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Tuesday, 20 September 1949


When we examine the details it becomes clear why this an L.C.L. Budget.

It reduces forms of taxation which inflate prices. Thus it helps the individual to avoid higher living costs in some degree. It attacks the prices of commodities directly by, for example, freeing 400 items from primage; this again helps the individual, particularly that important representative of consumers, the housewife.

Further, it indicates to the public that the real power to deal with the cost of living is in the hands of the Federal Government. It is an incentive Budget, because it encourages really enterprising business to be more enterprising. It does this by making concessions for investing new capital on new equipment. And this in turn ultimately favours the consumer: enterprising and prosperous industry always does.

Concept of freedom.

This Budget embodies the conception of setting the people free. It is an instrument which frees people from fear of social insecurity and from the menace of unemployment. At the same time it extends freedom to industrial enterprise by liberating it from the restrictions nf out-of-date and outmoded machinery. That is realist, and it is economically sound.

It is sound because it gets down to bedrock and provides positive recipes for lower living costs. In short, it is a good Budget.

It is good for the best of possible reasons; that is to say, for a truly national reason. It must contribute greatly to the future stability and prosperity of all classes in Australia. It serves all interests. Lower living costs give consumers greater buying power; business incentives provide them with more to buy.

That is the opposite of an economic vicious circle. It helps to integrate all sections of the community into a cohesive social whole.

It is a good Budget; an L.C.L. Budget.

It is a great pity that more such articles are not published in the newspapers of Australia. The sound policy of the Labour Government has put the people of Australia on top of the world, and the future can be brighter still. Consider Australia to-day. There are jobs for all ; there is money in everyone's pocket ; there is freedom from fear of unemployment, sickness and age; there is hope for and faith in the future, and, despite the warcaused shortages, which are still with us, no one in his right mind would deny that businessmen, workers, farmers and housewives and all those who make up the great majority of the community are better off than ever before. Australia, in fact, is the envy of the world. Thus Labour has proved itself to the people. It is due, more than to any other single cause, to the policies begun by the late John Curtin and carried- on by his successor as Prime Minister, the right honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Chifley), that Australia's position is so sound to-day. There is a story to remember. Let me touch on a few of the more important highlights of the Chifley Government's great achievements. First I wish briefly to touch on taxation. During the last general election campaign, the Prime Minister, knowing that overhasty and over-drastic tax cuts would be ruinous to our economy, promised only that he would "make additional tax reductions as circumstances permit ". That promise has been faithfully kept without disturbance of the economy of this country. .Since the war this Government has made successive tax reductions which have amounted to £140,000,000 a year. This sound and honest policy will be pursued in the future as circumstances permit. Let us compare that procedure with the policy that our opponents preached prior to the last general election in 1946. Whilst on the one hand the leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) offered to reduce taxes by a certain amount if the Australian Country party was' elected, on tHe other hand the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) promised even greater tax reductions if the Liberals -were, elected.. However the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) dealt honestly with the people, and they believed in him..

No government in the world has done more for its ex-service men and women by way of 'repatriation than has this Government. Nowhere has more adequate provision been made for the sick and disabled and nowhere else in the world has a rehabilitation scheme comparable with our reconstruction training scheme been introduced. In no other country has- the ire-establishment of exservice men and women in industry been so smoothly accomplished as in Australia, assisted in. no small measure^ by our preference legislation and other helpful enactments. By our policy of full employment, and the establishment of the National Welfare Fund, from which social services costing about £100,000,000 annually are provided, Labour has brought social security into the realm of practical realization. Pensions and .benefits have been increased, in some instances to double and treble the amounts previously paid, whilst national health measures providing incalculable benefits for the community have been introduced. The Government is justly proud of its record with relation to the provision of social services. Indeed it is a record of which every Australian can be proud. Considerable prosperity is now enjoyed by those engaged in primary production. Although the Government does not claim credit for the high prices at present being obtained for our primary products overseas, it does claim credit for the passage of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Act 1949, the organization of orderly marketing, and the subsidy systems.

For the. first time, in our history primary producers are enjoying real security. I am convinced that never again will they entrust their destiny to the. Liberal and Australian Country parties, because the tories have failed them so miserably in the past. The election of a Liberal-Country party government would be. suicidal for the primary producers, and I am convinced that they are: not: prepared, to commit political suicide. I shall review briefly the great advancement that has been made in this country in connexion with our secondary industries since the Australian Labour party was elected to office.

I could speak at great, length of improvements that have been effected in the electorate of Humethat I have the honour to represent, in this House. At least seventeen new industries have been established in that electorate since this Government came to office. In my home town of Tumut there is a box factory, a broom factory and the ladies' underwear factory of Dyomee Manufacturing Proprietary Limited: Those three factories alone provide employment for 111 people. In addition a number of timber mills are now operating in the Tumut district. These did not exist prior to this Government being elected to office. This expansion and development in my electorate is typical of the expansion that has taken place throughout Australia. To-day there are 10,000 more factories in this country than before the war, and the annual monthly total of persons inemployment has risen from 542,000 to 800,000. As honorable members know, unemployment figures have reached an all time low. Furthermore, thousands of jobs yet remain to be filled. However, in the dark and desperate days when this country was governed by parties now in opposition, thousands of people were forced to live on the dole. Only recently I had occasion to look at the relief scale that was issued in the 'thirties, when a man with a wife and seven children was paid only 22s. a week. In those days Australians were denied their birthright: to work and' live comfortably. No less than 750,000 bread-winners were out of work and, in many instances, homeless. Many farmers were in the grip of the financial octopus and unable to dispose of their produce. Thousands were literally starving, and many business men were forced into the bankruptcy courts. Although I was in business at that time I managed to escape that fate. All of these things happened under the anti-Labour governments that controlled the destiny of this country for 21 out of the 23 years immediately prior to this Government assuming office during the dark days of war.

The opponents of Labour have attempted to ridicule the submission that the soundness of Australia's economy and the general security of all sections of the community are due to Labour's administration. Their refusal to recognize that this Government has had anything to do with bringing this state of affairs about sounds very unconvincing and hollow to people who remember the tragic years of financial and economic conscription under anti-Labour governments between ten and fifteen years ago. The criticism of honorable -members opposite of our economic stability is extraordinary also in view of the eulogies of Australian business men returning from abroad. Furthermore, overseas capital from both empire and non-empire countries, including the United States of America, totalling approximately £140,000,000 has been invested in Australia since 1945, and farmers, of whom there are approximately 250,000 in this country, have paid off overdrafts amounting to almost £100,000,000 and are now owners of their properties in their own right. Prior to the war they were merely token owners, who were afraid of being sold up at any time. Although, prior to the war, home dwellers and business people were in chains both financially and economically, they are now free. In 1931, no fewer than 4,666 bankruptcies were registered in Australia.

Mr Rankin - That was when the Scullin Government was in power.

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