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Thursday, 26 June 1930

Senator DALY (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) .- I shall not delay the Senate- long. I remind Senator Colebatch that the prohibition of imports is a part of the Government's economic policy, which it is pursuing on the advice of leading economic and financial experts in this country.

Senator Sir Hal Colebatch - That does not take away the right of Parliament to consider such prohibitions.

Senator DALY - That is so. No one sympathizes more with the men who have been thrown out of work as a result of that policy than does the Government. But, if we attempt to purchase goods overseas, we must first have credits on the other side of the world to pay for them. The biggest difficulty which the Government has had to face has been in connexion with the position overseas. Senator Colebatch will probably have seen an intimation that the tariff will be discussed soon.

I realize that, on the first reading of a supply bill, a certain amount of laxity, and, perhaps, levity, is permissible. But even a statement made in jest may be taken seriously. Senator Payne, in the course of his speech, told us two old chestnuts; but in the telling of them his memory failed. Honorable senators will remember that, in speaking of the recent election, he said that only one Nationalist member from Tasmania was elected to the House of Representatives, and that one woman elector had said that she had voted for the Labour candidate, although the Nationalist party candidate was a better man. She said that, as a public servant, she had to vote for Labour. That statement can scarcely be correct, seeing that the only Nationalist member for Tasmania in another place, Colonel Bell, was returned unopposed.

Senator Sampson - That is not correct. He was opposed, and his previous majority was greatly reduced.

Senator DALY - I am indebted to Senator Sampson for the correction, and hasten to apologize to Senator Payne. Anyhow, the old-age pension story told by Senator Payne I heard from the lips of Senator Pearce when I first entered this Parliament.

I do not propose to answer Senator Ogden's tirade against the trade union movement. Knowing that he owes a good deal to the movement, I think my most effective reply is to remind him of the words of Shakespeare -

But 'tis a common proof

That lowliness is young ambition's ladder,

Whereto the climber-upward turns his face:

But when he once attains the upmost round,

He then unto the ladder turns his back,

Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees

By which he did ascend.

I hope that the honorable senator when he studies those lines will not turn his back upon the ladder " by which he did ascend ".

As the hour is late, it would be impossible for me to reply fully to the financial figures given by the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce). I invite honorable senators to read the report of the Auditor-General. It contains the most effective argument that could possibly be put up in reply to the right honorable gentleman's contentions. I am surprised that Senator Pearce mentioned civil aviation. We all know that when the Commonwealth did not know what to do with all the money it had, it built railways and then subsidized aeroplane services to compete with them. I do not think the Labour party has ever claimedthat the Bruce-Page Government was responsible for the bad seasons the country has experienced or for the present depression. Its complaint is that instead of safeguarding the resources of the country in times of prosperity so as to carry it over any times of adversity the late Government spent all the cash it had with the result that when bad times came there was no money available. Had the Bruce-Page Government taken precautions to guard against the depression which Senator Pearce says it predicted as inevitable, our financial position to-day would be very much better than it is. The Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks business is an old chestnut.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - That does not make the argument any less effective.

Senator DALY - The honorable senator claims that the Bruce-Page Government proposed to tax films from overseas. As a matter of fact the BrucePage Government's proposition was a tax of12½ per cent. on the gross takings of theatres.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - The proposal was to impose a tax of 5 per cent. on gross takings and 12½ per cent. on the money sent away to pay for films from overseas. They were two distinct proposals.

Senator DALY - Labour's opposition was to the gross taxation of the theatres. Early in the reign of this Government, I told honorable senators, and my announcement was greeted with approval, that the Commissioner of Taxation was considering ways and means by which picture films could be taxed.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - Why has not the tax been put on during the present financial year?

Senator DALY - I always understood that the Nationalist party was opposed to retrospective legislation. When the bill is before the Senate any request made by the Senate, if it is practicable, will be given serious and sympathetic consideration by the Government. Candidates cannot be prevented from making promises or giving pledges, but the party which was returned to power at the last election made no promise to the American or any other picture interests ; it owes no allegiance to any particular interests. Each and every interest that operates in Australia must bear an equitable share of the taxation of this country.

I am indebted to Senator Pearce for drawing my attention to the need for control of wireless news at sea. I have had an experience similar to that which he has narrated. I was travelling from Adelaide to Perth on one of the coastal steamers and on examining a magazine which is issued every morning on the boat I found that there was a lot in it about some man shooting his wife in a church in Paris - I had read about it in Sydney a few days before. There was also a description of a rugby football match in New South Wales, and there were a few lines about a threatened strike in Sydney. But there was nothing about Adelaide. That city was not on the map. It seems to me, now that attention has been focussed on the matter, that the wireless people should be told that messages blackening the fair name of Australia will not be permitted. The Darwin affair was only an ordinary " scrap ". I shall ask the Postmaster-

General to see if the matter cannot be rectified.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a first time.

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