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Tuesday, 21 June 1949

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) . - I should not have engaged in this debate but for the speech made by the honorable (member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Thompson). Since the honorable member has applied so much ointment to his political soul in connexion with finance and the wonderful things that this Government has done for South Australia, it is only right and fitting that the case should be stated from the point of view of the Opposition. Subventions toStates were provided for in the original Commonwealth Constitution because the people who drafted the Constitution recognized that, under the tariff system which is was realized would undoubtedly be set up under federation, certain disabilities would be suffered by the weaker States. Payments in aid of the States were made from the very inception of federation. They were at first made under what was known as the " Braddon blot", and they have been made ever since with very few intermissions and without any regard for the political character of the government that happened for the time being to be in office in this Parliament. There is no political advantage to be gained for the Labour party from the payment of the money for which this bill provides. A certain code of rules has been laid down under which the Commonwealth Grants Commission considers the appllication of every State. An applicant State is not permitted to have a scale of payments for its civil service greater than the average scale for the whole Commonwealth without suffering certain reductions in its grant. There is no need to go into all those rules, because the honorable (member for Hindmarsh knows perfectly well what they are. It is true that he and I were members of the South Australian Parliament at the same time. J remember in those days seeing him on the opposite side of the State House of Assembly when the Hill Labour Government had behind it the greatest majority ever given to a government in South Australia. What happened? Teachers' salaries were not increased according to my recollection. I do not remember anything about that, but I do remember-

Mr Thompson - The honorable memlip.r wanted to decrease them.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - A decrease took place under a South Australian Labour government.

Mr Thompson - No.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I was one of the managers who went ito the Legislative Council building, that old rabbit warren in which the Council met in those days, and helped to give effect to the Premiers Plan. There were many things about the Premiers Plan that I did not like, but I shall not refer to them, now. However, it is a matter of fact that during the time when the honorable member was in the State Parliament, he supported a government that reduced the salaries of teachers. There can be no question about that. It is also a fact that teachers' salaries were increased by a government against which he sat in opposition until he became a member of this Parliament. The Government of South Australia to-day is headed by the greatest leader that South Australia has ever produced. As long as he is prepared to lead the Government in that State, the Labour party has no more hope of defeating him than my old Persian cat has of going on a voyage to 'the .moon. In discussing the proposed grant of £600,000, the honorable member for Hindmarsh referred to the present Australian Government as though it were some sort of bountiful fairy giving bonuses to South Australia. What is the position under the uniform tax system? South Australia was one of those States which appealed to the High Court against uniform tax, burt the High Court ruled that the system was the valid constitutional law of Australia. Therefore, whatever the Premiers may happen to think of the situation, the times when the honorable gentleman and I faced each other in the South Australian Parliament have gone and will never return. To-day, the less populous States have to depend on the Australian Government to provide for any shortage of revenue. Owing to the operation of the existing federal system of taxation deficits can be made up only by subventions from the Commonwealth Treasury.

Mr Dedman - I take it from the honorable member's remarks that he is in favour of the uniform tax.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I did not say anything of the sort. The nature of the bill that we are debating does not allow me to discuss that matter. I mentioned it as a fact and the relevant legislation has been ruled to be constitutional by the High Court of Australia. The fact that I want to stress is that this Government, to which the honorable member for Hindmarsh refers in such glowing terms, has the record of being the greatest taxgatherer that Australia has ever seen. It has taken more out of the pockets of the people and put less into them than has any other government. Its rates of tax are greater than the tax rates in most British communities. I think that to get a parallel one would have to go back to the days of Louis XV. and Louis XVI. before the French Revolution.

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