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Thursday, 25 July 1946

Mr CHAMBERS (Adelaide) , - There appear to be two particular objections on the part of honorable members opposite to the Financial Statement presented by the Treasurer. In the first place they accuse the Government of having committed a political crime in not bringing down a budget for this financial year. The right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) very quickly disposed of that charge when he intimated that on only two other occasions during his long association with the Parliament have budgets been presented during election years. Despite the right honorable gentleman's explanation the accusation is still being levelled against the Government by honorable members opposite.

Mr Falstein - In 1940 the Nationalist Government produced neither budget nor financial statement, although it went to the country in September of that year.

Mr CHAMBERS - The second complaint made by honorable members opposite was that the continuance of high rates of taxes was crippling industry and holding up production. I remind them ' that at no other time in the history of this country have so many new industries been established than during the regime of the present Government.

Mr Archie Cameron - The Liberal Government in South Australia established a record in that respect.

Mr CHAMBERS - Honorable members opposite maintain that private enterprise is so incensed at the high rates of taxation that the development of new industries in Australia is being retarded. Statistics, however, prove that that is not so. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has claimed that credit for the establishment of industries in South Australia should be given to the Liberal Government of that State. I remind the honorable member that their establishment has been due to the encouragement offered by the Commonwealth Government which made available munitions annexes no longer required for war purposes. The Commonwealth Government has subsidized the establishment of new industries in Australia and done everything to promote their activities. To-day millions of pounds are being expended by private enterprise in the development of new industries. According toan article which appeared in the press a witness who gave evidence in the 40-hour case made the following statements : -

Of the 1945 position of funds and profits in Australian industry, I arranged balancesheet and profit-and-loss-account figures under the Statistician's heads.

Comparative results are interesting.

Of the sixteen groups,six stood out as recipients of high rates of profit as shown in their 1945 accounts. They are:

Textiles and textile goods, with more than £11,000,000 invested in 21 major companies, year's net profits (after provision for taxation and depreciation) of more than £800,000, and dividend payments of more than £600,000.

Clothing industry showed next-highest rate of profit, with 21 major firms representing an investment of more than £4,000,000, net profits of more than £300,000 and dividends, more than £200,000.

Food, Drink, Tobacco and Paper, Printing, Newspapers, Stationary tie for third place. In the food industries 78 companies showed shareholders' funds (paid-up capital), plus reserves and undistributed profits) of nearly £90,000,000, net profits more than £6,000,000, dividends nearly £5,500,000. Paper and allied industries (21 companies) had funds of more than £18,000,000, net profits nearly £1,500;000 and dividends more than £1,000,000.

Rubber: Four companies, £8,500,000 funds, £650,000 profits, £520,000 dividends.

Industrial Metals, Machines, Implements, &c.: 48 companies, £00,000,000 funds, £3,000,000-odd profits, £2,000,000-odd dividends.

Thosewerethe leading half-dozen, not to mention Miscellaneous Products, with 38 companies operating funds of nearly £10,000,000 to earn net profits of more than £000,000 and pay dividends of nearly £450,000.

Those figures clearly indicate that despite high taxes, private enterprise is doing very well in Australia.

Mr McDonald - Private enterprise has always done well here.

Mr CHAMBERS - It will continue to do so only as long as the Labour party controls the treasury bench.

Mr McDonald - I will not have that.

Mr CHAMBERS - Whether the honorable member will or will not, every man in Australia capable of working is working, at rates of pay that enable him to buy the commodities that keep private enterprise going. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) made some remarkable statements.

Mr McDonald - They were very illuminating.

Mr CHAMBERS -Illuminating! They would have come better from a Tivoli theatre comedian than from a former Prime Minister anil Treasurer. He made a comical comparison when he contrasted therate of income tax in 1928-29 with the rates in 1945-46. Why, in 1928-29, hundreds of thousands of Australian citizens were notable to pay taxes, because they were jobless and had no income other than the dole. It ill becomes any member of the Parliament to make the contrasts that the right honorable gentleman made. I warn the people that the degradation of the depression is not beyond the realms of possibility, if people of the calibre of those who let Australia down in those days ever again occupy the treasury bench. For the first time, in the history of the Australian Commonwealth, the people have been given a sense of security. I am confident that they do not resent the tax paid to cover the cost of the social services that have been extended to them by the Labour Government. The advances that this Government has made in providing social services for the people are not the end. . I leave the matter at that point.

Mr McDonald - Hear, hear !

Mr CHAMBERS - Well, it is only a little after 1 a.m. and I can go on for a while yet. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) said that indirect taxes were imposed on admission tickets to picture theatres, football matches, " smokes ",. and other luxuries. The Australian people can pay. for those things to-day, but, when the party that he supports was in control of the treasury bench, football grounds were empty and people had no " smokes ". They can enjoy those luxuries to-day but they will be able to continue the enjoyment of them only so long as the Labour party remains in power. The right honorable member for Yarra paid a great compliment to the Treasurer.

Mr Archie Cameron - I should have liked to hear him do anything else. What a night it would have been!

Mr CHAMBERS - The right honorable member for Yarra has always been a good Labour man. There has never been any doubt about his political beliefs. He has not changed' his ground when the general elections have been approaching. Mr. James. - Or changed his name, like honorable gentlemen opposite have changed the name of their party so often.

Mr CHAMBERS - Yes. He has always been a true-blue Labour man.

Mr Archie Cameron - Can the honorable member say that about himself?

Mr CHAMBERS - Yes. I defy the honorable member for Barker to show that I have ever been a member of any political party other than the Labour party. When he paid his tribute to the Treasurer, the right honorable member for Yarra chided honorable members opposite for not haying had the decency to pay a tribute to the Treasurer for the great job that he did, in the interests not only of the Labour party, but also of the Australian people in the tremendously difficult war years. I, too, think honorable gentlemen .opposite should not allow politics to sway them from paying a well-deserved tribute to the man who steered Australia's economy through the treacherous seas of war to safety.

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