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Tuesday, 9 December 1930

Senator RAE - Honorable senators have quoted statements alleged to have been made by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr.Fenton) and others regarding their intention to balance the budget and to reduce expenditure by £4,000,000 in one year.

Senator Daly - The proposals, which included the transfer of certain moneys from the national debt sinking fund, have already been fully explained.

Senator RAE - It certainly was never intended to save £4,000,000 by reducing the salaries of government employees.

Senator Payne - Who suggested that?

Senator RAE - Honorable senators opposite carp and cavil at every piece of legislation which proposes to inflict heavier taxation, although they know that otherwise it is impossible to balance the budget. Even if one half of the public servants of the Commonwealth were thrown on the unemployment scrap heap, the consequent savings would not balance the budget. Honorable senators opposite know that; yet they squeal whenever further taxation is proposed. I doubt the genuineness of these protests. It may be that those who squeal loudest are themselves property-owners, whose nature it is to squeal when hit. We are told that the Government's proposals discourage thrift. Unfortunately, the great majority of the citizens of this countryhave had thrift enforced upon them. While I do not pretend that the ills from which we suffer are entirely due to any one government, I submit that the extravagance and reckless expenditure of the previous administration were larely responsible for our present position. Opposition senators would have us believe that the financial drift is the result of the Labour party being in office. I remind them that there has not yet been time for its policy to have any great effect on the finances of the country. All this criticism of the Labour party is so much. bunkum. The ills from which weare suffering are, to a great extent, a legacy from the previous administration, which indulged in an orgy of reckless extravagance.

Senator Sir George Pearce - And thrift.

Senator RAE - A former Treasurer (Dr. Page) claims to have paid off a large amount of the war debt during his term of office. That may be so. But while he was paying it off he was piling up other debts in excess of the amounts paid off the war debt. That kind of thrift does not appeal to me. That the country was more heavily in debt when the late Government went out of office than when it took control of the Treasury is evidence that it borrowed more than it repaid.

SenatorCarroll. - The interest bill was less when it went out of office than when it; took control.

Senator RAE - The honorable senator is mistaken. The position which confronts us can be met only by imposing additional taxation. Even if there were a Black Thursday and half the public servants of the Commonwealth were dismissed, the budget would not bo balanced. Taxation is inevitable. No matter what form of taxation the Government proposes it is condemned by the Opposition, who submit no satisfactory alternative. It is enough to make one feel ill to listen to the doleful predictions of honorable senators opposite, jeremiads that have been repeated ad nauseam. It is impossible to get revenue out of nothing, therefore those who have property must pay taxation. Until honorable senators opposite evolve a satisfactory substitute for the existing system we shall have to continue as we are.

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