r Man: 1917 - 1945

Full text Prime Minister




On 25th October, 1944, the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) broadcast over the national network.

Mr. Curtin said - Men and women of Australia, Within a week the Second Victory Loan of £160,000,000 will close. The number of subscribers of new money known so far indicates that the record total of 568,000 subscribers a year ago may not be reached, and, indeed, may even fall short of the 452,00 subscribers to the First Victory Loan last March. I say to the mass of salary and wage earners, to the possessors of private means, to those engaged in business and commerce, that this will not do. All are better off than ever they were. 44 Yet I find that one of the brightest features of the subscriptions to date is the number of members of the fighting forces who have loaned their money to the Government. They are the men who are already prepared to make the sacrifice of their lives and now make the further gift to the nation of what money they have. I am aware, too, that members of the United States fighting forces are lodging applications for bonds. Much as the Government appreciates this double expression of patriotism by the fighting men, it nevertheless deplores the fact that it should be the case while comfortably placed civilians, protected from the ravages of war by the very bodies of these men, have not subscribed. “In the present circumstances of the war, the nation dare not tolerate protests that earning more money by any means - working overtime or in any other way - only causes more taxation to be paid; or that the ceiling on prices on the Stock Exchange should be lifted higher; or that new houses, new amenities, new comforts and the rest should be provided. "Unless it is realized that the citizens generally must cease competing with the war effort and reduce spending power by loaning every possible pound to the war effort, then not only will the war effort suffer, but values will decline, inflation will loom more seriously and it will be meaningless to contemplate even a balanced economy. Civilian resources will be like unto an apple with a rotten core while the fighting forces will find their ability to wage war successfully so attenuated that there will be a prolongation of the struggle so grievous as to render first-class service to an enemy already planning to salvage something from inevitable defeat upon which to rebuild the continuation of the struggle against democracy in a third world war. “The demands that will be made upon Australia as her part - and, I am sure you will agree, a proper part - will be such that, in order that the United Nations may fully exploit the strategy decided upon against Japan, there must be a new expansion, rather than a retardation, of the Australian war effort. As you have been told, a reshaping of many features of our effort has been under way for some time. Changes are being effected, many of them are already in operation, and a great deal has yet to be done so that the maximum of which this country is capable can be mustered and directed towards the ultimate goal of Japan's complete annihilation. "Australia alone cannot defeat Japan. But I have told you, in general terms, of the massive effort planned by Britain and the United States for the Pacific War. Australia's part in that effort is integral to its success. You have been told that that will mean doubling, perhaps trebling, the strains and stresses which this country will have to bear. I give you an example so that you may gauge what will be required to mount the all-out effort against the Japanese. During the first 109 days of the invasion of Europe, the Allied supply services had to find the means to land 2,500,000 troops, 500,000 vehicles and 17,000,000 tons of munitions and supplies. Every day, 1,000,000 gallons of petrol had to go from England and America to the forces in France. 45 "Look at the map of Europe. Look at the distance from the English ports across the channel to Normandy. Then look at the map of the Pacific and give regard to the far greater distances to be covered from the west coast of North America and from the east coast of Australia to the line of battle against Japan. The distance is a problem now. It will not be contracted, but will be increased as the United Nations move closer to Tokio and the problem will become intensified still more. If, say, three men were required in Australia to keep one soldier, or one airman, or one sailor going at Port Moresby, or Darwin, or in the Solomons, then it is patent that it will take six or more men when the line moves to the Philippines, to Formosa or the China coast. That is but one example of the impact on the civilian population of Australia that must be met when the blows for victory are struck against Japan. "The Australian civilian population must increasingly husband their resources, constrict the spending of money, cease activities which in any way would impair the war effort and discipline themselves against the misuse of money. Reports that £250,000 are involved in the success or failure of a race-horse to complete a double reflect a mood of reckless spending which must be checked as a symptom before it becomes a dangerous malady. "The Second Victory Loan calls for holders of old bonds to convert into new bonds and for over 500,000 subscribers of about £120,000,000 in new money. The present position of the loan is that about 200,000 persons have subscribed £93,000,000 of new money and 38,000 holders have converted £37,000,000 of old bonds. That means that subscriptions are £30,000,000 below the required figure of £160,000,000, while the number of subscribers shows a decrease of 80,000 compared with the same stage of the loan a year ago, which produced the record total of 568,000 subscribers. “There is, as I have said, less than a week before the loan closes. Between now and then I call for a response by Australians that will set new records and will also end the note of discordancy which temporary complacency strikes as against the magnificent achievements of the fighting forces in all sectors of the Pacific War Theatre. The call is to Australia for Australia; for the proud place which Australia has won among the United Nations to be maintained. I look with confidence to a resounding answer from Australia in the next few days. As you know, part of our heart is locked up in Singapore - your money is needed by the nation to help unlock Australians now held by the Japanese. I beg you to consider this matter deeply."