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Tuesday, 25 November 1930

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon W Kingsmill - Order!

Senator GUTHRIE - Several Ministers of this Government gave active support to Mr. Lang in the recent election campaign in New South "Wales notwithstanding his declaration that, he repudiated the Melbourne agreement and, as I have said, promised wheat-growers 7s. 6d. a bushel if he were returned.

Senator Daly - Mr. Lang did not make that promise.

Senator GUTHRIE - If he did not make it in definite terms, his supporters did at all events. I know that one Labour candidate approached some of my share farmers and promised them 7s. 6d. a bushel for their wheat if Labour were returned to power; and an advertisement, over Mr. Lang's signature, appeared in the Sydney Bulletin, stating, " We have paid 7s. 6d. a bushel for wheat before. What has been done before can be done now." What was that if it was not a promise to pay wheat-farmers 7s. 6d. a bushel for their wheat, which is now selling at1s.10d. at railway sidings ? It is disgraceful that any , one should have been allowed to perambulate the country making false promises like that.

At the conference between the Prime Minister and the Premiers of all the States on the 21st of August last the following resolution was unanimously adopted: -

That the several Governments represented at this conference declare their fixed determination to balance their respective budgets for the financial year 1930-31, and to maintain a similar balanced budget in future years. This budgetequilibrium will be maintained on such a basis as is consistent with the repayment or conversion in Australia, of the existing internal debt maturing in the next few years. Further,if, during any financial year, there are indications of a failure of revenue to meet expenditure, immediate steps will be taken during the year to ensure that the budgets shall balance.

Immediatelythe Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) left for England we read of an attempt, on the part of certain Ministers, to evade givingeffect to the Melbourne conference decisions. We must, however, giveall credit to the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fenton) and the Acting

Treasurer (Mr. Lyons) for doing their best to stand up to the agreement; but their task has been made extremely difficult by wild statements and stupid resolutions passed by the Labour caucus, which has really been dominated by the Sydney Trades and Labour Council. The situation is extremely grave, because we are on the eve of the conversion of loans amounting to £28,000,000.

Senator Sir George Pearce - Mr. Lang boasted that he would smash the Melbourne agreement.

Senator GUTHRIE - Yes, and from all we hear about caucus doings, he is being assisted by certain Ministers in this Government.

Senator Daly - Mr. Bavin, by his interpretation of the Melbourne conference resolutions, nearly smashed it.

Senator GUTHRIE - We know that Australia will never repudiate her liabilities.

Senator Daly - Hear, hear!

Senator GUTHRIE - We know that all this wild talk that is being indulged in by the majority in the Labour caucus does not represent the views of the people of Australia; but our creditors in other countries do not know this, and, naturally, they feel very uneasy. If they knew us as well as we know ourselves, they would have more confidence, and our stocks would not be from 10 per cent. to15 per cent. below the value of South African securities.

Senator Payne - The honorable sena tor has indicated the reason for this lack of confidence.

Senator GUTHRIE - That is so. How can we expect people in other countries to have confidence in our determination to honour our obligations, if, in the Labour caucus, Federal Ministers move or support motions thatare equivalent to repudiation ?

Senator Daly - Is the honorable senator inorder in stating that any Minister of the Crown, at any time, moved for the repudiation of Australia's liabilities?

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