The failure of the Government
This is a vital election. The Menzies Government knows that, if it waits until next year, it will be defeated. The result of its mismanagement of the economy cannot be avoided for much longer. So this Government had decided that the people will be pit to the expense of an early election– the fifth Federal election in six years.
The Menzies-Fadden Government was re-elected only last year. It had more than eighteen months of office to serve. Yet it abdicated. Why? This is the question I put to the people of Australia.
Labor welcomes election
For our part, we welcome the opportunity provided to the Australian people to record their censure of the Government. It has delivered itself into your hands. It will go down in history as Australia’s worst government. It has had the most favourable circumstances ever–yet it fumbled its chance.
Labor in wight years on the Treasure Benches faced tremendous problems. The Curtin Government was entrusted with the waging of was against invaders who were on our very threshold. The Chifley Government faced the tremendous task of post-war reconstruction of restoring the war-torn economy to a sure and stable footing.
I proudly claim that the Labor Party discharged these responsibilities with effectiveness and honor. By contract, the Menzies Government inherited the firm foundations laid doen by Mr. Chifley in the post-war years. The Treasury was never more buoyant. A substantial part of our overseas indebtedness had been liquidated. Overseas reserves were a record.
The Government begging and borrowing abroad
And what had the Menzies Government done with this great inheritance? It has squandered our overseas reserves to such an extent that they are now well below the level of 400 million sterling fixed by economists as the limit of safety. And these reserves are still running out. We have begged and borrowed all round the world. We have the very dubious distinction of being the largest debtor of the International Bank. Each year we have drawn upon the balances of the International Monetary Fund, borrowing which we have in due course to repay with interest, thus further accentuating the drain on our overseas reservess. We have borrowed here, there and everywhere–from the United States, from Canada, and even a few francs from Switzerland. The Treasurer has just returned from a further mendicant mission abroad trying to borrow a bit more cash to bolster the Menzies regime. He had to pay Canadians 4 ¾ per cent net for a miserable loan when the Canadian Government paid only 3 per cent.
Labor reduced overseas debt
So our credit has never been lower. And, of course, this is understandable, since the habitual borrower does not usually inspire confidence. On the other hand Mr. Chifley reduced overseas indebtedness by far more than 100 millions. The Menzies Government has increased it by a similar amount. Chifley, the prudent housekeeper as compared with the rake’s progress of Menzies–and Chifley did this while increasing the value of social service pay,emts from a wretched 18 millions a year under the Menzies Government of 1939, to 100 millions in 1949 under Labor administration.
This frittering away of our international reserves and abject borrowing abroad has occurred over a period of six years in which our export prices and earnings have, on the average, been at an all time record level. Without plan or policy the Government has allowed the situation to get completely out of hand and been forced to introduce for the second time savage import cuts which will disrupt Australian industry and cause substantial unemployment unless the Government is quickly turned out of office.
Purpose of election–to conceal economic recession
The Government knows this of course. That is why it is seeking immediate re-election–before the disastrous results of its handiwork become obvious to all the people.
The Menzies Government is determined to seek the traditional anti-Labor way out of its difficulties; to reduce spending, consumption and credit of an essential nature. But this will add to the difficulties of Australian producers. The situation is very similar to that of 1952 from which stemmed the highest level of unemployment since the end of the war. The present situation is more serous that 1952. For side by side with the mismanagement of our international resources the Government maintained or permitted a consistent attack on the living standards of the great masses of the Australian people.
Government’s planned attach on living standards
Elects in 1949 upon the promise of “putting value back into the pound”, this Menzies-Fadden Government unleashed the greatest inflation in the history of Australia, causing considerable damage to living standards and the savings of large sections of the people. In the last two years the attack on living standards has been more direct. The basic wage was frozen in September, 1953. The Government seized the opportunity–with indecent haste–to withdraw the subsidy on tea and to whittle away the subsidy on butter and cheese, with disastrous price increases to all Australian housewives. The 2 ½ times 1937 formula adopted bu the Arbitration Court did nothing to restore margins for some 60 percent of wage and salary earners under Federal awards. Further, the rate of Child Endowment, fixed by Mr. Chifley at 10/- per week for the second and subsequent children in 1948, had remained unaltered although prices have doubled since then.
Face with this attack on living standards, the worker has had to resort to overtime and over-award payments in an attempt to maintain his standards, a fact openly confessed by the Treasurer in his Budget speech. Indeed, the 40-hour week is no longer an economic reality. Moreover, more married women than ever before have been forced into employment in an attempt to maintain decent living standards. The Government responsible for these things deserves the strongest censure. The Labor Party pledges itself have and now to reverse these trends and restore the living standards of the mass of Australian people.
Profiteering by monopolies
Side by side with this depression of living standards, the great monopolies and combines have tightened their grip upon practically every section of the Australian community. Their control is seldom revealed to the public but the scathing exposures of the timber combine by the New South Wales Industrial Commission could be applied to almost every other commodity and service. The purpose of the control they exercise is clear. It is the making of exorbitant profits, the crushing of competitors and the seizure of economic power to which even Govern,emts are sometimes forced to yield. These giant combines are the opponents of free and fair competition. So is the Menzies Government which gives them aid and comfort.
Pensioners and fixed income earners suffer
A further result of increased proces is the suffering inflicted upon pensioners and all those dependent on small fixed incomes. Middle and small businesses too have gradually been brought under control as the powerful monopoly interested move from State to State absorbing, enlarging, amalgamating, “taking over”, and squeezing out less powerful companies from commerce and manufacture.
Labor will save the £1
Chifley-Evatt pound was worth 20/- in 1949. Today its value has been reduced to a small fraction of its former worth.
Tonight I put forward a Labor policy to deal with the emergency situation which I have outlined. I ask you to form your judgement for yourself and to be influenced by those anti-Labor newspaper proprietors whose opinions are, of course, entitled to consideration, but which are more valuable than those of other antiLabor politicians or publicists.
In time of war when Australia was threatened with invasion they sang a different tune because they knew that in the emergency only a Labor Government could save the country. Today the position is also one of emergency and it required a Labor Government to get Australia out of the mess in which the Menzies-Fadden Government has landed us through their negligent handling of the affairs of this country.
If anyone should doubt this, I reiterate the question: Why is it that they re going to the people when less than half of the Parliament of a three-year term is completed?
Government serves interest of great combines
On previous occasions a special election has taken place only after the Government had been defeated in the House of the House could not settle a dispute with the Senate. Then why did Mr. Menzies want an election now. His Government is the spokesman and instrument of the great combines and monopolies of this country. He cannot serve both their interestes and the interestes of the people. I need only refer to this abject capitulation to the shipping combine which habitually exploits the primary products, manufacturers and consumers of this country by freight charges and add further to the extortionate profits of the shipping companies.
The Liberal-Country Party coalition has run this country for the benefit of monopolists and speculators on a colossal scale. Take the case of Australian National Airways–a subsidiary of the overseas shipping monopoly, a private company that does not have to publish its balance sheets. Under pressure, and as a pay-off to overseas shipping interests who helped to bring the Liberal Party back to power, the Menzies Government directed the Commonwealth Bank to lend this private company 4 million for the purpose of buying passenger planes to compete against the Government’s own airline. The Government has guaranteed this overdraft to this private company that has not published a balance sheer, which hods controlling interests in subsidiary companies which also publish no balance sheets. There is every indication that in the long run the taxpayers will be left lamenting.
Government has no plan or policy
In the Budget Speech the Menzies Government had the effrontery to admit that, as a matter of conscious policy, the deliberately cut down expenditure on vital public needs like schools, hospitals, and public works generally, restricting vital development in “the public sector” of economy to facilitate expansion of “private investment”. In other words, the demands of the big corporations and monopolies were so insatiable that the essential expenditure on schools, hospitals and homes was given second place.
What was the result? Sir Arthur Fadden himself again see the dreadful apparition represented bu “the unmistakable signs of active inflation”. And so the Menzies-Fadden false promises of 1949 appeared to haunt the two guilty men.
Hire purchase system made a scapegoat
Seeking a scapegoat the Government placed great blame on the hire-purchase system. This is absurd. That system is simply the ordinary Australian method of acquiring by gradual purchase home equipment or other goods of a durable nature.
The truth of the matter is that a large part of the present economic difficulty arises directly out of the tremendous upsurge of profit-making and profiteering over the past two years, while the salaries and wages were virtually frozen, so as to cause substantial reduction fo standards in the face of rising proces. Government spokesman like Sir Arthur Fadden faced the decision of the Federal Arbitration Court in freezing the basic [unreadable] of employees. Nearly every newspaper pundit had pontificated–“Freeze wages and prices will fall”.
Wages were frozen–and profits still soared
But what happened was the very opposite; wages were frozen, but profits still rose and profits soared to unprecedented and scandalous heights. IN fact, Australia experiences perhaps the mos serious outburst of exploitation in its history. As a result we have experienced profit levels in [unreadable] corporations of such an exorbitant character that action in the interests of the people is urgently demanded. And Labor wil take the necessary action.
What are the facts? In the past two years company profits have actually increased from 378 millions to 505 millions (White Paper). This increase is probably underestimated because results of 180 Australian companies which have issues their balance sheets for 1954-55 show [unreadable] 23 per cent in profits and 35 per cent in the amount paid in dividends. (Australian Financial Review 9.9.1955) And these enormous percentages cover the last year only.
Why the Menzies rush?
Mr. Menzies is rushing the election–the breakdown of his [unreadable] will be concealed for a little longer.
We therefore see:-
- The lack of balance in the economy with tremendous profits in large corporations and at he same time relative falls of consumption of basic foods per head of population in the families of salary and wage earners, pensioners and others on fixed incomes.
- The generally extravagant level of profits.
- In addition to the huge increase in published profits, the undisclosed reserves of large companies have risen substantially. The Financial Review says–“There have been many unexplained additions to reserves”.
Asking the wolves to spare the flock
In effect, all the Government can do is to continue blanket restrictions on imports and timidly appeal to monopolies, combines and profiteers to restrain from spending and expanding their business. How absurd this is! It is like appealing to wolves to spare the rest of the flock when their appetites have been whetted by consuming a portion of it. It is the very essence of giant corporations and monopoly business that it must strive for still greater profits. That indeed has been proved to be a universal rule. Appeals of admonitions to them for self-restrain are like King Oanute calling upon waves to roll back.
What is wanted is immediate action intended to prevent profiteering and to bring about wage justice to the salary and wage earners and others who have suffered from exorbitant prices.
Prosperity–for a few
It is by looking only at the profits made by large corporations which support it that the Government can claim there is prosperity. There is certainly prosperity for them–one-sided prosperity, but there has not been prosperity for the bulk of the people. The freezing of [unreadable] and restriction of income of the wage earner’s family; so much that the housewife has had to seek employment in order to get enough food for their children or to save up by time payment for vital household equipment.
Is is not self-evident that the Menzies-Fadden Government is facing electors for the purpose of deceiving them and [unreadable] a vote before the general recession which mist soon result from their mismanagement?
Mr. Menzies on 27th September almost admitted the postion. But again he has no real plan. He talks about increasing export income. He has had every opportunity for action, but the international reserves show that the Government has drifted back to a worse position than three years ago. His own suggestion is that unless the community “observe healthy restraint in demand” further measures would be required early next year.
This is the usual Tory earning of a plan involving unemployment as an essential ingredient.
Unemployment certain by cutting public works
As it is, Commonwealth Government Works are being cut by 10% and Commonwealth Government imports by approximately 20%. The Senate are bound to fare worse. Local Government throughout Australia is starved for funds. All this foreshadows a bug squeeze on the credit that is necessary to maintain full employment and business activity.
We must not forget that three years ago Australians were subjected to great and unnecessary hardships by a budget of restrictions simply because the Government had deliberately encouraged the forces which led to a false boom. Accordingly the reserves which Mr. Chifley had built up so carefully were allowed to run down. No care was exercised to see that the imports were those essential to Australian industry or development. SOme large department stores had an importing picnic at the public expense. Luxury goods poured in. To a substantial extent that has happened and will happen again.
Those who have embarked upon large quotas covering luxury goods will have another profiteering spree, while their small competitors will have lean time and there will be still more trafficking or racketeering in import quotas. These import restrictions arte the result of the hopeless policy of “let things slide” while a boom is encouraged by the Government in the certain knowledge that it will be followed by a sudden check or a set-back. Men and women in jobs find their standards gradually reduced but the profiteers go on profiteering.
General Motors Holden–illustration of excessive profits due to excessive prices
Today’s prices are extortionately high. One example which is best known is the General Motors HOlden Car business. The holden car was intended to be a cheap car for the people of Australia. The business is en efficient one. The car is a good car. But the price of it is obviously excessive. The price could be greatly reduced and the wages of the employees could be substantially increased, yet the company would still be making huge profits.
Dozens of similar examples could be quoted. But the very daring of the dividend declaration (260% on capital_ shows how little regard the Government has for public opinion and public indignation.
Menzies promised excess profits tax
In 1949 and 1950 Mr. Menzies promised an excess profits tax. He broke those promises. He said an excess profits tax was a necessary check against high prices. Of course it was. But he did nothing because he was prevented from acting by the vast political power of the monopolies and combines.
Wage regulation must include price regulation
It is plain that so long as wages and salaries are regulated so too prices must be places under reasonable regulation.
The people of Australia cannot put up with a Government which has made such a mess of the economy. They have been hard his but the serious mismanagement of the Menzies-Fadden Government.
Average consumption of basic foodstuffs
That hardships exist is a proven fact. A leading anti-Labor newspaper has shown that there has actually neen a decrease in the among to basic food consumed by each individual and calculated on an average basis. There has been a tremendous increase in profits but a decline in food consumption of the ordinary Australian. While the nation can point to prosperity, it is a prosperity not shared bu the great masses of our countrymen.
The chief argument of the Menzies Government is that there should be universal restraint and discouragement of expenditure. This is quite absurd and unjust. It is not the expenditure of employees and their families still less that of the pensioners and those on fixed incomes which has been straining resources in Australia or increasing imports from abroad. The basic injustice is that the balance of the economy has been heavily tilted against the great majority of people. For that the Menzies Government must assume primary responsibility.
I now turn to the heads of Labor’s policy.
The principle of full employment established by the Federal Labor Part during the war will be maintained. This principle guarantees the right of every man and woman to obtain employment on reasonable terms.
Labor’s principle of full employment is seldom openly attacked. Those who do not really believe in full employment use such phrases as “over-full” employment or “brimful” employment. Whatever the situation develops ion relation to external trade, its is always possible to maintain our citizens in employment. So that this basic right of full employment is absolutely guaranteed by the Labor Movement.
I place this principle first so as to reassure those who may possibly suffer loss of employment. Such a position will never be allowed to [unreadable] under a Federal Labor Government.
It is obvious that action is most urgently required to restore the standard of living of employees governed by Federal awards or determinations. While the Federal Parliament has no general legislative power, the Federal Government can intervene before the Court and its submissions are potent and often of decisive weight.
Restore value of basic wage
In September, 1953, with the public acclaim of Sir Arthur Fadden, the Federal Basic wage was frozen. Since that date the cost of food, groceries and rent has moved steadily upwards. The basic wage would have been 12/- per week higher as compared with the 1949 judgment. In addition the taxation of the basic wage earner is 7/4d. per week higher as compared with the 1949 level. Hence a worker on the basic wage is worse off by 19/4d per week than under the standard fo living obtained when the Labor Government was in office in 1949.
Restore value of margins
In addition, the Margins of Judgements of the Federal Court, where the Menzies Government intervened to opposed a general increase in margins, have greatly reduced the living standards of the very large marginal wage group receiving 23/- per week or less above the basic wage. In effect the margins awards supported by the Menzies Government denied justice to all groups of workers in receipt of margins of 23/- or less per week, i.e. 60 per cent of Federal award employees. Their present margin percentage basic wage earner himself, they are also denied the cost of living adjustments while they pay far more taxation than in 1949. This is wage justice according to the distorted philosophy of the Menzies Government.
Immediate action will be taken by the Federal Labor Government to:-
- Restore cost of living adjustments to employees of the Commonwealth; and
- Intervene before the Court, in association with the A.C.T.U. and the A.W.U to seek immediate restoration of the cost of living adjustments taken away by the 1953 judgement; and also a new fixation of the basic wage.
- There will be a Commonwealth enquiry as to what constitutes a reasonable standard of living under moder conditions.
- Margins. The Labor Government will immediately support before the Court the restoration of the value of all margins previously pait to all workers. Similarly we shall make the Castieau award to public servants fully effective. The present postion is causing wide-spread and justifiable discontent.
Arbitration system to be reviewed
The Arbitration Act will be reviewed–
- i. To restore first priority to the procedures of conciliation, which have not been sufficiently employed although they were the key-note of the Labor Government’s legislation of 1947. For the same reasons excessive legalism in procedures and penalty of contempt applications will be ended.
- ii. To eliminate the long delays and uncertainty caused by the appeal system which the Labor Part rigorously opposed. The long delay caused by the Menzies Government’s appeal against the Castieau Award illustrates the grave injustice done to Federal public servants by this system.
- iii. In amending the Federal Act effect will be given and support before the Court furnished to secure that there will be equal pay for equal work and no discrimination against women employees.
- iv. Labor’s policy on long service leave will be to secure the inclusion of this basic right in Federal awards on terms not less favourable than under an State Law, and also to support the recent decision upholding State legislation granting long service leave to Federal award employees.
Federal Workers’ Compensation Act
A new Federal Workers’ Compensation Act, with increased compensation benefits, will be passed in relation to all officers and workers under Federal jurisdiction, e.g. Commonwealth employees, employees in the Territories, etc. The States will be approached with a view of giving the new Federal Statute maximum application throughout Australia.
Recognising the vital importance to industry of steady recruitment of Australian youth to skilled trade, action will be taken, both in conjunction with the States and before the Federal Court, to support the improvement fo the conditions of apprenticeship so as to encourage apprentices to acquire the maximum possible technical skill without wage disability and with adequate time off for study.
Commonwealth public service (Furlough and Superannuation)
- Labor will immediately review the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service relation to furlough of members of the Service.
- The present value of the superannuation init is 17/6d. This figure is extremely small having regard to the very large increases in living costs during the Menzies regime. Immediate action will be taken by the Labor Government to review the postion.
Age and Invalid Pensions. There are certain basic increases which are essential and will be provided for by a Labor Government. Age and Invalid pensions will be increased by 11/- per week. This is necessary from the point of view of justice having regard to the greatly increased cost of living. Incidentally it will assist towards the stabilising of our primary industries because it will lead to increased consumption here of vital foodstuffs. A large part of social services expenditure adds immediately to the income of primary producers and so helps to offset an fall in their income from exports.
Widow’s pensions. Civilian Widows’ pensions will be increased and adjusted on a similar basis. The Social Services Act has many anomalies. We will immediately remove the injustice caused by the inadequate payments to dependants of invalid pensioners and also to widows (including of course war widows), who are at present compelled to seek employment. They will be given a special allowance sufficient to enable them to care for their children at home.
Child Endowment. Because of increased living costs and declining purchasing power of the Endowment, certain increases will be made in the Endowment as follows:-
- 1st Child an increase from 5/- to 10/- per week
- 2nd Child an increase from 10/- to 10/- per week
- 3rd Child an increase from 10/- to 17/6 per week
- 4th and succeeding children 2/6d. per week in respect of each succeeding child.
In this respect also the additional payment will undoubtedly assist in the consumption of basic foodstuffs derived from the primary producing industry.
Maternity Allowances. Maternity allowance will be doubled. This increase is essential, the cost involved in maternity having greatly increased.
Unemployment and sickness benefits. To be adjusted to adequate level.
Funeral Benefits. Under certain conditions funeral benefit is payable up to £10. The sum is obviously inadequate. This sum is obviously inadequate in present circumstances and the benefit will be trebled.
Homes for the Ages. The Labor Party will increase the Commonwealth contribution to homes for the aged. As further assistance to the provision of housing for aged persons, the Commonwealth will make a contribution of £2 fo £1, and will seek to have a certain percentage of houses built each year in each State allocated to aged pensioners who do not wish to libe under institutional care.
Health. The recent imposition by the Menzies Government of the means test on pensioner medical service and pensioner pharmaceutical services will be repealed. We will join with the States in a vigorous campaign against cancer, polio and mental illness.
Hospital benefits at present paid to the States will be reviewed and increased. With the State’s consent, no charge will be made for patients in the wards of public hospitals.
The Commonwealth Medical Benefits and additional Hospital Benefits are at present subject to the condition that the patent must be privately insured. This amounts to a s discrimination quite contrary to the spirit of Commonwealth Social Services and the benefits will be freed of the condition while we shall encourage the principle of insurance.
Arrangements will be negotiated with friendly societies in an endeavour to ensure that those suffering from chronic illness of prior disability shall be included in the benefits assigned.
Means Test. Recognising the invidious and frequently unjust incidence of the pensions means test Labor at the 1954 election undertook, if returned to abolish the means test during the life of the ensuing Parliament.
Labor was not returned. It seems that its proposal in this matter was regarded as too ambitious.
Increases in the rate of pensions since made and now proposed by Labor will add substantially to the cost of abolition of the means test.
Labor pledges itself to institute an immediate enquiry to ascertain the best and fairest method of abolishing the means test. Following this enquiry legislation will be passed providing for complete [unreadable]over a definite period to be specified in such legislation [unreadable] will be submitted to the approval of the people by [unreadable]
The lack of homes in Australia is the great [unreadable] problems. The full shortage far exceeds two hundred thousand and the life of the community is seriously affected. Young people are particularly concerned.
- There will be full co-operation of the Commonwealth with the State Governments to overtake the serious lag in home building, both for ownership and rental.
- The ne Commonwealth-Stated Housing Agreement will operate for ten years.
- The Commonwealth to make available at 3 per cent per annum all finance that can be employed by the States for home building.
- Sales for ownership to be made on small deposits with special arrangements to help family groups with small incomes.
- The Commonwealth Bank to extend financial assistance of not less than £20 million per annum to
- a. Co-operative Building Societies.
- b. Those engaged in the building industry, particularly small contractors, and
- Individual owners.
- Commonwealth to guarantee repayments of moneys so advanced by Commonwealth Bank,
- Building materials, if unavailable in Australia, to be imported duty free.
War Services Homes Act to be liberalised. The War Services HOme Act will be amended to provide for a deposit of 5%, the interest rate being 2 ¾% and the maximum advance to be substantially increased. This will cover both the erection of new dwellings and the purchasing of existing properties. A most urgent question is the long waring time which servicemen are now compelled to endure. Additional finance will be provided to remove this bottleneck. Ex-servicemen will in general be permitted to transfer their present mortgages from private instituions to the Director of War Service Homes.
Labor will provide Homes. Labor makes this pledge to the home seekers o Australia, especially the young people desirous of setting up a home, that housing will be accepted as a national responsibility until the people are satisfactorily housed.
Many returned Soldiers know the trouble and difficulty they have been caused in applying the Onus of Proof and Benefit of the Doubt provisions, which were passed to ensure that illness and injury suffered by Servicemen were to be deemed related to war service unless the contrary was proved beyond doubt by the Repatriation Commission authorities.
We prepose to see that the serviceman’s right to “the benefit of the doubt” is made fully effective. We shall amend the law to provide for the adoption of the English practice whereby a special judge reviews cases in dispute to ensure that this benefit of the doubt provision can never be evaded or avoided.
Extension of Automatic Entitlement. Tuberculosis was in 1943 accepted by the Labor Government for automatic entitlement of [unreadable] conditions. This automatic entitlement will be immediately extended to those with combat service who now suffer from a nervous or mental illness. The plain commonsense view is that these cases must be attributable partly at least to the strain of active service.
Free Repatriation Treatment–All Ex-Servicemen. ALl servicemen will be given the right medical [unreadable] at a Repatriation Hospital without proof or war entitlement. A similar right or other suitable hospitalisation will be arranged in the case of war widows.
Increase in Repatriation Payment. Elsewhere I have indicated certain basic increases in social service payments for aged and invalid pensioners. Increases in repatriation payments at least equivalent to those in the social service field will be made. Totally and permanently incapacitated cases will be placed on a specially beneficial footing.
The problem of transport has become national in character although most of the jurisdiction related to it is exercised byt eh Stated.
Commonwealth Shipping to Reduce Profiteering. With regard to shipping not only will there be fill retention of the Commonwealth Shopping Line, but the fleet of forty-two shops will be expanded so as to lay its part in assisting trade of Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland.
Shipping Commission to be established. To this end a special Shopping Commission, on the lines of Trans Australia Airlines, will be set up to provide active competition with the interstate shipping combine. Such competition does not really exist today. Labor will undertake the task of securing suitable reductions in overseas freights which have recently been increased once again with justification.
Five Year Programme for Roads. A five-year programme for arterial roades and interstate highways is required in conjunction with the States. The entire proceeds of petrol tax will be made available to the States and municipalities. In addition, a just tax on diesel fuel is required and this will be assessed on a fair basis.
Positive Plan for Railways–Gauge to be Standardised. There must be a change in the attitude towards rail transport. The difficult position of the State railways from a financial point of view has been caused to a substantial extent by the war burdens cast on those systems, and the enormous damage to the rolling stock and the permanent way caused by the carriage of troops and war equipment.
We feel that a new approach to the question of interstate transport by roades and railways must be attempted, particularly in view of the present confused legal position. Plas for standardisation of rail gauges must no longer be shelved. A Labor Government regards the problem of transport as vital and as a basic element of our defence.
Recently commercial television licenses were granted for the metropolitan areas of Sydney Melbourne to two corporations om each area–constituting in effect combines of newspaper, radio broadcasting, film and similar interests which already monopolise or control to a large extent madd communication of information to the people. There is a grave danger to the public interest and tre freedom of expression broadcasting but to television which will be the most powerful form of mass communication.
The Labor Movement regards the grant of certain licences and the restriction of television channels as amounting to a partial monopoly and demands a fair and just allocation of licences and statutory guarantees for the protection of Australian actors, writers and artists.
Labor will insist upon the provision of proper standards and safeguards in Television programmes. It will also insist upon the establishment of sufficient channels to off set monopoly influence by active competition.
##Development Labor recognises a special duty to develop Australia as an integral part of the modern world. This mush be sponsored and financed in an orderly way by real partnership between the Commonwealth and the States. Local jealousies must be overcome.
There must be a combined effort to overtake the lad in the provision of homes, schools, hospitals, roads, irrigation and power, including the prevention of flood damage, communications and other facilities. Adequate telephones are vital under modern conditions, and the enormous lag must be overtaken.
Atomic power for peaceful purposes must be developed, care being taken to prevent injury to this generation or future ones.
The development and peopling of the Northern aras of Australia, covering the Northern Territory and extending to the north of Queensland and Western Australia, is vital to national welfare and defence. Details of Labor’s plans will be given later in the campaign.
The Goal Industry must be given very special attention as part of a fuel resources policy which will secure greater and stable production from our abundant coal deposits.
The Tasmanian Aluminium project or its products must not be handed over to monopoly control. Indeed it should be expanded to the processing stage.
The shortage of steel in Australia must be cured. Encouragement will be given tot he expansion of this industry, the establishment of others, and the undertaking of developmental works in the less industrialised States.
Our Federal system of Government calls for close and continuous partnership between the States and the Commonwealth if we are to secure the maximum national development of this country.
This speech specifies several instances of the need for greater Commonwealth powers, but much can be achieved by greater co-ordination between Commonwealth and States.
Whilst financial power has gravitated to the Commonwealth Government, the State Governments are still charged with the heavy and rapidly expanding responsibilities of education, health, and the provision of transport, power and water facilities.
We will therefore confer with the States to ensure that our resources or materials, manpower and technical skill are used to the greatest advantage int eh promotion of national welfare.
We uphold the principles of Uniform Income Taxation. We shall, however, ensure that reimbursement to the States is just and equitable.
As contrasted with the [unreadable] under the Labor Government, international reserves have shown enormous fluctuations under the Menzies-Fadden Government–typical of their “boom and bust” philosophy.
As a result savage import cuts have been imposed upon the community. These cuts take the form of [unreadable] restrictions based on prior trade of the particular trader in imported goods and flat rate cuts in established quotas. Until the overseas balance is improved, certain imports must be subject to restrictions; but the flat-rate system is unjust and leafs to trafficking in quotas and racketeering. The correct principle is to eliminate or curtail what are luxury importes and give full preference to imports which are essential to Australian industry and vital consumer requirements. The next step is the establishment of new Customs Law protecting Australian secondary industry.
The Labor Party will re-examine the whole machinery of import quotas and their administration.
By contrast with Labor’s administration–the Menzies-Fadden Government has twice allowed the situation to get completely out of hand and has then clapped on volent import restrictions to prevent immediate overseas bankruptcy. This is not a policy at all. Steadiness and stability are vital to AUstralia’s ordered progress.
Negative action ont eh balance of payments position can help to prevent actual insolvency in the short run. But positive action to encourage exports is essential to regain the position Australian occupied in overseas markets during Labor Government.
That will be the keynote of Labor’s overseas policy. Exports mist be increased; existing markets expanded; new export markets sought out.
Ministry for exports
Until very recently, and then only under constant pressure, practically no campaign to sell was conducted in relation to our exports. Labor will create a special Ministry of Exports to devote itself to this virtual task. We will tolerate no inhibition which might prevent Australia from associating itself with Britain, Canada and New Zealand in seeking trade relations with all countries, not only in wool but in all exports, both primary and secondary.
I am certain that Labor’s foreign policy of improved international relations will give us important trade results. It is vital to foster good trade relationshops throughout Asia, which must ultimately become major market for our primary and secondary industries.
We shall establish a sustem of export credits and export guarantees to encourage all countries to purchase our products from us. The job is there to be done and Labor is ready, willing and able to do it. In mr. R. Pollard, M.H.R., Labor has a most brilliant and experiences authority.
Because of the vital part primary industries must play in our export drive, I reger now to our policy in connection with primary industrires and the enthusiastic support of the primary producer. That support depends upon full recognition of his right to just and adequate rewards for his products.
Wool is our most valuable export industry. Price reductions have adversely affected our national economy and one contributing factor is the temporary breakdown of active commercial relations with Russia. At the same time trade relations with Russia and China are being actively pursued by our sister nations of Canada and New Zealand, as well as by the United Kingdom itself. We shall proceed to assist the wool producers by encouraging the return to the market of wool buyers from all countries.
If the export price of wool falls below production cost, the Labor Government, after full grower consultation, will consider the fixing of an export minimum price and instituting a system analogous to that by which we successfully operated the disposal of wartime wool surpluses, always safeguarding the prices of the incoming clips.
The wheat industry proves the grave injury to the Australian economy cased by the inflation of proces under the Menzies-Fadden Government,. In 1949 the cost of production of wheat was assessed at 7/1d. per bushel. The 1954 assessment was 12/7d.
The Labor Government will continue to pat wheat growers the full gome consumption proces for consumption in Australia (at present 14/1½d). With regard to surplus wheat delivered in f.a.q condition to the Board and thereby automatically made available for export, the Labor Government will, up to a maximum of 100 million bushels per season, guarantees payment of the cost of production price as assessed annually (12/7d. for the 1954-55 season). In relation to such export wheat the Government guarantees will be fully honoured, irrespective of any subsequent change in value by quality of age deterioration.
This policy is in strict accord with Labor’s view of the necessity for protecting the Australian grower while absolutely opposing any legal restriction of wheat production in a world population one-third of whom are hungry and under-nourished. An advance will be made for f.a.q 1955056 wheat to an amount agree with the growers’ representatives.
International wheat agreement
Labor successfully brought Australia into the 1948 International Wheat agreement, of which the United Kingdom was the most important member nation. While negotiations for the new agreement were being finalised, the Menzies Government joined in a demand result was to put the United Kingdom outside the agreement, although it was formerly the largest individual purchasing country (177 million bushels per annum). Up to the present time Australia has sold to the United Kingdom in the current year only 22 million bushels of wheat. The Labor Government will try and ensure that the United Kingdom is included in the new international agreement.
Stock feed for poultry, pig and dairying industried
These industries are experiencing grave expert difficulties at a time when Australia has a huge carry-over of wheat. The Labor Government in its 1948 Wheat Stabilisation legislation provided for what supplied for these industries at the cost of production price, as assessed annually.
However the Menzies Government in its 1954 legislation required the stock feeders in these important industries to [unreadable] a price based on the home consumption price of wheat–now 14/1½d.
The Labor Government will arrange to provide wheat supplies to stock feeders at a price based ont eh cost of production price as assessed annually–now 12/7d. This policy will assit the important export industries concerned and help to stabilise egg costs to Australian consumers. The cost involved will be met from Consolidated Revenue.
The feature of the Labor Government’s established policy of protecting the primary producer was the five-year price guarantee which, with the annual efficiency grant, greatly improved conditions for the Australian dairyman. The Menzies Government departed from Labor’s policy. The price guarantee now covers butter and cheese for home consumption byt in relation to export it covers an amount equivalent to only 20% of the total quantity locally consumed. An amount exceeding this 20% is subject to the grave risk of export price variation which ranges up to 1.- per lb. This policy, of course, means that the more dairy producers increase production the less per lb. they receive overall.
The Labor Government will guarantee the cost of production price as assessed annually on all butter and cheese produced, whether for home consumption of for export. The present home consumption subsidy will be maintained.
This industry is vital both to soldier an civilian settlers. It must be given greater recognition and fair protection. The Labor Government will, therefore, immediately confer with representatives of the industry and of the State Governments concerned with a view to giving assistance now so desperately required. Any Sales Tax on commodities which have a dired fruit content will be immediately abolished.
The Labor Government, which laid the foundations for the fourteen-year United Kingdom Meat Agreement, will continue to support the agreement, seeking the best terms possible for Australian producers. It will stimulate a sound system of sales in export markets outside the United Kingdom.
Apples and pears, canned fruits and the berry fruit industry of Tasmania are valuable export industries. The Labor Party’s proposals for the establishment of a Ministry of Exports will secure concentrated organisation and publicity in all overseas markets which could absorb part of our important production.
The berry industry in Tasmania requires assistance. It will be given by the Labor Government both on the financial and marketing side.
The Wine Industry of Australia will be given assistance in its overseas marketing problems.
Sugar and tobacco
The great Sugar Industry (which assisted so much in the war effort in the North during World War II) will continue to receive the same generous and just treatment as that always given by past Labor administration.
The Tobacco Industry needs continuous assistance and it will receive it from the Labor Government.
Whaling is an industry which was established in Western Australia by the Chifley Labor Government. It has proved a great success. Substantial profits are being made. The Labor Government will guarantee that this is fully maintained.
Potato export from Tasmania
The problems of the potato industry in Tasmania are bound up with the availability of shipping services. IN this respect utilisation of the Commonwealth Shipping Line will improve the position and secure the producer against possible loss.
Land tax on unimproved values
A Federal Land Tax on the unimproved land value of property will be imposed with a general exemption of £10,000 and the additional exemptions referred to in the previous legislation maintained. In relation to large rural holdings the tax will assist in inducing subdivision into smaller holdings. The breaking up of unduly large holdings is an essential condition for successful long term plans of the States for settling young AUstralian farmers on suitable land. The tas, however, will also apply to city properties and will provide a useful source of revenue/ Unimproved land value largely represets the increased valour of land die to public improvement and developmental projects paid for our to public moneys.
Soldier settlement will be encouraged both in the Federal Capital Territory and the Norther Territory.
Northern Territory development
The need for rapid development in the north of Australia becomes even more urgent. Satisfactory progress depends upon the systematic improvement of communications both by air, road and rail. The problem is a great one and will be tackled vigorously by the Labor Government.
At the same time the general policy of decentralising industry had to be actively pursued in relation to a large number of country towns in all States. The Chifley Labor Government greatly assiste industrial enterprise by transferring defence factories to peace-time industries in country towns. This development was largely brought to a standstill bu the Country Party political influence in the Menzies-Fadden Government. It will have to be energetically resumed and positive encouragement given to the establishment of industries in country towns.
There must be an overhaul of the problem of national defence. IN Labor’s view the Federal Government cannot approach the problems from the scientific point of view from a modern military outlook.
Australia’s North contains vital strategic points. We require a [unreadable] air bases, better road and rail facilities, more effective naval docking and a continuous emphasis on the air weapon.
Defence expenditure misdirected and wasteful. It is obvious that our present air defences are unsatisfactory and that most of our combat aircraft are already obsolescent. The Menzies-Fadden Government has been spending nearly two hundred million pounds a year on some kind of defence. Why they picked 200 mullion nobody quite known, let alone the Service Ministers. However, 200 millions was a good round figure containing no less than eight noughts.
That extravagance and inefficiency resulted is sufficiently illustrated by published reports of the Auditor-General and the analysis by some anti-Labor as well as Labor critics in the Parliament. General Bennet and Air-Marshall Bostock have contributed stringent criticism against the military value of the Malayan Expedition, the expenditure on which is proportionally very high.
As it is, the annual vote on defence has not been expended over the past two years although the general Government directive was to “spend it any way, every way, and hurry up about it”.
It has always been part of the guerrilla tactics of the present Menzies Government to exaggerate the dangers of war to divert attention from their failure to tackle urget internal problems involving the welfare of out people.
The Government’s propaganda about its war effort is simply false. The facts are stated by Mr. Curtin in his policy speech of 1943. Much neglect and unpreparedness were the legaces left by the Menzies-Fadden Coalition of 1941.
Approach to Defence to be modernised. In accordance with Labor’s policies under Mr. Curtin and Mr. Chifley, Labor will make a vigorous effort to modernise out defence system and base it on up-to-date plans and the most modern equipment.
Such action by Labor would not require the huge annual expenditure at present appropriated. What is required is a plan of preparedness and adherence to the plan. Statements by Service Ministers int eh House show that the Government has no idea except perhaps to regard Singapore as the key point of Australia’s defence. But in relation to modern warfare, Singapore has little relevance and even less importance,. The measures adopted in relation to Singapore and Malaya only indicate that in 1945 the Menzies Government is still thinking ont eh same lines as at the outbreak of World War II when, despote eight years of continuous power in both HOuses, anti=Labor parties were apparently prepared to fight modern Japanese Zeros with Wirraway trainer planes. Even the purpose of the Malaya expenditure has been stated in a contradictory way by Ministers in the Government.
In the post-war period Labor instituted the immigration policy as a humanitarian effort to alleviate the lot of victims of World War II as well as to build our work force and to help develop Australia.
Labor will continue to welcome with goodwill and comradeship these new-comers opposed to totalitarianism who are willing to become democratic Australians, upholders of Trades Unionism and the Australian way of life. Th British tradition of freedom under law is basic to our way of living and all migrants can and should come to share it.
Migration must be regulated so as not to impose an undue strain on our economy. The task of providing housing, hospitals, schools and transport and other services has thrown heavy burdens on the States.
Labor is satisfied that the screening and medical examination of migrants has not been adequate during the last few years. Concern is felt at the number of recent migrants with serious social and physical disabilities.
With these considerations in mind Labor will at once review the rate of intake and the screening of migrants.
Labor’s policy on international affairs was re-declared by the Federal Conference, and is in strict line with the policy pursued during the war and post-was years.
Labor’s support for principles of U.N. Charter. Australia has an important destiny to fulfil in the world, especially int eh Pacific and in Asia. It is best fulfilled by steady and unwavering support fo United Nations principles. It is our first duty to support conciliation for the prevention and settlement of international disputes which might lead to war; second, the positive principles of improving standards of living must be pursued in all lands; third, fundamental freedoms are to be respected and observed; fourth, the right of nationhood must be accorded to every people showing a capacity for self-government; and fifth, armed force must be used only in accordance with United Nations principles, and force used collectively only in cases of proved aggression.
Isolationism impossible. The Labor movement well knows that isolationism is impossible. that was proved in World War II and the post-war years, first byt eh great contribution of Labor to victory in war; secondly the equally important contribution of Labor to the United Nations in the field od international peace. The underlying causes of war of then line in the exploration of groups and peoples. International disputes must be settled by reference to what was right and just, not to what was merely.
All nations admitted to U.N., China and trade relations. Out policy today is based ont eh principles of the U.N. Charter. We stand for full membership in the United Nations of all nations. The United Nations was intended to be a genuine world organisations, a truly representative world society. It was never intended to be limited to nations whose policy of internal government would necessarily meed with the approval of the majority. For instance, the United Nations today includes members how believe in totalitarian principles. Communist in some cases, Fascist in others. Nations now awaiting admission are many. If we want the inclusion of nations like Ceylon or Ireland, we must be prepared to accepts nations like Bulgaria and China. The continued exclusion of China only weakens the organisation. The postion is become so absurd that the present Menzies Government opposes China byt admits it is prepared to support Franco’s Spain. I think both should be admitted though I am opposed to the internal methods of government of both. Australia today recognises countries like Spain and numerous military dictatorships elsewhere.
Recognition of CHina involves no approval of its internal methods of government delay in recognition will prejudice the establishment o f valuable trade relations in many parts of Asia.
Peace is a positive policy. Equally, the Labor movement insists upon firm support to the Big Four meetings of Britain, United States, Russia and France. I personally have advocated this for many years. The fact that now such meeting took place int he ten years between 1945 and 1955 was a scandal. But it was not fault of the Chifley Labor Government, which advocated such meetings when I was its Foreign Minister and President of General Assembly. Since the Labor Conference early this year, the first Big Four meeting has taken place. Already beneficial results have occurred. The present problem is to follow up the first meeting with patience and goodwill. Meantime official and unofficial contacts between all these nations are regularly taking place and only Australia is left sulking and disconsolate.
Labor will struggle to give to the world the era at international peace and effective disarmament for which the hearts of all men are yearning. Human life is too precious to permit it to be destroyed by the waging of atomic warfare or the use of even worse weapons of mass destruction. But the evil thing is not only the weapons which could destroy the whole fabric of the world; the evil thing is war itself.
Asia–a province for U.N. intervention. In Asia we do not want to have a repetition of the tragedy of Indo-China. There I consistently advocated United Nations intervention to conciliate the parties. The problem was always by-passed. Unfortunately France was persuaded to keep away from the United Nations. In the result Communist groups took charge of the genuine nationalist movement in that country. The United Nations could have arranged a settlement which would have given complete self-government to a democratic nation which would have remained in permanent friendship with France. All this was lost by vacillation and delay.
By contrast the Labor policy supported the Labor Governments of Britain, Australia and New Zealand, was given effect to in India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma and Indonesia. All those five important Asian countries received prompt recognition of their nationhood. from the Labor Movements of the Commonwealth despite many anti-Labor doubts and criticisms.
Labor’s policy on Malaya. In all these cases the overriding principle is the development from colonialism into full nationhood. That is why Labor opposes any repetition in Malaya of the Indo-China fiasco. We believe that a grave blunder was made in intervention by Australian armed forces in Malaya. Our proper role in Malaya throughout Asia is that of a nation which will observe United Nations decisions and oppose aggression by force. But equally, and as a vital role we readily support all the processes of conciliation and peaceful settlement. For Australia to join the so-called strategic force in Malaya is an expensive military undertaking which has been condemned by several Australian military leaders. But it is also wrong in principle and arrangements should be made to return the Australian troops to their true strategic base, which is Australia.
Labor’s approach in relation to Malaya is not one of isolationism. So far from turning our back on Asia, Labor’s policy is to establish firmer friendships throughout that continent. Not only do these peoples demand fulfilment of the United Nations Charter, which means the end of colonialism wherever peoples are fit for self-government, they want practical assistance, especially in relation to health education and development. Labor commenced that policy long before the Colombo Plan.
But, most of all the Asian peoples demand full and frank recognition of their dignity and self-respect as peoples. That we must give them.
Welfare not warfare. Fully recognising the above principles, our policy in relation to Asia is the very reverse of isolationism. It is active co-operation based upon a policy of conciliation and firm friendship. Labor’s policy is therefore WELFARE NOT WARFARE.
Foreign policy must be forward-looking. Australia in international affairs must play a forward-looking role. The Menzies-Fadden Government has been caught flat-footed on international policy and appears quite unprepared for the trade changes which must affect all parts of the world as and when full international co-operation is established.
The spirit in which these changes are approached is vital. We do not look at it as the Menzies-Fadden Government does, wondering how they will be affected politically and when they have to abandon their rusty armoury of false slogans.
The better view is to look forward with faith, with hope and with charity; remembering that war is an evil and wicked thing and that the life of every human being in any part of the world is just as precious to his loveed ones as is that of a beloved member of our own families. That expresses the true spirit of the Labor Movement in Australia and throughout the British Commonwealth. In this respect organised Labor is the hope of the world.
The trouble seems to be that the Menzies-Fadden Government is desperately afraid lest peace break out. After all, they retained office with political catch-cries and a special kind of political support based upon the false theory; which they frequently asserted that a third world war against Russia was inevitable. Well, they have been disappointed and just as international events have passed them by, so will the people of Australia pass them by.
The course of international goodwill does not always run smooth. But when the impediments of fear and suspicion are removed as they certainly will be, then the stream will run strong and clear and, as Burns said:-
Man to man the world O'er Will brithers be for a’ that.
Hire purchase and interest rates
Hire purchase credit is of great importance in the economy. It is better described as consumer credit. To the ordinary Australian it is often the only practicable method of saving to obtain and retain home equipment and other articles of a durable nature. Recently the Commonwealth Bank undoubtedly under Government pressure, unjustifiably decided to withdraw its contribution to financing hire purchase investment.
Labor policy is that the Commonwealth Bank should resume and extend its financial backing in relation to hire purchase but always so as to prevent an excessive rate of interest being charged to the public. High interest rates are the anti-Labor methods of restricting national development, public works and business activity.
Legislative powers of the Government. This question of hire purchase raises the important question of Commonwealth legislative power in relation to interest. The power to fix interest is not given to the Commonwealth. The Loan Council controls the rate of interest in regard to public borrowing and there is power to fix the rate of interest in all transactions connected with banking that means, in fact, that only the States having full power to fix interest in hire purchase.
Power to control interest rates to be sought
It is obvious that the Commonwealth should also have this power if Australian development is to proceed vigorously. Labor believes that the power to fix rates of interest should be given to the Commonwealth Parliament either by referendum or by reference from the States. Unless such action is taken, profiteering and usury will run rampant to the grave injury of the overwhelming majority of the people. It is also desirable that the States should refer to the Commonwealth the power to deal with prices and charges (including rents) on an Australia-wide basis, together with the regulation of trusts, combines and monopolies.
A Capital issues power is also desirable to check inflationary trends.
A Labor Government will consult with the States to guarantee these providers either permanently or for a specified period. Failing State consent, we shall appeal to the people by referendum and the decision will be that of the people.
Additional legislative powers for economic stability
All the powers I have mentioned are possessed bu the six States within their own territories. But it is the Australian economy as a whole which is placed in jeopardy but the mismanagement of the Menzies-Fadden Government and only the Commonwealth Parliament can fully deal with truly national economic problems.
This election will not decide the grant of additional legislative powers. Amending the constitution requires the consent of a majority of the people and four out of the six States.
The Labor Government will immediately establish an all-party committee of the Parliament to consider the working of the constitution and proposals for its improvement. Mr. Menzies promised to do this. He broke that promise. We shall redeem it.
Financing of proposals
Very careful examination has been made in relation to the financing of all proposals st out in the policy speech. They can all be financed. Taxation will be imposed on company profits commencing at a high level of taxable income. We shall review the Defence Vote so as to exclude wasteful and extravagant projects like St. Mary’s. The new tax on unimproved land values will also help to yield sufficient to carry out all the proposals suggest in this speech.
Taxation of excess profits
It is essential that there should be an immediate imposition of taxation on exorbitant profits made by companies in receipt of a taxable income of £25,000 per annum or more. Mr. Menzies repeatedly promised to impose an excess profits tax. He completely repudiated that promise. Labor will carry it out because it is essentially just in itself and is a necessary part of Labor’s policy of restoring economic justice and stable development in Australia.
The gigantic profits of the General Motors Holden illustrates the recent profiteering trends which are socially dangerous to this democracy. Everyone would agree that this G,M.H Company is probably excellently organised and conducted, just as the car it produces is a good car. In deed encouragement was given to ist many facture by the Chifley Government, which was assured the car would be sold at a price within the financial reach of all. But the profits made are so excessive in relation to capitalisation and past retention of profits, that there is room for a very large reduction in the price of the car. Even then the profits would still remain so high that a very large dividend could still be declared and the salaries and wages of the employees still greatly increased.
There are many taxpayers who pay a small tax on taxable income up to £250 per year. The average amount payable by such taxpayers is very small indeed. The trouble and cost involved in collection are considerable. We will relieve from income taxation of all those whose taxable income does not exceed £250 per year.
Just as the import restrictions required immediate review for the purpose of giving the necessary preference to essential goods, so we shall cause an immediate review of the incidence of Sales Tax. Sales Tax on household equipment and furniture will be immediately abolished. Sales Tax causes a sharp increase in the prices of furniture and home equipment and the repeal will make a special contribution to the young married people setting up home and will assist all home owners.
False anti-Labor propaganda
Undoubtedly reactionary elements will again raise the cry of inflation in an attempt to defeat the implementation of the wage and social service policy outlined in this speech. The cry will be utterly false and unscrupulous. But the very same anti-Labor forces used a similar cry when their press backers declared that9 if wages were frozen prices would become stable. Yet the very opposite took place. The fact is that inflation in the Australian economy was largely caused by the Menzies Government’s abject failure to curb profiteering or to safeguard Australia’s overseas resources or to adopt a fair and just economic policy.
In the Budget speeches the Menzies Government could not evade responsibility for present inflationary trends. The policy I announce tonight has all the ingredients of a stable and prosperous economy based on justice for all Australians.
Rising wages do not cause inflation. Rising prices and rising money wages are not causes of inflation. They are consequences of it. In an inflationary situation, all prices may be expected to rise including wages. To prevent wages rising in proportion to prices is merely to give preference to profits and to continue profiteering. And this is largely what has happened over the last two years. For instance, in the year before the suspension of quarterly adjustments f·or New South Wales the total price adjustment for the year was 5/-. In the two years since their suspension9 wage adjustments of 10/- have been justified. In other words, prices have continued to rise at about the same rate as in the last year of operation or the quarterly adjustments. The effect of suspension of quarterly adjustments is not to be found in prices but in the soaring level of profits during the last two years and those excessive profits have caused grave hardship and injustice to millions of Australian men, women and children.
It is from those profiteers that the basic inflationary pressure comes in Australia today. Fed by huge profits, tremendous depreciation and other reserves, favoured treatment in bank credit, which is denied small firms, private investment and luxury consumption have taken the bit in their teeth and bolted. Indeed the Treasurer himself told us in his Budget speech that it was the deliberate policy of the Government to put the brake on public investment, i.e. schools, hospitals, public works, and home building while allowing the large corporations free rein. Surely a class policy emanating from a class conscious government!
“Restrain” required on profits
It is true that “restraint” is urgently need. But it is not the employee or the pensioner who needs restraint. It is the profiteer. Moreover, the evils of over-expansion of private investment induced by record profit making and profit taking–with the usual slump as the sequel–are now apparent. And a slump means recession, unemployment, and a squeeze on all trade commerce and industry.
The import content of excessive private investment and luxury consumption is very high. On the contrary basic consumption goods are Australian produced. Therefore restoration of balanced development and a more equitable distribution of income within the community will go a long way to alleviating the critical balance of payments position which was brought about by the Government’s reckless favouritism to private monopoly interests at the expense of the great majority of the people.
We have shown that the proposals outlined in this speech are just and necessary. We are determined to take every step required to maintain stability and orderly progress. Labor has a complete answer to the lack of" economic balance which has generated the main inflationary forces in Australia. The Menzies-Fadden Government’s long continued mismanagement of the economy must be ended. The people of Australia have it in their hands to restore economic justice and stability. Labor has the plan, the means, and the man to do the job.
Work and vote for Labor, for full employment, for economic justice to all sections and all groups. Vote against the monopolist, the exploiter and their profiteer. By doing so we shall remove a government which acts in their interest and as their agent. Thereby we shall attain [unreadable] There is no other way.
Policy and personal explanation
I fell it my duty and my right to speak to you very frankly about a policy question which also is one of" personal signifiance to myself. It is the fate of all Labor leaders who fight hard to be subjected to virulent and mal~lent attacks by their political enemies. You know that was true both of Curtin and Chifley. Pardon me if I say a frank word in reply.
Resignation from High Court for seat in Federal Parliament
I served for ten years as a justice of the highest court in this country. I can say without boasting that my work there was valued highly by the best professional and academic opinion throughout the British Commonwealth. I retired from the Bench in 1940 at one of the most critical periods in the history of World War II. The Battle for Britain was then being fought and I thought it my duty to help the war effort of this country which, in my opinion, was flagging. I contested Barton and won that seat for Mr. Curtin and the Labor Movement.
Labor’s war time Government
I stood at the side of Curtin and Chifley in the greatest crisis of our history for Labor assumed office late in 1941 only a few weeks before Japan entered the war. Because our military position soon become almost desperate, immediately after the fall of Singapore Mr. Curtin sent me abroad to obtain vitally necessary equipment to help our servicemen fight against the Japanese who were sweeping through South-East Asia and the Pacific. I got the needed equipment from Roosevelt and Churchill.
W.M. Hughes stated publicly that without that additional equipment we could hardly have won through. My Labor colleagues and I devoted our lives to the great task of repelling Australia’s enemies, so much so that General MacArthur said that Australia’s war effort under the Curtin and Chifley Government was second to none in the world.
Labor’s policy in U.N. With the coming of peace Australian Labor was determined to take a more active part in international affairs than did the anti-Labor pre-war Governments. In the United Nations Organisation Labor’s task was to prevent another world war under atomic bomb conditions and also to extend the ideals of socially economic and international justice to all countries. The deaths of Roosevelt and Curtin in 1945 were a grave set back to international understanding. I fought against the system of absolute veto in the Security Council and my opposition to Russian practice in that regard is known to every student. In its struggle to improve the United Nations Charter the Australian Government was supported by only a few western democracies. None the less we were intensely active in the Security Council and helped to prevent bloodshed in many parts of the world–in the Balkans, Iran, Palestine, Kashmir and Indonesia.
Presidency of U.N. In 1948-49 I was elected as President of the United Nations General Assembly. I made great endeavours to ease the tension of the so-called “cold war”. Together with Mr. Trygvie Lie I tried to arrange a Big Four Conference in 1948. We nearly succeeded. But it was not until this year–after ten years of tension and strain–that the first Conference was arranged.
Mr. Menzies reverses policy on Communism. In 1949 a revolutionary change took place in the policy of Mr. Menzies. He had always opposed the idea of outlawing the Communist Party. On the eve of the 1949 election his views completely changed. He defeated Mr. Chifley partly on that ground and partly because of his solemn promise to reduce the cost of living, the promise which has been so completely falsified that the subject is never mentioned in anti-Labor circles without a shudder or at least a shiver.
Anti-Communist Bill of 1950-51. In 1950-51 the Parliamentary struggle centred around the Anti-Communist Bill, which was in truth a pro-Fascist f and Police State Bill quite opposed to British legal and constitutional traditions. It was inspired by the McCathyism so suddenly fashionable in the United States. There the reactionaries slandered even the name of President Roosevelt who had done so much to gain victory for the Allies against the forces of Fascism.
Unbridled ferocity. Here in Australia those men who in 1950-51 led the fight for British traditions against the Menzies legislation were subjected to attacks of unbridled ferocity. Parliament itself was reduced to the level of a shambles after I accepted a brief for Trades Unions for whom I had acted when a barrister. I was assailed in Parliament with the connivance of Mr. Menzies, although the case was actually pending. He knew that every member of the English Bar and the House of Commons would have regarded his criticism as frivolous, indeed infantile. However, I succeeded in the case despite a barrage of abuse of unprecedented violence which Mr. Chifley denounced in his very last Policy Speech. I was returned for Barton in 1951–a very near thing.
Mr. Chifley’s Death. Soon after the 1951 election there occurred the tragic death of Mr. Chifley while Leader of the Opposition and while in serious ill health. He too was subjected to systematic sniping in the House by his critics.
Victory in 1951 Referendum. Immediately after Mr. Chifley’s death I led the referendum campaign to prevent the passing of the Police State legislation which would have shackled freedom in this country and made it difficult for radical or left-wing Labor or non-conformist opinion to be expressed fearlessly. In that campaign we started with more than 80% of the people against us. But we finally won through. That we were right is sufficiently proved by the fact that~ with all his anti-democratic and McCarthy Smearing, Mr. Menzies has never ventured to put his anti-British proposal before the people again.
Justice is fundamental principle. The basis of my opposition to the so-called Anti-Red Bill was that it was fundamentally unjust. In my view the true measure of a country’s greatness is the method and spirit in which justice can be obtained by every citizen whatever his politics, whatever his status, whatever his religion. Material profit matters nothing unless every man - be he Communist or Fascist9 poor or rich, Protestant or Catholic–is given justice according to law. Without justice nothing is left save brute force, anarchy and the destruction of all that makes life worth living.
“I give the slanderers the lie direct”. When I was attacked as a Communist sympathiser I gave the slanderers the lie direct. They must have known it was a lie. You must examine their motives for lying. In many cases they forced the effect of my advocacy of justice in cases like the Communist Referendum. If so, that suggests that they do not believe in justice except in the interests of Totalitarians and Fascists.
Labor Anti-Totalitarian. So that I declare this to you with absolute frankness–the Australian Labor Party is democratic national and constitutional. It is absolutely opposed to Communism which is totalitarian in method and anti-democratic in character. Labor rejects the theories of revolution and fights totalitarianism of all kinds, whether fascist or communist. Labor supports basic civil rights and political freedoms against attacks from any quarter. Indeed we aim at the inclusion in the Commonwealth Constitution itself of a charter of civil and human rights which will be enforceable by the High Court and be made binding on all Parliaments and all Governments whether Commonwealth or State.
Lie of Communist sympathiser. These are the principles which have governed Labor policy and my actions. It is true that I believed the Menzies Police State Bill, called the Anti-Red Bill, to be unconstitutional. But my belief did not make it unconstitutional. Six High Court Judges out of seven declared it was unconstitutional. Are they to be smeared as Communist sympathisers? Is a member of the Bar who defends a person accused of a crime to be accused of being sympathetic with crime? Only the half wit or the most vicious would regard it. The right of legal defence by counsel in the courts is just as basic a right as freedom of expression itself.
McCarthyism in Excelsis. I do not believe that anywhere else in the British Commonwealth would you find such a long-sustained political smearing of an opponent as that employed by the Menzies Government–sometimes by themselves more usually through their agents. It was McCarthyism in Excelsis. For ignorant and the uninformed there was excuse. But THEY knew better.
For if I am to be condemned as pro-Communist for my argument as Counsel or for my public expression of opinions on the Police State legislation–am I to be condemned als as being pro-Irish because I was one of Counsel for Irish envoys who came before the courts of this country? When I think of the multitudes of cases and causes I have defended, there is only one short comment on all of them that is this. In all cases for which I fought–the right of legal defence and the right of justice in Australia for every man and woman.
Defended Cardinal Mindzenty
A similar crisis also arose in international affairs. Almost alone in the United Nations l defended the fundamental rights of Cardinal Mindzenty of Hungary and the Lutheran Pastors of Bulgaria when the grant of fair trial was in my view denied to them by Communist Governments. They were charged with offences and were denied the basic right of fu11 defence. In the United Nations I fought almost alone.
If the individuals who seek to smear me for my defence of Trade Unions were right to call me pro-Communist, I would at one and the same time be pro-Irish, pro-Communist, pro-Catholic and pro-Protestant. Such are the arrant absurdities of political malevolence.
All this you see involves sound policy as well as personal beliefs. It only i1lustrated how the enemies of Labor fight for their privileges by misusing Parliamentary government and abusing press freedom to their own purposes.
Pioneers fought for justice
Australia honours the pioneers from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales who were punished unjustly because they tried to lead their fellow men towards democratic or individual freedom. Most famous case of all was that of the Topuddle Martys–six Methodist lay readers who, for daring to form an agricultural trade inion to increase their wages by a pitiful 1/- a week were transported to Australia for seven years. Their name will live forever more in the annals of British and Australian history.
Justice is devine as well as human
I belieVe there is something more in this. eben greater than the mere principle of human rights though that is involved. Surely the fearless attitude of the Saviour Himself to injustice, and the monstrous miscarriage of justice of His trial and conviction, are enough to show every man, every woman, whatever their politics, whatever their religion, that there is something divine int he maintenance of basic justice. So on of the greatesR exponents of Roman law declared that Jurisprudence contained an element that was not merely human but divine.
Labor stands for Christianity
In the Labor Movement and in public life yo mist fight the good fight with all your might.
Fellow Australians, these are grave and fundamental questions that I place before you–even more important than the material interest of our country and all its citizens. I ask, nay, I demand of you, reach you opinion for yourself. Express it at the ballor. Don’t be misled by party propaganda or press clamour.
I claim that in essential purpose the objectives of Labor now under challenge are synonymous with those of justice both human and divine–with Christianity itself, and Christianity stands for WELFARE NOR WARFARE.