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Wednesday, 2 March 1932

Mr SPEAKER (Hon G H Mackay - I am reluctant to intervene during the speech of a new member, but too much latitude cannot be allowed The honorable member must connect his remarks with the bill before the House.

Mr LANE - I thought that I had done so. The Commonwealth has a right to pass legislation such as that proposed in the present measure, because of the deliberate actions of the Premier of New South Wales in seeking to destroy the credit of the Commonwealth, to repudiate the debts of his State and to pass through Parliament legislation designed to disrupt the unity of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports said that we should be patient; that we should do nothing which might precipitate revolution or civil strife. Mr. Lang has made it quite plain that it is of no use being patient with him. Two years ago the coal-miners went on strike in New South Wales, and dealt the coal-mining industry a blow from which it has not yet recovered. At the beginning of the dispute they were offered terms by the employers which they refused, but after more than a year of inactivity, they accepted. Although ' there has been a Labour Government in office in New South Wales for eighteen months no attempt has been made to vary the terms of the agreement. That shows that Mr. Lang and his supporters are making a deliberate attempt to undermine the Commonwealth by destroying what they term the capitalistic system and the present form of government, and to replace it with a socialized system. As a citizen of New South Wales, I have watched the progress of the Lang movement, and I am pleased that at the last election the people of that State made an emphatic protest against it. The members of the Opposition will, therefore, do well to examine this issue thoroughly before they vote upon it. I can produce statements of members of various organizations to the effect that New South Wales is suffering from the maladministration of justice. I visited the Domain on Sunday afternoon, and heard a good deal of hot air there. It is extraordinary that Mr. Lang should allow seditious language to be used in open discussion without bringing the offenders to book.

Mr Rosevear - Is the honorable member referring to Mr. Eric Campbell?

Mr LANE - The honorable member knows that whatever opinion may be held of Colonel Campbell, the men behind him are young Australians who will not tolerate the head of the Government prostituting his power and making his name unworthy of the State which he represents. We have difficulty in understanding. Mr. Lang's utterances. He says that he cannot meet the interest obligations of his State, yet he continues to make fresh appointments to various boards. He states that he is not meeting his. interest obligations so that he may be in a position to feed the poor. We are always ready to help the poor and needy, and every government of Australia is carrying out its obligations to the unemployed. But Mr. Lang is out to destroy the industrial movement. He is forcing the people on to the dole so that when the time comes to strike a blow at the present system of government, there will be men with empty stomachs prepared to fight, to destroy the powers of the Commonwealth. I have in my hand his famous statement that he would adhere to the Premiers plan. When he left the conference and returned to New South Wales, he said that he was prepared to reduce the maximum salary in the Public Service to £500. Yet his next action was to appoint Mr. Sleeman to a position at a salary of £850 per annum. Soon after, Mr. Goode was placed in charge of the Transport Board. That gentleman has for the last ten years received special treatment at the hands of Mr. Lang. When I was a member of the State Parliament, he was promoted over the heads of three or four other men and put in charge at Darling Harbour. It was then proposed that Mr. Goode should be Chief Commissioner of Railways, but a Nationalist government came into power, land that plan was thwarted. Mr. Goode, who has a charge hanging over his head, has now been taken from the Railways Department and placed in control of the Transport Board at a salary of £1750. Mr. Miller was given a position carrying a salary of £1,000. Last year, Mr. P. C. Hutt, a former organizer of the Meat Industry Employees Union, failed to obtain a seat in the State Parliament, and was therefore given an outside appointment. Mr. Lang has not failed to spend money lavishly on his friends and political supporters. Then Mr. A. D. Kay was given a position on a board, at a salary of £1,000 a year, as a reward for resigning his seat in favour of another supporter of Mr. Lang. No doubt these men are expected to give half of their salary to the poor and needy in their districts.

Mr Beasley - Why not mention Mr. Clancy?

Mr LANE - The honorable member knows the extent to which the Premier of New South Wales has practised bribery and corruption. That charge has been made against him over and over again by the leading newspapers of the State. Yet Mr. Lang is not prepared to enter the witness-box to disprove a libel or to take other action. No other government has had so many acts of bribery and corruption sheeted home to it. The members of his caucus are afraid to oppose him.

Mr Gander - He must be powerful.

Mr LANE - Mr. Lang has a powerful influence over the honorable member, who is prepared to resign his seat at the dictation of his leader. The people of New South Wales have no sympathy with Mr. Lang, and would gladly welcome his fall. He is holding office with the object of driving more and more people on to the dole, so that he may obtain their support at the next election. The experience of the members of the Opposition is that Mr. Lang is intolerant, and will brook no interference. No other Minister of the Crown has received so many bribes, and still kept himself in office.

Mr Beasley - How" much did the honorable member receive?

Mr LANE - I have no knowledge of what the honorable member received. When Mr. Lang was returned to office one of his first statements was that he intended to stop pony racing in the middle of the week, but pony racing did not stop, because something intervened. Mr. Lang has been charged in the House with receiving £5,000 from one organization, and £7,000 from another.

Mr Gander - What organizations?

Mr LANE - I shall not say.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member for Barton has been given considerable latitude, but he is continuing to transgress the rules of debate. I, therefore, ask him to confine his remarks to the bill.

Mr LANE - Mr. Lang is standing in the way of the Commonwealth's attempt to honour its obligations to oversea bondholders. Honorable members opposite should, therefore, support this legislation, and extend no consideration at all to Mr. Lang, who has shown that he is incapable of governing the State of New South Wales. When I was a member of the State legislature, I obtained evidence which was produced by another member at the next election, and Mr. Lang, as a result, issued a writ against him for £10.000. Strangely enough he failed to proceed with the action. Similar evidence was produced in the House.- The stand taken by Mr. Lang shows that he has no decency at all. In the House of Commons a Labour member made a charge of corruption against a Minister, and the Prime Minister immediately ordered him to prove his case or to be expelled from the House. Mr. Lang should have taken similar action when these ' charges were made against him on the floor of the House; buthe refused to do so, on the ground that they were made under privilege. Only the other day the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the State House, when making certain charges against Mr. Lang, offered to surrender privilege to enable him to stand in the witness-box and answer the charges. The Government of New South Wales has adopted the procedure of proposing to restrict certain private enterprises, and then accepting bribes in return for not taking action. We all know of the tin-hare episode. Mr. Lang has so degraded himself that he is beyond the recognition of any decent and moral person.

Mr Martens - The honorable member imagines that.

Mr LANE - The honorable member must be blind politically or else he is awaiting a suitable opportunity to join the Lang group in this House. The New South Wales Government is undermining not only the financial and industrial life of this country, but also the administration of justice. Men are making seditious utterances, no check being placed upon them. I have in my hand particulars of the three-years' plan which Mr. Lang proposed to institute in place of honouring the obligations of New South Wales. On the 5th April last he attended the Labour Conference, and presented his plan, which was carried by 57 to 44 votes. He was reported then to have spoken as follows: -

At the Australian Labour party Easter Conference on the 3rd April last, Mr. Lang claimed that the Lang plan was a step towards socialization, saying: "This is a time for the Labour movement in New South Wales to use all its powers, whether persuasive or disciplinary, for legislation along the lines of the New South Wales plan, which is a step towards the objective of the movement."

That is clear evidence that so far back as April of last year Mr. Lang expounded a plan which is designed to undermine the powers of the Commonwealth, and wreck the present constitutional edifice. In New South Wales, sedition is openly preached. Men are publicly making statements for which they should be imprisoned, and the State Government will not proceed against them. If this continues, the Commonwealth Government will have to consider the increase of its own police force so that it can take action against sedition-mongers when the State

Government is recreant to its trust. Even the minds of school children are being inflamed by anti-British propaganda, and in the Domain on Sunday I heard a boy sixteen years of age declaring that Australians should not listen to the " jargon " about the greatness of the British Empire. Some time ago, a man who is now a member of the Legislative Council in New South Wales was fined for abusive language; a writ of attachment was issued against him, but the police were instructed by the State Attorney-General not to act upon it.

Mr Beasley - Evidently he is friendly with the State Government.

Mr LANE - That is so. The Premier of New South Wales obtained money from the Loan Council by misrepresentation and false pretences, and this House will do well to pass the bill unanimously, and thus declare to the people of Australia and investors overseas that Mr. Lang's moral code will not be tolerated.

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