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Thursday, 28 May 1942

Mr HOLT (Fawkner) (11:47 AM) .I support the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden), the effect of which would be to introduce an equitable system of post-war credits. Seeing that this subject was exhaustively debated when- the budget of the Fadden Government was before the House last year, I do not intend to go into it in detail on. this occasion. Quite obviously, the scheme propounded by the right honorable gentleman this morning has great merit. It would undoubtedly provide additional money for financing the war, and,, at the same time, avoid the friction that has occurred between the Commonwealth and State Governments, over the plan for uniform income taxation to which the House agreed early this morning. Wo should do everything possible to avoid anything in the nature of unhappy controversy between the Commonwealth and the States in these times.

We cannot afford to overlook the human element in relation to financial proposals of the kind we have been considering during this sitting of the House. It is desirable, if possible, to give people an incentive to save, and also, for that matter, to pay taxes. If people can be brought to understand that by paying a larger amount in taxes now, they will be accumulating' post-war credits, I am certain that they will shoulder their burden more pleasantly than they otherwise would. The policy which this Government is applying at present is undoubtedly destroying incentive and initiative in individuals, and placing a premium on inefficiency and extravagance in company affairs. I know that it will be said in reply to my submissions that people should find a sufficient incentive to pay their higher taxes in the realization that the money will be used for the prosecution of the war; but if, by the adoption of other methods, we could add to that incentive the realization that their higher taxes would also accumulate post-war credits for them, it would be all to the good. It is highly desirable that steps be taken to encourage people on the smaller incomes in particular, to contribute towards post-war credits. The Government's present policy tends to discourage initiative in every way, whereas the policy proposed by the Leader of the Opposition would have the reverse effect. People would undoubtedly be more ready to deny themselves goods which they do not really need, if they knew that, by doing so, they would be putting away a nest-egg, which they could hatch after the war. The application of such a policy would be particularly beneficial to persons in the lower income ranges. It has been pointed out in the course of our debates on the Government's taxation plans, the the purchasing power of the people in these days is being inflated to a serious degree. Moreover, many people are spending money on amusements and non-essential goods in a way that is certainly not in the best interests of the country. Our places of amusement, and also our big stores, are being thronged, and much useless and extravagant spending is going on, to the detriment of the war effort. It would be no hardship in these days for persons in the lower income groups to contribute towards post-war credits. Many of the young people who are to-day earning from £3 to £5 and £6 or more weekly have very limited obligations to meet, and their lavish expenditure is creating problems in relation to consumer services which are most detrimental to the war effort. If a good deal of the money which is being carelessly spent todaycould be withdrawn from circulation in order that it might be made available after the war, the whole country would benefit immediately, and the present unhealthy and dangerous spending carnival would be avoided. On a variety of grounds, a strong case has been made out for the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition, and I hope that the Government will give earnest consideration to the proposal.

When the Leader of the Opposition first propounded his post-war credits policy it was most popular. Everybody seemed to realize that by this means we could cushion the shock which is undoubtedly awaiting us in our post-war readjustments. Press and public alike approved of the post-war credits plan of. the Fadden Government, and I hope that the fact that it was not adopted last year will not cause this Government to pass it over without careful reconsideration. As a parliament, we should concern ourselves now with the problems that will have to be faced in post-war years, when literally hundreds of thousands of people will have to be taken from war industries and placed in the civil industries in which they were formerly engaged. Anything that is designed to facilitate that transfer in the post-war years should receive the sympathetic attention of the Government. It will be necessary in those years to create a demand for consumer services, whereas to-day it is necessary to curtail all spending except on non-essential goods. If the Government would adopt the proposal made by the Leader of the Opposition it would undoubtedly take a great step towards economic stability both now and in the years after the war. I therefore trust that the amendment will receive the endorsement of the committee.

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