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Friday, 19 February 1932


Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL (Warringah) (Minister for Home Affairs) . - Yesterday the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) asked a question relating to the treatment of unemployed in the Federal Capital Territory. I desired him to place his question on the notice-paper, which he did, and a reply has been prepared. I propose to read the reply so that honorable members may see that the position is not as represented by the honorable member for Hunter. The reply is as follows: -

Instructions were issued recently that certain men at the Travelling Unemployed Camp, who were on a list of men receiving weekly rations and had qualified for enrolment on the roll for the last election of Advisory Councillors were to apply to be registered for employment, and to be given the same consideration as permanent residents of Canberra in respect of relief work." On work being made available, the issue of rations was to cease. The balance of the men were given one month's notice as from the 4th February, 1932, to vacate the camp.

The camp was designed in the first place as a rest camp for travelling unemployed, and such men receive a " walk-in " and a " walkout " ration' and are allowed to remain at the camp for two weeks. Mon who produce certificates from the hospital receive rations until they are completely recovered.

No travelling unemployed person has been refused a " walk-in " and a " walk-out " ration.

All the men in this camp entered the Territory originally from New South Wales. In the ordinary course, they would have received their "walk-in" ration and their "walk-out" ration and have passed on to New South Wales.

The Commonwealth, however, has maintained a large number of them for a considerable period and granted them many concessions, and thus has saved the New South Wales Government the expenditure of such maintenance. These mon are not residents of Canberra and their maintenance is not a federal responsibility. To assume responsibility for such men would only result in attracting large numbers of unemployed to the capital city.

Consideration is being given to the question of continuing the camp on the present site.

It is obvious, therefore, that, instead of treating the unemployed in the camp without any consideration at all, a number of them have been regarded as residents of the Territory, and have thus become entitled to the benefits of residence.


Mr Beasley - How many have been treated in that way?

Mr. ARCHDALEPARKHILL.About 30. It is clear from the reply which I have read that every consideration has been given to the unemployed in this city. As a matter of fact, they have been treated better than have the unemployed in Hew South Wales.


Mr James - What about those who came here on a " walk-in walk-out " basis?


Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL - I have here a report from Major Jones dealing with that aspect of the matter. There are in Canberra 29 men who have been drawing rations for over twelve months, though they should have been on a walk-in 'walk-out footing. In addition, each of them received a week's relief work prior to Christmas, and an extra week's rations during Christmas week. It is very properly suggested in the report that those who are not on the electoral roll of the Territory cannot rightly be regarded as residents, and must be looked upon as travellers. That is the course which the Government has followed. It was never intended that we should establish in Canberra a permanent camp for unemployed who might come from various parts, of New South Wales, and place upon the Commonwealth the responsibility of maintaining them. The camp was established as a rest camp, with the idea of giving the men a ration in and a ration out, the same as has been done in New South Wales. Since the beginning of this year the travelling unemployed passing through Canberra have averaged twelve per week, and in tha Queanbeyan district the number is somewhat similar. I mention these matters to indicate that the unemployed in Canberra have been treated generously at the hands of the Government. We are under no obligation to the men who, by some means, obtained, enrolment at the time of the last' election in Canberra, but out of consideration for them, intermittent employment has been given. We have been no less generous than the States in extending consideration to the unemployed; but the Government has now decided not to maintain a permanent unemployment camp, in Canberra merely to encourage unemployed from all over Australia to come to Canberra and be maintained here at the public expense. Nothing has been done regarding the cubicles at the camp. We are now considering whether, in the public interests, it would not be wise to have one camp instead of several as at present. The unemployed in Canberra have not been treated inhumanly; on the other hand, the treatment .meted out to them has been reasonable, if not generous. Although it has been decided to discontinue giving rations .to the travelling unemployed, I have, since taking office, extended the rationing from week to week ; but it cannot be extended further. I have treated the unemployed with every consideration, due regard being paid to the interests of the Territory and of the public generally.







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