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Thursday, 17 September 1942

Senator BROWN (Queensland) . - I have been very interested in the speeches made by honorable senators opposite, who, as usual, are running true to form. When one realizes that for many years they have painted grim pictures of the horrors of inflation, and have claimed that this country would go to the dogs if the Labour party's financial policy were implemented, their jeremiads now almost make one weep. It is not so many years since a certain Premier of New South Wales required a few million pounds to assist him in conducting the affairs of that State. On that occasion certain people said that, if a large amount of new money were placed in circulation, there would be a possibility of inflation and financial disaster. It is not so many years since we had a Commonwealth Treasurer who asked for a fiduciary note issue of £18, 000,000, and I remember the heart-rending cry that went up from members of the political party to which honorable senators opposite belong. Once again the bogy of inflation was raised. I recall, also, what happened when the Fisher Government introduced a similar -scheme. On that occasion; too, the members of the political party which honorable senators opposite support cried out, probably more in sorrow than in anger, that the country would be ruined absolutely by what were termed " Fisher's flimsies ". After listening carefully to the lawyer-like speech delivered by Senator Spicer, I can agree readily with my colleague, Senator Darcey, that, despite continued efforts to impress honorable senators opposite with a deep understanding of finance, the fundamental ideas have not yet percolated into the inner regions of their brains.

Senator Spicer - Those ideas do not seem to have percolated into the Treasurer's brain, either.

Senator BROWN - The Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) set out his principles in his budget speech. At first, Senator Spicer complimented the Treasurer upon his work, but afterwards said that he was completely irresponsible, and that the budget was an insult to the people of Australia. I cannot follow that confused reasoning at all, because, from what I know of the Treasurer and his advisers, they are men who have made a close study of finance. They know that they cannot play ducks and drakes with the finances of this country, and they will accept full responsibility for their actions. This budget can hardly be described as an insult to the people of Australia, despite the fact that it does not go so far as Senator Darcey might like, or, for that matter, so far as I might like.

Senator McLeay - Then the honorable senator does not subscribe to the principles enunciated by the Treasurer?

Senator BROWN - I subscribe to the principles of my party; and I subscribe to the policy of the Government; but, at the same time, I have a right to speak freely on matters that are the subject of discussion in this chamber. I subscribe whole-heartedly to the belief that we should use the finances of this country in such a way. that the production of war goods will be maintained at the highest possible level. I also say emphatically that, despite the wails of the Jeremiahs on the other side of the chamber, not one additional bomb, ship, or aeroplane will be produced as a result of the criticism they have voiced. After listening to the speeches made by members of the Opposition, one would think that, unless we heeded their advice and adopted a system of compulsory loans, our war effort would be weakened. If their arguments were followed to their logical conclusion, this country would be forced out of the war merely because we have not adopted the Fadden, the Menzies, or the Spicer method of raising revenue. That is just as stupid as it would be to say that a man like Mr. Henry Ford, who owns huge motor works in the United States of America, the ships that carry the ore across the Great Lakes, and the railways which carry it to Detroit, would have to cease production merely because the bookkeepers in his offices use red ink instead of black. That, in effect, is the Opposition's argument. The fact is that whatever method of finance is employed, whilst we have the raw materials and the ability to produce, our war effort will continue. I ask leave to continue my remarksat a later date.

Leave granted ; debate adjourned.

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