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Thursday, 29 October 1931

Mr GREGORY (Swan) .- Every one regrets that a motion of this kind is necessary; but, unfortunately, there is need for it, especially in view of the approach of the Christmas season. The Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) used a fallacious argument when he said that just as many men would be employed if high wages are paid as would be the case if the remuneration were lowered. I want the money to be distributed among as many men as possible. Unfortunately, in the expenditure of public moneys, it frequently happens that a few derive all the benefits, while others are left out in the cold.

Mr Eldridge - Does the honorable gentleman think that the rates of pay should be lowered? ,

Mr GREGORY - I was referring only to relief work.

Mr Eldridge - I remind the honorable member that only to-day he supported a bill to keep up the price of wheat.

Mr GREGORY - The £250,000 proposed to be expended on the relief of unemployment should bo expended so as to assist as many as possible. The question at issue is, not what wages ought to be paid in this country generally, but how many can be assisted. Wo hear a good deal of the need for carrying out public works in Australia; but it would be difficult to suggest any big public undertaking which would give a reasonable return for the money expended. With the exception of a scheme for the bulk handling of wheat, I cannot imagine any new public work which would pay even interest on the money expended.

Mr Keane - How would the honorable member find employment for those who are out of work?

Mr GREGORY - As far as possible, 1 would keep the Government out of this kind of thing. Take our railway services as an example. During recent years we have" borrowed money freely for railway purposes. The result is that, since 1914, railway freights have increased over 60 per cent., while the losses on tho railways during that period have amounted to over £50,000,000. That money has to be made up by taxation. The further the Government keeps away from industrial undertakings the better.

The Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) said that he thought' he could see a silver lining to the cloud of depression. The money proposed to be expended will certainly give some relief; but I suggest that the greatest relief we could give to our people would be to reduce the burden of taxation which falls on them, and to leave them their money, to be expended by themselves in the development of wealth. Only in that way can we reduce unemployment. When politicians come in with their wild schemes, a few benefit; but the nation has to pay the price, unless it is prepared to borrow money, and not repay it.

We shall never return to the old prosperity until we have less government interference with things which should be left to the people. We should encourage the citizens of this country to depend more upon themselves, and less upon governments and parliaments. The trend of public feeling in this matter wai shown clearly in Adelaide the other day, and has been demonstrated sensationally in Great Britain this week. The people are beginning to realize the need of depending more upon themselves and less upon-

Mr Ward - The banks.

Mr GREGORY - The banks are merely protecting the savings which the people have entrusted to them. If we are to have progress and development, we must change our habits ' of the last fifteen' or twenty years, and encourage the people to rely more upon themselves, and to produce more real wealth. I support the motion.

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