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Thursday, 26 August 1920

Mr LIVINGSTON (Barker) .- The honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) is an authority on all Australian matters, but when he says that he has never known two and a half years of good seasons in Australia, he makes a statement capable of doing more damage to our financial institutions than any that could be made.

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) - Do you wish him to tell lies?

Mr LIVINGSTON - It would not be lies, as the honorable member knows. There' is not the slightest doubt that every derogatory statement of that kind will be cabled to London, and Australia will be again represented as a droughtstricken country, whereas it is one of the finest in the world. As a matter of fact, Australia at the present time is suffering from too much water. In South Australia some £2,500,000 is being spent in drainage work which, when finished, will render the State one of the most fertile in the Commonwealth, if not in the Empire. At a time like this, when we require money, statements such as that made by the honorable member for Grampians ought 'not to be allowed to go forth and reach the ears of those who lend money.

The Postmaster-General (Mr. Wise) has duties of the greatest importance, and I think he is one on whom we can rely to perform them. As pointed out already, all our previous Postmasters-General came from New South Wales, and there is no doubt we had a very good one in the person of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman). Now we have the present PostmasterGeneral, who is alive to the fact that we must have postal facilities, and all he requires to provide them is money. Previous Postmasters-General did very good work indeed; so good, indeed, in my constituency, that, when we get telephonic communication between Mr Gambier and Adelaide, our system will be about complete. Apparently, whenever it is thought fit to economize, the Postal Department is selected as that in which to begin, though it is the very last place where there should be any lack of expenditure. People must have telephonic and telegraphic communication and general postal facilities in the cheapest form; and until these are provided we cannot blame people for electing to remain in the big cities. Given good roads, schools, good mail services, with telegraphic and telephonic communication, and other conveniences, we should find our young men and others quite willing to settle in the country. It is to that end we should work, instead of wasting so much time in idle talk here. We have been sitting now for three months and have practically done nothing, and, under the present system, I am afraid we should do no more if we were to remain here for three years. If I had my way I would put a stiff time limit to speeches, so that we might get on with the work of the country. We, as a Parliament, ought- to meet prepared to work all together in the interest of the country, and not be so continuously fighting one against the other. One great change that might prove effective is the institution of elective Ministries, which would result in our getting some men from the other.side, and so unite the talent and brains of the House. With elective Ministries I believe we should be able to pull together in the interests of Australia and of the Empire.

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