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Wednesday, 10 September 1958
Page: 1054

Mr DALY (Grayndler) .- I have listened with interest to Government supporters, especially when they have referred to unemployment and to the important question of housing. The last speaker, in common with most of his colleagues, spent much time in attacking the New South Wales Labour Government's treatment of the housing problem. I hate to think how rare their speeches would be if there were not a New South Wales Labour Government to attack. They have not mentioned the thousands of houses - whole suburbs - built by the Government of that State since it has been in office. In the Dundas Valley alone it has housed about 30,000 people. So outstanding is that particular project that Her Majesty The Queen saw fit to visit it. That is but one aspect of the New South Wales Government's work in the area represented by the honorable member for Parramatta.

Throughout the length and breadth of New South Wales thousands of homes have been built under a scheme which was instituted by the Chifley Government and put into effect with the co-operation of the New South Wales Government and other State governments. If it had been left to private enterprise, very few homes would have been built, for it is more concerned with profit than with whether people are being housed. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) had a great deal to say about the record of the Labour Government of New South Wales. If its housing efforts are so unsuccessful why has it been returned to office continuously for seventeen years? At the last State election in New South Wales the alleged housing lag was trumpeted in the press and elsewhere by supporters of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party. Despite that, the Cahill Government was returned to office on its record in this and other fields. If the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), who is trying to interject, thinks that the New South Wales Government has not a good housing record he is out of step with the people of that State who have returned their Government to office ever since 1941.

Why does not the Minister and his Government do something about the housing under its direct control? The Commonwealth Government has the exclusive control of war service housing, but in that field alone there is a lag of 20,000 homes. The Estimates which we are discussing disclose no plan for overtaking that lag. In addition to that, in the Northern Territory the Government does not provide one home for civilians! As the authority responsible for the administration of that Territory, it should do so. The Government - the Commonwealth Administration - has a shabby and damning record in housing, and honorable members opposite should hang their heads in shame when they criticize administrations like the New South Wales Labour Government and others which have given to the people by the thousands homes which would never have been available had this Government had the exclusive right to put up homes and had left the task to private enterprise.

The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) a few moments ago said that there are to-day 120,000 sub-standard and condemned houses in Australia. The war has been over now for thirteen years. The lag in housing should be completely cleaned up, and I say quite truthfully that had it not been for the plans laid by a Labour administration for war service homes, which came to fruition in 1952-53, and those which the States put into effect at the instigation of the Chifley Labour Government, the position of housing in this country today would be much more tragic than people could imagine. This Government, in the field of development and housing, has a record of incapacity and incompetence unequalled by that of any government at any time in the history of this Commonwealth. When the honorable member for Macarthur says that housing is bad in New South Wales, and that the New South Wales Government has wasted its money, all I say is that I shall rest on the judgment of the electors in that respect. That Government for many reasons has not been able to build all the homes that were required, but the full responsibility lies at the door of this Government, which has refused to supply sufficient money to the State Government for that purpose. Apparently this Government has plenty of money to squander on defence projects like St. Mary's and others, and for all kinds of waste, but has insufficient money to give to the State governments to provide homes and to carry out development for the people, and so take up the slack in unemployment.

The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) also spoke on this matter a few moments ago. He said that the New South Wales Government is squandering money, and that instead of providing employment by building homes, it is legislating for three weeks' annual leave and equal pay for the sexes - things which, he says, benefit some people but which, at the same time, put others out of work. The Country party and the Liberal party governments have never been progressive; they are stayasyouwere or go-back governments. When the New South Wales Labour Government brought in the 40-hour week, the members of those parties said that development would cease and industry would go bankrupt. I do not know how they arrived at that conclusion, because General Motors-Holden's Limited make a profit of £9,000,000 a year, and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited i9 stacking away a few million pounds in excess of that amount. Industry throughout the land has prospered since the introduction of the 40-hour week.

I make the point that reforms are never accepted by Liberal-Country party governments, and the workers would still be working a 64-hour week at wages well below the cost of living, if it had been left to members like the honorable member for Hume and others to bring in worthwhile reforms. The honorable member blamed Labour governments for unemployment. If there were not Labour governments for him to blame for this Government's shortcomings, he would be dumb, for the simple reason that he would have nothing else to talk about. One would think from his remarks that there is unemployment only in New South Wales, which has a Labour government. The good-looking, well-dressed Minister for Labour and National Service was good enough to provide me with some figures a short time ago in reply to a question I asked him about unemployment throughout Australia. He stated that at 1st August there were 65,913 people registered for unemployment benefit in the various employment offices of the Commonwealth. In case honorable members think that all the unemployed persons are in New South Wales, let me say that in Victoria, under a Liberal government, 16,285 people are looking for jobs. In Queensland, under a Liberal-Country party government, there are 9,422 people looking for work. In South Australia, under the Playford Government, there are 5,280 persons unemployed. There are 31,000 people to-day in States of Australia under Liberal governments walking the streets looking for work because this Government will not make finance available to the States in order to take up this slack. For the honorable member for Hume and others to tell us that unemployment exists only in the Labour-governed States is completely misleading. Such statements completely belie the fact that there is unemployment in the country to-day because this Government has not given sufficient money to the States. At a time when we should be talking of development and expansion, when work should be going on everywhere, when every man able and willing to work should have a job, there are 65,000 people seeking work! The Government says that it has the matter under review; that it is looking at the matter regularly. I remind the Minister that the people who were to be put in the gas chambers during the war were constantly under review and they were looked at regularly. It is small satisfaction to the people who are unemployed because of this Government's lack of policy on this important subject to know that the Government is just keeping them under review. I, like other members on this side, think the number of unemployed persons is closer to 100,000. I think the Minister's figures are inaccurate. According to the figures the Minister gave me, 1.058 unemployed persons were registered at Newtown, in my own electorate, at 1st August.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.

Mr DALY - In the few minutes at my disposal, I want to summarize some of the points that I made prior to the suspension of the sitting. Honorable members may remember that, in reply to the honorable member for Macarthur, I had said that his criticism of the New South Wales Labour Government for its housing record was completely unjustified. I do not intend to go over that again, other than to say that whole suburbs have been established by that government from funds provided through the housing scheme. Homes have been provided for people who would never have been housed had it been left to those who support this Government to do so.

The only contribution that the Liberal party in New South Wales has made to solving the housing problem has been to appoint a brains trust, if such it can be called, and send it on an expedition into every gaol in the State to see how better housing might be provided for the inmates. The Liberal contribution to housing the aged, the disabled and the sick in New South Wales has been to try to give every criminal in gaol an innerspring mattress and chicken for breakfast, dinner and tea. It has forgotten all about the people outside the gaols who require homes. Therefore, when the supporters of the Liberal party talk about housing, they should have a look at their own shop window and put their own house in order. They should realize their shortcomings instead of criticizing a government that has done much to house the people of New South Wales. There is plenty for this Government to do in the field of housing. For instance, there is wide scope for action under the War Service Homes Act. To-day, there are 20,000 applicants waiting for war service homes. Although that act is administered entirely by this Government, it does nothing to reduce that waiting period.

At a time when this country could be prosperous and development should be at its maximum pitch, we find that more than 63,000 people are officially registered as unemployed. That figure, of course, is not an accurate one. The true figure, as I stated earlier, would be well over 100,000. This Government has refused to give to the States the money that is necessary to provide developmental work whereby this slack in employment might be taken up. It is idle to say that unemployment occurs only in Labour-controlled States. The figures that I have already quoted show that about 31,000, or approximately half the total number, of unemployed live in States which are administered by Liberal governments. The real reason for the unemployment is the financial policy of this Government. People are unable to obtain work because insufficient money is available. Why should not money be given to the New South Wales Government and other State governments for schools and hospitals, for administrative purposes, and for works that are so necessary, not only for the development of the States, but also in order that the slack in employment might be taken up?

The Minister for Labour and National Service, who is at the table, might well answer this question: What else does he do except review the employment situation from time to time? He might say what contribution he personally is making towards placing in employment even a few of those 63,000 people who to-day are officially registered as unemployed, who are able and willing to work but who are unable to obtain employment under this Government. In addition, as honorable members know, the Government is bringing to Australia a number of migrants whom it immediately places on the unemployed list. That is scandalous in the extreme. It is unfair both to the migrants and to this country, and it is unjust to every one concerned.

This Government deserves to be condemned for its lack of developmental plans. If there had not been a Chifley Labour Government there would have been no schemes for development worth mentioning. If there had not been a Labour government to plan, there would have been few telephones and few war service homes. In addition, there would have been thousands more unemployed to-day. This Government gives lip service to the policy of full employment, but it does not believe in that policy. The Government wants economic conscription. It wants to see men and women waiting outside the factory gates, so that there may be greater profits for those who support it, and economic pressure on those who do not. The Government deserves to be condemned if for no other reason than the unemployment it has caused by its policies. On 22nd November next, I think that the people of Australia will exact retribution from a government which has betrayed the fundamental principle of democratic government - the provision of employment for the people.

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