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Friday, 6 March 1942


Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) (Minister for Aircraft Production) . - I do not object to the House adjourning until the 25th March, butI point out that a time must come when certain administrative acts of the Government, and certain war measures, will have to be debated in this House. The Pacific war has been raging for three months, and during that time we have seen what is probably the greatest upset in war that has ever taken place inthe history of the world ; yet the situation has never been debated in this House. We had a couple of secret meetings of members, and they were followed by one ministerial statement - a. very able one,I admit. - but it did not deal with certain salient features of Australia's military position, or with the impact of the war on the Pacific situation generally. I do not say that the Government is trying to stave off such a debate, but we are running a very grave risk in making it appear to the people that we do not care. Certain regulations have been introduced during the last two or three weeks. Some of them, under the guise of preparing the country for war, are nothing more nor less than an attempt to bring in a new financial policy - to establish in this country an entirely new order. What order it is, God only knows, 'because the Prime Minister and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) seem to hold entirely opposite views concerning it. The Prime Minister has not yet clarified his own position, and that of his Government.


Mr Curtin - I did that last night.


Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - The statement of the Prime Minister last night did not answer the two points raised by the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies). If the Prime Minister has not read the report of the speech made in this House yesterday by the Minister for Labour and National Service, in which two entirely new financial principles were put forward, then he does not know what is being done by members of his own Ministry. The House should not adjourn to-day until the Prime Minister has said whether the Minister for Labour and National Service speaks for the Government - until he either endorses or repudiates what that Minister said. There is no middle course. Either the statement of the Minister is right, and is supported by his colleagues, or it is wrong, and should be repudiated by his colleagues.

This House has a definite responsibility regarding the administrative acts of the Government in regard to the conduct of the war. If the House does not. take its responsibilities seriously a state of affairs will develop, the like of which we have not seenbefore, and I have no desire to see it. We want to go on according to the rules of law and order.







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