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Wednesday, 14 October 1914

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable member must not anticipate the discussion of that paragraph in the Speech of the Governor-General.

Mr J H CATTS - I am not anticipating it. I think that I am entitled to show that the Government have laid it down in the Speech of the GovernorGeneral that they cannot provide for the promises that they made to the country, and which require the expenditure of money. Yet we can vote this money for Belgium.

Mr SPEAKER -The honorable member is in order in making a casual reference to the paragraph, but he must not discuss it.

Mr J H CATTS - I do not propose to discuss the paragraph. It is a paragraph of four lines, which states the position of the Government in regard to thepromises they have made. Theparagraph goes on to say -

Legislation to effect theseobjects will be introduced as soon as the state of the finances makes it practicable.

Mr SPEAKER - If the honorable member is not going to discuss the matter he can have no object in quoting the paragraph. When the motion before the House is disposed of there will be ample opportunity for the honorable member to discuss the paragraph to the fullest possible extent. If I allowed the honorable member to quote one paragraph he might quote all the paragraphs, which, of course, I could not permit. In the cir cumstances I cannot allow the honorable member to quote the paragraph.

Mr J H CATTS - Would I be permitted to move an amendment, to the effect that before the money is voted away to another country, provision should be made to carry out pensions to widows and orphan children in Australia ?

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member may submit an amendment of that description, and when he does so I shall deal with it.

Mr J H CATTS - I think that I am entitled to say that the Government has made a statement to the effect that it is not practicable at the present time to proceed with legislation for the purpose of providing for pensions to widows and orphans and of carrying out their promises in regard to increasing old-age pensions. If it is not practicable to do that, then I contend it is neither practicable nor opportune for us to vote away money to another country. My personal feelings are that I should like to be able to vote money, or do something substantial, in order to aid the Belgians.

I oppose this motion, not because I do not feel sorry for all that has transpired, but because I have to give an account of my stewardship. There are widows and orphans in my electorate who are in need, and I know of no means of assisting them from the public purse. What answer am I to give to them ? It is estimated that to provide for widows and orphans on the same scale as is adopted in New Zealand would cost £130,000; yet here we are voting away £100,000 that would provide for our widows and orphans in the first year. Later on I shall probably have to go before my constituents and tell them that the Commonwealth Parliament could not carry out its promises because there was not the money to do so.

Mr Poynton - You did not consider my promises to my constituents.

Mr J H CATTS - I am not here to consider the promises the honorable member made to his constituents. He can speak for himself very well.. He refers to the Tariff discussion. I have carried out the promises I made to my constituents in that matter, and the honorable gentleman had to take what course he thought proper in regard to any obligation upon him.

Mr Joseph Cook - There is a good time coming.

Mr J H CATTS - Every day men are knocking at my door who are out of employment. In their homes the cupboards are bare. What can I offer?

Mr McWilliams - Good advice.

Mr J H CATTS - That is a very good Liberal policy. If a man comes to you hungry, give him good advice. However, that is not good enough for me. I want tooffer something better than good advice to hungry men and women.

Mr McWilliams - What do you do for them ?

Mr J H CATTS - The best I can in Parliament to improve their position, and I take this opportunity of pointing out that this money could be better used to improve their condition. 1 haveno wish to get to cross purposes with honorable members in this matter. It would be much easier for me to agree with them. To have to disagree with honorable members on an occasion like this is not pleasant, but I feel that I am right in the course I am taking. If a vote is taken on this matter I shall be reluctantly compelled to vote against granting this £100,000 to Belgium. The first business that should take place in this Parliament on its assembling is the consideration of the financial position, and I shall not be a party to voting away money outside Australia until I first see whether we can provide for the necessities of our own situation. Just now we are absolutely in the dark as to these matters; we know nothing whatever about them.

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