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Wednesday, 27 May 1942

Senator CAMERON - The nation was sick when it had thousands of unemployed, but no such view was held by the Government then in office.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The nation was not so sick then as it is now. It was at least free, but now we do not know how much longer we shall be free. In the circumstances which now confront us, even the unemployed mus 1 take second place to the ensuring of our freedom. Senator Brown spoke in some detail of bank credit; he said that it is based on the activities of the whole community. I say that under present conditions the raising of money is based on the necessities of the nation - the need to preserve our freedom as a people. When the honorable senator said that the loans which were being floated for war purposes would never be repaid, I am afraid that he overlooked the terms of the Financial Agreement with the States, under which a sinking fund has been created. Into that fund about £10,000,000 is paid each year, so that the debt may be repaid in some 54 years from the institution of the fund. There is only one way to create credit, and that is by a means which is entirely in the hands of the Commonwealth Bank, as it alone is authorized to issue notes. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) said that the private 'banks could not produce potatoes ; but they have done so. Frequently it is money obtained from a private bank which enables a landholder to crop his land with potatoes. During the last six months, the issue of notes by the Commonwealth Bank has so increased that the note issue to-day is greater than at any previous time in the history of the Commonwealth.

I shall support the bill, although in committee it may be found that some of its provisions can be improved. That we on this side claim the right to criticize a measure of this description does not justify the charge that we have no real sympathy with widows in the community and speak with our tongues in our cheeks.

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