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Thursday, 29 October 1931

Mr GARDNER (Robertson) .- There has been some misunderstanding regarding the statement of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham). He did not suggest a lowering of our wages standard. Notwithstanding what the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) has said, I still think that it would be desirable to lower the wage rate slightly if, by so doing, more of the unfortunate army of unemployed would receive a few weeks' work before Christmas. I hope that in the distribution of the money, not only will all the States benefit, but that the claims of country districts will not be overlooked.

Mr Theodore - Hear, hear! Their claims will be considered.

Mr GARDNER - The country districts of New South Wales have not participated in the unemployment relief work undertaken by that State. The unemployment relief tax in New South Wales has been levied with the stated objective of providing work for the unemployed;but not one penny of the amount raised has been spent in country districts. I am glad that the Treasurer intends that country districts shall not be overlooked in the distribution which the Government proposes to make. I remind the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that the previous Government, when it gave an opportunity to the unemployed throughout the country districts to earn something for themselves and their families, did not adhere to the standard of wage that existed in normal employment. Our workers, whether unionists or not, are Australians, and as such have the right, and should have the opportunity, to earn something for themselves and their families. I am glad to know that the distribution of this relief work will be on an equitable basis, and that, the workers of New South Wales, particularly those in the country districts, will not be deprived of employment to the extent that they have been under the rule of Mr. Lang, who has done nothing in the interests of those whom he is supposed to represent.

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