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Thursday, 5 March 1942

Mr WARD (East Sydney) (Minister for Labour and National Service) , - It is quite evident from the part taken in this debate by honorable members opposite that, in spite of the dire peril in which this country stands at the moment, they have not been able to place patriotism before profits. In order to clear away any misapprehension concerning what I actually said at a meeting that I addressed recently in Sydney - and I do not apologize for or withdraw anything that I said - I make it clear thai I have never said that it has ever been the intention of this 'Government to refuse to pay interest on war loans to which the public has already subscribed. That statement also applies to the present Liberty Loan. I said at the meeting to which reference has been made, and I repeat now, that I am of the opinion that this war should not be financed by the present process. The war should be financed by means of taxation, thereby taking the cost of it out of current production.

Mr Archie: Cameron - The honorable gentleman should not remain in the Government if those are his views.

Mr Fadden - Would the Minister apply that statement to the £35,000,000 now being floated?

Mr WARD - My view is that, in an all-in war effort, every member of the community must give whatever he can to assist the nation without any desire to secure personal gain. To ensure this country's defence and its triumph over the powers that threaten it, the munitions workers, the miners and the people engaged in all our war industries give their services. The soldier, the sailor and the airman each offers his life. Is it too much to expect the moneyed man to give his money without expecting interest returns? Such action by those in a position to lend their money in the defence of their country and of themselves would definitely not damage the credit of this nation, but would be to its everlasting credit.

I say to certain honorable members who have accepted the reports of some daily newspapers as their authorities, that there have been occasions in the past when they have not been so ready to do so. I have in mind times when newspaper criticism has been levelled against themselves. I knew full well that from the moment I touched vested interest?

I should became she target of the lackeys of capitalism, of capitalism's representative newspapers and of capitalism's representatives in this Parliament.

Let me examine certain statements by i be Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden). He said that at least I had been consistent in my advocacy of financial policy. He also added that the leopard cannot change its spots. I »m sorry &a.t I cannot say that the Leader of the Opposition has been consistent in lus advocacy of certain views Which, le held and' expressed about the time when be first entered this Parliament.

Mr FADDEN - Give us something new.

Mr WARD - I intend to cite certain statements: made by the Leader of the Opposition and. subsequently quoted in Hansard. Tha honorable gentleman searched back Co 19>31 in dealing with my political attitude. In replying to the honorable gentleman, I shall not go back *o far.. He was elected to this Parliament somewhat later than. I was; in 1931.. In a speech that be delivered when be was cocking election to this Parliament he referred, to the majority party supporting the government of the day - that is, the United Australia party - in the following terms : -

The United Australia party gave- its allegiance to- the big financial and manufacturing interests of the cities and to the middlemen and monopolists because it received its. support and power from those people.. How then could the United Australia party serve the countryside as welT as those

IB1 the city who sucked the lifeblood from the countryside?

Yet the honorable gentleman is to-day not only sitting side by side with these bloodsuckers, but has actually become their leader! So much for his consistency !

Let us now look for a moment or two at his statements this afternoon. He said that the Government was relying entirely upon voluntary loans and he asked how the Government could expect to get loan money when it limited profits? Taking the honorable gentleman's statement to its logical conclusion, be asked, in effect, " How can you expect to raise loans unless you allow the profiteer in this country to go ahead?" That is the policy of the United Australia party.

Mr Pollard - Bigger profits, bigger loans !

Mr WARD - The honorable gentleman would have us. believe that the Government should not restrict profits but should let. the profiteer make money, with the idea of afterwards borrowing it from him at what it regarded, .as a. suitable rate of interest. The honorable gentleman's government propounded a policy of compulsory loans. Doubts were created in the minds of the workers in regard to such a policy because they knew very well, of the number of promises made during the last war which were repudiated by anti-Labour governments. They were afraid that the same kind of thing would happen in respect of the proposed compulsory loan policy. They held the opinion that the compulsory loans would never be repaid.

Idid not introduce personalities into this- debate. I listened quietly while other honorable gentlemen were speaking and particularly while they were saying that certain things should, be cleared up. 1 also desire certain- things to be cleared up in this Parliament. I have been waiting for the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutch i neon )r for example, to honour the promise be made some years ago when he said that he would be on the first transport that left Australia.

Mr McEwen - The honorable gentleman volunteered.

Mr WARD - Quite so, and he was rejected on the ground of faulty eyesight. Yet I noticed this afternoon that he read his notes without the use of spectacles.

The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) suggested that there should be no place in this Government for me. I say that there should be no place in this Parliament for the honorable member, because of what he had to say against our most powerful ally, Russia, after the outbreak of hostilities between Germany and Russia. Speaking in this House on the 21st August, 1941, the honorable gentleman said -

Taking a clearly objective view of the Russian situation, I say that it is a good thing for us that these two great international thieves have fallen out, out it is only a goodthing to the extent to which we use the opportunity created by the Russo-German war to put the British Empire in a better state to meet inevitable attack. From our point of view it does not matter who wins the Russo.German war, because the British Empire is committed to fight the winner.

The honorable gentleman who made those statements now sits on the backmost bench of the Opposition in this Parliament.

I have never said on any occasion that the. Government should not pay interest on the loans which have been raised, or that it should not pay interest on the loan which is now being floated. What I have said, and what I say now, is that it is entirely wrong to apply a policy which will inevitably bring ruin, misery and degradation upon large numbers of people.

Mr Fadden - What about the loans which may be covered by this bill?

Mr WARD - I intend now to refer to a leading article in the Sydney DailyTelegraph, of the 12th December, 1941, a journal which has been most hostile to me and which has repeatedly distorted my statements. It is one of the newspapers which supports the Leader of the Opposition. The leading article related lo an appeal for funds to replace II.M.A.S. Sydney - an appeal which was quite popular about that time. The article reads as follows: -

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