do not believe in inflation, and. I shall vote against any proposal to place banking and currency under political control.

I recollect that when the bill for the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank was introduced into this Parliament, one of the strongest points made in its favour, by the then Prime Minister, Mr. Fisher, was that the institution would be placed beyond political control. Mr. Cusack. - We have not got that. Bob Gibson is as much a Nationalist as is Bruce.

Mr FENTON:

– 1 was not referring to the political views of individual members of the Commonwealth Bank Board, but as Sir Robert Gibson has been mentioned, I am entitled to say that the Prime Minister, before he left for England, said that in regard to banking, there was no man in Australia in whom he had greater confidence than he had in Sir Robert Gibson. So far as I know, the right honorable gentleman has not changed that opinion. Under the control of Sir Robert Gibson the Commonwealth Bank has already done some very big things. Are honorable members aware that already we have controlled inflation to the amount of £53,000,000? Part of the money supplied by overdrafts is utilized to pay the salaries of honorable members. If these overdrafts were not forthcoming we could not pay the public creditors.

On the re-assembling of ‘ Parliament twelve months ago, the Prime Minister made a statement to the House, from which I propose to read the concluding paragraph. I quite expect that the Leader of the Opposition will say that while I was Acting Prime Minister he made a generous offer on behalf of his party, to co-operate with the Government in order to help the country through these troublous times. That offer, I believe, was endorsed by the Leader of the Country party. It did not suggest a coalition government. The final paragraph in the Prime Minister’s speech indicated clearly what was in his mind twelve months ago. This is what he said -

The difficulties confronting Australia ave serious, and a proper realization of them should result in wholehearted cooperation of all sections in the working out of a satisfactory solution. Indeed, at the present juncture, Parliament might fittingly become an economic conference of representatives of the people meeting to discuss the general position.

I believe that the Prime Minister then outlined the only course which will extricate us from our present difficulties. I have been giving this matter serious thought for a considerable time, and I have arrived at the conclusion that if we, as representatives of the people, do not come together, if we do not shoulder our responsibilities and carry out those duties which the people of Australia expect us to perform, we may be swept aside. I wish to make it clear that I am not a believer in the revolutionary method of reaching any particular objective; I have always favored the adoption of constitutional methods. But I believe that the patience of the people has reached the breaking point, and that, if we do not show a genuine desire to meet our difficulties in a perfectly honorable and straight manner, the disaster which I have visualized may overtake this country. I sincerely trust that my fears are groundless; but if we do not discharge our obligations and that, too, in a manner worthy of us as representatives of the people, I fear- that many of us will be missing after an appeal to our masters.

I intend now to give- the reasons for my resignation from the Ministry, and explain why I intend to vote for the motion of censure. Honorable members will recall that when I retired from the Ministry I made a statement to the press, and without traversing any ruling which you, Mr. Speaker, have given with regard to a certain matter which is held to be sub judice. I think I shall be in ‘order if I place it on record here. I made that statement because the representatives of the principal newspapers throughout the Commonwealth were picking up scraps of information which, I may add, were not furnished by me, and were indulging in a certain amount of speculation, which was likely to lead to entirely erroneous conclusions. Before preparing the statement in question, I read carefully the Hansard report of a speech delivered by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) when the findings of the Mungana Royal Commission were made known. Although I shall quote only a number of extracts from that speech, I feel sure that the honorable member for Dalley will acknowledge that they are an absolutely correct interpretation of what was in his mind when he addressed members of this House just prior to his retirement from the Ministry in July of last year. In my statement to the press I made the following quotation from Hansard of passages of the speech made by Mr. Theodore in July last.

The recent report of a royal commission in Queensland has reflected so seriously upon my character, and has impugned my honesty so definitely, that I had no alternative but to hand in my resignation as a Minister of the crown, and await an opportunity to vindicate my character. I do not wish any one to infer that my retirement from ministerial office is in any sense an admission that the report of the royal commission is justified. I have resigned in recognition of the duty I owe to my former colleagues in the Cabinet, to Parliament, and to the country…… I am not going to answer these charges here. I am looking for a better opportunity…..

I only wish to say at this stage with regard to these charges that all of them are damnably false, and that where they are founded upon evidence, that evidence is tainted and malicious…….

I have, so far as I can see, only one hope, and that is that the Queensland Government, by formulating against me an indictment covering without abatement every one of the charges that have been made against me by the royal commissioner may give me an opportunity to face my accuser or accusers and to answer those charges … To have to submit to such a course is humiliating; yet it appears to me to be the course which I must seek, and which I now demand. It is only in this way that I can clear my name. I shall not mind the humiliation if I am given a fair opportunity to face my accusers, and to present evidence in rebuttal of that which they may bringo in support of their charges…..

I merely ask now - and I contend that I am entitled to ask it - not only in my own name, but also iu the name of this honorable House, as well as of Australia - to be given a chance to refute the charges that have been made against me. If I am guilty of a tithe of what has been alleged against me in this report, then I am not worthy’ to be a member of this House; if I am not guilty, I am assuredly entitled to demand the right to clear my name of the tarnish that at present covers it.’ . . .

I think that fairly sets out the views of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) as expressed on that occasion. I then went on to express my own views. I said -

I have quoted sufficient to show that Mr. Theodore denied the charges upon which the findings of the RoYal Commission were based, and made seven separate declarations demanding an inquiry. That inquiry has not yet been held. Therefore the position is the same now as it was when Mr. Theodore resigned. That being so, there is no more, but rather much less, justification for his inclusion in the Ministry. I do not say that the laws delays are not grievous, painful, and injurious. I have always said so, and hope for reform and for more expedition, but it still remains evident that the findings have not teen rebutted, and until that has been done and the demands of Mr. Theodore himself have been satisfied his return into the Ministry should be delayed. This is not only a matter of individual concern; there is the corporate honour of the party, of Parliament, and of the people at stake. Under these conditions I am confident that no member of the Labour Ministry or of the Labour party, if similarly placed, would consent to return to office until the charges against him were disproved. I have asked for a delay so that the promised rebuttal might be made and the charges proved to be grossly malicious and untrue. That done I would heartily welcome back to office a man so maligned.

The position to-day is the same as when the honorable member spoke from his place in this House. The charges made against him have not been rebutted. My first intimation of the probable return of Mr. Theodore to the Ministry came from the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin). I immediately entered my protest against it, though perhaps not so strongly at the time as I might have done. But at the next meeting of the Cabinet, I made a very definite statement of the stand which I intended to take. I am aware, of course, that cabinet secrets should not be disclosed, so I content myself with stating that I intimated clearly the action which I intended to take if the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) were readmitted to the Cabinet. My colleagues in the Ministry were under no misapprehension on the matter. Later, at a meeting of the party, the matter, as you, Mr. Speaker, know, was mentioned ; I am not sure that you were present. At that meeting I made practically the same statement as that furnished to the press. I think that even the honorable member for Dalley will admit that I have displayed no bitterness or ill-feeling towards him. I can say without fear of contradiction that, in all my experience of caucus meetings of the Labour party, extending now over twenty years, the discussion of a delicate subject was never approached in a more temperate spirit than characterized the discussion on the occasion when we considered the re-admission of Mr. Theodore to the Cabinet. I am glad to be able to say that I bear ill-will to nobody. At the party meeting I said, and I now repeat, that in my judgment the re-admission of the honorable member for Dalley to the Cabinet was not merely a matter of personal honour; it concerned also the party. I added that, had I been under a cloud, I would not have sought re-admission to a Cabinet until I had cleared my name. I went on to say that I was convinced that the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) would follow the same course, and that I believed that no other member of the Labour party would desire to rejoin a Ministry until he had absolutely cleared himself. I urged that there was an obligation resting upon all members to defend and maintain not only their personal honour and integrity, but the corporate honour of the party itself, and of the Parliament. I then said that, in my humble judgment, the proper course for the honorable member for Dalley to take was to remain out of office until his name had been cleared of the stigma that rested upon it.

Mr Lewis:

– Now tell the House what you said about Jim Scullin at Richmond.

Mr FENTON:

– What did I say of Mr. Scullin?

Mr Lewis:

– That he was the greatestPrime Minister Australia had ever had.

Mr FENTON:

– I had no hesitation in paying that tribute to the Prime Minister. But, as every honorable member knows, a man makes discoveries. Possibly the Prime Minister does not now entertain quite the same opinion of me as he did some time ago. But I can assure honorable members that I am absolutely devoid of any personal feeling in this matter. Nor am I now speaking in a mood of indifference, or without having given careful thought to what I am saying. On other occasions I have . been advised to “ sleep on it “ before coming to a decision. I have done that in connexion with this matter. I also wish to make it clear that in resigning from the Government I did not act in concert with any of my colleagues in Cabinet. I made my own decision, for which I accept full responsibility. At the earliest opportunity I informed, first the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin), then the Cabinet, and afterwards members of my party in caucus. Now I am placing my position before honorable members of this House. I feel so strongly on this subject that, if necessary, I shall carry the discussion from the floor of this chamber to the public platform in order to justify myself in the eyes of the people. I have had an opportunity which, perhaps, has not been given to all honorable members, to study carefully the report of the Mungana Royal Commission. All the papers relating to that inquiry should be laid either on the table of this House or the library, so that honorable members may have an opportunity to peruse them.

Mr Cusack:

– Why do we not get it ?

Mr FENTON:

– Here is a document which has been issued by the Queensland Government, and is available to honorable members. It comprises 28 pages of the summing up of Mr. Justice Campbell in connexion with the Mungana inquiry.

I find that in other countries certain things are done in certain circumstances. In the French Parliament recently two members of the Ministry had to resign, and the Ministry was in consequence practically defeated. An inquiry into the conduct of those Ministers took place, but I do not think that it has yet been completed. The matters complained of are four years old and a committee was appointed to .investigate them. There was also an inquiry into the action of two under-secretaries who are supposed to have been interested in certain transactions. Monsieur Tardieu, an ex-Prime Minister of France, said that until the committee began its investigations he did not believe that the charges were so serious. I understand that in the British Labour party there is a rule that any member charged with ‘ having done anything derogatory to the party, or whose honesty is impugned, must at once hand in his resignation. Within the last few days a member of the House of Commons has resigned because of certain allegations concerning him.

Mr Theodore:

– Under that system it is necessary only to accuse a member of having done something wrong to get rid of him.

Mr FENTON:

– I have no desire to enter into an argument with the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) on the floor of the House, but in my judgment a public man, occupying a high public office, against whom a properly constituted authority has brought in adverse findings, must clear his name or take the consequences of those findings. In my opinion, there is no escape from that code. I do not set myself up as a Simon Pure; I know the frailties of human nature; but where the corporate honour of a political party, or of this Parliament, or indeed of the community generally, is affected by any action of mime, I demand the right to clear my name. In the case of the Treasurer the tarnish on his name still remains.

Before I conclude I wish to say that I have not the slightest sympathy with the policy of Mr. J. T. Lang, the Premier of New South Wales. That policy has injured Australia; but in my opinion greater harm has been done to the credit of Australia, both at home and abroad, by the inclusion of thehonorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) in the Ministry, than by anything else that has taken place in Australia. I may be wrong, but that is my judgment. While I do not stand here as the accuser of my fellow man, I claim the right to express my opinion, which is that the reinstatement of the honorable member for Dalley as Treasurer must inevitably injure the community.

Mr Cusack:

– The honorable member adjudges him guilty without a trial.

Mr FENTON:

– Not long ago certain accusations were made against a prominent Commonwealth public servant. That, officer immediately went to his ministerial head, and informed him that he would notundertake any official work until he had cleared his name. That, in my opinion, was a proper stand to take. What would happen in a case of a person employed by a private firm or company if a royal commissioner had brought in against him findings similar to those in the Mungana case?

Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER:
Hon. R. A. Crouch

– Order! The honorable gentleman is getting too close to a matter which Mr. Speaker has ruled may not be discussed because it is subjudice, and, therefore, I ask him to confine his remarks within the limit of the ruling that has been given.

M r. FENTON. - I am trying to follow a consistent and fair line of argument. I was endeavouring to show what would happen to a man in private employ if a royal commission had brought in certain adverse findings concerning him. In such a case his employer or superior officer would, in the interests of the business itself, have to degrade him or suspend him until he had cleared his name. I am proud to say that in the Commonwealth Treasury we have a magnificent lot of officers; but in the event of serious charges being laid against one of them, would not the ministerial head of the department be compelled to instruct him not to transact any further business in the department while the charge remained?

Mr.Cusack. - The Treasurer was given no chance of clearing his name.

Mr FENTON:
MARIBYRNONG, VICTORIA · ALP; UAP from 1931

– I am giving him a chance. Like the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Cusack) I complained of the law’sdelay. I have discussed this matter in the presence of the Treasurer himself without the slightest feeling of ill-will. As a public man I feel that I have a responsibility in this matter. Whatever the consequences, I am prepared to accept them. I think so much of this matter, particularly at this critical period in the history of Australia, that with a free heart, a free mind and a free conscience, I shall vote for the motion because I believe that it is in the interests of the people of Australia, and of those to whom we are indebted.

Mr MORGAN:
Darling Downs

– Before I proceed to make any comment on the motion before the House, I desire to congratulate the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) on the very fine stand that he has taken thismorning. The honorable member has expressed his views adequately and fairly, and I sincerely hope that the public conscience, not only in his own electorate, but throughout Australia, will re-act definitely in his favour.

Unquestionably, the outstanding fact of the present political situation is that within eighteen months of the return of a government with the greatest majority ever recorded, it is now arraigned at the bar of public opinion. It is indeed standing on the brink of a precipice, and its fall is imminent. Should the Government survive this motion of no-confidence, I predict that within the next four or six months it will meet its political doom.

Many suggestions have been made for overcoming the depression and the political chaos which have befallen this country. I regret to say that during the debate almost every speaker on the other side of the House has directed his remarks against the party in opposition rather than to a defence of the Government. Apparently the Government is working along certain lines, with a view to meeting existing conditions. It has evolved four lines, by following one or more of which it hopes to get itself out of difficulties, ana to emerge from the depression which overshadows the country. Those four lines are, first, the absorption ‘ in industry of workers at present unemployed ; secondly, the maintenance of national solvency; thirdly, the restoration of budget equilibrium, and fourthly, the equitable spread of the loss of national income over all sections of the community.

Dealing first with the absorption in industry of workers at present unemployed, I submit that the policy to which the Government is committed is utterly inadequate to do what is required. Only by the rehabilitation of industry can workers be employed in industry, and I submit that the proposals of the Government will not rehabilitate industry.

Regarding the second proposal - to maintain national solvency - I charge the Government with having destroyed national solvency. Until the present Government has been swept from the Treasury bench there can. be no national solvency in the Commonwealth.

What has the Government done to restore budget equilibrium? A more negative attitude than that taken up by the Government it is impossible to conceive. To talk of budget equilibrium in face of the record of the Government is to talk a stark naked untruth to the people of Australia.

The Government professes a desire to spread the loss of national income over all sections of the community, but at no time has it made any attempt to do so. It does not intend to make any such attempt, for it lacks the necessary moral courage. In the matter of dealing with the public servants of the Commonwealth the Government has carefully avoided its obvious duty. It dared not face the Public Service, because it knew that any attack upon the’ members of that institution would mean the loss of their votes. Before that prospect this Government cowered and shivered. The only policy that it has succeeded in elaborating and placing before the people of this country is that of inflation, and it has been discussed ad nauseam. I do not propose to deal with it extensively or deeply, but I support the view that has been consistently urged on this side. Bad as our position is to-day, great as the depression is, and heavy as the unemployment list is, these things will be made worse and worse by the operation of this policy. We are told that the Government is sincere, that it believes that it is doing the right thing, and that at least its members are united in supporting the policy of inflation. I deny that the Government is united in this matter. Even in the ranks of the Ministry there are openly avowed opponents of inflation, and why they remain in the Cabinet I cannot understand. Almost on the eve of the inclusion in the Cabinet of the present Minister for Defence (Mr. Chifley) he criticized the policy of inflation. He said that he was opposed to the Theodore and Lang plans in many essentials. Yet it is the Theodore plan that he is endorsing to-day. In these circumstances, why is he a member of the Cabinet to-day? He was either speaking the truth or an untruth.

The ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. E. A. Crouch). - I ask the honorable member to withdraw those words.

Mr MORGAN:

– I withdraw them. Let me say that the Minister for Defence was either making a gross misstatement or he was not. If he made a gross misstatement, then he should withdraw it now; if he made a true statement, he should not be in the Ministry. His position is indefensible. The Minister compromised himself still more definitely. He admitted that the Scullin Government had not done much. I ask again, why is he now a Minister?

Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– That statement is a misrepresentation,

Mr MORGAN:

– I have seen no contradiction or withdrawal of it. For the Minister now to say that the statement attributed to him is untrue, is to take up an unconvincing attitude. If the statement is untrue, it should have been challenged at the time it was made, and that was some weeks ago. The Minister further said that if a politician or a Government declared that it could lift

Australia out of its depression in a month by legislative act, that would be misrepresentation.

Mr CHIFLEY:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Could the Nationalist party, if in power, do that?

Mr MORGAN:

– The . Nationalist party has never been so deceitful as to make any promise to that effect. The Minister himself knows very well that during the last election campaign the Treasurer made outrageous and rash promises, and it was on the basis of those promises that he gained support. Yet the Minister for Defence has lent himself to a statement that is at direct variance with the Treasurer’s promises, and on that and other counts I contend that, since he has compromised himself, he should not be a member of the Ministry.

I come now to the question of the cut in the salaries of the public servants. The question whether they should be made to share in a common sacrifice at a time of common crisis is an exceedingly vexed one. At present there is sitting in Canberra a conference of Federal Public Service Associations. It is deliberating on this particular issue, and will decide what is to be done. It will tell the Government what it is prepared to accept in the way of a reduction of salaries. Why is an issue like this not decided by the Government? Why has it not the courage to do what is obviously the correct and right thing towards the Public Service? The conference has utterly disregarded the Government, which, with characteristic cowardice and slavishness, will submit to the decisions of that conference. It is standing by impotent, powerless and voteconscious. On the other hand is the Public Service, shame stricken, doing something to save itself from the contumely and contempt of an- outraged people ?

I listened to-day with some degree of interest to the Minister for Markets (Mr. Parker Moloney) when he was dealing with the wheat position and the attitude of the Government towards the farmers of Australia. He made a special plea which may cut some ice, but his statement regarding the policy of this Government is utterly inadequate and unconvincing. The whole burden of his speech was, not what the Government had done for the farmer, but what it had failed to do for him. I challenged the Minister by way of interjection on more than one occasion. The only positive line of action that was open to the Government in keeping with the wheat position in Australia was perfectly obvious. Had it been sincere in its desire to help the farmer, its course was perfectly clear. The Government should have proceeded to impose an excise on flour, and at one stroke given to the farmers relief along lines of legislation since enacted by some State Governments. If the Government is sincere, why did it avoid the one and only line of action open to it to render immediate redress to those men who are suffering so horribly under existing conditions? The Government has utterly misled the farming community of Australia. Could anything be more lamentable than the statement of the Prime Minister in this House when he attempted to reply, with a stream of rhetoric and cheap elocution, to the criticisms of the Leader of the Opposition? Could anything be more unconvincing than what the Prime Minister said in defence of this Government’s inactivity and unconcern about the interests of the farming community? This is what the Prime Minister, in effect, said : - “ We have tried to assist the wheat-grower. We have faced great difficulty. We have faced the opposition of the Senate, but we are not deterred. We go merrily on, trying to assist the wheat-grower.” That is the same sort of flap-doodle that the Prime Minister used when he returned from England. He said that he was going to be Prime Minister in actual fact. I know of no other instance of a Prime Minister of this country falling down so horribly on his job. No other Government has so misled and toyed with the primary producers of Australia. On the wheat issue, the Minister for Markets challenged me to support the fiduciary note issue scheme, under which it is proposed to raise £18,000,000, and to ear-mark £6,000,000 of that amount for assistance to farmers. I accept that challenge here and now. I absolutely refuse to have anything to do with a scheme so utterly rotten. The farmers of Australia have already on three occasions been let down by this Government. I am not going to be taken in again for the fourth time with an inflation proposal that not only is unlikely to help the farmer, but will actually do him incalculable harm. I shall have nothing to do with the scheme, and, in the primary producers’ interests, shall use my best endeavours, wherever I may be, to tell them that if they dare touch this thing they will burn their fingers. They have nothing to hope from it, and 1 intend to tell them so. This miserable offer of £6,000,000 tied to the fiduciary note issue is another affront to the farmers. It is in no way a serious attempt to help them in their trouble. If the Government is sincere in its £6,000,000 proposal to help the farmers, why does it not offer them real money? Why offer them rotten paper money which will probably not be worth 10s. for the £1 in twelve months’ time? I know the farmers of Queensland, and I am certain that the Government has no prospect of putting a bluff like that over them. If the Government is afraid to adopt the proposal to place an excise duty on flour because that would raise the price of bread, why does it not go on the market for a straight-out loan to assist the wheatfarmers? Of course we know that it does not do so because it has no possible hope of raising a straight-out loan, so it is offering to the farmers in lieu of real money this fiduciary currency scheme which it knows will never be put into effect. If the Government had acted straightly, if it had kept away from inflation proposals and refrained from coquetting with repudiation, the credit of the country would still be good, and the farmers could have been helped. The Government has, by its actions and its words, destroyed its own credit, and the confidence of the community. I spurn with contempt this offer to bribe the farmers with £6,000,000 of rotten paper money.

I refer in passing to another matter concerning which the Government has made itself culpable, but which has not, so far as I know, been mentioned previously in the House. The Government; in half a dozen directions, has attempted to set up a dictatorship - a spurious one, it is true - because the real dictatorship lies beyond the Government. One of the impertinences of this attempted dictatorship has been the invasion of the rights and privileges of this House. I refer particularly to the attitude of the Government towards the dignified and important office of Chairman of Committees of this House. Standing Order No. 215 is as follows : -

A member shall he appointed by the House to be Chairman of Committees, and when so appointed, he shall continue to hold office during the continuance of the existing Parliament unless the House shall otherwise direct.

I call attention to the words “unless the House shall otherwise direct.” You know, Mr. Speaker, that so far as your own appointment is concerned, and also in regard to the appointment of a Chairman of Committees-

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– I am afraid that the honorable member is not in order in referring to the appointment of the Speaker. That is not in question, and I shall not permit the honorable member to express himself in such a manner as to detract from the importance of the Chair, or from its prestige and dignity.

Mr MORGAN:

– I wish to emphasize the point that the very thing I am anxious to defend is the importance, dignity and prestige of the Chair.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I do not see how those things are called in question by the motion before the House.

Mr MORGAN:

– But they are.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member may think so, but the matter is one for the Chair to decide.

Mr MORGAN:

– I bow to your decision, of course. This matter of the chairmanship was dealt with by the Labour caucus. It affected this House; it affected, indeed, the very life of the . Government which, at this moment, has not the courage to take a vote of the House on the question as to who shall be Chairman.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The House has appointed a Chairman of Committees, and I cannot see that the honorable member’s remarks are relevant.

Mr MORGAN:

– With all respect to you, Mr. Speaker, I contend that the matter has been called in question. It has been voted upon in caucus, and caucus has ruled that the Chairman appointed by this House shall no longer hold his office. The election of a Chairman of Committees is definitely the responsibility of this House, yet an outside organization, not recognized by this chamber, has attempted to deprive the House of the Chairman of Committees appointed by it. The Standing Order governing this matter was specially framed to ensure that the election of a Chairman should be free from party dominance, and the present practice has come down to us through a long period of parliamentary history. Anything which tends to invade or infringe that practice must be resented by this chamber. If we cannot be sure that we have freedom from party intrigue in the election of a chairman of committees, we are confronted with the possibility of the prostitution of this great parliamentary office.

Mr SPEAKER:

– May I suggest that a more appropriate time to discuss this subject would be when the matter comes up for consideration by the House?

Mr MORGAN:

– I admit that that would be a better time, but I realize that such a time will probably never come. I do not think that the Government will ever have the courage to put such a matter to a vote in this House.

During the course of this debate we have heard a great deal of criticism and comment on the re-inclusion of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) in the Cabinet. In his reply to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) the Prime Minister said that he was not unmindful of the political capital that would be made of ‘ the appointment, but that he believed in the innocence of the honorable member for Dalley, and, consequently, had advised the party to reinstate Mr. Theodore. The Prime Minister evidently thinks that though, by taking thought, no man can add a cubit to his stature, he may, by taking time, acquire a reputation. The Prime Minister went out of his way to declare that he did not believe that the honorable member for Dalley was guilty of the findings that stand against his name and his public morality. In view of the fact that le’gal proceedings are pending in the matter, I should like to know what the right honorable gentleman implied by that extraordinary statement. I submit that it was one of the clearest- instances of an important public man prejudging a case that has ever been known. I was astounded when the Prime Minister stated, in so many words, that he believed that the present Treasurer was a Simon Pure, free of taint, by that very statement implying that everything and everybody else was wrong. The case that a court is to try was, in effect, pre-judged by the right honorable gentleman. What does the Prime Minister know on the subject? If he possesses any special knowledge why does he not give it to honorable members? Did he intend, by his cryptic utterance, to mislead this House and the country on this very important matter? If the right honorable gentleman has justification for what he implied, it is his duty to enlighten the House by revealing just how much he knows.

Mr Gullett:

– The right honorable gentleman knows nothing.

Mr MORGAN:

– I agree with the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett). I ‘ consider that the Prime Minister knows nothing and dared to use his high office to talk in such a way about this case so as to convey a wrong impression to this House and to the country. I believe that the re-instatement of the honorable member for Dalley was made with the very definite view of creating a prejudice in his favour after he made his ad misericordiam appeal in caucus. My reading and knowledge of the history of Anglo-Saxon countries, and almost every other country where parliamentary institutions are held in respect, teaches that the one thing that has been definitely insisted upon is a high standard of probity in public men. Why has Australia chosen to depart from that standard? No Government that dares to infringe that standard can long succeed. Against the honorable member for Dalley is the finding of a royal commission, which constitutes the most damning indictment that was ever made against a public man in Australia.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! It will not be permissible for the honorable member to make any observations about the evidence of any commission which is, or may be, the basis of proceedings that are pending.

Mr MORGAN:

– The finding of that royal commission is a State document.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! I rule that it is not permissible to discuss the contents of that document at this juncture.

Mr MORGAN:

– It has been referred to by the Prime Minister. >

The SPEAKER:

– Order! I called the Prime Minister to order on several occasions when he made reference to the subject, and I am not going to allow the honorable member any greater latitude in the matter.

Mr MORGAN:

– With complete deference I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I cannot proceed further along the lines that I desire to travel. Public morality and ethical standards have been violated by this Labour Government in a manner hitherto unknown iu any other AngloSaxon country. I do not think that I am exaggerating when I claim that it has never occurred iu any other civilized country in the world, with’ the possible exception of a Spanish-American republic. If there is one office in the Government of any country that should be positively above any taint it is the high and honorable one of Treasurer. The public record of the honorable member for Dalley is so widely known that it definitely raises the question “ Can he be trusted to go straight “ ? I say that he cannot, and in support of that contention I point to the honorable gentleman’s public record. The public apprenticeship of Mr. Theodore as an executive officer of the Queensland cabinet was so disastrous that it brought that State almost to the verge of ruin. I shall not weary the House with a recital of the facts, but I could quote them chapter and verse to demonstrate my contention that never under any other administration was Queensland so misgoverned as it was under the Governments that were directed by the present Commonwealth Treasurer. When the Queensland ship of State was definitely drifting towards the rocks, the honorable gentleman scuttled away like a rat, deserted the State, and made an ignoble entry into the public life of the Commonwealth. He came into the federal arena with a stain on his name because of the manner in which he succeeded in securing nomination for the constituency of Dalley. Very shortly afterwards the proceedings were instituted against him about which I am not permitted to speak further. That placed a further stain on his name, so that it has now become ignoble throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. That is the man that this Government has dared to entrust with the Treasurership of Australia. . On grounds of public morality and ethics nothing on earth can justify that action of the Government, which has hung a millstone around its neck that will ultimately cause its destruction. Part of that process is now being carried out, its concluding part has yet to take . place. As certainly as I stand here, I believe that this Government, by infringing the code of moral standards, has done incalculable harm to itself and to Australia, for which it will ultimately pay a very heavy penalty. Earlier in this sitting, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) mac.e the surprising statement that the action now pending against the honorable member for Dalley will not proceed.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I did not hear the honorable member for Herbert make that statement; if he did, it was distinctly out of order. I cannot permit any observation regarding legal proceedings that are pending. I ask the honorable member for Darling Downs not to try the patience of the Chair any further.

Mr MORGAN:

– I have not tried the patience of the. Chair. I have always treated the Chair with respect, and sought to uphold its dignity. The proceedings against the honorable member for Dalley were referred to this afternoon, and I desire to reply to the statement of the honorable member for Herbert, that the case was out of the hands of the Government and would not proceed.

Mr SPEAKER:

-I cannot permit the honorable member to carry that matter any further.

Mr MORGAN:

– If I am not permitted to reply to a statement made by the honorable member for Herbert, I feel a distinct sense of grievance. A statement such as he made, if allowed to pass unchallenged, will mislead the House and the country. I honestly believe that a counter statement by some person who is in possession of the facts is due to the House.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I have already said that I did not hear the honorable member for Herbert make that statement, and that if he did make it, he was distinctly out of order.

Mr MORGAN:

– He was not declared to be out of order at the time.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I ask the honorable member not to bandy words with the Chair.

Mr MORGAN:

– I am not attempting to do so; a pronouncement on this subject was made by the Attorney-General of Queensland, and it has been widely published in the newspapers.I submit chat no restriction should be placed upon the quotation of it in this House.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Has it any bearing on the case now pending in the Law Courts of Queensland?

Mr MORGAN:

– It is an answer by the Attorney-General of Queensland to the accusations that his Government has delayed the civil proceedings against the honorable member for Dalley.

Mr SPEAKER:

– That statement surely relates to a case pending before the court.

Mr MORGAN:

– Yes, but the Prime Minister having been allowed-

Mr SPEAKER:

– I called the Prime Minister to order several times, and he was not allowed to complete his statement.

Mr White:

– He made a statement outside the House.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I have no control of the speech of honorable members outside this chamber.

Mr MORGAN:

– The AttorneyGeneral of Queensland would be the last person to make a statement that could be construed to be comment on a matter sub judice.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I cannot allowthe Attorney-General of Queensland or anybody else to usurp the rights and functions of the Chair. It is for me to determine whether statements in this House are comments upon matters that are sub judice.

Mr MORGAN:

– I have not even remotely suggested that the AttorneyGeneral of Queensland was attempting to usurp the functions of the Chair.

Mr SPEAKER:

– If the honorable member continues to argue with the Chair I shall ask him toresume his seat.

Mr MORGAN:

– I can only bow to your ruling, Sir, and protest against being denied the right to reply to statements made in the course of this debate. I feel that I have been subjected to undue restriction.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order !

Mr MORGAN:

– The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) made a grossly inaccurate statement concerning the economic conditions in Queensland. Why he thought it necessary to drag that State into a debate entirely concerned with the actions of the Commonwealth Government, I cannot understand ; but in his effort to support an untenable argument in regard to industrial matters, he said that Queensland was in a worse financial position than any other State of the Commonwealth.

Mr Martens:

– I said nothing of the kind.

Mr MORGAN:

– I instantly challenged the honorable member’s statement, and I say now that it was quite inaccurate. Statistically and industrially Queensland is in a better position than any other State. Not only is the unemployment there less, but its finances are in a healthier condition than those of the other parts of the Commonwealth. Official returns show the following public balances as at the 28th February: Loan fund credit, £3,444,084; trust funds credit, £715,874; treasury notes account, credit, £22,392 ; Government Savings Bank inscribed stock, credit, £298,365 ; total, £4,480,175; less Consolidated Revenue Fund debit, £2,277,313, temporarily advanced from the loan fund, leaving a total credit of £2,203,402, including £1,349,096 at current account in Australia, £21,604,000 in London, and £670,000 on temporary loan to the Commonwealth Government in London. Those figures show that the statement made by the honorable member for Herbert, in his endeavour to buttress an unsound industrial argument, grossly misrepresented the financial position of Queensland. The Moore Government, more than the Government of any other State, has tackled unemployment in a sensible fashion. It has suspended the arbitration awards covering the mining industry and several other activities, with the result that continuous work has been provided for a large army of men. To-day the percentage of unemployment iu Queensland is less than half that in any other State. I have felt it my duty to correct the utterly wrong impression created by the honorable member’s statement.

I conclude by drawing attention to the extraordinary position in which the Government finds itself. That position is due to several causes, but particularly to one set of circumstances. I suppose that no Government in any Australian Parliament ever made more extravagant promises than those made by the present Commonwealth Ministry. No promise was too extravagant to be made. Consequently the Maitland miners were hoodwinked, the workless were definitely fooled, and the public servants were deliberately misled. The promises made to the miners, the unemployed and the public servants, have not been fulfilled, and that fact probably more than anything else, has brought the Government into disgrace. How, in the name of high heaven, the Government which has done nothing of an executive or legislative character even remotely approaching the redemption of its promises to the electors, can expect to remain in office or retain its own self respect, or the respect of the people, I do not pretend to understand. I repeat that this Government and its supporters fooled the coalminers, they bluffed the unemployed, and, as I think I have shown beyond all doubt, they have bilked the farmers of Australia. Could any government have a more rotten record than that? Because of all that it has done, and also because of its sheer political incompetence, its gross administrative inertia, this Ministry should be brushed off the treasury bench and “ blacked out “ by the people of Australia at the earliest possible opportunity.

Mr PRICE:
Boothby

I am not in agreement with all of the remarks of the honorable member who has just resumed his seat (Mr. Morgan) ; but I intend, in my contribution to this debate, to confine my criticism to the reinstatement of Mr. Theodore as Trea surer, and the fiduciary note issue proposal. I am one of those members of the Labour party who object to Mr. Theodore being in charge of the Treasury until he has cleared himself of the charges which have been levelled against him. My one desire is to restore the confidence of the people of Australia in the Commonwealth Government, and to this end I am prepared to support the application of drastic remedies. In my opinion, tho Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) upon his return from London, let down rather badly two of his ministerial colleagues, Messrs. Lyons and Fenton.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– Order! The honorable member must refer to honorable members by the names of their constituencies.

Mr PRICE:

– A number of his ministerial colleagues and members of the Labour party gave the Prime Minister a definite assurance that, while he was abroad, they would do all in their power to give effect to certain undertakings which he had entered into. Upon his return I met him at the Adelaide railway station, and as we walked arm-in-arm down the platform I put to him this question–

Mr Crouch:

– It would not be a private conversation?

Mr PRICE:

– Certainly not. The Prime Minister and I arc public men, and I feel sure that he would acknowledge that the question which I put to him was a perfectly fair one. What I said to him was - “Do you intend to stand by the men who stood to you while you were abroad?” His reply was - “ Certainly “. Can it be said, by any stretch of the imagination, that some members of his Cabinet and Mr. Theodore stood to his policy during his absence from Australia.

Mr Rowe:

– Yes, undoubtedly.

Mr PRICE:

– I doubt that.

Mr Rowe:

– There is no doubt in my mind.

Mr Gabb:

– Make your own speech, Jack.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order! I remind honorable members that it is not in order to refer to an honorable member by his Christian or surname. The Standing Orders provide that he must be referred to by the name of his constituency.

Mr PRICE:

– No one can deny that Messrs. Fenton and Lyons-

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! The Chair must be obeyed.

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– Why worry about little forms?

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member for Richmond must not encourage disobedience to the Chair. If he intends not to observe the forms of the House, he must leave the chamber, otherwise I shall name him.

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– Let him have a fair go!

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! I name the honorable member for Richmond for disobedience to the Chair.

Mr Scullin:

– I regret this unseemly disturbance of the peaceful atmosphere of this all-night debate. I therefore appeal to the honorable member for Richmond to withdraw hi.s remark and apologize to Mr. Speaker for his disobedience.

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– I do that most willingly, Mr. Speaker. I had no intention of disobeying your ruling.

Mr PRICE:

– I was about to say that, after his return to Australia, something must have happened to cause the Prime Minister to make an appeal to the Labour party for the return of Mr. Theodore to Cabinet rank. His action in this matter has, in my opinion, entirely alienated the support of several of his most ardent followers, and, in addition, he has lost the confidence of a great majority of the people of Australia. I completely fail to understand the reason for his action. After the party meeting at which the right honorable gentleman recommended the re-admission of Mr. Theodore to Cabinet rank, I returned to Adelaide, and, with other South Australian members of this Parliament, gave an interview to the press. I propose to place on record what I said on that occasion. The following report of the interview appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser of the 31st January, 1931:-

When seen at Parliament House yesterday regarding the latest political developments, Mr. J. L. Price, M.H.B., secretary of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party, expressed disappointment over recent occurrences.

Mr. Price said he had expected that when lbc Prime Minister returned from abroad, and l he party was called together, they would have settled down and directed their energies towards seriously tackling and endeavouring to solve the big national problems confronting

Australia to-day. But the proceedings centred around the question whether Mr. Theodore should be reinstated as Treasurer. The bombshell came when the Prime Minister recommended to the party that the ex-Treasurer should be reinstated. “ I could not follow my leader’s line of reasoning and advice,” Mr. Price said. “ I feel strongly that a wrong decision was reached. Mr. Theodore, on learning the findings of the Mungana Royal Commission, handed his resignation to the Prime Minister. With this decision I agreed. The same position stands to-day. Until such time as he clears his name and character he is not doing the party or the Commonwealth a service. I feel that the Queensland judicial authorities should grant Mr. Theodore an immediate hearing on the charges levelled against him.”

I stand by that statement.

Mr Martens:

– Why did the honorable member accept the secretaryship of the Labour party a week ago?

Mr PRICE:

– Possibly, the honorable member’s interjection has reference to my recent visit to my electorate. It is true that I visited Adelaide last week-end, but that does not effect the fact that my action to-day agrees with the stand I took in January.

Mr Martens:

– The honorable gentleman visited Adelaide to have his mind made up for him. , .

Mr PRICE:

– That remark is not worthy of the member for Herbert. Other South Australian members of this Parliament made statements on their return to Adelaide in January, which were reported in the press. You, Mr. Speaker, in your capacity as the representative of the district of Hindmarsh, are reported in the Adelaide Advertiser of the 31st January as follows : -

Mr. Norman Makin, M.H.R., stated yesterday that as Speaker he required to exercise every caution in expressing himself upon a matter which may. at a later date, be the subject of a debate. He did not hesitate to make the community aware of his feelings. He emphatically dissociated himself from the reinstatement of Mr. Theodore as Commonwealth Treasurer. No matter how grave the immediate problems of the Commonwealth may be, they could not possibly justify a course of expediency which cut right across the higher ethical standards which should prevail in public life.

The honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey) also granted an interview, which was reported in the following terms: - “This is the first time I have been at variance with Mr. Scullin, but on this occasion I could not accept his recommendation,” said Mr. A. W. Lacey (chairman of the Public

Works Committee), who returned to Adelaide yesterday. “ I am certainly opposed to Mr. Theodore re-entering the Cabinet, because I believe that he should first remove the suspicion that he is under. I do not judge Mr. Theodore. I know that he is an able man. But I think his ability would be overshadowed while the present charges can be levelled against him.” “ While Mr. Theodore was under a cloud,” Mr. Laeey said, “ it gave the opportunity desired by the Opposition to carry its vendetta further. Mr. Theodore should have first cleared himself, and then been asked to reenter the Cabinet.”

I agree with the honorable member that the Queensland Government should give Mr. Theodore an opportunity to clear his name. The report of the interview with the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser on the 30th January, 1931, under the heading, “ Federal Cabinet Crisis. Political Dynamite.” It reads -

Mr. G. E. Yates, M.H.R., said Mr. Theodore’s reinstatement was the most tragic happening for the workers that had yet taken place. The 10 per cent. cut in the basic wage was bad enough, but this was worse. It was stated by one ofMr. Theodore’s supporters that caucus was playing with political dynamite, and the realization of the truth of this had not been long delayed. Speaking the very next evening in the Parkes by-election campaign, Mr. Theodore was reported to havesaid that he would arrange an early conference with bankers, brokers, business men, and others, to evolve a plan of financial reconstruction. Australia had already had the benefit of two or more months ofMr. Theodore in caucus, and though he sponsored what was known as the Gibbons Plan after it was accepted, he certainly never had the courage to suggest such action there. “ I know,” Mr. Yates continued, “ what Mr. Theodore said could not be done, and I also know what he subsequently said could be done; but no one on earth knows what he will do! Like Pontius Pilate of old, I wash my hands of the whole proceeding, for I made it quite clear in caucus that I would not have Mr. Theodore as Treasurer at any price. Without commenting on Mr. Scullin’s ingratitude and apostacy, it will be doing him no injustice to say that he is a most mystifying enigma ! “

Mr Martens:

– We have heard all these statements before.

Mr PRICE:

– Another South Australian member of this Parliament, who is not, however, a member of this House, also expressed his views on the reinstatement of Mr. Theodore as Treasurer. Senator Hoare is reported to have said -

Great surprise and consternation were felt when Mr. Scullin announced the recommendation of Mr. Theodore’s reinstatement to the

Federal Treasurership. The words fell like a bombshell, and seemed to rob members of their thinking powers. “I, like others,” Senator Hoare said, “have tried to fathom the reason for this rash, unwarranted, hasty reappointment ofMr. Theodore, but no justifiable reason presents itself. Two of Mr. Scullin’s most faithful and everloyal supporters,Messrs. Fenton and Lyons, have been jettisoned because they could not live in a Ministry with Mr. Theodore. Surely that was emphatically evident to the Prima Minister when he made his choice - achoice tainted with broken confidence. Mr. Scullin will soon discover that Mr. Theodore has only one goal.”

Senator Hoare said there was only one pathway open toMr. Theodore, and that was for his name to bo absolutely cleared from any doubt or suspicion before re-entry to office.

I understand from the interjection of the honorable member for Herbert that these interviews have already been read in this chamber. I did not hear them read - only extracts may have been read - therefore, I have given them fully, in order that the facts may be recorded clearly in Hansard. Honorable members will admit that those whose views have been made public in this way have spoken fearlessly. I propose to follow my words with action and give an effective vote in Parliament.

I assure honorable members that it is not an easy matter for me to speak in this way. I feel my position keenly. Were that not so, I should not have decided on the course which I intend to follow. Though not long a member of this Parliament, I was a member of the South Australian Parliament for a number of years. I have been associated with the Labour movement for many years and hope to retain my association with it.

Mr Cusack:

– The honorable member should stick to his pledge.

Mr PRICE:

– What pledge?

Mr Cusack:

– His pledge to the Labour party.

Mr PRICE:

– I assure the honorable member that I have stuck to my pledge, and that if he looks after his own business I shall look after mine. I take this action to conform with the opinions that I have expressed in the public press and at public meetings in Adelaide, and in so doing I feel that I am acting in the best interests of Australia. At a party meeting I explained my position to the Treasurer.

Mr Theodore:

– The honorable member voted against me at the party meeting, and later apologized for his action.

Mr PRICE:

– I did nothing of the sort. I spoke in caucus, and in the presence of the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore). I firmly believe that he would be doing a service to himself, to his party, and to his country if he resigned his position in the Cabinet. I cannot put my position more clearly than that.

Mr Theodore:

– The honorable mem- ber apologized to me for making a similar statement in caucus.

Mr PRICE:

– I have made no apology. The Treasurer made his speech, and the debate that ensued was one of the most interesting that we have had in the party room since I have been associated with the Federal Labour caucus. Every member tackled the issue fearlessly and spoke his mind.

Mr Scullin:

– And two weeks afterwards the honorable member accepted the secretaryship of the party.

Mr PRICE:

– That is another matter. I attended the party meeting and recorded my vote. It was decided that instead of voting openly, a secret ballot should be taken.

Mr Gabb:

– That was not clone at the first meeting.

Mr PRICE:

– No, but it was done at the second meeting. I thought that when the second ‘vote was taken, the decision would have been in favour of the Treasurer resigning his position. That did not happen.

Mr Theodore:

– And after that the honorable member accepted the secretaryship of the party.

Mr PRICE:

– I stood for that position.

Mr Theodore:

– And. for ministerial position as well.

Mr PRICE:

– I did not stand for ministerial position. I submitted myself for the position of secretary to the party, a post which I had retained since the Government came into office.

Mr Blakeley:

– The honorable member showed little gratitude.

Mr PRICE:

– This is a matter, not of gratitude, but of principle. I was secretary to the party, and I advised other members to attend the party meeting. They re-elected me as secretary, and later I submitted my resignation to the Prime Minister. Having done that I felt that I had accomplished all that it was necessary for me to do in view of the position that I had taken up.

I wish now to say a word or two in connexion with the recent loan of £27,000,000. When the Acting Treasurer (Mr. Lyons) submitted his proposal to float a loan of £27,000,000 to meet other loans that were falling due last December, I stood right behind him; but an alternative proposal was carried that the Commonwealth Bank be asked to meet the loan falling due on the 15th December. In anticipation of the bank failing- to do that, it was decided that a bill be at once drafted and presented to Parliament, renewing for twelve months the loans that were then falling due. That was what might be termed “mild repudiation”. The Prime Minister cabled from London that he was opposed to any form of repudiation, and that he stood behind the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fenton) and the Acting Treasurer (Mr. Lyons). It was also stated in the cable that the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Brennan) and the Minister for Markets (Mr. Parker Moloney) were standing right behind the Government. >

Mr Gabb:

– It would be interesting- to have that cable read in this chamber.

Mr Rowe:

– Perhaps the honorable member will read the minutes of the party meeting.

Mr PRICE:

– I am not at all likely to do that.

Mr Blakeley:

– The honorable member has already let a lot of cats out of the bag. He has repeated private conversations.

Mr PRICE:

– I do not think so. I have played the game.

Mr Blakeley:

– The honorable member has not played the game.

Mr PRICE:

– The Acting Treasurer placed his proposal to raise a loan of £27,000,000 before the Loan Council, and that body endorsed the scheme. The loan was floated, and the people rallied to the call, with the result that it was over-subscribed. I mentioned earlier in my remarks that what we needed most was confidence in the Government and in the country. I am satisfied that the people have lost faith in the Prime Minister as a leader. They awaited with anxiety his return from England, believing that he would be prepared to grapple immediately with the difficulties confronting Australia. Unfortunately, the only thing that he has done since his return is to reinstate the honorable member for Dalley as Treasurer. While the Prime Minister was in London the honorable member for Dalley was a disrupting factor. First of all he supported the Gibbons’ plan, which cannot be squared with his latest proposal to institute a fiduciary note issue. The two schemes are as wide apart as the poles.

Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– They are on the same basis.

Mr PRICE:

– 1 understand that the Government proposes to introduce a bill for the purpose of creating a fiduciary note issue to the extent of £18,000,000. Of that, £6,000,000 will be expended in giving relief to the farmers, and £12,000,000 in relieving unemployment. I must admit that the scheme at first glance appears very attractive; but it is not in the best interests of Australia and its people. It is undoubtedly a method of inflation. We are faced with a financial crisis, and, as members of this National Parliament, it is our duty to try to instil confidence into the people. I refuse to believe that this cannot be done. Australia is not down and out. In spite of the depression, it is probably the richest country in the world. Our national income has been reduced from about £600,000,000 to about £500,000,000. Our total population is about 6,500,000. There are many countries in the world that are in a far worse plight. I therefore say that it is not for us to discredit our country and our resources. We have great natural resources, and I believe that we shall eventually overcome our difficulties. One has to admit that the prices of wheat and* wool are very low. They have probably touched rock bottom, and when they rise again the spending power of the community will be restored. Good reports have been received about the prospect of better prices for our wool. The first and most important thing for us to do is to create confidence amongst the people. Until that is done, we cannot, improve our position. I cannot see how we are to create confidence by issuing fiduciary currency. That is merely what may be termed a temporary expedient; it is the easy way out, and it may sound attractive to many of our people. It purports to make money available to the farmers, to those engaged in secondary industries, and for the relief of unemployment. It is admitted that Australia wants funds immediately to tide her over her difficulties, and it is claimed that by the issue of fiduciary currency, that money will be made available. I take it that under the scheme rt is proposed to pay our debts and relieve unemployment by means of this money. But will the issue of this money achieve what is claimed for it? Let us look at what will probably take place. We should not be making real money, we should have merely a paper currency. The value of that paper currency would probably diminish with every new issue. The position would then arise that no one would really know the value of the pieces of paper he held. It would be almost impossible to say at the end of six months how many notes would have to be given to purchase food and other necessaries. There is no stability about a scheme of that kind. The issue of fiduciary notes would merely delude the people; it would not help Australia to overcome her difficulties. It would probably have the effect of thrusting her further into the mire. Instead of increasing employment, it would have the reverse effect. I have deliberately restricted myself to the discussion of the two points which, as I have stated, induced me to resign my position as secretary of the federal Parliamentary Labour party, and to show my disapproval, I shall vote against the Government on the motion of want of confidence.

Mr HUNTER:
Maranoa

– No other government since federation has ever been placed in such a pitiable position as’ this Government finds itself in at the present time. Its members must feel, I am sure, that they do not possess a single friend throughout the country, and they cannot count even upon the friendship of their own supporters. This debate reminds me somewhat of the debate which ended the life of the late Bruce-Page Government, and the analogy will be rendered more complete if, as I believe will be the ease, it results in the defeat of the present administration. There is a rumour current just now that a meeting will be called in Sydney, and instructions issued to four members of the Federal Labour party to a-ct in such a way as to bring about an election for the purpose of getting even with the other New South Wales Labour representatives in this House. As that meeting cannot take place until this afternoon, it is obvious that the four labour members concerned cannot be present in Canberra to vote with the Government. There is a striking difference, however, between the attitude adopted by labour members on this -occasion towards those late members of the party who may be responsible for the defeat of the Government, and their attitude towards certain members formerly supporting the late government, whose votes resulted in its defeat. At that time honorable members opposite said that those who voted against the Bruce-Page Government were patriots who had the courage to stand for what they, believed to be the good of the country. Now they have men on their own side who propose to do the same thing in regard to their own Government, but these are not called patriots; they are called rats. There is this further difference also between the situation which existed in 1029 and that which exists at the present time : The downfall of the Bruce-Page Government was brought about by intrigue, which induced certain supporters of that Government to vote against it ; but there has been no intrigue on this occasion, no attempt by this party to induce Government supporters to vote with the Opposition. Those who have turned against the Government have done so of their own volition ; there has been no prompting from -us. On the 31st January certain statements were issued by South Australian members, and there had been no opportunity for any one on this side of the House to come into contact with those who issued the statements. There is no doubt, however, that the defeat of the Bruce-Page Government was due to intrigue by the then Opposition, because that Opposition gloried in its action, and boasted openly of it. If honorable members opposite were sincere in praising those who overthrew the last Government, they cannot now be sincere in condemning the members of their own party whose votes may bring about the downfall of the present Government. One peculiar attribute of this Government is its inability to take criticism.. Recently we read a statement to the effect that any one who criticized the Government was doing a disservice to the country. The inference appears to be that the name of this Government is synonymous with that of Australia. I do not know with what part of Australia it can be synonymous, unless it be with the mud of Australia. Moreover, I do not think that the Government ‘Can claim to have been unfairly criticized. The former Acting Prime Minister will bear me out when I say that no other Government, either State or Federal, was ever treated so fairly fey an Opposition as this one has been. The Opposition recognized that the country was in a serious position, and that it behoved all parties to get together in an endeavour to right matters. The utmost help was offered by members of the Opposition, and no bitter criticism was levelled against the Government until the present occasion, when it has become evident that nothing further can be done to help the country by helping the Government. The only help we can give Australia now is to sweep this Government out of office, and that is what I hope will happen this afternoon.

The first thing necessary to restore financial stability is the restoration of public confidence. The public to-day have no confidence in the Government, and the world at large appears to have little confidence in Australia. The first essential towards the restoration of that confidence is the defeat of the Government, which has done nothing whatever to improve the situation. On the contrary, it has, by its actions, done everything possible to destroy public confidence. Business is in a bad way to-day, and is becoming worse. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) hit the nail on the head when he said that prosperity could not be restored by instituting government works.

We hear a good deal these days about floating loans to start reproductive government works. There is no such thing to-day as reproductive government work, and money spent on such undertakings is simply thrown away. The honorable member for Maribyrnong was right when he said that what was wanted first of all was the restoration of public confidence, so that those in private employment might be kept in their jobs, and private enterprise might be induced to expand and give employment to more people. That confidence, however, will not be restored so long, as there is in office a Government, which puts ‘ party before country.

Not only has the Government never done anything right during its term in office, but it has done many things which have been definitely wrong. Its greatest blunder was the restoration to office, of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore).. If the Treasurer could fly from Canberra to Melbourne to be sworn in, he could have flown to Brisbane to appear before the Royal Commission, and answer the charges which had been made against him. I frequently hear him referred to as a Queenslander. He is not. I am a Queenslander myself, and I resent the statement that lie is a native of that State. He is from the same city that “ Gunner “ Yates hails from. He is a South Australian, like other financial experts on that side of the House. He came to Queensland a grown man. The Postmaster-General (Mr. A. Green) interjected: at one stage that we on this side were afraid of the Treasurer. We are not afraid of him as a man, but we are afraid that he may. irretrievably injure the nation. We fear that, because we have had experience of him in. Queensland!.

Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– I said that honorable members opposite hated the Treasurer because they feared him.

Mr HUNTER:

– If the PostmasterGeneral really felt for the unemployed whathe pretendsto feel when he weeps crocodile tears over their lot; he would have devoted to their relief the money he spent taking himself and his wife for a trip round the world.

Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– The honorable member, never spent anything on anybody but. himself.

Mr HUNTER:

-I never spent public money tripping round theworld. From a. purely party point of view we. welcome the return of Mr. Theodore as Treasurer.. The honorable gentleman is the. best asset that the Opposition, possesseson the Government side, and on that account alone; we are glad that he: has again been taken into the fold. With the advantages conferred by his alleged ability, the Government must accept the disadvantages of any disrepute which’ may attach to the honorable gentleman.

To-day an almost hopeless pessimism prevails, throughout the land. People seem to forget that we have survived previousi and more serious depressions. That, of 1893 was the worst in the history of Australia, yet men who were then down and out. are now wealthy and reputable citizens-. The country is far better developed now that it was then. People are. better educated, there is more- money in, Australia,, and. there exists a greater ability to create additional wealth. We should be animated by a feeling of hope,, but we should not sit down like a man on the bank of a river and simply wish that we were on-the other side. We must rouse ourselves to effort before we- can seriously entertain hope for the- future.

Mr Keane:

– And reduce pensions?

Mr HUNTER:

– I welcome the honorable member’s interjection. The only proposal of this Government to add to the wealth of the community is1 by inflation - the establishment of a false money standard. Before we can acquire further Wealth we: must bring about additional production, and cease talking about repudiation and other charlatan and dishonest ways of. begetting wealth. There is no quick road to rehabilitation.. It.will take possibly fiveto ten years for us to regain prosperity, and it is. essential that we settle down to our task immediately and re-establish confidence in. the country. We shall then be able to obtain sufficient money to pay our interest and capital commitments, so allowing our banks to release advances to industry to the extent of approximately £60,000,000.

My friend the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton ) referred to the civil servants. I am glad: that hedid so-,and- in- such- a fashion,, as’ there- is. a great deal of misunderstanding on the subject. I was-, at one time in the Civil Service,, and I know the conditions which attach to, it. I. contend that there is an, easy way to reduce the- cost of our Civil Service, and I- am astounded that the Government, has: not availed, itself of the method. It should’ seek the services of what is known in; America’ as a “ business doctor,” a systems: expert. A chartered accountant from outside the Service should he appointed for a period of from three to five years, without the right of re-appointment. He could thoroughly analyse and re-organize the Service. It is impossible for a man who is close to his own work to view it in its proper perspective. An outsider with a proper training could bring about a vast improvement in the efficiency of the Service. There would he no need to make fresh appointments to it for a long time. As old members retired for various reasons the personnel would be reduced in number, until the Government would have effected economies far in excess of those contemplated by any 10 per cent, wage reduction.

Proper business methods must be introduced into both the Service and the government of the country. The business of the Commonwealth is similar to that of any great factory, yet some people believe that anybody is fit to conduct this business provided that he can secure votes. Is it any wonder that there is a cry against inefficient parliaments. The honorable member for Maribyrnong uttered the warning that if we did not show some return for the cost there was a danger of the people rising in protest and sweeping parliaments out of existence. As we know, the only alternative to governments such as ours, is no government, or anarchy, and that must be avoided at all costs.

In an endeavour to rehabilitate the finances of the country, the Government proposes to make a fiduciary note issue of £18,000,000. In bolstering up the scheme it has been claimed that Great Britain has a note issue of £260,000,000, against which there are no assets. Let me compare the position of that country with that of Australia. Great Britain has issued £400,000,000 in notes against which it holds gold reserves amounting to £140,000,000, or about 35 per cent, of the note issue. Australia has a note issue of something over £45,000,000, and a goh! reserve which is under £15,000,000. If there is a further note issue of £1S,000,000, the proportion of our gold holdings to notes would fall to 22 per cent. Those figures show that there can be no proper comparison between the two systems. If we did the right thing we should endeavour to decrease, instead of increasing, that £45,000,000 note issue.

Whether the Government is defeated or not on this motion, honorable members of the Opposition are prepared to co-operate with it in an effort to- better the government of the country. Honorable members on this side have no hankering after Cabinet positions. In saying that, I speak for both the Nationalist and Country parties. Our desire is to do the right thing, and I warn the Government that if it refuses to put country before party honorable members on this side will vote against it, and cause it to be thrust into outer darkness.

Mr CUSACK:
Monaro · Eden

^7.28 a.m.]. - I almost feel constrained to congratulate the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Hunter) for having delivered a speech which Avas on a little higher plane than that we- have become accustomed to hear from honorable members opposite, particularly during this debate.

The speech of the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) also struck me as being an outstanding utterance. It appeared to me to betray the honorable member just as may the conduct of a person who is in a witness box. I thought that the honorable member ought to have had a drink of water. He seemed to possess no continuity of recollection, and did not even appear to understand Standing Orders. I suppose that the events of recent days weigh heavily upon his mind. I remember when the honorable member announced that he would like to be one of the Ministers in the Cabinet, to which that terrible person, the Treasurer, was elected. I dare say that he would still be a loyal supporter of the Government had caucus fallen in with his desire. Caucus did throw him a very fair bone, which he accepted very gratefully at the time. We have heard of “ political bodies in bags” and how awkwardly they make their presence felt from time to time. These “ bodies in the bag “ will probably be of great service to their country. I believe that the honorable member for Boothby .declared that if- the Treasurer had the interests of his country at heart he would- resign. Apparently, it did not occur to him that if he himself really possesses such punctilious views upon political morality there is an obligation upon him to resign. A soldier who deserts to the enemy is put up against a wall and shot, and those honorable members who to-day are “in the bag “ should be put up against a wall and politically shot. Doubtless the renegades will be welcomed by our opponents. For my own part I have always held that a public man’s life and conduct should be upright and entirely free from even the breath of suspicion. When the report of the royal commissioner who inquired into -the Mungana leases was published, I determined that if the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) did not voluntarily resign, I would demand in the party room that he should do so. I would not be a member of a party that was under a cloud or of which any member was under suspicion. But since that report was published the position has changed. Why is the honorable member for Dalley not given an opportunity to clear his name? For how many months longer is he to be under a cloud? We have the assurance that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) who is a learned King’s Counsel, advised the Queensland Government that there is no chance of a successful criminal prosecution of the honorable member for Dalley. I take the stand that an accused person is innocent until he is proved guilty. An opportunity to clear his name should be afforded the honorable member at the earliest possible moment, and I am ashamed of the tactics to which the Queensland Government has resorted.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I cannot allow the honorable member to criticize further those who are connected with certain legal proceedings that are pending. I restricted the observations of the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Morgan) and Others on this subject.

Mr CUSACK:

– Any Government that would keep any person, no matter how humble, under a cloud indefinitely deserves nothing but contempt. To do that is a disgrace to the British Commonwealth of Nations; it is not fit to hold office iu any country. If an honorable member dissented from your ruling, Mr. Speaker, would you be content to walk out of the

Chair and remain uncertain for a couple of years whether the House intended to vindicate you ? A fundamental principle of British jurisprudence has been violated by the Queensland Government. I can sympathize with the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore). After I was elected to this Parliament some of the newspapers, which it is our misfortune to have published in our midst, formulated fourteen charges of improper conduct in connexion with my election. When I read them I began to believe that corruption and bribery had taken place. I had almost made up my mind not to appear in court, and only decided at the last moment to brief a barrister. Yet, so flimsy were the charges that my counsel asked only one question of the principal witness for the petitioner. The newspaper reports, however, suggested that the officials who had conducted the election had been proved guilty over and over again, and I found it difficult to believe that they were innocent; indeed I began to doubt that I was innocent myself. A Maori who is told repeatedly that he is sick and ‘ is about to die, becomes so convinced of his danger that he lies down and gives up the ghost. In the same way persons who know themselves to be innocent become almost persuaded by constant repetition of charges, to believe that they are guilty. I am proud that the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) has resented the calumnies hurled against his colleague, whom I do not believe to be guilty, and who, at any rate, is not yet proved guilty. My leader is to be commended for having had the courage to demand that the honorable member for Dalley shall receive British justice. His guilt is not yet proved, and we have the opinion of learned counsel that no criminal offence can be successfully laid against him. That being so, I cannot understand why certain honorable members have sought to justify their betrayal of their party by pointing to the charges that still hang over the head of the Treasurer. I believe that if they had not that excuse they would find another. They are the Simon Pures of this Parliament; they are the personification of morality’; they dress themselves in white robes, place haloes on their brows, and mount the pedestal of virtue. Buthow will theybe able to reconcile their purity with their new associations. During the. Parkes, election I heard the honorable member forWarringah (Mr. Parkhill) and Mr. Jar vie, M.L.A., casting stones at the Treasurer. I am not aware of any gift of a case of pipes on that occasion. Of course the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham), being without political sin, is entitled to cast the first stone. No one has ever suspected him tobe guilty of any wrong. Regarding Mr. Jarvie’s. record. I am not certain. The honorable member forWarringah is like a playful boy; he fills his hat with the pure and. unadulterated sand of Manly and throws it, into the eyes of the electors. I suppose, that the honorable member for Angas, (Mr. Gabb), having changed his party allegiance, will join, the honorable member for Warringah in this youthful pastime. The allegation has been made that the honorable member forWarringah received £2,500 to forego his claim to enter this House as the Nationalist candidate for North Sydney at the time that the present representative of that constituency (Mr. Hughes) desired the seat. Although, it may be just as dishonorable for a, man to allow himself to be bought, out of parliament as for another to buy himself into parliament,, I do not regard either as a. very serious offence. Will the honorable member for Angas ask his colleagues of the Nationalist party to produce, their bank books for scrutiny by judges and others ? Is he satisfied to have his. own account, so scrutinized, at the risk of disclosing the money he made when he was a bookmaker at little country shows,, and that desperate punter, the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) allowed himself to be fleeced by him?

Mr.Prowse.-I do not know to what the honorable member is referring; never have I been guilty of any such punting.

Mr cusack:

-I may have been misinformed, but I understood that the honorable member for Forrest had punted with the honorable member for Angas, because he had so much confidence in him that he would do anything that the latter askedhim to do. The honorable member for Angas is now in the ranks of the Opposition.So far as I know all of the members of the Opposition are. honest and reputable men; there is not a stain or a. shadow of suspicion on their financial reputations. But I do know that men with criminal records are doing their dirty work as organizers for the Nationalist party. I am credibly informed that when the honorable member for Warringah was told of the criminal record of a Nationalist organizer in Queensland, who had formulated a lot of false charges against the Labour party, he replied, “ The man is not employed because of his criminal record, but to do our work, and he does it very well.” I am afraid that the cheeks of the honorable member for Angas will be suffused with blushes when, he hears of whatt akes place at the caucus meetings of the Nationalist, the Country parties, and the Australian party. The latter, I believe, is, the only party that is absolutely unanimous.. The gentleman who is at the head of it spoke yesterday of the need for leadership. He has demonstrated his capacity for leadership in connexion with the Australian party. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) was his left wing, and the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) the right wing. First the left wing turned oyer to the Nationalists, then the right wing followed suit, and now this great leader is following like a tail in the same direction. Years ago, when the antiLabour parties in this Parliament wanted a. transfusion of new political blood they enticed into their ranks a member of the Labour party who, had graduated in the halls of slumdom at “ The Rocks,” and Darling Harbour. This gentleman, born in a political’ manger, became the greatest leader those parties ever had. Unfortunately, we see to-day what: has, been the effect upon him. of close association with his former political opponents. Mr. Holman suffered the same fate. The members, of the Opposition in this; Parliament do not know how to, abuse their opponents. I have heard Mr. Holman described in Parliament as “ a white-livered cur.”

Sitting suspendedfrom7.45 to. 9.15 a.m. (Friday.).

Mr CUSACK:

– In the. Parliament of which. I was. a. member years ago, Mr. Holman was maligned and calumniated in every possible way. His honour was impugned, and the fair reputation of his wife was also attacked. It was said that she wasgallivanting round the country with the help of funds misappropriated from the Red Cross Society. But from the moment Mr. Holman joined the ranks of our political opponents, the attacks upon him ceased. He became, as it were, a whited sepulchre. Five members of this party are to-day trying to become whited sepulchres. They have assumed an extraordinary attitude. Even after the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) returned to the Cabinet, they remained members of the caucus, and no suggestion was made that they intended to resign until such resignations would inflict the greatest possible injury upon our party. When a certain by-election became imminent, these gentlemen took an action which helped our enemies to win the seat. I am ashamed that gentlemen, who were formerly colleagues of mine, could act so disloyally. They had no scruples about their reputation insofar as it related to the pledge they gave prior to their election as Labour members of this Parliament.

I have always looked upon the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) as an honorable man, and I appeal to him to givesome thought to the seriousness of the step that he is taking. Does he realize the sacrifices which have been made during all the years by the men and women in his constituency who made him their mouthpiece in this Parliament, and who repeatedly placed around his neck the blue ribbon of citizenship, and in other ways glorified him? This party elevated him to the highest position, almost, that it was in its power to bestow. It made him Deputy Leader of the party, and an ambassador of the great nation of Australia. It put him in the position of being able to shake hands with the monarchs of other countries, and later made him Acting Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. What does the honorable gentleman now propose to do? In my opinion if a Chinese were admitted to the Cabinet the honorable member should loyally stand by the appointment, and he would do so if he had an ounce of spirit and manhood in him. The spirit that has been displayed by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) reminds me of the spirit of a diseased tadpole. I find it hard to realize that any man could sink so low in political life as to allow himself to become the idol of the cockeyed press of this country. The honorable member seems to be obsessed with the idea that he is doing a big thing. The capitalistic press has “ sicklied o’er him” with the unction of its slimy adulation, until every element of his manhood has succumbed. A lot has been said about honour and reputation. What about the honour and reputation of the men and women who to-day are in dire straits, and who are facing starvation because of the awful conditions that have been brought about mainly by the actions of our quondam friends? Last night I had a dream. I suppose it is permissible sometimes to relate one’s dreams. I dreamed that the following words would form a suitable political epitaph for these quondam friends of the Labour movement : -

Here lie the remains of Jim and Joe

Who gave their friends a rotten go.

Who, by conspiring with All and Mo

Sought quondam friends to overthrow.

Although they gained ephemeral glow,

They will reap as they did sow,

They are as sputum I’ll have you know

As the serfs interred in Jericho.

These gentlemen are, apparently, prepared to act in a most despicable manner towards the party which has made them what they are. Do they visualize the fate that is in store for them? Another honorable member of this Parliament threw a spanner into the Labour party machinery years ago, andI ask these gentlemen to recollect what has happened to him. It is true that he is physically alert, but he has not enough fat in his frame to make half a bar of soap, and if he were cremated there would not be sufficient residue in him to half fill a small eau de cologne bottle. What future is there in front of these honorable members? If they join another party will they become members of its caucus? If they do, will they honour caucus procedure? The honorable member for Angas has already acted in a way that would prevent any other caucus from having confidence in him. He would no doubt relate publicly the tittletattle of the caucus, and nothing that was said in the caucus meetings would be sacred. Everything would ultimately reach the enemy. I advise the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) to be wary of the gentleman who is now sitting beside him, otherwise he will find himself in Queer-street.

These honorable members are posing as great puritans - men who are imbued with high ideals of citizenship. It is said that they are monuments of political propriety; but they remind me of the five foolish virgins. They will undoubtedly be left out in the cold. What possible excuse is there for them acting as they have clone? Of course, human nature being what it is, every man has his own peculiar complex and his own outlook. If a sculptor saw a huge rock in the wilds of Australia, he would, according to his own outlook, see in it a “ Billy Hughes “.

Mr Maxwell:

– Or a Cusack.

Mr CUSACK:

– Or a Prowse, or a Demosthenes or a Miss Australia. If a chisel were put in his hand he would immediately attempt to give expression to his vision. It is possible, of course, that he might see a Ned Kelly. Everybody has his own outlook. In my opinion, these five gentlemen have by a trick perpetrated an act of perfidy which is unparalleled except when compared with the acts of those connected with the Teapot Dome scandals of America.

Years ago the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes; took a certain action, but he was practically goaded into doing so. That is not the position of the gentlemen to whom I am referring. Their only excuse for acting as they are doing is that the honorable member for Dalley has been re-admitted to the Labour Cabinet, or that what they call a spurious currency is about to be circulated. The only currency of which I am afraid - and it is spurious in the extreme - is the currency which circulates in the form of the cock-eyed press of Australia. This press is bolstering up the enemies of Labour, and is mendaciously attacking every ideal of the Labour party. I refer particularly to the spurious Sydney Morning Herald,. which is doing untold harm to Australia. It is misleading our own people and also the people abroad. The currency which the Government proposes to circulate is designed to assist the farmers of Australia without loading them with a heavy burden of interest. Let me put a hypothetical case to the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), who represents- a rural constituency. He has many friends among the farmers of his electorate. Plenty of these men own £3,000 worth of property, but at present they are unable to obtain a penny from the banks to carry on their operations. If the honorable member had his cheques made legal tender he could go along to one of them and say, “ Well, if the banks will not advance you any money I will give you my cheque for £1,000.” This cheque would not have any gold behind it, but it would be legal tender. The honorable member would be paid 5 per cent, on the advance for twenty years, and at the end of that time he would get his £1,000 back and the farmer would have his farm. Both parties would practically be able to retire on the result of the transaction. I argue that if one citizen can do that for one farmer, the nation can do it for 600,000 farmers. At present our farmers are not able to obtain any advance from the banks, although they have security to offer, and gilt-edged security at that. Years ago advances were available to them, but to-day there is a financial famine. If the private banks have advanced up to 100 per cent, of their resources, another bank should be brought into the business. If a water famine were to occur in Canberra, the people would not sit down quietly and suffer. “If the supply of water were only sufficient to meet one-fiftieth of the needs of the community, another reservoir would be demanded immediately.

Seeing that the financial resources of the private- banks are apparently exhausted, another bank should make its resources available. There is another reservoir standing by. I refer to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The only reason why it is not permitted to operate freely to-day is that it is controlled by a political party. When the Labour Government assumed office a few months ago, it found that the control of the Commonwealth Bank was 100 per cent, political and 100 per cent anti-Labour. The Labour Government could not secure an advance of even £6,000,000 to help the farmers, but Mr. Bruce was able to promise to the people that £40,000,000 would be made available to them under the Commonwealth Housing Act. If he could promise £40,000,000, surely Mr. Scullin should be able to obtain £6,000,000. Mr. Bruce made numerous promises, and it has been said that Mr. Scullin also made many. I know of one promise that Mr. Scullin made, namely, that whatever party succeeded the Bruce-Page Government would ha.ve a mess to clean up that would almost stagger humanity, and that if Labour were returned it would clean it up. That promise was fulfilled. Unfortunately, this financial mess was very much greater than we ever anticipated. In fact, it was so great that it staggered us. Our difficulties have been accentuated because of the fact that the financial affairs of the country are practically wholly in the hands of our enemies. They remind me of the principal of a business who is controlled by the heads of the departments, or of a man who on receiving a supply of petrol at a garage has his destination determined by the person who supplies him with the fuel. This Government is placed in a similar position, because its activities are controlled by another branch of the legislature and certain organizations operating to the absolute detriment of the community. This Government is anxious to obtain the power to provide sufficient funds to enable the farmers to carry on until conditions improve; but not at a high rate of interest such as the banking institutions would impose. The Government proposes to issue additional Commonwealth notes in order to help them, and on which no interest will be charged. Inflation has been adopted on other occasions, but when an additional issue of notes is - advocated, the banking and other interests iu Australia conspire to defeat the Government, The banks are controlled by international financiers. International finance is a monster with a rubber neck, an asbestos soul, and a heart like a bullock’s liver. They have their agents in this building and are doing their utmost to defeat the Government’s policy. In their efforts they are assisted to a remarkable degree by the press of this country, which is playing into the hands of those who are antagonistic to this Government. There are only a few newspapers game enough to advocate the cause of Labour; but it may not be long before their efforts will be defeated and they will be in financial difficulties. I have been informed on good authority that one man in Australia, possessing no mental capacity, and who, intellectually, was of a very low7 standard, donated £100,000 to the fighting fund of the Nationalist party and received a knighthood. The newspapers of Australia, are subsidized from such funds and frame their policy in order to obtain monetary gain. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett) referred to the recent flotation of a loan of £28,000,000 as a great achievement; but if the working class engaged on public works costing that amount asked for an increase of 10 per cent, in their wages, they would be told that they were traitors to their country. Those who are receiving high rates of interest on the money they subscribed to that loan are not termed traitors, but patriots. The Sydney Morning Harold, which has amassed a fortune by adopting a policy detrimental to the interests of the country, publishes articles and statements in advocacy of the Nationalist cause, which are nothing but lies. The owner of that journal is reputed to be worth £5,000,000.

Mr Maxwell:

– Why not make it £50,000,000?

Mr CUSACK:

– If the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) studied the columns of Smith’s Weekly, - the source of my information on this point - he would learn something concerning the control of the finances of this country. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) received some assistance from the Sydney Sun and its associated newspapers in fighting the Nationalist party, but they lost £1,750,000 on the stock exchange in consequence of the policy adopted. According to Smith’s Weekly, published on the 9th August, 1929, the Nationalist party threatened to support the issue of another paper in opposition to the Sydney Sun unless it advocated the policy of Mr. Bavin, who, at that time, was as low down in the political life of this country as any man could possibly be. If the Nationalist party came into power as a result of the vote on this motion and appointed the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) as Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board,- Mr. Yates, adopting a simile I previously mentioned, would drive up to the petrol pump for supplies and would be told by the person in charge the road he had to travel. We have all heard what happened in New South Wales some months ago, when Mr. Jarvie presented to a Minister a case of pipes from certain of his supporters. I wonder what presentation is to be made to those honorable members who are prepared to desert their party. If I had my way I would decoy them to a remote part of my electorate, say Mount Kosciusko, and tempt them with a case of pipes to test their peccability. When this party obtains all the facts in connexion with the latest developments, some investigation should be made into the banking accounts of the honorable members concerned.

Mr Gullett:

– I rise to order. I submit that the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Cusack) is making a gross charge of personal corruption against certain honorable members of this House.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– If the honorable member for EdenMonaro has made a reflection upon the personal honour of any honorable member I ask him to withdraw the remark. Mr. CUSACK. - I did not desire to reflect upon the personal honour of any one. If the persons I have in mind are honorable they need not be afraid of their banking accounts being investigated.

Mr Gullett:

– I ask that the honorable member’s remark be withdrawn.

Mr SPEAKER:

– As the remark is considered personally offensive, I ask that it be withdrawn. 4

Mr CUSACK:

– I withdraw it as I do not wish to reflect upon the integrity of any honorable member. As it was suggested in one of our newspapers a few days ago that Mr. Lang should be bought out of politics by the payment of a lump sum of £250,000, other large sums could doubtless be made available in order to defeat this Government. Apparently it is the desire of the advocates of Niemeyerism to adopt an immoral creed to force this party to reduce wages and thereby make it possible for not more than 15 per cent, of our adult male population to enjoy matrimonial life.

I have had considerable experience in connexion with paper currency and although I have never refused a cheque from a client I have never lost one penny. Surely the paper currency of Australia can be relied upon. If the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) discovered £1,000 worth of gold and could take it to the Commonwealth Bank, which would regard it as real money, his account would be credited with £1,000, and he would be supplied with a cheque book and would then be able to spend that - money in whatever direction he pleased, in employing labour and in building, if necessary. If the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) went to the same bank with the deeds of a property worth £5,000 and asked for an overdraft that had been refused him by a private bank the manager of the Commonwealth Bank would say, “ Certainly “. He would take the deeds, put them in a safe, write the name of the honorable member for Riverina under that - of the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), and give him a cheque book. To the extent of £1,000 the honorable member for Riverina would be able to do everything that the honorable member for Forrest could do, although it might be said that he did not have real money. Year in and year out we have been financing our operations in Australia with paper money.

Mr Killen:

– There would be something at the back of my paper.

Mr CUSACK:

– I have followed this practice too long to accept the argument that it is not available to the nation. Recently I paid a visit to Sydney, the second largest city in the Empire, its only superior being London. ‘ How did Sydney become the great metropolis that it is today? What was it built on? Not so long ago a man who owned a piece of land worth £40, or who had a deposit of £100 in a bank, was able to build there a house worth £1,000. Sydney has been built up by the extension of credits to working men. Glasgow belongs to the old school of thought, and adheres to outofdate methods of finance. Only about 5 per cent, of its population can obtain the necessary finance to build a house. Although the country people denounce it, Sydney is a great city; and it has been built up exclusively on paper money. I defy any honorable member to mention a bricklayer, a plumber or a carpenter who has been paid in gold for his contribution towards the building of that capital. In one of its suburbs a thousand houses were built in one year, simply on credit. Although not long ago a man who had £100 could build a house worth £1,000, or could become an employer, the possessor of £100,000 to-day cannot do so, because the financiers will see that he is not given credit. The reservoir of finance is available, but the wrong men are in control of it, and are determined to prevent the tap from being turned on. They have set their faces against the farmers being given accommodation for which they will not have to pay heavy interest; but they will cheerfully allow borrowed money to be advanced to them at high rates of interest. I have been issuing currency for years, with nothing behind it. It has never been refused or repudiated. If the honorable member for Riverina were to sign his name to-morrow to a cheque for £20,000, it would be accepted. Years ago Tyson’s I.O.TJ.’s were .circulated in Queensland, and people accepted them because they had confidence in him. But we must not have confidence in the manhood and womanhood of Australia! Whenever we require money we must borrow it and pay interest upon it ! Is not that the cause of our troubles to-day? “Honorable members opposite point to this and that direction in which a few pounds may be saved. Some of them .consider that we ought .to have only two-course meals in our refreshment-rooms. The problem that we have to face is : How are we to find the £1, 000, 000 a week that we require to pay interest .on our indebtedness? The immoral creed of Niemeyerism stands for making money dear and labour cheap.

Mr Maxwell:

– Is .the honorable member prepared to lend money without interest!?

Mr CUSACK:

– If I could, I would advance money to the farmers without interest. That -can he done if we -remove from our path those who stand in our way. I am reminded -of a story , that was told concerning an unfortunate henpecked -husband, whose ‘burly wile ‘subjugated h’im to such an -extent that ‘he felt very greatly humiliated. On one occasion he procured a bottle of Queensland rum, and having imbibed from it lost his tactiturnity, gained courage, and advancing on his wife said - “ The time has come, Jane, when I will submit to this no longer. The worm ha? turned,” “Yes,” said Jane, “the worm may turu, but he is the same at both ends.” Ours is a parallel case. We have sitting opposite Labour Ministers in this chamber a lot of jellyfish who, while the Prime Minister’s health was poor, bull-dozed him and caused him to betray Australia. They wanted the political Labour party to be the same at both ends. But Ave have horns at one end, and that end is facing the track to-day. That living tripod, the kangaroo, on the one side and the emu on the other, symbolizes Australia, and this

WOrm is determined to go forward Avith courage in its blood. It can and will jump on the Gibsons, the Pearces, and any other curse that stands in the way and will give the farmers the new era that, they are entitled to.

After the American civil Avar that nation had no gold., no silver, uo currency, no credit of any kind. It Av.as forced to fall back .on its own resources, and it printed a fiduciary note issue. Although there were many people who said that it Avas no good, it had to be accepted, and America went ahead by leaps and bounds, until to-day it is the greatest nation financially in the world. We are told that we must not talk about repudiation or inflation, because if Ave do so the financiers in Great Britain will not lend us any money. Yet in India, where the population has .constantly to be subjugated, those same financiers subscribed to a loan at the rate of £1,500,000 a minute. We have an abundance of production that Great Britain needs. It has to import between £200,000,000 and £300,000,000 worth of foodstuffs every year, but it will -not huy -them from iia. What would he thought of a man who purchased produce from a foreigner when his owen son ‘had an over-production, merely because “he could .obtain ‘it (for a penny -a pound less, although he knew that She foreigner was ready to put ,-a firestick to his property the moment his back was turned? That is -the attitude which has %een adopted by Great Britain towards Australia, and I am sorry that such should be the case. If we can get paper currency we shall be “ on the pig’s back.” When we are in that position I shall be prepared to sanction large shipments of our produce to Great Britain to feed the unemployed there, just as a son would come to the rescue of his parents. I do not complain about Great Britain requiring to be paid interest on the money that she lends; we owe a lot to her, apart from any sentimentality or any devotion that a child should have for its parents. We would be political ingrates ‘if we did not try to help her when she was herself in trouble.

The great trouble with which this party is confronted is that, unfortunately, it is opposed by practically the whole of the press of Australia. At the same time, however, I realize that the standard of intelligence of our people is so high that they discard anything that conflicts with common sense. Those who are not mentally robust take the opposite course to that advised by the newspapers, believing that that must be the right path to tread. I do not wish the “ boys “ in the press gallery to get the impression that I am antagonistic to them. I realize they are very intelligent and capable scribes. If ever I become the proprietor of the Canberra Times I shall secure the services of the present representative if the Sydney Morning Herald, even if I have to pay him £4,000 a year. He is extraordinarily clever, and is able to make look silly the speeches of honorable members on this side. A man who is capable of doing that is worth a lot of money. I should like my constituents to be confined to the members of the press gallery. If they were, I would get at least 90 per cent, of their votes, because they believe in the party to which I belong. The stock-in-trade of the press of this country is a roll of paper, a bottle of ink, and mendacity. If the reporters were to write as they think, their contributions would be placed in the waste-paper basket. The Sydney newspapers are gradually getting into the hands of that multi-millionaire, Fairfax. The honorable member for Maribyrnong is prepared to show how £1,000,000 can be saved by reducing the salaries of the public servants. Why not first have a go at the Fairfax millions? The party opposite always wants to cause sacrifices to be made by beginning at the bottom rung of the financial ladder.

If my party does not get its currency measure through the other branch of the legislature, I shall do my best to make the £1 of the gentleman on £10,000 a year not worth 2s. He will realize what inflation is when we have done with him. In Great Britain the taxes on the very wealthy section of the people aggregate about 16s. in the £1. If we make a success of paper currency the British Government will follow our example, which, in fact, will be copied throughout the world, and the “ shylocks “ who have their temple in this building will find that it will be necessary for them to accept the currency system that the Labour party advocates. One can easily realize what the statement about paying £250,000 to buy Lang out of public life is worth.

I am glad of this opportunity to expound the views of the Labour party, although I have no doubt that honorable members opposite would have difficulty in digesting our policy. They remind me of a parliament that assembled in Austria at one time. Those assembled there spoke so many different languages that they could not understand one another. The party opposite is honeycombed into sections. It consists of so many leaders, deputy leaders and whips that there is no rank and file. No mention of inflation or the printing of notes was made in the “ Gibbons “ proposal, but the cock-eyed press of this country said that it would mean the printing of £100,000,000 of notes. That is the way the press misrepresents us. I regret that Australia has not a press that can rise above cupidity. If the present merging of newspaper interests continues, the Sydney Morning Herald will soon be the only newspaper in this State.

I know of no instance in the political history of this country of any deserter from the ranks of the anti-Labourites being received by the Labour party. We have always kept our party pure. We insist upon those who come into our ranks being men of probity, who can be relied upon. Of course, after an election, a few nincompoops may creep in. For a considerable time we -have had a traitor in our caucus, who has been giving the press false reports of party proceedings. This is designed to drive a wedge into our ranks, and make the people believe that we are a disrupted party. I do not know whether there is a dictaphone in our room; but there could not be any in the Opposition’s quarters. It would cost too much for dictaphones there, because there are so many rooms. We shall never get any information concerning what goes on in the Nationalist caucus. Presumably, nothing but bonhomie exists there. I can well imagine that there is perfect unanimity, too, in the party led by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes).

Another word regarding those honorable members whose standard of righteousness is such that they cannot remain in the Labour party. They remind me of a little story. The Governor of a certain country visited, at one time, a little village called Fawkner. Arriving somewhat early, he called at the local manse, where he engaged in conversation with an entertaining old lady from whom he obtained a good deal of information about the village. She said, “ They are an awful lot of people in this place. You cannot take their word; they are liars and slanderers. The only two you can rely on here are the Minister and myself. I am sorry to have to say it, but I sometimes have my doubts even about the Minister.” The honorable members to whom I am referring consider themselves the only undenied members of the Labour party, and they have doubts about the Minister. Yet I am hopeful that my remarks will convince them that their place is on this side of the chamber.

Mr LYONS:
Wilmot

.- I think that it will be acknowledged by honorable members on both sides of the chamber that I am not called upon to say anything in reply to the long- string of nonsense that we have had to put up with for the last hour. The speech of the honorable member, who has just resumed his seat, may not have extended over an hour, but it seemed to me more like two hours. I can safely disregard any reflections that the honorable member has made upon either myself or those associated with me.

There appear to be two aspects of this motion of want of con fidence in the Government. The first is a personal one connected with the honorable the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore). In regard to that, I wish to say I have never posed as a judge of my fellow man.

Mr Lewis:

– The honorable member found the Treasurer guilty.

Mr LYONS:

– I am not allowed by the Standing Orders to say that that statement is untrue, but that is how I should describe it outside. I am too conscious of my own frailties to pass judgment upon the actions of any man. I have never judged the Treasurer. I have not read the evidence of the royal commission that investigated the charges brought against him, because I am not his judge. Charges have been made against that honorable gentleman, and he will have an opportunity, in due course, of refuting them. I sincerely trust, for his sake, and for the sake of Australia, that he will be able to clear himself absolutely from any aspersion on his character. All I said in the party room was - and I repeat it here - that I had hoped that the honorable gentleman would have remained out of the Cabinet until he had done that thing which I trust he will be able to do. I have never found him guilty, and I hope that I shall never have to do so. So much for the personal aspect of the matter.

But there is a bigger question associated with the honorable gentleman, and with the Government of the day, and that is the policy of the Ministry and its effect upon the people of this country. I realize that my position to-day is a serious one. In recording my vote on this motion I shall be taking a stand which, according to the rules of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour party, will automatically place me outside my party. I realize that the effect of that will be to separate me politically from men for whom, since I have been in this Parliament, I have developed a real affection and respect, men who have been not only colleagues, but comrades in the truest sense of the word. Some of these men are in the Cabinet to-day. Many more of them are in the party. It may be that, * in spite of my own inclination, I may be separated, not only politically, but also to some extent personally, from my friends; but that will not be of my volition, because, whatever comes or goes in the future, I can never have other than the highest respect for those men, with whom I have been so long associated. But not only shall I be breaking with colleagues in the party and in the Government, Yesterday I completed 22 years’ service for the workers of Australia as a representative in Parliament of the district which returned me to this chamber. Yesterday was the 22nd anniversary of the day on which I set out on my first campaign. I was then, as I have been ever since, seeking only to serve the workers. I owe my political existence to the men and women of Wilmot, who stood behind me then, and have stood behind me ever since, and I should regard myself as a traitor to them if, now, .at the end of 22 years, I did not feel in my own conscience that in the step I am about to take I am still serving their interests.

I believe that the policy of this Government means an increase of unemployment, misery and destitution. I see these things in our midst to-day, and that is why by my vote, voice and action, I want to enter my protest against that policy in an endeavour to have it changed. Time after time in the party room have I appealed to honorable members in the interests of the workers of Australia to proceed along lines which, I think, are sound and likely to prove beneficial, and even now, if the Government will adopt that course, I am prepared to sit back in the corner helping it every moment of its cabinet life.

Mr Coleman:

– What does the honorable member want the Government to do?

Mr LYONS:

– Before I have finished I shall indicate what I want the Government to do. I have never sought promotion in the party to which I belong, neither in my own State nor in the federal sphere. My entry into this House was not of my own volition. I entered federal politics at the special request of members of the party, who are my friends, and because I was dissatisfied with the previous Government and its actions. I hoped to win the Wilmot seat and so help Labour to occupy the treasury benches in the National Parliament. I was not serving my own personal interests in doing so - the position was quite the reverse - and when I came here I sought no position for myself. I was appointed a Minister, but took very little part in the affairs of the party or government, confining my activities to the administration, to the best of my ability, of my department.

Because I believed, in the policy which was enunciated by the Leader of the Labour party throughout Australia ; because I believed in the honorable gentleman himself, I preached his virtues throughout the Wilmot electorate, and I gave him every support because of my regard for his reputation as a leader of a party. I was elected as his humble follower, and I was proud to be one. I have a very vivid recollection of the day when we first assembled in the party room waiting for the appearance of our leader, and, how, when he entered the room, he was greeted with cheers and songs from every corner of the room. To quote the words of the old song,

I cheered, God forgive rue, I cheered with the rest.

But since that day I have lost confidence in the right honorable gentleman - not in his personal integrity or anything of that kind, but in his leadership. I have also seen important portions of the policy placed before the people of Australia by this party turned completely upside down, while this Government has been in office.

The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), has referred to the pledge given by honorable members of the Labour party, and it has been said thai some of us are breaking the pledge we gave to the people. It is true that we gave a pledge, but it was based upon a policy which has since been changed.

Mr Watkins:

– It all depends upon who interprets the policy.

Mr LYONS:

– There is no need to interpret some of it. Let us see who has broken the pledge. When, during the last election campaign, the right honorable the Prime Minister was enunciating the policy of the party throughout this country, and explaining its financial proposals, did he make the slightest mention of anything in the nature of expansion of credits or inflation ? Was there any talk of fiduciary issues or anything of the kind? If any of his listeners had asked him if he was -in favour of such tilings, I can imagine with what rhetoricof which he is a master - he would have denounced the very suggestion and pointed out that the Labour party stood for “ sound methods of finance.” Why, since be has been Prime Minister he has just as stoutly denounced any such suggestions; that is, until recently. Such a policy was never placed before the people of this country. Who is placing it before the people to-day ? Who is telling us what the policy of Labour should be and interpreting it? It is being interpreted by the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour party, a body which is not responsible to the people. We were elected by the people, not on that policy at all, but to-day we are asked to come to heel and accept the dictation of people who have no responsibility whatever. The policy on which we were elected has been turned completely over, and because some of us will not somersault with it we are said to have broken our pledges.

The big issue before the people at the last election was the maintenance of the Arbitration Court and all that that tribunal stands for. Have we maintained that court? On the contrary, we have done everything possible to thwart it. Every means by which it could be prevented from functioning has been adopted, even up to within the last few days, and at the table on Wednesday night, the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Blakeley) said, “ We shall do it again.” If we had said to the people, “ We shall maintain the Arbitration Court, and stand by it so long as its decisions suit us but will upset it if they do not,” the people would have swept us out of existence on that occasion as they did the other party.

Mr Watkins:

– The honorable gentleman was in the Ministry.

Mr LYONS:

– I take my share of responsibility for what was done by Cabinet, but I reached a point at which I could no longer stand with it.

Mr Lewis:

– The honorable member should go forward, not stand still or step back.

Mr LYONS:

– I am going forward, but in a different direction.

Another important feature of Labour’s platform at the last election, one that was not very palatable to the people in my district, was the declaration of Labour that the Transport Workers Act was a vile thing which never should have been put on the statute-book, and the definite undertaking that it would be removed at the earliest possible opportunity. Labour has been quite a long time in office, and no real attempt has ever been made to abolish that act. We promised the people that it would be removed, but then allowed someone outside this chamber to say, “Keep it and use it in our own interests.” Because things like this were being done, I got to the point when I could no longer follow the lines Cabinet was pursuing, but while the Prime Minister was absent I stayed at my post playing the game, loyally standing behind the right honorable gentleman and his policy.

Mr Blakeley:

– And attempting to break up the party.

Mr LYONS:

– The Minister knows that the party is being surely broken up in his own ‘State of New South Wales. That is where the trouble is. I stayed in my position until the Prime Minister came back, trusting always that when he returned he would be what he was when he went away. My colleague, the honor: able member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) and I had to put up with many things, and to bear many insults. But I held the fort, saying, “I am going to hand back this trust to my mate just as 1 took it over from him.” I do not propose to divulge the happenings in caucus, except in so far as they have already become public property.

Mr Watkins:

– The honorable member saw to that in some cases.

Mr LYONS:

– On one occasion when the party came to a decision that was in my opinion a reflection upon the integrity of the people of Australia, I left the room and told the world what had been done, saying that I would not be a party to it.

The honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Cusack) also referred to the divulging of caucus secrets. I was in Tasmania when the last party meeting was held, but the story of what occurred in caucus came out in the press just as accurately as ever. I was not responsible for the publication of any division list or anything of the kind ; I do not know how the voting went, but when I made my previous statement to the press I told the world why I did it, and I said to the party, “ Is there a man here who will stand up as I have done and admit that he had made a statement to the press regarding parliamentary proceedings?” No one accepted my challenge. Next day, however, the press contained a full record of that day’s happenings in caucus.

Mr Crouch:

– The honorable member does not accuse me in that regard ?

Mr LYONS:

– I would not accuse the honorable member, for whom I have the highest regard.

Mr Yates:

– Yet he is just as likely to have done it as I am, and I can swear that I did not give the information to the press.

Mr LYONS:

– I did not say that the honorable member had done so. At any rate, the information was given, and no admission of it was made in caucus, but when I made known a caucus decision, I told the party what I had done.

I come now to the statement apparently given out by the Government, since no one else could know, that Cabinet Ministers in Australia were unanimously in favour of making the two appointments to the High Court bench. I have not contradicted that statement from that day till this; but the first intimation I had of the appointments was the announcement in the press that the thing had been done. I was not in Canberra at the time.

Mr Watkins:

– The appointments were not made by caucus, but by Cabinet.

Mr LYONS:

– I was not in Canberra at the time; I was in Tasmania.

Mr Brennan:

– Did not the statement refer to Cabinet Ministers there and then present and doing their duty?

Mr LYONS:

– No; the statement was “ Cabinet Ministers in Australia “. The Attorney-General knows perfectly well my position in regard to this matter. I only wish to say definitely that I was not a party to the appointment of these two judges.

Mr Latham:

– The Attorney-General was absent from Australia at the time, and he did not favour the appointments.

Mr LYONS:

– My point is that I do not intend to accept responsibility for something which was done in my absence and with which I did not approve.

When the Prime Minister left Australia he placed certain responsibilities upon my shoulders, and I carried these until he returned. As honorable members of the party know very well, I discharged these obligations at the cost of a certain amount of mental suffering and strain. I remained loyal to the policy of my leader. While the Prime Minister was away my colleague, the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), and I set to work to investigate affairs. We had with us the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde), who is still a member of the Cabinet. As a Cabinet sub-committee we investigated the causes of the difficulties under which Australia is suffering. We called into consultation men who were competent to give opinions and advice on the subject - men who were prominent economists and unbiased in their opinions. These men were not Tories or Conservatives. As a matter of fact, those who give their lives to the study of economics rarely become tory or conservative. We spent weeks in our inquiry into the causes of our troubles and later did our best to induce Cabinet and the party to meet to carry out our recommendations. But what happened? We could not get a meeting of Cabinet. Cabinet Ministers were engaged in another State in an election campaign. The members of the party, like the Cabinet Ministers, would not agree to meet until the New South Wales election was over. It was said, “ We must get Mr. Lang back and then everything will be all right in Australia.”

Well, Mr. Lang is back, but everything is not yet quite all right in Australia, even though Mr. Lang’ also has his supporters here. Mr. Lang is in control in New South Wales, and four of his followers are actually in control of the Government here. It may be said, therefore, that Mr. Lang, at any rate, has become fairly successful. It will be remembered that when, ultimately, Parliament did meet the Government had no policy to submit to it, because there was no time for the party to meet to “approve of a policy. When we met the House we were in the humiliating position of having to admit that we had no business to put before honorable members. But after the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) had spent a few minutes in criticizing us, as he had every right to do, the “gag” was applied in order to’ get us out of our difficulty. These are only some of the troubles which we had to contend with.

Mr A GREEN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– Does the honorable member think that it is cricket to tell of these happenings?

Mr LYONS:

– I am only telling what all the world already knows. I am telling, not of what happened in caucus, but of what happened in this House.

Mr Gabb:

– Tell us what happened at the train?

Mr LYONS:

– I have always felt that we should have faced the financial problems of the country fairly and squarely, and that all possible economies and reductions in expenditure should Lave been made.

Mr Yates:

– Will not the honorable member consider any alternative?

Mr LYONS:

– I know that the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) has an alternative, and that he is absolutely sincere in advocating it. I disagree with his scheme, though I admit that he is genuinely honest in proposing it. I am prepared to accept the motives of the honorable member, but I am not prepared to accept the motives of certain other honorable members who have recently become converts to his policy. The very fact that they have accepted his policy shows that a change of policy has occurred. _ This policy of inflation was previously condemned by certain members of the Cabinet and the party who are now advocating it. That is one of the most powerful reasons why I am in disagreement with the Cabinet. The policy has been completely changed in essence.

Mr Cusack:

– But the honorable member remains the same as ever.

Mr LYONS:

– I realize that I have been out of step with a number of members of the party for some considerable time. I have kept travelling along the road upon which I started, and I intend “to keep to that road, whatever the consequences may be.

We must put our house in order. I know that it is unpopular to talk about cutting down expenses; but we have to do it. I heard the Minister for Markets and Transport (Mr. Parker

Moloney) warn honorable members who support this motion that they could not get away from the fact that in doing so they were allying themselves with those who were prepared to cut down pensions, Public Service salaries, and the rest. The Minister threatened those who supported the motion with certain results. I hope that the honorable gentleman will visit Wagga and tell the farmers there that he is such a generous-hearted fellow that he intends to insist upon paying everybody their present remuneration, but that if he cannot pay it, the farmers and business men will have to pay it out of the miserable incomes which they are at present receiving. He is saying in effect, “Members of Parliament and the Public Service will have to be paid even if the banks have to pay them, and pensioners will have to be paid even if the banks have to pay the pensions.” What sort of a proposition is that? It is a reflection upon Parliament to even suggest that the banks should pay the parliamentary allowances, Public Service salaries and pensions of this country. The proposal is absolutely Gilbertian.

No one has a higher regard for the public servants of this country than I have. I have had a long association with the Public Service of Tasmania, and lately have been in close touch with the Commonwealth Public Service. I have the very highest esteem for our civil servants because of their loyalty and the splendid service they are rendering to the country. I should be the last man in the world to suggest that their salaries should be reduced, unless I felt that it was absolutely inevitable.

Mr Yates:

– The honorable gentleman is quite wrong there.

Mr LYONS:

– That is where we disagree. I have put my views on the subject to the members of the Public Service. I told them why I thought it was unavoidable that salaries should be reduced. My history in Tasmania in regard to Public Service salaries is one of which any man might be proud. I never reduced Public Service salaries there by a farthing. The Premier whom I succeeded in office had made a big cut in Public Service salaries, but I restored them. I am not like one member of the present Cabinet who reduced salaries although he said he would not. do it. I have never reduced salaries and would not suggest it now, except that I am absolutely convinced that it is necessary in order to help the country in this time of difficulty. I believe that if the public servants of the Commonwealth were consulted on. this subject and were brought to realize the serious position in which the country finds itself they would voluntarily make some sacrifice in order that the -affairs of the Commonwealth could be carried on properly.

Mr Coleman:

– How much would the honorable gentleman reduce salaries?

Mr LYONS:

– I do not need to answer that question at the moment, but some sacrifice should be made by the Commonwealth Service seeing that State public servants have already been reduced, and that other workers have either lost their jobs altogether or have had their wages cut down. As other honorable members know, we have had to cut out all temporary employment in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, because we cannot obtain loan money to pay temporary employees. All sections of the community should be prepared to> make some sacrifice, and we, in particular, should not be willing to go on cheerfully accepting our present emoluments while the general public is suffering so severely. It is true that members of Parliament and some public, servants have made certain sacrifices, but I think we could well make bigger sacrifices.

Mr Cusack:

– The honorable member should resign, and re-contest his seat.

Mr LYONS:

– My constituency of Wilmot is a fifty-fifty seat. ‘ I won it at the last election by less than 1,200 votes. It is a seat that any person, might win. But I am prepared to resign to-morrow if the Prime Minister, with all his prestige, will also resign and contest the seat against me. I offer that challenge in all good faith, and am prepared to leave- it to the people of the country to say whose policy is acceptable to them. If the Prime Minister will not. contest the seat against me, I invite the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) to do so.

I do not suggest that public servants alone should make sacrifices in the present time- of difficulty. I referred to them, chiefly because the Minister for

Markets and Transport did so. Every section of the community should be prepared to make some sacrifice.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I shall never do what you did while I was away-

Honorable members interjecting,

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr McGrath:

– I ask honorable members to refrain from interjecting, and to assist the Chair in maintaining order.

Mr LYONS:

– If I misrepresented the Minister I did so unintentionally.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I shall never do what the honorable member did while the Prime Minister and some of his colleagues were in London. I shall never conspire, as he did while we were away, with the Leader of the Opposition to form a coalition government.

Mr LYONS:

– There is only one word which will describe that statement. It is a confounded and contemptible lie.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable member for Wilmot must withdraw that remark.

Mr LYONS:

– In deference to your ruling, sir”, I withdraw it.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I can prove my statement.

Mr LYONS:

– I was proceeding to show that I am not concerned about any one in this country who is receiving some emolument - whether it be by way of salary, wages or interest - but with those unfortunate unemployed who have no income at all. If a sacrifice has to be made, it should be general. Long ago I publicly declared that interest rates should be reduced, and when the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Penton) was Acting Prime Minister ho and I were working in that direction in conjunction with the banks.

Mr Fenton:

– And we had made considerable progress^ too.

Mr LYONS:

- Sir Otto Niemeyerthat alleged arch-fiend, concerning whom we have heard so much: - returned from New Zealand to Australia to assist the Commonwealth Bank in its negotiations with other banks with the object of reducing the rate of interest. Right back there we were endeavouring to do this. But how could we get the interest rate down when- resolutions such as we have heard of were being carried and statements about repudiation were being made? The Government, of course, was not responsible for those statements. It had set its face against repudiation in any form, but such statements have been made, such resolutions have been carried in Australia, and have had their effect. How can we get the interest rate down to-day when one can go into the market and purchase Commonwealth stock at a price that will give a highly remunerative return? While these things continue we cannot get the rate reduced; but I contend that bondholders should make some sacrifice just as the wage-earners do. Unless they are prepared to do so it will not be long before a position will arise when they may be unable to receive any interest at all. In their own interest they will be wise in assisting any movement in that direction. I believe that if the problem were tackled there would not be any difficulty in reducing interest- rates; we might possibly fund a substantial portion of our overseas indebtedness at a lower rate of interest and thereby give relief to the taxpayers of Australia.

Mr Yates:

– Why did hot the honorable member put that over them in connexion with the £28,000.000 conversion loan ?

Mr LYONS:

– I did.

Mr Beasley:

– If they will not accept a lower rate of interest, what will the honorable member do?

Mr LYONS:

– I do not think there will be any difficulty in the matter. If it is necessary to tax interest in order to get something from that source, I am prepared to do it, but I am not prepared to adopt some subterfuge in order to break the undertakings we have given. I am not prepared to allow the Commonwealth to be an instrument of taxation on behalf of the States when loans are free from State taxation; but so long as bonds of that kind are not broken, I am prepared to go to any length to see that they pay their fair share.

Mr Curtin:

– Are the bondholders making a fair contribution at present?

Mr LYONS:

– Some of them are not. We cannot hope to square the ledger in one year - we have had to change our minds in that regard - but we must make a determined effort to do so. We must start at once and not set out on a three year’s programme without any advance m the first year. It must be a progressive plan. I do not mind if it is extended over a longer period than three years, so long as a genuine effort is made to “ get there “ at the end of the period fixed. If that were done we should get relief overseas, and in turn relief within Australia.

It has been said that you cannot employ all the people in the Commonwealth Public Service. The only way in which to relieve unemployment is to restore confidence. We should get men and women back into industry where they were employed before the depression came. I believe that we could do that if we made a determined effort to set our own house in order. If confidence were restored industry would again begin to move forward, and employment would be found for a large number of our people who are now out of work. As a temporary measure we should be justified in raising money - as was recommended by a committee of experts which investigated the matter - for public works and so relieve some of the misery that exists. With a restoration of confidence additional numbers could be employed in the Postal Department, of which I know something. In anticipation of better times and an increased demand for postal services, we could, in such circumstances, re-employ men who have had to be put off. In this way the spending capacity of the people would be increased and this in turn would benefit the whole community. If such a policy were adopted it would not be long before a marked change was apparent.

I have given some reasons why I am disappointed in the Government’s policy, why I cannot continue to support it, why I would not have remained in the Cabinet had I known that that policy, which was adopted” by the party in the absence of the Prime Minister, who has always been opposed to inflation, would be adhered to. I felt that the right honorable gentleman would, on his return from abroad, oppose such a scheme, but he did not. He has fallen into line, and has rejected the policy which I advocated, and which I thought he did also before he went away. The Prime Minister having taken to his bosom those who stood for that policy, I could no longer remain in his Cabinet. He has within his ranks to-day those who declared for what he and I had described as repudiation, and so I have withdrawn my support from the party. I do not charge my late colleagues of being guilty of willingly and knowingly advocating the policy of repudiation, but I say that what they propose is to me an act of repudiation to which I refuse to be a party, and so there they are in office to-day, and I am out.

Mr Lewis:

– Why squeal about it.

Mr LYONS:

– I am not. I went out voluntarily. I sought no position. I said to the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) when he returned from England that I did not desire to be Treasurer. I know my limitations. I suggested that he should go into the Treasury and that I should resume control of the Postal Department. But there are in the party and Cabinet to-day men who were not true to the Prime Minister while he was away. This is not giving away inside party information. On the public platforms of this country they denounced the methods adopted by the Prime Minister in the conduct of the Niemeyer proposals, and also condemned the Acting Prime Minister (Mr.Fenton) and myself. The present Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) is one who did that, although he and the Prime Minister were responsible for the conditions under which Sir Otto Niemeyer came to Australia. When Sir Otto Niemeyer arrived here the Prime Minister outlined the proposals at a little gathering at which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) was present, and I will say this for the right honorable gentleman : that the mission was conducted from the outset on the lines which he and the Treasurer undertook should be followed. The Treasurer condemned the method, but I stood up and fought for the Prime Minister, and the way in which he handled the matter, because he stuck to his word in regard to it. Today, the Treasurer is with him in Cabinet, and I am outside!

Mr Bayley:

– Such is gratitude.

Mr LYONS:

– I resigned.

Mr Brennan:

– But voluntarily, as the honorable member himself has said.

Mr LYONS:

– How could I do otherwise? In my absence from the House, the Prime Minister said, by way of inter jection, according to the press, “I was loyal to them while they were loyal to me “.

Mr Scullin:

– There is another interpretation to that statement. What I meant to convey was that it was true that you were loyal to me, and that I was loyal to you.

Mr LYONS:

– I accept the Prime Minister’s interpretation. It may be that I am showing some warmth; if so it is because I feel strongly concerning recent political happenings. But I think just as much, personally, of the Prime Minister as I have in the past. Politically, I do not; as the leader of this great party I do not. I have gone on the public platform in the past and have told the people what a wonderful leader we have in Mr. Scullin, and my statement has been cheered. But if I made that statement to-day, the same people would not cheer me.

To deliberately break the associations of a life-time is a step which no man, unless he is utterly bankrupt of sensibility, can take without deep pain and sharp mental suffering. That is my position to-day. I have not decided hastily on the course I should follow. I have patiently examined and carefully analysed every financial proposal put forward from time to time by the Government to see if there was any germ of success in them which would overcome the great disadvantages which I knew to exist. When the party decided on the issue of credit, I said that I would have to analyse the proposal carefully to see if it could be put into operation. I consulted impartial advisers on economic and financial matters in whom I had confidence to see if the scheme was feasible, and if I could, to some extent, reconcile my conscience by a qualified acceptance of it. In that search I have not succeeded. I have not yet seen a proposition the practicability of which could be demonstrated.

Mr Yates:

– Then the honorable member has not read my pamphlet.

Mr LYONS:

– My only regret is that the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), who has advocated certain schemes for so long, and whose heart has always been in them–

Mr Yates:

– Which are true.

Mr LYONS:

– Which he thinks are true.

Mr Yates:

– No; they are true.

Mr LYONS:

– I am sorry that the honorable member has not been ‘given an opportunity to put them into operation, instead of the decision having been with one who condemned them when he advocated them.

The proposal to-day is that there should be a fiduciary note issue of £18,000,000. That proposal differs from its predecessors only in its verbal definition. This and similar proposals merely attempt what is possible only to the Creator - the performance of a miracle. We are told that price levels are to be raised, that every one of us will charge the other fellow something more for what he provides or produces, and that we shall then be able to say, “ We have earned millions more this year than we did last year.” If this Government could get real money, it would not have to resort to these schemes. It is because it cannot do so that we have this proposal placed before us. It knows that, out of the savings of the people, there is money available in Australia to-day; but that money will not be placed in a fund for any scheme for which this Government stands.

I am sorry that the Government has lost the confidence of the people of this country, and therefore has to fall back on the tricks of the conjuror, such as putting an egg in a hat and drawing out a chicken. There is only one natural way in which a chicken can come out of an egg; and it will not be hatched if the egg is addled, as this particular one is. It is not by juggling with the currency that we shall restore Australia to a state of solvency, or reestablish confidence in this country. The rehabilitation of industry can be effected only with real money. I say that real money is that which comes from the accumulated savings of the people, and that it is dependent upon confidence and credit. All the real money that is wanted by this Government to-day would be available if the people who hold it had confidence in the Government and in this Parliament. That was demonstrated by the success which attended the flotation of the £28,000,000 loan. In that con- nexion I have been given credit to which I was not entitled. My colleague played as big a part as I did in the success of that loan. But those who were most largely responsible were the officials of the Treasury, the broadcasting companies, and the newspapers throughout the length and breadth of Australia. They took that stand because they still had confidence in this country and in this Government.

Mr Yates:

– Will they not get another rake-off in two years’ time?

Mr LYONS:

– Some of those people to whom I have referred got no rake-off at all; they gave their services voluntarily in the interests of this country. That is why I wish to express on the floor of this Parliament my appreciation of the wonderful assistance that they gave.

If this proposal of the Government ‘ were put in operation it might be the means of providing employment of a fleeting character, but it certainly would not enable Australia to re-establish her industries and revert to normal conditions. When its temporary effect had worn off, we should have to go through the same old process again. What worries me dreadfully is the fact that it will not be accepted by this Parliament, and that meanwhile we are marking time, while so many of our people are tramping the country bare-footed, hungry and shelterless. All over this country, in my little State just as in every other State, wherever you find a number of men gathered together, you hear the story of good, honest fellows who are tramping the country looking for work that they cannot obtain. Yet we sit here, talking nonsense about visionary schemes that we know will not be accepted ! We are well aware that unemployment is growing, and that women and kiddies are suffering and starving while we draw our salaries. I speak as one who has kiddies of his own. I would not like to see them suffer as are thousands of other kiddies in Australia to-day, while we are talking about these visionary schemes. It is because of that fact that I want the public servants, some of whose representatives are here to-day, to make sacrifices, in order that we may commence to re-establish confidence so that money will be invested both privately and publicly, and lead to a return to work of the breadwinners, with consequent benefit to the women and kiddies of our nation. That and no other is the reason for the stand that I am taking to-day. I do not care what my political future may be; I intend to maintain that stand in the interests of the people who sent me here.

Mr Lazzarini:

– The honorable gentleman as a member of the Government did nothing to alleviate unemployment, but on the contrary sacked men.

Mr LYONS:

– The honorable member has drawn my attention -to another criticism that I have had to face. I do not pose as a financial genius. I know little about finance. I believe that what is required of us is to lead the people firmly and unfalteringly along honest lines of finance and government. When I was Postmaster-General I had not control of the finances. None of these schemes for providing employment were then put forward. When the Treasurer found that he could not raise sufficient money to enable the Director of Postal Services and myself to employ our people and to provide the services that were needed, I was called into consultation with him. I pleaded for some portion of loan money, but was turned down by the Treasurer, who said, “ The money is not available. I cannot get it, and you cannot have it. You have to cut down your expenditure.” It was then that unemployment started in the Postal Department. Yet, I am held responsible for that unemployment. Why were these schemes for the raising of funds merely by issuing paper money not then proposed ?

Mr Yates:

– A scheme was put up.

Mr LYONS:

– Yes, by the honorable member; but it was not accepted by the Treasurer. It was condemned by him even in this House. I wished to do something for the employees of the Postal Department, but because I was unable to do so I am condemned by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini),, for whom I have the greatest respect notwithstanding our divergent views.

Mr Lazzarini:

– The honorable gentleman must accept Cabinet responsibility.

Mr LYONS:

– I am aware of that. When I became Acting Treasurer, I also could not find the money; but I would not shift the responsibility on to some other person, nor did I say that I had a scheme that would enable me to obtain money without going to the people for it.

The Government has set its face against repudiation; but these schemes will lead it, even though they be along different paths, to exactly the same place as Mr. Lang’s repudiation scheme. There is no escaping that fact. We have to get back to honest, straightforward methods.

I have said what I wanted to say. I have spoken, not as a financial genius; not as one who has any visionary schemes. I am reminded of the old story of the fox and the cat, that we read in our school books in our young days. The fox explained to the cat the number of different ways he had of escaping from the hounds; but they did not avail him anything when the hounds appeared on the scene. The poor old cat had only one straightforward way, and up a tree it went. Similarly, these visionary schemes will avail us nothing. We must do what the ordinary private citizen would do in similar circumstances.

I have had an unpleasant task to perform this morning. I say to my old colleagues

Mr Blakeley:

Mr. Blakeley interjecting.

Mr LYONS:

– The Minister for Home Affairs is mistaken if he considers that I am addressing my remarks to him. He is a political somersaulter. There are others for whom I have the greatest respect.

Mr Cusack:

Mr Cusack interjecting.

Mr LYONS:

– The honorable member” can keep that epitaph for the occasion when it is needed by him in EdenMonaro. Not even the ghosts will save him next time.

I am sorry that, by my own act, I am voluntarily and. automatically dissociating myself from valued colleagues, and from a party that I have helped to build up and raise in the estimation of the people in my little State during the last 22 years. I say again that I do so with the utmost regret, and with very unpleasant feelings ; and only because I feel that if I did not, I would be untrue to the people whom I represent.

Mr Brennan:

Mr. Speaker-

Mr Maxwell:

Mr. Speaker-

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– The honorable the Attorney-General.

Opposition members dissenting,

Mr SPEAKER:

– For the information of honorable members I may say that when a Minister rises he takes precedence over other honorable members.

Mr BRENNAN:
AttorneyGeneral · Batman · ALP

– The very passionate declaration of self-righteousness with which my honorable friend the member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) concluded his speech leads one to doubt seriously whether he was wise in joining any political party. The honorable gentleman appears to have overlooked entirely the fundamental fact that has always been recognized by the Labour party, and tardily imitated by every other political party, that loyalty to party postulates sacrifice in regard to detail and subordination of self to the considered views of the party as a whole. That seems to have been entirely overlooked by the honorable gentleman. In the concluding portion of his address he assailed, at least politically, the leader of this House, the Prime Minister, the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, politically and personally, and the party as a whole, of which for the last twenty years he has been a member. In his outburst in this moment of Australia’s most critical, financial and economic need, he made the amazing statement that he knew very little about finance !

Mr Marr:

– But he was honest.

Mr BRENNAN:

– I am not challenging his honesty. I am accepting, without hesitation, his own estimate of his authority to speak dogmatically upon finance. On this side we are happily in a somewhat different position.

Mr Latham:

– You are very happy !

Mr BRENNAN:

-We have many men on this side–

Mr Latham:

– No so many as formerly.

Mr Gullett:

– Look at the smiles on their faces ! How happy they are !

Mr BRENNAN:

- Mr. Speaker, I ask you to see that I am not made the victim of organized hooliganism. I request you to pick out individually and personally everybody who plays the blackguard’s part on that side of the House.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– I ask the Attorney-General to assist the Chair, by using language that will be conducive to the maintenance of order.I remind honorable members that I will not allow a constant running fire of interjections or disorder, and against the next member who offends in that respect I shall take action.

Mr BRENNAN:

– I shall have something to say in due course about some of the further observations of the honorable member for Wilmot.

Several honorable members of the Opposition retiring from the chamber.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Cowards !

Mr SPEAKER:

– The Minister for Markets must desist from interjecting.

Mr BRENNAN:

– The Leader of the Opposition has moved that the Government no longer possesses the confidence of the House, and he goes further and makes the polite request that the terms of the motion shall be conveyed to His Excellency the Governor-General. We never, as a Government, had any reason to suppose that we enjoyed the confidence of the Opposition; nor have we any reason to believe that we have lost the confidence of the electorates. One thing is certain, however, and that is that Oppositions all have the right to submit motions of want of confidence.

Mr Gullett:

– The Attorney-General has supported them often enough.

Mr BRENNAN:

– I have been associated with quite a number in those delightful, carefree days, extending over many years, during which I occupied a position in His Majesty’s Opposition.

One thing is clear, and that is that honorable members opposite comprise the disunited fragments of many parties. Adversity usually fails to quieten an opposition ; but on the present Opposition it has had the opposite effect, and to some extent to-day honorable members opposite are united. The leader and the rank and file ofthe Australian party, consisting of the right honorable member for North Sydney, the rank and file of the Nationalist party consisting of an inconsiderable number, the rank and file of the Country party, which has recently taken to its bosom what was until lately the rank and file of the Country Progressive party, consisting of my friend the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr.

Stewart), the rank and file of the Independent Nationalist party, consisting, if my statistics in these difficult circumstances are correct, of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), who flits very solemnly from bough to bough if solemnity and flitting go together in regard’ to political discussions, have for the moment come together. They are united with the common object of destroying the Labour party on this vote. Nobody imagined that the Leader of the Opposition was serious when he collated that cheap boarding-house menu of used dishes by way of a vote of no. confidence in this Government. I am satisfied that the honorable gentleman has a flair for argument, and he much prefers to be serious. He leaves the path of the modern exponent of fruity journalism, or the role of cheap Billingsgate, to the gentleman from Warringah, who so playfully does the part of the wounded hippopotamus, and to the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett).

Mr Maxwell:

– Why does not somebody laugh?

Mr BRENNAN:

– The reason they do not laugh is that the honorable member’s friends have left the chamber to weep.

The Leader of the Opposition challenges us, in March, 1931, that we have failed to open the coal-mines within a month ! Echo of other days ! We know perfectly well that, to adopt the phrase of my honorable friend, the Minister for Markets, the unopened coal-mines were part of the damnosa haereditas which we took over from the Nationalist Government whenit was so contumaciously brushed off the treasury bench. It is one of the things which we had to settle, and did settle, in due time. It is suggested that in our pre-election speeches somebody publicly declared somewhere that there would be a job for every one, and the exact Leader of the Opposition suggests that inasmuch as we have not found work for every man in Australia we are convicted of a breach of faith with the people.

Mr Latham:

– It was on every placard in Victoria, and in other States, too.

Mr BRENNAN:

– It is suggested that the tariff was our star item, and that it has had a baneful consequence for the people. But we have disposed of these matters. We have dealt with the coal mines, and we have largely dealt with the subject of unemployment in a number of measures, including the tariff itself, which has been responsible more than any other instrument for stemming the rot in regard to unemployment. But that is more or less ancient history. The adjustments in the tariff have been incidental to the balancing of our trade, which we have succeeded in doing. That that trade has been balanced has been pointed out already by other speakers as one of the Government’s most striking achievements.

These matters, set out in detail by the Leader of the Opposition are not the real gravamen of the charge levelled against the Government. They are merely the covering for a speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition in the hope which triumphs over experience that the Labour party is falling to pieces, and that this Government is losing control in the electorates.

Mr Latham:

– What about East Sydney ?

Mr BRENNAN:

– What about it? Did the honorable gentleman succeed? From my point of view, the result was satisfactory to the Government to this extent, at all events: that it was a healthy corrective to the gasconading of the Opposition as to what it was going to do; and, on the other hand, the figureswere a clear indication that the policy of repudiation would not win half a dozen seats in the State of New South Wales, not to mention the other States. When the honorable member for Henty, as chief apostle of fruity journalese, went to East Sydney, and remained there until he was ordered off - so I was told, and, I hope, credibly - he declared that he was going back to the meeting of this House to see in the first few days the end of the Labour Government. The honorable member is already becoming a little sceptical of the accuracy of his forecast; he is not now confronted with arguments of the kind which he was accustomed to meet in his carefree manner on the hustings of East Sydney.

It is true that this party and this Government are suffering from the inevitable consequences of the conditions which obtainedwhen we took office, and developments which we foresaw must take place before we had been long in office. So much is clear. It is true that, at both ends of the scale, the militant industrialists on the one side and those who are coquetting with Nationalism on the other, there is a restlessness which has been followed, in some cases, by gross disloyalty and betrayal. The attitude of the industrialists is understandable, if not always excusable. They find themselves representing electorates in which there is a tragic measure of unemployment and want, bordering, as the honorable member for Wilmot has so graphically described it, upon destitution, and, in some cases, there is actual destitution. In the big industrial electorates, such as my own, the effects of unemployment are only too patent. And when men are in want and are suffering they naturally turn to their representatives in Parliament for succour and relief, believing that all their ills can be cured, if not, at least substantially mitigated, by parliamentary action.

On the other hand we have the frank repudiationists. We have dealt with that issue. It is suggested that we are being led or controlled by Mr. Lang. As a matter of fact, we have defined our policy, and it has been accepted by the party by an overwhelming majority, and published to the world. We hope, and believe, that at a very early date it will be formally accepted by this Parliament.

Mr Nairn:

– The honorable member cannot believe that, because of course it will be rejected by this Parliament.

Mr BRENNAN:

– We shall see, first of all, what Parliament says about it. Our chief difficulty as a party is not so much with the impatient industrialists or the repudiationists, with whom we can deal, and have dealt, but with those who, under the cloak of respectability are coquetting with the Nationalist party. Unfortunately, this coquetting -has led to defections from the party, of which the most significant and outstanding is the defection of the honorable member for Wilmot. While I was with the Prime Minister in London that honorable member was Acting Treasurer, in which capacity he had to face the issue of a £28,000,000 conversion loan. In that connexion trouble arose in the party which has now passed into history. It was resolved, immediately upon the return of the. Prime Minister, by the unanimous acceptance of the views of our leader, and on that issue now there is no rift or rent in the party.

But the honorable member for Wilmot”, who was by comparison a subordinate Minister in the matter, has been proclaimed throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth as a political apostle upholding Australia’s honour in some special way peculiar- to himself and without the support of those who should have supported him.. It has been stated in the press and it was confirmed by the honorable member himself to-day, that he left caucus with the public declaration that he would not stand for repudiation, postponement of any such thing. But what interested Australia was not what the Acting Treasurer stood for, but what the Government stood for, and the policy of the Government was declared, not by the Acting Treasurer, but by the Prime Minister, who at that time was in London carrying on most difficult and delicate negotiations connected with the finances of Australia. It was immaterial and a little egotistical for the honorable member for Wilmot to parade so greatly his. personal view in the matter, when the outstanding fact was that the Government stood for the policy which it was his duty as Acting Treasurer to proclaim. He did not make that policy. The Government made it, and has not altered its attitude towards it in the slightest regard. The honorable member for Wilmot, who is represented as having saved the country, therefore played no greater part than might reasonably have been expected of a Minister whose policy had been clearly defined for him.

Mr Stewart:

– That is exactly what the honorable member himself has said.

Mr BRENNAN:

– The honorable member may have said it - the attitude of his leader could not be concealed - but the press of this country and interests which, in my view, have done so much by their adulation to suborn the honorable member for Wilmot from his allegiance to the Labour party, took good care not to announce what was the policy of the Labour Government. Their concern was to associate the honorable member not with the Government, of which he was acting Treasurer, but with a Nationalist Opposition, which they most urgently wanted him to join.

Mr Killen:

– His fault in his party’s estimation was that he preferred his country to his party.

Mr BRENNAN:

– That is a platitude, which, because of its frequent repetition, has become a little nauseating. When we know that the observation, brilliant as it may be, has been plucked from the daily press supporting the honorable member for Wilmot, it loses a good deal of its force..

I cannot escape the deeply rooted conviction that the honorable member for Wilmot is a great deal self-centred in his attitude towards these matters of grave public concern, and that his protests about his own tremendous sincerity, and his interest in Australia to which he has subordinated his individuality, savour a little of the lady immortalized by Shakespeare in the words, “ The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” He told us that he came into this Parliament to serve Australia. Of course we all have done the same. Most of us like the job fairly well, and would like to stay here as long as we can, but T am bound to remark that the honorable member did not rush precipitately into federal politics until it seemed pretty certain that he would get a seat in this House. A very genuine effort was made to induce him to come into this Parliament in 1928 - no one knows it better than does the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) - but we could not persuade him to do so; nor did we succeed in persuading him until 1929, when it was clear that such a rot had set. in among the Nationalist party that its days were numbered. Not until a seat was perfectly secure for him did the honorable member consent to enter federal politics, and the party has treated him not at all badly. He was scarcely in the party room before be was nominated for a post in the Government.

Mr Fenton:

– He was well fitted for one.

Mr BRENNAN:

– He was considered to be, and the greater pity it is that he should have deserted the colours, which at this particular time he should be nailing to the mast.

The party thought so well of the honorable member for Wilmot that he was entrusted with the responsible position of Postmaster-General, and he publicly declared that he was perfectly satisfied with his office. This morning he has declared that he took very little part or even interest in the general politics of the party. He was not treated badly while he was in our Government, but I remind him and another honorable member who, having pledged himself to the party, proposes on this vital vote of want of confidence to cross the floor and vote against the party, that those who do these things in the name of conscience should examine their consciences a little more closely. Honorable members are pledged to stand honorably for the term of the Parliament by the policy of the party. They are pledged to support the party in Parliament. The details of the policy of the party are not set out when the pledge is signed. The method of arriving at that policy is clear and -obvious. The platform may be already defined, but the policy built upon it is worked out from day to day, and decided by majorities in the party room. Every member of the .party has pledged himself to serve his party and uphold its policy. No one can have his own way on any particular detail.

The honorable member for Wilmot says that he knows nothing about finance. Yet because the Government’s financial policy is not in accord with what he would wish it to be, he, in his own self-confessed ignorance, considers himself free to violate a pledge he has given, in the first place to the party, and in the second place to the electors whom he is bound to serve. I say with great regret, and as I do not want to make it a personal matter, I say it also to another honorable member, that it is an act of treachery for any man who solemnly pledges himself to support a political party on a political policy, and receives the endorsement of the party and is elected on that policy, to come into this Parliament and destroy or seek to destroy the Government built up by that party, and the policy which it represents. It is treachery to his party and to his electors. And such a man, whoever he is, should be the last to say that he cannot sit with this or that honorable member, because of the prickings of a tender conscience.

Mr Fenton:

– The Attorney-General did not sit with one honorable member for quite a long time.

Mr BRENNAN:

– As long as any man is in this Parliament with the authority of the electors behind him, I shall not constitute myself a judge as to whether he was this or that in his past private life, or as to anything else about him. I am not his censor. This Government is the guardian of its own membership, and if a man is unworthy of a seat in it, Parliament has an undoubted right to eject him, but no individual member has the right to say that he will not sit with another, who is here by virtue of the voice of the electors or with the approval of Parliament itself, and that, for that reason, he will vote against any party or any government of which that other is a member.

The test is, of course, an easy one. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons), who is now declaring that he cannot sincerely continue to support the party which he is deserting, the colours of which he intends to abandon, and the pledge of which he proposes to violate, should apply the proper test. If he had indicated, at the time, the condition by which his undertakings were bound, he would never have received the endorsement of the Labour party as a candidate, nor the support of the people in his constituency. He would never have been admitted to the party room, nor would he have been authorized to take counsel with the great Australian Labour party on all points of detail. These things would never have been permitted had it been known that the honorable member intended to desert the party and the Government on a vital motion like this. It was not by the work of men like this that the great Australian Labour party was built up, nor will it be by the disaffection and disloyalty of such men that it will be destroyed.

Why does not the honorable member consult the electors? That is the only test that can be applied. The most recent example of an action of that kind occurred in England some little time ago when an honorable gentleman who was elected as a Liberal decided afterwards to throw in his lot with the Labour party.

He would not have been tolerated in British politics had he dared to make such a change without consulting his electors.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– He resigned because he was appointed AttorneyGeneral in the Labour Ministry, and it was, therefore, necessary for him to go before the people.

Mr BRENNAN:

– He resigned because he had changed his party. Like all Attorneys-General, he was not only responsible but able, and he took the right course in resigning ! He was re-elected as a Labour man. If the honorable member for Wilmot, and those associated with him, wish to abandon the political faith of a lifetime, and dissociate themselves from the political friends with whom they have stood shoulder to shoulder during a long and honored career; if they wish to do things which I do not care to describe in the language of the street, merely because of a passing phase of political life, then the only straightforward way to do it, if any colour of excuse, much less a justification, is to be given for their action, is to consult the electors and. if possible, obtain their endorsement of their reappearance in their new character and in the new robe which they desire to don.

Mr Fenton:

– We shall all be before the country very soon ; we should go before our masters now.

Mr BRENNAN:

– Unfortunately, my honorable friend desires to destroy the Labour party before he goes to the electors - a party for which he has worked for 50 years or more, and in which he has built up a reputation for straightforwardness, honesty and loyalty. It nearly brings tears to my eyes to even think that the honorable member is attempting to destroy or play the part of a traitor towards the movement which he has done so much to build up.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– It is not in order for the AttorneyGeneral to describe any honorable member as a traitor. I ask him to withdraw the statement.

Mr BRENNAN:

– I said not that the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) was a traitor, but that he was playing the part of a traitor. In deference to your wishes, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the statement.

The first descent that the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) made to cheap cynicism was when he said that the Lang party was in control in this House.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– It is quite true.

Mr BRENNAN:

– I am sorry that the honorable member for Warringah has returned to the chamber. I hope he will go away again.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– I returned to see the clown.

Mr BRENNAN:

– I ask that that statement be withdrawn.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– I withdraw it.

Mr BRENNAN:

– The honorable member for Wilmot stated that Mr. Lang was exercising control in this House through four members of it. About that we shall probably know and hear a little more in due time. We shall, at all events^ see the extent to which Mr. Lang is in’ control here. The honorable members who are involved in that statement must naturally take the responsibility for their own actions. All I wish to say is that if these honorable members are actually in control, which I deny, it is due to the disaffection of the honorable member for Wilmot himself and those who support him. They will be responsible if the policy of Mr. Lang is carried into effect here; but I deny that we have been reduced to the humiliating position which the honorable member has suggested.

The honorable member for Wilmot told us that, notwithstanding his lack of financial knowledge, he could not accept the policy enunciated by the Treasurer. But he amazing fact is that the honorable member” resigned before he heard the Treasurer’s policy. I am not yet quite clear whether the honorable member has resigned on account of our policy or of our personnel. All I gather is that he is much too conscientious a man, and much too delicate about the company he keeps, to continue to support the Government ; and that, for these reasons, he has resigned. Still, he had not heard our policy before he resigned.

The honorable member went on to say that, although the Government was pledged to the policy of industrial arbitration, it was now doing its best to defeat that policy. It may be said that that observation has at least the merit of originality. This is the first time that any of us have heard anything of the kind from the honorable member. His ideas about our policy on arbitration are of recent development.

Mr Riordan:

– They developed with his conscience.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– They developed owing to the incapacity which the Attorney-General showed when he was in charge of the last arbitration bill.

Mr BRENNAN:

– That cannot be so, because my manifold deficiencies in that, connexion were revealed, if at all, months ago, before I left for England. It is probable that the honorable member’s observations were caused by my actions recently when, in my official capacity as Attorney-General, I applied to the Full Bench of the Arbitration Court for the postponement of the operations of the court’s basic wage decision. If that is so, my actions were deliberately designed not to destroy arbitration, but to implement the act as to an important provision. The section^ under which I made my application to the court were surely intended to be used. If not, why were they inserted in the act?

Mr Latham:

– They were intended to be used in a proper case.

Mr BRENNAN:

– And I used them iu a proper case, and intelligently. Let me tell the Leader of the Opposition that, if my application was not effective, the court declared - though I do not suggest that I am using the actual words of the Chief Judge - that, having regard to the manifold duties and responsibilities attaching to the Government in this most serious and acute stage in our economic and financial affairs, it was necessary that the court should examine critically and carefully the case which I, on behalf of the Government, submitted to it for consideration. The object which I had in making my application was clearly defined. The Government had under consideration a policy planned for the purpose of equitably distributing over all sections of the community the sacrifices which must inevitably accompany our present unfortunate economic condition. The Government thought it wise to submit the matter to the court with a view to getting the court to postpone the operation of its award, which would cause the sacrifices to bear most heavily upon the one section of the community least able to bear it, namely, the working class. The court, of course, had no jurisdiction to oblige every section of the community to make sacrifices. My application was unsuccessful, but the work of the Government will go on, and we shall see that the distribution of sacrifices goes on until it reaches, even if it pinches, the friends of honorable members opposite.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– My friends are the workers of this country. They are the men who are being pinched.

Mr BRENNAN:

– My friends opposite want to put the burden on the oldage, invalid and Avar pensioners, on the wage-earner and also the farmer.

I was interested to hear the honorable member for Wilmot say that he had praised the Prime Minister on the platforms of this country, and that his praises bad been received with ringing cheers. [ also have ventured to praise the right honorable gentleman in the course of my public utterances, and my remarks, likewise, have been received with hearty cheers. I regret, however, that circumstances have arisen which will alter the nature of the audiences which the honorable member for Wilmot will address in the future. When he next speaks to the electors about the Prime Minister his remarks will not be received with cheers, because the Prime Minister is not cheered in the company which the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) keeps, and which the honorable member for Wilmot will keep hereafter. But throughout the length and breadth of Australia, amongst the men who have built up the great Australian movement, amongst the wage-earners of this country, amongst the men and women who have remained loyal to Labour, the Prime Minister will be cheered to-morrow, as he was cheered in the days when he was praised by the honorable member for Wilmot. Among the men who count he will be cheered ; among those who, except in their own personal estimation, do not count, he will not be cheered.

Mr Maxwell:

– Was he not cheered at the welcome meeting convened by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne at the Melbourne Town Hall?

Mr BRENNAN:

– He was. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) was not there.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– No; but I was at the Sydney Town Hall where he was applauded by all the plutocrats !

Mr BRENNAN:

– I have not said that he will be cheered only by Labour men - -but that he will be cheered, particularly by them, as enthusiastically in the future as in the past. As the honorable member for Fawkner , (Mr. Maxwell) has said, the Prime Minister was applauded at the welcome home meeting at the Melbourne Town Hall as he also has been at many other places. I could go further and say that he was cheered by representative audiences in London, where the honorable member for Warringah. would have liked to be, but was not.

I should now like to say a word or two concerning a matter which I have never previously mentioned here, and that is the special qualifications of the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) to take a seat in this House and carry out the responsible duties of Treasurer. It is very unlikely that I shall speak upon this subject again; having dealt with it, I propose to dismiss it altogether from my mind. It is an old and tawdry tale. It has already served its purpose as far as the Opposition are concerned. They have made all they could out of it; let them now ring down the curtain. It has passed through all its stages of political evolution, and has now reached the inconclusive stage when litigation is pending. To the details of that litigation I shall make no reference whatever. Let me place on record, very shortly, what the position is. A royal commission sat to inquire into certain matters–

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– I cannot allow the Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan) to discuss the inquiry by that royal commission or any aspect of the case. Other honorable members have been prevented from so doing.

Mr BRENNAN:

– I did not understand, sir, that that was your ruling.

Mr SPEAKER:

– During the whole of this debate I have strictly limited discussion on that subject. I would not permit the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Morgan) to make any reference to it.

Mr BRENNAN:

– I listened with great interest to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) on the subject, and I heard the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) assailed as being a person unfit to hold his present position by reason of certain findings of the royal commission.

Mr Maxwell:

– Hear, hear!

Mr BRENNAN:

– And the honorable member has said “Hear, hear!” again and again to those animadversions. I submit, Mr. Speaker, before you give a final ruling, that I have a perfect right to deal with any question relating to Mr. Theodore and the royal commission apart from the litigation now pending. Up to the present it has never been the rule, even on the most strict interpretation of the Standing Orders and parliamentary procedure, to prevent discussion on the work of a royal commission and the effect of its findings upon the position of an honorable member of this House, independent altogether of litigation which is at present pending and concerning which I do not propose to say anything at all. That is the only phase which one may not discuss, and even in that regard interpretations have been gradually widening. It is laid down that “ Matters waiting the adjudication of law should not be brought forward in debate “ ; but even this has been regarded as a matter of taste rather than strict ruling. Having stated my view I shall not press the matter further, except to say that the legislature should be exceedingly jealous of its right to discuss public matters. While it is properly laid down that good taste requires that a case actually pending before the courts should not be discussed, that ruling should not go further than the view that matters that are actually being adjudicated upon by the court should be left to the decision of the’ court before they are discussed in Parliament. I do not intend to say a word concerning the action now before the court. The royal commission had nothing whatever to do with it, nor had the speeches made in this chamber. The allegations against the Treasurer are anterior. I intended to discuss them from a political view-point without referring to the action pending before the court, hut in view of your ruling, sir, I do not propose to press the matter further.

Mr SPEAKER:

– In fairness to the Chair I should state that there is no record in the whole of the British parliamentary practice or in the journals of this House of a case similar to that which now presents itself, involving, as it does, the findings of a royal commission on the conduct of a gentleman occupying a public position which is the subject of proceedings before a court. There is nothing to guide the Chair in determining this particular point. I feel that the legal proceedings which are pending must be based substantially upon the findings of a royal commission or proceedings previously taken. That being so, the Attorney-General will see the difficulty of the Chair in endeavouring to draw a line of demarcation between discussion which is and that which is not permissible. It is the duty of the Chair where legal action is pending to protect the judiciary as well as the person concerned. In these circumstances I feel that a strict limitation must be placed upon any reference to this case, and during the debate I have done so. I cannot permit the Attorney-General greater liberty than has been granted other honorable members, and am sure he would not desire it.

Mr Theodore:

– The right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) made extensive references to the findings of the royal commission while Mr. Deputy Speaker was in the chair.

Mr SPEAKER:

– That is unfortunate; but having previously ruled that matters which are sub judice may not be discussed I cannot now, notwithstanding any action by the Deputy Speaker, permit other honorable members to make any reference to the subject.

Mr BRENNAN:

– I accept your ruling, Mr. Speaker; but I am sure you will permit me to discuss a matter arising out of it. Quite recently the Treasurer came to the table to obtain leave to introduce a bill and was greeted with an outburst - I do not charge any particular member - of what can only be described as organized hooliganism on the part of the Opposition, which reflected infinite discredit upon this Parliament and every honorable member who took part in it. A definite attempt was made to prevent the Treasurer from being heard. I should have liked to give reasons why he should be heard, and why he should hold the office of Treasurer, because others, by innuendo and argument have referred to facts to which I am not permitted to address myself.

Mr Archdale Parkhill:

– That is a reflection upon the Chair.

Mr BRENNAN:

– It is not. I protest finally, not against the ruling of Mr. Speaker, but most strongly against a condition of affairs under which the Treasurer of the Commonwealth may be assailed in this House in respect to something which honorable members may not freely discuss.

I do not pretend to know what will be the result of the vote shortly to be taken; but I have a good idea what it will be. The motion will meet the fate which it richly deserves. It is a poor thing. It has been used as machinery for defamation and mud-slinging on the part of honorable members opposite. The Prime Minister, the Treasurer and other Ministers have been abused and ridiculed. Old stories have been retold, but not a single point has been made against the Government. A point has been made and admitted of the fact that there is want of loyalty to the Government. In support of this allegation extracts have been taken from unfriendly newspapers, some of which are in their death agony, while others have been consistently opposed’ to the Labour party. Among these is the Evening News, which is just about to publish its swan song.

Mr Bayley:

– And the Labor Daily.

Mr BRENNAN:

– And the Labor Daily, which is one of the most consistently poisonous opponents of the Australian Labour party.

Mr MAXWELL:
Fawkner

.- The Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan) was good enough to refer to me as an independent Nationalist making common cause with the Opposition in an attempt to destroy the Labour party. That is about as accurate as most of the Minister’s other statements. I do not desire to detain the House, but I wish to give reasons for the vote which I intend to record on this motion. I direct the attention of honorable members to the terms of the motion which to some extent have been overlooked. It reads - “ That the Government no longer possesses the confidence of this House . . . “ This is the second Government that has been formed since the advent to power of the Labour party in this chamber. Some seventeen months ago a government was formed pursuant to a commission accepted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) from His Excellency the Governor-General. The right honorable gentleman formed a Government which existed, I understand, until last Monday week, when it committed suicide in the caucus room. It then ceased to exist, and a new Government was appointed. Therefore, I have to ask myself whether this Government, which is only about a fortnight old, any longer possesses the confidence of this House.

Mr Brennan:

– The honorable member ought to know that it is not a new Government, but only an improved Government !

Mr MAXWELL:

– It is a new Government; and I am asked to say that it no longer possesses the confidence of this House. It is not a question of any longer possessing the confidence of the House; it never at any time possessed that confidence.

I followed very carefully the temperate and restrained speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) when he launched this motion. That speech,’ of course, was directed against the Government which was formed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) some seventeen months ago. The honorable gentleman dealt with the promises that Government had made; and one of the grounds on which he based his proposition that it no longer deserved the confidence of this House was that it had failed to fulfil those promises.

One aspect of this debate that to me has been most illuminating was the attitude adopted by the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) in the brilliant speech that he delivered yesterday. His was a remarkable speech from the point of view of rhetoric, of oratory and of tactics; but I venture to say that, as a defence of the Government, it will not bear a moment’s examination. When the honorable gentleman came to deal with the charge of the Leader of the Opposi- tionthat those promises, which, on the face of many of them, were incapable of fulfilment, had not been fulfilled, what was his answer ? It was in the form of a sneer, a cynical suggestion that “ these were only election promises; whoever expected that we intended to keep them? Did you not, as a Government, make similar promises?” It was about the most cynical expression of humbug that Ihave ever heard in this House, and that is,saying a great deal.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

-Order ! It is disorderly and unparliamentary to state that an honorable member’s speech is equivalent to humbug, and . I ask the honorable member to withdraw the expression.

Mr MAXWELL:

– In deference to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw it. The constant withdrawal of statements, I believe I am at liberty to say, is a part of the humbug that attaches to a great ideal of our parliamentary procedure. The attitude of the politician is aptly summed up in the following lines from Lowell : -

In short, I firmly du believe

In Humbug generally,

Fer it’s a thing thet I perceive

To hev a solid vally;

Thisheth my faithful shepherd ben,

In pasturs sweet heth led me,

An’ this’ll keep the people green

Tofeed ez they hev fed me.

That is the sort of thing to which we are treated by the ablest defender in the ranks of honorable members opposite. The Treasurer was put up to defend the Government, and his was a most astute defence. If sought to carry the war into theenemy’s camp. The Cabinet saw that the rot wasbeginning todevelop among its supporters , and it immediately said, “ Put up the Treasurer ; he knows how tohandle a situation of this kind.” He carried the war in brilliant style into the camp of the enemy.But what, after all, did his speech amount to? Boiled down, itwassimply a post-mortem examination of this Bruce-Page Government. What onearth has that to do with the want of confidence of this House in the present Government?

Mr lacey:

-If this motion is carried will the result not be a return to office of the Bruce-Page ora similar Government?

Mr MAXWELL:

– I shall deal with that aspect of the question in a moment. Boiled down, the Treasurer’s speech amounts to this, that during its term of office, the Bruce-Page Governmentborrowed far too much money, of which a great deal was injudiciously spent. Perhaps even members of that Government, in the light of experience, would say that there is a great deal of truth in that contention. But assuming that every word of it is true, how is that a defence to the charges of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) against the present Government? It is no answer, and the Government knows it.

A kind of joke was made at my expense by my old friend the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) when he referred to the fact that I had had considerable experience in defending cases in which there was no defence. That is quite true. Many a time I have been severely pressed when I was up against facts that it was very hard to face and to account for. But that very experience has made me somewhat of an expert in detecting signs of distress in other men who are similarly circumstanced. I listened with amused interest to the speeches made in so-called defence of the Government. The signs of distress in those honorable members were palpable to one who has been there; they were obviously impressed by the fact that there was no defence.

Mr Latham:

– On a question of privilege, Mr. Speaker, I ask whether it is not proper that, as a token of respect to the House, there should be some one in charge of its business. Has it not been the universal practice for a member of the Ministry to be present; and ought the House to continue to sit in the absence of those who are in charge of its business ? There is not a Minister present.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– It may be customary for a Minister to be present during the course of a debate, but such action is not required by the Standing Orders. At the moment I, as Speaker, am in charge of the debate that is in progress.

Mr MAXWELL:

– I endorse the charges of incapacity, &c, brought by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) against the Government. If there was no other ground than the inclusion of the

Treasurer (Mr.. Theodore) in the Government, that, from my point of view, would be sufficient to justify the withdrawal of any confidence that I previously had in it. I honestly confess that I am somewhat in the dark in regard to the extent of the limitations imposed by your ruling, Mr. Speaker, upon references to the Treasurer’s position in this Government. I have heard in many speeches while you have been in the Chair references to the report of the Mungana Royal Commission, to its findings, and to the actual wording of those findings, as well as to the fact that they constitute a stain upon the character of the Treasurer. I also heard the Prime Minister assert emphatically that he believed in the innocence of the Treasurer. That assertion was made in reply to the suggestion that the honorable gentleman was unworthy of a place in any government. I can say, in all sincerity, that I have not the shadow of any personal feeling against the Treasurer. I profoundly admire his obvious and splendid ability. But when certain findings were published, which constituted a grave imputation against him, the Treasurer immediately tendered his resignation to the Prime Minister, who promptly accepted it. Both that resignation and its acceptance reflected the greatest credit upon the gentleman who resigned and upon the Prime Minister. The Treasurer said at the time that, if he were guilty of a tithe of what was suggested by that commission, he was not worthy of a seat in Parliament, let alone a place in any government. We ought to be most jealous of the honour of Parliament and of our government.

A sneer has been indulged in by the Attorney-General at those who object to the presence of the Treasurer in this House. He said that we approached that part of our subject under the cloak of respectability; but I cannot imagine a man with even the most rudimentary sense of honour not being shocked at the idea of any one accepting a high office involving the gravest responsibility and trust when such findings stand against him. It is a most remarkable circumstance, from my point of view, that, although other honorable members, from the Prime Minister, who asserts the innocence of the Treasurer, down to the humblest member on the other side of the House, have stood up in his defence, not one word has that Minister thought fit to give to the House in explanation of the position that he occupies to-day.

Mr Cusack:

– Would . the honorable member advise the Treasurer to do that if he were his counsel?

Mr MAXWELL:

– That is a dangerous question. If the limitations imposed by Mr. Speaker did not prevent me, I should give the honorable member an answer that he would not forget in a hurry. There is absolute silence from the man who could throw a flood of light upon those imputations, and help us who entertain grave suspicion of their truth by relieving us of the incubus of that suspicion. Those findings-

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– The honorable member will not be in order in referring to those findings. If no court case were pending, the honorable gentleman would be quite in order in referring to them; but he heard my ruling when the Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan) began to speak of them, and I cannot allow the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) greater latitude than was given to the Minister.

Mr MAXWELL:

– Certainly not; but one is in a difficulty in view of the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) that he believed in the Treasurer’s innocence. That statement involved a reference to the findings of the royal commission.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member knows full well that I requested the Prime Minister not to continue certain observations that he was making.

Mr MAXWELL:

– Then I shall not pursue that matter further, as I had intended.

Whatever the result of the vote on this motion may be, the Government, in fact, does not possess the confidence of this House. I accept the suggestion of. the Attorney-General that at no time could the Government hope to have the confidence of honorable members on this side, so the question arises : How far does the Government possess the confidence of honorable members opposite? Take the group led by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons). Does the Government suggest that it possesses the confidence of that honorable member, the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), or the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Guy)? The fact is that, rightly or wrongly, it has forfeited their trust. Then there is the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price). Can the Government claim that it has retained the confidence of that honorable member ? After its seventeen or eighteen months in office, how far has it managed to retain the confidence of the majority with which it started its existence? The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) left no doubt in the minds of the Government where he stood. Ministers have absolutely forfeited the confidence of that honorable member. I wonder whether it still retains the support of the honorable member for Ballarat -(Mr. McGrath). I understand that, at the famous meeting on the 2nd March, in the caucus room, the Government not only committed suicide, but insisted on members of the party who had been appointed to various positions doing likewise. But I understand that the honorable member for Ballarat stoutly refused to die, and, today, he is a most lusty corpse. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, I am told that he has actually occupied your august chair on occasions since he was ordered to commit political hara-kiri. I am wondering whether the Government, which treats members of its party in that way, still retains the confidence of the honorable member for Ballarat.

Mr Blakeley:

– The honorable member will know within three hours.

Mr MAXWELL:

– Quite so.

I now come to this quintet, the honorable members for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), East Sydney (Mr. Ward), West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), Martin (Mr. Eldridge), and Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini). Having regard to the facts to which I have adverted, the Government is at this moment under sentence of death. It is so bereft of all sense of decency and selfrespect that it is prepared to accept a reprieve at the hands of those five menwhose confidence it has lost, and whose contempt it has earned. It may be that those members have said, “ Oh well, we shall reprieve you, but it is only for a little while. We have no confidence in you, and we think your policy is a rotten one, yet we have decided to extend your life for the present.”

Mr E RILEY:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Would the honorable member accept the votes of those five?

Mr MAXWELL:

– I wonder where the honorable, member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) stands in these extraordinary circumstances. I find him snugly esconced behind the Government; but very soon, he will have to go to the country willy nilly. He is evidently thankful for the help of those five members who hold the Government in contempt.

Mr E RILEY:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Would the honorable member accept their votes?

Mr MAXWELL:

– Certainly. Does not the honorable member see that if they vote in favour of the present motion, they will be acting in accordance with their expressed opinions? The Government is so bereft of any vestige of self-respect and ordinary decency that it will accept an extension of its term of office from those men. Not only have I no confidence in the Government, but I have lost my respect for it. Its attitude is utterly abject. It must be making itself the laughing stock of the people.

In conclusion, I desire to pay a tribute to. the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons). He was a splendid fellow among honorable members opposite while he agreed with them, but the AttorneyGeneral completely missed the point of the honorable member’s case when he said that, having taken the pledge that he would support a certain policy, that policy was placed before his constituency, and he was sent into this House to carry it out. Because, in his opinion, the action of the Government and its followers is the reversal of that policy, he has made up his mind to sever his connexion with them. But he has not severed his connexion with the Labour movement. Does any honorable member on the Labour side think that the honorable member is less a real Labour man to-day than he was a month ago?

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– It is customary to adjourn for luncheon at this hour; but, if the honorable member wishes to conclude his remarks almost immediately, he may do so. If he prefers it, he may resume his speech after the luncheon adjournment.

Mr MAXWELL:

– I had no intention to speak at length. I can. conclude my speech in a few words. Having completely lost confidence in this Government for the various reasons that have been advanced, particularly by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham), and because of a very strong feeling that I have in regard to the re-inclusion of the Treasurer in the Cabinet, I shall, without the slightest hesitation, vote for the motion.

Sitting suspended from 12.47 to 2.15 p.m.

Mr.WARD (East Sydney) [2.15]. - I have listened attentively during the debate to the addresses which have been delivered from both sides of the House, and I regret very deeply that the first matter on which I, a newly-elected representative of Labour, have to deliberate in this chamber, is a motion censuring a Labour government.

I have been elected on a very definite policy. The electors of East. Sydney are dissatisfied with the inaction of the present Government, because they consider, as I, too, consider, that the present Commonwealth Ministers have wasted wonderful opportunities for doing things which the majority at their command has given them. The Ministers themselves will probably reply that they have not been able to do what they would have liked to do, because of the many obstacles in their way. The Labour movement sends representatives into this House not that subsequently they may tell their electors that they had encountered obstacles which prevented them from doing the things which they told the people they would do; it sends them here to remove such obstacles. If Ministers had not been so much concerned about retaining their own positions in Parliament ; if they had not been content to be merely seat warmers and time servers, this Parliament would have been back to the country three months after it was elected. They have lost the confidence of the people because they have lacked courage. They have proved weak under the pressure brought to bear upon them by the financial interests of the country. The Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) has candidly stated during this debate that promises are made during general elections merely for the purpose of securing votes. If he did not say that in so many words, his remarks certainly conveyed that meaning to me. I do not agree with him. I hold sacred the promises I made to the people who sent me here, and I shall make every attempt to honour them, availing myself of every opportunity that presents itself. The Treasurer said in excuse for his own neglect that members of the Opposition also made promises at the general elections. Is he prepared, when he next addresses the electors of Dalley, to tell them that he made promises merely for the purpose of securing for himself a position in Parliament?

I was not carried away by the hysterical utterances of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons). The honorable member must accept his share of responsibility for the inaction of the Government during the period when he was in office. While he was a member of the Cabinet everything was not well with the people of Australia.

One might imagine, after listening to the speeches that have been uttered, that this Parliament is the governing power in Australia, whereas in fact the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have been going cap in hand to the Commonwealth Bank Board and to Sir Robert Gibson, bartering with them as to matters of policy. That is a lamentable occurrence. That way of doing things does not suit me, nor does it suit the people who have sent me here, and it does not suit those who have sent the Ministers into this Parliament. Whatever title may be given to me - some honorable members on the Government side have declared that I am not a Labour representative - I claim that my record as a Labour man will stand as close scrutiny as that of any other honorable member on this side who will not associate with me. There is definiteness about my position in this House; I have come here with a definite policy. On both sides of the chamber honorable members have talked of balancing budgets, yet when a State Labour Premier has announced a plan by which budgets can be balanced without further sacrificing the people, it is scouted, and we find that what is desired is not so much the balancing of budgets, as the preservation of the high rates of interest now prevailing. Yet notwithstanding all your schemes, and after all your blundering. you will be forced to realize eventually that under present conditions Australia cannot meet its overseas commitments; and you will be compelled to accept what is to-day called the Lang plan. And although promises may mean nothing to the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) they mean a great deal to me. Much criticism has been levelled at the cost of maintaining this Parliament, but evidently, for the financial interests of the country, it is money well spent. It is those interests and not the present Labour representatives in. this Parliament who really govern the country. You continually go before your constituents and ask for a fresh mandate, making promises which, according to the Treasurer, are only made for the purpose of capturing votes.

So far as the vote on the motion of want of confidence is concerned, I have no wish to associate myself with those on the other side of the House, who also have made promises which remain unfulfilled. As a matter of fact, honorable members on the Opposition side make two sets of promises, one set being in the nature of window-dressing, to attract votes; and the other set, which they honour, being the promises made to the financial interests, whom they really represent in this chamber. It would not be right for me as a true Labour representative to vote with those who to-day are criticizing the Government. Quite honestly, I believe that the whole Parliament has lost the confidence of the people; but what would be gained were I to record a vote against the present Government, and allow another to come into power, when those who would be members of it have candidly admitted that they propose to sacrifice the invalid and old-age pensions and the war pensions? I do not view everything as a mere balancing of budgets.

The honorable member for Wilmot spoke with feeling of the starving women and children in this country; but, according to him, the only way in which to get the necessary capital for the relief of the situation is to accept the demands of the financial interest, outside Parliament. That is something T am not prepared to do. While I sit here as an elected representative of the people I am resolved that the Parliament shall be the body which will determine how the country shall be governed. Many of those who are prepared to sacrifice the invalid and old-age pensioners and the war pensioners have spoken of national honesty and integrity. Would it be honorable to sacrifice the old people of the community, the sick and the ailing, or the men who went overseas as boys to fight for Australia? It has been my misfortune to listen to so-called Labour representatives arguing that this motion of want of confidence should be negatived because Labour Ministers have sacked more workers than the Nationalist party has sacked. I am not prepared to back up any Labour government in the sacking of one man, or in the reduction of the wages of the workers; I represent the interests of the people of Australia. Labour representatives have taken pride in the fact that workers have been dismissed from the Public Service so that an attempt might be made to balance the budget. They say that they are determined to balance the budget. There are many plans to that, end; so many, in fact, that the position has become confused, not only in this Parliament among honorable members, but also among the people outside. The people have grown sick and tired of talk. They are crying out for action.

The present Government was not prepared to send a candidate into the East Sydney electorate, because it was ashamed of its record in the many months that it has occupied the Treasury bench.

Mr Gibbons:

– That was said by the Opposition yesterday.

Mr WARD:
EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES

– So far as I am concerned, I am opposed to those on both sides of the chamber to-day. The Australian Labour movement is sick and tired of representatives who will do nothing hero but talk, and whose concern is chiefly to secure good positions for themselves. Whether my stay in this chamber be short or long, I am not prepared to act merely as a seat-warmer. I. shall not remain inactive when there is opportunity to serve the people who sent me here. This so-called Labour party lias declared that the elected representative of East Sydney is not a Labour man. Yet the plan which I have been elected to support definitely throws down the gauntlet to the vested interests- represented by honorable members on the Opposition side of the House. No matter what name may be attached to the policy upon which I was elected, there is at least some definiteness about it.

Let me cite some instances which prove the inactivity of this Federal Labour Government. It made promises which, on the admission of the Treasurer, were not intended to be carried into effect. The timber- workers and the coalminers were told that when Labour was returned to power everything would be well for them. So far as I can see, the only result of the Labour movement having returned a Labour Government is that everything is well for the representatives w’ho were -sent here, while those who sent them here are being allowed to starve.

But I am not prepared to ally myself with those whom I know to be the enemies of the people I represent. One honorable member opposite, in referring to me, said that I was the first of ‘the political Ned Kellys to come here. I am pleased to know that the honorable member expects that in the near future I shall have reinforcements in this chamber, and that the number of those who think as I do will be greatly strengthened. Having listened to the speeches that have been made during this debate, I have come to the conclusion that Ned Kelly would not have a chance in this Parliament. One honorable member after another has spoken strongly in support of his own particular view, and one would almost be tempted to think, after listening to these speeches, that everything possible had been done to help the people, and that there could be no suspicion that actually nothing had been done in their interests.

I shall not speak at great length. We know how this vote will result, and a continuation of the debate would be neither more nor less than a waste of time. There is urgent necessity that we should settle down to do the work of the people who sent us here.

A good deal has been said about repudiation by honorable members on both sides of the chamber. I noticed a moment ago that when I said that I did not intend to speak at great length an honorable member opposite said “ hear, hear !” He happened to be a returned soldier. Unfortunately, the honorable member is standing shoulder to shoulder with those who are ready to sacrifice the interests of the returned soldiers and their dependents, as well as of others in the community who are drawing pensions from the Government. For my own part, I have come here with the object of advocating a definite financial policy which has received the endorsement of the electors of East Sydney, and I shall avail myself of every opportunity that is afforded me of advocating this policy, in the hope that it may be speedily put into effect. A lot has been said, particularly by honorable members on the Opposition benches, about meeting obligations. I believe in meeting obligations. I have obligations to the people of Australia, and I intend to meet them to the best of my ability. Honorable members opposite appear to think that their only obligations are to Australian and overseas bondholders. In this connexion I believe that sooner or later the Lang financial plan will have to be .adopted by Australia. The people will force its adoption. They are sick and tired of the failure of this Parliament to. act in their interests. The suffering masses of the people will rise up and destroy this Parliament, or put it aside unless it at once does something to relieve their distresses. Let the members of this Parliament go outside and tell the people the truth about our financial position. If this Government is a real force in the community let it assert itself. It is high time that it did something for the people. So far as I can see, honorable members are too busy looking after their own interests to pay any attention to the interests of the community.

As a Labour man, I shall never believe that any Labour Government has justified its existence if it sacks a single man in any industry. That is my considered opinion. I shall vote against this motion. In the near future a definite financial policy will be enunciated. Let me say to those honorable members who were returned to this Parliament as industrialists to represent the industrialists in this community, that the test will be applied to them in due course. If they prove weak the Labour movement will know how to deal with them. The test will assuredly be applied. The Labour movement is big enough to adjust its own differences. I do not propose to lend myself to those who are simply seeking to destroy this movement. “We shall settle our own troubles and eventually, I hope, put a Labour Government in power which will do something for the people, and of which we shall be able to say, “Here, at last, is a government which will do something.”

Motion (by Mr. Scullin) - put -

That the question be now put.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker: Hon. Norman Makin.)

AYES: 38

NOES: 33

Majority . . 5

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Question - That the motion be agreed to- put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker: Hon. Norman Makin.)

AYES: 33

NOES: 38

Majority 5

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the negative.

Motion negatived.

page 254

PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– I have received communications from the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) and from the Assistant Minister (Mr. Holloway) resigning their positions as members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.

Motion (by Mr. Scullin) - by leave - agreed to -

That the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) and the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Tully) be appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works in the places of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) and the Assistant Minister (Mr. Holloway), resigned.

page 255

PAPER

The following paper was presented: -

Postmaster-General’s Department - Twentieth Annual Report, 1929-30

Ordered to be printed.

page 255

ADJOURNMENT

Personnel of Standing Committees - Chairman of Committees - Talking Picture Recording Apparatus - Dismissals from Garden Island: Case of Mr. E. G. Howarth - Port Macquarie Post Office: Drainage - Lighting Equipment : Remission of Duty - Buffalo Fly - Position of Wheat-growers’ Moratorium : Amendment of Bankruptcy Act - Sugar Industry : Report of Committee - Wool Sales: Rise in Prices - Land Values and Taxation - Price of Petrol.

Motion (by Mr. Scullin) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

.- I understand that the Government’s representation on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works has been changed, and that, according to a paragraph which appeared in the press some time ago, the Chairman of Committees (Mr. McGrath) is to be succeeded by the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham). Although the personnel of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Public Accounts is also to be changed, the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) did not move a motion as he did in connexion with the Public Works Committee, or make any reference to the proposals of the Government regarding the chairmanship of committees. Caucus has carried certain resolutions, but apparently the Government is afraid to give effect to them. According to the press, the positions on the Accounts Committee now held by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Guy) and the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Chifley) are to be taken by two other honorable members. I can understand the honorable member for Macquarie resigning his position, as he is now a member of the Ministry, but I do not know why the honorable member for Bass should sever his connexion with the committee. It is understood the places of these two honorable members are to be. taken by the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Rowe) and the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan). I sincerely trust that the honorable member for Bass will not resign his position, seeing that, during the last twelve months, he was a member of the committee when it conducted a valuable and exhaustive investigation into the financial position of Tasmania.

Mr Martens:

– And as a member of that committee the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) made a name for himself.

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– At any rate, the judge said that I was a truthful witness. Following upon the presentation of a report on the financial disabilities of Tasmania, and as a result of the resolution passed at a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers in August last, the Public Accounts Committee was instructed to conduct an investigation into the financial position of South Australia. Up to the present the honorable member for Bass has taken a very prominent and useful part in that investigation. As caucus has decided that the places of the two honorable members I have mentioned shall be taken by two others, why did not the Prime Minister move for the appointment of two other members? Apparently two members of the Public Works Committee have been sufficiently weak to resign. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), who has been appointed to the Public Works Committee, was excluded from caucus yesterday.

Mr Lacey:

– That is not so. .

Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who is supported by the honorable member for Werriwa, was informed that he cannot attend meetings of the caucus. Where is the courage of the Government? Why does it not go fearlessly ahead, as the Prime Minister said he proposed to do? What action is to be taken regarding the positions of the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Guy) and the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath)? In declining to nominate members for the Public Accounts Committee, in order to complete its personnel, the Prime Minister is showing that lack of courage which he displayed on his return to Australia, and when he fell into the net of the communists of East Sydney. Does the right honorable gentleman propose to move that the position of Chairman of Committees be declared vacant, and that the honorable member for Gwydir be elected to that position? Does he propose to fill one or two of the vacancies on the Accounts Committee, or proceed slowly in order to see the way in which the political situation develops?

Mr FORDE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Capricornia · ALP

– I wish to make a brief statement in regard to certain misrepresentation that appeared in a recent issue of Smith’s Weekly.

In its issue of the 14th March, 193.1, Smith’s Weekly gave publicity to the decision to allow admission under by-law of a complete talking picture recording apparatus for making talkies, imported by Mr. F. W. Thring for the studio production of feature films in Australia. For the benefit of Smith’s Weekly readers I accept that journal’s invitation to explain the reasons for the concession.

The decision permitted the admission of the plant on payment of a duty of 10 per cent, ad valorem, and the amount of duty paid was £1,487. If the concession had not been granted the duty payable would have been £3,723. Hence it will “be seen that the concession amounted to £2,236, and not to £6,000 as was definitely stated by Smith’s Weekly.

Mr. Turing’s application was strongly supported by the Australian Theatrical and Amusement Employees’ Association, Melbourne, and a deputation from that organization led by Mr. E. J. Holloway, M.P., stressed the amount of employment which would be given in the event of the successful establishment of studio production of talking pictures of a high standard in Australia. The Australian , Society of Authors, Melbourne, was impressed by the advantages that would accrue to Australian authors in the event of Mr. Thring’s enterprise being successful, and made representations favouring some concession in duty, on the grounds that there was no Australian machine technically suitable to make talkies up to the best American standard.

That the decision to admit the studio plant under by-law was not a hasty one is indicated by the fact that the complete investigation into the manufacture of equipment for the production of talking pictures in Australia occupied approximately three months. The weight of evidence gathered by the investigation favoured the admission of the feature film equipment under by-law, though it was definitely established that Australian portable outfits for news reel production gave satisfactory results. Admission under by-law of a portable equipment for the production of news reels has been refused. I presume that orders for those outfits will be given to Australian manufacturers. To establish the production of feature talking films in Australia on a successful basis, on which project Mr. Thring has spent £20,000 of his own money, it is necessary to cater for the export market, and successful competition in that market can be achieved only by the use of the best equipment.

It is assumed by Smith’s Weekly that the question of possible trouble in regard to patents, which arose in connexion with the investigation of Australian talking picture equipment, influenced the decision; but this aspect of the matter was totally disregarded in determining Mr. Thring’s application.

Recently, in an endeavour to establish the moving picture industry in Australia, the Government offered prizes of £9,000 for the production of feature films, and £lj000 for scenarios, but its efforts in that direction were not very successful. Mr. Thring’s project is the first definite move to establish talking picture production in Australia on a large scale, and he is not doing it with shareholders’ money, but is risking his private capital.

Dr Earle Page:

– Can the Minister state whether these machines can be made in Australia?

Mr FORDE:

– I have said that a machine of a sufficiently high standard for taking news reels can be made in Australia, and that such machines are not being admitted under by-law. The investigation officers reported that, for the high quality work in a studio, which involves the taking of the top notes of a violin or a piccolo, the standard of the Australian machine is not up to that of the American. As Mr. Thring has to compete with the highest class of American pictures, he must have the best production.

In February, before a decision had been arrived at, Smith’s Weekly wrote an article supporting the Australian apparatus. As it was realized that ‘any decision would be subjected to some criticism no matter which party it favoured, the whole matter was placed before a subcommittee of Cabinet, and that committee, after hearing the case put forward by the officer who handled the matter, unanimously decided in favour of granting the concession to Mr. Thring, firmly be lieving that it would not be fair to insist upon the payment of the full amount of duty on the imported apparatus when the Australian apparatus was not completely satisfactory for the purpose.

In the course of its article on talking picture apparatus, Smith’s Weekly claimed full credit for the Government’s decision to remit primage duty on the Archibald Memorial. That memorial takes the form of a beautiful fountain, which is to be erected in Hyde Park, Sydney. It is the gift of the late Mr. Archibald, of the Sydney Bulletin. The concession in this case was approved by Cabinet on the 17th February, 1931; while Smith’s Weekly’s article appealing to Mr. Thring to use his best endeavours on behalf of the Archibald Memorial did not appear until the issue dated the 7th March, 1931, was published. As a matter of fact, the remission of the duty on the Archibald Memorial statue was approved before it was decided to admit Mr. Thring’s apparatus under by-law. The duty has not yet actually been remitted. The amount of it will be placed on the Estimates for the next financial year, and Parliament will have ah opportunity to decide whether it shall or shall not be remitted. As this beautiful French monument is a public bequest to the value of £15,000, I, as Minister for Customs, would not take the responsibility of remitting the duty before allowing Parliament to consider the matter.

Some time ago, this same newspaper alleged that I allowed American shift bosses to come into Queensland to work mines while Australians were out of work. Although I wrote to the editor pointing out that I did not handle such matters in my department, and that the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Blakeley) had made a satisfactory explanation of his reasons for the action taken, my reply was not published; therefore it is probably too much to expect that it will publish this statement.

Mr LATHAM:
Kooyong

– I wish to bring to the notice of the House what I regard as a case of flagrant tyranny and injustice. I do not generally raise individual cases on the floor of this chamber ; and in any event I have always communicated my intention to do so to the Minister concerned.

This case concerns the dismissal of a man at Garden Island in circumstances that I have set out in a letter that, on the 2nd February last, I addressed to the right honorable the Prime Minister, of which I have received only the most formal acknowledgment. My letter reads - 2nd February, 1931.

The Eight Hon. the Prime Minister,

Canberra, F.C.T

Dear Sir, - Representations have been made to me with respect to the proposed dismissal of Mr. E. E. Howarth from his position at Garden Island. Mr. Howarth has been doing responsible work for thirteen years without any suggestion from any quarter that he has not done his work efficiently and loyally. In 1917 a number of the men at Garden Island ceased work with the object and result of impeding the dispatch of transports from Australia to Europe. Members of the union concerned never had an opportunity of discussing or voting on the matter. The captain in charge and the Naval Board promised that those men who continued to perform their duty and honour their obligation to the nation as a whole would be found work as long as any work was being done at Garden Island. Mr. Howarth remained at work, and consequently was expelled from the union.

A direction has recently been given, the effect of which is that all employees who are not returned soldiers or sailors must join the union or be dismissed irrespective of their efficiency. Mr. Howarth applied for membership of the union over six months ago. The executive of the union professes that it is still considering his application. In the meantime, unless some special step is taken to see that Mr. Howarth is justly treated, he will be dismissed in pursuance of the direction given from your department through the Naval Board.

If any of the facts to which I have referred in this letter are incorrect I would be obliged to have an accurate statement of them.

If not, I would be glad to know whether you will give consideration to the matter in order to avoid perpetrating an injustice.

Yours faithfully,

The reply that I received was signed on behalf of the Prime Minister by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), and was in the following terms : -

I desire to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 2nd February in regard to the case of Mr. E. E. Howarth, Garden Island, Sydney.

This is a man to whom the Commonwealth owes a special obligation. It is laid down that, before he can continue in his employment, he shall join a union. That is not the particular principle that I am raising at the moment, because it is not involved in the case. He applies to join the union, but his application is postponed, and postponed until he is dismissed. The Government of the Commonwealth holds its hand, and allows the officers of the union to deprive this man of his livelihood. I contend that this is a proper case to bring before this House, so that it may be seen how this union, at all events, exercises the extraordinary power which has been placed in its hands by a Government that just barely holds office.

Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney

– It is reported to me that the Naval Board, through one of its officers, intends to replace a number of civilians at Garden Island with naval ratings. This is a serious matter to the men concerned, of whom I am informed there are about 4-0. They are naturally perturbed; and I should be pleased if the Minister for Defence (Mr. Chifley) would so adjust the matter as to continue the naval ratings at the work which they were engaged to do, so that they will not take the place of civilians who have been working on Garden Island for a number of years. I particularly request that the matter be regarded as urgent.

Dr EARLE PAGE:
Cowper

.- I wish to raise a matter that affects the health of the community at Port Macquarie. The drain which carries away the waste water from the local post office and the dwelling ‘adjoining it is in a very bad state at the present time, and causes a great deal of stagnant water to collect. The smell is most offensive, and in addition to being a menace to the health of the people in the vicinity, is a breeding ground for blow-flies. The municipal council states that the complaint of the people affected is thoroughly justified, and asks that action be taken immediately to remove the cause of it. My reason for raising the matter in this House is that if it went through the ordinary channels action might be delayed. I ask the Minister to expedite it, because we are in the middle of summer, which is usually, the period when a lot of trouble is associated with such evil-smelling places.

The Minister for Customs deserves commendation for the action he has taken in regard to the duty on the talking picture recording apparatus imported by Mr. F. W. Thring. I ask that similar generosity and liberality be extended to other machines that are required in Australia, especially those connected with the lighting equipment of many of our municipalities, which at the present time are very heavily penalized because of the claim that a machine which will in some degree fill the bill can be made in Australia. In such cases it is generally found that only a portion of the equipment can be made in Australia, and frequently even that is not satisfactory. It is well known that it is advisable to have the whole of the equipment installed at the one time.

Mr MARTENS:
Herbert

.- A day or two prior to the last long adjournment I asked the Minister for Home Affairs if he would get in touch with the Ministers concerned in the different States in connexion with the spread of the buffalo fly. Two or three days ago 7 discussed this matter with scientists in this Territory, and was advised that unless action was taken within the next three or four weeks the cattle in the closely populated areas of the northern State would be attacked by the buffalo fly, and that that would critically affect the cattle industry. Has the Minister for Home Affairs made any inquiries in the matter; if he has, what is the result of them ?

Mr STEWART:
Wimmera

.- I understand that representation has been made to the Government by various farmers’ organizations, and also by various State Governments, regarding the shocking plight of wheat-growers. The representations refer to a desired amendment of the Federal Bankruptcy Act to permit those Governments to pass moratorium legislation to protect the interests of the wheat-growers. I introduced a deputation in, I think, September last to the then Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fenton), on behalf of the Victorian wheat-growers, and he replied that the Government would give sympathetic consideration to any proposal for an amendment of the Federal Bankruptcy Act with the object mentioned. This is a very urgent matter, as it affects the growers in the four wheat-producing States. This pathetic request results from the action of a section of creditors of wheat-growers, who are taking unfair advantage of the necessitous condition of the farmers. I urge that the Government should give prompt consideration to this request. I do not intend at this juncture to raise the general subject of the condition of the wheat-growers of Australia. The appalling amount of unemployment and the plight of the wheat-growers of this country are tragic.

Last year the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin), on behalf of the people, made a powerful appeal to the wheat-growers to plant every possible acre. This appeal was issued from the public platform, through wireless broadcasting stations, and through the columns of the press, and the wheat-growers responded to it by producing a magnificent crop. Legislation was introduced and passed in this House, but, unfortunately, it was blocked in another place, for the purpose of assisting the growers. First of all a guarantee of 4s. a bushel was given, and, later, a bill providing for the payment of 3s. a bushel was passed by this House before Christmas. For some reason, which I think the Prime Minister ought to give, that measure was abandoned. He should tell us this afternoon whether the Commonwealth Bank was unable to provide the necessary money. Another reason given for the abandonment of the bill was that it was unconstitutional. But I think that the Prime Minister should now give us specific reasons for dropping a measure that had been accepted by an overwhelming majority in both Houses. The wheat-growers, unfortunately, have been left high and dry.

We have the tragic spectacle of men and women, who hewed a home out of the bush 30 or 40 years ago, being made bankrupt to-day, and even driven off their holdings, by unscrupulous creditors. Their morale has been shattered; their credit has gone; and the various State Governments have been compelled to bring forward moratorium legislation to prevent them from being thrown to the wolves. This Parliament, and this Government, particularly, is under an obligation to come to the rescue of the growers. I admit that the Government has tried to do something to help them; but the fact remains that nothing practicable has been done. The latest quotations in London for our wheat are 19s. 5d. and 19s. 7d. a quarter for future deliveries. The price of wheat in London to-day is 2s. 51/2d. a bushel. That is a tragic position.

Mr Lazzarini:

– Why not deal with the cause of it?

Mr STEWART:

– I have repeatedly said that the Government has made an honest attempt to assist the growers.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Would not the Senate opposition obstruct any legislation similar to the hill that it threw out last year?

Mr STEWART:

– If the Government finds itself blocked by the banks or by the Senate, why does it not leave the treasury bench, and make room for others who will assist the necessitous farmers? I am not questioning the sympathy of the Ministry with the wheatgrowers; but the Minister for Markets knows that under present circumstances, his Government can do nothing for them. They can look for nothing from this Ministry or from this Parliament.

Mr.LACEY. - Could any other Government obtain the accommodation from the banks which the present Ministry was refused ?

Mr STEWART:

– I do not know. I have drawn attention to something that the Government can do. It can give heed to the request for an amendment to the Federal Bankruptcy Act in so far as it may prevent the passage by the State Parliaments of moratorium legislation with the object of keeping wheat-growers on their blocks, and preventing more of them from being thrown to the wolves.

Mr Lazzarini:

– That would be said to be repudiation of their debts.

Mr STEWART:

– No, the farmers will stand by their obligations; but in cases in which they are at present unable to pay their interest they deserve every assistance. I urge the Government to give this matter prompt consideration.

Mr CHIFLEY:
Minister for Defence · MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I am unaware of the circumstances mentioned by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), but I shall look into the matter, and have a full inquiry made.

Mr FRANCIS:
Moreton

.- Can the Prime Minister inform the House when the report of the committee that inquired into the sugar industry will be presented to Parliament? With honorable members on both sides of the House I was .present at a deputation at which the Prime Minister said he proposed to appoint a committee to investigate the position of the industry, and saw no good reason why the committee should not furnish its report early in November. Has that report been received and considered by the Government, and when will a statement be made regarding it? If the report has not been submitted, will the Prime Minister take steps to expedite its completion?

Mr YATES:
Adelaide

.- The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) should have frankly told the House why the wheat-farmers are in their present parlous condition. Will he, with as much vehemence as he has displayed this afternoon, go to his organization, and state the cause of the wheatgrowers’ plight? Even the removal of the present Government from office would not alter the desire of the Nationalist, majority in the Senate to maintain its grip upon the poor farmers. Honorable members opposite all received letters in purple ink from wheat agents such as Darling’s, Dreyfus and Company, Bungy’s and Dalgety’s, when the guarantee of 4s. a bushel was proposed. Those agents said they could attend to the needs of the farmers, and if the harvest were three times as great as this season, they could finance it with money obtained by telegraphic transfer from abroad. What are these agents doing for the growers now ? They have had the farmers’ business through all the good seasons. When I was at the late war, my wife wrote to me stating that she had had to pay 13s. 3d. a ‘ bushel for wheat for her fowls. The farmers declared that they had not received such a price. The wheat agents profited by that, but what are they now doing to assist the farmers ?

The Public Accounts Committee recently took evidence at Kimba, in South Australia, where an effort is being made to place men on the land. But the. settlers are located too far from the centres of population. The trouble is that all the good land has been “soonerized,” as the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) well knows. These unfortunate farmers are struggling in a district that has a precarious rainfall, and they are working as well as the best of our pioneers; but the South Australian Government is already involved to the extent of £1,500,000, which it will never be able to recover from those farmers. The biggest burden that the settlers have to bear is the interest on the capital cost of their land, and over and above that, they have to meet heavy expenditure on implements and fertilizers. The farmers tell us that they are charged rates of interest up to 15 per cent. That is how they are being treated by their “ friends.” The farmers are not being exploited by the wharf labourers or the railway men - these have to do their jobs properly or be “ fired.” When the Labour party tries to get assistance from the interests that grow fat on the farmers, it is accused of adopting socialistic measures.

The speech made by the honorable member for Wimmera this afternoon should have been addressed to his own constituents. It is the existing system that is throttling the primary producers and nothing can be done for them until that system is changed. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) has said that money can be created only by wealth. I could quote some wealth statistics but shall refrain from doing so until we are dealing with the fiduciary issue. Last week, I saw a cartoon from America depicting a Kansas farmer being smothered by his own wheat. I say again that the point of saturation is being rapidly reached and that we must face the position, but when I have propounded a reasonable fool-proof scheme, it has not proved acceptable.

Mr Gabb:

– The Treasurer did hot say that it was a reasonable one.

Mr YATES:

– I shall win the Treasurer over to my way of thinking. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) has made a speech which he could have made during .the no-confidence debate. The present Government cannot be accused of not having tried to do what it thought best for the wheat-growers.

Mr Hill:

– Why has it not honoured its promises?

Mr YATES:

– Ask Sir Robert Gibson, John Darling, Bunge, any of the implement manufacturers, the Employers Federation or the chambers of commerce. The position to-day is that the farmer cannot live although he’ is producing more than he requires.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah

– I desire to support the plea put forward by the Leader of the Opposition for a certain man who has been discharged from his employment at Garden Island, and I also should be obliged if the Government would look into the matter. I have already brought under the notice of the Minister for Defence and the Prime- Minister, the case of twelve men, the survivors of 24 who remained at work while a strike was in progress when transports were loading and who were definitely promised that they would be retained in their work. They were unionists of good standing, they were not seeking to join a union and they have been dismissed despite a definite and, I submit, binding promise made to them when they stood by the State. Without labouring the question at this stage, all I’ ask is that the Prime Minister will give some personal consideration to the matter and see if evenhanded justice is being given to these men. I submit that it is not and that it should be.

Mr GIBBONS:
Calare

.- I wish to draw attention to an extraordinary position that has arisen in connexion with the sale of our wool. No doubt all honorable members have recently noticed that there has been a definite rise in values here and in London, and it is most important that the mau who produces the wool in this country, particularly the small grazier, should receive whatever benefit there is in this rise in values. Commenting on the present situation the Daily Telegraph this morning said -

The speculation appears to hare been a remarkably good one for merchants as the wool gets the benefit of the exchange as well as the rise in value.

On the latest London sales, compared

Avith the price paid in Sydney for WOO not yet sold to manufacturers, a profit of as much as 50 per cent, has gone to speculators. On the aggregate, it exceeds £8,000,000. If there had been a system in operation enabling the wool-growers themselves to secure the advantage of any rise in values, they would thus have received this £S,000,000. This matter is of vital importance to our wool-growersEven on the small stocks 11OW in hand, the increase in value represents more than £1,500,000. I trust that these facts will bring to the attention of the authorities the need for some organization by which any increase in the value of Australian products will be secured to the producing interests. Realizing the financial adversity in Australia, and that the price of WOOl could not go lower than it Avas some months ago, while there was a general demand for Wool tops in London and on the continent speculators could buy freely without any risk.

Mr KILLEN:
Riverina

.- I wish to bring under the attention of the Prime Minister a very serious injustice that is being done to a large number of land-holders throughout Australia whose interests the Government professes to have at heart. Although, with the drop in the price of produce, land values have slumped to the extent of between 30 per cent, and 60 per cent., they have actually been raised for taxation purposes. I do not like to impute motives, but it does appear to me as if the taxation authorities are determined to bleed the land.owners to the last drop of blood. This year, many people will not be able to pay their ordinary land tax on the old basis let alone pay very much more on the new valuations. I trust that the matter will be looked into by the Government and that the valuers will be 262 Adjournment. [REPRESENTATIVES.] Adjournment. instructed to reduce valuations in conformity with the actual value of the land at the present time.

Mr LACEY:
Grey

– I desire to deal with the subject raised by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart), but from a different angle. The honorable member has asked the Government to consider an alteration of the Bankruptcy Act with a view to assisting the farmers who have failed on the land during the last two years. It is not so much an alteration of the. Bankruptcy Act that I should like; I want something to be done very quickly so that the wheat-grower will not be left in the air one minute more than necessary. The honorable member for Wimmera has emphasized what the Government has done, and is prepared to give credit for what it has attempted to do for the wheat industry in Australia, and it would be well for the Government and for the country also if Ministers advertised more freely what they did attempt to do. But be that as it may, all attempts on the part of the Government have failed, and in my electorate, half, if not three-fifths, of the wheat-growers are in a very parlous plight to-day. They have fallowed land and hope within from four to six weeks to sow it. Should rain come, the sowing time may be earlier, but they do not know where they stand. A report has appeared in the local press in the last day or two to the effect that the State Government intends to introduce legislation, the effectiveness of which will be contingent upon legislation passed by this Parliament. To some extent that appears to me to be wrong. It will be wrong if it misleads the people into believing that something will be done for them, or if it causes them to mortgage their holdings to any greater extent than they are at present mortgaged. Since the Treasurer made his statement that the Government intended to make another effort to do something to assist the farmers, the Minister for Markets (Mr. Parker Moloney) has also referred to the matter. I notice that several members of the Country party in South Australia have indicated that this form of assistance will be acceptable if it can be granted speedily.

Mr Gabb:

– They were not members of the parliamentary Country party.

Mr LACEY:

– I did not say that they were ; but Mr. Hawke and Mr. Tuck, who are prominent members of the Country party in South Australia, have both made statements to this effect. Of course, I do not expect the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) to agree with anything that I say; but the fact is that these gentlemen have said that the proposed fiduciary issue would be acceptable in South Australia if it could be expedited. Members of the parliamentary Nationalist party in South Australia - men of conservative opinion at that - have also indicated that they will be prepared to accept the Treasurer’s proposal provided that action is taken quickly. I trust therefore that the Prime Minister will give an assurance that no time will be lost in introducing this legislation. I believe that the New South Wales Government, like the South Australian Government, is Introducing measures which really are to be consequent upon measures passed by this Parliament.

Mr Gibbons:

– That is so.

Mr LACEY:

– This all shows how necessary it is that no delay should occur in securing the passage of the fiduciary issue bill. Many of our farmers are absolutely dependent upon the assistance that they will obtain by this means.

In the dying hours of last session I asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) what was being done in regard to the petrol inquiry. Ir is high time that we heard something about this matter. I trust that an inquiry is also being made into the relations which exist between the Commonwealth Oil Refineries and other petrol companies. In passing, let me say that prior to the last recess I inquired from the Acting Minister the wholesale price of C.O.R. at Port Adelaide and was later informed of the retail price, which was not what I wanted. An inquiry should be made to ascertain whether the people of Australia are being exploited by the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, as well as by the other petrol companies. There is undoubted evidence that all the oil companies are acting in concert in South Australia. On the very day that the price of Plume, Shell and other imported spirits was increased, the price of C.O.R. petrol also increased. This surely indicates that there is collusion between the companies. An inquiry should be undertaken by some authority with power to call for papers and documents, and to require evidence on oath to ascertain what the exact position is. Perhaps the inquiry could be referred to a sectional committee of the Public Accounts Committee, or some other committee. I trust that immediate attention will be given to this matter.

Mr BERNARD CORSER:
Wide Bay

– Reference has been made to the inquiry into the sugar industry. The reason why the sugar-growers of Queensland desire a speedy announcement of the Government’s intention in regard to the industry is that it will have an important bearing upon the area that will be put under crop next season. It will be apparent to the Prime Minister, therefore, that any unnecessary delay in making the announcement should be avoided. All negotiations are at present held up. I therefore ask the Government to expedite a decision on this- subject.

Mr BLAKELEY:
Minister for Home Affairs · Darling

– The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) and the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) referred to the spread of the bufflalo-fly pest in North Queensland. I wish to say that a conference was held in Canberra recently on this subject between representatives of the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments. A long discussion occurred on the proposal to establish a buffer area with the object of preventing the spread of the pest. The Government regards with apprehension the fact that this insect has advanced 80 miles within twelve months, and is now approaching Burketown. If it reaches any one of the rail heads in Queensland it will undoubtedly be carried south by cattle sent to the abattoirs and horses sent to other destinations. It may even come down as far as the Hunter River in New South Wales and cause millions of pounds worth of damage to stock in thatState. It has been agreed that scientific officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research shall make a survey of the whole matter, but the question of establishing a buffer area is at present being inquired into by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments. We are fully alive to the necessity of doing everything possible to eradicate this pest, and I am now awaiting further information on the subject from the Queensland Government.

Mr A GREEN:
PostmasterGeneral · KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– The complaint made by the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Page) in regard to the Port Macquarie post office will be inquired into, and I shall see what can be done to give effect to the request that he has made.

Mr SCULLIN:
Prime Minister · Yarra · ALP

– The dismissal of the man from Garden Island, to which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) referred, is being inquired into. It will be realized that many of the letters that come to my department are handled for me by other Ministers, and this particular matter has just come under my personal notice.

I have asked the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) to inquire into the subject of electric lighting equipment referred to by the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Page).

I must confess that I am disappointed that the report of the Sugar Investigation Committee, referred to by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) and the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) has not come to hand long ago. As soon as I returned from abroad I asked the committee to expedite the completion of its report. I am hopeful that it will come to hand within a few days.

Certain aspects of the sale of our wool, to which the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Gibbons) directed attention, were brought under my notice only this morning by the Minister for Markets and Transport (Mr. Parker Moloney). The Government is looking into the matter to see whether something cannot be done to meet the position.

The subject of land value assessments, referred to by the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen), has also been brought under my notice by the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) within the last few days. The Commissioner of Taxation has been asked to look into the whole matter with a view to furnishing an explanation of it. I assure the honorable member that it is not the policy of the Government to fix unduly high values on land for taxation purposes merely because of our unfavorable revenue position.We desire only that the values shall be fair. I believe that that also is the desire of the officers of the Taxation Department. The matter will be looked into, however, and further information supplied to the honorable member.

A good deal has been said in regard to the wheat position, first by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart), and later by the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey), the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), and others. The honorable member for Wimmera was quite fair in his comments. He gave the Government credit for having made an honest attempt to assist the wheatgrowers, and said that its first effort failed because the bill was defeated in another place. The honorable member went on to ask what was being done in regard to the 3s. guarantee, a measure to provide for which was passed by both Houses of Parliament. It will be remembered that the money was to be found by the Commonwealth Bank upon a Government guarantee. The bank authorities subsequently informed the Government that it could not constitutionally advance money within the terms of that legislation. Its legal advisers had informed it that an appropriation for that purpose would be unconstitutional. The Government thereupon obtained a second legal opinion which, while differing from the first in some respects, agreed with it to the extent that the bank had no legal power to advance this money. I do not propose to discuss this question at any length at the moment; but I must say that, if these legal opinions are correct, a good many things have been done by this Parliament in the last twenty years which have been unconstitutional. But the fact remains that the bank would not make the advances required. It has now been suggested that the Government should issue a special loan for the purpose of providing money for the payment of a bounty of 6d. per bushel on wheat, which would make the return to the farmers approximately what it would have been had the guaranteed price of 3s. been paid. The Loan Council and the representatives of the States agreed that £2,500,000 should be provided for specially needy cases, and that the Commonwealth Government should provide for the payment of the bounty. Owing to the difficulty of getting on to the loan market, the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) and I approached the Commonwealth Bank Board to ascertain if it would make available bank advances to provide £6,000,000, pending a suitable approach to the loan market. We were assured that the bank could not do that as the calls which were then being made upon it were as much as it could meet. We also requested that certain money should be made available to relieve unemployment, as suggested by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart). As funds were not available the Government has been forced to seek legislative authority for a fiduciary note issue which will be discussed next week. I can assure the honorable member for Grey that as far as the Government is concerned the discussion on this subject will be expedited. The measure will be introduced by the Treasurer on Tuesday next, and pushed on as speedily as possible. The question raised by the honorable member for Wimmera was what action the Government proposed to take if it was thwarted by the Senate and by the Commonwealth Bank. In that case, it was said, we should be in a hopeless position. I am not anxious to remain in office in a hopeless position, but I should like to know if the banks would open their treasuries if another government came into office. Would the banks be more liberal in their advances if a change of government took place ?

Mr Gullett:

– Yes, if confidence is restored.

Mr SCULLIN:

– If that is so why did not the previous Government come to the assistance of the wheat-growers by providing wheat pools?

Mr Latham:

– The present position did not exist.

Mr SCULLIN:

– The depression was not as great; but the need for a wheat marketing bill has existed for years.

Mr Latham:

– That is purely a matter of opinion ; this is a matter of national emergency.

Mr SCULLIN:

– The establishment of pools is an urgent necessity. The Leader of the Opposition was not willing to express his opinion by voting against the Wheat Marketing Bill–

Mr Latham:

– I spoke in most unambiguous language concerning it.

Mr SCULLIN:

– But the Leader of the Opposition was not prepared to express his opinion by a vote, which is the only record that counts effectively in this House. He did not call for a division on the second reading of the bill. Why? Because of the conflict of opinion between the Nationalist party and the Country party. Although the Country party was closely associated with the Nationalist party while in office for years, it never moved for the establishment of a wheat pool. We, at least, tried to pass through both Houses the bill providing for a pool but it was blocked by the Opposition party in the Senate. In view of these facts we cannot hope that a change of government would result in any benefit to the wheat-growers since honorable members opposite, who were in office for years, did nothing to help them. I should like to inform the honorable member for Wimmera and the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey), and others who take a keen interest in the welfare of the farming community, that this Government will carry out the promises made if they will see that we obtain sufficient support to carry our legislation. The measure which the Treasurer proposes to introduce on Tuesday next could, if honorable members in both branches of the legislature were agreeable, he disposed of in two weeks. Some honorable members opposite are prepared only to talk, and to deny support to this Government in its effort to do all it can to assist the wheat-growers.

Mr Lacey:

– Honorable members opposite have been making party politics out of the sorry plight of the wheatgrowers.

Mr Latham:

– That has been the attitude of the Government and its supporters.

Mr SCULLIN:

– No one can accuse the Minister for Markets and Transport (Mr. Parker Moloney), of making party politics out of the wheat marketing legislation introduced in this chamber.

Mr Latham:

– His speeches consisted of nothing but abuse of the Opposition.

Mr SCULLIN:

– I do not share that view. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham), has done nothing but make party politics of every subject brought forward for discussion by this Government.

Mr Latham:

– That was the attitude of the Prime Minister when he was in Opposition.

Mr SCULLIN:

– Not to the same extent. The Wheat Marketing Bill first introduced was defeated in the Senate, and effect could not be given to the second measure because of the interpretation placed upon it, the subsequent refusal of the bank to make advances under it, and our inability to go on the loan market. The legislation to be introduced next week will provide the Government with the necessary credit to assist the wheatgrowers.

The Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan) has asked me to say that he will look into the question regarding our Bankruptcy Law, and advise the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) immediately.

In reply to the points raised by the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Lacey), concerning the price of petrol, I may state that during my absence the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fenton), appointed an officer from the Auditor-General’s Department and one from the Trade and Customs Department to conduct an investigation. An interim report, which is of only a skeleton character has been presented. These officers are pursuing their investigations, and if it is found that they have not the authority to conduct a proper inquiry the Government will favorably consider appointing an authority with sufficient powers to obtain all the information that is necessary.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 4.9 p.m. (Friday).

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 March 1931, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1931/19310312_reps_12_128/>.