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Thursday, 17 September 1942

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - The figures in the papers before us constitute a record for an Australian budget. The requirements for civil expenditure have increased by leaps and bounds with the result that our expenditure to-day in respect of social services is almost as much as the total annual expenditure of the Commonwealth a few years ago. We realize that finance must be provided and that it is the prerogative of the government of the day to say how the money shall be raised. But it is also the prerogative of individual senators to criticize the means by which that money is to be raised and allocated. Our defence programme must necessarily take precedence over all other expenditure; in fact, that programme must be proceeded with irrespective almost of its money value. At the same time, existing conditions demand that civil expenditure shall be curtailed. In curtailing it we must, if possible, prevent inroads being made on the capital assets of both primary and secondary industries. We must try to keep them intact, so that they will be available for use to the best advantage in the post-war period. We are fortunate that we are not alone in our defence programme, although some time ago there seemed to he a lack of appreciation of the part being played in the war by the Mother Country. More recently, however, it has been generally realized that if Britain falls, we fall also. The entry of Japan into the war has awakened the majority of the people to their responsibility, and of the part which we in this country must play. There can be little criticism of Australia's war programme; its foundations were laid by a previous government.

Senator SPICER (VICTORIA) - They were laid well.

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