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Thursday, 3 March 1932

Mr BEASLEY (West Sydney) . - The committee is indebted to the real Leader of the Government for the reply which he has attempted to give to the arguments advanced from this side of the chamber. He tried to answer the criticism of the Leader of the Opposition : but having gone only one-fourth of the way in that direction, he dismissed the whole matter with a wave of the hand. If he thinks that he can justify the Government's action so easily as that, I am sure that he is sadly mistaken. The right honorable gentleman had the hardihood to invite us to join in this debate in a spirit of sweet reasonableness, and yet, as a .member of the Government he proposes to attach the revenues of New South Wales for the purpose of meeting interest obligations to overseas bondholders. Twelve months of the worst period through which Australia has passed were spent by the right honorable gentleman on the other side of the world, so he knows very little of the circumstances that confronted this country during that time. He will not find the taxpayers of New South Wales anxious to part with their money so that it may be transmitted overseas, leaving them in a state of semi-starvation and bankruptcy. L do not suggest for a moment that civil war may result from the passage of this measure.

Mr Riordan - The right honorable gentleman will not be here when it starts.

Mr BEASLEY - No; he will be at some favoured spot on the other side of the world. He has been very lucky throughout the piece. No doubt, he will leave the job behind, and get somebody else to see it through. But in all probability, the difficulty over the position of New South Wales will be overcome in a much easier way than by the precipitation of civil war.

It is suggested that the proposal in this clause is constitutional; but, after all, the people of New South Wales will have to provide the money that is demanded. It is useless to worry about the Premier of New South Wales or the members of his Government; -they are of secondary consideration, because the money required to meet the State's obliga- tions must be collected from the taxpayers. Whatever our views may be on this matter, the money required must be put into the pockets of the people of New South Wales before it can be taken from them. My colleagues and I have discussed the situation from the point of view of the primary producers, who, as honorable members in the Country party corner know, have not the means of carrying further burdens of taxation whereby the payments due by New South Wales can be met. Other sections of the community are in a similar predicament; but I have no doubt that if certain commercial interests in New South Wales have revenues of any kind to assist the State Government in meeting its obligations overseas, that Government will provide the necessary legislative machinery whereby they can hand over their money, and then our friends opposite will he quite happy in regard to the overseas obligations of that State. Without giving any secrets away, all these possibilities are being carefully and quietly examined. The practical effect of this clause is a matter for consideration by the lay members of this committee, who have to consider whether New South Wales is in a position to make any payments of the character contemplated under this bill. I maintain that the taxpayers of that State will adopt the easy course, rather than resort to civil war, and simply refrain from paying.

I have heard a good deal, during the discussion of the Premiers plan, of the alleged necessity for honouring agreements, and so on. What was the final decision of the Premiers Conference? It was that (the States should cut down their expenditure by 22^ per cent., and each State was left to effect economies in its own way. Anybody considering this matter in an unbiased fashion would admit that the method employed in New South Wales did not meet with the wishes of the political party opposite, which favours the policy followed in the other States. The utterances made in this chamber, and the speeches delivered at banquets and in various public places by the political leaders opposite-

Mr Hutchin Mr Hutchin interjecting,

Mr BEASLEY - The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) was candid about this matter, and his speech might well be published in pamphlet form. By it he has done a great service to the Labour party of New South Wales. If the New South Wales Government had set out to destroy the social legislation that has resulted from many years of Labour organization, the Premier of New South Wales would have been regarded by honorable members opposite as a national hero. I have in my hand a copy of the journal of the Melbourne Stock Exchange, and it refers to the operations of a firm in which the right honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) is an important, figure. The report' to which I am referring deals with the necessity for meeting obligations.

Mr Nairn - Why not avoid personalities?

Mr BEASLEY - Have no personalities been indulged in with respect to the New South Wales Premier and the members of my party? I am now questioning the tactics of those who would cast slurs upon persons who are not here to defend themselves. The authorized capital of this firm is £1,000,000.

Mr Nairn - I rise to a point of order. I submit that the personal references which the honorable member is making are not relevant, to the clause under discussion.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Bell - The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has not so far transgressed the Standing Orders.

Mr BEASLEY - The report to which I am referring makes certain statements in regard to capital, the number of shares issued, the number of shares paid up, the number of shares held in reserve, dividends, and so on.

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