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Friday, 3 October 1941
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Mr SPENDER (Warringah) (Minister for the Army) .- The debate before the House is one in which the Opposition is seeking to throw out the Government, and the pretence is made that the discussion is based on the budget. No one with any sense listening to the various speakers on the Opposition side could come to any other conclusion than that this is a definite attempt, under the facade of a budget debate, to throw out the Government and obtain power for a party government controlled by the militants of New South Wales. We on this side can see what is designed. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) said yesterday that he had no doubt whatever that the Government was controlled by influences outside the chamber. That was his view, but it is not the view which is held by any considerable section of the people. There can be no doubt whatever that the Opposition is controlled by the militant unions in this country. We on this side know it, and honorable members opposite know it. Only a few weeks ago certain unions against which the Opposition will not move promised to make a 100 per cent. war effort if Labour took office in the Commonwealth.

Mr CONELAN (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - What did the Leader of the Opposition say?

Mr SPENDER - I know what he said, but his voice is drowned by the clamant demands of an extremist section of the party. Is a man's loyalty or disloyalty to be determined by the government which happens to occupy the treasury bench? . I say deliberately that there are in this country militant sections of Labour which are concerned chiefly with gaining power. They are not concerned with much beyond that.

Mr Frost - Then why advocate a national government?

Mr SPENDER - I know that my remark hurts the Opposition. It is all very well to talk about a maximum war effort and co-operation with the Government, but the fact is that there has been manoeuvring on the part of the Opposition to obtain power. Certain sections of the Opposition have indeed made a maximum effort, but it has been with a view to gaining power by discrediting the Government. The only thing that -theyhave done has been to discredit the cause of democracy. Talk of co-operation is only lip service with them; behind the scenes there has been deliberate manoeuvring in order to obtain power. What is the use of the Opposition saying that if it were in office itwould make a better war effort than the present Governmenthas done? In this most momentous debate nothing more than generalities has been spoken in respect of the budget. Therehas not been any criticism levelled against the Government's war effort; all that has been said by the Opposition has been said in an attempt to discredit the Government by means of general allegations.

Mr Rosevear - The Minister for the Army discredits the Government of which he is a member. "What did he say about the defence of Australia?

Mr SPENDER - The gloves are off. The honorable member for "West Sydney challenged the Minister for Air (Mr. McEwen), and chided him with being a member of a minority party in the Parliament and a minority government. Heaven knows that the honorable member for West Sydney ought to be an expert in minorities! He has done a good deal of manoeuvring, and other minority parties hav, learned a lot from the honorable member's amazingly good efforts. We are told that there has been a reconciliation on the Opposition side; men who desired to be known as "non-Communists " are now associated with those from whom they formerly withdrew. The Opposition claims to be one happy family. How long will it remain so? I remember that not so long ago there were bitter recriminations between members of this supposedly solid Labour party.

Mr Rosevear - What about the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) ?

Mr SPENDER - The country will be interested to know how long the members of the Labour party will remain united. I say deliberately-

Mr Barnard - The honorable the Minister should talk about recriminations !

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