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Thursday, 8 December 1938

Mr COLLINS (Hume) .- I listened with interest to the felicitations of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and the statement by the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) on the national insurance scheme or, rather, " scream I think that every honorable member who took part in the debate on the national insurance legislation desires some form of national insurance, .but, in the light of recent events, I am sorry that the Treasurer did not this evening see fit to withdraw it permanently. I am afraid that the scheme will never be operated, for the simple reason that within the last few days unforeseen circumstances have obliged the Government to provide an additional £20,000,000 for the defence of Australia. The additional burden placed on the taxpayers qf this country by the latest instalment of the Government's defence programme will bleed them white and with the added burden of national insurance they will be quite unable to meet their obligations. The disclosures which have been made during the last few days have shown all too clearly that the Government's principal duty at the present time is to provide for the adequate defence of this country. While war clouds hover over the world, it is imperative that we should take all steps necessary to ensure the safety of Australia against any possible invader. World prices for our primary products are no better than they were when the national insurance legislation was introduced. In addresses which I delivered through various broadcasting stations, I emphasized that the solvency of that scheme1 will depend entirely upon the prices ruling for Australia's exportable primary products when the act is brought into operation. I- stated that if there was not a material improvement of prices, the' Government would be well advised to postpone the operation of the measure for some considerable time. I am still of that opinion. I believe that, before it proceeds further with the preparatory administrative work, the Government, even at this late hour, would be well advised to reconsider its decision and, by abandoning the act, save the taxpayers of this country much unnecessary expenditure. I. for one, will not agree to that form of national insurance, at all events, at a time like this when the people of Australia are overburdened with taxes.

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. O. J. Bell).Onbehalf of the Chairman of Committees, the Temporary Chairman of

Committees, the Clerk of the House, the Clerk Assistant and all other officers and attendants of the House during this session, I thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) for their expressions of appreciation of the work that has been done. The Prime Minister paid a very eloquent tribute to the work of the officers of the House and I take this opportunity to support his remarks. I." appreciate very highly the services of members of the Hansard staff, the Library, and other departments. They have always been loyal and attentive to us, and I am sure that my appreciation of their work is shared by every member of this House. On their behalf, I reciprocate the good wishes of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, regarding the Christmas recess. We sincerely hope that honorable members all will enjoy their vacation. I will not say rest, because I know that members of Parliament are always fully occupied with their public duties, but we trust that they will enjoy their change of occupation, and, being recuperated, will upon their return be able satisfactorily to discharge the important tasks which they are called upon to perform in this House on behalf of the people.

On my own behalf, I sincerely thank the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition for what they have said in commendation of my work. I hope that I deserve it. I deeply appreciate the assistance given to me by the Clerk of the House, the Clerk Assistant and all officers of the 'House. Probably no one realizes so well as I do the value of the work performed by these officers, their loyalty, efficiency, and willingness at all times to carryout their duties. I value also the support which I have received in the discharge of my duties from honorable members generally. "With the very best wishes of myself, and the whole staff of the House, I put the question -

That the House do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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