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Thursday, 14 April 1921

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) . - Following the very academic speech to which the Senate has just listened, I intend to address honorable senators in the course of seconding the amendment, along entirely practical lines. My desire is to do whatever I can to prevent the Commonwealth from becoming bankrupt owing to the extravagant policy of the Government. The laws of nature,' unfortunately, are such that our exports are going to fall off to so alarming a degree that there will be very little income to tax; and we shall have comparatively little money with which to import, so the result will be that the Government will collect relatively little by way of Customs taxation. Senator Duncan remarked that he considered that aeroplanes would be our first line of defence. I maintain, though not as an expert, that our first line of defence always has been, and ever will be, the British Navy. We should concentrate our efforts, in relation to any money that we may have to spend,. in giving some adequate contribution in order to assure that the British Navy shall remain supreme. Without' it, we would not be able to maintain our trade or, indeed, hold this continent. We would not require any flying machines if the British Navy should recede from its place of supremacy.

I am sorry that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E.' D. Millen) is not present, as I desired to add my congratulations to those which have already been expressed concerning the splendid ' manner in which he carried out his mission to London and Geneva. I regret to recall that, in the course of an interview which I had with the Minister some time prior to his departure, I remarked that I considered that the only man for Geneva was our great Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), That was a faux pas, for at that very time it would appear that Senator E. D. Millen had been chosen for the important mission - one which he has so thoroughly and so satisfactorily carried out. We have heard from the Minister for Repatriation that he was able to arrange for the funding of our debts to the Mother Country of £93,000,000, which sum was bearing interest at rates from 3$ to 5$ per cent. The Minister made the wonderfully satisfactory arrangement that this enormous sum should be paid back by an interest rate of 6 per cent, forming a sinking fund.

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