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Tuesday, 11 September 1928

Mr SCULLIN (Yarra) .- The budget speech delivered last week by the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) contains much self-adulation, but very little consolation for the people of Australia. The honorable gentleman showered upon himself and his government many compliments. In the first few pages a number of selfcongratulatory phrases are repeated again and again - for example, " rigid control of expenditure," " regard for economy," " judicious expenditure," and the like. These may be regarded as nothing more than flora] tributes strewn upon the grave of Dr. Page's last budget.

Some years ago, when the honorable gentleman was a private member, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), who was then Treasurer, delivered at Maryborough (Victoria), a speech in which be described him as a " paralyzing leader," and said that if he were given the opportunity to run this country he would lead it to ruin. Yet a few months after he had made that declaration the right honorable gentleman handed over the Treasury to him.

I propose to review some of the events that have since occurred. The year which ended on the 30th June, 1923, closed with an accumulated surplus of £7,400,000. At the end of June, 1928, there was an accumulated deficit of £2,600,000, and the accumulated surplus, which was a heritage from previous governments, had disappeared. When the deficit was announced at the end of June last, there was considerable speculation as to what would be proposed by the Government to wipe it out and square the ledger during the current year. The question asked on all sides was, is there to be increased taxation or a reduction of expenditure? No other means of balancing the ledger are known to ordinary mortals. But those who anticipated either one or the other course were not acquainted with the financial wizardry of the honorable gentleman who is the administrative head of the Treasury Department. He would not do anything so common on the eve of an election. He had a brilliant brain-wave, which, as evidenced in the budget speech, is that for the present the deficit is to be held in suspense. The taxpayers of Australia also will be in suspense until the elections have been held.

Mr Brennan - Even Micawber did not think of that expedient.

Mr SCULLIN - Nor did Dick Swiveller. I should like the Treasurer to tell me how a deficit is placed in suspense. A surplus is real and tangible; you can spend it, you can place it to reserve, or in a trust account. But how can you suspend a deficit?

Mr Maxwell - A deficit also is a very real thing.

Mr SCULLIN - This particular deficit is £2,600,000 less than nothing; yet the honorable gentleman proposes to suspend it! In my younger days I gained a smattering of science. I learned that there is not such a thing as an absolute vacuum; that you cannot entirely empty a vessel. But scientists evidently know nothing about the subject. Dr. Page presides over a treasury that contains £2,600,000 less than nothing; and he proposes to suspend that minus quantity! I do not know how the idea originated with him. Perhaps he recalled the story of bis boyhood days about hanging a guinea pig by the tail. Before I saw a guinea pig I did not doubt that it was possible to perform the feat, but after I had seen one I wondered how it was done. Any one who has the slightest knowledge in regard to a deficit will wonder from what end it is to be suspended. The honorable gentleman is no more able to suspend a deficit than to hang a guinea pig by the tail.

Having stated that he proposed to suspend the deficit, he made the declaration that it was to be gradually reduced; and even to effect that purpose he is relying upon an increased flow of imports into Australia. Every person who wishes to see this country make progress is anxious that the imports of foreign goods shall diminish rather than increase. It is estimated that the receipts from customs duties will increase this year by £1,600,000. Actually those for the first two months have fallen short of the estimate by £509,000, and are £797,000 below the figures for the corresponding months of 1927-28. If the present trend is maintained during the balance of the year, the honorable gentleman's expectations will not be realized. But if he is to get from this source £1,600,000 more than he received last year, our imports during the next ten months will have to be £12,000,000 greater than they were in the last ten months of 1927-28. Even if the estimate were realized, however, we should still have a deficit of £2,615,000 at the end of June, 1929. It is proposed to spend £2,000,000 less from revenue and £1,400,000 more from the loan fund, than was expended last year. That is not economy.

Mr Fenton - It is loading up the interest bill.

Mr SCULLIN - The effect of that policy will be to load up the interest bill, as the honorable member for Maribyrnong says.

The Treasurer has endeavoured to show that there has been no increase in taxation. He claims that taxation must be measured according to production and population. He has shown that in 1926-27 taxation, based on production, was less than in 1921-22. Following his usual practice, he has selected for his comparison the particular periods that suit his purpose. The year 1921-22 was one of low production. The proper method is to strike an average over a number of years. In the year 1920-21 the value of production was £40,000,000 greater than in 1921-22; and in 1923-24 also it was considerably more. A comparison with the latter year shows that the percentage of taxation to production in 1926-27 was slightly higher. The Treasurer's comparisons invariably prove misleading when they are closely examined. Let us scrutinize his comparison on the basis of population. He has shown that taxation per head in 1921-22 was £9 0s. 4d., and that the estimate for this year is £9 4s. 4d. It must not be forgotten that 1921-22 was the year in which the present Treasurer was denouncing the present Prime Minister for being wildly extravagant. He then said that Mr. Bruce ought to go into sackcloth, and put ashes on his head. Yet to-day the taxation is 4s. a head greater than it was at that time ! We have been told that it is not to be increased. That is incorrect. Certainly no increase is to be placed upon those who, according to our taxation theories, are best able to bear it. We grant exemptions which remove from the taxa tion field those who are not in a position to pay. But under a proposal that will be placed before honorable members during the present week, the circle of income taxation is to be ' extended to embrace many thousands of persons whose incomes hitherto have not been sufficient to render them liable to pay tax. The proposal is to tax the profits that are derived from the investments of life assurance companies, the bulk of which are mutual companies. They obtain their funds from breadwinners, who wish to make provision for their dependants after their death. When you tax the profits they derive from investments, you either reduce the bonus that is distributed among policy-holders, or you compel the company to increase its premiums. The more the premium is increased, the lower is the sum for which the majority of persons can become assured. Therefore, they cannot make such substantial provision for their dependants in the event of their death. This will have a most detrimental effect upon tens of thousands of persons, many of whom are among the poorest of the community. These persons are being taxed whilst many who are better able to pay are to have their taxation reduced. These are the methods by which the Government is hoping to reduce its deficit next year.

The Treasurer in his budget speech invites us to review the figures of the last six years, but it is interesting to go a little further back. If we compare the period to which he refers with the six-year period preceding it, we at once find a telling answer to the assertion that during the regime of this Government taxation has been reduced. That is a statement which has been broadcast all over the country. For the six-year period 1916-22 the total amount of taxation collected by the Commonwealth was £225,000,000, whilst from 1922 to 1928 the amount was £323,000,000, or an. increase of £98,000,000. For the last six-year period customs duties alone showed an increase of £77,000,000 over the preceding six years. That is the principal source from which the Treasurer has been obtaining revenue. For the six-year period 1916-22 our imports were valued at £606,000,000, whilst from 1922 to 1928 they were valued at £894,000,000, an increase of £288,000,000. The average annual importation to Australia for the last six years "was valued at £150,000,000, whereas the annual average for the previous six years was £100,000,000, an annual increase of £50,000,000, or approximately £1,000,000 a week. The total imports for the last six years averaged £25 2s. per head of the population, as against an average of £19 6s. for the previous six years. In view of these figures, it is not surprising to find that unemployment is prevalent, and that our industries are languishing. We shall never make this country great until those in authority legislate in such a way that we shall manufacture more of our requirements instead of purchasing them so largely overseas.

What has been the effect of this unsound policy? For years we have been faced with adverse trade balances, which have produced a serious financial position in Australia. It is interesting to institute a comparison. In the period 1916-22 our imports were valued at £606,000,000, and our exports at £703,000,000, an excess of exports over imports of £97,000,000. During that period our position was sound, but what are the figures for the last six years?

Mr Manning - There was a dearth of shipping due to war conditions in the earlier period.

Mr SCULLIN - The honorable member can take periods since the termination of the war, and he will get the same result. For instance, honorable members can compare the last four years with the preceding four years, which do not include any part of the war period, and they will find the contrast as great. For the six-year period 1922-28 our imports were valued at £894,000,000, and our exports at £834,000,000, showing an excess of imports over exports of £60,000,000. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) have treated the subject of our adverse trade balance very lightly. We have been told in this chamber, and the statement has been repeated outside, that other countries when in a prosperous state have had adverse trade balances. The Prime Minister stated in this chamber that as Great Britain, which has had an adverse trade balance for years, was prosperous, we had nothing to fear. Any one who has only an elementary knowledge of economics will be aware that it is misleading to cite Great Britain, which is a creditor nation. A creditor nation can have an excess of imports over exports, and still be in a sound financial position. Great Britain receives interest in goods on the millions she has invested abroad, and consequently has an excess of imports. But Australia, which is a debtor nation, is in a different category. We must export more than we import to meet our liabilities in interest on money borrowed abroad. Let me give a simple illustration. If a man earning £10 a week spends at the rate of £12 a week, he will soon be in difficulties; but; if he is receiving a salary of £10, and his investments return him an additional £2 a week in interest, he can still spend £12 a week without getting into debt. Britain can h'ave an excess of imports over exports without incurring any financial risk; but Australia cannot continue to do so, and remain solvent. We have to be guided by what has happened in the past. I should not be alarmed if we had an adverse trade balances for one year only, because an adjustment could probably be made in the following year; but when we have a succession of adverse balances, or when over a period of years our imports are in excess of our exports, we are on dangerous ground. The figures I have quoted are very disquieting, and the whole position should be seriously considered by the Government instead of being treated so lightly. From 1876 to 1892, when there were heavy overseas borrowings, we were faced with a succession of adverse trade balances. During that period our imports represented £100 for every £80 worth of exports. In 1893 Australia experienced a financial crisis such as may occur again if the Government pursues its present policy. I do not wish to cause alarm by saying that Australia is on the verge of a financial crisis such as occurred in 1893, because I think that we are in a much stronger position now than we were at that time. There is, however, a limit to the extent to which a nation, or an individual, can go. After the crash of 1S93, until 1922, there were only five out of 30 years in which there was an adverse trade balance; but since this Government came into office, and permitted a flood of imports into Australia, there has been only one year in which our exports have been in excess of our imports. During the last six years Australia has, in the aggregate, been on the wrong side of the ledger to the extent of £60,000,000.

In dealing with the subject of borrowing and Australia's debt, the Treasurer made certain statements which he cannot justify. He said, among other things, that one outstanding fact was the effective action which the Government has taken for the reduction of our national debt, he facts are that during the time this Government has been in control of the finances of the Commonwealth the public debt due in Australia on the 30th June, 1923, excluding debts due on account of the States, was £247,000,000, and that due overseas £111,000,000. On the 30th June, 1928, the amount of debt due in Australia, excluding State debts, was £222,000,000, and that due overseas, £150,000,000. A study of these figures shows that during that five-year period the debt due in Australia was reduced by £25,000,000; but that due overseas was increased by £39,000,000. It is easy to. boast about a reduction in what is called the dead war debt when there has been an increase of £39,000,000 in our overseas debt. What is the advantage in wiping out the debt due in Australia when our overseas indebtedness has increased by the amount I have mentioned.

Mr Watkins - Our position is worse;


Mr West - And the interest is being paid overseas instead of to our own people.

Mr SCULLIN - The interest paid on our overseas loans in 1923 amounted to £5,500,000, and in 1928, to £7,500,000- an increase of £2,000,000. What has been the economic effect of that large increase in our overseas indebtedness? Every one knows that loan money is brought to Australia in the form of imported goods, and that goods to that amount have been imported, and upon them customs duties have been collected. The revenue derived from this source has been responsible for the surpluses which have been announced by the Treasurer from year to year. These surpluses have been possible only in consequence of overseas borrowing. This is what the Treasurer calls sound finance. He has been pursuing this foolish policy for some time, and has failed to make- provision for a rainy day. We have now reached a position when revenue from this source is dwindling. That is why the Government is faced with a deficit.

Mr Maxwell - Is not a considerable quantity of our exports used in payment for our imports ?

Mr SCULLIN - I have been speaking of our adverse trade balance. Imports are paid for by exports; but a debtor nation like Australia must not only send exports to pay for imports, but must have excess exports sufficient to pay interest on oversea debts. There is only one way in which a nation can import more than it exports and that is by going on the foreign loan market. That is the policy which this Government has been following for a long while.

The Treasurer had a good deal to say about sinking funds. He suggested that Australia had no sinking fund until the act for which he was responsible was passed in 1923. He paid no regard whatever to redemption funds in existence prior to 1923, to which contributions were made and are still being made from the profits of the Commonwealth Bank and the Australian Note Issue. The profits of the Commonwealth Bank, from its inception to the 30th June last, have amounted to £6,740,000. The profits from the note issue from its inception have amounted to £16,640,000. The total profit from these two sources has reached the substantial sum of £23,380,000. In the financial year ended 30th June, 1928, the profit of the Commonwealth Bank was £708,901, and of the note issue £1,138,000, the total for the year being £1,837,000. Half of the profit from the Commonwealth Bank goes into the sinking fund, three-quarters of the profit from the note issue goes to revenue, and the other quarter to the rural credits account. We may assume that the three-quarters of the profit from the note issue that goes to revenue also finds its way into the sinking fund. That is the purpose to which the note issue profits were generally applied. If we were to take half of the profits of the Commonwealth Bank and three-quarters of the profits from the note issue, which go into revenue, and then into the sinking fund, we should find that the Treasurer would get more than sufficient money in a period of 50 years to pay off £240,000,000 of Australia's public debt without calling upon the general taxpayer for an extra Id. of taxation. The credit for this is due, not to the present Government, but to a previous Labour Government, which established the Commonwealth Bank and the Australian note issue in the face of the fiercest opposition of its antagonists. These critics sneeringly said that the Labour Party would run the country to ruin; that the bank was a wild cat socialistic scheme; and that the notes would be worthless. It was stated that although the notes would have behind them the financial backing of the Commonwealth, they would not be honored. They were contemptuously called "Fisher's flimsies ". These people who, for political reasons, damaged the nation's credit, are now claiming credit for the substantial profits from these two remarkably successful institutions.

The Government last year cut down the vote for public works by £1,200,000 and, in doing so, said that it was conducting an economy campaign. My reply is that to delay the completion of necessary public works upon which large sums of money have been expended is generally a waste and not an economy. Take the Murray waters scheme as an illustration. Something like £6,000,000 have been spent upon that work to date, and our only hope of getting any return at all from the expenditure is by applying water to the land, for irrigation purposes. The longer the completion of the work is delayed the longer shall we have to wait for a return on our expenditure. A delay of one year in the completion of these works will mean a loss of £300,000 in interest alone. It must be apparent therefore that delay is not an economy but an extravagance. We should push on with the completion of the public works that are in hand before embarking upon new undertakings and involving ourselves in new obligations. What justification can the Government show for cutting down the expenditure on these works and so throwing many hundreds of men out of employment? It is said that money is not available, but £400,000 is being provided this year for immigration purposes, and another £400,000 is being handed back to our large land-owners by relieving them of taxation. The Government is also appointing innumerable persons to highly-paid positions of its own creation, many of which are mere sinecures and not reproductive in any sense of the word. Such a financial policy will not appeal to the level-headed people of this country.

The budget that was submitted to us last year was severely criticized by honorable members on both sides of the chamber. The Government was told plainly that if it did not take care it would in the very near future have to face deficits. It was urged to cease extensive public borrowing abroad and thereby prevent, to some extent at least, the flooding of this country with foreign manufactures. It was told that its inflated customs revenue must very shortly be reduced and that it would have to answer for its mismanagement of the nation's finances.

It refused to take any notice of either advice or warnings. The Prime Minister replied to the criticisms of both supporters and opponents of the Government by asking that specific items of expenditure should be called into question. He said, in effect, " It is not sufficient merely to make general statements." The honorable gentleman then dealt with some items of expenditure from different departments and threw out innumerable challenges to the critics of the Government to indicate which specific items they would wish to see reduced. The answer to statements of that kind is that it is not the duty of those who have no Ministerial responsibility to say whether moneys spent within departments are being wisely or foolishly spent. Private members have not a sufficiently intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the departments to definitely state what items are justified and form a reliable judgment on such a matter.

I have carefully examined the expenditure and the proposed vote for the Prime Minister's Department, and intend to put a series of questions to the right honorable gentleman in acceptation of the challenge he threw out a year ago. It may be assumed that he has detailed knowledge of the expenditure in his own department. He should, therefore be able to justify the items to which I shall refer. I am only taking one department, leaving the others to be dealt with on the general Estimates.

An amount of £906 is proposed to be voted for a liaison officer in London. What work is that officer doing? Are we getting an adequate return for the expense involved?

An amount of £2,000 is to be provided as salary for the Commonwealth financial adviser in London, together with an additional £250 for entertainment purposes. This office was created two years ago. Is it intended that it should be permanent? Is the officer justifying his appointment? How did we get on before we had such an officer ? A few years ago we had to borrow something like £400,000,000 to prosecute the war. Of this amount £100,000,000 was borrowed abroad and £300,000,000 in Australia. We were able to do it without the help of a special financial adviser. Why is this officer necessary now?

Last year an amount of £5,548 was spent by the High Commissioner in advertising, although only £2,500 was voted for the purpose. Will the Prime Minister tell us why the vote was exceeded by £3,000, or more than 100 per cent.? We are surely entitled to an explanation.

Why is £2,000 to be voted for expenses in connexion with the official residence of the High Commissioner in London when last year we provided £9,900 to buy the lease of a residence for him, and for 192S-29 provide £650 to maintain it? Previous to last year we were accustomed to vote £2,000 a year to provide the High Commissioner with an official residence, but having voted £9,900 to buy the lease of a house and £650 to maintain it, why are we still asked to vote the £2,000?

What return are we receiving for the expenditure of £5,000 per annum in salary and allowances to the Trade Commissioner in the United States of America? The Prime Minister should give us some details in justification of this expenditure, to say nothing of the expense of the staff which the Commissioner has gathered round him.

The Development and Migration Commission is covered by the proposed vote for the Prime Minister's department. This is only one of the many expensive commissions appointed by this Government. The amount to be provided for it this year, on the administrative side, is £127,618, compared with £99,483 in 1926-27. We must add to that £13,250 in salaries for ' the Commissioners, and £300,000 provided by the loan- bill for passage money for migrants. It will be seen, therefore, that the total cost exceeds £400,000 per annum. How can this be justified when the vote for necessary public works in Australia is being curtailed for the want of funds and Australians have to remain idle ?

Let us take another item under the heading " migration ". An amount of £36,000 was provided last year to cover the cost of the Australian end of the administration. It is proposed to vote £42,000 for the purpose this year, an increase of £6,000. Last year the amount voted for the London end of the organization was £31,921. It is proposed to increase that figure to £34,195 this year. Surely we are entitled to some explanation of those items. Under the heading "Investigations", the sum of £25,898 was spent last year by the Migration Commission, and for the same purpose £25,000 is included in the Estimates for the current financial year. What is the nature of these investigations? In addition to the office clerks, there are about 25 of these investigating officers, receiving salaries up to £1,300 a year. This Parliament is entitled to know what these highly-paid officers are investigating. There is another item of £3,000 for special reports and investigations. What special reports are anticipated? I point out that this amount is in addition to the £25,000 already referred to, thus making a total of £28,000 for investigations.

A sum of £14,900 is set down as a contribution towards the cost of the establishment and maintenance by the States of reception and farm training depots. Have any reports been received regarding these depots, and, if so, what is their nature? We should know whether these training depots are performing any' useful work. There seems to be an air of mystery surrounding them. For the training of domestics overseas, the sum of £4,000 is provided. Where is' this training being carried out, and what justification is there for the expenditure?

Another large sum - £11,310 - is provided under the heading " Subsidies for voluntary organizations for the after-care of migrants." This Parliament is entitled to know what are these organizations and the nature of the after-care of migrants they are supposed to perform. If any reports on their work have been submitted to the department they should be made available to honorable members.

The salaries of the members of the Development and Migration Commission for 1926-27 amounted to £9,262. In the following year they were paid £10,796, whereas for the current financial year the expenditure for salaries is estimated at £13,250, an increase of approximately £4,000 over the expenditure of 1926-27. What is the reason for the increase?

Last year the sum of £1,356 was expended on the Advisory Committee of National Insurance. I understand this committee is Senator Millen, who was appointed a committee to overcome the legal objection to a member of Parliament being paid in this way. For the current financial year another £500 is to be expended on this committee. There is also an expenditure of £600 last year to provide honorariums for experts in connexion with national insurance. This expenditure is in addition to the cost of the Royal Commission on National Insurance, amounting to £11,495. There is no word of explanation of this expenditure; honorable members have to dig for information which should be made available to them by the Government.

The payment last year of £36,000 to investigating commissions, apart from permanent commissions and boards, shows the cost to the country of the delegation by an irresponsible government of its duties to other bodies.

The sum of £2,271 has been expended in preliminary expenses in connexion with the British Empire Exhibition, Sydney. When the Prime Minister moved the second reading of the bill providing for this exhibition, he spoke in the most glowing terms of the benefits which would accrue to Australia from the holding of the exhibition. But not one member rose to support the bill. Even among his Ministerial colleagues there was not one to champion it. A few days later the bill was withdrawn. Even the Prime Minister's optimistic estimate of the result of the exhibition showed that a loss of £500,000 was contemplated in connexion with it. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley), in a careful analysis of the proposed receipts, exposed the unsoundness of the Prime Minister's figures, and showed that the loss would be much greater. The criticism of the bill lasted only one day, but it was sufficient to secure the withdrawal of the measure. Notwithstanding the lack of support accorded to that measure, the Government incurred preliminary expenses amounting to £2,271 in connexion with the exhibition. I ask on what authority it spent that money. The Treasurer, who authorized the expenditure, talked a great deal when a private member of responsible government and " dropping the loot."

Mr Manning - It is a long time since we have heard that term.

Mr SCULLIN - The honorable member will hear it again. Dr. Earle Page, when a private member, criticized governments for spending money without the authority of Parliament, and advocated the restoration of responsible government, but as Treasurer he does the very thing of which he previously complained. Taking it for granted that its legislation would receive parliamentary approval, the Government went ahead with its preparations for the exhibition. Its action in anticipating the decision of Parliament has resulted in £2,271 of the people's money being wasted. Honorable members who support the Government would be the first to complain if their own money was wasted in this manner. Honorable members, as the custodians of the public funds, have a responsibility to the people of this country. They have a right to protest against the action of a government in spending money in this way without the authority of Parliament.

On the visit of the Secretary of State for the Dominions £2,216 was spent last year. I have no objection to the Government entertaining distinguished guests, but I do object to such lavish expenditure on them.

Mr Manning - Does the honorable member think that these visitors should spend their own money to come to Australia ?

Mr SCULLIN - I do, and I see no reason for such lavish expenditure for their entertainment. Contrast this expenditure with the grant of £1,000 for the relief of distress among unemployed returned soldiers and their dependants. The Government, which expended £2,216 in entertaining one visitor, could find only £1,000 to distribute among needy returned soldiers and their dependants.

Another new item in these Estimates is the sum of £2,000 for the GovernorGeneral because of his having to live at Canberra. This sum is in addition to his salary of £10,000 per annum. The Governor-General is to be paid an additional £2,000 a year because he has to live at Canberra for a few months during the year, whereas public servants, who have to live here during the whole of the year, receive on the average about £50 a year as an allowance ; some of them receive only £39 a year. No honorable member will say that that allowance is sufficient to meet the extra cost of living and the high rentals charged at Canberra. While the Governor-General is treated generously in this matter, the allowance for public servants is cut to the bone.

Repairs to Government Houses during the year are estimated to cost £26,600. Where are these repairs to be effected, and what is their nature? This expenditure is in addition to the £70,000 already spent in repairing Yarralumla.

Mr Maxwell - Do not mention that.

Mr SCULLIN - Apparently it is a spectre that haunts the honorable gentleman.

Mr Maxwell - It is.

Mr SCULLIN - The £70,000 has been spent; but the £26,600 provided in these Estimates has not yet been disbursed. What is the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) going to do about it? Probably the item will be rushed through at 2 o'clock or 3 o'clock in the morning without any explanation being given. A government which is prepared to spend £26,600 in repairing the Governor-General's residences, in addition to the £70,000 already spent, has money to burn. There has been no satisfactory explanation of the excessive cost of repairing Yarralumla, and there will be no adequate explanation of the further sum of £26,600 to be expended in repairing other Government Houses.

I have referred to but a few of the instances of extravagance in one department. The items I have mentioned amount to over £500,000. If I were to go through these Estimates and analyse the proposed expenditure for other departments, I should probably find further instances of a like nature. There is much in the various departments that requires overhauling. We should know whether we are getting value for the money expended in paying high salaries to certain officers. Ten workmen doing useful work are dismissed for want of funds, in order to provide the salary of one of these highlypaid officials. The appointment of " big " men to highly-paid positions seems to have been the Government's chief activity during its term of office ; apart from such appointments its record is practically barren.

In six years it has collected in taxes nearly £98,000,000 more than was collected during the previous six years. The whole of that extra revenue has been expended, and, in addition, an accumulated surplus of over £7,000,000 which was taken over. Despite that enormous increase, of money available for expenditure amounting to over £100,000,000, the Treasury to-day is empty, and there is a deficit of £2,630,000.

That is a brief review of the financial position of Australia. The manner in which the financial affairs of this country have been conducted would in the end ruin any nation, however prosperous it might be. The Government has borrowed and spent money lavishly in good seasons, careless of the fact that lear. seasons must follow. Last year a setback in parts of Australia turned a surplus of two and a half million pounds into a deficit of a similar amount. Under the present political control, Australia is not in a particularly happy position. Our prospects at present are not bright. We have over 180,000 men out of work, and our secondary industries are crying out against the flood of importations from

Other parts of the world that has been induced and accentuated by the policy of the administration now in power. Progress reported.

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