Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 28 March 1928

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - When my time expired I waa drawing attention to the position in Canada. We must consider what has happened in other lands in order to judge whether the capitation system is good or bad. I have already pointed out that, in the older provinces of Ontario and Quebec, the population has remained comparatively stationary, while in the new provinces it has increased at a very rapid rate. During the 20-year period from 1901 to 1921, the increase in population in Quebec was only 2 per cent., and in Ontario, only 1.7 per cent. The people were rushing to the new territories such as there represented in Australia by Western Australia and Queensland and the Northern Territory. During that 20-year period, the population in the province of Manitoba increased from 255,211 to 610,118; in Saskatchewan, from 91,279 to 757,510; in Alberta, from 73,022 to 588,454; and in British Columbia, from 178,657 to 524,582. The rates vary from 6 per cent. to 36 per cent. Would not the withdrawal of the per capita payments cause manifest injustice to the newer provinces in Canada, the equivalent of which in this country is found in Queensland and Western Australia. The capitation plan grows with the growth of population, whereas the Government plan develops at a snail-like pace up to a certain point and then remains fixed for all time. The thirteen colonies that in 1790 comprised what was known as the United States of America, then had a population of slightly over 3,000,000, and the present population of those areas is now 43,000,000; but the total population of the United States of America is now 117,000,000. Iu fact, a new and infinitely greater America has grown up outside the America that was known to the world in the 18th century. How would a capitation system apply there? Why it would starve the new and greater America and Canada, and that is exactly what is going to happen in this country under this agreement. In other words, two-thirds of the present population of that country is found beyond the borders of those thirteen colonies, the equivalent of which in Australia is represented by New South Wales and Victoria. Those figures con tradict the theory that the per capita system favours the old-established States - that it makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. The newer States of Australia will increase in population to such an extent that they will eventually far outnumber the present inhabitants of the old established areas. Under the Government's proposal, the more sparsely populated States will become poorer, and no allowance will bo made for the increase in population, which is the vital point, while the older established areas will be made comparatively richer, the exact opposite of the Ministerial nonsense. I think that 1 have disposed of- the sophistry about the per capita system making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

The Leader of the Government stated that the agreement would favour Western Australia. I understood him to say that that State would receive under it £94,000,000 during the 58 years as against £66,000,000 under the per capita system. The Minister has agreed that the population in 1986 will be not more than 13,700,000. He must also admit that the amount payable under the per capita system in that year would he £25,000,000, giving an advantage to the States of over £8,000,000 as compared with the present agreement. The right honorable senator sought to make out his case by handling figures in such a mystifying way as to lead us to believe that the agreement would be of benefit to the States in the meantime. I have worked out the figures, as well as the officers of the department, and I challenge contradiction upon them. The Government tells- us that it will' apportion £100,000 a year for 58 years to support a borrowing policy to the extent of £4,000,000 a -year :over that period. Even accepting the amount of £40,000,000, which is an excessive figure, the total sum to be paid in respect to the liquidation of those vast loans would be £142,000,000 at the end of 53 years, and £168,000,000 at the conclusion of the 58-year period. Therefore, the Federal Treasury would pay to Western Australia not £90,000,000, but only about £16,000,000. The figures stand out in flat contradiction of the Minister's statement. Manifestly Western Australia will get the worst of the deal. The diagram that

I prepared is as plain as the noonday sun. It shows that under the agreement the total payment by the Commonwealth to the States will increase from £8,600,000 to £13,800,000 in 58 years, whereas under the per capita system it would increase from £7,500,000 to £25,000,000, on the basis of a population of 19,600,000, in the same period. These figures give a true contrast of the two systems. Of course, they are not regarded favorably by the Government, for the simple reason that they picture the position so clearly, and on that account the Minister did not pay very much attention to them. I am reminded of a gentleman in New York, whose municipal administration was subjected to rather severe criticism. He is reported to have said - "I do not mind what the printers say about me; it is the pictures as kills me." It is my picture that kills this proposal of the Government.

Senator McLachlan - What about the tail to your black figure in the diagram ?

Senator LYNCH - It represents a payment of about £5,000,000 at the end of the 58 years.

Senator McLachlan - But does it not go on for ever?

Senator LYNCH - It goes on ad infinitum, that dole! Whenyou arrive at the 58th year you can borrow until the crack of doom, but you need not pay more than £5,300,000 a year to keep going a borrowing rate of £40,000,000 yearly. That £5,300,000 is all that the States will receive, and if the rate of increase in proportion in Western Australia is not greater than the average, which is unthinkable, her share will be about £360,000 ayear, after 58 years from now. For the Commonwealth on a population of 20,000,000 that will represent something in the neighbourhood of 5s. a head. Bearing in mind the experience of other countries, and having a knowledge of Western Australia's vast untenanted spaces, it can be asserted with confidence that there will be a rush of population to every corner of that State until it becomes as closely settled as are those on the eastern seaboard. Its people will then feel the hardship of this iniquitous system. On their behalf I speak.

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

Suggest corrections