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Tuesday, 22 June 1937

Senator BROWN - I did not make such a stupid statement. Senator Foll, for whom I have the greatest respect, is a director of the Mount Isa Mining Company, one of the richest companies in Australia.

Senator Foll - It employs about 1400 persons.

Senator BROWN - In perusing Who's Who in Australia, I find that Senator Grant is a director of many Tasmanian companies; . the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) is a director of insurance and industrial companies, and Senator E'. B. Johnston is a very rich man, owning a lot of property in Western Australia. Senator Leckie is a manufacturer, whilst Senator DuncanHughes is supposedly one of the richest men in this Senate. In these circumstances the Government and its supporters should have no difficulty in securing all the funds it requires for political purposes. On Friday Senator Collings mentioned hypocrisy when he was speaking about this Government, and he was called to order. But the Labour Gall has expressed itself similarly. It referred to Mr. Lyons' speech at the inaugural dinner of the Australia Club in London, when he said that Australia's recovery was not due to politicians, but to the workers who had suffered poverty and loss of their jobs, but had shown the same magnificent spirit as they had in the Great War. That, said the Labour Gall, was hypocrisy. Among the champions of the workers who attended the dinner - all. in their penguin suits - were : Sir Thomas Inskip, Minister for the Coordination of Defence; Mr. .Malcolm MacDonald, Secretary for the Dominions ; Mr. Duff Cooper, First Lord of the Admiralty; Viscount Swinton, Secretary for Air; the Duke of Abercorn, Earl Cromer, Lord Willingdon Lord Stonehaven, Lord Strathcarron, Lord Ebbisham, Lord Cambrose, Lord Lloyd, Lord Glendyne, Lord Wakefield, Lord Nuffield, Lord Essendon, Lord Trenchard, Lord Elgin, Lord Dawson of Penn, Lord Snell, Viscount Horne, Sir Harry Batterbee (Assistant Under-Secretary for the Dominions), Sir Phillip Game (a former Governor of New South "Wales), Sir Henry Weigall (a. former Governor of South Australia), Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Ernie Chatfield (First Sea Lord), Sir Maurice Hankey (Secretary to the Committee on Imperial Defence), Mr. Montagu Norman (Governor of the Bank of England), and Mr. Olive Baillieu.

One thing certain is that Australia's recovery was not due to the United Australia party. In proof of that I shall road statements made at various times by supporters of the. Government. One of them is Mr. Fadden, the new member for Darling Downs. Speaking at Toowoomba on the 4th December last, the Honorable J. A. J. Hunter, M.H.B., said - f first knew " Arty " Fadden when ho was a smiling small hoy at school. Years afterwards I came across a " Fadden " in the north who was counted the leading public accountant there, and one of the most prominent in the State. On inquiry, I found it was the same little " Arty " I had known twenty years before. " Arty " Fadden's father was a good Labour man, and I honestly believe that if "Arty" followed the dictates of his heart he also would be a member of the Labour party. The fates, however, have been unkind to him, and he finds himself a member of the Country party. In the Warwick Daily News of the 7th December, 1936, Mr. John Lawson, a tory M.P., is reported as having said, when speaking on behalf of the candidate of the United Australia party for Darling Downs -

Mr. Faddenis a city accountant, who has never rendered the Darling Downs any public service, while his will o' the' wisp flitting from electorate to electorate in the hope of finding a safe sent for himself has obviously caused him to overlook the important fact that the the people of the Downs possess instincts of fair play that will not permit political gate crashers to traduce most highly esteemed citizens.

How they love one another ! What Mr. Fadden himself said on that occasion is also interesting. On the 9th December, he said -

Country people could expect little consideration from the United Australia party, comprised as ;t was with a Cabinet of capital city men The United Australia party on its Cabinet composition, represents purely capital city interests. Those interests have nothing in common with the people who have made and are making this great area of the Darling Downs a better and more prosperous electorate to live in.

On the 5th December he had said -

The United Australia party gave its allegiance to the big financial and manufacturing interests of the cities, and to the middlemen and monopolists, because it received its support and power from those people. How then, could the United Australia party serve the countryside as well as those in the city who sucked the lifeblood from the countryside? If you put an United Australia party man into the Federal House to represent the Darling Downs you are going to give your allegiance to your political enemies - the manufacturing and commercial groups and the middlemen. No man associated with the United Australia party - a party backed and influenced by city interests - could conscientiously serve city interests and ambitions, and at the same time adequately realize what the countryside required in the way of legislation. Proceeding to deal with the parliamentary record of the United Australia party in its endeavour to govern without Country party assistance, Mr. Fadden said its history in that attempt was a sorry story. The United Australia party tariff policy had nearly smashed all the industries of the country. Primary industries were subjected to repeated onslaughts, and were beaten to their knees, preference being extended by the United Australia party to cheap, foreign, black-grown products, so that city importers - the men behind the United Australia party - should reap a harvest.

Senator Foll - As a matter of fact that statement was never made by Mr. Fadden.

Senator BROWN - I can give the honorable senator chapter and verse of what Mr. Fadden said as reported in the Warwick Daily News. I wish that Senator Hardy were in the chamber to hear what I have to say about the Gwydir by-election because during that campaign he occasionally overstepped the mark. With Mr. George Lawson, the Labour candidate, Mr. Scully, who has since entered the House of Representatives, was driving one day from one village to another in a car on which were two placards bearing the inscription "Vote for Scully" when he was stopped on the highway by the Country party organizer who expressed a desire to be given transport to the next .village at which Senator Hardy was to speak. Mr. Scully, being a gentleman, promptly gave his political enemy a lift. About a mile from the village they heard a loud voice championing the Country party. Lo and behold! It was Senator Hardy speaking th rough amplifiers. As soon as Senator Hardy saw the Labour car approach, he said to the crowd - all six of them - " Turn around and gaze upon the men from Sydney, the representatives of the Trades Hall, who know all about the Country party. Look upon these men, who are nothing but political adventurers." And the first man to step out from the car was his own organizer! The West Australian Wheatgrower in referring to the result of the Gwydir byelection said : -

The defeat was had enough, but for the Country party and its supporters to ascribe defeat to any other reasons but the right ones shows that the party lias not learnt its lesson. Gwydir voted out the Country party, and voted in Labour, not only because the Country party has done nothing constructive, but because the things it did were coercive, dictatorial, anti-democratic. Not one constructive achievement can be placed to the record of the Federal Government - the United Australia party admitted this by attempting, at the last minute, to bribe Gwydir by a prom'ise of a £10,000,000 water scheme. But the Government's failures and mistakes arc legion. The fact is that the United Australia party has won its every election, not on a constructive policy designed to deserve the public's vote, but on some slogan designed to stampede the electors into voting against Labour.

But yon can cry " Wolf " once too often, and the indications are that, whatever the Government's tactics, the people will prefer Labour.

I need not say any more about Gwydir - that by-election certainly had its lesson for the Government - hut there are thousands of people throughout Australia who are completely satisfied that no great constructive work on a national basis has been done by this Government. When one studies the policy of our political enemies, one is confronted with the fact that they only deal with big questions in a limited and small-minded way. This afternoon Senator Hardy spoke of closer settlement. Undoubtedly this is a matter of vast importance, yet when I asked the honorable senator what was to be done about the marketing problem, he did not answer me. It is futile for any government to enter into a scheme of intense development without first trying to solve the problem of increasing purchasing power and enlarging markets. I contend that any party, to be successful, and to demonstrate the efficacy of democ racy as opposed to dictatorships, must bring forward legislation basically altering the economic system in order that we may, while improving our production, improve also distribution and the absorptive power of the people. All thinkers recognize that democracy and parliamentary institutions are in peril; the people must therefore insist that Parliament shall do its job. A part of its job is to improve the economic organization of society so that increased production may be accompanied by a wider and more equitable distribution. The Labour party believes in national insurance, but such a system must he in consonance with other schemes to increase the productive capacity of the people. The Government appears to be pessimistic; apparently it does not believe that our economy can be so organized as to increase production and manage distribution in such a way as to ensure a sufficiency of the good things of life to all our people Great Britain has operated a scheme of national insurance for over twenty years, but apparently it has not been entirely successful, because, no so long ago, Sir John Orr, an eminent British medical man, confessed that over. 20,000,000 people in the Mother country were tindernourished. We on this side contend that instead of introducing a scheme such as that existing in Great Britain, to which all beneficiaries must contribute, the right thing to do is so to organize the national economy as to assure to every man, woman and child in the community a reasonably good economic status.

Unfortunately there seems to be something lacking in modern democracies. Mussolini and Hitler are scornful of our system of parliamentary government. They regard Great Britain as a decadent, nation, and point to their achievements in Italy and Germany respectively in justification of their dictatorship rule. Russia also has been organized on a dictatorship basis. Fortunately, we know the weaknesses of dictatorships, so it behoves us, as believers in a democratic form of government, to do something more than merely tinker with such vital issues as national insurance anc! other social services. Unhappily this Government has not been seised of its responsibilities; not long ago it caused a great deal of trouble over the admission to Australia of Egon Kisch and Mrs.Freer, and more recently has bad some adventures with. Japanese pearling vessels in our northern waters. The exploits of the patrol launch Larrakia are fresh in the minds of the public. To-day the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) in the House of Representatives made a belated statement concerning the Government's proposals to safeguard the Australian pearling industry against foreign intrusion, and we all hope that effective action will soon be taken to protect Australian pearlers from unfair competition by foreigners.

Senator Marwickthis afternoon spoke about the need for effective measures to prevent soil erosion in Australia. Queensland is much interested in this vital problem, and the people in my State will be glad to hear when the Government intends to do something to check the evil. We know what has happened in South Africa and the United States of America, where millions of acres of valuable agricultural land has been destroyed through soil drift, and thousands of farmers have lost their all. The well-known Australian writer Ion Idriess in a series of newspaper articles published a month ago, gave some disquieting information about soil erosion in this country. He referred to the extensive drift that has been taking place for many years in the south-western portion of Queensland, the south-eastern areas of the Northern Territory, and the north-western corner of New South Wales, and went on to say:-

Right to the Darling the dust came years ago. Now the sand is coming fast and at Menindie it has blown across the river and is creeping on, creeping on. The station people look aghast at this creeping enemy. Over great areas it has now choked " permanent " waterholes, has silted up creeks .... Its drift comes relentlessly on to smother the tracks and creep into tanks and wells. It is ' killing ' the. water . . .

Numbers of sheep stations that 25 years' ago carried 100,000 sheep are now battling to support 30,000 . . .

Country has been denuded of its already sparse timber . .

Millions of sheep and cattle have eaten vast quantities of herbage that helped bind the topsoil . . .

Rabbits, greatest destroyer of all, ate the very roots of the tougher herbage; even ringbarked the trees. Loosened top soil washed into creeks . . .

Dry season came and the winds blew friable soil away exposing the clay here and there and so forming new clay pans.

So pressing has the problem become in Australia, that interested people in all the States are looking for some indication of statesmanlike action by the Commonwealth Government to prevent further soil erosion.

Included in the Government's proposals to assist primary producers a year or two ago was the provision of £12,000,000 for the adjustment of farmers' debts. That was heralded as a major act of Government policy, but I regret to say that it has failed entirely to rehabilitate the farming community. Recently I visited the farming areas in southern Queensland and learned that, due to adverse seasons and low prices for their products, hundreds of primary producers were on the verge of poverty. One share-farmer dairyman informed me that his last monthly cream cheque was only 14s., and I was further informed that one butter factory which manufactured 90 tons of butter a week was now turning out less than 19 tons. These individual instances of failure are indicative of what is happening in so many rural areas and show the need for organization of primary production on a sounder basis.

All these important issues affecting the economic development of Australia should be considered from the national standpoint. We know that the world is cursed by economic nationalism. Its effect upon Australia is such that the adoption of well thought-out proposals by the National Parliament is imperative in the interests of the people Senator Hardy this afternoon commented on the fact that our export of secondary products is almost negligible. Our position in this respect is, I suggest, governed to some extent by the growth of economic nationalism, and I have no doubt that the following statement which appeared recently in a New Zealand newspaper will be read with interest by the honorable senator: -

Auckland, 13th April, 1937.

The expansion of Australia's exports to New Zealand at the expense of British manufacturers is causing concern. At a meeting of the Auckland Manufacturers' Association it was stated that goods which normally came from Britain were now coming in increasing quantities from Australia, thus increasing New Zealand's difficulties in the face of the understandings that when Britain bought from New Zealand the dominion should buy from Britain. It was decided to place the position before the other interested associations.

This indicates clearly that the development of Australian secondary industries is leading to the competition by Australia with British manufacturers in the New Zealand market and is apparently causing some concern in New Zealand. The same condition obtains in the various European countries, where, for some years, there has 'been intensive application of science to industry with a view to making each country independent of the other. On this subject the Sydney Daily Telegraph, in April of this year, published the following statement: -

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