13th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. H. Mackay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I rise to a personal explanation. Last night, on the motion for the adjournment, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Gullett) made a perfervid and unfair attack on me by stating that I had made misleading statements regarding the tobacco-growing industry. That charge lies, not against me, but against the Minister and the tobacco company - to which he referred. The honorable gentleman stated that the company had written to a grower in Western Australia, “ We are not interested in the purchase of Australian-grown leaf,” and he charged me with having made that passage the basis of an attack on the Government. The company’s letter is in the possession. of the Minister, who should know that the complete sentence reads, “ We would advise that, at the present time, we are not interested in the purchase of Australian-grown leaf.” In view of the company’s subsequent statement to the Minister, that letter is misleading; had the company stated that at no time had it been interested in Australian-grown leaf, its meaning would have been clear. The Minister has charged me with attempting to rake up something unfavorable to the Government; but the comment in the letter from my correspondent was very mild. He said-
– The purpose of a personal explanation is to enable a.n honorable member to correct misrepresentations of which he believes himself to have been the victim. The honorable member for Forrest is really making a further statement in reply to the Minister for Trade and Customs. If that is his desire, he will hare an opportunity on the motion for the adjournment of the House this afternoon.
– I submit that I have already shown clear misrepresentation of my attitude by the Minister for Trade and Customs. If the company’s letter is ambiguous, the fault is not mine. The letter is capable of the interpretation that has been placed upon it, as the Minister would recognize ifhe were fair. I merely presented to the House the view expressed by a correspondent on behalf of other growers in Western Australia, and I asked the Government to investigate the matter. Surely a member is not to be attacked by Ministers for merely discharging the duty he owes to his constituents ! The honorable gentleman made another misleading statement-
– Order ! I again remind the honorable member that the right of personal explanation is a privilege extended to honorable members to enable them to correct misrepresentation. The honorable member may not abuse that privilege in order to argue a subject.
– I have dealt with two mispresentations by the Minister, and as you, Mr. Speaker, have cramped my style, I cannot pursue the matter further.
– On a personal explanation. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) yesterday read an extract from a letter written by a tobacco company to a grower in Western Australia, in which the company stated that “ at the present time “ it was not interested in the purchase of Australian leaf. On the basis of that statement, the honorable member launched an attack on the Government, claiming that the letter was evidence that the Government’s tariff policy in regard to tobacco was reducing the price to be paid this year to growers. He said that the passage quoted by his correspondent indicated the disposition of manufacturers to’ lower prices immediately. I explained last night that the company had never yet bought one pound of Australian tobacco, and that the words “ at the present time “ merely indicated that in future the company may be interested in the purchase of Australian leaf. That I believe to be the case. The honorable member’s attack was without justification ; before making such a statement to the House he might have had the courtesy to refer the matter to my department.
– To relieve the uncertainty and anxiety of tobacco-growers regarding their future, will the Prime Minister arrange for this House to reassemble immediately after Easter in order to decide what protection the industry shall have?
– I have already given to the House the definite assurance that this industry will be further considered in the light of representations made during the debate on Tuesday last. Inquiries are being made into the circumstances of the industry, and the necessary information will not be available soon enough to enable us to call the House together to deal with the subject immediately after Easter. If this problem is to be considered thoroughly, ample time for investigation must be allowed.
– I have received the following letter from the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce: -
I have the honour, by direction, to confirm telegram despatched you this afternoon, containing resolutions as follow: -
Cotton. - That this chamber records its emphatic protest against the alteration of duties on cotton yarns at the present time owing to the damaging effect which this will have on primary producers engaged in the production of cotton. The direct effect of the change of duty is going to be a reduction in the already meagre returns received by cotton-growers. The industry is a big employer of labour, and for this reason alone deserves special consideration. Disorganization at the present time is most inopportune as the harvesting of the crop has just commenced.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has had sufficient parliamentary experience to know that questions are intended to elicit, not to give, information, and that the making of statements by reading lengthy extracts from letters is not in order. If the honorable member desires to base a question upon a letter he must summarize its contents.
– The Brisbane Chamber of Commerce, which is not noted for being a protectionist body, has transmitted a resolution protesting against the reduction of the duty on cotton yarn. In view of the fact that the gross return to cotton-growers last seasonwas only about £8 an acre, I ask the Prime Minister whether he will extendto that industry the same courtesy as he extended to tobacco-growers, and receive at Canberra a deputation from the cotton industry before the tariff schedule is discussed in this chamber?
– I shall be glad to receive such a deputation.
– In view of the public interest in proposed legislation against unlawful associations, will the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral inform the House whether the necessary bill has been drafted, and when it will be introduced ?
– Government policy is not usually announced by reply to questions. I can only assure the honorable member that legislation on the subject he has mentioned will be introduced at such time as the Government considers most appropriate.
– Having regard to the conflicting nature of the newspaper reports, will the Acting Minister for External Affairs make another of his informative statements to the House concerning the situation in the Ear East?
– I appreciate the honorable member’s tribute to the informative character of my previous statements on the trouble between China and Japan. According to reports in this morning’s newspaper, the prospects in the Far East are more hopeful, but the Government has received no confirmatory cablegrams.
– I ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether the Government will consider the advisability of making available to the Canberra unemployed an area of land where, under supervision, they may grow vegetables for their own sustenance, thus preserving them from the deteriorating effect of continued unemployment, and helping, by example, to solve the unemployment problem generally ?
– A similar suggestion has already been made by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey), and is receiving consideration.
Transfer to Canberra
– Will the Prime Minister sympathetically consider the transfer of at least one Commonwealth department to Canberra during the next financial year ?
– This matter has already been brought to the notice of the Government by a deputation of Canberra citizens, and is receiving consideration.
– Having regard to the hostility shown by some members of the present Ministry, while in Opposition, to the super tax on property income imposed by the Scullin Government, I ask the Assistant Treasurer whether, when the state of the finances permits, he will repeal that impost, and so give relief to the suffering taxpayers ?
– The whole subject of the incidence of taxation will be taken into account when the budget for the coming year is under consideration. I cannot promise relief from taxation generally, but alterations in incidence will have as the principle behind them the doing- of anything that will stimulate and assist in the recovery or development of industry in Australia.
– I have received the following letter from Mr. L. H. Story, of Victoria Barracks, Paddington : -
I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 2nd March, 1932, relative to the supply of a tent to Mr. lj. McCurry of Swansea, and in reply have to advise that, while the names of several charitable organizations for the distribution of unserviceable clothing, &c, have been submitted, their activities are confined to the metropolitan area. The question of the policy to be adopted in regard to distribution to country centres has been referred to Army Head-quarters for direction.
In view of the fact that the distribution of unserviceable clothing is confined to the metropolitan area, what does the Prime Minister intend to do in respect of the provision of clothing and tents for unfortunate people in the country areas who have been evicted from their homes ?
– A great deal of information has already been given to honorable members in reply to questions onhis subject. The Government is entirely sympathetic with the object that the honorable member has in view, and will do all within its power to make available surplus stores for the benefit of the unfortunate unemployed. We desire to make no distinction between metropolitan and country districts. I understand that the surplus clothing is being made available through various charitable organizations.
– And municipal councils.
– In places where municipal councils exist, those bodies carry out the distribution. I assure the honorable member that the country districts will not be overlooked, and I shall confer with the Minister for Defence and the Assistant Minister on the subject.
-Recently I asked the Postmaster-General whether he would give consideration to the operation of the Transport Act of New South Wales in relation to mail contracts in that State, and the disabilities imposed upon contractors by the tax levied on the carriage of parcels andpassengers?
– There have been numerous complaints from postalcontractors regarding the operation of the Transport Act of New South Wales. As those complaints come from so many quarters, and in many cases considerable hardship has been caused, the department will take into consideration, not only the case brought under my notice by the honorable member, but also any cases brought under notice by other honorable members. I hope, in the near future, to be able to make a full statement on the subject.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the New South Wales Labour Government has undertaken to feedthe unfortunate unemployed who were denied food relief by the Commonwealth Government?
Question not answered.
– I have received from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House this morningfor the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz., “ Unemployment “.
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
.- The moving of the adjournment of the House is an action which an honorable member is privileged to take to direct attention to a subject of great importance and urgency. I do not think that any honorable member will deny that the problem of unemployment is important and should be treated with urgency. Therefore, I make no apology for asking honorable members to give their attention for some two hours to this problem, which, in my opinion, transcends in gravity and importance every other confronting us. . It is not to be expected, of course, that a debate, whether it last for two hours or two weeks, will solve this problem. We all have responsibilities in this matter. The Government of the day - like other governments - has the greatest responsibility, but it is the responsibility of all honorable members to indicate where they stand, and the responsibility of the Opposition to show that it is prepared to support the Government and to encourage it in any sound action that it proposes to alleviate distress and remove unemployment. The States are spending millions of pounds on sustenance. There has been some expenditure on works, but so far as the relief of unemployment is concerned, the expenditure has been confined practically to sustenance. Something like £1,000,000 a month is being expended in that direction. It is true that it is the duty of a State to provide sustenance, and in that respect I agree with what was said by the Assistant Treasurer the other evening. It is also true, as has been stated in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, that the bulk of employment is furnished by private enterprise, and; therefore, it has responsibility in respect of unemployment. But I do not agree that this Commonwealth has no responsibility. We must play our part and give our quota towards the partial solution of this problem.
Those associated with me in this Parliament are concerned because the Government, in making replies to questions, has indicated that practically no action to relieve unemployment is to be taken until after a conference of Premiers has met in May. I regret if I have misunderstood the Prime Minister and the Assistant Attorney-General, but the interpretation that I place on their answers to questions is that certain investigations are being made, a sub-committee has been appointed, and the matter will be discussed in a general way at the conference to be held in May. If there is no action to precede that, it is obvious that we shall be in the depth of winter before anything is done. It will take some time to formulate’ plans and to operate them. The position will be appalling this winter if unemployment continues to increase as it is increasing at present. The figures for the last quarter are not available, but reports that I have received are to the effect that during the last two months unemployment has increased. The position did improve during the quarter ending last December, and unemployment decreased from 28.30 per cent. to. 28 per cent. We are likely to revert to the position which obtained last September quarter, towards the end of the winter months. What is the position likely to be for this coming winter? It is obvious that, unless something is done,’ we shall have a greater percentage of unemployment this winter than we have had before in any year in the history of Australia. I wish to stress two things that this Government should do. One is that it should push on with the conference, and not wait until May, and the second is that it should grapple with the whole problem, or as much of it as is possible. I am not ungenerous enough to suggest that this Government can solve the unemployment problem, or that any Commonwealth Government could solve it, but it can play its part towards its solution. I had too much experience of this dreadful nightmare, which hung over my head for the two years of my Prime Ministership, to .ask another Prime Minister or government to do the impossible. But surely if the Government has a plan, action could be taken to call the governments together now, and not wait until May. I ask, further, that in the meantime immediate action be taken to reduce unemployment. I shall anticipate the retort, “ You were in office for two years, and what did you do ‘i “ We did not solve the unemployment problem. No government in the world could have solved the problem in those two years. We took office in 1929, when unemployment was not half so great as it is to-day; but, at that time, there was chaos in this country, and the whole financial structure was falling about our heads. We were right in the centre of an economic and financial blizzard, and jio one in Australia could see the path that the Government should take. Yet, in spite of that, within two months of taking office, we made a grant to the States of £1,000,000 for the relief of unemployment. It has been said that the money belonged to the States because it came from the roads fund, but that is .not correct. It is true that we used funds that had accumulated for road purposes, but it was money that the States were unable, in ordinary circumstances, to accept, unless they were prepared to find £750,000 on their own account. They could not do that. We provided them with £1,000,000, and, at the same time, altered the Roads Agreement to prevent even one penny from being deducted from the moneys allotted to the States. It was a grant from the Commonwealth to the States. The Prime Minister knows that, because he was a member of the Ministry at the time. That action depleted our cash resources by “£1,000,000, and at that time we were unable to afford it. The grant- was made as a palliative, and as some contribution towards the partial solution of this problem. In 1929, just before Christmas, we provided that £1,000,000. Some nine months later we made a similar grant, but the States met in conference and allotted a large portion of it to South Australia, which at that time was suffering more than any other State. That money was used to provide sustenance for the unemployed. Later, we provided £500,000, and that meant that we had made a direct grant to the States of £2,500,000. Apart from that, we expended £250,000 in the Commonwealth public departments, and provided another £100,000 for relief work in our own territories. It was not a big contribution, but it was an indication that the last Government at least recognized that the Commonwealth had a responsibility, and did something towards facing it. This Government, although it has held the reins of office for two months, has done nothing to relieve unemployment. Yet we were in office less than two months when we provided £1,000,000 for that purpose. Surely it is not unreasonable for us to ask the present Government to do at least what we did when we were in office. This Government should be able to do a good deal more than we did, because the position of the Commonwealth is more secure now than it was twelve months ago, and more money should be available. We had then embarked upon an uncharted sea, and were making tremendous efforts to stem the tide which had set in against us. We have now passed through the worst of the storm. The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) has himself truly said in the last few days that the position of Australia is better now than it was eighteen months ago. We have corrected our adverse trade’ balance, and have built up a surplus overseas, because we have been able to stop the flood of imports into this country. I hope that nothing will be done to nullify the good work that has been accomplished in that direction. Having built up this credit overseas there is a greater sense of security, both at home and abroad, in regard to Australian affairs. We shall probably balance our budget by the end of the year. I know that certain fortunate circumstances have arisen, but at least our budget position is manageable, whereas twelve months ago it was un-. manageable. In the light of these facts, it is not unreasonable of us to ask the Government to take immediate action to provide some money for useful works. The State Governments are ready to undertake useful work; they were ready to do so last year when the Premiers Conference carried a resolution asking the banks to advance £5,000,000 for reproductive works. It is not unreasonable, therefore,- for us -to ask that at least that amount of money should now be(, made available. ‘ rr-
– The banks financed last year’s transactions.
– They financed only the programme of works then in hand. But the States desired additional money for the purpose of clearing land, ringbarking, afforestation schemes, and the like. Such work would not be reproductive immediately, but it would ultimately lift a number of unemployed permanently from the ranks of the unemployed. If the Commonwealth Bank requires some relief from what it regards as the stringent legislation of this Parliament, I assure the Prime Minister that we will give to him support in providing such relief. We are not asking that wildcat schemes should be put in hand, or that a policy of uncontrolled inflation shall be pursued ; nor do we wish to return to the old policy of reckless borrowing and extravagant spending; but we do require some step to be taken immediately to stimulate industry, and to provide work for at least some of the unemployed. Many useful projects could be undertaken even under present conditions. I do not think that our unemployment problem will be permanently solved until we can put many of the people who are out of work on sma’ll agricultural holdings. It may be said that that costs money. But some of the States have already embarked upon activities of this kind. In Victoria 100 small blocks were made available and 3,000 workless people applied for them. The unemployed who went on to these holdings live in very humble dwellings. But while there is nothing whatever luxurious about their standard of life, I believe that the majority of them are making good. They are clearing land, and growing some of the foodstuffs which they require. It is true that they will need help for some time to come; but eventually they will be lifted beyond tlie need of any such assistance. It may be said that expenditure of this kind is not reproductive. It is true that no money can be provided in this way to pay interest; but if we can lift 10,000 people permanently off the unemployed list, the amount pf money that would have been spent- in providing them with- sustenance lpuld meet interest and : sinking fund charges on.i5,066yb00.’ . That would be ‘a valuable thing in itself ;. but a much more valuable consideration would be that the morale of our working people was being restored. Life on a sustenance of a few chillings a week is a poor thing, for men find women who have been i accusiomed to work for their living. I urge the Government, therefore, to do something of the kind- that I am suggesting. Such work would undoubtedly become valuable to the Commonwealth, for when the depression lifts throughout the world, and the prices of our products increase in the world’s markets it would put us in. a far better position to take advantage of the improved conditions. It is of the highest importance that the manhood of our workers should be preserved, and not be allowed to deteriorate, as it will do if present conditions prevail much longer.
The problem which faces us will not be solved unless we exert every effort to solve it. It is a paradox that to-day wc have great tracts of land in this country untilled, labourers’ idle and hungry; carpenters who are homeless; bootmakers who have no boots to wear ; raw materials which are unsaleable; and skilled labour and machinery which is idle. When it ia suggested that something should bc done to remedy this state of affairs we are told that there is no money available for the purpose. What is money but a token : a medium of exchange, or credits? We have been told that credits will be expanded if wealth is produced; that wealth can be produced if markets are available; that good markets will be available if our workless people are employed; and that we could provide more work if more money or credit were available. So there is the vicious circle. Wages are down, costs are lower than they have been for a long while, the Government has been changed, and, if electioneering statements can be believed, confidence should be restored. We were told that all that was needed to restore confidence was a change of government. The change of government has occurred. I, therefore, feel justified in asking the Prime Minister to give us actions and not words. If the financiers have greater confidence in this Government than they had in the previous Government, let them how it by providing additional money for works, and let the Government act.
A grave responsibility rests upon this Government. I do not desire to raise any controversial questions in dealing with this vitally important subject. I could quote from placards, newspaper articles, and election pamphlets by the dozen to indicate that the members of the present Government told the people that confidence would be j restored and work provided immediately if a. change of government were effected. I shall satisfy myself with quoting from the report of a meeting held by the present Prime Minister, in the Launceston Examiner of the 9th December, 1931. The paragraph to which I direct attention reads as follows : -
Mr. Lyons referred, with impassioned sincerity, to the unemployment situation, and. condemned the Labour Government for having failed to do something for the solution of the problem. “That, above anything, forced me to leave the party said Mr. Lyons.
Although the honorable gentleman said that the Labour party did nothing to cope with this problem, I have outlined briefly some of the effective steps we took to meet, the situation at least temporarily. In. addition to those things, we sacrificed £14,000,000 in customs revenue in order to protect Australian industries.
There is no doubt that the hope was raised in the breasts of the suffering people of this country that if a change of government occurred their troubles would be alleviated. The people have looked with great confidence to this Government to take immediate action to cope with the situation. The time has arrived for the Government to do something. It should not wait until the meeting of the Premiers Conference in May, which will discuss larger financial issues; it should act at once, and I earnestly appeal to it to do so.
Mr. Forde rising to second the motion.
– It. is not necessary for a member to second a motion of adjournment for the discussion of a matter of urgency, as the Standing Orders require that, before it can be stated by the Chair, at least five honorable members must rise i.n their places as indicating approval of the proposed discussion.
– The subject to which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) has directed attention is suffi- ciently grave and important to justify the action he has taken. Although I realize that the discussion of .this subject in this chamber for two hours or longer will not lead to the solution of our problem - because nothing that can be done by this Government and Parliament alone can solve it - yet suggestions which honorable members may make may be helpful to the Government in dealing with the situation. I, therefore, welcome the discussion which the right honorable gentleman has introduced, and I have no fault whatever to find with his speech.
Unemployment is confronting the whole nation and every parliament, and should not be regarded as tha responsibility of any one government which happens to be in power. No matter what undertakings may, or may not, have been given by political parties on the hustings, we must realize that conditions are operating in Australia that are tending to emphasize the seriousness of the position, and to increase the urgency of the problem. I also feel it unnecessary to remind honorable members that some of the conditions surrounding this problem are of a nature that we, in Australia, cannot of ourselves rectify. The Government is very much concerned about the seriousness of the position. The Leader of the Opposition has said that, in reply to questions on the subject, I have indicated that practically no action has been taken by the Government to apply remedies, and that we are simply waiting for the Premiers Conference to meet in May. I have, however, made it clear that there was’ no necessity at any time for the conference to be held as late as May, for there were other matters, such as the report of the Transport Conference, which would have justified the calling of the conference together at an earlier date. The chief work of the conference to be held in May is the consideration of the financial proposals for the coming year.
The Government has, ever since its assumption of office, given close consideration to the subject of unemployment. As I indicated the other day, we have set up a special sub-committee of Cabinet, which has already consulted with the authorities which our predecessors in office consulted. Although we propose to carry this investigation much further, we have already reached the point at which we recognize the extreme urgency of the problem. The sub-committee is about to submit to Cabinet certain propositions, which we will put to the Premiers, I hope much earlier than May. At present I shall not be quite definite in my undertaking, but the matter is so urgent and important, particularly in view of the approaching winter months, during which the unfortunate unemployed will have to endure much greater privations than iu any other period of the year, that it may be necessary for me to defer the reassembling of Parliament after the Easter recess for a week or two longer than was intended at first, in order that a Premiers conference may be called to consider the proposals which we have to make, and other proposals which the State governments may bring forward, with the object of relieving unemployment.
– Would that conference deal only with unemployment?
– Perhaps not only with that subject; but that subject is, of itself, sufficiently important to justify the calling of a Premiers conference. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that this is the most important question which we have to deal with at present. We have given certain undertakings with regard to the balancing of budgets, the resuscitation of industry in Australia, and so on, but our success in carrying them out will depend entirely upon whether we can get our people back to work. Unemployment is a problem of vital and primary importance, which would, of itself, justify a conference. The Premiers will also consider the report of the committee which investigated our transport difficulties, and will make a preliminary investigation into the future financial position of the nation generally. Those matters are closely associated with our unemployment problem, and must be considered side by side. Prior to that conference, and while the Government itself is investigating these problems, we shall be only too pleased to receive suggestions from any section in the House, and from any individual member, whether of this chamber or another place.
The right honorable the Leader of the Opposition has pointed to the action that was taken by his Government during and after the time that I was associated with that administration, to relieve unemployment. I am aware that the grants be mentioned were made with the best intentions in the world. It may be that this Government will have to take similar action in the near future. But SUCh a course will not provide any solution of our trouble. The position will remain as it was. It is merely temporizing. 1 agree that now, and during the winter months after thu important conferences that will be held overseas - from which we hope some measure of relief will result to ourselves and to the world generally - we shall have to give some impetus to industry in an endeavour to obtain financial buoyancy. It is with that object that the Government is convening the Premiers Conference at an early dare. It would be unwise merely to grant sums of money to carry on work which will not finally be of real value to the community.
The Leader of the Opposition says that the position is more secure to-day than it was when his Government made those grants. That may be, but this Government has obligations which had not then been imposed on the Scullin Government. At that time we were groping in the dark, and did not know exactly what course to follow. I admit that the action then taken was justified, as it at least temporarily relieved the suffering that existed. While the position may be better to-day - and I hope that it is so - the Government now shoulders the obligations imposed upon it by the Premiers plan. On the one hand it has to consider the advisability of financing a grant to relieve unemployment, and on the other hand it realizes clearly that it has a duty, in accordance with the undertaking that the Leader of the Opposition himself gave, to keep its deficits within pertain bounds.
– That would not prevent a special loan being raised for a special purpose.
– Perhaps not. It might be inferred from the right honorable member’s speech that the banks were not so generous as they might have been when they refused’ to advance an . additional £5,000,000 for the works programme of tb° States and Commonwealth last vear.
It may not be generally known that, excluding the £7,300,000 that was advanced for the State and Commonwealth works programme, the banks agreed to provide £20,000,000 to cover the deficits and other requirements of the States and of the Commonwealth. At the difficult period of the year prior to the Commonwealth and States obtaining the full benefit of their revenues, the banks will have advanced a total of, roughly, £33,000,000. I ask honorable members to compare that amount with the total borrowing programmes for works in other years. Had the banks not had the responsibility of finding that huge amount, the bulk of it to cover deficits, they would have been in an excellent position to make further moneys available for works.
I am with the Leader of the Opposition when he says that we must not go back to the old period of borrow and burst. I am aware that we could nol at present, borrow money if we desired to do so. Although the Leader of the Opposition declares that the position to-day is more secure than it was, I remind him that the governments arc now borrowing more money to meet deficits than they did in the past to cover their works programme, and that interest has to be paid on every penny that is made available by the banks for this purpose, lt will, therefore, be realized how difficult it is for the governments and the banks to meet the situation this -year. Without doubt, the orgy of borrowing in which governments of every political brand indulged in the past is one of the greatest causes of the troubles that now confront us. We have all erred, and I hope that we have learned a lesson. If we, in desperation, again started out on the same track, the community would suffer as the result of our action. Whatever we do must receive very careful consideration, and we must lose no time iti acting, because the matter is urgent.” Any money that we borrow for the relief of unemployment must be spent on works of a reproductive character, or works that will be of real value when prosperity is restored, otherwise the position will be worse than it. is now. -‘I appreciate the way in which ;the Leader, of the Opposition brought this matter forward. It is a problem which should receive our united attention. Honorable members on this side of the House are co-operating in an effort to save the situation, and we shall be only too pleased to receive practical suggestions from honorable members who sit in any other part of the House. I assure the Leader of the Opposition that no time will be lost in endeavouring to relieve the sufferings of our people. As soon as it is determined, the Government will notify the House when the Premiers Conference will meet.
– There is no question but that the most pressing problem in Australia to-day is how to place in profitable occupation the hundreds of thousands of our men and women who are anxious to work, but who cannot find employment. We must be careful not to adopt temporary means of relieving the situation which will eventually make the problem more difficult. There can be no solution of it in the expenditure of more money on unproductive public works, or even by an extension of the system of food relief. By some means we must make it possible for private enterprise to absorb in profitable occupation the great masses of our unemployed. Despite the fact that there has been a great extension of governmental activities in Australia, it is a fact that at least 85 per cent, of the employment that is provided in this country emanates from private sources. It is in that direction that we must look for relief.
An examination of the great depression in the ‘nineties shows us that the unemployment problem was then solved - as I believe it will be on this occasion - by making our land industries profitable ; by placing in employment on the land those who were out of work in the cities. The figures for the decade 1890 to 1900 indicate that no fewer than 116,000 persons, who had previously worked in the cities, were placed in profitable employment on the land, and, as a result of the subsequent development, it was possible to absorb additional men and women in the shops and factories in the towns. The ratio of unemployment fell to 3 per cent. To-day it stands at 30 per cent.
I am pleased to know the conference of Premiers is to take place at an early date, because, after- all, our difficulties can be overcome only by co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States. At that gathering an effort should be made to divert the millions of pounds that are now spent on food relief, and other unproductive purposes, to the stimulation of private enterprise, so that more people may be absorbed in employment. There is no question that the country districts, with which I am familiar in the north of New South Wales, could give opportunity to place a further 100,000 persons in satisfactory and permanent employment during the next five years if only half of the money that is now used for the unproductive purposes to which I have referred were made available in the form of loans to farmers. Men on the land would, improve their, properties so that these would double their carrying capacity a.nd increase their production. Immediately, our railways would benefit by additional freights; more commodities would be marketed, and, generally, industry would be stimulated. It would be possible for our galvanized iron industry to develop to the output of 70,000 to 80,000 tons per annum that is contemplated instead of the present 25,000 to 30,000 tons.
– The right honorable gentleman has been telling this story for twenty years, and unfortunate people have been dying from privation in the meantime.
– I shall say it for another twenty years, if necessary. That is the way in which the problem was solved ia the nineties, and it is the way in which our present difficulties may be overcome. I know that short cuts to prosperity and to the millennium will be suggested . by my honorable friends on my right. They have been tried in Russia and the workmen of that country are now in a worse position than when the experiment began. The method that I suggest has beon proved to be satisfactory. It was in the country districts that credits first froze, because of the low prices of products and the inability to market the output. It is in the country that the first thaw must take place. When the Government is consulting with the State Governments on this matter it should ask them to put up practical schemes which will provide permanent employment in country districts. If this were done, the men would be paid wages which they’ could spend in any way they liked, instead of, as at present, receiving dole tickets which provide them only with a few stipulated articles. It is necessary that the unemployed should be given an opportunity to work, and I trust that the conference will devise means of doing that.
.- Recently I received two letters, which have an important bearing on this subject. The first letter states -
What are you doingover there? We expected much better things from you.
I expected the same myself. The letter continues -
Difficulties are increasing here daily. More, and still more, breadwinners are being thrown out of work, and for thousands of families the prospect is black indeed. We are all approaching the coining winter with grave forebodings. In so many cases the little stock of clothing, and other small assets accumulated in better times, have been used up; hence the coming winter has developed into a nightmare, especially for mothers and fathers.
One great trouble is that the little money these poor people do get by way of dole or casual work will buy so little. Surely something can be done to reduce the cost of necessaries. Surely these wretched combines that are exploiting the people can be made illegal. Surely the price-fixing monopolists battening on the life-blood of the citizens can be treated as criminals. Surely these bounties, bonuses, subsidies, sugar agreements, control boards, &c, can be abolished. We were expecting great things from the uniting of all parties, but so far matters are going decidedly from bad to worse. . . As sure as the sun shines, if something is not done to unshackle the people, and allow them to work out their own salvation in this land of opportunity, something serious will happen.
That letter was written by a lady. The next is from a fairly large employer of labour. Dealing with the unemployment situation, he says -
It is hard to forecast the future commercially financially, or industrially, and we can only hope for the best. I am inclined to think that there are many rocks ahead, and, steering our present course, we will surely hit them; just how hard and whether we can get off again is hard to say. I am afraid that our present system will ultimately result in sinking the ship. We seem to have a. wonderful country, a population of cranky people, and tyrants for leaders and politicians. Both people and leaders are living in hope of something turning up. Loafing, talking, and scheming constitute the only occupation for those who have a spark of energy left in them, andthieving for those who happen to know how without getting caught. The poor folk who work have to pay for those who won’t, so the sooner the whole thing breaks up the better.
I do not intend to dwell on these letters, because they speak for themselves. We have to ask ourselves whether we as leaders are striking at the root of this problem. Are we going the right way to solve it? I doubt that wo are. Costs are being continually piled up; the last. Government did good work in some directions, particularly in reducing our adverse overseas trade balance; but when it. reduced Public Service salaries and interest rates by 22½ per cent., it clapped on a sales tax which increased commodity prices. We have to ask ourselves whether we are not placing too high a value on all we have and all we do? We in this House place too much value on words, and pay insufficient attention to the need for action. Would it not be better to repeal many of the restrictive laws now on the statute-book, rather than continue passing still more hampering legislation? At present, people are shackled, and cannot work out their own salvation. We would not expect any one to win a race who was hobbled. Let the people be freed, and they will get back to work, and pull the country out of it difficulties. We should employ every means at. our disposal so to reduce basic values, and to bring down costs to meet the lessened value of our exports on the world’s market’s. This would enable our people to get back to work on the production of those commodities necessary to meet our overseas obligations. What is the use of piling up more costs and increasing taxation when, staring us in the face, are our overseas obligations, which constitute our real difficulties. It is not. legislation that we want to-day, but inspiration for our leaders, aspiration for our people, and nothing will be achieved without a good deal of perspiration as well.
– I support this motion, and hope thus to focus public attention uponthe policy of this Government, whose Ministers and supporters promised at the general election to relieve unemployment, but whose administrative acts have all, up to date, tended in the opposite direction. Undoubtedly, thousands of electors supported the United Australia party candidates at the last election because they believed that the party opposite, if returned to power, would relieve unemployment.
– They promised to do it immediately.
– That is so. During the election campaign full-page advertisements appeared in the newspapers of New South Wales urging the people to vote for the United Australia party, because that party, if returned, would solve the unemployment problem. I have here a poster, designed in striking fashion, which bears the legend-“ Mates help me to get a job.” I heard many honorable members on the other side of the House making election speeches. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Jennings) promised the electors that if his party was successful, those in the unemployment camps at La Perouse and Maroubra would be found work, as would also the unemployed at Redfern, where conditions are extraordinarily bad. Similar promises were made at Coogee and Bondi, which are residential rather than industrial suburbs, and at Marrickville, in the Lang division, and throughout the Barton division. We on this side of the House now demand that the Government shall honour the promises then made, and we propose to expose the trickery indulged in by honorable members opposite in order to win the support of the electors.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), speaking before the election, stated that he could solve the unemployment problem immediately. As a member of a previous Government, he had for over more than twelve months every opportunity of studying the problem in all its aspects. I remember accompanying him on one occasion to hear a deputation of postal workers from Melbourne. Unemployment was there discussed, and the honorable gentleman said that a position might arise in which it would be necessary to take over the whole resources of the country to feed the people. The honorable gentleman; therefore, was in- a position, at the time of the elections, to know the facts, arid knowing them, he promised the electors “that if he were placed in power he would immediately solve this problem. . On the strength of that promise he received a great deal of support. Speaking at .Peterborough- before- the election, the right honorable gentleman asked: “Why does not the present Ministry go out and raise on the open market the money necessary for the services of the Commonwealth and the relief of unemployment?” He went on to say that the Scullin Government could not raise money on the open market, because the people did not trust it. The suggestion was, of course, that if the Scullin Government were removed, a government led by the honorable member would be able to go on the open market, obtain money, and immediately solve the unemployment problem.
Now the Prime Minister says that unemployment is the result of world conditions. That was not the statement made during the election campaign. As a matter of fact, much of the blame for unemployment was then laid at the door of the Premier of New South Wales (Mr. Lang). It was alleged that he was responsible for hundreds of thousands of persons beingout of work. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) made a pertinent suggestion to the right honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) when he asked that gentleman to get into touch with President Hoover of the United States of America with a view to learning whether Mr. Lang was responsible for the unemployment of 8,000,000 persons in the United States of America. According to some honorablemembers opposite, Mr. Lang is to blame for the ‘fact that in 1931 unemployment in Great. Britain increased by 7 per cent., in Australia by 13 per cent., in Canada by 25 per cent., in the Irish Free States by 18 per cent., in Germany by 34 per cent., in Italy by 32 per cent, and in the United States of America by 5 per cent. Of course, unemployment is a world, problem. We have always maintained that, though honorable members opposite have been reluctant to admit it. The Government claimed at the last election that it could devise means to correct thesituation : but unemployment is world, wide, .and the world’s financial system lias everywhere broken down. I venture, therefore, to say that the problem will not he solved by the conferences held here and .elsewhere. unless the financial’ system .of ‘the world undergoes, a. radical! change. The last Government held no fewer than half a dozen conferences with the Premiers and others. It appointed all kinds of committees, and the last committee, for instance, made a suggestion for the revival of the paper pulp industry in Tasmania. This proposal should be of particular interest to the Prime Minister, seeing that he represents a Tasmanian electorate. Other proposals put forward for the absorption of the unemployed related to re-afforestation, irrigation works, and similar undertakings. But what has been the final result? All those proposals had to be referred to another authority before anything at all could be done. I predict that the same result follow the forthcoming conference with the Premiers on the unemployment problem. Any honorable member could in half an hour devise schemes for providing employment for thousands which would afford relief if he were permitted to give effect to them. But in finally determining what works shall be done we have to turn our attention to the provision of the necessary credit, and this matter is controlled by an authority over which Parliament has no control. What is the use of a Parliament if it cannot determine the question whether the people shall live or die, which, after all, is the issue which the unemployment problem raises. If this Parliament truly represents the people it should be able to deal definitely with this vital subject.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I hope to advance one or two suggestions which may be of service to the Government, and in accord with the views of the Prime Minister. A certain amount of agreement has already been reached by members in this chamber as to the grave responsibility resting on the Government, the supreme importance of the problem which faces us, and the united efforts necessary to make any impression upon it. As was indicated by the last speaker, this is a world problem. If the present depression has served any useful purpose, that has been done in leading the people of Australia to realize that they live in the world, and not to themselves. The mere fact that the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) recognizes this surely suggests that in any action taken we should adjust our ideas to world conditions, because failure to do so is largely a contributing cause of our present condition.
I deny the general impeachment of honorable members on this side of the chamber regarding promises made during the election campaign. So far as I am concerned, I promised nobody a job, but I did say that with the restoration of confidence which we believed would follow the necessary political change that we recommended, there was a hope of alleviating the unemployment position. I am not without hope that that will yet happen. I say to the Government, however, that the implication in the policy speech of the Prime Minister, which was the sole directionary basis on which I contested the seat which I won, was that a change of Government would bring about a substantial improvement, by restoring confidence, and that good results might be expected to follow. If confidence is to be restored more definitely than some of us think it has been up to the present time, T consider that the Government must take positive action in regard to vested or private interests which have the capacity to assist in the solution of this problem. The Government alone cannot solve it, nor can private enterprise, acting on its own account; but the Government, with the cooperation of private enterprise, surely can make some impression on the problem. If they cannot, we are in a hopeless pass. I therefore urge the Government to take the strongest possible action, and say to private enterprise, “ What are you going to do about it?” Private enterprise always has undertakings in operation, and others in contemplation, and it is for it to show that under the changed conditions of to-day, compared with last year, it is prepared to do its utmost to extend the field of employment, relying on the Government for the utmost assistance in that direction. I picture the Government, in this matter, as a kind of self-starter, and if it can prove a selfstarter to the big interests in which our principal hope lies, it will have done a good work.
In my opinion, the paper pulp industry offers prospects of making a large contribution to the solution of the unemploy- ment problem, and the Government should do its utmost, in a sensible way, to act as a self-starter to the industry. Its success would benefit, not only Tasmania, but also other States, because a large quantity of the equipment that would be required would have to be purchased in other States. But in endeavouring to set an undertaking of that character going - and I am speaking of an industry with which in a measure I have been associated - regard must be had to world conditions. It t must be realized that whereas some little time ago, newsprint was fetching £20 a ton, it is now worth only £14 per ton. We cannot expect industry to thrive or even to exist with a 44-hour week, with extended holidays for employees, and all kinds, of restrictions such as those which became fashionable in Australia at a time when, by reason of the high price of our export commodities, and lavish borrowing by various governments, the abnormal conditions created expensive tastes. If industry is to succeed in the near future, regard must be paid to world conditions, and prospective employers and employees must come together in a common-sense way, with a full recognition of the economic circumstances of Australia.
I have no desire to indulge in recriminations; but lot me indicate one or two fields which might well be investigated, and, in which, if common sense were shown, employment might be widely increased. The honorable member, for Hunter (Mr. James) frequently refers in this chamber to the possibilities of extracting power fuel from oil shale. I suppose that one of ‘ the sorriest sights attendant on unemployment may be seen in his electorate. I have witnessed that spectacle myself; it is a tragedy. It will be agreed by anybody who can take a fair view of the matter that the present position of the coalmining industry in Australia is attributable to three factors. One is the fight that the industry has had to make against other competitive industries which have provided the services which coal usually furnishes; the second factor is the lack of vision on the part of employers in the coal. industry of Australia; and the. third is, the.,lack of, other, qualities in the employees in the industry. I put it to the honorable member for Hunter that if the coal industry is to absorb some ®f its unemployed - and he knows how desirable that is, and how unwilling the coal miners are to take up other lines of work - the industry must realize that we live in the world. It is of no use coming to this Parliament for an export bounty of Ss. per ton on coal. That cannot be given, nor should anything of the kind be done until the coal industry is prepared to recognize world conditions.
The shale oil industry is one with which I am familiar, and I know the Newnes field fairly well. The shale-oil industry, born during the period of the late war, struggled on more or less interruptedly until 1924, when it finally collapsed owing to the fact that shale which should have been put into the retorts at 12s. or 12s. 6d per ton, cost 53s. per ton. The plant at Newnes, therefore, went out of use, and lay rusting on the hillside. I visited the field, and looked over the proposition with a party that hoped to revive the industry, which I believe has every prospect of ultimate success. The richness of its resources cannot be doubted. It can be made technically efficient, and the advance made since 1924 in the treatment of shale should enable oil to be produced on an economic basis. But, again, it must be realized that we live in the world, and must recognize world conditions. With shale being put into the bins at 53s. per ton, or at any figure like that, there is no prospect of the shale industry absorbing its unemployed.
During good times, we saddled ourselves with all sorts of conditions which told heavily as factors in the costs of production. While those costs could be passed on, the wheels of industry could be kept moving, owing to the high prices obtained for our export products, and the ability of governments to. borrow. Buttoday the position has totally changed. I suggest that honorable members opposite, who have influence with industrial organizations, should use it in the direction of making a contribution towards the alleviation of the unemployment problem in the manner that J[ have indicated; that-. ‘ employers and employees should forget about quarrels in the Arbitration Court, and, ,Dy agreement, come to mutually satisfactory working arrangements as to the hours, rates of pay, &c, that are within the capacity of their in- * du s tries.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I support the motion ably submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), and I agree with all honorable gentlemen who have said that a grave responsibility rests on the shoulders of this Government. Since the inception of federation, no Liberal, Nationalist or Tory government has been elected with such a large support from the unemployed workers of Australia as that received by the Lyons Administration, and, consequently, a great deal is expected of it. If people are looking for more than they can get from this Government, it is the fault of its present leader and his campaign directors, because of the extravagant promises made by them as to the results that would follow their return to power.
– Do not make political capital out of it.
– This subject transcends party politics. It is well to bear in mind certain assurances given to the people, before we determine at whose door lies the blame for the present position of this country. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) said that millions of pounds were being made available by the banks to-day to meet government deficits. Much of that money is being expended on doles to-day. The recipients do not -want charity; t”hey want employment, and are looking to the Government to cooperate with private enterprise in providing jobs for them. The Prime Minister said that he will welcome suggestions from any section of the House. I advise him to get into touch with those departments that will play an important part in Australian development during the next few years. The Development Branch is capable of making very helpful suggestions. We cannot absorb at once the 200,000 persons who for years were engaged on public work, while past administrations were borrowing overseas at the rate of £40,000,000 per annum. Loan , expenditure on unproductive public -works has come to an end, and the workers who have been displaced must be absorbed in primary and secondary industries. I warn the Government against the freetrade tendencies of some supporters, who urge that the best way to restore people to employment is to pull down the protective tariff wall raised by the last. Government. I received a telegram this, morning, that on the 31st January last. 30,769 persons were unemployed in Queensland - 30,769 of a total population of about 1,000,000! It can be taken for granted that there are many thousands more who would not have reported. The primary industries of that State are capable of development, but those engaged in them are in a highly nervous state of apprehension as to the future, because the present Government has robbed them of the protection given by the Scullin Ministry; I refer particularly to the growing of tobacco and cotton. Cotton cultivation gives seasonal employment to 6,000 people, whilst the tobacco-growers throughout Australia number between 6,000 and 7,000. Persons who were formerly on the labour market are clearing land, erecting fences and curing barns, and cultivating the soil ; instead of living on doles they are producing wealth, and are self-supporting. Unfortunately, their industry is in serious jeopardy, because the present Government has whittled clown the protection which assured the growers a market for their product.
– Order !
– I am not attempting to discuss the tariff schedule generally, but so far as the Standing Orders will permit, I am responding to the Prime Minister’s invitation to honorable members to make helpful suggestions. In the cottongrowing industry in Queensland, additional areas are being prepared, but the farmers are unable to get advances from the Agricultural. Bank for further cropping, because it lacks funds. Probably the Commonwealth Government, in consultation with’ the Commonwealth Bank, could make additional moneys available to the Agricultural Bank on reasonable terms and conditions to enable the growers to develop their properties and increase their production. The demand by the spinners is now for 20,000 bales of Australian lint as compared with only 1,500 bales when the Scullin Ministry assumed office.
During the last twelve months many of the unemployed in Queensland have engaged in the production of tobacco. So rapidly has this industry developed that in some districts there is no unemployment, but it, “too, is endangered by the attitude of the Ministry. The Development Branch of the Prime Minister’s Department reported to the Bruce-Page and Scullin Governments that a good deal of employment could be provided in ring-barking, and otherwise improving pastoral properties to increase their carrying capacity. Unfortunately, the last Government could not make funds available for the purpose. The gentlemen who now occupy the treasury bench stated on the hustings that with a change of government confidence would be restored, and the hanks would make available more money. Ministers now have the opportunity to prove their prediction. The extraction of oil from coal and shale and national afforestation are other problems that should be tackled by the Administration. Of course these schemes will require money, but that surely will be forthcoming if the Government’s pre-election assurances were genuine. The people were told that the banks could not make money available last year, because they had no confidence in the Labour Administration, but that -with a change of government all would he well. The paper pulp industry also might be helped. Many public works await completion, but are held up through lack of funds. The capital invested in them is dead, but if they are completed they will become revenue producing and provide employment. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) criticized the Scullin Government for its administration of the sales tax, which, he said, had increased the cost of foodstuffs. I remind the House, however, that of annual sales of a total value of £500,000,000 at least £300,000,000 worth are not subject to sales tax, and that all “basic foodstuffs are exempt. If the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) believes that too much is expected of the Ministry, he can blame only himself and the members of his party, for he is reported in the Melbourne Argus on the 13th April, 1931 as having said -
Before you can put the people back into industry you must have real money . . .
If confidence is restored there is no doubt money will be available’ for Australia in London . . . with a return of the United Australia Party to power, things will begin to improve at once.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- More than 50 per cent, of the speech of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) was party politics. Yesterday, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) said that I would be comfortable anywhere. While he and his supporters were wasting the time of the House with one division after another, with people outside desperately in need of employment, I was far from comfortable. This morning, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) has brought forward this motion in order to get the greater publicity to be obtained in Saturday’s newspapers. I make that statement deliberately, for I have been in the caucus room, and know how these formal motions for the adjournment of the House are timed. Mr. Riley. - That is a lie.
– Order ! I ask the honorable -member for Cook (Mr. Riley) to withdraw that statement.
– I do so, but I was provoked by the misstatement of the honorable member for Angas.
– I ask the honorable member for Cook to withdraw unreservedly.
– I withdraw the statement.
– Is the honorable member for Angas entitled to impute unworthy motives to the Leader of the Opposition ?
– No honorable member is entitled to impute unworthy motives to another. The honorable member for Angas made a certain statement; the Chair cannot know whether it is true or untrue, but if it is not correct any other honorable member may take exception to it when his turn comes to speak.
– I take exception to the statement of the honorable member for Angas that the Leader of the Opposition deliberately timed this motion to catch the publicity in the Saturday press.
-As exception has been taken to the statement by the honorable member for Angas, I ask him to withdraw it, but I remind the House that objection to a statement that is re garded as offensive must be taken immediately.
– In deference to you, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the statement, but from my experience in the party led by the Leader of the Opposition I know that adjournment motions have been deferred until Friday morning for the deliberate purpose of getting greater publicity in the week-end press. The repeated points of order that have been taken during my speech are for the purpose of wasting as much as possible of the ten minutes allowed to me.
– I object to that impu tation of unworthy motives.
– Because a statement, made by an honorable member is unpleasant, it need not necessarily be withdrawn. So long as the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) expresses his opinions according to the rules of debate, he will be in order. ‘ Honorable members who disagree with his statement may contradict him.
-It is absolutely un true.
– Did you hear that, Mr. Speaker?
– If the honorable member for Angas takes exception to the interjection, I shall ask that it be withdrawn.
– I reply to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) by saying that I have never been so unfortunate as to speak one way in regard to Theodore half an hour before dinner, and vote the opposite way afterwards.
– That also is de liberately untrue.
– I ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to withdraw that statement.
– In deference to the Chair; but I am of the same opinion still.
M r. SPEAKER.- The honorable member’s withdrawal must be without quali fication.
-In deference to you, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw,
– I call the attention of the honorable member for Angas to the fact that this motion is made to discuss the definite matter of employment, and he is not entitled to discuss irrelevant subjects.
– Because the subject of the debate is unemployment I feel keenly, and I am trying to expose some of the political trickery that is taking place.
– I take exception to the statement that the party with which I am associated is engaged in political trickery.
– As the expression is unparliamentary, I ask the honorable member for Angas to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it. The Prime Minister has asked for suggestions as to the ways in which unemployment may be relieved. I urge him to place before the Premiers Conference a proposal to utilize the single unemployed in group settlements for the production of primary products that can be exported overseas.
– Can they be sold?
– Yes, at a price. Australian governments are expending £13,000,000 a year on doles, and have nothing to show for the money. If some of it were applied to make good the loss on the export of primary products, the net cost to the Australian people would be much reduced. While we are concerned to meet our oversea commitments, the labour of thousands of our young men is being wasted. The only way to meet our- liabilities is by the production of goods. I shall be told thatI want men to be employed at half rates. We must put this country in a position, which will permit every person to derive some benefit. We must get rid of the hide-bound ideas of the past. We must place our young men on group settlements, so that they may develop their brain and muscle, instead of hanging round street corners wasting their substance. Another suggestion which I shall make is really a State matter, but the Prime Minister is meeting the Premiers in conference shortly, and he could have it discussed there. Is it not possible to arrange with the land-holders of this country to employ men clearing lands that are notat present being put to full use? Even between Canberra and Goulburn one sees dead wood lying all over the country. 1’n other places the land is infested with fern, boxthorn, bracken and other noxious weed, which prevents it from being put into production. I suggest that the landholder should provide the men with food and lodging, and that the Government should pay them wages for two days’ work, and that the men should work a further two days for their food and lodging. That would bring this country to greater production, and the money that is now expended in providing sustenance would be used in helping our land-owners to grow products for sale overseas. Surely there is some way of solving this pressing problem. Why should we stay here discussing the bills that are placed before us?
– Including legislation relating to wine.
– I do not care whether the legislation deals with wine or water. I agree with the writer of the letter which was quoted by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Watson) that unless we do something for the unemployed, they will do something with us.
-The honorable memher’s time has expired.
.- I regret that only two members of the Government side are sufficiently interested in this subject to speak upon it, and of the New South Wales members opposite, only two have been present during this discussion. I refer to the honorable members for Martin (Mr. Holman) and Lang (Mr. Dein). They have not yet spoken. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has asked for suggestions for relieving unemployment, and it is my intention to place a few before him. My first suggestion is that the Government stop the waste of time which is at present taking place in discussing legislation which is aimed solely at the persecution of the State Government in New South Wales, a government which is endeavouring to relieve the lot of the unfortunate unemployed people of that State. I further’ suggest that the Government alter the policy that it has adopted in the Federal Capital Territory, of refusing to provide food-relief for the unemployed. This problem is world-wide, and we are faced with the task of finding a solution of it. Certain works, such as water services and the clearing of land, can be put in hand only when we change our monetary system to allow of the utilization of .national credit. We are in a state of national emergency, and nothing but the release of national credit will suffice to meet the position. We had a national emergency at the time of the war, and in that case the national credit of this country was utilized. This is no new precedent. If it is good enough to release national credit for war purposes, which involves the killing of people, it is good enough to release national credit to provide useful reproductive employment so that people may live. Various works could be put in hand, but they are too numerous for me to detail during the time at my disposal. At the recent elections, many promises were made. Every hoarding throughout Australia displayed the words, “ Vote for the United Australia party and the Lyons party, and ensure yourself a job and steady wages “. The only person who has been given a job by this Government is the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce). He is to be paid £5,000 a year in salary and perquisites as resident Minister in London. Speaking at the Millions -Club recently, the Prime Minister said that unemployment must be relieved by an attack upon wages and hours of labour. He suggested that the fact that New South Wales had adopted a 44-hour week was unfair to the other States, which had adopted a 48-hour week. He also stated that the basic wage was in New South Wales £4 2s. 6d., and in South Australia £3 3s. He said that the basic wage rate was unfair and industry could not stand it. Let me say that an increase in the working hours per week would create more unemployment. Let m& give a simple illustration. An industry employing twelve men under the system of 44 hours a week would, under the system of 48 hours a week, be able to dispense with the services of one man in every twelve men employed, and still not interfere with its ordinary production. What firm would employ twelve men when its work could be carried out by eleven men. If New South
Wales reverted to the 48-hours system, one man in every twelve would be retrenched from industry, or eight and a half out of every 100 men employed. Yet that suggestion has been put forward by the Prime Minister as a solution of the problem.’ ‘ There’ is no doubt, that the Government’s promises on the hustings tickled the ears of a lot of unfortunate people. Some of them have’ lost practically all their life’s savings, and many have lost their homes, but they are still striving to live, in the hope that the Government will redeem its promises. Another section of the community is tickling the ears of the unemployed by asking them to subscribe to the ungodly doctrine of bloodthirsty revolution known as communism, and it is likely that the unfortunate people may be stampeded into revolution if something is not done by the Government to give them relief. Our workless people have been betrayed once again by a lot of spineless political tricksters. I apply those terms not only to this Government but also to the previous Government, which made similar promises on the hustings in 1929. When.it took office, it fell down on its job in just the same way as this Government has done. Because of the lamentable inaction of the Scullin Government, I fell out with it, and I shall fall out with this Government unless it makes ^ some attempt to relieve the unemployed. Why should honorable members be permitted to use the unemployed as political propaganda? It is a tragedy for any honorable member to use the sufferings of the unemployed for his own political aggrandisement; he would be cowardly indeed to stoop to such an action, and, after his return to Parliament, callously to desert them. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) has suggested that to provide employment, the mining industry should adopt world conditions and .prices. Let ]11 e inform him that other countries, some of which maintain a coolie standard in the mining industry, , have a percentage of unemployment similar to ours.” A reduction in wages and ‘an increase in hours will not solve the unemployment problem. It can be solved only. by having uniform conditions throughput the world, and by, reducing the hours of labour to half of what they are to-day. Under the existing decayed monetary system, we shall always have unemployment with us’. We should utilize the credits of this country, and commence such works as water conservation, uniform railway gauges, and the provision of sewerage systems throughout the country areas.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am glad to take the opportunity which has been made for us by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) to discuss the problem of unemployment. As a candidate of the Emergency Committee of South Australia, I contested the last election.. I made certain statements on the hustings, but on no occasion did I offer a job to any mau. What I said was that the policy of the United Australia party’ was to assist and encourage private enterprise, to enable it to employ the bulk of our workless people. Even in the past, when governments were borrowing and spending to a great extent, private enterprise employed 85 per cent, of our workers, so that it is perfectly obvious that, in the circumstances existing to-day, when loan money is unavailable, an additional burden must be thrown on that avenue of employment. It is gratifying to me, as the representative of a primary producing constituency, and as a primary producer, to know that honorable members, generally, realize that the prosperity pf this country depends mainly on primary industry. That has been contended by advocates of primary industries for many years, but, unfortunately, has not gained much ground among the populace. But, at present, practically every section of the community has agreed that it is to the primary industry that we must look for the return of prosperity. Much has been said regarding our inability to sell our primary products. .Although I agree that during the last two years many of our products have been sold below the cost of production, yet generally we have been able to get a ready sale for our commodities, and the prices that have been realized overseas have brought additional wealth to this country. Our exports of. primary products have undoubtedly made, credits .-available -.overseas to meet our commitments. It is to our primary industries that we must look for the restoration of the prosperity which is so much desired.
I suggest to the Government that in adopting methods of absorbing the unemployed it should grant assistance to those industries which are producing commodities for which there is an assured sale. We have an assured market only for our primary products, and, therefore, everything possible should be done to help the primary-producing industries. Ways and means should be devised for undertaking the intensive cultu:e of primary products. The great difficulty is, of course, the cost of production. While we are able to sell our primary products overseas, we have to face the fact that it costs us more to produce them, in some cases, than we can get for them. Some people in Australia have not yet realized that we cannot live to ourselves alone,’ and that in dealing with primary . products we must consider world conditions. We cannot base our costs on a fictitious standard. I say definitely that the primary producers of Australia have contributed their fair share to the welfare of the nation by reducing the cost of production to the lowest point that is possible for them. Many of our primary producers are now living under conditions very little better than those of the unemployed. It is time that other sections of the community recognized their obligations to the Commonwealth, and made a contribution which would also result in a lowering of the cost of production. If all sections would adopt this policy, everybody would share equitably in the losses which we must face, and they would, at the same time, do something which would enable us, gradually to restore prosperity. I suggest, therefore, that the Government in considering the provision of schemes for absorbing the unemployed should not forget the possibilities of intensive culture in primary production; that it should ensure that only those things are produced which can be sold, and that it should adopt a policy which will equitably spread the loss which must be incurred in bringing production costs down to a profitable figure.
.- I am pleased that the Leader of the
Opposition (Mr. Scullin) has introduced this discussion. Honorable members opposite may think that there has not been sufficient time for the Government to determine its policy and programme for the relief of unemployment; but, unfortunately, time has been found to do things which must inevitably result in additional unemployment. It appears as though the energies of the Opposition may need to be directed to the prevention of additional unemployment rather than to the decreasing of the number of people already out of work. The previous Government, during its term of office, made more than £1,000,000 a year available for the relief of unemployment. I do not suggest that the problem can be solved by the granting of that degree of assistance; but at least the sufferings of the people were alleviated by our action. In addition to those grants, the Scullin Government also made available 300,000 articles, or 300 tons, of clothing. While I was Minister for Home Affairs I was able also to provide the Victorian Government with a number of cubicles for use in its land settlement sell erne for the unemployed. As a matter of fact, the previous Government did everything possible to relieve unemployment. After having unsuccessfully tried every alternative in order to obtain money to provide work for the people, it introduced a fiduciary notes bill, which the members of another place refused to pass. In all sincerity, I urge upon the Government not to refuse to consider the possibility of a fiduciary notes issue as a means of relieving unemployment. The only alternative to that method of obtaining money is for the banks to make money available. They refused to assist the previous Government in that way, and it was only then that the Fiduciary Notes Bill was introduced. It was said during the election campaign that the banks would not trust a Labour government, but would trust an anti-Labour government, and provide it with money for public works. Although I accept the word of honorable members opposite, who have spoken this afternoon, that they did not personally promise that work would be found for the unemployed if a change of government occurred, I notice that no honorable member has had the temerity to suggest that the United Australia party did not make such promises. In the last week of the campaign £300 a day was spent in advertising in two Sydney newspapers that if the United Australia party were returned to power jobs would be found for the jobless, and unemployment would cease. But the Government is not pursuing a policy which will have that result. Its tampering with the tobacco duties alone will, probably, result in no fewer than 3,000 tobacco-growers being pushed out of that industry. This, in turn, will mean that another 10,000 people who look to that industry as the basis for their employment will be thrown on the unemployment market. The Scullin Government during the two and. a half years it was in office adopted a policy of tariff prohibitions and surcharges which had the effect of reducing our imports by £120,000,000. I do not suggest that goods to that value were manufactured and sold in Australia; but I say, unhesitatingly, that our policy compelled many people to buy Australian goods who, in other circumstances, would not have done so. If the tariff schedule which this Government tabled a week or two ago is a fair sample of what we are to expect, many thousands of our fellow citizens will be thrown on the dole.
Let me give an illustration of what is happening. One of the first actions of this Government was to make it impossible for a company which was manufacturing pearl buttons in Australia to continue its. operations, with the result that 60 persons will be thrown out of employment.
– When I visited the factory only 22 persons were employed there.
– I was there four months ago, and saw 50 employees at work, and I was told that 66 were dependent upon the industry for their livelihood. . If all the buttons of this class that Ave require in Australia were manufactured here, employment would be provided for 200 people. Take another case. Peek, Frean, and Company Limited were induced, through the policy of the previous Government, to establish their operations in Australia. But this Go vernment has already interfered with the duty on biscuits, with the result that the value of the investment of Peek, Frean and Company Limited’s capital here has been nullified. Fifty-eight articles were adversely affected by the first tariff schedule tabled by this Government, and we have been told by the Minister for Trade and Customs that that schedule is only a small instalment of what is to come. It appears to me, therefore, that the time of the Opposition will be fully occupied in trying to preserve such employment as there is in Australia at the present in our secondary industries; and that we shall have very little time to urge upon the Government; the imperative necessity for opening up new avenues of employment. The freetrade propensities of this Government are- likely to have a disastrous effect upon the industries of this country and the employment of our people.
– Most of us are in accord with the statement that has been made that the unemployment problem is world wide in its incidence. A review of the whole position forces us to realize that the gravity of the position has been increased by the failure of governments to take appropriate action to minimize the conditions that have caused this world-wide trouble.
– All governments.
– Seeing that the honorable member has interjected, i will refer particularly to the NewSouth Wales Government. Our secondary industries have been hit harder than any others in so far as employment is concerned. But the conditions which have brought about the present state of affairs in our secondary industries are due entirely to the pin-pricking methods and restrictive policies of the differentState Governments. The solving of the unemployment problem must be achieved by the restoration of the purchasing power of the community as a whole - I do not mean by a decrease in the standard of living, for the Australian standard of living must be maintained. In saying this, I ask honorable members not to confuse the ‘standard ‘of living with the cost of living.
– The usual hour for the suspension of the sitting has arrived; but as the time allowed by the Standing Orders for this debate will expire in five minutes, the honorable member may continue his speech unless objection is raised.
– We must not confuse nominal wages with real wages, that is, purchasing power. As employers are quick to realize real wages in a rising market, so employees must be quick to realize real wages in a falling market. While employers have done this, employees have failed to do so in many cases, especially where Labour has control of the State legislatures, which impose restrictions causing irritation to employers, to the great detriment of industry. While these governments interfere with private enterprise, private enterprise cannot give the desired measure of employment to those who are out of work. We must get back to fundamentals, and see that these restrictions are removed, so that private enterprise may be enabled to develop industries and provide additional employment. I suggest that we should evolve a common basic wage and similar hours and conditions for Australia. That would do much to restore confidence to private enterprise, and allow it to tackle this task in no uncertain manner. The problem is a national one. Let us consider it as such. There is a duty upon the Federal Government to take action to restrict State Governments from interfering with industry. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) spoke of government interference with Newnes. That and many other industries have failed to develop because of the action of the present Government of New South Wales. It is the avowed intention of that Government to absorb private industry, and to endeavour in every way to expel prosperity and peace from New South Wales. That State, containing as it does two-fifths of the population of Australia, is the most important in the union, and it is inevitable that the Lang legislation will react to the detriment of our unemployed throughout the Commonwealth. I entertain the hope that the problem may be partiallysolved by the Ottawa Conference, which may determine that we shall concentrate upon certain industries that are peculiarly adapted to Australia. That, of course, would relieve our unemployment.
I should like for a moment to touch upon the scheme of sustenance farms that already has been dealt with by some honorable members. If available lands were cut into small blocks and our unemployed placed upon them, we should find that, instead of having the manhood of our people destroyed by a system of doles, our country would be rehabilitated financially and morally. These men would develop their holdings as our pioneer fathers did in the past. They would make sufficient to live upon, and thrust aside the desire for the false conditions of luxury that are so attractively dangled before them by the labour agitators of the country.
– Order ! The time allowed under the Standing Orders for the discussion of this motion has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Gander) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders as may be necessary be suspended to enable this debate to be continued during the present
– I cannot accept the motion. It is imperative that the Government should proceed with its business.
– Is not the relief of unemployment the business of the Government?
– It is, and the Government is dealing with it in the way that it thinks proper. Business, including amendments to the Financial Agreements Enforcement Bill, awaits the attention of the House, and the Government must proceed with it. The Government has invited honorable members to make suggestions so that they may be considered prior to the Premiers Conference. If, after dealing with the measure to which I have referred, there remains sufficient time for us to continue the debate on unemployment, I am agreeable that we shall return to it. I move -
That the question be now put.
Question - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Majority . . . . 30
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the Standing Orders be suspended (Mr. Gander’s motion) - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.).
Majority … . . 30
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate interrupted in accordance with Standing Order 257b.
Assistance to Combat Pests
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Is he in a position to give an estimate of the cost of collection of the sales tax?
– No such estimate is available at present, but steps will be taken to secure an approximate estimate.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Mr.FORDE asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What permissions, if any, have been granted to import peanuts into Australia since 1st January, 1932, and, if permissions have been granted, what are the names of the applicants?
– No permits to import peanuts have been granted since 1st January, 1932.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. A notification appears in the current issue of the Commonwealth Gazette inviting applications for the position of liaison officer, External Affairs, London. The reduction in the classification of this position was not made for the purpose of advantaging any individual. It affects the permanent salary assigned to the position, but not the total remuneration of the position, as will be seen from the advertisement in the Gazette. Its object is to bring the position into line with the senior External Affairs posi tion in Australia.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Mr.WARD asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What is the daily cost to the Commonwealth of the delegation which is now proceeding to the Disarmament Conference at Geneva?
– Owing to variation in the daily cost of the delegation, due to portion of the time being spent at sea, when a lower rate of travelling allowance obtains and other circumstances, such as the necessity for distributing transport charges over the whole period of absence of the delegation, it is difficult to quote a daily figure at the present stage, but an approximate estimate will be furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Has he any statement to make to the House indicating what progress is being made with the consideration, which was promised last month, of a proposal to collect the sales tax by means similar to those employed in the collection of excise duties?
– No. The promised consideration will be given shortly when the Government is dealing with the budget proposals for the next financial year.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime
Minister, upon notice -
– I shall look into the matters raised by the honorable member, and furnish him with a reply as soon as possible.
Local Medical Officers
asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The rates payable for attendance and consultations, including the provision of such certificates, reports and information as may be required by the department are as follow: -
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the foregoing message be taken into consideration in committee forthwith.
Mr. BEASLEY West Sydney [l.7].The Senate’s amendments to this bill were made available to members only this morning. This measure affects in a particular way the State of New South Wales, and I should like more time to study the amendments and their effect. There are in all 22 amendments, some of which; it is true, do not appear to be of much consequence, but others may have, so far as I can judge, a most far-reaching effect, and if agreed to, might encroach on the liberty of individuals, and the right of free speech. Amendments providing for alterations of that kind cannot be treated lightly by this House. As this matter particularly concerns the people whom I represent, I am not prepared to allow the amendments to be considered before I have had an opportunity of perusing them. If some of them are as drastic in their effect as I believe them to be, honorable members should be permitted to consider them over the week-end. We have not all the advantage of a legal training, and the precise purport of amendments is not always immediately apparent to laymen. I trust that other honorable members will support me in my request for further time.
.- Honorable members have not yet had an opportunity to do more than glance at the Senate’s amendments. We on this side cannot achieve much by merely opposing the motion that the amendments be taken into consideration forthwith. The Government has the numbers, and can carry the motion. I suggest, however, that the Minister in charge of the bill should explain the meaning and effect of the amendments, and then, if honorable members feel that any of them are of such importance as would justify postponing further consideration until next week, the Government ought to meet us. If the Minister will give an assurance to that effect now, I am prepared to allow the motion to go through. There is no great urgency. The House meets again on Tuesday, and, if necessary, the consideration of the amendments could be postponed until then.
– The Government desires to get this bill through as quickly as it can, but it does not wish to be unreasonable. Most of the amendments are of only minor importance. However, if honorable members opposite, after hearing the Minister’s explanation, still want further time, the Government will do what it can to meet them. Honorable members will have to demonstrate thatthey are unable to grasp the effect of the amendments before the Government can consider a postponement.
Motion agreed to.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments.)
Amendment No. 1.
Senate’s amendment. - Leave out “as is” in the definition of “specified revenue.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This is purely a drafting amendment, but the next amendment makes an alteration in the definition of “ specified revenue.” The purpose of this alteration is to provide for a situation that is more fully dealt with by an amendment of clause 7. Under the clause as it stood, the proclamation therein provided for applied to the whole of the revenues of a State; but if the amendment is made, the proclamation, notwithstanding that certain revenues are mentioned in the resolution of both Houses, may not include them all. It will not be necessary, if the amendment is made, to enforce the rights of the Commonwealth with respect to them all, but only with regard to those enumerated in the proclamation.
– This amendment, we are told, provides that the Commonwealth Government may exercise its rights under the proclamation in such a manner that it need not attach all the revenues that would be required to furnish the sums owing by a State. The Minister pointed out that it was competent for this Government to issue a proclamation covering all the revenues of a State.
– That course would have to be authorized by resolutions of the Parliament.
– But, if the next amendment were made the proclamation need cover only one class of revenue.
– I prefer to be guided by the remarks of the Minister. Portions of the revenues of a State are allocated for specific purposes. The State Government has obligations to the people of the State. Revenues are required for the maintenance of hospitals, police organizations, transport services, and a dozen and one other services that a State Govern ment is called upon to maintain. Most important at the present time are the revenues for the sustenance of the unemployed. For instance, thirty unemployed were recently forced to leave the Federal Capital Territory because the Commonwealth Government refused to provide food for them. Therefore, they had to go elsewhere, and part of the revenue of the State of New South Wales must now be used for their sustenance. I am not prepared to accept the amendment, if it will enable the Commonwealth to attach revenues that are allocated by a State for the purposes to which I have referred. I am sure that no honorable member associated with me would agree to an amendment that would make that possible.
It is strange that this amendment was not found necessary in the first place. I understand that the Government has had Sir Harrison Moore here “ in smoke “ for several days, and he has probably been considering the best means of making it easy for the Commonwealth Government to attach certain State revenues in order, as much as possible, to embarrass a State Government. The State Government might finally decide that certain taxation could be levied for the purpose of meeting its commitments, and this taxation might affect a section in New South Wales which has had a good deal to say about the necessity for that Government discharging its debts. But if this amendment were accepted, the Commonwealth Government might be in a position to say that it would not attach revenue derived from the source that I have just indicated, but would attach some other revenue. The other revenue might be revenue intended to provide the wages of railway and tramway employees. This possibility has already been indicated by the Loan Council through the right honorable gentleman in charge of this bill. It is reported that he stated that the amounts owing to oversea bondholders could be taken from the wages paid to the men employed in the railway and tramway services, and by that process to meet the commitments of the Government of New South Wales. The maintenance of the services that are necessary for the well-being of the people of a State is a matter of the utmost importance, and the party with which I am associated has no desire to assist in giving the Commonwealth Government overriding authority to embarrass the Government of New South Wales in the provision of such services’.
– All this difficulty could be obviated by not defaulting.
– I hope that the honorable member forFawkner (Mr. Maxwell) may never want for anything, and that he will never experience the misery that is the portion of large numbers of people in New South Wales; but, apparently, the honorable member is not prepared to regard this matter in the light of the consideration due to others. The State Government, I claim, is entitled to allocate its revenues as it finds necessary in these strenuous times, and no other authority unacquainted with its difficulties and needs should have power to interfere with the funds required for the maintenance of State services. The Commonwealth Government should have no right to say by proclamation that certain revenue would be taken and other revenue left.
– It is difficult to limit the discussion to the amendment before the chair when we are dealing with a definition clause which relates to various clauses in the bill ; but I point out to the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) that none of the Senate’s amendments gives the Commonwealth Government a new power to attach the revenues of the State of New South Wales. The particular amendment under consideration is really to the advantage of the State. The Commonwealth will have power, after passing a resolution through both Houses, to issue a proclamation attaching the revenues of the State of New South Wales, and it will be necessary to mention in the proclamation the revenues that would supply the amount needed; but under the bill as it stands, it would be necessary to include in the proclamation all the revenues that we had taken power to attach. Obviously that would cause a certain amount of dislocation and embarrassment to the State Government, whereas it might be necessary to attach only one or two revenues. This amendment merely gives power to the Commonwealth to enforce its rights with respect to such revenues as may be stated in the proclamation, and are necessary to meet the commitments due. Whatever objection opponents of the bill may take to some of the amendments, this alteration of the definition of “ specified revenue “, and that in clause 7 relating to the proclamation of specified revenue, are obviously more favorable to the States than the original provisions.
.- The amendment now under consideration is in effect consequential upon one proposed to be made on clause 7. That is the clause to which members of the Opposition most strenuously objected, and the amendment does at least make it less objectionable. Clause 7 gives power to the Commonwealth to attach the revenues of a State by resolutions of the Parliament. These might relate to, say, income tax, estate duties, and licence-fees. If the proposed amendment be not made, the proclamation following the resolutions will require to attach all three classes of revenue, but if the clause be amended as proposed, the proclamation need, perhaps, apply to only one of those classes.
– What would be the purpose of including two or three classes of revenue in the resolutions?
– To make sure that the resolutions attached sufficient revenue to meet the demands of the Commonwealth.
Mr.Rosevear. - The Government, having permission to attach three classes of revenue, may, under this amendment, proclaim . that which will cause the greatest embarrassment to the State concerned.
– Surely the attachment of three classes of revenue would be more embarrassing than the attachment of one.
– But the attachment of only one class might make this legislation more practicable.
– I am, of course, opposed to the principleof attaching the revenues of a State, but we shall be frustrating our own desires if by making this legislation more general we create greater embarrassment to the State. I cannot see how we can reasonably oppose an amendment which will make the application of a very drastic clause less objectionable. The Government seems to to be determined to follow the course arranged for by this bill, regardless of consequences; probably we all shall be wiser six months hence. The resolutions for the attachment of any particular classes of revenue will have to come before Parliament, and we shall then have further opportunities to express our opposition to the principle involved.
.- The speeches .of the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce), and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) have not convinced me that the amendments proposed will make clause 7 less objectionable. It appears to me that having been induced to sanction the attachment of certain revenues, thus creating the impression that any distress caused to the people of New South “Wales will be spread equally over the community, the Government will be able- to omit from the proclamation the revenue derived from those interests which ministerialists represent in this Parliament. The Government might allow its own friends to escape by attaching only the revenues of the interests which Ministers controlling the State’s affairs might desire to apply for the purpose of relieving distress among the unemployed. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) said that if honorable members were in doubt regarding any of these amendments further time for their consideration would be allowed. Upon the amendment now before the committee and that proposed on clause 7 we do require further information that cannot be obtained from Commonwealth Ministers, but may be obtainable from members of the New South Wales Government. I hope that the Assistant Treasurer will postpone the consideration of these amendments so that we may consult those in New South Wales, whom we represent.
.- This -amendment relates to the most coercive and punitive clause in the bill. Whilst I agree that it makes the clause less drastic, the objectionable prin ciple involved remains, and as I am opposed to the whole bill, I must logically vote against the amendment. The dragnet nature of clause 7 increases the possibility that the High Court will not regard it as valid.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member entitled on this amendment to discuss clause 7 which is not now before the committee ?
– Because this amendment is really consequential upon an amendment to clause 7, it cannot be discussed intelligently,. unless we can assess its effects on that clause and decide whether it will lighten or increase the burden on the State.
– When the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) was explaining the amendment he referred to clause 7 in answer to a comment by me.
– I have no desire to limit legitimate discussion ‘on the amendment, but the committee is not entitled to review de novo the proposal for attaching the revenues. of a State. .The only issue raised by the amendment to clause 7, is whether the bill shall be modified,’ so that instead of the Commonwealth being compelled to take action by proclamation against all the revenues mentioned in the resolution of Parliament, it may proclaim only o.ne revenue.
– It is difficult to prescribe the limits of discussion on the amendment when there is such a difference of opinion as to whether it will make the clause to which it relates more or less objectionable. I am not prepared to rule that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) was out of order, but I ask him to confine his remarks as closely as possible to the amendment.
– I shall do so. I fear that the amendment will improve the chance of this legislation being declared valid; I do not want that to happen and for that reason shall vote against the amendment*.
. -It is clear to me that after the resolution of Parliament had attached certain revenues of a State, the Government could by proclamation, and without further consultation of the Parliament, select one particular revenue for attachment.
– The resolution must specify the revenues to be attached.
– That is so.
– But this amendment will add a second barrel to the Commonwealth gun. In the first place the resolution of Parliament may specify four or five classes of revenue, but the amendment would enable the Government subsequently to discriminate. For instance if the resolution attached six classes of revenue, the Government would be obliged under the original clause to proclaim all six, arid the State concerned would know what to expect. But the amendment will enable the Government to use a comprehensive resolution as a smokescreen, and of the revenues covered by it, choose one or more that most suited its purpose. The intention of the Government should be made known i.n this House. The Parliament should declare what State revenues are to be confiscated, and the Executive should not have an opportunity to depart from that decision. I am not prepared to give to the Government any discretionary power. I want to know from the outset on what revenues it proposes to lay its predatory hands. The Government should not have the power to make decisions unknown to Parliament, and of which nothing will be known, until the bailiffs are put into the State Treasury, and hardship is caused to the Government and people concerned. After all the State would not be in a position to change its sources of taxation. For instance, the revenue derived from licence fees might be seized. “ In that event it would be difficult to carry on the work connected with licencing, and other revenues would have to be taken in order that the department might continue to function. The Country party is at present much concerned about the encroachment ‘of the cattle tick on the north of New South “Wales. The State has to obtain revenue in order to combat that pest. It has set its course iu its budget and estimates. It has made its plans for the financial year, with the idea of administrating the country’s affairs while Parliament is in recess. If the amendment of the Senate is accepted, a State will not know where the blow is to be’ struck.. The dagger may strike from any angle, and the general conduct of the
State’s affairs may be seriously interfered with. Whereas, if we force this Government to name specifically the revenues that it may seize, and to state definitely its intention, that will give the State some opportunity to determine its course, and to take whatever means it thinks fit to combat the action of the Commonwealth.
– If the amendment is not made the Government would, supposing that half a dozen sources of revenue had been specified in the resolutions of the Parliament, have to put all those sources of revenue into its proclamation. They would then, perhaps, collect more than was required to make up the amount that the State, was in default, and repay the excess. That would embarrass the State terribly.
– I can see the point of the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), but he must agree with me that it is dangerous to allow the Government to take the action contemplated under the amendment without Parliament being consulted. I do not know whether the drafting of the bill is satisfactory, but it should be beyond doubt, considering that Sir Harrison Moore assisted the Government in the preparation of its provisions. The bill already makes provision for the Government to obtain any information that it requires. The State officers must, upon request, supply certain information, otherwise they will be subject to certain punishment. The Government should state its intentions in respect of this legislation. Because of the embarrassment that the amendment will create among the States, and the power that it will give to the Government to take action behind the back of Parliament, I am noi prepared to support it.
.- It is a little difficult to discuss this amendment when we differ as to its interpretation. I am opposed to clause 7, and to the method that the Government prescribes for the recovery of moneys due to it by a defaulting State. I expressed that view at the second-reading stage and the committee stage, and I repeat it again. But I am not prepared to take the responsibility of refusing any amendment which makes the application of this legislation. less harsh. I do not wish to be dogmatic, but as I interpret this amendment, it does make the application of this measure less harsh upon State revenues.
– Does not the amendment place upon the Commonwealth Government alone the responsibility of giving effect to this legislation?
– I wish to know whether under clause 7 the Government would have power to pass through this Parliament a general resolution merely specifying all the revenues of a State ?
– It would have to specify a definite revenue.
– That removes any objection to the amendment. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has made a good point. He considers that the Government should be compelled to show its hand to this Parliament, and not to take action by proclamation, which is an executive act. I agree with him entirely. But under this provision the Government has to show its hand. The revenue to be received must be specified. The power under clause 7 has already been given to the Government by both Houses of Parliament, certainly against my vote and against the vote of the party which the honorable member for West Sydney represents. That power might be used in a way most embarrassing toa State, because the Government could attach a whole series of revenues. But unless this amendment is accepted I foresee chaos in New South Wales. I do not say that this amendment will make the position very much easier for that State, but it will certainly make the conditions less harsh. I shall not take the responsibility of voting against any amendment that partly removes harsh features from an objectionable clause.
.- I wish to make my position clear in opposing the proposed amendment. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) has indicated that if we vote against the amendment, we shall bring chaos to New South Wales. In any case, the application of this legislation to New South Wales will bring about a state of chaos there. All we are asking is that the Government should disclose its intention to this Parliament. It should not have the right to discriminate between various sources of taxation. The Government of New South Wales probably intends to devise means to raise the necessary revenue with which to meet its obligations, and if this Government has the right to discriminate, between certain forms of taxation, it will be able to relieve a section of its supporters in that State from the dire effects of this measure. This Parliament would have no control over that. The Government itself, by issuing a proclamation, would be able to seize any class of revenue. I intend to vote against the amendment, not because, as has been suggested by the Minister, I desire to bring chaos to New South Wales, but because I am opposed to government by regulation. This Parliament should have some control of the Government in respect to any action it takes.
.- Honorable members belonging to the group led by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) asked, before the luncheon adjournment, that the House should give to them - a small minority - reasonable opportunity to consider the Senate amendments, and we on this side, considering that to be a reasonable request, agreed to it. They cannot deny that that request was agreed to in the most friendly spirit by members on this side of the chamber. There was not a solitary dissentient voice. Surely then, honorable members of that group will not now adopt stonewalling tactics?
– (Mr. Bell) Order!
– I have not said that those honorable members have been stonewalling; I spoke of the possibility of it taking place.
– Who is to determine whether the debate should be postponed or not?
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has spoken no less than twice on this amendment, and the honorable member for West Sydney has spoken three times.
– The honorable member for West Sydney has addressed the committee twice. No honorable member can address the committee more than twice on any question. Mr. HOLMAN. - Honorable members opposite have addressed the committee, so often that my error in arithmetic may,
I think, be pardoned. I appeal to them, in a friendly spirit, not to obstruct the course of these amendments. No honorable member wishes to deprive them of their right to give reasonable consideration to this legislation. We have suffered inconvenience to give them the opportunity.
– What are we here for?
Mr.- HOLMAN. - Not to hear two or three honorable members speak again and again.
– The honorable member should address his remarks to the question that the amendment be agreed to.
– I am appealing to the honorable member for West Sydney to allow the amendment to pass. He has already had most valuable advice to that effect’ from the Leader of the Opposition, and I add mine in the same spirit. Honorable members opposite must realize that opportunity will be available to them to secure the advice of their legal friends or their friends in the Parliament of New South Wales before the matter is finally - determined in this chamber next Tuesday.
– If this amendment is passed, that will be the final decision upon it.
– Surely there is no objection to it? The objections which the honorable member has raised are purely imaginative. It is not to be supposed that a man of his intelligence would he deceived by the arguments he has advanced. I ask the honorable members opposite to give a fair deal all round.
– We should give New South Wales a fair deal.
.- The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Holman) who has exhausted his privilege of speaking twice on this amendment, has complained of other honorable members doing the same thing, so, in defiance of him, I shall speak once. It would he grossly unfair to rush this amendment through this chamber, particularly in view of the fact that it emanated from another place at a time when its members were exhausted and had not the full use of their faculties.
– The honorable member must not reflect upon another place.
– The object of this legis lation is to embarrass the Government of New South Wales; because the Commonwealth Government need not specify what revenue it intends to seize from a defaulting State. The Government of New South Wales has considerable difficulty in obtaining sufficient revenue to enable it to feed its vast army of unemployed, and if this amendment is agreed to and the Government is permitted to seize any particular source of revenue, that State will soon be in a state of chaos. I do not know whether this Government wants the tin hare revenue or the State lottery revenue, but the motive behind this legislation is to force the Lang Government to the country. That is evident from the fact that this legislation is to operate for two years. The Government hopes that by the end “of that time, the life of the present Government of New South Wales will be at an end. The Lang Government will be active long after this Government is dead and buried. All that is being done in this chamber is sending up the stocks of the Premier of New South Wales, who is concerned about the welfare of humanity, and not the welfare of moneyed interests represented by honorable members opposite, and I include the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Holman), who was at one time a member of the Labour party, which he is now condemning. There never was a more bloodthirsty revolutionary than that honorable member.
-Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that statement.
– I will say that he was an extreme socialist.
– To refer to another honorable member as a bloodthirsty revolutionary is quite unparliamentary, and the honorable member must withdraw the statement.
– Having had the pleasure of making it, I shall withdraw it. I intend to pursue a policy of uncompromising hostility to all these amendments. They were made by the members of another place during an all-night sitting, when manifestly men were not able to think clearly.
– Order ! I have already warned the honorable member that he must not reflect upon the members of another place.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment No. 2.
Senate’s Amendment. - After “ act “ in the definition of “ specified revenue “ insert “ as is from time to time included in a Proclamation “.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) put -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 37
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment No. 3.
Clause 4 - “ The currency of the Proclamation “… means the period extending from the date fixed by a Proclamation issued in pursuance of section 7. . . .
Senate’s amendment. - Leave out “ a Proclamation issued in pursuance of “, and insert “ the Proclamation referred to in “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This is purely a drafting amendment to make the reference to the proclamation more accurate.
– The brief explanation of the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) is not satisfactory to me. There are other references to the proclamation in this schedule of amendments, and I should like to know exactly why these alterations are thought to be necessary. The bill provides that proclamations may be issued in respect of certain public bodies. The words “ a proclamationissued in pursuance of seem to me to be definite enough. If there is need to alter them we should be told the reason for it. On the other hand, if there is as little in this amendment as the Assistant Treasurer has suggested, I cannot understand why the committee should be worried with it. It is strange to me that drafting alterations should be necessary in a bill which, presumably, was carefully prepared in the first place. I take it that this amendment is not consequential upon any other alteration.
– It is not.
– Then the reason for inserting it must be to make an alteration.
– It looks to me like a mere alteration in verbiage.
– I give honorable members my assurance that this amendment is neither more nor less than a drafting improvement. Even the best draftsman in the world may at times express himself in a way which, on further consideration, he will see to be capable of improvement. A good draftsman takes pridein his work, and naturally desires it to be passed by Parliament in the best possible form. It is for that reason, and no other, that this alteration has been proposed.
.- Although the Assistant Treasurer has said that this is merely an alteration in verbiage, designed merely to improve the reading of the bill, I assure him, as a representative of a New South Wales constituency, that I am not prepared to accept the assurances given by honorable gentlemen opposite. We realize that the Government’s object in forcing this measure through this chamber without adequate consideration is to enable it to get at the throat of the Government and people of that State. I have not had the long parliamentary experience of the right honorable gentleman, and I feel that I should be given time to sit down quietly to consider exactly what these alterations mean. If we do not understand the amendments clearly, we certainly do understand clearly the object of the Government in introducing this bill. I realize that there are some honorable members, including the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Holman) who are anxious to catch the afternoon train to Sydney. My desire is to do the work that I was sent here to perform, and, even if the full discussion of this bill entails our remaining here days on end, I insist that the Minister in charge of the measure shall supply us with explanations that can be understood.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) made a gross and most offensive reference to myself, but I did not draw your attention to it, Mr. Chairman, because I did not think that it was worth while my doing so. The honorable member has now said that he does not understand that which I have assured the committee is purely a drafting alteration, that he intends to vote against it and to hold up the business of Parliament. If that is his intention, he will force the Government to show him no consideration. I suggest that I have been reasonably patient during the last hour and a quarter in connexion with this measure. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) stated this morning that if the amendment to any clause was of such a character that it would be fair and reasonable to postpone it in order that honorable members might give it their attention, the Government would do so. The Government will abide by that undertaking. In the amendment now before the committee there is no alteration that cannot readily be understood by honorable members, although they may disagree with some of them. The Government must insist upon this measure going through to-day, unless it can be shown that that procedure is an unfair one.
.- I assure the Acting Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) that I want no special consideration from the Government. I am aware that those whom the honorable gentleman and his party represent in this chamber are not the people represented by the party to which I have the honour to belong.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce)-put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 26
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the amendment be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority .. .. 32
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment No. 4.
Senate’s amendment. - After “sections”, subclause 2 insert “ five and six (with respect to the specified revenue of the State)”.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The object of the amendment is to make it perfectly clear that, so far as specified revenue is concerned, the definition of “the State” applies in clauses 5 and 6 as well as the clauses which are already mentioned. Behind this amendment is a fairly big principle, which received consideration when the bill was before this chamber. I can understand that honorable members opposite may object to the amendment, because it will have the effect of preventing a State from defeating the object of the measure by diverting its revenue to semi-governmental institu tions. The Government insists upon the amendment.
– So far as I have been able to understand the explanation of the Minister, it appears that, under this measure as amended, the Commonwealth Government will have power to seize funds standing to the credit of semigovernmental institutions engaged in providing service to the public. The explanation seemed to indicate that such revenue could be seized even without the assistance of this amendment, but evidently the Government desires to make certain. The Government is prepared to go to any length to seize the funds of a Slate so that these may be sent abroad to satisfy the claims of bondholders. Even the money necessary for the upkeep of hospitals and the relief of the indigent may be attached by the Commonwealth. With the winter approaching, this is a very serious matter for many citizens of New South Wales, and I am compelled to enter an emphatic protest against it. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Gullett) chooses to laugh, and I only hope that he will never find himself in the position of absolute want, as many persons in New South Wales are to-day. This proposal to rob a State of its last penny of revenue is something to which I can never agree. Honorable members opposite, who regard this measure with such enthusiasm, should remember that before very long the same conditions as obtain in New South Wales may exist in the other States of the Commonwealth as well. As bad as the bill was when it left this chamber, the amendments of the Senate have made it worse, and appear to be designed to destroy entirely the State of New South Wales.
.- This amendment widens the application of clause 6, which is the most objectionable of all the clauses in the measure, because it gives power to attach the revenues of a State without even recourse to the High Court. The amendment proposes to make the provisions of clause 6 applicable to State institutions other than the Government. I am opposed to it for the same reason that I supported the previous amendment, the effect of which was to narrow the application of the bill.
Question - That the amendment be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr Bell.)
Majority . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment No. 5.
Clause 5 -
Senate’s amendment - Leave out “ when ever.” sub-clause 1, insert “ at any other time when “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The obvious intention under this clause was that the Auditor-General, whenever requested by the Treasurer, should consider whether there was, or was not, a sum owing by a defaulting State, and should then give a certificate stating the amount ; but the clause might conceivably be read as meaning that the AuditorGeneral should furnish his certificate only after the close of each financial year, when requested by the Treasurer to do so. That would make it necessary to wait till the end of the financial year for the Auditor-General’s certificate, and he’ would then give it whenever the Treasurer asked him to do so. Of course, that was not the intention, and we are now putting the matter beyond doubt.
. -There is, apparently, no doubt as to what was the original intention, but there is grave doubt whether the clause, as drafted, gave effect to that intention. Since I am opposed to the principle of the clause, I also object to the amendment.
– I share the view expressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin). We have tried to delay the passage of this bill, realizing that if circumstances change, New South Wales may be able to emerge from its present difficulties without the financial chaos which this measure would involve. Time is an important factor with governments as with private individuals. A government may be able to do to-morrow what it cannot do to-day.
The consideration of this amendment, particularly, ought to be postponed. There is no disguising the intention of the Government to give immediate effect to the bill. Important decisions will be reached by the Privy Council with respect to the powers of the New South Wales Government, and in the near future that Government will probably have an opportunity of doing what is necessary to meet its overseas obligations without placing undue hardship upon the people of that State. This Government has brought down this bill because it knows that the New South Wales Government made an attempt to place the financial burden on the shoulders of those best able to bear it. If the supporters of the Commonwealth Government approached their friends in the Legislative Council of New South Wales, and urged them to assist the Labour Government in that State to legislate in the best interests of the people; the financial difficulty of New
South Wales would be overcome. If the Upper House in New South Wales withdrew its objection to the financial policy of the Lang Government, that Ministry would be able to meet all its commitments overseas, and also discharge its obligations to the people of the State.. Therefore, I am not prepared to assist the Government in giving immediate effect to this measure. If a reasonable time had to elapse before it could be put into operation, it would probably not be necessary to put it into effect at all.
Question put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 6, 7, and 8 (Verbal amendments in clauses 5 and 6) agreed to.
Amendment No. 9.
Clause 6 -
Notwithstanding the provisions of the last preceding section, if, at any time after the Auditor-General has given to the Treasurer such a certificate . . . each House of Parliament resolve’s . . . that the certificate be approved and adopted, and that by reason of urgency it is desirable that the provisions of sections seven to thirteen (inclusive) of this Part should apply immediately in relation to the State specified in the motion and, in order to protect the interests of the Commonwealth until the question of the liability of the State has been determined by the High Court, pursuant to an application under this section, should have effect with respect to the specified revenue of that State, the provisions of those sections shall apply and have effect accordingly to the extent of the amount set forth in the certificate, or of any smaller amount stilted in the resolution.
Senate’s amendment - After “ State “ last occurring, sub-clause 1, insert “to the extent -
of the amount set forth in the certificate or of any smaller amount stated in the resolution, and
in case any smaller amount is so stated, of the item or items comprised in that amount “.
– I move -
That the amendment be a.greed to.
– Is the Minister going on with the consideration of all the alterations made in another place, or will he give an opportunity to honorable members to consider the more important amendments over the week-end?
– The Government intends to deal with all the amendments now. As was indicated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) this morning, if any important principle emerges as the result of their consideration, it will be only fair and reasonable to give a further opportunity of discussing it. The Prime Minister said that if the amendments could be shown to go beyond the principles of the original measure, which was fully discussed in this chamber, he would consider the granting of time over the week-end for their further consideration, but up to now, no new principle has emerged, and a close study of the amendments shows that no such principle will emerge. The Auditor-General gives his certificate, and on that the resolution of the House is framed. If it is proposed to deal in the resolution with an amount smaller than that mentioned in the certificate, under this amendment provision is made for itemizing the part of the certificate with regard to which it is proposed to proceed.
– This amendment, like that relating to the proclamation, gives to the Government discretionary power. I again assert that whatever amounts are to be obtained should be declared and sanctioned by Parliament.
– This provision is in no way similar to that relating to the proclamation.
– The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) has at his disposal a staff of draftsmen to prepare amendments and supply to him full information as to their effect. When that information is not given to the committee, we are justified in believing that the Government is trying to force the amendments through without letting honorable members know their meaning and effect. I want the fullest record of such explanations, so that later, when the validity of this legislation is tested, we shall be able to expose to the world the worth of the opinion of that great constitutional lawyer who is assisting the Government. If the Assistant Minister is just throwing to us half -explanations, he cannot blame us if we draw our own conclusions as to his motives. The amendment seems to be in keeping with the general purpose of the bill to make easier the onslaught on the revenues of a State, so that if the Commonwealth is challenged on one point it can retreat to another. I shall vote against the amendment.
– The clause provides that the certificate of the AuditorGeneral, having been given, and that amount, or some smaller amount, having been embodied in a resolution of this Parliament, clauses 7 to 13, prescribing the subsequent procedure, shall apply. The amendment has the same effect, but provides that where a smaller amount than the total which the Auditor-General has certified is included in the resolution, the item or items comprised in that amount shall be stated. It in no way resembles the amendment relating to the proclamation, as the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has declared. The Government has no power to vary items after they have been included in the resolution of Parliament.
.- The Prime Minister’s promise that amendments of which honorable members had doubts would be postponed, has been interpreted by the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) in a manner different from my understanding of it. The Government is able to obtain the advice of an eminent legal authority who is now in Canberra, but the members of my party have not that advantage. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Holman) stated a few days ago that a court had regard not to what Parliament intended, but to the language of the statute. Unless we have an opportunity to obtain legal advice we may allow to pass amendments whose effect is very different from what the Government intends. What is the urgent need for dealing to-day with the 22 amendments made by the Senate? If we are allowed to consult our advisers in New South Wales at the week-end we shall be able to vote more intelligently on the amendments on Tuesday. As the Assistant Treasurer is giving vague explanations that merely confuse the issue, I shall vote against all the amendments.
Question - That amendment he agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment No. 10 (consequential) agreed to. .
Amendment No. 11.
Clause 7 -
The specified revenue of the State shall, subject to this act, as from a date to be fixed by proclamation and during the currency of the proclamation, became payable to the Treasurer, or, if the Treasurer, by notice in the Gazette, so directs, to authorized persons, and in accordance with such directions as are contained in the notice.
Senate’s amendment.- Line 1, before “ The “ (first occurring) insert “Upon a resolution being passed by both Houses of the Parliament in pursuance of section five or six of this Part.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Clauses 5, 6 and 7, read together, clearly require that a resolution of both Houses of Parliament shall precede the issue of a proclamation. The words proposed to be added make clause 7 self-contained in that respect, without increasing or otherwise varying the powers already conferred in the bill.
– I have previously opposed this provision that a resolution of Parliament shall set in motion machinery for the forcible collection of moneys said to be due by a State to the Commonwealth. That point has been fully argued. No doubt time will determine whether this action can be taken. But it is not my purpose now to condone it by supporting the amendment, which the Minister states will remove any doubt as to what is intended. The amendment imposes upon the Government a power which it is not within the province of this Parliament to grant, and, therefore, I shall vote against it.
Question - That the amendment be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . … 19
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment No. 12.
Clause 7 -
Senate’s amendment. - At the end of the clause add the following sub-clause: - “(2.) Where a resolution passed in pursuance of this act specifies or describes more than one class of revenue, it shall not be necessary that all the classes so specified or described shall be included in one proclamation, but different classes may be included in successive proclamations, and their inclusion shall have effect as from the dates respectively fixed by those proclamations.”
– This amendment relates to clause 7 which we discussed when the definition clause was before us, and we were dealing with specified revenue. This amendmentdeals with the resolution, and provides for a subsequent proclamation covering part and not necessarily the whole of the specified revenues. In viewof the previous discussion on the definition clause, it is unnecessary for me to say anything further. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– This amendment is likely to bring about chaos beyond expression in an alleged . defaulting State. It provides for the passing by both Houses of the Parliament of a resolution in which all the revenues of a State, may he named. It is possible that the revenues named may be more than sufficient for the purposes of the Commonwealth, and if that occurred the so-called defaulting State would be placed in a serious position. The Government, after passing a resolution through both Houses of the Parliament, could go into recess indefinitely, and still retain the power to name and collect the revenues of an alleged defaulting State. We cannot look into the future, but it may happen that within the next eighteen months or two years we shall have falling revenues and increasing unemployment. lt may be exceedingly difficult to meet our commitments overseas, and if the Commonwealth is financially embarrassed, itmay, under the power which is now being given to it, seize revenues that are necessary for the maintenance of vital State services, such as health. If, in two years’ time, the whole of the Governments of Australia were financially embarrassed, and the Commonwealth Government before seizing certain revenue of the defaulting States,’ were compelled to obtain the sanction of this Parliament, I assert that it would be refused. :,We should not give a free hand to this Government when it is humanly impossible to determine what the future is likely to have in store for us. The Government and its supporters seem to be prepared to go to any lengths to save their faces, and to gloss over their past utterances. This is a brazen attempt on the part of the Government to try to sneak this measure through.
– The Government is adopting a most unfair attitude in trying to obtain authority under this amendment, particularly in view of the general circumstances of this country. Its supporters, both inside and outside of this chamber, are adopting an attitude that is inimical to the best interests of this country. It is an attitude that has been condemned by prominent men overseas. Yet it is being maintained at the expense of the suffering unemployed, of the Business man who has been forced into bankruptcy, and of the struggling farmer who has been thrown on the road. I hope the honorable member will reject the amendment.
.- The point which the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has taken on this amendment will become a real issue when the resolution is before us. It has nothing whatever to do with the amendment. When the resolution is brought down, I shall be with the honorable member in fighting it, and particularly fighting against any resolution -which specifies more than one source of revenue. I submit to the honorable member that this amendment does not empower the Government to specify any revenues, or even to issue a proclamation. All “it does is to enable the Government after a resolution has been passed by this House to separate the classes of revenue in different proclamations.
– Does this amendment mean that after a resolution has been passed by the Parliament the Government may for an indefinite period issue proclamations pursuant to it?
– The course will be, I presume, that the Government will request the Parliament to pass a resolution covering more than one class of revenue. If that is done any proclamation that is issued will, if this amendment is not -agreed to, have to cover every class of revenue mentioned in the resolution; but if the amendment is passed, it will cover only the classes of revenue specified in it. We have already dealt with one amendment which widened the scope of the bill, and I opposed it; this amendment narrows the scope of the measure to some extent and I shall vote for it.
– The Leader of the Opposition has put the case plainly. The object of this amendment is to provide for a less drastic exercise of the powers of the bill than would otherwise be necessary.
– If a resolution is passed by both Houses of the Parliament will it remain in force indefinitely, and may the Government continue, from time to time, to issue proclamations pursuant to its provisions?
– As the bill left this House it provided that a resolution attaching the revenues of any State which was in default would remain in force until the default had been corrected. A later amendment on this schedule provides that a proclamation which has been issued against the defaulting State may be withdrawn before the full amount of the default is repaid by the State, provided that the Commonwealth Government is satisfied that the State concerned is making every effort to meet its obligations. This amendment provides that a proclamation may specify only part of the revenues referred to in the resolution. To that extent it reduces the possible severity of the legislation.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 13 and 14.
Any Minister of, or officer or person employed by, a State, who -
receives, directs or permits the receipt of any moneys by or on behalf of a State the payment of which would be a contravention of the provisions of this act; or
gives, or offers to give to any person any indemnity in respect of the payment to or on behalf of the State of any moneys the payment of which to the State would be a contravention of those provisions, shall be guilty of an offence.
Senate’s amendments. - After the word “ State “, first occurring, insert “ and any other person “. At the end of the clause add the following sub-clause: - “2. Any indemnity the giving of which is an offence against this section shall be absolutely void and of no effect.”
– I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
The purpose of the first amendment is undoubtedly to widen the scope of the clause, which already provides that any Minister of a State, or officer or person employed by a State, shall, in certain circumstances, be liable to an offence. It is quite possible, however, that some person not employed by a State may advise or cause a State employee or a Minister of a State to receive money in contravention of this act, or give or offer an indemnity in respect of moneys paid in contravention of the measure. It is only just that such persons should be equally guilty, with a Minister or State employee, who does similar things.
– I am opposed to this amendment, which shows clearly the lengths to which the members of another place were prepared to go in order to enable the Government to give effect to the. provisions of this bill. As I understand the clause, it will, if agreed to, enable action to be taken against any person who resists the enforcement of this legislation. In this respect it may fairly be compared with a certain measure passed recently by the Irish Free State Parliament. A change of government has, however, nullified that legislation, as a change of government here may soon nullify this measure. It is quite feasible that persons who are State employees feel that they owe allegiance to their State, and may act in such a way as to resist the operation of this proposed law. Surely employees of a State are entitled to their own opinions as to the laws of the country in which they live. [Quorum formed.’] It has happened more than once, that parliaments have passed laws which have been a distinct infringement of the liberties of the people. Not many years ago, a New South Wales Government passed a law which a large section of the people regarded as a direct infringementof their liberties, and steps were taken to organize active resistance to it. Fortunately, a change of government occurred about that time, and the proposed action was rendered unnecessary. Freedom of speech and the liberty of the subject have always been jealously guarded rights of the people of British communities; but if I interpret this clause correctly, it is a direct contravention of those principles. It appears to me that if this amendment is agreed to, any person who publicly protests against the operation of thisproposed law, or who advises other persons to resist the application of it, will be guilty of an offence. To pass such a law would beto bring the power and authority of this Parliament into contempt. Those who are prepared to avoid compliance with this law may establish an organization to resist it. Personally, I have always been against the setting up of such organizations if it can be avoided for I realize that though they may serve an immediate purpose, they may not, after that purpose has been fulfilled, readily accept any further direction that their organizers desire. I have always considered that Parliament should safeguard the right of the people to express themselves freely on public questions, and this Parliament has protected that right hitherto. I again remind the Government that we are passing through an abnormal period. Things are happening in these days which are unprecedented in our history, and actions are being taken which, in ordinary circumstances, would not be contemplated for a moment. While some honorable members may be prepared to go to any lengths, in order to impose the will of this Parliament upon the people of New South Wales, it must be remembered that coercive legislation of this description has always proved to be futile. The Assistant Treasurer, when he was Prime Minister of this country, caused Parliament to pass an act which entirely failed to achieve the objects which he had in mind. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway.) is well aware of the measure to which I refer, because its provisions were put in operation against him. The Government may rest assured that this measure will also prove futile, for the all-sufficient reason that the human factor has been left out of account. I strongly object to any restriction of the recognized rights of citizenship, and I intend to do everything I can to preserve my. right to express such disapproval publicly in the strongest possible terms. It is not properly within the province of this Parliament to take away from our citizens the right to express their opinions on the laws of this country, and to protest against harsh and unjust legislation. The Government may rest assured that the human factor will make itself felt if ever this law is put into operation, and the result may be very different from what the Government thinks it will be.
– The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has quite misunderstood both the object of this clause and the object of the amendment. It surely is apparent to him that the words “ and any person,” which it is now proposed to insert in the clause, will applyonly to those persons who do the acts which are made an offence by the provision of the clause. No attempt is being made to interfere with freedom of speech or the liberty of the subject, in the way suggested by the honorable member. All that is desired is that those who contravene the provisions of the clause shall be liable to punishment.
.- The amendment really widens the application of the measure, and because of that I am against it. As the same issues are involved in amendments 13 and 14, I suggest they should be dealtwith together.
– I approve of the suggestion. I take it that if a State makes provision to protect its subjects for their loyalty to it this clause will render such action null and void.
.- The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) intimated that the provisions of this clause involve the principle of freedom of speech. I should like the Minister in charge of the bill to indicate whether it will be an offence under this legislation for anybody to address the people of New South Wales, and advise them not to allow themselves to be used as the tools of the Commonwealth Government in its attack against the Lang administration. I am particularly interested, because I candidly confess that if the action I have referred to will be an infringement of the law, I shall be one of those guilty of it.
Question - That the amendments be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell).
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the alternative.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 15 to 20 (Amendments to clauses 17 and 18) agreed to.
Amendment No. 21.
Senate’s amendment. - After clause 19, insert the following new clause inPart VI.: - “ 19a. Nothing contained in this act shall impair or diminish the control of the High Court over the execution or enforcement of any judgment of the Court.”
– Earlier provisions of the bill enact that a declaration as to an amount being due and owing is the equivalent of a judgment of the High Court to that effect. This pmendment is inserted because nothing in this measure is intended to cut across any of the powers of the judiciary, or the enforcement of its judgments. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
. -if I read this clause correctly, it indicates that if there is a measure of doubt concerning the action contemplated by the Federal Government, the clause is for the purpose that that doubt may be overruled when it suits the Government. It seems strange to me that a clause of that nature can be inserted in our legislation. This amendment gives the Government a let-out if certain aspects of the bill are open to question in their general application. It certainly does not appear to me to do what the Minister indicates that it will do. It merely restricts the powers of the defendants in a case instituted by the Commonwealth. The measure is a maze of legal technicalities, and while I do not profess to have much legal knowledge, I do think it remarkable that a clause that is so advantageous to the plaintiff, should be inserted in this legislation. The Government is attempting to save its face, both coming and going. No doubt those who are advising it feel that adragnet clause of this description will be very helpful to overcome the weaknesses of the measure. Of course, the amendment will be passed, as nobody appears to be interested except the members of my party.
Mr.Rosevear. - The New South Wales “ Labour “ men have gone home.
– Yes, they seem to think that the interests of the labour movement of New South Wales can be left entirely in the hands of those who are advising the Government, and they do not worry further about it. Perhaps their turn will come later. I object to the nature of this clause.
Motion agreed to.
Amendment No. 22 -
Senate’samendments. - After clause 22, insert the following clause: - 22a. The expiry of this act, or the cessation (whether by virtue of the issue of a Proclamation or otherwise) of the application of the provisions of sections seven to thirteen (inclusive) of PartII. of this act in relation to any State, shall not affect -
any right, privilege, obligation or liability acquired, accrued or incurred thereunder;
any penalty, forfeiture or punishment incurred in consequence of any offence committed against this act; or
any investigation, legal proceeding or remedy in respect of any such right, privilege, obligation, liability, penalty, forfeiture or punishment as aforesaid : and any such investigation, legal proceeding or remedy may be instituted, continued or enforced, and any such penalty, forfeiture or punishment may be imposed, as if this act had continued in operation, or the provisions of sections seven to thirteen (inclusive) of Part II. had not ceased to apply, as the case may be.”
– This provision is similar to one that is incorporated in the Acts Interpretation Act. On the expiration of the operation of an act or proclamation, there may be some things which arose during the currency of the act or proclamation which are not finalized. If such a provision as this did not exist, there would be a complete cessation of the powers of the Commonwealth in regard to those matters. This amendment will enable the provisions of the act or proclamation to operate until the situation has been cleared up.
.- If we agreed with the general principles of the bill, we should take little exception to this amendment, but as we oppose the bill generally we cannot agree to the amendment. The effect of this amendment, if passed, would be that after the period for which this legislation was to have effect had expired, action taken under it could be continued until everything was cleaned up to the satisfaction of the Commonwealth Government. In order to meet the objections of honorable members, the term of this proposed legislation was deliberately limited to two years, and I object to that term being extended under any pretext whatever.
– If the Government desires to keep the act in force longer than that, it should do so by bringing in fresh legislation.
– Yes. This amendment also provides for the period in which a proclamation has been issued, but that matter is in the hands of the Government.
– The life of this measure was determined after its provisions had been made public. The period was fixed in response to criticism from the States, particularly from Tasmania. The Attorney-General of that State declared that he would use all his power and authority to defeat the bill unless the period of its operation were limited.
– He said that he would join forces with the honorable member’s group.
– His declaration was rendered so much the better by that. The Tasmanian Parliament unanimously carried the resolution protesting against the bill.
– That was after it was stated that the period would be limited to two years.
– That may be so, but the period was limited after the protests had been made in Tasmania and elsewhere. It was in response to those protests that the Prime Minister made a statement that the period would be limited to two years, and that before the expiration of that time the representatives of the State would have opportunity of meeting and reviewing the matter. The Premier of Tasmania, when objecting to the measure, merely voiced the feeling of the majority of the people of that State. He said that he was prepared to join with other objecting States to protest against the legislation. The idea seemed to be that his party hopes to change after the expiration of two years, the government in New South Wales, and the present Commonwealth Government does not desire the provisions of this measure to be used against a State Government of which it approves. But should the present Government be returned, the Commonwealth Government desires to have power to heap up obligations against it, so that it may be embarrassed for an indefinite period. By inserting the two years limitation, the Government has sought to placate those State Governments which are alleged to be meeting their obligations, but by this dragnet amendment it will still retain power to harass the New South Wales Government, even after the expiration of two years. If the Commonwealth Government has confidence in this measure, it should leave the period of two years unchanged. It should be competent to carry through what action it thinks necessary in that time. I shall vote against the amendment.
Question - That the amendment (No. 22) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Resolutions reported ; report adopted.
Message received from the Senate intimating that, having considered message No. 4 relating to a proposed joint select committee, it had agreed to the following resolutions in connexion therewith: -
That the Senate agrees to the appointment of a joint select committee for the purpose of completing and presenting to Parliament a report of the inquiry previously conducted by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts into -
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) - by leave - agreed to -
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -
That the House at its rising adjourn until Tuesday next at 3 p.m.
– In moving-
That the House do now adjourn,
I desire to notify honorable members that the Government intends prior to the Easter adjournment to dispose of the Broadcasting Bill, the War Service Homes Bill, and the Lands Acquisition Bill. Those measures will be taken in that order. Possibly at an earlier stage the House will be asked to deal with resolutions consequent upon the passage of the Financial Agreements Enforcement Bill. It may be necessary to have a late sitting on one night next week, but the Government desires to avoid that if possible.
When the time . expired for the discussion of the formal adjournment motion this morning, the Government was anxious to proceed with the consideration of the Senate’s amendments to the Financial Agreements Enforcement Bill; there was no wish to curtail the discussion on the subject of unemployment, and I promised that the extra couple of hours that might have been obtained to-day by extending the time allowed for the debate would be made available to honorable members at a later stage. The Government will do everything possible to make two hours, or even a longer period, available to honorable members next week. This may involve a late sitting, but we shall endeavour to Garry out our promise prior to the Easter adjournment. It is proposed to limit the time for which each honorable member will be permitted to speak on the subject of unemployment, as it was limited this morning by the Standing Orders, the object being, not to prevent discussion, but to provide an opportunity for as many members as possible to participate in the debate rather than have the time monopolized by a few honorable members. It is intended to adjourn on Thursday for the Easter recess.
Mr.Hughes. - Will the House sit in the morning?
– That may be necessary. The Government is willing to meet the convenience of honorable members. It had been intended to have a recess of three weeks, but in view of the possibility of a meeting of the State Premiers to discuss the unemployment problem, it maybe necessary to have an adjournment of a month. I think that honorable members realize that the subject of unemployment is of sufficient importance to give every opportunity to the StateGovernments to fully consider it.
– Will the suggestions made in this House bo presented by the Government to the Premiers Conference.
– I do not promise that ; but the suggestions made by honorable members in the course of the discussion will be considered by the Government in the preparation of any proposals it places before the Premiers Conference. If the Government can accept such suggestions, they will be embodied in its own proposals. In any case, all suggestions will receive publicity through the publishing of the records of the debates, and the State Premiers will thus be informed of the suggestions made in this Parliament.
. - I was anxious this morning to join in the debate on the unemployment problem, in order to impress upon the House the imperative necessity for immediate action. Being shut out, under the Standing Orders. I intended to speak on the motion for the adjournment this afternoon ; but if the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) assures us that two hours will be allowed next week for the discussion of the matter, and that the time allotted will not be in the late hours of Thursday afternoon-
– The Government undertakes toallot a proper time for the discussion of the matter.
– On that promise, I shall reserve my remarks until next week.
. - During the debate on the unemployment problem this morning, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) said that at the time of the last election I had promised jobs to the men in an unemployment camp at Maroubra. At that time, there was no such camp at Maroubra. But no such statement as was alleged by the honorable member to have been made byme was made at any place in my electorate. The only statements made by me in regard to the provision of employment were in keeping with the policy speech of the Leader of the United Australia party (Mr. Lyons) in the Sydney town hall.
It was said by an honorable member opposite that of the New South Wales representatives on this side of the House the only members present during the debate were the honorable members for Lang (Mr. Dein) and Martin (Mr. Holman). The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J Harrison), and myself were in the House when this statement was made,and remained in the House during the discussion. I regret that there is a tendency in this House to make party capital of unemployment. I hope that in future, instead of doing this, honorable members opposite will cooperate with the Government in assisting to solve this problem.
– No doubt the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Jennings) go down well with the party of which he is a member. Nevertheless, what I have said is true; at the time of the last election the unemployment situation was exploited by the presentMinisters and their supporters to a degree previously unknown in the history of Australia. Members opposite used every means at their disposal to take advantage of it. Full-paged advertisements appeared from day to day in the leading newspapers; literature of an unprecedented character was distributed among the people. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has shown me a series of pamphlets distributed in a Victorian electorate, in publishing which the party opposite descended to the lowest level. It is all very well for members opposite to talk now about the need for seeing that no party capital is made over this problem. They are comfortably in office, but to get on to the ministerial benches they endeavoured to blacken as much as possible the characters of honorable members now sitting with me on this side of the chamber. Their present talk will not go down with me for a moment. In his remarks about the camp at Maroubra, the honorable member for South Sydney is only splitting hairs. The people of the South Sydney electorate know that there was an unemployed camp at La Perouse long before the last election, and it was to that camp, known as the “ Happy Valley “ camp that I referred. Similar promises to those madein the South Sydney electorate were made by the United Australia party in other electorates.I desire the reminder to go back to Happy Valley, Redfern, and other thickly populated centres in South Sydney and neighbouring electorates that these promises were made by the honorable member and others of his party, and that now is the time for giving effect to them. The Leader of the United Australia party (Mr. Lyons) stated in the Sydney town hall that prosperity would be restored immediately a change of government took place; and I intend to see that members opposite now stand up to their responsibilities in that regard. It is not a question of taking political advantages, but of compelling members to do the job for which they were elected. It is my intention to take care that the present Government does not neglect the claims of the unemployed. The policy of my party is therefore to focus attention on the many pre-election promises made by the Government. This should be done in the interests of those unfortunates who are now without employment, whose welfare depends on the provision of work, and the resumption of normal commercial activities. The Commonwealth Government controls the credit resources of this country, and therefore it has more power than the State Governments to restore normal conditions. In this matter, the State Governments are practically powerless. These gentlemen knew that,but they did not say that at the general election. I, and my colleagues, will therefore take every opportunity of exposing them in their true light, so that the people of New South Wales may know their real value.
Mr.RIORDAN (Kennedy) [5.28].- The people were undoubtedly led to believe at the last election that if the United Australia party were returned to power, employment would be found for the workless, and money would flow into Australia as the result of the change of government. Although a confidence trick was played upon the people by the party now in power, a large number of thinking people in the Commonwealth were under the impression that the advent of that party to power would result in money being made available for the provision of employment. At the last State election in Queensland, the Nationalist party used the placard “£2,000,000 for 10,000 jobs”; but unemployment has never been so widespread in Queensland as it has since the return of the Nationalist Government in that State. They baulked the efforts of the Scullin Government to relieve unemployment. Now they have power and responsibility, and some genuine effort to cope with this pressing problem is due from them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 5.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 March 1932, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1932/19320311_reps_13_133/>.