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Thursday, 15 September 1949

Mr DALY (Martin) .- The honorable member forFawkner (Mr. Holt) has joined that long list of Liberal party members who have been apologizing since the end of the war for the sorry state of affairs in which they left the defences of this country when the people voted them out of office in 1941. The Minister for Transport (Mr.Ward) earlier to-night made a statement in. relation to the activities of honorable members opposite when they were in office at the start of the recent war, and he stated quite clearly, honestly and sincerely that they left this country defenceless. It is well known to everybody in this nation that had we beenattacked in 1941 when Japan entered the war and when a Labour administration had only recently taken over the reins of government, we would not have been able to do much, because all the ammunition for anti-aircraft artillery then available in the country would have been used up in fifteen seconds. The honorable member forFawkner quoted a statement made during the war by the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, in which he had commented favorably on the foundations for adequate defence that had been laid by Liberal governments. What the honorable member apparently does not realize is that Mr. Curtin made that statement in time of war, and that that fact conditioned what he said. Mr, Curtin was charitable and was also a great Australian, and he could not advertise to the enemy the defenceless state in which the Liberal party had left this country. Mr. Curtin's statement was made to aid the defence of this country and in an endeavour to ensure that the enemy would not know that we lacked essential equipment. His statement was not a real commendation of what Liberal governments had done to develop this country's defences.

Mr Harrison - How would the honorable member know ?

Mr DALY -Honorablemembers opposite talk about their war record when theywereinoffice.Butwhywerethey votedoutofofficebythepeoplein1941 whilethewarwasinprogress?Whydid thethenmemberforHenty,Mr.Coles, crossthefloorandhelptodefeatthe Government?

Mr Blain Mr. Blain interjecting,

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Lazzarini -Order ! If the honorable member for the Northern Territory cannot contain himself, I advise him to leave the chamber.

Mr Blain -I was merely attempting to give the honorable member for Martin. (Mr. Daly) some information..

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Order ! The honorable member is not entitled to give information by way of interjections. It is disorderly to do so.

Mr DALY -The honorable member forFawkner handed out some harsh state- ments to-night andI think that it is only right that he and the honorable member for. the Northern. Territory (Mr. Blain) should be on the receiving end now and hear afewfacts in relation to the tragic administration of the antiLabour parties in time of war. The former honorable member for Henty, Mr. Coles, assisted to vote an. anti-Labour government out of office in time of war and afterwards supported the succeeding Labour administration and it is on record that he voted against the former administration because of its inability to provide this country with adequate defences. I shall quote, as an answer to the honorable member forFawkner, the reasons why Mr. Coles voted as he did. Mr Coles saidin this chamber on the 3rd October, 1941-

My decision Has been made in the hope that Australia may havea change from the present unsatisfactory position, either by an appeal to the electors or bythe present Ministry inviting the Opposition to take over the reins of government. Australia requires responsible government that will result in throwing thewhole of the resources of this countryintothewareffort.

That wasa striking condemnation of the tragic state of affairs at thattime, when we were a defenceless nation. That statement is a monument to the incompetent people on the other side of theHouse wholeft this country defenceless.I have not time togofurther into that matter, but if honorable members opposite believe that they have a good war record I think that disillusionment should come to them from a study of the election figures of 1943, when the greatest majority of votes on record was given to the Labour party candidates, and the Curtin Government took office, because of the inability of the Opposition parties to administer the country's affairs.

It is peculiar that now, when an election is looming, honorable members opposite devote great study to the programme of the Labour party in the Federal and State spheres. We have heard the honorable member for Fawkner state to-night that the Labour party broke a plank of its platform by sending soldiers to the coal-fields to work open cuts during the recent strike. Every member of this Parliament, and every citizen, should know that the recent industrial disturbance was the result of a Communist conspiracy designed to wreck Labour governments in the State and Federal spheres, and was accepted as such by the entire trade union movement. That being the case, the Government was not breaking a strike, but was foiling a Communist conspiracy. The Communists were supported in their conspiracy to a great degree by honorable members opposite. The Government took the view during the strike that trade unionists had taken before, that any means were justified in order to ensure that democracy would prevail and that the government would give this nation the firm and stable administration that was given it since 1941.

The most outstanding feature of the coal strike was the failure of honorable members opposite to visit the coal-fields and put their proposals forward. . It is a tragic commentary on their lack of duty to the nation that at the height of that great Communist conspiracy they attempted to make political capital of it by means of newspaper advertisements and by sending the federal president of the Liberal party, Mr. Casey, to the coalfields to talk with men who were determined to wreck the Labour Government with the support of the Communist party. That is the only sort of thing that honorable members opposite know how to do, and yet they criticize this Government for its actions during the strike, although in fact the Government took the firmest action that has ever been taken in this nation. That action won the commendation of all sections of the Australian people, even though a few narrow-minded people on the opposite side of the chamber do not agree that it was worthy of commendation.

Let us look at what a Liberal party government succeeded in doing. The Hollway Government in Victoria took seven months to make up its mind to unload one ship, and in the end the Australian Government had to step in and have the ship unloaded. The Hollway Government had boasted of what it would do to the Communists and how it would uphold the laws of the country, but it was incapable of unloading one coal ship without obtaining the consent, approval and support of the Federal Labour Government.

I turn now to the statement made by the honorable member for Fawkner regarding the Australian Workers Union and the mining of coal by its members. The honorable member quoted a statement which he said was made by Mr. Dougherty, an official of the union. Mr. Dougherty has given the lie direct to that statement by saying publicly that he made no such statement as the honorable member for Fawkner has attributed to him. The facts are that the Australian Workers Union in New South Wales has not the necessary legal authority to permit its members to mine black coal. Before its members could do so certain amendments would have to be made to the arbitration machinery governing that union. By making his statement to-night the honorable member for Fawkner has adopted the policy of repeating a lie so often that the public will be led to believe that it is the truth. I do not know what the honorable member thinks about the recent industrial disturbance, but let me say that in similar circumstances I consider that the Government would be justified in taking the same action as it took, and would receive the same unwavering support of all sections of the trade union movement as it received during the recent coal strike. Instead of talking about what they would do to the Communists, the Opposition parties would have done better if they had fallen into line with the State and Federal Governments in smashing up the Communist conspiracy.

The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has developed an " Australia-first " complex in recent months. That must be because of the fact that he has now been in the Liberal party for the longest period that he has lasted in any political party in Australia. He said that we must think of Australia first and that the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) does not represent the Australian viewpoint. In speaking of the dollar crisis and other matters, he stressed that we should think first of Australia, and I agree with him. The present Government always thinks first of Australia. A pre-dominant feature of the Government's policy is to see that the people of this country, particularly those who cannot help themselves, enjoy an equal share of this world's goods and of the social services and economic benefits that should be available to them. In 1941, when a Labour government was elected to office, Australian troops were recalled from the Middle East to defend this country against invasion hy the Japanese. The honorable member for Warringah, as a member of the War Advisory Council, was one of those who fought to ensure that those troops were sent to other parts of the world and did not return here to defend their own country. He desired them to be sent to Burma and other places. He is the type of man who to-day states to the people that we should " think of Australia first". That is a great political catchery. The sincerity of the honorable member for Warringah can be judged by his actions at the time of that great crisis, when he had the opportunity to have our troops returned to this country so that Australia would be served first, instead of other nationals being protected by them in preference to our own.

According to the honorable member for Warringah, private enterprise has made the "United States of America what it is. Undoubtedly, there is much truth in that, but be failed to mention that in that country unemployment is growing rapidly, and that more than 5,000,000 persons in that home of free enterprise are short of the necessaries of life because they lack jobs. Those figures relate only to the registered unemployed. There are no social service provisions as we know . them in the United States of America, and the cost of living there is very high. Figures have been cited in this House to show that a very large proportion of the people of the United States of America cannot live on their incomes, but are forced to draw on their savings. The honorable member attributed all our misfortunes in Australia to the Government's programme of socialization. To-day, the people of Australia, under a Labour government, have full employment and reasonable economic security. They are much more prosperous than before the war. If that is the result of socialization I believe that the people will be prepared to support socialization in preference to anything they knew before the war. The honorable member for Fawkner mentioned the part played by private enterprise in the development of the country; but he omitted to say that, during the depression and afterwards, private enterprise, including the banks, condemned the flower of Australia's manhood to life on the dole, or to shovelling sand as relief work. Many of the huge public works that were commenced1 after the outbreak of war could have been undertaken during the depression if a progressive government had been in power.

The honorable member also said that the Government's socialization programme was retarding investment. If the country is really being ruined by the Government's policy it is amazing that in almost every newspaper we pick up we should read tributes by prominent persons to Australia's prosperity. For instance, Mr. L. Hartnett, a leading Australian industrialist, said after his return from abroad recently that Australia was the best country in the world. An American industrialist at present in Australia stated the other day that business in this country was booming. More than 30 agents of British businesses are at present in Australia planning new factories. Almost every day, British business men are arriving in Australia to start new industries in this socialist state in order to share in our prosperity. In a newspaper which I have here a visitor described Australia as a paradise on earth, while from the home of free enterprise, 7,000 "Yanks" are seeking passages to Australia in order to settle here. Nevertheless, honorable members opposite say that private enterprise is hampered in Australia, and that industry is being ruined by the -Chifley Government. Letus see what our own Professor Copland has to say on the subject. I do not admire him particularly, because I have unhappy recollections of his attitude in the past. Although he now occupies a high public position, I believe that he still entertains political ambitions in association with a party that is not friendly to the Government. I quote from the Sydney Daily Telegraph a statement by Professor Copland, and this is one of the few occasions upon which I have found myself in agreement with something that has appeared in that journal -

There is full employment ; there is a higher standard of living than ever before in our history; there is an easier tempo in work for all, except, perhaps, the housewife; there is .a freedom from financial worry, especially among rural producers, that was probably never achieved before; there is a wider "diversity of production with less reliance on a few primary products; there is a higher development of social welfare; there is a much lower burden of external debt; .and there is an assumption of international responsibility in economic matters not attained before.

That is certainly a tribute to a socialist government. It is also a refutation of statements of honorable members opposite, particularly those of the honorable member for Warringah. Professor Hytten, economic adviser to the Bank of New South Wales, is recorded in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 13th September as saying -


Overseas capital has been flowing into Australia in a fairly steady stream ever since the end of the war.

Figures have been cited by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) showing that, far from retarding private enterprise, the Government has provided incentives to industrialists to commence operations .in Australia. In this respect, the policy of this Government is more progressive than that of any previous government.

We have been told that high taxation is retarding production, and honorable members opposite have claimed that taxation should be reduced. In 1946. Liberal party candidates stumped the country saying that if substantial remissions of taxation were made there would be' increased production, and commodity shortages would be overtaken almost immediately. Now, although taxes have been reduced by many millions of pounds, honorable members opposite are still saying that high taxation is preventing increased production. The fact is that the Government has reduced taxation greatly, but the benefit of the reduction has been given to those on lower incomes. The Government has not distributed largess in the form of taxation reductions to those who can well afford to pay. Those who believe that taxation is keeping down production should study the relevant figures. They would then see that in almost every sphere of activity production has increased greatly compared with 1939. If they study the financial pages of the newspapers they will see that company profits are higher than ever before. We do not read of bankruptcies taking place nowadays. Businessmen are not complaining, except those who would like to double their profits at the expense of the wage-earners. Since this Government has been in office, it has reduced taxes by £133,000,000. Yet, honorable members opposite still say that taxes must be reduced in order to increase production. Indirect taxes have not been increased since 1946. A glance at the charts circulated with the budget show that since the end of the recent war the average Australian family consisting of a man, his wife and two children, who earns £500 a year has had his tax reduced from £80 16s. to £14 ls. Bearing in mind that no increase of indirect taxes has been made in that period, that is a substantial reduction. Therefore, it is useless for honorable members opposite to try to convince educated Australian citizens that their taxes have not been substantially reduced by this Government.

Honorable members opposite contend that prices are rising and that the purchasing power of the £1 is decreasing. Certainly, that is the case at present ; but who is responsible for that position? The blame must be laid at the door of honorable members opposite,, such as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Davidson) and the noisy member from Western Australia who went throughout the length and breadth of this country urging the people to vote against the Government's proposal to give power to this Parliament to continue to control prices on a nationwide basis. Those honorable members told the people that if they rejected the Government's proposal prices would not rise. Full responsibility for present rising prices must be laid at their door because they advocated the abolition of price subsidies and prices control. They said that private enterprise should be free and unrestricted and that prices should be allowed to find their own levels. Thus, honorable members opposite are responsible for the present rising prices and the decreasing purchasing power of the community. Since that referendum it has been made clear that the State governments are not capable of administering prices control effectively. The result is that prices of commodities which are in abundant supply are skyrocketing. Recently, the Minister for Prices in New South Wales, Mr. Finnan, disclosed that exploitation was taking place in the sale of commodities which were in plentiful supply, and that this was one result of giving private enterprise a free hand. That opportunity was given to private enterprise by honorable members opposite who urged the people to reject this Government's proposals with respect to prices control. Consequently, the people are now being exploited. Honorable members opposite, instead of urging the people to make a decision which they knew would be detrimental to the people, should have protected the interests of the community.

The Opposition parties also criticize the Government because of its social services programme. The Government believes in the principle of full employment and is implementing its policy of guaranteeing economic and social security to the people. To-day, unemployment in this country is at a record low level, and our position in that respect compares more than favorably with that of any other country. Any citizen in Australia can obtain a job to-day if he, or she, is willing and able to work. That fact is a striking example of the efficiency of the Government and its ability to provide employment. Those people who were unemployed some weeks ago as the result of the tragic coal conspiracy to which I have already referred and for a limited period lost their security know what it means to lose their employment overnight. I urge them to remember that such conditions were the order of the day during the regime of anti-Labour governments in this country when for years on end over 500,000 Australians were out of work and until the Labour Government was elected in 1941 never knew what it was to draw a full day's wages. If an anti-Labour government is returned to office at the next general election, that state of affairs will be repeated, and the people much sooner than they expect will find themselves back in dole queues with no possibility of gaining economic security. In addition to its policy of full employment, the Government is pushing ahead with its social services programme, and it has already provided for the people a measure of social security never previously equalled in this country. Nations like the United States of America, Great Britain and continental countries are looking to Australia and New_ Zealand for a new approach to the provision of social security.

Mr Hamilton - What about a contributory social security scheme?

Mr DALY - I shall remind the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton) of the miserable pittance which the Lyons Government proposed to give to the people under the Casey contributory national insurance scheme. The people should remember that when the present Government assumed office in 1941 legislation on the statute-book covered only three social services benefits, namely, child endowment, age and invalid pensions, and maternity allowances. The cost of those benefits at that time was approximately £17,000,000 a year. To-day, throughout the length and breadth of Australia people are participating in social services benefits totalling £100,000,000 a year, and that amount will be substantially increased when the interests opposed to Labour's programme, including the British Medical Association, are brought into line as, no doubt, they will be. Honorable members opposite talk about meagre social services benefits, and advocate a contributory social services scheme. Let us look at the scheme which was proposed by the Lyons Government and sponsored by Mr. Casey, the " Bengal Tiger " and Liberal party " white hope " at the next general election. When the Casey scheme was proposed, the government of the day issued a pamphlet setting out the benefits which would be provided under it. That pamphlet sets- out -

National insurance will provide cash payments for the widow and children of every man who qualifies. From the day you die, your widow will receive a regular cash payment of 12s. 6d. a week.

Honorable members know how far that amount would go even in those days. Compare it with the benefit of £2 2s. 6d. a week which is paid to-day. That pamphlet also stated that the Lyons Government proposed to increase the cash payment of 12s. 6d. a week to 15s. a week in 1944. The Casey scheme also provided for a weekly cash payment of 3s. 6d. for each dependent child, making a total payment of £1 3s. a week for a woman and three children ; and the people were to be given those benefits because they were to pay for them. If Australian citizens to-day were told that they had to contribute for those benefits they would soon tell the Government what it could do with them. The .pamphlet issued by the Lyons Government also contained this statement -

When you are sick . . . Doctor and Medicine - Your first need is medical attention. You will receive this free of charge from a doctor of your own choice.

Yet honorable members opposite criticize the present Government for implementing a measure similar to that which the Lyons Government considered to be vitally necessary. The benefits proposed under the Casey scheme, even allowing for the different conditions existing at that time, would hardly keep a dog. Subsequently, Mr. Casey refused to go ahead with his national insurance scheme because he believed that the country could not afford the meagre expenditure involved. It is obvious that if the Opposition parties were returned to power they would split on the issue of social services and would finish up in greater confusion than exists in their ranks to-day. The arguments advanced by honorable members opposite in this debate are sheer party propaganda. Prior to every general election the antiLabour parties bob up with a new policy on social security. I remind the people that those parties occupied the treasury bench for over 32 years prior to 1941, and throughout that long period they placed on the statute-book legislation which provided for only three classes of social services benefits at a cost of £17,000,000 annually whereas during the last eight years Labour governments have provided an additional £70,000,000 annually for the provision of such benefits. Nevertheless, prior to every general election the Opposition parties put out baits of the kind they are putting out to-day. I commend the budget. The Treasurer has balanced his budget for the second occasion within recent years. A record of magnificent achievement in this young country stands to the credit of Labour since it assumed office during the recent war. It shows that, with a continuance of the prosperous times that we now enjoy, the sound policy of the Treasurer will, if pursued in the years to come, ensure to the people of this country a long period of social and economic security. Despite the attempts of the Opposition parties 'to make political propaganda out of the old socialist bogy, the people of this country may rest assured that the Government will continue to endeavour to give to them the things to which they are entitled.

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