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Friday, 26 May 1939

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Nairn - I must ask the honorable member to withdraw the remark.

Mr LAZZARINI - If I made any implication I withdraw it. The Minister completely misrepresented what I said, and he cannot get away with it in this committee, whatever he may do on the hustings.

Mr Casey - Hansard will show what the honorable gentleman said.

Mr LAZZARINI - The Minister cannot get away with that sort of " guff " here, whatever he may "put over" elsewhere. I said that if 'the Labour party, were in power there would be no profits from war or the preparation for war. If the Minister cannot understand plain English I cannot help it.

Mr Casey - Hansard will show what tlie honorable member said.

Mr LAZZARINI - It will, and if it does not, there will be something else done about it. I do not know whether the Minister is smarting under recent events, or is in doubt about the outcome of the Wilmot by-election. He may be seeking for something to cause misrepresentation even .at this late hour. Perhaps something of that kind accounts for his irritation to-day. I stand hy the policy and programme which Labour has declared repeatedly from the platforms of this country, and I shall continue to do so. This Government is formed from among honorable gentlemen opposite. ' Of course, we cannot make them accept our policy, for they have the force of numbers; but if we can get support from some other honorable members, we shall certainly oblige them to legislate as nearly in accordance with our policy as possible. Our policy is to eliminate excess profits and profiteering. In framing this measure, the Government endeavoured to camouflage the real issue by inserting in it a clause which gives the Minister power to do as he wishes. Notwithstanding the statement made by the honorable member for Indi our position is perfectly clear. When the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) first raised this question of the limitation of profits, the policy of the Opposition was dearly stated. It was also clearly expounded in the excellent speech delivered by the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) this morning; and it was repeated when the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) gave notice of his amendment. Although I am hesitant to say so, we can sympathize to some degree with the attitude adopted by the Government because we realize that it is difficult to embody in the bill a clause, free from loopholes, which would fix a fair percentage of profit, having regard to the means utilized by big companies to hide their profits. I again say that we have brought forward this amendment making it mandatory on the Government to restrict profits in the interests of the people. The Government, of course, will have to accept responsibility for what it considers to be a fair rate of profit. After all, it will retain control of the affairs of this country for only a short time. I do not know that it will be given an opportunity to implement this bill for a very long period before Labour will be asked to take over the reins of government. However, while we remain in opposition we shall continue to play the part of watchdogs. If the Government does not make some effort to limit profits, it will have to answer for its failure to do so to this Parliament and to the country. That, in plain terms, is the attitude of the party which I represent. I enthusiastically support the amendment moved by the Acting Leader of the Opposition because I realize that it represents a sincere attempt tc> make this clause watertight. We 'believe it gives the fullest measure of protection that we can hope to get, having regard to the clashing policies of the parties on both sides of the House, and while the Government is kept in office by honorable members who judge the success of all enterprises - governmental or otherwise - by the profits they make. When honorable members on this side assume the reins of government, they will be able to give effect to Labour's policy that there should be no profit in the manufacture of armaments, and the efficacy of that policy will be determined by the human well-being of the nation. We realize that we cannot get honorable members oppositeto change their outlook in regard to measures of this kind, and that we have to be content to get the- best we can. I support the amendment, and trust that the committee will carry it.

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