Diary of a Labour Man: 1917 - 1945

Full text Prime Minister


"Men and women of Australia,

"To-night, you will hear from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden), the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Forde), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Hughes) and myself a message to you, the people of Australia. We have the responsibility of carrying on the democratic form of government which you, the people, have enjoyed for so long and for the preservation of which this nation is dedicated. We speak to you with one voice in this matter - the collective voice of four men who are fully seised with the magnitude of the struggle in which Australia is involved. The very association of we four men to-night predicates the message that goes out to you. Our association to-night symbolizes our joint purpose. And that purpose is to impress upon you the urgent and vital necessity of filling the £100,000,000 Third Liberty Loan, which will close nine days hence.

"We four men, along with our colleagues in the War Council, know only too terribly the impact of war upon our country. Let me convey it to you in terms of money.

"By the end of June this year, Australia will have spent more than £1,000,000,000 on the war.

"The budget before the war was for £98,000,000. This year it is for £653,000,000.

"The war is costing Australia £1,500,000 a day.

"By war loans, war savings certificates and national savings bonds, Australia has raised £317,000,000 - all of it for war.

"Those figures must convey to you this 'simple truth: `You cannot expect your country to keep going a war for survival if you waste your money on things that must wait until we have survived as a nation.' Money loaned to wage a victorious war on Japan will be money that will come back to you. Money wasted will be money that will never come back to you if, as a result, the Japanese take possession of this country. That is a fact. We are faced with a struggle which, because of the delineation of global strategy, imposes attrition on this country. Attrition means `wearing down', a `gradual exhaustion'. That means, in terms of men and materials, that our fighting men will be fighting the enemy for many, many grim months, maybe years, and that supplies will be eaten into and used up in staggering quantities. For the civil population, it will mean going without, and it must also mean that if our strength as a fighting unit is to be maintained, then the Government must have first call on money to provide, and keep provided, everything the fighting men need. Man-power is at the core of the problem. You cannot expect to get all the things you used to get in peace-time because the Government simply cannot spare the men to produce those things.

"Here are the reasons why that is so -

"In the twelve months which followed Japan's entry into the war –

"The Australian Army was more than doubled in strength.

"The Royal Australian Air Force was doubled in strength.

"More men and women were diverted to war purposes than in the preceding two years of the war and more than in the whole of the years of the 1914-18 war.

"Twice as many men are now under arms than fought in the last war for Australia.

"Of our total population, over 3,400,000 - equal to 68 per cent. - are either fighting or working in war occupations.

"This is the most devastating war in all history. It calls for everything. It means withholding nothing. You are in it, as free people fighting to remain free people, as surely as if you were in danger of drowning in a gale-swept sea. War covers the world; it embraces Australia in direful possibilities. The challenge to us is to meet war's impact with a grim resistance which can know no measurement because the strength of the enemy is not yet fully known. I call on the people of Australia to face up to the stark deadliness of our struggle; to consider the blessings of freedom as against the miseries of slavery; and, having done so, to throw everything into the Third Liberty Loan and weigh down the scales in favour of final victory. Come on, Australia; fill this loan!".