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Wednesday, 2 March 1932

Banking figures of Victoria and New South Wales in the December, quarter show that the flow of capital from New South Wales to Victoria continues. Since Mr. Lang took office in the December quarter of 1930, the decrease in fixed or interest-bearing deposits with the trading banks in New South Wales has been continuous. The increase in fixed deposits held by banks in Victoria from December, 1930, to December, .1931, was £8,992,000, and the decrease of fixed deposits in Now South Wales was £8,530.000. The effect of the Lang Ministry's legislation in New South Wales is indicated also by other figures of the bank returns. Advances in New South Wales amounting to £101,877,448 are £8,927,882 lower compared With an increase in advances by Victorian banks of £0,219,807. Deposits not bearing interest in New South Wales are £1,404,007 less, but those in Victoria have increased by £3,673,711.

This definite attack by Mr. Lang upon private enterprise has brought about a serious position in the industrial and commercial life of New South Wales. We see evidence of this in the silent factories that abound throughout the State, and in the want, misery, and depression generally in the community. UP to the 31st June last, there had been in New South Wales a decrease of 664 general factories and a decrease of 34,766 employees. One has little need for imagination to realize the effect that these conditions must have upon allied industries. There has been a decline in the purchasing power of the community to the extent of £30,000,000, and a decline in the value of materials used to the extent of £40,000,000. That adverse position is the direct result of legislation of that State, the aim of which is to definitely shatter its industrial and commercial activities. I do not say that all these conditions have been brought about by the Lang Government alone. We fully realize that we are faced with a worldwide depression, but I wish to make it clear that the Government of New South Wales should have attempted to minimize and not to aggravate, as it did, the natural effect of that depression upon Australia generally. The result of that aggravation is shown in the growing competition of the other States with New South Wales. The irony of it is that the States which are competing successfully with New South Wales are controlled by true Labour governments which have taken definite action to carry out the Premiers plan. The following extract supports my contention : -

Addressing the Arbitration Court in Sydney recently on behalf of the stovemaking industry, Mr. W. C. My hi 11 said that, unless that activity were given some relief from unfair interstate competition, local concerns would have to close down. The average wage rate in New South Wales was 40 per cent, higher than in Victoria, and, in addition, Victoria had a 48-hour week as against a 44-hour week in Now South Wales. The unfortunate employer in New South Wales, added Mr. Myhill, was further burdened with a Family Endowment tax, a high unemployment relief tax, and higher costs of manufacture.

Every State is suffering from the effects of the world depression. In every State industry is being restricted and unemployment is rife. In every State but New South Wales, the Government has attempted to restore financial stability, not with much success it is true, but the effort has helped to stem the drift, and to establish sound finance. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), referring to the Loan Council, stated his belief in competition between State and State in connexion with borrowing, yet he is a supporter of a Government in New South Wales which is objecting to such competition existing between State and State in respect of general industry. He is supporting a government which by moans of the Trade Marks Act is endeavouring to injure trade between the

States. Although the Government . of New South Wales in insisting upon the labelling of various products, the housewife is realizing that she can buy similar products from other States at a price much lower than that of the local products. The demand for the products of the other States as against those of New South Wales is reacting not only upon the industrial and commercial life of the State, but also upon production generally, and is throwing hundreds of men out of employment. Lot me take another example from the public works of New South Wales. Before the Lang regime the Sydney Water Board, in its constructional work, including high pressure tunnels, sewerage systems and dams, employed upwards of 5,000 men, but at present most of those works have been discontinued or considerably curtailed, and the number of men employed on them is only 2,500. The Sydney Water Board has been unable to borrow money with which to carry on its works, solely as a result of the announcement of the Premier of New South Wales that he did not believe in, and would not support, the principle of sanctity of contract. A little over two years ago the Sydney Harbour Trust employed 1,500 men on constructional work. To-day, because of the inability of the trust to obtain finance from the Government, it is employing only 300 men. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Thorby) said that the plight of New South Wales was the result of the undue and unjust generosity of the. Lang Government. I subscribe fully to that statement. The Lang Government can lay claim to undue generosity, but some people would give it a harsher name. I have a' list of thirteen names of union organizers, secretaries, and others, who have been elevated to the chairmanship or membership of various boards by their friend and patron, Mr. Lang, at salaries ranging from £700 to £1,500. On Friday last the Daily Telegraph published a list of seventeen members of three families - Garden, Graves, and Martin. The Lang Government, which professes to guard the interests of the working people, and states that it will insist on employment being given to the workers, has given to the friends of certain members of the Ministry employment embracing practically the whole of the. members of their families. That is entirely unjust, and I can find no parallel in private enterprise'. On the contrary, private enterprise, in its endeavour to reinstate some of tlie workers who have been dismissed, is giving preference to men, the members of whose families are out of employment. Mr. Lang follows the practice of spoils to the victor. He is out to smash the capitalistic system of New South Wales. He is not a man who can be held up to ridicule, nor can it be said that he is blindly drifting to a financial collapse. I certainly believe that he has some plan in mind, and that he is determined to enforce it ruthlessly. Mr. J. Stewart, who was the Labour candidate for South Sydney, is President of the Sydney Trades and Labour Council. On the 16th J January, 1930, when Mr. E. Roels, now a member of the Legislative Council, returned from Russia, where he had attended the Red Internationale on behalf of the Labour Council, he brought a letter from Stalin which condemned the council for having taken part in peace conferences. This was the council's official reply to Stalin -

The Sydney Labour Council, both before and since the break-up of the Bruce Industrial Peace Conference, has uncompromisingly indicated by word and deed its open hostility to all forms of class collaboration and industrial peace.

The conditions existing in New South Wales will continue until the dishonest. Lang Government is" forced to the country, and a Parliament is elected which can restore that intangible but greatest of assets, confidence. Private enterprise needs that more than anything else at the present time. Members of the Lang group in this- chamber speak of Australians being degraded to the coolie standard of living. We all agree that the Australian standard must be maintained, but we must not disregard the cost of living and its effect upon wages; we should not confuse the arbitrary fixed wage in pounds, shillings, and pence with the real wage, represented by purchasing power. The employer must recognize the. real wage in a rising market, and employees must recognize it in a falling market. Business cannot prosper, and labour cannot be fully employed, if capital cannot secure a fair return. Go- vernments alone cannot solve the financial, economic, and industrial problems of the nation. The duty of governments in any crisis is to confer with the commercial and industrial leaders; such conferences can bring about lasting industrial peace, and a national policy that will produce a pool of prosperity. Out of that pool labour would be entitled to draw a fair return for the energy it had invested, and capital a fair return for the money invested; governments should draw only the minimum amount required for public administration.

Because of the record of the Lang Government the people of New South Wales are forced to wear the hair-shirt of political opprobrium. It is futile to say that the State's financial embarrassment is the result of the failure of the capitalist system; it is the definite result of a determination to undermine existing industrial and commercial conditions with a view to causing dissatisfaction amongst the workers, and making them more ready for use by the master tacticians of communism. This Parliament is justified in legislating in any way within its powers to stein the ruinous tide in NewSouth Wales. If we have that patriotism, that love of country, which puts the seal upon the greatness of all nations, we should not hesitate to support a measure that will compel the Government of New South Wales to realize its obligations. I shall support the bill. New South Wales requires now as never before a definite service from its representatives. The talk of starving women and children which we hear from the supporters of the Lang plan 'is merely a cloak to cover their own damning record of folly, weakness, and incompetence. It is a red, very red, herring drawn across the trail to confuse the issue. Minor considerations incidental to this measure should not deter or delay us ; having on'ce made up our minds that it is watertight and capable of doing what it is designed to do, wc should enact it speedily, and put it into operation at the earliest opportunity.

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