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Friday, 11 March 1932

Mr BEASLEY (West Sydney) . - This amendment, we are told, provides that the Commonwealth Government may exercise its rights under the proclamation in such a manner that it need not attach all the revenues that would be required to furnish the sums owing by a State. The Minister pointed out that it was competent for this Government to issue a proclamation covering all the revenues of a State.

Mr BRUCE (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) - That course would have to be authorized by resolutions of the Parliament.

Mr Scullin - But, if the next amendment were made the proclamation need cover only one class of revenue.

Mr BEASLEY - I prefer to be guided by the remarks of the Minister. Portions of the revenues of a State are allocated for specific purposes. The State Government has obligations to the people of the State. Revenues are required for the maintenance of hospitals, police organizations, transport services, and a dozen and one other services that a State Govern ment is called upon to maintain. Most important at the present time are the revenues for the sustenance of the unemployed. For instance, thirty unemployed were recently forced to leave the Federal Capital Territory because the Commonwealth Government refused to provide food for them. Therefore, they had to go elsewhere, and part of the revenue of the State of New South Wales must now be used for their sustenance. I am not prepared to accept the amendment, if it will enable the Commonwealth to attach revenues that are allocated by a State for the purposes to which I have referred. I am sure that no honorable member associated with me would agree to an amendment that would make that possible.

It is strange that this amendment was not found necessary in the first place. I understand that the Government has had Sir Harrison Moore here " in smoke " for several days, and he has probably been considering the best means of making it easy for the Commonwealth Government to attach certain State revenues in order, as much as possible, to embarrass a State Government. The State Government might finally decide that certain taxation could be levied for the purpose of meeting its commitments, and this taxation might affect a section in New South Wales which has had a good deal to say about the necessity for that Government discharging its debts. But if this amendment were accepted, the Commonwealth Government might be in a position to say that it would not attach revenue derived from the source that I have just indicated, but would attach some other revenue. The other revenue might be revenue intended to provide the wages of railway and tramway employees. This possibility has already been indicated by the Loan Council through the right honorable gentleman in charge of this bill. It is reported that he stated that the amounts owing to oversea bondholders could be taken from the wages paid to the men employed in the railway and tramway services, and by that process to meet the commitments of the Government of New South Wales. The maintenance of the services that are necessary for the well-being of the people of a State is a matter of the utmost importance, and the party with which I am associated has no desire to assist in giving the Commonwealth Government overriding authority to embarrass the Government of New South Wales in the provision of such services'.

Mr Maxwell - All this difficulty could be obviated by not defaulting.

Mr BEASLEY - I hope that the honorable member forFawkner (Mr. Maxwell) may never want for anything, and that he will never experience the misery that is the portion of large numbers of people in New South Wales; but, apparently, the honorable member is not prepared to regard this matter in the light of the consideration due to others. The State Government, I claim, is entitled to allocate its revenues as it finds necessary in these strenuous times, and no other authority unacquainted with its difficulties and needs should have power to interfere with the funds required for the maintenance of State services. The Commonwealth Government should have no right to say by proclamation that certain revenue would be taken and other revenue left.

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