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Wednesday, 16 March 1932

Mr BEASLEY (West Sydney) . - Before dealing with the motion itself, I should like to reply to some of the re marks made by previous speakers, and particularly by the speaker who has just resumed his seat. In the course of his remarks the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) mentioned the last New South Wales election, when the present Premier (Mr. Lang), who was then the Leader of the Opposition, placed his policy before the people. I remind the right honorable member that Mr. Lang at that time told the electors that the Loan Council should not be allowed to interfere with the proper development of his State. He stated that if the Government of New South Wales wished to enter upon a scheme of development, and if it had the necessary assets to provide backing for a loan, it should be within its power to determine its own course of action. But while New South Wales is under the Loan Council, the State of Tasmania, the extent of whose financial operations is not even so great as those of the municipality of Sydney, has the right to veto the application of the Government of New South Wales for a loan. New South Wales is thus not permitted to use its own resources as a means of providing employment for its people. That position was put before the people of that State at the last election, and the people then returned Mr. Lang and his colleagues by the largest majority ever recorded in the history of New South Wales.

On the subject of election promises generally, I remind honorable members that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. This Commonwealth Government has still to honour its own election promises. Honorable members representing Queensland constituencies, may recall that, during the last election campaign in that State, Mr. Moore, two days before the election, promised that he would, if returned to power, provide £2,000,000 for the relief of unemployment. I shall leave this matter to be further elaborated by honorable members on this side who come from. Queensland.

At the present time New South Wales, in common with many other countries, is passing through a period of great stress. Indeed, the situation which confronts that State, confronts also, in varying degree not only countries, but individuals as well. If we were honest with ourselves, we should have to admit that at the present time it is humanly impossible for many governments and for very many individuals to meet their obligations in full. The Government of New South Wales has, by means of moratorium provisions, &c, granted concessions to the extent of over £2,000,000 to various sections of the community, particularly to those living in the country. I agree with what it has done, and I believe that all governments should do whatever they can to tide their people over these difficult times. The commercial interests have also received considerable relief, and many in New South Wales, who disagree with me politically, are grateful to the Government of that State for the help it has given to them.. They have expressed their gratitude without any hesitation, and it is evident that there is much sympathy with the Government of New South Wales to-day in perhaps unexpected quarters.

It is all very well to speak of honouring obligations, and to say that governments should subscribe to the same code of honorable conduct as individuals lay down for themselves. The great " Cromwell" Hardy was one of the loudest in advocating such a policy. Has he honoured his own contractual obligations ? No. He is a bankrupt who has paid about 4s. in the £1. That is the man who talks of the duty of governments to honour their obligations. Where does the Treasurer of the Queensland Government (Mr. Barnes) stand in this matter of honouring his obligations? He is another bankrupt, from Broadway, in Brisbane, and has paid only 2s. or 3s. in the £1. These are the men who hold up their hands in holy horror at the suggestion that a State might not honour its obligations, but' they themselves were quick to seek the protection of State laws when they found themselves unable to pay their debts. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Holman) was in the bankruptcy court the other day back-stopping for Hugh D. Mcintosh, who could not meet his obligations, either. I do not know 'the merits of that case, but I mention these things to show that at least some persons who set a very high moral standard in regard to the obligations of governments, are prepared to accept a much lower standard when it is a matter of their own obligations.

Mr Holman - The honorable member referred to me as back-stopping in the court for a person who could not meet his obligations. I resent that statement, and regard it as offensive. I was summoned to appear before the court as a witness.

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