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Thursday, 3 March 1932

Dr MALONEY (Melbourne) .- Whenever we get into difficulty there is a tendency for us to rest too much on the advice of lawyers. We frequently get too much law and too little justice: I did not think that I should live to see the time when a Commonwealth Government would -try to bring force to bear on a State Government in the way that this Government is trying to bring force to bear on the New South Wales Government. I am very sorry that such a time has arrived. But we must remember that it is the people who will have to pay. This Government may say that it is attacking the Government of New South Wales for not carrying out its obligations, but it is really attacking the people of New South Wales. The result of an attack of this kind will be serious. Even a little more taxation in any of the Australian States will mean a very much bigger insolvency list. The Government does not seem to realize that it cannot draw blood from a stone. It appears to me to be very likely that the people will refuse to pay, as the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has said. It has been demonstrated time after time that people will not submit to unjust taxation. I do not know whether the Government of New South Wales has borrowed any money from the United States of America, but if it has done so, it will be required, under existing circumstances, to send £179 back to that country for every £100 that it has borrowed. We know very well that every country in the world, except the United States of America, is saying, through its leaders, that it cannot pay its war debts. Even brave old England is in this position. Would any honorable member of this chamber dare to say from a public platform in this country that there is any justice in a financial system which requires the repayment of £179 for every £100 borrowed? I have had a long political experience, and I do not believe that any honorable member would dare to justify such a thing. Shylock is a gentleman, and Ned Kelly an archangel, in comparison with those who demand such repayment. I did not meet Ned Kelly in the flesh, but I was once mistaken for one of his colleagues. The Herald newspaper, at one time, made the statement that Steve Hart, a member of the gang, had been driven into Benalla under escort; but it was not Steve Hart, it was I. This was in the happy days of long ago.

Various State governments have recognized that under existing conditions people cannot meet their commitments, and have passed moratorium legislation. We know very well what has happened in the past. A person may have desired an advance on a property valued at £3,500, and after an inspection of it by one or two agents, he may have obtained a loan of £2,000. But trouble has afterwards overtaken him so that he has bees unable to meet his payments. Is it just in such circumstances to allow the mortgagee to foreclose ? No mortgagee should be allowed to foreclose unless he is willing to pay the difference between the valuation of the property on which he advanced money, and the amount due in principal and interest. If a simple law like this were enacted we should have very little trouble about foreclosures and forced sales. I do not think that the Commonwealth Government is justified in putting the bailiff in on 2,000,000 people. To do so will result in great hardship to tens of thousands of men, women and children. We should do some good if we devoted the time that we are wasting on this measure to devising means to relieve our unemployment problem. Why should we have these troubles ? God has not forgotten Australia; He has treated us bountifully, and we are able to produce three times as much food as our population needs. Let us get down to the job, instead of frittering away the time of the National Parliament on this legal enactment which will never be operative. God forbid that there should be any revolution in Australia; hut I point out that every revolution has been built up on a foundation of want and starvation. To-day there are 400,000 human beings who need and seek work in Australia, and have to live on 5s. a week. In England an unemployed man is paid 15s., and an unemployed woman 13s. a week, and they have the advantage of being able to buy Australian meat, wheat, butter, and other commodities much more cheaply and of a better quality than our people can here. Therefore the position of the unemployed in Great Britain is better than that of the unfortunates who are suffering in Australia. I am confident that if the people of the Commonwealth had the power they would not allow the creature called Parliament to pass such a measure as this.

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