Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Friday, 18 September 1942

Mr POLLARD (Ballarat) .- I had no intention of speaking on this budget, but I am forced to do so by the unutterably disgusting game of party politics that the Opposition is playing.

I have in my possession proof of the rotten conspiracy that has been hatched by the Opposition to attack the Government, not on its merits, but for the purpose of trying to supplant it, in spite of the open offer of co-operation tendered to the Government by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) after the defeat of his Government. I recollect that when the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) returned from abroad he made a speech in Sydney in which he deplored the " diabolical game of party politics ". Yet we find the flock of which he is a member, aided and abetted by the Country party, engaging in a diabolical plot against the Government. For the last fortnight, we have seen evidence of the development of that plot. First, we had a motion for the adjournment of the House to discuss the wheat situation, and yesterday the subject of compulsory unionism was raised on a similar motion. The right honorable member for Kooyong, who expressed such indignation at the playing of what he described as the diabolical game of party politics, is himself not above playing that very game. He did so yesterday. He took the Labour party to task for using its period in office to put its policies into effect. Why should it not? Our policy is the only policy which will enable us to win this war.

Mr Fadden - The letter to which the honorable member referred was addressed specifically to some honorable members. I should like the honorable gentleman to mention the name of the honorable member whose copy he has.

Mr POLLARD - Never mind the name. The right honorable gentleman is "hot under the collar" because he knows that he stands condemned as the leading player in the diabolical game of which the right honorable member for Kooyong professed such abhorrence. The Leader of the Opposition unctuously held out his hand to the Prime Minister in a spirit of mock co-operation, while his other hand held the assassin's knife with which he is seeking to stab into the Government's back. I do not wonder at his discomfiture. The letter is in the following terms: -

Asyou are aware, the Federal Parliamentary Opposition executive met in Canberra on the 29th and 30th, July, and again in Melbourne on the 14th August, when several important subjects affecting the present Government's administration were discussed and the views of the executive announced.

The subjects upon which the executive expressed its views following the meetings on the 29th and 30th July were-

1.   Proposed 4 per cent, profit limitation.

Honorable members opposite did not like that.

2.   Coal control regulations.

They did not like that either, because those regulations ensured the co-operation, instead of the antagonism, of the coalminers, whereas the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), as Minister for Labour and National Service, was a ghastly failure in his attempts to ensure the maintenance of coal production, for the simple reason that he did not know how to handle the situation.

3.   Merging of the Australian Imperial Force and the Australian Military Forces.

Mr Holt - The honorable member does not like that.

Mr POLLARD - If the honorable member for Fawkner had read the newspapers to-day he would have seen that the members of the Australian Imperial Force in New Guinea have accepted their colleagues in the Australian Military Forces as brothers in arms. That indicates that it does not require any merging of the two forces to make the Australian a good soldier when he is fighting on his own territory.

4.   Taxation of soldiers' pay.

5.   War-time liquor control.

How well I remember the right honorable member for Kooyong making a speech in the Sydney Town Hall on his return from overseas and saying that there would have to be restriction of non-essential production. But did the right honorable gentleman then and there take action to restrict the production and consumption of liquor which has such deleterious effects on soldiers and civilians alike? Did he restrict the manufacture of cosmetics and chocolates and other such useless things? No! It required this Government to clamp down on such things.

6.   War organization of industry.

The way in which the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Dedman) has handled that matter is an indication that this Government is determined effectively to organize this country to the maximum of its capacity for the winning of the war.

7.   Prices and profits fixation.

8.   Man-power.

9.   Clothes rationing.

You have already received a detailed statement setting out our views of the executive on these matters and a further detailed statement indicating the reactions of the Prime Minister and of other Ministers, together with any further statements by myself as Leader of the Opposition.

At a meeting held in Melbourne on the 14th August, consideration was given to the following subjects: -

1.   Compulsory unionism.

We were attacked on that subject yesterday.

2.   Censorship.

I suppose the adjournment of the House will be moved next week to debate that, subject.

3.   Functions of the War Council.

Now that the right honorable member for Cowper(Sir Earle Page) has been coopted to serve on that council I suppose that we shall hear something further on that subject.

4.   War Organization of Industry Department.

5.   Merger of the Australian Imperial Force and the Australian Militia Force.

6.   Food supply andrural man-power.

Doubtless you will have seen in the press the views of the executive on these matters and reactions of the Government in some cases.

Apparently some Ministers just ignored the Opposition.

Detailed statements concerning same will he forwarded to you by Mr.. Byrne. Immediately Parliament re-assembles, we, as an Opposition, must be ready to put forward a strong case on every subject which calls for an expression of the views of the Opposition in the House. No doubt senators and members generally have had brought to their notice or have personal knowledge of maladministration, abuse of power, bungling and inefficiency in relation to many of the subjects which the executive has considered. In regard to the other subjects whichwe discussed, the Opposition mustbe ready to advance sound and constructive views on the floor of Parliament.

That is absolutely impossible. In the three weeks Parliament has been sitting we have not had one sound or constructive suggestion from the Opposition.

This applies particularly to the merger of the Australian Imperial Force and the Australian Military Forces, compulsory unionism, censorship, war organization, man-power, profits fixation and liquor. I would, therefore, respectfully ask you to draw up your observations under these headings and be ready to voice them in the House. Should you have information which you consider should he of value in the drafting of a case with which I might lead an attack in Parliament on any of the subjects mentioned, it would be appreciated if you would forward them to me at Parliament House, Canberra. Will you kindly regard the action suggested in this letter as a matter of urgency because only a brief time remains before the pre-sessional party meeting?

With kindest regards,

Yours sincerely.

A.   W. Fadden.

Mr Fadden - Is that signed by me?

Mr POLLARD - It finishes, "A. W. Fadden ".

Mr Fadden - But is it signed by me?

Mr POLLARD - I am not under cross-examination. Does the Leader of the Opposition repudiate the letter?

Mr Fadden - The honorable member ought to mind his own business.

Mr POLLARD - This letter is marked " strictly confidential ".

Mr Fadden - That indicates the honorable member's calibre. To whom is it addressed ?

Mr POLLARD - It is addressed to R. T. Pollard, Woodend, Victoria.

Mr Paterson - And does the honorable gentleman consider that he is treating it confidentially?

Mr POLLARD - It was addressed to me. I am justified in quoting it. I thought when I received it that the Opposition hoped th at I might be susceptible to the suggestions which it contained. However it fell on barren soil.

Mr Fadden - I challenge the honorable member to table it.

Mr POLLARD - I am agreeable to do so. The letter is on official House of Representatives paper. I notice that the Leader of the Opposition does not challenge its genuineness.

Mr Fadden - How did the honorable member come by it?

Mr POLLARD - It is addressed to me.

Mr Fadden - It is not addressed to you at all.

Mr POLLARD - Yes it is. Having revealed the sort of co-operation which that Opposition is actuallygiving to the Government in the war effort I have little else to say. I hope that the budget will be accepted. I am sure that it will meet with the approval of the people. It is well drawn and provides that the sacrifices which are necessary in war-time shall be spread as evenly as possible over the whole community. We have heard all sorts of speeches from honorable members opposite who have raised inflation, communism and other bogys,but I have heard these same old stories repeated over and over again. The inflation bogy has been invoked at; all elections during the last twenty years, and to-day it has no more life than the dodo. The Opposition parties, when they were in charge of the Government, had plenty of opportunities to help the unemployed, particularly during the years of the economic depression, but nothing of any great value was done in that direction until this Government came into office with its unorthodox methods of finance. They are not so unorthodox asI should like, but it is good to see that the war effort is being financed properly and that every man and woman capable of working has a job at last. Only recently I met an old friend of mine, a digger of the 1914-18 war, who is again in uniform. When I asked about his health, he replied : " I am fine. There is peace on the home front at last. I am earning 6s. a day in the Army and my wife and children are getting dependants' allowances as well." It is a shocking condemnation of past governments that a war is needed to bring peace to the home front. This improvement has been brought about as the result of the Labour party's accession to office. Honorable members opposite talk of the soldier and his pay, but they had to be removed from the Government side of the chamber before the pay of our fighting men was increased. When the Labour party said at the last elections that soldiers should receive increased pay, its opponents told the electors that it was trying to buy soldiers' vote. Now it is indulging in the same sort of propaganda. Yesterday, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) spoke of the " outrageous amounts" paid to men who took a dredge from Victoria to Western Australia. Apparently the honorable gentleman was well briefed by the Victorian Minister for Agriculture who, ever since he left the Labour parity, has never missed an opportunity to attack the workers. Every body knows that dredges are not sea-going vessels. The job of taking that dredge to Western Australia was exceptionally hazardous, and the men were entitled to substantial payment for it. It ill-becomes the honorable member to talk of that sort of thing. The case of those men is no different from that of an auctioneer, which I understand the honorable gentleman to be in private life. An auctioneer is not in constant employment. Sometimes he may conduct a special clearing sale for a. farmer and effect a total turnover of £1,000, for which he draws a commission of £50.

Mr McDonald - If he can collect it.

Mr POLLARD - That is a reflection on the honesty of the farming community. Of course he collects every penny. I would be the last to suggest that £50 was too high a remuneration for such a day's work, because I know that at other times the auctioneer may not earn anything. A similar consideration applies to the men who took that dredge to Western Australia. The honorable member's job is scarcely as hazardous as that of the cook he sneered at, who received £60 for the trip to Western Australia. I am satisfied that the Opposition's claim of co-operation with the Government in the war effort has been revealed as a hollow mockery and as a mask to a subversive conspiracy against the Government.

Progress reported.

Suggest corrections