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Tuesday, 22 September 1942

Mr BLACKBURN - It is correct.

Mr CALWELL - I have no objection to the holding of a secret sitting with the honorable member on that or any other subject. The Bishop of Goulburn wrote -

This emphasis on the strikes and the neglect of Labour's positive achievement creates the worst possible atmosphere in which to get this nation working. It is a bad heritage from a bad past, and we should change our whole attitude to the worker and his work. Unless we do there is little hope of getting the best out of our nation, and surely these times need the best. We all want to eliminate strikes, but to do so effectively we must see all the facts clearly.

First of all, it is clear that the workers must win this war or it will not be won at all. People who write letters about strikes make very few guns or bombs. We can at least give our gratitude to those who do. Further, the bulk of the Army is recruited from the ranks of the workers. The workers provide the main body of the munition makers. Other classes give important and indispensable help, and we have no intention of being unfair to them while trying to get a sense of justice towards the workers. But primarily this is a workers' war. It is being waged for the freedom of the workers of the world. Now if these facts were stressed in our propaganda we would begin to build up a mighty sentiment of loyalty and enthusiasm in the hearts of our workers, which would in time alter the whole feeling of the country. The only people who can effectively discipline the workers are the workers themselves. This is true in wai or in peace. The history of compulsion in this country is most significant on this point. Unless the workers as a whole feel that justice demands it compulsion will fail.

The right reverend gentleman concluded with these words -

We need a change of heart in those who speak and write as well as in those who do not work. To those who do work and who do fight we want to give our warm-hearted gratitude. They and they alone are saving this nation from invasion and the world for freedom.

I commend those observations to honorable gentlemen apposite who are so prone to indulge in fatuous and unfair criticism of the workers of Australia. I often wonder how many honorable gentlemen opposite have worked in a mine. I have not done so, nor have I any desire to do it. From what I have been told by the honorable members for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) and Hunter (Mr. James), honorable members opposite would do well to try to trudge their way along a narrow passage, with an arched back, carrying their tools of trade, their food, and other impedimenta, for up to 5 miles in a coal-mine, in order to reach the face at which they had to dig the coal that this nation needs to-day. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) recently told a meeting at the Paddington Town Hall that he had recommended to Cabinet that the coal-mines of Australia be nationalized, but that Cabinet had refused to accept his recommendation. I hope that Cabinet will reconsider its decision, and accept the recommendation; because, when the profit motive has been taken out of the mining industry, when miners have been given work above the surface and the mines have been mechanized in an up-to-date manner, a good deal of the existing human suffering and misery will be eliminated.

There are deficiencies in this budget in addition to the several with which I have already dealt. It does not propose to institute a scheme of marriage loans. If young people are to be encouraged to marry early in life and to rear large families, we must have a system of marriage loans. One factor that has impressed upon us the need for a large population is the imminent danger we are in of attack by the Japanese. I stated on a previous occasion that Australia will not continue to be a white man's country even if we win this war, unless it has a population of approximately 40,000,000.

There is no provision in the budget for the scrapping of the cost-plus system. So long as there is the profit motive in industry there will be grounds for complaints such as those to which utterance has been given in this Parliament from time to time. Mr. G. D. H. Cole, a wellknown Labour man in England, wrote a pamphlet on Private Monopoly or Public Service, from which I quote the following passage: -

For do not forget that throughout the inter-war period the first thought of nearly all the great capitalist combines had been to prevent, and not to stimulate, production. The aim of almost every combine had been, not merely to prevent fresh competitors from entering the trade, but to drive out of it as many as possible of those who were in it already. It had been discovered that the safest- many said the only - way of maintaining profits was to keep goods scarce and prices high. In the sacred name of " rationalization ", works regarded as " redundant " had been bought up and razed to the ground, or otherwise effectually put out of business. Shipbuilders' Security, the Iron and Steel Federation, the cement combine, and a host of others had been highly successful at the monopolist game; and the business quality highest in estimation had come to be that of making one blade of grass grow where two or three could have been grown without any technical difficulty. Was it likely that financial directors trained in this restrictive school would be good at organizing production when the sky became the limit? They were not good at it: they were very bad.

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