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]