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Friday, 11 September 1942

Mr McEWEN (Indi) .- The budget cannot be regarded as having been prepared by men who are really facing the realities of Australia's war needs. The inflation which must flow from the general methods of finance adopted by the Government will inevitably have such an upsetting effect upon the economy of this country as to retard the organization of the nation for war. It is impossible to describe the national war effort as a total effort until every one in the community who is capable of making a contribution to it is contributing. Some are contributing their personal services, others their lives and their limbs, and parents are contributing their sons and daughters,but a substantial section of the community, which has not yet made any contribution of that character, has the capacity, to make a substantial financial contribution. The weight of taxation provided for in this budget and in the other war-time budgets is substantial upon those who earn incomes in what might be described as the middle to higher ranges. We have no quarrel with that. In fact, those taxes were conceived and imposed first by a government drawn from the parties on this side of the chamber, but the notional war effort cannot he fairly described as a total effort while more than 50 per cent. of the incomes of this country are making an almost infinitesimal contribution. I shall not try to repeat all the arguments advanced by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden). He has put the case for the Opposition concisely and clearly. I merely say in general terms that unless there is a drawing off of the very great purchasing power of the very numerous section of the population which earns incomes of less than £400 per annum, we shall be subtracting from the war effort instead of adding to it.

We further consider that a total war effort can be secured from the people only by a government which the people believe is concentrating its attention exclusively upon the prosecution of the war and is not dividing its attention between that and the implementing of a party political programme, as the present Government is doing. It is exploiting the war for the purpose of putting into operation long cherished political ideals of the Labour party.

Mr Baker - What is wrong with that?

Mr McEWEN - I shall proceed to show what is wrong.

Mr Blackburn - It is more important to know what are those political planks.

Mr McEWEN - One does not have to rummage very deeply to find some important ways in which the Government is putting its political programme into operation. The Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley) unblushingly said the other day that tenders for important requirements of our armed services would not be accepted from companies unless every employee was a financial member of the appro priate union. That is one important political plank of the Labour party's platform which has been forced upon the people in the guise of organization for war. We hear from the Government much talk about freedom. The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) said that the budget represented the Labour party's effort to organize the Australian people to fight for the four freedoms. Surely, one of the most important freedoms is the freedom to choose one's own political alinement. There is scope for difference in political views, but to say, in the midst of the peril with which we are faced, that a company shall not tender for the supply of important war requirements unless every employee is a financial member of the union, and, ipso facto, a contributor to the funds of the Labour party, is the very abrogation of freedom. This Government is obliged to stand up and say how it relates that to the organization of the country for a total war effort. We find that, when people are drawn into these unions, they are obliged to act according to union dictation.

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