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Friday, 9 October 1936

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) .- There are two sides to the issue before the Senate - the interests of the people who would have to provide the money for this suggested additional grant to Western Australia, and the interests of the people who will receive it. It is about time that something was said for the people who have to find the money. How long will they be able to continue to give. It is, I think, indisputable that but for the special grants to the States this year, the Commonwealth Government would have been able to remit a further £2,000,000 of taxes. I am inclined to think that the representatives of Western Australia in this chamber are like the foolish man who looked a gift horse in the mouth. To put the position bluntly, if the bill is withdrawn they take a risk that it may not be re-introduced.

Senator AllanMacDonald presented a much better case for an increased grant than did. the previous speakers from his State. They based their claim on what they regard as an. established right, apparently for all time. Senator Allan MacDonald, on the other hand, urged that Western Australia is. in a bad way financially, and is in urgent need of additional assistance. His was much the better way to approach the eastern States. I am sure that if they believed that Western Australia were in grave difficulties they would not hesitate to respond to a genuine appeal. The other representatives from Western Australia did their State a great disservice. One honorable gentleman would have us believe that it is a land of desolation and poverty.

Senator Marwick - The figures prove that.

Senator LECKIE - Senators Marwick and Johnston pictured Western Australia as a country not worth saving, whereas it is by no means an unimportant State of the Commonwealth.

Senator Foll - Senator E. B. Johnston said something about poor relations at a tea-party.

Senator LECKIE - I heard the honorable senator use that comparison. I am wondering what the people of his State will think about it. From observations made in Western Australia, I know that the people are industrious, and that there are large areas of fertile land ; but, unfortunately, drought conditions prevail in certain parts of the State and these justify the earnest appeal made by Senator Allan MacDonald. If the remarks of some honorable senators representing Western Australia are given publicity throughout the Commonwealth it will be thought that that State is unworthy of financial assistance. If a State is in actual need, it should receive help, but its representatives should not make demands upon the Commonwealth.

Senator Brown - Those who have rights are entitled to make demands.

Senator LECKIE - I do not think that the people of Western Australia are in such sore straits as to be justified in demanding that the Commonwealth shall make a grant which has to be provided by taxpayers in other parts of Australia. The assistance which the Commonwealth proposes to render is to enable Western Australia to rehabilitate itself. The following interesting paragraph appears in the commission's report: -

It cannot be said that Western Australia lias made any special' sacrifice to put her finances right. During the eight years prior to 1034-35 her taxation had been lower than that of most other States, and it has been a practice to postpone losses and spend out of loan funds what should have been found out of revenue.

The people of the eastern States have to assist Western Australia because the Government of that State has not imposed sufficient taxes to meet its liabilities. Senator Allan MacDonald put the case for Western Australia fairly by showing that, owing to drought and other conditions, assistance is needed, and if an additional grant were given on those grounds I should be very sympathetic towards it. I do not believe that the Western Australian people, through their representatives, are entitled to make demands upon ether taxpayers

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