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Thursday, 30 April 1931

Senator HOARE (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Is not the right honorable senator endeavouring to score a party advantage to-day?

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - I am not. The facts are far too serious to be regarded from a party point of view, and I am not speaking from such a point of view. We should be recreant to our duty if, when a return like this was placed in our hands, we were to remain silent. Any man with common sense can. see where it is leading us. If the Government evinced some realization of the position there, would not be so much ground for complaint; but the Prime Minister blithely talks about a double dissolution, and the Treasurer flits here, there and everywhere abusing the banks and the Senate. A tragic feature of the position is that the Government, which is supposed to be in control of the Commonwealth has so little realization of where we are drifting, and of what is likely to happen that it will not take any steps to rectify matters.

Looking at these figures calmly, and appraising their 'significance,' can any one hesitate to decide what is our plain duty ? We have to cut our expenditure. A few months ago the Opposition suggested that the Government should cut its expenditure, by £4,000,000 a year. Had that suggestion been adopted at the time, it would have made a great difference; but it is too late now to. effect such a small reduction. How does the Government think it is going to evade what these figures show will be the ultimate outcome? Is it waiting, Micawber like, for something to turn up?

Senator Ogden - It is depending on the printing of notes.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE -That will not save the position, but will make it infinitely worse. I appeal to the Government to do what is plainly inescapable. If its party will not give the necessary sanction, let it have the courage to place country before party, and to say,- "As we cannot do what has to be done because of the opposition in our own party, we will get out and let somebody else do it ". I shall not mention the awful word that is in the minds of everyone ; but we " all know what the result inevitably must Be unless the right action is taken.

Senator Dooley - Let us know what must be done.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE -The honorable senator knows it as well as I do. If in his private life his income were so reduced that it was exceeded by his expenses to the extent of one-half - and that is the story which these figures tell - lie would say to his wife, " We must so cut our expenses as to bring them within our income ".

Senator Dooley - Or borrow to foot the bill, as the right honorable senator's Government did when in office.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE -That would be all right so long as you could borrow; but as the honorable sena- tor knows, this Government cannot borrow. It has to cut its expenditure so as to bring it within its income, or accept the dread responsibility for what will follow. Senator Dooley, as a member of the Government, must share that responsibility.

Anybody who aspires to office at a time like the present is looking for serious trouble. The Government which has to succeed the present one will not view the prospect with pleasure. Unless the Government is prepared to do the thing that is absolutely staring it in the face it should, in the interests of the Commonwealth, retire from office and allow some other government to take all the opprobrium that will be attached to it for any action which it must take to save Australia. This Government is shirking and dodging its plain duty. It is of no use now to talk about what the previous administration should have done. The situation is now far too serious to indulge in useless criticism of any sort. This Government must face the realities. If it will not do this I repeat that it should get out and allow another government to take its place. If it does not do this I fear to think of what the consequence will be to Australia.

I have raised this question this afternoon, not for the purpose of scoring any party political advantage, but because I realize, as the Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes) and his colleague, Senator Dooley must realize, what is meant by the figures contained in the document to which I have referred. I again appeal . to Ministers to take their courage in both hands, and do the one thing that is necessary to save Australia.

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