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Wednesday, 31 July 1946

Mr BARNARD (Bass) .- During the last few minutes, we have listened to a most extraordinary speech on this measure, the purpose of which is to provide a method of financing the social services of the country. Naturally, honorable members on this side of the House are interested in the subject of the basic wage, and in measures designed to improve the "standard of living of parents and children, and, indeed, of the whole community. At the moment, however, the committee is not considering that aspect of the basic wage, or related subjects. It is dealing with a measure to impose a tax on incomes for the financing of social services which have' been introduced during the last two or three years by the present Government. I am very interested in social services, because it has been my privilege, during the last few years, to look very closely at the shortcomings of social service provisions in Australia. Working. with me on the Social Security Committee were members representing all parties in this Parliament. From time to time, the committee made recommendations to the Government, which later brought down legislation to give effect to them. The recommendations were themselves based on evidence submitted to the Social Service Committee by witnesses representing all sections of the community. There is now in operation a whole range of social services designed for the uplift and betterment of the people. These include provisions to deal with unemployment and sickness, and others designed for the special benefit of families.

The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) departed from the realms of reality and practical politics as they apply at the moment. In no other period of the history of Australia has so much been done in so short a time for the uplift of the people as has been done by this Government, despite the fact that during most of the time the country was at war. It seems to me highly improper that the honorable member for Darwin should attack the measure before the committee in the way she did. Everybody knows that the basic wage is out moded, that it has its short-comings, but what did honorable members on the opposition side ever do about it when they had the opportunity? What would they do if they were in power to-morrow? What did they do when an attempt was made to obtain increased power for this Parliament, so. that it might legislate in respect of some of the matters mentioned by the honorable member for Darwin? While she may have been, in her own mind, opposed to the policy of her political friends, she nevertheless used the air to support that policy, and to oppose the very things which she now advocates. It is time that somebody told the honorable member for Darwin the truth, and dia. regarded for the moment the fact that she is' the only woman in the House. We all meet here on equal -terms, and I am becoming just" a little tired of listening to what is described outside this House as " sob stuff because that is what it amounts to. There may be, and. I believe there are, short-comings in our social services as they now exist. I say that, not in apology for the Government, because it has not yet had time to give full effect to Labour policy.

Mr Calwell - We shall do that in the next Parliament.

Mr BARNARD - That is so. We shall advance progressively, .and later on the honorable member for Darwin will have an opportunity to support, not only with her voice, but also with her vote, measures for the betterment of the people about which she talks so much now. The Labour Government is marching forward-

Mr HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And marching very badly.

Mr BARNARD - At any rate, we on this side of the House act in unison, but evidently the honorable member for Darwin is not in step with the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), because she went into the electorate of the honorable member recently, and advocated the election of more women to Parliament. She practically suggested . that Mrs. Jessie Street should replace the present honorable member for Wentworth. If the honorable member for Darwin will read the recommendations of the Social Security Committee she will see what the Government is aiming at in the way of social services. She will then be in a better position to understand what the Government has done, and is doing - not merely talking about - for the less fortunate people of the community in a most difficult time in our country's history.

Silting suspended from 6 to S p.m.

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