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Wednesday, 9 March 1932

Mr MAKIN (Hindmarsh) .- I feel impelled to urge the Government once more to give us an assurance that it intends to do something definite to relieve the deplorable position of the tens of thousands of unemployed persons in our community. A very serious time lies ahead of these people during the coming winter months. During the month or two approaching the Christmas season some reduction occurred in the unemployment returns; but Ave cannot anticipate that there will be anything but an increase in those returns in the next few months, for those who have been engaged in seasonal occupations in country districts will undoubtedly, with the advent of the cold, wet weather, begin to drift back to the cities. This will intensify the unfortunate position, which at present prevails in the metropolitan area of the different States. The condition of industry throughout Australia has not been improved since the assumption of office by this Government. The plight of the unemployed is likely to be accentuated this winter, because many workers, who hitherto have been able to maintain themselves . and their families out, of the slender savings which they have been able to accumulate in better days, are now reaching the end of their resources. This must mean that the condition of the workers will be far less favorable this winter than ever before. Many of our people have been unemployed for as long as three or four years, and are now in desperate, need of winter clothing and shelter. The Government recognized the paramount importance of this problem, because it made reference to it in the second paragraph of the .Speech which the Governor-General delivered at the opening of this Parliament. I do not suggest that the relief of unemployment is the responsibility of any one party ; but I desire that we shall realize that there is an urgent need for us all to bring our collective wisdom to bear upon the subject. This is undoubtedly the greatest problem which faces Australia, and it cannot be said that we have done our duty if we allow Parliament to go into recess at Easter time without having done anything to cope with the position. I urge the Government to provide an opportunity for the House to discuss this subject, and to make suggestions for the relief of the people. It is the obligation of all of us to do everything we can to get out of the present impasse, and to strive to solve the most perplexing problem which faces us. The prospect of the coming winter for our unemployed fellow citizens is tragic in the extreme, and I appeal to the Government to give us an early and good opportunity to offer suggestions for the relief of the position.

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