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Thursday, 6 May 1915

The PRESIDENT - Order 1 I must ask honorable senators to refrain from cross-firing while Senator Buzacott is addressing the Senate.

Senator Findley - I made two slight intersections, and you have called attention to them. I hope you will direct attention to the fact if any other honorable senator interjects, otherwise I shall have to call your attention to your omission to do so.

The PRESIDENT - I ask the honorable senator to withdraw his insinuation that I unfairly discriminated in _ reprimanding him for interjecting. I invariably interpose when I find that interjections are becoming too frequent or too marked, and it does not matter to me from whom they come. I again ask the honorable senator to withdraw his insinuation that I referred to him unfairly.

Senator Findley - I am, sir, prepared to withdraw anything I have said in deference to your wishes, but I felt that I had some reason to complain when this afternoon I made only two mild and innocent interjections, and you took note of them, although many interjections had been mad© before by other members of the Senate without any reference being made to them.

Senator BUZACOTT - When the Tariff is before us there will, no doubt, be considerable discussion as to what is meant by Protection, and the adoption of a Protective policy. I claim that a Protective policy is one which has for its object the building up of the industries of the country. It should take into special consideration our primary industries, and the interests of the men who are prepared to go out into the back country to open up and develop the resources of the Commonwealth, and thus provide a local market for the products of manufactories in the cities. When the Tariff is under consideration, I hope that honorable senators will not overlook the interests of prospectors in the back country who are engaged in the development of the mining industry, and that they will also have regard for the interests of the farmers and pastoralists who are prepared to take ap country far from civilization in order to open up and develop our agricultural and pastoral industries. I hone that honorable senators will do nothing to place increased burdens upon these people, because, with their families, they are the people who are making Australia. So far from doing anything to increase the burdens they are called upon to bear, we should do all that is possible to assist them. Much has been said on the subject of preference to unionists, and I am at a loss to understand why those who are opposed to the Labour party should take exception to the present Government carrying out the policy upon which they were returned to office. The Labour party were forced to go to the country on this particular issue. If they had been defeated, and the Fusion party had been returned to power with a majority, we should have been called upon to bow to the inevitable, if they decided to wipe preference to unionists out of existence altogether, or to adopt measures which might in time lead to the destruction of unionism in Australia. Seeing that the present Government were returned pledged to the policy of preference to unionists, it is their duty to carry out that policy thoroughly. I am pleased to say that I have found that the policy is being thoroughly carried out by the Defence De partment. I regret that some of the other Departments have not, up to the present, given effect to the policy in its entirety, but I hope that as time goes on they will do so, and thus give to the unionists of Australia the consideration they deserve for the work they have accomplished on behalf of their workmates, and the families of those who are creating the wealth of this great country. Senator Shannon referred to the way in which the wheat question was handled in New South Wales, and I am glad in this connexion to welcome the honorable senator as a convert to the view that it is necessary that the Federal Parliament should be given increased powers. I do not think that any one can reasonably take exception to the action of the New South Wales Government in controlling the wheat produced in that State. The members of the State Parliaments were elected to safeguard the interests of the people of their States, and the New South Wales Parliament and Government, in taking the action they did in the matter referred to, were merely protecting the interests of the people of that State. This Federal Parliament is representative of the people of Australia, and not of one particular State, and it should undoubtedly' possess the power to do in the interests of the whole people what the New South Wales Government did in the interests of the people of that State. If the referenda proposals are carried, I am satisfied that there will then be no danger that the people of one State may be left in need of a necessary commodity of which another State has sufficient and to spare. There is another matter to which I should like to make a brief reference. In November last we voted for new works and buildings a sum amounting to £4,303,870. Up to the 20th February last the amount of this vote expended was £1,513,250. When the Estimates were under consideration many of us emphasized the necessity for spending the whole of the money voted during the current financial year, in order, if possible, to absorb the large number of unemployed to be found in every State of the Commonwealth. I admit that up to the 28th February only three or four months elapsed from the time we passed the Estimates for new works and buildings. It could not, therefore, have been expected that by that time the Government would have expended half the total amount voted. I admit, also, that the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs explained that a great deal of work had been done up to that time which had not been paid for. I hope that during the succeeding four months the Government will spend the whole of the moneys voted by this Parliament, and thus show the people that they are, and have been, prepared to do their best in the interests of those who are prepared to work, but who have, unfortunately, hitherto been unable to obtain work. I am satisfied that with the present Government in power due attention will be paid to the public finances, and, with the prospect of good seasons ahead, we may expect that unemployment will become less, and that we shall have a period of greater prosperity in Australia.

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