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Friday, 11 March 1932


Mr WATSON (Fremantle) .- Recently I received two letters, which have an important bearing on this subject. The first letter states -

What are you doingover there? We expected much better things from you.

I expected the same myself. The letter continues -

Difficulties are increasing here daily. More, and still more, breadwinners are being thrown out of work, and for thousands of families the prospect is black indeed. We are all approaching the coining winter with grave forebodings. In so many cases the little stock of clothing, and other small assets accumulated in better times, have been used up; hence the coming winter has developed into a nightmare, especially for mothers and fathers.

One great trouble is that the little money these poor people do get by way of dole or casual work will buy so little. Surely something can be done to reduce the cost of necessaries. Surely these wretched combines that are exploiting the people can be made illegal. Surely the price-fixing monopolists battening on the life-blood of the citizens can be treated as criminals. Surely these bounties, bonuses, subsidies, sugar agreements, control boards, &c, can be abolished. We were expecting great things from the uniting of all parties, but so far matters are going decidedly from bad to worse. . . As sure as the sun shines, if something is not done to unshackle the people, and allow them to work out their own salvation in this land of opportunity, something serious will happen.

That letter was written by a lady. The next is from a fairly large employer of labour. Dealing with the unemployment situation, he says -

It is hard to forecast the future commercially financially, or industrially, and we can only hope for the best. I am inclined to think that there are many rocks ahead, and, steering our present course, we will surely hit them; just how hard and whether we can get off again is hard to say. I am afraid that our present system will ultimately result in sinking the ship. We seem to have a. wonderful country, a population of cranky people, and tyrants for leaders and politicians. Both people and leaders are living in hope of something turning up. Loafing, talking, and scheming constitute the only occupation for those who have a spark of energy left in them, andthieving for those who happen to know how without getting caught. The poor folk who work have to pay for those who won't, so the sooner the whole thing breaks up the better.

I do not intend to dwell on these letters, because they speak for themselves. We have to ask ourselves whether we as leaders are striking at the root of this problem. Are we going the right way to solve it? I doubt that wo are. Costs are being continually piled up; the last. Government did good work in some directions, particularly in reducing our adverse overseas trade balance; but when it. reduced Public Service salaries and interest rates by 22½ per cent., it clapped on a sales tax which increased commodity prices. We have to ask ourselves whether we are not placing too high a value on all we have and all we do? We in this House place too much value on words, and pay insufficient attention to the need for action. Would it not be better to repeal many of the restrictive laws now on the statute-book, rather than continue passing still more hampering legislation? At present, people are shackled, and cannot work out their own salvation. We would not expect any one to win a race who was hobbled. Let the people be freed, and they will get back to work, and pull the country out of it difficulties. We should employ every means at. our disposal so to reduce basic values, and to bring down costs to meet the lessened value of our exports on the world's market's. This would enable our people to get back to work on the production of those commodities necessary to meet our overseas obligations. What is the use of piling up more costs and increasing taxation when, staring us in the face, are our overseas obligations, which constitute our real difficulties. It is not. legislation that we want to-day, but inspiration for our leaders, aspiration for our people, and nothing will be achieved without a good deal of perspiration as well.







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