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Wednesday, 26 November 1941

Mr PROWSE (Forrest) (12:30 PM) . - I intend to support the bill, but I want to dispel any idea that the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) was speaking for the Country party when be gave us his dissertation on the subject of unification. He must have been speaking entirely off his own bat. As bad as things are under the unbalanced representation by which our federation is governed to-day, unification would make thingsa great deal worse for the more remote parts of the continent which are in need of development. Taxation in Victoria is low largely because of the trade which that State does with Western Australia. Australia's exports, which in reality produce Australia's income,are valued at. £16 per head of population, but Western Australia exports goods to the value of £38 per head. Therefore, the people of Western Australia are doing a great deal more than those of any other part of Australia to maintain Australia's credit abroad. Melbourne and suburbs have ten members in this chamber, yet. the people whom they represent do not produce 6d. worth of goods per head for export. Nevertheless, they have in this chamber twice the voting power of the representatives of Western Australia.

Mr.Calwell. - The people whom they represent consume more than do the people of Western Australia.

Mr PROWSE - We have to rely upon the world's markets to absorb our products. It can bo shown that Western Australia purchases each year approximately £10,000,000 worth of goods from the eastern States, principally from Victoria. In return, the people of the eastern States buy £1,000,000 worth of goods from us, leaving us with an adverse trade balance of £9,000,000. If Western Australia were free to develop in its own way, and could expend that £10,000,000in the world's market purchasing goods that it required, it would save £3,000,000 in the process, and establish friendly relations with other nations in. the course of that trade and receive better reciprocity. I have heard much talk about a new order after the war, but I have never heard a reasonable proposition as to how it is to be brought about. I have an idea that the only way to achieve a. better order, to develop this wonderful continent and to occupy it effectively, is to develop our trade with other countries. Western Australia is as far away from the eastern States as is New Zealand. It costs as much to ship goods to Western Australia by sea as to ship them to New York or London. In fact, the freight from Melbourne to Fremantle is higher than from Melbourne to London. Because of these restrictions on our trade we are placed in a position where we must hold out our hands to the Commonwealthfor assistance. Our voting strength is not enough to enable us to do anything which the highly commercialized States do not want us to do.

Mr Calwell - Western Australia is represented in this Parliament bythe Prime Minister, the Speaker and the President of the Senate.

Mr PROWSE - Could one listen to any greater idiocy than the suggestion that our representation by those persons could enable us to achieve anything against the wishes of the representatives of the big commercial States? What does the honorable member for Melbourne know of the needs of a State like Western Australia ?

Mr Calwell - Western Australia was peopled largely by settlers from Victoria.

Mr PROWSE - We recognize that some very fine people came to us from Victoria, but it was the brave ones who came; the others were not plucky enough to leave Victoria. I can assure the honorable member for Richmond that he will have to continue preaching his doctrine for a long time before it will have any effect on the people of Western Australia, who are thoroughly familiar with this question and have already voted upon it. They know that they are in a hopeless minority, but they also know that they are of greater value to the Commonwealth than any similar number of people in Australia. They are as loyal as are the people of any other part of Australia. It is all very well for honorable memhers to say that, after the war, room can be made for our returned men in the factories. If we are to produce goods in the factories to sell abroad so as to bring new money to the country we shall be doing something that we have never been able to do before. Let us manufacture, if we can, but let us do it off our own bat as do the primary producers. Just after this war broke out, the Commonwealth Government negotiated the sale of an enormous quantity of primary product..; to the United Kingdom. In what position would Australia ha vo been if that sale had nor been made - if we were without the credits with which it is providing us? Let us remember that it was only primary products that we were able to sell. Why did we not sell clothing, hoots, nails or galvanized iron? I am sure that this new order cannot be attained by any tinkering with our present fiscal policy. We must effectively occupy this country if we are ro hold it. If we employ our people in an uneconomic way. so that we cannot dispose of the goods we make, and thus retain our population, we shall inevitably fail. I believe that by producing more plentifully, living more economically, and by developing such natural industries as the iron and steel, implements, and wool in all its phases, we should employ more people than by trying to develop unnatural secondary industries in competition with the rest of the world. Unless we proceed along those lines, I have little hope that by preaching the doctrine of social reform, or by obtaining uncontrolled credit from the Commonwealth Bank, we shall establish a " new order ". We must produce goods to feed and clothe the people if we are to hold this country for the white race.

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