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Wednesday, 4 May 1932


Mr JAMES (Hunter) . - I am opposed to the bill. I believe that it will open the door for additional trouble to come upon us. We are in difficulties already in regard to taxation, and if anything is done to interfere with the operation of the railways still greater difficulties will arise. It becomes more apparent every day that this Government intends to do everything in its power to crush the New South Wales Government. Seeing that the Commonwealth, has -not obtained the revenue which it expected from the attachment of State moneys, I cannot understand why it should persevere with this policy. It appears to me that if. anything is done to hold up the railway services of New South Wales, the people will be placed in a most dangerous position. Absolute chaos will reign if the transport of primary produce is held up.


Mr Paterson - The object of this bill is to prevent the holding up of transport.


Mr JAMES - Surely the honorable member realizes that we are merely making moves on a chess board. After this Government has made this move, the Lang Government will make a counter move. If the revenues now proposed to be attached are diverted from the State Government, it will be impossible to pay wages for the maintenance of the transport services.


Mr Paterson - Provision is being made to pay salaries and wages.


Mr JAMES - I do not trust this Government any more than it trusts the Lang Government. The Lyons Government is merely trying to bring still greater distress upon the hungry and needy people of New South Wales. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) said that surely something else besides money needs consideration. The preservation of peace and good order should be our first concern. We cannot expect peace to be preserved if we withhold from desperate people the necessaries of life. We know that superannuation payments have been stopped in New South Wales, and so also has the payment of widows' pensions and child endowment. In my opinion there will be grave danger of bloodshed occurring in New South Wales if this bill is passed. I do not think that honorable members opposite desire to see blood shed in this fair land, but unless they alter their tactics it appears to me that this is likely to occur. Do they think that the payment of overseas interest is of more importance than the feeding of hungry people? Would it be either humane or Christian to allow people to starve so that interest could be paid? The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) may shake his head. I know that he attends church and regards himself as a Christian; but do the teachings of Christ justify him in supporting this measure?


Mr Paterson - Jesus taught that we should render unto Caesar. the things that are Caesar's.


Mr JAMES - The trouble with this Government is that it is paying to Caesar the money that should be spent to feed starving children. We read in the Scriptures "He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the Lord " but honorable members opposite have no regard for the poor. I cannot understand how they can justify their actions if they regard themselves as Christians.

I cannot allow the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition to pass without comment. The right honorable gentleman has attacked both this measure and the members of the party to which I belong. It appears to me that he was speaking with his tongue in his cheek. He told us that he was opposed to this bill, and in the next breath he said that Mr. Lang and his followers were responsible for the downfall of his Government. His opposition to the bill is sheer hypocrisy; the sole object of it being propaganda for the New South Wales members of his party. He accused us of associating ourselves with honorable members opposite to defeat his Government. That statement i3 incorrect. If the right' honorable gentleman had not displayed such deplorable weakness in departing from the policy of the Labour party, his Government might have remained in office for its full term. The right honorable gentleman himself took the first step in the policy which this Government is now pursuing when he introduced the Financial Emergency Bill. Under that measure unjustifiable reductions were made in oldage and invalid pensions and in the pensions of incapacitated soldiers, and of the dependants of the 60,000 soldiers who died on active service, who were told before they left this country that if they fought for Australia, Australia would be theirs. The Premiers plan is practically the Niemeyer plan under another name.


Mr Baker - The members of the party to which the honorable member belongs put this Government in power.


Mr JAMES - I disagree with the honorable member. If the Scullin Government had been willing to agree to the appointment of a. committee to inquire into the charge that certain unemployment relief moneys had been used in the electorate of a member of the Cabinet, there need not have been an election. _ I believe that the Leader of the Opposition realized when he was Prime Minister that the application of the Premiers plan would bring us to our present impossible position, and that, therefore, he preferred to go to the people. When he did so he got what he deserved. But the remnant of his party which now sits in this House is not justified, on that ground, in adopting the course which it is at present following. However, I shall not pursue this subject, [f the right honorable member had not attacked the party which I represent, I should not have said even so much as I have said.

This Government has found that the only result of its policy of attaching the revenues of New South Wales has been to get hold of a meatless bone. I understand that many of the taxation documents made available to the Common wealth by the State Taxation Commissioner (Mr. McMahon) relate to wealthy taxpayers who are heavily in arrears in their taxation payments.


Mr Paterson - Who told the honorable member that?


Mr JAMES - I obtained my information from the official organ of the United Australia party. If these people would pay their arrears of taxation they would place the Commonwealth in possession of an amount which would perhaps equal the takings if a boxing bout were arranged in some suitable place between the right honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) and Mr. Lang. The Minister for Health (Mr. Marr) promised during the last Federal election that he would eat his hat if Mr. Lang remained in power for fourteen days after this Parliament was returned. The Minister could assist to raise considerable revenue by giving an exhibition of hat-eating as a preliminary to the main bout. I can well imagine how thrilled the spectators would be when the stadium manager exclaimed : "On my right I have the right honorable member for Flinders--







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