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Friday, 11 March 1932

Mr E J HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) . - Most of us are in accord with the statement that has been made that the unemployment problem is world wide in its incidence. A review of the whole position forces us to realize that the gravity of the position has been increased by the failure of governments to take appropriate action to minimize the conditions that have caused this world-wide trouble.

Mr Ward - All governments.

Mr E J HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Seeing that the honorable member has interjected, i will refer particularly to the NewSouth Wales Government. Our secondary industries have been hit harder than any others in so far as employment is concerned. But the conditions which have brought about the present state of affairs in our secondary industries are due entirely to the pin-pricking methods and restrictive policies of the differentState Governments. The solving of the unemployment problem must be achieved by the restoration of the purchasing power of the community as a whole - I do not mean by a decrease in the standard of living, for the Australian standard of living must be maintained. In saying this, I ask honorable members not to confuse the 'standard 'of living with the cost of living.

Mr SPEAKER - The usual hour for the suspension of the sitting has arrived; but as the time allowed by the Standing Orders for this debate will expire in five minutes, the honorable member may continue his speech unless objection is raised.

Mr E J HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We must not confuse nominal wages with real wages, that is, purchasing power. As employers are quick to realize real wages in a rising market, so employees must be quick to realize real wages in a falling market. While employers have done this, employees have failed to do so in many cases, especially where Labour has control of the State legislatures, which impose restrictions causing irritation to employers, to the great detriment of industry. While these governments interfere with private enterprise, private enterprise cannot give the desired measure of employment to those who are out of work. We must get back to fundamentals, and see that these restrictions are removed, so that private enterprise may be enabled to develop industries and provide additional employment. I suggest that we should evolve a common basic wage and similar hours and conditions for Australia. That would do much to restore confidence to private enterprise, and allow it to tackle this task in no uncertain manner. The problem is a national one. Let us consider it as such. There is a duty upon the Federal Government to take action to restrict State Governments from interfering with industry. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) spoke of government interference with Newnes. That and many other industries have failed to develop because of the action of the present Government of New South Wales. It is the avowed intention of that Government to absorb private industry, and to endeavour in every way to expel prosperity and peace from New South Wales. That State, containing as it does two-fifths of the population of Australia, is the most important in the union, and it is inevitable that the Lang legislation will react to the detriment of our unemployed throughout the Commonwealth. I entertain the hope that the problem may be partiallysolved by the Ottawa Conference, which may determine that we shall concentrate upon certain industries that are peculiarly adapted to Australia. That, of course, would relieve our unemployment.

I should like for a moment to touch upon the scheme of sustenance farms that already has been dealt with by some honorable members. If available lands were cut into small blocks and our unemployed placed upon them, we should find that, instead of having the manhood of our people destroyed by a system of doles, our country would be rehabilitated financially and morally. These men would develop their holdings as our pioneer fathers did in the past. They would make sufficient to live upon, and thrust aside the desire for the false conditions of luxury that are so attractively dangled before them by the labour agitators of the country.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The time allowed under the Standing Orders for the discussion of this motion has expired.

Motion (by Mr. Gander) proposed -

That so much of the Standing Orders as may be necessary be suspended to enable this debate to be continued during the present

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