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Wednesday, 16 September 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) said that the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin) used the term " breadwinner " in its broadest sense in order to show the low wages paid in Australia. I trust that the Minister will convey to the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) the desire of the members of the Opposition in this chamber in regard to Commonwealth statistics. A wealth and income census should be taken in Australia without delay, so that there can he no argument as to what the facts really are.

Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Is the honorable senator preparing for a capital levy?

Senator COLLINGS - The sooner it comes the better; when it is proposed I shall support it. There is no ambiguity at all in the figures published in the Commonwealth Year-Booh for 1935. The remarks of the Minister concerning the foggy nature of the term " breadwinner " cannot conceal the fact that there are 392,435 persons in the Commonwealth who do not receive any income at all.

Senator Sir George Pearce - That was the number of unemployed in 1934.

Senator COLLINGS - At that time there were nearly 400,000 who did not. receive any income. These figures cannot be watered down by suggesting that they do not mean what they disclose. I agree entirely with Senator Hardy, who advocates a better method of collecting statistics. We cannot afford to continue meeting the expenditure incurred by the Commonwealth Statistician's Department if it. is incapable, unwilling, or is not allowed to compile statistics to enable members of this Parliament to support their statements.

Senator Hardy - The honorable senator is quoting figures compiled three or four years ago.

Senator COLLINGS - I am not. I know that the Government and the party which Senator Hardy leads in this chamber are attempting to discount these figures, which disclose such a shocking state of affairs, because they are afraid that the information will be used by their political opponents. We cannot deny the fact that m 1934 nearly 400,000 persons in this country did not receive any income. In addition to the number mentioned, there were nearly 750,000 who did .not earn 20s. a week, and over 500,000 who received less than £103 per annum.

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