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Tuesday, 20 September 1949

Mr FULLER (Hume) .- This is a pre-election budget and I consider that it is a good one. I have no hesitation in stating that this Government will be returned to the treasury bench. In fact, the result of the election is a foregone conclusion. The tories have nothing to offer the people. They are as barren in respect of policy as a desert is of grass. The only matter that they have found on which to attack the Government is the pledge that every member of the Labour party signs. On this issue, honorable members opposite are telling deliberate untruths. They read the pledge of the Australian Labour party, but deliberately omit the declaration that accompanies it. That declaration clearly dennes the party's objective of socialization. Honorable members opposite know perfectly well that no political party, whether it be the Labour party, the Liberal party or the Australian. Country party, could socialize farms, shops, factories and the like. But the Opposition parties claim that the Labour party is pledged to take such measures. To preach that kind of propaganda is to state a wicked lie. A government could give effect to such a policy only after it had obtained the approval of the people at a referendum. The people themselves would have to decide the issue.

The Opposition parties are a completely spent force. The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) is the most irresponsible leader who has ever strutted in this chamber. In an endeavour to gain a political victory, he makes wild and ridiculous statements, some of which, at times, would detrimentally affect the nation. He has become a complete joke in the Australian electorates. Of course, the people will not have the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) as Prime Minister again. No power on earth can sell him to the people. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said, on one occasion, that " Mr. Menzies could not lead a team of homing pigeons ". However, I do not ask the people to accept my word alone in this matter. I refer them to an article entitled "Things I Hear " that was written by Mr! Frank Browne on the 28th February last. That gentleman was a member of the Liberal party. He contested the New South Wales State electorate of Bondi against the Labour candidate, Mr. Abram Landa, and, on another occasion, he contested Vaucluse as an Independent Liberal party 'candidate against the sitting Liberal member, Mr. Murray Robson. Later, he stood for party pre-selection for the Manly seat. Mr. Browne has had a good deal to say about the Leader of the Opposition, as is shown by the following extracts from " Things I Hear " : -

Between now and the Federal elections the Liberal party will he spending vast sums of money in trying to build up Bob Menzies as a man the Australian voter can trust. One of the first steps has been the hiring of a Labour cast-off in Mr. Stewart Howard. Mr. Howard's job will be to convince the man in the street that he has been wrong about Menzies.

However, in twelve years of Federal Politics, Menzies has accumulated perhaps the worst reputation of any Australian politician. He is condemned on the grounds of [a) incompetence as an administrator. (6) an utter lack of loyalty to anybody throughout his political career. (c) a complete absence of humanity in dealing with either individuals or groups. In regard to the first charge, that of incapacity, there is abundant proof. He became Prime Minister on April 2(5, 1939. Ho inherited a large working majority. He failed to win a by-election as Prime Minister. In September, 1940, as a war-time Prime Minister, he went to the polls, and despite the fact that leaders under such circumstances have an almost unfair political advantage, he succeeded in losing it. Billy Hughes commented . . . "he couldn't lead a flock of homing pigeons ".

The country was at war, and as Australia went to the polls, the Battle of Britain was raging. The war had reached a crucial point. It was a time for action, if ever there was to be a time for action. Yet Menzies was an avowed apostle of " business as usual ", and posters blazoning this shameful dogma plastered public buildings.

He made fine speeches. The fact was that he lacked completely the qualities necessary in a man at the head of a Government. He thought the country could be run on a series of speeches. He had come from a profession where a man could rise to great heights as the result of talk, the legal profession. He had been used to having other people make decisions for him, and then implement those decisions. In a position where both the decisions and the implementing of them devolved upon himself, he was as useless as a suit of tails at a picnic.

The Liberals have been sold on the idea that the magic of modern advertising and public relations can put him over. They have allotted vast sums of money for this purpose.. Menzies is to be sold like condensed milk, breakfast food, soap, or even, cheese. Nobody has more faith in the wonderful works of modern advertising than I have. I get my living on the value of public relations. But you've got to have an even break. Who could sell a soap that for tcn years had had a nasty smell about it, without first changing the perfume? Who could sell a breakfast food full of weevils? Who could sell a cheese that didn't measure up to a public palate?

That describes the gentleman to whom members of the Opposition want the people to entrust Australia's destiny. They boast that they are a united force. We know how united they are! We have only to look across the border at the State Parliament in Victoria to see how disunited they are. Only a few days ago, the anti-Labour Government in Victoria was saved from defeat by the vote of the Speaker. I refer honorable members to some other significant quotations which illustrate the lack of cohesion amongst members of the Opposition parties. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) made a public statement about the huge sums of money that the anti-Labour forces had accumulated for the purpose of destroying socialism. Then he said that the people wanted to know why the wealth in the coffers of the Liberal party was being used to destroy, not the Socialist Labour party, but the Country party. The Melbourne Sun News-Pictorial, of the 8th December, 194S, revealed the unhappy situation of the anti-Labour parties in the Victorian Parliament when it published the following report : -

Galleries in the Legislative Assembly were crowded yesterday when the three party leaders and Sir Albert Dunstan met the House for the first time since the break up of the CoalitionCountry Party Government and the installation of the all-Liberal Cabinet. Mr. McDonald, Country party Leader and former Deputy Premier, described the Premier and his former colleagues (Mr. Hollway) in these words " This contemptible political ratbag . . . the Prince of Appeasers and King of Disruptionists . . . the most irresponsible Premier ever to have strutted across the political arena . . . the archdisruptionist the first Premier to wreck his own Government. He's done more intrigue than Sir Albert Dunstan ever thought about. He'e been pulled up on a reputation gained by wise actions forced on him by Liberal and Country party colleagues."

Then Sir Albert Dunstan, former Country party Minister for Health added his version. i This worm-like Premier with the swollen head and the shrunken back . . . this pampered playboy . . . The Premier has come back from his three months abroad just like a joey in the pouch of a possum - that is assuming the member for Northcote has a pouch . . . (Mr. Cain, Labour Party leader, is member for Northcote) a craven cur looking in the mirror in the morning and thinking himself the saviour of his country. The weakest man who has ever drawn in this country the breath of life." And Mr. Hollway's reply: " Just what do they think I am - a spineless wonder of a dictator? In the words of my late leader, Sir Stanley Argyle, Dunstan is at his old tricks again. Everything he touches politically he endeavours to destroy ".

And the Labour leader, Mr. Cain : " We don't have .to abuse anybody. We're here as a party with responsibilities. We will judge the situation as we see it over the next week or two."

There they are - the whole box and dice of them - asking this country to hand over its destiny to a set of men of their character.

I come back to the matter before the committee. The Prime Minister and Treasurer is to be heartily congratulated on his new budget. In a moment or two, I wish to quote some extracts from a leading article that appeared recently in the columns of an independent newspaper. Of course, I refer to the Argus, published in Melbourne. If an honorable member on this side of the chamber rises in his place to make some commendation of the progressive financial policy of the Government, he is usually subjected to some heckling and interruptions from honorable members opposite. Honorable members opposite neither like nor tell the truth about such matters. Eight years ago, when Labour took office, they declared that we should be able to hold office for only about twelve months, or until the next general election. That was the catch-cry on that occasion. Even twelve months would be too long, they said, because, in that time, Labour would so mismanage the Treasury as to bring disaster and chaos to the whole country. Business would be ruined, savings would disappear, and starvation and want would stalk the land. That was what they predicted and, I believe, hoped for. Eight years later, the Opposition is still feeding the electors with the same pap and hoping that it will be believed. This only serves to show how few mistakes we have made. Within two years of the end of the war, the Treasurer had introduced heavy tax reductions, increased social service payments and benefits and, at the same time, twice balanced the nation's budget. What a record and what a credit to the Government that is. That was no mean achievement at the hands of the Treasurer, who was heralded by the Opposition as a nation-buster. The truth is that the Treasurer is proving himself the greatest nation-builder Australia has ever known. In fact, he is the Abraham Lincoln of Australia. Never before have we made such progress or been in a sounder position. However, in case my words do not carry conviction to the Opposition, I propose to read the following extract from the independent newspaper, the Argus. The article is headed " A L-C-L Budget " which means a lower cost-of-living budget. The article was published on Thursday, the 8th September, and it states -

Mr. Chifley,as Treasurer, has produced a Lower Cost of Living Budget.

He has resisted the tendency, tempting for political leaders, of making spectacular eleventh-hour concessions in an election year. This Bridget is an instrument of economic and social policy. The instrument is obviously to be used in .this case to under-pin social service programmes; to guarantee continued full employment; to promote the policy of planning Australia's economic development.

As this policy is one that has clearly come to stay - not only in Australia, and not 01113 as Labour policy - .the Budget is a sound one. Some may make the criticism that the Treasurer is budgeting for deficit. The answer has already been given; he is budgeting for a social service policy.

Deficits, if the rise in national income is maintained by increased production, become surpluses, and revenue excess must mean more tax reduction. The moral is: Increased production within the working week will result in greater social security. That is, if budgeting of this kind continues.

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