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Wednesday, 26 November 1941

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) . - The attitude which has been adopted by some supporters of the Government is hardly in conformity with the statement of the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) that he is perfectly willing to reconsider the matter. 'The stand taken by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) is absolutely untenable, and I expect that before the Government introduces next year the budget that will herald the millenium, they will arrive at a different conclusion. If the Government submits such a prepossessing proposal, as part of its fixed policy, to the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) and to the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson), the old wagon may stay in the mud and they may not deliver the goods.

Mr Calwell - The honorable member is mixing his metaphors.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - As time goes on, I am impressed by the odd mixture of elements that constitute the Government. We see great changes. Our loquacious friend, the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr. Lazzarini), used to rise in his place on this side of the House and heave sheaves of imprecations across the chamber at the previous Government.

Mr Lazzarini - Does the honorable member desire mc to repeat the performance to-night?

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I was about to observe that, whilst the Minister may be a tower of strength to the Government, he is a veritable tower of silence in respect of supplying information to honorable members. This evening, we have been treated to the unprecedented spectacle of the Minister introducing a taxing measure and the Opposition explaining it. One would think that these measures would result in a compromise. Twelve months ago, many matters might have received consideration from the House if it had not been for the unshakeable reluctance of the Opposition to assume the responsibility of office. In those days, the Labour party was prepared to arrive at any compromise - notwithstanding what Myles Standish said about compromises - so as to ensure that it would remain in Opposition.

Mr Pollard - Why does not the honorable member deal with the merits of the bill?

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I shall. A few minutes ago, the honorable member for Ballarat made a definite statement. I think that when he returns to his home and is taking off his hay crop, he will ponder over the utterances he made tonight. Then realization will dawn upon him that they were not so good and he will sigh for an opportunity to amend them.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! These personalities must not be continued. The honorable member must deal with the bill.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I am most decidedly dealing with the bill. The honorable member for Ballarat contended that a man who volunteers in this country, in which the voluntary system is almost an article of faith for some people, and loses his life overseas, should have his estate contribute to the Consolidated Revenue before his beneficiaries have any part of it. Neither this Government, nor any other can go on to the recruiting platform and say, "If you volunteer for active service and your life is taken, we shall take your money. If the enemy takes your life we shall take your cash." That is a position which no Government can take


Mr Pollard - No government suggests doing so.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - That is the plain English of it. It is always possible that my understanding may be a. little out, but on this it is pretty well down to bedrock. This measure must have an adverse effect on recruiting. I agree with the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) that, if the Government should bring in a conscription law, whereby every man would have to do his job, whether it be on the battlefield overseas, or in the field or factory at home, it would have a perfect right to say, "You do what you are told and we dispose of your assets according to the ordinary law ", but while the Government continues to recruit men for service overseas, it cannot at the same time say, " You take all of the risks over there and, if you die we shall deal with your estate in the way which this legislation provides ".

Mr Lazzarini - This legislation dow not propose to do what the honorable member alleges it will do.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - Something was said about the men on active service who have not big estates. I agree that, unfortunately, many men on active service have no great estates. Some of them will come back to this country " stony broke ". That is not the ideal to which we look forward. The Government, on reflection, will not accept the view expressed by the honorable member for Watson that this legislation was designed to bring about a more equitable distribution of wealth in this country. That is not the objective of the taxation proposals. The real objective is to raise revenues with which to finance the war. The Treasurer said that when the Labour Government introduced all of those measures, which will be necessary to reconstruct the earth according to its ideals, it would not do so by subterfuge. The Labour party will say, " This is the millennium ; take it or leave it ". I think that the honorable member for Watson was quite out of harmony with that pronouncement. The House can well afford to adopt the suggestion made by the honorable member for Wakefield, and, if he moves an amendment in committee, to support it. This is not the kind of legislation which has to be looked at from a party point of view. Questions of ethics and other considerations, which we need not go into now, are at stake, but this is not an occasion when the Government should consider that its prestige will in any way be compromised by its acceptance of the direction of the House. Before the vote is taken I should like to hear the honorable member for Henty on this question.

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