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Thursday, 5 March 1942

Mr BLACKBURN (Bourke) .- It would be absurd to endeavour to conceal from the country the fact thatthe Opposition assembled here to-day for the deliberate purpose of making an attack upon the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward). Every one. knew that the Opposition at the dictation of influences outside the House would use the first occasion that presented itself to attempt to drive him out of the Ministry.

Mr.Morgan. - Or split the Government.

Mr BLACKBURN - I do not agree that the object was to split the Govern ment, because those interests considered that a government deprived of the Minister for Labour and National Service would not be so offensive to them. It is idle for the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) to deprecate what happened in the House this afternoon, when he knows that he and other members of the Opposition are the cause of it. They took this, their first opportunity, to make an attack upon the Minister, in the belief that he would be repudiated by his fellow Ministers and by private members ofthe Labour party. WhilstI do notagree with every statement that the Minister has made, I doagree with his declaration that we should not borrow money forthe purpose of financing the war, and pay interest on it. That is all the Minister said, and the majority of Australians will agree with him. There was nothing in his statement that condemned the payment of interest upon obligations that have already been contracted.

Mr.harrison.-Sothatthisloanwill bear nointerest! Is that the idea ? The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) is holding a brief for the Minister.

Mr.BLACKBURN. - I am not; I am merely expressing my own opinions. But as I have been charged with holding a brief for the Minister, I may say that ifthecountryweredeprivedofhisservices, it would be muchpoorer for the loss. He isoneofour leaders in whom the masses of thepeople have great confidence. The Government would stand much lower in popular esteem if he were not a member of theCabinet. The fact that he is a Minister is a guaranteeto the people that their cause will be fought for and that their interests will be safeguarded.

A.   good deal has been made by honorable membersopposite about alleged divisions in the Cabinet.We had the spectacle of Satan rebuking Sin when thehonorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) made that charge. When hewasa member of the Menzies Government, his policyalways differed from that of his colleagues. Finally, he forced a general election upon the country. Other members of the Cabinet favoured an approach to the British Government for an extension of the life of the Commonwealth Parliament, but the honorablemember, at Bairnsdale, denounced that proposal. So it is not for him or for others to talk about divisions in Cabinet. Attention has also been directed to what has been described as a "difference of opinion " among Ministers. Since the outbreak of war differences of opinion among Ministers of all parties have not been unknown.

The people are tremendously disappointed that the Government proposes to continue the policy of borrowing money. Some of the appeals which have been made to people to contribute to the war loan were exactly the same as those which were resorted to during the last war. The practice is to tell people : " It is not necessary for you to have any money in order to support the war loan.

You can borrow it from a bank ". As I have often pointedout, that procedure causes inflation. What is more,we have topay interest onthe inflationary loan. Ifwe must - and it appears that we must -have inflation, I prefer notto pay interestupontheinflation;Isupportan expansionistpolicywhichcallsforno interest.inmyopinion,wehavereached thestagewhenwecanmitigatetheinflationarycharacterofourfinancebycontrollingwages,profitsandexpenditure and by rationing goods so that no person shallget too much, or toolittle. The policy oftheGovernment has disappointed and depressedthepeople. Although theenemy isatttacking our territories, we are told thattheonlywayin whichwecanobtain money for the conduct of the war is by undertakingtopay interest. Repeatedly I haveheardappealsofthis nature. "The prudent and wise man will invest in war loans because after the war he will be theonlyperson who will have any means. There willbe a depression; wages will be reduced; and profits will be very limited. Consequently, the only person in the community who will have anything is the man who draws interest from his investments in warloans." I do not agree with everything that the Minister for Labourand National Service has said, but I agree, with the great majority of the people, that he is a consistent and courageous champion of the masses. He can be relied upon to be their consistent and courageous champion, and it is because he fills that role that influences outside the House are trying to get rid of him.

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