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Wednesday, 4 May 1932

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member must not .proceed on those lines.

Mr JAMES - Continuing, the manager would say : " And on my left' we have J. T. Lang. They are equally matched at twelve stone twelve, the best of a bloodthirsty 20 rounds !"

Honorable members interjecting,

Mr SPEAKER - I ask the honorable member to take his seat. I ask honorable members in all parts of the chamber to restrain themselves, and to uphold the dignity of this Parliament. I also warn the honorable member for Hunter that he must observe the ruling of the Chair, and when asked not to proceed on certain lines he must not presume to continue.

Mr JAMES - I was merely suggesting that rather than bring distress upon the whole of the people, the principals iri the fight between the Commonwealth Government and New South Wales should have a " box-on ".

The alleged continued default of Mr. Lang is due to the various pieces of legislation passed by this Parliament. The default of New South Wales in meeting the internal interest payments due to bondholders was deliberately brought about by the Commonwealth Government for the purpose of ridiculing Mr. Lang in his own State. The people of Australia recognize that it is wrong to send money overseas for the payment of interest when it is required iu Australia to enable the hungry to keep body and soul together. Everybody wishes to honour his debts, but I claim that honour should begin at home, and we should first look after our own people. What does the right honorable member for Flinders care if men, women, and children are hungry in Australia? If he has not seen starvation in this country, he need only go to New South Wales. Bulgaria and other Balkan nations refuse to pay the interest on their war loans, and claim that the money is required to meet the needs of their own people. When householders find it impossible to pay their domestic bills they ask for a moratorium ; but the butcher and the baker do not put bailiffs into their homes. The Commonwealth Government, however, declares that irrespective of the suffering that is entailed, the interest on our overseas debts must be paid. The right honorable member for Flinders mentioned that there were 500,000 bondholders to whom this money was owing, and that their average holdings were small.

Mr Paterson - On the average, the interest amounts to £50 a year.

Mr JAMES - In Australia old-age pensioners are called upon to live on a pension of £45 a year, and many of them on less than that.

Mr Riley - Those on the dole live on less.

Mr JAMES - Yes. Many of the overseas bondholders have other investments besides Commonwealth stock, and their position cannot be compared with that of the suffering and hungry in Australia. Many Australians are homeless to-day, and they plead with mc to induce the callous Commonwealth Government to issue blankets to them; but they arc told by 611( Government to make application to the charitable institutions. Many persons in my electorate have approached the Salvation Army authorities, but they have not received even a boot lace. If the Government had a proper regard for the interests of the people they would distribute all available military stores of clo'thing, instead of hoarding it up and allowing it to be destroyed by silver fish and other vermin. Large numbers of people are called upon to face the rigors of winter improperly clad, and without sufficient nourishment. The Government should honour the promise given by it at the last election that, if it was returned to power, everybody would have a job at good wages.

Shortly, the Government is sending an army of Ministers and officials to Ottawa, and the right honorable . member for Flinders will not be in Australia to face the turmoil that is likely to occur over this legislation. I may say that I am totally opposed to civil conflict of any description, and 1 have no wish to see anything in the form of insurrection ; but when people are hungry they know no law, and the danger is that they may take the law into their own hands. If they do, God knows what will happen. 1 urge the Government not to pursue further their present vindictive policy, which is purely of a political character, and aimed at the Premier of New South Wales.

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