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Tuesday, 19 July 1904

Mr WATSON - No; it represents only .a failure on the part of the Department to go as faT as they intended in regard to general expenditure.

Mr Watson - The use of the word " failure " did not convey the inference which the honorable member apparently considers it did.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - The Prime Minister says that despite what we did to secure the patterns necessary to enable much of this equipment to be manufactured in the Commonwealth, the reductions represents only a " failure " on the part of the Department to go as far as they intended. If he held that view, he should have had the political honesty to tell the House how we dealt with the vote. The honorable gentleman referred in the same way to the action of the late Government in regard to the Cerberus and other matters, in the absence, no doubt, of full information.

Mr Watson - I had full information in regard to the Cerberus proposals.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - The honorable gentleman may not have had all the facts in his possession when the statement was made by a member of his Government that we had talked of buying a warship. I have no desire to enter upon a consideration of these issues, but if the Prime Minister wishes to have the whole matter threshed out in the House, I shall be able to give a detailed account of the actions of the late Government. I disagree with the. honorable member for Fremantle in the contention that we cannot do much to alleviate the unemployed difficulty. It is open to us to do much to remedy the existing state of affairs. It is all very well for an honorable member to move the adjournment of the House in order to discuss the question, but we should ask ourselves, " What are we really doing to improve the conditions of the Commonwealth? Are we doing anything to justify those alluring pictures of what the Federation would accomplish which were put before the people during the Federal campaign ?" In my opinion, we are not, and it is time that we accomplished something in that direction. It is a miserable confession of weakness to say that this House can do nothing to remedy the existing trouble. I agree with the honorable member for Moreton that we have before us opportunities to foster and encourage great industries, as yet new to the Commonwealth,which, if attention were only paid to their development, would open up wide avenues of employment. It is, however, really impossible to revive the fiscal issue at the present time, and, notwithstanding that our opinions may differ with regard to that matter, honorable members may still join hands in reference to manyother important questions of policy. I pledged myself to the policy of fiscal peace and preferential trade, because I believed that the adoption of that policy would mean increased employment for the people. I believe that if we followed the lines enunciated by the late Prime Minister, in dealing with the question of preferential trade we should extend our export of dairy produce five times beyond its present limits, and. so materially assist in the development of the country. It is idle to talk of asking the Governments of the States to open up the land unless we are prepared to assist those who are anxious to go upon it by procuring new markets foi our produce. Why should we now raise the fiscal issue? Let us wait, and time will prove that we were right in fighting for the imposition of higher duties. We should not forget why some good protectionists had to make concessions when the Tariff Bill was before the House. Honorable members on all sides agreed that a certain amount of revenue was necessary, and the Tariff was not, therefore, framed on strictly protectionist lines. The time will come when we shall have such a Tariff, and, in the meantime, it is useless to attempt to create a diversion by discussing the fiscal issue in this way. Let us keep in view the example of Canada, give encouragement to private enterprise, ogen up new markets to OU] producers by means of preferential trade, and so secure some material benefit for the people of the Commonwealth. So far we have not done much to assist them.

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