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Thursday, 5 March 1942

Mr FROST (FRANKLIN, TASMANIA) (Minister for Repatriation) - Did the honorable member not get a fair deal from the Opposition when his party was in power?

Mr HOLT - Yes. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin), when Leader of the Opposition, very properly reserved the right to be critical when he thought he should be. He tested the feeling of this House on the major issue of the last budget. We are not complaining; weh ave swallowed our medicine, and artdoing our best to see that the game of politics is not played at the time when this country is struggling against th,gravest menace it has had to face.


Mr HOLT - I agree with the inference that it is deplorable that we should have a repetition of the scene and the atmosphere created in this chamber this afternoon.

Mr SPEAKER -Order !

Mr HOLT - We are trying to debate the merits of two fundamental proposals submitted by a responsible Minister of the Crown. We have endeavoured to debate these proposals calmly and logically and free of personalities. The Opposition now feels that it must challenge these proposals because it sees, as the country sees, that whilst in time of war this Government has the authority to take the measures necessary for the protection of the Commonwealth, it has neither mandate nor authority to use as a cloak the circumstances of war in order to implement radical proposals which have been traditional planks of the Labour platform. "We challenge the Government on that. Some members of the Government, a minority, are using the opportunity, which feeling in the community and the circumstances of war give to them, to introduce a socialistic programme, even when some of the features of that programme disadvantage the war effort. We ask the Government to consider this matter seriously. Oan Ministers from their experience of the functioning of democracy since the outbreak of war believe that it can function effectively in war-time unless there is basic unity on major proposals? They must consider that this is no time to make mistakes on matters of fundamental policy. There are in this chamber 60 or more members who have the same basic ideas as to how the war should be conducted, but the tragedy is that those members are not able, by some means or other, to pool their goodwill and unity of interests and policy in order to ensure this country against aggression and invasion. .1. -,ay with all sincerity that until we pool the best administrative brains of ibis Parliament in order to establish the most effective government possible, we shall not be doing our duty to the public who sent us here and to the men who are risking their lives for us. For that reason I ask the Government to ponder its responsibilities, not only to this generation, but also to the generations to come; otherwise the charge levelled against it will be that at the time when the country demanded our best the Government was not prepared to give that best, but preferred to play politics up to the hilt so as to preserve its own political advantages.

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