16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. M. Nairn) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
-I have received from His Excellency the. GovernorGeneral a letter requesting me to inform honorable members of the great comfort which their resolution of sympa thyhad given to the Lady Gowrie and himselfin the irreparable loss which theyhad so suddenly sustained by the death of their only son.
Bill returned from the Senate without; amendment.
– I have received from Rear-Admiral Muirhead Gould, Officer in Charge of the Naval Base, Sydney, anoxygen flask taken from one of the Japanese submarines which attacked Sydney on the 21st May last. A similar trophy has been presented to the Senate. Both flasks are now exhibited in King’s Hall. On behalf of honorable members, I propose to accept the gift and to convey appropriate thanks for it to Rear-Admiral Muirhead Gould.
Bill received from the Senate.
Motion (by Mr. Fadden) put -
That the bill be now read a. first time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. W.M. Nairn).
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Mi.CURTIN (Fremantle- Prime.
Minister). - by leave - The Government has always been of opinion that the most satisfactory and complete method of consultation with other allied governments is for a Commonwealth Minister to have such discussions in person. After due consideration, the Commonwealth Government has decided that the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) shall again proceed to the United States of America and the United Kingdom and, if necessary, other countries. Honorable members know, of course, that Dr. Evatt. made a similar journey last year, and the result was not only most satisfactory to Australia, but also beneficial to the allied cause generally. I know that Dr. Evatt will carry with him the best wishes of his fellow members of this Parliament.
– Does the Prime Minister mot think that the time has arrived for no less a person than the Prime Minister of this country to state Australia’s case in the United Kingdom and the United States of America? Has he considered either accompanying the Minister far External Affairs on his projected visit, or making a separate visit immediately or in the near future ?
M. ‘CURTIN.- The Government ‘has fully considered this matter, and its decision has .been arrived at after the Most careful reflection. In the “©pinion of .the ‘Government, .and in my own opinion, the right thing is being done. I shall be .very happy when the time -.comes .to (pay a visit to the United Kingdom and to the United States of *A merica. I hope that will he at an early date.; ‘but until .circumstances allow of that, and the situation warrants it, the Minister for External Affairs will, J am quite .sure, represent Australia competently and, indeed, admirably.
– A very grave epidemic of dengue fever, which is ‘reported in the dairying ^districts of New South Wales and Queensland, has accentuated the serious shortage of manpower caused by -the call up for military service last year of eligible men ‘employed in the industry. In addition, the production of milk has been exceptionally heavy as the result of -the good season, and not only the industry, but .also the elderly folk, who have been left in charge of it, are in danger of collapse. I ask the Prime Minister, in -order to cope with the serious position immediately, to issue directions for action to various Ministers, all of whom by their co-operation may give .a prompt relief in this crisis. First I ask the right honorable gentleman to request .the Minister for -the Army (Mt-. Forde) to extend the period of leave granted ito the sons of -dairy-farmers who rare <at present on leave, so that they may lend assistance. Secondly, I ask the Prime Minister to discuss with the Minister for the Army the advisability of immediately releasing for a .period of two months men who possess a practical knowledge of the dairying industry, and who are not serving in combat .areas. Thirdly, I should like the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Mr. Beasley) and the Minister for Munitions (Mr.. .Makin) to release from their reserves ‘all those requirements for milking machines, especially small engines, which are not needed immediately for military purposes. Fourthly, I ask that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) and the Minister for War Organization -of Industry (Mr. Dedman.) be requested to arrange immediately fox mam-power a-nd woman-power to help ‘On the farms. Fifthly, I should like the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) and the Minister for ‘Commerce ‘and Agriculture (Mt.. Scully!) to make available without delay to -producers the balance of the additional ‘3d. per lb. for butter, payment of which was recommended -by the special .committee on the dairying industry.
Mr. -CURTIN.- The -Government is aware that a condition of affairs, which might not warrant the term of “ epidemic “, ‘has been caused ‘by an outbreak of dengue fever in the districts mentioned by the right honorable mem’ber and .the Health Departments -.of the Commonweal tn and the .States concerned are grappling with the pro’b’lem. The other matters which the Tight honorable gentleman raised will he brought to the notice of the Ministers concerned ; hut I remind him ‘that it is easier to ask for .action than to give effect to the request. Many complications arise in considering the advisability of releasing men and materials for civil needs. ‘To the ‘degree that co-operation between the Commonwealth and States will help in this matter, the right honorable gentleman may rest assured that the Commonwealth will -do its ‘best.
– Did the Minister fear Commerce and Agriculture read in the Sydney Daily Telegraph .of the ,20th February last a news .item entitled “Farm Workers’ Award Sought”’? A portion of the article read -
The Minister ; for Labour (Mr. Ward.) announced in Canberra yesterday that the Commonwealth Arbitration -Court would “be asked immediately to fix wages for the dairying industry.
Commonwealth regulations gazetted yesterday empower Mr. Ward to refer to the Arbitration Court any matter concerning wages in any part of the dairying industry. ‘
The court will take into consideration wages already being paid, living conditions of employees, and wages and conditions in similar industries.
Have representatives of the dairying industry applied to the Arbitration Court for an award embracing the cost of production plus the basic wage?
– My attention was directed to the article, which has my whole-hearted approval. It is only in keeping with the desire of the special committee which inquired into the dairying industry that the basic wage plus the cost of production shall be paid to producers. Furthermore, deputations which I have received from the dairying industry have expressed agreement with the proposal that the basic wage shall be paid in the industry when the award includes the cost of production. The Government intends, in all branches of primary industry in which the basic wage is paid, to ascertain whether allowance has been made for the cost of production.
– A paragraph in the Melbourne press, entitled “ Tasmanian Apples Soon “, stated that “ apple-lovers are promised a treat next month, when Tasmanian Cox’s Orange Pippins will be on sale to the public at 8s. 6d. a case “. Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform me whether this announcement means that the Apple and Pear Board proposes to enter into competition with local growers, who send their fruit to the Melbourne market? What steps does the Minister propose to take for the purpose of limiting that competition, as regards both price and quantity, in order that the interests of local producers in the present difficult times shall not be prejudiced ?
– I have discussed the proposal with the Apple and Pear Board, and the Government is determined to ensure the orderly marketing of apples and pears from the States in which the acquisition scheme continues to operate. In addition, the fruit will be distributed in such a manner as to prevent the inflation of prices to the public. People will be able to buy apples at a reasonable price; but, at the same time, the interests of producers in the States in which the fruit will be distributed will be safeguarded.
Japanese Aircraft over Sydney.
– I should like the responsible Minister to inform me whether it is correct that an enemy aircraft was sighted off Sydney last Friday night? Will he make a full statement to the House so that the public will be assured that the alarm was not just a cry of “wolf”?
– It is a fact that on Friday night last an enemy aeroplane approaching Sydney was located by the defence services. All the requisite steps were taken by all the services to ensure that a minimum of damage would be done by the enemy. The services, in my judgment, worked in a way which would assure to the Australian public did they know the facts, that they could have the greatest confidence in the alertness and efficiency of our defenders. I do not propose in this place to say anything that would reveal to the enemy the kind of reception he may expect on his next visit, or to advise him what precautions he should take the next time he comes. I propose, at the meeting of the Advisory War Council to-morrow, to give a more detailed account of what the services had to do, what they did, and why they did it. It would not be in the interests of national security for me or for any other Minister to reveal the steps which were taken, or which may be taken in the future. There can be no suggestion that there was not ground for the activity which occurred. An enemy plane was located ; I am convinced of that. Throughout Friday evening, from quite early in the evening until well after midnight, I was kept constantly acquainted with what all the services were doing. Let me say that rumours are a poor basis upon which to build public morale. We must have confidence in the men appointed to do work vital to the defence of Australia. On Friday night, all the responsible men were at their posts, and I have absolute confidence that what they did was right. I am confident, too, that everything will be done with the greatest efficiency and to the utmost of their powers should circumstances demand it in the future.
– Has the Prime Minister heard of the propaganda being circulated in certain parts of Sydney, to the effect that the aeroplane which is said to have been flown over Sydney on Friday evening last was not an enemy plane, but was a local plane which was sent up, and the sirens sounded with a. view to assisting the Treasurer in raising further loans? If so, will the right honorable gentleman take steps to locate the sources of such propaganda?
– The suggestion that anybody in Australia was responsible for the aeroplane coming over the New South Wales coast on Friday night last, is entirely baseless. The Treasurer’s political reputation is itself an assurance that he would not embark upon a stunt of that character, but his personal reputation is, I venture to say, such that only a base calumniator seeking adversely to affect Australia’s war effort would lend himself to the circulation of such a rumour. There are in Australia, as in every other country, persons who can see no good in what their own country does. The reason for that is that they are no good themselves.
– Can the Treasurer say what steps should be taken by State governments and municipal bodies to bring before the federal authorities their programmes of works for post-war reconstruction ?
– I assume that in every State there are organizations representing local governing bodies, and that those organizations are active in preparing what may be regarded by them as desirable post-war reconstruction programmes. In addition, every public body has the right to bring before the Commonwealth Government any proposal which it believes ought to be examined. However, it would be better if local governing bodies were to act through their executives or conferences so that they might put forward a general plan which would have the approval of a majority of the individual councils.
– In order to demonstrate the active cooperation of the United Nations in the brilliant military achievements of their Russian Ally, will the Prime Minister arrange for the preparation of a statement setting forth, as far as considerations of security permit, the extent of the assistance rendered by the United Nations ?
– I shall consider whether a statement can be prepared which would be sufficiently full to give a reasonable account of what has been done, and yet not reveal vital information to the enemy.
– by leave - For the benefit of honorable members, and in order to clear up any misunderstanding which may exist concerning an order, entitled “ Electricity Generator and Engine Investigation Order “, recently promulgated by my department under regulation 59 of the National Security (General) Regulations, I wish to explain briefly the purpose and extent of the application of the order, with particular reference to those items referred to recently by the honorable member for Boothby (Dr. Price), namely, farm-lighting plants and generating equipment attached to motor vehicles. The order came into force on the 12th January, 1943, and returns under the order were due to be lodged with the Controller of Electricity Supply on or before the 14th February. The purpose of this order is to obtain information regarding the number and type of generating plants and engines, together with particulars of their condition and availability for use elsewhere. This information is necessary in view of the heavy demands for generating plants and engines received from the fighting forces, the shortage of new equipment, and the lack of facilities for manufacturing such requirements.
It was originally intended that the return should not cover equipment of under 5 horse-power, but it was found subsequently that certain information required by other Comm’onwealth authorities rendered it advisable to place no limit on the size of plant. Although the order may be regarded as allembracing, it was never the intention that it should include generators attached to motor vehicles or house-lighting plants. Immediately it became apparent, as the result of inquiries, that the order was being read too literally, notices were broadcast to the effect that the returns need not cover engines and generators already installed in motor vehicles or home-lighting .plants. It has been pointed out, however, that as there are so many home.-lighting sets in operation, it is in the interests of owners to advise my department that they possess such sets. This information would be valuable to the department in connexion with the provision of spare parts, and it is, therefore, advisable, but not obligatory, for owners to make my department aware of the existence of house-lighting sets.
Prosecution or Employees - Roadmaking Machinery
– On the 18th February, the honorable members for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) and Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) asked questions regarding certain forms of consents to summary prosecutions which had been signed by the DirectorGeneral of Allied Works in advance. The honorable member for Dalley stated that he had been informed that there were bundles of these blank summonses in existence, and the honorable member for Bourke stated that he had been informed that these signed forms were handed out in great numbers to subordinate officers “ who take upon themselves, and are expected to take, the responsibility of deciding who shall bc prosecuted and who shall not”. As I promised, I have had inquiries made into the matter and am informed that only twelve forms have been signed in blank at any time by the Director-General of Allied Works, and all related to the State of New South Wales. Of these seven are still held in that State. I am informed by the Solicitor-General that these blank forms were held by a senior executive officer with strict instructions that they were not to be used in any case until the name of the person to be prosecuted and particulars of the offence had been furnished by telephone or telegraph to the Director-General, and the DirectorGeneral had, after considering the facts, decided that the case was one justifying prosecution. Of the 80 prosecutions which have been instituted on the authority of the Director-General, 74 convictions have been recorded, five cases have been withdrawn on undertakings being given by or on behalf of the defendants, and one case has been dismissed. I am also informed that the Director-General states that the impression that consents are signed in blank in large numbers arises from the fact that the branches have from time to time forwarded to the head office a number of copies of the form of information used in the respective States, and the words, “ I consent to the prosecution summarily of the offence alleged herein “, have been typed in the margin. It is understood that, except in respect of the twelve forms referred to, the form of consent has not been signed until the Director-General has personally considered the facts of the case, and decided that the matter is one for prosecution. I am informed that the only reason why any forms of consent have been signed in blank is that prosecutions may be launched promptly after the DirectorGeneral has considered the facts of the case.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral satisfied with that arrangement?
– What does the right honorable gentleman propose to do about it?
– I propose to consult with the Director-general as to the procedure to be adopted in the future, in order to make sure that in each case the attention of the Director-General is given to the facts before a consent is signed : however, I am assured that there are no prosecutions to which the DirectorGeneral has consented, without his being aware of the fact.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether he will take steps to facilitate the return to local government authorities of road machinery seized by the Allied Works Council in order to enable such bodies to repair roads which are becoming dangerous, mainly through being, cut up by military traffic?
-I shall bring the honorable member’s question to the notice of the Minister for the Interior who, I am sure, will ascertain the facts. However, it must be remembered, as was pointed out by the Prime Minister in answer to another question, that such equipment has been requisitioned from local government bodies by the Allied Works Council only for urgent defence purposes; and, therefore, it will hardly be possible to return it so long as those exigencies remain.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral think that the use of the telephone is a proper method for the delegation of such tremendous power? In the event of consent to a summons being contested, can the AttorneyGeneral establish the fact that theconsenter did discuss such details over the telephone? Because off the difficulty of such proof, will the Attorney-General review the whole subject of the delegation of this important power to any body outside his department ?
– As I indicated: earlier, I shall consult with the Director-General about the matter in order to see whether a procedure can be evolved which will avoid the signing of consent in advance of the situation. However, I again make it clear that I am informed that no prosecution is initiated in cases in which consent has been given by the DirectorGeneral without his being, informed of the facts.. The question of whether the issue of consent by that method could be challenged is a separate issue. The court takes notice of the signature of the Director-General. I repeat that I shall consult with the Director-General on the whole matter.
– Various telegrams which I have received from my con- stitutentsin Western Australia prompt me to ask. the Prime Minister a question. I understand that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Marwick) has received similar messages from those who are controlling soldiers’ comfort funds raised by public subscription, All these telegrams protest against the action of the Government in charging duty on tobacco and other comforts raised by public subscription for our soldiers at the front. In these circumstances will the Prime Minister reconsider the attitude which he took on this matter last week.?
– I stated last week the Government’s decision in regard to the matter raised by the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse). I was then asked by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr: Anthony) if I would agree to receive a deputation from the New South Wales branch of the Comforts Fund which had further representations to make to me, and I consented. I have no objection at any time to receiving further representations from people as to why the Government should or should not take a certain course. They may, after having consulted me, be convinced that the Government’s decision is the only practicable one. In regard to the distribution of comforts,I shall have the matter again reviewed, but not before the deputation about which the honorable member for Richmond spoke has seen me. After the representatives of the Comforts Fund have interviewed me, I shall either confirm what has been already decided upon by the Government, which I think is the probable result, or I shall announce some variation.
Statement by Judge O’Mara.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the report in to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald that Judge O’Mara, a member of the bench of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, stated yesterday that many of the awardsof the Women’s Employment Board were so loosely drawn that they were provocative of disputes; because they were not understood by either the employers or the employees? In view of his Honour’s serious statement, will the right honorable gentleman obtain a report on the matter, and give consideration to the abolition of the board, in order to allow the Arbitration Court, which is a competent body, to deal with questions now handled by this unnecessary board?
– I congratulate the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) on having put that question from the place he now occupies. I can hear him much more distinctly from there than I could when he was closer to me. I am happy to answer in the affirmative his first question from his new seat.
Motion (by Mr. ‘Curtin) - by leave - agreed to -
That Mr. Mulcahy be appointed a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, in place of Mr. Stacey, resigned.
– The House will meet this week on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and next week on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Thereafter I shall ask the House to sit on four days a week.
– Will the Minister for the Army give early consideration to the suggestion that men called up for military service from rural industries, who are classed as being medically fit, Class B2, should not be called on to perform military duties, but should be left to carry on their rural pursuits?
– In connexion with leave of absence sought by soldiers encamped in close proximity to their homes to engage in seasonal work, is the Minister for the Army aware that sometimes two or three months, and even greater periods, elapse before a decision is made? Is this delay deliberate, or is it due to apathy on the part of those in control? When -service men with practical knowledge of rural work are ready and willing to do such work, and are encamped within reasonable distance of areas where their services are required, will the Minister take steps to ensure that, where possible, such soldiers will be made available? Does not the Minister consider that men so released would be engaged in work of national importance ?
– Applications for the temporary release of men from the services for harvesting purposes are fully investigated by the man-power authorities who submit a report to the commanding officer as to whether in their opinion the man is really required in the area specified. It is then the duty of the commanding officer to say whether he can spare that man. If the man is not a noncommissioned officer, and is not engaged in specialist work, he is made available. I do not say that he is always made available, because, as honorable members know, the number of applications sometimes exceed the number of men in a particular camp. In addition, the strategical requirements of the Army must be taken into consideration. If delays have occurred, as stated by the honorable gentleman, I shall have the matter investigated. Wherever possible, prompt replies should be given by the commanding officer; but I point out that, as there are thousands of these applications, and they must go through certain channels to be reported upon, some delay is inevitable. Further, the Army authorities are experiencing great difficulty in meeting the demand for reinforcements for our troops in forward operational areas. That factor also has a bearing on the matter raised by the honorable gentleman.
– Will the Treasurer inform the House whether the SolicitorGeneral has advised the Government that there is a lag period in the assessment of income? If the SolicitorGeneral has advised that there is no lag, will the Treasurer confirm the statement that the assessments for the financial year 1942-43 now being issued will discharge the taxpayers’ liability up to the 30th June, 1943, notwithstanding that they are based upon the incomes of the financial year 1941-42? Will the Treasurer also make a statement to the House indicating what is the administrative practice in assessing the estates of deceased persons up to the date of their death?
– Anything that need be said en the subject raised by the honorable member will be said during the debate on the Income Tax Assessment Bill. In reply to the latter portion of the honorable member’s question, I take the view, that although there may be no lag in the payment of tax, there is ia certain delay between the time when the tax-payer’s liability is incurred, and the time when the assessment is issued.
– Has the Prime Minister seen a statement in the press, purporting to have been made by the President of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, Mr. Monk, that that organization does not propose to associate itself with the proposed Australian delegation to the Trade Union Conference which is to he held in Great Britain shortly, because it is considered that the Prime Minister has, by nominating a delegate from one union, departed from the usual procedure of allowing the unions themselves to nominate their delegates ? Does he not consider that friction will be caused among workers by his action in allowing a delegate to one large union, the Australian Workers Union, and not to another, just as large, which in effect will mean that miners, and certain other workers whose representation at the conference is just as important as that of anyone else, will not be represented? Will the right honorable gentleman reconsider his attitude upon this matter, and permit the unions to nominate the delegation?
– I have not interfered with the nomination of delegates. The facts are these: Early in the life of this Government, officers of the Australasian ‘Council of Trade Unions waited upon me in order that we might clarify how certain submissions which were to be put to the Government on behalf of the trade unionists as a whole, might be made with some degree of responsibility. It was agreed that the Australasian Council of Trade Unions should be regarded as an authority; but also it was agreed that the Australian Workers Union and the State executive of Western Australia, neither being affiliated with the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, should be regarded as responsible authorities. About October of last year, I was the intermediary through whom passed a proposal that a trade union conference should be held in London, at which the trade unions of the Dominions should be represented. The British Trade Union Conference was the moving spirit in convening this meeting, and I understand that it was the wish of the Government of the United Kingdom that the conference should take place. Subsequently, I ascertained that the Governments of the Dominions of Canada and New Zealand concurred in the proposal. I informed the Australasian Council of Trade Unions of this proposal and of the fact that it had been approved by the various governments, including the Commonwealth Government. I suggested that the Australasian Council of Trade Unions should appoint two representatives and that the Australian Workers Union should appoint one. That suggestion was made in the course of consultations on two or three occasions and “ I wrote f ormally to each of those organizations. It was not until this week that I discovered that the Australasian Council of Trade Unions did not desire the Australian Workers Union to be associated with the delegation, although there had been ample opportunity, particularly towards the end of last year, for the council to have so informed me. However, there were points of difference between the Australasian Council of Trade Unions and myself on the general question. The council desired the Government to pay all the expenses of the delegation, but we considered that, having regard to all the circumstances, we would be doing the proper thing if we provided transport. We knew that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for the delegation to get to Great Britain at all, unless the Government provided transport, and we agreed to do so, but we also considered that there was an obligation upon the organizations which were to be represented at the conference to defray the personal expenses of their delegates.
Mi-.. ABBOTT- Has the Attorney-
General seen a statement in the press concerning the acquisition of citrus fruits by the Commonwealth Government,, and the effect, thereon, of the decision in- the Tonking case ?. Will the right, honorable gentleman make a statement to the House concerning the compulsory acquisition of. property by the Commonwealth Govern. in en tj and the law relating thereto.?
– I have seen the. report tie- which the honorable member refers. lui soma- respects- it is very important and valuable, and I ann having a statement prepared which. I shall make to like House as- soon as- possible.
-.- Will the- Minister for Transport grant permission for racehorses to- be carried1 by rail to meetings: the total proceeds of which- are to- be devoted to the war- effort or to- charitable purposes?
– This- matter has received serious consideration byrne and by the officers of my department. In reply to a similar question recently I stated that, at present, I could not see my way clear- to alter- my decision).
– Has the attentionof the Prime Minister been- drawn to the fact that investments on the totalizator at Randwick for- the meeting prior to the last raceless Saturday totalled’ £168,000 compared with £7.9,000’ for the corresponding Saturday of last yean;, a-nd that at the meeting at Rosehill on the Saturday following; the- last raceless Saturday there was a record crowd,, whilst investments om the totalizator were twice the amount invested^ at the- corresponding, meeting, last year? In view of the fact that the raceless; .Saturday has not resulted in a reduction, of the crowds which, attend race meetings, or in a diminution, of the total gamboling investments- at such meetings, willthe Prime Minister interview interests- in the racing- business- other than those who have already advised him on this matter, with the object, of determining, whether the raceless. Saturday is really serving the purpose for. which, it was designed, and whether it would not be better to permit the resumption- of racing, on the first Saturday of each month, the profits from such meetings, to be devoted to patriotic purposes?.
– I shall have the totalizator figures compared, but the major purpose of the: raceless Saturday was to bring home to- the. Australian public keenrealization of the fact, that there ought to> be one day a month in. which the public would give itself up to practices which would contribute to national morale, their own personal fitness-, awdwar work generally.
– Beer- riots have occurred on. the- last three- raceless-Saturdays
-1 know. .It is all very difficult. I have a suspicion- that extra raes Meetings, would* only augment- the aggregate. totalizator turnover and, broadly speaking; betting.. Burt I shall have Ac matter looked! at.. As for con.sultation with, other racing, interests,. 1 have consulted the controllers of the1 responsible race clubs inn Australia;
– Who do: not-, care a. hang whether they race- or- not, because their salaries go’ om.
Mi-.. CURTIN. - They receive nosalaries. They are members of the committees of the Victoria Racing Club and’ the Australian Jockey -Club-. They ha/vebeen elected! by members of those’ clubs because- of their general’ knowledge of racing and- experience of racing administration. Frankly, I will not be. led’ into a decision on1 the advice of persons whose interest, in racing is how- much- money they can. make out of it. If racing is to be conducted, it must be conducted-, within limits, as a reasonable recreation.. I am also anxious not to discourage completely the blood, stock, industry of Australia. That is why- 1’ consider that some provision should’ be made, for racing, to be. continued’. But I repeat to the country what I have said previously - -and. I say it without preaching:. I believe that some- people imagine that w.e can conduct the greatest war,, and surmount the most terrible peril this country has. ever had to f ace; .and yet go about, our business as if nothing, were happening.
– Ra is going on in. England,.
– But not on anything like the scale of pre-war racing. In England race meetings are held now and again with comparatively few members of the public in attendance. The sole purpose is to preserve the tradition of certain classic events. I have examined that matter. If it were not so much the practice of Australia to stunt things, we should have a keener appreciation of the part that racing ought to play at the present time. I have no desire to be a spoil-sport or to interfere with reasonable relaxation or proper athletics; but I regard it as ridiculous to say that man ministers to his personal well-being by banging about a betting shop on a Saturday afternoon.
– Will the Prime Minister give consideration to the question of the Commonwealth Government taking all the profits from sporting meetings, specifically the profits from the totalisator, as a compulsory loan for the duration of the war?
– I shall ask the Treasury to consider the honorable member’s suggestion.
– I draw the attention of the Prime Minister to a case of great hardship affecting the wife of an internee, a blind woman with three children, who receives relief rations from the Queensland Government amounting t(; £1 7s. 6d. a week, plus 5s. a week because of her blindness. Would it be possible to grant some further assistance to these people?
– I shall ascertain if what the honorable member suggests can be done, and if it can be done, it will be done.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral any comment to make upon what is happening in the various State parliaments in regard to the granting of the Commonwealth of certain additional powers ro deal with post-war reconstruction? In view of the difficulties which have developed, is it proposed to hold a referendum on the subject, and if so can it be assumed safely that it will not be held until after the right honorable gentleman’s return from abroad ?
– The decisions of all the State parliaments are not yet known; when they are the Government will announce its decision.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that messages are being received over the air from countries now occupied by the Japanese, giving the paines of Australians who are interned in those countries? Will he consider setting uy a small department, to record those names so that the relatives of the prisoners mentioned may know at least that they are alive?
– I understand that all the names are being recorded now by the Department for Information. Particulars in regard to each soldier whose name is given are checked up by the Department of the Army, and a suitable notification is sent out to his relatives who, at the same time, are advised that the information is not official, but has been compiled from an unofficial source.
Leave - Cai,l Up of Miners.
– I ask the Minister for ihe Army whether it is a fact that the pay of members of the Australian Imperial Force and the Citizen Military Forces who are granted special leave to attend the funeral of a deceased relative is stopped for the period of their absence? If this is so, will the Minister take steps to rectify the anomaly?
– I shall make immediate inquiries into the matter, and give the honorable member a reply to-morrow.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware of a very slick practice that some officers of his department are adopting on the northern coal-fields in order to force men into the Army? Is it a fact that, owing to regulations gazetted as the result of a decision by War Cabinet, competent miners employed in industries other than coal-mining are not permitted to return to coal-mining? Is the Minister aware that the man-power officer on the northern coal-ifield told one former mine that, if he obtained a certificate from his employer that his services were n’o longer required, he could return to mining, and that, when that miner left bis employment in order to return to the coal-mining industry, the man-power officer said, “ As you are now out of work you are available for the Army”, and sent him into the Army?
– The decision of the War Cabinet was that the men were not to be released from other industries to return to the mines. That decision must be observed by the officers of the Department of Labour and National Service. I have no information about the particular matter raised by the honorable gentleman. If he supplies me with specific details, I shall have inquiries made and supply him with an answer.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the attention of the Minister has been drawn to remarks by Judge Markell at the Sydney Quarter Sessions yesterday when, during the hearing of a case of theft from the Commonwealth Bond Stores, His Honour said that, although the stores contained goods worth many thousands of pounds, it appeared from the evidence that any one could come along and take what he liked, and, in his opinion, the people who should be subject to penalty were those responsible for the care of the store and not the prisoner at the bar? Will the Minister obtain further information in relation to this case?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question to the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– Will the Minister for Munitions also ask the Minister for Trade and Customs to call for a report on the allegation that a huge quantity of razor blades, far in excess of what could be used in this country, was imported under lend-lease arrangements, and that, when it was found that they could not be used, they were placed in free stores. Will he also ask the Minister for Trade and Customs -whether these circumstances apply to other goods that have been imported under lend-lease?
Debate resumed from the 18th February (vide page 894), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the bill ‘be now read a second time.
– The Opposition whole-heartedly supports this bill, which authorizes the raising by loan of amounts not . exceeding in the whole £100,000,000, in order to meet the tremendous increase of our war expenditure, which, according to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), is likely to exceed the estimate for 1942-43 by about £100,000,000. Every member of the Opposition will do his utmost, by public advocacy, to impress upon the Australian people the need to contribute to the prosecution of the war by lending money to the Government. Nevertheless, it must not be assumed that, because the Opposition whole-heartedly supports the bill, the financial policy that is being pursued by the Government has its approval. As I shall point out later when dealing with the Treasurer’s financial statement, the Opposition strongly opposes the dangerous financial policy of the Government, particularly its neglect to act courageously, and in an orthodox way. The bill provides for the borrowing of £100,000,000 either by means of loans from the public or by the issue of treasurybills. The Opposition has no option but to accept the provision which permits the Government to resort to further credit expansion, by borrowing from the Commonwealth Bank against treasurybills, as well as by raising further loans from the public. The Opposition realizes that the country’s war needs are so urgent that it cannot tie the hands of the Government in any way. Whilst recognizing its duty and responsibility in this matter, the Opposition earnestly desires to co-operate with the Government in every way possible in order to obtain by safe methods the maximum amount of money required to finance the war. We would be neglecting our duty if we failed to draw attention to the dangers associated with excessive reliance on credit expansion by the issue of treasurybills. The recklessness of Labour’s financial policy is revealed by the position which has developed in relation to treasury-bills since the present Government came into power. At the end of June, 1941, when I was Treasurer, the value of the treasury-bills outstanding was only £1,750,000, but by June, 1942, at the end of the first financial year following the change of Government, there had been an increase of £71,250,000 in the amount raised by the simple, but inflationary, process of discounting treasurybills with the Commonwealth Bank. Labourhas been in control of the treasury bench for nearly seventeen months, and treasury-bills now outstanding on behalf of the Commonwealth Government have reached the alarming total of £213,000,000. Indeed, in the week ended the 1st February, the amount increased by £9,000,000. Actually the unfunded debt of Australia has reached the record figure of about £260,000,000; that sum allows for treasury-bills which have been issued on behalf of the States. The buoyancy of State finances, particularly in respect of railways and transport services, is a matter which the Commonwealth should investigate. In most States, railway deficits have been converted into substantial credits, the simple reason being that the Commonwealth Government has contributed large sums to the States for the carriage of materials and men. One might almost say that in financial matters theStates are the biggest profiteers in Australia. During the seven months ended January, 1943, no less than 45 per cent, of the expenditure on defence and war was derived from treasury-bill borrowing - the dangerous process of issuing I OU’s. The position is too dangerous to be passed by without comment. The. Opposition is greatly concerned about it. I shall deal with that matter also in connexion with the Treasurer’s financial statement.
– It causes concern also to investors in loans.
– That is so. It is a factor which is taken into consideration by discerning investors - the very people to whom appeals will be made to find the £100,000,000 which this bill seeks to authorize. It must be remembered that the degree to which the people of Australia fail to subscribe the £100,000,000 asked for will be the degree to which the present dangerous position will be aggra vated. In considering the position in relation to treasury-bills we must have regard not only to the present quantum but also to the cumulative effect of the Government’s policy. A continuation of its dangerous policy affects not only the value of loans to the Commonwealth, but also the deferred pay of the men and women in the services, and the purchasing power of the people; and therefore the practice of issuing treasury-bills must cause great concern because of its detrimental effect on the value of money and investments generally in this country. Last September the Treasurer spoke of raising, in the current financial year, £240,000,000 by means of public loans and £60,000,000 by the issue of war savings certificates and national savings bonds, but in the seven months ended January, 1943, only £83,000,000 had been raised by means of the Austerity Loan. I admit that there may be undisclosed advanced subscriptions to the next loan. During the six months ended last December, only a little over £5,000,000 had been raised from the sale of war savings certificates. It would appear that, instead of £60,000,000 being obtained from that source in the current financial year the amount will probably not exceed £11,000,000. There is a difference of £49,000,000 between the optimistic estimate and the ultimate realization. That in itself shows the failure of the voluntary system of finance. The Treasurer can no longer appeal to the patriotism of a certain large section of the Australian community for the contribution of loans to the amount desired by him. To a large degree, I blame the Government for that failure, because of the financial policy which it has pursued. It has not adopted a sound and straightforward financial policy, but has conducted its finance on the basis of the confidence of the people as to the future. It has gone from day to day, hoping that its estimated expenditure will not be realized. Not only have its optimistic estimates as to the capacity of the public to contribute towards the cost of the war fallen far short of expectations, but its expenditure has been under-estimated to the amount of over £100,000,000. It is difficult to estimate accurately the financial requirements of Australia, but, if I were
Treasurer, I should carry out a strict investigation as to who let the Government down to the amount of £100,000,000 on a total estimate of £440,000,000. That is a serious under-estimate, and one which, in the interests of Australia, particularly m view of the financial policy pursued by the Government, should have serious consideration. Last September, the Treasurer proclaimed his determination to raise the money needed for war requirements directly from the public. In his budget speech, he said - But whatever direct controls are established for this purpose, the excess spending power must be transferred to the Government in order to pay the fighting forces and for the labour and material used in producing munitions and war supplies. This is the financial price which must be paid. Whilst relying to a large degree on the voluntary efforts of the people, the Government is resolved that its payment shall not be evaded.
Then the Treasurer changed his tune. In his recent financial statement, he remarked -
It is difficult to estimate what further sum will be raised between now and the end of the financial year. In view of the high rate of increase in savings bank deposits, it is not unreasonable to expect a large response from both individuals and institutions, but wc cannot expect the full amount of loan finance required to be obtained from public borrowings.
Having regard to the policy pursued by the Government, and its optimistic attitude to voluntary subscriptions to loans, if we cannot get the funds required by way of public loans, and the Government is not courageous enough to face the inevitable facts, where is the necessary money to be got except from inflation? ‘Whatever designation we may use, the fact remains that, to the degree to which we have to make up the shortage by means of I O TPs given to the Commonwealth Bank, we are adopting inflation in its worst form.
The Treasurer stated that the Government’s policy of financing by means of treasury-bills is not so inflationary as it would have been if banking had not been controlled. I remind the Treasurer that banking was just as stringently controlled last September, when he warned against the dangers of inflation, as it is to-day, and just as rigidly controlled as when be stressed the fact that direct controls were not enough, as the financial price had to be paid. I do not propose, at this stage, to expose the fallacious reasoning underlying the Treasurer’s present attitude to treasury-hill finance, but I emphasize the fact that he now shows too little concern as to whether bo obtains finance by direct public loans or by indirect inflationary methods. Under difficult conditions, and particularly in a war-time emergency, no Treasurer can hope to succeed unless he has f aith in the Australian people and the people have faith in the financial policy pursued by the Government. That is a fundamental requirement, particularly in view of the kind of financial policy that this Government is pursuing. The very essence of a successful financial policy is confidence. There must be confidence, first, that the people will contribute voluntarily, and, secondly, that when, they do so, the value of their £1 will be maintained. But the value of investments, insurance policies and every monetary thing in Australia mustbe affected by the inflationary policy pursued by the Government. Nevertheless,, a definite responsibility rests on theOpposition, and all other honorable members who do not support the Government’s financial policy. That responsibility can be discharged only by pointing out the facts, and urging lie Government to review its financial position, tightening up its financial measures wherever possible. We have proof on all sides of wasteful and extravagant expenditureMen are getting exorbitant wages and salaries. I do not stand for low wages: or inadequate salaries. There is no such thing as high wages, because wages find their economic value; but there can beinadequate production for the wages, given. The responsibility rests on theGovernment to overhaul thoroughly theoperations of the Allied Works Council,, which have caused much discontent and criticism on the ground of wasteful and unnecessary expenditure. The first responsibility of the Government is to seethe burden of taxes is alleviated and minimized as much as possible. The method of finance should be as sound as circumstances permit, but the policy pursued by the Government, having regard to its extensive utilization of” treasury-bill finance, must result in inflationary repercussions’ and lack of confidence on the part of the people who are asked to contribute the- money required by the Commonwealth to finance- the war. Personally, I shall do all that I can to make the loan successful, but the responsibility rests on the Government to adopt a policy thai* willi contribute to success rather tiran failure’.
;.r- This is only a small bill, but it. provides for the raising of a loan of £100-,000,000-.. This Parliament should act as the- protector of the public purse, and’,, irrespective of the amount sought. to> bt.1 raised under- the bill, honorable members should adopt, a sound, basis: of judgment as to whether the measure should be passed. Foi- some time; the practice of the Government has been to lump- together the whole of the expenditure on all services, so- that no> information of value may lae conveyed, to the enemy.. At least this House’ is- entitled to- be furnished with information,, by some means, as to whether an increase of expen>diture by £100,.000;000 since last Septemberis justified. The people-should be givensome general idea of what is- being done with their money. They ought– to beassured, for example1, that the increase of war expenditure is reflected in a proportionate increase of the- war effort of the country. As a matter of fact, no such information- or assurance has been given. The- members- of this Parliament, in particular, are entitled, because of their representative capacity, to informa-ti ore on which to base, a judgment as to whether an- increase of £100^000,000 in, our war- expenditure can be justified’. The Joint Committee on. War Expenditure has no doubt given some attention, to this subject.
– Has the honorable member read, it’s reports?
– I have. As I understand it, that committee- gives consideration to specific items of expenditure, but only after the expenditure has been’ incurred. It does- not consider the whole subject with the object of determining the amount -that should be expended’, or the- principles- which should1 apply to such expenditure. The committee does not consider a war budget of any kind.,, nor does it devote- attention, to the public accounts in any general way. The Parliament is entitled to information that will permit it to reach a proper judgment om such an important subject.. Last September we were informed that £440,000,000 would be required for war expenditure Now we are told that our internal expenditure shows an increase of £70,000,000, and our external expenditure an. increase of £30,000,000 over the September estimate. I shall not be greatly surprised- if the Treasury unbosoms itself sufficiently to tell us, in amonth, or two,, that the expenditure has increased, by another £50,000,000. A committee of this Parliament should be appointed; to examine the whol’e situation and to, ‘advise the House whether expenditure along certain lines is’ justified or not. I should like to- know how much, of the £7.0,000,000 of increase in internal expenditure lias been- put. down for material, how much for salaries, allowances and wages; how much for interest, and! how much for other factors.. At any rate, we- are entitled) to am; outline of the whole financial structure-. In particular we shou’l’d . be sufficiently informed of the facts to be able to determine whether the increase of expenditure is truly reflected, in the war effort.
I shall not concern myself at the moment with the general1 financial’ situation. Another opportunity will be available for a discussion of that subject. My point at this moment is that it is incumbent upon this* House to establish machinery which- can- operate for the proper and effective- control of public expenditure.
– Honorable gentlemen opposite who* ha.ve discussed- this bill- h-a-ve not paidsufficient attention to the changed! conditions in this country since the previous Government vacated office-.. They appear to think that the financial problems- and. difficulties which the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley ) has to face to-day are indentical with those which faced” the Leader of BAe Opposition (Mr. Fadden)’ when he was Treasurer; and earlier when the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) was Treasurer. The fact of the matter is that loan raising by various governments- since the outbreak of. the war have increased progressively as follows : -
We are passing these debts on to posterity. The total Commonwealth and State debt at present is the colossal sum of £1,717,000,000 of which £1,121,000,000 is owed internally, and £596,000,000 is owed externally. Recently I asked the Treasurer the following questions : -
In reply, the honorable gentleman furnished some most interesting information. He told me that the latest published figures of the loan indebtedness of various countries were as follows : -
The figures for Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa arc as at the 31st March, 1942; Australia as at the 30th September, 1942; and the United States of America as estimated in budget for end of the fiscal year 1942.
He also informed me that Australia’s debt to Great Britain since the outbreak of the war had increased by £7,000,000, whilst its debt to the United States of America had decreased by £2,000,000; Canada’s debt to Great Britain had decreased by $391,000,000, whilst its debt to the United States of America had decreased by $10,000,000 ; South Africa’s debt to Great Britain had decreased by £40,000,000, and New Zealand’s debt to Great Britain had decreased by £3,000,000.
It must be obvious that if we continue borrowing at the present rate we shall not be in a position to pay interest when prices fall in the post-war world. With a population of 7,000,000 people, Australia cannot continue to increase its debts at the present rate, and hope to be able to extract sufficient from the national income to discharge its interest obligations, particularly if they also continue to increase at the existing rate. If the present method of raising finance is to be continued, 1 hope that the Government will give serious consideration to effecting a reduction of interest rates to something like a reasonable figure. I consider that 2 per cent, would be sufficient interest to (>ay people who invest their money in war loans. It is no sacrifice to invest money in war loans at 3 per cent. Speakers who took Dart in the last war loan campaign emphasized that investments in war loans were good business and that the return was better than could be expected from any other form of investment now available. To my mind it is sacrilegious to compare the sacrifices being made with those who are fighting for Australia with the alleged sacrifices of those who invest their money in war loans. There is no sacrifice at all in putting money into a war loan at a rate of interest that compares very favorably with the yield from other investments offering. There would not be any sacrifice if the investment had to be made at an interest rate of 2 per cent. I hope, therefore, that the Government will seriously consider the reduction of the rate. The carefully prepared notes, printed upon rather expensive paper, which are distributed in numerous varieties to those who participate in loan campaigns contain interesting observations, a few of which I shall read to the House. The speakers are expected to advise the general public of the wisdom of investing in Government loans. I quote the following : -
But just as taxation is better than complete conscription, so arc voluntary loans to the’ Government better than taxation for the individual.
If taxation alone were used, a great deal more than at present would have to he given to the Government by every civilian during the war. Money paid in taxation cannot be recovered. Although the Government must raise a large amount in taxation, it prefers to obtain most of the remainder of its financial needs by asking the Australian public to subscribe to its loans and savings certificates. For the individual this simply involves postponing his spending until after the war.
If you want to avoid complete conscription of your income and savings, or having to provide more of the Government’s needs by taxation, you must voluntarily postpone some of your spending now, and lend the resulting savings to the Government. Surely this is better for you.
That is an appeal to the cupidity of the individual which I do not consider praiseworthy. To help the nation in a time of crisis should be regarded as an honour. The Government should not be. obliged to beg people to lend their money, offering as an inducement that it is better for an individual to lend it than to have it taken from him by way of taxation. I prefer that the Government should, as far as possible, raise by taxes whatever amount it requires; because the present generation should pay for its own mistakes and not pass the responsibility on to posterity.
– Financial conscription !
– I have no objection to the term “ conscription “, even though the honorable member for Barker may consider that I have. He having had bis way in the imposition of a certain degree of the conscription of life,. I should welcome the conscription of wealth.
– The Government has imposed conscription of life; the honorable member for Barker merely supported its proposal.
– The ‘ Government did not go as far as the honorable member desired it to go. It at least went sufficiently far to satisfy the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald ) .
– And too far to satisfy the honorable member for Melbourne.
– Precisely. Conscription of wealth holds terrors for honorable members opposite. Nevertheless, there will not be equality of sacrifice if the principle be not applied in some degree. Honorable members opposite frequently refer to the Keynes plan, and various other schemes for the raising of loans compulsorily, but never utter a word about a labour plan in respect of war finance prepared by the Socialist Clarity Group in Great Britain. This is not an authoritative document emanating from the Labour party of Great Britain, but at least it is a scheme which would place on those who are in the higher income groups the responsibility of paying for the war. It was prepared by Mr. M. Kalecki, an Oxford economist. He proposed that a limitation be placed on the total expenditure of every individual in the community. The scheme may be stated in his own words thus -
The general principle of our scheme is rationing of expenditure; and since reduction of enjoyment of services releases little in the way of raw materials and labour we concentrate here on the expenditure in retail shops. Thus a maximum for such expenditure of, say, £60 per annum per adult person and £35 per child below fourteen is fixed, and to this extent coupons are issued, any sale by a retailer without coupons being prohibited under heavy penalty.
Apart from services (inclusive of gas and electricity) the following goods could be bought coupon free: - (1) second-hand goods; (2) repairs; (3) medicines; (4) newspapers, journals and books. (Furniture, &c, for newlymarried couples a special allowance could be made. )
The control of retailers may be based on arrangements now being made for collections of the purchase tax; the retailers must surrender to the authorities the amount of coupons covering their turnover. By this, however, the problem of control is not fully exhausted. Indeed people of low income grades will, of course, not fully use their coupons, and thus may be tempted to sell the residue of coupons or to use them to purchase goods for other persons against reward. To prevent this, apart from the absolute maximum of expenditure, a maximum percentage of income to be spent in shops must be fixed, at a level approximately equal to the actual percentage spent in shops by the poorer population. If this percentage were, say, 75 per cent., then a family with an income of £160 is permitted te spend in shops only £120, though the absolute maximum expenditure of a couple with one child on the basis of £60 per adult person and £35 per child would be £155.
He calculated that the extent to which thi. operation of the scheme would curtail expenditure in shops, on the assumption of a maximum expenditure of £60 by each adult person and £35 by each child, would be between £400,000,000 and f f.00,000,000. This, of course, was only a crude estimate. The quotation continues -
Thus t]i e £400,000,000 of “general rationing scheme” are likely .to release rubber more resources than the £500,000,000 of compulsory .savings, and this without imposing any burdens on the low incomes.
That is the advantage of his scheme compared with the Keynes plan - it would place no hurden on the low incomes, but would ration expenditure by limiting the percentage -of income which a family might be allowed to expend in shops. It would even provide that a maximum amount of £120 might lie expended by a family consisting of a man, his wife, a nd one child during any one year. The trouble in regard to those “who receive large incomes is that, even in time of war, they continue to spend very much more than they need spend.; and their expenditure is not limited, as is that of persons who have small incomes.
Tu the course of a recent debate in this House, I said that the people on low incomes pay all the indirect taxation that is levied on the ‘community. That, of course, is not strictly accurate. I meant to .convey that they pay most of the indirect taxation levied on the comm unity.
– Is not that because their number is larger than that of other groups ?
– -Because their number is larger and also because they, by the nature of .things, mostly use the goods subject to indirect taxation. I do not need to remind the honorable member that the last census revealed that 80 per cent, of the bread-winners at that time received the basic wage or less.
– Including boys and girls of sixteen years of age.
– Nevertheless, breadwinners. The right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) had ample opportunity, during the years in which he was a Minister, to have the actuaries check those figures and relate them to adult wage-earners, in order to ascertain how many adult wage-earners received above the basic wage.
– The statement of the statist in regard to bread-winners is quite accurate: the use made of it by honorable members opposite is always misleading.
– The right honorable member., quite often, is misleading in his diagnoses of political ills and his analysis of political situations.
– But not in his statements .of fact.
– The right honorable gentleman is no more accurate in his statements of fact. He knows full well that the public, if invited to choose between his analysis of the present position and that of an honorable member on this side of the chamber, would unhesitatingly accept the statement of the representative of the Labour party. During the week-end, I .consulted -a group of students of economies regarding the present effect of .direct .and indirect taxation .upon incomes. I discovered this most illuminating fact - that a person in .receipt of .an income of £6 a week, and without dependants,, pays in direct and indirect taxation £1 15s. a week. In addition to that impost, he has to purchase necessaries of life at inflated prices.
– The small wage-earner is paying in indirect taxes 20 per cent, of lis income, but he does not know it.
– The wage-earner to-day is not in the happy position, as honorable members opposite suggest, of possessing a large surplus to invest in compulsory or voluntary loans. If the worker with £6 a week has a wife, he pays in direct and indirect taxation ,£1 lis. a week. If he has .a wife and child, he pays £1 6s. .a week. If he has -a wife and two children, he pays £1 5s. a week. All other charges for services, such as rent, gas and electricity, and clothing and food, have also to be met. so that the man with an 12. come of £6 a week, who has to support ‘ a wife and two children, has no surplus for investment.
– As the price level rises, his spending power will be even further reduced.
– As the price level increases, his position will become proportionately worse. Therefore, it behoves the Government to curb the rapacity of those whom honorable members opposite represent, so that they will not be able to increase prices of goods required by the community, ‘as they ‘have done in the past. The method of price-fixing should also be improved. I have no doubt that, it’ time permitted, I could convince most honorable members opposite of the folly of their ways’, and the fallacy of thinking that a nation can win a war under the capitalist system. They must realize by this time the impracticability of attempting to impose more and more burdens on those least able to bear them.
There is a widespread feeling among the public that large sums of money which are raised either by taxes Or by loan are not being wisely expended. I do not suggest that the Government is responsible for waste.
– Then who is responsible?
– By “the Government “ I mean Ministers. They are not personally responsible for waste.
– There is such a thing as Cabinet responsibility for acts of government.
– After three and a half years of war the Government’s advisers should be able to estimate with reasonable accuracy the staffs required in our munitions establishments. Some factories have not yet commenced production, and many men and women are employed in other establishments about which complaints are- made that the workers are not fully occupied. No doubt such allegations contain a germ of truth, and they are having a bad effect upon the morale of the community. Although I do not like the system of borrowing money for war expenditure, I am satisfied that people would contribute more enthusiastically to loans and pay their taxes more readily if they were sure that the money were being wisely utilized. Sometimes staffs are required to stand by in munitions establishments because ships bearing essential materials are sunk by enemy action; but the rumours of the inability on the part of some people even, to find work are so numerous that the Government should consider without delay the advisability of overhauling the munitions industry in particular, because it is our biggest spending activity to-day. People would feel much happier, in bearing the burden of taxation, if the difference were less between soldiers’ .pay and the remuneration which other people by the cost-plus system are able to obtain, whether they earn it or not, in this period of crisis. For some people in the community, the war seems to be a perfectly good war. They will be sorry when it ends, because they were never so well off while bearing so little responsibility. The public is aware of most of these facts and will be critical of the Parliament and the Government, no matter what party is in office, if the position he not rectified. The evils of which I speak were inherited by the Government from its predecessors ; and I do hot blame the predecessors for having created all of them. Possibly, they were incidental to the commencement of a big war effort in a country which, before the conflict, had very slight organization for war. But after three and a half years of war, we are entitled to expect that money expended on the manufacture of munitions shall in all cases be well and profitably expended.
I now desire to refer to the expenditure involved in raising loans. On the 5th February, I directed to the Treasurer the following questions : -
The Treasurer gave to me information, concerning expenditure on all loans raised, between March, 1940, and June, 1942. The total amount expended on underwriting was £85,000. That expense was incurred in respect of the first loan floated; those floated after March, 1.940,. have not been underwritten. Items of expenditure incurred in the raising of the loans were, brokerage and commission £500,000, advertising and publicity. £145,000, printing and stationery £11,000 and postage and other charges £50,000. making a total of £810,000. Thi3 total does not include the expenditure incurred in connexion with the Austerity Loan, for which figures were not available. Surely it is unnecessary to expend so much money on advertising, publicity, printing, stationery and postage. Moreover, the charge of £500,000 for brokerage and commission on the flotation of a loan to save the nation seems too high.
Since the beginning of the war something over £300,000,000 has been raised by way of loan. The present Government has raised £207,000,000 of that amount, so that its difficulties in this connexion have been greater by far than those of its predecessors. I recognize that the Government is passing through a difficult time in regard to finance. The Treasurer, I know, is one of the most hard-working Ministers in the Government, and he is most patient and attentive in the discharge of his duties. I recognize those facts, but it still seems to me that, a new method of raising money should be devised, rather than go on raising loans at the rate of 3 per cent. I do not know whether the Government would consider the scheme propounded in England as an alternative to the Keynes plan. I do not put the idea forward with any great enthusiasm, and would not necessarily support it, but if the Government is compelled ultimately to consider some sort of compulsory saving scheme, because- of the difficulty of raising more than £200,000,000 a year, I hope that it will not increase the burden of those who receive less than £6 a week, a group which includes the vast majority of the breadwinners in Australia.
.- Our total bill for this war will be paid out of both taxation and loans, and there is no differentiation of expenditure according to the source from which the money is raised. In essence, loans are really a form of deferred taxation, because they must ultimately be repaid out of taxation. Therefore, every proposed war loan should be closely examined just as we examine the concomitant taxation proposals, and every effort should be made to keep the total of both down to the minimum. No loan bill should be passed without the same close scrutiny as we would bestow upon a taxation measure. Expenditure, whether from loans or taxation, may be kept down if steps are taken to keep down the cost of living, and to avoid wasteful expenditure. By wasteful expenditure I do not mean merely the paying away of money without getting full value for it, as is undoubtedly done sometimes ; I have also in mind the purchase of goods, particularly of perishable commodities such as vege table and fruit, for the Army in such a way as to cause an acute shortage of supplies for the civil population, thus bumping up the cost of living, so that the public, and the Government also, receive less for their £1 than they should. “When considering loan proposals we should study carefully the .concomitant taxation proposals so as to ensure that the burden is equitably imposed. -If the people have confidence in the Government’s financial policy, it will be possible to raise money more readily and at a lower rate of interest than if this confidence be lacking. We are now considering a proposal for the raising of £100,000,000, a figure that would have staggered us in peace-time, and which even in war-time represents a huge addition to our public debt. It is an amount greater than the total public debt of some of the States. Therefore, we should consider carefully what is to be done with this money, whether it is to be expended wisely, and whether it is possible to arrange our financial programme in such a way as to lessen the drain upon the public at large, and particularly upon the individual.
We have been informed that the Government is formulating certain measures of post-war social reform, and it might be inferred from the Treasurer’s speech that these amenities were to be paid for either out of taxation or out of loans raised at the present time. I suggest that they will be paid for out of neither; the whole of the money raised now will be used for war purposes, but it would beget public confidence, and make it possible- to raise money at a lower rate of interest, if the people were given clearly to understand that the money now being raised will not be expended on the new social services which have been forecast.
It is vitally important that we should, by every means in our power, seek to curb inflation, and prevent the cost of living from rising. This increase of the cost of living is a source of acute personal anxiety to us all, and particularly to those with small incomes. This anxiety is itself a hindrance to the nation’s war effort, because, in the prosecution of war, there is no more powerful weapon than the peace of mind of the public. The morale of the nation is based upon it. I fear that, because in its financial proposals the ‘Government does not contemplate the creation of a comprehensive organization to deal -with the financial position as a whole, its methods of taxation may well interfere with the nutrition and health of people in the lower income groups in a way which would not occur if steps were taken to keep down the cost of living. One has only to look at what has taken place with regard to the prices of certain essential foods. The price of milk, for instance, has risen by something like 50 per cent, since the war started. The prices of vegetables during a certain period rose greatly. Oranges to-day are 6d. each, and it was stated in the Sydney Sun of yesterday that peaches were being sold in that city at ls. each. It is quite obvious that something must be done to make certain that the fruits, vegetables and other foods which contain vitamins essential for the protection of the body, and particularly for the health of women and children, are available, at reasonable prices. If we can do something to handle this problem of the continual increase of the cost of living, then active action against inflation may actually enable us to lessen the taxation that we impose, and also to decrease the amount of the loans that we have to raise. Since the war began, wholesale prices in Australia have risen by over 20 per cent., retail prices have risen by a little more, wages have risen by even more than that, and some items like clothing have actually increased by something like 72 per cent, in Melbourne and 62 per cent, in Brisbane. Such increases as these apply over the whole area of governmental expenditure, because the Government at the present time, quite differently from peace-time, is a buyer of practically all these products throughout the community, and the increases touch the Government’s budget just as much as they touch the budget of the individual. If we could bring down the cost of living, or even hold it where it is, we should be able to avoid the introduction of a supplementary budget, such as has been just brought down by the Treasurer to raise the huge sum of money that he has been forced to provide to meet the gap between revenue and expenditure. This has been recognized in other countries. In Thursday’s Melbourne Herald I noticed a telegram from Washington which stated that if prices can be held in America at current levels, the savings to the Government on the cost of the war and to .’the public on the things it buys will exceed one hundred billion dollars by the end of 1943. This saving is almost three times the total cost to the American Government of the first world war. In fact, in Australia, as indeed in most places touched by the war, there are really two sets of taxation with which we must deal. The first is that which is open and visible, and is legislated for by the Government in the form of increased income tax, sales tax, excise and the like. The second is the concealed taxation of inflation. That taxation which we bring down as Government measures we can temper with rough justice to .the people at large. The Government is, as I shall show when I speak on the taxation measure, actually doing something to draw up its methods of taxation with the object of keeping down the cost of living, and I think that its proposals attempt to apportion the increased burdens according to the ability of people to pay. But the concealed taxation of inflation is most unjust and inequitable. We cannot discriminate in it, because it is concealed, and it takes the heaviest toll of the poorest in the community, especially those with the largest families. It is therefore a form of taxation that we must fight. It is a very definite danger, because the plain fact is that the Government has diverted, at least half of the productive capacity of the nation into war channels, and at the same time has placed, by the money that it has been paying to its employees, probably twice as much money in the hands of many sections of the people as they ever had before. That is to say, they have twice the buying power for half the goods. This is a position which must automatically lead to enormous price increases, and great taxation increases as well, unless a comprehensive plan which deals with all phases of the subject be put into effect. Of course I admit that there is one large school of economists which insists that the way to cope with, the situation is to let taxes and bonds absorb the excess purchasing .power from the consumer’s pocket, as it will to some degree. This is a very persuasive theory, but it is completely academic, because no country, not even Germany, has been able to raise it3 taxation so high, or make its loans so great, as completely io obviate inflation.
It is interesting to see what has happened in our sister dominions. The experience of Canada is very definite on this point. Canada some eighteen months ago faced up to this position as we must face up to it, and has now had that length of experience of the operation of a comprehensive plan which had five main approaches. The Dominion Government in its report of the first year’s operations said that it was forced to this action because inflationary pressure was increasing, despite determined efforts to siphon off rising incomes through taxation and borrowing. That bears out the experience even of Germany, where the government made the same attempt. In October, 1941, the Canadian Government, which had, as we have in Australia, made piecemeal attempts to deal with this problem, was forced to deal with it in a. comprehensive way, because it was satisfied that additional fiscal measures would be too late in effect, and not sufficiently specific in application to meet the situation. As the result of the plan ‘that it, drew up, direct control was established promptly over all prices, wages and salaries, controls were applied to production and supplies, and subsidies were given to ensure that there would be a guarantee of full supplies of all those things which were absolutely essential. It was thought in Canada that the choice lay between distributing the burden of a restricted supply of goods and services in a haphazard manner through inflation, or doing it in an orderly and reasonably equitable manner through price and other direct controls. It was pointed out that inflation ensures disorderly competition for materials and man-power between war and civilian industry, and between essential and non-essential production, and thus results in inefficiency and waste. It causes uneven adjustments in incomes;, it leads to unrest and discontent for the factory worker, the farmer, the business man, the salaried person and the pensioner. It means that a large part of the energies of the population is swallowed up in the losing struggle to gain compensation for price increases and to achieve security, instead of being devoted to the essential and urgent- task of winning the war. It was found in Canada, as we shall find in this country when we come to do it, that the difficulties of implementing this policy are immeasurably greater the longer the decision to do so is postponed. The Canadian Government therefore took this action eighteen months ago and is very pleased indeed with the results, because it was able to bring about a stabilized position. It was forced to do this because its own budget was growing but, worse than that, the budget of the individual was unable to buy the necessaries of life. The Government made five main approaches in its general policy programme. These were : (1) an over-all price ceiling; (2) a wage and salary ceiling; (3) profit and income controls such a3 are being exercised in Australia by taxation and borrowing; (4) allocation of materials and rationing of various kinds; and (5)’ man-power controls, the last-named being probably the most important of all. It is admitted that the difference in the result since it adopted this comprehensive plan for its post-war methods has been completely astounding, and that the rising tide of prices and the increase of the cost of living in the early stages of inflation was too widespread and powerful to be checked in any other way than by this general system of treatment.
In our sister dominion of New Zealand similar action was found to be necessary. There the Government started much sooner with a general system, although not a complete system, at the beginning of the war. Still, it was a very much more complete system than any other country except Great Britain had adopted. Last year the New Zealand Government said that it must do very much more than this, and decided to stabilize the whole position by first stabilizing all types of income, especially wages, salaries and other forms of remuneration, also prices paid for farm products, and manufacturers and traders’ profits. It stabilized also the prices of ‘essential .commodities, services, rents, and other things which enter into the cost of living, lt ensured nhat the major items of farm production costs should mot he allowed to increase in price, and it stabilized the position of the farmer by making sure that he had a reproductive price for the .goods that ike produced. That was done because it was the only way in which the Governmnent .could ensure .a full supply of food products.
– The right honorable member, of course, is clear that neither in Canada nor in Kew Zealand did the Government -prevent increases that were due to the rise qf the cost of living.
– I shall deal with that point. In both cases certain increases have occurred, but the position is the same as it is in Great Britain. In Great Britain at the -beginning of the war, trade union leaders agreed that if a reasonable system of wage control, providing an adequate remuneration for workers, were introduced, there would be no general claim by the unions for cost of living increases during the war. That undertaking has been adhered to. It is true that .there are certain inescapable increases which must occur in a country which is not completely self-supporting. It is necessary to take into account the prices of certain raw ‘materials, production of which is out of our control, and the freight charges upon those commodities. In .dealing with such factors, adequate safeguards should be applied. The point I wish to make is that we must ha-ve complete control in our own house, and a uniform policy in order to ensure the smallest possible -rises and the least possible damage to our own economy. ‘On the point that has been raised by the Treasurer, it is interesting to note that in Kew Zealand it” was decided in October last that the range of items upon which index figures were based should be extended to include additional commodities such as vegetables which were excluded in time of peace because of great variations of price, but which in war-time are indispensable to the diet of the worker. The number of items has been increased from 20 or 30, to approximately 110 by the inclusion of the maximum number of essential commodities for which a reasonably stable price could be obtained. If that were done here we should be doing much towards creating greater peace of mind and maintaining morale throughout &e community as a whole. In view of the ‘Government’s proposal to use a portion of its taxation revenue for social security purposes in the post-war ora, it is worth while noting the views expressed by the Prime Minister of Kew Zealand on the 15th December, 1:942. He said -
Now social security implies something much more than a system of money benefits for people who have suffered unemployment , or some other economic misfortune, lt implies an order of society in which every citizen - wage-earner, trader, professional man, or pensioner - is safeguarded against economic fluctuations.
It ob my plain duty to tell you to-night .that social security in this wider sense of the term is in danger. It is not in danger because it is opposed now by any large part of the community, for I think I can say .that social security has now become a national policyIt is in danger because the impact of war has let loose forces which, if they are not firmly checked, will throw our economic system ‘into disorder.
It should be unnecessary for me to tell you that if social security is not built on a .’stable currency it is built on sand. If the wageearner is not sure that his wages will buy approximately the sa-me amount of goods a month -or a year hence as they buy .to-day, there is no real social security.
The Prime Minister went on to point out that in accordance with the stabilization plan in operation in that dominion, action had already been taken to stabilize wages, prices, and cost of production, so that the burden of paying for the war would not be thrown unfairly upon one section of the community to the advantage of others. In England the problem was attacked at the beginning of the war. In an endeavour to prevent’ inflation the Government called upon the services of leading economists, departmental heads and business men who had had wide experience of what had been done in the last war, with a -view to ensuring equality of sacrifice throughout the community. It is because that aim was achieved that the morale of Great Britain has been so high throughout the war and the British people were able to stand up to the terrific “ blitz “, which probably was the most terrifying experience that any community has been required to undergo. In its endeavour to minimize inflation the British Government introduced a scheme of food control and price stabilization. Consider, for instance, -what is being done with regard to the subsidizing of the production of certain foodstuffs in order to keep retail prices at a reasonable figure. Last year the British Government paid approximately £123,000,000 by way of subsidies on food production, and one of Britain’s highest financial authorities told me that in his view that action had prevented inflation to the amount of £1,000,000,000. At present the total national income of Great Britain is approximately equally divided between war expenditure and expenditure for civil purposes, so that the subsidizing of food production and the consequent saving of inflation has saved the imposition of taxation amounting to £500,000,000, which is more than four times as much as was actually paid to keep food prices right. I admit that the problem is a difficult one, and I urge that at the earliest possible moment we should follow the excellent examples which have ‘been set by other countries, in which it has been possible to maintain steady price levels and uniform conditions amongst the people generally. I admit that already we have done a great deal in this country, and I have no wish to deprecate what has been achieved. The work done by the Prices Commissioner has been beyond praise; the only fault that I can find is that his charter is not wide enough. Since Japan entered the war fourteen months ago we have had to make an all-in war effort, and to meet far greater expenditure than ever before. Any one who approaches the administration of a great public department at the present time with a static mind, and so is unable to cope with rapidly changing conditions, is not fit to be in office. When the war is over we shall be faced with an unprecedented position, much worse than after the last war, and capable dynamic minds will be required to meet such conditions.
– Surely the right honorable member will not suggest that the handling of the firewood situa- tion by the Prices Commissioner is beyond praise.
– I was not referring to any specific item. I say that in regard to the great majority of items the Prices Commissioner has done an excellent job. I agree that in certain isolated cases shortages and certain other difficulties have occurred but that is largely because of a piecemeal approach to the problem. The point I wish to make is that we must have a universal scheme with adequate safeguards to ensure that the men who produce commodities shall receive an adequate remuneration for their efforts, and that all sections of the community shall be able to enjoy a reasonable standard of living. If we do that we shall find that the Estimates now brought down by the Treasurer will not be so greatly exceeded as was the case last year. They will .be exceeded to a limited degree because new developments which cannot be foreseen are bound to arise. We may ‘be able to reduce our war expenditure to a level which production generally will be able to stand. It would be disastrous if we destroyed ourselves utterly in attempting to do the things which we must do in order to save ourselves. We must view all phases of our expenditure in their proper perspective.
– This bill should not go through without some examination of the unusual features of the speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley). I mention, for example, the Government’s overseas expenditure. Every honorable member knows perfectly well that the Government’s overseas war expenditure has substantially decreased since the budget was introduced last September, and we know further that another account with respect to one important enterprise will diminish almost to vanishing point in the near future. Therefore, the Treasurer does not meet the position when he says that these estimates may be out by a mere £50,000,000. The point raised by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) that the financial transactions of the Government should be subject to close inspection by a committee of this House was perfectly sound. We recognize that certain things cannot be said in public to-day, but I am of opinion - and I have expressed this view more than once in the past - that that excuse has been overdone time and again since the outbreak of the war. Waste of all kinds has been covered under the blanket of war-time secrecy - “ For Heaven’s sake do not tell any one about it because the enemy might get to know about it”. When we contrast the information given to members of the House of Commons in open Parliament with that which we do not receive here, the result is dreadful. If a British general gets into trouble, the world soon knows about it. There is no hesitation in making a scapegoat of him, or setting up a parliamentary inquiry if the Parliament thinks it necessary. But most extraordinary things have happened in this country about which the public has been little or nothing, and over which a complete blanket of censorship has been thrown. I relate this observation directly to war expenditure from loan funds! In respect of one instance which goes back to last September, not one solitary word has been published in the press.
– What about Broome ?
– Yes. The Japanese knew that they bombed Broome. We did not keep anything from them by our failure to tell the public that the Japanese had bombed Broome. The Japanese also blew up an ammunition ship in Darwin harbour. That also was kept quiet. Inquiries were held into these matters, but honorable members were not told anything about them.
– The Japanese blew up all the ships in Darwin Harbour.
– I do not know whether they blew up all the ships, but they made an ungodly mess of the place. Does the Government think that the Japanese did not send over a plane the next day to photograph the result of their raids?
– What has this to do with war expenditure?
– These matters are directly related to the war expenditure that we are now asked to approve. There should be some keen inspection of the accounts in relation to them. We hear a lot of talk about costs.
An uneasy feeling exists in the cormunity to-day - and it is justified - about the mounting expenditure of the Government. People are not blind. You cannot have in operation an institution like the Allied Works Council, which is a byword for waste and inefficiency, and keep its activities dark. On the one hand the people are asked to stand up to taxation on an unprecedented scale, and on the other hand they are asked to contribute by way of voluntary loans. The Government is now getting its answer in what is happening with respect to war savings certificates. The figures cited by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) on that point are illuminating. They tell the Government plainly what the people are thinking. The people want a government which will lay down hard and fast rules to ensure that every body shall contribute on an equitable basis. During recent visits to Melbourne and Sydney, I was disgusted by the spectacles presented by the war loan rallies held on street corners and on the Town Hall steps every Friday. Even Wirth’s Circus would not put on turns- like those. To talk about such exhibitions being related to Government war finance is too ludicrous for words. They reduce government to the level of a sideshow, and not a very reputable sideshow at that. Other exhibitions at which recruits are sought are just as disgusting. There is only one way in which a government can face up to this matter. I am not now telling this Government anything which I did not tell the Government of which I was a member. The point was touched upon in the matter read out by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) this afternoon. I wondered at the honorable member’s angelic lips being able to frame the ominous word “ conscription “ ; but he seemed to like it. When it comes to waging war, conscription does not mean merely conscription of man-power; and, incidentally, conscription of man-power does not simply mean that every one is shoved into the Army. Likewise, conscription of wealth does not mean taking every penny the Government can lay its hands upon. Conscription means calling upon every individual and every industry to contribute on a certain, known and reasonably fair basis. But that is not the position to-day. The methods by which finance has been raised in this war are not fair or just. Reverting to the Allied Works Council, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) gave some illuminating figures last year. We have also been informed in the press that lorry drivers have been paid up to £90 a week by the Allied Works Council for their labour and the hire of their lorries. Those statements have not been officially contradicted. The Government will soon find in the Allied Works Council one of the greatest messes it will be called upon to clear up, and something which it will never be able to explain. This afternoon the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) gave one of the lamest excuses he has ever uttered when he was replying to questions asked by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), with respect to that body. The action of the Director-General of Allied Works in signing blank consents to the prosecution of a man is sufficient to tip any government, or any director-general, out of office. The only thing I know that equals this was the visit of the Duke of Alva to the Netherlands as Governor-General on behalf, of Philip of Spain. In the vessel in which he travelled was a trunk full of blank forms signed by Philip authorizing the execution of any one to whom the Duke of Alva took a dislike, and he used those authorizations with some effect. Are we going to tolerate such a practice in this country? It is unthinkable that money should be raised by loan and wasted by methods that in some cases have been disclosed and in other cases have not been disclosed. The community knows that this is going on. People can -see it. Time after time, we see letters of complaint against the excessive use of motor transport, not only by the armed services. The armed services are the easiest to pick out, because the poor devils in uniform are conspicuous and their motor vehicles are easilyidentified by the markings on them. There are many directions in which the Government is spending altogether too much money. The whole set-up in this building discloses a Parliament which is completely out of touch with financial reality. I am not confining my kicks to the pre- sent Treasurer, but I do protest against his not cleaning up the mess which was handed down to him. He took over a nice Christmas tree from the previous Government, in which we had a batch of Ministers who were not wanted in any government, and which created committees of no value and whose reports never see the light of day, and would never have the chance of being debated in this House, no matter what the circumstances were. Those committees were appointed merely for the purpose of keeping some people quiet. From the country’s point of view, this is the worst Parliament that Australia has ever elected. My considered opinion is that the sooner it ends the better it will be for Australia.
– Why does the honorable gentleman remain associated with it if it is so bad ?
– I did not pick my associates here; my electors picked me, and certain electors in Tasmania were so misguided as to pick the honorable gentleman on three different occasions. Another thing the community is watching is the cost of living. It is going up steadily. With the rising cost of living, we have in force a rationing system under which coupons have to be surrendered for certain things. Side by side with that is the well-known fact, admitted by the Government, that too much spare cash is in the hands of the public. If it were not for that, there would be no justification for this Loan Bill, for it is only from spare cash that the Government will raise its loans. My objection to the system of raising loans is that it puts the load on the willing horse. Only the willing people, who either have the cash or are prepared to make sacrifices to invest in these loans are caught in the Treasurer’s net. The people who should be caught escape. Every person, with few exceptions in the lower income group, should be obliged by some method to make a contribution to this £100,000,000 loan. The Government got into office by damning that principle.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member for Melbourne croaks “ Hear, hear “ from deep down in his throat like the bull-frog in the pond. But not many Government supporters agree with him in this matter. He is making himself pretty well isolated. That will probably do him good. It was not until John the Baptist went out into the desert that he did such good work. A sojourn in the desert would not do the honorable member for Melbourne any harm; ultimately, it might be of benefit not only to him, but also to his party.
– Do not say too much about John the Baptist.; he lost his head.
– And the honorable gentleman will have to take care of his head. The cost of living is rising. With it there is another sign of the times. That is the public uneasiness to which I referred earlier in my speech. Two or three times lately I have noticed complaints about the scarcity of silver coins and that the note issue lias risen. It is a well-known fact that there is a certain amount of hoarding of silver coins and notes. That is causing the shortage. It is not a good sign; rather is it a sign that things are not quite right.
– In one month before Christmas, the note issue in England increased by £50,000,000.
– As the population of England is about 45,000,000, that increase represents only about £1 a head.
– Our note issue went up by only about £1 a head.
– Well, even if the Government did not increase the note issue before Christmas, it has increased it greatly since it took office. He would be a financial Gargantua who would want to increase the note issue by even £1 a head at Christmas time.
The moment you introduce rationing while allowing a big cash surplus to remain in the hands of the community, you create conditions which inevitably lead to a black market. It is of no use for the House to pass such measures as the malicious Black Marketing Act, which was passed on one of the two occasions on which I have been absent from this place when important legislation has been under consideration. The Government could easily devise some scheme under which men and their families would contribute to the cost of the war, by taxation on the one hand and by loans on the other, according to their income. Then they would not have this big surplus of cash, and there would be no need for the Government to go round pleading in town halls, on street corners and on cricket pitches, rattling the tambourine and asking people to put some pennies in it.
– And no one would have any cause for complaint.
– True. We would then get some financial justice in the community. We have no financial justice now, and this Government is not planning for it. Instead, it is perpetuating the disparity between those who will give out of what they have or have scraped together and those who say, “We are going to have as good a time as we can while this show lasts”. That disparity becomes greater and greater as this financial system continues. Where it wall end I. do not know, although I have my own ideas. But I doubt whether the Treasurer would like to stand up and honestly forecast what the financial condition of this country will be if the policy of the Curtin Ministry remains in force for another two years of war. It is not a prospect to which the Treasurer or any one who may succeed him can look forward with any degree of delight. Peace, whenever it comes or whatever it may be like, will have its own problems. I am not one who attempts to forecast what the peace will be like. No one can foretell the conditions that it will produce. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) referred to some of the problems that peace will bring, but I am concerned not so much about the problems of peace as about the problems of war. We have war with us and, unless we successfully solve its problems, we shall have no say whatever in the system which peace will produce. That must be gener-ally admitted. Obviously, the duty of the Government is to concentrate on matters which arise out of the conduct of the war. One of the biggest problems is that of finance. The first thing that we can lay down is that the community should be called upon to contribute to the cost of the war according to its capacity to do so.
– It is doing so.
– I do not think so. The conduct of the war is of just as much importance to the man with a low income as to the man with a high income, because if this country goes under both of them, as well as their families, will suffer. It may be argued that the man with the larger income should contribute more to war purposes, but the general experience is that when invasion overtakes a country the man who has a few pounds in his pocket is better off than the man with no money. With few exceptions, it can be said that those on the lower rungs of the financial ladder feel the horrors of war first, and therefore they have no cause for complaint should the Government force them to contribute to the cost of waging the war. When a comparison is made between civilians and members of the armed services, it will be seen how invidious is the position of the former. A portion of the soldier’s pay is deferred, notwithstanding that his total remuneration does not’ compare at all favorably with that of munitions workers, slaughtermen, miners, transport workers, and others, to say nothing of those engaged in harvesting under an award which has now gone into the discard. Those workers are in a better position to stand up to some scheme of deferred pay than are the members of the armed forces. At this stage I shall not express my views on the taxation of members of the armed forces, but I do say that the Government would be well advised to get more money from those other persons in the community to whom I have referred. If that were done, they would have no just cause for complaint. The necessity for something of this kind is admitted in other proposals which the Treasurer has placed before us. This bill contains features which require a most searching inquiry by the Parliament. Should that inquiry not be made now, it will be forced on us ultimately. Before long, things will come to light which will cause some concern in the Parliament, and the Government will have to explain its position as well as it can. It is the bounden duty of the Government to see that contributions by way of loans are based on methods more satisfactory than the voluntary system, which always leads to disturbances and divisions among the people, and brings governments practically to the level of common entertainers.
– I had no intention to discuss the proposal contained in this bill to raise a certain sum of money for war purposes, but the extraordinary remarks of honorable members opposite, particularly those of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), have caused me to speak. To the credit of the honorable member it can be said that he is critical of whatever government is in office, although, perhaps, he has been more censorious of the present Administration than of earlier governments. The honorable member spoke of wasteful expenditure by the present Government. He criticized its expenditure from loans and the methods adopted for raising those loans, but, after all, those are matters of opinion. The plain fact is that money must be found for the prosecution of the war, and for other governmental purposes, and that money can be found only by raising loans, by taxation, or by the use of central bank credit. Some persons in the community criticize the Government for not having resorted to a greater measure of bank credit, whilst others condemn it for not adopting orthodox methods of finance. It would appear that whatever the present Government does is wrong in the opinion of some people. It may be that the Government has not used bank credit sufficiently, that the taxes imposed by it have not been severe enough, or that its methods of raising money by way of loans have not been the best possible; but those are questions not of fact, but of opinion. Criticism such as that of the honorable member for Barker when he condemned the Government and various bodies- which have been created to carry out important undertakings does not get us anywhere. The honorable gentleman accused the Allied Works Council of wasteful expenditure, and, in support of his argument, cited the payment of £90 a week to the driver of a lorry, but we must recognize that war is always wasteful. We are in this war, not because we wanted war, but because we have been forced to fight in defence of our way of life.
– That does not justify the Government in being more wasteful than is necessary.
– Does any one suggest that the Government is more wasteful than is necessary?
– There is no doubt about that.
– It is not necessarily a fact because the honorable member says so. When the Opposition was in power, even prior to the war, wasteful expenditure of public money occurred. The financial policy of the Government is administered by certain departmental officials, and the more the rate of expenditure is accelerated the greater becomes the possibility of waste. Considering the vastness of the works undertaken and completed in Queensland, out of loan money, by the Allied Works Council, we ought to be grateful to the members of that body, but they have been criticized because some people have earned what might be regarded as more than a reasonable amount of money in a given period. Criticisms of that kind could be multiplied, but the Government must have money, and is obliged to raise it in various ways. As all of it cannot be obtained from revenue, resort to loans has been necessary.
Australia is fighting for its existence, and more men must be provided for the Army and for the manufacture of munitions.Considering that half of the population is now engaged in some form of war work, and remembering all that has been accomplished in a couple of years, huge sums of money having been raised partly from loans and partly by bank credit, some waste has been inevitable. I do not contend that the Government, during fifteen months of office, has not done some things which could have been done more economically, had it had more time to consider the raising of revenue by means of increased taxation. There might then have been less waste, but time was of the essence of the contract. Aerodromes have been built, planes have been maufactured, and munitions have been produced and placed in the hands of those who need them. Much of the work accomplished has been done as the result of the expenditure of loan money, but, instead of the criticism that has come from the Opposition, honorable members opposite should have expressed gratitude that the present Government has been courageous enough to do what it has done at a time when the invasion of this country was feared. Some bombs have been dropped in parts of Australia, and ships have been sunk off our coast, with loss of life both on Australian soil and close to our shores ; but, owing to the action of the present Government, this country has been at least saved from invasion.
– Our allies have saved us.
– Who brought our allies here?
– That is the point. Who most roundly criticized the Government for asking that our American friends should come here?
– Order ! The honorable member should confine his remarks to the bill.
– Owing to the assistance rendered by our allies, the expenditure of loan money has been greater than would otherwise have been necessary; but, most important of all, this country has been spared the horrors of invasion. When the history of the war is written, it will be said to the credit of the present Government that its action saved Australia from such a disaster. As we cannot finance all of our undertakings by means of bank credit and increased taxation, we must resort to loans. Had the honorable member for Barker had his way, conscription would have been introduced and every man in the country put into uniform, with the result that we should have had a completely unbalanced economy; but, thanks to the wisdom of the people in electing Labour members to this Parliament, that danger has been averted. I agree that, even under the system adopted in the last year or two, a lack of balance has been noticeable in the placing of our man-power, but the position is more satisfactory than it would have been had the will of the honorable member for Barker prevailed. I am inclined to agree with the honorable member in his dislike of street-corner appeals to the public.
The money required for the prosecution of the “war could he raised by taxation, by voluntary appeals to the public for loans, or by the conscription of the wealth of the community. I object to the conscription of the incomes of the lower-paid section of the people. We have a form of conscription of wealth in respect of people in the higher income ranges. I believe that we should continue to follow the practice of obtaining money from people in accordance with their capacity to pay. So long as we do that, whether by means of appeals at street corners, the formation of street war savings groups, or the sale of war savings certificates, I cannot see that there is much room for complaint. Appeals must be made in some way, and whatever method be adopted, it will be objectionable to some people. Weighing everything up, it appears to me that the present system of raising loan money is preferable to that which would be adopted by the Opposition if it came into office, for it would take from people in the lower income ranges more than they should be expected to contribute in taxation. 1 support the bill and trust that it will have a speedy passage. I do not believe that the Treasurer will have great difficulty in obtaining the money, for the people appreciate the need to obtain by loan at least some of the money that the Government must have in order to finance the greatest war in which this country has ever been engaged.
Sitting suspended from 6.12 to S p.m.
.- We all realize that from time to time it is necessary to draw off some of the enormous surplus of spending power that is in the hands of the public as the result of the operations of war industries and other governmental undertakings, but there is difference of opinion as to the method by which it should be drawn off. The Government, on this occasion, has chosen to raise a further £100,000,000 by way of loan from the people. I consider that our war operations should be financed to a much greater degree by means of deferred pay, deferred credits - call it what one will. If deferred pay is good enough for the members of the fighting forces, it is also good enough for every other citizen.
– Good enough for members of Parliament, too.
– It should be. If a soldier, on the pay that he receives, can afford the deduction of a certain percentage, to be set aside as deferred pay, it should not be beyond the capacity of every individual in this land to bear an equal deduction for the same purpose. The financial statement of the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) indicates that he proposes to indulge to a limited degree in the practice of deferring pay, because he intends to retain until some time after the termination of the war any excess of tax that may be received by the Treasury from taxpayers.
– On the principle of “ What I have, I hold “.
– I have no doubt that the honorable gentleman, having got his hands on it, will hold it for many years. It is the responsibility of this Parliament to ensure that whatever is raised by loan, taxation, or any other means, shall be properly expended. I gravely doubt whether the expenditure so far has been incurred as judiciously as it might have been. In this building, one sees new faces every week, representing additions to the different staffs. Additions are also being made to the building itself. We are led to believe, on the assurance of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), that there is an acute shortage of man-power. Industrial establishments are being continually depleted, and the very existence of many persons engaged in industry is being threatened, by the requisitioning of their staffs for war purposes. As this building has so far been sufficiently large to enable the Government to function, are the present additions to it essential in a time of war ? I should also like to learn whether the expenditure involved in the building of abattoirs in Canberra should be incurred in time of war. The people see works being carried out by the different defence authorities and the Allied Works Council in their towns and districts. They know the high wages that are paid, and the substantial amount of overtime that is drawn. The task of persuading them to subscribe to war loans is thus made very difficult. They need to be assured that all that is taken from them is expended to the best advantage. That brings me to the cost of floating loans. If press statements are correct, approximately 16 tons of letters were sent out to citizens of the Commonwealth during the last austerity loan campaign. Apart from, the cost of the man-power needed for their distribution, the postage on them must, have been terrific. I admit that the Postmaster-General charges the Treasury with the cost, and that it is merely a book entry; nevertheless, an enormous amount of man-power was involved. Every hour of the day, one hears over the air broadcasts appealing to the people to subscribe to loans. The business people of Australia have been extremely generous in their broadcasts of advertising matter. In the course of meetings I have conducted in support of war loans, particularly the last loan, I was often asked who was paying for all the broadcasts in connexion with the flotation. My reply was that possibly the broadcasting stations accorded that privilege to the Treasurer or to the campaign committee within the State. When making that statement, I had very grave doubts as to whether it was all “bucksheesh”. A man cannot ask the public to subscribe to loans, and then admit that money is being expended wastefully and extravagantly.
– Is it not important to know, in general terms, how the money is being expended ?
– That is the point that I am making. Is the money being expended as judiciously as it should and could be? An enormous expenditure would not be incurred on the flotation of loans if they were raised compulsorily. It is the lavish way in which money has been squandered in this country that alarms me, and, I believe, is alarming the people generally. Only a few weeks ago, we witnessed the establishment of an entirely new department - the Department of Agriculture, with a DirectorGeneral on a very high salary. Doubtless, his first act will be to establish himself in an office and gather round himself an army of public servants, as has every other new department. The State Departments of Agriculture could easily have performed the tasks which the new department is- designed to accomplish. The Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) began almost alone about twelve months ago, and has now built up an army of public servants. So the process goes on. Almost every week, fresh appointments are made, new boards are established, and they are staffed with officers taken from a university or some other avenue. I should offer no objection to the practice in peace-time. I agree with the Prime Minister that there is an acute shortage of man-power. Let us, therefore, use to the very best advantage that which we have. It is only fair to the lads who are keeping the enemy at bay, that every man left behind shall be usefully occupied. I doubt whether a lot of the newly appointed public servants are rendering as valuable service as they could render; they would be better occupied in making munitions or in some other war activity. I realize that if money is pumped into the country there must be some means of drawing it off. Unfortunately, during the last twelve months the Government has. pumped it in much more quickly than it could be drawn off. One of the best means would be that adopted in connexion with the deferred pay of the soldier. I am confident that no Australian would object to that, because all would have something to fall back on after the war. The enormous cost of floating loans regularly would thus be avoided. I sincerely trust that the cost of floating this loan will be kept down to the minimum. T am sure that success will attend the efforts of the Treasurer to raise the money required, because he has been wise enough to choose an appropriate period in which to make his appeal to the people. It is not difficult for him to ascertain what amount is held at call by the different banking institutions in Australia, and he will have a fairly shrewd idea of what amount is available before he launches the loan. As this is the Government’s policy, and we must have, money to finance the war, I shall assist in every way to make the loan a success.
.- Speaking to the bill this afternoon, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) bemoaned the fact that the workers were getting too much, in wages. This, he said, will lead to inflation. Yet when the big vested interests represented by the right honorable gentleman and his colleagues make profits, that is sound finance and good business. By specious reasoning and curious logic, the right honorable gentleman tries to make us believe that the more people get the less they have. According to him, the remedy is plain. The workers must be taxed so heavily that they will become “taxhappy”. During this debate, honorable members opposite have repeatedly used the term “ orthodox finance “. What is orthodox finance ? It is the finance of the day of the bullock dray, 70 or 80 years ago, and is not adaptable to modern conditions. Honorable members opposite have insisted that there are only two ways in which the Government can gather money. The first is by taxation, and the second is by borrowing. I suggest that there is a third method, namely, a carefully controlled system of bank credits. By the judicious issue of credit from the Commonwealth Bank we can provide money with which to finance our war effort.
– Without taxation and without loans?
– The present ridiculous and outmoded system of finance is a barrier to progress. Some honorable members speak of the introduction of a New Order “. Before the “ New Order “ can be realized we must abolish the present ineffective financial system. Twenty-five years ago Russia succeeded in doing so, and to-day the Soviet is the wonder and admiration of the world. I commend to honorable members the following extract from Harpers Magazine, issued in February, 1941, under the heading “ Germany’s Financial Revolution “.
When Hitler launched his vast public works and armaments programme in 1934 and 1935, authorities on finance announced that he would bankrupt Germany in a matter of a few months. But. the Nazis have not bankrupted Germany. To-day, the fact is clear and incontrovertible that, instead of being bankrupt, Germany has carried out public improvements, expanded industry and built the most expensive and terrible war machine that the world has ever seen. All this has been done in a nation that was debt-ridden and impoverished and deep in depression.
What has been done in Germany in that manner can be done here.
– Has Russia the same financial system as Germany?
– The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) seems to think that he is still cross-examining a prisoner in the dock. In seeking to save the workers from what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) describes as the “rock of inflation”, or the depreciation of the £1, honorable gentlemen opposite would dash them back into the whirlpool of deflation. A scarcity of money is accompanied by starvation, privation, malnutrition and suicide. To keep the people from partaking of the plenitude with which the earth is endowed, the Opposition would starve them to death in the midst of plenty. Of course, this policy cf suppression applies only to the workers. When honorable members opposite face their constituents at the next general elections, the workers, among whom I include dairymen, wheat-growers, graziers, fruit-growers, employees of the Allied Works Council, munitions workers, and members of the fighting forces, both men and women, will remember this panacea for all the ills of the present day.
The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Marwick) objected to the appointment of the Director-General of Agriculture and made an attack upon public servants, which in my opinion was in bad taste. For half a century I was a public servant, and I believe that no government could function for a week if it were net for the integrity, ability and diligence of the public servants.
– I do not disagree with that.
– In this period of crisis we require intense organization, coordination and correlation, instead of six different State systems. The Commonwealth Government acted wisely in appointing a Director-General of Agriculture, one of whose functions will be the co-ordination of agriculture throughout Australia. The Joint Committee on Rural Industries, which was appointed to inquire into rural industries as affected by the war, recommended the appointment of a Director-General of Agriculture. I expect great things from him.
My only regret is that the appointment was not made three years ago. If it had been, our primary industries would be in a better position to-day.
References to the Allied Works Council reminded me of the magnificent work that that organization is performing. The press has magnified reports of friction, and some people invariably blame the worker for every dispute. I remind honorable gentleman opposite that there are two sides to every question, and whilst the worker is at times to blame, the conditions of labour are often at fault. The Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) stated recently that £60,000,000 was expended during the last twelve months on making roads, lines of communications, wharfs, aerodromes, including hangars, shelters and runways, graving docks, and other adjuncts to the war effort. At first, the workers were obliged to live under very rough conditions, but like their brothers in the fighting forces, they did their job well. In passing, I should like to give a meed of praise to Mr. E. G. Theodore, the Director-General of Allied Works, whom 1 have known for years. He has refused to accept payment for his services during this period when his country is in dire peril. His task was difficult. He had to gather men and materials from all parts of the Commonwealth. He had to organize and train men, and he achieved excellent results. Like the fighting forces, the employees of the Allied Works Council, munitions workers and producers of food are inspired with one ambition, namely, to save this Commonwealth from defilement by a ruthless and relentless enemy. To co-ordinate all these activities the Government had to find large sums of money. As the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) stated this afternoon, mistakes have been made, but that is only to be expected in such vast undertakings. People who never make mistakes are negative personalities, and never achieve anything. Works had to be started, because the enemy was pressing upon us with relentless fury. The Government had to raise money to co-ordinate war activities, but money of itself will not win a war. The story is told of a tourist in Germany before the last war. He admired the magnificent roads throughout the country and asked the guide : “ Where do you get the money to make such fine roads ? “ The reply came quickly : “ We do not make roads of money ; Ave make them of concrete “. Money of itself is- a co-ordinating force, but will not of itself win the war. The enemy can be beaten only by man-power, brain-power, the will to win, diligence and ability. I regret that Australia has not followed the example of Canada in at least one respect. At the outbreak of war, all males in Canada between the ages of IS and 65 were called to the colours. Then some were drafted to thefighting forces, skilled tradesmen were placed in munitions and other factories, and agriculturists were made responsible for maintaining production of food. Although it is futile to bemoan our lack of foresight, emulation of Canada’s example would have saved the Commonwealth Government a great deal of trouble and confusion.
Throughout this community groaning, fault-finding and criticism are too prevalent. Last Christmas the press published complaints from people who bemoaned the fact that they could not have pink icing on their Christmas cakes and that little children would not be able to receive certain classes of gifts from Santa Claus. Those complaints are unworthy of Australians when the British Empire is fighting for its existence. I appeal for less destructive and more constructive criticism. The only important industries at present are those associated with our war effort. In some directions, we have done well. For that statement I take as my authority. General MacArthur, our trusted and brilliant Commander-in-Chief, who declared that our war effort was greater per capita than that of any other country. Money must be obtained. It will be. obtained, and if somebody is hurt in the getting of this money we cannot help it. I believe that we should make more use of the national credit through the Commonwealth Bank. Our wealth surpasses that of any other country with an equal population. According to the statisticians, the wealth of Australia in primary and secondary industries for the year which ended on the 30th June, 1942, was £1,000,000,000. Surely we can draw upon that for the purpose of defending our lives, our homes, our wives and our children.
.- Ibis bill authorizes the Government to raise £100,000,000, and to borrow it under the provisions of the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act, or the provisions of any act authorizing the issue of treasury-bills. It is one of a series of loan bills that must be introduced by the Government during the financial year 1942-43. Two such bills have already been passed, and this is the third. It may bo that before the end of this financial year the Government will have to present another loan bill to Parliament. A fortnight ago the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) presented what amounted to a revised budget, and told us that war expenditure, so far as can be estimated now, will this year amount to £540,000,000, while other expenditure will amount to £112,000,000, making a total of £652.000,000. He told us, further, that ordinary revenue, including that from taxation, would amount to £263,000,000, leaving £390,000,000 to be raised by loans. By this bill it is proposed to obtain authority to raise part of that amount, but it must not be supposed by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Baker), for example, that the whole amount of £390,000,000 is to be raised by loans from the public. I think we may be pardoned for assuming that the honorable member for Maranoa was under that impression, but that is not the case. The Treasurer himself has indicated that probably an amount of £200,000.000 will be raised this financial year by means of central bank credit. If his estimates continue io rise as they have r.>sen in each successive review of the financial position, we shall not be surprised if, by the end of June, his estimate has . increased very considerably. I mention the matter at this stage merely to ar-quaint the honorable member for Maranoa that the central bank is being used this financial year to a greater extent than ever before, and probably three times as much as during last financial year.. We may assume from the figures given to us by the Treasurer that by June next the treasury-!bills issued in Australia, inclusive of those issued up to June last, and those issued on behalf of the States, will exceed £300,000,000. Therefore, do not let us suppose that we are not using the central bank to help us finance the war. Actually, it would appear that, in the current financial year, central bank credit will-be used to finance considerably more than one-third of our total war expenditure.
– That is for this year only ; not for the duration of the war.
– Yes, for this year only. The honorable member raises the question of what may happen during the remainder of the war period. That is what concerns me more than what is happening this year. If we knew just where the issue of central bank credit was going to be pegged, we could, perhaps, lay our plans to meet the situation. I very much fear that the trend of our finances, particularly since Japan entered the war, has been such that, in the financial year which will commence in July next, a situation may arise very much more embarrassing than that which faces us this year.
This raises the whole question of the effect upon prices of the issue of treasurybills. Prices intimately concern every member of the community. They concern those sections on whose behalf the honorable member for Maranoa ‘ has spoken. They concern the middle classes, and they concern the farmers.
– The Japanese concern us a bit, too.
– The Japanese do not concern the Minister for Home Security (Mr. Lazzarini) any more than they concern other members of the community. I also am concerned about the Japanese, and I am concerned to ensure that we do not lose control of our finances, and thus lose control of the machinery that would enable us to wage war against the Japanese. I was interested this afternoon to hear the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) discuss the subject of prices. Price increases, particularly in time of war, are due to a variety of factors, some of which can be controlled by the Government, while others -can be partly controlled, and others again cannot be controlled at all. Tb first factor, for which the Government cannot bc held responsible, is the effect upon internal prices of the higher cost of imported commodities. Costs are rising in other countries besides Australia, being influenced by increased manufacturing costs, and also by higher freights, handling charges and insurance rates. Within Australia itself costs are materially affected by rising wages. Each successive rise of wages has its effect on the price of commodities. Moreover, particularly in a country like Australia, prices arc affected by seasonal conditions, as well as by administrative acts which the Government finds necessary for the purpose of economizing in the use of goods for the more effective waging of the war. Prices are also affected by competition for commodities due to their being in circulation n plethora of money. I realize that the efforts being made in Australia to control prices are prompted by the best of intentions, and that those responsible for them honestly believe in their efficacy. We have i:i operation a system for the partial control of prices and investments, and the partial rationing of commodities, but I deprecate any policy which aims at using controls as the principal and almost exclusive method of keeping prices down. There is in Australia to-day a considerable section which holds the belief that prices can be controlled in this way, and that inflation can be avoided if controls are applied widely enough. There is a bc-lief in some quarters that credit can be issued to an unlimited amount through the central bank without causing inflation, provided a rigid system of price control is instituted. 1 fear that the Government has been sold this idea by the economists who entertain it. I fear that the Government has accepted the view that, provided it extends the system of controls over a very wide area, and so as to include all brandies of industrial activity, it will prevent that, increase of prices which would make for inflation. The Government is wrong, and that system will fail because it is artificial. Like a mudbank, it will be swept away when the pressure behind it becomes sufficiently strong. It will hold back the flood-waters for a while, but when they accumulate to a sufficient degree it will no longer serve a useful purpose. I believe that the Government J3 allowing the accumulations of credit to build up a spending power that sooner or later will be irresistible. I see great danger in its present policy, first, because it leaves too much money in the hands of the public, and, secondly, because the controls, when intensified to the degree that will be necessary if the Government is going to endeavour to hold prices by that means, will be such as to damage the country’s industrial system. If the Government intends to rely upon controls to hold the financial position in face of the issue of treasury-bills to an amount of £200,000,000 or more a year,, then very soon there will have to be many more controls than there are at present. We have only commenced on our system of controls, if that is to be the programme. We have to proceed now to extend them in all directions, and when that is done they will lead us from one trouble to another. This House saw in the depression days conditions that compelled the country to cry out, for production and employment. It called out for trade to be restored and put upon a basis that would make the industrial and economic recovery of the country possible.
– The Government at that time could not provide any money to do it.
– I shall discuss that matter on another occasion, but I have something in common with the honorable member. 1 have my own views as to how we should have financed the country through the depression days, but they will not help now. All that is history. Apparently, we are going to rely upon the views of the economists as to how wo should finance the war, and control the economic position during the war, but what right have we to do so, in view of the results of their advice during the depression? They told us then that the way to handle the situation was to adopt a system which brought about a reduction of 22-j per cent, in all expenditure, but we very soon discovered that that method simply put Australia into reverse gear. How then can we feel confidence in the analysis of the position made by some of those gentry to-day ? ‘
– The honorable member had some very pertinent things to say against unorthodox finance at that time.
– That is very vague. Will the Minister tell me what I actually did say?
– I shall take the matter up with the honorable member later on.
– Then it can be left there for the present. Those who advised Australia to go into reverse gear as a means of recovering from the depression, and those whom we found later advising us in the wrong way, are among those who tell us to-day that we can safeguard the position by a system of economic controls. I warn the Government that that method will damage our whole industrial system, which must be the foundation of recovery for Australia after the war. I do not want a misguided policy at this stage to retard Australia’s recovery for some years. To-day I hear of economists’ policies in all directions. Even this afternoon we heard of another from the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell). He did not assume responsibility for it himself, but he appeared to be very interested in it, and to put a semi-hallmark at all events upon some new plan whereby a percentage of income should be spent in shops. I do not say that he assumed any responsibility for it. He merely quoted it to us as one more plan emanating from these groups of economists who are operating all over the world.
– It was a Labour plan to ration expenditure.
– If some of the economists could only agree amongst themselves, I should have a little more confidence in them. If they could devise a plan that could be put into operation now, and policed after the war, they would be entitled to more respect from us.
– The author of postwar credits is one of them.
– Post-war credits are merely a system of compulsory borrowing and refund after the war. There is no economic control in that regard. I have always acknowledged that these economic plans which we call controls have a place in the scheme of things to-day.
– The honorable member is having it fifty-fifty each way now.
– No. In the last year or so I have consistently said in my speeches in this chamber that these controls have a part to play in the scheme of things, but they should be used as adjuncts to the financial plan and not in substitution for it. My criticism of the position to-day is that the Government is endeavouring to use economic controls as a substitute for a financial plan.
– Every country is doing that.
– I doubt whether the Minister knows a great deal about other countries. He seems to have his hands full in handling only one part of the economic system of this one.
– The honorable member has never moved to disallow any of the regulations issued by my department.
– The Minister may yet find his regulations challenged. I acknowledge that he is the author and parent of many regulations that are never put into operation; he devises many schemes and brings them into the headlines of the press, and then, when he finds one impracticable, it disappears, and, lo and behold! next day another scheme appears to take its place. We must get back to-day to some sound plan of finance. All these economic schemes will help, but they will not save the position in Australia. If they are pushed too far, then they will do irreparable damage to the Commonwealth. It comes back to this, that Australia needs to-day a sound and proper scheme of compulsory loans. The Minister for Home Security (Mr. Lazzarini) who smiles can call it post-war credits if he likes. I predict that he will be in this Parliament when such a system is introduced. I am not sure which side he will be on, but he will be still a member when the compulsory loan system is introduced, because it will be unavoidable, and the Government will be no longer able to resist it. We have at present no plan to marshal our financial resources. Before it is too late, the
Government should consider a comprehensive plan of compulsory loans, postwar credits, call them what you will, not only for individuals, but also for public companies. It should also overhaul the finances of the State governments, and of all the statutory bodies throughout Australia. Not enough is being done to-day to reduce expenditure upon issues other than the war. There is no serious attempt on the part of State governments throughout Australia to harmonize their finance with the Commonwealth’s war effort, and so to reduce their expenditure as to avoid this pressure of money that is coming into circulation. Every £100,000 expended by a State government is in the same category as money expended, by wage-earners or others who, having earned it, put it into circulation. The responsibility devolves upon the Commonwealth Government or Parliament to see that, by some means or other, measures are introduced that will reduce the expenditure of State governments, statutory and other public bodies, companies, and others. Until that is done it cannot be said that any attempt has been made to marshal the financial resources of the country, and to bring its money into a common pool. I regret that since Japan entered the war there has been a Jack of originality so far as financial policy is concerned. After the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbour, the war expenditure of this country increased from approximately £220,000,000 per annum to a figure which the Treasurer tells us is about £540,000,000 per annum. Our expenditure has been revolutionized, but we have never altered our methods of finance. “We are still working under the same Income Tax Act, with some minor amendments. It is true that there is now before the House a new bill that makes very substantial alterations in the incidence of taxation on certain income groups, but we still follow the same procedure with regard to raising loans from the public, and finance the balance of our expenditure through the central hank. The Government shows no originality, and avoids launching out in the directions of which I speak. It has never tested the capacity of companies, statutory bodies or State governments to contribute money to the central pool. If it did, it would realize its importance, because £100,000,000 per annum gathered in from all those important sources would to-day make all the difference in the amount of money in circulation. I urge the Government to adopt more comprehensive methods of finance during the remainder of this financial year. Judging by newspaper reports, it will shortly go on to the market for another loan of £100,000,000. Every body who can should support it. The Government must get the money which, I believe, will Se raised, but I entirely agree with what has been said here this afternoon by several honorable members, who criticize this medieval method of raising money from the public. Actually in the raising of money to fight a war which is a matter of life and death to every one of us, we have barely risen above the level of a church bazaar. We use advertising and showmanship, incur heavy costs, and get inefficiency. And now, if our information is correct, there is to be printed in hundreds of thousands an expensive book telling the people of the nation’s war effort, in order to induce them to subscribe to war loans. Such expenditure at a time when paper is rationed and when man-power is required urgently in other directions cannot be justified. The obligation of public borrowing should cover every body. If there are - and no doubt there will be - organizations or individuals who, over and above what they are called upon to pay compulsorily, are in a position to subscribe further amounts voluntarily, they will do so whether the Government uses stunt methods for raising money or not. I think it is fair to say that in this country we are drifting towards a state of mild inflation. I say that with a full recognition of my responsibility. Already there is evidence of a small degree of inflation, and I do not think that we can expect any diminution of that tendency. More likely is ‘ it that during the year 1943 prices will continue to rise under the pressure of moneys that are in circulation. But there is a very much more serious position ahead of us, namely, the position that will confront this country at the end of the war, when many of the controls which are now exercised by the
Government will not be there to assist in the handling of the situation. 1 appreciate fully the magnitude of the task that is being attempted by the right honorable the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), in his endeavour to get, first, Constitution alterations, and, secondly, a voluntary delegation of powers from the States, so that after the war this Parliament may have sufficient authority to tackle the vast problem of reconstruction; but the right honorable gentleman has yet to get these powers, and if and when he has got them, he will have to be sure that, in time of peace, the Australian people will accept the strict controls which have been designed to meet war-time conditions. Personally, I do not think that they will; I believe that, when the war is over, whatever government is in power will have the greatest difficulty in continuing to apply such controls as the rationing of com.modieis, price-fixation, and control of investments. I believe, also, that this Government is being guided by economists who do not understand the public, and do not appreciate the tremendous political difficulties involved in bringing into operation, schemes which, on paper, may seem to be workable, but which completely disregard the human element in public administration. I repeat that, whatever government is in power after the war, it will have a most difficult time in handling the new conditions which will arise. For that reason, the Government should control the money going into circulation, because when the war finishes, and many of the existing controls are lifted automatically, there will be such a pressure of public spending that we shall have a much greater degree of inflation than occurred after the last war.
– What intrigues me is how it is proposed to get the money to pay interest, on these loans, whether they be compulsory or voluntary.
– That is another question with which I did not propose to deal to-night.
– It is a very important question.
– I agree that it is a very important question, and it is not one which can be dismissed lightly. If one makes a calculation of the total interest payable on Australia’s public indebtedness in relation to even one-half of its present revenue, one will find that the task of paying that interest after the war is -not by any means impossible. The factor which I shall now mention is one that is rarely taken into account properly. This country’s future depends upon its prospects of enticing population to it, and increasing production. The public debt of a country has a direct relationship to the population, and because of that it is referred to as so much per capita. If the Parliament and the people of this country will have confidence in its capacity to absorb population, to extend, its’ industries, and increase its production and national wealth, the public debt with which we shall be faced, even at the end of this war, need not appal us at all. But this is no time to argue that question. We have to face the situation as we find it. I do not wish to make any prophecies about the rate of interest, and, in my opinion, a reduction of the interest rate should not be forecast by any honorable member. That is a matter for consideration in our plan of post-war reconstruction. To-day we are asking the .people of Australia to lend money to the Government at 3 per cent, interest; we should not be saying to them in the next breath, “ After the war, we shall reduce the rate of interest “. I am sure that everything that the Government finds it necessary to do after the war will be accepted by the Australian people as being essential for the complete reconstruction of their country, and no part of the reconstruction scheme should be anticipated at present. All such matters will be dealt with when the time comes.
The Government has at last taken a step in the right direction in regard to taxation. It has done what the Opposition has, for eighteen months urged, namely, extend the range of taxpayers so that the burden of taxation will fall fairly and equitably throughout the community. The Government still has to introduce a system of compulsory loans. When it has done those two things, and so has withdrawn from circulation much of that excess money which is causing embarrassment at the present time, it will have done a great deal towards stabilizing the finances of this nation.
.- The bill now before the House has for its object the raising of a certain amount of money, and in the interests of democracy it is right and proper that a proposal of this character should be placed before Parliament so that it may be analysed, and, if necessary, criticized before it becomes law. The bill is of great importance to Australia as a nation, and honorable members opposite should appreciate that fact when offering criticism of it. After careful consideration, the Government decided upon the method which it would adopt to raise finance for the prosecution of the war. This measure includes provision for an appeal to the people in the form of a voluntary loan, and so far Australian citizens have measured up to the responsibilities that this Parliament has imposed upon them in that regard.
It was not my intention to speak upon this measure at all, had it not been for the criticism that has been voiced in regard to certain alleged extravagant expenditure. In my opinion, such criticism does nothing to assist the creation of a healthy atmosphere in this chamber Allegations of a wild and drastic nature have been made, and I am sure that, if an opportunity were offered, they could not be substantiated. For some unknown reason, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), and others, have concentrated their criticism upon the activities of the Allied Works Council. The allegations include the claim that men employed by that organization are earning fabulous sums. Obviously, honorable members opposite have not analysed the position in order to ascertain whether or not such assertions have any foundation. As I pointed out in this House a fortnight ago, the Rutherglen Shire Council, prior to the launching of the Austerity Loan despatched circulars throughout the whole of the State of Victoria, in which certain allegations were made. When public men wish to make such damaging statements, they should first acquaint themselves of the facts. I have no hesitation in saying that the Rutherglen Shire Council made no attempt to confirm the contents of its circular before sending copies to shire councils throughout Victoria, to members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and, presumably, to many other people, alleging that employees of the Allied Works Council at Tocumwal and Corowa were paid fabulous sums.
– It is true, too.
– I shall be glad to tell the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) and other honorable members opposite the position. The Joint Committee on War Expenditure which happened to be in that district when the allegations were made, visited Rutherglen and secured evidence on oath from the shire clerk, whose signature had appeared at the bottom of the circular. That gentlemen admitted that he had no confirmation of the statements that had been made. The secretary and the assistant secretary of the Joint Committee on War Expenditure examined the books showing the wages paid at Corowa and Tocumwal, and ascertained that every employee had been paid in accordance with the Arbitration Court award governing his particular calling. If the men worked long hours, as they did in this instance, and earned overtime payments, what, do honorable members opposite think they should be paid? If work is of urgent national importance, as it was in this instance, and there were insufficient men to work eight-hour shifts, thus necessitating the working of a considerable amount of overtime, do honorable members opposite suggest that the employees should not bc paid the excess rates that are prescribed in the awards? Surely no honorable member opposite would suggest that!
– Why not pay overtime to the troops as well ?
– The comparison is not fair, nor is it justified. How did the Government of which the honorable member for Barker was a member treat the soldiers? Did it pay them overtime? The honorable gentleman had an opportunity to do that when he was on this side of the chamber, but he failed to do so. It was left to this Government to mete out justice to the soldiers. Critics of the Allied “Works Council should remember that that body was brought into being at a moment’s notice. It had no precedent whatever to follow in respect of its organization. Further, when it got down to its job there was no army of experienced workers upon which it could draw. It had to make the most of whatever class of labour it could secure. Under such conditions it is not surprising that many of its employees were put to pick and shovel work for the first time in their lives. Such anomalies, I repeat, arose from the fact that no pool of labour was available for the council to draw upon. Nevertheless, we can thank that body to-day for the fact that it has provided facilities which enable us to move our troops expeditiously from one part of the Commonwealth to another. It has provided aerodromes on which machines can not only land but also take off. It certainly improved the position which existed when previous governments were in. office. At that time “ Fortresses “ which landed at Broome were unable to take off again, and had to remain on the ground a sitting shot for Japanese bombers. Owing to similar difficulties, the northern portion of Western Australia was undefended. The responsibility of rectifying that position fell upon this Government, which has prosecuted the war effort so vigorously that, to-day, we are able to withstand any attempt by the enemy to invade this country. Our small population is confronted with the gigantic task of defending a continent. I do not object to criticism of extravagant expenditure. I have done so myself on previous occasions, but it is remarkable that throughout this debate honorable members opposite have criticized extravagance only insofar as they could point to some benefit having been given to the workers. Reference was made to the work being done by the Joint Committee on War Expenditure. Let me tell honorable members something of the work of that committee. The munitions factories which were established before this Government took office were faced to some degree with a position similar to that which confronted the Allied Works Council. They operated on the cost-plus system. That system was accepted without thorough examina- tion mainly because so many contracts had to be undertaken urgently. Honorable members opposite are aware of those facts. However, they have singled out “ Jack the Worker “ for criticism. Many a worker is using a pick or shovel, or driving a tractor, for fourteen hours a day, and is doing a good job for this country. What happened during the regime of previous governments? The Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Company Proprietary Limited’ refunded £100,000 excess profits. That was before the Joint Committee on War Expenditure could get on to its tracks. Australian Consolidated Industries Limited refunded £45,000 excess profit. I could give other similar examples which’ the committee has set out in its various reports. I appreciate the difficulties which confronted previous governments. However, the criticism voiced by honorable members opposite during this debate will not help the Government in raising this money. We shall not obtain a 100 per cent, war effort when the innuendoes made by them are broadcast to the community. Much has been said about the expenditure of £1,750,000 at Tocumwal. It would have been “God help Australia “ if we had no Tocumwal and the Coral Sea and Midway naval battles had gone against us. We require hundreds of aerodromes in this country such as that at Tocumwal. Wasteful expenditure in connexion with the war is inevitable because no one can foresee how plans made at a particular date may have to be altered a month later. Expenditure on defence such as that at Tocumwal is not wasteful; it is essential. I, and every good Australian, sincerely hope tha’t we shall never need to use the aerodrome at Tocumwal for defence purposes. I hope that the measure will be passed. Every honorable gentleman opposite- who has criticized the Government adversely in this debate concluded his remarks by promising to do his best to help the Government raise the money required. 1 believe that they are sincere in making that promise, but they should realize the damage they do when they indulge in criticism such as they have uttered. Such criticism will antagonize many people.
We are at war, and we must have the facilities for which this money is required.
.- I intend to reply to a few observations made by the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. It is becoming harder and harder to raise the money we require to carry on our war effort, but, at the same time, it appears to becoming easier and easier to spend it. The time has arrived when the Government must examine much more closely than it has in the past, the value it receives for the money itexpends. Whilst we agree that considerable waste is inevitable in a prodigious war effort of the kind we are now making, there is no excuse for continuing waste which is detected and can be obviated. When the public is invited to invest in war loans, and individuals are asked to stint themselves, it is only to be expected that the Government responsible for the expenditure of the money so raised should make the utmost use of it. I, and I am sure, very many people are not satisfied that the fullest value is now being obtained for the money being expended by the Government from war loans which largely represent the savings of the people. Examples of extravagance have been cited with respect to certain works. It has been pointed out that certain workers have received unusually large weekly remunerations. I do not propose to cite any particular instance of that kind, but to show that a great deal of man-power is being lost in the Army itself. Tens of thousands of men in the services to-day are simply walking around their camp, and have been doing so for weeks and months, doing practically nothing. I have received sheaves of letters from such men who tell me that they would, be doing far more for the country if they were back in their old jobs. Every honorable member knows of similar cases. That being so, the position should be examined from the point of view of the expenditure so involved. No one questions the necessity of enlisting men in the armed forces and training them for the proper defence of this country; but most people question the wisdom of paying a soldier, or any other individual, at the rate of 6s. a day, plus certain allowances, merely for the purpose of walking around a camp doing very little . after they have finished six months’ training. These men have complained bitterly to me that they are not permitted to do a useful job for Australia because they are tied down in a camp and virtually kept standing there while they could be making a real contribution to the war effort if they were allowed to give assistance to primary producers. I refer particularly to the very large number of soldiers who have had farming experience. These could be adding to the national pool of our resources if they were allowed to assist primary producers when their services were not really required in the Army. In that way they would help to supply foodstuffs required not only by the Army of which they are members, but also by the civilian population. The shortage of man-power in farming districts is becoming more and more acute. In May last the Government, in its wisdom, provided a blanket exemption of employees in primary industries, but, unfortunately, when that exemption was applied the majority of ablebodied farm labourers had already enlisted, or been called up. The result to-day is that their parents, who are mostly aged, or their wives and children, are left to work the farm. From my own personal experience, I know that generally in the farming districts the parents are doing the work. In most instances they are aged and are now beginning to feel the strain. That is the position on hundreds of dairy farms which are expected to produce our quotas of foodstuffs for the United Kingdom, and butter, cheese, and milk for the fighting forces and the civilian population. I have received many letters from these old people complaining that they are now run down in health, and cannot continue much longer. For how much longer will the Government close its eyes to those facts? How much longer will the Army authorities which retain young soldiers doing nothing reply to applications for the release of such men to assist in primary production that the men cannot be released, and whoever is carrying on the farm will just have to do the best they can.
– I ask the honorable member to relate his remarks to the bill. The bill deals with the subject of war finance and not war administration generally.
– The purpose of the bill is to approve the borrowing of £100,000,000 for the prosecution of the war. “We cannot make the most effective use of such money unless we correct the general administration of national affairs, including man-power and the supply of materials and foodstuffs. I am endeavouring to show that much better use could be made of our man-power than is being made of it at present.
– Order! That would permit the honorable gentleman to deal with every aspect of the administration of the war. The honorable gentleman will not be in order in proceeding on thos-i lines.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but, if one is not permitted to discuss how this money is to be expended, or how it could be better utilized, the purpose of the debate is largely lost. I hope that the Government will give some thought to the need t>> obtain better value from the money it proposes to raise under this bill than it has obtained from past expenditure. I do not say that it throws money around in a deliberately reckless way, because I agree that extravagance is inevitable in war-time. But we can no longer afford to let things slide. Twelve months ago, when the Japanese entered the war. everything had to be done in a hurry, and there was no time for the Treasury officials and others responsible for the expenditure of money to make the proper financial checks to ensure that money should be wisely spent. There is no room to be complacent, but we have more time now to examine our problems, and it is the duty of the Treasury to scrutinize the expenditure of every department in order to ensure that it really needs all the money for which it asks. With £100,000 for this and £fH)0,000 for that, money is being spent like water. The Government and the Treasury are expected to ensure that (he value of the money that people invest in loans shall remain relatively consi ant, so that, when the loans expire, the value of the money returned to them shall be equal to or, at the worst, only slightly lf-ss than what it was when they invested ii. The Government’s duty is to apply a financial policy that will ensure that no inflationary trends shall develop. Inflationary trends develop because of neglect of the sound financial and economic principles that we have enunciated. I will repeat them briefly. The Government must withdraw from the community the surplus spending power that it possesses by either taxation in the fields where the vast bulk of income is earned or compulsory loans. The Government has decided to tax the lower incomes, but it has not yet adopted the principle of post-war credits or compulsory loans, call them what you will. If the Government does not withdraw that excess purchasing power in the community it will accentuate the difficulties which it, or some succeeding government, will confront, because once that excess money becomes capital it cannot be obtained except by some form of confiscation, and that is very difficult. The only effective way in which to obtain money from the community is by taking a portion of their income each year by means of taxes. T propose to refer very briefly to claims made by honorable gentlemen opposite, that, had it not been for the accession to office of the Labour party, this country would probably have been invaded when Tj, pan came into the war.
– That is true.
– My reply to the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) is that a controversy on those lines does no good. Whatever party was in power there would have been no material difference between the defensive measures which it would have been compelled to take and those which were taken by the Labour party. What saved this country from invasion was not that the Curtin Government was in office, but the fact that we had powerful friends in the Navy and Army of the United States of America.
– Who got those friends?
– It pains me thai, such an interjection should be made by a responsible Minister. Nobody got them for us! It was in the interests of the general allied war effort, apart from the interests of Australia, that this country should be held. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has said on many occasions that it was imperative in the interests of the United Nations’ war effort that this country should be held as a base. The holding of this country is a part of the general strategy of the Allies. We should not debate this matter as if credit belonged to either one side or the other for the things that must have happened regardless of which party was in power. For the Labour party to continue to claim credit for the fact that we have not been invaded is childish.
Mi-. Calwell. - Would the honorable gentleman’s party have asked the United States of America for aid ?
– Order ! This discussion across the chamber must cease.
– Opportunity should be given to the Opposition to reply to the wild statements made by Government supporters. I, however, do not intend to say anything more on that subject, because it is obvious to the world that the assumption of office by the Labour party made not the slightest difference to the course that this country would have taken when Japan entered the war. It is the duty of the Government to examine much more closely the expenditure of every department to ensure that money shall not be wasted. The investments of patriotic people in loans must be safeguarded to the greatest possible degree, and I am not satisfied that they are being safeguarded. I believe that large numbers of people in thu community are equally dissatisfied, but they will continue to invest in loans regardless of what party is in power because of their determination to see this war through to the bitter end. In order to ensure that the value of their money shall remain as nearly constant as possible, the Government must do all in its power to keep down prices. I know that it is impossible to peg all prices, but much more could be done in that direction than has been done. Prices must not be allowed to rise in an inflationary spiral as has happened elsewhere. One cf the means of maintaining the value of money is to take from the pool of funds by means of taxes and compulsory loans.
.- I was very intrigued by the remarks of the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Spooner) and the way in which ‘ he skilfully skated around all the real problems that the Government is facing, lightly criticizing here and there and always emphasizing the danger of inflation. I waited a long time to hear the honorable gentleman’s plans and how In1 would, do things differently.
– He did that when he spokecn the Income Tax Bill.
– Yes. The honorable gentleman’s proposal wa3 that we should adopt a policy of post-war credits or compulsory loans. I leave it to honorable gentlemen to choose whichever title they care to use. According to the honorable member for Robertson. that would be the solution of all our difficulties. There was only a given amount of credit in the national pool, and, at the beginning of the war, and when the present Government took office, that pool was inadequate to meet the war costs as we then knew them and as they are to-day. It was therefore absolutely essential that a considerable amount of central bank credit should be pumped into the financial system of this country. Any one with even the most elementary ideas of finance, including myself, will admit that. Having said that, I now say that I can see no great advantage in removing the surplus spending power, which honorable members opposite say exists, by means of compulsory loans; but, if we have a rigid and scientific system of price control, and rationing, we shall achieve exactly the same objective. The people could be allowed to keep their money until after the war and then the controls would be released gradually as the goods and services became available. Exactly the same objective would be achieved as if we were to take money from the people by enforced leans. If we were a truly patriotic people and had not been perverted in our patriotism by the competitive system under under which we have lived so long, we would be prepared to accept a system of heavier taxes in order that a greater part of the costs of the war could be met as we wage it. No government which desired to remain in office would be game to impose on the people taxes which would represent a real sacrifice on their part. Our nature is such that, as the result of the system under which we have lived so long, we resent every form of control to which we are subjected. We do not like restrictions to :be placed on us; we prefer that the other fellow shall somehow carry the load. I sympathize with the present Government, as I did with previous Governments, in its attempt to organize the nation’s war effort on an equitable basis.
– I hope that the honorable member will not sympathize with the present Government in the same way as he did with its predecessor.
– I would sympathize with any Government of which the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) was a member.
I hope that the Government -will not hesitate to take steps to reduce interest rates still further. Although national credit is being used in many ways for purposes related to the war, I believe that great benefits would come to the people from a reduction of interest rates. I have in mind the financing of war-time marketing schemes. Under wheat pool arrangements, growers are charged 3J per cent, interest on advances made to them. That rate should be lower.
– Did not the honorable member agree with the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) that loans need not be repaid?
– I said on a former occasion that if precedents are to be a guide for the future, loans will not be repaid on maturity, but will be converted in perpetuity, and that for all practical purposes bonds issued in respect of loans will become another form of currency. I challenge any honorable member to controvert that statement.
I was particularly interested in the remarks of the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Spooner), whom I regard as a man with some knowledge of finance, because I hoped that he would throw on the subject some new light which would enable the Government to find better ways of financing the war than are now being followed, but I was disappointed. He put forward the same old bogy which I have heard ever since I have taken an interest in politics - the bogy of inflation. There need be no fear of inflation so long as proper - controls are exercised. I admit that the people may not like these controls, but they are something that must be accepted ; the sacrifice which they represent is small compared with that which is being made by members of the fighting forces who are risking everything and enduring many hardships for Australia’s sake. I could reply to some of the other criticism that has been offered, but I shall not do so now, although I may avail myself of the opportunity to do so at some other time.
I hope that the Government will use the nation’s credit to the utmost, and will not hesitate to spread the burden of taxation as fairly as possible. The people best able to pay taxes should not be allowed to escape their just share of taxation, whilst those in the lower ranges of income should be permitted a reasonable standard of living and an opportunity to save a little money for the years which may follow the war, when, no doubt, there will be a great deal of disorganization, and such savings will be of advantage to the nation as well as the individual.
.- Evidently some honorable members, including the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod), still believe that the war can be fought with national credit, without increasing the national debt or requiring interest charges. Regardless of the number of times that such misstatements may be corrected, some honorable members continue to claim that Germany under Hitler used the nation’s credit to build up the great German war machine. Nothing could be more incorrect. Why do they not go to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), who is a member of their own party, and tell him what he should do? The Treasurer has shown that he realizes the danger of inflation. He has told us that there is no legerdemain ,by which financial miracles can be accomplished, but that the hard earnings of the people are necessary. Let u3 consider the methods adopted by Hitler and Schacht, who, we are told, built up Germany’s great war machine by the issue of treasury-bills. Schacht is reported to have said, that money must be obtained from the people, and consequently loans were floated in Germany, just as they are being floated in Australia to-day. The money obtained from the people bore interest at 4£ per cent, in order to repay treasurybills issued by the Reich Bank. Eventually, Schacht said that a mighty war machine had been built up, and that to make proper use of it the country must go to war and win wars; and so the German armies entered Austria, Czechoslovakia and other countries. When they marched into France, the Lowlands and other maritime states, the German authorities claimed from those countries not only much money, but also milch cows and other animals to feed German troops. The reason that that was possible was that Hitler was a dictator. The position is entirely different in a country where a Minister like the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) forces people to take higher wages, thereby reducing their purchasing power, and where there is not the same power as in Germany to peg prices. Hitler had that power because he waa a dictator. Workmen were forced to accept whatever he thought they should have. That is the difference between this country and Germany. Yet honorable members persist in s’aying that Germany’s war machine was the result of the use of national credit. No more absurd statement could be made. When the present Treasurer, realizing his responsibility, presented a considered statement to the people he came to the same conclusion as Schacht did in Germany. Other honorable members opposite, such as the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Baker), would come to the same conclusion if placed in a position of responsibility. Wisdom and care are often associated with responsibility. That is the position in which the Treasurer finds himself to-day. Faced with a great responsibility for the finances of the country, he agrees with Schacht and Mr. Montagu Norman.
.- Many suggestions have been put forward as to how money may be raised to carry the war effort to a successful conclusion. I was interested in the remarks of the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Spooner) who has the reputation of being an expert on finance and of knowing what he is talking about when dealing with financial subjects. He has had the privilege of imposing, to use his own words, a “ faked “ budget to the Parliament of New South Wales. The Government is appealing to the people for loans for war purposes, and although I think that the people ought to provide as much money as possible by way of taxes, I am of the opinion that most of those to whom we normally look for large applications are already heavily taxed. I agree that the credit of the nation could be used to a greater degree than it is, because there must be a limit to the amount of money that the Government can obtain from the people by way of loan. I am of the opinion that . a great deal of unnecessary, trouble and expense is associated with our appeals to the people to subscribe to loans. Much of the effort is not justified, because the people are willing to assist the Government to carry on the war. They realize that Australia is in this fight to the end. Some statements which are made from time to time both inside and outside the Parliament have a damaging effect on the reputation of this country. For instance, the levelling of charges of inflation against the Government does not help Australia’s reputation in other countries. Much expenditure in war-time is wasteful, for war is almost all waste. As a member of the Joint Committee on War Expenditure, I have investigated many items of expenditure in respect of which carelessness has been alleged. That committee has done good service, but I am quite satisfied that more effective use could be made of it. Undoubtedly its activities have resulted in a reduction of wasteful expenditure, but I consider that ir. should be given a wider charter. Complaints have been made by some honorable gentlemen opposite about the wages some workers have earned. I believe that if payments made to some individuals under the control of Ministers in previous governments could be checked, it m ould be found that they were comparable with the amounts paid to some individuals employed by the Allied Works Council.
– The trouble is that a Tot of them do not want to work.
Mi-. MULCAHY.- It, is always easy to criticize the other fellow. What about ourselves? What are we doing for the war effort? We talk a lot, and sometimes wes make statements in this House which are damaging to Australia’s prestige and reputation abroad. We ought to do everything in our power to win a speedy ictory. We all are well aware that about twelve months ago the Allied Works Council had to undertake many jobs in respect of which cost, was quite a secondary consideration. The Joint Committee cn War Expenditure investigated some o:’ those cases with the .Director-General of Allied Works, Mr. Theodore, and it quickly realized that some works carried out in north Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales were so urgently necessary that cost was only secondary. In respect of them time was certainly of the essence of the contract.
– The result of the Battle of the Coral Sea repaid the cost of those works.
– I am well aware of ;* and I am not worrying about it. Thank God for the result of the Battle of the Coral Sea. I am not greatly concerned because the Army and the Air Force have abandoned certain works which were put in hand in those days.
– We may still need (ii em.
– Quite so. That is likely so long as we have a formidable foe in force a few miles from our coast.
I hope that in debates of this character honorable members will take care that they do not, even unintentionally, make statements which may be damaging to the financial interests and prestige of Australia abroad. We still have a big job in front of us.
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has had a good deal to say about the desirability of releasing for rural work men who are now in the forces. Apparently the honorable gentleman thinks that every man needed for rural work should be released. Whilst I am of the opinion that probably we have too many men in uniform, in relation to our total population, I am also quite convinced that it would be extremely unwise to accede to the honorable gentleman’s request that men needed for rural work should be released in all cases except when they are at battle stations. I know that the primary producing industries of Australia are suffering from a shortage of li:, an-Dowel ; but so arc all our other industries. Nevertheless, it would be unwise for the authorities to release large numbers of men from the armed forces foi- work in industry.
I am wholly in agreement with the policy of the Government in raising this sum of money by loan; but I hope that, in the future, national credit will be drawn upon to a greater extent than in the past. We shall be compelled ultimately to resort to that method of finance to a much greater degree than hitherto.
– in reply - I do not intend to reply to all the points raised in the debate, for some honorable members, like the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), have wandered all over the globe in tie course of their remarks. However, I shall reply to one or two joints. Allegations have been made of wasteful and extravagant expenditure, I remind honorable members that a joint committee of both Houses of this Parliament has been appointed t-? review war expenditure, and a Board of Business Administration, appointed by the Menzies Government, is also charged with that duty. The chairman of that board, Sir George Pearce, was appointed the Menzies Government, and his term of office has been renewed by this Government. Sir George has had a great deal of experience as an administrator, particularly n.s Minister for Defence. All projects that have to do with war expenditure, except certain matters in relation to munitions, come before the Board of Business Administration for review. All proposals relating to the rationing, and clothing of Service establishments, in particular, are scrutinized by the board. The board has done splendid work and I pay the highest tribute to it for its activity in keeping a close watch on what may be regarded as non-essential expenditure. It is perfectly true that since J apan came into the war it has not always been possible to have a close examination made of all the details of any project submitted by one of the services. That is still the position. A proposal may be brought forward almost overnight, and the circumstances may necessitate an immediate decision upon it. It may involve the transfer of men, the provision of hospital equipment, new camps, railway accommodation or additional railway communications, or the construction of new roads. In many instances, not only had delay to be avoided but in addition there could not be a close analysis in order to reveal whether a saving of £100 or £1,000 could be made on the estimated cost of the work. Approval was given to many projects almost immediately, although a final estimate could not he presented. But, so far as has been possible, a check has been made at some stage in order to determine whether the expenditure was wise, also whether extravagance had been avoided. I do not pretend to argue that there may not have been some waste in the expenditure which this country has incurred during the last twelve months. Frequently, instances come under notice of a decision having been reversed because of the exercise of bad judgment in the first place. Some work may have been begun, and a certain amount ‘expended upon a particular project, at which stage one having greater qualifications to form a judgment as to what ought to be done has decided that a change was necessary. In the circumstances in which this country has - been placed during the last twelve months, no one would have been more ready to criticize the Government than some of those who now complain of wasteful expenditure had an urgent work been held up in order to determine whether £100 . or £1,000 might be saved on it. Any government would have had to agree in general principle with whatever was considered to be best suited to the defence of this country and most in accordance with the global strategy of the war. After Japan had come into the war, a considerable number of allied troops were sent to Australia. Camps had to be constructed hurriedly to meet the changes that occurred in the venue of the war operations or the conduct of the enemy. We had hoped that the Netherlands East Indies might be held. When that hope was not fulfilled, decisions which had been made earlier in conjunction with our allies had to be varied, and steps had to be taken for the transfer of forces to different geographical locations in this country. No board or business man could have afforded the time to check every detail of the expenditure. The details of all expenditure, and the reports associated with all projects - made in some instances, it is true, after the money had been expended, because a prior examination was not possible - can be placed before honorable members. It is open to any honorable member to submit to the Joint Committee on War Expenditure any evidence of wasteful expenditure which he may have.
Reference has been made to the expenditure of the Allied Works Council. The deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on War Expenditure, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson), has dealt fairly effectively with stupid and misleading statements in that regard. 1 am sure that no honorable member would wish to depart from the conditions that are laid down in the awards which govern the conditions of labour in the different callings.
The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) said that there had not been a close check of the enormously increased expenditure, and that the House ought to be better informed as to where it was going. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) also commented upon the matter. The Government is quite prepared to place before the House, but not for publication, all the facts associated with that increase. Without going into details, I can say that the greater portion of it has been due to the tremendous expansion of the Australian Army.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has said that the overseas expenditure should be falling instead of increasing, due to the reduction, for certain reasons, of some maintenance commitments in which we are involved. That may be true; but it is equally true that our orders in Britain for war equipment, which have to be met by cash payments, have increased tremendously. This equipment is essential to the successful conduct of the war. With the consent of the whole of the allied commanders, and in accordance with the general strategy of the war, Britain, within its capacity, is supplying those things of which we are short. Honorable members are aware that a lend-lease arrangement does not operate between Australia and the United Kingdom; all purchases are on a cash basis, with the result that practically the whole of the increased expenditure which 1 mentioned recently as having been met in Great Britain is due to the purchase of war equipment from that country.
– Australia owes Great Britain approximately £7,000,000 more than it did.
– If honorable members wish to learn the whole of the details, they can obtain them privately. The honorable member for Barker has spoken of what is disclosed in the British Parliament, and has referred to the mention in it of the dismissal of a general. I remind him that the British budget is prepared on exactly the same lines as that which I submitted to this Parliament last year; war expenditure is not itemized for publication, because that would definitely indicate to the enemy the type of manufacture’ or production in which we are engaged. Members of the Advisory War Council have agreed that it would be undesirable to publish such details, because that would be of advantage to the enemy.
– Can the honorable gentleman give us some idea of the position in relation to the lend-lease arrangement with the United States of America?
– I do not propose to give detailed information. If the honorable member would like to know the exact position, 1 am prepared to make it known to him personally, but not for publication outside. Under a reciprocal lend-lease arrangement, the very valuable assistance which we receive from our American allies places upon us the corresponding liability of providing a substantial portion of what is needed by the American Army in this country and the territories adjacent to it.
– Lend-lease assistance which Australia received from the United States of America is practically balanced by lend-lease assistance which Australia extends to the United States of America.
– I can make no public statement about the matter. If honorable members request a secret meeting of both Houses I shall tell them exactly what is happening. The Commonwealth Government is working in co-operation with the Government of the United States of America, and Australia is receiving valuable assistance which, in turn, involves Australia in fairly high commitments under reciprocal lend-lease arrangements. Australia must maintain its own army, produce large quantities of munitions, and construct substantial works for the purpose of assisting our allies in this war.
Some honorable members have expressed concern regarding the release of bank credit to bridge the gap between expenditure and revenue. Many of those speeches I have heard on previous occasions. Some of them are identical, I feel, with what I shall hear when the income tax legislation is debated. Doubtless when I have heard them four or five times and absorbed them completely, I shall have an opportunity to reply to them. From time to time, statements have appeared in the press indicating that if the United Australia party were in office the gap between revenue and expenditure would be bridged in .some mysterious manner. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) submitted proposals for raising an additional £93,000,000. Unfortunately, that amount fell short of requirements by nearly £300,000,000. Many honorable members opposite have been very vague when submitting counter-proposals to the financial policy of the Government. Some of them pinned their faith to the system of post-war credits.
The last budget introduced by the previous Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) provided for the paltry sum of £25,000,000 from post-war credits. That would not have been a substantial contribution towards war expenditure. In 1939-40 war expenditure amounted to £55,000,000. In the following year it increased to £170,000,000, and last year it was £319,000,000. On the revised estimates for this year, war expenditure will be £540,000,000. I ask honorable members to take a sensible view of this problem because, if they do so, they will admit that their generalizations for bridging the gap are impracticable. It is true that they suggested that the Government could obtain, in one way or another, an additional £40,000,000; but it is evident that taxation, post-war credits and public loans will not be sufficient to bridge the gap. The difference of opinion between the Government and the Opposition arises over the point beyond which bank credits should not be used. I shall not discuss the matter at great length tonight, but the increase of war expenditure indicates the necessity for employing bank credit.
The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), in a thoughtful and constructive speech, pointed out some of the things which he considered should be done in regard to the fixation of prices. None of those matters has been overlooked by the Government. I realize that excess spending power in the hands of the public constitutes a danger to the satisfactory operation of artificial controls that have been created. In the establishment of price controls good work has been accomplished. In making that statement I do not contend for a moment that the system is perfect, but it is constantly under review. The problem involves many difficulties. When the Government imposes stricter controls in an endeavour to check inflation its action is never praised by the Opposition or the press which supports it. Perhaps that is too much to expect, but the Government should not be criticized by those people who previously urged it to take such action.. I give credit to a former Treasurer (Mr. Spender) for his excellent work in reducing interest rates, and I hope to follow his example. A pre vious Government established the system of price control, and up to a point it has functioned satisfactorily. Of course, it will need to be considerably extended in future. Mistakes have been made ; but no one is infallible. The Government has endeavoured to regulate rents and the values of properties, which would have skyrocketed if controls had not been instituted. Much resentment has been aroused by these restrictions, and individual members of all parties have objected to them because some of their constituents were forbidden to sell houses or land at the high prices which were offered for them. They considered that the old shibboleth of “ supply and demand “ should apply in war-time. I disagree with that view, and I have imposed rigid restrictions.
Regarding new taxation, nothing that I say will convince the Opposition of the futility of riding its old hobby-horse of post-war credits. One day it will fall off that horse, long before it reaches the winning-post. The time will come when taxation in Australia will be equal to the combined sum of taxation and postwar credits in the United Kingdom. In the last budget introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the British Government did not increase income taxation, although its war expenditure was between £13,000,000 and £14,000,000 a day. That ever-increasing expenditure has been partly financed by bank credits. In the old days, governments in this country approached the private tanks for financial assistance and permitted them to subscribe to loans bearing a high rate of interest. As the result of action by this Labour Government, the private banks placed their excess deposits with the Commonwealth Bank. If that, policy had not been adopted, they would have been able to fill a loan of £100,000,000 without difficulty from excess deposits created by war expenditure. Honorable members should bear that fact in mind. According to the practice in former days, the private banks lent to the government at high rates of interest excess deposits created by the Government’s war expenditure. Not long ago, a previous government invited the private banks to subscribe to a public loan. Some honorable members referred to the expense incurred in the raising of war loans. I remind them that there was a time when previous governments paid underwriting fees. That practice was abolished before this Government came into office, but we can claim the credit for having considerably reduced the rate of commission. Mention has also been made of the cost incurred in the preparation and publication ‘of a book dealing with Australia’s war effort. I believe that it is desirable to let the people know, as far as possible, what tbe nation is doing at this time, and this book is intended to convey to the public some idea of the magnitude of the country’s war effort. To those who attempt to disparage what Australia has done, I say that the part which this country has played is one of the wonders of the war. I am not attempting to take all the credit for this Government; I know that previous governments did much, particularly in the direction of establishing war factories. I am taking credit for the nation as a whole for what has been done. Those who know the full story are convinced that Australia’s war effort is in some respects more wonderful than that of any other nation engaged in the war.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
On the 16th of this month, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) asked me a question concerning the liability for payment of sales tax on goods such as jams, cakes, &c, which are made by voluntary workers for sale in shops for the purpose of raising funds for the Australian Red Cross Society. I promised the honorable member that I would have the matter examined, and would make a full statement to the House at a later date. I should like to make it clear that the Australian Red Cross Society is wholly exempt from sales tax on goods which it purchases for its own use. The exemption covers all equipment used by the society, and also extends to goods which it may acquire either by purchase or through the voluntary efforts of its members for supply free of charge to members of the fighting forces. The society has enjoyed exemption in respect of goods for its own use from the inceptionof the tax in 1930, and the executives of the society have never at any time suggested to the Government that the exemption should go beyond these limits.
The legal basis of the exemption is to be found in item 81 (1) of the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act, and reads as follows -
Goods for use, (. . . ), and not for sale by a public hospital or a public benevolent institution or any public organization which the Commissioner is satisfied is established and maintained for the relief of unemployed persons.
It will be seen that the exemption is enjoyed by the Australian Red Cross Society in common with every public hospital and every public benevolent institution throughout the Commonwealth. The exemption was specifically designed to prevent a revenue tax from falling upon funds which, as to a large portion thereof, represent money subscribed voluntarily by the people for charity or subsidies granted by the Government itself.
In recent weeks there has been some agitation for the extension of the exemption from sales tax to cover goods sold by organizations, the funds of which are to be devoted to the Australian Red Cross Society. The agitation appears to have originated in Brisbane, where a group of voluntary workers have acquired a cafe, the profits of which are given to the Queensland Division of the Society. The cafe is conducted as an ordinary business undertaking except for the voluntary labour provided by the Red Cross workers.
The law as it stands does not provide exemption for goods sold by the Australian Red Cross Society nor by any other public benevolent institution, and if the requests were granted it would be necessary for this Parliament, either to amend the terms of Item 81 to exempt specifically not only the goods for use by these institutions, but also the goods for sale, or to insert a new exemption item in the law. If exemption 81 were amended, the exemption would apply to all goods which the hundreds of institutions coming within the terms of that item might at any time sell. If a special item were inserted in the law to cover the Australian [Red Cross Society, all other charitable institutions might very well claim that they were entitled to a similar concession. Already the commercial and trading community take strong exception to any exemptions causing competitive anomalies.
The Government does not agree that any steps should be taken to grant exemption, because it holds the view that the people who purchase the goods from the society are the real payers of the tax. The tax is designed as a consumer tax, and the price-fixing authorities allow for the tax in fixing the prices of taxable commodities. If the society is selling its products at ruling commercial prices it is already collecting the tax from its customers, and the Government sees nothing unreasonable in requiring the society to pay over to the Government taxes which it has collected. If, on the other hand, the society is selling its products at prices which do not include the tax, it should adjust the prices so that the burden of the tax will rest where it was intended to rest. In the circumstances, the Government thinks that the law should remain as it is.
The honorable member for Wide Bay referred in his question to the sale of jam by voluntary workers being subject to tax. There has obviously been some misunderstanding in this respect because all jam is exempt from sales tax in all circumstances. I find difficulty in appreciating the reason for the hostility of voluntary war workers towards tax which becomes payable when their war efforts so intrude into the fiscal structure as to attract the tax which is ordinarily imposed upon commercial transactions. There seems to be a suggestion that the payment of tax is a bad thing. I think it should be remembered that the tax revenues of the Commonwealth are at the present time being preponderantly used to equip the troops with the requirements of war. I find this hostility completely incomprehensible when, as in the present instance, the burden of the tax falls, not upon the efforts of the voluntary workers, but upon the users of goods who require those goods for ordinary civilian purposes and who acquire them in the course of an ordinary business transaction.
.- Recently, the Government decided to appoint a War Industries Expansion Commission in Western Australia. Professor Mauldon was appointed as its chairman. Hd was also a member of the War Industries Survey Committee,- which was appointed by a previous government to survey the effect of the war on Western Australia. Out of that arose the commission of which the professor is chairman, and which has the power to examine the degree to which the war affected Western Australia, and to look after its war industries generally. Recently, the Commonwealth Government has extended the terms of reference of that commission, which now has to advise it on measures necessary to ensure the fullest and most effective use of Western Australia’s industrial resources for war purposes, to serve as an advisory authority cooperating with the Department of PostWar Reconstruction, and to submit specific proposals for such industrial and related developments as are necessary for these purposes. The establishment cf the commission, and the expansion of its work, were excellent for Western Australia. As a War Industries Survey Committee was appointed for Tasmania, I suggest that it should be the basis for a War Industries Expansion Commission similar to that of Western Australia. It would not be quite so easy in Tasmania as it was in Western Australia to use the same personnel. Professor Mauldon was a member of the Western Australian committee, and Professor Walker, of the University of Tasmania, was the chairman of the War Industries Survey Committee of Tasmania. The honorable member for Darwin (Sir George Bell) and I were the other members of the committee. Professor Walker is now attached to the Department of War Organization of Industry, and, consequently, I do not know whether his services could be made available for a Tasmanian War Industries Expansion Commission. However, what is exercising my mind, and the minds of quite a number of people in Tasmania, is the necessity for some such authority for reasons very similar in character to those which actuated the Government in appointing the Western Australian commission. It is generally known that over a number of years Tasmania has lost a good deal of its population, and is unable to maintain or hold its natural increase. That was so in days of peace, and is equally true in these days of war and of more extensive movements of population. The fact that there is only a minimum of expenditure on war work in Tasmania is another reason for the appointment of such a commission. I am not offering any particular complaintabout that, because I know the difficulties associated with providing a share of war work in distant States. In the early days there was a concentration because our Avar industries had to be expanded very rapidly to meet pressing needs. Later, as the position became less acute, expansion took place in other States. One could refer to what occurred in one of the less populous States which is quite as isolated as Tasmania. I allude to South Australia, where every cold wind that blows, and every shortage of shipping or of coal supplies, affects the war industries of that State. The position could not be worse in Tasmania. I refer to that matter only in passing,but it is an actual fact that there has been a minimum of expenditure on war work in Tasmania. Now that we are talking about post-war reconstruction, and there is in Western Australia a commission established for the purpose of advising the Commonwealth Government on plans for such reconstruction in that State, it seems to me that in the most southern State, which is separated from the mainland, a similar body to advise the Commonwealth Government, and to keep in touch with it on post-war plans should be established. I press the claims of Tasmania in this regard. It would be an excellent plan to appoint some such commission, which would be quite inexpensive. It would be a progressive step from the point of view of both the Common wealth and Tasmania, and would do much to relieve that State of its disabilities in the early post-war years.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Commonwealth purposes -
Albany, Western Australia.
Alexandria, New South Wales.
Batlow, New South Wales.
Cowra, New South Wales.
Deniliquin, New South Wales.
Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
Northam, Western Australia.
Fort Adelaide, South Australia.
Rathmines, New South Wales.
National Security Act -
National Security (Civil Defence Workers’ Compensation )Regulations - Order by
State Premier - Victoria.
National Security (General)Regulations - Orders -
Bacon and smallgoods (South Australia).
Control of -
Restrictions on new manufactures - Exemption.
Takingpossession of land, &c. (223).
Useof land (4).
National Security (Universities Commission )Regulations - Order - Classes of students to be assisted.
Norfolk Island- Report for 1941-42.
House adjourned at 10.48 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Electoral Enrolment of Soldiers.
– On the 5th February, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) asked a question, without notice, relating to the rates of payment made by the Allied Works Council for the hire ofplant and equipment from private owners.
I desire to inform the honorable member that throughout the Commonwealth the Allied Works Council employs one of the following methods to complete works projects : -
For the completion of projects in which the first method is utilized, the council does not hire plant and equipment. Impressment or purchase is the practice adopted.
With regard toprojects in which State instrumentalities are utilized, plant and equipment is often hired by the latter, the hire rates being those customarily paid by the State instrumentality when hiring plant for their own works.
The rates paid in connexion with plant hired by a private contractor for use on allied works projects would be subject to rigid audit in terms of the special cost-plus agreement.
In regard to the question as to the wages paid to motor drivers, the rates paid are those prescribed by the relevant award. These rates vary according to the capacity of the truck and include an amount for the hire of the truck, which amount increases or decreases according to the price of petrol, plus the wages of the driver as prescribed by the relevant award.
Man-power: Stock and Station Agencies.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 February 1943, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1943/19430224_reps_16_173/>.