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Wednesday, 7 July 1920


Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - Our deadweight war debt is very much less than the total of the loans raised during the war. Loans were raised for other purposes than the mere dissipating of the moneys in war operations. All the item of £22,000,000 should come back to us with interest, and help the revenues of Australia, while assisting in the settlement of the country. This expenditure stands on the same footing as the expenditure on the ordinary settlement schemes of the State Governments; all we are doing is extending those schemes, and perhaps varying the terms "a little, though not so very much. Therefore, it seems to me we should not be doing ourselves or the country justice if we included all this expenditure in our war obligations; it should rather be regarded as expenditure during the currency of the war for settlement and housing purposes.

As already stated, the new loan is required mainly for the' expenses of repatriation, including war service homes - in short, for reproductive services. There is still a sum of about £3,000,000 required to meet certain outstanding accounts in connexion with the Expeditionary Force and Australian Fleet, and this sum should be added to the net war debt of £313,300,000 previously mentioned. The final net war debt may therefore be set down at £316,300,000.


Mr J H Catts - Is that after deducting the expenditure on developmental works?


Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - Yes; which in their nature do not represent dead-weight war debt. After the new loan has been raised, no further loans will be floated for ordinary war purposes. It may, however, be necessary to raise further money for repatriation, but I hope this may not be for any large amounts. At any rate, for purely war purposes, the last of the loans has really been raised. I hope that the further money that may be necessary in the future for repatriation will not be very much more than that I am now asking the country to find. Our obligations are great, but our country is great and prosperous, notwithstanding the criticisms made from time to time. I am the very last to take a too optimistic view of our liabilities and obligations. I have stressed these far too often. But when we have the fact that our revenues for the year are millions more than we anticipated, surely we may congratulate ourselves without indulging in anything which the newspapers seem to regard as utterly unjustifiable. I say, again, that our obligations are tremendous, but, at the same time, our country's financial position is thoroughly sound. No doubtall that is needed is proper prudence - the exercise of care in the spending of the moneys raised from time to time. So long as we proceed along these lines, we may face the future with hope and confidence.


Mr FENTON (MARIBYRNONG, VICTORIA) - How much are you asking for- £25,000,000 ?


Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I am not asking the House for any amount at the present time, but simply . making a statement.


Mr Tudor - Have you the necessary authority to raise the whole of the £25,000,000 ?


Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - Yes; and for more than that.


Mr Austin Chapman - Will there be a compulsory provision in the Loan Bill?


Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I hope and believe that the terms will enable us to gather in this loan without the aid of compulsion, but, at the same time, it must be made clear that the money has to be raised, and if we cannot get it by one method we must adopt another.

These are obligations to the soldiers which cannot be disregarded, and I hope the country will enable the Government to discharge them to the full without the necessity for compulsion.

Mr.Fenton. - What is the annual interest bill on the Federal loans ?


Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I expect that when the total is made up, our interest bill in the future will not be far short of £20,000,000.


Mr Tudor - Is it not over that amount now?


Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - No. But, after all, this is not the time for the discussion of details, and I shall be prepared to give any information required later on. As a final word, I wish to say that, on the occasion of the last loan, there were Committees throughout the length and breadth of Australia which assisted us in a wonderfully effective way to the realization of our objective. I am hoping to reconstructthose Committees, and that they will afford us the same patriotic help they did before. I now appeal to every honorable member to help us to the extent of his power, his capabilities, and his opportunities to raise this money for the benefit of the soldiers of Australia.







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