16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W.M. Nairn) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
In Committee of Supply:
Consideration resumed from the 2nd October (vide page 679), on motion by Mr. Fadden -
That the first item in the Estimates, under Division No. 1 - The Senate - namely, “Salaries and Allowances, £8,470, be agreed to.
Upon which Mr. Curtin had moved, by way of amendment -
That the first item be reduced by £1.
.- The budget has been described by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) as a document which determines ways and means of war. It should also be considered by the Parliament and the country as one which determines ways and means of rebuilding Australia after the termination of the war. It is, of course, essential that all of our resources should be employed in order to help the attainment of the great aim of victory in this fierce struggle, but we should not take measures now which would prevent the adoption of a proper scheme of reconstruction after the Avar.
The situation in which Australia, is placed to-day is sufficiently serious to make it necessary for us to examine the budget critically. Profiteering is being largely practised, and the spirit of sacrifice which animates the members of our fighting services has hardly touched large sections of the people. The stores of the cities are filled with luxury goods, whilst the position in many country towns is almost one of desolation, due to the depletion of their manhood by enlistments and the demands of munitions production. Every patriot must seriously consider what action should be taken in order to improve the condition of rural industries. The people of Australia must prepare for the sacrifices which will be entailed first, by the winning of final victory, and secondly, by post-war rebuilding. A principal feature of our economy to-day is the easy money which is characteristic of the cost-plus system associated with war contracts. The Prime Minister (Mr. Fadden) must admit that for many months honorable members of the party to which I belong have directed attention to the evils of this system. It was, of course, necessary to depart from usual practices in the initiation of many war projects; but it appears to me that the cost-plus system is becoming an accepted feature of the munitions effort of this country. It is a most dangerous and pernicious system, which docs not offer any safeguard against the extravagance, waste, and inefficiency that are characteristic of it. Although the Labour party believes that everything which is necessary must be done in order to win the war, it is the duty of this Parliament and of the Government to practice every reasonable economy. The Prime Minister can not dispute that great industrial undertakings which are engaged in munitions production are maneuvring and jockeying for positions which will enable them to be favorably placed at the termination of the war. I admit that spendid work has been done by some of these enterprises; but simultaneously they are endeavouring so to entrench themselves that they will be ready to proceed at full speed ahead in the direction of more and still more profits when the signal to do so is given. A duty rests upon this Parliament and the Government to control their operations in the interests of the people at large.
The position of the private trading banks is only characteristic of the general situation. It is not my intention to attack those institutions on the ground of inefficiency; they are remarkably efficient, and for many years they rendered services to this country; but I challenge the correctness of the statement of the manager of one influential banking institution, which I read this morning, in which he denied that the banks had made excess profits out of the war. On the contrary, I agree with the statement which the Premier of Queensland is reported to have made yesterday, namely, that great as their services have been, the trading banks are utilities which are engaged in the creation of credit for private profit and that they must be drastically regulated in the public interest. What has happened in connexion with these institutions since the outbreak of war? According to the returns of the Commonwealth Bank, comparing the figures for 1939 with those of July of this year, the deposits which do not bear interest have increased from £121,000,000 to £1&2,000,000. Interestbearing deposits have increased by only £2,000,000 or £3,000,000. In actual fact, the deposit liability has increased, from £321,000,000 to £355,000,000, but that increase is practically confined to current accounts - deposits which do not bear interest. On the assets side, the value of the coin and notes has increased from £33,000,000 to £35,000,000; treasury bills increased from £23,000,000 to £29,000,000; and government and municipal securities increased from £22,100,000 to no loss than £61,200,000. This illustrates the tendency of the private banks to swim with the tide of easy money. They joined in the race to make profits out, of the war.
My main criticism of the budget is, I believe, the criticism of most of the people - that the adoption of its principles would tend to destroy all hope of building a greater and happier Australia. What would happen to schemes in respect of housing, rural’ development, re-establishment of primary industries, and the improvement of our general standards of living, the development of education, child, welfare and the like, if such a budget were to characterize Australian economy during the next two or three years? -A crushing burden of debt, which would be too great for Australia to bear, is threatened. “ Post-wax credits “ is a synonym for “ post-war debts “ so far as public finance is concerned. I congratulate the Prime Minister upon the energy and vigour with which he put the case for the Government; but may I ask him how he would propose, if he should remain Treasurer until the war was over, to repay the credits established during the war ?
– Out of the resources of the community. I am not so pessimistic as to think that Australia will stand still, and that the national income will not increase.
– Nor am I so optimistic as to think that a satisfactory economic structure can be erected on a foundation of public debt and interest. Further loans will have to be raised in order to make these repayments, and those who have the “ credits “ will be expected to subscribe to loans ; or they will be taxed in order that they may have returned to them the amounts standing to their “credit”. I ask .the Treasurer to remember these words of one of the greatest of English Chancellors of the Exchequer -
Che system of raising funds necessary for wars by loan practices wholesale, systematic, nui continual deception upon the people. The people do not really know what they are doing. The consequences are adjourned into m far future.
The Prime Minister must admit that he has ignored the warning. What is deferred pay to the troops, except an obligation which will have to be discharged in the future? Such an obligation is, in essence, a loan. In what way will i.t be discharged in the first year after the termination of the war, except by borrowing more money?
A mysterious feature of the budget is the arrangement between Australia and the United States of America under the Lease-Lend Act. It is an important arrangement, designed to help us during the war; but it needs to be carefully watched, because once again the effect will be to lay upon the shoulders of the people a burden of debt. I repeat, therefore, that increase of the public debt is the characteristic feature of this budget.
No serious attempt is being made to remove the profit motive from the war effort. I admit that something has been done in the direction of price fixation; but it is altogether inadequate. Since 1920, there has been an enormous growth of monopolies and combines in this country. They were small and unimportant in that year, but are very powerful to-day. They tend to control the financial, commercial, and industrial life of the community. New methods must be tried. We must be just to the soldiers, to the aged and infirm, .and those in the lower and middle income groups. War burdens must be distributed fairly. In every country in the world, the war resources available have to be organized, irrespective of any private interests. The success of a nation in war appears to be directly proportionate to its organiza tion as a socialist state ; that is to say, ,to the organized pooling of the whole of its resources, and the sharing of loss and gain as one unit and one group.’ I cannot see any evidence of that in this budget; but there is much, evidence to the contrary. One theory of the Government’s proposals is, that the war effort wild be improved, by means of a farced contribution from -taxpayers in the lower and middle ranges of income. That is fallacious. The Government has all the powers it needs in order to control raw material and labour, and can direct the ends to which they shall be used. The journal Banker, a conservative publication, a few weeks ago published the following comment on the subject: -
It cannot .be said that the public, by failing to cut down its consumption expenditure sufficiently, is preventing the release of resources for the war effort. It is for the Government to decide what shall or shall not he produced, irrespective of the way the public disposes of its money.
The key to this problem could be discerned in the interjection by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender), when the Leader of the Opposition was criticizing the scheme of national contributions. The Leader of the Opposition said that rationing should be adopted, if necessary, and the Minister replied, “ We are rationing, under this system of contributions.” That exactly represents the argument for the budget. But it is wrong, because rationing, whether in a beleaguered fortress or on a. disabled ship, means pooling everything and dividing it equitably amongst all. That is the true principle of rationing, and we have applied it in connexion with petrol. The theory accepted two years ago was that by putting up the price of petrol the consumption of it would be reduced. But that process was not rationing. The wealthy were still able to buy petrol, and in the end the supply had to be rationed. Wc may have to adopt that principle to a far greater degree than has been necessary up to the present. The fallacy of applying to Australia the Keynes scheme of forced loans or “post-war credits” is analagous to our blunders over petrol. The position in Australia is different from that in Great Britain, where the value of food imports reaches the colossal sum of £350,000,000. If, by force of law, wc impose on the lower-paid groups in the community an increased contribution to the national revenue they will have to purchase less of the commodities produced in this country, they will buy less butter and less fruit, and the next problem will bethat of discovering a means of overcoming the special difficulties caused by reduced purchases. The economists, professors and ex-professors advising the Govern ment have, I .think, wrongly concluded that the Keynes scheme is automatically applicable to Australia ; but, as I have already said, the situation in this country is entirely different from that in Great Britain. .
The Opposition has been twitted by the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) and the honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) with not having made a positive contribution to the debate, and with not having indicated what sources of revenue should be tapped. First, I quote the following passage from a “work on Australia’s war finance by Mr. S. J. Butlin, who is a reliable authority on Australian economics. The work is “ Australia foots the Bill “. I read from pages 118 and 119-
But, in fact, “indirect” taxation has placed relatively little on the cost of the war on the larger incomes, which also escape lightly from direct income taxation. This situation is only partly remedied by changes in company taxation. Rebates to shareholders in respect of federal company tax have been abolished; a small tax has been levied on undistributed profits; and there is a war-time profits tax. This last is in form an excess-profits tax, and its severity has been greatly exaggerated. The maximum rate. 00 per cent., has been widely quoted, but it is not generally realized that this rate applies only to that part of profits in excess of 22 per cent. . . .
Taken as a whole then, Australian war-time increases in tax have hit the middle incomes hardest. This is unfortunate, for, while the needs of the war effort determine what goods and services must be forgone, they do not dictate the way in which that sacrifice is to be shared. Taxation is the chief instrument at the Government’s disposal for the allocation of the hurden between individuals and groups. It has not used that weapon efficient . . .
Much can still be done in the taxation of profits. A really effective excess-profits tax remains to be attained, and might well go as, far as the British tax-, taking all excess profits. There are, it is true, difficulties associated with a rate of .100 per cent, or with any really high rate. But they are not insuperable.
– That would provide less than we now propose to raise.
– Some extraordinary anomalies are found in the scheme of taxation submitted by the Government. In certain instances the amount to be imposed will represent a reduction of tax. In the case of personal exertion incomes of £1,500 per annum, there will bc an actual doorcase of tax of £22.2, and, in the case of personal exertion incomes of £2,000, the reduction of tax will be no less than £52, as compared with the present tax.
– There was an anomaly in connexion with the grades, but that loss will be picked up in the post-war period.
– The principle on which direct taxation should be based is that of graduation, but we are slowly departing from that system and are proceeding towards something in the nature of a flat rate system. Further, the Government is equating property income to personal exertion income, which is against every recognized principle of liberal finance.
I agree with the Prime Minister that, if the agreement with the banks meant exactly what it said, and would be rigidly enforced, it would approximate to what is required; but it is not the scheme suggested by the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems.
– It is a better scheme.
– Not at all. If the Commonwealth Bank Board were independent of the private banks, and were acting exclusively in the national interests, the agreement entered into would be defensible and valuable. But is it not recognized that, since 1924, the Commonwealth Bank Board has not been independent of the private banks? As a general policy, it has always refrained from entering into competition with them. Therefore, one appreciates the importance of the scheme mentioned yesterday by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde), regarding the establishment of a mortgage branch of the Commonwealth Bank. It is essential that the nation’s bank should perform. the national service of lending to the Commonwealth, and it should do it, in my opinion, without imposing the heavy interest burden which, up to the present, has characterized our borrowing policy. Something has been said about Sir Alfred Davidson’s statement that the private banks are not making excessive profits. It is well known that those who control the nation’s credit are really in control of the nation, a-nd that the trading banks, which are profit-making ventures, are fighting to retain control of the nation’s credit. Ten years ago very little attention was devoted to these topics, but it is now almost common knowledge that the private banks do something which almost encroaches on the prerogative of the Crown, that is, they do something equivalent to the coinage of money, because they create both credit and debit. They assume prerogatives because actual coin has become less important, and documentary credit transactions have increased in importance. Despite denials the banks have made profits out of the war and because of the war. We cannot give the precise figures, but we can work out approximately the improvement of their position by estimating the costs and earnings directly and ascertaining and watching the trend of the difference. By using the aggregate figures for deposits and advances given in the Commonwealth Bank monthly bulletin, and allowing reasonable deposit interest costs and conservative charges for advances - oi per cent, on ordinary advances and appropriate earnings on securities - the following rough results are obtained : -
Out of this margin must come costs of management, which are offset by current account deposit charges and discounts and profits on sales of foreign exchange, taxes, reserves. &c. It will be observed that from 1939 to 1941 the margin increased by fl.Sm., that is from £ll.Sm. to £13.1m. The 1941 figure is estimated on a June basis only and exaggerates the profits, since deposits, and therefore their costs, are seasonally low and advances seasonally high in this month. However, allowing for this, it can be said that the gross margin available for costs of management, taxes, including the pay-roll tax, reserves and profits, has increased by about £.1,000,000 in the last two years.
We do not know the exact profits of the banks. Who can tell from their balance-sheets what their profits are? A fair approximation to the truth can be obtained regarding the financial position of ordinary companies. The Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems dealt with this matter and made certain recommendations, but the banks have not seen fit to adopt the recommendations. From the trend of their balance-sheets, and the expansive nature of the speeches delivered by the chairmen of their boards of directors at their annual meetings, it is clear that there has been a substantial increase of the profits of the trading banks since the outbreak of the war. The statement by the Leader of the Opposition as to the general position is correct.
– The share values do not reflect that.
– They may not, but I am dealing with the actual position. Share values, of course, are some reflection of what appears in the balance-sheets and in the profit and loss accounts. In one sense the degree to which reserves are built up and valuations of properties are written down - properties which, in fact, are often increasing in value - is only a matter between a company and its shareholders. In another sense the practice of inner reserves tends to place the public in a position in which it cannot judge the value of the securities. Therefore the Stock Exchange quotations of the shares of bai.king companies is not a true indication of the profits which the hanks are making. “The Prime Minister referred yesterday to the taxation system of New Zealand. I shall compare what 2few Zealand has done in regard to the taxation of war profits and company profits with what has been clone by the Commonwealth. Last year this Parliament passed the Wartime (Company) Tax Act. But so far from being a genuine attempt to extractsome of the war profits of the large companies it has turned out to be a delusion and a snare. The share capital and the accumulated profits of the companies are taken as the capital for the purposes of the act, and these include reserves from profits. The result is that small but efficient companies making less profit than before the war are hit the hardest. This act, which was passed to catch the war profiteer, has, I Min informed, resulted in only from 250 to 300 companies in Australia being called upon to pay the graduated tax. Many companies which are making increased profits because of the war are not touched at all by the graduated system of tax. As the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr., Beasley) well pointed out, capitalization has been carefully managed and organized for so many years that it is almost impossible for these great corporations to be found making a profit beyond 8 per cent. To-day, companies in Australia are taxed at the rate of 3s. in the fi, which is the same rate as is paid by an individual taxpayer whose income from personal exertion is £1,050 per annum.
– Has the honorable member overlooked State taxes, which bring the total tax up to lis. in the £1?
– The Commonwealth Treasurer has been content to tax companies at a rate which for all practical purposes is only 3s. in the £.1. His budget provides for only an extra 6d.
– Profits are taxed in the hands of the shareholders as well. The honorable member is misrepresenting the position.
– 1 have not indulged in any misrepresentation; the Prime Minister’s comment is unjustified. He interrupts me before I finish my statement, and now he complains that I indulged in misrepresentation The flat rate tax of ls. in the £1 has produced £2,600,000. The graduated system, devised ostensibly to get at Avar profits, has produced only £1,400,000 more than the proceeds of a tax of ls. in the £1. This amount is almost negligible. Moreover, the flat rate of ls. in the £1 is not reached until the profits amount to 12 per cent., because ls. in the £1 is a higher rate than the statutory rate until the profits go well past 8 per cent, and reach 12 per cent. In Queensland, to which the Prime Minister referred, a distinction is drawn between financial combines and monopolies, including banks, and ordinary trading companies. The existing act should be drastically amended so as to provide a further source of revenue for the Commonwealth Treasury. In New Zealand there is, first, a tax of 2s. 6d. in the £1 on companies. After that the tax is graduated so that at the low profit figure of £7,590, the rate is 8s. 9d. in the £1.
– In New Zealand there is no tax on profits in the hands of shareholders.
– There is a 15 per cent, war loading, which makes the minimum rate 2s. 10-^d. in the £1, and the upper rate 10s. Id. in the £1. There is also a social security tax of ls. in the £1 on companies, and a national security tax at a similar rate. Finally, and overriding all other taxes, there is an excess profits tax of 60 per cent. The highest rate on companies in New Zealand is 12s. Id. in the £1, plus 60 per cent, extra profits tax, and the lowest rate is 4s. 10£d. in the £1, plus that extra tax. It is true that in New Zealand there is a unitary system of government, but even with Commonwealth and State taxes companies and financial, commercial, and industrial combines in Australia have escaped lightly in respect of direct taxation. That is borne out by the citations which I have made from the work of Mr. Butlin and his colleagues.
The honorable member for Deakin asked the Opposition for alternatives to the Government’s budget proposals. The Prime Minister has spent fifteen weeks in preparing the budget, yet the honorable member for Deakin expects the Opposition to submit its budget in fifteen hours.
– That is a specious argument.
– I am not complaining of the time occupied by the Prime Minister in preparing his budget. He must, of necessity, have considered many alternative proposals before he adopted those which he has presented to the Parliament; but it is preposterous to ask the Opposition to table its budget proposals in the course of a short debate.
– The Opposition could give us some idea of its financial proposals.
– I have done so. I should tax war-time profits in this country a.i they are taxed in England ; I should nor limit, the taxing powers of the Government; I should endeavour to tax all profits made out of the war. If that were done. I do not think that the war effort would be impeded, for I” do not believe that the technicians associated with Australian companies would render any less service to their fellow countrymen. Their fate is as much embarked in the future of Australia as is the fate of others. I remind the committee that “ government, is finance and finance is government “. and that it is not possible for us to bring down a budget until those on this side have in their hands all the resources of information which are available to a government,’ but are not available to an Opposition. We have made out our case.
– It is a very poor case.
– The “.Minister for Labour and National Service is not in a position to
come to an impartial judgment. The Minister for Air
– They have said nothing in this debate to demonstrate their interest.
– The Minister does not repeat the statement which he made yesterday in a speech which did not deal with, the budget at all. I assert that no Opposition could have done more for the country’s war effort than the party now in opposition has done. I do not think that the Prime Minister will agree with any suggestion that the Opposition has not done its best.
– According to that argument, honorable members opposite could not do better if they constituted the Government.
– We are doing our utmost.
Mr.Fadden. - Of course. If the Opposition is doing its utmost, it could not do more if it occupied the treasury bench. The Opposition cannot have it both ways.
– Apparently, the Prime Minister is the only person who can have it both ways. He wants to retain all the powers of government, and to bring in his budget and then to say, “ The Opposition has criticized my budget, but it has not produced its own financial proposals “. That is the only inference which can be drawn from his remarks. The attitude of the Opposition to the war was stated clearly by the leader of our party. I say in conclusion, that I am glad that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition has been accepted as a censure motion.
– So are we.
– We on this side are not satisfied with the administration of the nation’s
war effort. We have done our best to assist the Government. Many difficulties have
been overcome by the Government, particularly by a few Ministers; but I say that a
government led by the honorable member for Fremantle
.- The debate before the House is one in which the Opposition is seeking to throw out the Government, and the pretence is made that the discussion is based on the budget. No one with any sense listening to the various speakers on the Opposition side could come to any other conclusion than that this is a definite attempt, under the facade of a budget debate, to throw out the Government and obtain power for a party government controlled by the militants of New South Wales. We on this side can see what is designed. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) said yesterday that he had no doubt whatever that the Government was controlled by influences outside the chamber. That was his view, but it is not the view which is held by any considerable section of the people. There can be no doubt whatever that the Opposition is controlled by the militant unions in this country. We on this side know it, and honorable members opposite know it. Only a few weeks ago certain unions against which the Opposition will not move promised to make a 100 per cent. war effort if Labour took office in the Commonwealth.
– What did the Leader of the Opposition say?
– I know what he said, but his voice is drowned by the clamant demands of an extremist section of the party. Is a man’s loyalty or disloyalty to be determined by the government which happens to occupy the treasury bench? . I say deliberately that there are in this country militant sections of Labour which are concerned chiefly with gaining power. They are not concerned with much beyond that.
– Then why advocate a national government?
– I know that my remark hurts the Opposition. It is all very well to talk about a maximum war effort and co-operation with the Government, but the fact is that there has been manoeuvring on the part of the Opposition to obtain power. Certain sections of the Opposition have indeed made a maximum effort, but it has been with a view to gaining power by discrediting the Government. The only thing that -theyhave done has been to discredit the cause of democracy. Talk of co-operation is only lip service with them; behind the scenes there has been deliberate manoeuvring in order to obtain power. What is the use of the Opposition saying that if it were in office itwould make a better war effort than the present Governmenthas done? In this most momentous debate nothing more than generalities has been spoken in respect of the budget. Therehas not been any criticism levelled against the Government’s war effort; all that has been said by the Opposition has been said in an attempt to discredit the Government by means of general allegations.
– The Minister for the Army discredits the Government of which he is a member. “What did he say about the defence of Australia?
– The gloves are off. The honorable member for “West Sydney challenged the Minister for Air (Mr. McEwen), and chided him with being a member of a minority party in the Parliament and a minority government. Heaven knows that the honorable member for West Sydney ought to be an expert in minorities! He has done a good deal of manoeuvring, and other minority parties hav, learned a lot from the honorable member’s amazingly good efforts. We are told that there has been a reconciliation on the Opposition side; men who desired to be known as “non-Communists “ are now associated with those from whom they formerly withdrew. The Opposition claims to be one happy family. How long will it remain so? I remember that not so long ago there were bitter recriminations between members of this supposedly solid Labour party.
– What about the honorable member for Henty
– The country will be interested to know how long the members of the Labour party will remain united. I say deliberately-
– The honorable the Minister should talk about recriminations !
– Order !
– Should Labour gain control of the treasury bench there will have been introduced a Trojan horse which will shelter communists, socialists, monetary cranks, and disruptionists. lt may be that the voice of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), which is now cautious and moderate, will be drowned in the clamant demands of the extremists of the Labour party.
Let us examine what has taken place in this debate. The case made by the Leader of
the Opposition - and I say this with great respect to the honorable gentleman - was
exceedingly poor. The honor able member for Barton
– -The honorable member knows that I found the £6,000,000 for shipbuilding when he could not find ls.
– Assuming that interjection to be true, it does not answer my point. I say deliberately that one would expect that an Opposition, which claims the responsibility of governing in this time of crisis, would at least accept .the responsibility of presenting an argument to this House. But it has not clone so. Every member of the Advisory War Council - and this does not involve revealing confidential information - has a complete picture of our financial position. Honorable members opposite who are members of the Advisory War Council could have obtained any facts they desired, and, having done so, could have advanced counter proposals in this chamber. But what has taken place?
– It is in the light of our knowledge as members of the Advisory War Council that we undertake to find the money now required by the Government.
– Let us look at the facts. A sum of £122,000,000 must be raised by loan and central bank credit. There is a budget gap of over £.100,000,000 to be id’ ed. One would have thought that the Leader of the Opposition, with his knowledge of the facts, as he admits, would, had he had any proper sense of responsibility, have come to this chamber and advanced proposition against proposition, principle against principle, and programme against programme. There is no mystery about the matter. What are the sources of revenue available to the Government? Direct taxation, indirect taxation, voluntary loans, compulsory loans, and central bank credit - they are the only fire’ sources. One would have thought that the Leader of the Opposition would have said, “ We have considered this matter. We have the full facts before us, and these are the ways and means of obtaining this money.” But he and his colleagues have not suggested any alternatives to the Government’s proposals. The only alternative which the honorable member for Barton advanced was a quotation from a textbook to the effect thai more money could be raised in this or that way. Of course, more money can be raised in a variety of ways. More money can be raised by indirect taxation ; but this Government very correctly, and very wisely, has refrained from making any further imposition of that description. Let us consider direct taxation - taxation of individuals and companies - as a source of additional revenue, and let us examine some of the statements which have been made by the honorable member for Barton about wealthy companies. He painted a picture of what has taken place in New Zealand, yet he never took the trouble to examine the real situation in detail. New Zealand does not tax dividends in the hands of shareholders. But what is the total contribution made from the same funds in this country, where we do tax dividends in the hands of shareholders? The honorable member adopted the expedient of comparing like with unlike, making it appear that they are comparable. He also referred to the taxation of war profits in Australia. I remind honorable members that a committee of this Parliament was set up to go into that matter. I had something to do with the drafting of the original bill on the subject, and I recall that many members of the Opposition made representations to me not to go on with the measure. When honorable members opposite talk about getting this money out of big business, I cannot help remembering how many of their protests against that particular measure are now to be found on the treasury file. When that bill came before the House, we set up a committee representative of both sides of the chamber for the purpose of going into the subject of war-time profits. That com mittee recommended the very act which, honorable members, opposite now condemn. Their talk about what the Government can get from the profits of companies is so much arrant nonsense, because when they had an opportunity to frame a measure- according to their own ideas, they did not take advantage of it. Who was the chairman of that committee? He was a member of the Opposition.
– No, the Treasurer was the chairman.
– At all events honorable members opposite had the opportunity to go into the whole of the details, and I assume that the then representatives of the Opposition did so, because the committee brought in a unanimous recommendation. What humbug it is, then, for honorable members opposite to say that we are not taking sufficient from company profits, and that there is a large reservoir upon which we can draw. We have too the spectacle of the Opposition seeking to make a purely political appeal by declaring that we must not tax those in the lower ranges of income. It is about time that honorable members opposite took a realistic attitude towards the war: Lt is useless for them to imagine that we can go through the war without making sacrifices, or that we can finance the war simply by taxing those in the higher ranges of income. I shall establish the full facts in that respect, and honorable members generally will then see to what degree the Opposition can be relied upon to govern this country. The number of incomes exceeding £500 a year i3 166,000, and the total amount of those incomes is £17S,000,000. The amount which the Government proposes to take by way of tax on those incomes is £62,000,000, which means that the total net income of those 166,000 people will hp £13 6,000,000, or an average individual income of £700 a year. The total amount of incomes of persons receiving up to £500 a year is £82,000,000, and the balance available from that source, after allowing for taxation, will be £34,000,000. Of that amount it is estimated that £16,000,000 is now being made available to the Government in voluntary loans, whilst other items, such as local rates, v. ill reduce that amount still further. If those balances were taken by the Government, the amount so obtained would represent only a small proportion of the amount we still require in order to meet the costs of the war. Where, then, shall we obtain the money we require? It will not come from indirect taxation - we are agreed upon that. It will not come from direct taxation on higher incomes, because, as I have shown, further imposts of that kind cannot yield more than a fraction of the amount required. Compulsory loans are rejected by the Opposition so how else can the money be obtained except by expanding the credit base? This reveals the shallowness of the Opposition’s case, particularly when it is remembered that you cannot achieve anything at all by expanding credit once you have substantial employment; and that is the position at present in Australia. Therefore, the Government should be applauded for the liberality of its budget rather than condemned for bringing down what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr.Forde) termed a reactionary and deflationary budget. I listened to the speech of the honorable gentleman with a great deal of interest. He made a very good speech; it always has been a very good speech. Every time I hear him speak upon the budget he always says the same thing.
– At least he is consistent.
– I imagine that one would find it very easy to make a consistent speech by simply repeating what one has been saying for years past. It is quite apparent to any one who looks at the budget dispassionately that the Opposition is not concerned with the terms of the budget, or whether the budget is good or bad. Honorable members opposite simply made up their minds to defeat the Government if they could. So the speech delivered by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was written before he read the budget; and he did not change one word of it even after the budget was brought down.
Mr.Forde. - That is arrant nonsense.
– The most arrant bit of nonsense I have heard in this debate is the honorable gentleman’s statement that this is a deflationary budget.
Let us examine the facts. We have an increasing national income, increasing employment, increasing wages, and increasing productivity. Every one of those signs negatives deflation. The cold fact is that a very large amount of bank credit is being injected into the community. That fact is clear when one compares the amount of £122,000,000 which the Government now proposes to raise by loan and central bank credit with the amount we succeeded in raising by public loan last year. It is obvious that the Government, and particularly the Treasurer, has been liberal in the solution it has proposed for the budget problem. The Opposition has made no attempt to challenge the budget. Honorable members opposite have merely attempted under cover of an attack on the budget to find their way to the treasury benches. I say deliberately that if, in fact, they were genuine, or had any real claim to govern this country, they might have been expected to say, “ This is the budget problem. This money can be raised along the following general lines. This total gap of £100,000,000 can be closed in such and such a way”. Details need not have been given. But the Opposition has made no attempt to approach the matter in that way. Honorable members have offered no counter proposals that they are yet game to place before the people. The only way in which they seek to cover their paltry tactics is by the use of generalizations about equality of effort and equality of sacrifice.
– Why did the Government ask us to come into a national government ?
– The war effort of this Government has been remarkably good, and stands greatly to its credit. As well as our need to supply equipment to our troops overseas, we need men to go overseas. A recruiting campaign has been conducted in this country for some considerable time. But how many members of the Opposition have yet gone upon the recruiting platform? Honorable members opposite are silent. The Opposition has gone through an amazing metamorphosis in respect of its attitude towards the war. Itis not so long ago that honorable members opposite resisted the idea of sending men overseas. And it is not so long ago that their platform, to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition so fully referred yesterday, expressed opposition to compulsory training and urged the removal of that provision from the statute-book. But honorable members opposite now say that they support compulsory training. How could it ever be said that a government could be formed by men whose minds have never been constant upon any phase of these matters? The one problem which has agitated the minds of certain honorable members opposite has been that of intriguing and manoeuvring to defeat the Government. If the Leader of the Opposition does not know who are the manoenvrers inside his own party we on this side do.
If we view this problem as one either of finance,or resources, the Opposition’s case is completely shallow. If we consider it as one of finance, I have emphasized what was already clear to every honorable member on this side, namely, that no concrete proposals have been advanced by the Opposition. If we consider the problem as one of resources, whence are the resources to come? We can divert our resources only by increasing production - there is still room for that, but not very much; by diverting expenditure from non-essential work to essential work - that has been done by the Capital Issues Advisory Boardand by other measures taken by the Treasury ; or by reducing consumption. From the last named there is no escape. How can consumption be reduced if the greater part of the purchasing power of the community is left completely untouched? Here we have the cold fact that £560,000,000 of the total income of Australia is earned in a field which the Opposition says should not be touched at all. If it be a matter of finance or of resources, I say to the country that the Opposition., occupying the treasury bench, would completely fail to carry out our war effort.
– How many people share the £560,000,000?
– For the purposes of determining the effect upon the community, it does not matter how many people share that income. What does matter is the total volume of purchasing power of that £560,000,000 which the Opposition would leave untouched. So I say that the amendment before the committeehas been revealedas nothing but a sordid attempt by the Opposition to take office. It has no relation whatever to the budget proposals.
– Tell the country what Australia’s defences are like.
– I thank the honorable member for reminding me of that, because I want to come to that matter before I sit down. Any person who dispassionately views the. problems of the budget can come to only one conclusion, namely, that it is an intelligent budget, and that it seeks to protect men in the lower ranges of income.
Criticism of compulsory loans cannot hold. water. Since it has become fashionable for honorable members to quote economists, I shall read what Professor Ileshas written about war finance. This will show precisely where the Opposition is heading in its attack upon compulsory loans. ProfessorIles said -
It must be remembered that in Australia there are few very large incomes, and that the small and medium incomes greatly predominate. Although it would be impossible for the rich to pay for the war in the sense of bearing the whole burden of economizing in consumption which it involves, thereis an illusory sense in which the rich could be made to do all the actual paying. For it would be possible (if it were not for the effects on production) to finance the war in such a way that the poor would not be called upon to contribute, directly to the Government, anything at all in the form of taxes or loans - as they need not if resort were had on a large scale to bank credit. This would mean that the poor could escape making payments in money to the Government. But it would not mean that they could escape the burden. Indeed, they would bear a larger part of the burden under this method of finance than they would bear under the method of direct taxation. Inflation has the effect of skimming off part of the real incomes of wage and salary earners and of handing it over to the rich (the profit earners) so that they would in effect have the wherewithal to pay additional sums to the Government in taxation and voluntary loans. It is thus a simple matterto ensure that the rich shall have the means to “ pay for the war”, by impoverishing the poor in order that they may. In advocating finance by bank credit, the Labour party would be well advised to take heed of this distinction between paying the money and bearing the burden, and in doing so to remember that inflation is incredibly efficient in producing inequality.
I quote that, not because it was written by ProfessorIles, but because it is sound common sense. What the Opposition is seeking to do is to enable the people in the lower ranges of income to escape paying in terms of money for our war effort. No matter what financial jiggery-pokery is indulged in by the Opposition, the burden cast upon the people by this war cannot be escaped. So I say to the committee that the Opposition has advanced no case at all, either in terms of finance or in terms of marshalling resources. Its attack is an utterly abortive attempt to challenge the principles upon which the budgetis founded.
– If our case is so bad, why is the honorable gentleman so annoyed ?
– One feels an emotional urge to indicate complete contempt for the methods employed by certain members of the Opposition in this debate.
The honorable member for WestSydney said yesterday: “Were I to go on the public platform and repeat the statements made by the Minister for the Army at the secret session I could make out a good case in respect of the lack of preparations in this country “. With due regard to my friendship for the honorable gentleman, I say that he played a low game, because he knows that my tongue is tied and that I cannot say what has been said at the secret meetings of members and senators or disclose what has been clone to remedy the position then revealed. His tactics are just as low as mine would be if I were to tell the people of the country that the views held by Labour members of the Advisory War Council as shown in discussions by that body of this or that matter reveal that they are entirely incapable of government. Since the war began the defences of this country have been increased to an amazing degree by the Government. I am ready at any time to go on to the platform and defend against any one the war effort of this country.
The final matter to which I intend to direct myself is that of the banks. As far as
I can see it, the whole question is whether the Government should nationalize the banks
or control them. The honorable member forCorio
– We do not agree.
– I know the Opposition does not agree, because it is not prepared to trust any
one who does not represent its particular brand of politics. This agreement requires
the attention of the Treasurer, Treasury officials, the Commissioner of Taxation and
the Commonwealth Bank Board. I refuse to believe that that body of men would do
other than the fair thing by Australia. I refine to believe that the members of the
Commonwealth Bank Board would sell themselves to the trading banks. I have had
experience of the men in whose charge the carrying out of the agreement will be
placed, and I know that their only concern is to see that the best is done for this
country. They have no other purpose. If the Opposition attained power it would turn
the chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board,
– Dick Darcey.
– Th a t would be a fair assumption, having regard to some of the views
expressed by members of the Opposition. At any rate,
– Is that not what the Government did ?
– By no means. The Government appointed to the board men who would do the fair thing by the country.What the Opposition suffers from is its refusal to believe that in this war anybody can be decent. It has made base allegations about the motives of industrial leaders who have come to the aid of the country in organizing our industrial resources for war. In the view of the Opposition, they are contemptible traitors, who would sell their country for private profit. I deny that on their behalf. It is contemptible of members of the Opposition to suggest that men with whom they do not agree are in the pay of moneyed interests and are taking advantage of this war to serve their own ends. It would be a good thing if the people of this country had an opportunity to decide this matter.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– The Government has taken the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition as a censure motion in order to ascertain precisely the view of the committee. At least we shall know whether sound government is to prevail in this country or whether the mere sound and fury of the Opposition, particularly of the Deputy Leader, is to be regarded as the foundation of the government of this country.
.- I am pleased to have the opportunity to support the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) and to strike a blow for Australia, because I believe that the greatest service that could be done to Australia to-day is to remove from control of its affairs the direct representatives of big business and monopolistic interests. The Government has twitted members of the Opposition with playing the party game and with manoeuvring for power and has said that that is the Opposition’s only concern. It is quite obvious that the Opposition is concerned about obtaining power, because it knows that this Government will not do things which are absolutely necessary, to ensure not only the effective defence of Australia, but also that the living conditions of the people shall be protected. We have just listened to a gallant lieutenant-colonel who has twitted members of the
Opposition for their failure to operate in the war effort. This is the gentleman who promoted himself to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, but has never donned the uniform or taken an active part in the war. I well recollect that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender), on his return from abroad, revealed to a breathless House how he had assisted in the capture of Bardia and had conferred at dawn with the generals about the plan of attack. He tried to make this House believe that he in some way had been responsible for the fall of Bardia.
Mr.Spender. - I said nothing to the House upon that matter.
– The facts are that the Minister earned the title of “ Baron of Bardia. “. Now we know why he felt that he was qualified to join that gallant fighting force, the legal battalion. He promised the boys overseas that when they returned to this country there would be work for them. Yet hundreds upon hundreds of returned soldiers are walking the city streets in search of work.
Mr.Spender. - That is not true.
– If the Minister is unable to honour that undertaking, how can it, be believed that either he or the Government could carry out any of the undertakings which have been given to the men at the front?
The Minister for Air (Mr. McEwen) asked, “
What will be the thoughts of the defenders of Tobruk when they read of this attack on
the Government?”. I should imagine that the garrison would think the same about this
attack as they thought during the last federal election. On that occasion, the majority
of Australian soldiers abroad voted for Labour candidates, and the two members of this
Parliament who had the honour to share the greatest number of soldiers’ votes are
the honorable member for Melbourne Ports
In Darling Downs, which is the electorate of the Prime Minister, 56 votes were cast for the Labour candidate, and 74 for the honorable gentleman. Those figures indicate that the soldiers abroad know the members of Parliament who protect their interests.
Our opponents forecast an outbreak of manoeuvring and intrigue in the ranks of the Labour party if it takes office. The Minister for the Army declared that the New South “Wales militants would seize control, and direct its policy. Let us examine comments which have been made from time to time by Government supporters regarding manoeuvring and intrigue in their own ranks. When the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), as the leader of the Country party, was “ lynched “ and walked out of that organization he said of his former followers -
Everlasting intrigue and manoeuvring for personal advantage reached its zenith in ruptures of the seal of cabinet secrecy, which must ultimately make any Minister’s position, inside either a party or a cabinet, untenable. No party can function if its internal state is ii stew of simmering discontent, spiced, by insatiable personal ambitions and incurable animosities. >To leader can lead successfully if he must devote most of his time to outwitting rivals, or to outbidding them for support or to watching every footfall lest he stumble on a man trap or a mine.
Time effects great changes. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles), after being elected to Parliament as an Independent, subsequently entered the ranks of the United Australia party, but the stench was too much for him, and he hurriedly quitted it. The honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) has lost all faith in. this Government, and his remarks about it have been condemnatory. Let us expose the opportunists who want power at any price. I well recollect that when the Prime Minister first sought election as the representative of Darling Downs, he was opposed by a candidate of the United Australia party. Let us see what the honorable gentleman said about his opponent in those days. Speaking on the 5th December, 1936, he declared -
The United Australia party gave its allegiance to the big financial and manufacturing interests of the cities, and to the middlemen and monopolists, because it received its support and power from those people.
How then could the United Australia .party serve the countryside as well as those in the city who sucked the life-blood from the countryside? Primary industries were subjected to repeated onslaughts, and were beaten to their knees, preference being extended by the United Australia parly to cheap, foreign, black-grown products, so that city importers - the men behind the United Australia party - should reap a harvest.
Now, the Prime Minister has joined the bloodsuckers. So that I shall not be unfair to him, may I say that, in my opinion, he is fully qualified to be one of their number. The honorable gentleman now prophesies that dissension will rend the ranks of the Labour party if it takes office. My only regret is that the blow against the Government was not struck much earlier, because a great deal of valuable time has been lost.
The Minister for the Army accused the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) of having taken an unfair advantage of him
yesterday by making use of information disclosed at a secret sitting of Parliament and
knowing that the Minister could not reply to him. Having been present at the secret
meeting when the Minister made the statement, I say that Australia’s defences are no
credit to the Government or to him. That is one specific reason why I am pleased to have
an opportunity to record a vote against the Government. Before the interests which
Ministers represent will participate in the Avar effort, they require an assurance that
they will be allowed to make substantial profits. They know that they have nothing to
fear from the Government. Consequently, Australia can have a proper war effort only when
“ big finance” is ousted from, its position of directing the country’s
activities. I shall read a few of the comments of newspapers upon the budget. Perhaps
the Minister will be able to reply to them. Last Saturday, the Sydney Daily Telegraph announced that the market wa3 “
unmoved by the new taxation proposals.” The next day the Sydney Sunday Sun declared that investors were “ not
perturbed by the budget; indeed, the week finished with a slightly improved buying, and
inquiries for industrials.” On Tuesday, the
Members of the Country party should not overlook the manner in which the Government, by recklessly using its plurality of votes, dominated’ the recent meeting of the Loan Council, to the detriment of rural interests. Despite the opposition of the majority of the States, it forced upon them a policy which makes it impossible for them to proceed with essential works. For many years, the Labour party had advocated a waterconservation scheme for the northwestern district of New South Wales. Because of the attitude of the Commonwealth in dominating the Loan Council, the Labour Government of New South Wales has been compelled to suspend work on the Keepit dam, which is urgently needed in the north-west of New South Wales. Surely, the Government does not contend that this and similar works are not necessary now.
The Government has badly bungled its handling of compulsory military training.
Simply to call up thousands of young Australians and to put them into camp is not to ensure that adequate preparations for the defence of the country are being undertaken. In some instances, the trainees lacked essential equipment for training, and galvanized piping was erected to represent trench mortars. All that the Army authorities do in many cases is to march them up and down the parade ground, and get them into good physical condition. In order to “ train “ in this manner, many youths are being tom from industry, although it has been said that the war will be won as much in the workshop as on the battlefield. Troops, to be effective, must be properly equipped. The Government accepts responsibility for the campaigns in Greece and Crete, because it admits that it was consulted before the Australian Imperial Force was despatched to those theatres of war. Aus,tralians who lost their lives in Greece and Crete were sent to their death by the Government, because they were thrown into the conflict without proper equipment. The Labour party wants no repetition of that tragedy.
– Then keep the fac? tories working.
– If the wages which industry pays to workers were as low as those which the Minister pays to his employees on his banana-farm, industrial trouble would be continuous. When visiting the noi-th coast of New South Wales recently, I was informed that the Minister had granted to one of his employees on the banana-farm ten days’ leave at Christmas - without pay; and the honorable gentleman subsequently asked the employee’s wife where she had spent the vacation! If the Minister’s methods are characteristic of the Government’s policy for the preservation of peace in industry, industrial upheavals are only to dp expected.
I am of opinion that invalid and oldage pensions are totally inadequate and that even £1 2s. 6d. a week, which the Leader of the Opposition promised to grant immediately the Labour party took office, is not sufficient. The barest minimum upon which pensioners should be expected to exist is £1 5s. a week. Many honorable members opposite arc mesmerized by money and finance. If pensioners were granted an increase of 3s. 6d. a week immediately, they would not hasten to pay a deposit on a motor car, hut would’ spend the additional sum on the purchase of the necessaries of life.
– They might buy more bananas, and that’ would benefit the Minister.
– That is true. Because of the acute shipping position, we cannot dispose of our surplus primary products, and the Government proposes to expend £500,000 upon the erection of additional cool stores. Pensioners have passed the stage at which they can participate in productive work; so what would it matter if the Government, instead of using money, were to issue to them each week authority to secure from Commonwealth stores an extra quantity of food? That policy would not affect the war effort. It would simply mean that, instead of keeping food locked up in cool stores, the Government would distribute it to people who need it. In that way, primary industries would receive assistance. I am of the opinion that, by this process, it. would be possible to increase pensions much beyond their present level without adversely affecting the war effort.
The Opposition has been charged by government supporters with having, during the last election campaign, promised the soldiers Ss. a clay. For my part, I think that Ss. a day is too little. The Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, which, honorable members will admit, has some authority to speak for the soldiers, is asking, not for 6s. a day, not for Ss. a clay, but for £1 a day. What have honorable members opposite to say to that? The Government takes advantage of every pretext to whittle down the miserly allowance to the dependants of soldiers. Here is one case that comes to my mind. A young man, whose mother resides in Bathurst, enlisted because he had been out of work for a long time, and thought, that, by enlisting, he would be able to help his mother. He made an allotment of 3s. a day to his mother, and applied for a dependant’s allowance, which was granted. The mother, thinking that she would like to ?five something for her son’s benefit when he returned, took work as a cleaner in a school, and for this work received £1 3s. lOd. a week. Then the department stepped in and said that, as she was in employment, she .was not fully dependent upon her son, and her allowance was reduced to 10s. 6d. a week. There have been hundreds of cases of that kind. In another instance, a boy had been earning only £1 15s. a week before his enlistment. He lived with relatives, to whom he paid £1 5s. a week board, leaving him only 10s. a week for fares, &c. He had never been in a position to assist his mother. When he enlisted, he discovered to his amazement that the authorities rejected his application for a dependant’s allowance in respect of his mother, because, they said, he had not been maintaining her before his enlistment.
The honorable member for Parkes, speaking, long before the war at a conference of returned soldiers’ representatives, made this trenchant criticism of the attitude of certain interests towards the returned soldiers -
Attacking private enterprise, the Minister for Hepatization, Mr. Marr, at the official opening of the annual conference of the Australian Legion of Ex-service Clubs on Saturday, declared that many business firms which could place returned soldiers in employment were rejecting them in favour of younger and more energetic mcn who had not been subjected to the strains of modern warfare. “ On every side there is evidence that apparently it is easier for a nation to remember its dead than to care for the living, and many soldiers of to-day must be debating whether it was better to have served their country and died than to have served and lived “, he added. “ Persons were still eager to render homage to the men who had died”, said Mr. Marr. “ They had erected monuments to their memory and thronged memorial services, but what was being done for those who had fought and returned?” he asked. “ The young men of the ages that to-day would be called to the colours must wonder if they in turn would be forgotten like the veterans of the war, and who can blame them for such thoughts ? “ concluded the Minister.
Unless a a blow be struck now to place in office a government that is willing to control vested interests, the boys who are serving in this war will, upon their return, suffer the same neglect as did those who served in the last war. The opportunity present-s itself now for every honorable member who is not tied to vested interests to vote in favour of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
The Prime Minister, discussing the sacrifices which the people would be called upon to bear, said -
We must go without many comforts and conveniences. The going without is the hard tiling, and that is inescapable. What 1 am asking the people is that when they do not spend on some classes of goods, let us say new motor cars, they will not use the money for additional spending on other classes of goods.
Presumably, the honorable gentleman was speaking to the pensioners,
because he makes reference to the purchase of motor cars ! After delivering that
exhortation, he hurried away to a cocktail party -to
The honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) discussed ably the subject of compulsory loans, referring to the scheme proposed by the Government as a copy of the Keynes plan in England. It is obvious whom that plan pleased, because Keynes has, since he published it, become a director of the Bank of England. The Treasurer told us that the money put into compulsory loans would be a nest-egg for citizens after the war; that it Would be of-great help to the workers and returned soldiers during the period of reconstruction. Those who contribute to “the compulsory loans are to receive 2 per cent, interest on their money. Why is it that the interest ou compulsory loans is limited to 2 per cent., whilst that on voluntary loans contributed by the big financial institutions is 3£ per cent, and, in some instances, even more? In any case, who is to repay these loans when the war is over? The Government is only the representative of the people. If the State is in debt to practically every member of the community, it can repay the loans only in one way - out of the proceeds of taxation. This applies also in the case of the deferred pay of soldiers now serving abroad. In fact, the deferred pay of ls. a day might well be described as a compulsory loan, with the difference that the soldier will receive no interest on it. When the soldiers return they will be taxed, not only to pay back the money raised by compulsory loans from civilians, but also to find the money for their own deferred pay. That is a fine example of equality of sacrifice! The Treasurer and other Ministers have said that the people’s standard of living would not be affected by the budget. Actually, of course, their standard of living has already been reduced by 20 per cent, and it will be still further reduced when the effects of this budget are felt. Consider only one item, tea. The price of tea has increased since the outbreak of war by ls. Id. per lb. Mr. McCarthy, the Acting Commonwealth Prices Commissioner, has stated that all the increases of price were warranted, but can we accept that statement? The Robur Tea Company Limited, on the 31st March, 1941, declared a profit of £20,000, as against one of £11,000 for the previous year; yet the Government says that it controls profits, and is determined to prevent exploitation. We read advertisements on the hoardings telling us that “ Tea revives the world “ - at from 3s. 6d. to 5s. 6d. per lb. ! How can the pensioners afford to buy tea at such prices ?
The honorable member for Gippsland
Attempts to take the profit from war have notably succeeded in taking much force from the- war effort.
That indicates conclusively that many of our big industrial concerns are more concerned about making profits than about the defence of the Empire. We have only to consider the boot scandals to realize what is going on in this country. It took the Government twelve months to make up its mind to take action against unscrupulous boot manufacturers who were foisting inferior footwear on the members of the fighting forces. When, finaly, the Government decided to take action, it so arranged matters that the first charge was thrown out. The indictments on the other charges were so framed that they were ruled to be out of order by the presiding judges and were referred back to the Attorney-General. Undoubtedly, the Attorney-General, as a lawyer, understands his work, but we are told that the indictment was so faultily worded that the court would not be able to proceed very far with it. The Government would have the people believe that it is doing everything possible to prevent profiteering, but let us read what Mr. Peace, a former Commonwealth taxation officer, said about the matter -
The failure of the Federal Government to control and tax adequately the excess profits of monopoly corporations has caused great public unrest.
That the Government has never been able to reply to that charge supports the contention of the Opposition that it is controlled by big business. A former Speaker of the New South Wales Parliament and a member of the United Australia party, Mr. Weaver, not long ago said -
About 80 men in Melbourne and Sydney control £200,000,000 of capital, and there is an inner circle of about twenty of them who virtually dominate the financial interests of Australia.
That is the opinion of a man with inside knowledge of what is
happening in this country. This budget is deliberately designed by the Government to
benefit the big financial monopolistic interests which control it. It is a private
bankers’ budget. The Treasurer, by interjection during a speech made by an honorable
member on this side of the chamber, accused the members of the Opposition of trusting
nobody. The honorable gentleman said, “Do honorable members opposite not trust the
banks?”; but it is evident that the Government itself is not prepared to trust them,
otherwise it would not have demanded from them that firm undertaking referred to by the
Treasurer. I do not know what is meant by a firm undertaking from the banks; but it is
evident that the Government believed that some special kind of undertaking was required
from the banks. I am of the opinion that the best plan that could be proceeded with by
the Opposition when it becomes the Government would be to put the private banks
completely out of operation and to allow the Commonwealth Bank - the people’s bank -
to fulfil the function for which it was originally established by a Labour government,
namely, to provide financial accommodation not only for defence preparations but also to
meet out postwar problems. A bait for the honorable member for Wimmera was thrown into
the discussion by the promise of the Treasurer that the Government would introduce a
bill to establish a mortgage bank. From time to time, when the people in the country
districts have become restless, it has been customary for this Government to throw them
£500,000 or £1,000,000 in order to keep them quiet. What our primary producers
most urgently require is that the Commonwealth Bank shall be placed in a position to
take over the whole of their mortgages and to give to them financial assistance at a
nominal rate of interest. It cannot be denied that profiteering is rampant in this
country. Under the cost-plus system thousands of men are not permitted to do their best
for their country, and the people who are employing them are pushing up costs in all
directions. We see inefficiency on every hand, not only in regard to the supply of war
materials, but also in the conduct of the war and the use of our Australian troops.
Profiteering, I repeat, is in full operation. In claiming that the Sydney Morning Herald had not accepted his challenge to
disclose its profits, the former Prime Minister
Anybody who takes five minutes to recall that, after the first newsprint cut, leading Melbourne newspapers, whose balance-sheets are published, substantially maintained their profits.’ with a selling price which continued at Hd., can have little difficulty in concluding that the
Sydney Morning Herald,with the same cut in newsprint, but with its price increased by 33 per cent., from 1½d. to 2d. - a large revenue increase - must inevitably have very substantially increased its profits.
The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- This debate was opened by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) on a fairly high plane, and it was perhaps fitting that the last speaker for the Opposition was a gentleman who is accustomed to wielding the political muck-rake. He is never happier than when he is attributing to other people some of the thoughts and motives which inspire his own actions. An individual who sees ulterior motives in every decent and honest action taken by others reveals a disordered mind. I do not propose to attempt to reply to all of the abuse that the honorable member for East Sydney has levelled at the members of the United Australia party and the United Country party, and at myself personally. The real issue at stake in this debate is how we are getting along with our war effort, and what attempt we are making to put this country in such a position that, in concert with the other members of the British Empire, we shall ultimately bring the war to a successful conclusion. There has been an air of unrealism in the debate which has taken place in this chamber during the last few days. One would assume from the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde), in particular, and from the speeches of the honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) and other honorable members opposite, that the war was already won, and all we had to do now was to set to and place in order the machinery of reconstruction. But the war is not yet won. It may very easily yet be Jost; in fact, it will be lost if our allies and the British people throughout the world are of the same temper as that indicated by honorable members opposite. I do not intend to answer in detail the various matters which have been raised during this debate; I propose to confine myself to one or two important statements made by honorable members opposite which I think should be corrected. First, the honorable member for Barton, referring to company taxation, said that the New Zealand Government is taxing companies much more severely than the Australian Government. That is not correct. The honorable member told only a part of the story. The maximum company tax in New Zealand is 12s. Id. in the £1.
– That is the excess profits tax.
– lt includes all company taxes. There is no further taxation of the dividends in the hands of the investors. But in the highest taxing State in Australia, company tax rises as high as lis. in the £1, .and afterwards the dividends are further taxed in the hands of individuals at rates as high as Ils. in the £1. Therefore, company taxation is far more severe in Australia than it is in New Zealand. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) is intended to be a motion of censure, and is regarded as such by the Government. In the present evenly divided state of this House, the attitude of the Opposition seems to be that, if it cannot hold the reins of Government, it will not allowany other party to do so. Despite the assurances of the.. Leader of the Opposition, it is obvious that the Opposition has refused to collaborate with the Government in directing the nation’s war effort. The reasons stated by honorable members opposite for the submission of this motion of censure are too flimsy to outweigh the need for the rapid development of our war effort, I could have appreciated the attitude of the Opposition if the motion had been phrased in such a. way as to contribute to the better development of our defences and the more vigorous prosecution of the war effort of the Empire generally. The reasons stated by the Opposition for its action are that some people, who are already lightly taxed, ought to be taxed les*, and that others, who are already heavily taxed, ought to be taxed more, that the soldiers’ pay should be increased by putting ls. a day more into their pockets now instead of into their savings accounts, and that old-age pensions ought to be increased by a few pence weekly - because the difference between the rate proposed by the Opposition and what will automatically be paid to pensioners within a few weeks as the result of cost of living adjustments will be 6d. a week. For these very poor reasons the Opposition wants to remove a Government from office in time of war. Not one constructive proposal has been put forward by honorable members opposite for increasing the efficiency of our war effort. There has been no criticism of the adequacy of the war effort, or of the budget as it is framed to meet war-time conditions. Not one word has been said to suggest that the Government is doing too little or too much for defence. This important consideration has been ignored altogether. The budget is the most important that has ever been presented in Australia, and it represents the greatest national effort in this country’s history. The Opposition has accepted, in a matter of fact fashion, all of its points except a. few which do not satisfy the demands of some sectional interests. This shows bow little the gravity of the war situation has impressed itself upon the minds of the honorable members opposite. The chief features of the budget are that it provides for the maintenance of 400,000 fighting troops, for an increased munitions programme that will employ nearly 100,000 additional persons by the end of this financial year, and for the purchase of the products of the labour of a further 100,000 workers employed in private factories and on defence works. The Opposition has not. disputed the adequacy of these provisions. It has either taken them’ for granted or overlooked them altogether, and it is forcing the House to a vital division over only a small portion of the revenue and expenditure proposals. It seems to have lost a true sense of perspective and to be viewing the war as though it were being fought on some distant planet. I hope that, while we are debating these matters here, events are not occurring overseas which will bring sudden and tragic ‘disillusionment to the critics of the Government. We are involved in a bitter struggle for national survival, a struggle for our continuance as a self-governing nation where representatives of the people may legislate freely in an unshackled Parliament.
Therefore let us look squarely at the facts. I shall state the proposed apportionment of taxesand compulsory loans for 1941.-42 amongst the various income groups. Of £560,000,000 of income received by the group of people who earn £400 a year and less, the Governmentproposes to take £10,500,000, or 2 per cent., of which a large proportion will represent loans. Of a total of £145,000,000 of income of the group of people earning between £400 and £1,000 a year, the Government proposes to take £15,000,000, or 10 per cent; and of the £95,000,000 of income of the group of people earning over £1,000 a year, it proposes to take £38,500,000, or 40 per cent. Therefore, the proposal is to take out of the total national income of £800,000,000, an amount of £64,000,000 in loans and taxes, which represents8 per cent. of the pool. I could understand the Leader of the Opposition talking of inequality of sacrifice if the taxes were to be levied on a flat rate. But how, in the name of reason, can any responsible person complain of a tax representing less than 2 per cent. of the aggregate income of persons earning less than £400 a. year? The rates of tax are so graduated as to exempt those persons who earn the lowest incomes. Contrast thiswith the proposal to take £38,500,000 of the £95,000,000 of income of persons earning £1,000 a year and more. That tax represents an average of 8s. in the £1. It, also, is graduated steeply so that the contributions of the highest income earners rise to18s. in the £1. The Leader of the Opposition expects the country to believe that he was serious when he called this inequality of sacrifice. If it is inequality of sacrifice, it is an inequality operating inversely to the way which the honorable gentleman alleged. Briefly, the budget proposals are that the Government shall take, as a direct contribution to the war effort, 40 per cent. of the higher incomes, 10 per cent. of the middle incomes and only 2 per cent. of the incomes averaging less than £400 a year. A man, with a wife and two children, who earns £250 a year, will not be required to pay anything. The Leader of the Opposition has said. in effect, that this tax of 2 per cent. on the lower incomes is too high. How muchfurther can it be reduced without making the contribution of that section of the community negligible? Does the honorable gentleman seriously contend that the 2,700,000 income earners in that section cannot afford to make a significant direct contribution to national security? And does he contend that the income earners receiving £400 a year or more should bear practicallythe whole of the direct taxation?
– The Leader of the Opposition did not say that.
– He implied it. Is it thehonorable gentleman’s conception of equality of sacrifice that 90 per cent. of Australia’s breadwinners should contribute either nothing or practically nothing to the financing of the war effort, and that 10 per cent. bear practically the whole of the taxation burden. Clearly, such a proposal is inequitable, and, if implemented, it would not give to the Government command of the physical resources that must be used if Australia is to play its proper part in the prosecution of the war. Nobody who has closely examined the facts can believe that persons earning £400 a year or less cannot afford to pay something directly to the Government for their own protection and the safeguarding of their right to earn incomes. If the Opposition’s proposals were applied throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations our prospects of winning this war would vanish, and we should become the victims of the Nazi oppressor. The sort of argument which is now employed by honorable members opposite, was also used in France before theoutbreak of war. It was claimed that that: country could not afford to provide the money necessary for its adequate defence. But to-day, the people of France are paying tribute to their victors with everythingthat they possess, even to theirlife-blood.
SittingSuspended from 12.45 to2.15 p.m.
– The Leader of the Opposition said, if not directly then by implication, that 2,700,000 of the people of Australia whose incomes were less than £400 a year could not afford, and could not be expected, to contribute towards the cost of the war by means of direct taxation. That meant that about 300,000 individuals in this country were to be expected to providethe whole of our war taxation. As 1 remarked before the suspension of the sitting, the people of France were led astray by arguments of the same character. They were told that they could not afford to pay for the effective defence of their country. French politicians vied with one another in the forceful submission of this point of view to the people of France, but to-day France is paying, in the blood of its men, the tears of its women, the hunger of its children and the sweat of its workers for supporting such a policy.
– The honorable gentleman read that in the
– It is a pity honorable members opposite would not take a little more notice of
what appears in the Canberra Times and a little
less notice of what appears in, say, the
There is another and still more serious aspect to this subject. As the direct result of war conditions many thousands of people in Australia with incomes of less than £400 per annum are much better off this year than, they were last year. Having this in mind, can. any honorable gentleman opposite still suggest that these people are not in a position to make some sacrifice to ensure the winning of the war? A general acceptance of that view would lead to thibreeding of a race of petty profiteer.- holding the idea that they can make a good thing out of the war and still safe from their enemies. No nation and no people can be safe except by tinwholehearted effort of the whole of the people. One section of the community cannot protect every other section. Let us speak plainly and face the facts squarely. Does any honorable gentleman opposite believe that people can be better off during such a war as this is, than during peace-time?
– Plenty of people arc better off.
– I shall deal with that point later. Are we really fighting an “all-in” war, or are we not? Are 90 per cent, of the income earners of this country to be told that they can be relieved of any obligation to make « direct contribution towards the cost of the war?
– Who has suggested that?
– It was suggested by the Leader of the Opposition yesterday. The purpose of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition is, in my view, to lift part of the load of war from the shoulders of certain people who should carry a portion of it. If the Opposition really believes that 2,700,000 wage-earners in this country should be relieved of any responsibility to contribute towards the cost of the war the sooner it submits its case to the electors the better for the country. I, for one, would not sit on the Government benches and subscribe to a view so utterly dangerous to the nation. I would noi lead the people “ up the garden path ‘’ of such wishful, futile, rosy, thinking. We should tell the people the facts of the case. Our only hope of survival is for every person in the community to make an equitable sacrifice. ,We do not need any assurance that the members of the Opposition are patriotic and loyal Australians. We know that all sections of this community are loyal, and, if properly led and fully informed, will do everything in. their power to ensure the winning of the war. But the people should not be misled into believing that the war can be won without the making of great sacrifices. A Labour Government, or any other government for that matter, would hu assuming a terrible responsibility if it were to -tell’ the people iri->the lower income ranges that this war can be financed, and war work performed in the necessary volume, without any appreciable taxing of incomes under £400 a year. lt, cannot be done. That is not an opinion; it is a fact. During the last war, income tax was imposed on incomes as low as £100 a year. As time goes on, we shall have to make more substantial contributions towards the cost of this war than we have made hitherto; otherwise we shall reach the point at which our war effort will lag and ultimately depreciate. If that were to happen there could be only one end to the war, and it would be our defeat. To say otherwise is undoubtedly to delude the people. To do otherwise than to impose taxes as, when and where necessary, in order to obtain command of our real resources in goods and labour for war purposes, would be gross betrayal of the nation. We have, so far enlisted, upwards of 300,000 men in our various fighting services. By making such enlistments the nation, as a whole, has incurred a solemn obligation to arm, equip, feed, clothe and support the men. To do those things effectively will require a considerable sacrifice from the remainder of the nation. We shall have to go without some things in order that our troops may have all the equipment they need to fight our enemies on equal terms. We have not sufficient resources to engage in a full-blooded Avar effort and support our armed forces in the fullest possible way and, at the same time, to permit the civil population to enjoy all the amenities to which they have been accustomed.
– We have the resources if they are properly organized.
– In a time of war the Government will not compete with the Opposition to see which party can be the better political Eather Christmas. No fair-minded man can think, or honestly say, that this war can be satisfactorily financed by the imposition of a crippling tax on 45,000 people, a moderate tax on 270,000 people, and little or no tax on 2,700,000 people. Our enemies are not attempting to win the war by such means. No other country in the British Empire is attempting to do it, and we should not attempt to do it. If we do we shall fail.
Let us look for a moment at the basis of the case submitted by the Leader of the Opposition. He said rightly that to fight this war we must have men equipped with guns, rifles, ammunition, aeroplanes, ships, motor vehicles, tanks and a hundred and one other necessaries, such as clothing, hats, boots, knitted goods, tents, buildings, food and comforts. How are these things to be provided? They cannot be conjured from thin air by act of Parliament, or by some mystic financial device. They must come from the labour, savings and sacrifice of the people. In a. large part, the nation must do without its luxuries, its comforts, and even some of its necessaries in order to provide for the first necessity of all - survival. During the first two years of the war the number of people employed in Australia increased by 180,000. Most of the added employment was provided in the production of munitions and other necessaries of war. Un to date we have taken over 300,000 people out of industry and put them into the armed forces. We have equipped them chiefly by the labour of more people, and without the imposition of very great sacrifices of our comfort or of our civil necessaries. But the war has now reached a new phase. We have virtually exhausted our labour supply, and in ] 941-42 we shall need to recruit another 100.000 men for the armed forces and possibly another 100.000 workers for our factories. These will all have to be withdrawn from civil industry.
– There are still 60,000 people unemployed in two States of the Commonwealth.
– Relatively few of the people now unemployed are really employable. Iri the circumstances which T have outlined it follows that the civil population must begin to go without some things that they have enjoyed in order that our troops may have provided for thom the things necessary to enable them to defend us effectively. Our plain need is the transfer of income from the buying of goods for civil consumption to the buying of necessaries for our defence. Instead of spending more on things we would lite for our sustenance, comfort and enjoyment, we must spend more on things we need for- our preservation and for the destruction of our enemies. We are at the stage where we must choose between the limiting of the consumption of comfort goods and necessaries for civilian use and the limiting of production for war use. There is no alternative choice. We have not sufficient resources to supply our full requirements simultaneously for both war and civil purposes, and we should therefore put first things first. To-day defence is the first, requirement of every man, woman and child in the country, anc! we should not waste our time by talking grandiloquently of our capacity to carry on as usual. Only a race of sluggards would allow things for their comfort, to compete with things required for their survival, and Australians are no race of sluggards. If rightly led and advised, our people are capable of gallant sacrifices. In fact, they will make any sacrifice that may be necessary in order to win the war. The responsibility for leading the people in this connexion should fall on the shoulders of all of the members of this Parliament and not on the shoulders of half of us. If the members of the Opposition would give the Government the co-operation and support that it is within their power to give, they would make it possible for every thing necessary to be done for the defeat of our enemies. A comparison of last year’s income with that for the present year shows that, after paying the Commonwealth taxes proposed in this budget the total income of persons in the group earning £400 a year or less will have increased in the lust twelve months by £32,000,000.
– How many are there in that, group?
– As has already been pointed out, there are 2,700,000 people in that group. After allowing for post-war credits and taxation, the income of that group has increased by £32,000,000 in the last twelve months. The income of what’ I may term the middle group of persons in receipt of from £400 to £1,000 a year, after allowing for post-war credits and taxation, has increased by £3,000,000, or 2 per cent.
– The Minister’s figures do not agree with those given by the Treasurer.
– They do. Honorable members opposite cannot get away from figures and facts, although I know that they do not like them. I ask the Opposition to note these figures and facts when they speak of equality of sacrifice and charge this Government with favouring people receiving high incomes. The income of the group of persons earning £1,000 a year or more has, during the last seven months, decreased by £12,000,000, or 17 per cent. That is an effective answer to the statement that this Government has not adequately taxed those on higher incomes. The important point is that, whilst there has been little increase of the residual left to those people on the middle incomes, and whilst those on high incomes have suffered a decrease of £12,000,000, people in the group earning £400 a year and under have had their total income - in other words, their purchasing power - increased by £32,000,000 after allowing for the taxes and post-war credits provided for in this budget. It can be seen, therefore, that the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition and his followers in regard to deprivations suffered by people on low incomes have little substance.
– More than one-half of the people included in the group earning £400 a. year or under actually receive less than £200 a year.
– I am dealing with the entire group of people receiving less tiran £400 a year. The Leader of the Opposition took objection to the entire group of persons in receipt of £400 a year or less being called upon to pay £10,000,000 in taxes under this budget.
– One-half of that group earn less than £200 a year.
– Perhaps, when the Leader of the Opposition has the responsibility of office, he will have a different story to tell. The Government has chosen direct taxation and post-war credits as the Straightforward, honest and most direct method of meeting the present situation.
– The Minister is holding up the war effort.-
– The honorable member for Dalley has been holding up the war effort for the past two years. I shall delay it for only a few minutes longer. I believe that it would be fraudulent to encourage the people to believe chat persons in receipt of low incomes can escape all direct taxation in this war. The Government has chosen the straightforward method’, and it will stand by its decision. The Government has gone a considerable way to meet the views of the Labour party in the matter of taxation. As I have already shown, taxation levelled on high inCOmeS has effected a reduction of £12,000,000 a year in those incomes, whereas the spending power of those in receipt of low incomes has increased by £32,000,000 a year. Despite these figures, the Opposition is still dissatisfied. This Parliament and the country is entitled to know exactly what the Opposition wants, and what it means. Does it want to use the war as an excuse for the installation of a system of complete socialism, levelling down all incomes by means of taxes to a limit of £400 per annum. The Leader of the Opposition seemed to imply that, that was the intention. Let him make a plain statement of the position. Is that what the Opposition seeks? Is it intended to stage a. daggering social transformation in the midst of a war? What has happened to other countries which have endeavoured to bring about a social revolution in the midst of a war? They have merely exposed their vitals to the enemy, as was the case in Russia in 191.7, and subsequently in other countries. It is quite clear that such a policy would only mean a transition to communism. I realize that honorable members opposite do not like what I am saying, but I shall give them all they want. I repeat that it would only be a transition to communism, because if everybody was to be prevented from earning more than £400 a year, or to derive any benefit from earning an income above that limit, who would exert himself in an endeavour to earn more than that sum?
– The Minister knows that we cannot have communism so long as wc have the Australian Democratic Front
-What the Leader of the Opposition has suggested in regard to the imposition of a limit on incomes would dry up taxation at its source. What would be the Opposition’s next step after it had wiped, out all incomes in excess of £400 a year ? Would it then tax those persons earning £400 a year or less, or would it start the good old printing presses again? I am putting a straight and direct question to the Opposition. What would honorable members opposite use for money after they had dried up the revenue from, taxation on higher incomes ?
The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Holt) negatived - that the honorable, member have leave to continue his speech.
.- For some time I have been deeply concerned over conditions prevailing in this chamber, and I assume that to-day honorable members :l] 8 not debating the budget, whatever good or bad points it may contain. We are debating a proposal which is really a. motion of want of confidence in the ability of the Government to carry on. I do not regard the amendment as a motion of censure against the personnel of the Government, but rather as a motion of censure against the Government for the impossible position in which. it .finds itself. About la month ago, the then Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) came to a reasoned conclusion, and set out his views in a letter which he sent to the Leader of the Opposition. (Mr. Curtin). In that letter he expressed the opinion that this branch of the legislature as at present constituted was unworkable, because the Government cou’ld not command a majority. Since that, day, there has been no improvement whatever in the position. In fact it has steadily deteriorated. Any alteration of the personnel of the Government would not add one vote to this side of the chamber, and I rise to-day to say that I have now come to the conclusion reached by the right honorable member for Kooyong a month ago. I have decided to vote against the Government on the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. This country must have stability of government. I am not concerned with the method to be adopted in order to achieve that end.
– What is the honorable member’s objection to the budget?
– It is not a matter of objecting to the budget. There are some points in it which I would be prepared to discuss as the various items came under review, but at the moment they do not matter. I regard the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition as a motion of want of confidence in the Government. Twelve months ago this Parliament was a workable institution. What has eventuated to make a. responsible Opposition of 36 members adopt an attitude of absolute hostility to the Government on points which, a year ago, it was willing to cede? Nothing more or less than a loss of confidence in the Government’s ability to carry on, and to wage the maximum war effort of which this country is capable. The reason for that lack of confidence is, that this Government has proved that it has not the numbers necessary to enable it to exorcise that strength of control in respect, of the war effort which a. government should exercise. I have stood loyally by this Government, and I have not sought any preferment.
– That is untrue.
– That can be checked up with the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) as well as with the present Prime Minister (Mr. Fadden). I do not wish to criticize the honorable gentleman who at present occupies that position; I have confidence in his ability. But this is a matter, not of men, but of situation. The Opposition is not alone, as a body, in realizing that we have reached what its Deputy Leader (Mr. Forde) has described as “ the crossroads “. There are several options open to this Parliament. It could continue to try to muddle along with a minority government, with challenge and counterchallenge whenever it met. During the last four or five weeks the position has steadily declined, first in the Government parties, culminating with the resignation of the right honorable member for Kooyong as Prime Minister, until last week we had the degrading spectacle of the Government being challenged on account of its alleged misuse of public moneys, and this week a direct challenge to its right to continue to administer the affairs of this country. The people of Australia require that this branch of the legislature shall be cleaned up.
I realize that there is nothing noble in what I am doing; but I am actuated by cold reasoning. The electors of my division will deal with me as they think fit. I take that risk, as will many other honorable members, should there be an election. The Government might decide to take one of the other options open to it; that is, either go to the country for an election, or invite the Opposition to take office. That is a decision which the Governor-General must make. It might not be a bad idea to go to the country and allow the people of Australia to give expression to their opinion by returning a government which would be workable. That would be far better than that we should continue as we are at present, with a Gilbertian assembly which might not be workable if we were to run into a period of serious national emergency.
– Is that not here already?
– It is not here, within Australia, at the moment. That is the situation as I see it. I do not know that there is anything that I might add, except to say that possibly, from the longrange point of view, it might not be a bad idea if the House changed sides.
– On which side would the honorable member be then?
– A sense of responsibility, and a different outlook, might then come to a great many people on both sides. In reply to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender), . I say that I would support the Government which was elected to office, if it could command a majority in this chamber. I told the Prime Minister that I would vote against this Government to-day because he cannot give any assurance to the Parliament. I contend that he gave to the Governor-General an assurance which he was not justified in giving, because he had not then consulted me. I told those Ministers who approached me when the ex-Prime Minister was being removed, that I would not stand for it, and that I would not support the Government. Yet the Prime
Minister informed the Governor-General that he could form a government with a majority in this branch of the legislature ! In the only other interview that I have had with the honorable gentleman since that date, I told him frankly that he could not regard me as a Government supporter.
– Unless I put the honorable member in the Cabinet.
Mr.COLES.- I challenge the Prime Minister to say that on oath, because it is a deliberate untruth.
– It is no such thing.
– I told the Prime Minister in his own office that he could not regard me as a. supporter of the Government.
-Unless I put the honorable member in the Cabinet.
– That is a lie. What I said was, “ Unless . I am satisfied with the policy of your Government and the membership of your Cabinet. I am not seeking any preferment for myself “. Those were my exact words. I want the committee to know that I have no heat in this matter. I take this step well knowing the gravity of it, in the hope that Australia will return a government that will be able to command a majority in this Parliament,
The budget which has been brought down reveals a position which is inescapable. Regardless of what government is in power, the money to carry on Australia’s war effort must be raised.
– Therefore, the honorable member will hand over the administration to the opposition party.
– I am not handing over to the Labour party; the people of Australia will decide which party is to govern. The budget is susceptible to criticism. It purports to be the only budget which could be brought down; but many people do not agree with that contention. The Prime ‘Minister wishes it to be discussed in the light of the principles he has set down. These are, that the financial policy shall bring into work the whole of the physical resources which are available; that it will promote the diversion of resources from civil to war purposes; and that it will distribute equitably the sacrifices made necessary by this diversion. If the figures on page 15 be analysed, it will be found that no spending money is to be taken from the community, compared with what they have to-day. An extra £32,000,000 is to be taken into the Treasury, but £5,000,000 of this will come out of company reserves, which is not spending money. If the Government intends to disburse £13,000,000 in respect of child endowment, an extra £1,500,000 on invalid and old-age pensions, and an additional £750,000 on farmers’ debt relief, and the £12,000,000 raised last year by means of war savings certificates is not obtained this year - that source of revenue may be dried up - there will be an equal balance. This budget does not disclose that it will have any effect on Australia’s No. 1 war problem, which is the transfer of men and women from civil to war occupations. That is a separate and physical problem, and one of management. In that regard I for one think that the effort in that direction could be improved.
– Along the lines of the Labour party’s policy?
– On the lines of the figures disclosed in the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure. Under the Department of the Army it was estimated that the expenditure on pay and allowances last year would be £21,210,350, but the actual expenditure was £31,776,000. The vote in 1940-41 in respect of arms, armament, ammunition, mechanization equipment, and reserves was £63,400,660, and the actual expenditure amounted to only £30,971,766. That discloses a position that cannot be described as indicating efficient management. This year the estimate for that division of the Department of the Army has been reduced to £37,800,000. A similar position is seen with regard to the Department of Air. The division of aircraft, equipment and stores was estimated last year to require a vote of £17,653,537, and it is estimated that the expenditure this year will amount to £.16,780,000. The people of Australia have learnt that equipment is of first im portance.
Mr.B lain. - We must first get the men.
– The men are provided for, but it is of no use to put them into camps of training without equipment.
Allowance is probably made for equipment supplied by the United States of America under the lease-lend programme, but we are told that, under lease-lend legislation, all equipment from the United States of America will go to Great Britain and Russia for some time to come. It is necessary for us to pool the whole of our resources, and that can be done.
– Who told the honorable member that?
– At least we could make a similar effort to that put forward last year, however much it failed. Our cities are full of men who, under all sorts of pretexts, are regarded as in reserved occupations, but they could at least be trained. Our technical training scheme is so limited that it will not bring the wheels of production to full momentum for as long a period as is necessary. Why? Because the policy of the Government has been to whittle down that scheme. It was not a long-range policy. It could have been extended to a very marked degree.
The honorable member for Wimmera interjecting,
– The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr.Wilson) asks me to refer to the point that I am charged with voting against the Government merely because it is said that he intends to vote against it. Up to the present moment I do not know which way the honorable member will vote on the amendment before the committee. I am aware, of course, that he has been opposed to the Government in its decisions with regard to the wheat industry. My decision has been made in the hope that Australia may have a change from the present unsatisfactory position, either by an appeal to the electors or by the present Ministry inviting the Opposition to take over the reins of government. Australia requires responsible government that will result in throwing the whole of the resources of this country into the war effort.
I do not suggest that this Government has not done its best. I am aware of the
difficulties with which it is confronted, and I realize that excellent work has been
done. The Minister for Defence Coordination
– It was partly because of the constant support he obtained from the honorable member.
– If the honorable member for Bendigo
– Honorable members opposite themselves prevented the right honorable member for Kooyong from continuing as Prime Minister.
– I wish honorable members would leave me alone. It is a most unpleasant experience to be exhumed.
– The Leader of the Opposition, in his challenge, referred to the Government policy regarding compulsory loans. I have expressed myself in favour of such loans, and I still support such a policy if the loans are raised on an equitable basis; but I do not regard the proposed basis of these loans as satisfactory, for the simple reason that they would operate to the advantage of the more favoured States. In States such as Queensland, where the people are highly taxed, the- total sum raised would entirely disappear. I have been notified by hundreds of people in Victoria that they are opposed to this scheme for compulsory loans, but that does not affect my attitude to the budget at all. The system of compulsory loans has been sold to us in Victoria as something that will give security to us in the post-war period. But, in the more highly taxed States, the people are offered a barren outlook.
– They will get nothing.
– Nothing whatever. If the war continues for a sufficiently long period, Victoria will be able to buy Queensland out of its loan credits, but the people of Queensland are to be asked to pay part of the interest upon the compulsory loans that the more favoured States will be piling up for the post-war period. That is a poor foundation for compulsory loans. The position would be much better if the Government would do as the Minister for Defence Coordination wanted to do last year, and equalize the taxation. That could be done. If the Government could equalize the burden of child endowment, as between taxpayers in the various States, why could it not equalise the contributions for social services of all descriptions ? If that could be done, the burden could be distributed equally throughout the States, and the outlook for the more highly taxed States need not be so barren as it now is. My attitude to the budget is dictated by a desire to preserve national stability. I desire to see responsible and stable government at this crucial time.
. -The committee has ;just listened to what may be termed a remarkable announcement. While I am not accustomed, when speaking in this place, to descend to personalities, I think that, in view of the momentous character of .the vote which the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) has just announced he intends to cast, and its effects upon a country which is in the throes of a life-and-death struggle, it will be of interest to review what has led up to the present situation. The honorable member for Henty has not been in this Parliament for very long. He was returned for a Victorian electorate which had for many years previously elected supporters of the United Australia party. He certainly was returned as an Independent, but it was with United Australia party co-operation, and on previous occasions he has indicated by his vote in this Parliament that he was a supporter of the Government drawn from members on this side of the House. He came here as a determined protagonist of a national government. He went through Victoria preaching the virtues, and, indeed, the necessity, in time of war of a national government for Australia. He entered Parliament with the laudable purpose of seeking the greatest measure of unity among members of all parties in support of this ideal. I am informed that he approached several honorable members, and invited them to associate themselves with him in the formation of a new party, which would either absorb existing parties or be sufficiently strong to impose its policy on the country. I do not question his motives; I am attributing the highest motives to him in what he did. What I do question is either his sense of responsibility or his sense of judgment, which has enabled him at this time to make the decision that he has just announced, and I say that after having listened carefully to the reasons he has given.
His vote will displace the present Go.vernment, which is made up of men who have had months or years of experience in the conduct of the war - some of them have been responsible for the creation and development ‘of new war departments - and he proposes to do this because the Government has no hope of assurance of stability. Nobody could have done more than Ministers on this side of the House to secure such stability. They have offered to participate in that very national government which the honorable member for Henty, himself, advocates. They have said to the Opposition that, if it is prepared to sink party interests., they will do the same, and serve under a leader chosen by the Opposition. That offer was made only a few weeks ago, and the honorable member for Henty at that time applauded it. When the offer was refused, we then tried to achieve the greatest measure of unity among honorable members on this side of the House, and a change of leadership was effected. At the meeting at which, this took place, every member of the joint parties on thi? side pledged1 himself to give his loyal support to the new leader.
– Are we to understand, then, that the offer to enter a national government was made because of dissension on that side of the House?
– I am aware that the conscience of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) is tender on this point. He knows that,
.before any dissension arose, the ex-Prime Minister
However, I do not propose to press that point any further. Neither shall I dwell further upon the fact that the honorable member for Henty proposes to sweep out of office experienced executives, and replace them by men who, in this generation, have no executive experience. I pass over all that, and ask only, how does he imagine that his action is going to promote the cause of administrative stability? The Opposition has 36 members in this chamber, and. that number is not large enough to enable the Labour party to govern. Either he - and perhaps some other members from this side of the House - must give assurances of support to the Opposition, or there will have to be a general election. Let us assume for the moment that he is prepared to give assurances of support to Labour in the implementing of its policy. He has already announced the 23 points which embody his own conception of what should be a proper war effort for Australia. Here are some of them -
Conscription of man-power for service overseas.
Conscription of labour.
Taxation to be unified and equalized in all States.
Hours of labour to be extended to capacity, subject to fatigue.
Compulsory enlistment and training of men and women for defence and civilian protection.
The Government to control the transfer and employment of workers as empowered tinder the National Security Act.
After the honorable member had made a few speeches, special meetings were called at the Melbourne Trades Hall in order to castigate the policy that he was advocating. Is that the policy which he expects the Labour party to adopt when he puts it in office? I indicated earlier that I would not base my remarks on a personal attack on the honorable member. However, I question whether honorable members on this side of the committee have ever come in contact with a more unbalanced or irresponsible political mind than that of the honorable member for Henty.
– Honorable members opposite are unbalanced now.
– The honorable member for Henty has unbalanced not only honorable members on this side, but also the country, which he has placed in a state of uncertainty and suspense. Is he prepared to give assurances of support to honorable members opposite, expecting them to put into effect the planks of the policy which he regards as fundamental to an optimum war effort in this country? And is the Opposition prepared to accept as a basis for the formation of a war-time administration assurances of support from an honorable member who one day is prepared to give his support to our party, and the next day demands to be put into effect a series of items of policy which are fundamentally opposed to the policy of honorable members opposite? Do honorable members opposite believe in the conscription of labour within this country, or in the conscription of men for military service? These are the matters upon which the honorable member for Henty expects them to meet him in the formation of an administration. I say this to the honorable member for Henty: Unless his action results in an election automatically, as he seems to imagine, it will leave this Parliament less stable than it has been up to the present. It will merely result in a number of men who have been engaged, from day to day, in the business of war-time administration, being replaced by other men who, whatever their qualifications, and even assuming them to possess equal capacity, will nevertheless require weeks and, perhaps, months to absorb the background and details of administration which are part and parcel of a Minister’s everyday job.
– Would that not also be the case in the formation of a national government?
– Quite obviously, it would not; because, in that case, a majority, or at least a nucleus, of experienced Ministers would enable a national Ministry to operate far more easily than will be the case if a completely new administration takes up the threads of office and attempts to guide the destinies of the country from that point. I say to the country - obviously the Parliament is not prepared to examine the situation which has been placed before us - that nothing short of a general election can possibly produce a greater measure of stability in this Parliament than we have had up to this moment. So, we must assume that, as the result of the honorable member’s action, the country, within twelve months of the last general election, must resolve another election in order to return a stable administration. I ask honorable members to examine the implications of that position. It will mean a complete hold-up, possibly for weeks, of the war-time administration of this country. It will mean that the country itself will be split from stem to stern by political controversy. If there is one thing on which opinion in this country is completely united it is that an election at this time and under existing conditions would be disastrous. The honorable gentleman has taken this course knowing that by his action be will put the country to the expense, and, at this time, the impediment, of an election. All I desire to say is that if he believes that his action will bring about any greater stability of administration within the present Parliament, he is gravely mistaken. We could have had that greater measure of stability had he himself been prepared to stand loyally and constantly by honorable members on this side of the House whom he was elected to support. The electors of Henty did not intend to return a candidate who would, in war-time, displace a governmentwhose achievements constitute the most remarkable record in the history of federation. Within the last two years we have seen a transformation in the administration of this country. This very Parliament has developed from a place in which we were concerned with matters of finance and defence, and general matters of principle, to the point where we ourselves guide, through the Executive the whole of the people of Australia. We have gone into the homes of the people in a way in which no previous federal administration has done, and the result has been an industrial, political and administrative miracle of achievement. It has earned the just praise of critics from all parts of the world. That has been done in the course of the last two years, by using the administration which this Parliament was able to furnish. Is that good work to be thrown into the discard because one man who could have provided a reasonable degree of stability has shown a lack of loyalty and consistency in his support of the Government? Look at some ofthe chance phrases he uttered in his speech. He said, “ It might not be a bad idea if we changed places for a while “. Is that the sort of reason why the people are to be asked to change their war-time administration, and to throw the country into maladministration, which must be the inevitable result of the hiatus his action will cause? Not only the electors of Henty but also the people of Australia will place a far more balanced and sensible construction on, not only the motives of the honorable member, but also the results of the action to which he has committed this Parliament, and Administra- tion. If he expects stability of government in this Parliament without an election he will be sadly mistaken. On the other hand, he must accept responsibility, and carry that responsibility through history, for causing an election to be held at a critical hour in the affairs of this country.
.- During this debate-
– The honorable member is now only a pricked bubble.
– I was about to say that one thing that I have noticed more than anything else
during this debate is the chagrin and spleen which has been displayed by members on
the Government side of the committee. In the popular phrase, “ They cannot take
it “. For instance, immediately 1 rose to speak, the Minister for Trade and
Customs (Mr. Harrison) made a rude interjection.
T shall not enter into any detailed discussion of the budget. The reasons that have
actuated the honorable member for Henty
In coming to the decision which I have reached I was influenced to a great degree by the assurances given by the Leader of the Opposition and his deputy (Mr. Forde) with regard to rural policy. I have emphasized in this chamber on many occasions the serious difficulties of the primary producers and the depressed condition of country towns. We have had. very little relief. The present policy has been continued, although we have had many promises that there would be a change. The Treasurer, in his budget speech, indicated that a mortgage bank would be established at some time in the future. The position of the primary producers is so acute that they want a mortgage bank established at once. It can be provided, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition stated that it will be provided if the Labour party attains office. That assurance is very comforting to me and to my constituents, and it will be good news to all those living in rural districts throughout Australia. To sum up, I do not like the Government’s financial policy. It envisages further debt, and in the natural course of events when the war is concluded, a contraction of finance is likely to occur as on a former occasion, and misery and suffering will follow. The people do not want those conditions. In order to avoid them, Australia must have a government which will take appropriate action. For those reasons I shall support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. What the result will be, whether a general election will be held, or whether another government will take office without an appeal to the country, are matters upon which I cannot speak. The responsibility lies with the Governor-General. To me, it is immaterial because, in view of the issue, I consider that a change must be made in order to ensure stable and safe government for the effective prosecution of the war, the post-war reconstruction of the country and the repatriation of soldiers. In the circumstances, let us ask the people to decide which party will govern the country. I shall be satisfied with their verdict.
My position in the House has been one of heavy responsibility, but that has not been of my seeking. It was an accident of the last general election that I should have been so placed as to hold the balance between the Government and Opposition parties in this chamber. My sympathies have always been to a considerable degree with the Labour party. The platform of the party to which I belong in Victoria is not far removed from many of the major points in the policy of the Labour party. If Labour should take office I am prepared to give it my fullest co-operation in order to implement the policy that its representatives have enunciated during this debate.
.- Members of the Australian Imperial Force in beleagured Tobruk and in Egypt will be greatly heartened by the crocodile tears which have been shed by people who, three months after the declaration of war, stated that they would not despatch one man from Australia to fight for the Empire. Do honorable members believe that the garrison at Tobruk will be happy to learn that their destinies lie in the hands of those people?
– They will throw their hats in the air when they hear the news.
– I am sure that they will not do so.
– The general is retreating.
– The honorable member for Dalley
– That is not correct, and I ask the honorable gentleman to withdraw the statement.
– I will not withdraw it. Other honorable members heard him make it. Yesterday,
when the honorable member was challenged to repeat it, he had not the courage to do
so. The honorable member for West Sydney
– Where would the honorable member send them?
– I would send them where they were required to fight for the country and the Empire, as they volunteered to do. Some time ago, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Collings) stated that he would not negotiate with Mr. Churchill, whom he described as a mad dog who caused trouble where none had previously existed. In the hands of that kind of individual, the two Independent members of this chamber have placed the destinies qf the Australian Imperial Force.
– If an election be held, the honorable member will be defeated.
– I do not think so; it will not worry me if I am. I make that statement regardless of the consequences, which is possibly more than, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has courage to do.
Yesterday, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition attacked a man who is not in a
position to reply to the criticism. I refer to
– I merely said that he was not elected by the farmers themselves. The wheat-growers were not given an opportunity to select their representative by ballot.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also made a slurring reference to Mr. Clarke.
– After mentioning seven members of the hoard, all of whom, he said, represented vested interests, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition proceeded in this strain to refer to the others -
Mr. Clarke is an individual wheat.grower of South Australia, who was handpicked because it was said that he had some special qualifications. Ho was not elected by the wheat-growers. In my opinion, Mr. Cullen must be placed in the same category. I have asked the representatives of primary producers on this side of the chamber whether they agree with these statements and they have informed me that they do. Mr. Cullen became a member of the board, not by election of the wheat-growers, but by selection of the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page). Of course, we all know that persons selected for positions by that right honorable gentleman are sometimes kicked out, and that his nominees are not always successful in their service. I do not find fault with Mr. Field. I consider, however, that the Australian Wheat Board, which is charged with the duty of marketing the wheat of many thousands of Australian farmers, should be an elective body. The members should not be picked in some hole-and-corner way because they may be relied upon_ to comply with the demands of the representatives of vested interests, who dominate the board.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable member in order in quoting verbatim from a Hansard report of a speech which was delivered yesterday?
– How does the honorable member for Dalley know from what document the honorable member for Bendigo is quoting?
– Undoubtedly, it is from a
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The honorable member for Bendigo would not be in order in reading from a Hansard report of a speech which was delivered yesterday. But if the honorable member’s memory be sufficiently retentive to enable him to quote a statement made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, he is permitted to do so.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition asserted that Mr. Cullen was elected in some holeinthecorner way by the Minister for Commerce.
– He dad not say that.
– Definitely he did. The truth is that
– Isaid that Mr. Cullen should have been electedby the wheatgrowers and not selected by the Minister for Commerce.
– The State president of the Wool and Wheatgrowers Associa tion of Victoria has forwarded me the following telegram : -
In fairness Cullen you should advise Forde appointment Wheat Board on nomination Victorian and bulk New South Wales wheat organizations.
He was nominated by the Victorian Wheatgrowers Association.
– We contend that the wheat-growers’ representatives should be nominated annually by the wheatgrowers.
– The telegram continues
Appointment endorsed by all affiliated organizations of federation. Cullen also urged federation deal his appointment stabilization board but no other nominated. Forde should withdraw his remarks.
– I cast no reflection on Mr. Cullen and Mr. Clark, personally; but I did say that there should be a majority of representatives of growers on the board and that they should be elected by rank-and-file wheat-growers annually and not hand-picked for an indefinite period by the Minister.
– If such an election were conducted by honorable members opposite I have no doubt that, like certain other elections that have been held in New South Wales, the ballot-boxes would be fitted with sliding bottoms. Our fighting men overseas will not be edified by the spectacle of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition shedding “ crocodile “ tears in their behalf or to have as their champion one who would do everything in his power to prevent them from taking their rightful place in the defence of the Empire.
– The majority of the votes from overseas were cast in favour of Labour candidates.
– In their solicitude for the men in the fighting forces honorable members
opposite remind me of the iguana, commonly known as the goanna, which covers its
prey with slime before devouring it. When Labour assumed office for a short period
after the last war it abandoned the policy of preference to returned soldiers; but
there was such resentment throughout the length and breadth of the country that they
had not the courage to stand up to their action and withdrew their threat. Honorable
members opposite are not prepared to say to-day that they favour preference to
soldiers who return from the present war. Whatever may have been the sins of
omission or commission of this Government, it has at least given preference to
returned soldiers in appointments made to the Public Service. I can assure honorable
members that our soldiers will not be delighted at the prospect of a Labour
Government assuming office in this country. Some honorable members opposite are
sincere in their efforts to help the members of the fighting forces, but what can be
said of such leaders as the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), who would bring our men overseas back to Australia, or
the honorable member for West Sydney
– I shall not require very many minutes to say the little that I have to say in
regard to the budget. The Leader of the Opposition
Of course, it does not matter to me personally how the honorable member for Henty casts his vote. That is his business. But he must remember that, when he casts a vote to put the Opposition as it is to-day constituted into power, he casts a vote with people who he knows are anti-British in their sympathies.
– Mr. Chairman, I take strong exception to that remark, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– The objection has been noted.
– I take the remark as a personal reflection on me. I regard it as offensive and ask that it be withdrawn.
– I understand that the honorable member for Darwin made no direct reference to individuals.
– He said that we were anti-British.
– The honorable member for Henty intends to cast his vote with people who have no sympathy with Australian soldiers fighting overseas.
– I rise to a point of order.
– Order ! If honorable members will maintain order, the Chair will be better able to direct the proceedings of the committee. A point of order has been raised. I understand that the remark of the honorable member for Darwin referred in a general sense to the Opposition.
– It was generally offensive.
– I have a personal objection. The honorable member for Darwin has no right to impute that I have knowledge tha t any members of the Opposition are disloyal.
– The honorable member will realize-
– The remark should be withdrawn. I am not antiBritish. I have two sons, both of whom have enlisted, and I can say that I am as good a Briton as is the honorable member for Darwin. He should not be allowed to get away with such a remark.
– Do honorable members consider the remark offensive?
– I ask the honorable member for Darwin to withdraw the remark. Honorable members in opposition regard it as offensive.
– I said-
– I shall withdraw when the Chairman asks me to do so. The honorable member for Henty knows that honorable members opposite have expressed their opposition over and over again- ‘
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the remark to which exception has been taken.
– What am I to withdraw?
– The imputation that the Opposition is anti-British.
– I .did not say that.
– -Certain honorable members of the Opposition regard the honorable member’s remark as being personally offensive. I ask the honorable member to withdraw it.
– I cannot withdraw something which I did not say. May I repeat what I did say? I said that honorable members on that side of the chamber, with whom the honorable member for Henty will vote, are anti-British in their sympathies, and I say now that they have expressed opposition over and over again to Australians taking part in this war. If you ask me, Mr. Chairman, to withdraw that remark I shall do so.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the words of the honorable member for Darwin, even though couched in general terms, are offensive to members of the Opposition, and particularly to myself as the mover of the amendment. I ask for their withdrawal.
-In view of the explanation of the honorable member for Darwin, I do not propose to ask him to withdraw the remark. If it were of a personal nature I should ask him to do so.
– I wish to be clear on this matter. Am I to understand that it is perfectly in
order in this Parliament to impugn the loyalty of honorable members. The declaration
in time of war that members of this Parliament are antiBritish in their sympathies
is an accusation of disloyalty. I submit,
– I have said what I wanted to say. Members of the Australian ImperialForce and the people of Australia generally will hardly be pleased with the behaviour of honorable members opposite this afternoon. I shall leave that point, because I believe that I have made my attitude sufficiently clear. I shall certainly never cast a vote that will put into power those people who will not support Australia’s war effort in every respect which, of course, means supporting Australian men fighting in defence of the Empire. Honorable members opposite can take exception to that if they like.
– The honorable member for Darwin, when Speaker of this House, frequently asked for withdrawals of remarks, and I would say now that his directions must have been given entirely regardless of the merits of what took place in the House.
– If the Chair asks me to withdraw I shall, but I shall not do so merely at the request of the Leader of the Opposition, who apparently thinks that he must protect those honorable members on his own side who he knows have no sympathy with himself, his leadership, or his point of view. I think that I am entitled to make these few remarks concerning the honorable member for Henty. I should not have referred to this matter, had he not spoken about the change of leadership in the United Australia party. I consider that the Committee and the country should be informed that no. honorable member did as much as did the honorable member for Henty to belittle, undermine, and ridicule the leadership of the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies). The honorable gentleman took every opportunity to say that we could never have a united war effort whilst the right honorable member for Kooyong remained leader of the United Australia party. That statement was made over and over again by the honorable member for Henty, right from the time of his return from his visit to England last year. In fact it is not too much to say that the honorable gentleman took every opportunity to denounce the leadership of the right honorable member for Kooyong.
– Everywhere except in the right place, which is in this House.
– He toured Victoria.
– Yet the honorable member for Henty is now blaming the United Australia party for having removed the right honorable member for Kooyong from the leadership of the party, notwithstanding that he said on many occasions that we could never have a united war effort while the right honorable gentleman remained leader of this party. I make these statements because I think that the Committee and the country should know the facts. What the honorable member for Henty does is, of course, his own affair, but I consider it quite proper to intimate that the honorable gentleman was responsible for this little bit of disunity. The honorable gentleman has said to-day that he believes that we would get a better war effort if another government assumed office. I can only hope that with his support we shall be able to make a more successful war effort.
Question put -
That the item proposed to be reduced be so reduced (Mr. Curtin’s amendment).
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– In consequence of the vote which has just been taken in Committee of Supply, the Government desires an opportunity to consider its position.I therefore move -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.17 p.m.
d askedthe Minister repre senting the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answers : -
Royal Australian Air Force:
s asked the Minister for Air,
When equipment, including the hempen square, is provided for Royal Australian Air Force camps to conduct boxing matches, who pays for the equipment.
– Gymnasium equipment for physical training purposes is provided from public funds in accordance with a prescribed scale. That scale includes the provision of boxing gloves according to the establishment of personnel on the station. The cost of gymnasium equipment in excess of the authorized scale is financed from profits on canteens, cinemas and other service institutes. At AirForce stations where boxing competitions are organized by the recreation clubs, the hempen square and other accessories are usually improvised by utilizing any departmental materials that may be available, supplemented by purchases from the non-public funds referred to.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answers : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 October 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1941/19411003_reps_16_168_c1/>.