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Wednesday, 19 October 1949

Mr SHEEHY (Boothby) .- The purpose of this bill is to authorize the making of a gift of £10,000,000 to Great Britain, this being our third gift of the kind. When the first gift was under consideration, I said that, in my opinion, it would be the forerunner of further gifts to Great

Britain. We, on this side of the House, fully realize the part played by the Mother Country during the war. The Australian Government, at various times, has offered foodstuffs to Great Britain if that country could see its way clear to transport them. I have in mind a specific offer of 100,000 tons of sugar, a commodity of which the British people stood in great need. The only condition was that Britain should provide shipping to collect the sugar. I understand that Great Britain declined to do so because ships could make three trips to the West Indies for sugar in the time that it would take to make one trip to Australia.

The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) said that Great Britain was faced with bankruptcy. That is the very reason why this Government has made such tremendous efforts to conserve dollars in the Empire dollar pool, and the Government has been criticized recently for so doing. We do not forget the part played by Great Britain when it faced the enemy on its own. Great Britain at that time was the front-line of the Empire's defence, but the whole Empire was behind the Mother Country, and the various components were playing their parts.

It is not long ago since the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) were in Great Britain with me. We attended many functions, and at all of them speakers were lavish in their praise of what Australia was doing to help the Old Country. The honorable member for Calare, I know, paid particular attention to the food situation, and he will remember that public speakers, whether at functions given by the Merchant Tailors Guild or at other functions in the Guild Hall, in London, were most generous in their praise of Australia for the splendid effort it had made to help Great Britain, an effort which surpassed that of any other dominion.

Mr Howse - That applied to the individual Australian for food parcels.

Mr SHEEHY - People who proposed toasts and votes of thanks at functions that I attended said that Australia had played a grand part. I attended a dinner held by the Merchant Tailors Guild. A Canadian had been given the privilege of proposing the toast of the grand master, on whose left-hand side I sat. Notwithstanding that a Canadian had proposed the toast, the grand master, who was so overcome by emotion that he had to pause twice in his speech in reply, turned to me and lavished praise on Australia for what it had done to aid Great Britain. I have said all that, because, during the war, I said firmly that after the war ended the Mother Country and the rest of the British Empire would have to ensure that the ties that bound it were drawn tighter than ever. I believed that then and I believe it' now. In fact, it would be a good thing for the Empire if its resources were pooled. So I wholeheartedly support this measure under which a third gift is to be made to the United Kingdom by the Labour Government.

Mr Holt - The gift is being made by the people of Australia, not the Government. Why bring in politics?

Mr SHEEHY - Do not split straws. This is a gift from, our country to the Mother Country that the Australian citizens are making.

Mr Holt - That is better.

Mr SHEEHY - The plain fact is that the Government handles the affairs of the country. When I use the word " Government " I mean the people, for the Government is the people. The popularly elected government of the country represents the will of the country. I repeat that I whole-heartedly support the measure. I hope that more will be done by Australia to help the United Kingdom, and I am sure that, from' time to time, it will be done.

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