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Extract from interview with Mr Ralph Doig by Ronda Jamieson, 1984-1986.

DOIG: The States were completely co-operative with the Commonwealth in giving them the powers that were necessary for the wartime purposes, but they were nowhere near as co-operative when it came to giving them permanent powers for the future of Australia after the war. They still believed that the States had a very vital part to play in the post war world and that experience through the years of handing powers over to the Commonwealth wasn't in the best interests of some parts of Australia. It's got to be remembered still that this was 1944, which was only eleven years since Western Australia had passed a referendum in favour of secession by a two to one majority, and that no government in Western Australia was going to be particularly popular if it set about handing over unlimited powers over State matters to the somewhat difficult situation because Labor generally were in favour of increased Commonwealth powers. The subcommittee, which was formed by this conference and which produced a concrete plan for a limited number of powers to be passed to the Commonwealth, had the support of Willcock. He introduced into the West Australian Parliament a bill to give effect to it. It passed the Legislative Assembly and when it went to the Legislative Council it was drastically amended, and that was where the deadlock occurred.

RJ As you've raised the matter of uniform taxation you refer to the fact in your memoirs that the States opposed it "with considerable hostility." I wondered what Willcock's actual attitude was; was he one of those who opposed it with "considerable hostility"?

DOIG: My recollection is, subject to correction, that he was opposed to it; that all State Premiers were opposed to it on the two grounds that I have referred to in the memoirs. The principal thing that they were afraid of was that they wouldn't get the powers back again when the war was over. In the light of experience, they had pretty good grounds for suspecting things of that nature, because the Commonwealth had never been known to hand powers back to the State, unless it was something very unpleasant they wanted to get shot of. In fact, of course, Chifley used this as a pretext when the War was over. He guaranteed that if the States gave them the powers, that he would return them when the War was over. When the War was over, he said, 'No you're not getting them back. My promise was if you GAVE us the powers. You didn't give them to us, we took them, so you're not getting them back.' But, of course, in the long run as things turned out, the States were jolly glad that they didn't get them back. They made noises from time to time saying we'd like these powers back again, but I think they were always a little bit relieved to let the Commonwealth have the opprobrium of raising income tax and then distributing the proceeds to the State.
[Battye Library, OH2144]


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