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Monday, 21 March 1927

Senator GRANT (New South Wales) . - This is one of the most important clauses of the bill, and if agreed to will have a very undesirable effect upon, at least, the State of New South

Wales. Section 4 of the Surplus Revenue Act of 1910 reads -

The Commonwealth shall, during the period of ten years, beginning on the 1st day of July, 1.91.0, and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, pay to each State by monthly instalments, ov apply to the payment of interest on debts of the State taken over by the Commonwealth, an annual sum amounting to 25s. per head of the number of the people of the State.

Under tlie per capita system the amounts received by the respective States last year were -


If this bill is agreed to none of the States will be entitled, under that section, to receive any sum. The States of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia will lose between them £6,9S3,S73. I believe that, by certain clauses of the bill, itis intended to substantially recompense some of the other States'. I fail to see why the State of New South Wales should be thus treated. It is very rarely indeed that representatives of that State complain of the distribution of Federal revenue; but this, I think, is one of those occasions when strong exception should be taken to the proposal to withdraw the per capita payment from the State while provision is made in other clauses to continue special payments to other States. If the bill stopped at clause 2 it would mean the total abolition of the per capita payments, leaving to the States the right to tax themselves and find their own revenue.

Senator Crawford - It is a right that the State of New South Wales has been exercising very freely of late.

Senator GRANT -This is the first time to my knowledge any honorable senator from New South Wales has objected to special payments to other States. We have- agreed, without any comment worth mentioning, to an impost of about £6,000,000 a year to maintain the sugar industry of Queensland, and with very mild protest now and again we have agreed to the payment of doles to Western Australia and Tasmania.

Senator Payne - Doles?

Senator GRANT - Yes, doles, which, so I am told, sap the marrow out of the backbone of the people who get them. It is generally recognized that the payment of money to any person who gives nothing in return has a very damaging effect on his moral fibre. I realize quite well that the bone of contention all along has been the distribution of the spoils collected at the Customs house.

Senator Thompson - We have heard all about that.

Senator GRANT - But I want to say it again, because I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that, while the supporters of the Government masquerade as protectionists, they are, like Senator Thompson, only high revenue tariffists

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator DUNCAN - The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the clause.

Senator GRANT - If the bill stopped at clause 2, it would deal out at least even-handed treatment, if not justice, to all the States; but it does not do so. There are other provisions which destroy the effect of this clause, but I shall have another opportunity to deal with them. In the meantime, I protest against the proposal to rob New South Wales of £2,978,343 during the current financial year.

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