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Friday, 11 March 1932

Mr BEASLEY (West Sydney) . - I support this motion, and hope thus to focus public attention uponthe policy of this Government, whose Ministers and supporters promised at the general election to relieve unemployment, but whose administrative acts have all, up to date, tended in the opposite direction. Undoubtedly, thousands of electors supported the United Australia party candidates at the last election because they believed that the party opposite, if returned to power, would relieve unemployment.

Mr Holloway - They promised to do it immediately.

Mr BEASLEY - That is so. During the election campaign full-page advertisements appeared in the newspapers of New South Wales urging the people to vote for the United Australia party, because that party, if returned, would solve the unemployment problem. I have here a poster, designed in striking fashion, which bears the legend-" Mates help me to get a job." I heard many honorable members on the other side of the House making election speeches. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Jennings) promised the electors that if his party was successful, those in the unemployment camps at La Perouse and Maroubra would be found work, as would also the unemployed at Redfern, where conditions are extraordinarily bad. Similar promises were made at Coogee and Bondi, which are residential rather than industrial suburbs, and at Marrickville, in the Lang division, and throughout the Barton division. We on this side of the House now demand that the Government shall honour the promises then made, and we propose to expose the trickery indulged in by honorable members opposite in order to win the support of the electors.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), speaking before the election, stated that he could solve the unemployment problem immediately. As a member of a previous Government, he had for over more than twelve months every opportunity of studying the problem in all its aspects. I remember accompanying him on one occasion to hear a deputation of postal workers from Melbourne. Unemployment was there discussed, and the honorable gentleman said that a position might arise in which it would be necessary to take over the whole resources of the country to feed the people. The honorable gentleman; therefore, was in- a position, at the time of the elections, to know the facts, arid knowing them, he promised the electors "that if he were placed in power he would immediately solve this problem. . On the strength of that promise he received a great deal of support. Speaking at .Peterborough- before- the election, the right honorable gentleman asked: "Why does not the present Ministry go out and raise on the open market the money necessary for the services of the Commonwealth and the relief of unemployment?" He went on to say that the Scullin Government could not raise money on the open market, because the people did not trust it. The suggestion was, of course, that if the Scullin Government were removed, a government led by the honorable member would be able to go on the open market, obtain money, and immediately solve the unemployment problem.

Now the Prime Minister says that unemployment is the result of world conditions. That was not the statement made during the election campaign. As a matter of fact, much of the blame for unemployment was then laid at the door of the Premier of New South Wales (Mr. Lang). It was alleged that he was responsible for hundreds of thousands of persons beingout of work. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) made a pertinent suggestion to the right honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) when he asked that gentleman to get into touch with President Hoover of the United States of America with a view to learning whether Mr. Lang was responsible for the unemployment of 8,000,000 persons in the United States of America. According to some honorablemembers opposite, Mr. Lang is to blame for the 'fact that in 1931 unemployment in Great. Britain increased by 7 per cent., in Australia by 13 per cent., in Canada by 25 per cent., in the Irish Free States by 18 per cent., in Germany by 34 per cent., in Italy by 32 per cent, and in the United States of America by 5 per cent. Of course, unemployment is a world, problem. We have always maintained that, though honorable members opposite have been reluctant to admit it. The Government claimed at the last election that it could devise means to correct thesituation : but unemployment is world, wide, .and the world's financial system lias everywhere broken down. I venture, therefore, to say that the problem will not he solved by the conferences held here and .elsewhere. unless the financial' system .of 'the world undergoes, a. radical! change. The last Government held no fewer than half a dozen conferences with the Premiers and others. It appointed all kinds of committees, and the last committee, for instance, made a suggestion for the revival of the paper pulp industry in Tasmania. This proposal should be of particular interest to the Prime Minister, seeing that he represents a Tasmanian electorate. Other proposals put forward for the absorption of the unemployed related to re-afforestation, irrigation works, and similar undertakings. But what has been the final result? All those proposals had to be referred to another authority before anything at all could be done. I predict that the same result follow the forthcoming conference with the Premiers on the unemployment problem. Any honorable member could in half an hour devise schemes for providing employment for thousands which would afford relief if he were permitted to give effect to them. But in finally determining what works shall be done we have to turn our attention to the provision of the necessary credit, and this matter is controlled by an authority over which Parliament has no control. What is the use of a Parliament if it cannot determine the question whether the people shall live or die, which, after all, is the issue which the unemployment problem raises. If this Parliament truly represents the people it should be able to deal definitely with this vital subject.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member's time has expired.

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