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Thursday, 17 March 1932

Mr PROWSE (Forrest) . - I support the proposal put forward by the honorable member for Calare (Mr.

Thorby), and I greatly regret that he had not sufficient time within which to elaborate his ideas. The payment of doles, I understand, costs Australia something over £12,000,000 a year. The community is like a man who possesses a huge engine, from which he gets no return, although he ' supplies it with £12,000,000 worth of fuel. The proposition submitted by the honorable member -for Calare is in effect that money which does not now return even 1 per cent, should be used in another fashion, iu which case it would show a very good return. The idle power of the engine should be applied in the direction the honorable member suggests. I do not know if honorable members generally are fully seised of the importance and the practicable nature of the proposition. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) will, doubtless, think that it would take a long time to bring it into operation, but a similar scheme is already being successfully conducted in one of the States. If only a portion of the £12,000,000 now being spent in paying the dole were used in providing actual employment, helping men to retain their respectability instead of becoming, paupers, the quantity of produce available for export would immediately increase, and additional labour would be required, not only in the country, but in the cities as well. Surely such' a proposal will commend itself to every honorable member in this chamber. The honorable member for Calare states that -

The advantages of such a proposal are numerous. It would encourage the production of exportable products and the expansion of private enterprise. It does not create or extend government departments. It does not increase the annual interest bill of the producer, and makes no demand for repayment for two years, by which time returns will have resulted from the expenditure.

No sacrifice would have to be made by the Government in providing the money without interest, and even if repayments are not to be made for two years it would be infinitely better than spend ing £12,000,000 annually in a manner which does not produce an asset of any kind. The scheme further provides for-

A revolving fund by retaining all repayments for re-issue, in addition to the annual contribution from the unemployed relief taxation, and assists employment in the secondary industries, supplying the material as well as the transport services. It immediately reduces the demands upon governments to provide food relief, and increases the purchasing power of those unemployed. In the second year the scheme would tend to develop permanent employment in the rural districts, and would increase revenues while tending to increase production. As each producer borrowing under the scheme would be responsible for the repayment he would naturally see that he spent the money in a way that would secure the best return for the expenditure. lt. would be a self-supporting scheme. By employing the " engine " in some useful way we could provide employment instead of impoverishing the nation. A large number of those now out of employment would have some practical work on which to be engaged instead of existing on the dole, which naturally leads to physical and moral degeneration. Some members of the previous Government claim to possess intelligence, but for every four minutes in which that Government was in office, one man in the community lost his job. Surely that proves that the policy which they supported was impracticable. The application of the policy submitted by the honorable member for Calare would soon prove of great benefit to the Commonwealth. The honorable ^member for Melbourne Ports referred, and properly too, to the fact that the products of our primary and secondary industries .cannot now be profitably disposed of, because the people have no money with which to buy them. The financial position of most of those who are settled on the land is so precarious that they have not sufficient funds with which to develop their properties. Many holdings are going hack, because of the ravages of vermin and the rapidity with which noxious weeds are spreading. Scrub shoots are growing, and in the absence of money, it is impossible for settlers to keep their properties in a productive state. The scheme which the honorable member for Calare outlined, provides a way out of the difficulty. It should commend itself to honorable members and to the representatives of the States who are to attend the conference of Premiers shortly to be held.

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