Diary of a Labour Man: 1917 - 1945

Full text Prime Minister


"Men and women of Australia,

"A fortnight ago you thrilled, and all the peoples of the United Nations thrilled, at the news that the Allied Air Force in the South West Pacific had totally destroyed a Japanese convoy in the Bismarck Sea. Into that blasting bolt out of the blue went all the skill and courage of our fighting men and the magnificent planning, with limited resources, of the Allied Command. But into that action there also went hard cash. You were told, when you were asked to fill the Austerity Loan, that the money was needed to back up the fighting forces. The money you subscribed then did go into the Bismarck Sea battle. I will show you how. The Service departments concerned were asked to take out estimates. This is the stark, yet graphic story they tell.

"To sink that entire Japanese convoy of 22 ships, including 15,000 enemy soldiers, cost £1,577,000. That amount was made up in this way:

"The routine cost of the squadrons during the period of operations, plus repairs to aircraft damaged by the enemy and the general overhaul of all planes taking part, accounted for £1,377,000.

"Bombs and ammunition used cost £35,000.

"Three fighters and a bomber were lost by our forces. They cost £123,000.

"Aviation fuel and oil used up £42;000.

"You, the people of Australia, who have subscribed to war loans were also fighting in that battle. It was your money, given freely by a free people in response to the nation's call, that went into action. You provided the materials for our gallant fighting men and the equally valorous men of the United States.

"What dividends did that money pay? Firstly, the enemy was robbed of the initiative in the strategy he had planned. Secondly, an enemy force was destroyed which, once landed, would have cost many valuable lives and millions of pounds to dig out and defeat. Thirdly, the enemy's shipping and air strength suffered a serious depreciation.

"Estimates provided by the Service departments show that the enemy's losses in money were £1,524,000 for 63 fighters confirmed as having been shot down; £3,000,000 for three light cruisers sunk; £2,100,000 for seven destroyers sunk; £2,400,000 for twelve transports sunk; and £1,000,000 for munitions, equipment and general gear belonging to the complement of 15,000 soldiers and the warships' crews.

"Therefore, it cost Australia £1,577,000 to deal this blow at the enemy which inflicted a money loss on him estimated at £10,000,000. Yet that reverse, as important as it was, is but one of many blows which must be struck at the enemy before the United Nations can gather the strength necessary for the final, crushing blows at the very heart of Japan.

"Millions of pounds have been expended to give to our fighting forces on sea, in the air and on the land all the weapons and supplies requisite not only to holding our soil inviolate from enemy assault but in resisting his efforts to consolidate the outer perimeter of bases from which he can strike at this country.

"For the present financial year, the Budget calls for £600,000,000 to keep the war and civil needs of Australia supplied. Revenue provides £200,000,000 of that and the remainder includes the amount subscribed by loans from you, the people. Our loan campaign of December, 1942, was a proud success. The Third Liberty Loan of £100,000,000 is the latest step in the Government's loan programme, and I now formally declare it open. As from to-morrow morning you can subscribe at everY money order post office, bank, savings bank or stock broker throughout Australia. The loan will close on the 20th April, 1943, so that the call to Australia is for £3,000,000 a day for the 36 days during which the loan is open.

"This loan is placed before you in the name of Australia for the cause of the United Nations. It is for Australia, for the United Nations, for civilization itself. With my friend, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden), who joins me again to-night in characteristically associating himself with any programme devoted to the national cause, I say to you, Australia cannot fail to respond to this challenge, the greatest ever put to the Australian people. The words `appeal' and `ask' do not come within the compass of this matter. It is a challenge to the free people of Australia once more to demonstrate to the world that this young nation of 7,000,000 people has not in the past will not now, nor in the future, fail to respond to any demand made upon it.

"Our fighting men have written the name of Australia indelibly on war's bloody scroll. Australian soldiers have won the praise of the British Prime Minister (Mr. Churchill) and the President of the United States (Mr. Roosevelt).

"Australian warships have met the enemy in every ocean of the globe underlining Australia's participation in the struggle on a global basis.

"Australian airmen were among those of whom Mr. Churchill said `Never has so much been owed by so many to so few'. They have ranged the skyways in war as gloriously as did Hawker, Kingsford Smith and Ulm, Hitchcock, Hinkler and Melrose in the pioneering days of peace-time aviation.

"The men of the merchant navy have their place in the fighting line, keeping the vital supply lines open across the vast wastes of the ocean depths.

"Women's auxiliaries have given a real meaning to women's part in a total war.

"On the industrial front, in a land devoted essentially to primary production, miracles have been achieved in factory and workshop and laboratory. The War Council saw the latest picture of that effort this week. To reveal it would profit only the enemy, but I can assure you that it would do you heart good to see it.

"That is the living evidence of Australia's war effort. The intangible factor, the one effort that cannot be gauged, for which no yardstick can be devised -unless it be the stoical courage of British people under the blitz or the dogged, unflinching spirit of the Russian people in the face of invasion - is the part of the people at large. Your part is considerable. It means bearing the shortages and restrictions that war imposes - following the austere way of life. It means facing up to sacrifice in the spirit of full-hearted co-operation and not `wingeing'. Putting up with all these things should not worry any Australian.

"You will remember that I commended to you during the Austerity Loan campaign a motion picture called Kokoda Front Line. That film showed in a way which words could never convey what Australians put up with when the first drive began against the Jap as he menaced Port Moresby. America showed what it thought of Australia's capacity to put up with it when the Motion Picture Academy last week gave that motion picture a special award. Are you inferior to your fellow Australians? If they can take it in the fighting lines you can put up with it here on the safe, protected home front!

"You can fight with your sacrifices, with your unflagging spirit, with your money. The Battle of the Bismarck Sea shows what your sacrifices can bring in handsome dividends in enemy destruction. Your pounds helped pound the enemy then. We must keep on pounding him. He still stands, bloated in conquered strength, astride every approach to our land except the vital link with the United States across the hazardous Pacific and with Europe across the equally perilous Indian Ocean. That ring of islands, built to fortress strength, has become the plague spot of aggression in a menaced Pacific. We, with New Zealand, are the only unconquered outposts of democratic civilization in this part of the world. Our gallant American Allies cling tenaciously to the Solomons, but elsewhere Japanese domination holds conquered peoples in brutal grip.

"His menace to our land is constant. To-day's communiqué tells of how unrelentingly Japan is moving and concentrating against us. Our part in the global war and the strategical part assigned to us mean that not until Germany is beaten can a major offensive against Japan have given to it the mobilized forces of the United Nations. For us the struggle is continuous and has all the portents of being long continued.

"Liberty and freedom are precious things. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. In time of war, the price comes high. It can be met by resolute regard solely to the national interest. It can be met by every one keeping uppermost in his or her mind this thought: `It all depends on me, not on the other fellow'. It can be met by national pride in selfless achievement, exerting blood and sinew and mind fruitfully for the nation. It can be met just as eleven typical Australians met it in such measure as brought to them a simple cross of bronze - the Victoria Cross.

"Paying that price will bring us, and, most importantly, to our children, the opportunity to work out fully everything that liberty and freedom convey to a free people. Social security, the right to make life free from want and starvation and misery, the positive certainty that culture and enlightenment can be won by equal endeavour - all these precious things are wrapped up in the price we are all asked to pay now.

"There can be no thought of failure. To fill the loan is a national obligation all of us owe to Australia, this Australia that has never flagged when the contests of peace have been faced. So, come on Australia, let's fill the Third Liberty Loan! We have urged, on our champions in peace-time to greater efforts to win the game, the race, or the contest. This, however, is the grimmest struggle of all, the bloody test of war. So, come on Australia, and, with God's blessing, let's fill the loan!"