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Friday, 11 March 1932


Mr JAMES (Hunter) .- I regret that only two members of the Government side are sufficiently interested in this subject to speak upon it, and of the New South Wales members opposite, only two have been present during this discussion. I refer to the honorable members for Martin (Mr. Holman) and Lang (Mr. Dein). They have not yet spoken. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has asked for suggestions for relieving unemployment, and it is my intention to place a few before him. My first suggestion is that the Government stop the waste of time which is at present taking place in discussing legislation which is aimed solely at the persecution of the State Government in New South Wales, a government which is endeavouring to relieve the lot of the unfortunate unemployed people of that State. I further' suggest that the Government alter the policy that it has adopted in the Federal Capital Territory, of refusing to provide food-relief for the unemployed. This problem is world-wide, and we are faced with the task of finding a solution of it. Certain works, such as water services and the clearing of land, can be put in hand only when we change our monetary system to allow of the utilization of .national credit. We are in a state of national emergency, and nothing but the release of national credit will suffice to meet the position. We had a national emergency at the time of the war, and in that case the national credit of this country was utilized. This is no new precedent. If it is good enough to release national credit for war purposes, which involves the killing of people, it is good enough to release national credit to provide useful reproductive employment so that people may live. Various works could be put in hand, but they are too numerous for me to detail during the time at my disposal. At the recent elections, many promises were made. Every hoarding throughout Australia displayed the words, " Vote for the United Australia party and the Lyons party, and ensure yourself a job and steady wages ". The only person who has been given a job by this Government is the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce). He is to be paid £5,000 a year in salary and perquisites as resident Minister in London. Speaking at the Millions -Club recently, the Prime Minister said that unemployment must be relieved by an attack upon wages and hours of labour. He suggested that the fact that New South Wales had adopted a 44-hour week was unfair to the other States, which had adopted a 48-hour week. He also stated that the basic wage was in New South Wales £4 2s. 6d., and in South Australia £3 3s. He said that the basic wage rate was unfair and industry could not stand it. Let me say that an increase in the working hours per week would create more unemployment. Let m& give a simple illustration. An industry employing twelve men under the system of 44 hours a week would, under the system of 48 hours a week, be able to dispense with the services of one man in every twelve men employed, and still not interfere with its ordinary production. What firm would employ twelve men when its work could be carried out by eleven men. If New South

Wales reverted to the 48-hours system, one man in every twelve would be retrenched from industry, or eight and a half out of every 100 men employed. Yet that suggestion has been put forward by the Prime Minister as a solution of the problem.' ' There' is no doubt, that the Government's promises on the hustings tickled the ears of a lot of unfortunate people. Some of them have' lost practically all their life's savings, and many have lost their homes, but they are still striving to live, in the hope that the Government will redeem its promises. Another section of the community is tickling the ears of the unemployed by asking them to subscribe to the ungodly doctrine of bloodthirsty revolution known as communism, and it is likely that the unfortunate people may be stampeded into revolution if something is not done by the Government to give them relief. Our workless people have been betrayed once again by a lot of spineless political tricksters. I apply those terms not only to this Government but also to the previous Government, which made similar promises on the hustings in 1929. When.it took office, it fell down on its job in just the same way as this Government has done. Because of the lamentable inaction of the Scullin Government, I fell out with it, and I shall fall out with this Government unless it makes ^ some attempt to relieve the unemployed. Why should honorable members be permitted to use the unemployed as political propaganda? It is a tragedy for any honorable member to use the sufferings of the unemployed for his own political aggrandisement; he would be cowardly indeed to stoop to such an action, and, after his return to Parliament, callously to desert them. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) has suggested that to provide employment, the mining industry should adopt world conditions and .prices. Let ]11 e inform him that other countries, some of which maintain a coolie standard in the mining industry, , have a percentage of unemployment similar to ours." A reduction in wages and 'an increase in hours will not solve the unemployment problem. It can be solved only. by having uniform conditions throughput the world, and by, reducing the hours of labour to half of what they are to-day. Under the existing decayed monetary system, we shall always have unemployment with us'. We should utilize the credits of this country, and commence such works as water conservation, uniform railway gauges, and the provision of sewerage systems throughout the country areas.


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







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