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Issue #1930      August 31, 2020

Menzies plans pool of unemployed

Vital weapon in anti-union drive

This article originally appeared in Tribune September, 1946

Mass sackings from government departments and nationalised undertakings, as part of a big business plan to create a strategic unemployed pool, would quickly follow if the Menzies government were elected.

This unemployed pool, big business feels, is a necessary weapon against labour if living standards are to be lowered and the trade unions shackled.

“Liberal” leader Menzies clearly indicated in his speeches that he intends to “purge” government departments, abolish government planning in favour of “freedom of private enterprise” — which is the “Liberal” jargon for unchecked monopolist profiteering.

As well as sacking many thousands from government departments, the “Liberals,” if returned, are pledged to destroy the Commonwealth Airlines Commission, which will soon operate nationalised air services. The big shipping magnates and other oversea interests behind private airlines are working overtime and donating money to the “Liberals” for the defeat of Labour.

“Libs” death-list

The Commonwealth Employment Service, the Department of Information, the proposed Independent ABC News Service and the broadened and strengthened Commonwealth Bank organisation are also down on the “Liberal” Party death-list.

“Not one Government department would escape sackings if the Menzies Government came to power after 28th September,” said the State Secretary of the Clerks’ Union, Mr J R Hughes. “Sackings and the shadow of insecurity will be the lot of many clerical workers.

“One reason why our union is campaigning for the defeat of Menzies is that we have 17,000 Government employees as members.”

Linked with the jobs of white-collar clerks who would be sacked by a Menzies administration are the jobs of many industrial workers and the welfare of many small business men.

Threat to controls

Behind the “Liberal” plans to purge government staffs is the well known big business plot to remove the rent, prices and anti-inflation controls which several of the government departments administer.

High on the list of “Liberal” targets is the Prices Branch. Big corporations would much prefer to see Prices Inspectors on the dole than investigating their profits and price control breaches.

The Rationing Commission would also suffer. The “Liberals,” as “a gesture to housewives,” would bring rationing to a premature end. This would allow wholesale speculation, rocketing prices and profits, and a clean-up by the monopolists of soldiers’ deferred pay and workers’ war savings. This unfettered prices inflation and speculation would also put larger sections of the middle-classes and the farmers in pawn to monopolies.

Menzies has repeatedly emphasised that the “Liberal” Party would support a big drive for export markets.

The Labor Party also believer in finding markets, but not in exporting such excessive quantities that essential goods would be denied to the Australian people.

Prices would spiral

The “Liberals” would export scarce goods, and, with rationing prematurely ended, prices would reach fantastic levels, and shopping queues fantastic lengths.

There is a big temptation for the big business “Liberals” to put emphasis on foreign rather than on local markets. Goods like tobacco, cigarette papers, clothes, beer and spirits are rated above currency in some impoverished countries.

Some exporters have already been able to escape controls and export these scarce goods, but some checks have been imposed by the Labor government.

Purging of several government departments, like Trade and Customs, would be part of the scheme to release exporters from checks.

Soak ex-Diggers

The “Liberals” have shown their unrelenting hostility to the Department of Postwar Reconstruction. They think that there has been too much government planning in rehabilitation, and not enough opportunities for private enterprise to soak the ex-servicemen for deferred pay and war bonuses.

The “Libs” and Country Party object to acquisition of big estates for soldier settlement, and want free speculation in land, to make soldier settlers pay inflated values.

The Department of Information is one of the “Liberals’” pet hates. The DOI is particularly hated by the press proprietors, who fear that its information and statistical services provide embarrassing curbs on anti-labour faking.

The Independent ABC News Services as been strongly opposed by Menzies. The press proprietors want the ABC to continue taking doctored news from the commercial press. The ABC News Services intends to employ its own news-gathering staffs, but this depends on Labor’s return.

The “Liberals’” threat to airways nationalisation is particularly serious. The Airlines Commission now employs many ex-RAAP air crews and ground staffs, in training for civil flying at Point Cook, and will give employment to far larger clerical staffs than the private lines.

Housing in danger

Naturally, plans to increase Commonwealth Bank staffs, to enter fields previously monopolised by the private, overseas-based banks, would go by the board if the “Liberals” got power. The Department of Works and Housing is another government body marked by “Liberal” haters of national planning. The Commonwealth has a scheme to train tens of thousands of skilled building workers and to co-operate with the States in speeding up homes construction. The Fishermen’s Bend aircraft factory in Victoria is already producing prefabricated houses, under State supervision. In the “Liberal” view, all housing should be left to the private speculators – and that means dearer houses, fewer houses and less work.

The “Liberals” have attacked Labor’s full employment schemes because the big monopolies know that full employment weakens their power to attack labour.

The monopolists feel that an industrial or white-collar worker can be coerced, victimised or put on lower pay more easily if unemployed are waiting for jobs outside factories and offices.

Next article – Bela-Ruse! The trickery behind Lukashenko’s opposition

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