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Thursday, 17 March 1932

Mr RIORDAN (Kennedy) .- One would not care whether the House adjourned for a month or two months so long as the Government, after the meeting of the Premiers Conference, was able to submit tangible proposals for the relief of unemployment. But the Government has been in office for about fourteen weeks, and all indications point to a further reduction in governmental expenditure by retrenchment or, as the Ministers have termed it, a reorganization of departments, which must throw more men out of employment. Prior to 1929 the Commonwealth expended up to £35,000,000 a year on public works, thus giving employment on loan works to over 17 per cent, of our people. What is the position to-day? The Government has no loan policy. As has been the practice during the last two and one-half years, the Government will adjourn and meet the Premiers in conference. Then the Loan Council will invite the bankers to a conference, to ascertain what moneys can be made available for the relief of unemployment. The economists will be asked to make recommendations as to the methods to be adopted for relieving unemployment, and a further report will be submitted to Parliament. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) must admit that this Government has endeavoured to shift its responsibility to the Commonwealth Bank Board and the economists of this country. The electors returned us to this Parliament to solve the problem of unemployment. Some honorable members say that it is necessary to increase production in this country, but others say that if we do that we shall find no markets for our products. There is plenty of work that requires to be carried out in Australia. Sydney is the third city of the world, and carries a population of over one million. Yet many of its suburbs are not sewered. The wealthy landholders in the city of Sydney itself are rated at 44d. in the £1.

Mr Thorby - I wish that that were correct.

Mr RIORDAN - That information was published last week in one of Sydney's journals. The provision of a proper suburban sewerage system would absorb all the unemployed of Sydney, and the work could be paid for by increasing the rate by Id. or L|d. in the £1. That convenience should be given to the people, if for no other reason than the preservation of health. In Queensland the rate is l(H-d. in the £1.

Mr Stacey - Is that on the unimproved value?

Mr RIORDAN - It is on the improved value. When I left the State House in Queensland seven different councils had applied for £22,000,000 of loan moneys to enable them to carry out sewerage work. No one can argue that sewerage does not meet interest and principal so soon as it is installed. Those municipalities cannot obtain finance, because the banks say that there must be a breaking down or deflation of credit.

Mr Lyons - I rise to order. I promised that an opportunity would be given for a discussion on unemployment, on the motion for the adjournment of the House. I wish to know whether the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) is in order in discussing unemployment on the motion now before the Chair.

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