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Friday, 21 June 1946

Mr FADDEN (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) (Leader of the Australian Country party) . - The measure before the House is a bill for an act to grant and apply a sum out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the service of the year ending the 30th June, 1947, an amount of £44,826,000. The debate on this bill affords honorable members an opportunity to make some observations on the Government's financial policy, and to criticize it if necessary. It has been said that finance is the test of government. By applying this test to the Government's record we can see how it has served the country. The only information available from which to make a survey of the situation is to be gleaned from the monthly financial statement of Consolidated Revenue issued over the signature of the Secretary to the Treasury. The last of these is for the month of May, and it contains a general survey of the position over the previous eleven months. The information is meagre, but so far as it goes, it demonstrates that the present administration lacks the ability to make Government expenditure reproductive. It has not the courage to eliminate waste and extravagance in the use of public funds, nor to increase national production in accordance with the country's economic possibilities and the requirements of the people. The Government may legitimately be criticized on the following grounds: - (a) Concealment of the true position regarding loan raisings; (b) wasteful expenditure, with the result that high taxation is maintained; (c) lack of frankness in compilation of public financial statements; (d) administrative ineptitude; (e) failure to use Government assets, apart from money, to the best advantage for increased productivity. It cannot be denied that the basis of our economy is production. It is from production that the revenue must be obtained with which to finance social services and other forms of Government expenditure. Therefore, it follows that, in order to reduce taxes while maintaining living standards and social services, production must be increased to the limit. However, the figures show that production has declined rather than increased.

In regard to loan raisings, the Government has deliberately applied a policy of concealing the true position. On the 26th March the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said that £47,000,000 had been subscribed to the Security Loan of £70,000,000 by 70,000 subscribers. The loan closed on the 16th April, 21 days later, and we were told by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr.. Forde) that it lad been 'oversubscribed by £S,000,000. Evidently, therefore, £31,000,000 had been put into the loan in the last 21 days. The fact is that the number of subscribers was the lowest .of all the war loans, only 179,102 persons contributing.

Mr Pollard - The Leader of the Australian Country party '(Mr. Fadden) boycotted the loan.

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