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Thursday, 29 July 1920

Mr JACKSON (Bass) .- If, as the honorable, member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) says, this is a young country with vast resources, there ought to be no such thing here as unemployment.

Mr Makin - We cannot help unemployment in cases of sickness.

Mr JACKSON - As to sickness, hundreds of thousands of people in Australia, by means of friendly societies, provide insurance for themselves, though, of course, destitution is a different matter, and is very often, caused by sickness. The danger I see in the motion is that it would bring about a sort of " won'twork " section in Australia. If ever there was a time in. our history when every man should take off his coat and produce something, it is to-day. I refer honorable members to a statement which appeared in the Australian Mining Standard, of 17th July, made by Samuel Gompers, the Labour leader in America, who says that the cost of living is not going to come down until everybody puts his shoulder to the wheel to produce more. That gentleman does not wish people to become wage.slave, but points out that it is the application of science to industry that will bring about the cheapening of production and a reduction in the cost of living.

Mr Considine - Does he mention what is the cause of the high cost of living?

Mr JACKSON - Yes, he says it is lack of production, and I commend Mr. Gompers' statement to the honorable member.

Mr Makin - That hardly applies to the question before us.

Mr JACKSON - It applies to my argument that we should produce more, and that there ought to be no necessity for unemployment. I can point to scores of factories, within a very short distance of this House, which are crying out for labour and cannot get it; and yet we are asked to adopt a proposal that would make unemployment more general than before.

Mr Makin - You utter a libel on the working community when y.ou say that.

Mr JACKSON - I do not. Australia is no different from any other country, and we have people here who will not work if they can help it; and, further, I say this proposal is of a kind to increase that tendency. The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr.. Maloney) did not give the House any idea how his proposal was to be financed, or how much he anticipated it would cost. Before he went so deeply into the question from the destitution point of view, he should, I think, have been able to give us some idea of the* financial aspect.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - Especially as honorable members opposite, in nearly every speech, howl for rigid economy.

Mr JACKSON - Yes, and at the same time propose the expenditure of millions on a scheme like that before us. The Australian people at the -present time are better off than the people of any nation in the world. Living is cheaper here than elsewhere, and during the years of the war we suffered no hardship whatever in the matter of food, though every other country did. Until the honorable member, for Melbourne informs us how he proposes his scheme can be financed, I cannot alter my opinion that, if carried into effect, it would prove a bad one for Australia.

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