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Friday, 21 November 1941

Senator HERBERT HAYS (Tasmania) . - I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition on his second-reading speech on this bill. When dealing with a proposal such as is contained in this measure it is the right and duty of the holder of that important office to draw the attention of the people generally to the large but not unjustifiable expenditure of public money involved. During the course of h is speech the honorable senator referred to the dimensions to which the appropriation for invalid and old-age pensions has grown. In order to bring the people to a realization of the enormous amount of money involved in the provision of invalid and old-age pensions, the honorable senator said that the net proceeds of the whole of this season's wheat crop will be insufficient to pay the annual pensions bill. He did not oppose the payment of invalid and old-age pensions; on the contrary, he commended to honorable senators the object for which this money is appropriated. Honorable senators cannot but be mindful of the fact that the cost of the splendid social services provided by State and Commonwealth Governments has to be met by 7,000,000 people. In view of our small population we are doing remarkably well. Every honorable senator was, I am sure, astounded at the unwarranted, abusive, and unprovoked attack on honorable senators on this side of the chamber by the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron).

Senator Cameron - It was not unprovoked.

Senator HERBERT HAYS - On other occasions I have replied to the extravagant remarks of the Minister, not that I was specially called upon todo so but because I could not remain silent after listening to his typical outbursts. On this occasion the honorable senator's attack was entirely unwarranted. I venture to say that when he reads the proof of his speech he will be ashamed of it. It is not for me to play the part of schoolmaster and deliver a lecture to the honorable senator. Whatever his disposition might be, whatever his inclinations are, he cannot shed his responsibility as a Minister of the Crown to maintain the dignity of this chamber.

Senator Cameron - The Crown stands for justice just as much as does one of its Ministers.

Senator HERBERT HAYS - The Minister should he thoroughly ashamed of himself.

Senator Cameron - To what portion of my remarks does the honorable senator object ?

Senator HERBERT HAYS - If the honorable senator's remarks are to be taken as evidence of the feeling of his colleagues what chance is there of securing the goodwill and co-operation of honorable senators on this side of the chamber? Honorable senators on this side are only too willing and anxious to co-operate with the Government in every way; but an unwarranted and unprovoked attack such as was made by the Minister will do nothing to foster a spirit of cooperation in this chamber. The Minister should set an example of good conduct to others. What are the facts about the pensions legislation? We have no desire to claim that the parties on this side of the chamber have alone given consideration to the betterment of the people of this country. The Minister knows that the statements he made this morning are untrue. He said that honorable senators on this side of the chamber have always opposed any increase of the invalid and old-age pension rate.

SenatorCameron. - I said more than that. The parties represented by honorable senators opposite resisted the granting of the invalid and old-age pensions when that reform was first mooted.

Senator HERBERT HAYS - The facts are well-known. An anti-Labour Government was in office when the first Invalidand Old-age Pensions Bill was passed by the Commonwealth Parliament. It is also well known that with one exception every increase in the rate of invalid and old-age pensions has been grantedby a government supportedby the parties on this side of the chamber.

Senator Cameron -Under pressure.

Senator HERBERT HAYS -Not at all. I admit that in every instance the proposals for the increase of the pension rate were supported by the members of the Labour party. The Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration was instituted by an anti-Labour government. Similarly, the child endowment scheme was initiated by a government supported by honorable senators on this side of the chamber. It ill-becomes a Minister of the Crown to make abusive statements which are not in accordance with the facts.

Senator Cameron - I say that they are in accordance with the facts. The honorable senator says that they arc not. It is merely a difference of opinion.

Senator HERBERT HAYS - The Leader of the Onpositio.11 said, amongst other things, that contributions should bc made towards the establishment of a fund for the extension of social services generally. The Minister for Aircraft Production bitterly opposed such a suggestion, yet I remind him that no member of this Senate has enjoyed greater privileges than -he has as the result of contributions made by the workers towards the expenses of the party to which he belongs.

Senator Cameron - The workers got excellent value for their money.

Senator HERBERT HAYS - That is a matter of opinion. I have no desire to indulge in personalities--

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