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Friday, 21 November 1941

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) .- I believe that I may have been responsible to some degree for the trend which this debate has taken. The discussion would have terminated much earlier-had- it not been for the provocative speech made by the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron). Recently I chided Ministers in good humour, and said certain things which apparently induced the Minister to embark on a diatribe and to make charges against honorable senators on this side of the chamber which should not go unanswered. I remind the Minister and his colleagues that the position which they occupy on. thai side of the chamber is totally different from that which they occupied when in opposition. If, by their ill-feeling, they deliberately provoke the Opposition to make, reprisals, they have only themselves to blame. The Minister for Aircraft Production has the most conservative mind of any honorable senator. I define a conservative mind as one which never alters its outlook, never learns anything, and never gains by experience. He has been saying the same things for the last 50 years. Apparently he was born in bitterness, nurtured in ill-feeling, and has been indulging in this type of oratory ever since. In defence of honorable senators on this side of the chamber I should like to point out that it is the desire of every one that die less fortunate members of the community should receive all the comforts and conveniences which the community can give to them. But, is those honorable senators who pose as the particular .champions of the pensioners choose to set us by the ears and create a feeling of bitterness, they have only themselves to thank if the business of this chamber is delayed.

I shall support the bill, although, as I indicated in my speech on the budget, I regard this increase as more apparent than real. Probably the greatest piece of social legislation ever passed by this Parliament was lost to the community because of the wholehearted and bitter opposition of the members of the Labour party. I refer to the National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill. I have always supported national insurance, and I sincerely hope that when conditions improve sufficiently, that act will be implemented. However, I still believe that the scheme should be on a contributory basis, so that when a worker is too old to take his place in industry, or is incapacitated, he will be given, not charity, but something which is his by right. It ill becomes the Minister for Aircraft Production to accuse honorable senators on this side of the chamber of inhumanity, cruelty and brutality. It is true that the working people create the wealth of every country. Everybody knows that; but the man on the .basic wage does not create all of the wealth. Every man who works contributes his share. Probably one-third of this country's wealth is owned by the State, and another one-third is required every year for the services of the community. It cannot be suggested that the invalid and old-age pensioners are solely responsible for this nation's wealth. If .the speech made by the Minister for Aircraft Production accusing honorable senators on this side of the chamber of inhumanity and brutality, is. an example of the speeches which we are to hear in future from the treasury bench, more opposition, and probably a little bitterness may be expected from this side of the chamber.

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