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Thursday, 17 March 1932

Mr DEIN (Lang) .- After listening to the debate last week, and to-day, on our greatest national problem, I rise with a certain degree of pleasure, and with a great deal of disappointment, to express my views on the subject. I am pleased because the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), and one or two of his colleagues, have shown that they are prepared to assist the Government in its solution. They have shown a sincere desire to help those unfortunate persons who are at present out of work. On the other hand, I am exceedingly disappointed to find that in the useless, bitter, and provocative speeches delivered by some of our friends opposite, who have taken up more than their share of time, not one constructive word, phrase, or sentence has been uttered. This debate offers an opportunity for constructive criticism, and any honorable member having a practical suggestion to make should give the Government the benefit of his ideas. I believe that honorable members generally are sincere in their desire to see those at present unemployed back at work. I believe that they are sympathetic and humanitarian in their feelings towards the workless; but they should not claim a monopoly of those virtues. Honorable members on this side of the chamber are just as sympathetic, sincere and humanitarian towards the unemployed as they are. Last week the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) said that during the recent general election campaign I traversed the country promising jobs to every one. That is not the case. It is grossly untrue. I said that with a Labour government in power, both in the federal sphere and in New South Wales, and with ever-increasing unemployment, there was no hope whatever for the unfortunate people who had lost their jobs. I went on to point out that those men and women who felt insecure in the positions which they were holding could not hope for anything until there was a change of government. Throughout Australia the electors accepted that advice, with the result that the Government benches are now full to overflowing, while there are only a few honorable members sitting in opposition. Evidently, the honorable member for West Sydney confused Mr. Lang, the Premier of New South Wales, with myself, the representative of the Lang electorate in this Parliament. It was Mr. Lang, not I, who a few months ago promised the unfortunate electors of New South Wales, particularly those who were out of work, the sun, the moon, prosperity, and jobs for. all, in return for their votes. To-day. we have Mr. Lang's supporters in this House painting pictures of misery, poverty, and privation. They appear to forget that the head of the Government inNew South Wales is the wonderful Mr. Lang. The greatest privation exists in the State of whichhe is the chief citizen. The first duty of the Government is to explore all avenues which might lead to a solution of the problem of unemployment; and I believe that it recognizes that duty. Having explored those avenues, the Government will, I feel confident, rise to the occasion, and follow the course which it believes will be most productive of employment.

This debate offers honorable members an opportunity to offer constructive criticism. We want to hear, not' about conditions in Russia, but about what can be done to improve conditions in Australia.

Mr.Rosevear. - Will the honorable member give us someconstructive criticism ?

Mr. DELIST.I shall do so, and I hope that other honorable members will endeavour to place before the House suggestions worthy of consideration at the forthcoming conference of Premiers. I should not have risen had I not felt that I could offer some helpful suggestions.

In my opinion, the first step towards the solution of the problem of unemployment is to set in motion a scheme which will provide the means whereby the unemployed can be absorbed in the ordinary productive life of the community. I believe that the quickest and most effective, as well as the most permanent, means of solving the problem is to develop a real system of land settlement. The old idea that land settlement should proceed mainly on the basis of living areas must, in my opinion, be somewhat qualified, in order that we may provide for a new type of settlement, which will give the unemployed men and their families, as well as others who seek to establish themselves in small homes, holdings which, while perhaps insufficient for the full maintenance of the family, will, to a great extent, meet their requirements, and enable them to produce something for sale. It may, of course, be necessary to seek other employment during off periods. For this purpose suitable Crown lands should be made available immediately, without any payment, in the way of rent or otherwise, being required for, say, five years, provided that substantial improvements are effected during that period. In addition to Crown lands, suitable private lands should be acquired - compulsorily if necessary. There are millions of acres of good land along our river frontages which is not put to its best productive use. That land would be most suitable for subdivision into areas sufficient, or nearly sufficient, to provide numbers of unemployed families with a livelihood. The amount of capital required would be small; not all of it would be needed immediately. In time, the money invested would be repaid. In order to ensure the success of such a scheme, the co-operation of shire councils and municipal councils should be invoked, because such bodies could provide employment for settlers in the off periods at road-making and in other ways. If such a scheme were started, I feel certain that many practical men would be only too willing to cooperate in order to ensure its success. The successful inauguration of such a scheme would necessitate the temporary continuance of the dole, in order to provide sustenance for thesettlers until such time as they were able to provide for themselves. Land settlement along these lines would do more than find employment for the workless; it would increase the productive wealth of the community. The two things would go hand in hand.

When the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) was speaking, an honorable member inquired by interjection why men were denied the right to work. I have here a communication which shows that in New South Wales men are denied the right to work. The letter reads -

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