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Wednesday, 2 April 1941

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - Unlike the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat I am not surprised at the attitude of the Opposition towards this measure. As the result of many years experience of Labour's tactics no attitude which honorable senators opposite might adopt would surprise me. On this occasion its members are riding to orders ; and I happen to be riding in their company, because I am supporting the bill, not because I like it but for the very good reason that we have no alternative but to support it. The position is that the Government has chosen to embark in company with the Opposition upon this scheme of child endowment - a craft which it will find is not wholly fitted for the stormy constitutional seas it will have to encounter. However, that is the Government's problem. All parties have expressed their intention not to oppose, during the period of the war, the financial proposals of the Government.- This measure is designed to finance the scheme of child endowment which will be the subject of a later bill. The Government has by legerdemain, or some other means, induced the Opposition to support its proposals ; and the Opposition at the moment is dumb almost to a man. On this occasion the vociferous eloquence of the

Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) is absent. He rose in his place very humbly, and bowed his support to the measure; and the curtain will be rung down upon a scene of peace, although we are now attempting to do something which this Parliament has found itself quite incapable of doing for the last forty years. Through an amalgamation between the Government and the Opposition we are going to bring about the Elysium. I hesitate to think of what will happen should those who now anticipate benefits from the scheme ultimately be deceived. This measure is only ancillary to a greater measure; it is a financial measure. But for the fact that I am familiar with the Opposition's tactics in certain circumstances, I should be amazed that it has not offered more criticism of the Government's proposal. I recall, for instance, an occasion when democracy was being violated by the passage of an improper agreement involving Australian Consolidated Industries. Because the Opposition ' refused to give to this Parliament an opportunity to review that agreement, it still remains on the statute-book in an objectionable form. Now, members of the Opposition sit so silently in their places that I can only feel suspicious. My portly friend on my right, whose beaming honesty is familiar to all of us, can hardly be suspected of being a party to anything helpful to the " Nats " and those whom he has described in language which would not bear repetition in this chamber. To-day, he remains silent. I cannot induce one honorable senator opposite to say a word on this proposal. Obviously, the whole thing is cut and dried. The Government has said that this is the only way to finance the scheme. I certainly shall not kick against its decision. I shall vote for the measure, but without prejudice to the consequences which may ensue to the Government. One feature to which I direct the attention of the Assistant Minister, whom I know to be commercially-minded, is the trend of trade in this country during the last few years. I do not know how this proposal will affect businesses with large turnovers as against smaller businesses of the kind instanced by Senator Brand. During recent years we have witnessed the growth of businesses of huge dimensions, which have been able to reduce costs to .the consumer to a minimum. I venture to suggest that under this proposal the small man will be enabled to cut into those larger businesses. That is at least one criticism that can be levelled against the bill. However, for the reasons I have already stated, I support the measure.

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