Diary of a Labour Man: 1917 - 1945

Full text Prime Minister




On 12th March, 1945, the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) broadcast over the national network. Mr. Curtin said –

"Men and women of Australia,

To-night, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Country Party (Mr. Fadden) join with me in a call to national responsibility. I am grateful to them for what they have done. I know that in this country the leaders of the political parties, whoever they might be, would always be associated in a talk of this description with you. Our call is to Australia, unconditionally and frankly, for another supreme effort on the home front so that our nation may persevere in the inflexible purpose upon which it is resolved.

"The Third Victory Loan of £100,000,000, which opens to-morrow, is one more blow to be struck against the enemy in the forward march towards victory and peace. Let us take stock of our position. A little more than three years ago Singapore fell. To-day, Allied bombs are directed at Singapore, and the grim days of 1942 for us have become anxious days of 1945 for the enemy. Next Sunday is the third anniversary of the arrival in Australia of General Douglas MacArthur after breaking through the Japanese line in the Philippines. To-day, General MacArthur is back in the Philippines. For almost three years, Japan was squatting in bloated strength on the Pacific. To-day, bombs rain on Tokyo. Less than three years ago, the Japanese were within a few miles of Port Moresby. To-day, Australian fighting men are completing the task of wiping out the enemy from territory for which Australia is responsible.

"Unhappily, the picture I have briefly drawn for you has caused many people to pull on a cloak of complacency and to regard the ultimate defeat of Japan as just a matter of time calling for no sustaining of past efforts or energetic prosecution of new tasks. I can think of no better answer to that attitude than the words of General MacArthur in his communiqué only a few weeks ago when he found that the Japanese grip on the Philippines had been broken. General MacArthur said –

We do not count anything done as long as anything remains to be done.

"Those words might well be our watchwords against complacency, against slackening, against lying down on the job, against corrupt practices. They tell us of the hard road ahead; of the blood of heroes yet to be spilled that we might live in peace and of the massive winning blows yet to be mounted. The cost in terms of money is no minor item to be written in neat columns of figures and then forgotten. The cost has to be met daily. Here are some examples.

"It costs £550,000 a day - I repeat, a day - to keep the Australian Army in the field.

"It costs £340,000 a day to keep the Royal Australian Air Force in the air.

"It costs just over £100,000 a day to keep the Royal Australian Navy afloat.

"Reciprocal lend-lease, under which we supply and service American forces, costs £300,000 a day.

"Those four items total over £1,250,000 a day. And on top of that are such things as food production, as well as the ordinary, normal expenditures necessary to maintain the life and activities of the nation. So that when you relate those costs of maintaining the Australian war effort to what appears at first glance to be a colossal amount of money to be subscribed in a war loan, you will quickly realize that it is an amount that must be subscribed - and over-subscribed.

"The tasks of Australia's fighting men in the three services will become known as the passing of time reveals them. Recently you read the heroic story of Australia's small but hard-hitting navy in many seas and more recently in the Philippines area. You will read more about its exploits with the striking forces of the British Pacific Fleet and the United States Pacific Fleet. The Royal Australian Air Force tirelessly, day in and day out, hit relentlessly at the enemy in more deadly and ever-growing strength. The Australian Army, after creating the legends of Tobruk, Greece and Crete and El Alamein, of the Kokoda trail and Buna and Gona, are blasting out Japanese strong-points. Ahead of them, are objectives which will bring freedom to more and more enslaved peoples and drive the enemy out of more places at present groaning under the exploitation of the so-called co-prosperity sphere. To say more of what part our fighting men will play in the plans for the defeat of the enemy would profit only the enemy. But it is grim business for our men. Here on the home front the task is as nothing by comparison, yet if there be any faltering, then the job of the fighting men becomes all the more arduous. Now, what is the policy which the Government asks you to support. Briefly, it is this -

"The spending power of the civilian population is reduced as far as possible by collecting money in taxation and by raising the maximum amount in loans. Direct controls are imposed on the production of many goods and services to ensure that the necessary resources are available for the war effort and that resources remaining are used for essential civilian needs and not wasted in producing luxuries. Hence, there are controls on non-essential production, on materials, on manpower, on investment and capital issues and building. There are controls in the form of rationing and price-fixing so as to ensure that available goods are distributed equitably among the people and not according to the amount of money that can be spent.

"Those are the positive means to ensure as far as possible that money is channelled into the war effort. The remaining means is in your hands - to place your money in war loans, to make an investment that is the best to be had in Australia, for Australia.

"As I have said, the Third Victory Loan calls for another supreme effort on the home front as an integral part of our total war programme. That, in itself, is sufficient reason why the loan must be a success. But there is also an additional reason. On Anzac Day, there will gather the representatives of 44 of the United Nations around the council table at San Francisco. Proudly, with the name won for her by her fighting men and by the magnificent efforts of her civilian population, Australia will take her place at that table. I ask that, on that day, a day imperishable in our memory, the loan shall be filled. It is planned to close the loan on 27th April - two days later - but let us give Australia a world-wide advertisement at San Francisco with an over-subscription before that date.

"The call is national. It is also individual, for ‘no one else can do your share’. I am confident of your resounding answer for Australia"

By Authority: L. F. JOHNSTON, Commonwealth Government Printer, Canberra.