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Thursday, 17 September 1942

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The present Government has merely built on that groundwork. It has, of course, consulted with our allies. In my opinion, comparisons in respect of our achievements to-day and, say, twelve monthsago, are invidious. For instance, it is not a fair comparison to say that so many articles were turned outin June, 1941, and so many more articles were manufactured in June, 1942. Such progress is inevitable once the groundwork had been well laid.

Before surveying the budget figures. I wish to refer to a few matters which are engaging the attention of the people generally, because they tend to limit the capacity of the people to subscribe to war loans to the degree that they would wish. These matters are detrimental to wholehearted co-operation in the war effort by the people. In saying that, I do not lose sight of the magnitude of the task confronting the Government, and of the impossibility of avoiding some mistakes. Some overlapping is inevitable, particularly in relation to such matters as the rationing of various commodities, the best use of the available man-power, price fixing, and the regulation of industry. Nevertheless, if we are to have the maximum effort of which the people are capable, we must do all that we can to treat essential industries fairly. Unfortunately, the regimentation of our resources was founded on wrong principles. Simultaneously with the declaration of war, there should have been a declaration of political peace between the several parties in this Parliament. There should have been an all-party government.

SenatorFraser. - Honorable senators opposite cannot agree among themselves.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - A government comprising the best intellects in both Houses should have been formed.

Senator Keane - We have achieved that.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That is a matter of opinion. The first thing that a national government should have done would have been to follow up the work already accomplished in connexion with the national register made in 1939. The population of Australia should have 'been divided into three groups - one to be employed on active service, the second in manufacture, and the third in providing food and clothing. The previous Government is as much to blame as the present Government for failure to do so, and for the chaos which has resulted.

Senator Ashley - It should have been done when the war broke out. At, that, time another government was in office

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That is so. Had action along those lines been taken, there would not have been the trouble which has arisen through trying to fit square pegs into round holes. However, we must take things as they are.

Some of the decisions made bythe Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) would be ludi crous were they not so serious. A great mistake was made when notice of the intention to ration clothing was made about two months before the scheme was to commence. That premature announcement of government policy caused the greatest orgy of buying that this country has ever witnessed. Following the introduction of the scheme, coupons were issued to the people, various articles of clothing requiring the production of so many coupons at the time of purchase. It is generally agreed that those responsible for fixing thenumber of coupons for the various articles of clothing showed either a lack of knowledge of the subject, or gave insufficient consideration to it. However, the Minister went on unperturbed. Eventually he decided on something spectacular: he posed before the camera like a mannequin in a " victory suit ". I do not think that the progress of the war will be greatly affected whether or not a man wears a waistcoat or a double-breasted coat, or has cuffs on his trousers. It is a pity that failure to comply with the Minister's orders in regard to these things should be regarded as a criminal offence. A much simpler scheme, which would have been equally effective, could have been devised. The clothing trade could have been relied upon to reduce the use of clothing material. The fact remains that the measures adopted by the Department of War Organization of Industry created confusion in the public mind. Perhaps the Government desired such a result in order that the attention of the people might be diverted from its other blunders.

I admit that the allocation of manpower under existing conditions is most difficult. Had we approached this problem by dividing the population into the three groups I suggested earlier in my remarks, our difficulty in this respect would not now be so great. Practically every member of the Parliament has emphasized the necessity for releasing men from the armed forces in order to maintain adequate food production. We have also stressed the necessity for the greater diversion of man-power to factories engaged in supplying clothing and. equipment to the armed forces. Without proper clothing and equipment the soldier is useless. Similarly, adequate food supplies must be kept up to our armed forces. The armed forces and the primary industries have received the least consideration of all sections in the community. Certainly, slight increases of soldiers' pay have been provided, but the position of the soldier is not to be compared with that of the factory worker who has been given many industrial concessions and continues to enjoy the amenities of home life. In addition, the claims of the primary producer for greater help on the farm have been almost entirely disregarded. Yet we are dependent upon the farmer for our daily bread, the staff of life. The wheatfarmer, for instance, has been obliged to shoulder difficulties arising from the failure of the Government to stabilize the wheat industry. In addition he is now refused payment by the Government for wheat which has been delivered to the Government. I refer to wheat pools Nos. 2, 3 and 4, each of which has been finalized. Delivery in respect of the wheat in these pools has been taken from the farmer and the Government has received payment for the wheat, yet it withholds payment of £2,000,000 due to the farmers for such wheat. Can any feasible reason be given for the Government's failure to make the final payments from these pools? Six months ago the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) announced that so soon as the last payment in respect of this wheat was received by the Government it would be distributed.

Senator Fraser - Is the honorable senator referring to the excess production of 13,000,000 bushels?

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No, I am referring to pools Nos. 2, 3 and 4, each of which has been finalized. In respect of the excess production of 13,000,000 bushels to which the Minister for External Territories (Senator Fraser) has just referred, which relates to No. 5 pool, I cannot understand why the Government is not prepared to make payment on that production at the rate of 3s. 101/2d. a bushel, the figure guaranteed in respect of the base production of 140,000,000 bushels. The crop of 140,000,000 bushels was estimated on the acreage licensed. However, owing to a very favorable season, that estimate was exceeded by 13,000,000 bushels. The Government took delivery of that excess production, but so far it has failed to indicate what payment, if any, it will make to the farmer in respect of it. At one stage, the Government intimated that it would deal with this matter by spreading the guarantee for the estimated crop of 140,000,000 bushels over the total actual crop of 153,000,000 bushels.

Senator Ashley - Was not an agreement reached on that matter between the wheat-growers federation and the government of the day?

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - As I have already said, this matter is still under discussion. I urge the Government to pay for the excess production of 13,000.000 bushels at the guaranteed price of 3s. 10-1/2d. a bushel. Incidentally, it has been estimated that approximately 500,000 bushels was produced by certain growers on unregistered acreage, and I understand that the Government proposes to pay for that wheat at the rate of 2s. a bushel. In view of the fact that that wheat was produced on land that was not registered, such a proposal is to say the least audacious; particularly when the Government refuses to give the fair guaranteed price of 3s. l01/2d. in respect of excess wheat produced on registered acreage solely because of very favorable seasonal conditions.

Senator Fraser - The Government has not declared that it will not make a payment in respect of that excess production.


The fact remains that it hasnot promised that it will make a payment in respect of that wheat.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Did nor the Minister give a promise that a payment would be made in respect of that wheat ?

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No. Reverting to the problem of releasing man-power from the armed forces for urgent primary production, one cannot helpbut notice considerable overlapping in this matter. It is most difficult to obtain the release of a member of the armed forces for this purpose. Generally speaking, one realizes the difficulty of providing for any general release of manpower for primary production. However, no such difficulty should exist when specific applications are made to meet specific shortages of man-power on certain farms. T can give many instances of disappointment in this respect. When I applied for the release of one man I was first told that he could not be released because he was a member of an armoured unit. Next, I was told that he could not he released for work in a certain district because he had to remain within 24 hours' journey of his unit. Then I Was told to interview the district man-power controller in order to find out whether sufficient man-power was not available in the particular district. Some of the anomalies are ludicrous. For instance, I might mention the case of a member of the fighting services who sought temporary release in

Order to shear his own sheep, which were being looked after by his aged father. After pressing this matter for a fortnight C was officially informed that my request could not be granted. I forwarded that information to the father of the man concerned, and to my surprise he replied that his son had been released and was actually shearing his sheep.

Price fixing is another subject which has been agitating the public mind. The price-fixing system., as far as I can gather, is also based on wrong premises. Whenever the price of an article is to be fixed, the Commissioner starts off by taking into consideration what the consumer is going to pay for it. Next, he takes into account what the middleman is to receive. After finishing with him, he calculates what transport is to cost, and then fixes the price, but he does not care about the man producing the article because that poor fellow does not come into the matter at all. We have heard a good deal through the press of complaints by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) about criticism. Some matters call for criticism. I can cite cases where it has been of benefit, because it lias brought redress. Firewood is an example. Its price has been fixed in South Australia, and probably in other States also. It was a burning question for some time in my own State. We were in trouble this year because many in the metropolitan area had to go short of wood for warmth and cooking purposes, but the shortage was even more serious in the irrigation settlements along the river Murray, where a number of industries use steam power. These were practically at a standstill, but the Prices Commissioner went to Adelaide and fixed firewood prices, . with the result that we got a good deal of satisfaction. It was a little late in tue season so far as providing the city with firewood was concerned, but the industries were kept going in the country, and a certain amount of assistance was given to city people. That was a case where criticism was quite useful, and had the desired effect.

A few days ago I asked a question about citrus fruits and received from the Minister a reply for which I do not blame him personally, because I do not suppose he knows very much about the subject. It was a departmental reply, containing, inter alia, the following assertions: -

This price was higher than the prices paid in previous years for fruit of similar quality. The fruit in question is not fruit nominally sold in the open market, and, in Now South Wales, State legislation actually prevents its sale in the open market.

The facts are that a great number of citrus-growers along the river Murray in South Australia, the majority of them returned soldiers, have been struggling for a number of years on their blocks. They were repatriated just after the last war, and have not been able to reach any great condition of affluence. They have been trying for many years to find a market for their citrus fruits, and have, at their own expense, experimented with shipments of oranges to England, and have even lost money on many consignments. This year has been favorable, prices tending their way. Oranges have gradually gone up in price, and have been worth from 8s. to 10s. a case. The price- fixing system was applied. The military authorities wanted a certain quantity of oranges for the troops, and commandeered them -at £10 10s. a ton, or about 3s. '6d. a case. In the reply I have just quoted, it was said that the oranges in question were not of the quality normally sold in the open market. That is a nonsensical assertion. I saw the oranges being bagged at the river settlements, and they were quite equal to what I saw marked up in Sydney several days ago at 4d. each. Criticism, of course, comes in here again. Since it has been publicly made, the Prices Commissioner has been good enough to raise the price from £1.0 10s. to £15 a ton.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - What happened to the fellows whose oranges were taken at £10 10s. a ton?

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - They have no chance of getting the higher price. The department shelters itself behind the assertion that we have now used up the inferior fruit, and are dealing with the better quality article. I do not know what happened in New South Wales and Victoria, but, as I say, I saw this fruit being bagged along the river Murray settlements, .and it is all "hooey " to talk about its being second rate, because it is quite good.

Senator Ashley - Were the oranges Valencias?

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - They were both Valencias and navels.

We now hear of a proposal to control meat prices, and to curtail flocks. To talk about controlling meat prices in this country is to my mind simply ridiculous. There is no necessity or reason for meat prices to be controlled. We have plenty of meat. There has been no shortage of it, nor will there be in the future. In saying that, I am talking about the whole of Australia, and the figures T shall quote are taken from the last. Commonwealth Year-Book.

Senator Keane - They are too old. Large numbers of cows have been killed in the interim.

Senator JAMESMcLACHLAN We slaughter in Australia every year 4,000,000 head of cattle, small and great, nut of which. 1.000,000 head used to be exported as meat. We have little or no shipping available now, and must therefore make up our minds to use in Australia the greater proportion of the 1,000,000 carcasses which used to be sent overseas. According to the Commonwealth YearBook, we have from 120,000,000 to 1.25,000,000 sheep in Australia, and probably by Christmas time they will have increased by 50,000,000, so that no shortage of mutton is at all likely. Perhaps for the time being, say, up to a few months ago, we had practically a drought in many districts, and it is usual at this time of the year for meat prices to rise on account of the shortage of supplies, but directly we shall find ample supplies available, and there is therefore no reason to interfere with meat prices.

Senator Keane - Retail meat prices are the biggest racket in Australia, with lamb at ls. Id. per lb. retail, and the grower receiving about 2d. Laugh that one off!

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That is a real indication of the effects of price fixing. The Minister would give to the producer of lamb 2d. per lb., and sell it to the people at about Sd.

Senator Keane - I am telling the honorable senator what has happened, and it is going to be stopped. If we cannot get the meat, we will seize it.

Senator JAMESMcLACHLAN.The Government has the power for the time being, but will be playing with fire if it begins to handle the flocks and the meat of Australia. There is also a proposal on foot for the curtailment of our flocks. That is another task undertaken by the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman). A reduction, of flocks would be not only a grave mistake so far as the future of this country is concerned, but also a breach of contract with the Imperial Government, which has undertaken to buy. not merely some of our wool, but all of it. If we curtail our flocks then obviously we shall find it necessary to curtail the quantity of wool supplied to the United Kingdom. Why should our flocks be curtailed? It is well known that the prominence that this country lias achieved in the eyes of the world has been due almost entirely to the sheep industry. What other industry in Australia returns £70,000,000 a year? I understand that one reason given by the Minister for War Organization of Industry for the curtailment of flocks is that with flocks at their present high numbers a drought would result in the loss of many millions of sheep. I admit that a proportion of our wool is grown on low rainfall country, and that severe losses are sustained during periodical droughts, but I point out that there is something else in the back country which should he taken into consideration, namely, the rabbit pest. If the Minister withes to reduce anything, let him reduce the rabbits. It is estimated that ten rabbits eat as much as one sheep, so that for every ten rabbits that are eradicated, an additional sheep can be grown. Rabbits do more harm to our pastoral lands than has ever been done by overstocking, and I urge the Government to give some attention to this problem. The action taken last June, when the export duty on rabbit skins was raised from 9d. per lb. to a maximum of 2s. 6d. per lb. was very detrimental to the eradication of rabbits. I also point out to the Minister for War Organization of Industry that, flocks have not increased to any degree in the marginal areas. The increases have been due to She application of scientific pasture improvement, the growing of clover and other grasses, and the use of superphosphate. Such improvements can be carried out only where there is a rainfall of from IS to 22 inches, and the Minister can rest assured that droughts do not occur in those areas. Unfortunately, the restricted supplies of superphosphate will have a detrimental effect upon pasture improvement. We should bear in mind what happened at the end of the last war when we had hundreds of thousands of bales of wool in Australia and in Great Britain worth only about 6d. per lb. Some " wiseacres " even urged that the surplus wool bc tipped into the sea so that the new clips could be sold. However, only r few years elapsed before wool soared to new record prices. Wool is not subject, to destruction by pests such as weevils, and will keep almost indefinitely. I am certain that when this war ends the world will be wool-hungry. If the Minister wishes to decrease our flocks, let him do so by canning or dehydrating mutton. He and his colleague, the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Scully) - both would-be giants of organization - should realize that primary production depends entirely upon seasonal conditions which cannot be controlled. They would be well advised to leave things as they are at present.

This budget is a remarkable document. Its preamble indicates that its sponsors ill ave a full knowledge of the importance, magnitude, and urgency of the tremendous task which confronts them. It makes an appeal for austere living, and demand.? that every one shall accept his responsibility towards the war effort. It warns the people distinctly that as little as possible of war debt should be left over, so that post-war problems will be lessened ; it also distinctly warns the people thai the use of what is called bank credit must become eventually a responsibility and a burden upon the people. It admits that, sooner or later, inflation must be paid for by the people. However, in spite of those definite statement.?, the budget contains almost, a direct repudiation of the principles propounded in the preamble. One has to agree with the following summingup contained in a leading article in tho SydneyMorningHerald a few days ago:-

Unhappily, Mr. Chifley's budget stands condemned by the standards that he himself lays down.

It would be fitting to apply to the Treasurer that famous saying by John Armstrong -

Of right and wrong he taught truths »s refined as ever Athens heard; and (strange to tell ) he practised what he preached.

It is a pity that, the Treasurer does not practice what he preaches in this budget. The object of budget debate? in the past has been to ensure a judicious spending of revenue, but the main consideration of this budget is the raising of money for a specific purpose; we are endeavouring to purchase life and freedom for om selves and our allies. We are not fighting for territorial gain; we are not fighting for anybody else's country; we are fighting for the right to continue living in the way we choose. Life and freedom are just as dear to the man who lives in the cottage as they are to the man who lives in a mansion. At no time in our history has spending power been greater than it is to-day. It is estimated that our national income has now reached the colossal figure of £1,000,000,000 per annum. Trade of all descriptions is unable to meet public demands. Places of entertainment are crowded and racing clubs report record attendances and record totalizator figures. It is said that lottery receipts have fallen, but tickets are still so much in demand that they are passed over the counter almost before the. ink on them is dry. Yet the Government. cease making requests to the people in regard to loans subscriptions; let it make demands. As a democratic people, are we to allow overlords like Hitler and Mussolini to show us how a nation can be organized? Let us make it clear to these men that as a freedom-loving people we are capable of making a war effort better than that of any fascist country. The main plank of a democratic platform is " Trust the people ", and I believe that we must trust the people. But as the elected representatives of the people, we should realize our heavy responsibility with' regard to the future welfare of this country. When the occasion demands it, unpopular things must be done.

This is the second budget brought down by the present Government. In presenting its first budget, it asked that £210,000,000 be raised by loans and war savings certificates. An appeal was made to the people and the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) used all the eloquence he could command, yet he fell short by £80,000,000 of the goal at which ho aimed. On the present occasion, he must appeal for £300,000,000. He knows that last year his appeal fell on deaf ears, yet to-day he thinks it will be easy to get double what was obtained by means of loans last year and eight times the amount that was raised by means of War savings certificates. It must be admitted that last year there was a falling off in the purchase of war savings certificates. The Prime Minister has been out on his austerity campaign, and in his appeal to the people he has asked wage-earners to save 3s. a head a week. I take it that that is the right honorable gentleman's idea of what the people are able to do. He would not ask them to give more than he knows they are able to give. If they are able to save 3s. a week, why does he not see that they give it. It is not a matter of asking; Australia must have the money. If we do not get it from the people, it must be raised by means of what is known as central bank credit.

There are in Australia 2,780,000 persons whose average income tax amounts to only £8 8s. a head, and their total earnings are nearly £600,000,000 a year. If every taxpayer contributed an extra 3s.a week, a considerable sum of money would certainly be raised, but I shall suggest to the Government a different method. The salaries or wages of the 2,780,000 persons who earn about £600,000,000 range from £100 to £400 a year, and they contribute in tax only £23,500,000, or an average of £8 8s. a head. Of this number, 450,000 earn £30,000,000 a year, but their incomes amount to £100 a year or less. Persons earning from £100 to £150 a year number 400,000, and I would tax them at the rate of 2s. a head a week, or about the equivalent of the value of one packet of cigarettes. They would then contribute to the finances an additional £2,080,000. There are 450,000 persons earning from £150 to £200 a year. I would tax them at the rate of 4s. a head a week, which would give £4,680,000. I now come to the 1,480,000 earning £430,000,000 per annum. Those I would tax at 8s. a head a week, which would yield extra revenue to the amount of £30,794,000, making a total of £37,554,000. That is only an average of 6s. a head a week, spread over the three classes to which I have referred. If our people were taxed at the same rate as in New Zealand, the sum of £73,000,000 would be raised, which is about £10,000,000 less than the amount that would be obtained if my suggestions were adopted.

Senator Lamp - But we should not have the social benefits for which the people of New Zealand are paying.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I have not dealt with the 450,000 persons in receipt of incomes of £100 a year or less. I have started with those earning between £100 and £150 a year, and I ask from that group only the value of a packet of cigarettes a week.

Great exception has been taken to the proposal of the last Government for the establishment of post-war credits, but, as we are taking from the soldiers an amount equal to about £14,000,000 a year, surely the munitions workers and others receiving good wages should be prepared to make some sacrifice. It seems that the national credit is to be expanded considerably. We increased it last year by about £80,000,000, which brought the total to about £150,000,000. I realize that it is necessary to use even this method of finance in certain circumstances. We are told that it can be safely resorted to up to a certain amount, but 1 have never heard what the safety limit is. Senator Darcey told us a few days ago that the banks do not lend their deposits, but that is absurd. The banks lend money, and they have only three sources from which they can lend ittheir capital, their reserves and their deposits. They have been known even to lend on their credits. I have no doubt that, up to a certain point, they fix a safety limit. We remember the financial tragedies that occurred a few years ago in connexion with our banks. A few years ago the banks throughout Australia were at breaking point. At that time they had resorted to credits far exceeding the amount of their deposits. Once a nation extends its credit beyond the productivity of the country, it sails dangerously close to the wind. The Commonwealth note issue has increased to such an amount to-day that we are approaching the clanger point. During the last twelve months, it has been increased by £33,742,000. If it is increasing at What rate, the stage may be reached when the notes will not. be worth anything like their face value. Addressing a meeting of returned soldiers in Sydney recently, the State Governor spoke of inflation, and reminded his audience that, after the last war, a big brewery in Vienna, which had for its trade mark a representation of a 100-mark note, used genuine 1,000- mark notes as labels on bottles, following the depreciation of the mark, because they were practically worthless, and cost less than the printing of sham notes. Instead of pleading for the money that it needs, the Government should follow the example of Great Britain and take from the people by means of taxes the money that it requires. In this respect, Australia is far behind Great Britain and New Zealand. In Great Britain, a nian with an income of £120 a year has to pay £7 1.0s. to the Government; the position in New Zealand is much the same. In both countries, the taxation is much heavier than in Australia. Since the war began, New Zealand's war expenditure has been £S1 7s. Hd. per capita, compared with £63 9s. lOd. in

Australia. Had the people of Australia been taxed on the same basis as their kinsmen in New Zealand, the £80,000,000 of national credit required last year to finance the war would have been provided by the taxpayers, and we should have had about £40,000,000 in hand. For the present financial year, New Zealand has increased its taxation on 1,500,000 people to a greater degree than has Australia on its 'population of 7,000,000 people.

Senator Collings - Does the honorable senator know that, for those heavier taxes, the Government of New Zealand gives back to the people six times as much as is returned to the people of the Commonwealth?

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Practically the only taxation imposed on many of the people of Australia is indirect taxation. There was a time when I thought that indirect taxation would become a thing of the past, should a Labour government ever occupy tb« treasury bench.

Senator Collings - Is the honorable senator aware that Japan has entered the war against us?

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am well aware of that fact. Indeed, I regarded Japan's entry into the war as a distinct possibility long before that country actually took up arms against us. In. 1939, when the budget provided for a war expenditure of £14,000,000, the then Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) asked, "Where is the enemy; whom are we to fight; why is the money necessary ? I am aware that Australia is at war. and was at war long before Japan took up arms against us. 1 agree with the Government that indirect taxation is all right.

Senator Collings - The Government does not say that it is all right, but that under existing conditions it is inevitable.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I repeat that indirect taxation is all right. The Government has not gone far enough in imposing such taxes. The way in which picture show3 in Australia are flourishing is evidence that the Government has not gone far enough in taxing them. There are in this country 1,500 picture shows, at which the average week-night attendance, exclusive of Saturday nights, is 350,000 people. As it is estimated that 1,000,000 people attend picture shows every Saturday night, that means that each week the attendance at such shows totals 3,750,000 people. The average price paid for admission is1s. 6d., so that £137,500 a week, or over £7,000,000 per annum, is spent on this class of entertainment. Those figures show that the motion picture industry has not been taxed sufficiently. I would impose heavier taxes on such entertainments.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Are the picture show proprietors taxedat all?

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Only through the company tax. It might be well to tax the picture shows as well as those who attend them.

The budget speech contains a reference to a proposal to submit certain proposals to the people by way of a referendum. Although I am of the opinion that the Constitution needs to be overhauled, I do not think that the time is ripe for that overhaul. Other matters of much greater importance should be occupying our attention. Under the National Security Act, the Government can obtain all the power that it wants.

Senator McBride - It is doing all that it wants to do.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Not yet; but I am afraid that that time will come. For the time being, the Government should shelve its proposals to hold a referendum. "When the time docs come to consider an alteration of the Constitution, there should be a national convention along the lines of the convention held over 40 years ago.

In conclusion, I shall summarize my comments. It is the responsibility of the legislators in this Parliament to stir the people to a realization of the nation's peril. The Opposition strongly objects to the vague and dangerous financial proposals of the Government in relation to the raising of the necessary war funds. We advocate a wider and more equitable system of income taxation, and a scheme providing for post-war credits or compulsory loans. We urge the Government to forget " electioneering budgets " and to substitute sound " sincerity budgets". In preference to the Government's proposals for an alteration of the Constitution, we advocate that a national convention, free from party political interests, be called at the appropriate time in order to review the Constitution. I voice a grave warning of the catastrophe which will confront the nation should the Government persist with its present financial proposals. I repeat the Opposition's appeal for one army, with one set of conditions and equal responsibilities. I reiterate our appeal for a national all-party government. Let the Government give to the people the real lead for which they are looking. Let it abandon the peace-time practice of sectional politics. The people will then eagerly rally around it.

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