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Friday, 23 October 1931

Mr SCULLIN (Yarra) (Prime Minister) . - by leave - I desire to make a brief statement on the subject of unemployment relief. During the few weeks that the House of Representatives will be in recess the Government will gather information, and go into the details of work that it hopes to put into execution before Christmas to relieve unemployment. I mention that, because some honorable members feel that the Government should first obtain ar appropriation. The Government will ask for an appropriation of £250,000,^ but the Treasurer did not desire to bring down the bill until he could give honorable members definite information as to the details, which are not at present available. Efforts have been made to put in hand a number of public works by obtaining advances from the banks for the purpose. Unfortunately, those efforts have not been successful. The Government feels that something, if only of a temporary and not very far-Teaching character, must be done as early as possible - certainly before Christmas - to relieve the position of those who are unemployed. It proposes to ask for an appropriation from revenue of £250,000 for that purpose.

Later, Parliament will be supplied with the details of the works upon which the money will be spent. The money to be appropriated will all be expended through Commonwealth departments. This action is being taken as the forerunner of an appeal to all public bodies to put work in hand, no matter how small it may be, or how few men will be engaged on it. That appeal the Government confidently expects will be supported by honorable members generally. Private employers will also be asked to assist. On Monday I shall attend a conference of manufacturers to discuss various matters, and I shall take the opportunity to submit the Government's proposal to the meeting. The Government will put in hand, through its own departments, only useful work which will have to be done eventually. Public property is already deteriorating through lack of attention, due to shortage of funds. Having itself made a start, the National Government will then ask for the co-operation of all who can give employment to one or more men for even a short period. The effect on industry and business generally will be watched with interest. If 40,000 or 50,000 men are employed on work extending into the new year, it is thought that a great impetus will be given to trade, that business generally will benefit, and the morale of the men, by reason of their being employed on legitimate undertakings, will improve.

Mr.White. - Many of the local governing bodies are already providing work along these lines.

Mr SCULLIN - Some of them are; but others are not. The Government is convinced that the people of Australia are as ready to respond to a widespread appeal of this description as they were to that in connexion with the conversion loan. I mention these things now in order that honorable members will know that Parliament has not been ignored when they find the Government working in certain directions.

Mr White - Will Parliament be informed of the way in which the money will be spent?

Mr SCULLIN - Immediately the House resumes, an appropriation of revenue will be sought, and details will then be given to the House.

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