'Banish the budget blues'

Front cover of music score of 'Banish the budget blues' by Jack Lumsdaine, 1930
Jack Lumsdaine's popular song 'Banish the budget blues' was a humorous response to Prime Minister James Scullin's 1930 budget. (NAA: A1336, 20241)

‘Banish the budget blues’ was written by Jack Lumsdaine (1895–1945), an Australian songwriter, entertainer and vaudeville artist with many popular musical hits in the 1920s and 1930s. In this song, he captured the spirit of many Australians trying to overcome the hardships of the Great Depression.

Sent to the Australian Government for copyright registration in August 1930, the song was a humorous response to Prime Minister James Scullin’s tough 1930–31 Commonwealth budget. Taxes were increased on many items that were significant to peoples’ everyday lives – such as beer, tobacco and newsprint.

The song was recorded by radio announcer and singer Len Maurice, using his performance name of Art Leonard. His tenor voice was well known from his recordings of other popular songs of the era about iconic Australians, such as ‘Our Don Bradman’ and ‘Kingsford Smith – Aussie is proud of you’ by Jack O’Hagan.

‘Banish the budget blues’ was also available on a Mastertouch piano roll. In this form, popular songs could be enjoyed by all the family singing around the piano at home. The Mastertouch Piano Roll Company was established in Sydney in 1919 and manufactured and sold piano rolls until 2005.

'Banish the budget blues'
1930, words and music by Jack Lumsdaine
Regal Record G20758
Sung by Art Leonard

First page of Scullin's budget speech, 1930
The first page of Scullin's budget speech, delivered in July 1930, set the scene of worldwide economic depression. (NAA: A5954, 386/1)

Introduction
For years we’ve sung about the blues, since ragtime first began
The blues for old Kentucky, and the blues for Alabam
But a brand new blues is with us, if you read the daily news
Mister Scullin wrote it and it’s called the budget blues
But here’s an antidote so let us sing
This little chorus till the rafters ring

Chorus
Banish the budget blues, spread the happy news
Good times are coming, keep on humming
Whether you win or lose, put on your running shoes
Give it a smile, get over the stile and banish the budget blues

Patters
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
Tax on pictures, tax on punters when they back a winner
And now they’re going to tax the bookies, when they get a skinner
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
There’s a tax on whisky, a tax on beer, but by the heavens above
What will all the taxis do if they put a tax on love?
So let us all be happy and we won’t care a jot
If we sing this little chorus they can take the bally lot

Chorus
Banish the budget blues, spread the happy news
Good times are coming, keep on humming
Whether you win or lose, whether you’re on the booze
Give it a smile, get over the stile and banish the budget blues

Have a listen

Hear the National Archives choir, Archivally Sound, sing the song.

SpeakerDurationSizeDownload
'Banish the budget blues' sung by Archivally Sound 2:24 minutes 1.13MB Download mp3 file
Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017