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Thursday, 30 April 1931

Senator DUNN (New South Wales) . - I am not greatly concerned about Mr. Scullin, Mr. Theodore or Mr. Brennan, nor am I greatly influenced by what Senator Guthrie or the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) has to say regarding the financial position of this country. I should not have risen had it not been for the remarks which passed between the Assistant Minister (Senator Dooley) and Senator R. D. Elliott. On my own behalf, and on behalf of those who support the Lang policy, I desire to place on record our belief that the worst Labour government in existence is preferable to the best Nationalist government that could sit on the treasury bench. I gathered from an interjection by Senator R. D. Elliott that, in his opinion, Federal Ministers were rejoicing at the failure of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales. I am prepared to debate on the public platform with any Minister, or other honorable senator, the causes which led that bank to close its doors. I do not call the present Federal Government a Labour government. It does not know what the term " Labour " means. Like the Ramsay MacDonald Government in England, the present Federal Government is following a policy of vacillation. The Scullin party has published throughout New South Wales that the failure of the Government Bank of New South Wales is due to the mal-administration of the Lang Government. I hurl the lie back in their teeth. The Lang Government has been in office for only five months, and it is well known that from the moment it took over the reins of government in New South Wales there has been a run on the State Savings Bank. In the New South Wale3 Parliament, within the last 24 hours, both Mr. Bavin, an ex-Premier, and Mr. Stevens, an ex-Treasurer, admitted that they had said on the hustings that if the Lang party got into office, depositors in the Government Savings Bank would be wise to withdraw their savings. What does Senator Guthrie mean when he speaks of the " Lang gang " ? Does he compare the Lang party with a gang of bushrangers or with a razor gang? What about, the squatter gang, which, during the rich years of the war, controlled the primary industries of this country? That gang now urges that budgets should be balanced by the introduction of longer working hours, lower wages, and the abolition of arbitration court awards. It says that by such means we should regain financial stability. The supporters of Mr. Lang are prepared at any time to uphold the Lang plan. Honorable senators know that, in this machine age, machines can out-do men in production. In the United States of America - perhaps the greatest civilization of modern times - Congress has appointed a special committee of experts, including representatives of the American Federation of Labour, to devise ways and means of coping with the rising tide of unemployment in that country. It is estimated that there are 7,000,000 persons unemployed in the United States of America. Similar conditions exist in Great Britain and Germany. Even France, whose treasury is full of gold, is faced with the problem of unemployment. The great Mussolini face3 the same problem in Italy. Australia's troubles are common to all civilized countries - all are suffering from over-production and underconsumption. The supporters of the Lang plan maintain that until Britain agrees to fund Australia's overseas indebtedness in th« same way that the United States of

America dealt with Britain's indebtedness, no further payment of interest on our overseas debt should be made by Australia.

Senator E B Johnston - That is repudiation.

Senator DUNN - It is nothing of the sort. We merely ask for an extension of time in which to meet our liabilities. Australia's interest commitments on money borrowed overseas by other governments amount to £27,000,000 per annum. The Lang plan provides for an extension by two years of the term of repayment of that amount. That would give Australia the use of £54,000,000.

Senator E.B. Johnston claims that the Lang plan means repudiation. I remind him that Great Britain at one time withheld payments due to the people of the United States of America. The late Mr.Bonar Law visited the United States of America to plead the cause of the British nation. After six weeks he returned, having failed in his mission. Later, when the Congress of the United States of America realized that Britain was one of the best customers of the United States of America, Mr. Bonar Law was invited to return to that country, with the result that the whole of the debt was funded. Yet, when Mr. Lang, and his supporters, urge that the same action should be taken in connexion with Australia's indebtedness to Britain, we are told that we are repudiationists, disloyalists, communists, bolsheviks, and everything that is bad. In addition to the £27,000,000 per annum payable as interest overseas, Australia's internal interest commitments also amount to £27,000,000 per annum. Honorable senators opposite urge that wages must come down, and that the standard of living must be reduced. But they do nothing for the 300,000 men and women who walk our streets seeking employment. According to them, interest is to remain sacrosanct. Mr. Lang has refused to pay interest, and 1 applaud him for his action. Mr. Scullin, Mr. Brennan, and others rush into print because the Lang party stands four-square for the principles of Labour. Senator Guthrie said that the Prime Minister is a twister. He is more than a twister; he is everything

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon W Kingsmill - The honorable senator must moderate his language.

Senator DUNN - Talk about repudiation! The Prime Minister and his colleagues are to-day assailing one man and his followers who have announced a certain policy which they believe is badly needed because of the financial position of Australia.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What about the third plank in the platform of that party ?

Senator DUNN - The third plank reads as follows: -

That the existing system of currency be altered from that of a nominal gold standard to a system more suited to modern conditions, preferably the goods standard.

I want to say to the honorable senator from New South Wales, who is sitting there with a cynical grin on his face-

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon W Kingsmill - Order !

Senator DUNN - I withdraw that. As one of the ambassadors from Pittstreet or the Motor Loan Cash Order people and a few more of those outfits, I suppose the honorable senator will tell us-

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