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Thursday, 24 March 1966

Mr IRWIN (Mitchell) .- I rise to support the motion and to oppose the amendment. 1 shall deal first with the national servicemen and their integration with the Regular Army, members of which volunteered as an honorable act. But this has never been fair, reasonable or just to those men who volunteered. Such men represented the cream of our land in two world wars. That was not fair because the volunteers were allowed to carry the brunt of service and to make sacrifices nol' only of limb and body but also in loss of farms, businesses and experience in their trades and professions and thereby loss of seniority in the organisations in which they were employed. 1 know that many organisations endeavoured to correct that position and gave those men every assistance to make up for their years of service overseas. But no matter how fair and honourable an institution was, it was inevitable that the people who remained at home had an advantage that was difficult to adjust in fairness to the returned servicemen.

From observation 1 know that the families who made the sacrifices in the First World War were those who responded in &,e Second World War. Now compare those who failed their country in the First World War. They consolidated their positions in the professions, in business, in employment. Many who remained home selfishly and knowingly capitalised on the absence of their fellow Australians overseas. There was a sector of Australian manhood which did not volunteer. The attitude of these men, to a point, was valid. It was that they were not prepared to serve unless everyone was placed on the same footing, which meant conscription. It will be seen from what I have said that the only just, fair and reasonable thing is to include national servicemen with the Regular Army as this Government is doing. The method of call up is fair because of the limited number required to serve overseas, *<-nd there does not appear to be any fairer or better way than that which the Government has adopted.

It is easy for the Opposition to make cheap, soap-box jibes at the Government, but what is inexplicable to me is that members of the Opposition who, although we know that they are not Communists or fellow travellers, rush to defend the Communists when members on this side of the House attack them. I wonder why. Is it due to the left wing element? Are they intimidated? Is it that for self preservation they have to go along quietly in fear and trepidation of the judgment of, and eventual annihilation by, the 12 witless men and the 36 faceless men by whom their Deputy Leader is threatened now?

I state without reservation that the Government, through the Cabinet, with the advice of the Chiefs of Staff and the intelligence branch, is the only authority that can logically assess the position. Neither the Government nor the Parliament has the right - and the Government has never claimed the right - to conscript the youth of this country except in the extreme circumstances of self defence. In point of fact many of us are of the opinion that the Government gave the volunteer system too much time to prove itself. We believe that it delayed the call up of national service trainees far too long. When the Communists are challenged, within or without Australia, the Opposition says, in effect: "To hell with our powerful American friends. To hell with our treaties." The honorable member for Yarra, Viet Cairns, has stated that Castro was right in murdering thousands of Cubans, but that it is wrong for the South Vietnamese, the Americans and the Australians, in defence of their women and children, their homes and their right to self determination, to defy and kill the Vietcong. What sort of cockeyed reasoning is this? The honorable member for Yarra would be the Minister for External Affairs if by some tragic circumstance the Opposition should ever succeed to the Treasury bench. Instead of castigating the Americans, the Opposition and all Australians should fervently and reverently thank God for America.

America has no economic stake in Vietnam. Actuated by the highest ideals it is in that country to protect the free world from the onward march of Chinese Communism. Vietnam is strategically placed in South East Asia and three American Presidents - Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson - have recognised that it is vital for the free world to prevent South Vietnam from coming under the domination of Peking and Hanoi. All Australians should ask themselves these questions: What would have been our position had not America acted as she did in going to the aid of South Vietnam? What would have been the position in Indonesia, in Malaya, in Thailand, in Cambodia, in Laos and in Australia? The answer is too terrifying to behold. There would have been an Australian liberation front long established by now with Viet Cairns as director, assisted by the left wing members of the Opposition and with the leaders of the Communist Party in full support. The time for sickly, sentimental sob stuff is over. We do not need such trite, ineffectual slogans as " Save our sons ", " Curry favour with international capitalism " and " When the Australian Labour Party ceases to be a nonconscription party, it ceases to be the Labour Party ". The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is living in the dim, distant past. He cannot or will not keep abreast of the times. What about our wives and daughters? Do they not require our protection? According to the Leader of the Opposition, the Australian Labour Party ceased to be the Labour Party when it conscripted 18 years old youths in 1943.

We have entered the struggle. We dare not stumble. We dare not employ half measures. We must intensify our efforts. We must use all conventional weapons at our disposal. We trust that America will attack Haiphong. We should not allow the struggle to be drawn out one day longer than is necessary. Our choice is to act now and to prosecute this struggle with determination and the will to win. With the aid of our great and friendly ally, America, we will save the lives of thousands of Australians in the years to come and receive the praise, approbation, respect and esteem of all nations.

Mr Calwell - Who wrote that?

Mr IRWIN - 1 did. Now, Mr. Speaker, I desire to speak on the economic position. I believe that Australia economically is labouring under too many controls, that the Reserve Bank has too much power and that it was never envisaged, desired or intended that it should have huge idols of bricks and mortar and a staff of 3,100 employees. All dictators love power; most abuse it. The Reserve Bank has 2.000 staff employees, 500 wages staff and 600 wages staff employed in the Note Issue Department. The Reserve Bank makes a profit of $48 million a year. Of this, $34 million from the note issue goes to the Government. Of the remaining $14 million, $7 million goes to the Government and $7 million goes to reserves. I should like to know, where the money comes from to erect these colossal edifices. It is not apparent from the balance sheet. Does it come from the re-investment of the statutory reserve deposits of the trading banks? The Reserve Bank has hamstrung our economy. It acts too late and with too little. At present, our economy requires a sting and a boost. The old established ethical lending of the trading banks should be restored. Money in the statutory reserve deposit fund should be made available to the trading banks to assist in the great development of Australia's untapped resources.

Bank borrowing is the cheapest and most flexible of all methods of borrowing. Because of many years of experience, the managements of the banks are the best judges of the direction and employment of these funds. If the trading banks had the use of the funds that are now held in the statutory reserve deposit fund the flow of overseas investments could, and should, bs amalgamated with an Australian content. It is idle and foolish to suppose that we can develop our resources with the capital that is available in Australia. By adopting the method I have suggested, we would have a stake in many of the companies that are now exploiting our pastoral land and mineral resources. How can Australians invest in these developing companies when money deposited with the Reserve Bank is frozen? We would do well to remember the parable of the pieces of silver.

Mr Calwell - How many were there?

Mr IRWIN - The honorable member would not know. Of every 100 dollars that are held by the trading banks 13 are in the special reserve deposit, 18 are in liquid government securities, 53 are in advances, and 16 are required for contingencies. The trading banks have $635 million in the statutory reserve deposits that are held by the Reserve Bank. I would like the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) to consider the proposals I am making. It costs the trading banks 2 per cent., in round figures, tor the deposits they hold. The Reserve Bank pays them three-quarters of 1 per cent, for the funds that are held in the statutory reserve deposit fund. There should be more bank lending. It would give a boost to our economy from now until 30th June. Bank lending is more flexible than any other form of leading and it is easy for the Government to control should it so desire. The private trading banks have done a great job for Australia. They went through two world- wars and a terrible depression without a Reserve Bank. Although the depression meant difficulty for Australia, its impact on this country was perhaps less than that on any other country. That was because of the great services that were rendered by the free, private enterprise banks. The masterly mind of Sir Alfred Davidson saved the wheatgrowers from annihilation.

Mr Calwell - Rubbish.

Mr IRWIN - Overnight he sent the rate of exchange on Australian currency to £130 to £100 sterling. The honorable member would not understand what that means. We were thus able to win contracts overseas for wheat and flour which otherwise we would have lost. Sir Alfred Davidson also established the currencies of Australia, Fiji ind New Zealand as indigenous currencies. Previously those countries were on sterling currency. In 1934 the trading banks rehabilitated the building industry and were responsible for the establishment of the building societies as we know them, as distinct from the old established permanent building societies. The trading banks made some millions of pounds available to the building societies. That marked emergence from the depression to gradual prosperity.

Mr Calwell - Who has been pulling the honorable member's leg?

Mr IRWIN - 1 know all about it. Any time the Leader of the Opposition wants a little bit of advice, it would be better for him to come and see me.

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