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Thursday, 5 March 1942

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The debate is becoming altogether too personal.

Mr WARD - I regret that I was provoked to that digression. I would say to members of the Opposition that no good is gained by the introduction of personalities. Let each member of the Opposition answer for himself. The right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) smiles. I should grieve with him at the "great sacrifice" that he would have to make had he to give up the returns that be obtains from his investments.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! These personalities must cease.

Mr WARD - The workers are now being conscripted into the Army, and there is talk of conscripting them into labour squads in order that t'hey may be sent wherever their services may be required. The basis of their engagement would be identical with that of men in the fighting line. I ask members of the Opposition to state plainly whether they would support an all-in war effort, in which all the people of this country would be on the one footing. I believe that it was the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Spooner) who made the very good suggestion that, in respect oi material requirements. the populace should immediately be placed on a. ration basis, so that no one person would get more than another. In order to do that, it would be necessary to freeze existing currency, and work on a coupon basis, otherwise those who had bank accounts or capital upon which they could draw would be able to live at a much higher standard than those who had merely wages.

Let all be placed on a coupon basis. Let the Government decide what is available of this or that commodity, and let everybody share alike for as long as this country is in dire peril and we are defending it to the utmost of our ability. I f labour power and every other resource of the country is to go into the pool, why should there be such strong resistance and protest whenever it is suggested that profits should go in? That is all that the Government is asking. I challenge members of the Opposition to show whether they are genuine and sincere. Do they agree that members of Parliament, the judiciary, and captains of industry, should be on the same footing as every body else ?

Mr Fadden - Why not bring it in as a Government measure?

Mr WARD - This is a proposition about which the Opposition is not very enthusiastic. It is prepared to make all sorts of appeals to the workers, and to say, " Let us all be in ". Notwithstanding what may have been said in regard to my courage, wherever the fight might be in Australia - and the thicker it was the better - I should be prepared, in an all-in war effort, to take whatever post was allotted to me, so long as some of those whose age is no greater than mine, yet who question my courage, were in front of, not behind, me, and could not run away when the first short was fired.

I conclude by inviting members of the Opposition to give an indication of their sincerity. Let them advise their leader that it would not be wise in future to accept the Sydney Daily Telegraph as an authentic newspaper, and that, if he first checked the accuracy of press statements, he would find that I had never said that the Government ever intended to repudiate the payment of interest on either past loans or those that are now being raised.

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