Banish the budget blues – at the National Archives

Media release: Thursday, 1 May 2008

In writing 'Banish the budget blues' in 1930, popular songwriter and entertainer Jack Lumsdaine captured the spirit of many Australians trying to overcome hardship with a song and a laugh during the Great Depression.

The National Archives of Australia has chosen the song as its Find of the Month for May, to coincide with the 2008 Budget.

The 1930–31 Budget was released during a world-wide collapse in the commodity market, a high level of overseas debt for Australia and rising unemployment.

The Scullin government had been sworn in on 22 October 1929, just as Wall Street crashed. In his Budget speech of 9 July 1930 Prime Minister John Scullin described the economic situation as a 'financial depression without parallel in the 30 years' life of the Commonwealth'.

Increased taxes were part of the strategy to provide funding for much-needed pensions and unemployment benefits.

'The 1930–31 Budget increased tax on simple pleasures and Jack Lumsdaine's song took a humorous look at it,' said researcher Jane Ellis from the National Archives of Australia.

Part of the patter goes:

There's a tax on hats, a tax on boots, a tax on women's clothes
A tax on all the little things that only a married man knows.

A tax on bags, a tax on fags, a tax on wooden legs
To provide the Old Age Pension for the Grocer's new laid eggs.

'Banish the budget blues' was recorded by singer Art Leonard whose tenor voice is remembered from other hits of the period such as 'Our Don Bradman'.

'It was also available on Mastertouch piano rolls which enabled families to sing along around the piano at home,' explained Jane Ellis.

The song was submitted to the Commonwealth government for copyright registration in 1930 which is how it came to be in the National Archives collection. More about 'Banish the budget blues' can be seen on the National Archives website under Find of the Month. Visitors to the site can also listen online to a recording of the song by the National Archives choir Archivally Sound.

Contact information

  • Elizabeth Masters (Media Officer)
    t (02) 6212 3957 m 0427 853 664 e elizabeth.masters@naa.gov.au
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