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Friday, 11 March 1932

Mr McBRIDE (Grey) .- I am glad to take the opportunity which has been made for us by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) to discuss the problem of unemployment. As a candidate of the Emergency Committee of South Australia, I contested the last election.. I made certain statements on the hustings, but on no occasion did I offer a job to any mau. What I said was that the policy of the United Australia party' was to assist and encourage private enterprise, to enable it to employ the bulk of our workless people. Even in the past, when governments were borrowing and spending to a great extent, private enterprise employed 85 per cent, of our workers, so that it is perfectly obvious that, in the circumstances existing to-day, when loan money is unavailable, an additional burden must be thrown on that avenue of employment. It is gratifying to me, as the representative of a primary producing constituency, and as a primary producer, to know that honorable members, generally, realize that the prosperity pf this country depends mainly on primary industry. That has been contended by advocates of primary industries for many years, but, unfortunately, has not gained much ground among the populace. But, at present, practically every section of the community has agreed that it is to the primary industry that we must look for the return of prosperity. Much has been said regarding our inability to sell our primary products. .Although I agree that during the last two years many of our products have been sold below the cost of production, yet generally we have been able to get a ready sale for our commodities, and the prices that have been realized overseas have brought additional wealth to this country. Our exports of. primary products have undoubtedly made, credits .-available -.overseas to meet our commitments. It is to our primary industries that we must look for the restoration of the prosperity which is so much desired.

I suggest to the Government that in adopting methods of absorbing the unemployed it should grant assistance to those industries which are producing commodities for which there is an assured sale. We have an assured market only for our primary products, and, therefore, everything possible should be done to help the primary-producing industries. Ways and means should be devised for undertaking the intensive cultu:e of primary products. The great difficulty is, of course, the cost of production. While we are able to sell our primary products overseas, we have to face the fact that it costs us more to produce them, in some cases, than we can get for them. Some people in Australia have not yet realized that we cannot live to ourselves alone,' and that in dealing with primary . products we must consider world conditions. We cannot base our costs on a fictitious standard. I say definitely that the primary producers of Australia have contributed their fair share to the welfare of the nation by reducing the cost of production to the lowest point that is possible for them. Many of our primary producers are now living under conditions very little better than those of the unemployed. It is time that other sections of the community recognized their obligations to the Commonwealth, and made a contribution which would also result in a lowering of the cost of production. If all sections would adopt this policy, everybody would share equitably in the losses which we must face, and they would, at the same time, do something which would enable us, gradually to restore prosperity. I suggest, therefore, that the Government in considering the provision of schemes for absorbing the unemployed should not forget the possibilities of intensive culture in primary production; that it should ensure that only those things are produced which can be sold, and that it should adopt a policy which will equitably spread the loss which must be incurred in bringing production costs down to a profitable figure.

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