Source: “Australia’s Guilty Men and their conspiracy against the Labor Government,” by Len Fox, State Labor Party, published April, 1943, by International Bookshop Pty. Ltd. 186 Exhibition Street Melbourne, C.1.;
Len Fox (1905-2004) joined the Communist Party in 1935, and at the time this pamphlet was published he was working for Progress, a legal weekly newspaper pubished by the N.S.W. State Labor Party, at a time when the Communist Party was banned. The pamphlet expresses the views of the Communist Party at the time.
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.
You know the Guilty Men of France-Laval, Petain, and the other traitors.
You know the Guilty Men of England-Neville Chamberlain, Moore-Brabazon, and the other Municheers.
But do you know the Guilty Men of Australia? And do you know of their conspiracy to overthrow the Labor Government-to sacrifice our war effort on the altar of the great god of Profit?
This pamphlet I’s published by the N.S.W. State Labor Party to rip the veil off this conspiracy, to bring the plotters out into the light of day, and to reveal them in their true light as Guilty Men who have betrayed our country in the past, and who-if they should ever by any evil chance get back to power-would so throw Australia into chaos and confusion that our country would be rendered helpless and stricken-an easy prey to the fascist enemies who seek to overcome us and enslave our people into a terrible barbarism and a fearful darkness.
Off then with the veil of secrecy! The State Labor Party throws the spotlight of truth on Australia’s Guilty Men and their behind-the-scenes Conspiracy to split Labor, smash democracy, and betray Australia!
As the critical year of 1942 drew to a close, the reputation of Australia’s Labor Government stood high in the eyes of the people.
They had made a number of mistakes. They had showed a number of weaknesses. But they had made a tenfold better job of the war effort than had Menzies and Fadden.
Where Menzies and Fadden had kowtowed to Big Business and been afraid to organise the nation for total people’s war, the Curtin Government had faced right up to the problem.
New industries, new factories had sprung up. Women had been brought into industry at decent wage rates. Men had been transferred from luxury production to war production.
Modern war weapons – Owen guns, Bren guns, Austen guns, anti-tank guns, had come off the assembly line in tens of thousands for our lads in New Guinea and other theatres of war.
Coal production had broken all previous records-and other industrial production also smashed records in wholesale and sensational fashion.
Strikes and other industrial disputes had been reduced to less than 38 per cent. of what they had been under Menzies and Fadden.
The Army had been increased threefold, the Air Force practically doubled, rifle production doubled, machine-guns and explosives more than doubled, 16 more Government munition factories set up and 67 more arms annexes.
Australian anti-fascist workers had been released from the concentration camps where they had been interned without trial.
A new spirit of democracy had been given birth as the leaders of our big trade unions were drawn into discussion on a friendly co-operative basis.
Yes, a new spirit breathed through Australia-the spirit of Democratic People’s War, of determination to build our offensive strength, to build Allied Unity, to win Victory.
General MacArthur summed tip the position on October 29, 1942, when lie declared:
“No nation in the world is making a more supreme war effort than Australia.”
(For a more detailed description of some of the Curtin Government’s achievements, see page 23,)
In Australia, as in America, the people rallied in support of a real anti-fascist leadership. Franklin Roosevelt there, John Curtin here.
And in both countries powerful and sinister figures gathered together behind closed doors, conspiring, plotting ...
In Melbourne the rumor went round that the Chamber of Manufactures had set aside at least £60,000 for a political campaign against Labor.
Advertising agencies got to work with cunning press paragraphs designed to set one section of Labor against another, to depict certain Labor -Ministers as cold, hard, cruel, inhuman monsters.
Canvassers appeared in country districts to ask housewives their grievances. “What, a shortage of potatoes? That comes from having a Labor Government in power!”
“Dear, dear, the baker gave you a stale loaf of bread? That’s all the fault of the Curtin Government!”
“What, you bought some petunia seeds and they came up geraniums? Well, ever since Mr. Dedman has been at Canberra everything has gone wrong. Yes, if we only had good old Bob Menzies back . . .”
“Good old Bob Menzies” – better known at Canberra as “Ming the Merciless” (after a somewhat repulsive tyrant in an American comic strip) – was not sitting in his club snoring while these secret conferences were taking place.
On the contrary, lie was travelling around Australia, making speeches in his usual suave and polished style – and meeting Certain People at secret conferences.
Many of these Certain People, while no friends of Labor showed a certain lack of heartiness in their welcome of Mr. Menzies. They remembered certain facts about the past record of this oily heavyweight with the slick tongue.
Mr. Menzies had led the campaign to force Australian wharfies to load iron for Japan when Japan was mercilessly bombing the defenceless people of China.
He had been publicly thanked by the Japanese war-lords early In 1939 for the resumption of shipments of Australian iron to Japan. – (“S.M.H.,” 16/1/39.)
More recently, the Menzies Government boasted that its influence had led to the closing of Chinas life-line-the Burma Road.
Mr.Menzies had praised Italian fascism after his visit to that country in these words:
“Italy was fundamentally more prosperous and better governed now than it was 10 or 15 years ago.” – (“Argus,” 15/11/38.)
Mr. Menzies had likewise visited Nazi Germany and had come back full of praise. He told the Old Melburnians that “he had been impressed with German industrial efficiency and with the attitude of responsibility of the big industrial enterprises to the welfare of their employees and their children.” – (“Argus,” 15/11/38.)
I’m Bob the scrap-iron merchant
I’m silly as can be,
For once I sent the iron to THEM,
Now THEY drop iron on ME!
Mr. Mahoney, M.H.R., even declared in Parliament on April 22, 1940, that “at heart he (Mr. Menzies) is a Nazi . . . When I walked along one of Canberra’s streets with him some time ago he said, ‘I have a great admiration for the Nazi organisation of Germany. There is a case for Germany against Czechoslovakia. We must not destroy Hitlerism or talk about shooting Hitler . . .’”
As a prophet, Mr. Menzies has an inglorious record. After confidently predicting an Allied victory in Norway (on April 18, 1940), and boasting on May 22 of the same year that “France will rally in the next few days,” he tipped that the Red Army would last eight weeks!
He has certainly been consistent – consistently wrong.
Mr. Menzies has openly stated that Australia should not have its own foreign policy-and this statement was made been British foreign policy was the appeasement policy of Neville Chamberlain (“Argus,” 17/9/38).
Mr. Menzies (11(1 riot allow Australia’s parliament to decide to declare war oil Germany in September, 1939. Other Dominions (lid so, but “Ming” forced Australians to behave like children no mind and no voice of their own.
(Even as late as September, 1940, Mr. Menzies stated that lie still agreed with what Mr. Chamberlain had done at Munich.)
But perhaps Mr. Menzies’ most ignominious defeat was when lie was made to look foolish over the visit of Egon Kisch to Australia.
Kisch had been deported by Hitler. Menzies decided to try to do the same thing, although (or should we say “because” Kisch was all anti-fascist who had come to Australia to warn us of the dangers of fascism and war.
Kisch fought Menzies on Menzies’ own pitch-the law courts-and beat him twice! The irrepressible Kisch left Australia a free mail. He had smashed two myths-the myth that Mr. Menzies was a Liberal, and. the myth that he was a clever lawyer!
We have not room to give all Mr. Menzies’ links with Big Business. Suffice it to say that before becoming Prime Minister, he had been a shareholder and company director himself in the powerful Melbourne Monopoly Group which includes B.H.P. and the silver~ lead-zinc combine of Collins House.
When, on October 2, 1935, Mr. Beasley read in the House a list of shareholders of B.H.P., Mr. Menzies remarked: “It is a great entertainment, because I hear so many names of my friends read out.”
And at the Royal Commission on Petrol and Mineral Oils (1935), it was Mr. Menzies who, as Counsel for the world-wide Shell Oil Combine, announced that his company “did not desire to have made public all its private business affairs,” and that it might be necessary to “decline to answer” certain questions. In other words, Mr. Menzies was the mouthpiece of Big Business defying the Government of Australia!
This friend of Big Business, this spokesman for German and Italian fascism, this man who forced decent Australians, by the threat of starvation, to send to the Japanese war-lords the iron that has since rained down on Broome and Darwin, this man whose uncontrollable egotism has wrecked his own party, this expert strategist who always predicted everything upside-down-this is the man who
typifies in perfect fashion the real meaning of the present plot against the Curtin Labor Government.
Look at the record of “Ming the Merciless “-look at the achievements of the Labor Government-and choose!
We have given Mr. Menzies a lot of space because, in spite of his widespread unpopularity, lie is the real leader of the present conspiracy, and the real choice for the Australian people is: MENZIES OR CURTIN? Of lieutenants there is not much to be said.
Percy Spender Is known as the one-time Minister for the Army, whose main contribution to the defence of Australia appears to have been to promote himself to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel on the Army Legal Department). The Sydney “Sun” reported that Percy “blushed a brilliant scarlet” when asked in the House to give the reasons for his promotion of himself.
Lieutenant-Colonel Spender did not make a very brilliant job of defending Australia. As this pamphlet goes to press, General Macarthur has revealed that before he took over, our defence plans conceived our losing the islands to the north of Australia, and also North Queensland and Darwin. Provision had been made for an organised resistance behind a line drawn -,vest from Brisbane-a strategic conception which he thought defeatist and fatal to Australia’s safety.-(“Sunday Telegraph,” 21/3/43.)
But Lieuenant-Colonel Spender has the satisfaction of knowing that when the Labor Government decided to control the drug trade in order to conserve scarce and valuable drugs for the services, lie came out as a “Gallant and Noble Defender"-not of Australia, but of the profits of the two and a half million pound combine, Drug Houses of Australia Ltd., linked through the wealthy Grimwade family with A.C.I. and the big monopolist W. J. Smith!
Major Archibald Cameron (the man who gagged Labor Station 2KY) is so well-known that it will be sufficient to quote his famous speech made in August, 1941-a call to Australia to prepare to attack our gallant Ally, Soviet Russia!
While the heroic Red Army was giving Its blood to save the hid(, of people like Major Cameron, lie calmly arose in Parliament and spoke these words:
‘I have some misgivings whether the gentleman with the big moustache (Note: this is Major Cameron’s manner of referring to Stalin) will fight for very long . . . I deprecate every word that has been said in public to-day about the necessity for sending assistance to Russia ... From our point of view it does not matter who wins the Russian-German war, because the British Empire is committed to fight the winner.”
To-day, Mr. Menzies, and Mr. Spender find themselves allied with Major Cameron and Captain Harrison (who does not deny the accusations that he was a member of the fascist New Guard) in their conspiracy against Labor.
This cartoon by C. and poem by L.N. were published in “Progress,” official organ of the ‘State Labor Party, in November, 1941, when Major Cameron was reported to be busy preventing the entry of Left books into Australia: –
O what is this wondrous sight?
The book is by a socialist.
“The bounder says the Reds can fight,
O Major Archie Cameron Blimp,
In view of Mr. Menzies’ past record, a number of politicians are being fancied-or fancying alternatives to Menzies.
The super-reactionary group in the Senate is prominent here. For months now they have been defying the Opposition leadership in order to play Mr. game and harass the Government. They seem determined to fight Curtin rather than Tojo!
Their leader is Senator McLeay, who for years has been a faithful echo of Menzies, and whose mentality may be judged from the fact that his real-life hero was Neville Chamberlain, of whom lie said: “His life represented all those things which are the essence of British character.”
These Bluebeards of the Senate are discrediting themselves so rapidly (particularly by their opposition to decent rates of pay for women war workers) that they will almost certainly be rejected by the Powers that are seeking a Menzies.
Sir Keith -Murdoch the Press Monopolist, has undoubtedly already got his eye on some Melbourne business mail whom he hopes to make a second Stanley Melbourne Bruce.
Other behind-the-seenes conspirators will seek some “new blood “-probably a man from the Services with no political record-but with a guaranteed U.A.P. outlook!
And a U.A.P. outlook means a Big Business outlook – the type of mind seen recently in Mr. T. S. Austin, President of the U.A.P. organisation in Victoria, who said to a conference of his members:
“There is a lot of talk about a new order after the war. If it is going to be a Utopia, I am shifting camp. I don’t think it is possible. We have got to strive for a happy medium between a Utopia, which means decadence inside 10 years, and Churchill’s promise of blood, tears and sweat. The war is being fought to prevent new orders."(“Melbourne Herald,” 1/3/43.)
Whether Mr. Menzies comes to the top or not, a vote for the U.A.P. at the 1943 elections will be a vote for the forces in our community that are fighting to the last ditch to prevent any new order.
After the Sydney “Telegraph” had praised Menzies and Spender as “Honorable Men,” and the Sydney “Sun” had praised them as “Men of Principle,” and Menzies and Spender had praised themselves as “Men of Conscience,” it was amusing to find one of Australia’s shrewdest journalists, Don Whitington, writing in the “Telegraph” that “Federal circles say that Mr. Menzies is at last essaying a come back . . . The fact that the far-seeing Mr. Percy Spender is backing Mr. Menzies may mean that there is something in the story that the new line-up is to be Mr. Menzies as leader, with Mr. Spender as his deputy.”
Mr. Menzies is now in a minority, but he is shrewd enough to see that as we approach victory in the war, Big Business may swing to the Right seeking a Strong Man to crush with firm hand the growing strength of the Common People.
The present plot of Mr. Menzies and his satellites must therefore be seen as a far-sighted, long-range plot. It must not be under-estimated because to-day the plotters are in a minority.
They are playing for to-morrow, when the turn of the tide may give them a sudden majority before the vast middle section of the people wakes to the danger.
We of the State Labor Party are determined that the people of Australia shall awake in time!
The first draft of this pamphlet was completed in February, 1943, and the final draft in March. Its truth was vividly shown oil April 1 (yes, believe it or not, that was the date !) when 17 members of the Opposition formed a “cave” within the U.A.P. under the name of “National Service Group.”
Don Whitington Canberra roundsman of the “Daily Telegraph,” preferred to call them the “New Guard” – representing “the extreme right wing of Tory thought in Australian politics.”
The 17 include Menzies Cameron, Harrison, Senator McLeay, Senator McBride (a grazier with big interests), Senator McLachlan (wealthy company director) and Mr. Duncan-Hughes (described by Whitington as “one of the wealthiest men in Federal politics”).
One U.A.P. member wise-cracked: “We have lost our tail, not our head,” but it is worth remembering that other U.A.P. members (including Mr. Spender, Sir Frederick Stewart and Colonel Ryan), though not in the “Cave” have often shown sympathy with Mr. Menzies and may, at a later stage, swing to his side. Mr. Menzies’ link with the powerful Melbourne monopoly group also makes him far more dangerous than his personality and record would indicate.
But what exactly is the Menzies-Cameron plot? What are its aims in detail? What sections of Big Business are behind it?
We cannot answer these questions in exact detail, but we can give you a good idea, because in America a similar plot was sensationally uncovered a few months ago.
The Left-wing weekly paper “New Masses,” on November 17, 1942, published a confidential report of a secret meeting on September 17, 1942, at the Hotel Pennsylvania, New York City. The meeting was attended by a number of manufacturers calling themselves the Resolutions Committee of the National Association of Manufacturers.
Those present did not represent the majority of American Big Business, but they do represent a very powerful minority.
Only six of the 60 delegates represented firms doing a yearly volume of business of less than 15,000,000 dollars.
Most important figure there, Lammot du Pont (chairman of a big arms and chemical combine), declared that Big Business “held the aces,” must take back from Roosevelt all the rights he had taken for the better prosecution of the war, that taxes (of the wealthy) must come down,’ that the greater the profit the better, and that the Roosevelt Government must be “dealt with.”
A campaign against the New Deal was planned, a post-war programme including “the driving of woman back into the home where they belong” (exactly Hitler’s idea!), and a drive among farmers, middle classes, and Students.
“We’ve got Roosevelt on the run,” said the delegate.
“Well, keep him on the run. Let’s spend some real money this year; what the hell!”
Other delegates threatened that unless the Government bowed to their demands, production – and the war effort – would suffer.
Another delegate shouted: “If we are to come out of this war with a Marxist brand of Socialism, then I say negotiate peace now and bring Adolf over here to run the show. He knows how. He’s efficient. He can do a better job than any of us can and a damned sight better than Roosevelt.”
“Bring Adolf over here to run the show . . .” Look hard at this plot of a powerful minority of American capitalists, and then turn your eyes back to Australia, and look at our plotters.
The plot here against the Curtin Government is just as determined, and just as subversive and treacherous, as the plot of that greedy, disloyal, smug handful of powerful manufacturers sitting there in the Hotel Pennsylvania and doing the work of Tojo!
Everywhere to-day new parties are springing up. This is a sign of the bankruptcy and disintegration of the U.A.P. The new parties fall into two groups. Some are genuine (though confused) breakaways from the U.A.P., and are giving the U.A.P. leaders a real headache.
But other “new parties” are really attempts to give the U.A.P. a new face, a respectable camouflage, a “beauty treatment.”
“Service Parties” in particular may be used by the U.A.P. leaders to cause a split between soldiers and workers, to win soldiers away from Labor-though the Labor Government has given soldiers a far better deal than any other government.
.M the big servicemen’s meeting in Sydney in January, soldier speakers admitted that “the present Government was the only one in the last twenty years which had seriously tackled the pensions position.” – (“Herald” report.)
It is interesting to note that a new, “respectable” face for the U.A.P. has had to be found in the past every ten or twelve years, and it’s now twelve years since the last “remodelling!”
Before each change, a section of the Labor Party was split away from the Labor movement-Billie Hughes in 1916; “Honest Joe’’ Lyons in 1931.
That is why underground moves are now being made to split the Labor movement, and already certain gentlemen who pretend to be Labor men have joined in the attack on the Curtin Government.
This attempt to split the Labor movement is one of the most dangerous aspects of the conspiracy now on foot, and needs careful watching.
J. T. Lang and his paper, the “Century” are both dying forces, but are still capable of doing damage.
The “Century” has become violently and abusively anti-Labor, attacking almost every aspect of the Curtin Government’s war effort.
Since Lang still has a few honest Labor supporters, it is worth pointing out that his present line is only a continuation of his whole past career. Lang, like Menzies, is a Guilty Man.
It was Lang who pleaded for freedom of action for Mussolini to attack Abyssinia.
It was Lang who withdrew support from Labor’s daily newspaper, the “Labor Daily” (later the “Daily News”), and who continued to attack it until it was finally crushed.
It was Lang who bitterly opposed a collective front of the Democratic Nations against the Fascist Axis.
It was the “Century” that abused the Soviet action in saving half Poland from Hitler with these huge headlines: “His Blood-Stained Highness, Bolshie Joe, Shakes Hands With the Butcher of Berlin.”
And it was the “Century” that misled the workers at the end of 1939 with the headlines: “Pope and Mussolini May Bring World Peace During 1940.”
Lang’s whole teaching has been that Socialist Russia is as bad as (or worse than) Fascist Germany, and that Australia can, and must, remain isolated from world affairs.
On both points the relentless facts of history have proved him wrong. He is as out-of-date in the present world set-up as Gandhi’s spinning wheel. His only role can be that of disruption.
Ills ally in Melbourne, Mr. Calwell, who is stated to have spent the last ten years “opposing progressive moves and waiting for Dr. Maloney to die so as to get a safe scat in Parliament,” showed his true colors recently in the House when lie nearly wept as he defended members of the pro-fascist “Australia First” movement.
(As this pamphlet was being finished, Lang was expelled from the Labor Party.)
In the struggle for the leadership of the anti-Labor forces, Mr. Fadden and Hughes are at present playing a different role from that of Mr. Menzies and his friends.
Their role is comparatively a reasonable one, for they have and brains to see that to-day Australia’s main enemy is not Mr. Curtin, but the Fascist Axis.
They also realise that any attempt at present to make too sharp all attack oil the popular Federal Labor Government is likely to rebound very seriously on the plotters.
Those who try to split Labor are likely to succeed in splitting the U.A.P.! Attempts at explosions may end in a misfire and singed eyebrows!
But this present role of Mr. Fadden and Mr. I Hughes should not blind us to future possibilities. The time will come when they, like Mr. Menzies and Major Cameron, will ride to the attack. S() we should not forget their records.
Mr. Fadden, who was once featured in the “Adelaide News” (10/2/41) in these headlines: –
And “Billie” Hughes, who organised the Gestapo raids on workers’ homes in 1940, who banned such organisations as the Youth Council, who as late as October, 1940, was still lamenting the fact that Australia and Japan were not allies – while the Japanese war-lords were ravaging China!
(See Hartley Gratton’s book, “Introducing Australia.”)
The achievements of the Curtin Labor Government, even in its first 12 months of office, takes 43 pages to tell – see -121 Months’ Labor Rule,” issued by the Australian Labor Party (Victorian Branch).
In brief, the main accomplishments are:
Army increased threefold, better armed, equipped and trained. Air Force practically doubled.
A.I.F. brought back from Middle East; General Macarthur appointed C.-I.-C of S.W. Pacific area: planes, tanks, men and war material sent from America and England.
IneffectiveArmy Board abolished and replaced by a unified command system comprising experienced officers; Inventions Board re-established; Allied Supply Council set up: mass production of Owen and guns started.
Rates of pay increased on two occasions. A soldier with wife and child formerly got 73/6: this was increased to 98/-.
Women’s Auslilliary Services also received increases in October, 1941. A taxation concession (exemption of £250) was granted to soldiers, and another concession in respect of allowances paid to dependants. (These concessions cost the Government from £3,000,000 to £4,000,000.)
Pensions were increased from 21/- to 25/- a week (single man), -with an even greater increase of 7/- for a married man. A further increase was made early in 1943.
Complete gun equipment six times greater; machine guns 2 1/2 times greater; aircraft bombs four time greater; armored fighting times mortar bombs and grenades 10 times greater.
Oil reserves four times greater; production of electric motors doubled; number employed oil aircraft production increased by 80 per cent. ; number of Government arms factories and annexes doubled.
Under the guidance of Dr. Evatt (Minister for External Affairs), links have been built with our Allies-Britain, America, Russia-that will make for a speedier victory and valuable co-operation in the tasks of peace.
The Scully Wheat Plan gave a fairer deal to our wheat farmers: increased prices have ])evil obtained from the British Government for meat exports; subsidies have been granted to dairy farmers.
The Black Marketing Act has been passed to ensure more efficient action against profiteers.
Uniform taxation has saved manpower and simplified taxation. Pensions have been increased from 21/6 to 23/6, and then 25/-. These have been extended to Aboriginals living under civilised conditions.
Rents have been controlled, and steps taken towards post-war reconstruction.
Industrial disputes under two years of the Menzies Government averaged a loss of 21,152 man-days a week. Under 5 1/2 weeks of the Fadden Government they averaged 51,664 a week. Under the Curtin Government, for the first 49 weeks, the average was 8318 a week-less than 38 per cent. of the average under Menzies and Fadden!
The Curtin Government set tip the Women’s Employment Board, which has given better wages and conditions to women than they have ever received before-so much so that Mr. Menzies and Senator McLeay wrecked the Board by moving for the disallowance of the regulation setting it up. But the Government re-established the Board.
To sum up, we cannot do better than quote the statemerits of two Americans:
“Australians have produced a war effort which some American generals out here wish ruefully could be duplicated back in U.S.A.” – Mr. J. Harsch, international correspondent of the “Christian Science Monitor,” “S.M.H.,” 24/9/42.
“Australia is the one example in this war to date of a serious effort by our side to prepare adequately for all attack in time.” – Eliot Janeway, Asia, July, 1942.
All the above – and much more – was done in a brief twelve months. Since then, there have been a large number of progressive steps.
The restoration of legality to the Communist Party has removed a very serious blot from Australia’s good name – for while the Menzies ban remained we were the only democratic country in the world which adopted the fascist policy of denying democracy to Communists.
War pension rates have been increased by 20 per cent. Deferred pay has been granted to the Women’s Auxiliaries.
By an exchange of ambassadors with the Soviet Union, a decisive step has been taken in building friendship with a great Pacific Power whose co-operation is so important to Australia’s future.
The introduction of joint Production Committees in Government munition factories will increase the confidence of the workers and lead – as in Britain – to the elimination of inefficiencies and bottlenecks (though much remains to be done in encouraging these Committees).
Plans have been laid for the granting of the vote to men and women under 21, who have enlisted in the fighting services.
A big drive has been made to secure amendments of the Constitution to make possible a post-war plan that will prevent mass unemployment and insecurity.
A National Welfare Fund has been established as a further definite step towards a New Post-War Order.
These are but a few of Labor’s achievements-not promises, but actual solid facts which cannot be denied.
It isn’t surprising that the main brunt of the attack oil Labor has fallen on Mr. Dedman (Minister for War Organisation of Industry.)
The Curtin Government has been able to lead us into a better-planned war effort only by putting a firm restraining hand on luxury production and profiteering.
This meant hitting certain wealthy and powerful individuals, who didn’t like it – even though it was for the good of Australia.
They squealed – and they directed their squeals at the man who had been given the extremely difficult and unpleasant job of introducing some common-sense plan into the chaos of luxury and profit-chasing.
This man was Mr. Dedman. Mr. Dedman does not make decisions himself: he carries out decisions of the Production Executive, which are approved by the whole Cabinet. But lie made a convenient scapegoat, Mr. Dedman had had to build from the ground up. The Menzies and Fadden Governments had left him only a few files and no staff. From this beginning the Labor Government re-organised our industry from a peace basis to a war basis. Non-essential goods and services were prohibited, industries were rationalised, zoning of bread, milk and ice was introduced, clothing and sugar and tea were rationed, and wasteful advertising was limited to save labor and paper.
The result – a greater equality of sacrifices for civilians, and more guns, shells, bullets and other equipment for the lads in the front line.
(In Sydney and Melbourne alone, zoning gave over 1200 men, 360 motor vans and 770 carts to the war effort!)
But because Dedman had restricted the profits of big retail drapers and newspapers which batten on their advertisements, a terrific campaign of lies was used against him.
Australia was told that Mr. Dedman had “killed Santa Claus” – while every day,, in Anthony Hordern’s and other big stores, Santa Clans was sitting receiving hundreds of children (whose contributions of a shilling each doubtless helped to swell Anthony Hordern’s profits a little further),
This lie about the “murder of Santa Clans” is typical of the whole campaign against Mr. Dedman, which was correctly summed up by John Curtin on December 22 last in these words:
“Production Executive, and especially its Chairman (Mr. Dedman), deserve well of the Commonwealth for the responsibilities which they have shouldered, in the interests of the war effort, and in the face of criticism of selfish and short-sighted interests.”
The big retail drapers, who have been the spearhead of the attack on Mr. Dedman, have done exceedingly well out of the war, as their net profits show:
|Total Net Profits||£547,000||£765,000||£825,000|
It is not hard to see why these people preferred the “Business as usual” of Mr. Menzies to the “Everything for victors,” of Mr. Curtin and Mr. Dedman.
LEN FOX, author of this pamphlet, is a science graduate of Melbourne University, now on the editorial staff of “Progress,” official organ of the N.S.W. State Labor Party. He has been engaged in anti-fascist writing and organisation for eight years, and is the author of “Stop War on China” (1937), “Von Luckner – Not Wanted” (11938), “Monopoly” (1940), “Coal for the Engines of War” (1942), and part-author of “A.I.F.” and “Cobbers and Comrades” (1942).
A little to the north of Australia, a clever and determined foe is consolidating his conquests. Sitting on top of the richest islands in the world, sated with oil, rubber and other war materials, lie is building up Ins industries, preparing to strike.
Our existence as a free Australian people depends on the destruction of this Japanese military machine, and our only answer to the Total War of the Axis is a Democratic People’s War, which means further sacrifices, further inconveniences, further taxes.
But these sacrifices will be reduced to a minimum – they will soon lead to victory – if we realistically accept the leadership that will plan a hundred per cent. war effort against the fascist foe. That leadership means John Curtin.
The alternative is muddle, defeat, tyranny-the rule of the Guilty Men!
Curtin or Menzies! That is the choice for 1943! Whatever mistakes John Curtin has made, whatever weaknesses he has shown (and State Labor has frankly and constructively criticised such mistakes and weaknesses, and will continue to do so!), to-day he stands for victory over fascism. The alternative for Australia is a Black Future under the Men with a Black Past!
That is why the Left Wing of Labor, since John Curtin came to office, has been in the forefront of the fight to support and strengthen the Federal Labor Government.
We have helped John Curtin in his campaign for greater production ; we have assisted Dr. Evatt in his determination that Australia shall be an adult nation freed from the apron-strings of overseas Tories; we have inspired the workers to respond to Mr. Chifley’s appeals to “cheque the Jap’’ ; -we have rallied support to Mr. Dedman as he planned that there should be less perfume for our Upper Set and more Owen guns for a bunch of fellows up in Palma.
Unity behind the Curtin Government’s war effort! That has been our cry, and the cry has become a reality. In trade union and workshop, men and women of Official Labor, State Labor, and the Communist Party have united themselves in action.
We are fighting to have this unity extended. Already the State Labor Party and Communist Party have signed an agreement f or United Action to strengthen the Curtin Government, to build Allied Unity, and to defeat Fascism. The Official Labor Party has been invited to join in. Furthermore, this call for a complete United Front of Labor has been supported by a momentous decision of the N.S.W. Trades and Labor Council.
It is all part of the building of the unity that means victory in this war, and later the advance to the New Socialist Order!
We of the Left are proud of the stand we have taken for years. It was we who in 1935 called for united action against Mussolini’s rape of Abyssinia; who in 1936 fought for Spanish democracy against the Axis; who in 1937 organised the boycott of Japanese goods’ who in 1938 attacked the Munich betrayal and met von Luckner with hoots and catcalls; who in 1939 fought till the last for the Anglo-Soviet Pact; who in 1940 helped to prevent the Municheers from throwing our troops against the Red Army; who in June, 1941, as Menzies gave the Red Army eight weeks, declared that Hitler would be hurled back and defeated by the Land of Socialism and its Allies!
To-day we say to you: Yes, criticise Labor where it is weak, but criticise constructively in order to strengthen Labor. Don’t criticise in a manner that will help to overthrow Labor and bring back the Guilty Men!
Help us to build Unity behind the Labor Government, to smash the conspiracy of the Hidden plotters! Strengthen us, that we may strengthen the Labor movement, that the United Labor movement may lead Australia to a worthy future!
This year 1943 will be a vital year for our country. We all stand at the crossroads. Perhaps you’re irritated by long hours, bad factory conditions, heavy taxes, shortage of milk or tobacco or beer or clothing. But remember you’ve got a say in deciding which road Australia will take:
The Road of Menzies leading from a dark past to a darker future, or the Road of Labor leading to Victory over Fascism, and then onward to the Socialist Australia that we all want to see!
(Issued by the State Labor Party, Room 62, Trades Hall, Sydney.)