r Man: 1917 - 1945

Full text Prime Minister


“Men and Women of Australia,

“To-night, Australia opens its First Victory Loan. This is the fifth year of war. It is the crucial year of the war. It is the year which may well be the cross-roads of the struggle; whether the United Nations can muster the strength to deal out to the enemy the blows which will bring victory. Therefore, the First Victory Loan is not a loan in the victory year, it is a loan to bring victory nearer in a year, two years, who can tell?

“Four years of war have taken a toll. Attrition has been severe. Australia is not uncommon among the United Nations when she finds herself no longer ‘living off her own fat’. Reserves have been eaten up; resources of raw materials have been drawn upon to a staggering extent, and the strain of a rigid war-time economy has caused stresses which have made grievous inroads.

“The Australian war effort continues on a scale which all Australians - fighting men and workers in factory, farm and all fields of endeavour - can regard pridefully. With the assistance of gallant Allies, Australian flesh and blood, whether the sailor on a merchant ship, a ground-crew mechanic, a girl in a cannery or a private in New Guinea, have stood fast against the enemy in this theatre for upwards of two years.

“Now has come the year of attack. That involves a re-shaping of everything towards which past efforts have been directed. Taken together with the need to revise programmes because of the effects of attrition, the sum total is a balancing which must be as accurate as it is delicate. War Cabinet has taken decisions in regard to the disposition of Australia's man-power resources which have the widest application in every phase of the war effort. Those decisions have not been lightly made. They have emerged after weeks of discussion, revision, estimating and investigation by the best brains in the country that the Government has been able to bring to bear to the problem. War Cabinet has made those decisions as the yardstick by which all that this nation can do is measured. The test upon the Australian people in 1944 will be no less severe than in the vital months of 1942 and early 1943. That test will call not only for all the magnificent ingenuity, enthusiasm, efficiency and high sense of duty that marked Australians' efforts in the past but the ability to make adjustments, some swift, some intricate, some difficult and some even inexplicable. But all those adjustments are inevitable because, as I have said, this is the year of attack, crucial and momentous. The revision of the Australian war programme has been made because of Australia's changed role. As I have said, Australia and her Allies have moved to the attack, but increasingly as blows are struck against Japan so, too, must the strength to deliver them be gathered and mounted.

“Australia has moved from the days of being an embattled fortress, against an enemy sweeping away all resistance in his path, to an armed base in which will be gathered the resources to enable every blow struck against the enemy to be hurled at him in fullest strength, in increasing intensity and in rising tempo.

“Upon this country rests a great responsibility. On the sea, in the air, on the land, our matchless fighting men must be maintained in strength of numbers and backed in undiminishing weight of supplies and materials. Additionally, on the home front, food must be garnered in ever-increasing quantities so that Australia will fulfil commitments drawn up on a scale beyond anything ever dreamed of before. We have to fight and feed. In a phrase that is the nation's task.

"All that I have told you is based on the general strategic plan which Australia has faithfully adhered to since the meeting of Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt at Casablanca in January, 1943. It is based, too, on the particular strategic plan being followed by General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz and their fighting men in the South-West and South Pacific Areas.

“The Japanese are having the outer rim of their conquered empire dented by Allied strikes in splendidly contrived combined operations. The Japanese have bad over two years to draw on a wealth of captured resources and on the productivity of a huge pool of slave labour. On the other hand, the enemy sees the unremitting attack of the United Nations and he, too, must revise his strategy. What will that revision mean to Australia? Will the enemy strike out at the Allies or will he bitterly contest every inch of the way in a withdrawal back along the line he advanced so devastatingly in 1941, 1942 and 1943? In the answers to those questions will be the history of 1944. We are on the verge of events which will become part of our national story. In the shaping of those events, Australians have the opportunity of heightening their national stature.

“Soon I shall visit the United States and Britain. To America I will take the undying gratitude of Australia for the splendid assistance given by the American people to this country in her hour of need. To Britain I will take the admiration of Australia for the British people for their matchless heroism at a time, as Mr. Churchill has said, when they had the honour of standing alone against Nazi Germany. In London, that citadel of courage, that battered home of heroism, I shall join with Mr. Churchill and my fellow Dominion Prime Ministers in important discussions among which will be the volume of fighting forces and materials to be brought against Japan. But no Australian Prime Minister can go to those discussions to deal with such a subject unless his fellows around the conference table know that Australia is fully playing her part. I am confident that, just as Australians have met every call made to them in the past by the Australian Government, I can say that not only will every phase of the new Australian war programme be carried out in its entirety, but the raising of a record loan will be successfully carried through while I am away.

“The £150,000,000 First Victory Loan, which I now officially open, sets a mark for a new record. It calls for a campaign on a new scale. Australia's First Victory Loan will be a major test of the nation's moral fibre, of its will to win, and of its willingness to invest without stint or hesitation in the victorious, peaceful and prosperous Australia of the not-so-distant future. I ask every citizen of every municipality, district or shire, to every Australian, no matter where he or she may live, to see to it that the local quota is filled. I ask every man and women, not only to make a personal investment, but - by sincerity, enthusiasm and example of practical patriotism - to inspire others to stand shoulder to shoulder in this vital task of speeding the victory.

"As I said to you earlier in this talk, the First Victory Loan is not a loan in the victory year, but is a loan to bring victory nearer. Therefore, I ask you to fill the loan to ‘speed the victory’. I ask you not only to fill the loan, but to oversubscribe it. I ask that in the name of Australia, in the name of her fighting men everywhere; I ask is so that at the council of Empire Australia's record will take on a new significance.

“For all that has been done, your Government offers its warmest thanks. No young nation, not even the tortured, tattered countries of pitiful Europe face what Australia faced and survived. For that, all Australians who have worked and fought can share a just national pride. Let nothing tarnish that. Fill the First Victory Loan and help ‘speed the victory’."