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Wednesday, 23 June 1937

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - Zachariah will have as good a chance as Aaron.

Senator ALLANMacDONALD.Well, the Aarons have had by far the better of the deal for years. Under the present system any grouped names commencing with " M " always appeared in the centre or bottom of the ballot-paper. As my name commences with an " M " my support of the proposal. to alterthe present system is quite impersonal.

Senator Collings - Why not letthe electors vote for a particular party instead of individual candidates?

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -I shall not support such a suggestion for one moment, but I am in favour of some innovation being made to provide for the allocation of places on the ballot-paper by lot. That is an old custom ; in fact we read about it in the Bible.

Senator Collings - Yes, and the honorable senator knows what happened to Lot's wife !

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I do, and I sometimes wish that the honorable senator also might be turned into a pillar of salt. The point I emphasize is that the Labour party in Western Australia, and in most of the other States, has made deliberate attemptsat succeeding elections to have the names of its candidates placed at the top of the ballotpaper in order to secure the ill-considered votes of the electorate. Such a practice should be stopped immediately.

All honorable senators, I feel sure, were pleased to learn from the GovernorGeneral's Speech that the Government is taking definite steps to reconstitute the Inter-State Commission. That matter has been a burning question in Western Australia ever since the lapse of the former Inter-State Commission, of which Mr. A. B. Piddington, K.C., was chairman. While that commission remained in existence people in Western Australia generally realized that they could appeal to a tribunal, which was much more stable in its constitution than the States Grants Commission, for the adjustment of the disabilities under which they suffer as the result of federal policy. It has always been felt in that State that the decisions of the commission were not exactly just; that it did not understand the position existing in Western Australia as fully as it should. This was due primarily to the fact that no member of that commission was a Western Australian. It stood to reason. therefore, that no matter how earnestly they might try to do their work the decisions of those gentlemen, . because of their lack of knowledge of local conditions, were, to a degree, suspect. For instance, the Commonwealth Grants Commission charged the State of Western Australia with extravagance in respect of its expenditure on public works and social services, when, I suggest, a great deal more consideration of these matters was called for on the part of that body before it gave its decisions. I do not know why the State of Western Australia was singled out in this fashion, because it is common knowledge that, similar arguments can be applied in respect of other States so far as expenditure on public works is concerned. None of the States could he exempted from that charge, judging by their expenditure on public works right down the years. I suggest that Western Australia's comparatively high expenditure on social services is quite understandable when one takes into consideration the huge area of that State and the long distances over which such services have to be administered. These and related matters, no doubt, will be more satisfactorily considered by the InterState Commission, which will be a tribunal of more permanent character than the present States Grants Commission; for that reason, its reconstitution will bc welcomed in Western Australia. I feel sure that Western Australia's representative in the Cabinet, Senator Pearce, has had a great deal to do with this proposal. He is fully aware of the feeling in that State on this matter and I believe that, when the history of this proposal is written, it will reveal that he has played a very big part in it.

With his characteristic enthusiasm, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) spoke against the export of iron ore from Yampi Sound to Japan. I do not know whether the honorable senator has ever visited that Sound. It is not a very attractive place. I assure him that, judging by the activities of some of his political friends in that part of Australia, he need have no worry that the exports of iron ore from Yampi to Japan will reach very large proportions. Members of the Trades Hall in Perth are doing their utmost to prevent such exports. For instance, they made most fantastic requests to the Industrial Arbitrator who sat at Yampi Sound two months ago. He held his sittings on what is known as the Yampi Scow, a flatbottomed boat enjoying some notoriety in the locality, and in the early part of the proceedings one of the Trades Hall representatives, in urging consideration of the claims of employees at Yampi, had the temerity to suggest that provision should be made in any award for the employment of shop sign-writers and scenic artists. Several other requests, equally fantastic, were also made to the arbitrator. Thus, Senator Collings need feel no anxiety regarding the development of the resources of Yampi Sound. I assure him that if the activities of his Trades Hall friends can be taken as any indication of future events, the exporters of ore will have to travel along a very rocky road. Indeed, if further equally fantastic requests are made on behalf of the employees at Yampi, who, by the way, are very few in number, the ore export trade will be damned right from the start. The honorable senator's criticism in this respect reminds me of certain arguments used by the Leader of the Opposition in another place and himself in discussing the imposition of sanctions against Italy during the Abyssinian trouble. On that occasion, they wove most emphatic that Australia should do nothing which might antagonize another nation; in other words that we should do nothing to antagonize the Italians in their rape of Abyssinia. Now the honorable gentlemen turns round and urges that no iron ore should be exported from Yampi Sound, fearing, perhaps, that on some future date yet unspecified-

Senator Sir George Pearce - In other words, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) believes that , we should impose sanctions on Japan with respect to the export of iron ore.

Senator ALLANMacDONALD.Yes. Evidently the Leader of the Opposition fears, that' on some future date, yet unspecified, the iron ore may be hurled back at us in the form of munitions.

Senator Collings - I take exception to the statement that I, in this chamber, objected to any action being taken to prevent the Italian rape of Abyssinia.

That is what I hear the honorable senator say. The statement is distasteful to me, and in my opinion, it is deliberately false. Therefore, I ask for its unqualified withdrawal.

Senator ALLANMacDONALD.The Labour party in Australia-

Senator Collings - Mr. President, I object to any dissertation on the matter. I demand a definite withdrawal of the statement that I, as Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, objected to anything being done to prevent the Italian rape of Abyssinia.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I am in difficulty in that I do not know whether the statement made by Senator Allan MacDonald was in the terms stated by the Leader of the Opposition. Therefore, I prefer to hear Senator Allan MacDonald on the point before asking him to withdraw words alleged by the Leader of the Opposition to be offensive to him.

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I submit that during a discussion on the Sanctions Bill-

Senator Collings - I object to the honorable senator being allowed to proceed without a withdrawal of the words to which I have objected. He did not mention the word " sanctions " until the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) put that idea into his head.

Senator ALLANMacDONALD.The Leader of the Opposition is entirely wrong. I did refer to the imposition of sanctions.

Senator Collings - I am trying to remain calm, but unless the honorable senator withdraws the wordsto which I take exception, I cannot promiseto remain so for long.

Senator ALLANMacDONALD I assure the honorable gentleman that in the course of my remarks just now I did use the word sanctions.

Senator Collings - I say definitely that the honorable senator did not.

Senator ALLANMacDONALD. The Labour party did everything in its power in this chamber as well as in the House of Representatives to prevent the Sanctions Bill from being passed and-

Senator Collings - The honorable gentleman made no mention whatever of the Sanctions Bill.

Senator ALLANMacDONALD. I certainly did refer to that measure and I now submit that had sanctions been properly imposed on Italy, there would not have been any rape of Abyssinia.

Senator Collings - DoI understand, Mr. President, that I have to wait until, encouraged by your leniency, Senator Allan MacDonald can wriggle out of the position in which ho finds himself, following my objection to his statement? And am I to understand that he definitely refuses to withdraw words that are obnoxious to me, and to which I have taken exception ? If so, all I can say is that that attitude has never before been allowed in the Senate. Hitherto, an honorable senator had only to complain that language used by another honorable gentleman was repugnant to him and it was thereupon immediately withdrawn. I now demand the withdrawal of the words of which I have complained.

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