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Friday, 25 September 1942

Senator CLOTHIER (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - The honorable senator does not know that as a fact.

Senator McBRIDE - I know that there are exceptions on both sides, but, as a general statement, I repeat that that is the position. If we are to have confidence and achieve those things which we must achieve in order to pull our weight in the war, the Government must learn certain things, one of which is the old truism that, whilst you may deceive all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, it is not possible to deceive all the people all the time. The barrage of class hatred that has been raised is doing a real disservice to Australia. I am glad to note that even the Prime Minister is beginning to realize that the people are seeing daylight, because, in another of his frank outbursts, in which he revealed his innermost thoughts, he showed quite clearly that in his opinion the people were dissatisfied with the operations of the Government, or of some members of it. He said : " I am not going to wait until the rot sets in, and labels of ' Wardism ' and Dedmanism ' are conjured up ". That indicated that he realized that the people wanted to concentrate upon the war and not upon putting into operation Labour's socialistic policy. We have been told that, realizing this, the Government is looking for an excuse for an election at this time - possibly the most critical stage of the world war. I believe that the results which have been achieved in Great Britain, and which I have mentioned, and those that are being achieved in Canada, to which I have just slightly drawn attention, are due substantially to the unity that exists there. This Government shouted from the housetops the success it had with the flotation of its loans. I support: it in that appreciation of what was done, but let us examine that success for a moment. The best result that we have been able to achieve in Australia up to date is to draw subscriptions to war loans from under a quarter of a million of our people. In connexion with the last loan we did not approach even that figure, and the best outcome of the hurlyburly and tumult of political manoeuvring on the part, of the Government has been to obtain just under a quarter of a million subscribers, whereas Canada had a success which I hope we shall be able to reproduce in the near future. According to the information handed to us, the Canadian Government, in February of this year, asked, for a loan of $600,000,000, and received nearly $1,000,000,000, of an over-subscription of $4.00,000,000. An even more satisfactory feature was that the loan was subscribed to by 1,600,000 people, of a population which is greater by 4,000,000 or 55 per cent, than ours. Our best total would, on the same proportion, represent about 400,000 subscribers, yet Canada obtained four times that number. This shows clearly that, if we can win the confidence of the people, we shall be given their support, and the gap in the finances will be substantially bridged. But how can we secure the return of confidence, when, in addition to what I have said - and this interests the whole of the people very vitally - the real value of their money is deteriorating every day? I know that in time of war and under the stress of war finance a degree of inflation inevitably happens. I also know that up to the present time we have not had a degree of inflation comparable with what occurred in the corresponding period of the last war. I claim, however, that, as the previous Government was able, on account of the action it took to finance its war expenditure, it kept the costs down to a minimum, and, when it went out of office, the cost of living, after two years of war, had increased by only 10 per cent. We find now that in the third year it has increased .to nearly 20 per cent. "What does that mean ? Do not Ministers realize that, every time it is doubled, not only the amount of money required, but also the cost of the war increases accordingly? Our war expenditure for the current financial year is set down at £440,000,000. I am not in a position to say just how much of that is due to increased costs, but if they have been increased by one-half, that amount has been inflated by £44,000,000. Consequently, if they go on increasing at this rate in not mathematical but geometrical progression, the costs of our war activities will be so increased that it will be impossible to prevent damaging inflation. That is why we believe that, being in this relatively good position, we should be determined to hold it. I admit that the co3t of living figures in Great Britain have risen to a greater extent than they have in this country, but that is due to the entirely different set-up in Great Britain, which has to import 60 per cent, or 70 per cent, of the foodstuffs needed for its people, whilst practically the whole of the raw materials for some of its manufactured goods have also to be imported. Consequently Great Britain has not had the opportunity that Australia has had. Yet, although last year the cost of laving figures in Great Britain increased hy 28 per cent., in comparison with our increase of 9 or 10 per cent, on the corresponding date, they had increased only 1 per cent, in twelve months.

Senator Keane - The total increase there is now over 30 per cent.

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