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Thursday, 3 December 1936

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for External Affairs) [5.46]. - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

During the last four years unemployment has been decreasing, and the great bulk of the people will, at this Christmastide, enjoy much better conditions than they have of late years. Nevertheless there are still many persons out of employment, and during recent weeks the Government has been giving consideration to the matter of providing them with some measure of Christmas relief. It therefore asks Parliament to grant £150,000 to provide assistance to those whose lot is still difficult because of the lack of employment. It is proposed that this grant shall be distributed amongst the States on a population basis in the following proportions : - New South Wales, £59,200; Victoria, £40,900; Queensland, £21,700; South Australia, £13,000; Western Australia, £10,000, and Tasmania, £5,200. As the Commonwealth Government has no detailed records of the names of persons out of employment in the various States, it is impracticable for the Commonwealth to undertake the distribution of a grant of this nature through its own departments, but the States have labour agencies and all the necessary records to enable them to distribute it equitably. It is therefore proposed that the Commonwealth grant shall' iti territories will not be large, but it may be assumed that assistance will be given in the territories on a basis at least as generous as will be possible in the States under the grant now proposed. It is well known to honorable senators that every State does make some special provision within its ' own borders for its own unemployed, and it is not pretended that this measure represents the whole assistance which will be given. The vote now proposed is supplementary to what the States themselves- will provide. I commend the bill to the sympathetic consideration of the Senate.

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