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Thursday, 22 October 1931

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - The remarks of the right honorable gentleman are outside the scope of the amendment. The loan position, although slightly cognate to this debate, is not sufficiently so to enable it to be discussed.

Mr SCULLIN - The power of proclamation vitally affected the development of our favorable trade balance, and itsaved this country from insolvency.

Mr Gullett - It had nothing to do with it.

Mr SCULLIN - There had grown up in this country an extravagant system under which not only the governments of Australia but also private people were buying oversea goods on borrowed money. They were building up a huge debt in respect of oil and motor cars, and absolutely pawning this country to foreign traders. We came into office facing the worst economic and financial position in the history of this country, with an accumulated adverse trade balance of over £100,000,000. In . 1929-30, when we took office, the adverse trade balance, apart altogether from gold and bullion, was £32,000,000, and in that year we were unable to borrow money overseas. Imports were flowing in, and we had to check them at once. This year, because of the action taken by the Government, we have a favorable trade balance of £28,000,000.

Mr Gullett - Nonsense ! It is due mostly to the reduced purchasing power of the community.

Mr SCULLIN - It is true that our ability to import was affected, not only by the reduced value of our exports, but also by the decline in the purchasing power of the community. The value of our imports in the last financial year was £45,000,000. The power of proclamation, which we have exercised, has enabled us to regulate the classes of goods imported into Australia. Honorable members seem to have lost sight of that fact. We were importing millions of pounds worth of goods that should never have been admitted into this country. I refer to luxury lines, such as tinned meats and vegetables, even dairy products. W e were rapidly approaching the position in which we would not have had sufficient credit from our exports with which to pay for imported lines that were necessary to carry on industry in Australia. There was no money for imported raw materials or essential machinery. There was no money for tho essential things that we needed, but there were millions of pounds available for luxury lines that could be manufactured successfully in Australia. We have turned an adverse trade balance into a favorable trade balance by the use of the power of proclamation. Set within one month of exercising that power, another place would have robbed us of it.

Mr Gullett - I invite the right honorable gentleman to read our speeches at that time. Wo were in favour of prohibitions within reason.

Mr SCULLIN - At that time the honorable member spoke immediately after me, and he gave support to the drastic action taken by this Government.

Mr Gullett - We asked the Government to take it, a.]id to impose a time limit.

Mr SCULLIN - Only a couple of months had passed when the honorable member travelled through the country denouncing the Government for taking the very action that he had previously approved.

Mr Gullett - Be fair.

Mr SCULLIN - It is indeed unfortunate for the honorable member that he has reminded us of his volte face.

Mr Gullett - The Prime Minister is grossly misrepresenting me.

Mr SCULLIN - This power of proclamation has been most useful to this country. Without it we could not have prevented the export of stud sheep. We have clone things in spite of the hostility of another place, and it is because we have clone those things in the interests of Australia that the Opposition now wishes to rob us of this power. 1 repeat that, by our prompt action, without waiting for the consent of another place, we saved Australia from insolvency.

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