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Thursday, 25 July 1946

30th June, 1939 - 4,000,000 savings bank accounts with £240,000,000 of deposits.

March, 1942 - £259,000,000 of deposits. 31st- October, 1945 - 5,200,000 savings bank' accounts with £611,000,000 of deposits.

Those are the savings of the working class. Towards the end of 1945 bank deposits, other than in savings banks, accounted for another £663,000,000, compared with £259,000,000 in 1939. Those figures show how much surplus purchasing power had been injected into the community and the monetary forces that still have to be controlled. I cite also for the information of honorable members these particulars of the national income for the last seven years: -

 

lii the face of those figures honorable members opposite have the temerity to prattle about the need to increase produc- t.ion as if the. Government was not aware of the need and, indeed, as if it had not already given effect to its awareness by bringing about increased production.

In the last year shown in that table, namely, 1944-45, the net national income, after deduction of taxes, was £1,015,000,000, but the estimated value of goods available for purchase was only £807,000,000. In that one year alone the Treasurer was confronted with the menace of some £208,000,000 of new surplus expendable income. This surplus expendable income was spread unevenly but is was spread over most of the community. Workers for the first time had constant employment and overtime. Industrialists had assured markets for all their output. The man on the land was usually doing very well - the rural income statistics illustrate that:

 

\Et is not surprising, therefore, that the Commonwealth Treasurer avoided using bank credit in the last two years and' chose to meet mounting war costs from loans and taxes. The Treasurer raised about £850,000,000 in loans between 1941-45 against £110,000,000 raised by his predecessors in 1939-41. He raised £660,000,000 in income tax between 1941-45 as against their £130,000,000 in 1939-41. ' . '

One of the first speeches I made in this House was about the advantages of direct taxes over indirect taxes. It is significant that never in the history of this Commonwealth has such a great proportion of our total revenue been raised from, direct taxes and so small a proportion from indirect taxes. Nothing I have said should be taken as detracting from price control. The Prices Commissioner has done' an excellent job. The Leader of the Opposition took some credit for having inaugurated price control in this country. It is perfectly true that he did inaugurate it, but .since then it has changed considerably on two occasions. The whole basis of prices control was changed in 1942 and. again in 1943 with the introduction of the Economic Organization Regulations and payments of large amounts of subsidies. The whole basis of prices control was developed to the advantage of the people generally. So the right honorable gentleman flatters himself in taking credit for something for which he was not at all responsible. Last year subsidies to the amount of £30,000,000, £20,000,000 of which went to' the primary producers, were paid to enable the price ceilings to be held. That of course benefited the primary producers to an extraordinary degree. It also saved the public countless millions that they would have, had to pay in increased prices if the subsides had not been paid by the Treasurer. The Rationing Commission has also been responsible for excellent work. I had something to do with the inauguration of rationing when I was "Minister for War Organization of Industry. The fact remains that, however effective prices control 'and rationing may be during the war and during the transition period, those controls would be useless unless we had a far-sighted financial policy relating taxation, bank credit, loans and taxes, wage-pegging, pegging of land values, and restrictions on the transfers of land at the 1942 values. Without the application of all those controls by the Treasurer, rationing and price control would not have been able to avert inflation.

There are in this country a few upperclassconscious jeremiahs, like' 'the Leader of the Australian Country paTty, who continually bewail and belabour the financial policy of this Government. They also decry the national achievements of the country under a Labour government. I do not believe that the right honorable gentleman expects this Government to give effect to a financial policy other than that of the Australian Labour party. The repeated attacks of the laissez-faire dogmatists of the Opposition have no effect whatever on the Government's financial policy. The policy of our critics is based on the announcement of the Leader of the Opposition that, if he is returned to office after the next elections, he will place this country once more in the shackles of the private banking interests. Their financial policy has ' resulted in dismal failures. Compared with the financial record of the Labour party, 'their calumnitous performances qualify three ex-Treasurers opposite to join the ignoble company of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), who was dubbed the " Tragic Treasurer ", not by a member of the Labour party, but by one of his own colleagues. I commend the Treasurer's financial statement to the House as a very modest record of past achievement, and a sure guide for the future.







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