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Wednesday, 30 July 1930

Senator McLACHLAN (South Australia) . - The adroitness which characterized the speech of the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Daly) has put the Senate in a good humour; but what disturbed me during his eloquent speech, and particularly during his speech in support of a bounty on the production of sewing machine heads, was what people outside must think of us who are supposed to be the guardians and custodians of the finances of the country. I do not propose to preach to the Senate, or even to attempt to dictate to the Government ; but I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Sir George Pearce) that we should not grant further bounties to assist industries which may or may not be profitable at a time when the finances of the Commonwealth are in such a serious position.

Senator Herbert Hays - Is the honorable senator in favour of the gold bounty?

Senator McLACHLAN - Perhaps the honorable senator will understand some day the difference between a bounty on gold and these other bounties. During the last few weeks this Parliament has given those people overseas, to whom we look for financial aid, occasion for deep thought. First, we had the Cotton Industries Bounty Bill, against which I cast my vote; then we had a measure in respect of the Wiluna Gold Mine - a gamble with £300,000. The Minister told us just now that there were possibilities in the flax industry. In spite of the serious state of the country's finances - so serious as to cause the Minister to adopt a tone of sadness - we are asked to give £20,000 here, and another £20,000 there, to assist, this or that industry, State, or even constituency. Where will actions of this kind land us? I do not agree with the Minister that this bill will be rejected by the Senate. It is because I believe that it will be agreed to that I voice my protest against the indiscriminate granting of bounties. Before long these chickens will come home to roost. The granting of this bounty will start a new industry in Australia, but we do not know whether it will be successful or otherwise. If it is not successful, we shall have further requests for assistance. The Minister admitted that other industries had come to Parliament time and time again for additional assistance, but he disclaimed responsibility in respect of such bounties, saying that they were as babes left outside the door without clothing, whom the present Government was forced to clothe. We are asked to grant this bounty at a time when additional taxation is being imposed on the people of this country. Levies are being made on the earnings of the workers to provide the necessaries of life to their fellows who are out of employment. This Parliament is losing its sense of proportion; coincidently with the imposition of heavy burdens on the people, it grants bounties to new industries, concerning which the Minister can only say " there are possibilities ". Such legislation cannot inspire in the minds of those whose advice we have sought in financial affairs confidence in our financial outlook and economic practices. Had the Treasury been overflowing, nothing would have pleased me more than to assist these promising industries. I admit the flax industry shows promise of success, but, with the finances of the Commonwealth strained to the limit: with sales taxes, increased customs duties, amounting, in some cases to prohibition, and heavier income taxation, I submit that it is no time to be playing with sewing machines or assisting industries about which we know so little that we can only say that, possibly, they will be successful. For the reasons I have given, I shall vote against the granting of this bounty or any other bounty, with the exception of those bounties to industries to which promises have already been made. In this measure we are asked to grant assistance to an industry to which no promise has yet been made. Here wc have a new child, which before many years have passed, will come to us for further clothing. Once this measure has passed through this Parliament we shall be committed to the granting of assistance to it. The Minister may well divide the Senate on this bill. I do not blame any honorable senator for voting for a measure which will assist the State he represents. But 1 put it to honorable senators that, at a time when every Government in Australia is finding it difficult to make ends meet, they should pause before passing legislation of this kind. I shall vote against the second reading.

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