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Thursday, 7 August 1930

Senator DUNN (New South Wales) , - I am reminded of an old press slogan - "Be brief or be butchered."

Senator Paynereferred to the use of a club to bring the Government to its senses. If the honorable senator intends to use a club, I shall have to ask the Minister for Defence to allow me to use the big gun near the Canberra railway station to defend myself. If the honorable senator really desires an opportunity to criticize the Government, he will have it on the hustings next year.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - Is that a threat or a promise ?

Senator DUNN - That is straight from the horse's mouth.' All this beating of the wind about what the Government has and has not done . can best be judged by the people of Australia, and I hope that their- decision will be sought at an early date. I have no fear of the result.

The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) indulged in a general review of the activities of the Bruce-Page Government, and a series of more or less scathing references to the present Government. I remind Senator Pearce that the Bight Honorable William Morris Hughes, P.C., who represents the constituency of North Sydney in another place, has stated repeatedly on the hustings and elsewhere that when he relinquished the office of Prime Minister and handed over to the Bruce-Page Government the federal coffers were overflowing; that there was, in fact, a surplus of £7,000,000. But when this Government assumed office, it found that the profligacy of ' its predecessors had denuded the Treasury. Consequently, we have had a hard row to hoe.

Senator Pearceallowed his imagination free reign when lauding the endeavours of the Bruce-Page Government to build up the Australian navy. I contend that its achievement in that direction was not very creditable. It let contracts overseas for the construction of the submarines Oxley and Otway which, by the way, are fast becoming obsolete. Those two vessels were passed as O.K. by both the constructing dockyards and the British Admiralty Board. When making their maiden voyage a few days later they ran into a minor gale in the Bay of Biscay - and limped into harbour at

Gibraltar in serious difficulties. The contractors were compelled to send a corps of artificers to that naval port, and it was eight months before the vessels could again put to sea. Many defects have also been traced in connexion with the gun turrets of the Canberra and Australia. Personally, I see no reason why any of those vessels should have been constructed. We had just concluded the war that was to end all war, and already possessed the cruisers Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide and other vessels that would have served our purpose in the piping days of peace quite satisfactorily. But the spending mania was upon our predecessors; the junkers of the nation had to be satisfied.

The Leader of the Opposition discreetly refrained from drawing attention to the extravagance of the Bruce-Page Government with regard to the appointment of royal commissions. Its friends had but te raise a bogy, and, forthwith, a royal commission was appointed to investigate the matter, perambulating the continent in the process. In that manner the trifling sum of £600,000 was dissipated. A further £9,000 was lavished on the overseas jaunts of responsible Ministers to the Washington and other conferences. It ill becomes the honorable senator to accuse this Government of embarking upon fantastic schemes with the object of frittering away millions of pounds. I admit that the present Government has allocated £2,000,000 for the purpose of alleviating unemployment, but is that not a praiseworthy endeavour? I also point out that it has checked expenditure in all directions; that it has reviewed our system of defence, and effected a saving to the nation of £400,000 in that matter alone. I am proud of the achievements of this Government during the short period it has been in office, and I am quite prepared to go to the country and render an account of its stewardship to the people. The attitude of honorable senators opposite recalls to my mind the psychology of the modern woman. I recently met some of my female cousins who told me that they had seen a certain picture five times, simply because it worked up their emotions, and allowed them to have a good cry. I shall suggest that they come to Canberra during the parliamentary session and listen to honorable senators opposite. Their utterances almost move me .to tears.

As to the calibre of the Bruce-Page Government, I recall that the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place stated that Dr. Earle Page was the most tragic Treasurer that was ever inflicted upon Australia. I repeat, I shall' welcome the day when we go to the hustings. My majority on the last occasion was 75,000, and I am confident that it will be greater next time. I am just about fed up with the humbug in which honorable senators opposite indulge

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon W Kingsmill - I shall not allow any honorable senator to use such language. Senator Dunn must withdraw the remark.

Senator DUNN - With all due respect to you, Mr. President, I fail to see why I should be called to order for using the word "humbug", I do not consider that it is- unparliamentary.

The PRESIDENT - My ruling is that it is unparliamentary, and I insist upon the . honorable senator withdrawing it. .. - ,..

Senator DUNN - I submit that the word is a' familiar one in the English language. We are not in a kindergarten or Sunday school-

The PRESIDENT - Order! Does the honorable senator refuse to obey my ruling?

Senator DUNN - I respectfully bow to your ruling, Mr. President, and withdraw the word " humbug ".

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