Arthur Fadden was born 13 April, 1894 and died 13 April, 1973. Fadden was the Prime Minister of Australia 26 August, 1941 to 7 October, 1941. He was the Leader of the Country Party. He represented the electorate of Darling Downs, Queensland 1936 to 1949 and the electorate of McPherson, Queensland 1949 to 1958.
I speak to you at one of the most momentous periods in the history of this country. In the very nature of the case, it is a period of the utmost importance to every man and woman—yes, and every child in our community.
And when I say 'our community', I do not mean only those of us who have the good fortune to be in Australia today. Every consideration of the present and the future, in relation to our national welfare, must include thought for Australians who have been, and are, in the war zones.
In particular, any consideration of this country's welfare must include, in the warmest and most sympathetic degree, thought for all those gallant countrymen of ours who have been made captive in Malaya and elsewhere. It is both my duty and my privilege in this nation-wide broadcast to salute those men. It is also my duty, in the same national spirit, to express the hope that, pending the return of our soldiers, we shall endeavour to lay the foundations of a strong and sane system—which means a secure system—of post-war reconstruction. That is to say, it devolves upon us all to aim at establishing a revitalised Australia within the sturdy framework of the British Empire.
Twenty-two months ago, the Government of which I was Leader was defeated and was replaced by the present Labor Government.
It was not defeated because of any dissatisfaction with our war effort. It was defeated because Mr. Curtin, members of the Labor Party, and the two Independents, Mr. Coles and Mr. Wilson, refused to recognise their obligations to the Australian people in relation to the methods of financing the war which were contained in my Budget. These Budgetary proposals were designed to give the nation a maximum war effort. Notwithstanding this, they were rejected and the Curtin Government assumed control of the nation's affairs.
Realising the magnitude of the task confronting any war-time administration, the United Australia Party and the United Country Party, immediately upon Labor taking office, promised whole-hearted co-operation, consistent with what we regarded as a maximum war effort.
That undertaking has been honored. Our one desire has been to play our part in helping the Government to give the nation a total war effort.
With members of the United Australia Party and of the United Country Party, whether in Government or in Opposition, the 100 per cent. prosecution of the war has transcended every other consideration. It transcends every other consideration today and it is from that angle that we approach the coming election.
Of what account will any political party be if we do not emerge victorious from this conflict?
What will politics matter if we do not translate into action that determination, so frequently expressed, to crush the Axis powers?
Without any hesitation, and in all sincerity, I tell you that the United Australia Party and the United Country Party, when in Government, placed Australia's defences on a solid foundation.
Our record in defencec—our whole record—is one of honorable achievement.
Upon the solid foundation laid by the Menzies and Fadden Governments, the Curtin Government, immediately upon coming into office, was able to build. Mr. Curtin himself has declared not once, but several times, that our defences were essentially sound.
Here is a statement on the point.
Mr. Curtin, on Octoher 18th, 1941—eleven days after coming into office—had this to say:
The Navy was at the highest pitch of efficiency, as demonstrated by the notable exploits of some of its ships overseas. The Home Defence Army was well trained and its equipment had been greatly improved. The strength of the Air Force had been largely increased, both in respect of home defence squadrons and the training resources for the Empire Air Scheme. The equipment of the Air Force had also been much improved. Finally, munitions production and the development of production capacity over a wide range of classes, including aircraft, was growing weekly.
Further testimony from Mr. Curtin is contained in this illuminating statement:
In addition to our ability to defend ourselves, it was very heartening and reassuring to know of the cohesion of the democratic powers in the Pacific.
There can be no two meanings to Mr. Curtin's declaration. “Our ability to defend ourselves” can mean one thing and one thing only—that is, that we were able to defend ourselves. That was the position not after the Curtin Government had been in office for twenty-two months, as some people would have vou believe, but eleven days after Mr. Curtin became Prime Minister.
You are not asked to accept my word alone that Governments which preceded the Curtin Ministry had taken effective measures for your defence. You have it on the word of the Labor Prime Minister himself. Mr. Curtin not only declared that we were able to defend ourselves—he told Parliament, six weeks after Labor assumed control, that Australia was never before so well prepared for war as it was then.
Two further statements by Mr. Curtin demand quotation.
When Leader of the Opposition, and six months before becoming Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin said:
I claim that the war has been prosecuted to the maximum of Australia's capacity.
I invite you to note that the foregoing statement was on May 28th, 1941—more than six months before Japan entered the war.
After he had been in office as Prime Minister for a whole year, Mr. Curtin saw no reason to change his opinion. Speaking at a Labor rally in the Sydney Town Hall on October 12th, the Prime Minister said:
I have to pay tribute to the Governments which preceded my own for the constructive work they have done in defence and the foundations they have laid.
In view of these public acknowledgments, is it not unworthy of the Prime Minister to associate himself with the false accusations—the malicious accusations—regarding attitude of the Menzies and Fadden Governments to defence, which are nothing more than blatant electioneering propaganda.
The only defeatism to be found was in the policy of the Labor Party—a defeatism dating back to the days of the Scullin Government. At that time, Australia's defences were reduced to a parlous condition. Succeeding non-Labor Governments which set about the major task of restoring our defences met with determined opposition from members of the very party which now claims to have 'saved Australia'.
Notwithstanding Labor's opposition—at times exceedingly bitter—the Menzies and Fadden Governments made their defence plans to meet the situation as it existed from time to time. As far as was humanly possible, those Governments also planned against future eventualities.
We regarded a maximum war effort as our predominant consideration. It continues to be our predominant consideration.
Primary requisite—National Government
This election will be the most critical in our history. Every voter has a broader status and heavier obligation than ever before. Each one of us is a unit in a great mass of humanity that is experiencing the most acute crisis in history. We belong to a nation which, with its Allied partners, is fighting for very life—for our survival as free peoples.
Your job,no less than that of the peoples of the British Empire, of America, of Africa, of Russia, of China, of all the United Nations, is to make sacrifices, to work, to serve, to pay unremittingly—and, above all, unitedly—in order to vindicate righteousness and destroy evil.
If Australia is to exercise her full weight as a partner in the world struggle to save mankind, what is the first essential for the full, vigorous and successful prosecution of the war?
The United Australia Party and the United Country are firmly convinced that the primary requisite is a National or all-party Government.
We believe that, for the duration of the war, politics should be set aside. Personal and sectional differences should be obliterated. The supreme purpose of the Commonwealth should be to co-ordinate and employ the nation's resources. Only in this way can Australia's contribution to the ultimmate annihilation of the Axis gangsters be a maximum one.
Though the United Nations have reason for confidence, the road ahead is hard, rough, and bloody—and may still be long.
Soon, the present war will be in its fifth year; yet, during the highly critical period since September, 1939, Australia has been deprived of an all-party Government. One of the reasons for the administrative muddling that has occurred since the Curtin Ministry took office is to be found in that very fact—absence of a National Government.
The efforts of my Government and of the Government led by Mr. Menzies to bring the nation to a total war footing were inevitably marred by our having to combat Labor's attacks upon vital war policy.
Since Mr. Curtin became Prime Minister, the position has continually deteriorated. Members of his Government, having rejected every effort to bring about an all-party administration, have been sitting on a knife edge. Labor has been in a minority in both branches of the legislature, save for the active support of the two so-called 'Independents'. One of these, by the way, was elected as an advocate of a National Government, yet he did absolutely nothing to advance that reform, although he should have insisted upon it.
It is no fault of the United Australia Party and the United Country Party that Australia is without an all-party administration. Mr. Menzies was unsparing in his endeavours to form such a Government. He urged quite frequently that Labor should share in the responsibilities of wartime Government.
In July 1940, when the then Prime Minister offered Labor five or possibly six seats in the Cabinet and intimated that he would not permit his occupancy of the Prime Ministership to stand in the way, his proposal met with a blunt rejection.
This offer was made sincerely and courteously. We did not seek political unity in order to gain portfolios; we were prepared to lose them. The offer involved the retirement of some of our own Ministers to make way for members of the Labor Party.
Our one desire was to have at Canberra a Government representing, not one particular section, but every section. Our aim was to pool the talents available in Parliament for the sake of a common front against a common enemy.
Notwithstanding Labor's unqualified rejection of that offer, Mr. Menzies persisted in his efforts to form a truly National Government. Subsequently, as acting Prime Minister, I renewed the offer to Mr Curtin. Again, Labor rejected the proposal.
Both before and since the defeat of my Government, further efforts were made by myself and other members of the Opposition to give Australia an all-party Ministry. But the Labor Party in office, as in Opposition, has been wholly uncompromising in its attitude.
No one party can speak and act for Australia in these grim days of war with that unity and effectiveness that is so essential to a maximum war effort. No one party can speak for a united nation. All the strength we have is needed. There can be no weak links; if there are, they will most certainly be revealed by the battering of war.
You, the people of Australia, have a right to say that you shall be heard, here and abroad, as one voice, as one people, indivisible in authority, undivided in objective.
As your Leader, you should have a man who, with the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Churchill, could say:-
I stand at the head of a Government representing all parties in the State, all creeds, all classes, every recognisable section of opinion.
What a position! What an invaluable source of strength and inspiration for any National leader!
Contrast the position of the British Prime Minister with that of the Labor Prime Minister in Australia—the leader of a party which, over the years of war, has refused to subordinate party politics to the paramount consideration of giving the nation a total war effort.
So, then, I give you my pledge that, if returned, to power, we will use all our endeavours to bring about the formation of an all-party Government.
Having emphasised the importance of a National Government, I shall now state the war policy of the joint Opposition parties.
We stand for a maximum effort, in conjunction with the Allied Nations, in the conduct of the war, the pooling of resources, and a concerted strategy.
We stand for the creation of one Australian army as a single instrument of war, available for service in any sphere for the defeat and destruction of the enemy and the liberation of Australian and other British prisoners of war, in conformity with the general strategy of the Allied Nations.
The only members of this Army who will be required to serve beyond the shores of Australia will be those who have had complete and appropriate training for the purpose.
No youth under the age of nineteen will ever be sent to battle areas if we are returned to office.
In our opinion, too great a strain has been imposed upon our gallant and uncomplaining troops. Men who have fought in four campaigns have been sent to fight in the fever infested jungles of New Guinea without adequate leave to recuperate.
We propose that all men serving in tropical battle areas shall, after twelve months' service, be given two days' leave for every month of service, such leave to be cumulative. All men who have already served in such areas for twelve months will receive such leave within six months.
Furthermore, all men who have had two or more attacks of malaria will be returned immediately to non-tropical areas.
I now invite you to contrast the war policy we placed before the people of Australia on September 2nd, 1940, with that of the Curtin Government.
Our policy was, to organise the human, material and financial resources of the nation so that every effort would be exerted for Australia's safety, the freedom of the British Empire and the future of the world. We planned on a just basis of equality and individual sacrifice.
It was a realistic policy. It was a policy implying an 'all in' war effort in every sense of the term. In the first year of war, we had developed to a remarkable degree our capacity, not only to defend this country, but also to aid the Mother Country.
The policy which we submitted in September, 1940, was endorsed by the Australian people. It was implemented first by the Menzies Government and subsequently by my Government.
People of Australia, I ask you to remember these two important considerations:
First, from October, 1940, Mr. Curtin, Mr. Beasley, Mr. Forde and Mr. Makin represented the Labor Party on the War Council, Dr. Evatt subsequently being added to that number.
This Council was a fifty-fifty partnership with certain specific functions. These were to 'consider and advise the Government in respect of such matters relating to the defence the Commonwealth, or the prosecution of the war, as are referred by the Prime Minister, and also to consider and advise the Government respecting all such other matters with regard to the defence of the Commonwealth and the prosecution of the war'.
It was a body to examine and advise upon high defence policy. Therefore, all decisions of the Council were joint decisions as to policy and the joint responsibility of all nembers.
The second point I ask you to bear in mind is Labor's lack of a realistic Defence policy over a long period. It was the Labor Party that struck at the very foundation of our defence preparations, namely, universal military training. This was regarded by Labor as being too warlike.
Cast your minds back to the days of the Scullin Labor Government of 1929. That Government suspended compulsory training for the defence—the protection—of Australia, turned into the streets thousands of Army and Navy men, and did all it could to discourage and destroy the fighting services. Training schools were closed, transferred or reduced; establishments were cut to the bone; all camps were suspended; the forces almost ceased to exist.
Mr. Curtin and his colleagues, who now claim to be saviours of home defence, actually opposed—and strenuously opposed—the recreation of the Citizen Force. Not until war was shaking the whole world were they brought to their senses. They have been kept in their senses since then by two major factors: firstly, by the defence organisation which they inherited as a 'going concern' from the Menzies and Fadden Governments, and, no less vital, by the force of public and parliamentary opinion that has insisted on a complete prosecution of the war effort.
Indeed, even after war clouds broke over the Pacific there was a delay—a terribly dangerous delay—a delay of nearly fourteen months—before the Prime Minister even sought parliamentary approval of legislation to authorise the employment of the Militia in an extended area.
As a sorry fact, it was only after several approaches to an irresponsible coterie of Trades Hall dictators—the Hitlers behind every Labor Minister—that Mr. Curtin obtained permission, apparently as an act of grace, to introduce this legislation. Parliament was ignored. The Prime Minister flouted Parliament. He subordinated it to the whims of sectional political organisations. This, of course, was an offensive and dangerous disregard of the very basis of Democracy—the right of the people to govern theinselves through their elected representatives.
It is necessary that you should be reminded briefly of the record of these men—these regenerated, if not repentant, pacifists and isolationists of other days. They have never had any semblance of vision in defence matters. They have never had any real sense of responsibility for the guardianship of this great land. They have been, all along the years, merely political ostriches, burying their befuddled heads in the sands of socialism. Surely it is absurd to suppose that men such as these, men completely lacking in breadth and depth of outlook, are to be trusted with the grave problems that will press upon Australia, both nationally and internationally, in the period of reconstruction.
I suggest to you, the Australian people, that you can no longer afford to trust the control of this country to men of parochial and pacifist tendencies—men who run away from national obligations whenever these conflict with their sectional interests.
The need today is for complete unity within the forces themselves, with complete identity in terms and conditions of service. Until that is achieved, we will reveal ourselves in this country as having a very poor conception of this war as a global war and of our duty as one of the Allied Nations.
Recognising the necessities of global war, we will honor our international obligations by mobilising every available resource of manpower, material and money. We will use them against our enemies until they are utterly vanquished. We will use them until we achieve inevitable and indisputable victory.
I want you to be perfectly clear on this point. You know where we stand in relation to the conduct of the war. But, what faces Australia if Mr. Curtin and his Party are returned?
Australia as a whole will suffer disastrously as it has in the past twenty-one months, because no Government that is dominated by outside party political influences can wage effective war. No Government that subordinates national considerations to socialistic theories and peace-time policies can give the nation a 100 per cent. war effort. No Government that allows industrial anarchy to prevail, that allows its own fighting men and those of its Allies to do the work of striking wharf labourers, no Government that is unwilling, in the defence of our homeland to allow its own soldiers to fight wherever required alongside those of Allied Nations—no such Government can be relied upon to wage total war.
We mean to win the war. And, when the war is won, we mean to ensure that those who have fought for us are rapidly and efficiently re-established in civil life.
No need is more urgent; no problem is more pressing for immediate solution than the planning of our industrial and social life so as to permit the re-establishment of men and women of the fighting forces. To secure this end, we are pledged to a just but a generous repatriation scheme of pensions and benefits to Service men and women and their dependents, and to members of the mercantile marine and such civilians as have been injured through war operations.
The Government's conception of its duty to servicemen falls far short of full appreciation of what this country owes to them. An immediate necessity is to afford, as far as possible, ease of mind to servicemen and, as far as possible to their dependants—those women and children whose economic future is at stake.
Having this in mind, we will, if returned to power, take immediate action to introduce a scheme of life insurance for members of the armed forces.
Our proposal is that Australians on active service shall have the benefits of a national scheme of life insurance, without medical examination, and without a statement of medical history, upon application made within a period to be defined.
Unlike the Labor Party, we solemnly promise unqualified preference of employment to members of the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force.
The Opposition stands for the simplification of the machinery of Government by the transfer of requisite additional functions from the States to the Commonwealth. We will not, however, interfere with State and local Government functioning in matters which are outside the proper scope of Federal control. Wherever practicable, we will co-operate with State Governments and instrumentalities in every reasonable manner.
On behalf of the parties which I lead, I undertake to initiate an immediate National stocktaking to eliminate Government waste. We will check the muddling and carelessness that are causing millions of pounds of your money to flow down the sink. We will strive to eliminate the inefficient and bureaucratic elements which, due largely to Ministerial mismanagement, have sprung up in many spheres since Labor took office.
Immediate and effective steps will be taken to remove ill-conceived and overlapping regulations, and to free business and individual enterprise from doctrinaire and socialistic restrictions which do not assist in any way to further the war effort.
Australia today faces a very serious state of affairs because the Labor Government has developed a regulation-making mania, Parliamentary Government being put to scorn. No fewer than 557 sets of regulations were promulgated last year, while orders issued under these regulations fill volumes. These have vested in an ever-growing army of administrators enormous powers to tie down and irritate enterprise. The Government and its army of bureaucrats have brought to the verge of bankruptcy or driven out of business the worthy class of small tradesman which so admirably serves the connmmity in almost every suburb and township.
The number, nature, and loose construction of a great many of these regulations have evoked most scathing comments from our judiciary.
If we succeed to Government, we will free the Nation of this bondage, which destroys initiative, weakens enterprise, and chains us down as effectively as the Lilliputians fastened Gulliver. We will not countenance any unwarranted extension of bureaucracy, which is a danger in any war, and one which in this war has already reached menacing proportions.
I endorse the opinion expressed by the British Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, concerning this danger. His words are both grave and true. This is what Mr. Churchill said:
We must beware of trying to build a society in which nobody counts for anything except a politician or an official, a society where enterprise gains no reward and thrift no privileges. I say 'trying to build' because of all races in the world our people would be the last to consent to be governed by a bureaucracy. Freedom is their life blood.
In common with all other British people, we Australians rightly determine that freedom is really our life blood. Therefore, a halt must be called to this appalling extension of bureaucratic control, government by regulation, and the setting up of innumerable boards to do work which properly belongs to a reasonably functioning and efficient administration.
Authority of Parliament
Traders, and customers, too, all have been helpless victims of this foolish system, which has developed to a staggering degree since Labor took office. No man with even the most rudimentary business experience, or sense of civic responsibility, can subscribe to this state of affairs. If returned, we will overhaul the entire system and restore a proper Commonwealth administration, removing ill-conceived, overlapping, and useless regulations, and freeing business and individual enterprise.
We will amend the National Security Act so as to bring it into line with existing conditions and requirements. We will limit the powers of the Executive and the powers which can be delegated to bodies outside Parliament.
The Opposition will review all regulations which, so far, have been promulgated under the powers conferred by the National Security Act.
We are determined to restore Parliament to its rightful place. A very large percentage of the powers now exercised by governmental officials are powers which rightly belong to Parliament. These powers must be restored to Parliament.
We must ensure that we do not lose on the home front those things which our boys, on the battle front, are fighting so courageously to preserve.
I turn now to matters of finance. All of you, no doubt, realise fully that we must not ignore the importance of financial poiicy, both as regards the effective conduct of the war and the peace which will follow. Many people have been misled into believing that money is no longer of any importance. It is true that the problem of achieving a maximum war effort is a problem mainly of directing men and materials into war production. As we all know, wars are fought with men and materials, not with money. The realisation of this truth has caused many to dismiss money and the financial arrangements of the Government as of no importance.
This is a dangerous delusion. The transfer of money from the hands of the public to the Government is the surest means of providing men and materials for the conduct of the war. If this transfer of money does not take place, then inflation is bound to result. In its worst forms, as evidenced in Russia and Germany during and after the last war, the value of money was reduced to nothing, the savings of the thrifty were obliterated, and the whole economic machine came to a stand-still. As a result, the middle classes, which are the backbone of every community, were reduced to abject poverty. If Labor continues in office, that grim state of affairs will menace post-war Australia.
The Curtin Government claims that it can prevent such an all-devouring inflation by extending direct controls and severe restrictions over every aspect of our social life. This, surely, is a menacing attitude. Are you, the Australian people, prepared to allow these careless experimenters—the selfish political adventurers—to hold you in bondage indefinitely? Are you prepared to allow them to meddle with your freedom and your savings? Notwithstanding all its Socialistic controls, the Curtin Government has not been able to prevent the value of our currency unit falling to only three-quarters of its pre-war value. Nor has it prevented the consequential wiping out of a quarter of the real value of the people's savings. This depreciation of money will go further and further unless Labor is removed from office.
The Curtin Government's indiscriminate expansion of credit, coupled with its octopus of control, are compounded to create hidden inflation—the greatest danger to our internal safety, security, and democratic ways of life.
The longer that this hidden inflation grows, the less likelihood there is that we can get rid of the countless totalitarian forms of regimentation forged by Labor during the war.
By these means Labor not only gets the opportunity to introduce socialism under the guise of war necessity. Even more dangerous, it finds a means to bind all governments to retain the socialistic form of society after the war.
Remember this. The reckless financial policy of the Curtin Government is a potent means for putting into effect social policies which are repugnant to the Australian people. The introduction of socialism, or any other extreme -ism, inevitably involves the destruction of vital liberties secured by ourselves, in common with all the British peoples, after centuries of struggle.
If you want to restore the democratic foundations of your life after the war, you can do so only in one way: you must call a halt to Labor's reckless inflation. That menace, I suggest, represents almost as great a threat to us from within, as the threat which comes from the Axis enemies without.
Inflation is barefaced robbery. It is this pernicious development that has caused your household costs to soar. It is this system—or lack of system—that has caused every housewife to discover, by bitter experience, how expensive food; clothing, and other essentials can be under the influence of slipshod government. Incidentally, I direct your attention to the fact that all this financial mismanagement strikes above all at men and women on small incomes. It is they who suffer most.
Under inflation, the value of the people's savings dwindles, the value of their income declines. Are you a patriotic investor in war bonds and savings certificates? Are you a savings bank depositor? Have you provided for your wife and dependents by taking out life insurance policies? In every case, your savings have been, and will continue to be, filched from you while Labor is allowed to practise its financial folly.
Protection of savings
The parties which I represent realise how vital it is to check inflation by the use of sound financial methods. We pledge purselves to keep down the cost of food, clothing, and all other essentials. We proved our capacity to do this in the first two years of the war. We can render the same service again.
We are determined to protect the savings of the people. We are also determined to extend this protection to members of the armed forces. We appreciate, very thoroughly, that it is both just and necessary—in the interests of both the individual and the nation—to ensure that our fighting men, on their return to civil life, shall not lose the value of the money they are receiving today in the service of their country.
I am convinced, quite firmly, that inflation can and will be avoided if we cut out extravagance in Government expenditure and adopt a properly balanced plan of taxation, loans and post-war credits, assisted, where necessary, by the appropriate use of Central Bank resources.
Present-day waste in expenditure means the misuse of manpower and material resources. This has been the case throughout the term of the Curtin Government.
It is obvious that, without impairing the war effort in any respect, many millions of pounds of public money can be saved.
In addition to minimising the need for credit expansion by cutting out extravagance in Governmental expenditure, we will employ other means to checkmate the inflation menace. We will organise and put into effect an Australian-wide campaign to obtain the greatest possible voluntary response to war loans, war savings certificates and national savings bonds. This, of course, will aid greatly in our fight to protect the incomes and savings of the people.
Economy and efficiency will obviate the necessity for increased taxation.
The Opposition, if returned to power, will conduct a thorough and searching investigation into all forms of governmental expenditure. We propose to make quite certain that proper value is obtained in return for the spending of the public money.
Before leaving this subject—this question of security in the post-war dislocation—I want to offer certain reassurances. In many minds, no doubt, there are fears that the industrial activity of wartime will be succeeded by a period of depression. I ask you not to be defeatist on this subject. There is, in my considered opinion, no earthly reason why we should have to suffer a depression when hostilities end—that is, provided that you have a Government worthy of complete confidence, and one capable of facing problems of the day with foresight and commonsense.
Our knowledge of the causes of depressions has extended very considerably in recent years. Our technique of credit control has improved to a marked degree. Under efficient Government, therefore, we should be able to prevent the spectre of depression from rearing its ugly head in the Australia of the post-war era.
The parties which I represent pledge themselves to aim at stability of employment after the war. We intend to ensure that all of you—parents, and sons, and daughters—are given full opportunity for profitable work; and, too, opportunity to share in the abundance made possible by the wartime development of our resources and industries.
Our slogan, in this respect, is Post-war Prosperity For All.
Our first concern, as you may well imagine, will be the welfare of our returned men and women. We will not discharge our fighting men and let them roam the streets and roads looking for work. They will be given technical training, whenever desirable, and they will be guided by an efficient placement organisation. They, and their dependents, will continue to receive Service rates of pay until re-established in civil life.
Our full employment policy is the fundamental basis for social security. But, in addition, we propose to take steps to protect our people from the other economic dangers. We have a comprehensive policy of social security—one designed to give freedom from want and to ensure adequate food, clothing, and housing.
Another part of our policy is an all-embracing programme of national insurance on an equitable contributory basis, to cover health, unemployment, medical care, and superannuation.
We propose, further, to have a competent investigation made of the Beveridge Report, in order to determine, as far as possible, whether any of its principles can be applied with advantage to Australia.
Obviously, the demands of war finance make it impossible to promise general reductions in the present level of taxation.
At the same time, we recognise that the rates of tax in operation since 1st April, 1943, are the limits that should be imposed. It is not proposed, therefore, to increase these rates during 1943-44.
In September, 1941, I introduced a Budget which sought to establish the principle that some portion of their National Contribution in wartime should be refunded to taxpayers as a post-war credit. This was rejected.
The Opposition is convinced that the principles of my 1941 Budget were a perfectly sound and fair basis for wartime finance. It proposes to give effect to these principles when it becomes a Government.
Accordingly, I say that one-third of the net income tax collected from individuals by the Commonwealth, commencing with the year ended 30th June, 1942, and for each subsequent year of the war against Germany, Italy, and Japan, will be placed to a post-war credit fund.
The total post-war credit fund so created will be refunded in cash to taxpayers.
Taxpayers on the lowest range of taxable income will have refunded to them three-quarters of the tax they have paid in respect of income earned for the year ended 30th June, 1942, and succeeding years. This will taper down to a refund of 5% of the tax paid at the highest range of taxable income. In all cases, the post-war credits will be made retrospective.
A suitable post-war credit scheme will also be provided in respect of companies and made retrospective on the taxable income of the year ended 30th June, 1942. No refunds will be made in respect of war-time company tax.
By this means we will make a substantial contribution towards the problems of personal rehabilitation and industrial post-war reconstruction.
We propose also to adopt the principles known as pay-as-you-earn in taxation. We will make the operations of the scheme retrospective as from 1st July, 1943.
This means that all taxpayers will be assessed for taxation upon their income from the year during which the assessments are issued.
I cannot promise any general reductions in taxation rates until the end of the war. I shall, however, review immediately the present family allowances under the Income Tax Act. The Opposition takes the view that some contribution to the higher costs of living should fairly be made by this means to taxpayers who have family responsibilities.
Just a few words about post-war credits. Mr. Chifley has argued, and still argues, against the adoption of this principle. Yet the system is operating successfully in Great Britain and Canada. It can and will be instituted in Australia if we are returned to form a Government.
In simple language, the amount paid by the taxpayer today under the Curtin Government's taxation proposals is lost to him forever. Under the proposals I have now placed before you, a proportion of tax already paid, and of tax payable in the future, will constitute post-war credits, which will carry two per cent. per annum interest and will be refunded in cash after the war.
In the post-war period, these credits will be immediately available for personal rehabilitation and social reconstruction. Thus, stimulus will be given production, consumption of goods and the general service of the community. They offer far more tangible benefits than the nebulous social welfare scheme recently placed on the Statute Book by the Labor Govemment.
Now, a few words about pay-as-you-earn taxation, which, by the way, is operating in both the United States and Canada. I shall not weary you by traversing the ground of legal controversy that has surrounded this subject, nor exhaust you with a technical explanation. It is sufficient to say that the system will bring relief to many sections of the community who are suffering considerable hardship by reason of the present tax arrangements. The widow and dependents will be spared an inequitable impost when their breadwinner dies.
Men and women who have joined, or are about to join, the armed forces will secure much-needed relief. Every man and woman, whose income is reduced by reason of unemployment, sickness or other cause, will immediately have tax payments reduced to a level commensurate with his or her income. Similarly, the man or woman who retires on pension will be safeguarded by the scheme.
The benefits of this measure will be most appreciated in the year following the end of the war. In this first post-war year the incomes of many thousaads of Australians are bound to fall, if only through the cessation of overtime payments. Thousands of wives who have patriotically left their homes to go into the war factories and services will cease to earn an income. When they return to their homes, as many will want to do, they will be freed of a liability to the taxation commissioner. Without pay-as-you-earn, this liability would be, or might be, a crippling handicap.
These, then, are some of the reforms which we are determined to effect in the financial arrangements of this country. Taxation over a broad range of incomes has been carried to an almost crippling extent by the Labor Government, without any regard to its ultimate effects. Moreover, the Labor Government has not paid sufficient attention to levying its taxation in accordance with the varying capacities of individuals to pay that taxation.
In particular, I take strong exception to the injustices of the present tax arrangements so far as members of the armed forces are concerned. We shall take steps to right these wrongs.
Further, we intend to adjust taxation for people with family responsibilities. In a country such as ours, whose security and development are dependent upon greater population, it is absurd that fiscal policy should be allowed to add further difficulties to the present high costs of rearing a family.
In addition, we have important plans which, when brought into force, will assure a reasonable measure of protection to the business community against financial risk associated with war conditions and with the post-war reconstruction period. Such plans will give to business that measure of financial insurance which is the right of every section disorganised by war. Thereby, we hope to maintain intact the economic institutions which will give employment to our people after the war.
The re-adjustment of manpower will receive our immediate attention. We are determined that a practical balance of manpower between the demands of the Services, munitions and supply, and essential primary and secondary production and essential distribution and industry generally, shall be maintained.
Naturally, we agree to the necessity for a firm wartime manpower control. We believe, however, that this should be accompanied by safeguards against pettifogging interference and misplacement of effort of individuals.
If returned, we will ensure that manpower call-ups are actuated by a sense of fitness and efficiency. We want to ensure that there shall not be square pegs in round holes, or a depletion of a vital industry in order to staff a lesser industry.
Drift to socialism
I have referred earlier in this address to certain socialistic dangers. I say now that socialisation of industry has crept into the policy of the Curtin Government in the exact ratio as the Communist wing has joined up with it.
The Opposition is opposed to socialisation because it destroys individual enterprise and initiative, without which the British community, as we know it, could not function. We contend that every man, regardless of his origin or his economic handicap, should have the chance to make a place for himself in the social order and to be his own boss.
The Curtin Government, dominated by the left wing unions, which, in their turn, are dominated by the Communists, is introducing socialisation through the back door. Its Ministers are using the war emergency to smuggle this alien system into Australia.
Imagine how much more enthusiastically—perhaps viciously—they will do so if given a free hand by another term of office. Imagine, for example, how Mr. Ward will 'play up' if, by some mischance, he again becomes a Minister. Further, you might be well advised to imagine what will happen if, by some mischance, the enterprising Mr. Ward, backed by Mr. Lang, secured actual control of the Government. Think it over!
If you return the Socialist Government to office, it will have a mandate to give effect to its policy of socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange. Your savings will not be safe; your insurance policies, which you have built up to tide you over your old age, will not be secure. Every type of thrift and security will be endangered.
Because of this, because we have no misconceptions regarding the disastrous consequences that would result from the introduction of that policy, the Opposition is determined to preserve private enterprise and individual initiative. These sources of community welfare are vital to a progressive post-war world.
At the same time, we stand for the effective regulation and supervision of monopolies and trade combinations inimical to the public interests, the control of prices, and the prevention of exploitation.
Standard of living
We guarantee to the primary producer an Australian standard of living. We guarantee a similar standard to their employees.
An important phase, both of the war effort and of the social reconstruction which must follow, is the preservation and protection of our secondary industries under war conditions. This calls for business knowledge and business aptitude. We propose, therefore, to institute a system of constant research activity, so that immediately the war ends we may be enabled to turn over the secondary industries to post-war production and development.
I come now to the subject of industrial stoppages. In this matter alone, the Curtin Government's weak and vacillating attitude provides sufficient reason for its removal from office.
Seventeen days after the Curtin Government took office—on October 24th, 1941—the Prime Minister declared:
There can be no two opinions about the detrimental effect of industrial stoppages to Australia. They can prove helpful only to our enemies.
Notwithstanding that declaration, and many others considerably more emphatic, during his 22 months in office, what has Mr. Curtin done to outlaw industrial stoppages? The answer is 'Nothing'.
Failure to act when resolute action was needed to outlaw strikes and absenteeism provides a damning indictment of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. Its inaction merits the strongest condemnation of all decent Australians. Labor has been guilty of a gross betrayal of our fighting men and those of our Allies.
Dealing with industrial anarchy
The Curtin Government, while demanding sacrifices of civilians—and appealing to our Allies for aid—has shown quite clearly that it lacks the courage to put in their proper places certain of its own supporters—those irresponsible individuals who, by strikes and absenteeism, are playing the enemy's game.
What respect can any fair-minded Australian, what respect can any Allied serviceman or any nation have for a Government that is content to let its own fighting men and those of our Allies—many just back from battle—work on the wharves while Australian waterside workers stand idly by?
I well recall the Prime Minister saying, shortly after taking office:
Ships must sail. There must be no tie-ups.
Yes, ships must sail—provided our soldiers and those of our Allies do the work that waterside workers refuse to do. Otherwise, apparently, the ships can stay idle at the wharves.
The Opposition has, over several months past, been greatly concerned at the extent to which members of the armed forces have been used on work which certain trades unionists have refused to do. For instance, while we recognise that ships carrying important war supplies should be kept moving, we consider that when Servicemen are obliged to help in that direction, by performing work which rightly should be done by civilians, they should receive a just remuneration.
The Opposition believes there is considerable justification for the payment of industrial award rates to members of the forces who are called upon to do work which normally would be done by civilians.
We propose to give effect to that proposal. We will evolve a plan under which the difference between Award rates and Service rates of pay, in the case of Servicemen performing such work, would he credited to the deferred pay accounts of the Servicemen concerned.
I recognise that the great majority of the working men and women of Australia are keen and anxious to give of their very best to assist the war effort. I know, too, that this majority is, in part, often misled, bullied and threatened into ceasing work by a noisy but insignificant minority. Such minorities, in every industry, must be disciplined and controlled.
As evidence of the Government's handling of industrial disputes, let me recall that on the 27th May last, yet another of many regulations was gazetted. This the Prime Minister himself administers. We were led to believe that this regulation would put an end to industrial anarchy. But, like the host of preceding regulations, it has achieved nothing.
Though what have been described as illegal stoppages have been brought before the Prime Minister for action under this latest regulation, Mr. Curtin, fearful of incurring the wrath of his trades union masters, has maintained only a masterful inactivity.
Curtin Government's failure
Official figures furnished by the Commonwealth Statistician prove beyond all doubt that the Curtin Government has failed completely to check strikes.
These figures tell the true story of industrial hold-ups.
In the first quarter of this year there were 208 strikes involving 93,806 people, with a consequent loss of 268,299 working days, compared with a loss of 378,195 in the whole of the preceding year.
Such figures are both sad and eloquent. They show clearly that, despite all its threats, all its conferences, all its regulations, the Curtin Government has been treated with contempt by irresponsible men who are intent on sabotaging the war effort.
On the New South Wales coalfields, strikes are still a daily occurrence. Strikes continue in important war industries—and never is any check placed on those taking part in them.
Those who will not work must be made to fight. Just as there is no place in the armed forces for shirkers, so there is no place for shirkers on the industrial front.
If returned, we will do our best to secure the co-operation of the leaders of organised Labor in an endeavour to secure maximum production. We will not, however, delegate to any organisation the Government's responsibility to see that essential war services are maintained.
My Parties will put a stop to the practice, so much favoured by the Curtin Government, of introducing, amending, or repealing regulations every few weeks. Care and consideration will precede the introduction of any laws or regulations to deal with stoppages. Once introduced, they will be implemented without fear or favour, against employer and employee alike.
Will stop strikes
Unlike the Curtin Government, the Opposition if returned power, will not be content with issuing threats or introducing regulations to stamp out strikes in war and allied industries. We will insist upon strict observance of the law.
We will prohibit strikes and accompany that prohibition by giving to the Court full powers to take rigorous action against those who counsel or encourage strikes, and against the funds and property of any organisation participating in them.
Should any employer, or group of employers, act in such a way as to impair the work of tribunals, or interfere with essential production, we shall take all proper remedial action. If necessary, we shall take over the business conducted by that employer or group of employers.
The parties which I lead recognise that without total victory in this conflict there can be no reconstruction of any kind. We stand for total victory. After that we intend to apply all of our energies and determination to the colossal task of reconstruction.
The first element in reconstruction is the removal of many of the totalitarian forms of regimentation introduced by the war, and the restoration of the four freedoms which are the very lifeblood of a British community such as our own.
Associating ourselves with the other united nations, signatories to the Atlantic Charter, we mean to do everything in our power to prevent the repetition of another war. Also, we mean to take steps to restore the trade of the world to a level which will enable our great basic primary industries to achieve maximum and profitable production.
Housing will inevitably be one of the greatest problems of post-war Australia. It has been estimated that at the present rate of construction the shortage of homes in Australia, after the war, may be as high as 400,000. Manifestly, there is no time for delay. Something has to be done about housing—and done now. We intend to give immediate attention to housing plans and home ownership, involving slum clearance and the building of comfortable dwellings, encouraging private ownership and providing for the acquisition of homes on easy terms.
The Opposition is fully alive to the necessity for a vigorous plan of post-war development. Within the course of the next week or so I shall give the nation a clear indication of our intentions in this direction.
We regard the stability of primary indi1stries as of major importance to the successful prosecution of the war. Both the Menzies and Fadden Governments recognise that in the mobilisation of Australia's resources for war these industries were highly important.
Immediately upon the outbreak of war, negotiations were entered into for the sale of our major primary products to the United Kingdom. Negotiation of these contracts, which meant millions of pounds to Australian primary producers, was facilitated by the existence of an experience gained through statutory marketing bodies established by preceding non-Labor Governments.
Before my Government went out of office these contracts had been renewed and further contracts for other commodities had been entered into. These resulted in the Australian primary producer being placed on an exceptionally sound footing.
It is not my intention this evening to make a general review of the position of our rural industries. It is sufficient for me to say that had it not been for the foresight of the Governments that preceded the Curtin Ministry, the producer and the consumer would have been in an exceedingly difficult position.
Both the Menzies and Fadden Governments had the interests of the primary producer at heart. We recognise that the stability of the primary producer was a vital factor in our economic security. Therefore, we did everything in our power to ensure that he was justly treated. However, when the Labor Party took office, the rural producer had to take second place to the industrial worker.
The result was that our primary industries were allowed to drift into a condition of chaos. It all gets back to the Curtin Government's ignorance of the difficulties and needs of the man on the land.
The Opposition Parties, containing as they do men with a first-hand knowledge of the problems of primary producers, have been persistent in their advocacy of better treatment of those men who are producing essential foodstuffs. We have been equally persistent in our endeavours to overcome the difficulties that have resulted from the Curtin Government's mishandling of the rural manpower position.
Manpower and primary production
Unfortunately for the primary producer, the Government has chosen to go its own way. Farms denuded of manpower, farms deserted, valuable dairy herds broken up and a shortage of foodstuffs—all are evidence of the Curtin Government's complete failure to grapple with the problems of the rural producer.
We consider that those engaged in primary production are entitled to just treatment as citizens, including a fair wage, based on Australian standards and comparable with that prevailing in secondary industries, to employees, and a fair price to employers. It is our opinion that it is unjust to establish any scheme of wage fixation for primary industries which does not provide for impartial and full investigation of the facts, and a due consideration of the economics of the industries concerned.
We declare further that, consequent upon the parlous condition into which the Curtin Government has driven our rural industries, their position should be reviewed from the viewpoint of manpower requirements, prices and costs. In short, we realise that ultimate soundness of these industries is possible only by fair prices, adequate wages, proper living conditions and improvements generally in the amenities of country life.
This moves me to say that on all sides there is evidence of chaos and muddle of the Curtin Government's food policy. When my colleague, Sir Earle Page, was Minister for Commerce, our policy was to produce to the maximum and to store what we could not eat or ship. We doubled Australia's cold storage for meat, eggs, butter and pork. However, Japan went to war—and the Curtin Government pannicked. It withdrew manpower from farms, denied the farmers equipment, and gave them low priorities for machinery. Naturally, then, production declined sharply.
If returned to power, it is our intention immediately to give effect to measures which we regard as essential to meet the present-day needs of our primary industries and to ensure their security in the future.
I regret that in the limited time at my disposal it is not possible for me to outline these proposals. I shall, however, deal with them in detail when I outline the rural policy of the Opposition at Toowoomba on Tuesday evening next.
Fellow Australians, there rests upon you an exceedingly heavy responsibility on August 21st. I have placed before you, on behalf of the United Australia Party and the United Country Party, a policy which we really believe—and, indeed, really know—will help in the direction of giving Australia a maximum war effort.
You have had twenty-two months of Labor rule. You have had striking evidence of unnecessary Government interference with industry. You have witnessed the subordination of national interests to socialistic theories. You have witnessed the sorry spectacle of a Government powerless in the face of industrial anarchy. You have experienced unnecessary and unwarranted compulsion.
On the other hand, the Parties which I represent stand for free democratic government based on justice, tolerance and understanding with liberty, security and improved living standards for the individual and a just reward for his labour. We stand for a policy that will ensure work for all who are physically fit. We see Australia's future in freedom of belief, freedom of Press, freedom of speech and freedom of individual initiative and enterprise.
It is incumbent upon us all to look ahead, to consider the remaining period of the war, and the immeasurable, unknown future. Our one objective is to save Australia from the evils of wild experiments in socialisation, from the destruction of personal incentive, from the degradation of bureaucracy, of which you have had more than enough in recent times.
A task of great magnitude confronts us. We are still far from the day of victory. And when victory comes, there will follow the task of rebuilding a war-torn, war-weary nation. There will come the task of restoring to civil-life those hundreds of thousands of men and women who today, and for the remainder of the war, are engaged in the noble task of defending their country. There will be the task of placing in ordinary peace-time jobs those hundreds of thousands of men and women who are waging war in munitions and other war establishments.
Remember, our immediate task is to win the war, to smash the Axis, to annihilate those evil forces which seek to destroy civilisation, as we know it, in the democratic countries of the world.
Win and build
We can smash the Axis, we can win this war, we can build for the future, we can ensure a sound and prosperous nation, only if we have sane, efficient and stable government. The Australia Party and the United Country Party promise to give you a 100 per cent. war effort.
Fellow Australians, I commend our policy to you. Examine it. Study it closely. Compare our proposals for a maximum war effort with Labor's record of bungling, inefficient and unrealistic administration since October, 1941. If you do this, I suggest strongly that you can come to one conclusion, and one conclusion only—the United Australia Party and the United Country Party must be returned to power if we are to have a full-blooded war effort and the sound framework of peace-time, which all of you desire so much in the years to come.
In four words, our policy for the nation and the individual is — VICTORY, LIBERTY, SECURITY, PROSPERITY.