Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 5 October 1927

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - After a parliamentary close season of a little over twelve months, the budget has been presented to us at a time when three months of the financial year have expired. A considerable amount of the money provided for in the budget has' already been expended. The answer of the Government to such a charge is that the delay has been due to the transfer of the departments from Melbourne to Canberra. I do not consider that to be a valid excuse for a delay of three months. There was no necessity for the Parliament to function in Canberra until everything here was in / readiness for it. In the meantime it could 'have carried on its legislative work in Melbourne possibly for a further twelve months. During the last twelve months the people of Australia have not been governed along democratic lines. The doors of Parliament have been closed, and they have been ruled by the handful of men who comprise the Government. Ministers have been peregrinating from one end of Australia to the other, delivering speeches on all sorts of subjects, and doing acts that have not received the sanction of Parliament. That is not right or proper, and I sincerely hope that the practice will not be continued. The most inveterate traveller in the Ministry is unquestionably the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page). He has made very many speeches during the close season to which. I have referred.

Senator McLachlan - Does the honorable senator desire that there shall be a close season for speechmaking?

Senator NEEDHAM - I do not want the doors of Parliament to be closed. On the contrary, I contend that Parliament should do its work thoroughly, and that Ministers should be in their places in this and the other chamber, so that we can keep our eyes upon them. Included in the charming phrases that have fallen from the lips of the Treasurer and other Ministers are: "Maximum production," " Plans for the elimination of waste," "National efficiency," "Cultivation of oversea markets," " Great need for better transport facilities." Those are fine, high-sounding phrases; but what action has been taken by the Government during the last twelve months to bring about such a delightful, and, may I add, necessary state Df affairs? None at all. As a matter of fact it has been in office for a period of 21 months since the last election.

Senator Findley - Twenty-one months too long.

Senator NEEDHAM - I echo that sentiment. The Government cannot point to one piece of legislation which will help in any way towards bringing about the desideratum expressed in the phrases which its members have been bandying about so frequently and readily. One looks in vain to the statute-book to furnish evidence of the policy propounded by the Government at the 1925 elections having been put in operation. During the recess the Treasurer delivered in Sydney, before members of the Australian Country Party Association, an address, in the course of which he said : -

Let us now proceed to determine a policy for Australia. The first step is by the initiation of a national plan of efficiency in production and marketing that will ensure wellbalanced development.

Dr. Pagehas. been Federal Treasurer for a period of five years. One would have thought that he, and the Government of which he is a member, would in the time have given effect to the policy he there enunciated; but nothing has been done. The Country Party is supposed to be an active organization. What has it done, or insisted upon the Government doing,' to bring about national efficiency and the better marketing of our products ?

I shall deal now with the question of finance. Since Dr. Page became Federal Treasurer the people of Australia have been hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. In the latter respect they have not been disappointed. Practically every budget has been a splendid example of manipulation from end to end. The Government claims to be out for economy, but no evidence can be gleaned from the last budget of any intention on its part to practice economy in the future; nor can I find any record of economy in the past.

Suggest corrections