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Friday, 17 July 1931

Mr NAIRN (Perth) . - I direct attention to the latest development in connexion with the default of the New South Wales Government. The Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin), in his discretion, did not this afternoon take the House fully into his confidence. I do not blame him for that; but I do claim that honorable members representing other States have a right to express the apprehension which they feel, because of the extent to which Commonwealth revenue is being used for the benefit of New South Wales. It has been made clear for some months that the Premier of the State has deliberately embarked upon a policy of getting ahead of the other States, so far as possible, with respect to advances from the Commonwealth, and, notwithstanding his insolence, he has succeeded in obtaining very large sums from the Commonwealth Government to make good the default of his Government in its interest payments on overseas loans. In addition, the negotiations which have been proceeding for some time with the Commonwealth Bank for the re-opening of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales will probably greatly add to the financial responsibilities of the Commonwealth. In all these matters, this Government has so far acted without authority from Parliament. Now it is reported that there is a demand by the Premier of New South Wales for further very large sums. Honorable members representing other States are vitally concerned about these repeated demands from New South Wales, and I think the House should be consulted regarding them. The Premier of New South Wales should be told plainly that this policy of paying up for his Government cannot go on indefinitely, and that he cannot continue in the role of the rogue in politics. No one wishes the public servants of New South Wales to go short of their salaries or wages, but surely honorable members realize that the Commonwealth cannot accept responsibility for the shortcomings of the New South Wales Government in this respect. The people of that State' put the present Ministry into power, and must take the consequences of their action, or else turn the Government out. I do not wish to complain personally of the attitude of the Prime Minister in this matter, but I direct attention to the urgency of the situation that has arisen, and suggest to him that the Commonwealth Government cannot go on paying out millions of pounds to New South Wales without consulting this Parliament.

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