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Wednesday, 16 March 1932


Mr RIORDAN (Kennedy) .- The legislation recently passed by this Parliament, and the resolution now before the House, are likely to cause a great deal of trouble, not only in New South Wales, but in the other States. It is .the turn of New South Wales to-day, but it may be the turn of some other State to-morrow. The Loan Council has assisted several States. When the Labour party was in power it provided £1,000,000 for the relief of unemployment, but the State's agreed in conference to pay the whole of that amount to South Australia to relieve the suffering and distress there. That State received assistance from the Loan Council because it was prepared to lower the standard of living. Yet it is doubtful whether the position of South Australia is any better than that of New

South Wales. There is just as much poverty in South Australia, although the living conditions of the people have been reduced practically to a minimum. In Queensland men are working two days a week for a wage of £1. When I was in North Queensland, a man who was being given two days' relief work a week, told me that he had a wife and two children. As they were in bad health, he asked me to buy some milk and biscuits for them. That is the position prevailing in Queensland, although, the basic wage has been reduced to £3 5s. The people are prepared to work, but not under slave conditions merely to increase the profits of the capitalists. During the last twenty years we have increased the production of this country enormously ; yet 30 per cent, of our people are to-day on the unemployment market. On the hustings many promises were made by the Government, but what has it done to carry them into effect? It has introduced no legislation which has been of benefit to the nation. Yesterday we had a discussion on the Broadcasting Bill.


Mr SPEAKER - Order !


Mr RIORDAN - We have had several measures before us, but the only bills passed have been directed at the Government of New South Wales. That class of legislation is not likely to create confidence. The members of the Government remind me of rushing cattle, almost panic stricken, milling and locking their horns together, but getting nowhere. The members of the Government have been doing that since the 19th December. What has the Ministry done to restore confidence in this country? This legislation may restore confidence among a certain section of the community in New South Wales, but what confidence can it restore among those people who are today on the dole in that State? I invite honorable members to try to live on the dole of 5s. a week which is paid to a single man, or to keep a wife and eight children on £1 a week. The people have a right to live, and it is the responsibility of the Government to enable them to live. No honorable member would claim that a dole of from 5s. to £1 a week is a living wage. The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) to-day stated that the trouble in New South Wales has arisen as a result of the high basic wage operating there. The right honorable gentleman also said that if the basic wage of New South Wales were reduced, that State would be able to overcome its difficulties. But how is it that there are unemployment difficulties in other countries where wages are much lower than in New South Wales? A few years ago, we were carrying out an extensive immigration policy in this country, and we declared that we had large areas of land available for settlement. The trouble we are suffering from is not due to the action of the New South Wales Government, and the action which this Government is proposing to take against that State will not correct the situation. Very serious results mustfollow the application of this policy. If a New South Wales taxpayer pays his tax to the federal authority, he will doubtless be prosecuted by the State authority, and if he pays it to the State authority, he will just as surely be prose,cuted by the federal authority. How is this legislation to be enforced against bookmakers who are required to lodge deposits in respect of the amounts collected by them? How can the entertainment tax be collected from picture show proprietors and the like? If a man's State income tax assessment is unsatisfactory he must pay his tax before he can appeal. If he pays his tax to the federal authority, can it be expected that the State authority will listen to his appeal? The carrying of this motion must result in chaos in New South Wales, and cannot do anything to restore confidence either in that State or in the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Government should test the validity of the Financial Agreements Enforcement Act in the High Court. The Premier of New South Wales has declared that he will defy the Federal Government to collect State taxation, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has said that he intends to do,so. Will Lyons or Lang eat the leek? The Premier of New South Wales has issued instructions to the State police which will doubtless be obeyed. In that circumstance, it seems to me that the passing of this motion will be futile. If I am any judge of the Premier of New South Wales, he is not the man to let the Commonwealth Go vernment get its fingers on any of his money. He showed that by going to' the banks at 11.55 a.m. on Saturday, and withdrawing State deposits from them. I was in the Sydney Domain on Sunday, and listened to the speeches made there. It seemed to me that a good deal of sympathy was shown to the Premier of New South Wales. What will happen if there is default by the State for the remainder of this financial year, and the Commonwealth Government steps in and collects State revenue to meet it? Inevitably, many people in New South Wales will starve, for there will be no money to pay them the dole. I am sure that if the Prime Minister saw his wife and children starving, he would not hesitate to take bread from the shops to feed them. That will be the position of many people in New South Wales. If the Government is successful in attaching State revenues, will it use the money it obtains to relieve the unemployed in that State, and to provide sustenance for them?

We know very well that various governments have made promises to the people at different times; but the electors are becoming thoroughly dissatisfied with political promises. They want action. Mr. Moore, who is now Premier of Queensland, made certain promises to the Queensland people in May, 1929.


Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member must connect bis remarks with the motion.


Mr RIORDAN - I propose to do so. The Queensland people at that time believed that the promises made to them would be fulfilled. In an election placard issued prior to the last State election, over Mr. Moore's signature, the following statements were made: -







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