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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Mr FRANCIS (Moreton) (6:52 AM) . - This measure proposes to raise by way of loan for the purposes of war expenditure in 1942-43 an amount of £100,000,000. In March of last year, Parliament approved of the raising of an amount of £75,000,000 for the purposes of the financial year- 1941-42. Having regard to the increased intensity of the war effort in recent months, which is largely due to the activities of Japan in the Western Pacific area, an acceleration of our war effort has become necessary. Some of our soldiers have been brought back from overseas, extra personnel have been called up within Australia, and greater supplies of arms and munitions must be obtained. Accordingly, the Opposition supports the Government's proposal. Our only criticism of the war effort at any time is that it is not great enough. I do not believe that any serious-minded member of the community can regard any war effort as adequate until the war is ended. Our need is great, and I am glad to know that this money is to be made available for the purposes of the war. War was not sought by us. In spite of every effort made by the Empire, we were forced into the conflict, and I am happy to join in any effort that will help to bring peace by means of a maximum war effort.

I take this opportunity to ask the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) whether the Government proposes to introduce a bill to provide for the establishment of a mortgage branch of the Commonwealth Bank when Parliament re-assembles after the coming recess. When they were in Opposition, honorable members on the Government side of the chamber strongly advocated the establishment of a mortgage branch.

Seven months have passed since the Government came into office, and I had hoped that the branch would have been established long before now. Honorable members supporting the Government indicated when they were in Opposition that there would be no delay; the mortgage branch of the Commonwealth Bank was to have been a complete panacea for all the troubles of the rural industries, which are passing through extraordinarily difficult times. The costs of primary production have increased by 45 or 50 per cent, since the outbreak of war. The problems of farmers have multiplied, and if they are to do their job as the nation expects them to do it, the Government must give effect to its promise to establish a mortgage bank. I ask the Treasurer for an assurance that, when Parliament re-assembles, a bill for this purpose will be introduced.

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