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Thursday, 24 September 1942

Senator AMOUR (New South Wales) . - I congratulate the Government on having done a good job since its advent to office, particularly in view of its narrow majority in the House of

Representatives and the strong opposition which it has experienced in the Senate. Members of the Opposition in this chamber have accused the Government of having acted in a manner characteristic of a Fascist administration. When the Opposition parties were in power, they adopted a Hitler-like policy in many matters, and would have introduced Fascism in Australia had they been powerful enough to put it into effect. Their criticism of the Curtin Government, and of its budget proposals, disgusts me, in view of what was done by the Opposition when in office. For the first two years of the war, the Opposition was in power, and Australia was then unable to provide one mechanized division. When the present Government took office it found that our fighting forces were ill-equippedthat there were no tanks and that there was a definite shortage of aircraft and munitions. The last Government had sent the munitions manufactured in this country overseas. When the Japanese entered the war, Australia had been denuded of munitions, and the present Government is be thanked for the fact that the position has now been corrected. The Royal Australian Air Force and the Army have been well supplied with the materials of war. Since the present Government has been in office, most of the members of the Australian Imperial Force have been brought back to Australia to help in defending our shores. Many people thought that they should be recalled to their own country when Japan came into the war. Some of the members of that force are still in the Middle East, and I trust that the Government will see that they are brought back to their own country, because otherwise I fear that it will be impossible adequately to reinforce the members of the fighting forces who have returned. The troops now overseas are required for the defence of Australia, so that we may force the Japanese back to Tokyo. The Government must not overlook the importance of maintaining the flow of munitions and other war-like material to our troops.

The people generally have the utmost confidence in the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) and in the Labour Government. I trust that the austerity loan which will be opened on the 3rd November next will receive the wholehearted support of the people. I shall be sadly disappointed if it is not fully subscribed. "If the people do not rally to the assistance of the Government and help it to build up our forces so that we may beat back the enemy, it will be a sorry day for this country. We recall that a waa- loan which was floated during the regime of the Menzies Government was undersubscribed, and that the shortage had to be made up by the Commonwealth Bank and the private banks. On that occasion, the people showed no faith in the Menzies Government. The loans floated last financial year by the present Government were over-subscribed, and I feel confident that the £100,000,000 loan will be over-subscribed before the end of this year. I support the loan because I know that it is better for the workers of Australia to subscribe voluntarily to a loan for the defence of their country than for them to have to accept the proposals submitted by the Fadden Government, or the demand made by the Opposition during this debate that a certain sum should be taken from their pay envelopes each week not to be repaid until after the war. The idea underlying that proposal is that the Opposition expects that the world will be in a state of chaos when the war ends, and that it would be convenient if workers who had subscribed money compulsorily had it returned to them in small sums each week as sustenance payments through the State Governments - if the State Governments then exist - or by the Commonwealth. The workers will not agree to such proposals; they prefer to purchase bonds which they can negotiate when they need money. The present Government has protected the workers in industry by safeguarding the awards under which they work, and by not imposing further taxation on them. The Government knows that on the workers falls most of the responsibility for defending the nation. Without the efforts of the great body of workers in Australia our defences would not be so strong as they are to-day. I am confident that the workers of this country, realizing the position, will subscribe to the loan, provided that, supporters of the Opposition do not go about the country telling the people that the Government will ruin the country by causing inflation. Those honorable senators who say that a change of the monetary system would ruin Australia should reflect that Germany, Russia and Japan, which are among the strongest nations in the world to-day, have departed from orthodox financial methods. The Government proposes to use a measure of national credit in the interests of the nation, but honorable senators opposite claim that in so doing it will bring ruin. I remind them that some years ago, when £20,000,000 was wanted to assist the unemployed during the depression, it was urged that the raising of that amount would mean inflation, and cause the price of bread to rise to £1 a loaf. During this debate one honorable senator said that £80,000,000 of national credit was already in existence; yet bread is only 5-Jd. a loaf. Before the war ends we shall probably have to resort to a much greater use of national credit; but as the Government is determined to control prices, wages and interest, there is no danger that the country will be ruined merely because national credit may be used to bridge the gan between receipts and expenditure. The Opposition professes to be anxious to assist the Government in its war effort, but its action yesterday in throwing a spanner into the works demonstrated clearly its insincerity. Honorable senators opposite were successful yesterday in disallowing certain regulation!!. They would like to reject the budget proposals of the Government and much of the legislation which it brings before the Parliament, but they have not the courage to do so. They have the numbers to do so, but they know what the result would be when they faced the people.

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