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Wednesday, 24 May 1939

Mr McHUGH (Wakefield) .- No doubt this clause will go down in history «s a very important one. When I completed my first fifteen minutes, I was referring to the high ethical standard that it is (necessary for this and every other government to set in regard to preparations for defence. No profits should be permitted from the manufacture and sale of defence equipment. I commend the Government upon the manner in which powers have been delegated to the State authorities. The local governing bodies will appoint district clerks to act as secretaries of further civic bodies that will form various committees in connexion with local defence activities. This is a very cheap and excellent way to provide for civil defence. I understand that, up ;to the present time, the cost of setting this machinery in operation in South Australia is under £40. I impress on the

Minister the necessity, in the exercise of his power under this bill to create industries and factories, for him to bear in mind the need to place them in the most advantageous positions so that their use will extend beyond the needs of the defence organization to those of every-day civilian life. They should not be concentrated in the great metropolitan areas, but should be located close to the sources of raw materials. We are inclined to be carried away by a hysterical fear of war, but we must not lose sight of the fact that at the soonest possible time this country must have as its first consideration the production of goods for the' civil population and the steady but sure raising of the standard of living.

Two ways exist for the financing of the proposals contained in this bill. One is recourse to the loan market with its consequent increase of the interest burden, and the other is the use of the Commonwealth Bank for the issue of credit on behalf of the nation. If this country be worth, as some economists tell us, £7,000,000,000, 1 am satisfied that credits could and should be issued against its great assets. If we continue what we have been doing in recent years and borrow from £20,000,000 to £40,000,000 a year, we shall impose such a burden on posterity that there will be no prospect of our ever being able to liquidate our public debt. There have been advances in all branches of life but banking; the banking system is still in the dark ages, whereas it, above all other aspects of commercial life, should be up-to-date in its outlook. All modern governments sooner or later will be forced to face the question of the issue of credit.

Before concluding I impress upon the Government the necessity for it to follow the lead given by the Premier of South Australia, Mr. Playford, who is determined that as much work in connexion with this measure as is possible shall be done in South Australian government factories. In the Islington Government Workshops in South Australia we have the machinery and staff to undertake this work, and in the undertaking of the work there will be no excess profits. If there is one thing that is abhorrent to me it is high profits from the suffering of the people.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member for Moreton.

Mr. francis(Moreton) [8.50]. - I am grateful for the Chair's reconsideration. I indicated a few moments ago that it was an unfortunate practice for the Government to appoint .four Victorians and another who, by trade association, is almost a Victorian, to be the personnel of five on the industrial panel. I have the profoundest regard for all of the gentlemen on it. They are outstanding members of industry, and they are doing, and will continue to do, an extraordinarily good job of work. Nevertheless, it is unfortunate that in this great Commonwealth the Government's outlook seems to be confined to the vicinity of St. Kilda-road, Melbourne. The Government also proposes to appoint a panel of accountants to advise * it and to devise a costing system to check the profits of private industries engaged in carrying out work for it in connexion with the Department of Supply and Development. I understand that five accountants are to be appointed to the panel, and I hope on this occasion that the Government will look beyond St. Kilda-road in choosing them. There are in Queensland and other States men who could be of invaluable assistance to the Department of Supply and Development, and who are anxious and willing to serve. I should like an assurance from the Minister that' their claims will be considered.

Mr Casey - I shall-speak on that.

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