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Thursday, 24 September 1942


Senator LARGE (New South Wales) . - I wish to make some comments on the remarks of honorable senators opposite. Let me say, first, that it is wonderful how tastes differ. For instance, my choice of poets is certainly not in line with that of Senator Sampson. I listened with a great deal of anguish to the poem he just read. I. once heard the late Rudyard Kipling described as " Mudyard. " Stripling. I cannot help thinking of his Barrack Room. Ballads-


Senator Allan MacDonald - He was a great Englishman.


Senator LARGE - I once heard some one say, "God help England ifRudyard Kipling should ever become Poet Laureate ". I recall the following lines in The Road to Mandalay: -

Ship me somewhere east of Suez,

Where the best is like the worst,

Where there ain't no Ten Commandments,

And a man can raise a thirst.

That is more typical of the late Rudyard Kipling than the poem just read by Senator Sampson.Barrack Room Ballads helps to disperse the sympathetic thoughts with which, the honorable senator wished to inspire us.


Senator Sampson - What does the the honorable senator think of The Recessional ?


Senator LARGE - I think that Kipling (borrowed it. Senator Sampson was most unfair in his criticism of Senator Aylett's remarks concerning the law of supply and demand. What Senator Aylett said was that that law is controlled. I shall, show that he is correct.


Senator Sampson - Does the honorable senator believe that such a law operates?


Senator LARGE - Yes, but it is very much under control. If I saw in a Sydney shop a pair of boots marked at 25s., and had only 24s. in my pocket, the shopkeeper would refuse to supply me and I would walk away disappointed. That incident might be multiplied a dozen times during the day and by the evening the owner of the shop would say that there was no demand and no business. But the reason why I am ls. short in the price of those boots is that the firm I work for pays me a little less that it should. The people from whom I earn my money therefore control my demand. The supply is controlled by the man who owns the workshop. When he finds that (here has been no demand he puts off a number of employees at the end of the week, and because of this inequitable law of supply and demand hundreds of people are walking about without employment. The fact that little children have to go without boots in cold weather is enough to convince me that there is a demand, but the only demand that is recognized is a controlled one. Perhaps that little lesson will sink into the honorable senator's mind. I shall deal later with his references to depressions and reconstruction in a more general way, when I am answering the bulk of the arguments adduced by honorable senators opposite. After all, their main arguments, generally speaking, can be expressed in the words " compulsory loans ". That is the burden of their song, and they seem to have con centrated on it. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) was unfortunate when at the outset he referred to what he called party persuasions practised by the Labour party. Obviously he was referring to the disciplining of our members by our party. A moment's reflection on recent history should, I think, have induced the honorable senator to leave those words unsaid. I need say no more on that subject. The honorable senator and all his colleagues appear to fear inflation. I shall deal with that aspect also in my general comments. Like the rest of his party, the honorable senator is against socialism, whilst Senator Sampson has definitely stated that he does not believe in the pious hopes of a millenium, or a better world to come.


Senator Sampson - Let us win the war first. One job at a time.


Senator LARGE - The honorable senator should realize that it is by socialism that we are winning this war, and only by socialism can we win it. All the world's wars of comparatively recent years reveal the same story. When capitalism is placed on trial it invariably fails. We must get rid of private control, and revert to common ownership and. control of all essential commodities. Foodstuffs, transport and all else necessary to implement a 100 per cent, effort must be controlled by the Government. If that is not socialism, I must have a very wrong conception of what it is. Senator Foll criticized Senator Lamp's speech, but I thought that Senator Lamp gave us a very fine exposition of conditions obtaining in India. He shed, if I may say so, a wonderful illumination on a number of very dark spots. I mean that not figuratively but literally, because he did throw a great deal of light on events that have been transpiring in that country. He was taken to task by Senator Foll, because he quoted authorities who did not come within the category of the conservatives whom Senator Foll thought he should quote, although in many cases his quotations were from government statistics. Senator Foll took up a wrong attitude in that matter,, as did several other honorable senators opposite. He emulated the ostrich by refusing to recognize the inevitable, and trying to delude himself that because he cannot see he cannot be seen. I would rather take the advice of Marcus Aurelius, one of the greatest philosophers of all time, who said, " Turn thine eyes inward ". lt would do the people of this country good, and improve our war effort and our understanding of one another, giving us a better conception of the brotherhood of man, if we did turn our eyes inwards when examining the misdeeds of our predecessors, and also those that are taking place around us to-day. E believe it does no harm sometimes to criticize those who are wrong. I should say that Senator Foll has not got past the Munich stage. Although I was not in the Senate at the time, I venture to think that he was one of the loudest in his ' commendation and defence of the attitude of the Chamberlain Government. All the world has condemned that attitude since, and the English-speaking people in particular have applauded the change from Chamberlain to Churchill. I. was not one of those who threw their hats in the air at the time, because to me it was just a transfer from Tweedledum to Tweedledee. I do not say that in any derogatory sense. I love Britain, because it is my home and the home of all my relations, with the exception of my wife and family, who are in Australia. I therefore do not wish to cast aspersions on the British people when I say that I do not see eye to eye with those who applauded the advent of the present Prime Minister of Britain as the answer to their prayers. I do not approve of the policy that has been followed in Great Britain right clown the ages. In the words of Richard Cobden, British policy has been to " divide and conquer ". For more than 100 years, Britain has relied upon the maintainance of what is called the " balance of power ", and Cobden claims that that has been more fruitful of wars than any other single factor in the history of the world. That cannot be denied. I support what Senator Lamp had to say in regard to India. Great Britain's attitude towards India is responsible for the present lack of enthusiasm among the Indians for the cause of the United Nations. Right down the ages, British policy in India has been dictated by commercial interests. I say that without fear of contradiction. We all know the history of the British. India Company. I knew that Sir Stafford Cripps' mission to India was doomed to failure before he left, because of the words uttered by the British Prime Minister who said quite definitely in answer to a question regarding the granting of home rule to India, " There will be no drastic change in our policy towards India while I am occupying my present position ". If those are Mr. Churchill's views, it is a pity that he occupies his present position. But I am not the only critic. One of the most energetic, vital and potent forces in Great Britain to-day is Mr. Aneurin Bevin, who has stated bluntly that until there is a reconstruction or a political purge of those who are at the top in Great Britain, the policy of muddle and fuddle will continue. It is no use doing the ostrich act. We must not be blind to things as they really are. We must get to the root of the troubles which are responsible for the position in which we find ourselves to-day.


Senator HERBERT Hays - Should we not set our own house in order first?


Senator LARGE - I am coming close? to home. My remarks are quite relevant in view of the fact that for many years the policy of this country has been dictated from Great Britain. To remedy tb, trouble, we must start at the source of that dictation.


Senator Herbert Hays - That is not so.


Senator LARGE - Surely the honorable senator has not forgotten the " Tune in to Loudon" slogan. It cannot be. denied that to a large degree our policy is determined in London. Why is it that when Japan invaded Malaya, little or no support was forthcoming from the Malayans, whereas the Javanese in the Netherlands East Indies stood by the Dutch? Was it because the Javanese received better treatment at the hands of the .Dutch, than thi! Malayans received from the British people? I am reminded of an incident which occurred many years ago at Tilbury, the port of London. A large steamer was berthed at the dock and apparently there had been an accident. Down the gangway of the vessel caine two Malayans - Lascars - carrying a stretcher upon which another Lascar lay injured. A young lad was walking beside the stretcher holding the hand of the injured person. When I saw the expression on the boy's face I could read the whole story. Obviously, the injured person was a friend or relative, and the boy realized he would have to return to his country and tell his people of the death or serious injury of the unfortunate man. The expression on his face was awful to behold. I was appalled at the sight, but alongside me were two Trinity House pilots - probably there is no more conservative section of the British people - and one of them stepped aside and looked over the heads of the people who had gathered round the gangway. He came back and in a tone which could be heard by probably 30 people in the vicinity, said, " it is only a so and so Lascar". I saw the unfortunate Malayan on the stretcher turn his head and look at the person who had spoken. The boy standing at the side of the stretcher did the same, and I shall never forget his expression. It was because they had been treated in that manner for years that the Malayans bolted, leaving the Britishers to face the Japanese alone. Delving once more into history, let us find out just why Japan has become the uplifted, virile fighting nation that it is to-day. Many years ago, I was employed at the Vickers armament works in Great Britain. At those works notices appeared frequently offering lucrative employment for two or three years for artisans in Japan or India. The object was to induce skilled workers to go to the East and build arsenals, manufacture munitions, to teach the local people various trades associated with war industry. Obviously, the substantial remuneration paid to workers accepting these jobs was of no consequence. The armament manufacturers were interested only in having munitions made in Japan and India where labour was cheap. I recall also that Great Britain entered into an offensive and defensive alliance for fifteen years with Japan. Upon the expiration of that alliance, another similar agreement for fifteen years was entered into. It was British capital and workmen that built the Japanese dockyards and taught the Japanese how to build ships. Great Britain taught Japan how to arm, and allowed Germany to give it military instruction. In 1904, when the RussoJapanese war started, there were at Gravesend, opposite Tilbury Docks, two battleships which had allegedly been built for the Government of Brazil, and two days after that war had broken out the announcement was made that the vessels had been purchased from Brazil by the Japanese Government. By a strange coincidence, two or three days after the announcement had been made two Japanese crews came to Gravesend in order to man those ships. While the vessels were being prepared, the Japanese strolled about the town, and when they met the local inhabitants they slunk into the side walks, in much the same way as Lascars do to-day, apologizing by their attitude for their use of the footpaths. When the war between Russia and Japan was over, those two ships returned to Gravesend, but the pavement which the Japanese had previously apologized for using was not wide enough for them after the war. The reason was that they had entered into conflict with, and defeated, a white race. We have been teaching the Japanese to behave as they do, and it would be a good plan to turn our eyes inwards and see where the fault lies. We might then indulge in a political or even a military purge. The two countries which have done so in recent times seem to have been most successful in the present world war.

Senator Spicerseems to be the chief protagonist of the Opposition. He condemned the budget soundly, and predicted that the Government would fail in its financial proposals. If his prediction proves no more reliable than the forecast which he made with regard to uniform taxation, we can dismiss his opinions on the budget. He certainly slipped badly, as a legal man, when he said that the members of trade unions were compelled to contribute to their party political funds. I interjected and asked whether he had ever heard of the Osborne judgment, or the Taff Yale dispute. Apparently, he had not read the judgment. He pointed out that membership of the Law Institute was voluntary, they are also free to starve if they do not become members, but I know no more conservative or highly disciplined organization than that. The members of that body condemn compulsory unionism, whilst at the same time they favour compulsory loans.

The honorable senator said that, if the Treasurer's expectations were not realized - and he set out to show that they could not be realized - we were to have a spot of inflation. There is nothing wrong with inflation, so long as it is controlled. Although Senator Spicer and the Leader of the Opposition said that we were not taking enough out of the pay envelope of the vast number of people in receipt of incomes between £150 and £400 a year, the former showed the weakness of his argument, and supported the contention of Government supporters by saying that the poorer people must pay the greater part of the indirect taxes because of the increase of the prices of the commodities which they must purchase. I do not know whether Senator Spicer and others are aware of what occurred in 1916. Senator McBride even asked what the gold standard was, and Senator Spicer asked "What is inflation?" During the last depression I witnessed the effect of inflation. People who had money on fixed deposits found that the value of the £.1 was depreciating because prices and wages had risen 40 or 50 per cent. They went to the banks, and said, " We want money inflated and goods deflated ". That is what Sir Otto Niemeyer was sent to Australia to do. -


Senator Herbert Hays - He was not sent - he was invited to come.


Senator LARGE - He was sent here by the banking interests to cause deflation in respect of commodities, which consequently brought about monetary inflation.

The speeches of honorable senators opposite have been, in the main, an advocacy of compulsory loans. The word " compulsion " is so much a part of their vocabulary that I sometimes visualize them standing over a gang of coolies with a whip. I do not think that any supporter of the Government would object to compulsory loans which took all money in excess of a specified sum from every body who had it. The reason why members of the Labour party opposed conscription during the" last war was that we did not think that the conscription advocated by its protagonists was sufficiently comprehensive. If we are to have conscription, we should conscript everything and every body, regardless of age or sex. That is the form of compulsion that I favour. Accepting present standards as a basis, there are many dear old ladies who, through their bank accounts, could do far more towards the war effort than I, at my age, can do." I do not agree entirely with Senator Darcey's advocacy of national credit, but I go a long way along the road with him ; I believe that we should use the nation's credit more than we are doing. Honorable senators opposite have expressed concern about the financial gap between what the country needs and what it will obtain from taxes and other sources. I suggest that that gap be bridged by using the nation's credit. When I am asked what is meant by the nation's credit, I reply that it is determined by the country's productive capacity. All wealth is the result of labour applied to land ; our credit is determined by our capacity to produce. Honorable senators opposite talk of colossal debts, but I remind them that there is a word which, although not popular at the moment will, 1 believe, come more and more into the vocabulary of the nations. The word " repudiation " is unpopular, and there are some who prefer " international adjustment ". Those terms, or their equivalent will,I believe, come into much more common use in the near future. So long as we are able to produce, our credit is sound.


Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Our present production does not contribute anything to the wealth of the nation.


Senator LARGE - That is so; and that is why I said that I was not 100 per cent, with Senator Darcey in his advocacy of the use of national credit. I realize that we are now producing for waste. I realize, too, that the orthodox system of finance is deeply embedded in the international mind, and that it might be too much of a shock to people already war-shocked to abolish the existing financial system and substitute another system forthwith. Reforms must come more gradually than that. But in the transition period we should use the national credit n .re than it is now used.. That is what the Treasurer proposes ; and he is right. X believe that honorable senators- opposite think much as we do on this subject; but they have to report to their masters. As I have said in this chamber on other occasions, they have to fill in their time-sheets; and, unless the sheets are filled in properly, the funds for their election campaign will not be forthcoming. I do not charge honorable senators opposite with insincerity, but their actions leave them open to that construction. As Senator Spicer exhibited an inquiring mind in the course of his speech, I regret that he has not been here to hear the answers to some of his questions. With a safe man in charge of the Treasury, and a safe Cabinet under the leadership of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) directing the affairs of the country, the general public can rest in their beds at night knowing that all that can be done for their protection is being done.







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