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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Senator FOLL - The rush was due to the manner in which the Government handled the situation.

Senator COLLINGS - I realize that in the eyes of honorable senators opposite, whatever is done by the Government is wrong, simply because it is not done in the way that the Opposition would like it to be done. The trouble is that my friends opposite cannot appreciate the fact that they are no longer in occupation of the treasury bench.

Senator Crawford - That is apparent to every body.

Senator COLLINGS - Of course, and the people of Australia arc more united than ever because of that fact.

Senator JamesMcLachlan said that there is no precedent for this measure. That is quite true. Nor is there any precedent for the conditions which alone make it necessary for the Government to introduce this bill. Never before have we had the Japanese slaughtering our own people on our own soil or in our own waters. If any apology were needed for the bill, which I deny, that would be my excuse. Senator James McLachlan said that this measure should be entitled " The New South Wales Benefit Bill ". I remind him that he will have anoppor tunity to propose an amendment of the title when the bill reaches the committee stage, but neither he nor any of his colleagues has raised objection to proposals passed by this chamber providing for the expenditure of millions of pounds for the purpose of establishing and maintaining munitions factories and other defence works in South Australia. I am in a position to know the volume of Commonwealth Government work authorized to be carried out in that State, because, as Minister for the Interior, I sign the papers relating to all such expenditure. I am not objecting to that expenditure, but the honorable senator has never protested against Queensland being denuded of its man-power because of the demand for men for the fighting services and for the munitions establishments. Honorable senators opposite should try to be logical.

It was also said by Senator James McLachlan that this was a committee bill, and that, in his opinion, it was 75 per cent, political. That was a " pearl of wisdom " the value of which I could not appreciate. I had a further look at the bill and began to wonder what the honorable senator meant. He suggested that it was intended as a sop to certain interests whose political support the Government hoped to gain. That remark was unworthy of him, and I do not think that he meant what he said. I do not believe that the honorable senator, who smiles so pleasantly and disarmingly, could possibly consider that the present Government, because it is a Labour Ministry, has deliberately introduced a vote-catching proposal. This measure has been designed for one purpose only, and it has one scope. It proposes to raise for the purposes of this war the greatest amount of tax that could be obtained without breaching the Commonwealth Constitution. It is proposed to give to Commonwealth income tax priority over State income taxes, and it proposes to do that only for the duration of the war and for one year afterwards. When we have effectively strengthened our fighting forces in this theatre of war, and have for the first time given to our fighting men and women a chance to meet the enemy on something like terms of equality, there will be no further need for this legislation. We desire to drive the enemy from our shores, and show that there is at least one nation that will not retreat. This small nation of Australia is determined to make an all-in war effort to preserve everything that we cherish now, and hope for in the future. Such an objective is immeasurably above any proposal to make political capital. It is the only objective that we dare think of in these perilous times. The danger to our country is not remote as it was a few months ago; it is now present on our own soil. Despite the arguments adduced by the Opposition, the issue that I have just stated is the only one that is worthy of a moment's consideration. As Leader of the Senate, I urge honorable senators on both sides of the chamber to consider the situation most carefully before casting a vote on this measure.

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