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Wednesday, 16 September 1942


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honorable member is straying wide of the bill. Many of his remarks would be much more appropriate on the budget, and I suggest that he reserve them for that debate.


Mr CALWELL - I thank honorable members opposite for their interjections, because I intend to repeat these sentiments in another form on the budget. I hope to use this Parliament as a sounding board so that I can address the vast Australian democracy ; because, if " the ranks of Tuscany "-


Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable member must address himself 1» the bill.


Mr CALWELL - Quite recently, a statement was published in the press which indicated that various surpluses had been proclaimed and advertised in all the States of the Commonwealth. A statement which was prepared for me by the Treasury shows that State surpluses for the year 1941-42 were as follows: -

 

Those figures do not represent the actual amount by which revenue exceeded expenditure. It is safe to say that the real surpluses were probably twice the amounts shown. Thus, at a time when the Commonwealth was experiencing difficulties in raising revenue, the States were collecting revenue to the amount of £3,000,000 more than they admitted. I suggest that, instead of enacting legislation such as that which we are now considering, the Government should amend the State Grants Bill which has just been passed so as to reduce by £3,000,000 the amount to be distributed amongst the States. No budget ever presented to any Parliament, State or Commonwealth, was a factual statement of the finances of the country. Every budget is more or less faked, and every honorable member who has sat in a State or Federal Parliament knows that budgets are faked. I now submit that State budgets have been so faked in recent times that it is no longer necessary for the Commonwealth to pay State governments the amounts agreed upon.


Mr Barnard - Does the honorable member know of the famous saying of a former Treasurer on the subject of honesty in finance?


Mr CALWELL - I do not think that there is any honesty in finance, and there is less of it outside Parliament than there is inside.


Mr SPOONER - Does the honorable member say that as an ex-Treasury official \


Mr CALWELL - I was a Treasury official for seventeen and a half years, and I know the methods by which budgets can be faked. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Spooner), who was a member of a State government at one time, is probably also aware of some of the methods by which they can be faked. I join with the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) in protesting against intolerance at this time of crisis, and particularly against any government allowing itself to be influenced by intolerant demands for thu cancellation of race meetings, and the closing down of organized sport. I do not believe that any section of the community should be relieved of those difficulties and restrictions which are unavoidable at this time, but if race meetings and other forms of sport are to be entirely prohibited, then the only form of entertainment remaining to people of modest means is the picture show, and the parents with two or three children will find it extremely difficult to pay the price of admittance to picture shows when this new tax ia imposed. The honorable member for Robertson said that the allocation recently made to the States was fair, and he defended the system of uniform taxation. I think, for the reasons which I have stated, that the States have been more than generously treated, some, perhaps, a little more so than others. Generally, there is a disposition to allow the States to spend how they like, and a disposition to levy more and more taxes on the working man. That does not make for the popularity of this Government, nor for a proper appreciation of the difficulties with which the Government is confronted.

It has been stated that this bill will divert spending power to the amount of £3,000,000. I do not think that that matters so much. The amount of £3,000,000 can be raised in some other less difficult way that will not impose burdens on the masses of the people. I am not so frightened of using the national credit as are members of the Government. After all, we have used it so far only to an amount of £78,000,000, and even if we used it to the amount of £100,000,000 in the next financial year, that would not make the country insolvent, or open the flood-gates of inflation. We have been assured by the Government that wages are pegged and prices fixed. Therefore, there is nothing for the worker to do with his money but put it in the savings bank. I am merely stating the arguments of the Government itself, and if its premises be correct, then the conclusions which I draw must also be correct.

I have opposed every bill introduced in this House under which it was proposed to levy indirect taxation, and I have spoken against every loan bill, whether introduced by this Government or by the ones that preceded it. I do not like those things which conflict with the principles of the party to which I belong, and I do not think that the enactment of this bill will usher in the new order.

Tn fact, it will have an opposite effect.

I note the anxiety with which honorable members opposite view any attempt to introduce the new order, and the unanimity with which they speak against any proposal designed to that end.







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