Herbert Evatt
Herbert Evatt Australian Labor Party

Delivered at Hurstville, NSW, May 6th, 1954

The election was held on 29 May, 1954 for the House of Representatives only. The Menzies government sought a third term in office, while Herbert Evatt faced his first election as Leader of the Opposition. Evatt had taken over the Labor leadership on Ben Chifley’s death in 1951.

Only a few months before the election, Soviet diplomat Vladimir Petrov defected and revealed information on Soviet spy rings in Australia. Menzies set up a Royal Commission on espionage in Australia, which held its first meeting twelve days before the election. Menzies downplayed the issue of communism, concentrating on tax cuts and the economy, but others in the government, notably Eric Harrison, spread the message that Evatt was a ‘defender of communists’.

Evatt, for his part, pledged welfare reforms and tax cuts. The election was held in the shadow of the Royal Visit, where Queen Elizabeth II visited Australia and was greeted by large, enthusiastic crowds.

Though Labor won a majority of votes (50.03%), they failed to win a majority of seats. The Liberal/Country government was re-elected with a reduced majority of seven, winning a combined 64 seats to Labor’s 57.

Doc Evatt, National Library of Australia
Doc Evatt, National Library of Australia

Herbert Vere Evatt was born 30 April, 1894 and died 2 November, 1965. Evatt was Leader of the Nationalist Party and Leader of the Opposition 20 November, 1929 to 7 May, 1931. Evatt represented the electorate of Kooyong, Vic from 1922 to 1934.

Elections contested

1954, 1955, and 1958

Tonight I place before you Labor’s Programme for the next three years. It is a positive Programme. It is practical. It can and will be given full effect to by a Labor Government.

Specific mandate asked for

We ask you for a mandate to carry out this Programme. We shall carry out the mandate. Unlike the Menzies/Fadden Government we shall carry out all the promises we make to you.

Security is the basis of Labor’s programme

The primary aim of Labor will be to provide a government that will give the people every essential of security. First, there must be a real defence security. Next, for those able to work, there must be a restoration of security in obtaining the means of a full livelihood, whether the individual is a salaried officer, a manual worker, a primary producer or a man running his own business. May I add too, security for the Australian mother and a real opportunity to bring up her children on a better standard of living.

For those past the age when they can participate on equal terms in the economic life of the country, there must be full security in their old age. Labor’s Programme will guarantee them just that.

For those unable to work, the invalids, the widows, the sick and the afflicted, there must be secured a standard of social services that will furnish essential needs, without the worry of debt and personal hardship.

Animated by the spirit of justice, Labor gives you definite guarantees to be applied in each of these sectors of our national life.

With a firm resolve to achieve social and economic justice, we must take positive action to restore security to those adversely affected by the tremendous increase in living costs.

Ruinous increase in cost of living

Under the Menzies/Fadden Coalition the real purchasing value of money has been cut to pieces. Recently, Mr. Justice Barry of the Queensland Industrial Court said:

In my opinion there can in equity be no justification for the cutting down of the standard of living or of the actual wage of the wage earner merely because the hope is entertained, that the upward spiral of prices will thereby be halted.

In principle, this Judge lays down a sound rule of commonsense and economic justice. But the Menzies/Fadden Government has seen the standard of living of the people drastically reduced. It does nothing about it.

Labor will apply the remedies.

Labor believes in expansion

Labor believes in economic expansion. It rejects the ‘fits and starts’ economic and financial expedients of the past three years. In the ‘Horror’ Budget of 1952 our opponents committed themselves to a policy of disastrous credit restriction and exorbitant taxation. It was a policy of restrictionism.

Cheap credit for development of Australia

Labor believes that a primary need for the development of Australia is an adequate supply of cheap credit. It also believes that it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Bank to take the lead in supplying that credit, not only for government but alsofor the home builder, for the primary producer and for the businessman.

Present banking legislation accepted

Labor fully respects the verdict of the Australian people. It will not interfere with the legislation at present operating to control banking. Equally, Labor insists that the Commonwealth Bank shall adopt a policy of genuine and fair competition as laid down in the existing banking legislation.

Artificial depression of 1951-52

Immediately after the election of 1951, the Menzies Government, without your mandate, brought out a series of instructions to the Commonwealth Bank to impose restrictions on credit. At the same time, interest rates were increased all round. As a result, firms were unable to obtain necessary accommodation to finance urgent jobs. The vital building industry was brought almost to a standstill.

Labor has had very real experience in raising huge amounts of money to carry on the work of government, not only in peace but during the greatest crisis of war. Some of us had leading positions in the great Labor Governments which guided the Australian people throughout the critical years of the war against Japan. We know what can be done and how it can be done.

For those with faith in Australia’s future, there can be only one general direction to the Commonwealth Bank—that is expansion, not restriction, of credit. Labor will not tolerate the curtailment of this country’s credit requirements.

Hire purchase credit

Large consumer corporations are raising millions in this country to finance hire purchase transactions. If they can get the money they need, how can the Government fail if it is determined to finance the needs of the people, especially the needs of the people on middle and small incomes.

As in war, so must it be in peace. In war, the money goes primarily in providing armaments. But in peacetime the task should be easier. For the money goes primarily in creating tangible and reproductive assets.

Credit for industry homes and development

We will give only one directive to the Commonwealth Bank. That will be that it is to provide the credit necessary for an expanding economy. It must help to maintain and extend the industries that can produce the nation’s wealth. We are bound to give the people full employment in an expanding economy. The Commonwealth Bank will find the money necessary to build homes for the people and it will use its credit resources to provide adequate supplies of cheap money for the urgent development of the continent.

Menzies/Fadden government’s gross political deception

The Menzies/Fadden Government acquired office four and a half years ago, chiefly as a result of false promises and gross political deception. Mr. Chifley described their campaign methods as a ‘deluge of political lies’. And they haven’t altered since then.

Taxation pledge broken by Menzies/Fadden government

Remember the promises they made you and how they were falsified. They solemnly promised to reduce taxation both direct and indirect. Instead of that, they lifted taxation to the greatest heights in the peacetime history of Australia.

Full employment pledge broken by Menzies/Fadden government

They promised to maintain the full employment of the people. I remind you that full employment came to Australia for the first time with the government of Labor in 1942, which continued until 1949. But the present government, instead of maintaining full employment, deliberately created recession conditions in the ‘Horror’ Budget. They imposed the most severe restriction of bank and consumer credit in Australia’s peacetime history, ruining business prospects for many thousands of middle-sized and small businessmen. They made ferocious raids on the pockets of all kinds of tax-payers. Their exorbitant sales tax was imposed partly with the admitted object of destroying certain trades and industries which they called unessential. They greatly increased the rate of interest. They struck a staggering blow at the building industry causing a setback to home-building from which there has not been by any means a full recovery.

Full employment threatened

They threw at least 150,000 Australians into unemployment at a time when rapid industrial and physical development of the country was of urgent importance. Even now, despite their panic efforts to retrieve face, there are many thousands less Australians in civilian employment than there were in November, 1951. Instead of there being less persons employed, the net increase due to migration and those leaving school should have resulted in at least 150,000 more being employed. Instead of a steadily expanding economy, we are economically worse off today by the loss of this vital working force.

Value in £ - broken pledge by Menzies/Fadden government

That brings us to the most flagrantly false promise ever made in Australia—the promise of the Menzies/Fadden Coalition to increase the purchasing power of the pound as it existed, in 1949. Every Australian woman in charge of the household budget knows that the 20/- worth which the £. would buy under the Labor Government of 1949 has gone down to 18/-, to 16/-, to 12/-, to 10/-, and today is not worth more than 87/-. This represents a violent breach by the government of a solemn electoral pledge and contract. You cannot re-elect to office those who made such false promises. You cannot trust them again.

A new deal required

The serious recession deliberately created by the Government in the ‘Horror’ Budget of 1951/52 amused the Australian people so much that they compelled the Government to retreat and temporarily halt its programme of deflation. But the grave injury had been done. It has not been fully redressed.

The great majority of the people are now demanding a New Deal, a fairer deal, based on justice to all sections. But you will never get a new deal or fair play from this Government. You, who rightly resent wholesale repudiation of election pledges—you, who have been injured by the Menzies/Fadden inflation—you can get a new deal only by voting out the Government and electing a government to right the wrongs that have been inflicted on so many.

In Labor’s view we are under a special duty to provide relief for sections of the people whose standards have been lowered by high living costs.

Even today there is no real stability of prices. The housewife knows they are rising.

Increases announced

Tonight I announce our intention to provide certain increases of repatriation benefits and social service payments. The purchasing value of existing benefits has gone down owing to the high cost living. What I propose will only furnish the very minimum of social justice.

Age pension increased from £3.10.0 to £4.10.0

One of the greatest challenges to government today is the problem of providing security for those who, through age, have passed the peak of their normal earning capacity. There are two aspects to the problem.

First, the present age pension is not adequate to provide security. Second, the means test on the age pension still remains as an intolerable penalty both against thrift and against useful work on the part of the aged.

‘Retiring allowance’ to be inalienable right

Labor declares that a retiring allowance or endowment is the inalienable right of every citizen in the Commonwealth. It believes that such retiring allowance should be paid without a means test. It will be called a ‘retiring allowance’, and not a ‘pension’. Never forget that in Australia, every man and woman pays taxation, and indirect taxation may be a heavy burden.

Life savings halved in value

Tens of thousands who have passed the normal retiring age are in a particularly difficult position. Today, their life savings have been halved in value because of the calamitous fall in the purchasing value of the Australian £ since 1949 when the Menzies Government made its false promise to reduce the cost of living.

The public servant, the clergyman, the railway employee, the bank official or the small business man who by thrift and saving believed that on retirement he would be independent for life, lives today at a greatly reduced standard of living. He belongs to the class of ‘new poor’. Yet, because of the means test, large numbers are denied an age pension.

Immediate steps

Labor will take the following stops to remedy the position.

Age pensions increased by 10/- per week

We shall increase the present pension rate of the age pension itself. Under the Menzies Government, pensioners have lost the full purchasing value of their pensions as they received it from the Labor Government of 1949. We shall increase the rate from £3.10.0 to £4.0.0 weekly in order to make good this loss of purchasing power.

Means test to be entirely abolished within life of parliament

Within the life of the ensuing Parliament, Labor will eliminate the Means Test entirely. A national retiring allowance will be paid to everyone who reaches the statutory age of qualification.

Permissible income increased to £6. a week

Labor will immediately increase the permissible income from the present sum of £2.0.0 a week to £6.0.0 a week. This will enable the great majority of retired people who are greatly in need of purchasing power to qualify for the age pension or a substantial part of it.

Property disqualification to be immediately repealed

Labor will at once repeal the iniquitous property disqualification clause of the age pension system. There will be only one test, viz., permissible income. The immediate removal of the property disqualification will be of great and permanent advantage. As it is there are tens of thousands of cases where property operates as a disqualification oven although very little income is received from it. That situation will be ended at once.

Cost of proposals—capital taxation costs borne by revenue

It is possible to finance the proposals without taxation increases. Let me give one very convincing reason. Each year since the Menzies/Fadden Government has been in office, It has been using the taxpayers’ money for works of a permanent or capital nature. That means that the taxpayers of the current year have been paying every penny of the cost of national assets that will belong to future generations. In the past four years, the Menzies Government has spent approximately £460,000,000 out of current revenue on buildings, plant and permanent fixtures—all of a capital nature. Only a small part of this huge sum should fairly have been charged against the taxpayers of a particular year. The proper practice is to charge the capital and annual payments of principal with interest against Loans over a period of 58 years as envisaged by the Financial Agreement.

Labor’s social service plan altered

The Menzies/Fadden Government destroyed the social service contribution plan which the people of Australia accepted in the elections of 1946. If Mr. Chifley’s plan of social service contribution had been continued in existence during the period of office of the Menzies/Fadden Government under the law as it existed when the Labor Government was defeated in 1949, the National Welfare Fund would today have shown the colossal surplus of approximately £300,000,000, after paying for all items of social services expended up to the present day. In effect, the Trust Fund for social services was destroyed.

Capital works chargeable against loan account

Labor will charge the cost of capital works to the Loan Account where it properly belongs. That alone will relieve the annual Budget of a charge far exceeding £100. millions a year. That is only one avenue. As I shall point out, considerable savings can be made by eliminating waste and extravagance. The law of the land would not permit a private business to charge entire cost of new capital assets against current profits when making out its accounts and balance sheet. That could amount to a fraud upon existing shareholders. We will treat Government accounts in substantially the same way as the account of a private business. We shall take into account the value of national assets which are never fairly shown in the Budget or in the Budget papers.

Above all we must restore the confidence of the people in Commonwealth Loans. This was destroyed largely because of the losses so many small patriotic investors sustained when interest was raised by the Menzies/Fadden Government from the 3½% which was so successful under the Labor Government. Positive proposals to restore such confidence will be announced by me tonight.

Genuine trust fund to be created

The Means Test is a savage and iniquitous burden upon thrift and energy. It must go. Under the new system we shall erect a great bulwark against depression that might easily appear here following the mass unemployment that exists in many countries overseas and will help Australian producers, both primary and secondary. We shall reinstate the National Welfare Fund as a genuine Trust Fund for social security purposes. This will not mean any net increase in taxation. But it will mean a guarantee to all the people of Australia who pay tax, indirect or direct, that Trust Funds for social security cannot be used by Governments except for the express purpose of carrying out the terms of such trust.

Repatriation benefits increased

Owing to the fall in purchasing power of the Menzies/Fadden pound, the real value of most payments to servicemen and their dependents has gone down. These payments will be substantially increased by Labor. It is the practice to speak of some of these payments as ‘pensions’, but in future they will be described by the name ‘war compensation’.

Increased war pension rates

We shall make the following changes:–

War pension rates

The 100% war pension rate will be increased rom £4.2.6 to £5.0.0 per week. There will be corresponding increases in respect to lesser percentage rates payable to the service man and his dependents.

War widow payments increased

The ‘A’ Class war widow’s payment will be increased from £3.12.6 to £4.8.0 per week. The ‘B’ Class widows (with children) from £5.4.6 to £6.6.8 per week with an increase for the first child from £1.6.6 to £1.12.0 per week. If there are two or more dependent children, a further 10/- will be added to the domestic allowance. ‘C’ Class widow’s rate will be increased from £5.4.6 to £6.6.9 per week.

Special rate pensions

Special rate pensions such as T.P.I., totally blinded and certain classes of tuberculars will be increased by £3.5.0 per week making the initial rate pension or the soldier himself £12.10.0. Similar proportionate increases will be allowed to wife and child.

Service pensions

Service pensions will also be increased from £3.10.0 to £4.0.0 per week, with a corresponding increase for a wife and children. In addition, payments will be made for the fifth and subsequent children.

Benefit of Doubt

In 1942 the Labor Government revised the onus of proof or benefit of the debt clause in order to ensure repatriation entitlement for disability or death, unless the Repatriation Department clearly established that war service could net have been a contributing factor to the disability or death. This vital provision is not being fully applied. We shall have the law clarified to make certain that this necessary and just provision is honoured in letter and in spirit.

Repatriation hospital treatment

All servicemen will be given the right of medical attention at a Repatriation Hospital without proof of war entitlement. A war widow is entitled to a similar right but, where that is not practicable, other suitable hospitalisation will be arranged.

Automatic entitlement for mental illness

In 1943, the Labor Government accepted for automatic entitlement certain cases of pulmonary tuberculosis. Today, there are ex-servicemen suffering from nervous or mental disorders which cannot be fairly dissociated from the rigours of war service. The commonsense view is that these cases of latent illness should be regarded as attributable in part at least to the strain of active warfare. We shall therefore legislate for automatic acceptance to entitlement in these cases.

Social services other than age pensions

In my Budget Speech of September last I indicated that a Labor Government would review and increase social service payments generally.

Invalid pensioners

These pensioners will be treated on the same footing as age pensioners.

Widows’ pensions

Widows’ pensions in all categories will be increased in substantial proportion to increases announced for age and invalid pensions.

Child endowment and maternity allowance

Provision will be made in the Budget for increased payments in respect of these social Services.

Government extravagance—taxation reductions

The present Government is spending gigantic sums of money. Much of it has been spent wastefully, inefficiently or extravagantly. We believe that properly administered, the present amount of revenue is more than adequate to Australis needs. We will certainly make reductions of taxation in a number of specific directions. For instance, I have already announced that a Labor Government is pledged to taxation allowances to encourage the modernisation of plant and equipment both for primary and secondary industry. We shall also give special encouragement to people setting up their homes by removing sales tax on home furniture and house- hold equipment.

I again point out the vital fact that the Consolidated Revenue Fund has been wrongfully loaded with commitments that should be carried by capital account. This means that taxpayers have in effect been overtaxed by well over £l00,000,000 per year during the past three years in respect of expenditure that should rightly be spread over a long period of years. This of itself will permit of very large savings of revenue. We pledge the Labor Government to eliminate waste and extravagance,and unnecessary duplication and overlapping of services. We will see that the people obtain e proper return on the money they invest each year in Government. Huge losses at present being registered by the post office call for a full investigation into the causes. Some services, such as telegrams, are getting beyond the reach of the ordinary citizen. Labor will institute an immediate investigation of the business administration with a view to popularising once again the use of these services.

Arbitrary powers of taxation commissioner—taxation review

The Labor Government intends to review the existing powers of the Income-Tax Commissioner, including the power of arbitrary assessment and the so-called averment provisions which, in effect, reverse the onus of proof and place it on the taxpayer.

We shall review not only the administration but the prevailing system of taxation with a view to its modernisation and the removal of anomalies.

Double taxation in relation to companies and their shareholders will be examined. The system of deductions from income will be reviewed.

Special taxation concessions for the sparsely populated areas will be again reviewed having regard to the need for encouraging settlement and development in the Northern Territory and the north of Western Australia and of Queensland.

Public loans—restoring confidence of small investor

Labor will make a great effort to restore the confidence of the smell investor in public loans of the Commonwealth. That confidence was lost as a result of the Menzies/Fadden policy of sharply increasing the interest rate. That immediately reduced the market value of some securities; in December, 1949, when the Chifley Labor Government was in office, the 3 1/8% loans were selling at over £100. Today as a result of the Menzies/Fadden policies, they are still 10% below par. The investor was in effect cheated of his normal expectations. In thousands of cases, where because of business or personal reasons he had to sell, he suffered a heavy loss. He regards the action as practical repudiation. Under the Labor Government Commonwealth securities could always be sold at par.

Even now a partial remedy can be found for this repudiation. We shall therefore, legislate for the acceptance by the Commonwealth of the securities actually held by the original investor or his family at full face value where ever the investor desires to discharge his taxation obligations in that manner.

By way of further help to restore the confidence of small investors in Government loans, the Labor Government will free from taxation any income derived from interest on bonds where the capital holding does not exceed £1,000 in value.

It is well known that the very recent loans have not been adequately supported by the ordinary people—the small investors—as in the days of the Labor Government. We can and will broaden the base of our public borrowing.

Labor’s plans for home ownership and housing

The Australian Labor Party believes that the security of the family should be a primary aim of Government. The home is of paramount importance. It is the individual citizen and the family of which he is a member who are the real fabric of national strength. Home ownership is basic to Labor’s policy. Labor will do everything practicable for Australian families to be properly housed.

It is estimated that at least 250,000 Australian families are needing homes of their own. Another 200,000 are looking desperately for cheaper homes. Most of these 450,000 families want to build and cannot.

Menzies/Fadden restrictions injure building

The lack of homes is causing great injury to our social and family life. The Commonwealth must tackle the problem more urgently and more vigorously. The Menzies Government’s savage credit restriction and high interest policy did grave injury to the building industry in 1952 and 1953. That industry must be given practical assistance to regain its strength. Recent figures show that thousands of tradesmen have left the industry because of uncertainty. We shall remove that uncertainty.

Serious effect of high interest rebate

The Menzies/Fadden policy of high interest rates has been a great obstruction to home building. A rise of 1½% in the interest rate increases the total payment over the period of the average home purchase mortgage (30 years) by no less than 25%.

Menzies/Fadden Government flouts Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement

The Menzies/Fadden Government also flouted the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement by unlawfully imposing an annual financial ceiling on the amount available to the State Housing authorities. Yet the Agreement, by Clause 6, clearly requires that the Commonwealth shall advance to the States all the monies required for their housing needs.

Labor’s plans for set home building and purchase of state homes

Federal Labor will recognise its obligations to the people and to the States. As fast as the States can arrange to have dwellings built for their homeless citizens, we shall provide financial assistance as is provided for under the existing Agreement.

We shall adopt the amendment to the Housing Agreement so frequently but vainly requested by the States from the Federal Government. This amendment will enable tenants to purchase State houses if they so desire.

A Federal Labor Government will require a deposit of only 5%. (This would mean only a deposit of £150 on a £3,000 home). This deposit is adequate because the real security for the lender is not only the home itself but the hopes and ambitions of the family. The repayments should be over a period of 45 years at a rate of interest of 3%, computed on the balance in each month.

Labor’s plans for War Service Homes advances

Labor fully acknowledges a special obligation to ex-servicemen and will make the following amendment to the War Service Homes Act:

  1. The deposit required to be reduced to 5%.
  2. The maximum advance to be increased for the purchase of erected properties from £2,000 to £3,000 and for building purposes from £2,750 to £3,500.
  3. The present restriction of £3,500 as the maximum capital cost of an already erected property to be lifted.
  4. The rate of interest to be reduced from 3¾% to 2¾%.
  5. Further money will be made available immediately to overcome the delay in making advances. This delay is due to the restrictive financial policy of the Menzies/Fadden Government.

Also the building of Group Homes which has been virtually brought to a standstill by the Menzies/Fadden Government will be extended so that the present delays will be overcome. In N.S.W. this lag in construction of Group Homes is 3 years.

Federal Labor’s policy for national home-building

Labor will specially arrange with the Commonwealth Bank to advance funds to co-operative societies. The societies have contributed greatly to home construction. Their activities were curtailed by the disastrous credit restriction policy of the Menzies/Fadden Government but they should play an important part in Labor’s all-out drive for home-building and home-ownership.

The terms of advance will be up to a maximum advance of £3,500 repayable over a period of 45 years at 3%.

Labor’s national home-building programme contemplates home advances up to 95% of the total cost so that for a £3,000 home the home purchaser will have to find no more than £150.

The terms and conditions of advances from the Commonwealth Bank to co-operative societies will also be available to home-builders.

Abolition of sales tax on furniture and home equipment

The Menzies/Fadden Government promised expressly to reduce sales tax on household furniture and home equipment. Instead it increased both the rate of tax and the yield. We shall eliminate the tax on these items.

Hire purchase credit on home equipment

The Commonwealth Bank will be requested to extend its hire purchase credit system to home equipment at reasonable terms of interest. It’s active competition will tend to prevent any exploitation of the people by hire purchase ‘rackets’.

Homes for the aged

To assist State Governments to solve the problem of housing for aged persons, the next Labor Government will do what the Chifley Labor Government did in regard to housing migrant children. We will seek the co-operation of State Governments for a plan under which the Commonwealth Government will make a £1. contribution, the State Government concerned will make a £1. contribution, and the Church or secular body will contribute the remaining £1. towards the capital costs of all new buildings for old people. This means that, in respect of State institutions, the Commonwealth will provide £1. and the State Government concerned £2., and in the case of the other bodies mentioned, the Commonwealth and State Governments will make a £2. to £1. contribution by the organisation concerned.

We will seek to have a certain percentage of houses built each year in each State allocated to age pensioners who do not desire to live under institutional care.

Commonwealth roads: aid to State and Local government

Additional financial aid to roads is required. Both the States and local government authorities have proved a case for additional finance.

Full proceeds of petrol tax to be allocated for roads purposes

Having had the facts placed before us by the representative organisations of road users, including the Australian Roads Federation and the A.A.A. we are satisfied that they have made out a convincing case for the allocation of the full proceeds of the petrol tax—estimated for the current year at approximately £29,000,000—authorities for road purposes. The only condition that we would impose on the grant is that a long-term roads plan be drawn up by the States and local-governing authorities after consultation with the Commonwealth, to provide to for the efficient maintenance and development of the road system of Australia and for an organised drive for greater road safety. The Commonwealth Government through its Ministry of Transport, will give the maximum assistance in the working out of this constructive plan of Commonwealth-State co-operation.

Country Party promises to give £250. millions to local government

I must remind you that the Country Party, through Sir Arthur Fadden, promised you that they would borrow £250. millions and give it to local authorities-not lend it-for expenditure on roads, aerodromes, bush nursing and local authority activities. This promise to local authorities was flagrantly broken.

Labor and local government authorities

Labor will give greater recognition to the responsibilities of local government bodies. It believes in decentralisation of power. It rejects the notion that all power should be centralised in Canberra. We shall give local government authorities the substance of their demand for a fair use of the money value of the petrol taxes for feeder and other roads.

Commonwelath-State relationships

Relations between the Commonwealth and the States have deteriorated during the past four years. At times State Premiers and Treasurers have often been treated almost as mendicants when they went to Canberra. Labor’s Programme recognises that under the Commonwealth Constitution the States are equal partners with the Commonwealth in the Government of this country. Labor will treat them on that basis. Railways and roads are no longer to be regarded as exclusive State responsibilities. Just as much as airways they are integral to national defence. The Commonwealth must therefore assume portion of the responsibility of maintaining internal communication. We had to do it in 1941 when we established the Civil Constructional Corps to build roads and aerodromes to meet the threat of invasion. We pledge the fullest cooperation with the States in dealing with such problems of common concern.

Secondary industry and full employment

The maintenance and expansion of a vigorous and efficient secondary industry in Australia is vital to the defence and economic security of the Australian people. Labor is proud of its record in advancing the development of secondary industry in Australia. Secondary industry is the main source of employment of the Australian people. Its continued expansion is inextricably bound up with the progress and prosperity of the nation. Labor is pledged to assist this expansion. There are great problems facing Australia’s industry, notable among them being the danger of unfair competition from low wage countries like Japan. We shall regularly confer with authorised representatives of labor, industry and finance in connection with the orderly development and utilisation of Australia’s national resources.

Primary production and support of farm production

Labor’s programme includes practical aid and financial support for farm production. We shall co-operate closely with the States and the primary producers’ organisations.

In practically every primary industry, the fear of dumping by overseas competitors is now the dominant thought. The Federal Government’s plan to meet that threat is one of restriction. Labor rejects that defeatist outlook. It approaches the problem with two basic propositions. First it is much safer to plan for a surplus than plan for a shortage. Seasonal conditions may turn against us. Secondly, this country must regard its primary industries just as much as part of the defence effort of the nation as it does its expenditure on arms. In times of crisis, arms would be valueless without food. Maximum food production is an obligation cast upon us and we have to consider our duty not to ourselves alone but to many millions so close to Australia’s shores. Their goodwill could be a real asset in the development of far friendlier relations than those now existing. That could be one practical human contribution from Australia to the elimination of Communism or other totalitarian and subversive doctrines and the building up of democratic strength.

Labor declares that the farmer is entitled to security and indeed to special consideration. If necessary, the Government must insure him against the risks of over-production. That is much safer than the risk of under-production. With the cooperation of States and primary producers’ organisations Labor will adopt measures of farm support comparable to the United States farm support programme.

Wheat—Labor’s 10-year stabilisation plan

A Labor Government will seek agreement with the State Governments and, subject to the approval of wheatgrowers, will legislate for a Wheat Stabilisation Plan covering a period of 10 years. Details of the Pollard Plan have already been announced. It has been approved in principle by Mr. Graham, Minister for Agriculture in N.S.W., and Mr. Stoneham, Minister for Agriculture in Victoria. Features of the plan included:-

  1. Return of the £9 millions balance of the Wheat Stabilisation Fund. As a result of Labor’s insistence the Government is doing this after holding on to the wheatgrowers’ money for six months.

  2. For home consumption wheat for the first five years of the Plan, the grower will receive cost of production plus 1/5d. per bushel premium, but never less than 14/- per bushel. (This gives approximately the same conditions as are now operating for three years only under the recent Commonwealth-State Agreement).

  3. For the second five years of the Plan for home consumption wheat, the grower will receive the cost of production price plus 1/5d. per bushel to the growers.

  4. All export wheat for the 10 years of the Plan will return a guaranteed price minimum of not less than the cost of production as assessed annually.

  5. Consumers on relatively low and fixed incomes will receive benefits from this plan in the shape of lower prices for bread, eggs and bacon. This plan will also assist the hard-pressed export egg industry.

  6. In 1949 the egg industry was able to market profitably in the United Kingdom but, like other Australian primary industries, it is now in difficulties in that market. Labor’s wheat proposals will have an overall stabilising effect on the costs problem in the egg, dairying and other stockfeed consuming industries.

  7. The Chifley Government succeeded in getting all States by ballot, to agree to the 1948-53 Stabilisation Plan. I believe Labor’s new and enlarged wheat plan will commend itself to those wheat producers who study the problem. A Labor Government will give generous encouragement to storage facilities and revitalise the overseas organisation of Australian wheat sales.

Egg industry

The egg industry faces a serious export situation—overseas prices have fallen catastrophically.

Since 1951, the Menzies/Fadden Government has been a party to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State Governments whereby stockfeed wheat for the poultry industry was increased by 2/ bet bushel above the cost of production. In December, 1949, the cost of production of wheat was 7/1d. per bushel. In 1953 it was 12/7d. per bushel. We thus had a total rise of 7/6d. per bushel in feed wheat imposts against the egg industry and other stockfeed consumers. For this the Menzies/Fadden Government is primarily responsible.

This increase is the equivalent at least to an increase of 8d. per dozen in the cost of production of eggs. This, added to increases in other costs, has put the industry in its present parlous position. In accordance with the principle of farm supply a Labor Government will do its utmost to rectify the disabilities of the producers in this important primary industry.


This industry now operates under a cost of production system inaugurated by the Chifley Labor Government.

Despite this assistance from the Labor Government, it now finds itself forced to sell its products overseas at a price less than the cost of production in Australia.

The Chifley Government assisted the industry by a £250,000,000 per annum efficiency grant. We shall give special support to this important industry.


The Curtin Labor Government was responsible for Australia’s purchase of a share in the great J.O. Wool Disposal Plan. Mr. Curtin’s legislation provided for the distribution of profits to growers. £12,000,000 profits belonging to growers will be distributed promptly by a Labor Government without delay.

This key industry is at present highly prosperous, but a Labor Government will continue as in the past to assist it when required.


Australians are heavy consumers of potatoes and, as such, have recently had bitter experiences regarding potato prices and supplies.

Despite high prices, growers are just as dissatisfied as are consumers. Fears of potato gluts and low prices are evident. Like consumers, producers prefer price stability which would warrant potato plantings adequate to eliminate undue risks of inadequate supplies.

We believe a satisfactory potato marketing plan can be evolved, providing minimum price guarantees to growers, based on voluntary contractual obligations entered into by growers and backed by Federal and State Governments. With this end in view a Labor Government will confer with growers; organisations and State Governments. Labor hopes to have in the next Parliament the services of Mr. Foster, one of the outstanding Australian experts in this industry.


The Australian industry of tobacco growing will continue to have the fullest protection from Labor. We have always adopted this approach. The potential value to Australia of this industry is very great.

Fruit and vegetables

Producers in the fruit and vegetable industries and the closely related canning industry are undergoing considerable setbacks especially in the irrigation areas. Consulting the industry in every case, a Federal Labor Government will intervene in co-operation with the States by way of practical support.

Soldier settlement-unlocking the land

Our population is increasing rapidly. Instead of closer settlement advancing in a parallel manner the evil of land aggregation is becoming even more serious.

A Federal Labor Government will assist the States in all their closer settlement activities giving first assistance, of course, to discharge the Commonwealth’s direct responsibility to those soldier settlers, who have been approved for land settlement. We will honour the letter and spirit of the Commonwealth-State Soldier Settlement Agreement and make specific allocations of funds to the States for this purpose.

Civilian closer settlement

We shall also do our utmost to encourage closer settlement on land suitable for food production but net so utilised. Many young Australians desperately anxious for land opportunities were too young to be eligible for war service. Their appeal is to unlock large unutilised estates to permit of closer settlement and food production.

Country Party and closer settlement

I believe that the movement towards closer settlement will fail unless a Federal Labor Government is elected. The Country Party increasingly represents the vested interests of land monopolists. They do not want large holdings to be divided for closer settlement. Moreover, the Country Party is bitterly opposed to the establishment of secondary industries in the country towns of Australia. They object to it because secondary industry means greater employment, and greater employment means a bigger Labor vote. The primary producer should never forget that both the Country and Liberal Parties opposed and defeated the Labor Government’s proposal to give the Federal Parliament power to stabilise primary production.

Industrial arbitration and margins

Federal Labor stands firmly for the retention of the system of industrial conciliation and arbitration. Labor supported and is largely responsible for having established the system against much conservative opposition. Without it we would revert to the law of the jungle.

But that does not mean that the system cannot be improved. Indeed the Federal Act has been amended very frequently. Nor does it mean that the Federal Government is to remain neutral and supine in test cases involving great principles. The Labor Government intervened regularly in such vital cases.

The 1947 Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act was passed by Labor. Expedition in the handling and settlement of disputes was its chief feature. The Conciliation Commissioner system was established to speed up the settlement of disputes in each separate industry. The system has been drastically altered by the Menzies/Fadden Government’s creating a system of multiple appeals or references from Conciliation Commissioners to the Court. This delays the settlement of the disputes and removes effective power from the Commissioner who is in very close touch with the industry allocated to him. The primary function of the Court under the Act was to deal with the more important general questions, that is, the basic wage and standard hours.

The freezing of award margins during the last 2½ years has caused much hardship because of the great increases in the cost of living. Public servants, professional and clerical employees, bank and insurance officers and skilled tradesmen, have been seriously prejudiced in their status and their standards of living. Apprenticeship has been discouraged. In the Federal Public Service, the effect of the freezing has been serious because of the granting by the Menzies/Fadden Government itself of very large salary increases to high ranking public officers.

Labor’s arbitration policy

A Labor Government will restore the 1947 system so that the decisions of the Commissioner on Industrial Commissions and margins shall not be subject to appeal.

We shall as a Government at once intervene before the appropriate Tribunals and support the case for just and reasonable increases in margins for employees.

We shall clarify the definition of the basic wage in the Act to provide that the needs of the family must be taken into account by the Federal Arbitration Court in wage fixation.

We shall authorise a special expert inquiry to examine whether the actual costs of living of salary and wage earners are assessed with sufficient accuracy and to suggest possible improvements.

We shall also amend the Act so that long service leave may be awarded by the Commissioner who is in charge of a particular industry. Long service leave applies under State awards and it must in principle, be applicable to those working under Federal awards.

Equal pay for work of equal value

The Labor Party has accepted and is committed to the principle of equality of pay for women performing work of equal value with that of men. The Labor Government of N.S.W. is taking practical steps within its own jurisdiction to see that the principle is made effective. On behalf of the Federal Labor Party, I say that a Federal Labor Government will do everything within its effective jurisdiction to see that this obviously just principle is honestly and fairly observed.

Labor supports private industry which is primarily the field for private enterprise

A most disturbing feature of our economic life is the rapid growth in recent years of powerful combines and monopolies. The other evening Labor was attacked by Mr. Menzies on the ground that it opposed private enterprise and free competition. This assertion is a complete but typical misrepresentation, coming as it does from the spokesman of the monopolies of Australia. Let me quote from Mr, Chifley speaking on behalf of Labor when he was Prime Minister, He said:

Industry is primarily a field for private enterprise, but the Government can assist. It has assisted in recent years to establish and enlarge industries in Australia on a scale unparalleled in our history. But it rests with governments to provide the basic works which open up resources and give the essential facilities of transport, power and water supplies which industry requires.

On behalf of the Australian Labor movement, I entirely endorse Mr. Chifley’s statement. It is true in every respect, It is not government activity which is the primary source of employment in Australia, but private industry and private investment. With 98% of Australian companies Labor has no quarrel. Labor under Scullin and Chifley helped to build up secondary industries and we are proud to be associated with the industrial development which contributed so much to success in World War II. But monopolies which exploit the people are in a different category because they also smother the small and medium businessmen and combine to end private competition.

Today we are being confronted with the unbridled power of a few all-powerful trade combines or monopolies which do not believe in free enterprise. The threat to medium and small business in Australia today comes from these great combines and monopolies which dictate the policy of anti-Labor parties in the Australian Commonwealth.

Monopolies and combines threaten free enterprise

Trade agreements covering compulsory minimum prices to be observed, the division of trade and territories, the standardisation of quality at a level lower than the highest grade-are only some of the exploiting practices of these combines. A Royal Commission in Great Britain has recently brought to light the operations of some of these overseas combines. They are also operating in Australia. They are the real enemies of small and medium businesses. One of the most notorious of the combines is the shipping combine with its many ramifications and its lust for political power.

Labor accepts the principle that there must be free competition if prices are to be reasonable to the public. Labor will co-operate with the States in proposals to secure this basis of fair and free competition. But we shall prevent the exploitation of small business by giant business and the strangling of Australian industries by overseas combinations.

Labor’s policy on combines and monopolies

It is the Menzies/Fadden Government which is the supporter, or rather the agent, of powerful private monopolies. Even where government partnership with private industry is obviously successful and very beneficial (as in the case of C.O.R. and A.W.A.) the Government’s chief purpose was not to promote competition but to destroy competition and to encourage private monopoly. Labor fights relentlessly against such a threat against the right of Australians to develop their own country and utilise their own natural resources. The Labor Government will negotiate with the British Government (as chief shareholder in Anglo Iranian) to restore to the Commonwealth its partnership in C.O.R. and to accept a shareholding interest in the Anglo Iranian refinery enterprise in Western Australia. That will help Western Australia. It will also help both Australia and Britain.


I pledge Labor to guarantee the retention and expansion of the Commonwealth Shipping Line. It will actively compete with the private shipping combine.

The Menzies Government has long planned to sell the Commonwealth Line to this private combine. Labor has tenaciously fought the proposal. I will tell the people that this election will determine the future of the Line. It will only be saved if Labor wins the election.

Without the Commonwealth Shipping Line Tasmania, Queensland and Western Australia would be isolated. They would be at the mercy of the combine.

Commonwealth Shipping Line threatened by shipping control

The overseas shipping combine has increased freight rates to exorbitant levels. One or two Ministers in the Menzies Government have mildly protested but the combine is too powerful. It has treated the Government’s protests with almost open contempt. It controls the Government as and when it wishes.

Labor’s administration of the Commonwealth Line will secure fair freights for Australian producers, merchants and manufacturers. We make no threats, but we will not have this country held to ransom.

Under the Menzies/Fadden Government the Commonwealth Shipping Line is all the time under the imminent threat of extinction. In fact, the efficient service it now runs could be greatly improved if it were only permitted by the Menzies/Fadden Government to compete with the combine. But the very freight agents for the combine handle the freight of the Commonwealth Shipping Line.

Premier Cosgrove of Tasmania says that the active and energetic competition of the Commonwealth Shipping Line is absolutely necessary to preserve the life lines of Tasmania’s vital commerce with the mainland and overseas. Mr. Cosgrove is right, but only a Labor Government can cooperate with Tasmania, Queensland, Western Australia and the other States to bring down freight costs to what is fair and reasonable.


Labor in government will adopt a positive and practical approach to the provision of medical benefits.

The great success of the anti-tuberculosis scheme initiated by the Chifley Government in 1948 indicates that increased emphasis should be placed on the prevention of disease.

Commonwealth drive against cancer, polio and mental illness

In co-operation with the States we shall make a powerful and determined drive against the scourges of cancer, poliomyelitis and nervous and mental illnesses. In these fields research is of supreme importance.

Mental illness not recognised

While those who are mentally defective receive pensions, those who are mentally ill do not. They receive no hospital benefits and not even free drugs. Early diagnostic treatment of mental illness will reduce the number of chronically ill. The Commonwealth must co-operate with the States and make a courageous attempt to cure mental illness in its earliest stages.

The Northcott Neurological Centre of the RS.S.A.I.L.A. –organised by the great neurosurgeon Dr. Phillips–is an example of the best type of voluntary effort in relation to nervous illness. Such institutions will be subsidised by the Commonwealth.

Commonwealth medical benefits

Just because they have not insured, millions of Australian taxpayers are being denied Commonwealth medical health benefits (covering doctors’ services) and portion of public and private hospital benefits. This is wrong in principle as all taxpayers should be equally entitled to this social service benefit from Commonwealth funds.

We shall therefore amend the law to provide that every citizen shall be entitled to the full amount of the benefits payable by the Commonwealth.

At the same time we shall actively encourage the work and development of friendly societies and the other insuring organisations. We shall also seek an agreement to enable all of them, with Commonwealth help, to extend insurance cover to persons suffering chronic disabilities or illnesses existing at the time membership is sought.

In view of the increased costs of the past 3 years, the rates of public and private hospitals benefits from the Commonwealth will be increased.

A Labor Government will approach the States in an endeavour to negotiate a broader agreement which, while fully safeguarding hospital finances, will also enable patients in the public wards of public hospitals to be treated without charge or means test.

Subject to the consent of the State concerned, Labor will provide finance to enable payment by public hospitals to professional personnel attending public wardpatients or engaged in teaching medical students. This is a necessary reform and I hope the medical profession will support it.

At all times we shall seek the advice and active co-operation of the Medical and Dental and Pharmaceutical professions and of the Friendly Societies.

Development of natural resources

The development of Australia’s natural resources requires a thorough working partnership between the States and the Commonwealth. The problems of defence and migration are integrally connected with development. Development, properly planned, is an integral part of defence, just as is land, sea and air transport.

Queensland developmental projects

I refer to Queensland first because that State is practically a sub- continent. Together with Western Australia, it is our chief outpost against danger from the North. In spite of the promises of the Liberal and Country Parties there is not a single important Commonwealth developmental project now under construction in Queensland. The plain fact is that Canberra has let Queensland down. Mr. Gair, the Labor Premier of Queensland is most concerned to push on with major projects but in a planned and orderly manner. The State’s programme is an inspiring and ambitious one, covering the Burdekin Bridge, the Mareeba-Dimboola irrigation proposals, the Djarra-Camooweal-Newcastle Waters Railway, the proposed fertiliser works at Rockhampton and the Blair Athol coal development. We shall give Queensland financial support because the full development of Queensland means the security of all Australia.

The tragedy is that, owing to Commonwealth neglect, the relative growth of population in Queensland is far too small and the immigration intake the lowest in Australia. This drift will be stopped.

Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania

The problem of Western Australia is in some respects comparable to Queensland. One vital project is the Kwinana Refinery. Financial assistance from the Commonwealth should be furnished. This new industry will help to balance the over-concentration of industry and population in the Eastern States. The gold industry will, as always, receive 100% support from Labor.

We shall co-operate with all the States on matters of national development, just as Mr. Chifley co-operated with South Australia in relation to the important Radium Hill uranium project.

In Tasmania, we shall so rapidly ahead with the aluminium industry development at Bell Bay. This is a vital project of supreme importance to Australia as a whole.

Prevention of flood damage

The Commonwealth Government must take a more active part not only in relief and assistance after floods, but especially in planned measures of prevention. Tragic losses are sustained year after year in many parts of Australia. The Hunter River Valley is only one illustration of this. The Commonwealth has a special duty to organise relief and rescue in emergencies, but the major problem is prevention and not cure. That will be Labor’s approach.

Black coal industry

Federal Labor instituted the Joint Coal Board, in co-operation with the N.S.W. Labor Government for the mechanisation, modernisation and development of the black coal industry. Subject to the approval of N.S.W. the present organisation of the Board will be strengthened.

Blowering Dam

Federal Labor is committed to Commonwealth support for the Blowering Dam project in The N.S.W. Murrumbidgee Area as an essential part of The Snowy River project.

Labor will go ahead with national development

Federal Labor has shown that we will not merely talk about development, but we shall go ahead with all practical proposals aimed at harnessing our natural resources and contributing to the peaceful and defence development of Australia. In these matters assistance must be forthcoming from Commonwealth sources. We are trustees of a great heritage. Let us discharge that trust in the interests of Australia and Australians.

Ministry for the Northern Territory

Development of the Northern Territory is vital to the security and future welfare of the people of Australia. A new Federal Ministry will be established to deal with Commonwealth administration of the Northern Territory.

Ministry for New Guinea

A new Ministry will also be established for New Guinea. The retention and development of New Guinea are absolutely basic to Australia’s security.


We require a more intelligent and practical approach to the vital problem of defence-particularly in the northern parts of Australia. Apart from the necessity of providing the most modern air bases at strategic points in the North, greater access by road and rail must be established and also naval docking facilities. Here defence links up with development to prove that expenditure on transport is partly referable to defence.

The change in defence policy recently announced by the Menzies/Fadden Government is is only another provisional blueprint. It is a very plain admission that our present air defences are extremely weak and that our combat aircraft are obsolete or obsolescent. Labor opposes the cutting of the Fleet Air Arm which the Chifley Government established.

It was by means of aircraft carriers in the Coral Sea that the Japanese invasion of Australia was halted. We created the naval defence air arm on the soundest advice from both British and American experts. The London Times has denounced the Government’s latest paper defence plan as a ‘poor one’. Certainly the Menzies/Fadden practice of spending a round £200. millions a year on defence any way, every way and hurry up about it has inevitably led to much waste, extravagance and inefficiency.

Japanese on naval survey of north

Australians must not forget the recent incident where the Menzies/ Fadden Government showed itself so complacent to danger when Japanese citizens were engaged as personnel on a strategic defence survey of the northern approaches to Australia. It would be wrong for us to adopt an attitude of permanent hostility to Japan or to any other country. The enemy of yesterday may become the ally of tomorrow. At the same time there is strong evidence that the Japanese southern expansionists are again so powerful that it would be madness for Australia, after the bitter experiences of the 1940s, to slip back into a state of indifference or neglect. So, too, there are obvious defence dangers in the Japanese pearling and fishing activities in Australian waters.

Therefore, one of our most urgent tasks will be to review the existing defence organisation.

Each May and June there has been a shocking stampede by the organisation to spend the millions still left unspent out of the defence vote. There has been too much paper work and the motto appears to be that Parliament and the people are of little account.

National defence portfolio

Labor will appoint one of its ablest and most vigorous Ministers to take full charge of National Defence. It will be a top portfolio. He will be given special powers, and will have the assistance of a National Defence Chief-of-Staff, who will seek for an outstanding expert on modern warfare, and entrust him with similar responsibilities to Lord Montgomery for the over-all planning of European defence. The Minister for National Defence and his Chief-of-Staff will have the job of integrating the defence services of this country. They will see to it that to we are properly equipped with the latest methods of detecting and repelling those intruders from the air or from the sea. They will see that we obtain only high quality modern aircraft. Plans for civil defence and education on atomic war preparedness must be expedited. They should closely examine the present position in relation to the experimental use of atomic and hydrogen bombs in or near Australia. Despite repeated requests from the States the Menzies/Fadden Government has entirely neglected civilian defence against the atom bomb. Above all we will insist on efficiency.

Labor will concentrate on this great task of providing defence security. What we had to do in the defenceless situation of 1942, we will do again in 1954. I can promise you that when Labor takes office there will be a major shake-up in defence.

Labor always acts against subversive activities

Dealing with national defence, I desire to add that Labor’s attitude to any subversive or seditious activity by Communists is absolutely definite and clear. When in 1949 we were faced with evidence of an organised attempt to injure the essential defence project of the Woomera Rocket Range we never hesitated for a moment. We acted. We passed special legislation through the Parliament and we ended any threat to defence security. Similarly, whenever facts came before us warranting charges of seditious activity or breaches of a security law by Communists and others, we acted. Convictions were obtained and punishment imposed. Similarly, during the coal crisis of 1949 we did not talk, we acted. Deeds not words.

On assuming office a Labor Government will act immediately if there is evidence of any offence against national security or of subversion on the part of any person. We shall not delay or hesitate. Don’t forget that anti-Labor parties always use the Communist cry during election time as a smokescreen to conceal their political wrongdoing. Its hypocrisy in relation to Communism is proved by its having issued passports to leading Communists even to cross the line of war into enemy-controlled areas.

In matters of vital defence security the Labor Party will act vigorously, energetically and without the slightest delay.


Many teachers’ and other organisations throughout Australia have requested substantial Commonwealth aid for education. Throughout Australia the education situation has become increasingly difficult through lack of adequate finance. There has been a definite deterioration in school and educational facilities. This position has been aggravated by the additional demands consequential upon migration. We shall sympathetically examine this problem entirely from a national and non-party point of view and a Labor Government will at once call on the States and organisations concerned for consultation and co-operation.

Education is a matter of Australia-wide concern. A Labor Government will always co-operate with the States or act within its own jurisdiction in order to advance educational progress in Australia. Mere advancement on the material, scientific and technical sides is not enough. The Commonwealth can and should take its proper share in fostering that education for real citizenship which is so closely related to the fine arts, letters, music, the national theatre, art galleries, and library development. In such cases a Labor Government will be very proud to assist the States and the people of Australia.

Machinery of Commonwealth-State co-operation

The present machinery of Commonwealth-State co-operation is inadequate and should be improved. Occasional conferences with Premiers and State Ministers are not enough. There ought to be more frequent consultations, not only at the executive level but at the Parliamentary level, and also with local government bodies who play a vital role in the Australian administrative organisation. On such national matters, we shall work together as a team for the benefIt of all the people of Australia.

Labor’s programme

The proposals I have outlined represent Labor’s practical programme for 1954-1957. There are other important matters which I will mention during the campaign.

We ask you, the people of Australia, to accept what I say as a fighting programme. If elected, Labor will carry it into effect.

Its general keynote is a simple, thorough-going patriotic Australianism: absolute faith in the future of our country. In the crisis of war, Labor demonstrated its capacity for government. It carried out all the promises it made to you when you entrusted it with responsibility during the darkest days of World War II. Also in the difficult days of rehabilitation of the servicemen returning to peacetime production. Labor left office with this country virile, confident, progressing towards a better life and a more prosperous economy than it had ever known.

For the past four years, you have had substituted hesitancy, restrictions, and the dithering which characterises all ‘fits and starts’ policies.

Where the Menzies Government says ‘Restrict’, Labor says ‘Expand’. Under the Menzies Government, this country took ten paces backward, and then just before these elections, It actually took one step forward. Their supporters then exclaimed, ‘look at how we have progressed’. But they are still 9 paces behind their starting point.

That is what they call progress.

What of the future? Would a Menzies Government after the 1954 elections be any different to a Menzies Government after the 1951 elections? When you voted in 1951 you didn’t dream that you had a ‘Horror’ Budget ahead of you. You were allowed to vote ‘on the blind’. Don’t let that happen again this time. For our part, we give you a binding undertaking that Labor’s fighting Programme will be honoured. It will be carried out. It will be your charter.

Our promises will be kept

A word of warning: Attempts will be made to mislead you. The undertakings I have given tonight with regard to repatriation and social service payments are merely in accord with what I said on behalf of the Labor Party in the House of Representatives eight months ago. They are not new pre-election proposals, but well considered parts of Labor’s practical programme. So with my proposals to abolish the means test within 3 years and drastically alter it so soon as the new Parliament meets.

Opponents tactics are those of monopoly groups

The tactics of our opponents should cause no surprise. They want you to forget what they promised you in 1949. They promised not only to maintain but to increase the purchasing power of the £. including the purchasing power of all social service payments. But they are forsworn. They have repudiated that promise. They have treated their obligations to you with utter contempt.

What do you think of these men and the Parties they lead?

The plain fact is that, in Australia, the struggle of the Labor Movement to achieve a better social order and freedom from want has always met with bitter resistance from reactionary groups. Whom do they represent today? They act in the interest of similar vested interests to those which have opposed every progressive reform in Australia since the Labor Movement came into existence 64 years ago.

Smaller business interests under threat

These reactionaries think that Government policies should be designed for their special benefit, that is, for the benefit of a few small groups of people occupying positions of great and special influence. In the last Menzies/Fadden Budget a few powerful business interests received tremendous taxation handouts. But small shareholders in the very same corporations received very little. The fact is that the Menzies/Fadden Coalition cares little or nothing about the small business men in town or country. Those smaller businesses are gradually being smothered by a few powerful combines and monopolies whose exploitation of the people is acquiesced in and supported by the Menzies/Fadden Government. When the shipping combine speaks each Minister listens humbly to ‘His Master’s Voice’.

Fundamental differences between parties

One fundamental difference between the parties is this: our opponents won their election by false promises. Now Labor gives you undertakings. Whereas they dishonoured their promises-we shall carry out ours. What Labor promises, Labor will perform.

Every advance towards social justice by the Labor Movement is denounced by Anti-Labor Parties as a ‘hand-out’. That is the only language they understand. Now they are strangely silent about the political fraud perpetrated in 1949 when the Menzies/Fadden Parties guaranteed that the purchasing value of social service payments would not only be maintained through reduction of prices, but actually increased.

The instinct of the people is sound. Give us the authority to carry out the mandate for which we ask. We shall discharge the trust both faithfully and well.

What Labor will do

We shall spare no effort to have the homeless families of Australia adequately housed. We shall carry out our supreme duty to the ex-servicemen and their dependents. We shall stabilise the economy but only on the basis of justice and a fair deal to all sections of the community. We shall protect the workers on salaries and wages against injustice. Women workers will be treated on the only basis that is fair-equality of payment for work of equal value.

The sick, the aged, the widows will gradually be freed from the sharp pangs of insecurity. People will no longer regard honourable social service payments as a ‘hand-out’ or a dole, but as a right, which they have gained by their labor and their contribution to the national revenues. We will all be shareholders in a great system of social security for which we have already contributed throughout the years. Labor will see to it that the iniquitous means test disappears altogether within three years, and that its worst features are removed as soon as the new Parliament meets and a new Government takes office. We shall pursue the great work of developing Australia into a prosperous, strong and self-reliant nation. We shall encourage secondary industry. Our people will have full employment without recession or depression. Our primary industries will not be curtailed but supported. Our population will be added to by useful immigration. We shall fight for democracy, for the ordinary man and woman and child, and especially for the youth of Australia. We shall work together to eliminate from Australia all the evils of Communism, Fascism and all other totalitarian or alien doctrines or practices.

Labor’s vision

Labor sees Australia as a growing nation integrally associated with the British Commonwealth, living in peace with other nations; associated very specially with the United States in all Pacific affairs, destined under Divine Providence to be truly great, developing its physical assets and natural resources in trust for all its people, advancing not only in material prosperity but, more important, in the great fields of moral, academic and scientific education, always regarding the security of the family and of each member of it as an end in itself and making a worthy contribution to Christian ideals.

Our vision of the nation of tomorrow has been sharpened by some of the sensational discoveries of our own time-atomic power, hydrogen power, jet propulsion and all the wonders of the new age. It has been brought closer to realisation by the discovery of oil and uranium in Australia. The full force of science must be invoked to press these discoveries into rapid service for the peaceful development of our country.

If we fail to do that, we may be confronted with the terrors of atomic war. No one would want to see another generation of young Australians taken from the workshops, from the fields, from/the Universities, the technical schools and the professions to engage in a new kind of war, the borrow of which which is beyond our imagination. No one would want to see our big cities become targets for the hydrogen or cobalt bomb. No one would want to see Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne become a Hiroshima of World War III.

Labor’s efforts will be directed towards preventing the catastrophe of the World War III and gaining a peace that is based on justice, decency and fair dealing. Through the United Nations and also in conjunction with Britain and the United States much may be achieved by Labor. Indeed, it is in a sense the special mission of the Labor Movement to make a positive contribution towards the prevention of atomic warfare by organising an effective watertight system of confining atomic energy in all the lands to the noble purpose of serving mankind, not destroying him.

We believe in the utilisation of the powers of government to achieve and maintain the full employment of our people and maximum standards of health and physical efficiency, to abolish poverty, to clear slums and unhealthy environments, to prevent exploitation by monopolist concentration of property, to stabilise the economy on a basis of social justice and to ensure freedom from want.

Labor’s sacred trust

We recognise that the future of Australia depends in a great degree upon the scientific use of the land for primary production, We believe in a great developmental programme, in the modernisation of transport and all its facilities, in the decentralisation of secondary industry, in the conservation of the soil and forests and in the provision of irrigation and power. These are the material basis of a prosperous rural community. And as the Labor Government proved in World War II, we stand for the most efficient and scientific defence of tho Commonwealth, by naval, military, air and civil defence, by scientific research, and by a properly planned migration policy.

Labor’s mission is to discharge this sacred trust for the benefit of the children of today and tomorrow. Our programme is a practical one. It is inspired by these ideals. It is inspired by a determination that so far as will and heart and hand and brain can do it, our vision shall be realised. We ask all true Australians to join us in this noble crusade, especially the young men and women who will determine the character of the Australia of tomorrow. With their help we shall advance Australian’s towards the good life, the life worth living for all.