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Thursday, 16 November 1939

Mr WARD - It would be interesting to know what has become of the shareholdings by the Prime Minister, if he does not still retain them. It would be of interest to know in what quarter they have been disposed of. I am aware of the tricks- that oan be resorted to ih passing shares over to some distant relative to be held in trust. The latest returns show that in Equity Trustees, the Prime Minister has 300 shares. Equity Trustees are large shareholders in Howard Smith Limited, which is, in turn, one of the largest shareholders in Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. In National Reliance Investment Company the Prime Minister, according to my information, has 5,000 shares, and Mrs. Menzies 3,750 shares. National Reliance Investment Company is a large shareholder in Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand, which is in turn a large shareholder in Commonwealth Aircraft Proprietary Limited, which does not have to publish its balance-sheet. According to my information, the Prime Minister holds 1,333 shares in the Capel Court Investment Trust, and Mrs. Menzies 1,000 shares. This trust is a shareholder in imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand. If the Prime Minister or his wife still hold these shares, or have simply put someone else in as a dummy for them, they are themselves interested in this racket of profiteering which is rampant throughout the country to-day. Mr. Menzies entered upon his prime ministership as a protector of monopolies. His whole history, both as a member of the Parliament of Victoria and as a member of this Parliament, and as a member of the legal profession, can lead one to no other conclusion than thathis appointment to the position of Prime Minister was made possible by monopolistic interests in this country. Those are the interests which he is protecting, and the Labour party will not be satisfied with the puny efforts put forward by the Government to convince the workers of Australia that, in view of the sacrifices they are to he asked to make, there will be no profiteering.

I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. John Lawson), if there is to be no profiteering, why have not prosecutions been launched against the profiteers, who, according to the Premier of New SouthWales, are to be found in the community. The Minister for the Navy (Sir Frederick Stewart) also admitted that there were profiteers, but they have not been prosecuted. When the Minister for Trade and Customs was asked to make the files available to members of the State Parliament in New South Wales, who wanted to ascertain what action had been taken by the Commonwealth Government against profiteers, the reply given was that no information could be made . available because the Government was exercising its powers under the National Security Act!

Nobody in this Parliament has a greater abhorrence than I have of what has been termed Hitlerism. I abhor it because of what it has done against the interests of trade unions, and in the direction of destroying civil liberties ; but honorable members should not imagine fora moment that this Government is influenced by those considerations. Shortly after the last war, the workers in Germany had control temporarily. They had what might be termed a liberal government in that country, but the victorious Allies maintained their blockade for twelve months after the war, thereby starving women and children. After an internal upheaval brought about by this starvation due to the blockade, the government in Germany was overthrown, and the building up of Hitlerism was made possible by the policy of the British imperialists. Who re-armed Germany except the British imperialists themselves ? When any imperialists go to war, their object is not to uphold civil liberties, or the living standards of the people, but to protect their own interests.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Anthony) adjourned.

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