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Thursday, 14 June 1928

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) .- On the Supply Bill I expressed my views fully regarding the financial situation, and I do not propose to go over the same ground again. I hope, however, that the Treasurer will make some reply to the criticism then offered. He should not, when closing the financial year with a deficit of £3,000,000, be reaching out for a further £6,000,000 of new . money without indicating tothe committee howhe proposes to balance the ledger.

On the recommendation of the recently appointed advisory boards, many soldier land settlers in Victoria have been removed from . their holdings, but have been given an assurance by the State' . authorities that they will be further repatriated by theCommonwealth. I ask the Treasurer to confer with- the Prime Minister with a view to stipulating, as a condition of any further financial assistance given by the Commonwealth, that the State Government shall be required to makegood its promises to those men. Justice must be done. If this sort of wrong doing is allowed to pass unchecked when the Commonwealth lias power to cope with it, we shall have to share with the State authorities the culpability for the removal of those settlers from the land.

The Commonwealth Government has granted assistance to the State Governments in connexion with the purchase of wire netting for settlers. The honorable member for Swan has drawn attention to the very serious menace of wild dogs in some districts. I have no desire to unduly advertise the tribulations of this country, but the dogs are threatening many areas that formerly were free' of them. Because of the drought the rougher country has had to be used by stockmen for accommodation purposes, and this is resulting in the dogs being drawn closer to the settled areas. The menace is approaching some of the big centres, and serious losses -of sheep are being sustained. I .urge the Treasurer, in connexion with this vote, to get into communication with the State Lands .Departments with a view to evolving a policy to check this danger. In some cases the land-owner3 have themselves combined to combat the menace of the wild dog. The division represented by the Treasurer is a particularly good shelter for these pests.

I have had occasion, at times, to criticize the administration of the Treasurer, but I recognize the difficulties with which he has to contend. The value of money is not so great to-day as it was formerly. But the honorable gentleman made the mistake of embarking upon a programme that was too large for the capacity of the country. It must be remembered that our people are able to pay only a certain amount of taxation, and when we make demands upon them which are too heavy, we defeat our own ends. I sincerely hope that in the next budget a curtailment of expenditure and an economy in administration will be forshadowed. In these days the central governing authority takes too much upon itself. It should allow the States to develop their terri tories and enterprises without restriction, for, after all, the State authorities come into closer contact with the people than the central authority. The Treasurer has to endeavour to meet the requirements of all the departments, but I appeal for a more conservative financial policy for the country. It was only the conservatism of Great Britain that enabled her to prosecute the war to a successful issue. I welcome the statement of the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) that they are not favorable to unlimited borrowing. I trust that the Government will realize that we have difficult times ahead of us and should curtail our works programme at least until we have placed the finances of the country upon a sound basis.

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