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Wednesday, 13 May 1942

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) .- I do not care who was responsible for this decision - whether one Minister, nine members of the Production Executive, or the full Cabinet of nineteen Ministers. The fact is that an awful blunder was made, the effect of which is felt most by the working class. The only people who had an opportunity of buying on Saturday were those with time, leisure and money, and those with none of those things missed out and have had no real opportunity since to obtain their ordinary needs. In and about Melbourne in the last few days extraordinary scenes have been witnessed. Most shops opened at 10 a.m. and closed again about 11.40 a.m. I was in one big shop in Melbourne yesterday with the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Baker), and saw a gentleman engaged in writing on a blackboard, on which there was a heading, " Owing to the Government's regulations in regard to clothing restrictions we have now sold out of- " and then underneath he wrote " First-floor, Haberdashery, mercery, &c. - second floor, third floor, fourth floor " and so on. I asked if he were giving a ball-to-ball description of events on the various floors as the quotas were reached. The quotas were quickly arrived at in all departments to which the restrictions applied. As has been truly said, the result has been that the wife of a working man has littlechance of buying clothing for her family under existing conditions, and had no opportunity whatever of buying clothing on Saturday morning last.

Mr Beck - And will not have an opportunity until rationing is properly introduced.

Mr CALWELL - There are some who think that rationing is not necessary. I am one who is not yet convinced of its necessity. The Government policy with regard to the rationing of clothing has not been decided upon entirely because there is a shortage of supplies, or because there is a likelihood of a shortage of supplies.

Mr Dedman - It has been decided entirely on those facts.

Mr CALWELL - The Government is anxious to divert the spending power of the community.

Mr Dedman - That is not the reason for the introduction of the regulations.

Mr CALWELL - I believe that it is ; I feel that the Government is anxious to divert the spending power of the people into war loans and other avenues of government finance. I do not believe in war loans and I have opposed every loan bill that has been introduced in this House since I have been a member.

Mr Archie Cameron - If the honorable member is not very careful, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) will suspect that he has a convert to socialism.

Mr CALWELL - I have opposed war loans because it is the policy of the Labour party, to which I belong all the time, that war expenditure shall be met out of revenue raised by taxation. The party specifically objects to the raising of loans for war expenditure. If the Government desires to follow the policy of meeting war expenditure out of loan money, that is its responsibility, but I do not agree with it. Neither do

I agree with the policy that will have the effect of diverting money into other channels if the workers are in need of clothing. There are many people in Melbourne, particularly in my own electorate, which is probably the poorest in Australia, who, in the last ten years have never had an opportunity to get a wardrobe together. It is only since the war started and the economists have changed their views on finance that there has been a sufficiency of money available to the general public. I do not blame members of the working class if they want to buy a few articles of clothing in these times. Others have been getting them for a long time, and I do not think it necessary for workers to go without the necessaries of- life in order that the war may be won. In the early stages of the war a number of my constituents went overseas as economic conscripts. They were on sustenance relief, there was no employment available to them, and the only opportunity they had to receive a regular wage was by enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force. To-day their womenfolk are spending money reasonably in order that they and their children might have adequate clothing. Last week I directed attention to the fact that Melbourne is suffering from a serious fuel shortage. Not only are the people expected to go without fuel for cooking and heating purposes, but now they are asked to do without some of the clothing that would give them warmth. The trouble with the Department of War Organization of Industry - and with most other departments - is that there are too many economists on the government pay-roll, too many professors " of the dismal science " advising the Government. Likewise there are too many Ministers prepared to follow the advice given by men who are earning something far more than the basic wage. There are Professors Copland, Giblin and Mills, and Dr. Walker, to mention only a few of the economists on the government pay-roll.

Mr Dedman - Does the honorable member suggest that all the gentlemen mentioned are in the Department of War Organization of Industry?

Mr CALWELL - No, but they are on the government pay-roll, and if they are not advising in that department, they are advising some other department or Minister. Professor Copland has the unique record of having been the financial adviser to three successive Prime Ministers within eighteen months, and lie has advised them on three entirely different policies. While he is the adviser to the Federal Labour Government, and is in receipt of a princely remuneration for his advice, he is also adviser to the Premier of Victoria. Probably he will advise the Labour Prime Minister of the Commonwealth in one way on the subject of uniform taxation and give the opposite advice to a Country party Premier in Victoria, and of course he will be dually paid for his services. Possibly each honorable gentleman will follow the proferred advice.

Mr Archie Cameron - Professor Copland, in those circumstances, would be almost qualified to join the legal profession.

Mr CALWELL - According to newspaper reports, when generals make a mistake in Russia, they are " liquidated ". In Germany, generals who fail meet with " an accident ". Since the delectable pastime of shooting admirals in the British navy was allowed to fall into desuetude several centuries ago after the execution of Admiral Byng, we have been rather tender-hearted with people who make mistakes. The least the Government can do is to remove a number of economists from the government pay-roll. Professors Copland and Giblin were two of the persons who landed this country in that awful imbroglio known as the Premiers plan, and the depression that followed its introduction. Men who made such a mess of things should not, in wartime, be given the opportunity to advise on anything. If they are to be judged on their records, and we are too fainthearted to shoot them, at least we ought to sack them. Somebody should be dealt with in connexion with Saturday's affair.

Mr Anthony - Whom do you suggest it ought to be?

Mr CALWELL - If "Mother's Day on Sunday led to excessive buying, it is just a3 well that there was no " Father's Day " on Friday, because that would have had a similar result. It is claimed that increased buying has prevailed over recent months, but I have no complaint onthat score, because people who have been buying goods in that way have been spending their money properly.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable member's time has expired.

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