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Thursday, 9 November 1911

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - Most of the criticisms we have heard from honorable senators opposite this afternoon have been directed at their colleagues in another place. The contracts in connexion with the Defence and the Postal Departments to which they have referred were entered into by their colleagues in another place when they were in office, but one would imagine from their criticism that the present Government were responsible for the delays which have taken place. The delay in the completion of the contracts referred to has been due to the fact that those who entered into them lacked sufficient business capacity to see that proper contracts were made, and with reputable firms. Therefore, my references by interjection to the PostmasterGeneral and the Minister of Defence of the previous Administration were deserved. It is rather amusing to hear honorable senators opposite criticising the financial policy of the present Government. They must either have forgotten already the result of the last general elections, or they are unable to learn anything from it. They appear to have forgotten that the country kicked their party out of office because of the scandalous financial policy they were pursuing. If there was anything in connexion with the opposite party which the electors resented more than another it was the notorious Naval Loan Act passed by the late Government. The policy of the present Government is plain to every one. Senator St. Ledger has referred to it as "schoolboy finance." Apparently, the only kind of finance known to Senator St. Ledger's type of politician is one of " borrow and burst." Their policy is to borrow, whether they require the money or not. We never had in Australia as much money, collectively or individually, as we have to-day. The Government are collecting more money now than has ever before been collected in Australia, and because in a commonsense fashion we are proposing to pay our way and provide from revenue for new works, we are told by honorable senators opposite that we should borrow.

Senator St Ledger - I said distinctly for reproductive works.

Senator DE LARGIE - Surely the works in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department, for which we are proposing to find money, will be reproductive.

Senator St Ledger - Certainly.

Senator DE LARGIE - Then why find fault with the Government for providing the money to carry them out. Does the honorable senator desire that the present Government should do the stupid things which past Governments have done? Does he think that they ought not to provide money in any shape or form for new works, but should pay away all surplus revenue to the States, and starve the public works of the Commonwealth.

Senator St Ledger - Queensland get very little back, anyhow.

Senator DE LARGIE - Queensland got her share, and that is all she was entitled to.

Senator St Ledger - The honorable senator will raise these questions of policy when we do not wish to enter into them.

Senator DE LARGIE - Because it does not suit honorable senators opposite.

Senator St Ledger - Does the honorable senator desire that the discussion should be prolonged?

Senator DE LARGIE - Honorable senators opposite know that their policy will not stand examination, and, consequently, they wish to keep away from it as much as they can. We have Senator McColl finding fault with the amount of revenue derived by the Commonwealth, and talking about taxing people to find funds for the construction of new works instead of borrowing money for the purpose. What sense would there be in such a policy as that?

Senator Walker - The Government are taxing one section of the community by the land tax.

Senator DE LARGIE - All sections of the community are being taxed. Is not the bulk of the revenue derived from the general community?

Senator Long - Who pays the increased rents ?

Senator DE LARGIE - Yes, who does? There can be no misunderstanding in the matter. The bulk of our revenue is derived through the Customs, and we know who pays that taxation. After all is said and done, what is a miserable£1,250,000 from a land tax? It is only a first instalment. The present Government will not be satisfied until a great deal more of our revenue is derived from direct, and a great deal less from indirect, taxation. No matter how the revenue is derived, we, on this side, are determined that we. shall pay our way while we can do so, instead of borrowing money when it is not required. Why should we borrow money when Australia is more prosperous than she has ever before been in her history? Still, we have the stupid Tory party on the other side-

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