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Monday, 21 March 1927

Senator GRANT (New South Wales) , - If Tasmania had the assistance of a few other honorable senators, such as Senator Millen, it would be receiving not the nominal grant of £378,000, but probably £500,000. Ever since I have been a member of the Senate I have heard these miserable wails, concerning the horrible financial position in which Tasmania is placed. In this instance, the Tasmanian representatives are not satisfied with the proposal of the Government to hand over to it £378,000 a year which has been collected in the other States.

Senator Guthrie - Is Tasmania in a bad way?

Senator GRANT - Apparently it is.

Senator Guthrie - And there is a Labour Government in power there.

Senator GRANT - The present Government is not responsible. Every person disembarking or embarking at Launceston is immediately pounced upon and fined 2s. in the form of a poll tax. Any one building a home or employing labour within a municipal area is yearly fined in proportion to the amount of work hu does. Instead of insisting on the passing of a law such as we have in New South Wales, dealing with such matters, the Tasmanian people come to the Commonwealth Government pleading and praying for financial assistance. I submit that Tasmania is equal in every respect to other portions of the Commonwealth, but the Tasmanian people have an inveterate habit of collecting doles from the people on the mainland to enable them to pay their way. A person who stands at a street corner and holds out his hand for financial assistance immediately loses the respect of his fellow men, and Tasmania, by persisting in her present attitude, has lost the respect of the other States. The representatives of that State are continually holding meetings to find out the most vulnerable spot at which to attack the Commonwealth Treasury. They have been doing this for years, and if I had my way I would stop the practice. For many years it was the custom of certain Italian citizens to stand at street corners in Naples asking for assistance, but under the Mussolini regime persons so doing are compelled to take a draught of castor oil or get to work. It is about time similar action was taken and the Tasmanian people were made to work for their living. I visit Tasmania sometimes, and I know that that State has splendid timber resources. Her fruit, too, is equal to that" grown in any other part of the Commonwealth : but the men of Tasmania ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves in that they have neither the desire nor the ability to govern their State without depending on doles contributed by the people of the other States. Why should there be two Houses of Parliament in Tasmania? That involves unnecessary expense. I remind the Senate that New South Wales pays nearly one-half of the direct taxation that flows into the Commonwealth Treasury.

Senator Millen - New South Wales dumps her surplus goods into Tasmania.

Senator GRANT - Why does not Tasmania manufacture all she wants?

Instead of investing their money in local enterprises the people of Tasmania invest it in [New South Wales, .and then they complain that the number of factories in Tasmania is limited. In this bill the Government proposes to withdraw the per capita payments from four of the States, and at the same time to make special grants to Western Australia and Tasmania. The provision for the payment of £380,000 per annum to Tasmania has probably been included in the bill in order to capture the support of Tasmanian members. I am absolutely opposed to the Commonwealth paying money to Western Australia and Tasmania. Those States should be able to look after their own requirements. Rather than do what the Government proposes, it would be better for the Commonwealth to abolish excise duties.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator must confine himself to the clause before the committee.

Senator GRANT - It would be better for the States to raise their own revenue, rather than that we should continue the present system by which the Commonwealth collects money by the imposition of excise duties, and hands it to 'the States. The Government is not practising what it preaches, because, while saying that the States should collect the revenue which they spend, it proposes to rob New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland of something which they have received for 26 years, and at the same time to continue to make payments to Western Australia and Tasmania. This is not a bill to abolish the per capita payments, but one which authorizes payments to Western Australia and Tasmania ac the expense of the other States. I hope that honorable senators will oppose the payment of these grants to Tasmania.

Senator Millen - Seeing that the honorable senator is the deputy leader of his party iti this chamber, the Seriate would be interested to know whether he is expressing the views of his party.

Senator GRANT - The Labour ' party is opposed to this bill.

Senator Barnes - The Labour party wants all the States to continue to receive the per capita grants.

Senator GRANT - The adjustment of the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States has always been difficult. The representatives of Western Australia and Tasmania have ever been anxious to get their greedy claws on the revenue derived from Customs and excise, which this year will probably exceed £44,000,000.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator has exhausted his time.

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