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Tuesday, 20 September 1949


Mr FULLER - Although the Scullin Government was in office, it was never in power. In 1939, there were 1,889 bankruptcies, and last year there were 331. That is an indication of our present economic security. Winston Churchill once said, "What is physically possible should be financially possible ". That is Labour's financial attitude now, and it always will be.

Thousands of farmers, home-dwellers and business people who in pre-war years were financial conscripts and mortgagees who were paying high interests to financiers, enjoy freedom to-day. In 1935, according to the findings of a royal commission, the wheat and wool growers of Australia owed £288,000,000, on which they were paying £14,000,000 a year interest. Between 1930 and 1935, 20,000 farmers walked off their farms. Between 1933 and 1941 the number of wheat farms of over 20 acres in Australia decreased by 6,625. Between 1935 and 1940 the number of employees in the dairying industry decreased by 18,000. Hundreds of farmers were forced to ask their bankers for permission to buy fertilizers, bags, spare parts, hay or chaff, or sheep or cattle. I know of many farmers who were afraid to be seen at a football match or a concert for fear of their banker finding out! Even in 1939-40 there were 290,000 in the workless army of the lost. Starved of purchasing power, people had to stand by while wheat, cattle, potatoes, fruit and coffee were being destroyed, burnt or dumped in the sea, while thousands on the earth died of starvation. What an awful picture of conditions under toryism! Factories, brickyards, timber mills and other businesses were closed down. Economic conscription was the tragic experience of wage and salary earners. Under antiLabour governments, freedom was a mockery, yet to-day the supporters of the anti-Labour parties have the effrontery to talk of " the good old days " and of Labour taking away their freedom. The people of this country now enjoy a greater freedom than do the people of any other country. I say to honorable gentlemen opposite who preach that kind of " tripe " that if they are not satisfied they should get out of this country. The truth is that thousands of people are enjoying economic freedom to-day for the first time in their lives. To deny that our organized marketing, guaranteed prices, contracts for the sale of our products overseas, reduction of interest rates, credit availability, fairer distribution of wealth, prices control, &c., have not helped materially to stabilize our economy is like a man who has recovered from a dread disease of long standing, denying that his doctor has had anything at all to do with his recovery. The prospects of all who buy homes, farms or businesses to-day, with costs rising owing to the defeat of the referendum on rents and prices control last year, will be grim indeed if Labour is defeated and a policy of reaction, " hire and fire restriction of credit and higher interest rates receives encouragement from bigbusiness anti-Labour governments.

I shall now touch briefly upon the assistance that has been given to the Mother Country by Australia. Apart from the ties of kinship, which are acknowledged by all of us, the Chifley Government has realized that the interests of Australia are bound up with the postwar recovery of Great Britain. The Government has given Great Britain all the assistance possible, including gifts of money that now amount to £45,000,000, after consulting the British Government regarding the forms of assistance that would prove to be most useful and timely. We have also made contributions to Unrra and post-Unrra, including the International Children's Belief Fund which have amounted to £30,000,000.

Further proof of the great prosperity of this country under Labour is provided by the magnitude of savings bank deposits, which are always a good indication of the degree of prosperity that is being enjoyed by the people. In 193S- 1939 saving bank deposits totalled £244,000,000. According to the latest figures that are available, the figure is now £714,219,000. As a result, we see homes going up in every country town and city of Australia. During the three pre-war years only 30 homes were built in the town of Tumut. Those were years when many men were unemployed. Bricks and mortar were plentiful, but people lacked the purchasing power to buy even a door knob, let alone to build a home. They could not even pay house rent. During the past two and a half years, however, 75 homes have been built in Tumut. That is the answer to the members of the anti-Labour forces who sit in this Parliament.

This Government is also bringing to Australia the people that we want. Our most urgent need is man-power. The remarkable success of the efforts of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) in bringing migrants to Australia has been freely acknowledged by the political opponents of the Labour party and by the anti-Labour press. No fewer than 110,000 migrants are expected to arrive this year.

If this Government is returned to office, a depression can be avoided. I have no hesitation in saying that the poisonous propaganda that has been pumped out by the anti-Labour parties from one end of Australia to the other will have no effect upon the Australian people. Labour came into power in the dark days of the war, when our opponents were removed from office not by the votes of Labour men but by the votes of men who placed the interests of their country before politics and gave Labour the right to govern. Labour steered this young country successfully through the war and through the difficult days of the transitional period that followed. To-day there is greater prosperity in Australia than ever there has been before. The fight is over. The efforts of the anti-Labour parties, with all the wealth that they have at their disposal, will be of no avail. In the electorate of Hume there are three gentlemen who are paid £75 a week by the bankers to go round whispering among the people.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke). - Order! The honorable gentleman's time is exhausted.







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