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Thursday, 14 June 1928


Mr NELSON (Northern Territory) . - I endorse the sentiments of the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes). In the proposed vote for the Department of Works and Railways, I read the following : -

New railway construction under the Northern Territory Extension Act 1923 and the Railways (South Australia) Agreement Act 192G, and the Oodnadatta to Alice Springs Railway Act 1926, £213,000.

Is that money being provided for the purpose of continuing the construction of the Katherine to Daly Waters line?

I am in accord with the view of the Leader of the Opposition that we should have a continuous public works' policy.

It is false economy to commence a work and discontinue it before it is completed because money is not available. That policy has been followed in connexion with the construction of the Katherine to Daly Waters railway, and it will mean that the line will cost considerably more than it should. Every temporary closing down of such works must add to the ultimate cost.

Once more I ask the Minister for Works and Railways to make a definite announcement as to whether he will issue instructions that preference must be given to Australians in any work that is put in hand in North Australia by his department. The honorable gentleman said that the foreigners at present engaged on that work are trade unionists. If that is so, will he give me an undertaking that he will instruct his officers consistently to observe the principle of preference to unionists ?

Reference has been made to the provision of £75,000 for the purposes of migration. It is a scandal that we should be appropriating that amount out of loan money to bring in more people when Australia is menaced with unemployment and poverty.


Mr Ley - Does the honorable member think that the introduction of more people will make less work?


Mr NELSON - I certainly think that when our national works are being closed down, and unemployment is rampant, we should call a halt, and concentrate upon finding employment for many thousands who are now without it.


Mr Ley - That is impracticable, because our market in Australia is restricted.


Mr NELSON - I admit that, with the exception of a few primary products, we have difficulty in marketing our output abroad. But that matter needs more than passing reference, and I shall not go into it exhaustively now. The item " Advances to States and to the Administrator of the Northern Territory for purchase of wire and wire netting, £40,000 " may be essential, but surely - it - is also essential to assist settlers in that area to purchase ordinary plain wire for their paddocks. I commend that suggestion to the consideration of the. Treasurer.







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