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Tuesday, 22 June 1937

Senator ARKINS (New South Wales) . - I congratulate the Government on its record since it was returned to power. [ was particularly pleased to hear the speech delivered by the Governor-General. His Excellency's reference to the recent Coronation of His Majesty King George VI. and Her Majesty the Queen reminded me that once again the British Empire had successfully emerged from a crucial test. When we saw that the young man whom we had regarded for many years as the person who would ultimately occupy the throne had stood down, our hearts were uneasy. I desire at this stage to pay a tribute to the then Prime Minister of Great Britain, who was then Mr. Baldwin, but who has since been raised to the peerage for the way in which he handled the crisis. The former Prime Minister is a remarkable man - a personification of British character. It is a tribute to the British Empire that, when King Edward VIII abdicated the Throne, there was no political upheaval such as would have followed such a happening in other parts of the world. On the contrary, we saw this Empire come triumphant through the ordeal with its highest political traditions intact and the British Monarchy more firmly enthroned in the face of the dictatorships which had arisen in other parts of the world. We all desire that the new King, a man of whom we think in the highest terms, and his Queen - that wonderful - woman whose charm and modesty are so well known to us - will be long spared to reign over this wonderful aggregation of nations which make up the British Common weal th .

Senator Sir George PEARCE - Hear, Hear !

Senator ARKINS - In his Speech the Governor-General said -

My advisers are pleased to be able to record the marked financial and industrial recovery which has taken, place in Australia. Recorded unemployment, which in 1932 had reached the previously unknown level of 30 per cent., has progressively fallen until to-day it stands at less than 10 per cent., a state of affairs which compares favorably with that existing before the depression.

Probably- one of the greatest tests that could be placed on a government to-day is the employment of the people. We have to remember - and I hope the people of this Commonwealth will not forget this - when the Lyons Government came into power it was entrusted with thi5 rehabilitation of the whole of this Commonwealth. The national credit of this country had slid into the depths. The financial equilibrium and the economic health of this country had been almost destroyed. Labour was in power in the Commonwealth and in a number of the States, and the people, realizing the difficulties that existed, asked that the Lyons Government take charge of affairs in thu Commonwealth sphere. The last Scullin budget, delivered in 1931, disclosed a Commonwealth deficit of £10,750,000, and a combined deficit for the Commonwealth and the States amounting to £25,389,000. At that time the New South Wales deficit alone was £7.856.000. When the Financial Emergency Act was forced upon the country by economic pressure, the combined deficits were already approaching £40,000,000. The history of those years, although so recent, is almost forgotten by the people, but it is well to remind them that after a comparatively few years the Lyons Government has rehabilitated the affairs of this country almost back to the predepression levels. In June, 1932, economies were enforced under the Financial Emergency Act and necessary new taxation was imposed. The first Lyons Government budget disclosed a Commonwealth surplus of £1,314,000 and the combined deficits were reduced to £19,500,000 of which New South Wales was responsible for £14,250,000. In the following year the improvement continued, and in June, 1933, the Commonwealth had a surplus of £3,546,000; in June, 1934, £1,301,000; 1935, £711,000; 1936, £3,587,000; and it is estimated that there will be a further surplus this year. The total surpluses disclosed in these budgets amounts to nearly £10,500,000. The Lyons Government took office in the darkest days of the financial and economic history of the world, and it has achieved a wonderful record. The last speaker, Senator Abbott, said that one of the highest tributes that could be paid to any government was paid to the. Commonwealth Government by the British Trade Commissioner. That gentleman said that the Commonwealth had set an example to the rest of the world in its handling of the depression.

The Governor-General's Speech also contained this passage -

My advisers desire to repeat that this recovery would not have been achieved as quickly as it has been without the patriotic co-operation of the people as a whole and the patient endurance of those who are the greatest sufferers from the depression.

The Leader of the Opposition took exception to that.

Senator Collings - I should say so.

Senator ARKINS - The Australian workers are deserving of the highest possible tribute for the share they took' in revitalizing this country. In thinking of them, I am reminded of a cartoon I once saw in an English newspaper which depicted a worker in his overalls standing above the caption " The new English gentleman". We can pay no higher compliment to the workers for their part in the avoidance of economic, disaster than by saying that the great majority of them stood loyal and true. It was the one thing that saved the democracy of the British Empire.

Senator Collings - They could do nothing else.

Senator ARKINS - They could have done other things that workers in other countries have done. Some other countries have deserted democracy. In his Empire's hour of trial the British work man stood true.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.

Senator ARKINS - During the period under review, this Government has done remarkable things in the rehabilitation of the Commonwealth. For instance, since it took office the loans raised in Australia at below 4 per cent, have totalled £98,000,000, the Commonwealth debt has been reduced by £8,616,833, overseas debt totalling £200,000,000 has been converted at rates of interest which mean a saving in interest and exchange of £4,000,000 a year, taxes amounting to £15,605,000 were remitted in 1937, and salaries and social services have been restored to the value of £3,774,000 per annum. In addition, the amount paid to the six States for road construction purposes has totalled £14,187,000, the amounts paid to the States to assist their budget positions have totalled £3,000,000, and special grants to South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania have totalled £13,090,000. For unemployment works and relief, mining and forestry, the States have received £3,840,000, for health promotion, £98,000, and for assistance to primary producers, £20,856,000. The total amount given to the States, in addition to payments under the financial agreement of between £8,700,000 and £9,000,000 a year towards interest and sinking fund in respect of State debts, is £55,071,000.

Honorable senators will agree that .this is a remarkable record, especially when we take into consideration the depression and financial instability existing when the Lyons Government took office. The relief given to taxpayers in the form of tax remissions has been substantial "and most welcome. During its period of office, the Government has remitted £5,205,000 of income tax, £1,200,000 of land tax, £6,740,000 of sales tax, £1,115,000 primage, and £1,205,000 of customs and excise duties, making a total yearly remission under these headings of £15,605,000.

Let us consider now what the Government has done with regard to the restoration of social services and salaries. Since the financial year 1933-34 there has been a restoration of invalid and old-age pensions to the amount of £1,745,000; of maternity allowances, £115,000; of war pensions and repatriation -allowances, £547,000; of public service salaries, £1,297,000; and of public service superannuation payments, £70,000; making a total of £3,774,000. This in brief outline is. the Government's record in the rehabilitation of the finances and social services of the Commonwealth.

I come now to the Government's proposals for defence. The GovernorGeneral's Speech states -

Provision for national defence, always an essential element of policy, has been of overshadowing importance. The example of disarmament set by the British nations, and not least by Australia, has not been, followed.

Honorable senators will agree that for many years Great Britain led the world in a policy of disarmament, but, unfortunately, its -example was not followed by other nations, with the result that the Mother Country is now committed to a five-year defence programme involving an expenditure of £1,500,000,000, an expenditure unprecedented in the history of the Empire. Australia has, during the last four or five years, expended between £30,000,000 and £40,000,000 on defence, and this year its commitments are in the region of £9,000,000. Although our expenditure may, by some people, be considered heavy, it is insignificant in comparison with that of the Mother country, and we have to remember that we rely for our protection on the strength of the British navy. All honorable senators, I hope, appreciate the necessity for adequate defence. Alexander Hamilton, one of the- foremost American public men of his day, referring to the nation's obligations, said : -

Among the many objects to which a race of free people will find it necessary to direct their attention, is that of providing for their safety from invasion.

It is the paramount duty of the Commonwealth Parliament to ensure the defence of Australia, and I am glad to know that the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) has laid the foundation of what to me seems to be a satisfying scheme for the protection of the Commonwealth. I believe that the future defence of Australia lies in the air, and I am glad to know that adequate steps are being taken to establish an efficient air force, and the manufacture in Australia of aeroplanes for defence purposes. I hope also that, in the not distant future, provision will be made for the manufacture in this country of all motor vehicles as part and parcel of the defence scheme.

The Governor-General's Speech, referring to national insurance, stated -

Last year my advisers through the courtesy of His Majesty's government in the United Kingdom, secured the services of two highly qualified experts for the purpose of examining and reporting on the possibility of establishing some system of national insurance in Australia . . .

The action taken by the Government is, I believe, the beginning of what will be one of the most important innovations in Commonwealth legislation. The most difficult phase of social insurance is that relating to unemployment, and it is worth noting that the two most conservative and also the most highly industrialized countries - Great Britain and Germany - have for many years operated efficient systems of national insurance. I believe I am right when I say that Great Britain has set an example to other nations in the direction of unemployment insurance.

Senator Foll - Great Britain is not now a conservative country.

Senator ARKINS - I agree with the honorable senator. The Mother country to-day is most progressive because British statesmen, having to ah unusual degree the gift of prescience, peered into the future and laid the foundations of essential social services which to-day are regarded as a pattern to the world at large. Mr. Harold T. Butler, the

Director of the International Labour Office at Geneva, under the League of Nations, an officer, who by reason of his position is perhaps the most knowledgeable man in the world on these matters, said recently in his report upon unemployment insurance -

So tar from their being demoralized by the insurance benefits or the State assistance which they received, the constant clamour of the nien and women reduced to idleness was always for employment. In Great Britain, the birthplace of unemployment insurance, where its effects can perhaps best be judged, ten3 of thousands of workers have migrated from the most stricken areas to seek employment in other parts of the country, and the un intermittent demand of those that remain is not to be left alone in subsidized idleness but .once more to he given an opportunity of earning f heir living. . What is true of the British working people is true of others. The average man everywhere prefers work at a. fair wage to idling on a pittance.. This truism, which might have seemed self-evident enough, has now at last been established beyond dispute.

A second bogy which had also been laid to rest is the belief that public expenditure for the relief of unemployment is economically unsound. Before the depression national schemes nf unemployment insurance existed only in Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Great Britain, the Irish Free State, Italy and Poland. In other countries voluntary schemes subsidized by the State were in operation, while in many there was no public organization whatever for assisting the unemployed. At the present time unemployment insurance has been introduced as a national measure in Canada and the United States, and its adoption is contemplated in Australia, Belgium and South Africa.

The report shows that 31 countries have already adopted some form of social insurance. Mr. Butler went on to slate: -

While their resources were thus seriously depleted, the insurance funds had to meet a heavier demand for benefits. The natural sequel to unemployment was greater frequency of sickness and invalidity, especially in countries where no regular system of unemployment insurance or assistance existed. Unable to bear the additional charges placed upon them, many funds had to cut down benefits just at the time when they were most needed. Pensioners had often to accept sacrifices when they could least afford them, and the means for combating disease had to be restricted just at the. time when they should have been reinforced in order to counteract the harmful effects of privations resulting from the depression.

And then with added emphasis he said : -

Nevertheless, in spite of these formidable difficulties, social insurance as an institution lias weathered the storm. Everywhere the inverse process' is now in operation. The mem- bership of funds is expanding, revenue is rising, restrictions on benefits aTe being removed, neW developments are being planned or executed. Inasmuch as the application of a modicum of intelligence will prevent the recurrence of a storm of similar dimensions in the near .future, it may be hoped that tinplace of social insurance as an integral part of the social system is assured.

As a great many people in this country doubt the practicability of a scheme of social insurance, I shall quote from the report of a gathering to commemorate the 2ist anniversary of the inauguration of health insurance in Britain, at which Mr. Lloyd George delivered an interesting speech. The report stated -

The National Health Insurance celebrated its twenty-first anniversary on the Kith July. 11)33, at which the following were among those present: - Lord Reading, Mr. Winston Churchill, Mr. .T. H. Thomas, and Sir Kingsley Wood, who might be described as the scheme's godparents ".

The chair was taken by the Minister for Health, Sir Hilton Voting.

Although it was left to Sir Hilton Young, as representing the Government, to describe the national health insurance scheme in terms of figures of " positively astronomical dimensions ", he allowed himself a vivid image or two, as when he described it as having "driven the spectre of insecurity from the homes of the people ".

The total value disbursed under the scheme, he said, till a few weeks ago. was £490,000,000. It was supported by over 7,000 approved societies, involved the assistance of 19,000 medical men, and had been imitated by no fewer than twelve other countries, including Norway in the north, and Japan in the Far East

As Mr. Lloyd George rose to his feet, the whole gathering rose with him, and for almost half a minute nothing could be heard but cheers and shouts of "-Good old L.G." He began quietly by welcoming those who had helped to put the act on the statute-book, mentioning in particular Lord Beading. -Mr. Churchill, Mr. Thomas, and Sir Kingsley Wood, and pausing for a moment to recall with regret the deaths of three other colleagues in the fight - "Charlie" Masterman, Sir Robert Morant, and Sir Laming Worthington-Evans "I should like to reminisce", he said. "I have just been reading of what happened 21 years ago. It was not pleasant. I had almost forgotten what a really bad time 1 had. "It was a peculiar measure in one respect - there never was a measure more needed and never a measure less wanted. There are three great stages in every reform - the first, investigation of the evil and the methods to meet it; secondly, propaganda to create a demand for the remedy; thirdly, statesmanship to supply that demand. The second stage was missing. Whatever the need there had not been a demand created, and you had to persuade the Cabinet, Parliament, and the country to jump over the gap. lt was not easy. There was no real enthusiasm for it at the time, and not even a party enthusiasm, which is very useful in the absence of a genuine one. (Laughter.) " The friendly societies wore worthy of their, name - very friendly. There was another kind of society which was not so friendly - the society generally associated with Mayfair. They raised an agitation which reached formidable dimensions. There were great meetings in the Albert Hall, which is a very important building, for it is the real test for the success of an agitation.

Mr. LloydGeorge then quoted reports from the Times of two great demonstrations held in the Albert Hall to carry resolutions " not to lick stani.p3 ". One report declared that " the keynote of the oratory was England and liberty", and said, that "free Englishmen and women wore prepared to die rather than bow down to a foreign tyrant of Wales. (Laughter.) " lt was a serious movement. It was the first attempt at organizing a general strike, and it lasted just as long as the next one. For the first week millions did not pay; the next week millions more paid, and the third week they came in very nicely.

Then came the doctors."

Iri this connexion, it is pleasing to note that the president of the British Medical Association in New South Wales, in his presidential address recently, expressed his belief in national health insurance, and urged that the introduction of a scheme to provide for it should not be delayed another moment. The report of the British gathering continued - " They were persuaded, and honestly persuaded, they were faced with ruin. It is n hard-worked profession, and I had a great deal of sympathy with them as long as they believed that. It was the first time the medical profession had come as a body into politics, and politics are a very heady wine. You have to get accustomed to it, and they were not. I do not think they have done too badly for a. profession that was going to starve. " There is to be a meeting of the British Medical Association in a few days, and no doubt they will carry many resolutions. There is one which will not be carried - a resolution demanding the repeal of the medical benefit of the National Insurance Act, and a return to the old contract system." " The health insurance scheme has been a success ", concluded Mr. Lloyd George, " and a scheme so financially sound that it is the only one with a surplus. It was the outcome of the greatest constitutional struggle which this country had seen for two centuries. This is the age of deficits for empires, republics, and great countries, and yet here is a scheme which has to apologize that its surplus has come down to £36,000,000."

That shows how people can misjudge the effects of reforms which are about to be initiated. No legislation on the statutebook of Great Britain has been more successful than that which established a scheme of national health insurance. Similar results have followed the passing of legislation to provide for unemployment insurance. These results have been achieved in the Old Country, which is supposed to be conservative. There was a time when Australia was regarded as being in the vanguard of civilization in regard to social reform, but that proud position has not been maintained, for several other countries, including conservative England, are now far ahead of it in these matters of social insurance.

The report of the International Labour Office also refers to the difficulties associated with agriculture. I quote the following extract from it: -

Finally, a fresh start is being made in dealing with the social problems of the countryside. Their international treatment has always encountered special difficulties, because agriculture presents little of the uniformity of conditions which characterizes industry. Whereas the industrial population is mainly divided into employers on the one side and wage or salary earners on the other, in the agricultural community there are many intermediate categories between the great land-owner running a large estate on industrial lines and the agricultural labourer. The farmer, the peasant, the tenant, the share-tenant and sharecropper, and other classes of land-workers represent different social outlooks and requirements according to the size of their holdings and the tenure under which they work them." Climate, soil and immemorial usage constitute factors making for diversity, which hardly exist in relation to the factory or the workshop. Hence questions such as hours of work, social insurance, leisure and standard of life are far less susceptible to general regulation in agriculture than in industry. Attempts to apply industrial labour legislation to agriculture have therefore only met with very partial success. Yet for many countries the social advancement of the rural population is a bigger and more urgent problem than that of the urban communities. During recent years a good deal of progress has been made. Minimum wage legislation, paid holidays, medical service, unemployment insurance are beginning to be extended to workers on the land in a form adapted to the special conditions of their employment. It is therefore timely that the Governing Body lias established a Permanent Agricultural Committee, comprising as far as possible representatives of the various agricultural interests. Its first meeting is planned for the beginning of next year. Its first task will be to survey the various social problems as they affect the agricultural community with a view to suggesting how they can best beapproached by the International Labour Organization.

I commend that extract to those who anticipate insuperable difficulties in applying a scheme of social insurance to agriculture. As time passes, Australian farmers must employ improved methods of sowing and reaping crops. Notwithstanding the remarkable advances which have been made during the last 50 years, there must be a still greater application of science to agricultural production. Science is also being brought to the aid of wool-growing - Australia's greatest primary industry. Some time ago, when Senator Guthrie advocated the rugging of sheep, there were many who laughed at him; hut he is not alone in his .belief, for recently I had a conversation with a well-known grazier, who told me that he was rugging about 2,000 sheep, and that, as a result, he expected not only more wool, but also wool of better quality. He was working in conjunction with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The wool of rugged sheep was cleaner; previously some of the wool was not usable, but that condition no longer obtained, and thus a considerable loss was avoided. Honorable senators have probably heard of the old gentleman who, when asked why he wore three or four overcoats on a warm day, replied that he did so in order to keep out the heat. Experts, tell us that sheep which are rugged are cooler in hot weather than those not so covered. In case honorable senators doubt the accuracy of these statements, I inform them that they are made on the authority of Sir Frederick McMaster, than whom there is no greater authority on sheep in New South Wales, and possibly in the Commonwealth. Similarly, the difficulties which exist in respect of agricultural pursuits will be overcome, probably within' the next quarter of a century.

I emphasize that the development of the Northern Territory must be considered in conjunction with any scheme for the defence of this country. Some time ago in this chamber I stressed the necessity for the construction of roads into the territory. I contended that at least two arterial concrete roads should be built, one from the east and the second from the south, and I was taken to task by honorable senators, who contended that such a proposal was impracticable. When I suggested that bridges should be built in order to provide a permanent connexion with the north, I was told that this also was impracticable. According to recent newspaper reports the Government considers as practicable the construction of an arterial road from the south, and it is expected that this highway will be ready for use, so far as the negotiation of water courses is concerned, within the next six months. It is imperative that such roads should be built in the Northern Territory; if I had my way I would spend £1,000,000 immediately in providing such facilities in that part of Australia. The construction of roadways will prove to be the beginning of the sound development of the Northern Territory, and will also enable us to defend Australia more effectively, a fact which, I suggest, will he made apparent within the very near future. If there were proper means of access to the Northern Territory, at the present time thousands of tourists would visit there annually. Only recently a party of womenfolk journeyed from Melbourne to the north. If the necessary roads were available I feel sure that thousands of people would go to that part of Australia "annually, and such a development would mean the opening up of the territory, because once our people became "familiar with the north, its problems would be solved. The building of arterial roads in the territory is one of the most important works that can be undertaken in the development of this country, and I hope to see such an improvement achieved before long. Men who are familiar with every inch of that part of Australia have informed me .that roads can be built there at a cost small in comparison Avith the benefits which Australia would reap therefrom.

A feature of the Governor-General's Speech was its comprehensiveness.' It stated that the Government recognized the importance of oil from the point of view of both the defence and the economic development of this country, and, as I have repeatedly appealed to the Govern- ment to do something in that direction, I was pleased to hear that it had definitely decided to develop the Newnes shale deposits. These deposits offer remarkable possibilities, and I am proud to learn that Mr. Davis, of the well known firm of gelatine manufacturers, has taken on this job. He was the gentleman who took charge of Cockatoo Dockyard and converted it from a losing, into a payable, proposition. He is one of the most amazing industrialists this country has produced, and, I believe, that if any man can make a success of Newnes he will. It is imperative also that the Government should encourage the production of oil from coal, because the future of coal lies in that direction. The old method of burning coal for power is passing rapidly; the next phase in the utilization of that mineral is the extraction of the oil by chemical means, and its conversion into compounds which are more easily and more economically usable. In that respect I remind honorable senators of the development of the diesel engine. In parts of America to-day that engine is pulling full train loads on transcontinental railways at a fraction of the cost incurred when coal was used. The future of the railway systems of the world depends on the diesel engine, because it can be operated so economically. Possibly it offers the only solution of the problems now confronting railway systems generally. In Australia, where our railways are operated under a kind of socialistic system, we are losing money, whilst railway companies in individualistic America also are suffering loss. The only solution of that problem will be found in a new method of producing power from fuel, and that method, so far as we can see at-the moment, is the use of oil. That era is coming as sure as we are here. At the great works at Billington-on-Tees in England, and at certain works in Germany, great quantities of oil fuel are being produced from coal. It is remarkable that whilst it is generally supposed that the English proposition is in its experimental stage, the controlling company, Imperial Chemical Industries, has decided to duplicate its plant. In view of these facts I am glad to see that the Government has made a beginning in this matter. The production of oil is of para mount importance to Australia, because without it we could not defend the country. Neither could we operate aeroplanes or motor, vehicles of any kind. To-day we are using motor power even for the traction of our artillery, for which work the horse is now out of date. Practically all methods of land transport depend upon oil, and apparently the only inexhaustible and economical source of oil in Australia is coal. In this country are . almost inexhaustible deposits of coal with the highest oil content of any coal in the world. Yet, so we are told, we are awaiting further experiments in this field, in order to determine whether the production of oil from coal is economical. Surely it should be sufficient evidence of the practicability of producing oil from coal when we see a company of the magnitude of Imperial Chemical Industries, after establishing one plant at a cost of £10,000,000, deciding to duplicate it. I trust that this Government will carefully watch this movement in the field of synthetic chemistry and, at the first possible moment, will introduce into Australia the most modern method of producing oil from coal.

I support the remarks of Senator Hardy in respect of the need for intensifying closer settlement throughout Australia especially in New South Wales and Queensland. I have preached this policy for quite a number of years ; I did so even when other men laughed at me. Those scoffers are serious to-day. Unless such a policy is pursued the population of Australia cannot be increased at an effective rate. For years I have endeavoured to persuade the Government of New South Wales to adopt the improved system of pasturing that has been so successfully demonstrated by Mr. Prell in the Goulburn district. This system introduces new ideas, which give greater carrying capacity on grass lands. Mr. Prell has asked the Government of New South Wales to spend £60,000 in purchasing land in the Goulburn district, on the understanding that he will personally supervise the inauguration of his system on such land, but no action has yet been taken. In endeavouring to carry out closer settlement we must find means whereby the smaller areas will be enabled to equal the productive capacity of the existing larger areas by the use of more intense cultivation methods. That is the only solution of this problem, and I hope the Government of New South Wales is not letting this wonderful opportunity pass. At the moment, fortunately, a revival of interest in closer settlement is very much in evidence. It is very noticeable that the peasantry in other countries occupy comparatively small areas of land, but their production from such areas is wonderful. A similar system of land settlement must be established in this country in the interests of the future of the Commonwealth. It is the only system of land settlement which offers us any opportunity, and I suggest that Australia's economic destiny lies in that direction. The Commonwealth Government, therefore, should take definite action in respect of that matter, because the populating of Australia is one of our greatest problems, and present indications are that the rate, of natural increase will not be sufficient to enable this country, which stands, as it were, on the fringe of civilization, to develop rapidly and effectively.

The record of the Government has been truly remarkable, particularly when we remember the extraordinary difficulties which confronted it when it took office. I cannot understand how any one could have anything hut good, to say about it. Very easily I could paint a picture of the past, especially in New South Wales, when things were so bad that citizens suffered a continuous nightmare, and men and women went in hourly dread of what disaster might befall them. They did not know what was going to happen; their assets were disappearing and their savings were being dissolved in banks which, they had believed, would never collapse. It was a time of unprecedented tragedy, constituting one of the darkest periods in the political history of this country. To-day I can only trust that the people of Australia as a whole will never forget that experience of their fellow citizens of New South Wales. I quite believe that thousands could not possibly forget it even if they desired to do so; the experience was so tragic as to impress itself indelibly on their minds. They should also remember that, prior to those dark days, they asked for a change of government, despite the efforts of those in control at the time to build up a system which would protect our people against the cataclysm of the depression then sweeping the world. Unable to appreciate those efforts they cried for a change of government, and they got it in the worst government which has ever held office in the history of New South Wales. I do not hesitate to remind the electors of New South Wales, or in fact those of any other part of the Commonwealth with whom I come in contact, of what occurred when a change of Government last occurred. We do not have to study the position very closely to find overwhelming evidence of the fact that the present Commonwealth Government has not only been successful in clearing away the debris with which it was first surrounded, but has also given effect to a statesmanlike policy which has resulted in bringing about financial and economic security in Australia. Having achieved such remarkable success in almost every phase of its activities, it is now faced with the responsibility of- preparing for financial and economic depression in the future. Mr. Butler, of the International Labour Office, said that it is imperative for the nations to prepare for future depressions. That is one of the responsibilities facing this and future governments, so that the security of the Australian people may be ensured. Severe as were the disasters associated with the Great War, they were greater only in some respects than those forced upon the peoples of almost every country by the financial depression from which the world has now emerged. I trust that this Government, which has done so much to restore and improve the position of the Australian people, will he particularly alert, and that it will build up defences against any possible recurrence of depression and also, whenever possible, it will legislate in such a way that the standard of living will be raised and the rights and privileges which the people now enjoy will be preserved tn them.

Senator JAMESMcLACHLAN (South Australia) [S.48~|. - I heartily support the motion moved by my colleague Senator McLeay and seconded by Senator Marwick, and I compliment those honorable senators upon the able manner in which they dealt with the subjects they discussed. This debate has covered a wide range of subjects. On this motion we are permitted to -discuss not only the subjects contained in the Governor-General's Speech, but also other topics. In this instance, honorable senators have the rare opportunity of debating a motion for the adoption of an Address-in-Reply just prior to a general election. This enables them to address electors from the floor of the chamber and to distribute copies of their speeches to those interested..

The presence of His Excellency the Governor-General in this chamber, the. firing of a salute and the opening ceremony generally, may be regarded by a few as so much unnecessary pomp. In view of our somewhat limited population in comparison with the world's millions, this ceremony might savour of exaggeration, but when we recall the recent Coronation of His Majesty King George VI., we must realize that we are part and parcel of that great British Empire on which the sun never sets, and that we are closely allied to the Mother Country. For many years under a limited monarchy, we have been loyal to government of the people by the people, and perhaps never before have our principles of government been so severely tested as they have been during the last few months. The British Government so successfully handled a difficult position that its actions not only met with the satisfaction of our people but also so enhanced in the eyes of the world the British monarchical and parliamentary system that by comparison Soviet rule and Fascist dictatorships pale into insignificance. As citizens of a British Dominion, we pay tribute to the mother of Parliaments, led by the Baldwin Government; the crowning of George VI. in such a peaceful genial atmosphere was undoubtedly the result of brilliant and tactful management.

The main portions of the GovernorGeneral's Speech, having been discussed at length by honorable senators who have preceded me, almost anything that may be said by me will be repetition. I should, however, like to refer briefly to the success of the present Government, which is not arguable from any view point. The members of the Opposition in this chamber have said that the Government has not done anything.

Senator Collings - No.

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