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Thursday, 29 October 1931

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL (Warringah) . - I do not agree with the views expressed by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson). He can generally be relied upon to support the Government; to-night he has departed from his accustomed attitude. ' If I understand this proposal aright, the expenditure of £250,000 by the Government is only part of the scheme to provide employment. The Government hope3 by this expenditure to encourage employers throughout the Commonwealth to follow suit. If that desire is realized, the number of men to be employed will not be limited by the amount, that this committee is voting, but will be increased to the extent of the response by private employers. I wish the Government every success with this proposal. Like other honorable members, I arn anxious that the unemployed should have work, especially in order that they may have some income towards Christmas. All of us are besieged by men seeking work; therefore, ali must welcome any proposal to relieve the distress and privation that are so general at the present time. I am not quite clear as to how' this grant is to be distributed. It will be difficult for the Department of "Works adequately to control the expenditure, and I believe that if the utilization of the money should be left to municipal and other bodies, a more businesslike distribution would take place, and better value for the expenditure would be obtained.

Mr E RILEY (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Municipalities would spend the money on their own employees

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL - No. I recollect a relief scheme in New South Wales under a former government which said to the local authorities - " Submit a programme of works, and if it is approved the Government will provide £1 for every 10s. which you expend." This scheme was responsible for much useful work being undertaken, and the employment of many mcn. If the Government would adopt a similar scheme now, this £250,000 would be supplemented from the funds of local authorities. I do not suggest that anything less than the basic wage should bc paid to relief workers. I did not hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) speak, but I understand that his proposal was in accordance with the recommendation by the secretariat created by the Premiers Conference to report on unemployment -

The committee strongly urges upon the conference the necessity for reducing the costs of all works undertaken, and of spreading the employment to be given by them over as many as possible. All works that can possibly be brought under relief work's conditions should bo treated as relief works.

There can be no doubt that the relief should be spread over as many persons as possible, subject to the payment of the basic wage. If the Government proposes to pay £4 a week for three weeks or a month, no objection can be offered.

Mr Thompson - What about £4 a week for a fortnight?

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL - I would sooner see men get a chance to earn a reasonable amount. It is of the utmost importance that employers should second the efforts of the Government; but, with taxation so high, and' with the fanciful imposts invented by the Premier of New South Wales, it is very difficult for employers in that State to respond to the legitimate and honest appeal which the Commonwealth Government is making. Contributions for child endowment, and workers' compensation, and the other conditions imposed upon employers in New South Wales are so much in excess of what is required of employers in other States, that the amount of money left for the provision of additional employment is very limited indeed. The only means of liberating more money is by further reducing government expenditure. If necessary, members should again cut their own salaries, and, without attacking the. salaries of public servants, go through the departments with a small-tooth comb, in order to eliminate unnecessary expenditure. Such a gesture would be applauded by the public, and cause private employers to respond more readily to the Government's appeal. I hope that this grant will bc expended in a business-like way, provide employment for a large number of men, and induce private employers also to do their part.

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