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Friday, 30 July 1920

Mr MAHONY (Dalley) .- I wish to direct the attention of the Treasurer to a very unfair provision in the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, whereby applicants for the invalid pension are refused on the ground that the total income for the family averages £1 per head per week, an amount which, as we all know, is not nearly sufficient in the present high cost of living for the maintenance of any person. Many such cases have come under my notice, but I have in mind one in particular, that of a young lady who has been invalided practically from birth. Medical men certify that she is incapable of doing any work, and her parents are obliged to provide expensive medicines and treatment for her. The father is a boilermaker, whose earnings happen to be more than an average of £1 per head per week for the family. If the parents refused to keep the girl in the home, and threw her out on the street, the Commissioner for Old-age Pensions would be obliged to grant her a -pension, but those who are humane enough, and have sufficient love for their offspring to maintain their invalid children in the family circle, are heavily penalized. -Such a glaring anomaly ought to be rectified at once, and I hope that the Treasurer will see -his way clear to bring down an amending Bill to do 80. We "have no greater unfortunates in the land than those who . are permanently invalided and unable to follow any occupation.

The moment one touches upon the question of carrying out the solemn compact entered into with New South Wales, that the Federal Capital should be built in that State, there is a :howl of -derision from honorable members representing Victorian constituencies, and, in some cases, Tasmanian divisions. This morning we had the remarkable spectacle of the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) condemning the proposal to carry out this compact because, as he said, it was wrong; yet, in the next breath, he was advocating that the contract with South Australia to build the north-south railway should be honoured.The honorable member approves of the action of this Parliament in coming to the financial aid of Tasmania, making it possible for the State to exist in a solvent condition, and he would build the north-south railway in order to carry out a contract entered into with South Australia, yet we find him opposing any proposal to carry out a compact entered into with New SouthWales.

Mr Jackson - I oppose any compact when it is wrong.

Mr MAHONY - Does not the honorable member realize that this arrangement was made with New SouthWales twenty years ago?

Mr Makin - Does the honorable member believe that the Commonwealth, ought to build the north-south railway?

Mr MAHONY - Certainly. I am a strong advocate of the carrying out of that work at the very earliest opportunity. I stand to the principle that the Commonwealth should observe any compact it enters into with a State, andI would not oppose a work being carried out in South Australia merely because I am a representative of a New South Wales constituency. The people of New South Wales would not have entered into the Federation if they had understood that representatives of Tasmania and Victoria were prepared to go back on the compact entered into to build the Federal Capital in New South Wales.

Mr Jackson - If the people of Tasmania had known as much as they know now, in all probability they would not have entered into the Federation.

Mr MAHONY - The State of Tasmania, and some of the other States, would he in a very insolvent position if it were not for the revenue obtained by the Commonwealth from the people of New South Wales. While the people of New South Wales would not have entered into the Federation if they had imagined that the other States would go back on them, let me inform honorable members that when they discover that the representatives of other States are going back on them they will take steps to throw off the incubus of Federation.Honorable members representingVictorian constitueneiesmay laughat that remark,but when the people of New South Wales realize that the other States are not prepared to carry out the arrangement made with them by the people of those States, whose word they relied on, they will find good means of getting out of Federation.

Mr.Prowse. - If the treatment . of Western Australia is much worse, we will join you.

Mr MAHONY - I am glad that the honorable member, who represents a Western Australian constituency, sees the force of my argument.

Mr Bowden - Western Australia has the east- west railway, at any rate.

Mr MAHONY - Yes. No question was raised against carrying out the compact with Western Australia for the building of the east-west railway, although the State has since failed to carry out some of its obligations in respect of that line. We shall never have a national spirit in Australia until the Federal Parliament is established in its own capital at Canberra, away from State influences. It is undeniable that a Parliament, sitting in any State capital, is consciously or unconsciously under the influence of ideas prevalent forthe time being in that particular State. For the future welfare of Australia, it is necessary that we should get into our own Capital as soon as possible. I ask honorable members to hesitate very seriously before they attempt to tear up the solemn treaty made with New South Wales.

Mr.BELL (Darwin) [2.28].- In spite of what has been said by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) and others, and in spite of the assertion that representatives of Tasmania are desirous of tearing up a certain compact, and unwilling to give to the State of New South Wales what is due to her, I must oppose the proposal to spend such an enormous amount of money as will be involved in building the Federal Capital at the present juncture. I take second place to no honorable member in advocating expenditure that will be for the benefit of Australia as awhole, irrespective of State boundaries; hut it is obvious that, at the present time, we cannot afford to spend money in the direction contemplated by the amendment. When first I went to school, I learned that "he is idlewho might be better employed."We can amend that aphorism, and say that money is idle when it might be better employed. If we were to find money to carry on the building of the Federal Capital, it might become necessary to withhold urgent expenditure in other directions. It has not been proved that if this Parliament were removed into the desert Capital, Australia would benefit. It is mainly upon the question of finance that I lodge my protest, and I intend to continue to strongly protest against any and every effort to authorize further expenditure on the Federal Capital. It has been argued that Australia has already laid out £1,000,000 at Canberra, and that it is lying idle so long as nothing further is done. There is another aphorism to the effect that it is bad policy to send good money after bad. It would be improper to spend another £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 simply because £1,000,000 is lying idle in the Federal Capital. Honorable members who employ the argument that the Federal Parliament should be removed from the influence of Australia's large cities are merely condemning themselves. Surely honorable members come here with some other point of view than that of representing merely parochial interests. Surely they have some thought for the welfare of Australia as a whole. Is it inevitable that honorable members who travel to Melbourne to carry out their legislative duties should be influenced by their immediate surroundings?

Mr Ryan - The honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) wants to send us to West Sydney.

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