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Wednesday, 2 April 1941

Senator DARCEY (Tasmania) . - This proposal is totally inadequate to enable the poor to bring up their children. When it was proposed in the House of Representatives that endowment should be paid in respect of the first child, it was stated on behalf of the Government that such an extension of the benefits of child endowment would involve an additional expenditure of £11,000,000. According to the Government Statistician, there are 800,000 first children in families, 300,000 of whom are only children and the remainder the first child, in families of more than one. None of those children will be eligible for benefits under this scheme. Honorable senators will not be surprised when I say that this great national social reform should be financed out of national credit. I have so often produced authorities for that statement that I shall not do so on this occasion. I feel sure that not one honorable senator opposite remains unconvinced that I have given ample evidence to prove the practicability of using the national credit for this purpose. Such a proposition, however, is always met by the protest that it will lead to inflation and other terrible evils. Let us hear what Roger Keynes, one of the leading British economists, has to say regarding the financing of schemes of this kind.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes). - The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing the financing of the scheme on this bill; the cognate financial measure has already been passed.

Senator DARCEY - A large portion of family expenditure is incurred on education. To-day education is very expensive despite the fact that we are supposed to have a system of free education.. The cost of books alone in a family of several children is almost prohibitive. I quote the following from an article written by Mr. W. H. ."Williams, a member of the Research Branch of the Department of Education of New South Wales. It must be remembered that the cost of education is nothing compared with the cost of ignorance. The children of this country must bc educated if they are to play their part in the national life of this country. Dealing with economic adjustment, Mr. Williams said -

Though the problem of distributing the world's wealth in such a way as to guarantee thu economic emancipation of its people has so far battled the economists . . .

That of course refers to the orthodox economists who are the advisers of the Commonwealth Government and of the various State governments. They are all at loggerheads because no two of them can reach the same conclusion about anything. The new economists of which I am a humble representative have already solved that problem. The quotation continues - . . Such a distribution must continually be envisaged and every difficulty lying in the path towards its attainment boldly attacked. The State cannot afford for one moment to neglect its responsibility at this point. If the ideal -of an economy of abundance is deleted from the list of desirable social objectives, humanity will thereby suffer immeasurable loss. In the name of sanity and fairness there should be available for all children fit to benefit by them, ample facilities for educational progress and freedom from financial hinderance.

The question that arises is where are we going to get the greater part of the money to finance this scheme? A previous bill provided for a pay-roll tax upon employers, but I maintain that the proceeds of the tax will not be sufficient.

Senator Leckie - Where does the honorable senator get that information?

Senator DARCEY - That is my own opinion after a long study of this matter. Two ways of financing the child endowment scheme have been suggested.

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