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Wednesday, 2 March 1932

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member must connect his remarks with the bill.

Mr PROWSE - The honorable member for West Sydney sought to besmirch the reputation of Western Australia. I wish to correct his misrepresentation, and I suggest that my remarks have an intimate bearing on the bill.

Mr SPEAKER - If the honorable member will show the connexion, he may proceed.

Mr PROWSE - The deplorable position of New South Wales is largely attributable to the encouragement that has been given by the Government of that State to the growth of exotic industries which cannot be carried on at a profit. The Premier of New South Wales is prepared to fall into line with the other States in an effort to bring about uniform industrial arbitration legislation, but, as would be explained by the supporters of Mr. Lang in this chamber, this is to bring other States up to the level of New South Wales. Fortunately, we are all so familiar with the tactics of Mr. Lang that we are not likely to comply with his desires. It is highly improper that a State which has a territory comprising one-third of the Commonwealth, and but a handful of people, should be checked in its natural development in order to give easier conditions to the State of New South Wales. It is dishonest and vulgar that, unable to meet their public obligations, the people of the Mother State should continue to live on a standard higher than that enjoyed by the remainder of the people of the Commonwealth. Shortly, the Sydney harbour bridge will be opened. That is merely another demonstration of vulgarity, for the State of New South Wales cannot pay for that structure, and it repudiates the payment of interest on the money that it has borrowed. That Government desires to con tinue in possession of the assets that have been purchased with borrowed money, but it' refuses to pay any interest upon that money. I hope that the Government will incorporate in this bill a specific period providing for the payment of State commitments. I understand that another measure may be introduced for that purpose. If the State of New South Wales finds itself unable to meet its public obligations, it should call the other governments into conference, frankly explain the position, and state what it proposes to do. It is quite dishonest for the Government of New South Wales to say, "We will not pay, but will ruin the Commonwealth ".

While I dislike the bill, because it contemplates the introduction of an unpalatable measure of uniformity and interference with the sovereign rights of States, I agree that, as the Financial Agreement was entered into by all of the governments of Australia, some machinery must be brought into being to force defaulting States to fulfil the terms of the contract.

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