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Thursday, 5 March 1942

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) .- If the enemy wanted to take advantage of us, one of the methods that he would adopt would be the creation of discord and suspicion in our ranks. One of the modern theories of war is that you can weaken your enemy by propaganda and the creation of class suspicion and hatred, and achieve as much by internal disruption as by the power of armed divisions. In this instance, somebody has done a grave disservice to Australia by creating in the minds of the people a. feeling of disquiet and distrust of the financial stability of this country during the war. I am not concerned with the theories of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward), I do u-o-fe- know what he actually said. Perhaps, he was misreported. If that were so,, he should have, issued a correction at tha earliest possible moment before the damage was' done. However, he allowed the public to believe that he had used those words. I am not one who regards cbe raising of money by loans as- the best method of financing the war;. Upon this subject, I have very much in common with the Minister, for Labour and National Service, and other members of the Government. In my opinion, a large percentage of war finance - I doubt whether the whole could- be found by this method - should come from current savings from current production. The best method- by which to obtain that, is- by taxation. However,, that is not the policy of the Government. When the Government of which I was a- member attempted to put that policy into practice, the Labour party criticized it, and succeeded in defeating it. If the Minister for Labour and National Service challenges our sincerity, we are- at perfect liberty to challenge his sincerity. The only n.*to which an individual' can put profits' is to purchase' privileges with them. Money is of no use to an individual unless he can- buy something with it, either in the form of goods or privileges. I should like to know whether the Minister for Labour and National- Service- has, to date, set an example to the country bv surrendering some of his ministerial privileges. Although the Government is appealing to people to make greater- sacrifices than ever before, Ministers take to themselves greater and greater privileges. The Minister for Labour and National Service is probably the greatest exponent of that policy. He has a bigger staff of supernumeraries and of assistants than any other Minister. What is the value of their services? What remuneration do his colleagues, pals and friends get? Are they receiving £2 2s. or £2 10s. a day, taxfree, or are they giving their services voluntarily, being satisfied with their parliamentary allowance of £1,000 per annum ?

Mr Morgan - I am receiving, no extra remuneration.

Mr ANTHONY - I am glad to have the honorable member's disclaimer, li appears to. me that the Minister for Labour and National Service has surrounded himself with staff. Does he still reserve for himself a compartment when the demands on railway rolling-stock are so great?

Mr Ward - No.

Mr ANTHONY - In time of wax, when every body is called upon to make sacrifices the example should come from the top, and- when Ministers examine the question of man-power they should examine their own personal staffs, especially when they ask others- to do the same-. I have seen around the House in the entourage of Ministers men, who-, from; appearances at any rate, might well be doing some more active job than penpushing or paper-carrying, jobs, which could be done by girls or people not of military capacity.

I have a lot in common with honorable gentlemen opposite who. have expressed views about the raising, of money. 1 agree that money could be raised by a stroke of the pen at the bank.. The best way to make that possible is by reducing ordinary civil consumption. The things that would, normally be bought, would not, be bought, and the money that would, normally be expended on their purchase would be available in the form of savings for diversion to the war effort. We could, as 'the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Baker) has so often proclaimed, finance the war through the Commonwealth bank, but that would do nothing to reduce civil consumption or divert money to the production of war needs. War production can be increased by no other means than community saving enforced by the, restriction of production and sale of civil goods. That is the reason for the loan programme and heavy taxation as against the creation of credit. It would be easy to finance the war through the Commonwealth Bank, but that would not make available one extra bullet or blanket or whatever be needed for war purposes.

I regret that the debate has taken its present course. I did not rise in order to have the Minister for Labour and National Service disciplined, as was suggested by the honorable member for

Bourke (Mr. Blackburn); but that Minister holds a. high and responsible post. tie has great importance and power, and, if he exercises that power with the vindictiveness which the community is beginning to believe he is using, there will be no confidence among large sections of the community. Confidence may be felt by the sections which support him, but the Government needs to have behind it the whole of the community, not just a part of it. If we lose the war, and this country, as we easily might, it will be because of disunity amongst ourselves and our failure to organize and realize on our total resources. This country can be defended, hut only by strong concerted and united action by us all. No Minister has the right to strike a discordant note in the policy of his government and thereby create distrust. He who does so, does to r.hp country a disservice of no small magnitude. I hope that the Minister for Labour and National Service in the discharge of his high functions will try ro bring an impartial judgment to the problems on which he is required to adjudicate. Otherwise vast sections of the people will have no faith or confidence in, or hope for the future of this Government.

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