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Thursday, 10 September 1942

Mr SPENDER - He did not say anything of the sort.

Mr HOLLOWAY - He did. I have in my office a copy of his remarks which I shall ask some subsequent speaker to quote. Every body knows that the number of people engaged in civil occupations is being reduced from day to day and from month to month. More and more people, both male and female, are being transferred to the fighting services and to war production, and that process will continue. Despite the objection of the Opposition, the Government must continue the rationalization of industry, which involves the closing of some industries and the forcing of people into occupations that they have never previously followed. These things are distasteful, but they must be done. I cannot understand why honorable members who declare that they desire the Government to meet the war position squarely make complaints about interference with the business and private convenience of the people. No Government would dream of introducing some of the proposals contained in the budget were they not necessary to meet the exigencies of war. I make no bones about predicting that the position will become worse and worse as the war continues. Why should we put all our eggs in one basket? We are wise to leave some fields for future exploitation, if necessary. Apparently, the Opposition is fearful and dissatisfied because we have not reduced taxes to a minimum and forced down the standard of living. But there has been no need for the Government to cut into the economic conditions of the workers. When the necessity arises, the workers will have to face these things, but so long as the Government is able to carry on without taking that action, it will do so. Standards of living are not being forced down in Great Britain and in other countries involved in this war. In fact. they are being improved.

Mr Spender - If purchasing power diminishes, the standard of living must also go down. ,

Mr HOLLOWAY - tin Great Britain, the United States of America, and Canada, the living standards are being improved at a much faster rate than is the case in this country. Those countries have found that it pays to increase social services and the economic standards of the people,, upon whom rests the responsibility of producing the goods necessary to carry on this war. Halfstarved people are not good workers. Therefore, so far as this Government is concerned, the economic conditions of the working people will not be touched until such action is absolutely necessary. We shall have no hesitation in facing these things when they must be faced, but there is no need to face them now. We are getting along all right as we are. I make no apology for, supporting this budget, and I am confident that the people of Australia will respond generously to the appeal that is being made to them. In fact, I predict that some honorable members opposite will be astounded to learn how many hundreds of thousands of bondholders there will be in Australia at the end of next year. Probably 500,000 or 606,000 basic wage.earners will become war .bondholders this year or next year as 1 a result of the Government's appeal, and I am confident that we shall obtain all the money that we require without resorting to compulsion as is suggested by the Opposition. Many members would prefer that government bonds should be the exclusive perquisite of the rich. What does it matter how the money is obtained so long as the full amount required is available? Surely if the Opposition honestly desires to cooperate with the Government in its war effort it should not object to money being obtained by voluntary methods. I do not know of any one in the community who is being overlooked. Every one is suffering, but apparently honorable members opposite desire to make a compulsory <;ut in the wages of workers who are now employed for twelve or fourteen hours a day in war industries.

Mr Paterson - We do not.

Mr HOLLOWAY - If the Opposition proposals were carried out, the standards of living of these people would be seriously impaired. The fact is that they will be taxed under this , budget I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that the workers of this country are earning higher wages to-day than they have ever earned, but those higher wages, which are the result of excessively long hours of work, are being taxed. There is hardly a worker, male or female, who will not pay taxes under this budget; no one will escape.

One of the greatest problems confronting the Government to-day - this is a matter on 'which the assistance of the Opposition should be forthcoming - is that of obtaining sufficient man-power for war requirements. Every available male and female must be employed to the fullest capacity if we are to meet the position. Many more employees will have to be taken from non-essential industries to fill in the many gaps that exist in our war production and in the fighting forces.

Mr Archie Cameron - By bringing in compulsory unionism the Government is not attracting volunteers.

Mr HOLLOWAY - Nearly all the men who have gone to New Guinea, Darwin and Townsville are unionists.

Mr Marwick - I have 22 relatives over there and they are not unionists.

Mr HOLLOWAY - Then they are living on the proceeds of what other people have won for them.

Mr Spender - That is the argument, that is always used by the Minister and his colleagues.

Mr HOLLOWAY - I point out to the honorable member for Warringah that his union is one of the strongest in Australia.

Mr Spender - AH of its members join voluntarily.

Mr HOLLOWAY - That is not so. I recall on one occasion endeavouring to secure the services of one of the honorable member's colleagues in an industrial case at the Darlinghurst Court. He apologized to me and said : " It does not matter about my fees. I can wait for months or years, but I am obliged to demand the daily refresher ". That gentleman was a King's Counsel.

I cannot find anything in the speec.ii of the Leader of the Opposition that calls for answer. As party propaganda it was an excellent speech, but unfortunately it did not deal at all with the present situation. I am satisfied that the Government has the confidence of the country, and that the people are well satisfied with this budget. I am sure that they will put their money into the loan and so assist this Government to carry on successfully Australia's part in this war as it has done during its ten months of office. For the Leader of the Opposition to assert that the Government and the people have failed is ridiculous in view of what has been achieved during the last year. I do not wish to deny any credit to the previous administration because I realize that it was responsible for laying some of the foundations, but th, revolutionary changes that have taken place during the last ten or twelve months have been almost a miracle. When the history of the war is written this chapter will read like romance.

Mr Spender - Why does this budget not put into effect the policy of obtaining interest-free loans from the Commonwealth Bank? Honorable members opposite have advocated that course for the last two years.

Mr HOLLOWAY - That is a fair question, because I recall asking it myself when the honorable member for Warringah brought down a previous budget in this chamber. The answer I received was : " I can assure the' honorable gentleman that I view this matter in the same way as he does, and I am doing the best I can ".

Mr Spender - What is the Minister's answer ?

Mr HOLLOWAY - My answer is this : The present Government is obtaining more money from the Commonwealth Bank, and therefore is paying more interest back to that institution, than any other government has ever done.

Mr McEwen - Is the Government obtaining interest-free money?

Mr HOLLOWAY - That also is a fair question, .and I am glad that it has been asked. We are not getting interestfree loans, but the money that we are getting is at a lower rate of interest than has been charged in the past. Also, the interest is being paid to a government bank, instead of to private institutions.

Mr Spender - But the rates were fixed by the Government in which I was Treasurer.

Mr HOLLOWAY - That does not alter the truth of my statement. It does not matter whether interest-free money is being obtained or not. We have never contended that the money could be obtained free of interest. We have always maintained that so long as the money was obtained from the , Commonwealth Bank and interest paid to that institution, it was merely being taken out of one government department and paid into another. Some of the things in the budget to which the Opposition strongly objects will be popular with the people. Among them is the system of uniform taxation. A few years ago it would have been thought impossible to institute this system, but it now has; the sanction of law, and I am certain that the public, including big business men, will never go back to the old arrangement. In saying that, I do not suggest that they will not have an opportunity to revert to the old order: the Government will keep its word in that respect. But when the people realize the benefits of the more scientific method of collecting taxes, and the prevention of waste and overlapping that it will mean they will never allow the old system to be reintroduced. On the Opposition benches are many who have advocated plans for post-war reconstruction and have stressed the need for an alteration of the ConstitutionSuch persons cannot now object to the Government's proposal to alter the Constitution, unless it be that they wish to be the persons to bring about the alteration. There is nothing in the budget for which I wish to apologize, and I am confident that the people of this country will accept it cheerfully; they will provide all the money that the Government asks them to provide. Should the war still be in progress next year, the next budget may involve an expenditure of twice as much money as is contemplated for this financial year. If so, the money will have to be found, and I have no doubt that the people will rise to the occasion.

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