12th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. NormanMakin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Scullin) agreed to -
That the House at its rising adjourn until 11 o’clock a.m. to-morrow.
– Is the ActingMinister for Trade and Customs able to estimate the additional employment that is being created by the new tariff schedule?
– It is difficult to make an accurate estimate at this juncture, but the Sydney Chamber of Manufactures predict that the new schedule will-provide 30,000 new jobs immediately, and 100,000 additional jobs when the plants of the various manufacturing establishments have been extended.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has decided to inaugurate a five days working week at the Garden Island Naval Depot? If so, is this decision preliminary to extending the working week of five days to the whole of the Commonwealth Service ?
– The Government has decided ‘ to allow certain men engaged at Garden Island to work the 44 hours per week in five days. This merely brings them into line with- employees in certain other industries and callings.
– I have received from an important municipality in my electorate a telegram asking for particulars of the proposed programme of works for the relief of unemployment tq be undertaken with the sum of £1,000,000 which is being made available by the Commonwealth to the States for road purposes. “Will the Prime Minister state whether. the money will be made available through the State Governments, or whether the Commonwealth will allocate it to particular areas and municipalities?
– The sum of £1,000,000 to be made available from the accumulations in the Roads Trust account will be allocated to the States in the same proportions as apply to other grants under the Federal Aid Roads Agreement. The States will decide what works shall be carried out with this money, subject to the Commonwealth Minister for Works being satisfied that the money is to be expended upon roads of the classes defined in the agreement.
– In view of the fact that the large balances in the Roads Trust account were not expended earlier because the States lacked equipment or were unable to - complete more quickly their plans for undertaking new works, what provision is now being made by their various governments for the wise expenditure of the £1,000,000 that the Commonwealth Government is to make available?
– The reasons why the States have not expended all the moneys that were made available to them by the Commonwealth under the agreement have not been correctly stated by the right honorable member. Lack of equipment was not one of them. The representatives of the States who attended the conference in Canberra yesterday and unanimously accepted the Commonwealth proposal gave an assurance that they could expend the money efficiently, economically, and expeditiously. All ex- penditure will be subject to the approval of the Commonwealth Minister for Works.
– Has the Prime Minister anything further to say regarding the request made by a deputation yesterday that a portion of the £1,000,000 should be made available for certain roads and sewerage works.
– That and other suggestions were brought under the notice of the officers who will have the responsibility of recommending what works should be undertaken.
– In view of the decision of the Government to spend £1,000,000 on road construction, will the Minister for Works and Railways give special consideration to the requests that certain roads be made in the Ravensthorpe and Philips River districts? In view of the urgency of these works will he bring them under the notice of the authorities concerned?
– The Prime Minister has already pointed out that the responsibility of deciding how the money shall be spent rests with the States.
– Subject to the approval of the Commonwealth. It is a joint arrangement.
– But the proposals will come from the States for the approval of the Commonwealth.
– During the negotiations between the Prime Minister and the State Ministers concerning the grant of £1,000,000 for road work for the relief of unemployment, was the question of preference to British-born and Australianborn workmen considered, and will that principle be applied?
– That was one of the subjects mentioned at the conference yesterday, and I think that the honorable gentleman may trust the State Governments to see that in relieving unemployment preference will undoubtedly be given to our own people.
– Have fixed sums been allocated to the various States, and are the State Premiers agreed as to the method of allocation ?
– Yes ; the allocation will be made in the same ratio as applies to the moneys provided under the Federal AidRoads Agreement.
– In view of the fact that the bulk of the money hitherto made available under the Federal Aid Roads Scheme has been spent on country roads, has the Prime Minister taken any steps to see that the State Governments do not spend the whole of this £1,000,000 of additional money in the capital cities?
– The money must be spent in accordance with the terms of the Federal AidRoads Agreement, and so cannot be spent in the capital cities.
-Is it the intention of the Government to provide the States with the full amount of money that would have been payable to them in the ordinary course this year under the Federal Aid Roads scheme?
– It is. No limitation will be imposed on the States in regard to the carrying out of their existing programmes. At the end of June last approximately £1,700,000 stood to the credit of the Federal AidRoads Trust Account. About the same amount will be in credit on the 30th June of this year. The Government has now released some of this money for immediate use.
– Is the additional £1,000,000 to be spent on roads which are not included in the five-year programme of the States ?
– It is specifically provided that the money must be spent on road work apart from that contemplated in the five-year programme.
– The Treasurer has said something about this £1,000,000 being in a trust fund. Is that trust fund like the War Memorial Trust Fund? In other words, is the money there or is it not there? Will the money have to be provided by means of an overdraft and so form a portion of the loan programme of the Government?
– This is not loan money, but money collected as revenue from the petrol tax. It is paid into a trust fund like all such money, and may be drawn upon by the States. The £1,000,000 now being made available by the Commonwealth from this trust fund will have to be provided in addition to the £20,000,000 required for the road programme previously contemplated under the Federal AidRoads agreement with the States.
– According to a report published in the Guardian of yesterday, Mr. J. S. Garden, Secretary of the Sydney Trades and Labour Council, stated at Newcastle, “Jack Beasley is our man. He does as we tell him.” As the Assistant Minister for Industry has been acting as liaison officer between the Ministry and the miners, I ask him whether he supports the Sydney Trades and Labour Council’s advocacy of a general strike ?
– The statement quoted by the honorable member has been brought to my notice, but because the information usually published in the Guardian is unreliable, I paid no heed to it.
– Is it true?
– The information usually purveyed by the Guardian is of such a character that it is unworthy of the notice of any honorable member.
Mr.R. GREEN. - I notice in the telegraphic news of to-day’s Labour Daily, a report from the correspondent of that newspaper at Kurri Kurri to the effect that Mr. Garden had stated that he had instructed the Assistant Minister, Mr. Beasley, to do certain things.Will the Assistant Minister inform us whether those instructions included the advocating of the Labour Council’s desire for a general strike on the coal-fields?
– No instructions were received.
– In reply to a question that I asked him last week, the Prime Minister stated that he had advised the coal-miners to accept the compromise recommended by their leaders. Will the Assistant Minister inform me whether at any time he has publicly given similar advice to the coal-miners? I ask the question because he is acting as a liaison officer between the Government and the miners ?
– Whenever I am called upon for advice I give the best advice possible in the circumstances.
– This morning I received an urgent communication from the Secretary of the Australian Library Association, protesting against the proposed duty on books and other publications. Since this association represents thousands of libraries and institutes throughout the Commonwealth, will the Assistant Minister for Trade and Customs postpone the imposition of the duty, pending the receipt of further communications on this matter, which is of vital importance to the people?
– Representations from the source mentioned are now receiving the fullest consideration by the department. I can assure the honorable member that nothing will be done hurriedly in the matter, or until those representations have been carefully considered.
– Has a decision yet been arrived at to impose a duty on books, periodicals, and other literature coming from overseas?
– It is not the practice to answer such questions. The honorable member’s representations on the subject will receive the fullest consideration.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. Articles have appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sydney Daily Telegraph Pictorial to-day, implicating an honorable gentleman in this House who was inno way whatever connected with the motion that I submitted last week for the adjournment of the House to consider the position on the coal-fields. The article in the Daily Telegraph Pictorial is headed “ Consulted Mr. Hughes - Mr. James’s Admission on Caucus Revolt “, and states -
Mr. Rowley James, M.H.E., caused a sensation on the A.L.P. executive last night by declaring that before attacking the Federal Ministry on the floor of Parliament he had consulted Mr. W. M. Hughes to try and find a way out for the miners.
Although the statement brought dissent from all parts of the room, the meeting sidestepped the responsibility of deciding whether Mr. James should be disciplined.
The meeting followed an abortive attempt by the Labour Council cave at Sunday’s meeting to have the Federal Government censured and the general strike policy endorsed.
Mr. J. Beasley (Assistant Minister for Defence) defended the attitude of the Government, while Mr. J. Hooke (Labour Council president) spoke in defence of Mr. Garden’s crusade to the north.
With all this information in hand, however, the executive adjourned at nearly midnight without making a decision.
I take exception to the attempt there made by the person responsible for giving that article to the press to convey to the public the impression that I had consulted the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), and that he had advised me as to the course I should adopt when I moved the adjournment of the House. That is altogether incorrect, because the right honorable member did not know that I was going to move the adjournment. But I admit this - and I admitted it at the meeting of the Australian Labour Party Executive last night - that I did confer with the right honorablemember. At the meeting last evening, I thought that I was talking to men who would keep things to themselves. I admitted that, ten days prior to moving the motion for the adjournment, I saw the right honorable member, knowing that, if anybody could advise me as to the Constitution, he, having been connected with this Parliament since its inception, and Prime Minister for years, and being a K.C., was in a position to do so. I was induced to approach him because he had expressed himself in the House as sympathetic with the miners. Therefore, in the desperate position in which I found myself, I decided to consult him. He gave me certain advice, which I tendered to the Government. In defence of the action I had taken in the House, I had to mention this fact last evening. I asked that my statement be withheld from the press, and the Honorary Minister (Mr. Beasley) also requested that something that he had said should not be given to the press. I find that what he said at the meeting was religiously censored from press publication, but my remarks were published. I want the position to be made clear, so that no injustice may be done to the right honorablemember for North Sydney. I moved the motion for the adjournment “ off my own bat “ ; he was no party to it whatever. I hope that the section of the press in which my statement was published will take particular notice of the declaration I now make that, in the course I adopted, I was not acting on the advice of the right honorable member.
– Is it a fact that the Commonwealth subsidy of £1 for each £1 expended in the search for oil in Australia has been discontinued by the Government ?
– It is a fact that a new oil policy has been adopted. This has been announced in the press. At the outset a certain subsidy will be available with regard to geological surveys and scout drilling on the basis of £1 for every £3 spent.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether the Government proposes to take any steps to assist the mining industry other than the goldmining industry? I am particularly concerned about copper-mining?
– A number of propositions have been submitted to the Government in this regard. As soon as a decision has been reached a statement will be made to the House.
– A large number of men have been thrown out of employment and are stranded in North Australia in consequence of the completion of the first section of the North Australia railway. Seeing that a good deal of incidental work still has to be done, such as the cleaning out of railway reservoirs, will the Minister for Markets and Transport make inquiries with a view to finding work for some of these men?
– I shall have the matter looked into at once.
Cost of Commissions, etc. - Work of Telegraph Messenger.
– Some time ago, I asked the Postmaster-General for information relating to the cost of various commissions, and the salaries paid to certain officers in hia department. Will it be possible for him to provide me with this information before the House rises?
– The honorable member may rest assured that the information will be supplied as early as possible.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral yet in a position to give me a reply to a letter that I sent to his department, some time ago, respecting a telegraph’ boy, who has to ride a bicycle over gutters in a part of my electorate in which a bullock team could he buried ?
– If the honorable member will exercise a little patience, he will receive a reply by letter.
Compensation to Broadcasting Companies
– The last Government referred to the Joint Committee on Public Accounts a claim made by certain broadcasting firms for £64,000 compensation, in consequence of amalgamations for which the Government was alleged to be responsible. Is it the intention of this Government to ask the Joint Committee on Public Accounts to inquire into that subject?
– That subject has been referred to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts for inquiry and report.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow, and the figures are as at 30th November, 1929: - 1 and 2. -
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the many brave actions and heroic sacrifices made in saving life, will he take some action to make some recognition of bravery in saving life, as is done in the case of bravery on the field of battle during war?
– Provision already exists for the recognition of bravery in saving life by British subjects throughout the Empire. I shall be glad, however, to look into the question of whether any action by the Commonwealth Government to supplement this provision is desirable.
Petrol Tax Collections
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers tothe honorable member’s questions are as follows : - l.
asked the Minister for Health,. upon notice -
In view of the serious statements concerning the danger from aluminium cooking utensils, particularly with alkaline foods, will he ask his department to state definitely what are the best kind of vessels to use for cooking foods of all kinds?
– All the materials commonly used for cooking utensils may be considered as equally safe and reliable.
Tam worth Employees.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible.
– On the 5th December the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley) asked whether tenders were called in connexion with the air mail service between Sydney and Brisbane. I am now in a position to inform the honorable member as follows : -
Tenders were called and a contract granted in 1922 for the establishment and maintenance of an aerial service between Sydney and Brisbane. The service was not commenced, and the contract lapsed. The service between these two capitals about to be established by Australian Commonwealth Airways Limited is not the result of invitation of tenders by the Defence Department, but is a commercial venture undertaken by that company.
– On the 4th December, 1929, the honorable member for Barton addressed to me the following questions -
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member as follows: -
– On the 29th November, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) asked the following question -
What has been the amount paid by the Commonwealth in bounties, bonuses, subsidies, or assistance to industries, primary and secondary, in each State, during the past seven years, enumerating the special industry and the financial assistance afforded in each case?
The particulars desired are set out in the following statements, covering direct and indirect assistance. Assistance granted in
Northern and Central Australia is not included : -
– On the 4th December, the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) asked the following questions : -
The information is set out in the following statement : -
The expenses of the Note Issue Department are not published in the balance-sheets of the Commonwealth Bank.
– On the 6th December, the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) asked the following question of the Treasurer -
Is he in a position to ascertain from the Commonwealth Bank and associated banks what amount of money was remitted during the financial year ended 30th June, 1929, to Southern European countries by natives of such countries resident in Australia?
I am now able to inform the honorable member that the Commonwealth Bank advises that it has no way ofdifferentiating between moneys sent to Southern European countries for the purchase of goods and moneys sent to those countries as remittances to relatives. The bank states that it does not seem as if a mere statement of the aggregate amount remitted to Southern Europe would serve any useful purpose; but if, in view of these advices, the information is still desired, the bank will collate it. The Commonwealth Bank will also, if desired, approach the other banks with a view to ascertaining the aggregate amount remitted by them to Southern Europe. The Treasury will take the matter up again with the Commonwealth Bank if, in the light of these advices, the honorable member so wishes.
– On the 26th November the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) asked whether I was favorable to the prohibition of the importation of citrus fruits. Conditionally upon a satisfactory answer to one or two queries that I shall put to the organization of citrus growers, my answer is in the affirmative; but I am not prepared to interfere with the existing contracts for imports.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
The following papers were presented : -
Papua - Annual Report for the year 1927-28.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Zanthus, Western Australia - for Defence purposes.
North Australia Act - Central Australia - Crown Lands Ordinance - Regulations amended.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1929, Nos. 122, 124, 125, 128.
Consideration resumed from 6th December(vide page 870), on motion by Mr. Theodore -
That the first item of the Estimates under Division 1 - The Parliament, namely”The President, £1,300,” be agreed to.
Upon which Mr. Latham had moved by way of amendment -
That the item be reduced by £1.
Mr.PROWSE (Forrest) [3.39].- When the House adjourned on Friday last, I was endeavouring to show that the fiscal policy of Australia has had a retarding effect upon production in this country, and that our greatest need is to reduce the cost of production. Unfortunately much that we are exporting from Australia to-day is being sold abroad at less than the cost of production. Greater encouragement should be given to private enterprise than it is receiving. The Government should leave as much money as possible in the hands of private citizens for the development of industry, and of the country. The Premier of Western Australia, Mr. Collier, concurs in this, as was shown in the course of a speech delivered when he was laying the foundation stone for a new electric power scheme. This undertaking is being carried out by a company, and Mr. Collier, in the course of his remarks, complimented the company upon promoting an enterprise of such magnitude. He traced the history of the scheme, and expressed the hope that the company would not be disappointed in regard to its negotiations for the remission of duties. The company was engaged in an enterprise to take power to country districts. When it was understood that the estimated cost of the work was £160,000, and that the Commonwealth Government was demanding £60,000 from the company in the way of duty, it could be seen what a serious handicap was being imposed. The company was starting a very desirable industry, and yet it was being compelled by the Commonwealth Government to hand over £60,000 without its getting benefit from one penny of it. As a result of negotiations the Government of the day remitted half the duty, but the company still had to pay a £30,000 premium for running its business. Mr. Collier said that he had come to appreciate greatly private enterprise, and to value the work of companies which put sums of money into enterprises which benefited the State. In the Eastern States gas and water authorities were invested with their own borrowing powers, and money raised for this purpose was not added to the indebtedness of the State. The fact that in Western Australia the Government was responsible for raising the money for such purposes increased the volume of State borrowing. When large companies are investing huge sums of money in enterprises of State value such as this, they should receive assistance in respect of the duties charged. It was all very well to protect Australian industry, but when articles of machinery were not procur able in Australia, and had to be imported for important ventures, the Commonwealth Government should not demand such huge duties. Even the State Government had been called upon to pay enormous sums in duty on goods used in’ developmental work. Recently over £1,000,000 was subscribed in London for a company commencing an important mining venture in Western Australia. Was it a fair thing, asked Mr. Collier, that the shareholders should have to pay something like £50,000 or £60,000 in duties straight into the pocket of the Commonwealth Government without benefiting by one penny of the money used, or the. purposes for which they subscribed it. This state of affairs did not offer much encouragement to investors to place capital in Australian ventures, and Mr. Collier expressed the hope that Western Australian members in theFederal Parliament would continue to fight against the imposition of such duties.
– Possibly machinery could have been made for the recovery of gold, but it would cost so much to make it that the company might as well pay the £60,000 duty. Tariff impositions of this kind are retarding development in a country which, because of its newness, its vastness and its great natural resources, calls aloud for development. There is a greater field for the investment of capital in Australia than in any other country if it could be done with reasonable safety. The Minister for Customs and his Assistant Minister think differently from the people of Western Australia as to what is best in the interests of the Commonwealth. The Minister’s confreres in the English Government also disagree with him. I was astounded to read this morning in the local paper the following report : -
The Acting Minister for Customs (Mr. Forde), interviewed in Sydney to-day, said that it was the aim of the Federal Government to encourage the migration of English factories rather than English unemployed.
This was not an unfriendly gesture towards England, but the Government was insistent that Australian labour and Australian material must have preference over importation.
He said that of £160,000,000 worth of goods imported annually half could be manufactured in Australia, giving employment to hundreds of thousands of workmen.
That sounds very well, but we have tried it, and in practice it is not nearly so good as it sounds. If we prohibit the importation of those goods to the value of £160,000,000, it will cost the country £320,000,000 to make them here, thus increasing the cost of living and of production.
We have the highest protective duties in the world to-day. The customs tariff schedule of 1908 contained only eight items with an ad valorem duty of 40 per cent. The last tariff schedule contained no fewer than 259 items with an ad valorem duty of 40 per cent. or over, while on 40 items the rate was over 60 per cent. That represents a tremendous load on the export industries of the country, which are the real salvation of Australia. Thank God that all the people in Australia do not agree with the views held by the Minister for Customs and the Assistant Minister. Dealing with this subject “ Searchlight,” writing in the Brisbane Telegraph, under the heading of “ Our New Tariff Mongers,” said -
Just before the Great War the good people (and other kinds) of Ireland were in a state of great agitation over their politics. In the Circumstances it is not surprising that enthusiasm sometimes outran reason and facts were overshadowed by fancies. One fire-eater in the North made the dramatic announcement that a million men of Ulster were armed to the teeth and ready to fly at the throats of the Southerners at a moment’s notice. The scarifying effects of this declaration were however, considerably diluted by the Right Hon. Thomas Lough, who in a letter to The Times quietly mentioned the pertinent and irrefutable fact that there were not a million men in the whole of Ireland!
Thenew Australian Minister for Customs, Mr. Fenton, and his Assistant Minister, Mr. Forde, remind me of the Irishman who threw statistics about with a complete ignorance of their significance and a total disregard for accuracy.
Both these men are rabid protectionists. That is, of course, not necessarily an offence, although it may be a disability. They may both be steeped in the conviction that every commodity that comes from abroad is mischievous and every person concerned in sending or receiving it is an enemy. They may believe, just as firmly as most people used to believe that the world was flat, that unemployment could be swept away and Australia made happy and prosperous by merely passing an
Act of Parliament decreeing that ships coming to the shores of the Commonwealth should carry nothing but tourists, ballast, and loans. But the possession of ideas, no matter how honest, is not enough in men who occupy high places of responsibility. They are required to be informed, intelligent, and intelligible. They should have an elementary knowledge of economics at all events; an understanding of the fundamental conditions of industry; and some slight acquaintance with current facts and statistics. Yet both these novitiate statesmen have in the last few days made assertions which bear not the remotest resemblance to accuracy:
The Australian sugar industry gives employment to 100,000 people. - Mr. Forde.
If 60 per cent. of £20,000,000 worth of metals and machinery now imported annually into the Commonwealth were made here employment would be provided for 50,000 more hands. - Mr. Fenton.
I do not wish to be rude, but neither will I sacrifice candour for politeness, and I say without hesitation that both of these statements by two Ministers of the Crown are wild exaggerations, ludicrously opposite to the truth, and are statements that could not have come from men whose intention it was to be instructive.
– This article continues -
Mr. Forde may be able to offer the feeble excuse that he merely repeated something that Mr. Forgan Smith had said; but even Mr. Forde should know better than to accept Mr. Smith as a guide in any such practical matters as industry and production, especially “production for profit” instead of for “human needs “.
I have gone carefully through all the available data to find Mr. Forde’s 100,000 persons employed in the sugar industry and have been unable to discover about 87,000 of them. Those that I have traced received wages in 1927-28 averaging just on £200. If the missing ones mentioned by the Minister are real, although concealed from me, then it follows that the wages cost alone of the production of sugar in Australia comes to about £20,000,000 a year! In my view, that is impossible and the Minister’s statement should be dismissed as a fancy of his fertile brain and incidentally a libel on the sugar employees.
Mr.Forde. - I did not make that statement. Does not the honorable member accept my denial?
– The Assistant Minister’s denial will appear in Hansard. The writer continued.
Mr. Forde, of course, was never very impressive and is fortunate in being an Assistant Minister; but it will be unfortunate for Australia if he is allowed to influence public policy until he has enlarged his own knowledge.
– That waa written by “ Searchlight,” the Nationalist propagandist. He is telling untruths.
– The writer goes on to say-
Turning from the Assistant Minister for Customs to his superior - the Minister himself - let mc say that when I first read a telegraphed report of his speech it appeared that the figures had been distorted in transmission. But that was not the case. I have the account before me in the Sydney Morning Herald. Mr. Fenton was addressing a gathering of manufacturers filled with enthusiasm for higher protection. The Minister was cheered, but had his hearers been controlled less by exuberance than by reason, had they analysed Mr. Fenton’s assertions instead of swallowing them with alacrity, the cheers might well have been jeers.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member in order in reading his speech?
– The honorable member for Forrest is entitled to read an extract. So far he has not transgressed the rules of debate, but he will strain the forbearance of the chair if he continues to read throughout his speech.
– I wish to read the balance of this article in order to complete the basis for the argument I intend to found upon it -
Mr. Fenton described himself as “an old protectionist,” and I should be inclined to think this must be one of the worst kinds. I do not know how old the Minister is in protection, but I do know that he is rather a veteran politician. He has been in the House of Representatives since 1010, so that he should have had ample opportunity to study and improve his mind by reading the blue-books. But if he has endeavoured to educate himself the results are disappointing.
Still, there is one thing I will say in Mr; Fenton’s favour. Ho forgot for the moment, when addressing manufacturers, that he is a Socialist. He allowed to completely disappear from his memory the fact that his main purpose in life is to destroy capitalism and private endeavour and to put Socialism in their place and that he is pledged to the nationalization of banking. In his fiscal fervour the Minister ignored his real faith, for he even “ made a strong appeal to the bankers and financial institutions to help to back up the manufacturers of Australia “ ? He went on to say :
No country could possibly progress as it should if it had a large army .of unemployed in its midst. As an illustration, he referred to metals and machinery as one branch of Australian industrial effort. He said that £20,000,000 worth of these goods was imported annually. If CO per cent, of those goods were manufactured here it would mean the employment of approximately 50,000 more people.
To which I say, rubbish! Absolute nonsense 1 A mixture of uncooked economics, inaccurate statistics, rant, rhodomontade, and hyperbole! Mr. Fenton may mean well. He may have been baptised a protectionist in his swaddling clothes and have supported that doctrine ever since he left the cradle - but he appears to know very little - about the value of imports and next to nothing about the number of Australian industrialists required to produce a given quantity of metals and machinery.
It is immaterial, that the Minister was far from correct in his estimate of annual imports of metals and machinery. What matters is that his views on the amount of unemployment that might be afforded in the way he suggests is all wrong. Sixty per cent, of £20,000,000 is £12,000,000. If 50,000 artisans made goods worth £12,000,000 their average value of output would be £240. Out of that value there would have to be paid the cost of raw materials, which would be more than £0,000,000, fuel and light, interest, taxation, numerous other expenses, and - wages. The Commonwealth Statistician shows that in this particular class of industry in Australia the wages amount to not quite 29 per cent, of the total value of output. Thus it is seen that the manufacture of £12,000,000 worth of metals and manufactures by 50,000 employees, would yield an average wage of less than £70’ per annum!
Mr. Fenton’s new army of workers would, however, not be content to work for £70 a year. Even he will not dispute that. They would demand at least the current rate of pay, and if 50,000 persons were employed at that rate to make £12,000,000 of goods the total cost of manufacture would be in the neighbourhood of £20,000,0000.
And now I have said not one single word against reasonable protection for local industry. I believe that Australians could make for themselves a very great proportion of the goods they seem to prefer to obtain from other countries, and that this would benefit the whole nation.
But the tariff is not the only factor for consideration - not by a long way, and if it were the policy needs to be understood and guided by somebody very much better equipped than is Mr. Fenton.
It needs also to be better understood by the people who cheered him.
The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Fenton) and the Assistant-Minister (Mr. Forde), supported by the Cabinet, have accepted the responsibility of flying in the face of the two expert commissions that have advised Parliament on this subject. Moreover our own experience teaches that increased cost of production merely aggravates the evil of unemployment. In Great Britain unemployment is as serious as it is here, and the following newspaper extract indicates the view of English Labour politicians regarding the fallacy that protection is a remedy : -
London, 5th December. - A meeting of a dozen Labour Parliamentarians, representing West Riding constituencies, presided over by Mr. Phillip Snowden, passed a resolution that protection was no remedy for the admitted difficulties in the woollen trade, which could only he overcome if the trade adapted itself to changed world conditions. Safeguarding in other industries had not justified itself.
The meeting decided unanimously to oppose uncompromisingly any attempt to apply the “ quack remedy of protection “, which, they considered, would be disastrous alike to the industry and its employee.
It is worth while to ask. ourselves whether the two gentlemen who are controlling the Trade and Customs Department are the final authorities on economics, and whether their fiscal bigotry should prevail against our actual experience. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) said last week that international misunderstandings and profitmongering are the greatest causes of war. The Economic Conference at Geneva reported however that the majority of wars were due to economic causes, particularly prohibitive and retaliatory tariffs. Members of the Commonwealth Ministry profess a desire to extend the right hand of fellowship to other nations, but whilst they expect those other nations to buy our products, they try to prevent them from selling theirs to us.
– When I was in Canada and the United States of America, last year, I discovered two fundamentaldifferences between those countries and Australia. In the United States of America, manufacturers pay the highest wages to those employees who show them how to reduce the cost of commodities to the public, but in Australia the best paid employee is he who can show his employer how to fleece the people most. I speak as an Australian, and I wish to save this country.
Another difference between us and the United States of America is in the conditions of labour. There the laborite has a strong union, but, if he wants continuous work he goes to his employer, and they listen to one another. The employer says - “ I can put so much capital into this business. If I can obtain a certain output, I can pay certain wages, and I do not care how high those wages are, if I can compete with the other fellow.” Therefore, the employees accept piece-work. They receive wages as high, if not higher, than those paid in Australia; but they have to give value for money. The President of the Chicago Meat Works sends me his report annually. One of them stated that the year’s turnover had been 750,000,000 lbs., and the profit had amounted to one-eighth of a penny per pound on that turnover. Had the output of the works been sold for one-eighth of a penny per pound less than the price obtained, there would have been no profit at all. That company, and other big works in the United States of America, are anxious to reduce the cost of their commodities to the public; but in Australia the whole idea is to erect a high tariff wall, so that between commercial combines and combines of trade unions the cost of production goes up, and the people are fleeced. The higher the tariff wall is erected, the greater will be the cost of production, and the greater will be the difficulty experienced by Australia in competing in the markets of the world with its primary products.
I am sorry that it has been decided by the Government to allow Alsatian dogs to be admitted! to this country, because I foresee the possibility of a serious menace to the sheep breeding industry. I realize that the Alsatian is a beautiful animal, but I fear danger of an admixture of Alsatian and dingo blood. Such a decision as this should not be reached without the full concurrence of the House. It may become a menace to our greatest industry.
I have endeavoured to show that Australia is going in the wrong direction. Already the more sparsely populated States are claiming consideration from the Commonwealth. There was a feeling of great loyalty when federation was established, but now there are murmurings of secession. If we continue to place burdens on the people, and undermine the financial credit of the country, the consequences will be on the heads of those who take that foolish action in contravention of the best advice that the world can furnish.
.- As a new member, I suggest that a deduction or two by one who has carefully listened to the debate for a week or so might not be out of place. I have been amazed at the welter of words in this chamber. Men of seasoned political experience appear to deem it necessary to occupy the full time allotted to them in saying what half a dozen other honorable members have previously said. To my mind this is one of the strangest features of the political life of this country. The other preliminary observation I have to make is that I am pleased to be in a position to reply in this chamber to some of our honorable friends on the other side, who in the recent arbitration campaign mercilessly criticized the trade union movement in the presence of myself and Mr. Crofts, General Secretary of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. I assure honorable members opposite that, when the subjects to which I refer are under discussion, we shall be on an equality this time, and, for every knock they give, they can expect one or two from the ranks .of the Government supporters. It must be recognized that the Labour party was returned with a sweeping majority. As to that, there can be no two opinions; but I was amazed to hear the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber telling the House in cold blood that the Labour party won the election on false issues, when they must know, if they are sincere and have any memory at all, what the issues really were.
We said, in the first place, that the, Nationalist party, in six and a half years, had brought into Australia an army of 162,000 immigrants, and that its prime reason in doing that was ultimately to break down the trade union movement. We said that that army was composed, after all, of persons just as human, and probably just as good, as the best Australians. But when those migrants were brought here, there was no work available for them. Certain standards of wages have been set up, but as there was no work available for them at the minimum rate permissible, they accepted a lower wage. That is one of my reasons for the statement that that action was intended to undermine and break down the trade union movement in this country.
Secondly, we said that the late Government had introduced a bill to abolish arbitration. That is not denied. We stated on the hustings that the object was to give the employers the “ open go “ that they had prior to the introduction of compulsory arbitration. We pointed out, also, that the late Government had blundered in administering the finances of Australia. We did not submit our own figures in support of that argument, but we quoted from the balance-sheets of the late Treasurer, the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page). We showed that, when that Government came into office six and a half years ago, there was a surplus of £6,000,000, and, when it left the treasury bench, there was a deficit of that amount, the finances having gone to the bad to the extent of £12,000,000. We declared that that Government had shamefully wasted public money by ineffective expenditure. We drew attention to the fact that, on the white elephant known as the Federal Capital, £12,000,000 had been spent, involving an annual interest charge of £600,000, and that, on the last Estimates, £412,000 was provided for further work in Canberra.
– Who laid the foundations of Canberra.
– I admit that some one connected with the Labour party was responsible for that; but I wish to show that the criticism of this party at the recent election was founded on facts. Then, again, it was said that we had swallowed our promises on being returned to office. One charge was that we undertook to settle the dispute in the coalindustry, and had not done so. I point out that 98 of every 100 speakers on the Labour side in the recent campaign said that they were opposed to discrimination between employers and employees such as had been shown by the non-prosecution of John Brown and the prosecution of trade union leaders. We stated that, if we were returned to power, we would see by what means we could bring about the re-opening of the mines. Therefore, we have not broken our promise to the coal-miners, even if one member of the Government did say that he would open them within a fortnight.
Nor has the Labour party broken its promise to do everything possible to relieve unemployment. I do not suggestthat the Opposition is altogether responsible for the awful conditions obtaining in Australia to-day - conditions that will become worse day by day and year by year. So remarkable is the organization of industry that tens of thousands, and even millions, of men are not required in manufacturing activities to-day. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) referred to the labour conditions in the United States of America, and said that production there was greater than in Australia. I find, from a perusal of American labour statistics, that, from 1918 to 1926, production in the manufacturing industries of the United States of America increased by 40 per cent., and in the whole of its industries by 29 per cent.; but, at the end of those eight years, despite the fact that production had increased so materially, there were 3,000,000 fewer men employed in those industries, while all the time there was an unemployed army of about 5,000,000. Therefore, increased production will not solve the terrible problem of unemployment. The Labour party insists on a recognition by the people of the right of every man to work, provided he is willing and able to do so. In pursuance of that policy, the present Government has adopted the only relief measures tk.it have been taken in the last six or seven years. Thus a determined effort is being made to honour all the promises made at the recent election.
I remind honorable members opposite of what happened during the election campaign in 1925. About that time a number of British seamen struck work in Australian ports, not at the instigation of the Australian Labour Party, but as the result of the job control methods of the British Seamens Union. The men resented the attempt that was being made to reduce their wages from £9 to £8 per month. Any body of men would surely be justified -in protesting against being asked to work for £2 per week. Only three months before that time the Nationalist party was engaged in collecting money for the purpose of erecting a monument in Sydney Harbour to commemorate the deeds of the Mercantile Marine in the Great War; but as soon as these men struck work, because they were asked among other things, to accept a wage of £2 per week for the support of themselves, their wives and children, there was a tremendous outcry. The present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham), the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the present Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) stumped this country, and shamefully misled the people on the issue raised by the seamen’s strike, and the people were stampeded into returning the Composite Government to office.
Something has been said during this debate about the use of hoardings for election advertising. Very little use was made of them by the Labour party in my electorate. During the 1925 election campaign the Ministerial parties obtained almost an absolute monopoly of the advertising hoardings in the Melbourne metropolitan area. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lewis) can endorse my statements in this connexion. The efforts that were being made in this regard would have led to such an exclusive monopoly of the hoardings space, that the Secretary of the Billposters Union conferred with myself and the present honorable member for Corio upon the subject. Notwithstanding all that we were able to do, Labour had very little space made available to it in that campaign.
During the same campaign the Ministerial parties broadcasted throughout Australia 1,750,000 cards on which was a picture representing Mr. Tom. Walsh jumping upon the Union Jack. These cards, with an almost similar number of envelopes and stamps were most unfairly used to defeat the Labour party. In addition to that, the services of thousands .of public school children were employed in the campaign.
In all these circumstances it ill-becomes honorable members opposite to criticize the policy adopted by the Labour party in the recent election. The Ministerial parties were prepared to go to any lengths in 1925 to discredit Labour. But they have their reward !
I wish to supplement what I have already said in regard to providing work for the unemployed. I believe that money could be raised without great difficulty to put public works in hand to absorb the thousands of unfortunate people in the community who are at present without any means of earning a living. Honorable members opposite are fond of crying “ stinking fish “ in relation to Australia. That sort of thing should be dropped. If a determined effort were made, I have no doubt we could obtain all the money necessary to put into operation a vigorous public works policy. Seeing that tourists who leave Australia spend, according to reliable figures, £30,000,000 abroad annually, and that during the war the Government was able to raise £323,000,000 on the local market, it should be possible to raise a substantial loan locally to provide employment for needy people in the community who are asking not for charity but for employment. I trust that honorable members opposite will co-operate with us in seeking to obtain the money necessary for this purpose. In such a time as this political opinions should be placed on one side.
I shall take another opportunity of dealing with other aspects of the budget, but I wish to direct attention, for a few moments, to the position on the Australian waterfront. The Leader of the Opposition made the amazing statement earlier in this debate that, as the result of certain legislation passed by the previous Parliament, peace prevailed on the waterfront for the first time for seventeen years. If it is peace, it is the peace of starvation. Six thousand men have been brutally victimized by the legislation for which the Bruce-Page Government was responsible. We have had other serious industrial disputes in Australia, but they have not been followed by the widespread victimization of the employees. The men have laid down their tools and fought for better conditions on different occasions. If they have failed to gain their objective. they have gone back to work regretfully, and if they have succeeded they have gone back gladly, but on this occasion thousands of them have been denied employment and have been treated with callous brutality. Even if the men were badly beaten they should not be robbed of their means of livelihood. Many of them are unfitted for other than waterside work. The strike occurred partly because of serious anomalies in some of the awards of the Federal Arbitration Court. The . waterside industry provides only casual employment at the best of times, and the men surely were justified in trying to improve their position. They were compelled to attend at certain pick-up places twice a day. When not picked up they were left loafing around for hours on end. Some of them gambled and some of them drank more perhaps than was good for them; but, frankly, I cannot blame them because of the deplorable conditions under which they have to live. I believe that this Government will do something to improve the lot of these men, but we expect some assistance from honorable members opposite. Surely the Nationalist party and Country party will , admit that fair wages and conditions should be provided for men who have to do casual work. I trust that Parliament will develop a sound industrial policy.
Certain references have been made in this chamber by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) to the position on the coal-fields. The Parliamentary Labour party stands solidly behind the Government in the steps that it has so far taken to try to restore peace in this industry, and I trust that honorable members opposite will cease asking misleading questions on the subject. They must bear a large share of responsibility for the present tragic position, and should not, by innuendo or otherwise, seek to widen the breach which we are hopeful of healing within the next week or two. We have good blood in us; we are capable of clear thinking, and we are solidly built, mentally and physically. I suggest therefore that we should endeavour to look at the situation on the coal-fields without party bias. If the coal-owners had disclosed publicly the profits they have secured from this industry, our “case against them might have been weakened. But I trust that with the approach of the holy season we shall be able, with the co-operation of honorable members opposite, to settle this unfortunate dispute.
The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), whose membership of this Parliament is very little longer than my own, has been engaged in a wordy duel with the Minister for Defence (Mr. A. Green) about the abolition of compulsory military training. I wish to remind the honorable member that during the war Australia, without conscription or compulsion, sent more men to the various theatres of war than Canada, which had a population two millions in excess of ours, or Belgium, which had a much-vaunted war history behind her. When the call comes to defend Australia the arms of the nation will be borne, and her ships, forts, and aircraft will be manned by the supporters of the Labour party, who, as a matter of fact, comprised 95 per cent, of the Australian Imperial Force.
– While I admit that the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) was placed in a difficulty through having to introduce his budget so soon after the present administration assumed office, I must confess that I was sadly disappointed in the statement that he placed before us. The honorable gentleman turned his back completely upon the objective of the last Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), who, for years, endeavoured to bring about a progressive reduction in federal taxation. The Minister for .Markets and Transport (Mr. Parker Moloney) may smile at that statement, but it is, nevertheless, true. The 6,000,000 people of Australia are carrying an annual burden of approximately £90,000,000 in direct and indirect Commonwealth and State taxation, and they must regard with alarm the added load that they are now being asked to carry. Honorable members opposite have had a good deal to say of late about our unemployment problem. I fail to see how the productivity of, and therefore the employment in, Australia can be increased by adding to our taxation burdens. On the contrary the adoption of that policy must further depress our primary and secondary industries. I hope to have an opportunity to deal further with this subject when we are discussing the Income Tax Rates Bill.
My main object in rising was to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) - that Item No. 1 be reduced by £1 “ as an indication of the opinion of this House that the Government has acted wrongly in abolishing compulsory citizen military training without parliamentary authority and without having organized any alternative system of national defence.”
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin),- in an interesting and able speech last week, objected to this amendment being moved upon item No. 1. He said that we should have waited and moved it, if we wished, when the Defence items were under discussion. The honorable member has been a member of this Parliament long. enough to know that we shall probably consider the actual items of defence in the small hours of the morning some time this week, when only one or two members will have an opportunity to refer to them. The honorable member believed that many years would pass before the nations of the world would be engaged in another war. I sincerely trust that he is correct. He also said that we should take a greater interest in the activities of that great world organization at Geneva, which was designed to bring about lasting peace. The honorable member maintains that we should be prepared to spend as much money upon influencing the nations for peace as we spend upon defence; but he did not explain in what way the money should be .expended. Repeated efforts have been made, during the last few years, to find some way of settling international disputes without resort to arms, and, by bringing about a definite renunciation of war, to enable a general limitation of armaments to take place. So far those efforts have not met with success. The Hague Peace Conferences of 1S89 and 1907 were called with the object of arriving at a scheme for limiting the great increase in armaments, which even then was recognized as a menace to the peace of the world. But at that time most of the nations of the world had not had their lesson, and fere not keen or interested about disarmament. At the conclusion of the Great War, partial disarmament was imposed on Germany, and the victorious nations realized the necessity for a general voluntary limitation of armaments to new scales. In 1920 a financial conference met at Brussels, and it was there declared that 20 per cent., on the average, of national expenditure was still being devoted to the maintenance of armaments and preparation for war. It was clearly indicated that that expenditure, if a reduction of armaments could be brought about, could be devoted to the improvement of the conditions of the people and generally to the advancement of humanity. Unfortunately, there was still a definite atmosphere of suspicion following the war, particularly among the smaller nations of Europe, which are not situated as we are. Some df them had not known for hundreds of years what it was to be at peace with their neighbours. The representatives of the nations which had been engaged in the war met at Versailles, shattered and weary of the great conflict, which had resulted in the death of 8,543,000 men.. In addition to that, there were’ over twenty-one millions wounded, and nearly eight millions made prisoner, or missing. These representatives met at Versailles, and as a result of their deliberations the League of Nations was established. Its founders hoped that it would be world-wide in its membership. Unfortunately to-day there are still outside of it the- United States of America and the Soviet Republic, and as one who, like the honorable member for Fremantle, has been to Geneva, I cannot help considering that that omission is the one great disability under which the organi zation is labouring to-day. In 1920 the first meeting of the assembly of the League of Nations took place, and in 1923 - the year in which I was privileged to be one of the members of the Australian delegation - a Treaty of Mutual Assistance was drawn up and recommended to the members of the League. That treaty really linked disarmament with security. Unfortunately, most of the members of the League of Nations believed that there could not be security without disarmament, or disarmament without security, and therefore that treaty was rejected. The next move was the protocol of 1924, and that protocol was rejected. It provided for the compulsory settlement of all disputes, and made willingness to arbitrate the test of aggression. If a nation waa unwilling to arbitrate, that would be taken as an act of aggression, and at that conference aggressive warfare was condemned by the members of the league. The Locarno Treaties were agreed to, and they were helpful in bringing about security in Europe. Their scope did not extend further. Then, in 1925, the first Preparataory Disarmament Committee was appointed by the league at Geneva. In 1921 a conference had met at Washington to consider sea armaments, and an agreement was reached between the British Empire, the United States of America, and Japan, limiting the strength of their navies in certain important categories. That conference has been the one successful voluntary effort towards disarmament. In 1927, a further naval conference was called by President Coolidge. It met at Geneva, to complete the work of the Washington conference, but nothing came of it, the difficulty being to reconcile the British requirements for security in view of the need for maintaining communications throughout the wideflung Empire, the demand of the United States of America for parity with Great Britain, and Japan’s need for economy. In 1928, the Kellogg Pact for the renunciation of war was practically accepted by all the members of the league, and now we have the forthcoming Five-power Naval Conference, which will be held in London next month. Personally, I have a great belief in the League of Nations, and I give place to no man in my desire for lasting peace, realizing as I do, what war, with all its misery, suffering, and horror means, and also the economic loss and set-back which it brings to the nations engaged in it. The following table, taken from the Report on Foreign Affairs published by the Empire Parliamentary Association, sets out the naval and military and air force expenditure of the four leading nations for the years 1927-28 and 1928-29, and their estimated expenditure for 1929-30 -
The expenditure of the United States of America shows an increase in three years of £25,000,000. The United ‘Kingdom alone, of these four powers, made a reduction, France having an increase of £20,000,000, and Japan an increase of £5,000,000. The naval expenditure of these countries for the years before the war and the present years is as follows : -
Taking into consideration the purchasing power of the £1 sterling, the British naval expenditure during the last postwar year was less than in the pre-war years. In the United States of America and Japan - the two nations whose terri- tory, like our own, borders the Pacific - there has been an increase in the naval expenditure.
The President of the United States of America, a great advocate of peace, and one who strongly urges disarmament, says in effect that the United States of America will disarm only when an agreement has been reached, and that, in the meantime, that country would increase its armaments. Should we, a lonely outpost, thousands of miles from those who in trouble would be our friends, say, as a peace gesture, that we will suspend compulsory training? To do so would be a gesture of foolishness. Therefore, the obligation remains with us to-day to provide adequate means of defence. This obligation is just as strong as it was in 1903, when the original Defence Act was passed. The defence of the Commonwealth will suffer a serious blow if the compulsory training system be abolished. That is not a wild statement, because the matter is one to which I have given the fullest thought. I further maintain that the Government did not receive a mandate from the people of Australia to take the course it proposes. On the contrary, whenever this matter has been put to the people as an issue, have they not, in overwhelming numbers, shown that they wish to stand by and maintain the system of compulsory military training?
– When was it put to them?
– At the first four elections I fought during my ten years in this Parliament I always definitely stated to my constituents that I was in favour of compulsory military training, and it has been part of the platform which I supported.
– If the honorable member is right, the last election was a most definite decision on the point.
– I do not know that any honorable member referred much to defence during the last election. The matter was not then put before the people, and for my part, my time was fully taken up in discussing the issue on which the election was fought.
– Then why claim that defence was an issue in any other election ? The honorable member cannot have it both ways.
– In the other election campaigns defence was definitely included in the platforms submitted to the people. I maintain that the people never realized that the subject of military training was an issue during the last election campaign. I deplore, not so much the abolition of compulsory military training, as the effect that that action will have upon our defence arrangements generally. The resentment felt by the people on this matter is really occasioned by the manner in which the Government acted. It took this step by executive action without according to this Parliament, elected by the people, an opportunity to sanction the proposal or condemn it. The Minister for Defence (Mr. A. Green) admitted, in the course of his speech last week, that the Government had acted without consulting those who should be its advisers. He said that the first thing which moved the Government to abolish compulsory military training was the consideration of finance. When he assumed office as Minister he made a statement which appealed to me very much when I read it in the Argus of the 26th October. This is what he said - . . No alteration in routine or policy would be made without careful consideration, and the advice of every responsible officer would be welcome. A definite defence ‘policy has not yet been evolved by the Ministry. For the present, the existing conditions in the department would not be disturbed. The Ministry has not discussed the abolition of military training, and it will be months before this question becomes a matter for discussion. When the more pressing problems have been dealt with, we will make a comprehensive review of the defence policy.
There immediately followed another statement which was reported as follows in the Argus of the 29th October -
Mr. McGrath referred tonight to a statement by the new Minister for Defence, that the Ministry has not yet given consideraton to its policy concerning compulsory military training. Mr. McGrath said that Mr. Green should know well that the abolition of compulsory training had always been a fundamental plank in the Labour party’s platform, and his statement therefore was certainly ill advised. Compulsory training would vanish before Christmas.
– He was a good prophet.
– I should say a true prophet rather than a good one. The Minister added that the Government had acted on advice to the effect that there was no risk of our citizens being called upon to defend Australia for many years to come, and that a reduction of defence expenditure would he a helpful gesture in view of the disarmament conference which was meeting shortly in London. He added that the Government’s action would do away with what he described as “ a rotten militaristic system.” He expressed the opinion that advice received from the heads of the branches of the Service must be biased, as they naturally were anxious to maintain their jobs. This is surely a very low level upon which to place the principles which influence men who are giving their services to the defence of this country, many of them in a voluntary capacity. There is no doubt that the” Government’s real objection to the system of military training which was in vogue when it assumed office was because of the element of compulsion. It is not contended that there should be no naval or military training, but the members of the Government object to compulsion. I have here a motion which the Attorney-General had on the noticepaper before the last election, though it was never discussed -
That this House, being of opinion that compulsory naval and military training is wrong in , principle, and from the point of view of expediency, wasteful and ineffective, declares that the system should be abolished forthwith.
Honorable members know that the fundamental principle of the original Defence Act, as passed by the first Parliament in 1903, was that contained in sections 59, 60 and 61, which set it out definitely that the liability of all male inhabitants of the Commonwealth between the ages of eighteen and 60 was to serve in Australia in the defence of their country if called upon to do so. I maintain that it was the knowledge that federation would pave the way for the introduction of a national scheme of defence co-ordinating the defence systems of the then existing colonies which, more than anything else, influenced the people of Australia to agree to the establishment of the Commonwealth. Those who claim to stand for democratic principles, as
I think we all do, must uphold the principle that the defence of this country should be the definite and honorable obligation of every citizen. It cannot be left to those willing citizens who are prepared to undertake it, and who would always consider it a privilege to do so. Admitting as we must, the liability of the citizen for home defence in time of war, surely there must rest upon the national Government an equally important obligation to see that our citizens undergo the necessary training to fit them for the defence of their country should that unhappy occasion arise. I hope that no honorable members think that I am a bloodthirsty individual longing for another war, for that is the last thing I desire. I cannot agree that compulsory naval and military training is wrong in principle. It is the only system which should be acceptable to a people belonging to a real democracy.It is the only system which upholds the right and obligation - and I maintain that it is a right as well as an obligation - of citizens to assist in the defence of their country without distinction of class or section. It is to be deplored that a situation might arise when there would be the risk of a force of untrained men, however gallant, taking the field in modern warfare.
It is interesting to review the history of compulsory military training in the Commonwealth. I propose to read a few lines from the speech of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) then the honorable member for West Sydney, delivered in 1903, when the first defence bill was introduced. So far as I know he was the first member of the national parliament to advocate compulsory military training. During the consideration of the bill be moved the following amendment: -
The male population liable to serve in the national militia forces shall -
present themselves once in each year at such times and places as may be prescribed for the purpose of undergoing fourteen days’ continuous training;
present themselves for detached drill on such other days as may be prescribed. Provided that it shall not be compulsory to attend more than 32 of such detached drills aggregating a period of 112 hours.
Speaking to his amendment he said -
I lay it down, and I think it will be generally admitted, that it is the duty of every citizen in an emergency to assist in the defence of the Commonwealth. I. say most emphatically, that this is a duty which cannot be delegated to mere hired men, except in so far ashired men are essential to act as instructors, and to make the citizen forces efficient. So much is practically admitted, and it has been the policy of honorable members up to the present, to reduce the permanent forces to such a strength as to make them inefficient as a fighting force in the defence of Australia, whilst, at the same time, making them efficient as an instructional unit as to be capable of enabling citizen forces to defend, should the necessity over arise, the honour and safety of our country.
Later in his speech he had this to say -
I hold that my amendment embodies all the virtues which are to be found in a system of compulsory military service, and that there are virtues in such a system is undeniable. It is a fact that compulsory military services considerably improves the physique of those who submit to it. And it also assists them to a clearer conception of the duties of citizenship. There is a very hazy idea among the people - and particularly amongst the rising generation - of what really constitute the duties of citizenship. They understand that they will enjoy a vote by and by, but they have no clear conception of the obligations which citizenship imposes. They vaguely realize that it is a privilege to be endowed with a vote, but they do not appreciate that its enjoyment should carry with it the co-relative duty of fitting themselves for the duties of citizenship amongst the chief of which is the defence of their country.
In 1907 Mr. Deakin announced that his Government had decided to institute a system of compulsory training, and it is to his Ministry that the honour belongs - for I claim that it is an honour - of introducing the first measure providing for compulsory military service in this country. He introduced his measure in a very notable speech concerning which Mr. Fisher, who followed Mr. Deakin, said -
I do not presume that it is intended to debate this matter at the present stage, but I think we ought not to enter upon the Christmas vacation without offering the Prime Minister our congratulations on the speech he has just delivered. The subject is a big one, and I do not think I have over heard the honorable member to greater advantage. With such a subject, and with such a speaker, I have no doubt that when the time comes for the people of this country to defend themselves, they will respond as he desires. I offer the Prime Minister my congratulations upon the manner in which he has set forth the defence policy of the Government.
Mr. Fisher maintained that it was one of the finest speeches that he had heard.
– I do not think that he committed himself to support compulsory military training, however.
– Mr. Deakin outlined his proposal, and said that a measure would be brought before Parliament in due course. In 190S, at a conference of the Labour party held in Brisbane when Mr. Watson was at the head of the movement, the principle of compulsory military service was incorporated in the party’s platform. A party led by Mr., afterwards Sir George, Reid - it was then the third party in the House - supported military training, but limited the compulsory provisions to the training of cadets. It did not stand fdr compulsory citizen training. In 190S the Minister for Defence in the Deakin Government (Hon. Sir Thomas Ewing) introduced a defence bill, providing for compulsory training for citizen forces, in addition to compulsory cadet training. Before the bill was passed, however, the Government was defeated, and Mr. Fisher became Prime Minister, with Mr. Hughes as his Attorney-General. It was a short-lived government, and was defeated in 1909, but before going out of office Mr. Fisher definitely accepted the defence policy imposing compulsory military training. There were many changes of government in those days. In , May of that year a coalition Ministry was formed, representing the parties led by Mr. Deakin and Mr. Reid. In that Government Mr., afterwards Sir . Joseph, Cook, was Minister for Defence. This coalition Government introduced a proposal for compulsory training which was accepted. It was not quite so strong as Mr. Deakin’s original proposal, having been weakened no doubt as the result of the influence wielded by the party headed by Mr. Reid. In that year Lord Kitchener was invited to visit Australia to advise upon the system of military training. He arrived in 1910, but before he reached Australia there was another change of Government, and Mr. Fisher became Prime Minister again. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. - Hughes) was AttorneyGeneral, and Senator Sir George Pearce,
Minister for Defence. The new Ministry gave effect to Lord Kitchener’s proposals, and took a step further by increasing the periods of training ‘for the citizen forces. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch), who then represented Corio, speaking in this House in 1908, said : - . . The compulsions of youth become the pleasures of later years.
As 1 say, it is just as well to face the fact that what is proposed is a form of compulsory training, and I shall endeavour to show that compulsion is advisable and necessary for tlie need of Australia.
In my opinion compulsory training will not kill enthusiasm.
And again on the 13th October he concluded his speech thus: -
There was a man - Samson - who in order to injure his enemies, pulled down a temple, but in doing so destroyed himself. . . To those honorable members who vote against this measure, and who thereby attempt to prevent the initiation of a national system of defence, the people of Australia will have much to say.
At that time the honorable member strongly supported compulsory military training, and I hope that he will not allow’ this debate to conclude before rising in his place to say that he still believes that system to be sound, and essential for the defence of Australia. The present Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin), in his maiden speech in this Parliament on the 1st July, 1910, said :-
The defence .policy that will be brought down by the Minister for Defence will be not only a policy in name, but will be effective. Unless we are prepared to pay for effective defence it is better to have none at all.
On the 16th November, 1910, when speaking on the Defence Bill be said–
We on this side are all opposed to the creation of class distinctions, but compulsory training, although necessary, is inconvenient, and we wish to minimise this inconvenience. . . The Government arc to be congratulated on their courage in providing for universal training with a minimum of inconvenience.
The military correspondent of The Times, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles A’court Repington, when referring to our defence proposals, stated in his hook Foundations of Reform, published in 1908, that-
In these days an army must be national or nothing. . . The defence of a State is the business not of the Government or a class, but of the people and of all the people.
There are three courses open to Australia. First, to lean on support from home; secondly, to improve the existing militia and to raise its numbers; and thirdly, to create an armed Australia by means of universal training. The first course alters nothing. It leaves Australia dependent upon the blind god Chance.
What Australia desires is a large and well defined organization in which the manhood of the country can take its place in time of danger.
The British Navy is 11,257 miles from Sydney by Suez Canal route, 12,500 miles by Cape route, and 12,250 by the Panama route.
Lord Roberts in Fallacies and Facts published in 1911, said -
The voluntary system of military training throws upon a self-sacrificing fraction of the people a duty that should be common to all.
That was written when the defence system of Australia was under review. I remind the Committee that whilst the Government has abandoned compulsory training very suddenly, the scheme was not adopted until after prolonged consideration by various governments and experts, and until all parties were agreed regarding the wisdom of it.
– If the war did no other good, at least it taught us something.
-And I shall show later exactly what we did learn from the war. Mr. Deakin said, on the 13th September, 1907-
What we seek is not the development of what is sometimes termed a military, as distinguished from a martial spirit. What we aim at is the maximum of good citizenship, with the spirit of patriotism as the chief motive power of a civic defence force. For always behind the weapons, behind the organization, behind the gun, there is the man. It is in the character andcapacity of its manhood that the real strength of resistance of a people must be found. . .
The Commonwealth is governed by a policy appropriately termed that of a White Australia, because the white ensign flies all round our coast. Withdraw that, and peril would be instant.
Referring to the militia force of that day, he said -
Numerically, our force is too weak, and financially it is too expensive. It consists largely of married men, who ought to be in the second, and not in the first line. It includes a number of men who, though they can stand ordinary parade, are obviously unfit for campaigning. …
After our experience, it is now plain that no system can meet our necessities, except one that appeals to the people as a whole - that calls upon them in the name of citizenship. Our position as free men, in a free country, casts on all the responsibility of undertaking our own defence, . . .
Finally, I have not spoken so far of what, after all, we must rely upon as the motive power of the new national system - the motive power of every-day working patriotism - a sense of national unity, and of our indebtedness to this community, which confers upon its young people so many advantages denied elsewhere.
It asks them in return, not for sacrifices - such as are made by conscripts sent to barrack life, but for brief, whole-hearted, healthy training. It bids them to be inspired to do more than work for themselves, and to welcome any opportunity of serving the common good. . . Ours being a citizen soldiery, should appeal to our people, as no other can. We cast aside meretricious display, the glitter of gold lace, all glamour of separate caste. We replace them by high response of confidence in the man who is doing his duty, when guarding his home as much as when bread-winning for his family, or fathering his children. It is on patriotic feeling we rely, without this it would be idle to propose a citizen soldiery, otherwise we must buy our defence. . . . Our idea is the defence of the people for the people and by the people.”
– With the legislator in the second line, and the infant in the front line.
– That interjection is hardly worthy of the AttorneyGeneral. In the motion of which the honorable gentleman gave notice last year, he stated that compulsory training was wasteful and ineffective. If the Estimates for 1908-9, the last year in which the voluntary system solely was provided for, are compared with the Estimates submitted by the Bruce-Page Government for 1929-30, it will be clearly indicated that the compulsory system has proved relatively economical. In 1908-9, the military provision on the Estimates was £723,452, whilst the original Estimates for1929-30 provided for £1,428,271, but whereas the 1908-9 provision was for a citizen force establishment of 22,794 militia and volunteers, the citizen force contemplated for 1929-30 was 50,000. If we take into consideration the decreased value of money, the sum of £1,428,271 at the present time is equal to about the value of £900,000 in 1908-9. Prior to the present Government’s action, the actual citizen force was twice the strength of that in 1908-9. It is obvious from these figures that the compulsory system was the more economical. Moreover, the volunteer system proved unsatisfactory in many ways. For instance, there was no really systematic training. Although the period of enlistment was three years, not more than 50 per cent, served for more than eighteen months. The most important defect was that the voluntary system gave no regular turnover of men who could be regarded as a reserve. Whilst the enthusiasts remained in their units for long periods and gave splendid service, many other volunteers became ineffective after the first camp, when the novelty had worn off. Financially, the voluntary system proved most wasteful. As to the allegation that the compulsory system was ineffective, I submit that, so far as the Navy was concerned, it proved the reverse. In 1914, after only three years of experience of the system, Australia was able to mobilize the full numbers required for the navy, within 24 hours of the declaration of war. The successful organization and training of the Australian Imperial Force were due in a great measure to the large number of trained officers, noncommissioned officers and men, who had been made available by the system of universal compulsory training. The establishment of officers was 3,449 in 1914-15, as compared with only 1,696 in 1908-9, and there was a corresponding increase in non-commissioned officers. A very large proportion of the Australian Imperial Force recruits in the early years of the war had also served in the senior cadets or the citizen forces. Naturally the success of any system of military training must depend in great measure upon the amount of money available, and the shortcomings of the compulsory system were due not to defects inherent in it, hut to the fact that during recent years there has been a constant reduction in the annual votes for military purposes. Notwithstanding this great difficulty, the results achieved were yearly becoming more satisfactory. I quote from the last annual report of Sir Harry Chauvel, Inspector-General of the Australian Military Forces -
The present position of the Australian Army can be viewed in proper perspective only from the stand-point of a knowledge of the exhaustion, apathy and stagnation which were the inevitable aftermath of the immense labours of the Great War, and of its history during the six years which have elapsed since the retrenchment of 1922-23.
I will not labour the point as regards the aftermath of the war. The material obstacles to general national reconstruction which characterized it are well known. It is sufficient to say that, from the point of view o’f the Army, two very serious and special obstacles to reconstruction had to be overcome. The older men, who had borne the burden during the war, naturally desired to lay down their military responsibilities and to devote the whole of their energies to the recovery of the ground lost in their civil avocations, and the younger generation, called up for their all too short period of training, had yet to realize their responsibilities.
Before reconstruction could begin it was necessary to overcome these obstacles. The first and most important task of the Military Board, therefore, was to revive and stimulate the spirit of the Army.
In the year 1922-23, Army funds were reduced, with the result that a drastic retrenchment took place in the military forces. The net result of this retrenchment was a reduction of the strength of the approved Army organization from 3,250 officers and 86,568 other ranks to 2,332 officers and 35,228 other ranks, and of the period of training in the Citizen Forces from five to two years.
This reduction was made in accordance with the general financial re-adjustment undertaken by the Government, and was influenced to a great extent by the conclusion of the Washington Conference, which it was hoped’ marked the beginning of the first stage of a period of stabilization and of general disarmament throughout the world. Its effects upon the reviving morale and spirit of the Army were almost disastrous, and immensely increased the already existing difficulties in the path of recovery.
The second task of the Military Board was to adapt the organization and methods of administration, training, &c., to the new conditions and still provide the nucleus of an effective Army…..
An army is not to be made in a few months, or even years, but is the product of a long period of sustained development, moral and material, which gives to it its traditional spirit. Our Army is now an Army with a history. It has its own peculiarly self-reliant character, its own traditions, and its own records of war service. All of these are of inestimable value in forwarding the purpose for which the Army exists, which is the insurance, in common with the other forces, of the security and prosperity of Australia.
It is now possible to say that the resuscitation of the spirit and traditions of the Army, which I have indicated above as the first task to be faced, has to a great extent been successfully performed. This fact has become abundantly clear during the last two years. All ranks are working together cheerfully and well in an atmosphere of mutual confidence which renders very intensive training possible during the short period in camp and augurs well for the -future…..
I am of opinion that the present strength of the nucleus is the minimum possible for the approved organization, and, therefore, for security.
The nucleus is the foundation of the system, and the minimum of 50,000 mentioned by the Inspector-General will not be available under the voluntary system. The great question is not whether we should have a compulsory system or a voluntary system, but whether the organization required can be maintained by any system other than compulsion. Undoubtedly the success of any system depends greatly upon the voluntary efforts of the officers, non-commissioned officers and trainees. The compulsory system so far from being a failure proved a success and its cost was comparatively small. Under a system of voluntary enlistment the necessary nucleus cannot be maintained unless the Government is prepared to spend a much larger sum annually upon defence, than has been expended in recent years. That is a fact which cannot be over-emphasized. It has been laid down that a definite number of men are required as a nucleus for an army organization. Under the compulsory system, we v«ere able to provide that number at a comparatively small cost, but I am convinced that under the voluntary system it will be very difficult to do so. I do not wish to say anything that might prejudice the success of the proposed system, but I consider that, in order to maintain that nucleus, the Government must be prepared to spend a larger sum on defence than has been allotted in the past.
There are other matters, particularly that of repatriation, to which I intended to refer, but I shall not detain the committee further at this stage. Like the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin), I hope to have an opportunity to discuss them when particular items of expenditure relating to them are under consideration. Again, I say that I regret, more than I can possibly express, the action of the Government in breaking down a really fundamental part of our national policy, that of compulsory military training. This policy was certainly not introduced by an executive act. The wording of the amendment exactly conveys my feelings. I think that the Go- vernment was entirely wrong in abolishing compulsory training by an executive act, and it certainly made a mistake in not first consulting its advisers, or taking steps to introduce some alternative system before smashing down the existing one. Lord Kitchener, in his report to the Government, pointed out that it was very unwise and dangerous to adopt a system for a number of years and then to drop it, and that it was also a great waste of public money. Without qualification, I support the amendment submitted by my leader. .
.- I think that it was the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett) who made the suggestion, and repeated it, that deliberate falsehoods had been uttered by representative members of the Labour party at the recent election. Personally, I can give the lie direct to that statement. I have in my possession a circular letter addressed to the electors of Herbert, and bearing the signature of Mr. Bruce, who was recently referred to by the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) as a statesman. This letter contains two deliberate falsehoods. It is written on official Commonwealth paper bearing the Australian coat of arms, and was sent out from the Nationalist headquarters in Sydney by a man named Shaw. It enclosed a “ how-to-vote “ card. I do not complain about that, because the Labour party issued such cards, but note paper paid for by the taxpayers should not be used by the Prime Minister of the day for the purpose of disseminating deliberate falsehoods among the electors.
– It was not government paper.
– Even this Parliament could not give authority for the use of official note paper for election purposes; but this paper was used by Mr. Bruce, and the impression that the public would gather was that it was official Commonwealth note paper.
– But Labour candidates sent out circulars with paper having the parliamentary crest printed on it.
– I have less objection to the paper that was used than to the misrepresentations that were made. The circular issued to the electors of Herbert. differed from that distributed among the electors of Darling Downs, and stated that
Owing to the present position in the sugar industry, all of you who live in the Herbert electorate are enjoying a considerable measure of prosperity and for some time have been freed from the industrial turmoil that is causing such disaster in other parts of the Commonwealth. This is due to the embargo against the importation of foreign sugar imposed by my Government;
That embargo was imposed as a result of the action of two Labour governments, one in this Parliament and the other in Queensland. The freedom from industrial turmoil was not secured by virtue of the sugar embargo, but because of the arbitration system established by a Labour government in my State.
-no State government could impose an embargo on imports.
– But, at the suggestion of the State government, the Commonwealth Government imposed the sugar embargo, to which both Governments are parties. The proposal was initiated by the Queensland Government, when the late Mr. Ryan was Premier. The circular continues -
To the stabilized preference granted to Queensland sugar in Great Britain, mainly as a result of my representations at the Imperial Conference, and to the fact that there is a stipulation for the preservation of industrial peace in the current agreement with the Queensland Government and the sugar producers.
I suggest that no such provision is to be found in the agreement. Even with the present Leader of the Opposition as Attorney-General, the late Government could not bring about industrial peace. The statement has been made that deliberate falsehoods were uttered by Labour candidates to deceive the electors. In the case of Darling Downs, the electors were told, on the same class of paper as that used in the circular to the electors of Herbert, that every vote for Sir Littleton Groom was equivalent to a vote for Mr. Theodore. Could anything more despicable than that be imagined ? The Labour party has never descended to such depths.
We have heard something about peace on the waterfront. In my electorate there is a body known as the Bowen Essential Services Association, and I assume that the Leader of the Opposition is aware of its existence. Its members promise to pay a subscription of 5s. a year, and the following application form has to be signed -
To the Committee.
I,………… (full name), of………. (full address),………… (occupation) do state I will well and truly serve His Majesty the King, and that I will, consistant with my business duties, if requested by the Government for the time being of the State of Queensland or the Commonwealth of Australia, together with the committee of the above association, to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept and preserved, and prevent any offences against the persons and property of His Majesty’s subjects, and thatI will, to the best of my skill and knowledge, assist in maintaining law and order and in carrying on essential services. ……………. (Signature) ……………… (Witness).
Note. - The rules and regulations of this association may be inspected at the office of the secretary, F. Sellars, William-street, Bowen.
Donations will be gratefully received.
This form to be completed and returned to the secretary, together with the annual membership fee of 5s.
Reply to the application is made in these terms -
At a meeting of my committee, held on Friday, the question of re-employment of members of the local Waterside Workers Union who were disposed some months ago was again considered. As a result your name has been recommended to the shippingcompanies for employment, when the conditions of the waterfront require the engagement of further labour.
An application for employment was made by a man named Jinks in May last, and he received the following letter : -
Your letter of the6th ultimo came before my committee at their last meeting, held on the 19th ultimo.
I was directed to advise that my association cannot submit your name to the shipping companies for re-employment on the Bowen waterfront.
This association determines who may obtain employment on the waterfront. We are told that one of the reasons why drastic action on the part of the late Government was necessary was that the workers not only refused to do the job they were . paid for, but wished to prevent others from doing it. The secretary of the Bowen Free Workers Union told a number of men in Bowen that if they did not become financial members of his organization by a certain date they would not be allowed to work on the wharf. Ninety of the members of the Bowen branch of the federation are married men, with wives and families dependent upon them, yet they were denied employment until they had joined the Free Workers Union. Every kind of propaganda was used to try and boost the Essential Services Association. Men were required to swear allegiance to the King, and to swear by all the gods in heaven above and all the devils in hell beneath that they would do their best to maintain industrial peace in Australia. The officers of this association were willing to use the name of the King on any occasion in order to serve their own ends. Some of the members of the Bowen branch of the Waterside Workers Federation have lived in that town for more than twenty years, and have won the respect of the whole community. They have given faithful service to the country, and should not have been denied employment. Many of them took out licences under the Transport Workers Act before there was a free worker on the waterfront there, and yet were refused work.
A similar state of affairs prevails at Innisfail and at Mourilyan Harbour. At the latter port the farmers who were loading their own sugar decided to cease doing so immediately they were informed that the members of the Waterside Workers Federation there had taken out licences and had promised to obey the law; but their secretary, Mr. Hudson, a gentleman of standing in the community, to whom honorable members may apply for corroboration of my statements, was informed that unless the farmers continued to load the boats vessels would not call there. This was not playing the game.
In these circumstances it is idle for honorable members opposite to talk .of peace existing on the waterfront. It is possible to secure a’ kind of peace by brute force. In an ordinary fight with fists you can get peace by knocking the other fellow down. An army of occupation can maintain peace by force of arms. But that is not real peace. It will be impossible to secure real peace on our waterfront until the shipping companies are prepared to play the game with the waterside workers of Queensland.
I challenge the Leader of the Opposition to deny that, except for a very short period, peace was maintained at the port of Brisbane for a very long time before the Transport Workers Act was passed. There was no justification for enforcing the act there. I said in the first speech that I made in this House that, in my opinion, the act was enforced in certain Queensland ports for political reasons. It was done, as a matter of fact,’ to assist the National candidates during the election campaign.
I have a number of extracts from statutory declarations made by waterside workers respecting the attitude adopted towards them by the Free Workers Union at Bowen. I propose to read these with the object of informing honorable members exactly what has occurred there. The local secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation sent me a telegram to the effect that the men had made these statutory declarations; but I told him that I must have copies of the statements, and that the originals must be forwarded to the Attorney-General. I understand that the originals are now in the hands of the Attorney-General. I shall give the names of ten persons who made declarations, and extracts from their statements. They are as follows : -
John Charles Gall. - I was asked by Patterson, senior, secretary Permanent and Casual Waterside Workers Union, to join the union, and told that unless I joined on or before Saturday, 23rd November, 1929, I would not be eligible for work on the Bowen waterfront. I was asked on Thursday, 21st November, 1929, by Patterson.
George Henry Cross. - I was asked by one Patterson, of Bowen, to become a member of the Permanent and Casual Waterside Workers Union. Patterson also said that unless I joined the said union he would close his books on Saturday, 23rd November, 1929.
William Moon Bryant. - I am a member of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, Bowen Sub-branch, and I was approached by Patterson, secretary Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union, who said “ What about joining us fellows ?” On my refusal he said, “Oh, I am sorry; work will be scarce after next Saturday.”
Joseph Henry Patch. - I am a member of the Bowen Sub-branch Waterside Workers Federation of Australia. I was approached by the secretary of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union and requested to join his union. He said, “What about joining us? We are closing the books on Saturday. You have been working with us. It’s good enough to join our association. You have only got till Saturday to consider.”
William Price. - I am a member of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, Bowen Sub-branch. I was approached by Patterson, secretary of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union, and asked whether I would join up with their union, and on my refusal to do so he remarked, “Well, I am sorry, as we have been working so well together.”
Frank Cunningham. - I am a member of the Waterside Workers federation of Australia, Bowen Sub-branch. I was approached by the secretary of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union and requested to join his union. On my refusal to do so he remarked, “ I am sorry. You had better consider it well. We will give you till Saturday.”
William Feeney. - I am a member of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, Bowen Sub-branch. I was in company with other members of the federation, when they were approached by the secretary of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union with a request to join his union. On their refusal he said, “Oh, well; you have got till Saturday to do so.”
Thomas Henry Price. - I am a member of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, Bowen Sub-branch. I was approached by Patterson, secretary of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union, and asked whether I would join his union. On my refusal to do so he remarked, “ Well, I’m sorry, as we have been working so well together.”
George Cross. - I am a member of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, Bowen Sub-branch. I was approached by the secretary of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union on the 23rd November and requested to join his union. I replied, “No; I think it’s a big thing to ask me. I belong to the Waterside Federation.” He then said, “ Oh, well, there will be no more work for you after to-day.” “ Oh, well,” I replied, “ I’ll see about that,” and walked away.
Richard Wilson. - I am a member of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, Bowen Sub-branch. I was approached by Patterson, secretary of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union, who said, “Well, Dick, what about joining up with us fellows, because we are wanting to get our books closed by Saturday? You know we’ve been working together and getting along smoothly. You fellows ought to join up with us.” Other members of his union said that all men who had not joined their union would, in three weeks, be looking for a job.
– The declarations were sworn before either Thomas B. Edwards or Harry Ramsbottom.
– They are not proper affidavits.
– I am a member of the Justices Association of Queensland, and I assure the honorable member that they are in the form required in that State. I have read extracts only. The majority of the members of the Bowen branch of the Waterside Workers Federation are just as law-abiding as the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) and his political associates. Yet they have been refused work because of legislation which the honorable member and his friends assisted to pass.
– Were these men licensed under the Transport Workers Act?
– They were licensed before a single free worker was either licensed or employed on the waterfront there. Some of the sugar farmers took out licences at Innisfail, but as soon as they learned that the members of the Waterside Workers Federation there had obtained licences they ceased work. Yet they were compelled to resume operations because of the attitude adopted by the shipping companies. A number of commercial men at Innisfail also took out licences, because they desired to get certain goods from the holds of the ships. To the everlasting credit of the farmers and the commercial men, they refused to handle goods which did not belong to them. One result of this was that some merchandise was taken back to Brisbane. This was necessary, because the ship-owners would not give the licensed waterside workers employment. These men are just as law-abiding as any other section of the community, and they have rendered good service to the country. The man Jinks, at Bowen, has a record which even the shipping companies cannot criticize adversely ; yet they will not give him employment.
– Did not the honorable member’s opponent at the election last November guarantee that employment would be given to these men ?
– I believethat a deputation from the Waterside Workers Federation waited upon my opponent, and that he made certain promises to them. Apparently the influence of the shipping companies, or some one behind them, was sufficiently great to prevent this promise from being fulfilled. I have said on several occasions that it is not peace, but pieces, that we have on the waterfront. I make that statement without fear of successful or truthful contradiction.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett) has accused the Labour party of constructive and deliberate lying during the recent election campaign. If the people wish to know what real lying is I refer them to the propaganda of the Nationalist Federation of Australia. I do not suggest that the individual members of that Federation lied, but the propaganda of the party was full of falsehoods. It would be amusing to me, if it were not so serious, to hear honorable members opposite talk about the misleading propaganda of the Labour party, and expect to be taken seriously.
My opponent was one of the cleanest fighters that I have the privilege to know, and I regard him as a good personal friend; but some of his supporters adopted despicable tactics during the campaign. For instance, in many places, they pasted Nationalist “How-to-vote” placards over those that we had displayed, and in other ways acted unfairly and dishonorably. Some of the men employed by the Nationalist party were paid from £10 to £15 a week to whisper lies to women; yet the representatives of that party have the effrontery to talk about clean campaigning. The number of falsehoods disseminated by the Nationalist Federation about the Labour party was extraordinary. After adopting such despicable tactics it is almost humorous to hear some honorable members opposite criticize the quality of our propaganda. More money was spent in one electorate by the Nationalist party than was spent by the Labour party throughout Australia.
– That is nonsense.
– It is the truth. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron.) had a good deal to say about the desirableness of establishing peace in industry, but he has for years supported a party which has done a very great deal to dislocate industry. He supported his party in Queensland in its efforts to smash the most perfect piece of industrial machinery the world has known; I refer to the Queensland Arbitration Act. At the behest of the shipowners, the waterside workers of Queensland were brought under the jurisdiction of the Federal Arbitration Court, and that has caused the state of affairs that now exists there. With the exception of a few small ports, continuous work was maintained on the Queensland waterfront for many years. One honorable member has referred this afternoon to certain statements which emanated from a particular district in Chicago, but I remind him that the Commonwealth Year-Book, from which he quoted, shows that, taking £100 as the unit, Queensland produces that amount of wealth at less cost than any other State in Australia, and Australia produces it at less cost than any other part of the world.
– Why does the honorable member want more protection ?
– We want protection against the importation from foreign countries of goods that can be manufactured in Australia. The aim of the honorable member is to buy in the. cheapest market and to sell in the dearest. He is a little Australian, like the other members of his party who cry stinking fish about Australia every day in the week. The honorable member is loyal to the throne of England, but he decries the country to which he belongs. He sings the praises of America and other foreign countries. Our object should be to do as much as we can for Australia. I admit that a protective system may be abused, but the abuses that have taken place during recent years were winked at by the late Government. The protective policy that the Labour party stands for, is not to rob the people of Australia, but to encourage Australian industries to produce our own requirements under Australian conditions, giving to the employer a fair margin of profit in return for capital invested, to the employee a fair return for his labour, and to the consumer the commodity at a fair price. That policy is largely being carried out to-day. The much maligned State of Queensland has done a great deal towards furthering the interests of the Commonwealth.
This afternoon one honorable member suggested that we might have a reduction in the price of sugar. “We are fully aware of the interests that influenced him in making that suggestion. The jam manufacturers of this country have nothing to complain of. They are obtaining sugar at a low price, which to them is a mere bagatelle. The workers of this country made no request -for the lifting of the embargo upon imported sugar. I challenge honorable members opposite to produce any resolution carried by any section of workers against the embargo. Honorable members opposite have read from a rigmarole written under the name of “Searchlight.” We know all about the author of that article and the interests behind him. Honorable members opposite have alleged that the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs said that there were 100,000 people engaged in the sugar industry. The Minister made no such statement. He said that from 20,000 to 25,000 persons were employed in the industry and that something like 100,000 people were indirectly employed. The value of the sugar industry from the point of view of labour is greater than that of any other industry in the State. The honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Morgan) spoke of the wool industry. I appreciate the value of that industry to this country, but it does not give to our own people the employment that the sugar industry gives. The sugar industry has been responsible for the placing on the coast of Queensland of a virile and industrious community, which, in any other circumstances could not be maintained there. From the point of view of the Commonwealth the sugar embargo is absolutely warranted.
The late Government placed upon the statute-book of this country stupid and malicious legislation, designed allegedly to promote peace in industry, but in reality to lower the wages and conditions of the workers. It set out to remedy industrial unrest, but all it accomplished was seething discontent among the workers, which’ is likely to break, out again at any time. Honorable ‘ members opposite have suggested that the workers have taken an unreasonable attitude. It takes two unreasonable parties to bring about a dispute. But the shipping interests are responsible for most of the industrial trouble. It was their influence which caused the late Government to pass the Transport Workers Act, to launch a malicious prosecution against trade unionists, and to withdraw the prosecution against John Brown. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has suggested that most of us on this side were elected to this Parliament because of the coal trouble. All that I said on that subject during the recent election campaign was that the late Prime Minister, having launched a prosecution against John Brown, was not justified in withdrawing it, and that the late Attorney-General, as a prominent member of the legal profession, would have taken care to find out, before the prosecution was launched, that there were good and sufficient grounds for it: That was all I said about the coal trouble on the hustings.
– The honorable member’s statement about the Prime Minister was quite wrong.
– That is a matter of opinion. I am just as capable as is the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) of discriminating between right, and wrong. I believe what I say to be true, and no argument would convince me to the contrary.
– It will be generally admitted that the present and first budget of the Government is as disappointing and disillusioning as was the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. It contains not the faintest evidence that the Government realizes the serious economic position of this country, nor does it give the slightest suggestion of the way in which this country is to be lifted from the slough of depression in which it is in to-day, and for which it is alleged by the Labour party its predecessors are responsible. There is nothing in the budget to point a way to industrial peace, to contentment or. to any improvement of our financial and industrial position. It may, of course, be urged that the Government has not had time to formulate its full programme, which, when completed, will have the desired effect; but I would point out that it has always been contended that the Labour party is a constructive party, and that it has a policy for the salvation of this country to be given effect at any time it is placed in power. The constant cry of the Labour party at the recent election was, “ Give us a chance and you will see what we can do.” The Labour party was given that chance, and there is nothing, either in the Governor-General’s Speech or in this budget, designed to give effect to the promises that the Labour candidates made on the hustings. The most flagitious cry during that election was that the coal mines would be open two weeks after the Labour party had assumed office. This Government has done nothing to bring the coal dispute to an end. Never has a government shown such utter ineptitude. While the taking of £1,000 from the starving workers in the coal industry, maintained as they are by doles from the Government and their fellow unionists, is the greatest instance of political turpitude ever perpetrated in this country. To cure Australia’s ills the late Government proposed a constructive and somewhat drastic remedy, but the people declined to accept it. The present Government should at least accept the decision of the people to continue the federal arbitration system as an indication that some amendments of the Constitution are necessary. But the Government has declined to follow that course, and, instead, it proposes to make some further amendments to the Arbitration Act, well knowing the constitutional limitations imposed upon federal arbitration. I was amazed to hear the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Holloway) blame the late Government for not making the awards of the Federal Arbitration Court a common rule. Surely, with his knowledge of industrial matters, he must know that it is impossible under the Constitution for a federal award to be made a common rule.
– The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Holloway) did not say that. He said that it was unfortunate that the Federal Court was not able to make its awards a common rule.
– He said nothing of the kind, because if his reference had any point at all it was to blame the late Government for not making federal awards a common rule, and furthermore he did not suggest, as he “would have suggested if the contention of the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) is correct, that there should be an alteration of the Constitution to enable a common rule to be made. The late Government has been blamed by this Government for obtaining its advice and * guidance from various commissions. This Government apparently is content to obtain its information from conferences of the two contending parties, irrespective of a third party comprising the general public, which does not seem to receive any consideration at all.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) suggested that our constitutional difficulties should be overcome by mutual concession and arrangement between the Governments of the States and the Federal Government. Surely he must know from past experience that both Federal and State Governments are excessively jealous of their powers, and are reluctant to part with any of them. On the other hand, they are always anxious if they can, to obtain additional powers. He must see that to follow the course he suggests would be an utter waste of time. This Government has signally failed to indicate to the people what constitutional changes are essential to the nation’s growth. Meanwhile political charlatans and kindergarten politicians are going around, declaring that State Parliaments should be abolished. When asked for details as to demarcation of powers they fail to make any satisfactory reply. They say that they are not unificationists, but the upshot of all their talking is to leave the question more involved than it was before. Some clear thinking is needed on this subject, but apparently it is not to be had from the members of the present Government.
I have no hesitation in saying that the taxation and tariff proposals of the Government will provide substantial «benefits for large corporations and wealthy interests and individuals, while falling with the utmost severity on members of the middle and working classes; particularly in industrial areas, because they will add to the cost of living, and tend to increase the volume of unemployment. All this talk about the number of men who will be absorbed as a result of this tariff is nothing but guess-work. It is true that an immediate impetus has been given to some industries by the tariff, and double and treble shifts are being worked here and there. That, however, is merely to supply the Christmas demand, and in a very short while the supply will overtake the demand, employees will be dismissed wholesale, and their last state will be worse than their first. The most skilful pickpockets could not rifle the pockets of the middle and working classes of the community more thoroughly than will the Government’s present tariff proposal. The Government has departed from the sound and safe policy of taxing luxuries, and of taking toll of the millions that leave this country to swell the coffers of usurious America, but it has reduced the tax on beer, and heaped the most amazing duties on the necessaries of life. It is on the broad back of the family man, the most useful unit of the community, that the burden of the Government’s new tariff will be borne. A population of some 6,250,000 people will pay this year £44,500,000 in taxation on the food they eat, the clothes they wear and the implements and commodities they use to earn their living. It is not the wealthy classes who will pay this enormous impost, but the working man with six and seven or eight children. Upon him the merciless taxation embodied in this budget will inevitably fall. Tariff taxation was begun wrongly during the war.. I admit that it has been carried on wrongly, but an effort was made to effect a reform, an effort which this Government declined absolutely to continue. Obviously this tariff is revenue-producing rather than protective in its incidence. It is unfair to the general public in its harshness, and equally unfair to industry because it is non-protective. It is an unscientific tariff. It has never been properly considered, but was thrown on the table with its 221 items without any thought, and without waiting for a report from the Tariff Board. Some industries have been given more protection than they want; others have been given protection they did not even seek. Unless a big alteration is made in this tariff schedule it will work tremendous harm throughout Australia. I yield to no one in my anxiety to help Australian industry, but the Government’s tariff proposals will not produce the desired effect. Compare the record of this Government with that of the MacDonald Labour Government in Great Britain. That Government, through its chancellor, Mr. Phillip Snowden, is frantically endeavouring to avoid taxing the people’s food and clothing. To such lengths is it prepared to go that it even threatened to withdraw the preferences extended by Great Britain to Australian produce.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– The MacDonald Government in Great Britain is desperately endeavouring to remove from the masses the burden of indirect taxation caused by the prevailing high prices for food and clothing. In this way it is showing its concern for and interest in those struggling and despairing persons. This Government has adopted the opposite view, and is asking the great mass of the people of Australia, upon whom the burden of the high cost of living inevitably falls, to find out of their miserable pittance the sum of £44,500,000 annually. There is no radical or socialistic government in any country which extorts from its own class such excrutiatingly severe taxation, or adopts such loose and unprincipled methods of raising its revenue. Yet the Treasurer has had the hardihood to state that his budget is based on the principle of ability to pay! What are the thoughts of the man on the basic wage who has six, seven or eight children to keep, regarding his ability to pay the amount that this Government expects him to pay? What is the ability to pay of the man on a fixed salary, who has increasingly heavy responsibilities to shoulder? There can be only one answer. The people are beginning to realize that they have been deceived; they are now being disillusioned. Their interests are not the first consideration of this party which they have placed in power. The wealthy corporations, the foreign film interests, and the liquor interests are its first consideration. Those interests have had their taxation either reduced or entirely removed ; and in many cases they are being permitted to continue without hindrance to plunder the people of this country. During the election campaign the cry went up to heaven from every Labour candidate that the patrimony of the people of this country was being squandered by a profligate and extravagant government. It was contended that if the Labour party were given the right to govern it would speedily demonstrate its fitness to do so, and re-adjust the burden of taxation so that it would fall on the shoulders of those who were best able to bear it. The promise was made that expensive commissions would be abolished and ornate positions wiped out. .The finances of this country were to be prudently husbanded, and the masses were to be relieved from the taxation that they are paying to-day. Will any one who is not a partisan contend that those are the lines that the Government has followed? What commission has been abolished; what ornate position has been dispensed with ? None. Every item upon which the present Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) when Leader of the Opposition divided this chamber stills find a place in the budget. Therefore I say that the people have been grossly deceived.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin), in the course of an excellent and thoughtful speech the other day, said that the Government was compelled to impose additional taxation to meet its commitments. He did not mention the additional commitments for which his party is responsible. Surely he does not expect a surplus to be produced so long as the present Treasurer is in control of the finances of Australia. I should feel more confident of the safety of a baby placed in the charge of the most notorious baby farmer than I am of the prudent management of the finances of this country by the present Treasurer.
I have said that this Government undertook to reduce taxation. There is not an honorable member on either side of this chamber who will deny that that statement was made from practically every platform during the last election campaign. The national expenditure has been increased by something like £2,000,000. Therefore, there has been no gesture in the direction of a prudent management of the finances, but rather the reverse. This country is faced with a very difficult economic position. The national income has been reduced. Businesses in all the capital cities are having an excessively hard struggle. Yet the Government has expressed its intention to keep in employment every person who is at present .employed in the Public Service, irrespective of whether or not there is work for him to do. That -promise was made on the hustings. A further promise made by the Campaign Director in New South Wales (Mr. Theodore) was that work would be found in the Public Service for every disabled returned soldier. That was a shockingly irresponsible statement for him to make; it has since been repudiated by the Prime Minister. It was also said that wages and salaries would be maintained at their present level, notwithstanding our economic conditions. I well remember members of the present Government, when in o osition, making the definite statement that they were able to defy immutable laws. They now have the opportunity. Let them try to keep wages and salaries at their present level irrespective of economic conditions, and we shall see what success they will have. They have been unable to do it in the coal industry, and have advised the workers to accept the proposal of their leaders. They have expressed their preparedness to maintain the existing conditions of postal employees and other public servants, irrespective of whether those conditions are fair or unfair to the people of this country. They are obliged to give concessions to divisional returning officers, and to make a rebate of the petrol tax to users of petrol for other than road purposes. Any Government which bases its policy on political expediency with the object of winning votes, is doomed to failure, and will only make the lot of the workers much harder.
During the period that the Conservative Government was in power in Great Britain, the National party was in power in Australia, the endeavour was made to draw closer together the component parts of the Empire. It was felt that the future of the Empire lay within the Empire itself, and that by the organization of its resources it could defy the competition of outside countries. In the brief period that the MacDonald Government has been in power in Great Britain and the present Government has been in power in Australia, those principles have been discarded. Immediately this Government came into power it told the people of Great Britain that no further migration of Britishers to Australia was desired. It was quite unnecessary to take that, stand, because at the time the departures from Australia exceeded- the arrivals, and it would have been an easy matter .to regulate the limited amount of migration to make it conform to our industrial circumstances. It was practically confined to domestic servants and the relatives of persons who were already settled here, and the approval of the State Governments had to be obtained before even such migrants were permitted to come here. Such a gesture might have been necessary for political purposes, but it certainly was not justified by the existing conditions. The result has been to make it appear that Australia is unable to absorb a greater population than that which she now has. Writers in various journals are beginning to regard Canada and South Africa as more important dominions than this, because of the pessimistic tone adopted by the Government in regard to our trade and general prosperity. Australian trade should not be sacrificed even for the benefit of Great Britain. But many of the productions of the Old Country do not interfere with those of Australia, and in regard to them some concession might have been made by this Government. If a preferential duty of 60 or 70 per cent, is prohibitive, the British manufacturers will derive .little advantage from the fact that the duties against the foreigner are even higher. The attitude of the Government towards Great Britain may. be summarized in this way - “ The Australian market for the Australian people; British goods and British migrants are not wanted. We are not prepared to defend ourselves by a system of universal military service, but if we are attacked, because of the White Australia policy or for any other reason, we shall expect the British workers, against whom we raise fiscal and migration barriers, to come to our assistance.” That is an unworthy and unpatriotic attitude.
– That is a cowardly suggestion.
– It is a fair interpretation of the policy of the Government; if the honorable member feels qualified to answer it, I hope he will attempt something more effective than a mere interjection.
For many years three prominent planks of the Labour platform were the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank, the maintenance of an Australian Navy, and compulsory military training; but these articles of faith are being repudiated by the present Government. It has abandoned the democratic system of compulsory and universal military service, and it has threatened to lay vandal hands on the bank established by the great Andrew Fisher. So far no hostile action has been taken against the Australian Navy, but doubtless that will follow. Whilst the Government claims that it has not had sufficient time to put into operation many of the planks of its platform, the precipitancy with which it has destroyed our system of defence has astounded the people. Of course we .are told that the Government will take adequate steps for the defence of Australia; apparently honorable members opposite are content to defend Australia with their lips, for of any practical or tangible substitute for the system which it has wrecked no evidence is forthcoming to date. No special intelligence is required to realize that the country cannot be defended in that way, and the people are entitled to view with the utmost apprehension the reckless policy of the Government. Possibly the compulsory system was capable of improvement and extension, but before destroying it entirely the Government should have been ready with something to put in its place.
The honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Cusack) made some reference to me, which I did not understand. All I have to say in reply at this stage is that his speech was a pitiable and pitiful exhibition, and I regret that any honorable member saw fit to laugh at it.
– I challenge the honorable member to a debate on any platform in his electorate.
– If the honorable member has any defence of the irregular enrolments that took place in his electorate prior to the last elections he will have an opportunity to state it before the High Court, when, as a court of disputed returns, it deals with the Eden-Monaro election.
The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) referred to the Transport Workers Act. I declare emphatically that that measure has been of transcendent benefit not only to the workers in the industry, but also to shipping, commerce and the general public. Since the act has been in operation, peace on the waterfront has been more continuous than for a considerable period prior to the introduction of this legislation. My advice to the Government is to leave well alone. It has plenty of trouble on its hands with the coal industry, and instead of monkeying with something it does not understand, and possibly causing another strike with which it will be unable to cope, it should take the safe course of not interfering with legislation that is undoubtedly proving effective. Of course, the Government will not openly accept any advice from me, but I do not anticipate that it will propose to meddle with or repeal the Transport Workers Act. All over the world work on the waterfront has diminished because of the introduction of machinery and improved methods. Unfortunately, the workers will not face the facts, and as many men are clamouring for work on the wharf to-day as were employed when more antiquated methods were in use. To cope with such a situation is difficult, but the last Government did its best in a temperate and reasonable way to provide for the changed circumstances. It introduced a system of regulating employment which has been of great benefitto employers, employees and the general public alike.
I do not envy the Government the task it has in hand, especially after having seen the inept, ineffective and weak manner in which it is tackling its responsibilities. I shall vote for the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
.- Honorable members opposite, in the diatribes to which we have listened since this debate commenced, have endeavoured to lay all possible blame at the door of the Labour Government. Listening tothe honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) for instance, one might suppose that the Government had been in power for a considerable period, during which it had failed to do anything effective. But so far from proving the ineptness of Labour, he showed conclusively that Labour alone governs in the interests of the people. During the 28 years of federation Labour administrations have been in power in the Commonwealth for only five years; Liberal, Conservative, and Nationalist administrations have controlled the reins of Government for 23 years. Arc all the ills from which Australia is suffering to-day the result of five years of Labour administration? On the contrary, Labour Governments alone have attempted to grapple with the fundamental causes of our economic, financial and industrial evils. No matter what party may be in power, this country will never make any appreciable progress until the Government of the day controls finance, instead of allowing the great financial interests to control affairs. Much has been said about excessive taxation, higher production costs and the increased cost of living; but those evils will remain with us until governments grapple successfully with financial problems. Australia had Nationalist Ministries in office for thirteen years, yet honorable members opposite have the temerity to say that the present Government does not know what it is doing. Owing to the chaotic condition of affairs, brought about by thirteen years of Nationalist administration, the present Government is faced with a most difficult task; but I have no doubt that it will eventually find a way out of the maze into which the country has been led.
– I question it.
– I intend to question some of the statements made by the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse).
The workers have been told, repeatedly, by honorable members opposite, that the reduction in wages, the excessive train and tram fares, and the high cost of commodities are attributable to the fact that Labour Governments have been in office in various States. But why are they not told the truth ? They know that, while this country is in the grip of moneylenders overseas, its prospects cannot be bright. The Labour party is the only political body that has ever attempted to grapple with the financial position. By its establishment of the Commonwealth Bank, it demonstrated its desire to do the right thing by the people, and bring about a truly democratic form of government. During 28 years of federation, this country has been ruled for 23 years by the exploiters of the people, in the interests of an insignificant minority, and Labour is out to put a stop to that. I have never said that it could emancipate the people; but it is going along the right road to control the financial institutions that are squeezing the life blood of this country.
– What are those institutions ?
– We should all like to know.
– The private banking institutions that hold the destiny of Australia in their hands. Notwithstanding its enormous economic and social importance to every member of the community, the subject of finance is not a popular one at any time. That is why honorable members opposite always take the easiest way out of their difficulties by perpetuating the system of borrowing overseas.
– We did not take the easiest way at the last election.
– As to that insinuation, I desire to make my position perfectly clear. I paid my own election expenses from start to finish. . The present Government deserves the greatest credit for the measure brought down this session to amend the Commonwealth. Bank Act by placing an embargo on the exportation of gold, as the first step towards the nationalization of banking.
– Oh! That is not what the Treasurer said when he introduced the bill.
– Quite a number of honorable members opposite snigger and sneer at the idea of a Labour Government, perhaps in the near future, resorting to an increase of the note issue. What would be wrong with that? I have heard all honorable members opposite extol the virtues of Britain. So do I ; I am the son of a Briton. But why object to the Commonwealth Government working on a paper currency internally when Great Britain has issued £280,000,000 in paper money against its gold reserve? The United States of America is taking similar action, yet these “ little Australians “ opposite, who claim to desire to see this country properly developed, and pose as uplifters of humanity, still favour the stereotyped method of raising loans oversea, and putting the burden of interest on the backs of the people. With internal loans, the people merely lend their own money to themselves, and they have the privilege of paying £5 14s. 6d. per cent. interest on every £100 borrowed.
– Would the honorable member lend his money for nothing?
– That question is easily answered ; I have none to lend. The time has arrived when the interest rates should be attacked, and there is no authority better able to do that than the Commonwealth Government. I do not intend to occupy a great deal of time in this discussion, because I desire to assist the Government to make progress with the business that it has in hand.
The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Archdale Parkhill) referred in his speech to kindergarten politicians. One thing I am proud of is that members of the Government and their supporters have come from an entirely different school from that in which honorable members opposite were trained. I am going to show the absurdity and hypocrisy of honorable members opposite in alluding to lack of interest on the part of Government supporters in the defence of Australia. This Government has decided to allow the lads who toil all the week in factories to enjoy themselves on Saturday afternoons, instead of marching mile after mile with rifles on their shoulders. Which political party was responsible for the building of the Australian Navy? Have honorable members forgotten the words used by the then opposition, in criticizing the Labour Ministry that dared to vote a certain sum of money for the establishment of that navy? Sir Joseph Cook said that it was the first step towards revolution. Sir Elliot Johnson, whose place I have taken in this chamber, declared that it was the first step towards severing the ties that bound Australia to the dear old Motherland. Honorable members opposite, like their predecessors, still indulge in the parrot-like cries repeatedly raised against the Labour party. It was said then that, if a navy were formed in Australia, it would turn its guns on England, and that that action would lead to Australia “ cutting the painter.” That navy enabled Australia to protect its coastline during the late war.
Reference was also made by the honorable member for Warringah to what he regarded as the democratic aspect of compulsory military training. I suggest that nothing that savours of compulsion should be regarded as democratic. No honorable member opposite has suggested that a form of compulsion should be applied to the wealthy section in this country, so that the youths whom honorable members opposite are so ready to compel to shoulder a rifle might be suitably equipped. During the hectic period of the conscription campaign, when an attempt was made to conscript human beings, the section represented by honorable members opposite gambled on the lives of the men sent to the front, and on the destiny of the country, by asking the large banking combines to put their money into war loans at 4½ per cent., while the lads who went to the war received 6s. a day. Labour does not want that sort of democracy. If ever compulsory military service is talked of again - and I hope it never will be - let us first conscript the wealth of this country. Is it surprising that the people are asking what is the use of governments? Can we wonder that there is industrial unrest, when the people realize the nature of the banking swindle that is being practised ? The workers, I am thankful to say, are now better educated than ever before, and they will no longer tolerate the exploitation of the majority by an insignificant minority of the people. They object to the squandering of money by a certain class on useless frivolities, not in this country, but overseas.
– Then the honorable member’s party should tax amusements.
– In that case we should have to tax ourselves for being here and listening to the honorable member’s interjections. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) declared in his speech this afternoon that he was an Australian, but he showed shortly afterwards that he was an out-and-out free trader. He had a lot to say about the excessive cost of production in Australia, but conveniently forgot to mention any other aspect of the subject. The wages paid in this country are from 87 per cent. to 279 per cent. higher than those paid in the other countries of the world, including America. Yet some honorable members opposite supported a government which for thirteen years permitted manufactured products from other countries to pour into Australia while many of our own workmen were starving. When we talk about the cost of production here, we should also remember that our people receive high wages. I believe that we should give every person in the community an opportunity to enjoy, to some extent at least, the good things of life. Some of the articles mentioned by the honorable member for Forrest this afternoon are produced by girl labour, for which 5d. an hour is paid. Others are produced by women labour for which 4d. an hour for 12 hours a day and six days a week is paid. That occurs in Brussels.
– Why is it that we have such a lot of unemployment in Australia ?
– It is because the Government which the honorable member supported allowed £180,000,000 worth of imports to come into Australia in 1928.
The tariff schedule introduced by this Government has already had the effect of relieving the unemployment difficulty. Within the last three weeks 200 people have been found employedment in my own electorate. Some of them have been out of work for more than twelve months, although they had four, five and six children dependent upon them. The object of this Government is to prevent the influx into Australia of foreign goods.
– Is not the provision of employment due to some extent to the Bavin Government?
– That Government is giving doles here, there and everywhere.
– It is deplorable that a country which produces four and a half times as much as it consumes should have 200,000 unemployed within its borders, many of whom receive doles from the Government. The honorable member for Forrest, and those who think like him, advocate that our own people should be allowed to walk the streets workless while goods manufactured in cheap labour countries are being imported into Australia. Honorable members opposite cheered the boys who left Australia to go abroad onwar service. I did not.
– Why not?
– Because I do not believe in war. I stand rather for the abolition of war. The people of Australia have no grudge against the people of any other country. When the workers of the world awake to the fact that a lying and misleading propaganda is being carried on by interested parties to poison the minds of the workers of one nation against those of another nation they will refuse to engage in warfare. The policy of this Government in abolishing compulsory military training will tend to abolish war.
– Tell us a little more about the coal strike?
– That strike, like most industrial upheavals, has its origin in our ill-founded economic system.
I have no quarrel with honorable members opposite personally, but I have a quarrel with every political party which fails to protect the interests of our people, and favours the unrestricted admission into Australia of goods manufactured in cheap-labour countries. I trust that the Government will continue the good work that it has begun, and that in the not distant future it will re-establish the Commonwealth Bank, and allow it to be what it was intended to be, a people’s bank and not a bankers’ bank.
.- A remarkable change has occurred in this Parliament since I last exercised my privilege of addressing the committee. Honorable members who, a few short weeks ago, maintained vigorously that the Government could do no wrong are now sitting on this side of the chamber, and, as shown by the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition, vigorously arguing that the Government can do nothing right, and therefore must be strenuously opposed. On the other hand honorable members who, quite recently, sat on this side of the chamber and opposed the Government with all their might, are now just as vociferously upholding it. Not only has a change occurred in the personnel of the Government, but there has also been a change of political policy. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that our fiscal policy has not been changed but accelerated. During a long period of years the Composite Government steadily increased our tariff duties. As the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) said last week, our receipts from customs and excise duties rose from £32,000,000 in 1923 to a little over £40,000,000 in 1928. He went on to point out that the last Treasurer budgetted on receiving from this source this financial year, £43,750,000, the highest amount on record. Notwithstanding this fact, this Government, having been in office for only a few weeks, introduced a tariff schedule covering over 200 items which provided for drastic increases in duties. There was some justification for the view expressed by the Leader of the Opposition that that schedule must have been too hastily prepared to warrant us in accepting it without a great deal of criticism. One might well ask what was the determining factor in determining these duties ?
– I propose to ask a few specific questions on this subject. Who asked for the increase of some of these duties to the extent of 65 per cent. and more? Was the Tariff Board approached in regard to them?
– In some cases, yes.
– The honorable member admits, then, that some of the duties were imposed without reference to the Tariff Board. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Fenton) has threatened that action will be taken by the Government if any attempt is made to exploit the public by increasing prices. The world’s prices of many articles are steadily falling, and what guarantee has the Government that local manufacturers will lower their prices correspondingly? The local manufacturers may logically give the assurance that there will be no increase in prices, and yet still be in a position to exploit the people so far as the relation of their prices to overseas prices is concerned. I have no doubt that the imposition of these duties will provide employment temporarily, and that factories will be established, but sooner or later a reaction will set in, as it always has done. The whole history of tariff legislation in this Parliament has been the imposition of increased duties. Rosy pictures have been painted of the prosperity that the new duties will bring in their train. We all recollect the famous Massy Greene tariff of 1921, and that very able speech of the Minister in charge, in which he predicted that if the tariff were passed it would usher in an era of prosperity and industrial development, the like of which this country had never seen. That tariff was passed, and in the process of passing it, duties higher than those originally tabled were imposed. To-day, in 1929, eight years afterwards, we have the same old prediction. This schedule, if passed, will usher in an era of prosperity and bring employment to this country. Sooner or later a repercussion will be felt. The increased duties are imposed at the expense of the consumers, and particularly of the primary producers of this country.
– And the worker. He is getting it in the neck.
-And at the expense of the worker. This Parliament must take into consideration the fact that our secondary industries, with some minor exceptions, make no attempt to compete in the world’s market. They openly and unashamedly exploit the local market, and when the supply exceeds the demand, production ceases or is restricted merely to meet that demand. We have, too, the policy enunciated by the last speaker (Mr. Long) who seemed to think that it was impossible for a person to be a free trader and an Australian. I am not a free trader, but one particular feature of the criticism of those whose fiscal policy is- the same as mine is the fact that whenever we raise our voices in protest against increased duties, our patriotism is challenged. We are called unpleasant names.
– Foreign traders.
– We are referred to as foreign traders. Indeed, the inference is that we are actually traitors to our country. I was born an Australian; I live an Australian, and I shall die an Australian. This tariff is strangling our primary industries, and is rendering it harder and harder for them to compete in the world’s markets. In addition, it is throwing upon the pioneers of this country the burden of carrying the secondary industries while,’ at the same time, competing in the world’s markets. The charge of lack of patriotism should rest at the doors of those who have placed our pioneers in such a position. If it were possible to put a wall round this country to exclude all imports, and if we had no obligations overseas, one could perhaps visualize a state of affairs under which we could live unto ourselves; but this Government, whose dictum it is that we shall not buy from or trade with other countries, is not too proud to borrow from a country with whom we are not to trade. The Loan Council, according to press reports yesterday, has decided that the’ present time is not propitious for raising a loan in London, not because it considers that it is hardly decent to attempt to borrow money while imposing increased duties, but because it cannot get money overseas. We are too proud to trade, but not too proud to borrow. We must send overseas each year from £28,000,000 to £30,000,000 worth of goods to meet the interest on our indebtedness abroad. If we imported nothing we should still have to send overseas goods to that value. It is obviously impossible for us to be totally selfcontained, because of our large imports of oils, -tea and many other commodities which we cannot produce, and therefore goods to the value of such commodities, plus goods valued at from £28,000,000 to £30,000,000, must be sent overseas. Those exports consist to from 95 per cent, to 96 per cent, of primary products.
– More than that.
– We can understate the figures and still make out an arresting case. One is tempted to ask when are the secondary industries of Australia going to take their share of this burden. Let me give one concrete illustration to show the extraordinary position that exists to-day. We produce the finest wool in the world, and buyers flock here from other countries to purchase it. Why do we not send our wool overseas in the form of blankets, rugs, singlets, underclothing and the like? Our friends opposite proudly proclaim, and I should be the last to deny it, that we have the best workmen in the world. We have the finest and cheapest raw material in the world, and yet not .only are we unable to compete in the markets of the world with our woollen manufacturers, but we cannot even hold our own local markets without imposing exorbitant duties on imported goods. Surely that one instance alone must indicate that there is “ something rotten in the state of Denmark!”
– The reason is obvious. We pay the highest wages in the world, and our workmen work the shortest hours.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has stated that it is imperative that we should purchase less from Great Britain, yet he has left for that country with the object of persuading it to purchase more goods from us.
– The Minister is to represent Australia at a naval conference.
– He is to do more than that. He has announced through the press, that he intends while overseas to raise the question whether Great Britain should not purchase more of our primary products. He expressed the hope that it might be possible for the two Governments - the British Labour Government and the Australian Labour Government - to enter into a trade agreement for the purchase of Australian primary products in bulk.
– That is a good idea.
– I agree with the honorable member. I raise that point to show that the objective of the Minister is to increase trade between Australia and Great Britain. If, as a result of the Minister’s representations, a pro posal is placed before us for the purchase in bulk of our primary products by Great Britain, to the mutual advantage of British consumers and Australian primary producers, I shall certainly support it. I come to one other matter. Not only does this policy of excessively high duties make the position of the primary producers and the consumers more and more difficult, but it fosters in the overseas markets an antagonism that may eventually bring about reprisals. Only the other day we read of a new trade agreement between Great Britain .and the Argentine. My authority is the cabled reports in the daily press, and I assume that they are correct. In return for either lower duties or a suspension of duties upon British manufactured goods, the British Government has arranged to purchase large quantities of Argentine primary products.
– Great Britain has always made agreements with foreign countries to the detriment of Australia.
– The point that I am making is that our tariff policy will affect adversely, not the secondary industries, which this schedule is designed to protect, but the exports of primary industries. Take, for instance, the preference on dried fruits. The preference granted by Great Britain to Australia is the one thing standing between the dried fruit growers and ruin.
– The honorable member will not deny that we give GreatBritain greater preference than it gives us.
– If we place prohibitive duties on British goods-
– Not prohibitive.
– The duties are prohibitive so far as business is concerned. If we place prohibitive duties on British goods, and then camouflage that action by putting still more higher duties upon foreign goods, it seems to me that this alleged preference will become null and void.
– Last year Great Britain enjoyed the advantage of a preference from us of £8,000,000, as against a preference of £800,000 given to us.
– The honorable gentleman has enunciated something which we have heard again and again when this subject has been under discussion. If Great Britain pursued the same policy, and protected her own agriculturists against oversea imports, by imposing the same average duties which we impose against Britain’s products, the effect would be ruinous to our primary producers in so far as they depended on the export market.
– We are taking £80,000,000 worth of goods each year from Great Britain. Australia is Great Britain’s second most valuable market.
– The honorable gentleman is supporting a policy which is designed to reduce the quantity of our imports from Great Britain. Yet he is one of those who deplore the fact that we are taking so much from her. .
– The tariff is designed to enable Australia to produce its own requirements as far as is practicable. That is surely fair.
– I am well aware that we are embarking upon a discussion of the old, old problem of freetrade versus protection. The question is not whether it is not better to concentrate on producing those things, such as wheat and wool, which we are naturally able to produce better and more cheaply than Great Britain can, instead of trying by schedules of this kind to encourage the manufacture of goods which can be made more cheaply in Britain. Take the wheat industry for instance. We produce from 140,000,000 to 150,000,000 bushels of wheat in a normal season. As a practical wheat farmer, I maintain that we could double that production under a proper developmental policy. This would provide additional employment, not only, among those directly engaged . in wheat-growing, but on the railways, on the wharves, and in the commercial houses associated with our primary industries.
– It would also be creating real wealth.
– That is so, and we would be building up a sound export trade. To quote an actual example: - On my own farm we tried the experiment once of making an iron gate in our own little smithy. It was really a splendid gate when we finished it, but it took us so long to make it that we came to the con clusion that if would be better to grow wheat and sell it, and buy gates with the proceeds. If the protectionist creed were carried to its logical conclusion it would justify a Mallee farmer in refusing to buy his goods even from Melbourne. Why should he send his money down to Melbourne when he could supply most of his requirements locally He might say that he was. opposed to the aggregation of population in Melbourne, that he was in favor of decentralization, and would buy everything that he needed nearer home.
– The answer is that the Argentine farmer under freetrade pays as much for his agricultural implements as do the farmers here.
– That argument is popular with protectionists, I know, but there are other factors not always taken into consideration. The conditions existing in the two countries are totall y different. At one time the McKay Harvester Company considered that there was a fortune to be made by exporting harvesters to the Argentine. It was found, however, that questions related to currency and credit in the Argentine, together with the risk and cost of selling, would make it necessary to charge considerably more for the machines in the Argentine than they were selling for in Australia.
– That is not much of an argument for freetrade countries.
– I suggest to the honorable gentleman that he is overlooking the fact that the conditions vary between the two countries in other respects than in their fiscal policy. The racial difference, for instance, is an important factor.
– Does the honorable member think that the wheat-growers of Australia were better off 25 years ago than they are now?
– No, and no other section of the community was better off 25 years ago than now. The world is becoming a better place to live in, for the wheat-grower, for the trade unionist and for everybody else. The fact remains, however, that the pioneers who open up the country are working longer hours than any one else, and are living under worse conditions. That is the reward
Australia has bestowed upon its pioneers. In fairness I must say, however, that the conditions which exist in the primary industries of Australia to-day are in a large measure due to the lack of organization among the farmers themselves. This lack of organization has been attributed to the fact that the farmer is a miserable, grasping person, ‘ who is too selfish to organize. As one who has tried to teach the gospel of organization to farmers, I maintain that the reason for their lack of organization and collective action is to be found elsewhere. First of all the farmer is, by temperament and habit, essentially an individualist. It is the possession of that spirit which impels him to turn his back on the crowded capital cities, and to seek his home in the wilderness. It urges him to leave the maddening crowd, select a block of bushland and make a home there for himself and his family. The farmer is also affected by his environment in such a way that his spirit of individualism becomes more and more developed. It was suggested to me once at a public meeting that while it was true that the farmers were scattered far and wide, so were the shearers, and yet they organized successfully. The answer is that the shearers work together. They work in communities. The farmers work alone in isolated districts, so that they not unnaturally fail to develop the herd instinct. If the farmers worked together in bands of 80 or 100, if they met daily and had their lunch together, and discussed their common problems and interests it would not be long before they would do what the workers and manufacturers have done They would get together in a body, and assert themselves industrially and politically. There is a change coming, however, hastened by such factors as improved transport and radio broadcasting. There is a new spirit among the primary producers, and the time is upon us when we shall have among the farmers active organizations, both industrial and political. When that day comes it will be better for the farmer and, I think, better for Australia also.
– The farmers had a party once, but they left the honorable member, I believe.
– I prefer not to pursue that subject now. I have already voiced my opinion about what happened then. Attempts have been made to organize various sections of primary producers. The history of such attempts has shown that it is essential that the whole movement should be placed upon a federal basis. The limitation of powers under the Constitution, which prevents this Parliament from creating marketing organizations for primary produce within Australia, has been the greatest drawback to the proper organization of the farmers of Australia. Wheat is a case in point. Attempts have been made by farmers in various States to create wheat pools. Under our constitutional limitations such attempts have not extended beyond State borders, a fact which invariably led to their failure.
– There has been no failure in the west.
– The attempt to establish a pool in Western Australia has been reasonably successful, but that is because Western Australia is more or less isolated, and it is nearest to the markets of the world. The experience in other States has been that when a ballot of the farmers is taken as to whether a compulsory pool should be established, the argument used by opponents of the measure - usually interstate wheat merchants, agents and other middlemen - was that a State pool would not be successful because cheap wheat would come from other States, particularly New South Wales, and break the pool. That was the principal argument against the establishment of the pool in Victoria. Immediately afterwards the New South Wales wheatgrowers took a ballot to decide whether there should be a wheat pool in that State. These same interested individuals then transferred their activities and propaganda in New South Wales, and persuaded the growers that such a pool would be ineffective, because wheat would be brought into New South Wales from Victoria. Thus they have played off one State against another. I give these facts to show how necessary it is for the Commonwealth to have additional constitutional powers in relation to trade and commerce to permit of the federal organization and marketing of our primary products. The growers of dried fruits also attempted to organize to have legislation passed, not only in the Federal Parliament, but also in four State Parliaments, to make effective the marketing of their product. It should not have been necessary to have other than federal legislation. I regret that when the late Government brought forward proposals designed to secure an amendment of the Constitution in relation to industrial matters, it declined to accede to my request to include in them a reference to extended powers over trade and commerce. We have what can be described as anarchy not only in connexion with marketing within Australia, but also in regard to production. The Governments of the States proceed with schemes of agricultural development without paying any heed to the marketing problem. The canned fruits industry, for example, was largely developed in the Goulburn Valley district of Victoria as a consequence of the migration policy of the Government of that State. The result of the settlement of a large number of migrants in that area was that over-production occurred. The Commonwealth Government was induced to intervene, and the canned fruit pools, that were set up during the war, cost the Commonwealth Treasury hundreds of thousands of pounds.. A similar state of affairs exists to-day in the dried fruits industry. Last Saturday the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker), and I introduced to the Prime Minister (Mr.’ Scullin) a deputation from the Australian Dried Fruits Association, which urged that the Government should take action to assist the industry to solve its marketing and production problems. It was frankly stated that the real reason for the trouble in which the industry now finds itself is the over-production which was caused by the repatriation policy of the various State Governments, under which soldier settlers were rushed into the industry. Formerly 80 per cent, of the total production was consumed locally. To-day the reverse is the case; less than 20 per cent, of the total pack is consumed locally, and over 80 per cent, is sent overseas. Yet, despite the fact that there is over-production the New South Wales Government is gaily going ahead with the settlement of new areas. The burden of the interest bill of from £28,000,000 to £30,000,000 is being carried by our primary industries.
– Alone ?
– To the extent of 95 per cent. If the honorable gentleman will study the Commonwealth Year-Booh he will find that manufactured goods are sent overseas to only a very slight extent.
I shall now say a word about the Development and Migration Commission. The commission has hardly a friend. Although I was opposed to the manner in which it was created, and do not necessarily endorse its personnel or the salaries which its members are receiving, I admit that for the first time in the history of this country developmental schemes are now being investigated in a practical way. The deciding point is whether a scheme is sound and the conditions are such that the settlers are likely to succeed. Until now, land settlement has gone on haphazardly under the Governments of the States, which have paid no regard to the necessity for having markets and conditions which will give the men a reasonable chance of making a success of their holdings. Men have been settled in some wheat-growing districts of Victoria upon land on which I, as a practical farmer, know it is humanly impossible for them to succeed. At the present time, there is under consideration the Lake Wiangala water conservation scheme in New South Wales, under which it is proposed to water 800,000 acres of mallee land. The other evening I was waited upon by Mr. Clayton, the senior wheat experimentalist of the Department of Agriculture of New South Wales. He sought information respecting our experience in the Victorian Mallee and gave me some indication of the data that they were trying to collect before they settled persons on the land. It is necessary to take into account not only the average and the total rainfall, but also the months in which the rainfall occurs, the temperature, the size of the holding, and many other subjects, all of which have a bearing upon the practicability of these schemes and the likelihood of the settlers having a reasonable chance to produce profitably, and then find a market for their products. If the commission had done no more than this, it would have justified its existence. Still, I do not think that it should be continued in its present form, but it has caused us to regard developmental schemes from an entirely different angle, and in that direction has been of very great service to Australia. It has been of very great value also to many of our pioneers, and as a result of its work the pioneers of the schemes investigated by it will take up land with a reasonable chance of succeeding.
I wish now to refer to the subject of industrial powers. The indication has been given that the Government; proposes to introduce industrial legislation to grapple with the serious and important problem of industrial unrest. I hold very strongly the view that it would be a mistake for the Government to attempt to dabble in industrial legislation with our present limited powers. It should take a referendum of the people while the subject is still fresh in their minds. The late Government was right in the view which it held that the present state of affairs is intolerable; but it made a mistake in the action which it took to effect a cure. I believe that in the present temper of the people of Australia, if the Government were to ask for increased powers they would be granted by an overwhelming majority. It would be a woeful mistake to attempt to meddle with the position while we are hamstrung by limited powers. If a small measure of success were achieved the result would be to minimise the irritation and lessen the prospect of obtaining additional powers. I cannot urge too strongly my belief that it would be a fatal mistake to attempt to patch up the present system. The Government should ask the people to enlarge our powers. . If further powers are granted, this Parliament is capable of tackling the problem; but if they are refused there will be no alternative but to make the best of the situation. There are two subjects upon which I am particularly keen, and that I desire to stress. One is increased industrial powers, which I urge will be given if the Government will go to the people ; and the other is an extension of the trade and commerce powers to permit of the more effective organization of our primary industries.
Not only are constitutional changes necessary to permit the Parliament to function as it should, but an alteration of the procedure of Parliament also is essential. I do not propose to discuss to-night the subject of elective ministries, concerning which I have a notice of motion on the business paper, but I take this opportunity to refer briefly to a reform I have urged for many years, namely, the alteration of the Standing Orders to provide for the creation of standing committees which would give to private members greater power and status and curtail the powers at present exercised by the Cabinet. In this Parliament the executive has too much power and private members too little. The Cabinet takes upon itself too much responsibility, and whilst that is bad for the Parliament and the country, it is not good for the Cabinet. Cabinet Ministers are overloaded with work and responsibility, in consequence of which they have not sufficient time for the efficient administration of departments. Necessarily, under the present system the Cabinet arrogates to itself the right to make farreaching decisions which rightly should be made by Parliament. Let me mention two recent illustrations. The first was the decision of the last Government to abolish the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. That decision, affecting the working conditions of hundreds of thousands of citizens, was made not in Parliament, or even in the party room, but in Cabinet at a time when this House was not. in session.
– Was it not made by one man or two men?
– We have every reason to believe that it was; but as I am not sure of that I merely make the general statement that it was made by Cabinet when Parliament was not sitting and without the knowledge of the rank and file on either side. The second illustration was the decision of the present Government to abolish the system of compulsory military training. Such a resolve by Cabinet before the new Parliament had met was fundamentally wrong.
– The Government was carrying out the policy of the party to which it belongs.
– That may be true, but the circumstances of the election were such that upon one issue alone the electors gave their decision at the last election.
– That is not true.
– During the election campaign Labour members said that only one issue was before the people, but they have been running away from that statement ever since.
– I do not wish to enter into an argument as to the conditions under which the last election was fought, but I suggest that the important matter of altering the defence system would have been better dealt with by a permanent standing committee of defence appointed from all parties in the House, and to which all important defence matters could be referred.
– Referred by whom?
– Referred by the Government for inquiry and report. Such a committee could take evidence from the heads of the naval, military and air forces, inspect bases, ships and fortifications, and submit a report upon which the Government could act. For instance, the continuance or discontinuance of the Jervis Bay Naval College and the Duntroon Military College might well be referred to a standing committee on defence.
– As the party in power would have a majority on the committee, would not the committee simply register the decision of the Government?
– That might happen on occasions, but not necessarily.
– One drawback to the system suggested by the honorable member is the delay that would occur in giving effect to’ the policy of the Government.
– Such a delay could be avoided. In the United States of America difficulty was experienced through the adoption of dilatory methods by committees when the majority of their members were hostile to proposals submitted to them. Congress and State legislation amended the procedure to require the committees to report within a stated time. Similar procedure could be adopted in this Parliament. A standing committee on agriculture would relieve the Cabinet of a great deal of work and responsibility.
– It would enable the Cabinet to shuffle out of a great deal of its responsibility.
-“ Shuffle “ is hardly applicable to the system I am advocating. Another concrete instance is the request of those engaged in the dried fruit industries for Commonwealth assistance. The Prime Minister, after hearing the views of a deputation, said that a prima facie case was established which was worthy of consideration. If a standing committee on agriculture were in existence the Government would refer to it for inquiry and report any such application. The claims of the cotton, wool and wheat industries also might be investigated by the committee. Under the present system Cabinet is kept busy with a multitude of duties and has not time to investigate details. Ministers are dependent upon departmental officers, most of whom are without practical knowledge of the conditions in primary industries. Or the Government refers a matter to the Tariff Board, which is already overloaded with other duties, and, by reason of its personnel, is not the best qualified body to report upon problems relating to primary production. But in every party in this House are honorable members who would constitute acommittee that would be competent to inquire into the industries and report to the Government.
– Which would have to find the money for these various forms of assistance ?
– The expenditure might be well worth while.
– It is not to be assumed that every inquiry would necessarily mean increased assistance to a particular industry; it might even mean reduced assistance, for on occasions financial aid has been given which has not proved to be in the best interests of either the industry concerned or the finances of the Commonwealth.
– None of those industries are in the Wimmera district, of course.
– Whenever one makes a constructive suggestion in this Parliament he is assailed by miserable and petty insinuations. I am not bargaining for assistance for any industry in my electorate.
– The honorable member certainly was.
– I resent that sneering and unworthy suggestion.
– It is quite relevant.
– The honorable member rarely rises to make a constructive suggestion, but he sneers at another who tries to improve the procedure of this Parliament and make better government possible. Is there one honorable member in this Parliament who thinks that our present procedure is incapable of improvement? All other institutions in the world are changing and advancing. Must Parliament alone remain stationary? Must it for ever cling to hoary traditions and obsolete rules and procedure? I have indicated a reform that I believe would be of benefit to the Parliament and, indirectly, to the country.
In regard to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition, I consider the manner in which the decision of the Government to discontinue compulsory military training was reached was wrong, but the decision itself was right. We have not had universal military training; the system has only been partially operative, because it has been’ confined to the more populous centres. Besides, the principle of compulsory military training is wrong. No man should be compelled to go overseas to fight, and from what I know of the manhood of Australia, compulsion will not be needed if our country is ever threatened with invasion.
.- I listened with pleasure to the speech of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart), who occupies a unique position in this chamber in that he belongs to no party. Although he sits on the Opposition side, and the Government may not agree with all the opinions expressed -by him, I am sure that he is not inspired by party motives, and his opinions, therefore should receive close attention.
Referring to the subject of bulk marketing throughout the Empire, I may say that when I was in England in 1924, I met Mr. Lansbury, who was then interesting himself in the subject of preference to overseas products, which he was disinclined to give. As a member of a freetrade party, he was completely against it; but he said that he had proposed Empire bulk marketing to the Labour Government of the time so that the British worker could be supplied with cheap commodities. He said that, during the late war he had been in charge of a department that purchased in bulk for the troops, quantities of foodstuffs such as bread and meat, and he thought that a similar system of co-operative buying could be applied advantageously to the Empire. He is now a member of the British Labour Ministry, and according to the cable news, he proposes to see whether some such system can be adopted.
The discussion has been limited by the amendment to one subject, because the Leader of the Opposition has moved that the proposed vote be reduced by £1, as a protest against the abolition of compulsory military training. For eleven years this has been a plank of the Labour party’s platform, and every elector has known that steps would be taken to put it into operation so soon as that could be conveniently done. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) this afternoon quoted from two speeches made by me when I was previously a member of this chamber. He showed that I was then in favour of compulsory military training; but the argument that I used then was that when a nation passed provocative laws, the people should be in a position, in the last resort, to defend those laws and themselves. I venture to say that a good deal of water has run under bridges since that time. The remarks that I made at that time may be regarded as antediluvian ; I certainly consider that compulsory military training is antediluvian ; 1914-1918 is the flood and the chasm which divides the two periods. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) quoted a statement made by the then honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Hughes) in 1903, but if the whole of his remarks had been quoted it would have been seen that he did not then advocate universal military training. The right honorable member did not agree with it, as I thought it should be carried out. He wanted the poor lad to serve and the rich man’s son to buy himself out. He also refused to pay the trainees. Hansard of the 31st July, 1901, vol. III., page 3,298, records that lie said -
I would not compel any man to serve in the Militia who is desirous of evading service, if he chooses to pay a tax for the maintenance of some one to serve in his place. Any man who, because of religious scruples, business interests, or any other reason, was unwilling to serve should be exempted from service, provided he pay a capitation tax. Whether it meets with the approval of honorable gentlemen here, or of the people of the country or not, I lay it down as a basic proposition, that it is the first duty of every man to defend his country, and if he is not willing to do so, he should pay some one else for doing it.
That right honorable member received slight support from Mr. J. C. Watson, who was afterwards Prime Minister. He also said that he had received some support from me; but everybody else in the House was opposed to his ideas. I maintain that the reason why we do not need compulsory military training is that a change has come over the attitude of nations one to another. There has been a war, and the system of warfare has been completely altered. The system of compulsory training provided only 16 per cent, of the men who went to the front. On the 13th August, 1919, Mr. Tudor, then the honorable member for Yarra, was informed in reply to a question, that approximately 50,000 compulsory trainees joined the Australian Imperial Force, and that approximately 270,000 were volunteers. A British Cabinet Minister, Lord Birkenhead, stated: -
The business men of the dominions who enlisted have confronted on equal terms the instructed products of the most scientific military school in the world, and they have not suffered in comparison with their British colleagues.
This shows that compulsory military training was not required in order to make the Australian Imperial Force the success that it undoubtedly was.
I played a very small part in the late war. At the outside I saw only twenty months’ service. I have not the very long war record of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White). On the 17th March, 1915, I arrived at Broadmeadows with 900 men, most of whom were from country districts and had had very little military training. I had to start with five officers and eleven noncommissioned officers. We did the best we could in the circumstances, and, when we went to the front, we acquitted ourselves as well as other battalions. At Gallipoli, I do not think that we disgraced ourselves. The fact that 50,000 members of the Australian Imperial Force were compulsory trainees, as against 270,000 volunteers, proves that compulsory training is unnecessary for the defence of this country. I go further and say that I am against both compulsory training and the proposed voluntary training, because the time for wars has absolutely passed. Australia is bound by treaties to do nothing but gradually disarm. Does the Leader of tho Opposition (Mr. Latham) know to what extent we are bound by the Treaty of Versailles? The Covenant of the League of Nations makes further compulsory training not only unnecessary but a contravention of its provisions. The opening clause states -
The high contracting parties, in order to promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security by the acceptance of obligation not to resort to war, agree to this covenant.
The eighth article sets out that -
The members of the League recognize that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety.
Yet we were told by our highest military authority shortly after the war period that conscription would in future be required not only for Australia, but also to provide a striking force for oversea service. Such a force can be required for two purposes only: to defeat an aggressive enemy or to defend Australian territory against aggression.
Do we need to defend Australian territory against aggression ? Where is aggression coming from? When I was a boy Russia was the bogy of the militarists. Whenever a Russian warship was anywhere near Australia the newspapers created a scare. That was some years after the Crimean War. After Russia, it was France that we feared. The warmongers suggested on every possible pretext, that France would be our next enemy. That went on until the time of the Fashoda incident. Afterwards we established an entente with France, and were a little wiser for a time. Then Germany became the bogy. I believe that the war with Germany was due to economic rivalry, and not because of any military system. Germany has been defeated; but the warmongers, not to be beaten, now tell us that we must look out for japan. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) hinted the other day that our White Australia policy was provocative, and might be the means of causing an Oriental power to attack us. But Japan is in financial difficulties. Moreover, she is, like Australia, a signatory to the Washington Treaty, which remains effective until 1932, and has indicated that she is prepared to renew the treaty. The Sydney Bulletin, which never misses an opportunity of traducing the United States of America, now persistently and wickedly tells us that that great Englishspeaking republic will be our next enemy. Most of us would rather cut off our hands than fight against our American cousins.
It is absurd for the advocates of compulsory military training to suggest that Germany will ever be able to attack us again, for she can only raise an army by voluntary means. Within the last few weeks we have been informed of how these war-mongers and armanent profiteers do their work. I quote the following press cablegram in this connexion : -
Mr. Shearer tells how he was a private observer at the Geneva Naval Conference, and the data which he used against naval limitations there were supplied by naval officers. He mentioned that four admirals had implored.’ him in 1024 to spread information against the reduction of naval armaments. The shipbuilding corporations, Mr. Shearer added, were enthusiastic over my work.
A few days later, the following cablegram was published : -
To-day’s developments in the naval propaganda incident included a further statement by President Hoover, in which he said, “Disclosures of interference with and propaganda against the efforts of the United States of America’s Government in negotiations for’ an international agreement on the reduction of naval armaments are already so evident as to require that these matters should be gone into to the very bottom.”
Those messages indicate how war scares are manufactured in these days.
We have been told by those who advocate compulsory military training, that it is not conscription. I assert that it is nothing more nor less than boyconscription. To support my argument, I remind honorable members that, when we were asked during the war years to vote upon a proposal for enforcing in Australia conscription for overseas service, the question put before us read -
Are you in favour of the Government, in this grave emergency, “having the same compulsory power over citizens in regard to compulsory military service for the protection of the country outside the Commonwealth, as it has in regard to military service within the Commonwealth 1
The Government of the day took it for granted that the system of training then in vogue provided for conscription for home defence.
The Treasurer will doubtless be interested to hear how our expenditure on defence has grown. In 1901, when federation was achieved, the defence expenditure of all the States totalled £600,000. In 1911, the Commonwealth’s expenditure for defence purposes was £2,128,000; in 1928, the vote for this purpose totalled £8,880,000. I submit that we can save the whole of that amount, and I shall show how it can be done.
Under Article 10 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, we are completely protected against aggression by a foreign foe. The article provides that -
The members of the league undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression, the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all members of** the league. *
It is provided in Article 22, that to Australia and her adjacent islands there shall be applied the principle that their well being and development shall form a sacred trust of civilization, and securities for this trust are embodied in the covenant.
Seeing that compulsory military training has been abolished in Germany and other ex-enemy countries, there should be no need for us to retain the system. In this connexion Lord Birkenhead observed recently -
I find it hard to reconcile the League of Nations with the principle of national service. If the League is effective there is no place for universal national service.
– How does the honorable member think that the Covenant of the League could be enforced in this connexion ?
– Under Article 10 every other member of the League would have to come to the assistance of a member of it that was attacked.
– But the United States of America is not a member of the League.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the United States of America might be an aggressor ?
– I do not.
– Every other country that has been mentioned as a possible enemy of Australia is a member of the League and, so far from attacking us, would be obliged to defend us if we were assailed. The honorable member may ask whether Australia should not do something to prepare herself to defend other members of the League, who may be attacked ; but I suggest that if all the mem: bers of it would cease preparing for war there would be little likelihood of an outbreak occurring, and no need to then protect each other.
I have said that the voluntary training system must be useless. My reason for making that statement is that the day has passed for the effective use of infantry forces. Any honorable member who has read the literature available on the subject must realize that that is so.
– Oh, no.
– The last war developed into a . stalemate, because of the adoption of trench warfare. In the days gone by infantry forces were effective, because there was a good deal of personal combat. The infantry remained effective so long as the bayonet was a decisive weapon. But in later times when the rifle was the main arm, it became useless except at the shortest ranges. Who that has gone through the perils of air bombing would say that that is a fair kind of warfare? Bravery, training, rifles, bayonets are all useless against the overhead offensive. But it cannot be doubted that it will be the method of fighting adopted in the future. The modern fight is not between man and” man. Under present conditions manpower and military training have largely become obsolete. Machinery and chemistry are displacing them, and will control future warfare. Chemical murder at long range by means of poisonous gas has always been one of the dreams of militarism.
The very latest thing in the way of wiping human life off this planet is America’s new. poison-gas factory. This is a” gigantic concern, with many subsidiary organizations. Its total cost is about equal to that of the construction of the Panama Canal, and it forms the most striking feature in the American campaign of preparedness. American scientific military journals state that the existence of this vast murder plant will, in future wars, be a greater asset than a standing army. These journals state that many thousands of tons of liquefied poison gas have been made, and stored for future wars - gas of such frightful potency that one drop of . the dreadful liquid is sufficient to destroy human life. It is claimed that no mask can be of the slightest use against this gas. It easily penetrates the thickest clothing, and inflicts upon tender skin surfaces frightful burns, which rapidly develop into rodent ulcers, which eat into the very bones of its victims. An employee engaged in the production of this liquid- carelessly laid his hand on the back of a chair before divesting himself of his rubber armour. Some one sat in that chair, leaned back, and died in frightful agony, as if his spine had been seared with white-hot metal. It was found impossible to secure ordinary civilian artisans to operate this poison plant at any rate of wages. Therefore, it was manned by 6,000 conscripts, drafted from the ranks of the army for that purpose, and kept under the strictest military discipline. The casualties among these wretched conscripts were greater than those in the average American regiments in the actual firing line.
– Who is the authority for that statement?
– I have not the name of. the writer before me, but I shall give it to the honorable member later. If the warfare of the future is to be purely mechanical and chemical, of what use is our manual training? We cannot .compete in these things, and must surely place our reliance upon the League of Nations. Of what use would infantry be in. such a war? I believe that the time is coming when war will be as obsolete as slavery is.
Mr.White. - There is no doubt about that.
– Are we not working to that end by abolishing compulsory military training? About two and a half years ago the Danish Labour Government brought in a bill to abolish all naval armaments and permanent forces, and also its system of military training. The military forces of Denmark of that time consisted of 10,928 men. The bill was passed by the lower house, but rejected by the upper house. The Danish Ministry went to the country on that issue. It was returned to office about four months ago with a majority almost as overwhelming as the Labour majority in this House. The lower House re-introduced the bill, and passed it. A publication called Headway, which I read recently, contains a statement by Dr. Bunsch, Foreign Secretary for Denmark, to the effect that the Danish Ministry expects the bill to be carried by the upper house.
– Denmark lost SchleswigHolstein to Germany through being unprepared.
– When Prussia invaded Schleswig-Holstein the Danish forces fought for only nine days. It was a great mistake for Denmark to fight at all against the overwhelming might of Prussia. We should place our trust in the justice and honour of the world, and with the signing of the treaty of peace, which is part of the Treaty of Versailles, disarmament will gradually take place among the nations of the world.
– Does the honorable member think that it is wrong to make any provision for the defence of this country?
– I do. We should have a better and proper trust in Almighty God. War is brutal and murderous; it is hell. The people who advocate it are playing into the hands of the devil. I am completely against war, and those who engaged in the last war should agree with me. It is scandalous, indeed, that any honorable member should defend the military system. I suppose that the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron), when attending church, has sung the hymn containing the words -
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defence is sure.
No doubt he has also read the injunction in the scriptures “ Seek peace and pursue it.” But, when it comes to deciding between Christianity versus politics, the honorable member becomes an infidel. He does not believe in practical Christianity applied to our national life. War should be abolished, and I shall do all I can to stop the damned thing.
I understand that the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore), when introducing the budget, said that he required an additional revenue of £2,000,000. I suggest that he could save that amount immediately by reorganizing the Defence Department. That would be a better method of obtaining money than the increasing of taxation, because taxation eventually leads to unemployment. I was sorry to hear the Minister for Defence (Mr. A. Green) say on Friday last that no officer of the Defence Department would be dismissed in consequence of the institution of voluntary military training. About five years ago there was great retrenchment and reorganization in the Defence Department, and a large number of officers retired on very good allowances. One of the proposals put forward at the time was to amalgamate the positions of assistant adjutant-general and quartermaster general. They were amalgamated and that continued for about a year, but in the present estimates I find again provision for an adjutant-general at £1,150 a year, and a quartermaster-general at £1,200 a year, and it is apparent there has been no actual retrenchment in this respect whatever. The two positions are still filled by two officers and their predecessors were paid thousands of pounds on retirement.
In spite of the intention of the previous Government to retrench there has been an increase of salaries amounting to £1,250 on the Australian staff corps. The quartermaster-general’s salary has been increased from £1,100 to £1,200. There is a major-general acting as a senior representative in London. A failure everywhere else he has been sent to’ England.
– Does the honorable member think it wrong for the secretary of the department to be receiving more in salary than the army leaders who have had increases?
– I cannot say whether it is fair or not, but there is a special arrangement by which the secretary was to retain the salary he enjoyed when he was secretary to the High Commissioner in London. If he does his duty, as I believe he will, and, when he gets to know the department thoroughly, can indicate to the Minister when economy may and should be effected by him as civil head he will easily save the £2,000 which he is being paid at the present time. It is clearly the duty of the Secretary of Defence or some one else to show the Minister how money can be saved in this overgrown department with all its extravagances.
At Queenscliff and South Head we have permanent forts; at least they are said to be permanent, but it would take £3,000,000 to make them effective. A large number of men is employed in them, but if an enemy came along these men would be quite useless for the purpose of defence, because their guns have a most limited range. The largest gun at Queenscliff has a range of only twelve miles, whereas all modern battleships are equipped with guns whose range is more than twelve miles. Any battleship could stand thirteen miles off Queenscliff and shell the guns in the fort. The equipment in the forts is thus of no more use than a pop gun. A similar position arose in the Sydney-Emden fight. The Sydney had guns with a longer range than those of the Emden, but we know that, instead of making use of this advantage, she steamed within range of the Emden’s guns and suffered a good deal of damage. Although a great deal of credit was given to the Sydney I understand that her captain was afterwards rebuked for not having made use of his longer range and saving bis men from danger. The Australian forts are maintained at an enormous expense, but they are useless for the purpose they are designed to serve.
If the Government is not prepared to spend millions of pounds on them they might as well be wiped out.
Within the last six or seven years Australia has spent £7,253,000 upon its air force, yet when Kingsford Smith and Keith Anderson were lost, an aeroplane could not be provided by the air force to go to their relief, and press stunts and civil aviation had to be relied upon to find the missing men. I remember Mr. Charlton proposing his scheme for air defence - I believe it was subsequently adopted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) - and that was to develop civil aviation and in that way save an enormous expenditure which we are now incurring on the military side of aviation. Mr. Charlton’s proposals were decried, but they have since been proved to be wise and I hope they will be taken up very seriously by the present Minister for Defence (Mr. A. Green). We can have no better illustration of the absolute uselessness of an air force than to be told that for one month the Defence Department could not provide an aeroplane to do a very small job.
We are at present running a navy. It is called the Royal Australian Navy. It is far more Royal than Australian. We pay for it, but have hardly any control over it, and it is mainly officered by men who have received their training in England. All the senior positions are filled by officers who are seconded or drawing pensions from the British Navy. They are against Australian methods. The other day I asked the following questions in the House -
What number of officers, warrant officers, petty officers and men, 3,076. (b) Officers, separately, received pay in the Australian Navy on 1st November, 1929 -
The following were the replies -
Thus, after the Australian Navy has been in existence for eighteen years we now have in our forces 58 officers, 53 warrant officers, 183 chief petty officers, and 205 petty officers, who have been brought from England, and are displacing Australians. It is absurd. The Australian Navy is merely a refuge for a large number of English pensioned naval officers, while our own men are deprived of their opportunities. Our own men, who have passed as lieutenants, are made sub-lieutenants only, so as to provide the pensioners with billets. Of commissioned gunners fourteen have been brought from England. The last commissioned boatswains appointed in June, 1927, came from England. The only commissioned signalman is an Englishman, while the only commissioned telegraphist is also English. There is also an English commissioned shipwright. Apparently we know nothing about such matters here. Surely Australia should- be able to supply paymaster lieutenant-commanders, yet when the last appointment was made on 16th October, 1928, the appointee was an Englishman. What does this mean? Ours is called a Royal Australian Navy, but instead of Australian men filling the positions, the only thing that Australia has to do with the Navy is to pay for it, while in time of war we have to hand it over to the English authorities. When some sailors on the Australia - an Australian ship in Australian waters - were tried on Australian shores for an offence and punished, the Minister for Defence said he could not reconsider the severe sentences, and bad to make his representations to the British Admiralty. When the matter was brought up again in. the Federal Parliament, Sir Joseph Cook replied -
All tlie statements made in this House will not influence the Navy one hair’s breadth.
– Does the honorable member seriously suggest that there ought to be an appeal to Parliament from the decision of the Naval authorities?
– I suggest that the Navy should be manned by Australians. The honorable member says I am suggesting that political influence should be introduced into naval control.
– Well, what is the honorable member’s point?
– In reply to our Lieutenant-Commander of the Navy, who knows all about these things, I say that the Australian sailor should be under the control of Australian officers, and ha should, if necessary, be tried by an Australian court martial.
– That is being done as the personnel reaches seniority. Every man trained is being utilized.
– Even when they pass they are used only in positions inferior to their passed rank. It ought not to be necessary to refer matters to the Admiralty office in Whitehall when there is an Australian Navy office in the Melbourne barracks. Moreover, our own Government should have the last word in matters pertaining to the Australian Navy. Quite close to Canberra there is a military establishment known as Duntroon. I believe that the cost of maintaining that school is very large in proportion to the number of students, but I do not propose to stress that just now.- Attached to the school, however, are five fully qualified civil professors - professors of mathematics, physics, chemistry, English and modern, languages. These gentlemen add greatly to the expense of the military college, but I do not think that their time is fully occupied. There has been a good deal of agitation for a university at Canberra, and I should like to see the services of these professors used to impart university training to local students. It is a waste of money to have these men here when their time is not fully occupied, and when they might be employed as I suggest.
Some time ago I asked for a copy of the addresses being given in the State capitals by Brigadier-General Dodd, on the new military scheme. I know that addresses were prepared, but in answer to my question, i was told that no official report was in existence, and that the best copy published was to be found in The Age of the 19th November. I looked up the Age and read there a most serious statement credited to Brigadier-General Dodd. The statement was accepted officially, and had behind it the authority of a Minister of the Crown. General Dodds was reported to have said -
Our best experts have gone carefully intothis matter, and bave come to the conclusionthat in certain possible, and most likely circumstances, Australia was liable to a largescale invasion.
When I asked what were the most likely circumstances, I was told that they were so serious that it was not. considered desirable to elaborate the statement. That statement is either true or untrue. If it is true I direct the attention to the definition in the Defence Act of a “ time of war “ - “Time of war” means any time during which a state of war actually exists, and includes the time between the issue of a proclamation of the existence of war or of danger thereof, and the issue of a proclamation declaring that the war or danger thereof, declared in a prior proclamation, no longer exists.
We are told that Australia is most likely in danger of a large scale invasion. Then a time of war exists under the Defence Act definition. May we not assume, however, that these statements are made to justify the gross extravagance and the overstaffing of the military machine? I can only liken the position in Australia, threatened by this alarmist officer, to that described in the 24th, 25th, 27th and 28th verses of the 19th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles -
For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsman;
Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.
So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.
And when they heard these sayings they were full of wrath and cried out saying, “ Great is Diana of Ephesians.”
Does any one think that BrigadierGeneral Doods believes that Australia is immediately likely to have a large scale invasion ?
If this danger confronts the Commonwealth, the Ministry should be told about it. But we are entitled to assume that military leaders act the part of scaremongers in order that the voluntary system of enlistment may go on unimpeded, and that we should continue our heavy expenditure on the training of a few men for defence. When I asked the Minister for Defence (Mr. A. Green) if he knew anything of the likelihood of a large scale invasion, he informed me that to the best of his knowledge, there was no chance of a major war for ten years. The whole military organization is like a pyramid standing on its apex - all staff and officers to a tiny military force.
I turn now to the proposal to erect a War Memorial in theFederal Capital Territory. It is unnecessary, because every town has its memorial to its honoured dead. We have no need for a national monument of the kind contemplated, because we have these memorials in every part of the Commonwealth, though they are not necessarily memorials in stone and brick. I could take honorable members to a war memorial at Mont Park, near Melbourne. If they visit that institution they will find a number of lunatics spending the remainder of the lives in horrible confinement as a result of the war. - There is another memorial at Macleod, also in the Melbourne suburban area. There honorable members will find a considerable number of our tubercular returned soldiers coughing their lungs out - again the consequences of the war. Still another memorial exists at the Caulfield Military Hospital, where so many of our returned soldiers, with their spines in plaster, must remain on their backs for the remainder of their lives. War memorials may be seen on every hand. And for whom is it proposed to erect this memorial? Is it to the victor in war? Who was the victor? We were told that the Kaiser was to be hanged. He has not been hanged. Hindenburg still lives. The Austrian and Bulgarian leaders remain unpunished. The only record of anything being done to those who were responsible for the war was the shooting of a German prince. Is it suggested that we should erect a memorial to commemorate our victory over the people of Germany, Austria., Bulgaria and the other European countries who were arrayed against us in the last war ? Those people are animated by the same feelings as we are. All they desire is to be able to establish their own little homes and to live in peace and quietness with their wives and families. I have been in these countries and they have no enmity to our workers. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has had experience of war. I have read his great epic, Quests of the Unspeakable, and I found it a very sad and terrible story indeed ; so sad that I should not advise honorable members to read it. I now ask him, should we erect a memorial to commemorate our victory?
– This is a proposal to erect a memorial to our dead.
– Very well; our dead have memorials where they lie. Since the war I have seen memorials to our dead on the shores of Gallipoli, where thousands of Australians lie buried. I have also seen memorials to our dead behind the French lines. How can we erect a memorial to the victors when it is impossible to distinguish between victors and vanquished? Actually there were no victors and no vanquished in the late war, since countless millions of people of all nations are to-day suffering untold privations and misery. In our own country we have, in addition to all the sorrow caused through bereavement, an enormous load of debt for which our people must pay. Those who actually won in the war are the moneyed classes. There is a permanent world war debt of £17,000,000,000 upon which interest must be paid by the people of all nations.
– What would have happened if we had not fought in the war?
– I should prefer the honorable member not to address a question of that nature to me. Does he realize that every working man in Australia has to work the whole of every Monday and two hours of every Tuesday to pay his share of the Australian war debt? Does he realize, further, that the cost of the war to Australia was so great that, had the money been available for other purposes,it would have been possible to build a house worth £600 for every working man in Australia? To whom, then, was victory given in the last war? If those who favour the erection of this memorial are looking for ideas, I suggest that we should have a war memorial in colours. The first 62,000 bricks should be red, representing Australia’s 62,000 dead. The next layer of 300,000 bricks might be in black, to commemorate the 300,000 or 400,000 mothers, sisters ornear relatives of loved ones who fell in the war; and the next layer might be composed of yellow bricks to represent our blind, our lunatic, our unemployed and our pensionless men, the whole structure to be surmounted by a dome of gold to represent the people who really won the war, the great financiers and moneyed powers. I do not favour the erection of any memorial that will perpetuate the horrors of war. If a national memorial is erected, will those who are responsible for it have the audacity to inscribe on it, “ Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God”? I hope that the Government will have the courage to say that it believes in peace, and is opposed to monumental buildings that can serve only to act as reminders of the hell of war. Let Canberra’s War Memorial be conspicuous by its absence. Bather than raise a monument commemorating one of the most dreadful periods in the history of civilization, let us dedicate the site to the cause of peace. Its emptiness will be more eloquent than storied marble.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
House adjourned at 11.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 December 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1929/19291210_reps_12_122/>.