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Thursday, 28 May 1942

Mr CHIFLEY (Macquarie) (Treasurer) . - The Government declines to accept the amendment. An old story has been resurrected for our edification. We have been told of the wonderful potentialities of the budget produced by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) on the 25th September last. The proposals then advanced by the right honorable gentleman aimed at the raising of approximately £7,000,000 by means of taxation and £25,000,000 under a scheme of post-war credits, £20,000,000 of which was to have been obtained from individuals. Since the present Government assumed office, it has imposed direct and indirect taxes estimated to produce an additional £60,000,000 a year, despite the fact that the country was told that it could not survive without post-war credits, and that inflation would make an immediate appearance on its door-step. The Government has faced up to the realities of the position, and has not adopted any fancy schemes, such as might be designed by professors of economics, at whom the Opposition was inclined to scoff last night. Under this measure, the Government hopes to raise what iT- considers it is entitled to receive, namely, an additional £15,000,000. That is no mean effort, and it compares more than favorably with the proposals contained in the Fadden budget of last year. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) has drawn my attention to the fact that Commonwealth loans raised by this Government have been fully subscribed without recourse to private banking institutions. I have referred previously to the means adopted by the Tight honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) as Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) as Treasurer, in order to fill a loan.

Mr Fadden - Does the honorable gentleman say that the Government did not receive anything from the trading banks ?

Mr CHIFLEY - Nothing whatever.

Mr HARRISON - Surely the circumstances are different to-day!

Mr CHIFLEY - Everything is changed except some of the stories that the Opposition periodically trots out. Why this wonderful solicitude for the lower income groups!

Mr.Fadden. Has the Prime Minister appealed to such groups?

Mr. CHIFLEY.Of course he has; and they have responded.

Mr.Fadden. The honorable gentleman knows that they have not responded.

Mr CHIFLEY (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) -thirds of the last loan raised consisted of contributions of less than £200. I have frequently hoard financial policy preached according to the views held by those for whom the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) speaks. I listened to such a discourse in 1930-31. The financial policy which it was then said would be good for the workers drove many of them into misery and degradation. What then happened does not give me any confidence in the financial policies now being preached by honorable members opposite.

Mr.Hutchinson. Can the honorable gentleman disprove the figures I have given !

Mr. CHIFLEY.They were so voluminous that I do not feel disposed to dissect them. I view with grave suspicion this wonderful solicitude for the workers. The thought that the workers, after being starved for years, and being obliged to bang about the gates of factories seeking employment, are now making sufficient to enable them to purchase some of the necessaries and amenities of life, seems to cause honorable members opposite to have a feeling of almost hatred towards them. A tree is judged by its fruit. We have tasted some of the fruits of the financial policy espoused by honorable members opposite. The Government will not accept it. We believe that we have done very good work in financing the affairs of this country. We recognize the wisdom of much of what has been said concerning the grave danger of a decrease of the quantity of goods available and a concurrent increase of the purchasing power. That is elementary, and is generally realized. The Government is making definite and determined efforts to defray the cost of the war as it proceeds. The rates proposed in this measure are a part of the general scheme: of taxation. They may not he in accordance with the views of every member of the committee, but they are calculated to return £15,000,000 more than was previously obtained from the total Common wealth and State taxes. The proposal to institute post-war credits may be regarded as something in the nature of a King Charles head. I give to the Leader of the Opposition full credit for sincerity. I could not do otherwise, because all his actions are characterized by sincerity, honesty and political decency, and I should be ungrateful did I not pay tribute to those qualities in him. ' 1 merely differ from the policies expounded by honorable members opposite, and consider that the measures adopted by this Government have had very good results. The Government is unable to depart from the proposal it has placed before the committee.

Question put -

That paragraph 1 be postponed (Mr. Fadden's amendment) .

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