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Thursday, 22 October 1931

Mr GULLETT (Henty) .- The Prime Minister has not given one reason for not accepting the amendment. At the risk of repetition, I wish to make clear not only my attitude in regard to these prohibitions, but also the attitude of every honorable member on this side of the chamber. I subscribed absolutely to the application of prohibitions as an adjuster of the trade balance. When the Government proposed to take the power of proclamation I spoke after the Prime Minister and pointed out definitely that there was danger in the free use of prohibition by proclamation. I said that it was calculated to antagonize certain foreign countries which are great customers of ours, and unless applied wisely with great discretion, would draw from, them active retaliation. I pointed out that we had much to lose as great exporters of primary produce, by the careless, if not reckless, use of prohibitions by proclamation. I, therefore, urged the Prime Minister to put a time limit upon them. At the same time I said that we, as an Opposition, were prepared, when the time limit expired, to consider any proposal from the Government to re-impose certain prohibitions should there be no alteration in conditions.

Mr Paterson - I believe that an amendment was moved for a time limit of six months.

Mr GULLETT - lt was definitely moved. I am sorry to charge the Prime Minister with misrepresentation, but he certainly misrepresented my attitude. It is very evident that the speech of the Government Whip this afternoon has caused Government supporters to lose complete control of their tempers. The Prime Minister himself has never given a worse exhibition of loss of temper and loss of control in this chamber. The spectacle was painful. He claimed that this Government, by taking action under the power of proclamation, saved Australia from insolvency; but the people of this country think differently. If the Government believes that, why this reluctance to face the electors? Why does it not ask for the re-endorsement of its policy ?

Mr Lewis - I rise to a point of order. Is the question whether this Government should go before the electors relevant to the amendment under discussion ?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - The honorable member for Henty is entitled to the latitude that was given to the Prime Minister, in referring to the effect of the decline in imports.

Mr GULLETT - I trust that the people, whom this Government considers should be grateful to them, will soon have an opportunity of expressing their gratitude. The sooner the election takes place, the better it will please honorable members on this side of the chamber. I believe in the imposition of prohibitions, within reason. Prohibitions have been a contributing factor in the falling off of imports, but not to any great extent. The main factor has been the reduced purchasing capacity of the community. If that were not so, the reduction of imports would have been attended by an increase of employment. The people would have manufactured goods which could be made here, and to which the Prime Minister referred, or they would have manufactured substitutes. They have done neither. We all know that, side by side with the falling off of imports there has been a terrible decline in employment. The correction of the trade balance has been brought about mainly by our relative poverty, and it would have taken place largely even without the use of this power of proclamation.

Motion (by Mr. James) agreed to -

That the question be now put.

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