13th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. H. Mackay) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers. new Member.
Mr. SPEAKER. - i have received a return to the writ which I issued on the 12th October last, for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Flinders, in the State of Victoria, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of theRight Honorable Stanley Melbourne Bruce, O.H., M.C., and by the endorsement on the writ, it appears that James Valentino Fairbairn has been elected in pursuance of the said writ.
Mr. Fairbarne made and subscribed the oath of allegiance. excise TARIFF 1933.
– I desire to inform honorable members that copies of the report of the directors, and the balance-sheet as at the 30th June, . 1933, of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, have been placed on the table of the Library for the information of honorable members.
– Has the Prime Minister any information to convey to the
House arising out of the deliberations that have been held between the High Commissioner for Australia in London and the Belgian Government?
– A communication “was received from the High Commissioner only this morning. The Cabinet has not, yet had an opportunity to consider it. So soon as it has, an announcement will bc made to the House.
– Can the Minister for the Interior state the number of unemployed in Canberra, and say whether there is any truth in the suggestion that special work is being provided for them before Christmas?
– by have- I cannot say, at the moment, how many persons are actually unemployed in Canberra, but about 800 are registered as unemployed. Since the commencement of the present financial year, relief work has been provided for the unemployed at the rate of one week in two. That is an improvement upon the original intention to make the provision one week’s work in three, which had been the custom for the previous two or three years
– That applies only to married men.
– Single men, for whom it was intended to provide one week’s work in five, have had one in four. The Government intends to provide a month’s work before ‘Christmas.
– Will that apply to the Northern Territory also?
– No. The problem of unemployment in Canberra will cause increasing difficulty not only to this Government, but also to future Governments. The annual addition to the ranks of unskilled workers numbers about 100. It has to bc realized that sewerage, electric lighting, water supply, roads and bridges, have been provided for the needs of a population of 50,000 persons. The consequence of this is that the Government is finding it increasingly difficult to provide suitable work for the unskilled unemployed. The possibilities are being examined of providing something in the nature of voca tional training, so that, the young people of Canberra may fit themselves to underlike work such as house construction, that has to he performed by skilled labour.
– Some time ago, I asked to bo furnished with information concerning the privileges granted by the Commonwealth to the press, and the practice under which conductors on sleeping cars between Sydney and Canberra, and, I think, also between Albury and Canberra, arc compelled to remain in this city without pay for lengthy periods. Can the Prime Minister now supply those particulars?
– I regret that, so far, I have not been able to supply the information sought by . the honorable member. It is somewhat difficult to obtain detailed information regarding press privileges from the departments concerned. They have been asked to expedite the matter, and I hope to be able to supply to-morrow the particulars which the honorable member wishes to obtain.
The conductors on sleeping cars between Sydney and Canberra are employees of the New South Wales Railways Department. The Commissioner of Commonwealth Railways communicated with the New South Wales Commissioners in regard to the matter, but as a reply was not received, a further telegram has been sent with the object of obtaining the information at an early date. So soon as it is received, it will be given to the honorable member.
– Has the Minister for Commerce noticed a declaration by the Premier of South Australia in regard to the stabilization of butter marketing? If so, can he inform the House whether it is absolutely essential for each State to pass legislation giving consent to such a scheme before the Commonwealth can proceed to pass supplementary legislation ?
– I have noticed the report of the statement of the Premier of South Australia. It is not essential, although it is highly desirable, . that all the States should pass legislation for which supplementation by the Commonwealth is now sought.
-Can the Minister for Commerce give the House any indication whether he intends to introduce legislation to deal with the marketing of butter?
-I assure the honorable member that such legislation will he introduced before this House adjourns for t ho Christmas recess.
– The following paragraph appears in to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald: -
While some Ministersare inclined to meet tho demands of the Country party for increased assistance, others believe this action would be used by the Country party to the disadvantage of the Government at the next elections.
Is the Prime Minister able to assure the House that the consideration of giving assistance to the wheat industry will be based on the necessity for assisting that industry, and that political considerations will not enter into the matter at all?
-I am not, of course, responsible for statements that appear in the press. I can assure the honorable member that Cabinet will not be influenced by press statements, and that the matter will be dealt with on its merits.
– The following resolutions were carried at a mass meeting of primary producers held at Merredin, Western Australia, on the 28th ‘October last : -
That this public meeting, comprising representatives of the -wheat-growers’ unions from 35 branches - the Primary Producers Association. Merredin Agricultural Society, Merredin Traders Association, Merredin branch of the Australian labour Party, Merredin Bond Board, and women’s organizations - viewing with alarm the serious position facing the wheat-growing industry for the coming season, brought about by reduced prices and restricted markets, calls upon the Federal Government to stabilize the price of wheat at a minimum of Sis. per bushel at country sidings, and thereby save the nation from further business staffnation and increased unemployment.
– I have been hoping that each sentence uttered by the honorable member would complete the explanation. It should be an easy matter for any honorable member to summarize the contents of an extract which he wishes to bring before the notice of the Minister.
– Will the Prime Minister take the representations of this very authoritative body of primary producers into consideration with a view to implementing them at the earliest moment?
– I assure the honorable member that, not only this, but many other similar resolutions have been brought under the notice of the Government. I have on numerous occasions assured tho House that every consideration is being given to this question.
– The following paragraph appears on the front page of yesterday’s Melbourne Herald : -
During the discussion in Cabinet Ministers were informed that at least three members of the Country party and two labour members had assured the Government that they would not force an election on this question. This means that the Government’s position is perfectly safe, whatever the decision.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition knows that he could have easily summarized what he has read, and then questioned the Prime Minister. Honorable members generally will realize the necessity for restricting the reading of newspaper extracts at question time. It should be an easy matter for any honorable member to summarize an extract in regard to which he desires to ask a question.
– The statement which I have read has already been summarized by a clever journalist, and I could not have condensed it by one word. I wish to ask the Prime Minister whetherhe gave any authority io tho newspaper concerned to publish that statement ?
– I have not given that authority, for the simple reason that T could not have given it. I have no such information at my disposal to enable me to make such a statement.
– When can the House expect an announcement of the Government’s policy in regard to the wheat question, in view of the factthat a statement was promised. for last Tuesday, and again for to-day?
– I assure the honorable member that an announcement will be made at a very early date.
– Has the attention of tho Minister for Commerce been drawn to reports which appeared in various Australian newspapers on the 10th November to the effect that the curtailment of wheat and acreage, which was agreed to by the Government of the United States of America under the international wheat agreement, was not being made effective? Has he any information to enable him to form an opinion as to whether those reports were based on facts, or were merely propaganda by people wishing to discredit the agreement? Will he take steps to obtain a report from the Trade Commissioners in New York and Toronto as to the extent of the progress which is being made in the United States of America in carrying out the agreement?
-I have seen press reports which suggest that the proposed acreage restriction by the United States of America is not being strictly complied with. Article 2 of the international wheat agreement specifically reduces by 15 per cent. the exports of wheat from the four major exporting countries, of which the United States of America is one; and, even if that country were to fail to realize its acreage restrictions, it would not be absolved from its responsibility to reduce its exports by 15 per cent. As a matter of fact, the figures which have been quoted frequently in this chamber, and which bind the United States of America to a restricted export during the next few years, have been ‘based on a reduction of 15 per cent.
– Is the Government in a position to announce the allocation, by the States or otherwise, of the sum of £125,000 provided in the Estimates for the assistance of the apple and pear industry?
– I hope within the next day or two to be able to give the House the specific information sought by tho honorable member.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs inform me when the trade treaty between Australia and New Zealandwill become operative? I have daily received a number of letters and telegrams from South Australia asking for that information.
– It is not yet possible to say on what date the agreement will be finalized. It has yet to pass our Senate, and both Houses in New Zealand. When that has been done, New Zealand will issue orders in council, and a mutual date will be proclaimed by the respective governments.
– I have just received the following telegram from the Tobacco Growers Association of Western Australia : -
Growers request you urge Federal Government increase amount allocation this State from tobacco research grant to provide appointment expert here. Much loss in quality and price this season’s leaf owing inexperience.
Is the Minister prepared to increase the allocation to Western Australia in view of the considerable tobacco cultivation in that State compared with other States?
– A conference has recently taken place on this subject, and the recommendations made by it will be considered by the Government in due course.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform me whether Cabinet has yet given consideration to the Buring report on the wine industry, and, if so, whether fresh legislation dealing with this industry will be necessary before the next grape harvest?
– I have already told the honorable member on several occasions that the Buring report was made” confidentially to the Government. In consequence of recommendations made in it many beneficial changes have been brought about to assist the wine industry. This has been appreciated both by the grape-growers and by the wine-makers.
– What objection is there to releasing the Buring report for publication ?
– The report was confidential to the Government. There is nothing in it to the publication of which objection could be taken, but there is no necessity to publish it. Those interested in the wine industry are quite satisfied with what the Government has done in consequence of the report. A representative of the wine industry, who is now in Canberra, has written me several letters asking me for the report, and if he will see me I shall give him further reasons why the report cannot be published. He will not then need to bother honorable members to ask questions in the House on the subject.
– He did not ask me to do so.
– Can the Minister for the Interior inform me whether the Commonwealth Government has yet decided to participate in the proposed expenditure of £1,200,000 on additional works through the River Murray Waters Commission?
– The subject has not yet been considered by Cabinet.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral inform me whether if a person applies for the registration of a trade name in Australia another person can within four weeks apply for the registration of the same name and claim the same rights in regard to it?
– I suggest that the honorable member should see me on this subject. For fairly obvious reasons it has never been the practice for an AttorneyGeneral to give a legal opinion in answer to questions asked on the floor of the House.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform me whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce a new tariff schedule before the House rises covering the items reported upon by the Tariff Board since the last schedule was dealt with?
- Senator DuncanHughes has a question on this subject on to-day’s notice-paper in another place, and a full statement regarding the Government’s policy will be made in answer to it. I am quite prepared to let the honorable member have the copy of that statement.
– Will the Minister inform me why honorable members of this House cannot be given the same information in regard to the Government’s tariff policy as is being given to a member of another place?
– I thought I had made it clear that the information is ‘being given in answer to a question on notice. The reply is somewhat extensive and I do not -propose to summarize it, but I shall let the honorable gentleman have a copy of it.
– A week .ago I asked the Assistant Treasurer, upon notice, to furnish me with certain information in connexion with income tax receipts during the last three years. Will the honorable gentleman expedite the reply to my question as I require the information in dealing with various items on the Estimates.
– The question of the honorable member involved a great deal of work. Officers of the department have been dealing with it for the last three or four days. I hope to be able to give the honorable member the information he requires within the next day or two.
– Some time ago, a report appeared in the press to the effect that the Chief Electoral Officer was taking certain action in regard to the redistribution of seats. Will the Minister for the Interior inform me whether the Government has yet received his report and. if so, what it intends to do in regard to it?
– The report was received and tabled in the House eight or ten days ago. It is now receiving the attention of the Government. I hope very shortly to be able to announce the names of the commissioners in the various States.
Dried Tree Fruits
– Seeing that the Minister for Commerce has announced that the Government intends to introduce legislation this session to provide for the stabilization of butter marketing,will the honorable gentleman inform me whether similar legislation will also be introduced in regard to the marketing of other primary products?
– It is impossible for me to give a general reply to such a general question. If the honorable member will ask a question on a specific item, I may be able to give him a definite reply.
– Will the honorable gentleman inform me whether the Government intends to provide similar facilities for the dried tree fruits industry as for the butter industry and, if so, whether it will do so this session?
– The matter referred to ‘by the honorable member will be considered by the Government at the earliest possible moment.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform me who is responsible for determining whether prohibited books and literature are to be submitted to the Book Censorship Board or alternatively to the officials of tbe Customs Department, or the AttorneyGeneral’s Department?
– Section 52 of the Customs Act prohibits any indecent, blasphemous or obscene importations. If the publications to which the honorable member has referred come under any one of those headings, the officers of the Customs Department take action and, if necessary, send the publications on to the Book Censorship Board. Seditious literature is dealt with by the Customs Department in collaboration with the AttorneyGeneral’s Department.
– Apparently the Minister has mistaken the import of my question. What I desire to know is which department first examines these books and then refers the matter to the other department or to the Censorship Committee.
– The Customs Department first deals with the matteT and, if necessary, sends seditious books to the Attorney-General’s Department for further action.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Commerce been directed to the fact that torrential rains have fallen in many wheat areas over the weekend and particularly in those of the northwest of New South Wales? Has the Minister been able to obtain any definite information as to the amount of damage done? If not,will he take steps to do so in order that this may be taken into consideration when the. Government is determining its proposals for assistance to the wheat industry to be submitted to Parliament ?
– My attention has been drawn to the newspaper reports to which the honorable member’ has referred. In addition, on Sunday last I was in telephonic communication with the north-west of New South Wales, and the advice that I then received indicated that the press reports were of an exaggerated nature. The department has not yet received any official information on the subject, but, in response to tho honorable member’s question, steps will be taken to obtain it.
Progress of Petrol Commission
– In view of the fact that the oil companies still charge for kerosene within 2d. a gallon of the price that is asked for petrol, and that petrol bears a duty of7½d., whereas kerosene is duty free, will the Attorney-General indicate when the report of the Royal Commission on Petrol is likely to be available?
– The Prime Minister has a statement which, with the permission of the House, he is prepared to make on the subject.
– by leave - Anticipating that questions would be asked in connexion with this matter, I have had a statement prepared regarding the position which has been reached by the Royal Commission on Mineral Oils and Petrol and other products of mineral oils coming within the range of its investigations. Simultaneously with the commencement of the public inquiry, the commission considered that its work would be considerably expedited if the companies concerned were supplied with a questionnaire seeking information regarding their activities in the importation, refining, treatment, distribution, and sale of the various products of mineral oils dealt with by them. The questionnaire covered nine main elements of the industry, and embraced over 100 specific questions in relation to such elements. It was realized that, us the questionnaire was designed to elicit information concerning the business of the companies since 1927, a period of five years, some time would be occupied in preparing the answers for the commission, especially in view of the number of products concerned, including crude oil, petrol, kerosene, fuel oil, and lubricating oils. The companies havingpointed out at the public sittings of the commission in Melbourne and Sydney that a considerable amount of work would be involved, it was arranged for Mr. A. J. Hancock, tho accountant member of the commission, to make contact with the various companies and reconcile the questions with the form of business and accountancy methods adopted by each company, in order to secure the maximum of information as expeditiously as possible without undue labour on the part of tho companies. This having been done, the work has been proceeding since the commission ended its last public sittings in Sydney on the 4th July. A progressive check of the answers and details supplied by the companies is being made by qualified officers of the Development Branch of the Prime Minister’s Department, under the direction of Mr. Hancock. When the information from all the companies has been collated, the commission will hold a meeting to deal with the accounts and determine what further evidence is necessary, on tho part of either the companies or the consumers, or other persons interested, in order to become fully acquainted with the whole of the ramifications of the industry. In view of the variations in the price , of petrol and other constituents of mineral oils sold in Australia during recent years, the commission considered it neces sary to cover a period of five years in connexion with the investigation of the accounts of the companies. The volume of work involved in going back five years has also been considerably increased by the fact that the whole of the distribution and sale of petrol and other products in Australia, and the accounts relative thereto, are controlled by companies located in Melbourne and Sydney. While, therefore, the accounts investigational work of the commission is at present being carried on only in the cities where the companies are established, such work will traverse the whole business in mineral oils, petrol, and other products of mineral oils throughout the Commonwealth, including price differentials in country districts and in the various States.
As already intimated, the future activities of the commission will be determined as soon as it has before it the complete statement of the accounts that are. now being compiled. Meanwhile, any persons who desire to submit evidence to the commission are invited to communicate with the Secretary, Royal Commission on Petrol, Commonwealth Offices, Treasury Gardens, Melbourne.
– I have received from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The intention of the Government to go into a long recess without having formulated a comprehensive plan to provide employment for the workless.”
Five honorable members having risen in support of tha motion,
.- I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
Statements have appeared repeatedly in the press to the effect that it is the intention of the Government to prorogue Parliament and go into a long recess, and, as I have not seen any confirmation or denial of these statements, I am assuming that they are correct, and am taking this opportunity to ask honorable members to express their Opinions on the important matter of unemployment before the Government is- allowed to go into a long recess without having made a sincere attempt to grapple with the position. I do not Bay that the Government has done nothing, but I do say that it has not taken adequate steps to deal with this important problem. It should not be necessary to stress the unfortunate position of the unemployed in Australia. If I were to describe it in detail I should probably be accused of playing to the gallery, or resorting to “ sob stuff, “ to employ a phrase I have heard used in this connexion in this chamber. On previous occasions, when my colleagues and I have drawn attention to this matter, we have been accused of doing so merely for political motives. Such accusations are easily made, but they do not answer the vital question “ What has been done ?”
In May of last year, not many months after the Government was elected on the very definite promise that the unemployment problem would be practically solved if there was a change of government, a bill was introduced to provide relief for the unemployed. Honorable members were very pleased to see that measure. It indicated an earnest desire on the part of the Government to deal with the problem. It provided that the Commonwealth should make available £1,800,000 and the States £1,200,000 for special relief. On that occasion the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) declared that the bill was intended to provide merely temporary relief during the winter months ; and that it did not represent a solution of the problem, but that a Premiers Conference was to be held at which the whole matter would be dealt with and a permanent plan evolved. As the result of a discussion upon a motion which I subsequently moved for the adjournment’ of the House, the Prime Minister agreed to convene that conference earlier than was originally intended. The conference was held”, but I am sorry to say that we have not yet seen the long-range plan that was to emanate from it. The House remained in session while the Prime Minister pre*pared for and attended that conference, and, in his absence, the then right honorable member for Flinders (Mr.
Bruce), stated on the 24th of May, 1932, on behalf of the Government -
It is sincerely hoped that there will be evolved schemes of a truly reproductive character which will lead to the permanent absorption of our unemployed.
That deliberate statement which referred to the proceedings of the Premiers Conference greatly impressed me, and honorable members on both sides of the House, some of them rising in their places and saying that they were looking forward with confidence to the formulation at that conference by the seven governments of a long-range policy to deal permanently with unemployment. We are still awaiting the appearance of that long-range policy. We are still awaiting even the beginning. Surely no one says that we ought to drift on, merely patching up the situation from year to year. It is idle to point to slight improvements that have been recorded in the unemployment situation, or to quote statistics showing that the percentage of registered unemployed has declined. All such statistics disregard the boys and girls leaving school every year who, because they have never been registered on the books of any trade union, are not included in statistical returns. It is true that one can point to some greater activity in certain trades, such as the building trade, which is said to be indicative of the country’s prosperity; but such improvement contributes little or nothing to a real solution of the problem. After four years of depression, one expects the public to settle down, to get used to the conditions, as it were, and to throw off the panic that beset them during the early stages of the depression. That, so far as I can see, is all that has happened in the last two years to bring about some slight improvement in the position. Figures have been quoted to show that there are fewer men on the sustenance roll, but the transference of thousands of unemployed from sustenance to work for sustenance is not a solution, or even an attempt at one. It may give an .appearance of activity,- but it does not make any substantial . contribution towards the solution of the problem. This ‘Government, unlike its predecessors, has a large majority in both Houses of Parliament. It is in a position to deal firmly with the position, instead of allow- ing the present drift to continue. I regret to say that the Government appears to be letting matters drift in the hope that time will improve the situation, believing that, as in past crises, we shall get down to the bottom, and then things will begin to improve again more or less of their own accord. This depression is so severe and so far-reaching, however, that, if we merely sit down and wait for things to improve, a big section of our population will be subjected to acute suffering for many years to come. How long, I ask, will the unemployed remain quiet? How long will they be content to wait passively for an improvement? The unemployed were assured again and again that bold, aggressive action would be taken to put into operation a longrange plan to deal permanently with the position, but the only notable activity displayed by this Government has been in the direction of attacking the tariff. That was a destructive policy; there has been no attempt to formulate a constructive one. I admit that the solution is not simple. It is not by any means as simple as the Prime Minister made it appear when he was seeking the suffrages of the people at the last election. At that time he said that it was only necessary to change the Government, which proved to be a simple process as it happened. However, while the task is not simple, it is possible of accomplishment by bold and consistent efforts. I do not wish to be hypercritical, or to indulge in political recriminations; rather do I desire to be helpful, and to offer constructive criticism. A sound plan must be evolved for unified effort by Commonwealth and State authorities, municipalities and other public bodies, as well as by private enterprise, if we are to cope with the unemployment problem.
In 1931, a plan was placed before Parliament to balance budgets, and it included provisions for the reemployment of our workless people, as well as for other recovery measures. A comprehensive public works programme was outlined, and a tariff policy laid down for the protection and development of Australian industries. The manufacturers of Australia were given the markets of Australia which, I am afraid, they are beginning to lose because of the alteration of tariff duties. The export industries of Australia received a substantial subsidy by the maintenance of the exchange rate at 25 per cent. Had it not been for the deliberate policy agreed upon at that time, the exchange rate would have fallen. In addition to the assistance afforded to the exporting industries by the exchange, direct subsidies were paid to certain rural exporting industries.
The Commonwealth Government has certain powers in regard to banking, and it also occupies a strong position on the Loan Council. It has a strong working majority in both Houses of Parliament, and it can, in co-operation with the State Governments, push on with many undertakings that would be useful to the community, and could be carried out more cheaply to-day, because of lower wages, and lower costs of material, than would have been the case some years ago. I have sometimes been taken to task for dealing in generalities, but I have previously stated in detail the public works which might, with advantage, be undertaken for the relief of unemployment. As a matter of fact, a list was prepared three years ago, to which I invite the attention of honorable members. If money could have been found at that time, the works could have been put in hand, but there was no possibility of obtaining money except by means of a scheme which we put forward, and which was rejected by the banks, and, later, by the Senate. To begin with, the Government might press on with the water conservation scheme on the Murray River, which should be completed without delay. Then there is the work of unifying the railway gauges throughout Australia. I suggest that, to begin with, that section between Port Augusta and Adelaide might be put in hand. The work, when completed, would form a link in the entire scheme, and the money would not be wasted. There is also certain ballasting work to be done on the EastWest railway. Other works coming under the control of State and local authorities include the clearing and improvement of Crown lands in order to make provision for future development and production. There is also afforestation, a work which, so far, has been merely nibbled at. Other men might be employed on the construction of roads to act as feeders to the railways, and not as their competitors, as unfortunately too many roads are to-day. Those are all necessary and useful works, which might be undertaken during a time of depression. I suggest that the Commonwealth might follow the lead of the federal authorities in the United States of America, who, I understand, subsidize special work by local bodies to tho extent’ of 30 per cent, of their expenditure on relief works. We should not leave the whole task to the State Governments and local governing bodies, as the tendency is ut the present time. Of course some people say that, if public works are undertaken for the relief of unemployment, the nien, when the work is finished, will be dismissed, and their second condition will be worse than their first. I do not agree with that. Their condition will be better even if they are put off when the work is completed ; but, if the various schemes are properly coordinated, there need be no general unemployment following the completion of various sections. The work can be so spread that practically the same number of men are employed nil the time, even if they are not the same men. I do not say that the establishment of public works is the only means of relieving unemployment. It is a start, certainly, but tho plan should also include the protection and development of private industries. The benefits of a progressive public works policy would be an increase of employment. The community would benefit from the value of the works constructed. There would be a substantial saving to the States in connexion with sustenance costs, and. the increase of the purchasing power would start an upward price movement, thus stimulating buying and production. As honorable members know, the depression was accentuated by the arrest of purchasing on account of falling incomes. The moment there was an upward trend, an impetus would be given to buying, and that would stimulate production, which, in turn, would increase employment.
This was the comprehensive plan foreshadowed in 1931 by my Government. It could by now have been developed along practical lines, with certain benefits to the nation and to destitute workers. When work is scarce, that is the time for governmental activity. The result of the flotation of the recent loan of £10,000,000 proves that money is plentiful, and that in the circumstances, the interest rate offered was rather generous. Millions of pounds which are lying idle in the banks to-day could be obtained at low rates of interest. I suggest the exploitation by the Government of the practice of an open bill market, which is in operation in Great Britain to-day. Too much emphasis is laid on the evil of short-dated loans. A large proportion of the debt of Great Britain, and of the money spent on works, is represented by short-dated treasury-bills. I can see no virtue whatever in the redemption of treasury-bills to the extent of one-half of the amount of the recent loan. If that £5,000,000 has been subscribed by the public, so much less will be available for other investments, and the result will be deflation. If, on the other hand, it lias been subscribed by the banks, they are merely exchanging 2£ per cent, treasurybills for 3-) per cent, bonds, and that paper transaction will cost the Governments of Australia an additional £50,000 a year in interest.
I have often been asked, “ What was done by your Government?” My Government operated to tho limit of its financial capacity. Certain of its proposals were rejected by a hostile Senate, and unsympathetic banking institutions. But let me answer the question specifically. Approximate figures, which have been supplied to me by the Treasury officials, show that in 1930-31 - the only full year which the last Government had, but the worst financial period Australia has ever experienced - the provision of unemployment, including assistance to the States, amounted to £3,170,000; whereas in 3932-33, the present Government’s only full year, the provision amounted to £2,200,000. I know that this year’s Estimates for the Commonwealth and the States provide for an increased appropriation. I point out, however, that n large amount of it is represented by moneys that were unexpended by the States last year. But even so, the provision is not sufficient to meet the needs of the case.
Many attempts ]]ave been made by the Labour party, and by the Opposition generally, to induce the Government to formulate a bold, progressive and permanent policy. This is a further effort to rouse Ministers from their lethargy. The Commonwealth Parliament will shortly adjourn, and it . is understood that the ensuing recess will be a long one. Are honorable members content to allow the adjournment to take place without having expressed a definite opinion on this important subject; or will they demand the formulation, if not before the adjournment at least early in the new year, for the consideration of this Parliament, of a bold, progressive policy for a permanent attack on the unemployment evil?
– The adjournment of the House could not be moved for the discussion of a more important subject than that of unemployment, because the dark shadow of it overhangs the whole of the Commonwealth, and affect3, to some extent, every home within its borders. The Commonwealth Government cannot escape from, ite responsibilities in the matter. Still fresh in my mind are the last election hoardings in New South Wales, depicting the necessity for a change of government for the sole purpose of solving the unemployment problem. By means of propaganda in the newspapers, and through broadcasting stations, by the distribution of pamphlets and a door-fo-door canvass, a. large section of the people were convinced that it was only necessary to change the Government to have confidence restored, to have the banking system placed on a sane and stable basis, and to ha.vo employment provided immediately for those who needed it.
– Prosperity was around the corner.
– It is a long corner. The Government must accept responsibility for tho promises that were then made, and its failure to deal with the unemployment problem condemns it in the eyes of the public on that issue.
– One of the promises was “A Vote for Lyons is a Vote for Work.”
– Subsequent visits to other States convinced me that the campaign on this question was even more intensive than it was in New South Wales. In not one speech did the present Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) omit to refer to unemployment. He said that it overshadowed every other subject. We did not deny that then, nor do we now; but we say that has Government has not lived up to the promises that were made. Those honorable members who are able to return to their homes every week-end see, even at their doorsteps, the spectacle of destitution, and the weeping of women because of the distress and poverty that afflict them in their homes. The worst feature of the position is that children are being denied the necessaries of life, to which they arc justly entitled. The ‘Commonwealth cannot shelter behind the States, as Ministers endeavour to do when answering questions.
I endorse the statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), that the present practice of the State Governments is merely to transfer a man from sustenance relief to work that will provide him with sustenance. The conditions associated with that work are such as I thought would never be experienced in Australia. In any event, sustenance alone is not, sufficient. Are our citizens not entitled to be clothed, and to obtain something above the scales of rations that are laid down?
– Sustenance is demoralizing.
– The amount of food that may be obtained under this system is restricted to the very minimum. Week after week, nien and women and their families are compelled to exist on a ration basis. I have often wondered what regard they must have for the future, and how much respect they can have for the laws of Australia. If this is all that can be provided as the result of parliamentary action, the parliaments of Australia, controlled by the political party opposite, stand condemned. Our friends opposite condemned relief works as un reproductive when other governments attempted to deal with the problem along those lines. With those who think as I do I have always argued that such a system would not prove satisfactory, and that fundamental changes of our banking system are necessary for the restoration of a purchasing power that will enable the people to provide for themselves. During the last election, it was said that private enterprise would make a wonderful contribution towards the solving of the problem. Private enterprise has always argued that the reduction of wages and the lengthening of working hours would have tha desired effect. That was the argument advanced by bankers and political parties who are opposed to us, about three years ago, when the 10 per cent, cut in real wages was made, yet the result of that cut has been to accentuate the problem, thus proving that such an argument is fallacious.
The Government will probably say that a certain amount is included in the Estimates for the purpose of dealing with unemployment. It may be contended that the expenditure of £180,000 on the laying of a submarine cable between Tasmania and the mainland will provide employment. I think, however, it will be found that much of the gear will be imported, and that the work will not be more than sufficient to keep in employment those who are now associated with the Postal Department. The same may be said of the proposal to build a sloop. There is no guarantee that this work will be carried out at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. It is suggested that tenders will be called ; but we do not know whether it is the intention of the Government to have the sloop constructed in Australia. At all events, a lot of the gear for the vessel will not be manufactured in Australia, but will be imported.
About a fortnight ago, honorable members on this side of the chamber and I urged upon the Acting Leader of the House (‘Mr. Parkhill) the desirability of having this important subject discussed at the meeting of Premiers and the Loan Council, that was then about to be held. Although I have no wish to leave the decision to another body. I have learned from my experience in this House that policies determined by Premiers conferences and the Loan Council have to be accepted, and must not be varied in any direction no matter what views the
Opposition may hold. I therefore considered it advisable to urge thar something more than already had been done should be undertaken. I thought that the approach of the festive season might soften the hearts of those who are in authority, and who could deal adequately with the matter if they were prepared to depart from orthodox methods. Continuity of employment prior to Christmas ought to be provided for those who are so unfortunate as to be out of work. We thought that at least, the Government could provide work for the unemployed between this and Christmas so as to give them some little pleasure and happiness to which, it cannot be denied, they are entitled. No parliament is worth its salt, and no nation is worthy of being called a nation, unless it can adequately provide for its workless people. *
.- I wish to join in the appeal for the formation pf a comprehensive policy in regard to unemployment before the House adjourns for several months, and my appeal is quite different from that of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), or that of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). I do not believe that a lavish expenditure of public moneys would be in accordance with a long-range policy for the provision of employment, such as has at various times been suggested in this House. We should, however, institute immediately a policy to provide for a certain section of the community which undoubtedly deserves our utmost consideration and sympathy. I refer to the young men of the community, between the ages of 18 and 24, many of whom have not yet had an opportunity to work. I suggest that the Commonwealth should join with the States in establishing voluntary training camps at which some of these young men could be trained until employment could be found for them in other avenues, such as afforestation. We should make every endeavour to provide work for them in the crucial years of their life. It has been suggested that this Parliament is primarily responsible for the relief of unemployment, but it must be admitted that the great bulk of the work in this country has always been found by the States, and the Com- mou wealth’s responsibility is to subsidize the States in respect of some of its development, settlement and relief schemes. Of course, the Commonwealth is responsible for the relief of the unemployed within its own territories. The most comprehensive method of providing some permanence of employment is to give immediate relief from taxation, both direct and indirect. Despite the sneers of honorable members opposite at private enterprise, the fact remains that 90 per cent, of employment in this country comes from that source. If we provide relief by employing men on unproductive public works, we shall only add to our interest and taxation burdens, and thus postpone still further the day when we shall be able to lift the burden of unemployment from the community. It has been said that no great alleviation of unemployment has taken place, but I suggest that there has been a definite alleviation of the position during the last eighteen months, because the unemployment figures have fallen from 30 per cent, to 25 per cent. That is a substantial diminution, and I am satisfied that it would have been greater had the Government instituted a more comprehensive scheme of taxation relief, particularly relief from indirect taxation by means of the tariff; because it is the high tariff which has tended to widen the gap between the price of farm goods and that of industrial goods, and to prevent the free exchange of those commodities. After all, the maladjustment of prices is really the main cause of unemployment in this country. The high tariff prevents imports from being brought into Australia in any volume, and there is no doubt that imports of goods are absolutely essential to the full employment of the people. Many consider that imports are unnecessary, and should be debarred altogether, but our imports are really the payment for our exports, and there is no doubt that imports of partly manufactured and raw materials for our own manufactures provide a great deal of employment here. I hope that the Government will, before Parliament goes into recess, make provision for the relief of unemployment by bringing about a further reduction of taxation, and especially indirect taxation, because I am satisfied that the investment of capital in private enterprise is the best method of providing employment. A loan of £10,000,000 has just been subscribed in two days, and that fact undoubtedly testifies to the confidence of the people in the governmental institutions of this country.
– There is evidently not much confidence in industry.
– That is so, and it would be a good thing for the community generally if more money were being invested in industry and private enterprise. It is well known that owing to the tariff policy of Australia, many industries which were notoriously unstable have been encouraged. For instance, the machinery industry, soon after the depression began, was unable to give employment to almost half of its employees, and, up ito date, has not re-started operations to any satisfactory extent. It seems to me thatsuch industries might be carefully scrutinized with a view to relieving them of their burdens so that they may once more give employment to some of our people. If the free exchange of goods were encouraged and the purchasing power of wages increased there would be nothing to prevent the establishment of a longrange policy for the relief of the unemployed.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), when introducing the subject of unemployment, said that he was under the impression that Parliament was likely to adjourn for a long recess. I assure him that the Parliament, if it remains under the control of this Government, will adjourn only so long as is necessary, and will meet when required in order to deal with urgent public business. There is no definite intention to adjourn the Parliament for any fixed period, and if urgent business arises it will be the duty of the Parliament to attend to it. There is, therefore, no justification for honorable members to assume that there will be a long recess. This Parliament has shown, particularly during the last few years, that it is willing to sit continuously if necessary in order to attend to the business of the country.
I appreciate the concern of the Leader of the Opposition regarding the question of unemployment, and I assure him that if Ministers could remove this evil from our midst they would he very happy indeed. Every country in the world has tried all sorts of schemes for the removal of the evil of unemployment, but only four or five countries, including Australia, have shown any improvement in the position. The right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) has stated that the unemployment figure has fallen from 30 per cent, to 25 per cent. That is a definite improvement. In the second quarter of 1932 the percentage figure was, roughly, 30, and in the third quarter of 1933 it was 25. Therefore, according to figures supplied by the recording unions, the number of unemployed has declined from 124,000 to 100,000.
– Does not the Prime Minister recognize that that reduction was due to the change over from food relief to relief work?
– I do not recognize that at all. The right honorable member for Cowper lias accused the Government of having increased unemployment by means of the high tariff, but if we compare the number of those employed in the factories and secondary industries of this country in 1931 with the number employed in the second quarter of 1933, we find that, taking the figure 100 as a basis, employment has increased in New South Wale’s from 87 to 97; in Victoria from 83.G to 84.7 ; in South Australia from 70 to S7; and in Western Australia front 6S to 81. That is a complete answer to the suggestion that the tariff policy of this Government has reduced employment in the secondary industries of Australia. I still maintain that the only way in which employment can be reduced in Australia is to encourage private industry. The Leader of the Country party has emphasized the large proportion of employment provided by private industry, and no one can suggest that it is possible for the Government to provide direct employment as a means of absorbing the unemployed. I give the Premier of Queensland and his Government every credit for their1 efforts to relieve unemployment, but they have found that to be an almost impossible task. The Premier, in his policy speech at the opening of Parliament, indicated that the only real solution of the problem was to encourage private enterprise.
– His Government is spending a lot of money on the relief of unemployment.
– Other State Governments are taking similar action.
– The Prime Minister has twisted the context of the statement of the Premier of Queensland.
– I should be the last to do an injustice to the Premier of Queensland, but he undoubtedly emphasized the part that private enterprise plays in the provision of employment. The long-range policy of this Government is to relieve industry to enable it. to re-employ the people, and we have proof of our bona fides in the relief that we have attempted to give by way of taxation, the effect of which will be felt not immediately, but gradually, as time goes on. Mr. J. M. Keynes, who has frequently been quoted in this House, has emphasized the fact that relief given by way of taxation provides the greatest amount of employment. There are economists in Australia who agree with that statement,- and while they have not used exactly the same figures as Mr. Keynes, they have shown that for every £1 given to private enterprise by governments in the relief of taxation, much more than that amount has been spent in providing employment. The policy of this Government is designed to that end. The Government cannot go to the full length desired by the Leader of the Country party, for it has given as much relief as possible under existing circumstances. The principle laid down by the right honorable gentleman is sound - the greater relief the Government can give the better it is, in general, for the whole community - but attention must of necessity be paid to the need for maintaining the financial stability of governments.
The Leader of the Opposition has referred to many public works which, he says, could be put in hand to provide employment, and has suggested that the Commonwealth Government should have retained a larger proportion than £1,200,000 of the £10,000,000 loan, or should have floated a loan for a larger amount to enable this to be done. It is true that some public works could be put in hand, and it is also true that a larger amount than £10,000,000 could be raised at present for public works. But we have to remember the important and adverse effects that heavy public borrowing for public works has had in Australia in years gone by. That policy has, undoubtedly, contributed to the financial and economic difficulties through which we are now passing. It is all very well to say that we should borrow every penny available for public works; but we must look to the future. It is suggested that we should pursue the policy of borrow and borrow again, and so load up our interest burden, and consequently our taxation burden, until wereach the point of depression that we have so recently touched? Surely no honorable member desires that the country should slip back to tbe conditions of two or three years ago ! If we borrow money and put public works in hand, employment would bc given to some thousands of men for the time being; but when the works were completed the men would again be on the unemployment market. The second state of a country that pursuos that policy is always worse than the first. We have, therefore, a duty to take stock of the whole situation, in order that we may do the best possible in all the circumstances.
A careful examination of the whole situation indicates that Commonwealth and State Governments alike have done their best to meet the urgent and immediate needs of tbe unemployed. Even the Leader of the Opposition admitted that an increased amount of money had been spent by State Governments in this direction in recent months. I wish also to emphasize that fact, and to remind honorable gentlemen that the State Governments have been working in cooperation with the Commonwealth Government in this regard, so that as much money as possible should bo raised and spent to the best advantage. Tho following figures show the gross loan expenditure of all the States, including expenditure in loan repayments, for the years indicated: -
It will be seen, therefore, that the figures have increased greatly in the last two years.
Mr.Scullin. - The figures for this year include £3,500,000 unexpended from last year.
– The right honorable member knows that there is always a carry-over from year to year. We, as a Commonwealth Government, are spending almost twice as much this year in this direction as was spent in 1931- 32.
Mr.Scullin. - My Government was not in office for the whole of 1931-32.
– I am making a comparison of the expenditure, not of particular governments, but of particular years. I am not specially concerned, at the moment, about what particular governments have done. In the years to which I have already referred, State relief given to the’ unemployed from revenue, including food relief, amounted to -
The Commonwealth Government expenditure on works programmes and in other “ways for the relief of unemployment amounted to -
The figures show conclusively that the Commonwealth Government has cooperated with the State Governments in a very real way to assist the unemployed.
I emphasize, however, that governments cannot continue indefinitely to borrow money from people who have it to lend simply to provide for public works which are not, in every instance, directly reproductive. But this Government fully appreciates the needs of the situation. Like the previous Government, it has provided an amount for winter relief to assist the States. The total sum spent in this direction by the Commonwealth Government is £1,800,000.
The practicability of putting in hand the works referred to by the Leader of the Opposition has been surveyed by the Government. In 1932-33 the amount made available from revenue by this Government for public works was £87.0,000. The amount made available from this source this year is £1,600,000. The honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has said that this will not completely absorb the unemployed, and I admit if, but it is not within the capacity of the Government to provide work for all the unemployed. In addition to the £1,600,000 that I have just mentioned, we are, this year, providing £1,200,000 from loan for public works and for financial assistance to the States in the relief of unemployment. Nothing was provided from this source for public works last year. It is true that some of this money may go in the purchase of materials from overseas, but, as against that, I remind honorable gentlemen that the increased expenditure in government departments this year, apart altogether from the amount accounted for by the partial restoration of salaries, is roughly, £600,000, the bulk of which will be spent in providing employment. It is quite just, therefore, to say that, as against, an amount of £2,220,000 found last year by this Government, an amount of £2,800,000 is being provided this year. This is apart from the additional departmental expenditure of £600,000, to which I have just referred. But I repeat that the Government cannot pursue an unlimited borrowing policy to provide money for the relief of unemployment.
Let me indicate to honorable members tho position of Great Britain. On the 16th February a censure motion was moved in the House of Commons in regard to unemployment and kindred matters, and in speaking to it the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the Imperial Government was satisfied that the expenditure of loan moneys upon public works was not a solution of the unemployment problem. The Government had ascertained that between April, 1924, and September, 1931, £700,000,000 had been expended on works, including £450,000,000 oil housing; £120,000,000 on unemployment grants, £90,000.000 on roads, and £40,000,000 on miscellaneous works;, but in spite of this expenditure unemployment figures had increased during the period from 1,850,00,0. to 2,800,000.
– That surely is an indictment of the whole system !
– It is a refutation of the argument that governments can cure unemployment by spending money on public works. The Government is doing as much as it possibly can in this direction. The Leader of the Opposition suggested that the ballasting of the. EastWest railway could be put in hand. This has already been considered by the Government, which called into consultation the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner. That gentleman gave an assurance that every penny that could be efficiently and adequately spent on that work was now being expended upon it. The Government must, of necessity, be guided in such a matter as that by its expert officers.. In order that honorable members may be assured that everything possible is being done by both Commonwealth and State Governments to pursue an effective public works policy, I direct attention to the following comparison of the amounts of money provided in the last four years for this purpose, taking into account loan expenditure, expenditure on relief, and expenditure from revenue by Commonwealth and State Governments alike. The figures are as follows : -
– The right honorable gentleman is comparing estimates with actual expenditure.
– I have stated the amount made available in the respective years.
– But the amount of the carry-over has not been indicated.
– At the last Loan Council meeting in Melbourne, it was revealed that during the early part of this financial year expenditure had been at a somewhat slower rate than was expected, and, as chairman of the council, I suggested that perhaps on this account the State Governments might not need the amounts allocated to them; but the answer of every Premier was that work would be pushed on at a faster rate during the latter part of the year, and that every- penny that had been allocated would be needed to complete the year’s programme.
– The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- The speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has shown once more that the unemployed people of Australia have very little reason to hope for much assistance from this Government. The Government still insists that it is only through private enterprise that the unfortunate unemployed can hope for succour, and that it is only by the remission of taxation that money can be made available for private employers to increase the amount of work available. This Government has remitted taxes to the amount of £7,500,000, chiefly to wealthy classes in the community, but so far I have not been able to see any “beneficial effect in the relief of unemployment. Time ‘and time again, figures have been quoted by honorable members who support the Government, and to-day they have been used by the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) to show that there has been a reduction of 5 per cent, in unemployment since this Government assumed office. It would be as well to place on record the unemployment figures for the quarters of 1931, 1932, and the first two quarters of 3933. They are as follows :-
Those statistics prove that from the time the Scullin Government left office, when the figure was 28 per cent., the decrease due to the so-called beneficent works policy of this Government has been only 3 per cent. I claim that the Scullin Go- vernment did reduce unemployment appreciably, and that the subsequent policy of this Government arrested what would otherwise have been a perceptible and continued fall in the figures. The repercussion of the tariff -slashing policy of the Government has yet to be felt ; it can have only one effect, that of increasing unemployment.
I endorse the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) and the leader of the corner group (Mr. Beasley). In common with other honorable members, I have on previous occasions dealt with the position of unemployment generally. I shall now refer to it in specific terms. The Prime Minister spoke of the money that his Government has expended on unemployment. It may interest honorable members to learn that the total falls short by £1,000,000 of the sum spent by the Scullin Government for a similar purpose. The right honorable gentleman declared that as the country must depend upon private enterprise to relieve unemployment, the burden of taxation has been lessened in the hope that the problem will be eased. Private enterprise will not increase its employment by one unit unless a market is found for its products, and members of the Labour party submit that the only way to create a demand for those products is for all governments to spend large sums of money on public works. The Prime Minister would have honorable members believe that private enterprise and State Governments alone can provide avenues to reduce unemployment.
The Commonwealth Government has a specific responsibility in regard to citizens in the Northern Territory and in the Federal Capital Territory.. It has failed in that duty. All that it has done has been to make promises. There are approximately 800 unemployed in the Federal Capital Territory, and the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Perkins) has admitted that that figure is increasing at the rate of 100 per annum. In reply to speeches and questions made by me during the last few months, I have been told that the Government was going to increase the ratio of employment in this Territory. For the first six months after it assumed office, all that it did was to provide work which gave those concerned an income approximating what they would have received had they been on the dole. His Excellency the GovernorGeneral informed the unemployed in the Federal Capital Territory that the ratio of- work was to be increased from one week in three to one week in two for married men, and from one week in five to one week in four for single men. That can be accepted as an expression of Government policy, as His Excellency must have received the information from the Minister for the Interior. I have been told that the unemployed could rest assured that every one of them would be given employment prior to Christmas. In the Canberra Times of Saturday the 11th November, the Minister for the Interior is reported to have said that in previous years there was always a rush at Christmas to get certain work completed, but that this year there would be no special rush. “ He would not “, he said, “ promise them constant work, but they could rest assured that the work would be more continuous than in previous years, and they would fare better for the rest of the financial year.” I assure honorable members that there has been no rush, and that the promise made through the medium of His Excellency the Governor-General has not been fulfilled. While the Minister might justifiably claim that a few men have benefited, the majority of those 800 are now in no better position than they were when this Government began to put its unemployment relief policy into operation. The best that the Government has been able to do for the unemployed of the Federal Capital Territory is to give married men one week’s work in every three.
– It does not do even that in the Northern Territory.
– I thank the honorable member for his reminder. If the amount then received does not equal the dole, these men are given an order to bring their income up to what it would have been if they were on the dole.
In his reply to the unemployed, His Excellency the Governor-General said that certain periods of the year-
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
Mr. LATHAM (Kooyong - Attorney- employment is perhaps the most serious that exists in the world to-day. Unfortunately, i t is not peculiar to Australia, but exists in all countries. It is in the first instance a human problem - perhaps the most profoundly human problem that exists - but it depends upon economic factors more than upon anything else. Unemployment, however, is not a specific, separate fact, for which it is possible to devise a specific remedy as in the case of a human being. While there may be a specific remedy for the man who cuts a finger or breaks a leg, there is more difficulty in treating the man suffering from general debility and wasting. Unemployment in the social organization is like the man suffering from general debility ; there is no obvious cure for its removal. It is possible to pass an act of Parliament saying “ Let everybody be employed “ ; but that accomplishes nothing.
Employment is provided by work given by the industries of the country, added to, to some extent, by work given by governments; and unemployment is the result of the present failing and weak condition of many industries. If industry generally were healthy, there would be no occasion to demand assistance from governmental sources. Accordingly, we find that in the case of some industries unemployment is the result of specific causes particularly associated with those industries; in the case of other industries it is, to-day, a result of general world conditions. Some industries are producing commodities in excess of the effective demand, which in that sense, are not wanted, but in another sense, are badly wanted. Consider, for example, what cannot be regarded as unemployment, but what is the rural analogue to urban unemployment, the position of the wheat industry. There we have the result of many concurring conditions. We have the storage of wheat, designed for the purpose of raising prices; we have seen the resentment that has been caused by the action of countries to raise prices, which has been intensified by the national development of cereal-growing in Europe, coupled with the exclusion of the cereal products of other countries. We have also noted the wild speculation in wheat that has taken place in the United States of America and elsewhere. These have all resulted in uncertainty as to the future, and the complete analogy between unemployment in the wheat industry and urban unemployment. The failure of the wheat-growers to make a living corresponds economically with the failure of the man in the city to obtain employment. “ Unemployment” may fairly be used as a term to explain all the inability of various industries to provide useful productive and supporting occupations for mankind. “World troubles are largely responsible for unemployment to-day; no single government has found a remedy, and the recent World Economic Conference has, unfortunately, shown that it is beyond the capacity of all governments combined to provide a ready remedy.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) has admitted frankly enough that sustenance and work for sustenance are not a solution of the unemployed problem. Neither is the payment of unemployment relief a solution. These and measures for the relief of human distress do not even begin to solve the unemployment problem. When comparisons are made between the amount expended in various years by Commonwealth and other governments for the purpose of alleviating unemployment, I admit that I view with mixed feelings any claim that an increase in that expenditure is anything for which to be thankful. Surely we all know that when it is possible consistently with humanity to reduce these amounts, we shall be more certain that things are improving in our own country. If it- were possible to abolish the payments altogether, that would be a mark of complete recovery.
The right honorable gentleman recommended a policy of expenditure on public works. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has said, part of the unemployment trouble is due to the public works policy pursued by government’s of Australia in the past. I shall mention only two causes for this. It is unfortunately the case that a government very often gets the worst possible value for its money. It is unfortunate, but that is the position. Owing to the necessity for maintaining a system of checks not required in private industry, administration expenses are unduly high. Moreover, large programmes of public works undoubtedly bring about an undue proportion of unskilled labour. Even in Canberra, it has been found necessary, in some cases, actually to bring in skilled men from outside the Territory, while hundreds of unskilled men have only relief work to do. Experience has shown that what may be described as a vigorous policy of public works cannot possibly be a cure for unemployment. Speaking at the World Economic Conference in London some time ago, Mr. Runciman, president of” the Board of Trade, said -
The, United Kingdom Government considered that nothing would be gained at present by developing public works policy. It had devoted about 100 millions tq various schemes (presumably since the crisis) and had found that for every £1,000,000 so utilized, employment had been given to about 2,000 men directly, and 2,000 men indirectly. The method was, therefore, very expensive and the Government did not intend to repeat the experiment. It had terminated its own schemes.
In Australia, where wages are higher and materials more costly, the number of men employed per million pounds would be less. In order to absorb 50,000 men in public works, it would be necessary to spend about £20,000,000 a year. We can do far better by relieving private enterprise of some of the burdens which beset it, so that it may provide employment. It can do so much more effectively than can the Government. If an attempt were made to raise a sum of money sufficiently large to provide employment on the scale mentioned, taxation would have to be so increased as to imperil the financial stability of the country upon which, in the last resource, the chances of a general restoration really depend. I have for years heard of public works which might . be inaugurated for the relief of unemployment, including the unification of the railway gauges and water conservation schemes, although there seems to be no clear idea what is to be done with the produce to be raised on the irrigated land. One must hesitate at this time before embarking upon any large scheme of public works. We must aim at a policy that will restore industry to activity with a chance of profit, and that is being done by degrees in Australia. The’ process can only be gradual, but all the evidence shews that it is in operation. In regard to the tariff, for instance, the Government has increased some duties for the purpose of assisting in establishing industries, and those increases are contributing to the solution of the unemployment problem. In the case of other industries duties have been reduced with the object of assisting industries generally. Those reductions have not injured any industry to which they have been directly applied, and they have helped many other industries.
We hear much about the primary - industries, and we grant bounties and subsidies to assist them. No one has yet evolved a considered scheme for the reorganization of primary industry, and it may be that that problem has to be approached if the cloud does not lift. Large remissions of taxation have been made, and they will help employment much more effectively than would be the case if the volume of taxation were maintained, and the revenue so obtained devoted to the relief of unemployment.
-The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I am not so optimistic as to think that the Government will discover a solution of the unemployment problem, particularly in view of the policy it seems determined to follow. I recognize that, in order to cure the trouble*, we must deal with the banking institutions which really govern tho country. I feel, however, that the Government, in view of its promises at the elections to provide jobs for those who voted for it, should make some effort to relieve the suffering of those out of work. The fact is that the Government has shown no sympathy whatever with the unemployed. The Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) said just now that it was sometimes found necessary to bring men from outside the Federal Capital Territory to fill skilled positions. We vividly recollect that the present Government actually ejected unemployed men from No. 4 Camp in the Territory, and threatened to prosecute them if they did not get over the border. The Government was not even prepared to give the men shelter, let alone food, because it claimed that the State Government should undertake the responsibility. I claim that it is the responsibility of all governments, whether Federal or State, to see that their citizens are fed.
There is plenty of developmental work to be done1 in Australia, and this work, if undertaken, would prove reproductive not only in the sense of paying interest on the money spent, but also in the more valuable sense of enabling a larger population to be carried. This is true of water conservation schemes, and I suggest that the work might be financed in. the’ same way as the war was financed. In the case of the war, action was taken to meet what was described as a national emergency, but when we suggest that the same thing be done now, honorable members on the other side seek to frighten the people by saying that we advocate inflation. The present Government is not doing anything to assist the coal-mining industry, which is slowly perishing. The AttorneyGeneral once said in this House that the industry had cut its own throat. I do not agree with him, but even if it were true, we are not justified in standing by, watching it bleed to death. As a matter of fact, the trouble in the coal industry has been caused neither by the employers nor by the employees, but by the march of science which has ‘.resulted in coal being superseded by other sources of power. It has been proved that we can produce petrol and other oils from Australian coal, but the Government says “ Wait and see what is being done overseas.” The State Government in New South Wales advanced £5,000 to the Lyons Brothers to enable them to exploit their process for extracting oil from coal, - and they proved that they could produce oil in commercial quantities. If the Commonwealth Government is sincere in its desire to promote Australian industry, why not take steps to have oil produced from coal in a large way? Why wait while mine after mine is closing down ? In my district people are losing the homes which they have occupied for years because they cannot get work. They are wandering about with worn, haggard faces, getting deeper and deeper into debt, and with nothing before them but despair. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) says that he will not continue the policy of borrowing. What, then, does he propose to do? Will lie allow the people to starve? I have lived for years now in the midst of privation. Ever since I came into this Parliament, the coal industry has been going back. Only a fortnight ago two of the largest mines in my district closed down and there are now 7,500 coal-miners idle. The Prime Minister said “ Follow England “, but the British Government is paying a bounty of 4d. a gallon on petrol produced from coal. The Commonwealth Government says that we should encourage private enterprise, but why does it not make private enterprise an offer? I believe that private capital would be prepared to exploit the industry if it were granted favorable terms. One firm has already purchased Mosquito Island, at Newcastle, for the purpose of erecting plant for the extraction of oil by the hydrogenation process. The Commonwealth Government, however, is doing nothing whatever to help, except by remitting taxation in the hope that the taxpayers who benefit may provide additional employment. Up to the present our experience has shown that we have little to hope for in that direction.
It is all very well to say that the percentage of unemployment has been reduced, but the fact is that there has been little if any reduction. When the figures are compiled, those working for sustenance are shown as in employment, but that is merely misleading. On the coal-fields there are 5,000 youths between the ages of fourteen and 22 who have never done a day’s work. I have four sons between fourteen and 22 years of age, only one of whom has been able to obtain employment. He is not engaged in industry, but, having been fortunate enough to win a scholarship which entitled him to go to the University, he was able to get a position as a school teacher. Lacking that piece of good fortune, he would be the same as thousands of others, without employment, and without any prospects of obtaining it. At the present time, we frequently witness the distressing spectacle of young men and women getting married with nothing to live on but the dole. Coal mining is a primary industry, so why should not the Government encourage it to supply our own requirements of petrol, instead of sending millions of pounds every year to the United States of America ? The money so spent might well be devoted to providing employment for our own people.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) mentioned certain works which might be carried out on the East-West railway, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), in reply, said that the Government was at present doing everything that could be done in that direction. The ballasting of that line commenced when it was opened in 1917, and was continued up to the beginning of the depression in 1929. This year’s provision for the purpose is £50,000, which the authorities say is as much as they can comfortably expend. Employment will be provided for 120 men, and by the time the vote is exhausted, 644 miles of track will have been ballasted. Although the work will have to be continued for a year or two, no more than 120 men can be engaged upon it.
I wish to reply particularly to the remarks of the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), concerning the provision of work in the Federal Capital Territory. It is surprising that that honorable member should attack the Government in this connexion, because he, as Minister for the Interior, was confronted with conditions that were practically identical with those that exist to-day, and he merely secured the establishment of an advisory committee, which invited the citizens of Canberra to contribute to an unemployment fund that would be subsidized by the Government on a £1 for £1 basis. The amount thusmade available for the relief of unemployment was only about one-half of what is being spent to-day. In -reply to a question this afternoon, I pointed out that this Government is, and future governments will be, confronted with the problem of unskilled labour. At the beginning of the financial year, the promise was made that married men would be given one week’s work in three, and single men one week’s work in five. A few months ago, in reply to a petition presented to him by the unemployed, His Excellency the Governor-General pointed out that the Government had improved upon its promise, and was providing married men with one week’s work in two, and single men. with one week’s work in four.
– How long has that practice operated?
– For the last three months. Although not so laudable an endeavour as one could wish, that nevertheless is evidence of improvement. The honorable member for Darling could not provide even that amount of work when he was administering the department. Every year, 100 young men leave the public schools of Canberra and are added to the list of unemployed. Figures that have been supplied to me this afternoon show that those who are registered as unemployed in Canberra number 741. In 1927, when all Canberra works were in full swing, employment was provided for 3,000 persons. In 1929, when these works began to close down, there was a big exodus of men from the Federal Capital Territory, with the result that the honorable member for Darling had to make provision for only about 400 unemployed. New South Wale3 and the other States also found themselves confronted with the problem of unemployment, and when the dole system was introduced the Commonwealth was asked to look after its own people; consequently, the exodus from the Territory ceased and those who remained here had to be given either sustenance or employment. As I pointed out this afternoon, the streets, roads, bridges, sewage, electric light and water supply services are practically completed. There is not much in the way of levelling to be done, and the planting of further trees would add to the expense of maintenance. Already the expenditure on Canberra amounts to £13,000,000. If unskilled worker’s were kept fully engaged on unreproductive works, the taxpayers of the Commonwealth would be called upon to find a substantial sum for the maintenance of this city.
– The number of unemployed in the Federal Capital Territory has increased since the Scullin Government went out of office.
– And it would continue to increase if the Scullin Government returned to office. I hardly like defending the Government in such a matter, because I know it is pitiable to see men unable to procure work; but we have to act within reason, and I do not think that the Commonwealth can afford to provide continuous employment at weed chipping and other similar unremunerative work. A few weeks ago, I was approached by a deputation which urged the adoption of a system ofvocational training. Additional departments cannot be transferred from Melbourne until homes are provided for the officers in those departments. The sum of £200,000 was appropriated on this year’s Works Estimates for this purpose. Union principles will not permit of the employment of unskilled workers on house construction, and the purpose behind the proposed vocational training is to qualify for such work the young men who leave school every year. I have recently been in communication with Mr. Nangle, Superintendent of Technical Education in New South Wales, who will visit Canberra shortly to consult with departmental officers and others who are interested, with a view to seeing whether it is possible to formulate a scheme of vocational training that may reduce the numbers of unskilled labourers in the Territory.
– What was the number of unemployed in the Federal Capital Territory when the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) was Minister for the Interior?
– The registered number of unemployed was then 541. To-day it is 741. At this time next year, no matter what government may be in office, it will be 841, because 100 youths leave school every year. Not all of those who are unemployed are disgruntled against the Government. There is recognition of the efforts of the Government to relieve the situation, , and many expressions of thanks have been received by it. I ask for sympathy with tbe unemployed, not abuse and criticism of the Government.
– The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I join with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr . Scullin) in making another appeal to the Government, before it goes into recess, to make some practical attempt at an encroachment on the unemployed problem.
The worst feature of the debate to-day is the hopeless outlook of Ministers generally. The Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) in particular has criticized every suggestion that has been made with a view to helping the Government to find some means of dealing with the position. It appears to me that the attitude adopted by the Cabinet, and by the supporters of the Government, proves conclusively that the contention which we, on this side, have put forward for the last three or four years is now generally accepted; that is, that the crisis out of which we have not yet emerged, is not the depression that ordinarily follows a boom period, but one of which there is no historical precedent. Whilst claiming to have done a good deal compared with previous administrations, the Government is not able to prove that it has done anything. Orthodox methods wereboundto fail, and will continue to fail, tosolve a problem that is not orthodox. Surely that has been proved by the experience gained during the last four years, not only in this, but also in every other country. The Attorney-General has rightly stated that tho depression is the effect, of the operation of economic laws. He almost suggested that neither men nor governments have any power to control it. I agree that it is the effect of the operation of economic laws, but I do not think that any one will support the view that man, in the shape of governments, cannot bring about an improvement by the adoption of new methods. The right honorable gentleman inferred that the whole position is hopeless, and that we can merely watch it grow worse and worse. I agree with him that work, wages and salaries, and all other kinds of rewards for services rendered, are the basis of all our business transactions. I do not think that that can be denied. If they go down at one end, they must go down also at the other. Ifwork is evenly distributed, if wages and salaries are high, prosperity is general. If, on the contrary, there is not proper coordination of work, if unemployment grows - as it has grown during the last fouryears - there is an absence of pros perity everywhere. From an orthodox point of view, the very success of the last loan proves how hopeless the whole of the industrial system is to-day. Four years ago, at the outset of the depression, the banks tightened up and would not release credit. Interest rates were made higher so as to diminish the amount of money distributed throughout the community, with the result that wages were reduced, loan expenditure became negligible, and there was a curtailment of investments. Since then the whole scene has changed. Conditions have gradually become worse, until to-day all countries have enormous sums of money in reserve. No money is available for re-investment in industry because, owing to the falling off in the demand for goods and services, no industry can make a profit. That was clearly shown by the rush to subscribe to the recent loan of £10,000,000 floated in Australia. The Government could have obtained £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 almost as easily. The ordinary capitalistic groups in this country which have money to invest will not invest it in industry because there is little or no security in that form of investment, but they are quite willing and anxious to buy Government bonds, or to subscribe to Commonwealth loans, even at low interest rates. That is known as playing for safety.
– It would not have been safe to invest in Government bonds had the policy of the Labour Government of three years ago been given effect.
– Surely the honorable member would not contend that the people of this community would be unwilling to invest money in Government securities? The falling-off of the purchasing power of the community, and the lack of balance between it and the productive power, are the real causes of the difficulty with which we are faced to-day. The unemployed have little hope of relief as the result of the successful flotation of the loan of £10,000,000. Half of the amount is to be used to redeem Treasury bills already issued and the balance is to be used to meet ordinary expenditure, leaving nothing with which to finance new works. The Commonwealth Government has rightly contended that its power as an employeris restricted. Even the powers of the State Governments and municipalities, acting in conjunction with the Commonwealth Government, are restricted, because private enterprise employs from 70 per cent, to 80 per cent, of our people. But if we are to maintain our power of productivity we must change the existing system. We must adopt unorthodox methods iti order to meet the changes that have taken place throughout the world during the last few years, otherwise the existing social order must fall.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Now that we are drawing to the close of the session it is only light that we should turn our attention to unemployment, which is the moat serious problem facing Australia to-day. Everything within our power should be done to alleviate the position of the unemployed. During the last year or two I have seen a marked change in the condition of the people. I know that they are suffering intensely as a result of unemployment, and any proposals to assist them in any direction will have my hearty support. Money must be provided for the provision of employment, whether by way of governmental works or by private enterprise. I wish to place before honorable members some’ figures which disclose the fact that, although the position of the unemployed in the metropolitan areas of Melbourne has considerably improved, it is not altogether satisfactory. I have obtained these figures from the various municipalities in and around my electorate, and they indicate that there has been a substantial reduction of unemployment.
– Owing to the provision of work for sustenance.
– The figures that I propose to place on record relate to men who are on sustenance, and are not being employed at all. There are a number of men known as sustenance men, who receive from time to time calls from government or other departments and are sent to the country and elsewhere. They are not included in my figures. In the City of Northcote, the number of unemployed on sustenance on the 27th Feb ruary, 1932, was 2,209. On the 26th August, 1933, it was 1,587, or a reduction of 622.
– Does not the honorable member know that the men who have been taken off the sustenance list are now on relief work for sustenance?
– I am referring to men, many of whom have been sent to the country and given permanent employment of from four to six months.
– Is that permanent employment ?
– Many men would call it permanent employment. In Fitzroy, the number of unemployed on sustenance on the 27th February, 1932, was 1,796. On the 26th August, 1933, it was 1,540, or a reduction of 256. In the City of Preston a number of tanneries are situated, and they provide quite a large amount of employment. I am glad, indeed, that during the last year the tanning industry has revived, and is now giving employment to men who were previously out of work for some considerable time. In Preston, the number of men on sustenance on the -27th February, 1932, was 1,328. On the 26th August, 1933, it was 503, or a reduction of §26. In Collingwood, the number of men on sustenance on the 27th February, 1932, was 1,752. On the 26th August, 1933, it was 1,053, or a reduction of 699. In Richmond, in the electorate of the Leader of the Opposition, the number of men on sustenance on the 27th February, 1932, was 2,452. On the 26th August, 1933, it was 1,363, or a reduction of 1,089. I have, in addition, some figures relating to the building trade. This is an important industry, which we should like to see firmly re-established, so as to provide employment for large numbers of our workless artisans. The following statement is taken from a press paragraph :-
A large increase in the building operations in Prahran during the six months ending the 31st March last is reported by the Town Clerk. The value of the work is £134,180, and compares most favorably with the best building period in 1028, when the six months’ operations totalled in value £137,176. For the corresponding period of 1932, the amount was only £59.182. The whole of these buildings are being erected in brick and concrete.
Motion (by Mr. Ward) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Holt. G. H. Mackay.)
Majority . . 28
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order 257n.
The following paper was presented : -
Navigation Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1933, No. 123.
In Committee of Supply:
– I move -
That there be granted to His Majesty for or towardsdefrayingtheservices of the year 1933-34 a sum not exceeding £1,485,550.
The introduction of this bill is necessary to provide for the immediate expenses of the Government. Provision was made in Supply Bill No. 2 introduced on the 1st October for the requirements of the following six weeks, including the payment of salaries on the 10th November. When that bill was introduced it was thought that the Estimates would be passed within the six weeks, and that no necessity would arise for another supply bill. The amount then provided is now almost exhausted, and is insufficient to pay the salaries and normal outgoings of the forthcoming pay-day; and, as it is clear that the Estimates cannot be passed in time to cover that pay-day, this bill has been introduced to provide for one month’s supply. The total includes the following amounts: -
That total is £100,000 less than the amount provided for in the bill. The extra £100,000 is accounted for by refunds of revenue which it is usual in these circumstances to calculate at the rate of £100,000 a month. No provision is made in this bill for any new expenditure or any departure from the existing policy of the Government. As it is essential that the money shall be provided for the pay-day on this coming Friday the Government hopes that the bill will be passed with as little debate as possible. Honorable members will have an opportunity in the debate on the general Estimates to discuss any of the items covered by this bill, and that debate will, it is hoped, be resumed almost immediately.
– This bill has been introduced pursuant to an arrangement made last Friday. I do not intend to debate it at any length, but I wish to ascertain the intention of the Government regarding the completion of the discussion of the general Estimates. I wish to know whether all-night sittings will be avoided in that connexion, andthe Estimates will be passed in reasonable working hours.
– I stated recently that the Government did not desire that honorable members should be obliged to suffer all-night sittings. If (reasonable progress is made with the debate on the Estimates all-night sittings should be avoided, but whether that can be done will depend on circumstances. I give an assurance that there will be no curtailment of the discussion, and that, as far as possible, the Government will consider the comfort and convenience of honorable members; but as to all-night sittings I can only say that they will be avoided if it is possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended and resolution adopted.
Resolution ofWays and Means founded on resolution of Supply reported and adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Mr. Lyons do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 17 th November (vide page 4749).
Proposed vote, £3,522,820.
.- I desire to deal with two matters in connexion with the vote for civil aviation, the first of which concerns the overseas air mail service from Great Britain which will come from Darwin to Camooweal, and thence to Charleville, Bourke and CootamundTa, with branch lines to Brisbane, and down the north-western coast of Western Australia. I bring before the notice of the Assistant Minister (Mr. Francis) the great service which would be rendered to the community if another branch line were inaugurated from Bourke to Wilcannia., and thence to Broken Hill and South Australia, including a service to Mildura. Under the present scheme Brisbane and Sydney, will bc served exceptionally well, and it is but fair to ask that the people of South Australia and Victoria should also benefit from the advantages connected with this splendid service. Really, I do not see how the Government can deny them that advantage, for it should do all that is humanly possible to extend the benefits of this modern method of transportation and communication to the citizens of Australia generally. It is therefore important that the Assistant Minister for Defence should make the necessary alterations in the tenders before they close.
There will, necessarily, bc a certain expenditure of money to provide emergency landing grounds in addition to those which already exist on the route followed by Qantas. Particularly will they be needed in New South) Wales where, while the country generally lends itself to emergency landing, some provision in this respect will be necessary, after the hills in the vicinity of Cobar are reached. The Government of New South Wales has made available an amount of £250 for the provision of suitable lauding facilities at Tibooburra thereby relieving the Commonwealth Government of that expense. There is a keen desire on the part of those who live in the far west of New South Wales to have emergency landing grounds provided for their use. Recently, the Far West Children’s Health scheme, which is sponsored by the Reverend Stanley Drummond, has been examining the problem of providing a doctor with a small aeroplane to enable him to operate in the far west on lines similar to those followed for some time in the north-west with such advantage to residents in that sparsely populated area. For this purpose alone centres like Tibbooburra and Milparinka would be greatly benefited by the establishment of emergency landing grounds.
I urge the Assistant Minister immediately to call for reports in connexion’ with the provision of emergency landing grounds along the route from Charle- ville to Bourke and thence to Cootamundra.
– How many would be required ?
– Probably eight or nine.
– Could they be used only for emergency purposes ?
– Many emergency landing grounds are in open country, situated at some little distance from towns, and they are necessary for the safety of air travellers. So far Australia has been most fortunate with its air services, having experienced only one really bad catastrophe, which occurred between Melbourne and Sydney when some eight lives were lost. It would be unfortunate if a tragedy occurred shortly after the inauguration of the Australia to Great Britain air mail service, for it would then be futile for us to point out that our air services have been so free from fatalities in the past. This work could be done now probably more cheaply than ever before in our lifetime, and as it is a 100 per cent, labour proposition it can be justified on many grounds.
The other matter with which I desire to deal concerns the subsidy that is being granted to the Inland Mission to provide a plane for the conveyance of a medical officer. I appeal to the Assistant Minister also to grant a small subsidy to help the Far-West Children’s Health scheme, which provides for the transport of persons in the outback to Bourke where they are treated, and, if necessary, sent by rail to Sydney. A similar work has met with splendid success in the Northern Territory.
– I think that the case for the prosecution of a comprehensive and continuous policy of defence was fairly well “stated in the d, bate that took place in this chamber on Friday last. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) made a notable contribution to this discussion, dispassionately presenting the salient facts and enabling honorable members to arrive at a just appreciation of the situation. The debate also disclosed that, while some honorable members opposite favour a reduction of the vote for defence on more or less indefinite grounds, quite a number of them confess to favour the provision of an adequate system of defence. The trouble about those who favour adequate defence is that when they are asked to come down to concrete facts they are inclined to shift ground somewhat readily. The term “ adequate defence” is all embracing. You either have something which is adequate, or have something which is inadequate. However, if the matter is referred to an expert who states what is necessary for a policy of adequate “defence, but whose specification is not in line with the political views of an honorable member opposite, that honorable member then takes leave to depart from the opinion of the expert, at the same time stoutly maintaining that he is in favour of “ adequate defence “.
The platform of the Labour party makes provision for adequate defence against possible foreign aggression. The fact that the word “ possible “ is used leads one to believe that even the Labour party thinks that there is some risk of foreign aggression; otherwise there would be no need to provide for such a contingency. Its policy rejects the idea of compulsory service, compulsion being anathema to its members except in matters political, when it is held in high esteem. In other words, these persons who profess to stand for a system of adequate defence are quite prepared to let the other fellow provide it, they themselves desiring to take no personal part in the programme.
A further plank in the platform of the Labour party is that “ decisions of courts martial shall be reviewable by civil courts “. Although the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has on several occasions stated that in Australia we have no courts of justice, but only courts of law, he, as a member of the Labour party, presumably subscribes to that plank of its platform. Apparently, if the decisions of courts martial are not to stand, it is because there is something suspect about them, and to remove the final responsibility to civil courts will achieve nothing if there is anything in the contention of the honorable member for East Sydney.
The next point I shall refer to is that the Labour party would have no offence created or penalty imposed, by regulation. Apparently, every penalty provided in the system of adequate defence that they concede is desirable would be laid down in an act of Parliament. Obviously such a system is wrong and the inclusion of such a plank in any policy isagain merely dodging the facts. To have adequate defence there must be discipline with provision for punishment and reward, but those who avoid defining what “ adequate defence “ means cannot bring themselves to concede that it must have a eode of rules and must prescribe obedience thereto. Again, if we make a comparison between the defence proposals of the Labour party, and the methods of administration which they employ within their own party, we are brought face to face with a startling contrast. In their own party, discipline is preserved at all costs, and sometimes most drastic action is taken to enforce it.
The fifth plank of the Labour party’s defence platform is tbat no Australian citizen shall be sent outside Australia in defence of his country. During the last war, the defence of Australia was conducted at a distance, and well for us that, it was. If the Labour party’s stipulation were adhered to, our fleet and air force would, presumably, be forbidden to serve outside the three-mile limit. The fleet would be unable to proceed to Hong Kong, or-to any other point of concentration, with units from New Zealand or the British Navy, because that would be a violation of the regulations. It is all very well to profess to support a policy of adequate defence, to anathematize com- pulsory service, and to laud voluntaryservice. The bona fides of honorable members can best be judged by noting their own individual actions for the promotion of Australia’s defence. I doubt whether many honorable members on the other side have ever made any attempt to assist Australia’s defence scheme. Have they ever tried to obtain recruits for our understaffed battalions? Have they ever, by their presence at a parade or manoeuvre, or a rifle range, encouraged trainees in the work they have undertaken, or induced others to join? I gravely doubt whether they have. The only military activity of honorable members opposite was to organize into clubs those unfortunate returned soldiers who had fallen on hard times since the depres sion, and they did this, not for defence, but for political purposes. I could not help being struck by the fact that when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) replied to the budget speech of the Prime Minister, he said not’ one word on the subject of defence. He left us completely at a lossto know whether he supported any measures for defence, and if so, what kind. I have no doubt that he stands for the adequate defence of Australia, and I am strengthened in that belief by his attitude in 1917. At that time, he stood for compulsory military service, and, at a Labour conference held in Victoria, he laid down very definitely that, notwithstanding certain criticism of what was taking place in the Defence Forces, the defects were only minor ones, and the system itself was worthy of support. I have here a copy of the report of that conference, and this is what the right honorable gentleman said on that occasion - lt, for instance, a chimney in his house smoked “ through being foul, he would not think of pulling the whole house down to correct that fault. He would have the ehimuey cleaned, and, remedying that trouble, the whole house then could be in order. Because one detail waa wrong in the Citizen Army scheme, their friends there wanted to do away with the whole thing. Mr. A. W. Fosterhad expressed the view that, in the event of inter- national complications, Australia might find herself entirely on her own. If that were likely to be ao, it was all the more reason whythey should go for their compulsory system of home defence, so that they could fight for their rights. Australia shouldhave her own system of defence, and, if she neglected to have it, then England might provide it with officers and soldiers sent out at the bidding of the Imperial Parliament. Even if theyhad not a foot of land in Australia, they had their rights and privileges and the women and children of theCommonwealth to fight for against any invader of their shores.
The manwho expressed those views showed himself to be possessed of insight and courage, and I should have welcomed a re-statement of his opinions on this important occasion. By way of contrast, I turn now to the remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), who delivered a speech which sounded to me like a pleasant Sunday afternoon lecture for those who had eaten a. good dinner, and did not wish to have their digestions disturbed. He was really afraid to discuss this terrible subject of defence at all, and seemed to regard it as something to be spoken of with bated breath. He seemed to think that if Aus-. tralia did anything to improve its defences we should immediately lead the world in a mad race for armaments. That, of course, is ridiculous. When the honorable member forWannon (Mr. Scholfield) actually mentioned the word “ Japan “, he was taken to task by the honorable member for Hindmarsh as if he had been guilty of an indiscretion. There is no need for any timidity of this subject. Our defence measures are a plain straight-forward matter of insurance. It is not our desire to provoke any one, but we must face the situation, discuss it fearlessly, and do what we think best.
The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) raised the subject of obtaining oil and petrol supplies from coal. He stands for the adequate defence of Australia, but, in his opinion, apparently, the defence of Australia means, almost first and last, the production of oil from coal. He restated his opinion this afternoon on the motion of the Leader of the Opposition on unemployment. I agree with him that a defence organization must include provision for materiel as well as for men, and of the materiel required none ismore important than oil. I remind the honorable member, however, that, in regard to the production of oil from coal, new methods are constantly being evolved, and the process is yet largely experimental. I can understand the impatience of the honorable member that something should oe done, but these are big matters, and plans cannot be brought to fruition at once. I commend the Government on its policy of making careful investigations, and I am confident that, in the end, we shall see oil being produced from coal and shale in Australia.
The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) made a fighting speech on behalf of brotherly love and peace. It is an odd thing that these pacific people are generally great fighters in debate. He told us how he had visited Germany, addressed meetings of Germans, and how they had been all in complete accord with him. Of course, the honorable member achieved nothing by those addresses, except, perhaps, his own gratification. Before the war there were conferences between representatives of the British Labour Party and those of German organizations, but in that case also nothing was achieved. They talked a great deal, drank a few pints of lager, and then came home feeling that they had advanced the cause of peace; but, when the blast of war blew in our ears, all their work was as if it had never been.
– The moral seems to be that we should do nothiug to try to improve international’ relations.
– Of course, we should try, but we would be foolish to leave it at that, and do nothing for defence. Not even the application of the principles preached by Carlyle in his SartorResartus, which the honorable member read to us, was able to prevent the last war, nor will good-natured conferences between various international organizations be certain of success.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to8 p.m.
– I admit frankly that the working men of one country have no particular quarrel with those of another, nor do they wish to go to war. It is a fact, however, that wars occur, and that no speeches, not even those delivered by such eminent gentleman as the ex-Minister for Defence (Mr. A. Green), have much influence iu preventing conflagrations when the stage is set for them. The honorable gentleman is aggressively pacific, and I cannot sec how he can reconcile his views with his occupancy of the office of Minister for Defence in the last Government. The function of a Minister for Defence is to see to the defences of a country. The only warlike operation the honorable gentleman conducted was his declaration of war on the officers of his department.
– The honorable member is hardly in order in discussing a past administration.
-When the Department of Defence was administered by the honorable gentleman, and the depression hit Australia, his first act was to impose on military officers a substantial sacrifice that no one else was asked to bear. I say deliberately that he dealt an unfair blow at a defenceless section of the Service, which in time of crisis is invaluable to Australia.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie did good work in the Department of Defence.
– He may have done good work on behalf of certain elements, but he treated the professional men in a manner that was nothing short of shabby.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to discuss the Estimates.
– Let us consider the defence of Australia in retrospect. It was the Labour party which, in the days when it was a substantial party that could stand up to its responsibilities, gave to Australia its compulsory military training system and its navy. In those days, members of the Labour party in the Commonwealth Parliament took pride in the fact that they placed the safety of Australia in the forefront of their political programme. I have consulted the records, and desire to make one or two quotations. Senator Guy, the father of an Assistant Minister in the present Government, who represented Tasmania, moving the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply in the Senate, in October, 1914, said -
I do claim this credit for our own party, that we were the first to initiate the Australian citizen soldiery and the Australian Navy.
– Order ! I remind the honorable member that the policy of the Labour party on defence is not the question before the Chair.
– I am quoting from Hansard, in order to make a point that I think it is apropos in view of the attitude of honorable members opposite with respect to the question now before the Chair. I merely wish to contrast their attitude in those days with that adopted by them to-day towards the adequate defence of Australia. Senator Guy went on to say that it was fit and proper that defensive measures for which the Labour party were responsible, should be administered by that party in times of necessity. Those sentiments contrast vividly with the attitude that has been adopted on defence matters by some members of the Labour party during this debate. The honorable member who moved the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply in the House of Representatives was equally eager to claim for the Labour party the credit of having forged these instruments of national security and defence. These are the words which were used by Mr. Jolley, member for the Grampians-
– Order ! I am afraid that the honorable member does not understand why I have called him to order.
– I certainly do not.
– The policy of the Labour party towards the defence of Australia, either in the past or in the present, is not the question before the Chair, and it cannot be discussed at length upon these Estimates.
– I submit that the question before the Chair is, whether we should or should not expend the proposed appropriation upon defence. Some honorable members opposite have maintained that we should not. I am merely endeavouring to show that members of the Labour party in the past have held totally different views. I hope that out of the mouths of their predecessors, honorable members opposite will be converted to the right view. Mr. Jolley said -
Between Australia and material disaster there stand our two great arms of defence - the Army and Navy. These were fashioned by a Labour administration, and it is meet and fitting that the party which fashioned those weapons by which we are enabled to avoid disaster should be the first to use them.
I shall now quote one of the most historic utterances ever made in this Parliament. It is that of the late Right Honorable Andrew Fisher, and deals with the responsibilities of, not only the National Government, but also the members of the National Parliament in the matter of the defence of Australia. It was made shortly after the outbreak of the Great War, and reads as follows: -
We shall not fail in our duty on this occasion, even if in trying to carry out our duty as wo see it, we make extraordinary demands on the public treasury and on the citizens of the Commonwealth in order that the present trouble may be brought to a successful issue. I ask the people of Australia, so far as ray knowledge goes, to steel themselves to the view that this matter may only just be beginning. But whether we are just beginning orwhether we are in the middle of it or nearing the end, the policy of this Govern- ment will be the same us that communicated to the Prime Minister when I had the honour of leading the Opposition. We shall pledge our last man and our last shilling to see this war brought to a successful issue.
– He would be the last of either.
– That is evidence of courage, patriotism, a sense of responsibility and determination. Such qualities were outstanding in some men in those days. I take pride in the fact that the first vote that I gave as a Commonwealth elector, was for the government which, provided Australia with the instruments for self-preservation given to us by the Labour party. I merely make these quotations to show how severe is the contrast between Labour then and Labour now. In those days there was no doubt whatever that the British Navy was supreme. If these views, and that attitude, of responsible statesmen, were justified then, how much more justified are they to-day, when Australia has not the sure and certain shield of a British Navy of incomparable strength, to protect it!
I shall now make what I hope will be a constructive suggestion or two in regard to the organization of Australia’s defences. The role of the Defence Force is threefold. There is defence at home, which is a sort of last resort should any nation attempt to do us injury within our own borders. Then there is defence at a distance, which consists of meeting an aggressor and holding him off our shores. The third phase is in the direction of co-operation with the other parts of the British Empire. If we are not willing to be a partner in Empire defence, we cannot complain if other parts of the Empire stand aloof from us in time of our peril. We must adopt either the one attitude or the other: Either we are a part of the Empire, and therefore are willing to co-operate with the other parts, of it, or we are not a part of the Empire and are prepared to take our gruel.
As to the distribution of expenditure among the different services, I have only a general statement to make. My view, which is based upon some knowledge, is that if we had £10 to spend on defence, £5 of it should be devoted to naval defence, £3 to land defence, and £2 to air defence. That is approximately the pro portion in which expenditure upon defence, in my opinion, should be distributed in Australia. ‘ As an island continent, naval defence must come first and military defence be comparatively secondary. A great deal more can be done with a couple of million pounds on air defence than on either land or naval defence. The air Force, the limit of whose usefulness is not yet properly understood, needs every encouragement. Its function is, not to win a war or to effect the defence of Australia on its own, but to co-operate with the navy and the army in a properly coordinated plan. At Seymour, Victoria, there is at present in camp a brigade of infantry, with respect to which a newspaper cutting that I have before me says -
The 14th Infantry Brigade., under the command of Brigadier-General J. G. Stewart, now in camp at Seymour for six days, musters less than 400, including all ranks. Its peace time establishment is 1,200. The satisfactory training of military units so pitifully attenuated is a practical impossibility.
Putting into camp for six days, a brigade of infantry in such skeleton form, is equivalent to throwing money into the sea. In those circumstances, little value can be received for the expenditure. I suggest that if Australia can afford a certain expenditure on a peace establishment, and one is laid down within, those limits, we should see that the requisite numbers of men are obtained and that the training is economical. I am not proposing reversion to the system of compulsory military training on the lines formerly adopted. I believe that that was too widespread and too thin, and full value for the expenditure was not received. But we do need pre-eminently, a regular tally of our man power. There should be compulsory registration of all able-bodied citizens, from which, with organization and technical equipment, we should be able to build in the shortest space of time a force that would meet an emergency. From this big roll of compulsorily registered men, there should be a call to service by means of a ballot, so that our peace establishment would be filled and their training made effective and economical. Surely there is nothing undemocratic in that suggestion. I know that it runs counter to the views of those who mouth the phrase “ adequate defence,” and leave it to the other fellow to give the actual service. Let us have a democratic ballot, under which men would be brought forward to the embodied units in the correct numbers and for the right period, so that they might receive effective training. The technical services, obviously, would need longer training than the infantry in view of the specialization required.
We need open minds in the matter of training and equipment. In this sphere of activity matters move as quickly as in the industrial sphere. The day of mechanized military forces has more than dawned. Army mechanization is proceeding apace. Australia is’ on the outskirts of the world, and is not closely in touch with developments in other parts. Actual experience in the field with embodied units and experimental mechanical equipment, are necessary in order that we may determine what is the best equipment to meet whatever situation an emergency may present to us. I suggest that the Government should keep a stream of professional men moving steadily between Australia and Great Britain, so that we may keep abreast, not only with the latest developments in technical equipment, but also with the methods of their employment.
– The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- The question whether we should expend an additional £1,500,000 on defence this year has been discussed from every conceivable angle. Some honorable members contend that the defence system as at present constituted is adequate; others claim that it is inadequate. The virtues of the voluntary system of training have been extolled, and we have heard the advocacy of the re-introduction of the conscription system. It is interesting to hear the opinions of the Government supporters respecting the meaning of the plank of the Labour party’s platform which provides for the adequate protection of Australia, but I suggest that when putting its policy into effect the Labour party and not its political opponents will determine what adequate protection means’. , The Labour party as another defence policy, which is the defence of the living standards of the people of Australia, and we are more concerned with the preservation of those standards than with .the provision of money for munition and armament firms which are at present carrying on active propaganda in Sydney. I agree with the following passage in Bond or Free, written by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) : -
A healthy, well-nourished, well-clad, wellhoused people is the nation’s greatest asset. A policy which ensures the people abundant food, good clothes, and decent houses to live in is the best policy.
We entirely agree with that statement. We aim at a high living standard, as the first and most important line of defence. If we gave the people a standard of living which they would be prepared to defend against outside aggressors military compulsion would be absolutely unnecessary. We are still living in the shadow of the last European war which, according to Whittaker’s Almanac of 1929, was estimated in 1924 by the Banking Trust Company of New York; to have cost the nations of the world £56,000.000,000. Because that sum disappeared in smoke and destruction, the world to-day is suffering as it has never suffered before. Among those who are suffering the worst are the people who fought to make the world a better place in which to live. It was alleged to be a war to end war. But our war-time Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) stated the other night that peace cannot exist in a world that i3 unstable financially and economically. The financial and economic instability of the world to-day was created by the vast expenditure of money on the last war, and it would appear, according to the reasoning of the right honorable member’ for North Sydney, that that condition will be responsible for the next war. I have not the slightest doubt that the accentuation of the economic and financial instability as the- result of another war will lead to further wars. It is an entirely hopeless outlook. On the 13th October, 1916, the right honorable member said at Hobart -
The only peace they - the people of Aus* tralia - would have would bo on the field at the final battle when the military power of Germany was crushed for ever on the western front. Then find only then would we have world peace.
Germany and her allieswere crushed, yet we still have the threat or promise of war; so that the final blow struck at Germany on the field of Plunders was not the end of all wars. The right honorable member said the other night that the last war was a trade war and that all future wars would be trade wars. I remember distinctly the occasion on which he threatened to deal with a distinguished cleric of Melbourne who ventured the opinion that the last war was a sordid trade war. The right honorable gentleman also compared the trade relations in the Pacific to ten men in a boat with food enough for three, and the question was who would get the food. One inferred that the strongest in the contest would prevail.
Bill returned from the Senate without requests.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed) :
.- The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) suggested that, in that case, that might would be right, and speaking on that subject on the 27th October, 1916, in the Sydney Town Hall, he said -
I cannot too often repeat that Germanyhas inscribed on herbanner “ Might is Right.” This power that stands for Might isRight is the power with which we are now at death grips. One of us must go down. Who is it to be?
The power which had inscribed on its banner “ Might is Bight “ fell, yet the policy which the right honorable member condemned at that time is the one whichhe to-day advocates, because he now wishes to increase armaments in order to associate this country with might inthe next war. The last war for which many honorable members can always find a reasonable excuse was alleged to have been fought to make the world safe for democracy, yet no matter where we look throughout the world ‘to-day we find that democracy is being crushed by the very military power whichwe set out to de feat. It was claimed that the war was fought to preserve the rights of small nations, yet the League of Nations stood idly by while the rights of a small nation like China were violated by our late ally, Japan.
– Is China a small nation?
– It is small in a military sense. It has been claimed that the last war was fought to make the world a bettor place in which to live. It will be generally agreed that the conditions of living in the world to-day are worse than ever before, and that is particularly applicable to many of the men who fought in the last war. They were told that they were fighting for security, yet many of them cannot find security even in a war service home. With a sort of supercilious attitude some honorable members with military careers assert that laymen should not discuss defence matters without due deference to their superior knowledge, and that we must accept the advice of the experts. It was the experts who prepared the nations of the world for the last war. The experts of Germany prepared the military machine of that nation. The experts in close collaboration with munition manufacturers and ship-builders prepared the British Navy for naval defence, and the experts in preparing that navy took fine care that before any ship embodying the jatest innovations in naval construction left the slips it was obsolete. It was the experts who carried on the war to end war. It was the expert diplomats and international jurists who prepared the peace which has successfully ended peace. The world to-day is controlled and advised in almost every aspect by alleged experts, and as the result is seething with animosity and distrust. We have witnessed the development of intense nationalism, both social and economic. The fight to-dayis for markets and it is necessary to camouflage the real issue in the discussion of armaments. Vague suggestions have been made by some honorable members that this proposed additional expenditure is notsufficientand that many more millions will have to be spent on Australian defence; and to justify this expenditure they raise bogys as to tho dangers confronting Australia to-day. They say that we are surrounded by potential enemies, but none of them venture to suggest who those enemies are. Those honorable members are endeavouring to stampede the people into accepting any system of defence that the warmongers inflict upon them. The right honorable member for North Sydney has said that the millions in the East are seeking room. We have heard that story before. The millions in the East did seek room in Manchuria. While it has no direct connexion with Australia or Great Britain, we notice that some international capitalists are very concerned about the violation of Manchuria, not because of the danger to the Chinese or the Manchurians, but because of the possibility that the markets of Manchuria will be exploited solely by the Japanese. It would appear, however, that the Japanese are content, at present, to confine their activities to Manchuria, the people of which country are more akin to themselves in race, habits and general outlook than are the people of Australia, for instance. The right honorable member for North Sydney went on to speak of what he called the “ German menace “, because certain newspapers had revived the story that Germany is busily developing a huge fighting force. The disarmament conditions imposed on Germany by the peace treaty make it practically impossible for that country to become a potential enemy of Australia. The right honorable gentleman also discussed the socalled “ red menace “, and one could infer from his remarks that a huge Russian army might swoop down on Australia. Our grandfather’s were scared by a similar story 50 or 60 years ago, and were told that the Russians would come down through India and invade Australia. Later it was the Japanese who would invade this country;, but after an Imperial trade treaty was made with Japan any possibility of aggression from that quarter was conveniently forgotten. Thoughts of that kind were thenceforward concentrated on Germany until the great war actually started. Although the right honorable member tried to focus attention on the possibility of a “ red “ menace from Russia he failed to tell us that on every occasion when Russian delegates had attended an international conference on disarmament, they alone among the delegates had advocated complete disarmament. I suppose that, people who read the reports of the right honorable member’s speech will be inclined to think that’ some heed should be paid to his remarks, because he was our war-time Prime Minister; but we should do justice to our own common sense and to the people of Australia if we directed attention to the fact that Russia is the one country in the world to-day which is seeking to develop her own affairs according to her own desires. If other nations of the world would show as clearly as Russia has done that they are favorable to the international disarmament there would be no fear of war.
– Why then has Russia 800,000 men under arms?
– To keep foreign cut-throats outside its borders.
One other rather nebulous plea made and insisted upon in support of the proposed additional vote for defence involves the re-imposition of conscription in Australia. The right honourable member for North Sydney pleaded that conscription was necessary because the present voluntary system was a failure. He made it clear that he believed in conscription in Australia and that Australians should fight for Australia within Australia. I remember that the right honorable gentleman said on a former occasion that he believed in compulsory military training for the purpose of defending Australia within Australia. He said at that time that in no circumstance would he consent to the sending of men away from Australia against their will to fight. But those views were completely upset later. After expressing such hostility and abhorrence to compulsory military service the right honorable gentleman said on the 13th October, “1916, in Hobart - which seems to be a favorite verbal battleground of his -
It was to prevent conscription of Prussia from ever being riveted on the timbs of Australians that they were fighting this war.
Yet fifteen years after the Prussian hordes have been defeated the right honorable gentleman is still talk- ing about the introduction of conscription for Australia. On the 27th October, 1916, he said-
I shall say that the destiny of Australia is being decided on the battlefields of France. I bid you go and fight for White Australia in France.
I have not the slightest doubt that if the right honorable member again found himself clothed with sufficient power he would discover just as much justification for sending men and boys overseas to fight as he found for it in the last war - and he would not be troubled whether the Avar had to be fought in China, Japan, Palestine, or any other country.
The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Blacklow) advanced the rather novel argument that the re-introduction of compulsory military training would be beneficial to the morale and physique of the children, and he made a special reference in this connexion to the district of Rozelle in the heart of my electorate. I do not think that the fathers and mothers of Rozelle would be flattered by the honorable member’s suggestion that compulsory military training was necessary for the development of the morale and physique of their children. Football, swimming, cricket, and other sports would be much more effective to that end than military training, but there is no suggestion that those .sports should’ be subsidized by the Government. Honorable gentlemen who advocate compulsory military training are more concerned about providing gun-fodder for the next trade war than about providing children with healthy minds and bodies. Why should the shouldering of a gun be more effective in developing physique than the shouldering of a broomstick, or any other implement %
It has been said that additional expenditure on defence would, in a measure, relieve the unemployment market; but, on examining the Estimates, I find that there is every reason to assume that a good deal. of the extra money for defence will be spent outside of Australia. An amount of £93,000 has been provided under two items for exchange, and other amounts of £42,000 and £35,000 are also provided under this heading, clearly indicating that heavy purchases are to be made overseas. An amount of over £400,000 is also to be spent on aerial defence. The whole of that money will go overseas. It has been said that under the Government’s defence policy a few munition factories will be built within Australia and that this will provide local employment, but any employment of that kind will have very little influence upon the unemployment problem. The Government intends to spend a considerable amount in the purchase of a sloop, but this will be built within Australia only if ‘an Australian shipbuilder is able to submit a tender below those submitted by overseas shipbuilders - a remote possibility. We have been told that certain British destroyers will be visiting Australia shortly. There are Borne interesting aspects of this subject. Recently, I submitted to the Assistant Minister for Defence a series of questions regarding these destroyers, and I can only describe as evasive the answers that were furnished to my inquiries. I directed attention to a report which appeared in the press to the effect that at certain naval manoeuvres at Portsmouth, England, some destroyers were unable to put to sea, and that it was believed that this was due to the heavy weather and the general unseaworthiness of vessels of that particular type. I wished to know whether the report was correct and also whether destroyers of a similar type were to be sent to Australia. The Minister said that he did not intend to make an investigation to see whether destroyers of that type were to be sent here. The honorable gentleman apparently is not much concerned about the lives of the seamen who will have to travel on these vessels. If destroyers are unseaworthy in any respect they should not be sent to Australia. However, I elicited the information that the destroyers to be sent to Australia were between fifteen and sixteen years old. Although the Minister would not intimate that the destroyers to come here were of the type concerned in the Portsmouth naval manoeuvres incident, to which I have referred, it is interesting to know that those vessels are of the same age as the destroyers to be sent to Australia. The information I obtained in answer to my question as to the estimated cost to Australia of these vessels was also vague. I learned that it probably would be another five years before these destroyers would be declared obsolete, although after that period it might be possible to get a little more use out of them. The vessels are to remain here for five years. The amount mentioned for the upkeep of these vessels while in Australian waters was more than £40,000 a year, so that in the five-year period each of them will cost Australia £200,000, making an aggregate of more than £1,000,000. In view of the fact that these destroyers are. of an unsatisfactory type and are unseaworthy in certain circumstances, I - am of the opinion that they will be entirely worthless as fighting units of the Australian naval forces.
No justification has been given for the proposed additional vote for defence. The Government’s defence policy is associated with wild-cat bogy stories about potential enemies. No government supporter has yet said .definitely who these potential enemies are or from what quarter they are likely to come. In the circumstances it would be far better to use the money which the Government intends to spend on additional preparations for defence, plus a few more millions, to provide genuine work for the unemployed. That policy would help both the employed and the unemployed, and would enable us to make some very necessary improvements in their living standards. If that were done, people would have some incentive to fight to protect their homes - if they have any. Unfortunately, many people have lost the homes that they were buying a few years ago. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) sneeringly referred to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green), who had spoken of the way in which he had fraternized with the workers of Germany, and he- conveyed the idea that no understanding could be arrived at by conferences of workers. In my opinion, whether the cause of war be ascribed to trade, finance, or economic conditions, whether it be claimed to be waged to save democracy, civilization, or anything else, it is certain that we shall have wars in the future unless an international understanding is arrived at among the workers of the world. They are the persons who are called upon to do the fighting, and until they determine that they will not fight we shall continue to have war.
– Honorable members must have been very glad to hear the frank admiration expressed by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) for Russia, and especially his praise of the so-called peaceful desires of the Soviet. What are, the actions which have characterized the desire of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics to effect international peace and goodwill? A most aggressive propaganda, carried on for twelve or fifteen years, thousands of murders during the early Bolshevic regime, and ruthless dumping of the surplus products of Russia in an endeavour to destroy the markets of other nations. I was interested to listen to the honorable member pointing out the necessity for international goodwill and then to find that he suddenly lost that characteristic and generated a most perverted nationalistic outlook when it came to providing money to promote Australia’s defence. The amazing feature is that, while the honorable member’s party has demanded the expenditure of public money to lessen unemployment, its members denounce public expenditure on defence, which is no less reproductive than- many of the proposals sponsored by them.
I feel that the only effective way in which we can defend this huge continent of 2,974,581 square miles is by securing its effective occupation. The next valuable line of defence is a foreign policy that will tend to make Australia friendly with other nations of the world. That would do more than anything else to lessen the international instability and friction about which the honorable member complained. Failing both of those desirable objectives which we have lamentably failed to achieve, we should take adequate defence measures in cooperation with every other part of the British Commonwealth of Nations which is sufficiently strong to take such measures, to enable Australia to carry on its development under the most peaceful conditions possible. I believe that the readiness of the whole of the units of the British Commonwealth of Nations to resist encroachment and stand for peace is probably one of the surest guarantees of peace.
– Did the right honorable gentleman say peace, or pieces?
– I said “ peace “. No one can read the history of the world for the last 300 years without realizing that, during that period, Great Britain and its policy have been the biggest single factor that has made for world peace and goodwill.
It is quite obvious that the 6,500,000 persons in Australia and the limited money that is available for our development do not permit the provision of an adequate defence force. But Australia can have a nucleus force on sound and sane lines which could expand rapidly and make use of the human and material resources of the country when called upon to do so. The Bruce-Page Government inaugurated a definite five-year defence programme to improve Australia’s military and naval forces, no less than £1,500,000 being expended each year above the amount expended in the year previous to our taking office, in addition to which £8,000,000 was allocated from accumulated surpluses to modernize the Australian Navy. I am astounded that some who regarded the then Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and myself of being woefully extravagant because we spent this money, now advocate the. carrying out of a similar policy involving similar expenditure. What has happened? A government came into power which determined to have nothing to do with those definite and progressive measures for defence. It scuppered that policy, destroyed the system of compulsory military training, practically eliminated the nucleus of trained officers, and ruthlessly discarded the system which had been established by the first Federal Labour government in Australia.
It is now necessary to begin to rebuild steadily on sound lines. To provide Australia with the nucleus of a real defence force, we should give some attention first of all to the remuneration of noncommissioned officers whose training cannot be effected in a few moments. Whatever else the Government may do to economize, it cannot afford to disregard this insurance against disaster. That argument applies equally as effectively in connexion with the professional side of the forces. From an examination of the summary that has been supplied to honorable members to enable them to understand the Defence Estimates, I found that the medical complement of medical officers in the navy was : two short, and upon inquiry, I found that this was because of the meagre pay offered. Medical organizations are definitely advising their members - who, unlike other officers who are trained at the expense of the country, train at their own expense over a considerable number of years - that there is no future for them in the forces comparable with the opportunities offered by private practice. Consequently, the best men will not enter the forces; indeed, it is difficult to get any at all.
– They do not regard the matter from a patriotic point of view?
– After all their years of training, they are offered £409 a year, and even after they have been 30 years in the forces, many cannot exceed £800, on which salary they must live, clothe themselves, and buy all other accessories. They can do much better by exercising their skill in private practice.
– Profits before patriotism!
– When have the honorable member and his colleagues displayed patriotism? The war proved that every man of standing in the medical profession in Australia was only too ready to disregard profits and serve his country for a comparatively meagre pittance. There is no question about the patriotism of the medical profession. The Government cannot afford to neglect to staff its services properly, and I urge it to reconsider the whole position. I understand that a similarly short-sighted view has also been taken in Great Britain where the Warren-Fisher inquiry has revealed that there is a great shortage of medical officers. I urge the Government to make sure that its non-commissioned officers will be retained. Many of these highlytrained men are irreplaceable, yet they are not getting as much as a man on the basic wage. In many cases, the professional soldier who is sent abroad to receive supplementary training, finds on his return to Australia how unattractive a future would be in the forces, and consequently quits it and enters private business. If the Government would encourage these admirable units to remain in the forces, we should be able to build up a satisfactory force quickly should war occur.
– I should not have spoken but for the remarks of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), who has made plain his opposition to the proposals of the Government. He purports to be an advocate of peace, desirous of bringing about the peace of the world. Yet he has been opposed to the only institution in the world that has seriously sought to achieve that object, the League of Nations.
– I did not express an opinion on that subject.
– The other evening the honorable member made it appear that his attitude to the League of Nations was one of hostility.
– I said what the honorable gentleman cannot controvert - that it has been a failure.
– I accept the honorable gentleman’s statement as to his attitude. The League of Nations stands for arbitration and conciliation, and the promotion of the peace of the world, and ‘ it should be our genuine desire to achieve that end. Om- efforts, therefore, should be directed towards strengthening the position of that institution by promoting confidence in it. I would remind honorable members of the picture that General Smuts recently drew of the prospect of the next war, should it ever take place. In a lecture entitled, “ The Disarmed Peace,” delivered at the Sheffield University, in 1931, he said -
In the next great war, if it is ever allowed to occur, science will, like some angry outraged deity, go far to destroy mankind itself. The next war will be unlike anything which has been called war in the past. The time honoured name of war would not properly apply to it. It will pay scant attention to armies and navies, or to the other paraphernalia of war.
It will go straight for the populations, and for the immense urban aggregations which will be its sure target. It will fight with new unheard of chemical and biological weapons. It will cover the fair land and the great cities with poison and disease germs. It will saturate vast areas with a deadly atmosphere. There will be no escape, not even for the statesmen and the war-makers, and a pall of death will rest over all.
That is General .Smuts’s warning to the nations of the world if they pursue a policy of competition in armaments, and do not direct their attention towards the peaceful solution of international difficulties. The information recently published indicates that continuous efforts are being made to discover more deadly means of destruction.
The policy of Great Britain has constantly been peaceful. Great Britain has done more than talk; she has indicated her willingness to take part in effective disarmament in the interests of a genuine peace movement. She was a powerful force in the creation of the League of Nations, and she has persistently endeavoured to give a lead to the nations of the world in the pursuit of peaceful ways.
– And she makes the big guns for all the other nations.
– The manufacture of armaments by private firms is a matter which will, no doubt, have to be dealt with by the League; but, in the meantime, I am speaking of the attitude of the statesmen of Great Britain. We know that, at the present time, the representatives of Britain on the Continent are doing their best to avert a breakdown of the Disarmament Conference.
– Why did not Britain get behind Russia when that country advocated complete disarmament?
– Why does not Russia join the League of Nations, and thus take her part in promoting world peace? Would the honorable member like to see adopted in this country the same methods of government which are practised in Russia? Would he like to see this country developed under laws which suppress liberty and freedom, and institute a rule of force? Would he like to see the abolition of trial by jury, the freedom of association, and the freedom of the press? It would be better if Russia were a member of the League of Nations. The nations of the world would welcome her, and her membership would be a proof of her willingness to enter into treaties to secure the settlement of international difficulties by peaceful means. Great Britain has endeavoured to give a lead in the direction of peace, but, unfortunately, other nations are increasing their armaments and strengthening their positions. That being so, Great Britain must, of necessity, preserve a certain standard, at the least that which was contemplated by the terms of the League of Nations Covenant itself. Article 8 of the Covenant, which puts limitation of armaments in the forefront of the undertakings entered into by the nations, states -
The members nf the league recognize that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety, and the enforcement by common action, of international obligations.
The council, taking account of the geographical situation and circumstances of each State, shall formulate plans for such reduction for the consideration and action of the several Governments.
From the moment of the establishment of the League, Great Britain has been seeking to have those proposals put into effect, and an agreement made between nations to reduce armaments. Great Britain’s only desire has been to prevent the possibility of another war, with the awful possibilities pictured by General Smuts.
It must be recognized that, under any disarmament plan, Australia and the Empire would be justified in disarming only to that extent which would be consonant with national safety. No doubt the extent of “ national safety “ would be defined in any agreement entered into. “While no disarmament agreement is in existence, the Empire will be justified in at least providing itself with armaments sufficient to ensure its safety. No one can say that the Estimates now before us make provision for stronger armaments than are necessary to provide for our national safety. It is well known that we have cut down our defence expenditure to such an extent that our armaments are below the standard necessary for our adequate defence.
– But when we increase our armaments, we are taking part in the competition for armaments.
– That i» not correct ; we are merely trying to raise the standard of our defence to the level necessary to ensure national safety. As the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) pointed out, we are a dominion within an Empire. The Empire as a whole must have adequate defences, and we, as a constituent unit, must cooperate “with the other parts to that end.
– Does the honorable member realize that he is using precisely the same arguments as were employed by the statesmen of Europe before the world war ?
– I do not realize that; the position is entirely different now from what it was before 1914. Then the race for armaments was influenced, not by a desire to achieve national safety, but to secure national supremacy. The present Estimates do no more than provide that our defences shall be brought nearer the standard necessary for national safety than they are at present, and for that reason we are justified in passing them.
I agree with the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) that, if we are to keep possession of this continent, we must occupy it effectively, which means settling people on the land. I remind him, however, that we must effectively occupy the whole of Australia, and not merely the southern parts of it. We must not only vote money for defence, but also pursue a policy which will enable people to settle on land in the north, .and engage in tropical and sub-tropical industries. Moreover,, the development of secondary industries is just as necessary for the adequate defence of Australia as is the development of primary industries. We must encourage those great basic industries which help in the manufacture of the commodities essential to defence and to national existence. We must provide for the possibility of Australia’s isolation in the event of war, and must be able to manufacture, not only those things necessary for the immediate prosecution of a war, but also those necessary for the carrying on of essential industries during a period of isolation. It was fortunate for Australia that, before the last war, she had so developed her secondary industries that she was able to send her soldiers across the seas equipped with everything except their arms. All their other equipment was produced in the factories of Australia, from Australian material, by Australian workers. The defence of Australia involves, not only the expenditure of money on armaments, but also the effective organization of our civil population and economic resources. Situated as we are in the Pacific, we are not concerned so much with theories as with practical considerations, whereby we shall be able to develop our national strength to such an extent as to enableus to maintain this Commonwealth in all circumstances as a distant outpost of the civilization which we cherish.
.- Even from a defence point of view it would be better for the Commonwealth if we were able to ensure to all our citizens a greater degree of comfort than many of them enjoy to-day. In the electorate I represent there are many young men who have ‘been unemployed for a considerable time. They come from all parts of the Commonwealth, and most ofthem are decent men who have been reared in good homes. They are the men upon whom we would largely depend for our defence in the event of war, and it is deplorable that they should be in their present plight. If they were regularly employed they would probably feel much more like exerting themselves in the defence of their country than they do now. Of course, owing to their unfortunate economic position, it is probable that, if war broke out, they would immediately volunteer for service because they would then be assured of shelter and regular meals.
I have here a leaflet issued by ‘the Society of Friends, in London, in which it is stated that the cost of a modern battleship is about £6,000,000, and then it goes on to enumerate all the things which might be done with that sum of money.
The list is as follows : -
If money were spent on homes that would meet our needs, on roads that would benefit primary producers and the community generally, on recreation grounds and other similar works, there would be something for our young men to fight for ; but when thousands of them are unable to obtain food and clothing, and are practically denied the right to live in the country of their birth, it is rather a stiff proposition to put up to them. The Government has confessed that it is impotent to do more than it has done. If what has been done is its best, God help it! I realize that Australia, notwithstanding its shortcomings, is probably in a better position, and offers greater opportunities, than any other country; but there is still ample scope for improvement. A little while ago, this Government issued a large amount of what I suppose we may assume is real money. The paper of which it consisted did not contain a promise to pay anything; but it was made legal tender merely by reason of the printing of a statement to that effect on its face, and the backing of an act of this Parliament. No harm would be done if a few more millions were similarly made available, so that the people of Australia would have a chance to obtain useful Work.
It is difficult to learn where defence and offence begin and end. Australia might be most effectively defended in another part of the world. The best interests of this country would be served if war were kept out of it, although its occurrence here might teach those who have not seen it what it is like. I have not witnessed it, and hope that I shall never do so. I hate its very name. But the world will continue to engage in it for a long time to come. One of the greatest difficulties of the human family, which is scattered throughout the world, is the lack of a common understanding, due to the absence of a common language in which to conduct negotiations. If the different units of the human family could understand one another, the world would be a better place. It is the lack of that understanding which very likely leads to conflict. At one time the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said that Australia would never again trade with Germany; yet trading relations between this and that country have been resumed. Bitterness was stirred up against the German race during the war for the sole purpose of inflaming the minds of the young people of Australia. Many thousands of the best citizens of Australia came here from Germany, and doubtless many more will do so in the future. The right honorable member said in Bundaberg, “ I crushed the metal ring.” He crushed nothing. He believed that he had crushed Germany, and said so. Yet it is now said that that nation, which a few years ago was supposedly down and out, is to-day a real menace to world peace. French statesmen argue that their great difficulty is the continuous arming of tho German people in readiness for another war. An honorable member has referred to what he termed shocking murders in Russia. Not a word is said about the shocking murders that have taken place under the Hitler regime in Germany. But, of course, from what we read, the Hitler regime is not* the same as the Soviet system; it is more in line with the views of honorable members opposite. So long as the present system continues, there will be wars.
– Which system?
– The system ‘under which we are living at the present time. The honorable member knows very well that I am referring to the system which inspires greed among the people - the capitalistic system. The British nation has been eulogized as having been a grea t influence for peace during the last 300 years. The right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) has said that the history of Great Britain shows that it has always been a great advocate for peace. I contend that it has been one of the most aggressive nations in the world, aud that it has taken possession of the territory of defenceless people.
– That is utter nonsense.
– The Minister considers that he is an unassailable authority in such matters. I should like to know what the Boer war was, if it were not a war of aggression for the crushing of a few people. The Zulu war was waged to crush an. almost defenceless people. Similarly, the object of the war in New Zealand was to crush the Maoris. The British nation is not peculiar in this respect; other nations have a similarly aggressive frame of mind. The Japanese are now giving indications that they possess it. It was not the people of Germany, but aggressive military advisers who desired the last war. It is the practice of these persons to 3tay at home, wave the flags, and toll the soldiers what jolly good fellows they are. Munitions manufacturers are consistent advocates of war. The right honorable member for North Sydney has visited two or three States urging the need for the defence of Australia, so that we may be ready for an eastern menace that might submerge us. All over the world the same sort of propaganda is at work, for the purpose of inflaming the minds of the people against some supposed danger. An. archduke, or a person of less importance, will be assassinated, and the result will be another world war. Having signed the Labour platform, which makes provision for the adequate defence of Australia, I cannot do otherwise than support these Estimates. Whether I believe that the proposed appropriation will provide for adequate defence is beside the question ; the purpose is to strengthen forces which will be called upon to defend Australia should the necessity to do so arise. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) has quoted the opinions held by certain members of the Labour party in the good old days, when he voted for that party. When he quoted the statement of the late Andrew Fisher in regard to the last man and the last shilling, I interjected that that gentleman would be the last of either. It was one of those stupid statements that any man might make at any time. He had no control over either the last man or the last shilling.
– What was said about that great labour leader before then ?
– He was starved out of Gympie, where he tried to earn his livelihood. He became great only when he said something which could be used as a whip on others who did not agree with the sentiment that he expressed. I agree that people are entitled to change their ideas. Evidently the honorable member for Denison has changed his, because he is not to-day supporting the Labour party, for which he said he voted on one occasion.
– For obvious reasons, I am not.
– Like many of his friends, the honorable member would support the good old Labour party, but not the Labour party of to-day. I supported the good old Labour party and I support the Labour party of to-day, which is no different. Those who believe otherwise have left the party. Its platform, which is drawn up by representatives of organized labour throughout the Commonwealth, provides for the maintenance of the adequate defence of the Commonwealth. It is therefore a question of voting for the Defence Estimates, or of saying that we are not prepared to defend Australia. “Whether or not we agree with what the Government is doing, either wholly or in part, is beside the question; the fact. remains that the purpose of the vote is the defence of Australia.
Recently, I visited the Maribyrnong works, where I was shown by one of the managers a work that it was proposed to undertake so that combustibles might be stored with, greater safety. That money will be wisely spent, because not only will a certain amount of employment be provided, but also the lives of the men in the workshops will be safeguarded and the possibility of the city and its environs being shaken by a bad explosion will be removed. It is rather a pity that we cannot visualize a world in which every one was animated by the sentiments so admirably expressed in the leaflet from which I read a little while ago. It is remarkable that, generally speaking, the Christian element throughout the world, upon the outbreak of war, range themselves alongside those who manipulate the big guns. It is to be regretted that there is not more active propaganda in the direction of real peace. Certain persons will not on any account take action for the defence of a country in circumstances which mean tho destruction of human life. Some of them have suffered incarceration in prisons because they have held those ideas. I consider that they are entitled to hold them. If many thousands of persons were of the same mind, we should be a better people. Whether the League of Nations has accomplished its purpose is beside the question. I believe that, in the main, it is honestly striving to bring about a better understanding between the nations, and that, whatever its shortcomings may be, the continuance of its operations will prove beneficial. If we cannot ensure the cessation pf hostilities, and bring about a better understanding among the members of the human family, by roundtable conferences of the different nations, we are in for a very bad time in the future. I believe that more can be achieved by reasoning round a table than by killing off hundreds of thousands of the cream of the manhood of every nation. I regret exceedingly that it is necessary to pass these Estimates, but having signed the Labour platform and assisted on certain occasions to draw it up, I can see no reason why I should record my vote against them.
– I propose to reply briefly to some of the criticism of the Government’s proposals for the adequate defence of Australia. In the first place, I would point out that the Australian defence force is a nucleus force. It would be beyond the financial resources of the Commonwealth adequately to defend the whole of Australia, with its many trade routes, its long coastline, and its small population. Our nucleus force is a part of the defence organization of the Empire. In the policy tha>t is being followed, we are guided by experts who are in charge of the various arms of the service. Our policy is to dovetail into a plan of defence embracing the whole of the Empire^ In the main, we are limited to the extent of our financial resources.
The position in which the Empire i? placed to-day is due principally to ti part that Great Britain has played ia connexion with disarmament’. Ever since the termination of the last war, Great Britain, year after year, has steadily reduced its forces, as an invitation to the rest of the world to follow its excellent example. To-day, its defences are below the safety level. Much of the time’ of the British Cabinet as a whole, and of the leaders of it individually, has been devoted to efforts, on the continent of Europe and elsewhere, to effect a general disarmament. Within recent years, no country has done more towards this end than the British Empire. In these efforts, Australia has nobly played its part. The results of the League of Nations and the disarmament conferences have been disappointing. Unfortunately, the rest of the world does not see eye to eye with the British Empire in its efforts to bring about disarmament. It is therefore vitally imperative that we should play our part in ‘building up a defence force and a navy within the limits of the Washington Conference and the London Pact, so as to ensure -the adequate “defence of the Empire. We are still striving towards disarmament, and I confidently expect that before long the need for universal disarmament will be appreciated by the world as a whole; but until that day arrives our sacred obligation as a Government is to do all within our power to provide for the adequate defence of Australia. To that end we are first taking steps to ensure a highly trained and efficient staff; we are sending overseas some of the most promising of our officers to attend various British schools of training in order to acquire the latest knowledge in regard to defence in all its phases, and the use of the most modern equipment so that on their return to Australia we may reap the benefit of their experience; we are endeavouring to provide in Australia an ample supply of arms and munitions. Secondly, we are endeavouring to give every young Australian who joins the defence forces an opportunity to be trained in the use of arms and munitions under the guidance of an expert staff. The Australian Navy must be considered as part of the Empire naval defence under the provisions of the Washington Conference. We are keeping in commission the cruisers Canberra and Australia, and the survey vessel Moresby is operating in the northern waters of Australia with a view to the pre paration of charts of those waters. The flotilla leader Stuart, and the destroyers Voyager, Vampire, Vendetta, and Waterhen are now on their way to Australia. In addition, the Government hopes at an early date to place an order for a sloop. Our army to-day is far from satisfactory, and we are hoping to improve it. I agree with the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) that there has been some falling off in the interest in military training, but this has been due largely to the absence of sufficient funds, and that, of course, must inevitably cause lack of interest and stagnation. In addition, following the suspension of the compulsory provisions of the Defence Act in 1929, camp training which is intensive and continuous, and for that reason far more valuable than home training, was discontinued. There has also been a curtailment of the instruction to the permanent staff. For a period the staff officers and instructors were rationed in their employment, and this undoubtedly adversely affected the efficiency of the forces.
The present Government has taken steps to make improvements necessary to our defences. This ‘year an additional sum of over £1,500,000 has been provided for defence purposes. The Government reintroduced camp training during 1932-33, and provision has been made this year for the continuance of six days camp training in addition to six days home training. It is beyond question that the camp training will increase the interest in, and the efficiency of, the forces. The Government realizes the adverse effect on the military forces of the restriction of the instruction of the permanent personnel who are the instructors for the militia units, and special provision is being made for “ refresher “ courses so as to bring the instruction of staff up to date, and to give added interest to the training. When compulsory training was suspended, it was decided that one means of assisting to maintain interest in the forces was to provide a more suitable and attractive uniform. However, owing to the financial position, the equipment of the forces was delayed. The sum of £45,000 has now been included in the Estimates for 1933-34, and this will enable the supply of new pattern uniforms to be completed.
The delay in the supply, which was due to financial stringency, caused much dissatisfaction among the trainees, and had an adverse effect on recruiting. It is anticipated that with the complete issue of new uniforms a considerable improvement will take place in the number of enlistments. Military training of infantry has been resumed at the following country centres: - Queensland: Warwick; New South Wales: Bathurst, Orange, Wagga and Gosford; Victoria: Bacchus Marsh. Camperdown and Pakenham; Western Australia : Northam and Bunbury. Approval has also been given for resumption of training as from the 1st January, 1934, in the following centres in New South Wales : - Armidale, Tamworth. Gunnedah and Quirindi. Schools of instruction for the permanent forces are also being held, such as school of artillery, small arms school, administrative course, engineer and signals schools. The courses conducted by militia formations include week-end courses and bivouacs. It is hoped that these courses will bring about a definite revival of interest in military training. Many of the complaints that have been made by honorable members are to some extent justified, but it is hoped that in the near future, when the system of voluntary training has had a fair trial, those complaints will disappear.
I feel certain that the overwhelming majority of the right-thinking people in Australia would not subscribe to the views of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward).
The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) made some reference to the establishment of air services in Australia, and be made a strong plea for the provision of an air service from Bourke, through Wilcannia, to Broken Hill, Mildura and Adelaide. It was suggested that this service would expedite delivery of overseas mail to South Australia and Victoria, but the Government considers that such a service would not expedite the service to Melbourne or to any appreciable portion of Victoria. It is agreed that a service between Bourke and Broken Hill would hasten delivery of overseas mail, and the inter-departmental committee which in- vestigated these matters on behalf of the Government suggested this service foi future consideration. The Government has gone as far as it can in submitting the present scheme, but the suggested service can be given further consideration when the present plans are given effect. The honorable member also contended that the Government should provide emergency landing grounds along the route from Charleville via Bourke, to Cootamundra. That has already been done, and properly marked grounds exist through sections where the terrain is not suitable for emergency landings. The honorable member also asked the Government to assist the Inland Mission, the flying doctor scheme in the far west of New South Wales, and the people outback generally. I am an enthusiastic supporter of these services on account of the good work that they are performing. They are essential to the outback people, and I am sure that as finances permit the granting of further assistance will be considered. Provision has already been made in the votes of another department for the aerial medical service. At the present time a request for assistance for the outback children’s scheme has been lodged under the special grant of £3.000 for additional assistance to civil aviation. This application, with others, will be considered by the Minister in the near future, and the representations of honorable members will be taken into consideration.
The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Jennings) and other honorable members have made special reference to the provision in the Estimates for rifle clubs. I am pleased to say that this year the Government has been able to increase the vote by £5,000. In addition to the expenditure provided for under this vote a total of 9,500,000 rounds of .303-in. ammunition will be provided for free issue to efficient a.nd new members of clubs, and also for purchase by associations, unions, and clubs at reduced rates. In this connexion it might be explained that the free issues are - 100 rounds for each new member, and 200 rounds for each efficient member. Additional quantities required are obtainable at the rate of £2 10s. a thousand rounds. Grants to rifle clubs for the construction, reconstruction and repairs to rifle club ranges, made on the recommendation of the Inspector of Rifle Ranges, amount to £4,570. Efficiency grants amounting to £8,200 are being made to each club at the rate of 5s. for each efficient civil member, 3s. for each efficient militia member using a rifle club range or a military range where no staff is employed, 2s. 6d. for each efficient civil member, and ls. 6d. for each efficient militia member using a military range where staff is employed. The honorable member for South Sydney also inquired as to cost of new rifles. New rifles are obtainable at £4 15s. each, payable at the rate of £1 a year for four years, with a final payment of 15s. The final payment is waived if the purchaser is recorded as efficient for the four years. Rifle barrels can be obtained at a cost of 30s. each.
The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) referred to the utilization of oil from coal. The Government is at present acting in co-operation with the British Government, and the results of the experiments in Great Britain are being made available to the Commonwealth. For years past 25 per cent, of the aircraft fuel used for the Royal Australian Air Force has been produced from Australian coal. This fuel is benzol, which is obtained as a by-product in the production of metallurgical coke by high temperature carbonization. That fact is not generally known, but it clearly shows that the defence forces are paying every attention to the Australian requirements of oil from coal.
The right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) referred to the necessity for Australia to frame its foreign policy with the object of fostering friendship abroad. That is the policy of the Government, and it is being pursued most assiduously. “We have made definite progress in that direction by entering into reciprocal trade agreements, and it is highly probable that, as the result of the efforts of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White), further agreements will be made. In addition, the Government is making special efforts to revive trade and to maintain goodwill in the East. It is anti cipated that at an early date trade commissioners will be appointed at important centres in the East, to develop Australian trade and promote goodwill towards Australia among the people there.
I am pleased that this debate has shown a growing feeling of appreciation of the Defence Force and its officers, and a desire to restore the force to its previous strength. This debate will, I am certain, encourage those officers and men who are entrusted with the development of our defences.
– The employees at the Port Melbourne and Williamstown Naval Depots have asked me to place before the Assistant Minister for Defence a request that the members of the naval reserve be supplied with greatcoats similar to those supplied o members of the permanent forces. These men have to travel long distances in open country, and should have thi3 means of protection.
I emphasize the desirability of providing suitable landing grounds for aeroplanes at country centres. Some days ago Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Lord Apsley visited Shepparton, Victoria, but before they could land, the townspeople had to make hurried arrangements to prepare the landing ground for the aeroplanes. I believe in spending as much of the defence vote’ as possible in machinery and appliances which could be devoted to the manufacture of useful articles in peace, but be capable of conversion to the manufacture of ammunition and other requirements of the defence forces in war. Civil aviation should be encouraged and developed. I suggest that the Minister get in touch with the Shire Councils and other State authorities with a view to the preparation of suitable landing grounds throughout the Commonwealth.
.- The desirability of moving the Victoria Military Barracks, Sydney, has been urged on many occasions. Since this matter was last brought forward in this chamber, the New South Wales Parliament has unanimously passed a motion requesting the Federal Government to remove the barracks which are -situated in a densely populated suburb of Sydney on a site most suitable for homes for men employed on the water front.
On the total area of the municipality of Paddington, 30 acres are taken up by the Victoria Barracks, and 70 acres by parks, hospitals, schools and church lands. The Defence Department has a number of other suitable areas to which the barracks could be removed, and I therefore hope that the Government will accede to the request of the State Parliament. From time to time the military authorities have advanced various reasons for not removing the barracks, but they have never mentioned what, in my opinion, is the principal reason for retaining them in the present location - their suitable strategic position in the event of civil disorder. Other properties held by the Defence Department to which the barracks could be transferred comprise the following: -
The Minister will agree that the buildings at the Victoria Barracks are unsuitable for military purposes. They are used mainly for afternoon teas and garden parties at which the “ brass hats “ entertain the elite of Sydney. They could do that just as well at one of their fashionable clubs in the city.
If money is to be expended under the Defence Department vote, the workers in the naval and military establishments should, at least, be paid a decent wage. The right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) and other honorable members pleaded for the professional soldier and those in the higher strata of the defence forces, but they did not say one word on behalf of the lower paid men of the services. / Some of the employees at Garden Island, who are supposed to be operating under a State award, also complain of being treated unjustly by the department. Here is an extract from a communication written to me from Mr. R. T. Reeves, who is secretary of the Painters Union -
There is only one award covering the industry, and that is a State award. The .rate of wages payable under that award in shipping work is 2s. 5d. per hour, which, totals £5 6s. 8d. per week. prior to 1st October, 1931, the award rate of £5 19s. 2d. was being paid, but on that date the rate was reduced by 20 per cent. Since then it was reduced 4s. 6d. on the 5th October, 1932, Hd. on 1st November, 1932, and lid. on 1st February, 1933.
I hope that the Assistant Minister will look into this matter and give me a reply, which, following upon previous representations, he has so far neglected to do. Another letter which I have received from one of the workers throws a similar light on the question. This man states -
When the Financial Emergency Act came into operation during the regime of the last Government, we, in addition to the cost of living cuts, suffered an additional 10 per cent, cut. We were to suffer no more cost of living cuts until the 10 per cent, was covered by the cost of living cuts. When this present Government came into power, they decided to give us the cost of Hying cuts again, and the first one they gave us was 4s. 6d. per week. The pay of our iron-workers assistants in 1930 was £5 6s. - it is now £3 12s. 6d., a drop of 32 per cent. The pay of members of Parliament dropped 25 per cent., and yet they receive a partial restoration. Quite correct, but we think it only fair that the worker receiving a 32 per cent, cut is also entitled to some restoration. That is our main point which we hope, you will stress. How can your opponents in the House explain why they think that one suffering a 25 per cent, cut should have some restoration, and one suffering a 32 per cent, cut should have none?
I have also received a complaint concerning another matter from a man who has now retired from the Navy after completing 22 years’ service. He was transferred to H.M.A.S. Penguin to enable him to seek civil employment. On the 3rd March he was offered a position in the Commonwealth Bank, Sydney, to start on 5th March. As his time of service did not expire until three weeks later he applied for three weeks leave without pay. This was rejected by Commander Rhodes, who was also captain in charge of New South Wales, so that any appeal would have had to be forwarded to the same person. As the result this man lost the offer of a position at the Commonwealth Bank. This treatment of lowerpaid men by brass hats in both the Army and the Navy is responsible for the” great discontent that has been noticeable from time to time, and which manifested itself in the Navy last year.
Before I conclude my remarks, I wish to correct some of the misstatements that have been made during this discussion by honorable members who, because of their position, ought to know a great deal better. No country has been more maligned by a section of our press and by certain honorable members than the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. I do not intend to base my opinions on any report emanating from a Labour source, but shall rely on the words of Lord Marley, who, after having visited Russia, spoke in the House of Lords on the 22nd June, 1932, as follows : -
We all know that in your Lordships’ House the subject of Russia is one which destroys the balance of thought among many noble lords. Yet it is a fact that while you have unemployment amounting in this country to nearly 3,000,000, in France to 3,000,000, in Germany to 6,000,000, and in the United States to 12,000,000, or 13,000,000, in Russia to-day there is no unemployment, and Russia is a country with growing wealth, whose people are looking forward year by year to the gradual increase in the standard of life which they ure actually receiving, and who have a constructive plan giving hope and belief to millions - a hope and belief which is completely absent from the minds of the masses of the workers of Great Britain and other countries to-day.
I had in view the comparison between the two countries, and” I had the remembrance that, whereas the standard of life in this countryhas been far higher than in Russia, and is falling, the standard of living in Russia has been far lower and is rising.
– I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the vote before the Chair.
Mr.WARD. - Honorable members opposite have been allowed to point out that one of the reasons why Australia should arm to the teeth is that it is threatened by what has been termed “ the red menace “. I am demonstrating, through the words of Lord Marley, that the only desire of Russia is to develop its own economic structure, and that it has no dreams of world domination. I think that I am entitled to do so. Lord Marley continued -
I would remind the lords that in this country we have a movement for an increase in the hours of work, despite the fact that there are millions and millions of unemployed, while in Russia the hours of work are being reduced, and now stand at an average of seven hours per day.
The aim of the Soviet was not, and never has been, world dominance. Its aim was to overthrow the landed aristocracy and capitalists, and to establish a classless society in Russia. The Russian statesmen would naturally prefer to see socialism established in other countries, just as conservatives prefer conservative administrations abroad, but eo far from aiming at world dominance, one of the first demands of the Soviets when they rose to power was the self determination of all countries great or small, a policy which they followed systematically with regard to the former constituents of the Tzarist Empire.
There are other quotations from which I could read, including a speech by Lord Passfield, another member of the House of Lords, but I shall be content to let it go at that.
Reference has been made to the alleged endeavour of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) to ridicule the efforts of the League of Nations to maintain world peace. From the latest figures that are available I find that the cost of the League of Nations to Australia alone has been over £500,000, which sum has been expended to send Cabinet Ministers and members of Parliament on what my party characterizes as pleasure jaunts. A committee was appointed by the League of Nations to inquire into the operations of the armament firms of the world, and the following are some of its findings : -
The armament firms and their working were inquired into by a committee of the League of Nations at Geneva. This is what they found : “ That armament firms have -
1 ) been active in fomenting war scares and in persuading their own countries to adopt warlike policies;
attempted to bribe government officials, both at home and abroad;
disseminated false reports concerning the military and naval programmes of various countries in order to stimulate armament expenditure;
sought to influence public opinion through the control of newspapers in their own and foreign countries;
organized international armament rings through which the armament race has been accentuated by playing off one country against another ;
organized international armament trusts, by which they have increased the price of armaments to governments.
These findings were made by the League of Nations Committee. They were published to the world. There are over fifty prominent armament firms. And not one of them has dared to challenge any one of those accusations.
Arms manufacturers constitute a great international ring, “ a baud of brothers,” for a big gun ordered from Vickers-Armstrong’s begets another order for a bigger to outdo it from Skoda or Schneider Creusot. The Vickers-Armstrong’s combine has linked up Vickers, Maxim, Armstrong, Whitworth’sBeardmores, two factories at Genoa, one at Naples, the Hispano works at Ferrol, in Spain, and the Muroan factory in Japan.
These statements show that armament firms know no patriotism, no flag, and no international barriers. A similar remark applies to those who have spoken here to-night as professional soldiers. Many instances could be cited of men who have made military and naval pursuits their profession, and who have been prepared to sell their services to the highest bidder. If the Government of Australia were not prepared to offer them highly-paid positions, they would just as readily sell their services to another country. In all these matters their first consideration is profit or individual gain, and their last consideration patriotism or love of country. The men who display the true spirit of patriotism are those who are desirous of elevating the standard of living in this country, so that we may be justly proud to be citizens of it. It is idle for some honorable members to talk about the adequate defence of Australia and about protecting the freedom of the press and of other institutions, as did the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom). His remarks reminded me of the statement made by Mr. Bennett, the Prime Minister of Canada, who, at the opening of the recent Ottawa Conference, said -
They must safeguard their established standards of living and be active to defend the free institutions of the .Empire when they found them menaced by organized economic hostility operating through Statecontrolled standards of living, Statecontrolled labour and State-aided dumping dictated by high State policy.
At the same time that he was delivering this warning to the assembled delegates, there was actually a Russian tanker in Canadian waters waiting to land her cargo of oil in exchange for aluminium ware manufactured in the dominion. A contract had already been entered into, proving conclusively that these hypocritical statements are intended only for outside consumption, and are meant to convey the impression that their authors are intent upon preserving the alleged freedom of the. public in their own country. I heard the Assistant Minister (Mr. Francis) say that, since the termination of the Great War, Britain had progressively reduced her armaments and the personnel of her navy. That may be perfectly true, but it is no indication that Britain is more peace-loving now than she ever was. It is only proof that her finances were so burdened as the result of the last war that she could afford no further expenditure on armaments. That was the only reason why her armaments were reduced. The reason why further armaments are being suggested to-day is because her financial position has vastly improved, because she has a surplus which must be disposed of, and because in the disposal of that surplus, the arms manufacturers have to be considered. Similarly, the only consideration taken into account when the Commonwealth Government reduced its expenditure on armaments was that the financial position of the country did not permit any further expenditure. Then the Government set out upon a plan to reduce the standards of living of the people, and that plan has now reached the stage when the Government claims that it has a surplus. So the mad race of armaments has begun again. If every member of the Ministry is sincere in his desire to provide an adequate defence for this country, his first consideration should be for the men who fought in ‘ the last war. To-day, these men, as we shall see when we come to deal with the Estimates for the Repatriation Department, are being denied an opportunity to secure the bare necessities of life. Our unemployed have nothing to defend except their dole tickets, and no nation would declare war on Australia merely because it hoped to take those dole tickets from them. The only incentive to war is the hope of gaining additional trade rights. Knowing that, I am not prepared to assist the Government to increase the expenditure upon defence. I am not prepared to allow one man to leave Australia to participate in a war from which he cannot gain anything of value. The asylums of this country are still filled with men who went mad during the war, and with men who have gone mad since as the result of their continuous search for employment which they have been unable to obtain. By perusing the Estimates, honorable members will see that the Government has, from time to time, provided increased accommodation for returned soldiers in our mental asylums. As a matter of fact, that has recently been done’ at Callan Park, Sydney. Whilst we have bef ore us the devastating effects of war, and the price which our people are called upon to pay for it, the Labour party is not prepared to lend its assistance to those who are urging war preparation which can only result in the further destruction of human life. Rather is it prepared to assist the Government to spend the increased amount proposed to be expended on defence, in providing employment for the benefit of mankind and not for its destruction.
.- I rise to deal with one or two points which have been mentioned in the course of this debate. The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) has referred to the fact that on previous occasions he has heard me express a certain opinion about the League of Nations. As a matter of fact, I have not expressed any opinion, other than that so far as the League is concerned, it has failed to give effect to its prime duty. I might cite instances of the inability of the League from time to time, to preserve the peace even among the smaller nations. The honorable member for Darling Downs has always been a very strong supporter of the League, and is, of course, entitled to his opinion. But it seems rather peculiar that year after year he can endorse the expenditure of something like £60,000 upon this body, which, up to date, has proved itself utterly unable to carry out its job, while at the same time, voting for an increase in the expenditure upon armaments in Australia. To-night he read an opinion by General Smuts as to the dreadful condition that will be brought about by the next war. He pointed to the dread menace of the competition in armaments, and attempted to justify Australia in increasing her expenditure on armaments to the extent of £1,500,000 as compared with her ex- penditure last year, thereby assisting to bring about a competition in armaments and future calamity.
The right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) has attacked me because I had a good word to say for the Russian people. May I remind him that I expressed no opinion either as to their goodness or badness. What I did say was, and what I challenge contradiction on is, that at every international meeting of statesmen where the question of disarmament has been in the forefront, Russia has always offered to take the lead with other large nations, not in the direction of partial disarmament, but of total disarmament. There does not appear to be any real reason why the nations of the world, if they are genuinely desirous of disarmament, should not follow the lead set by Russia. The honorable member for Darling Downs said that Australia mUSt bring its defences to a standard which will be compatible with national safety and international obligations. That is precisely what the statesmen of the world were all saying prior to the war in 1914, and we know what it led to.
The right honorable member for Cowper rose, I believe, chiefly for the purpose of misrepresenting what I said regarding Russia, and also to put in a word for the surplus doctors being turned out by the universities - men who have no career before them unless they can be absorbed in the army.
The Assistant Minister for Defence (Mr. Francis) tried to brush aside what I said regarding the destroyers which are being sent out to Australia ; but, though I did not get my information from departmental heads, it is probably just as reliable as his own. The Assistant Minister sought to evade the real issue, and there seems to be a callous disregard, either by the Minister or by the officers who advise him, .regarding the safety of the men who are to man these vessels.
– I gave the honorable member a full reply.
– The Assistant Minister deliberately evaded my question, and, even though I made the inquiry a second time, I did not get the information I sought. The following statement appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald for the 12th October : -
The naval correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph says that the real reason why thu deet exercises were cancelled was that nearly all the destroyers were fifteen or sixteen years old, and none too robust. It was feared that driving them into heavy seas at speeds of even 25 knots might have entailed costly damage to these old crocks.
I asked the Minister’ whether the destroyers being brought to Australia were’ of the type referred to in the newspaper message. I made the inquiry on two occasions, and the Minister deliberately side-stepped the question. However, when I asked him how old were the destroyers which are coming to Australia, I found that, they were built in exactly the same year as the old crocks that could not put to sea to take part in the British naval manoeuvres. They are between fifteen and sixteen years old, and have long been obsolete, though the Minister says that we may get five years’ useful work out of them in Australian waters. It is going to cost £1,000,000 for the upkeep of these vessels, which are, in reality, no more than useless hulks. If the Minister disputes what I say, lethim make inquiries, and he will establish its truth.
I make bold to say that the Government has been forced, by outside influences, into additional expenditure on defence. During the last few months there has been a deliberate attempt, especially in Sydney, to arouse some enthusiasm for military and naval preparedness. Certain Empire associations, with their head-quarters in Sydney, have been prominent in this attempt, which is led by Sir Hugh Denison, a newspaper proprietor, probably actuated by a desire to provide an interesting feature for his newspapers. This gentlemen is supported by another who was recently restored to the ranks of solicitors without any stain on his character. To give the movement a political colour, it was found necessary to obtain a parliamentary spokesman, and the choice fell upon an ex-statesman whose star has been for some time waning. I have no doubt ‘that he eagerly seized the opportunity to brine; himself once more before the public, and, if possible, to restore his prestige. A good deal of money was spent, and attempts were made to work up huge public rallies, though not always with conspicuous success. In Melbourne the results were particularly unfortunate. As the result of this combined effort by a newspaper magnate, certain Empire organizations, and a political star already on the wane, the Government became so scared that the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) took a most unusual course of action. If any member of this House, even a member of the Government party, had sought information regarding the Government’s defence proposals, he would have been politely told that it was not usual for the Government to disclose its policy in answer to questions. Members of Parliament are generally kept in the dark regarding such matters until the Government makes its pronouncements in the House. On this occasion, however, a fortnight before the meeting of Parliament, and even before the Government’s own supporters had been taken into its confidence, Senator Pearce went out of his way to attend a function at the Millions Club, in Sydney, and there he announced the defence policy of the Government. Probably he was afraid that his position as Minister for Defence was being undermined by the propagandists, and he thought, it necessary to assert himself. At any rate, the propaganda was successful, and now the Government has sought to justify this expenditure by hinting at the possibility of an invasion. The party to which I belong stands for the adequate defence of Australia, and it is always prepared to state what, in its opinion, constitutes adequate defence.
– I should like the Minister to explain the system by which appointments of cadets to the Military Training College are made, and the way in which applications are dealt with for the admission of cadets to the Air Force. Information at my disposal suggests that, unless the applicants for cadetship at the Military College have exceptional social standing, or are closely associated with officers of the department, they have little chance of selection.
– Merit and suitability for appointment are the only considerations.
– I am informed that some of the lads selected have physical disabilities, but being sons or near relatives of men holding high positions in the service, are still retained in the college. I hope that the Minister will explain why this unfair practice has, apparently, been adopted. Applications are now being called for cadets for the Air Force, and owing to the general depression, no doubt a large number of applications will be received. I should like to be informed as to how the selection will be made.
During the present discussion, comment lias been made concerning the attitude of the Minister for Defence in the Scullin Government (Mr. A. Green) to certain training establishments. The information which I have before me justifies the action of the Scullin Government in checking the extravagance of the Defence Department. The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) was informed in this chamber, some time ago, that 51 scholars at the Jervis Bay Naval College cost £1,322 per annum for each scholar, and that £871,976 had been expended in producing 208 scholars who had graduated through the college. Each of these scholars cost £4,192. The Military Department was nearly as extravagant, lt cost £52,75S to educate 69 scholars for one year, each scholar involving the expenditure of £764. The total cost by the time the question by the honorable member for Melbourne was asked, was £1,021,508 to pass 355 graduated scholars, the expenditure for each scholar being £2,S77. Those who have visited Jervis Bay will agree that every convenience was provided there for both the instructors and the scholars, and that the institution generally Avas conducted on very costly, if not extravagant, lines. I consider that the action in that matter taken by the Scullin Government was justified, and me* with the approval of the people generally.
The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) referred to the destroyers which are a gift from Great Britain, and arc now on their way to Australia. History seems to be repeating itself. Not many years ago a government of the same political colour as that of the present Ministry brought from Great Britain five or seven submarines of the “ J “ class. I was then employed by the Defence Department as an electrical fitter, and I worked on those submarines. They were absolutely obsolete before they left Great Britain, and over £70,000 was spent in reconstructing submarine J.7, whilst large sums have been spent on the other vessels. After all the work had been , done, and the usual trials had been made, these vessels were sent to Geelong. They were practically laid on the mudbanks there, and were never of any value to the community. Finally’, they were sold for scrap. The public is entitled to know why a policy of this kind is adopted. What is the object of bringing vessels to Australia when they are sixteen years old? Probably the Australia, which was sunk a few years ago, would not have been of a much greater age than sixteen years if it had been kept in commission. The only consolation about this amazing practice is that it has provided employment for Australians ; but the money could be spent to better purpose, for it is practically thrown away. The honorable member for Dalley remarked’ that these destroyers were unfitted for the ordinary manoeuvres of the British Navy, yet the Government has accepted them. No doubt it will be necessary to refit the vessels immediately they reach these shores, and work . will thus be provided for a few dockyard men, though I am sure these men would rather have their energies directed to employment for which the community would receive some value a.nd return.
It looks as though those who have spoken on these Estimates from the other side of the chamber are preparing for another war. One would hardly think that, so soon after the last conflict, any person would have the temerity to advocate another war. The usual practice is to allow, a sufficient time to elapse for the memory to grow dim and the wastage to become non-apparent. But, .strange though it seems, influential persons in the financial world are issuing propaganda that has for its purpose the embroiling of different countries in a worse struggle than that through which we last passed. One pleasing feature that has been brought out by this debate is the attitude of many prominent . church dignitaries towards the question. I was intensely gratified when I read the drastic resolutions that a recent Anglican conference in Sydney passed, against the war-mongering that has been indulged in and the jingoistic speeches that have been delivered in Australia. Those resolutions indicate that these gentlemen are prepared to adopt a very definite attitude, and that they will cultivate in their congregations a line of thought that will lead to the brushing aside by the people of statesmen who are not able to settle these problems in the way in which at the termination of the last war they promised they would be settled. A gentleman in Great Britain said last week that he would advocate the taking of the front line trenches by those persons, particularly politicians, who are so fond of talking about war, because such an experience would probably give them a different outlook on the matter. The best way’ to test their sincerity would be to place them in that position. These are encouraging signs, indicating as they do that there is not the measure of hypocrisy about this subject that I . thought existed. While the last war was in progress, the* people were encouraged to believe that it was a war to end all wars ; that, the struggle having been brought to a successful conclusion, the world would settle down and differences would be adjusted by peaceful methods. The men who were responsible for that statement were either hyprocrites or absolutely incapable of discharging the duties entrusted to them. I cannot believe that they were incapable, because they possessed a fairly high degree of intelligence, and sufficient knowledge to understand the meaning of their language. If they are prepared to countenance another war, they have more “ hide “ than I thought they possessed. The women folk, particularly those whose sons and husbands would be . embroiled in such a struggle, I am certain, regard with disgust those who are talking about war to-day. They have, perhaps, suffered the most, and from- conversations that I have had, I know that they are in fear and trembling. If an attempt is made to rush Australia into a struggle similar tQ that from which it has just emerged, I am confident that their voice will be strongly heard.
I had the privilege of visiting the Continent ; some years after the termination of the last conflict, and on one occasion was conducted through Krupp’s works in Essen, where I discussed the war with a man who was associated with the establishment. I naturally remarked upon the strangeness of their having missed air raids and similar misfortunes, and the reply that I received was “ They came close to our locality, but never reached the point of causing us any trouble “. Honorable members will recollect that, following the war, strong references were made in regard to British interests in these enemy works. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has read an enlightening report’ of a special committee of the League of Nations,’ which recorded in strong language its condemnation of armament firms, and the influence that they are able to wield in quarters where wars are begun. From the experience that I gained from mixing with representatives of other countries as the representative of the Australian workers at the International Labour Office, I am perfectly satisfied that, if there were a little more straightforward discussion, if secret diplomacy were unmasked, and if men would speak their minds freely, greater progress would be made in the cause of peace and humanity. The horrors and miseries of the last struggle must be sufficiently vivid in the minds of all honorable members, irrespective of whatever military associations some may have, to induce them to make every effort to secure the adoption of peaceful methods for the settlement of international differences. .
– We cannot settle even our political differences without war.
– That may happen in some circumstances. But if the honorable member, who is blind, needed a hand to guide him across this chamber or elsewhere, that assistance would be forthcoming as an act of humanity, despite our political differences. Our disagreements in regard to policy may be fundamental, but we have the right to apply what we think will have the most beneficial results. We are sincere in our beliefs, and shall continue to struggle in the hope that there will be some reward for the sufferings of the past, and that we shall prevent Australia from being led into a worse conflict than that through which it has only recently passed.
. - I associate myself with the protest tbat has been made against additional provision for the defence of Australia. I daresay that every honorable member has received a communication on this subject from the Society of Friends. The first point that it makes is “ War contravenes the spirit of Christianity”. Is there a member of the committee who does not believe that that is so? Yet, for two days and nights, we have debated provision for arming ourselves to the teeth for the purpose of killing people.
– For the purpose of avoiding war.
– That is an old story.
– It is a true one.
– The next point made is “ Armaments tend to breed suspicion and fear “. That is true. Although government supporters claim to be stalwart champions of private enterprise, which they would have us believe can do everything so much better than a government can, I have heard no one suggesting that in war time we should hand ‘ over our defence forces to Sir Samuel Hordern or any other captain of industry. No; they agree that, however good private enterprise may be in control of industrial activities, it must not be entrusted with the armies and the navy of the nation during a war. No one had said that the Government is not capable of controlling the defence forces of this country, yet when we suggest that it should control other activities for the nation, we are told that such a course would lead to disaster. The third reason advanced by the Society of Friends against proposals’ for increases of armaments is -
War is probably the greatest potential enemy of mankind, and unchecked competition in arms leads to war.
Yet the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) declares that we must arm ourselves to the teeth in order, as he says, to prevent war! I have had something to do with the training of dogs, and I know how they strain at the leash when they are in fit condition. My fear is that if we follow the advice of the militarist members of this Parliament, and arm and train our men till they become expert in the use of the bayonet on bags of straw, which are used as dummies for the enemy, they will eventually become imbued with the spirit of war, and be eager to stick their bayonets in potential enemies.
– They will knowhow to defend themselves when attacked.
– Who is likely to attack them? What nation do we fear? I well remember seeing before the war a placard over the business premises of Mr. R. B. Orchard, a former member for Nepean, urging Australia to beware of Japan. When war broke out, and when Japan was our ally, Mr. Orchard was ordered to remove that placard, because it would have given offence to a friendly power. We all remember the boycott of German goods during the war, and recall also the exaggerated reports that appeared in the capitalist press of German soldiers marching through Belgium on their way to Paris, murdering the Belgian people and carrying Belgian babies on their bayonet points. Then there were the gruesome and circumstantial reports of the manner in which the Germans were treating their enemy dead. Instead of burying them decently, they were, so it was reported, boiling down the bodies for their fat contents ! All these reports of German atrocities, we discovered later, to be a tissue of lies, but they served their purpose. During the conscription campaign in Australia the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) - he was then a member of the Tasmanian Parliament - came over to speak at a great anticonscription rally in the Sydney Town Hall. His hair was not then bleached by the snows of time. I well remember his appeal to the people of New South Wales not to vote for conscription. If now the right honorable gentleman surveys the ministerial benches lie will find others who in that day were against conscription, including the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton).
Now they all approve of the principle. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr Hughes), the war-time Prime Minister of Australia, after conducting a vigorous campaign in New South Wales, turned his attention to Queensland, declaringthat he would carry the banner of conscription through the electorates of Brisbane, Capricornia, and Kennedy. Accordingly he set out on his mission, and held a meeting at Warwick, where, in an impassioned address, he declared his intention to persuade the people of Queensland to vote for conscription, so that those who were hiding behind women’s skirts would be flung into the front-line trenches. At that stage in his speech, the right honorable gentleman was hit in the face with an egg. He called for the arrest of the egg-thrower, but the authorities never got Paddy Brosnan. For some time after that incident, the right honorable gentleman was known as the “ Earl of Warwick “. After Warwick he proceeded to Brisbane.
– The honorable member must connect his remarks with the Estimates.
– Since we are discussing the Defence vote for the current financial year, I contend that my remarks are relevant. The Prime Minister, as I said, proceeded to Brisbane and put the conscription issue before the people there. So strong was feeling running there that the capitalistic newspapers in Brisbane refused to publish the speeches of those who were opposed to conscription. Mr. Ryan, the then Premier of Queensland, was, therefore, obliged to put the case against conscription in a speech in the Queensland Parliament, and, to ensure its circulation, he had a copy of Hansard posted to every person in that State.
– Order ! The honorable member’s remarks are quite irrelevant to the question before the Chair.
– The right honorable member for North Sydney spoke for over an hour on war. I made some notes, and I claim the right to reply to him, because what happened before may occur again. The honorable member for Denison (Mr, Hutchin) has suggested that a ballot should be taken of all men from 18 to 40, and that those selected should be called up and be given camp training for three weeks in every year. As the honorable member comes from Tasmania, I dare say it prompted his suggestion for a ballot or lottery. In this case it would be a lottery of human life. We are opposed to war of any description. Because Eugene V. Debs, an American socialist, dared to oppose the last war, he was sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment. Because Carl Leibknecht, a German socialist and a member of the Reichstag, said to the German soldiers who were starting their march from Berlin through Belgium to Paris, “Stop; your enemies are in Berlin; they are among the class that has been exploiting the workers during the ages; stay here and fight them”, he was interned, and afterwards sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. A. prominent pacifist in England who dared to protest against the war was expelled from one of the aristocratic golf clubs of that country. Had Carl Leibknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, who were killed in the revolution at the expiration of the war, lived, there would have been no Hitlerism in Germany to-day. We are opposed to war, and to the increase of the vote for defence, particularly at a time when the’ money could be better used in assisting the unemployed. We subscribe to the beautiful words of Tennyson -
For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see;
Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would he;
Till the war-drumthrobb’d no longer, and the battle-flags were furl’d
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Bill returned from the Senate without requests.
Bill returned from the Senate with a request.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
House adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Royal Mint, Melbourne, makes a composite charge for minting, the items of which are not known to the Commonwealth. It is understood that the Melbourne Mint operates at a loss, which is made good by a grant from the Victorian Government.
r asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable ‘member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. In view of tho large influx into the Northern Territory of unemployed men from the States, the Government decided in 1932 to limit the grunting of unemployment relief to men who had been in the Territory for a period pf twelve months prior to 31st December, 1931. At the time, the Government was expending large sums of money in maintaining unemployed mcn who could not be regarded, in any way, as permanent residents of the Territory. The majority of them had recently arrived in the Territory from the States, many as stowaways on boats trading to Darwin. There was no opportunity, whatever, of these men securing employment in the Territory, as neither government nor private funds were available for developmental works. The Government realized its responsibility for maintaining the unemployed who were permanent residents of the Territory, but considered that, in the interests of the men themselves, they should be discouraged from leaving the States and proceeding to the Northern Territory. It was decided, therefore, to fix a period which should be accepted as qualifying for being regarded as a permanent resident, and for unemployment relief. The period of twelve months prior to December, 1931, was adopted.
s. - On the 16th November, the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Jennings) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
I now desire to advise the honorable member as follows: -
E asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What are the details of the amounts of a.]I bounties and bonuses paid by the Commonwealth Government for each of the financial years 1930-31, 1931-32, and 1932-33.
– Payments made under Bounty Acts during the last three years are -
s. - The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) asked me a question, without notice, on the 2nd November, with regard to the discontinuance of investigations in Western Australia by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in connexion with the pest known as the red-legged «arth-mite.
I am now able to inform the honorable member that advice has been received from the council to the effect that the discontinuance of these investigations is not solely due to lack of funds, but to lack of laboratory facilities in Western Australia. It is the practice of the council to co-operate with State Departments of Agriculture in the conduct of investigations of this character, and it’ is usual for such State departments to provide laboratory accommodation. It is understood that the Government of Western Australia has the matter of provision of laboratory facilities under consideration, and if suitable facilities are provided the council .will review the matter with the object of determining whether the investigations can be resumed.
s. - On the 1st November, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) asked the following questions, upon notice : -
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s. - On the 16th November, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson) asked the following questions, upon notice : -
I now desire to advise the honorable member as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 November 1933, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1933/19331121_reps_13_142/>.