14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. 3. Bell) took the chair at 3 p.m., and. read prayers.
– Is the Minister for the Interior prepared to take steps at an early date to transfer to Canberra all Commonwealth departments whose headquarters are now outside the Federal Capital City, thereby saving time and expense in visiting them in their present locations ?
– I have already stated that, on account of more pressing matters requiring attention by the Government, it has not been possible to reach finality in connexion with this matter. It is, however, receiving consideration. I hope to formulate in the near future a comprehensive plan for the gradual transfer of the whole of the remaining departments to the Federal Capital City.
– Having regard to the widespread desire to render relief to those affected by the recent floods in Victoria, and at the same time to afford employment to those who are at present out of work, I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will see that it is a condition of any grant of financial relief that workers are employed at award rates, instead of being subject to the debasing conditions of the dole?
– The first amount of ?10,000 made available by the Commonwealth was a straight-out grant for the personal relief of individuals who have suffered as the result of the floods. Tha Premier of Victoria has asked that an amount of approximately ?200,000 shall be made available for carrying out works of reclamation, and the repair of damage which has been done, the advance to form part of the final general scheme between the State and the Commonwealth. I can only say that the urgent need is to get to work, and not to argue about the conditions. On the general plan for the future, the desire of the Commonwealth is that, to the extent that it gives assistance, award rates shall be observed. At the same time, however, it does not want to harass the various State organizations in the discharge of their functions. In this particular case, I think, the honorable member will agree that the first essential is to hasten the provision of employment. The conditions to be attached to the general measure of asistance may be discussed later.
– Will the Prime Minister stipulate that, in the disbursement of the grant of ?10,000 which the Commonwealth has made to the State of Victoria for the relief of flood victims, special consideration should be given to those residents of South Kensington who have suffered from three separate floods this year?
– The Commonwealth Government itself could not discriminate in regard to the allocation of the money. The Government of Victoria, which will receive the grant, is fully aware of the hardship suffered by the people of South Kensington, and will no doubt make special provision to meet their case.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Commerce been drawn to a paragraph in yesterday’s Melbourne Argus, forecasting the probability of Great Britain imposing a restriction on its imports of mutton and lamb after Christmas, for the purpose of maintaining the prices of those commodities? Can the right honorable gentleman state whether the report is accurate, and what steps are being taken by the Commonwealth to induce the Government of the United Kingdom to refrain from the imposition of such restrictions, seeing that the prices of mutton and lamb are still relatively satisfactory?
– I have not seen the report referred to by the honorable member. The Commonwealth Government is now discussing with the Government of Great Britain the whole matter of the restriction of meat imports by that country, and I hope to be in a position to make a statement on it before the House rises for the Christmas recess.
– Can the Minister for Commerce state whether the quantity of 120,000,000 bushels, which is mentioned as the Australian quota of exports of wheat, includes, or will be in addition to, the shortage of shipments of last year; further, whether the extension of the agreement by one year will mean its termination in 1935, or that there will be a three years’ instead of a two years’ agreement ?
– No conclusion has been reached in the negotiations concerning the extension of the existing international wheat agreement, nor have the data which the honorable member requires been worked out.
– In view of the decision of the Government to make available the sum of £12,000,000 in connexion with a scheme of rural rehabilitation, to enable primary producers to effect a composition with their creditors, will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of making a similar amount available for the rehabilitation of city interests, especially in relation to householders whose equity in proportion to total purchase price has been considerably reduced?
– As honorable members know, it is not the practice to indicate policy in reply to questions. At an early date, a very definite statement will be made in connexion with rural rehabilitation.
– Will the Prime Minister give the House an assurance that it will be afforded an opportunity to debate the rural rehabilitation proposals of the Government, after he has made a statement on the subject, and whether the basis of the proposals will be announced before the House rises at the end of next week?
– I am afraid I cannot give such an assurance, for the reason that the House will have to adjourn within a few days in order to enable honorable members - particularly those coming from distant States - to reach their homes before Christmas. A very definite statement in regard to thematter will be made to the House. It. will have to be discussed and dealt with, by the Parliament, and that in the near future; but whether it will be possibleto afford the House an opportunity todiscuss it before we adjourn for Christmas will depend upon circumstances and upon the rapidity with which other business now before it is disposed, of.
– Is the Prime Minister yet able to make arrangements whereby the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment will be in a position toanswer questions in this House?
– Yes; where is he?
– At the moment he is in? Melbourne attending a mining conference, the object of which is to facilitate the provision of employment for theworkers of this country. Last week, I pointed out that I had no objection to hisreplying to questions dealing with thematter of employment. 1 have also stated that, so far as I am able, I shall answer any questions that are asked in. regard to that matter. I am at all timesin close touch with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment, andi will furnish honorable members with all the information that I have.
PURCHASE by government DEPARTMENTS
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that a Governmentcontrolled institution is contemplating the purchase of certain Japaneseequipment in preference to equipment of Australian or British make, although the Australian plant is efficient and reasonable in price ? Will the Minister inform ‘the House whether it is thepractice of government institutions togive preference to Australian and British manufacturers ?
– I am not aware that any Government department contemplates the purchase of Japanese equipment in preference to goods of Australian or British manufacture. It is the practice for governments, both Federal and State, I think without exception, to give preference, first to Australian manufacturers, and then to British manufacturers. If there has been any ‘departure from that principle, I should be glad if the honorable member would furnish me with par.ticulars of it.
– Was it by accident or design that costs’ of production and marketing, two of the most important factors bearing upon agricultural development, were omitted from the list of subjects which the proposed Australian Agricultural Council is to regard as its special field of inquiry? Will the Government take steps to ensure that the council shall inquire particularly into these matters, and into the cost of rail freights in Australia as compared with other countries, particularly Canada?
– The proposed activities of the Australian Agricultural Council were decided upon by a subcommittee which consisted originally of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research representatives and the heads of the various State Agricultural departments. I am sure that the point mentioned by the honorable member for “Swan (Mr. Gregory) was not omitted by design, and that it will receive the close consideration of the council.
– Yesterday the Minister for Defence stated in answer to a question that he had not yet received the report of the Air Accidents Investigation Committee which was inquiring into the accident to the Qantas aeroplane that crashed near Longreach. Has the Minister noticed a press report to the effect that his department has received an interim report dealing with the accident, and if the report has come to hand, will he table it, or furnish a summary to honorable members?
– by leave - The answer which I gave to the honorable member yesterday was correct in every respect. Two reports came to hand only this morning, and I propose, before handing them to the press for publication, to make honorable members aware of their contents. The first report deals with the loss of the William Holyman Airways Proprietary Company’s aircraft DH86, VH-URN, Miss Hobart, which occurred somewhere in the vicinity of Cape Liptrap, Bass Strait, Victoria, on Friday, the 19th October, 1934. The concluding part of the report states -
Cause or Tin: Disappearance of the AmCRAFT.
The cause of the disappearance of the aircraft could not be determined.
Petrol and Oil. - The committee is of the opinion that the tankage of the aircraft should be increased to provide a greater margin of safety should direct crossings from Launceston to Melbourne bo contemplated.
Changing of Pilots. - The committee is of the opinion that the changing of pilots in single controlled aircraft is distinctly dangerous and should not be permitted under any circumstances, the only exception to be made to be in cases in which the aircraft is fitted with an automatic pilot.
The committee is also of the opinion that even in dual control aircraft a pilot not licensed for the .particular aircraft should not be left in sole charge at any time whilst the aircraft is in flight, but that the licensed pilot should be in his seat and able to take over control at any time. This will allow pilots not licensed to fly the particular type of aircraft to obtain experience without risk of accident.
Radio Telephony. - The committee is of the opinion that the arrangements for communication with the aircraft at scheduled times on a special wavelength is unsatisfactory and recommends that a continuous watch should be maintained on the aircraft wavelength at all times while the aircraft is in flight. It also considers that any failure to establish communication with the aircraft at any time whilst it is in flight should be immediately reported to the Aircraft Operating Company. It also considers that all communications to and from the aircraft should be recorded verbatim.
Tha committee recommends that the attention of aircraft operating companies bc drawn to the “ Regulations for the International Radio-electric Service of Air Navigation”.
The committee further recommends that ali position reports transmitted by aircraft should include the height at which the aircraft is flying.
Log Books. - The committee is of the opinion that the present regulation requiring that the aircraft and engine log books shall be carried in the aircraft is unsound owing to the possibility of their destruction or loss by fire or other causes, and measures should be instituted by which these log books shall be kept on the ground, or that duplicate log books be kept at the headquarters of the operating company.
Emergency Landing Grounds. - The committee is of the opinion that where practicable all emergency landing grounds on all main air routes should bc connected by telephone to the main communication system.
The second report deals with the accident to the Qantas aircraft VH-USG, which occurred near Longreach, Queensland, on the 15th of November, 1934. The report states, inter aiia -
Cause or the Accident.
It has not been possible to establish the primary cause of the accident but there has been evidence to show that the D.H.86 aircraft is sensitive in the yawing plane, anu that this type of aircraft is inclined to accelerate rapidly in yaw.
It is recommended that a similar type of aircraft with similar loading and disposition of load be tested as to its controllability in yaw, particularly in cases where the yaw is allowed to develop to considerable magnitude. The method of developing the yaw to be by misuse of rudder or the cutting of one or both engines on the one side of the aircraft, with particular reference to the cutting of the starboard engines.
The committee is of the opinion that in dual control aircraft a pilot not licensed for the particular aircraft should not be left in sole charge at any time, whilst the aircraft is in flight, but that the licensed pilot should be in his seat and able to take over control at any time. This will allow pilots not licensed to fly the particular type of aircraft to obtain experience without risk of accident.
Also, that under such circumstances, the licensed pilot should not take his attention from the controls and flying of the aircraft to carry out other duties such as navigation or operation of the radio apparatus, Ac.
Further investigations on behalf of the committee in regard to the engines and possibility of structural failure, particularly of the fin, are in hand.
These are merely interim reports. The investigations, which are of a mostthorough, comprehensive and complete character are continuing, and the final report should come to hand fairly soon. My desire is that the inquiry should be accelerated as much as posible.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether he has decided to admit under by-law up to the 1st April, 1935, cotton piece goods which were on firm order on or before 1st August, 1934, and if so, what is the object of allowing eight months for delivery when delivery can ordinarily be obtained within two months? Further, if the concession is intended to be of any value to those making up cotton piece goods, is there any reason why the time should not be extended up to say the 31st December, or until such period, as the Australian manufacturers are in a position to supply the material required by those engaged in making up cotton piece goods ?
– Yes; entries will be permitted up to 1st April, 1935. The reason for this further extension is that, although it takes in ordinary circumstances only from two to three months ‘to deliver orders placed in Britain, small orders can be delivered quickly, whereas the department has information that large orders have not been delivered. The new duties were brought down on 1st August, 1934 and the reason why no further extension can be granted is that to allow orders placed after that date to be admitted at the old rate would be to take away from the Australian cottongrowers and manufacturers the benefit of the new duty.
– Will the Minister inform the House of the results of the inquiries made by his department on the question of whether local Australian manufacturers of cotton piece goods have, since the imposition of the cotton duties, been in a position to supply the requirements of manufacturers of clothing?
– If the honorable member refers to the new duties relating to coarse cloths, the inquiry is still proceeding. There have been some complaints that the local manufacturers cannot meet the requirements, but I am unable offhand to give the honorable member a complete answer.
– Towards the end of June last, when the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) held a similar position in a former administration, I asked him whether it was possible for the Commonwealth Bank to establish at Singapore or some such strategic point iu the East a clearing house where the bank, having financial relations with other banking institutions in the East, could deal directly with those institutions and so avoid the delay of having to send everything through London. The honorable gentleman then promised to look into the matter. As five months have elapsed since that promise was made I desire to know whether the Minister has yet received any information from the Commonwealth Bank Board and what has been the extent of his investigations?
– The question raises a number of technical points which, I regret, in the stress of recent months, have not had the investigation that the honorable member would wish. But now that he has reminded me of the matter, as a member of the present Government, I will see that it is gone into and whether it is possible to take any action on the lines suggested.
– Will the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties state whether any negotiations have taken place between Sir Maurice Hankey and the Government in respect of a proposed Anglo-Japanese treaty; if so, can he give the House any information on the subject?
– I am not aware of any such negotiations.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether the royal commission on the petrol industry has yet submitted its final report and if so when it will be laid on the table?
– The report has not yet been submitted. I am hopeful, that it will be received by the Government in the very near future, but am unable to say exactly when it will be available.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether the refusal to give information in answer to a question placed on the business paper is a Cabinet decision or a decision of an individual Minister? Does he consider the refusal to give information relative to the expenditure of public funds is in the best interests of responsible government?
– It is utterly impossible for me to answer the honorable member’s question since I do not know to what he refers. If he will make his question clearer I shall endeavour to answer it.
– Is the Minister for Commerce in a position to make a statement to the House with regard to the appointment of trade commissioners, and, if so, will he state in what countries it is proposed to make these appointments?
– Applications for appointment as trade commissioners have been received, but we have not yet had time to consider them.
– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform the House whether the overseas air mail service, to be opened on 10th December, will be conducted by D.H. 86 aeroplanes or by other planes.
– If the inquiry clears up the question as to the suitability of D.H. 86 planes they will be used, but if the inquiry is not completed satisfactorily then it is proposed to use the Atalanta machines.
Patterson’s Curse - Relief Workers : Christmas Dismissals - Shortage o? Farm Labour.
– Is the Minister for the Interior aware that the noxious weed known as Patterson’s Curse has made its appearance in the Federal Capital Territory? If so, have officers of his department been notified of its presence, and are they taking proper steps to secure its eradication?
– I have heard of the noxious weed to which the honorable member refers and will take steps to carry out his wishes.
– Will the Minister for the Interior state, whether it is the intention of the Government on 31st December next to dismiss all relief workers in the Federal Capital Territory and to hold a call-up on the 4th January. If so, is that step to be taken in order to avoid payment in respect of holidays in violation of the general conditions of the Industrial Board ordinance? ifr. PATERSON. - Whatever is being done is not being done for the purpose suggested; but if the honorable member will give notice of his question I “will be able to supply him with further information on the subject.
– As the Minister has indicated that it is not the intention of the Government to dismiss these workers in order to avoid the payment of Christmas pay, will he make clear the reason for putting the men off so that I shall be able to formulate a question to place on the notice paper as he has suggested?
– I am not quite clear as to what the honorable member is driving at. The men have been given work over a period of weeks up to Christmas in order to afford them a measure ot relief by employment on wages so that they may enjoy some Christmas cheer. If the honorable member will place his question on the notice paper, I shall give him a complete answer.
– Is the Minister aware that farmers in the Federal Capital Territory have actually found difficulty in getting harvest hands because workmen in the territory prefer to accept relief work, and that it has been necessary for them to secure farm labourers from Queanbeyan or as far away as Yass? ‘ Will the Minister inquire as to whether it is possible so to allocate the relief work that the residents in the territory do not feel it necessary to forego harvest work lest they may lose their eligibility for relief work?
– I was not aware of any difficulties experienced by farmers in the Federal Capital Territory in obtaining labour for the harvest. I shall make inquiries on the lines suggested by the honorable member with a view to remedying any difficulties in that respect.
– In view of the fact that the Commonwealth Government is considering proposals made by the British Government for the restriction of exports of Australian frozen meat to Britain and having regard to the serious effect which the acceptance of such proposals would have upon the economic position of Australia, will the Minister for Commere give an assurance to honorable members that the House will be afforded a full opportunity to discuss any decision - certainly any decision involving an acceptance of the proposals - contemplated by the Government?
– I have already informed the honorable member in connexion with this question that it might not be possible to give the House an opportunity to discuss the matter, but. honorable members will be given the information at the earliest possible moment.
– In view of the fact that in the year 1931, China was the seventh nation customer of our export trade, being surpassed by the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Germany, Belgium and Italy, and that, in 1932-33, that country became the third greatest customer for our exports, being surpassed only by the United Kingdom and Japan, would it not be wise for the Commonwealth to cultivate the friendship of peace-loving China, with its 400,000,000 people, equally with Japan, with its smaller population ?
– I think the honorable member will agree that nothing that this Government has done has been in the opposite direction to that which he would desire. The goodwill mission to the East was sent, not to Japan only, but to all Eastern nations trading on a friendly basis with Australia, and much time was devoted to China itself. This Government has always endeavoured to increase friendly relations between that country and Australia.
Evasions of Dairy Produce Legislation
– Can the Minister inform the House whether he has yet any information relative to the inquiries which have taken place in regard to the alleged evasion of the dairy produce legislation by certain Victorian butter manufacturers ?
– I have no information to give the honorable member regarding that matter.
– With respect to the entry into Australia of 40,000 centals of Fijian bananas under the terms of the Ottawa agreement, I desire to know whether, as Fiji is a Crown colony, any representations have been made by the British Government asking for this additional concession for Fiji, or whether the general practice has been departed from and direct negotiations have been entered into between the Commonwealth Government and Fiji?
– All concessions granted at Ottawa to Crown colonies were given as part of the general concessions to the United Kingdom, and wore taken into consideration as concessions, not only to Crown colonies, but also to the industrialists of the United Kingdom itself. The Government, it is true, has had representations from Fiji as a Crown colony, but the views of the Government on the point raised by the honorable member, and other related matters, will be expressed in the House, I think, on Tuesday next.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to guarantee that the House will meet sufficiently early next year to put into operation the recommendations which are expected from the Wheat Commission, so that the farming community may be in a position to sow crops next year with the full knowledge of the extent to which the Commonwealth has committed itself with regard to the harvest ?
– The intention of the Government is to introduce proposals in regard to assistance to wheat-growers before Parliament adjourns for the Christmas vacation, and certainly the Parliament will be asked to deal ‘ with these proposals early enough to meet the position.
– The proposals the right honorable gentleman is now speaking of will be of a purely temporary character.
– The first proposals will deal with this season’s yield. The final report of the commission will enable us to deal with the wheat position for the future, and Parliament will be assembled early in the New Year to deal with that problem.
– I ask the Minister in charge of negotiations for trade .treaties whether there is any truth in statements which have appeared in the press that the Government has under consideration trade treaties with Japan and Italy, and when it is expected a ministerial pronouncement will be made on the subject?
– I am not yet in a position to make a statement of any value on the question of treaties with Italy or Japan.
– Ha3 the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a report in the press regarding the assassination of an official of the Government of the Soviet Republic, and, if so, why has not the Government taken the customary action by sending an expression of condolence to the relatives of the deceased?
– If there has been any omission, it may be due to the fact that I have been travelling a good deal of late ; but my attention has not been drawn to the matter. I shall be glad to give it consideration if the honorable member will place his question on the noticepaper.
– Is the Minister in charge of negotiations for trade treaties aware of our heavy .adverse trade balance with the United States of America, and will he consider at an early date the advisability of Australia entering into a trade agreement with that country in order that the position may be improved ?
– The Government is aware of our unfavorable trade balance with the United States of America, and the subject of its adjustment is now under consideration.
The Clerk announced that he had that day received from the Military and Official Secretary to Hia Excellency the Governor-General the return to the original writ for the election of a member of the House of Representatives for the Northern Territory, confirming the Certificate of Endorsement on the copy writ as to the election of Adair Macalister Blain, announced to the House on the 28th November.
I desire to inform the House that His Excellency Air Vice Marshall Sir Philip W. Game, G.B.E., K.C.B., D.S.O., Governor of New South Wales, Lord Sempill, a member of the House of Lords, and General Sir Alexander J. Godley, G.C.B., K.C.M.G., are within the precincts of the House. With the concurrence of honorable members, I shall provide them with distinguished strangers’ seats on the floor of the House, beside the Speakers’ chair.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
Sir Philip Game, Lord Sempill and Sir Alexander Godley thereupon entered the chamber, and were seated accordingly.
FORMAL Motion foe Adjournment.
– I have received from the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House this afternoon for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The threatened danger to Australia of being involved in a foreign war, and the necessity for (a) immediately declaring Australia’s support to the covenant of the League of Nations, which seeks to prohibit the manufacture of armaments and munitions by vested interests, and (fc) reaffirming Australia’s renunciation of war except in self defence “.
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
. -In moving -
That the House do now adjourn.
I desire to draw attention to the threatened danger of Australia being involved in a foreign war, and the necessity for immediately declaring Australia’s support to the covenant of the League of Nations, which seeks to prohibit the manufacture of armaments and munitions by vested interests, and re-affirming this country’s renunciation of war, except in self-defence. The object of this motion is to ask the House to endorse the view expressed in the Covenant of the League of Nations that the manufacture of munitions by private enterprise is open to grave objection, and to indicate that it is of the opinion that the Government should set an example by refusing to place any further contracts with private manufacturers of arms and munitions, and should make provision for the production by the Commonwealth of such armaments and munitions of war as are considered necessary. The members of my party urge the House to re-affirm its solemn undertakings under the Kellogg Pact for the renunciation of war, and to express the opinion that the Government should confine its defence programme to providing the necessary safeguards against armed invasion, at the same time affirming that Australian troops will not be despatched overseas to participate in war.
The necessity for the motion must be apparent to all who have watched the intense military and naval activity now being displayed in every country and viewed it in the light the possibility of Australia being drawn into external entanglements owing to the activities of people whose very prosperity depends on the promotion of war. When the present Postmaster-General (Senator McLachlan) signed the Kellogg Pact in 1928 on behalf of Australia, surely it was no mere gesture, but was really intended as the formal renunciation by Australia of all resort to armed force, and as the expression of its determination to eradicate the sabre-rattlers and munitions lobbyists who have done so much in the past to promote war. But instead of a progressive move towards peace, we find ourselves being rapidly drawn into another “ preparedness” campaign, involving Australia, not only in the expenditure of millions of pounds, but also in the grave danger of having its activities misrepresented abroad. Under the Kellogg Pact, Australia formally renounced war, save in self-defence against a foreign aggressor. As most countries subscribed to that pact, it would appear that the attention of the statesmen of the world would be better engaged by the furtherance of that object, rather than in creating the atmosphere for another competitive armaments race, which is now now in progress.
The campaign of the war-mongers was launched in Australia about twelve months ago, when mushroom organizations were suddenly set in motion, and newspapers began to stir up a national demand for increased defence expenditure. Certain members of the present Ministry allowed themselves to be associated with that campaign, which, even went so far as to offer provocation to nations in the Far East, with whom our relations have been friendly. Books and pamphlets were published on the “Pacific peril”, and statistics relating to comparative military, naval, and aerial defence strengths were broadcast in an effort to foment a national demand for increased expenditure. Special publicity officers appeared, and halls were engaged for public meetings. It was a costly campaign, and it obviously had a purpose. From what source did the funds come ? The experience of other countries, where similar campaigns have benn conducted, would indicate that large overseas munitions and armaments manufacturers regard such campaigns as an excellent investment. With the assistance of newspapers, governments oan quite easily be stampeded into letting large contracts for increased naval, military, and aerial equipment. In fact, our Government has already increased its defence estimates, and has placed orders overseas for a cruiser, squadrons of aerial bombers, and munitions. A similar state of affairs in the United States of America resulted in the Senate arms inquiry, which brought to light considerable correspondence involving the very firms which are now angling for contracts in Australia. It was revealed at that inquiry that Vickers Limited, Imperial Chemical Industries Limited, and du Ponts had divided the world into three parts, and had made international agreements that enabled them to operate, through their affiliated companies, in all countries.
Before and during the war, Vickers Limited had an agreement with the Electric Boat Company to divide the trade in submarines with it. The American company allowed its patents to pass through its Austrian subsidiary so that Germany was able to build 300 U-boats, the royalties on which were later paid to the American company, although the torpedoing of the Lusitania was the acknowledged reason for the participation of ti” United States of America in the wai.
Vickers’ principal salesman, Sir Basil Zarahoff, was paid commissions by the Electric Boat Company amounting to 2,000,000 dollars for sales which _ he effected through Vickers Limited. Finding that the leading powers were incredulous regarding the advantage of the submarine as a weapon of naval warfare, that gentleman induced his compatriots in Greece to accept a submarine at a discount. Immediately, Turkey found that it required two submarines to counter the Greek move, and another nation required three to offset Turkey. By the time Britain and Germany were drawn into the net, Vickers Limited and Sir Basil Zarahoff were drawing huge profits. - The present campaign is on all fours with that Zarahoff move. If Australia increases its defence vote, it provides an incentive to its neighbours to increase their vote. It is in this way that the whole system of profits for the private manufacturers is built up.
Evidence submitted to the Senate Arms Inquiry Committee of the United States of America regarding the methods employed by armament manufacturers should serve as a timely warning to Australia. It must not be forgotten that the chairman of directors of Vickers Limited, General Sir Herbert Lawrence, is intimately associated with Australian affairs, not only through his banking firm of Glynn Mills Limited, but also as a director of Dalgety and Company Limited. Two other members of Glynn Mills Limited are directors of the Union Bank of Australia.
The case against the private armaments manufacturer is too well known to require * recapitulation; but the fact remains that no steps have been taken to correct the grave abuses of that traffic. No Australian Government since federation has been free from the activities of the munitions lobbyists. Early in the present century there was the campaign against, the so-called “ Yellow peril “ when the Deakin Government sent three representatives to the Imperial Defence Conference in London in 1909. It might interest honorable members to learn that the activities of the present Minister for Health, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) earned the appreciation of Lord Roberts as early as 1903. The war fever was brought successfully to a head hy the visit of Lord Kitchener to advise on our military defence. His estimate of the cost of the scheme for universal military service proved to be only a fraction of its actual cost.
It has been emphasized on many occasions that Australia could be made independent of overseas arms manufacturers. It was for that purpose that Cockatoo Island Dockyard and the Lithgow Small Arms Factory were established. Yet the outstanding feature of the present war campaign has been that it has followed closely on the leasing of Cockatoo Island Dockyard and the refusal of the Government to utilize Australian workmen to build a new cruiser there. The nationalization of the munitions industry would remove the principal incentive to promote war. Deprived of the prospects of huge dividends, international manufacturers would no longer have any desire to pit one country against another or to conduct campaigns through the newspapers.
The quickest way to deal with the evil is to eradicate armament capitalism. The United States of America is already moving in that direction. The staggering nature of the revelations at the munitions inquiry has set up a nation-wide demand for immediate action. The. churches of the United States of America have played an important part in crystallizing public opinion on this subject, and the- utterances of leading Australian churchmen make it certain that my motion will receive the endorsement of the churches of Australia.
In February, 1933, the Lyons Government leased Cockatoo Island for 21 years. If the present Ministry is sincere in its defence policy its first action will be to regain control of that establishment. Not a penny should be spent outside Australia on naval construction. It has been proved that Cockatoo Island Dockyard has the equipment, and that Australian artisans have the capacity to undertake the work. The first duty of the Government should be to provide work for its unemployed shipbuilders.
Labour stands for disarmament and urges the Government to use its utmost influence to ensure that the naval treaty to be considered next year will be designed, not merely to maintain the status quo, but also to provide an effective contribution to naval disarmament. The suspicion and haggling which mark the negotiations at this juncture are not in harmony with the best interests of world peace. It would be disastrous if the outcome of next year’s conference were a naval race with Pacific supremacy as the prize. Australia could and should make a substantial contribution towards effecting a real measure of naval disarmament.
Another decision which should be made immediately by the Government is that Australia’s military aviation requirements should be provided within Australia. We have thoroughly skilled aircraftsmen in our. midst, hut they have not been afforded any encouragement by the Government. Australia is capable of building both its civil and its military aeroplanes. It remains only for the Government to install the necessary equipment.
Unfortunately, various Commonwealth governments have consistently failed to utilize the services of Australia’s most distinguished aviators. Hawker was regarded as an outstanding aircraft designer; yet Australia has to let contracts overseas to obtain Hawker bombing planes. Hinkler was another eminent designer who could not be provided with employment in his own country. He was allowed to go to his death in the Italian Alps. Now it is reported that Mr. Charles Ulm is missing near Honolulu during a flight across the Pacific to Australia. Quite recently the designs of Captain Percival have been adopted by leading British aircraft manufacturers. The Percival Gull is regarded as one of the key British machines. More regrettable still has been the utter failure of the Government to take advantage of the incomparable organizing ability of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith. He has been forced to undertake hazardous flights when he could have been performing a great national service by developing an Australian aviation industry. Unfortunately, this Government could not appreciate the advantages of offering him a salary commensurate with the magnitude of such an undertaking.
The development of a national fuel industry and the complete nationalization of all munitions supplies are also essential step3 towards eliminating the profit motive. The only objection raised to nationalization has been that advanced by Sir John Simon and Mr. I. du Pont, the American arms manufacturer. They contend that under nationalization it would take a nation twelve months to prepare for war. If all we read in the press regarding the military strength of the Soviet Union of Russia is true there does not appear to be any substance in such an objection. Rather should it be the most potent argument of all in favour of nationalization.
Parliament has not been taken into the confidence of the Government regarding the real purpose of the visit to Australia of Lord Milne and Sir Maurice Hankey. A “hush-hush” atmosphere has surrounded this subject. Yet the Imperialist-minded newspapers have commenced a campaign designed to stir up another war fever. The Sydney Morning Herald has been particularly active in this regard. After publishing a series of articles on the Japanese situation, capable of grave misconstruction, and belittling the work of the League of Nations, it has now embarked upon a “ preparedness “ campaign. In all these circumstances the announcement of the Government’s decision to despatch the Minister for External Affairs, Senator Sir George Pearce, to New Zealand, was singularly unfortunate. We had been informed, time after time, that Sir Maurice Hankey’s visit was purely informal and nothing more than a holiday to attend, the Melbourne centenary; but the political correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald, who was formerly the Prime Minister’s private secretary, was able to disclose plans for the Wellington conference, adding that they had been made some time ago. The- Government owed it to this House to make its first announcement in Parliament, rather than through the Sydney Morning Herald. We remember, incidentally, that a previous statement of its defence policy was made at the Millions Club in Sydney.
It was further intimated that, last year, the Government submitted plans to the New Zealand Government for a liaison in all matters affecting the Navy, Army, and Air Force. Apart altogether from the fact that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) was ignored - although, the matters discussed concern his department entirely - the details given in the report must cause grave concern. The Prime Minister should explain how the Sydney Motiving Herald was able to publish what it termed an authoritative statement of the policy of the Federal and New Zealand Governments, together with what amounted to an agenda of the conference. I do not propose to traverse the principles enunciated there, as certain of them conflict with Australia’s obligations under the Kellogg Pact, and sufficient damage has already been caused by their publication, as they are certain to be featured in overseas commentaries and scanned by the foreign offices of other nations. But if they represented the subjects discussed at the Wellington conference, and the Government was prepared to give them publicity, then they should have been conveyed to this House first. If the information disclosed came from Defence Department authorities, without the sanction of the Government, then the Minister for Defence should take appropriate action. Australia cannot afford to allow itself to be dragged into foreign entanglements to satisfy the Sydney Morning Herald, even though the arms salesmen would be deeply gratified. Let us, therefore, re-affirm the basic principles of our foreign policy - adherence to the Covenant of the League of Nations by eliminating private enterprise in the supply of armaments and munitions - and, by renewing our pledge under the Kellog Pact, renounce all war save in self-defence.
– The motion moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) deals with a subject with which every Australian is concerned. Practically every one in this country is unanimously desirous of being spared a recurrence of what transpired during the Great War, but it is the view of practically every honorable member of this chamber that it is the duty and responsibility of this Government and of Parliament to defend this country adequately. Those two great principles animate members of this House and the people of Australia in considering the questions of defence and war. Personally, I cannot see much advantage in passing this motion, so far as it seeks to remedy anything or suggests that Australia is doing anything which it should not do in this matter. It affords us, however, an opportunity to reaffirm to the world the magnificent record that Australia, as part of the British Empire, has achieved in disarmament and the prevention of war and all the horrors concomitant with war. Further, it affords u3 an opportunity to proclaim the glorious, magnificent, and noble record of Great Britain in the interests of disarmament and the preservation of peace throughout the world.
Dealing with the manufacture of munitions by private firms, the honorable gentleman read garbled statements which can be procured by any one from writings which have appeared in various papers. But if there is one country in the world to which his remarks concerning the manufacture of armaments by private firms cannot be applied, that country is Australia.
– That is no justification, however, for spending-
– The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) would grow very eloquent if the iron and steel works of Newcastle which manufacture all the steel for the various industries which are associated with this motion were to be put out of operation and the employees engaged in these works thrown idle. The question of employment, so inextricably bound up with this matter, makes it extremely difficult for honorable members on the opposite side of the chamber to discuss this motion.
– That is a minor aspect of the question.
– Of course, unemployment - the problem of providing employment for the workless of this country - is a minor question so far as honorable members on the other side of this chamber are concerned-
– That is a deliberate distortion of the intent of my remark.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Whereas the problem of providing employment for the workless of this country is a matter which is receiving the serious attention of honorable gentlemen on this side of the House. Yesterday the honorable member for West Sydney had to plead for the indulgence of this House in an endeavour to avoid the possibility of his remarks being interpreted as a proposal to diminish the measure of employment which might be available to the workers of this country. He had to pick his steps very carefully in his attempt to attack the manufacturers of a certain class of armaments. Discussing the Cockatoo Island Dockyard he, in one breath, inveighed against the manufacture of armaments-
– By private enterprise
– He now says “ by private enterprise.” In the next breath, he argued that armaments should be built - I suppose in unlimited quantities - so long as they are built at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. Indeed, he proceeded to show the very class of armaments which he considered could be built in this - country as efficiently as they can be in any other country of the world.
– The honorable member for West Sydney did not indicate whether the statement he has just read expresses his own sentiments.
-PARKHILL.- The honorable member for Fawkner-* (Mr. Maxwell) points out an aspect of the question which I am sure will be noted by honorable members.
What has Australia done in the cause of disarmament and the preservation of peace? This country has consistently supported the League of Nations in its endeavours towards the reduction of armaments and the adoption of means for the pacific settlement of international disputes. It has proclaimed its adherence to the Permanent Court of International Justice, and also to the optional clause in the statute of that court which provides for the compulsory jurisdiction of the court in relation to certain classes of disputes. It is a party to the treaty for the renunciation of war, and the General Act for the pacific settlement of international disputes which was drawn up under the auspices of the League of Nations. Australia has ratified the convention for the regulation of international traffic in arms and implements of war, but such ratification, like the ratifications of most of the other thirteen countries which have so far adhered to the convention, is conditional upon ratification by certain other countries. This convention, however, is not yet in operation. As- for the League of Nations, it is really being maintained by the British Empire. Great Britain makes by far the largest contribution to its budget, and the payments from Australia are considerable, amounting to no less than £60,000 this year, although this amount includes our proportion of the expenditure on the International Labour Office, which is an important feature of the League’s activities. These facts, I think, establish conclusively the adherence of the Commonwealth to the cause of peace and the principles of disarmament.
Having reminded the House of the part which Great Britain has taken in the cause of disarmament, I quote now the following statement made recently by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Bolton Eyres-Mansell : -
During the last eight years, Great Britain was the only one of the Powers to show a decrease in expenditure on armaments - a decrease of 16 per cent. - whereas increases by other Powers during the same period were : Italy, 9i per cent; the United States of America, 10 per cent; Germany, 12 per cent.; Japan 80 per cent.; France, 100 per cent,; Russia, 197 per cent. Obviously Great Britain cannot pursue her present policy indefinitely. Of all the great Powers she hasthe most widely scattered possessions. She has a tromendous amount of what might be called armed police work to do in various parts of the world. Farther, her weakness may constitute a temptation to a breach of the peace, while experience seems to show that it contributes nothing towards bringing about all-round reductions of armaments. Consequently the question now being discussed is the form British re-armament must take.
It is significant that while millions of people in Russia are on the verge of starvation the Soviet Government has increased expenditure on its army and navy from £150,000,000 in 1929 to £300,000,000 in the current financial year.
– Those are only the published figures.
– That is so. We have reason to believe that the published figures do not reveal the true position. I say this because from other official sources we learn that the Russian Government is now in the possession of approximately 2,500 tanks, that the number of its military aeroplanes is legion and that there has been an enormous increase in other forms of expenditure for war purposes. The same may be said of Germany. One of the reasons for the withdrawal of that country from the League of Nations was that it demanded equality in arms, and doubtless desired complete freedom to develop its military activities in the way that it deemed best suited to it3 future needs. Official figures relating to Germany show that the strength of its air force has increased by 700 per cent., that of its army by 90 per cent, and that of its navy by 33 per cent. Expressed in sterling, expenditure for war purposes in Germany has increased from £51,000,000 in 1933, to £77,000,000 in 1934. We learn further that orders have been placed in the United States of America for 2,500 aeroplane engines, that there has been a rapid expansion in munition works and that plans for industrial mobilization for war purposes have been perfected. All the powers have been cognizant of Germany’s violation of its disarmament obligations, but action to restrain that country from continuing with its present policy can be taken only by common consent of the nations represented on the League of Nations, and coercion, which really means war, is something that no power is prepared to employ.
I invite honora’ble members to compare the steps which Great Britain has taken towards disarmament, with the immense increase of expenditure for war purposes in Russia and Germany, quite apart from what the governments of other countries have been doing in recent years, and to form their own judgment as to the propriety of the motion now before the House. The issues raised by the honorablemember for West Sydney have been discussed by parliamentary Labour parties in all countries. This subject was raised in the British House of Commons not so long ago by Major Atlee, the Deputy Leader of the Labour party, and it was discussed more recently in the New Zealand House of Representatives, also at the instance of the dominion Labour party. Evidently the honorable member for West Sydney, in submitting the motion this afternoon, has sought to usurp the functions of the leadership of the Labour party in this House, deciding to have a little “ flutter “ on his own account instead of awaiting an opportunity to discuss the matter following the submission of a motion by the more experienced Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament.
It is significant that wherever parliamentary Labour parties are in existence they take advantage of every opportunity to advertise their views on the subject of disarmament and cognate issues, without indicating with any definiteness their policy for the defence of a country. I listened with patience and interest to the honorable member for West Sydney this afternoon, and I noted that he omitted to mention what he would do to ensure the defence of Australia. The public generally would, I am sure, be glad to hear his views on this important question. It is as well to bear in mind that all war material used in Australia is manufactured in the Commonwealth, and that, under a special provision in the Customs Act, such material may not be exported to countries other than New Zealand, except in special circumstances. Thus the attitude of Australia to war does not need re-affirmation by this House. I shall not quote from ‘the speech of Sir John Simon in the House of Commons other than to remark that he pointed out that Great
Britain was merely taking necessary precautions by having at least the means of manufacturing arms should war be forced on the Empire.
– Sir John Simon Ls a shareholder of Vickers.
– I do not know that he is. I am not prepared to accept without question ex parte statements regarding individuals. There is far too much of that kind of thing in this Parliament.
The honorable member for West Sydney unwittingly did an injustice to Sir Maurice Hankey and Lord Milne. The first-mentioned gentleman was invited to the Victorian centenary celebrations as the guest of the Commonwealth. As to any discussions in which he might have participated all that I can say is that Sir Maurice Hankey is a distinguished Britisher.
– The Minister for Defence has exhausted his time.
.- I had hoped that a question of such magnitude, involving the lives of millions of people in the years to come, could be discussed in this Parliament without rancour and without inciting party against party or nation against nation. I disagree with the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) that there is no justification for this motion. Allowing, for the . moment, all that the Minister has said regarding Australia’s defence policy - and I am glad that most of it is true - surely Australia, as a member of the
League of Nations, has a right to make its contribution to the world-wide discussion on the subject of removing from private control the making of the instruments of war. That is the issue which has been raised here to-day. It is not strictly correct to say that in this matter Australia is entirely guiltless. I believe thai all the requirements for the defence of this country should be manufactured by the Commonwealth Government itself. I concede that Australia is unique among the nations of the world in that the Government manufactures all the munitions which this country is at present capable of making. It is true that big guns, made by private firms overseas, are still imported for the defence of our shores.
Australia has a contribution to make to this discussion; I wish that we could make it unanimously and without any party being accused of raising the question merely to .air its views. Surely the Labour party is not without sincerity. Has it not a right in every country to express its views on this subject, particularly as it speaks for the millions of the working class who have to carry on a war when war has been declared? A political party has a right to speak, without being charged with merely desiring to air its views. Any private member, or the leader of any group in this Parliament, has as much right as another to raise this issue. The controversy which is taking place throughout the world today proves in a striking manner that the manufacture of munitions and armaments must not be left to private enterprise which always has before it the incentive of profit-making. Honorable members are aware of the shocking revelations resulting from an inquiry into armaments which has recently taken place in the United States of America. They know of the influences brought to bear by private makers of armaments, of the propaganda indulged in by them, of the way in which they raise fears, in order to sell more and more of their death-dealing weapons, and of their endeavours to get those weapons used so that they may sell still more of them. Honorable members, surely, are not unaware of the ghoulish operations of private armament makers, who traffic in the lives of men and women, and, indeed, of little children, because, in the event of another war, helpless and innocent children will practically be under fire from the air. Any one who contemplates the price of the last war, and endeavours to visualize the horrors of another one, is justified in advocating the elimination of profit-making from the manufacture of war weapons and munitions.
Like every other honorable member, I have been disappointed with the results of the Disarmament Conference which has been sitting for two arid a half years. When I was Prime Minister, I stood on the public platform in the biggest halls in Australia, in company with representatives of the then Opposition, and voiced Australia’s views on the subject of disarmament. The Disarmament Confer ence at Geneva was held back for years rather than that a false step should be made, and although it has not yet concluded its deliberations, the results, so far, have been most disappointing. Nevertheless, all hope need not be abandoned, for the conference is still sitting, and something may yet be done to reduce armaments. It is the duty of this Parliament to make a gesture by sounding a warning note, and telling the conference, at which Australia is represented, that this country demands that the profiteering gangs shall cease their machinations, and their propaganda of fear, and that an end must be put to the race for armaments which can only lead to further wars.
I agree with the Minister for Defence that, during recent years, Great Britain has set an example which other nations may well follow; and if I were inclined, I could make party political capital out of the fact that that example was first set by a Labour Government in Great Britain. Yet the Labour party is sneered’ at because it advocates peace. I agree that one nation cannot disarm in a world that is armed, and on behalf of the Labour party 1 have affirmed that Australia will defend itself. But the party which I have the honour to lead holds that Australia’s defence policy must be definitely and deliberately designed for pure defence, without aggression. That is where we on this side stand. I do not know whether honorable members have ever contemplated what another war would mean, or what has caused the failure of the Disarmament Conference; but a person must indeed be blind not to see that that conference has failed because of the influence of armament firms, with their subsidies to alleged patriotic societies which, in turn, stir up a false patriotism among the people. Among the many books which have been written on the methods adopted by armament firms is one by George Seldes entitled Iron, Blood and Profits, a striking paragraph in which reads -
The only big business in the world which bases its existence on patriotism is the one big business which lives by bloodshed. Although they raise the national flags over their endeavours, the armament makers have never hesitated, for a commensurate profit, to sell their country to the enemy. They have betrayed the secrets of military inventions, given information on strength in munitions, and not only sold the cannon, the submarines, the warships, the powder, and the rifles to the nations with whom they expected their governments to be at war, but they have established armament works in enemy countries.
We know of the influence of such organizations upon the people. We know the power of money and the incentive to manufacture for profit. That opportunity should be removed entirely so that nations may not be responsible for involving the lives of millions of human beings. Australia as a member of the League of Nations has a right to raise its voice in its national Parliament. We recall too vividly the horrors of the last war, and can visualize the terrors and horrors of another war. This is too big a question to be considered a party political one or as one in which nation is pitted against nation. But unfortunately that is the spirit in which disarmament discussions are taking place at Geneva. We should raise it above that level. Instead of saying that one nation has done more than any other in the cause of peace we should discuss the whole subject on a higher plane in the interests of the lives and health of the nations as a whole.
– It is perhaps inevitable that a discussion on this subject should cover a very wide field. I find it extremely difficult to reconcile the statements of some honorable members supporting the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) with the attitude that that honorable member has taken up to-day. Yesterday the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) denounced war, even the right of a country to defend itself if attacked. We heard from him a diatribe upon the conditions of mankind that are almost as old as man and which the efforts of each succeeding generation only seem to accentuate.
The right honorable member will not be in order in referring to a debate in committee.
– The honorable member for West Sydney and the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) have sought to make it appear that the causes of war are to-be found in the greed and rivalry of private armament firms, and that these pests must be eradicated if the peace of the world is to be assured. It seems to me that neither honorable member is able to view this subject in its proper perspective. What are the causes of war?
– Production for private profit.
– Surely the honorable member is aware that the greatest armed force in the world is ranged behind Russia where production is not for private profit. The causes of war are to be found in the very nature of man and the conflict of interests that set man against man. No complete adjustment of international differences is possible except by war or by rule of law. Civilization itself is a deliberate rejection of the appeal to force and the acceptance of the rule of law. But upon what does the law rest? It rests upon force. Upon what else could it rest? In every act passed by this Parliament penalties are provided for breaches of the law, and such penalties are enforced through the agencies of the magistracy and the police. The League of Nations of which we are a member, and I trust that we shall always remain a member, was established for the purpose of maintaining the peace of the world. By deliberately renouncing the right to settle international differences by resort to arms, and declaring that the nations would appeal to an international tribunal and abide by its decision, civilization took a deliberate step forward. But upon -what rock does the League of Nations, established to maintain the peace of the world, rest? Addressing the Peace Conference in 1919, the late President Wilson said -
Armed force is in the background of this programme; but it is in the background, and if the moral force of the world will not suffice, the physical force of the world shall. But that is the last resort, because this is intended as a league of peace and not as a league of war.
Addressing the American Senate, he said -
The mere agreements may not make peace secure. It will be absolutely necessary that a force be created as guarantor of the permanency of the settlement, so much greater than the force of any nation now engaged or any alliance hitherto formed or projected, that no nation, no probable combination oi nations, could face or withstand it. If the peace presently to be made is to endure, it must be a peace made secure by the organized major force of mankind.
In order that the League of Nations may maintain peace it must have at its disposal armed forces adequate to compel obedience to its decisions. Whence is that force to come? Is it to be supplied by members of the League of Nations? Honorable members opposite do not understand the implication of membership of the league. There is imposed upon every member two duties, first to maintain adequate forces for its own defence, and, secondly, if need be, to maintain forces to assist a nation attacked by its enemies.
– What did the League do in the case of China?
– The decision of the league was written in water. But the responsibility for its failure rests not upon the league but upon the nations members of the league who failed to make available armed forces to enforce its decision. The league did not fail to appeal to every country in the world to come to its assistance to enforce its decision, but they would not come. We have to face facts. The rule of law rests on force; the peace of the world can only be maintained if the peace-loving nations maintain such armed forces as will guarantee the security of nations and punish those nations that dare to disturb world peace. This country has shown its sincerity in the cause of peace, and has no need to be ashamed of its record. With Great Britain, it has been in the vanguard in the cause of peace. The British have led the world, but other nations have not followed. There is an inherent right in every nation, as there is in every individual, to defend itself, and that defence must be effective. If we remove from this Eden the serpent of private manufacture of armaments, there still remains the nature of man. Ultimately there can be no peace in the world unless, arrayed on the side of peace and justice, are the organized forces of the peaceful nations.
.- So much concerning the Russian position has been said in this debate by members and supporters of the Government, that
I consider it is incumbent upon me, among others, to explain how the matter appeals to us. It is an outstanding fact that Russia is increasing her armaments. The Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes), who has just resumed his seat, said that that fact proves that production for profit has nothing to do with the causes of war. Let me say, first, that I regard the Russian revolution as by far the greatest achievement of centuries. It set out to alter the economic system of Russia, and to place it upon the basis of production for the use of the people and not for the profit of an owning class - which is the case in, for example, Australia. It soon became obvious that the Russian people would not be allowed to pursue that end peacefully. Almost from the beginning, Russia was - and it still is - menaced by other nations which are organized upon the basis of private property in the means of production. Had it not been for the working classes of England and France, the Russian experiment would quite early have been stamped out in blood. The British and French workers made it perfectly clear that their respective governments would receive no support in any attempt to suppress Russia. The French revolution, which would have done so much for the world, was diverted from its natural humanitarian course by the combination of England, Prussia and Austria against it, and became an autocracy under the Man on Horseback. The working people of Europe were determined that the same thing should not happen to Russia. Nevertheless, the Russian people realize that this is a very unstable foundation for peace. The Russian movement has divided into two streams. The break which occurred between Trotsky and Stalin was due to a difference in conception as to the attitude which Russia should adopt towards the world. Trotsky has always held that Russia should be the leader of a world-wide revolution, and that the Communists of that country should apply themselves to the task of fomenting revolution in every country. Stalin, on the other hand, and the majority who follow’ him, hold that Russia can best serve Socialism in the world by making Russia itself safe for Socialism. Everybody realizes that the
Russian experiment is succeeding. There is no doubt that the Russian people are ever so much better oil now than they were before the war, whereas the people of every other country are ever so much worse off. That is to say, the Russian people are going forward, while the people of other countries are going backward.
– They still have a long way to go to reach our standard.
– They are coming forward, and wo are going backward. The two ends are bound to meet.
– Does the honorable member really believe that?
– I am confident of it. In Australia, the conditions of the people are becoming, and will continue to become, worse. In Russia, they arc improving and will continue to improve. The time is not far distant when the success of the Russian experiment will make unstable every government that is based Upon the capitalistic system. Russia has offered to the world to accept a policy of universal disarmament, but that offer has been rejected. The Russian people believe that the time will come when the armies of capitalist countries may be used against Russia. They are so intent upon the success of their experiment that they are not prepared to see it wiped out in blood, as it might be were they not to exercise the greatest vigilance.
– Is that why they are promoting anti-war movements in different countries?
– That has a great deal to do with it. I believe in that policy. In my opinion, the Australian working people should follow the example set by the workers of England and France when they declined to allow their governments to attack Russia; they should not participate in a war against Russia. I believe it is quite possible that they will be called upon to take part in some international war in which they will be on the one side and the Russians on the other. I should like to see universal disarmament brought about. That policy having been rejected, the only alternative is to adopt some policy which, in the words of Kant, may be a general rule. Honorable members doubtless know that Kant’s Categorical Imperative is : “ Act so that your act may be a rule of conduct”. The Australian Labour movement says that all defence preparations should universally be confined to home defence. If Australia were to adopt the policy : “ We will confine ourselves to the defence of our shores against aggression; on no account, under no pretext, because of no claim of defence will we take part in an aggressive war, or prepare to make war overseas “ ; we should do well.
I was very interested in what was related some time ago by a woman who had returned from an international women’s conference held at Honolulu. She said that she had been sought out by a Japanese woman delegate, a school teacher, who, after thanking her as an Australian on behalf- of her country, in formed her that when after the great earthquake a ship arrived from Australia carrying foodstuffs to relieve the necessities of the Japanese people, the Japanese children believed that Australia was taking advantage of their trouble to send a warship against them. The same “fear of our neighbour” which is inculcated in the minds of the people of Australia, is inculcated also in the minds of the people of Japan. Just as we believe that Japan is a potential enemy of ours, and that the Japanese people hate us and are prepared to make war upon us, so the Japanese people believe that Australia is a potential enemy of theirs. They have no sense of proportion. When the ship arrived with food to relieve the necessities of the Japanese people, the children, who witnessed its arrival, viewed it, not with rejoicing, but with alarm, because they thought it was carrying, not life-giving food, but deathdealing men and implements of war.
I hope that we shall not be content with mere lip service in the cause of peace and disarmament, but that this Parliament and the people of Australia generally will struggle to promote the peace of the world. I admire the Russian revolution. I regard it as one of the cherished memories and heritages of the whole working-class movement throughout the world. But I do not agree with those who try to introduce into this country the tactics that were necessary in Russia, because I do not believe that they are necessary here. I consider that we could make a big move forward by the general goodwill of the people. Unless we do that, I see no hope for Australia, because I am satisfied that the tactics which made the Russian revolution successful could not be reproduced here.
– I believe that every member of this Parliament, and every citizen of Australia, agrees that a world war is too awful to contemplate, and that, therefore, we should use every endeavour to maintain the peace that is desired by all civilized people. But while holding that sentiment, we should not disregard the realities that face us.
The motion moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) largely lunges upon the assumption that if private contracts for armaments were abolished, one of the greatest causes- of war would be removed. There may be a good deal of merit in the honorable member’s contention; but it applies with very little force within the British Empire. Great Britain subsidizes no armament firms whatever; all her armaments are supplied as the result of public tender. In Australia, all armaments are made in government factories. Would the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford), who supports the motion of the honorable member for West Sydney, oppose an extension of work in the ammunition factory in his electorate? I know that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) would not adopt that attitude, because in the past he has advocated the provision of a greater amount of work for the cordite makers. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) has a big steel works in his electorate. Would ho oppose the making of steel because it is potentially an armament? Would the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) do so? Take ordinary commodities, such as wool, cotton and coal. They are as much the requirements of war, as are armaments which may cause the destruction of human life. We must keep the right perspective, and not run’ off the rails because of criticism such as that voiced at an inquiry in the United States of America regarding dishonesty in an armaments contract. That sort of thing goes on in trade, whether it be the making of armaments or any other commodity. But we can agree, I think, that if private dishonesty in connexion with an armament contract could be eliminated, that would be all to the good.
– It never will be.
– Perhaps not until we can eradicate dishonesty, selfishness, and the other failings of mankind, which cause wars between the nations of the world. Legislation gives rise to differences between nations that may in time provoke war. Our White Australia policy may at some time become a cause of war. It is not sufficient merely to make provision for that policy in a statute; behind the law we must have the manhood of the nation, who will fight for their principles, if assailed, just as they would repel a burglar from their homes. Honorable members who stress the iniquities and the wrongs caused by armament makers are rather out of perspective if they think that those constitute one of the big issues. The Government has certain obligations. It has established factories in which rifles, machine guns and ammunition are made. We hope that we may never have to use them, even in our own defence, but let not honorable members run away with the idea that offence can be separated from defence. They overlook the fact that if one is going to have a row, it is better to have it in the other man’s backyard, and break up his furniture. If Australia should be called upon to engage in a war - and with the existing state of turmoil in Europe, no one can say what the future has in store - it might be necessary to send troops abroad. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) lost his perspective when he described the benefits that may be derived, ‘by any nation that will emulate the example set by Russia. He declared that the Red revolution in Russia was one of his most cherished memories, and that it was the greatest achievement of the centuries. It is all very well for the honorable member to gather his information from books, but let him seek first-hand information. I was in Russia shortly after the revolution, and so was the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden), but at a later period, when he saw different phases of it. I know what happened then, and I sincerely hope that the terror that overtook Russia at the beginning of the revolution, and the civil war that followed, will never be experienced by a British community. Let the honorable member, who has grown up under the shelter of the British Empire, look to the Empire itself for inspiration, and rejoice in the knowledge that the justice and goodness of that Empire have been a shining example to the world. Russia is busily engaged in making munitions in its own government factories, and, within the last few years, ha3 increased its armaments by 190 per cent. The honora’ble member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who has had much to say about Russia, from which country, no doubt, he draws a good deal of inspiration, should have regard for the ideals of his own country, and for what has been done by his own people. Our young men took up arms in defence of their own country and the Empire as a whole. They went out to do battle, not because of any spirit of aggrandizement, but because they believed in the ideals of their country; and in fighting for them they set an example to the world. Only last week a former Prime Minister of Canada reminded us that, with few exceptions, it is only in English-speaking countries that parliamentary institutions survive. The government of almost every country in Europe is maintained only by armed force. In this country, however, men are free to denounce their own land, and to resort almost to treachery by advocating disarmament so that Australia might be an easy victim to any power whose cupidity is aroused by our wealth and potentialities. Those who talk in that way do so either because of lack of personal experience, or because they have never given serious thought to this question or read literature bearing upon it. If they had, they would not indulge in bed-time stories such as those told this afternoon by the honorable member for Bourke when he said that he would like to see in Australia something on the lines of the system that prevails in Russia to-day. Has he ever read of the terrors of the civil war in Russia? There are terrors of peace even greater than those of war, and some of the terrors of peace, as “ peace “ existed for a time in Russia, were infinitely greater than any that happened during the Great War itself. We can all agree with the honorable member for West Sydney when he says that the iniquities of the armament trade should, if possible, he wiped out. But let us remember that we are living in a country which, after lying neglected through the ages, was obtained for us without fighting, but which we may have to defend. Let us realize that we can secure the greatest inspiration for world good from the ideals of justice in the British Empire, and not from alien principles that are fostered by communists and pacifists who try to mislead the people and the unions, which are “ white-anted “ or rather “ red-anted “ by emissaries from Russia, By means of anti-war books and in other ways, these foreign emissaries, as well as freethinkers and others, are trying to undermine the patriotism of the people of the Empire to which we belong.
.- It seems to me that some honorable members opposite have “ tuned-in “ wrongly. During this debate, we have not said one word against Britain or any other nation; it has been left to honorable members sitting behind the Government to introduce individual nations into this controversy. All that we say is that we are opposed to the private manufacture of armaments. While the League of Nations Disarmament Conference was sitting under the chairmanship of Mr. Arthur Henderson, Britain, France, and Czechoslovakia, through private munition factories, were busily engaged in the manufacture of armaments for other countries. Throughout the discussion of the SinoJapanese situation by the League of Nations in an endeavour to solve a serious problem that faced the world, factories in Britain, Czechoslovakia and France were supplying munitions to both countries. France and the Skoda factories in Czechoslovakia were supplying arms to China; Britain, through Vickers, was supplying arms to Japan. And yet, while representatives from these countries are meeting in an endeavour to avoid war, we are told it is not necessary to raise our voice in protest against the liberty given private armament works to do these things. At the recent Disarmament Conference, the
Russian Government, through M. Litvinoff, said, “ We as a nation are prepared to-morrow to disarm, and we ask every nation to disarm with in? “. What was the response? Did Britain, France, or Germany reply in the affirmative? No, in every case a negative answer was received. What then is to he said of the sophistry in which the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) indulged? Lord Cecil said - .
There is a very sinister feature to all the disarmament discussions. I refer to the tremendous power wielded against all the proposals by armament firms … It is m» longer safe to keep in private hands the construction of these terrible instruments of death. We must aim at getting rid of this immense instrument in the maintenance of suspicion
There is no greater advocate of peace in the world than is Lord Cecil, yet he asserts that it is useless to advocate disarmament and peace as long as private munition makers are allowed to follow their own devices to the detriment of all nations. Let . us glance for a moment, not at statements made by pacifists, but at a report published by a Commission of the League of Nations in 1921 on the private manufacture of munitions. The Commission, which had been appointed to inquire into the problem of the private manufacture of arms, came to the following conclusions : -
The Senate inquiry in the United States of America showed that Ministers of the Crown had been bribed by the munition factories of America, and in the case of the Skoda inquiry it was shown that in Roumania and Czechoslovakia five Ministers had been bribed by the Skoda factory. Such was the outcry that all five were dismissed. The Commission found further -
That is true of the position to-day. The majority of the newspaper trusts in this and every other country are subsidized by the armament firms -
The Minister for Customs says that he believes in fighting in the other fellow’s back-yard instead of his own. Why should we go into the other fellow’s’ backyard ? The “ other fellow “ has an equal right to protect his own yard, and our rule should be, “We will not go into any one else’s back-yard to fight, but if any other country attempts to come into ours, we shall have something to give it”. That is our position. We do not believe in aggression, but we do believe that we should defend ourselves at all costs. The Commission reported further -
These are definite charges, and no attempt has been made to rebut them. Manufacturers of munitions have neither soul nor heart. Their only concern is to amass profits. British, munitionmakers supplied Turkey with the shells that mowed clown our own men when they were storming the heights of Gallipoli. Mr. Hugh Dalton, speaking on the Naval Estimates in the House of Commons on the 11th March, 1926, said-.
Vickers had been supplying the Turkish artillery with shells which were fired into the Australian, New Zealand, and British troops as they were scrambling up Anzac Cove and Cape Helios. Bid it matter to those armament firms so long as they did business and expanded the defence expenditure of Turkey that they mashed up into bloody pulp all the morning glory that was the flower of Anzac : the youth of Austrafia and New Zealand? . . .
These men, these directors of armament firms, are the highest and completest embodiment of capitalist morality.
It is our existing system that is responsible for war. As long as that system lasts we shall have wars and rumours of wars and the pitting of one nation against another. Apart altogether from the recent defence conference in New Zealand, the Minister for Defence has made provision for the expenditure of £1,000,000 by his* department. His estimates are bound to be still further increased when the report of the representative of the Commonwealth at that conference is received. I am not condemning the Minister, but I would point out that every munition factory in the world to-day is working overtime. Vickers is working three shifts a day. The Hotchkiss factory, in France, is pouring out machine guns for the Far East and South America. The Skoda arms factory is working night and day to execute orders. There is a boom in the Dutch munition factories. American war factories arc busy executing orders for the Far East and South America. America is starting on the greatest shipbuilding programme ever launched in its history. It is building 32 warships at a cost of £51,000,000. Twenty-two of these ships are being built by private firms. This means that other countries will emulate America’s example. The Senate inquiry has demonstrated the fact that America’s expensive programme was “ worked out “ among members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, who came down to Ministers with the declaration that “ We must protect ourselves by doing what other countries are doing “. If governments fail to abolish the private manufacture of arms, the only result will be another war keener and greater than the last. We see people here waving flags made in Japan and crying, “ Our country right or wrong “. In Germany the cry of “ the Fatherland “ is raised. In yet another country we have the cry of “ Liberty “. These and other dishonest slogans are employed, and Dr. Johnson’s declaration that “ Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundel” “ is as true to-day as it was when he uttered it.
.- I cannot allow a debate of this description to pass by without offering one or two observations on the arguments advanced by members of the Opposition. I am quite safe in saying that the lunatic asylums of this country are large enough to contain all those people who desire to see the world faced with another war; but I am quite sure that they are not big enough to contain all the people who are not prepared to do something in the way of preparation for such an even tuality. A motion of this description might very well have been debated in Paris, Berlin, Moscow or Tokyo, but I cannot see any reason for the time of an Australian Parliament being taken up in the discussion of a subject that has no bearing whatever on conditions as they exist in Australia to-day.
– The honora’ble member himself is speaking to the motion.
– That is so ; but if the honorable member had not moved it the opportunity to reply would not have been available to me. I would have been quite content to listen to honorable members on other subjects. The question of the manufacture of ammunitions is certainly an interesting one, but it is admitted that it has no bearing on the Commonwealth. We have no foreign frontiers, the whole continent is ours. Furthermore, we are in no shape to act as an aggressor nation. We have no naval forces, no ships to enable us to transport our forces to other parts of the world, no trained men to send on active service, even if we had the means to transport them.
– We transported thom on a previous occasion.
– Yes ; but only under the protection of the British and Japanese navies, and they were merely transported to Egypt. Their training was carried out overseas. Men cannot be trained for active service in less than five or six months. Any man who has seen war from the inside as a private soldier in the line, as I have, knows a good deal more about it than do some honora’ble members on the other side of the House.
– The honorable member saw service from the inside of a munition factory.
– I resent that imputation. As I have said, I saw service as a private soldier. What of the serious import of the implications in the motion moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) ? His party, he said, would object to any man being sent overseas to take part in any active war-like operations against another power. The reply of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) was most effective. For my own part I would very much prefer our men to be engaged in active service outside of this country than within it. But if necessity should arise for defensive operations within our borders, I would far sooner see them carried on a few thousand miles north of this city than in the suburbs of Sydney, where they are most likely to take place. Sydney will surely be the first point of attack by any power attempting warlike operations against this country.
Listening to some honorable members one would think that we were living in a world in which mankind has shed every aggressive tendency for war, imbued in human beings since the creation. But we have only to realize that common piracy is an everyday occurrence in huge areas of the Pacific Ocean. As a matter of fact, but for the protection afforded by the navies of Great Britain and other countries, it would not be possible to carry on maritime trade in the Pacific to-day. Passengers by mail steamers in the Bed Sea pass within sight of Arabian cities where slave traffic is still carried on. I have no desire to traverse European history, but I should like to refer to one or two very interesting points raised by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) in regard to the position of Russia to-day. Of all the countries in the world, Russia needs the least defence. There is no major power adjoining its borders from Sweden in the west to Manchuria in the east capable of assailing it. It is a land of immense plains, the very nature of which has compelled great leaders of men time after time to admit - and the latest of them was Napoleon himself - tha1 Russia cannot be effectively conquered. The statements of honorable members opposite that Russia has had to build up a great military organization as a defensive instrument is absolute “ tosh “, and they are not believed by any one who has learned the ABC of what the world’s history teaches. But since the question of Russia has been raised, we must recognize that that country has been engaged in another activity, and the debate to-day arises from an instruction given at the Third Socialist Internationale at Moscow last year that an intensive campaign against war was to be advocated in every country in the world. The chief aim of that
Third Socialist Internationale was to increase the dissemination of anti-war propaganda.
– The honorable member has been reading Sane Democracy.
– On the contrary, I am quoting from the Dublin Review, which contains one of the greatest exposures of the secret machinations of Russia, and months ago set forth much of what was likely to take place in Melbourne at the recent anti-war congress. The Dublin Review is a reputable journal which has -taken the trouble to find out what is behind this world-wide movement against war. To use the words of the article, the delegates to the Young Socialist Internationale declared that “ Youth must be pledged to combat energetically the policy of national defence “.
– That knocks out the whole of the honorable member’s argument. We believe in national defence.
– May I say that the words used in this article, time after time, are identical with the words used in the policy of the Communist party of New South Wales in 1925 when members of that party said, “In city after city we will turn the next war into a civil war, and we will fight inside our own country”? If a man is so devoid of humanity as to desire a war against hi* fellow men he is of such a type that an attempt to describe him would bring one* in conflict with our Standing Orders. Great as the necessity for peace may be to-day, I have not, yet been able to discern any desire on the part of other powers in Pacific countries to bring about the peace which is so necessary.
.- I marvel that the honorable member who has just concluded his address should have deprecated a debate to which he has contributed so many luminous thoughts himself. I wonder that he did not employ his time, from his own point, of view, more advantageously. I am glad that the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has used the forms of the House to afford honorable members an opportunity to discuss a matter which has certainly, during the debate on the
Estimates, been, quite inadequately discussed, I would like to think that there was some fundamental advantage to be gained from a vital change of policy with regard to the manufacture and sale of armaments, but I cannot believe that there is. I think, to some extent, that the desire for private profit in the manufacture of armaments is an additional incentive to war. But I do not believe that in the difference between public manufacture and private manufacture of armaments is to be found the secret of peace. The difference is not altogether a question only of manufacture of armaments. In my view, the whole social system is wrong. I believe that our present social system Tests upon greed and fear and force, and that it is out of these qualities that war springs, and is destined to spring in the future. It is a matter, not only of private manufacture of arms, but of private manufacture of other things as well. In a word, I believe that the peace of the world can’ only be secured through a fundamental change in our social relationships, and that fundamental change is to be found in the objective of the Labour party of which I have the honour to be a member. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) made the damaging admission from his point of view that in matters of defence it is difficult to discriminate between what is defence and what is offence. 1 agree that it is difficult. After all, defence suggests what we are implementing in this Parliament and proposing to extend by the machinery of this Parliament to the amount of many additional millions of pounds. Defence means that we are to build up armaments and munitions, construct battleships, and manufacture poison gases and other instruments of human destruction, sufficiently to overpower the strength of our neighbour in the last resort. And, naturally, our neighbour concludes that his duty is precisely the same as ours. Hence commences and continues this world race of armaments, this hectic promotion of the making of the means to kill, promoted by avarice, hatred and suspicion. The degree of our success in regard to peace depends upon the degree to which we can influence public opinion along the lines of peaceful relations with neighbouring and other peoples.
– Hear, hear!
– Unfortunately, there is historical justification for the belief that the honorable member belongs to a political party which, conscientiously enough, promotes the spirit of war. He believes in the capitalist system, and the policy of catch-as-catch can. He believes in the existence of a subject people within our own shores; a debased unemployed, starved, and embittered people. He believes in the continuance of that system.
– I do not, and the honorable member knows that my party does not.
– I make no worse charge against the honorable gentleman than that he is a supporter of, and a believer in, the capitalist system. What he does not recognize perhaps is that all these vile evils are represented in the system of which he is a supporter.
– I am not a believer in the capitalist system.
– The Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) employed the argument that peace is founded on law and force. He pointed to the statutes in support of the assertion that peace rests on law, and, as the honorable member for Fawkner says, on the police force. I deny that absolutely.
– I have never said that.
- Mr. Speaker, I desire that you come to my assistance when I am interrupted. I am called to order quickly enough when I transgress the rules.
– The honorable member has referred several times to the honorable member for Fawkner, who has not taken part in this debate. That honorable member merely remarked, “ Hear, hear ! “ and any further observations by him were provoked.
– I deny that peace rests on law. On what does the safety of the average citizen of this country depend ? How is it that he can go to bed in the open air if he wishes? He can sleep on verandahs, with windows thrown open, and doors ajar. We hardly take the trouble to lock our doors. Is is because there is a file of policemen outside, or is it because order, in any community such as that in which we live, rests infinitely more securely upon the understanding and goodwill of the people than upon any exercise of force by the police? A throat might be cut every night in the suburb in which I live, so far as police protection goes; but that does not happen, because there is forebearance and a recognition of mutual rights and obligations. If this spirit obtains in a country where the poor, impoverished, and embittered, live under a system of society which deprives them of the rights which properly belong to them, grinds them down, and keeps them ground down, a system the supporters of which have no conception of popular justice, bow much more should that spirit exist between nations separated by leagues of ocean, who have no daily communication with, and no responsibility to, one another?
The Minister for Health says that Australia has shown a sincere desire for peace. I deny that. The Minister has in fact - though not in intention - been one of the most active agents provocateurs that we have ever had in this country. .
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
– The sentiment behind the motion is clearly one to which all persons of intelligence may subscribe, for the principle of peace is advocated. Any departure from that sentiment by honorable members on this side is due to a difference of opinion as to methods. I believe also that there is some misapprehension in the mind of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) who submitted the motion. Australia regards itself as an important unit in the world, but by reason of our limited population we cannot cause our influence to be felt very much in the councils of the nations. We are a relatively small nation ; nevertheless Ave have exercised some influence in the direction of peace by support on all possible occasions of the activities of the League of Nations, and Great Britain has invariably used its power and influence, both in the Council of the League of Nations and outside it, to bring about world peace.
One of the principal points taken by the honorable member for West Sydney in his motion is that it is necessary “ immediately to declare Australia’s support of the Covenant of the League of Nations, which seeks to prohibit the manufacture of arms and munitions by vested interests “. I suggest that the very form of the motion shows that a misapprehension exists in the honorable member’s mind. He is clearly unaware of the efforts made by the League, and in which Australia has joined,, to control the private manufacture of armaments. A convention was subscribed to by the members of the league in 1925, and it had for its principal object the control and regulation of the trade in armaments. Great Britain and Australia, together with twelve other members of the league, have ratified that convention, and, if a sufficient number of other nations had also supported it, the international traffic in armaments and the private manufacture of them would not be the potential menace which it is alleged they are to-day. For many years Britain has been actively striving to induce a sufficient number of other countries to subscribe to that convention in order to have it brought into operation. By the use of arguments in favour of the adoption of this course, and by the employment of its diplomatic machinery, Great Britain has taken most active steps, both in the deliberations of the Assembly of the League of Nations, and in other directions, to bring about this result.
Only last month, this matter was debated in the British House of Commons, and it was mentioned that no more than the fourteen countries which now subscribe to the convention are prepared to support it. Efforts were made at the last general assembly to draft a new convention on different lines, in the hope that sufficient countries would support it to enable it to be brought into force. This proposal is under the active consideration of the league at the present time. I understand that a draft convention, in the new form is being drawn up by the disarmament bureau of the league. The Secretary of State in the United States of America has prepared a draft convention on similar lines, and this has been submitted to the disarmament bureau of the league as possible of acceptance for submission to the members of the league.
Sir John Simon, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, stated in the House of Commons a month ago, that -
He was convinced that the way to disarmament was not by national legislation, but by regulation and control in accordance with an international treaty observed by all States. Such a system was in operation in Great Britain. There was complete and stringent control of all exports of munitions. Arms could only be exported with a licence, and the exporter had to establish the destination of his goods. It was Britain which had taken the initiative in placing the embargo on the export of arms to Bolivia and Paraguay, which 28 exporting countries had now undertaken to observe.
Mr. Baldwin, Lord President of the Council, said -
Nobody pretended that the abolition of the private manufacture of arms would make for peace. Just us prohibition had- had curious results in the United States, he was convinced that exclusive government manufacture of arms would load to an enormous increase in armaments throughout the world. In Russia, where it operated, production was enormous. France had little private anus manufacture, and she had not stood out for reduction of armaments. He regretted that the arms convention of 1925, which had been signed and ratified by Britain, had not been ratified by any considerable number of nations. Nevertheless, the British Government was determined to take up the subject again at Geneva in order to get an effective convention.
A substantial point has been raised as to the difference between defence and offence. The House has had an almost perfect example, in the speech of the honorable member” for Batman (Mr. Brennan), of an apologia for the inflated armaments in Europe, on the ground that they are purely defensive. Now that we know where the honorable member stands in relation to communism, we can accept what he said as a fairly good apologia for the enormous armaments that have been built, up in Russia in the last ten years. Two or three times more than the published amount has been spent there in the last eight years. I suppose that in no parliament in Europe, where fear, envy and malice are rampant, would we hear speeches, such as that of the honorable member, in defence of the inflated expenditure on armaments on the ground that it is purely a defensive measure. Whom has Russia to fear? Is there a country in the world that, by the grace of nature, is more self-defensive, with its millions of square miles of territory? Yet that country has its poison gas factories, its aircraft and its tanks. It is building up the greatest military machine in history, and this, save the mark, is defensive ! Unfortunately, a poverty-stricken Europe, lying at one gate of Russia, is apparently about to pounce upon this Colossus, and tear it to pieces ! Are we to presume that Japan and unfortunate China at the other gate are likely to attack Russia? I suggest rather that Russia is building up its armaments for other than entirely defensive purposes. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) made his apologia for the flood of Russian armaments in the approved European fashion. I do not wish to obtrude myself into this debate at any greater length. I emphasize that Great Britain is making every effort to suppress the international trade in armaments. The abolition, or limitation of the private manufacture of armaments is now under consideration by the Disarmament Conference.
.- The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) is to be complimented upon having moved this motion. In view of the great deal of talk about the possibility of war, it is necessary that some one should expose the machinations of those who are making profits out of the sale of armaments. Some honorable members during this debate have spoken about the cost of the last war, but they have dealt, with it from a purely financial aspect. I wonder if they have ever considered its cost in terms of suffering and misery. Every human life that was destroyed during the war cost approximately £5,000. I take into account, of course, the lives of men in both the allied and enemy armies. The great bulk of that money went into the pockets of people interested in the manufacture of armaments. In these circumstances, it is not surprising that every move to prevent the manufacture of armaments by private companies is rigorously opposed. By every means in their power, those who are interested in the manufacture of armaments have sought to serve their own private interests. They maintain their nefarious work by the payment of bribes to all kinds of interests, including government officials. They recognize that only by setting one country against another can they hope to maintain the output from their factories. The greater the armaments competition between the various countries of the world the greater the profit of those interested in the industry! In order to understand the ramifications of these international organizations it is necessary to know something of the activities of the persons directly interested. Sir Herbert Lawrence, who is a director of Vickers, Armstrong Limited, the Bank of Roumania, and the Sun Insurance Office, is also a director of Dalgety’s Limited. Sir Otto Niemeyer, another director of Vickers, Armstrong Limited, is an officer of the Bank of England, and a director of the AngloInternational Bank, the Bank of International Settlements-
Motion (by Mr. Gander) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order 257b.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 4th December (vide page 779).
Proposed vote, £684,747.
Proposed vote, £9,126,580. (Ordered to be considered together.)
.- I have already called the attention of the Government to what I consider to be an unjust increase of rental in respect of telephones connected to public schools, particularly in the metropolitan area, and I again ask that action be taken to reduce the charge to the former rate. Telephone services are generally made possible in schools by the subscriptions of members of a parents and citizens association, and I cannot understand why an increase of 10s. a year should have been made in the rental charge for such equipment. A letter which I have received from the Marrickville Parents and Citizens Association points out that as schools are not profit-making establishments it is unjust that they should have to pay increased telephone charges. They should not be placed in the same classification as business premises. The telephones are installed in schools solely to assist in making the education system work as smoothly as possible.
– Are many schools connected by telephone?
– I do not think so. The department would not be making a great sacrifice of revenue by reverting to the previous charge for this equipment. I sincerely hope that favorable consideration will be given to my request that this . be done.
Another matter which has occasioned a good deal of dissatisfaction in my electorate is the failure of the Government to install an automatic telephone exchange at Petersham. It is claimed by the people of that district that they are fully entitled to this consideration. If an automatic exchange were installed, the revenue of the department would undoubtedly be increased. Mr. Dein, the former member for Lang, and also the municipalities of Leichhardt and Petersham have, I understand, made representations to the Government on this subject. There has been a considerable agitation among subscribers in the district for the provision of an automatic exchange. As the present exchange is out of date, I hope that the Postmaster-General will give favorable consideration to the numerous requests that have been made for the provision of an automatic exchange in its stead.
.- Could the Minister inform the House whether the automatic exchanges which are being installed in many country towns are successful, and whether, if the results to date have been favorable, the cost and extra work involved would not deter the department from extending these facilities, I urge the department to extend greater postal facilities to educational institutions in regard to education by post. This would not entail very great expense, whilst the children in the outlying districts who are compelled to use the correspondence system would benefit considerably. A request that this should be done was made to the Minister some time ago, and he declined to accede to it. I hope that it will now be more favorably considered.
I direct the attention of the Minister to the high charges which are sometimes made upon people who are compelled to put up their own telephone lines when they happen to be situated some distance from the Government’s lines. These charges at present are unduly high. No greater facility can be given residents in isolated country districts than the telephone, so I hope the Government will reduce these charges.
.- I direct the attention of the Minister to the lack of telephonic facilities at the Newnham Post Office, near Launceston. Although the main telephone line runs adjacent to this post office, there is no trunk-line connexion inside the post office. There is no regular telephone within half ‘a mile of this spot, and thus local residents’ find it very inconvenient to get into communication with people either in Launceston or in other centres. If telephonic facilities were provided in this unofficial post office, no additional expense in regard to maintenance or for the operation of the line itself inside the office would be incurred. Local residents have drawn up a petition, which bears the signatures of about 200 people, for these telephonic facilities, the provision of which would be very much appreciated.
At the opposite end of the City of Launceston, near the Launceston Public Hospital, there is a lack of telephonic facilities, the South Launceston post office, which is the nearest post office, being a considerable distance away. I understand that a storekeeper whose shop is situated near the hospital would be prepared to handle telephonic communication on a basis of payment by results if the telephone were installed in his store. I do not know whether this is feasible, but it is obvious that there is an urgent need for a telephone near this hospital, particularly should people, in case of sickness, desire to communicate urgently with relatives and friends. At present they are obliged to walk for about twenty minutes to reach the Central Launceston Post Office or the South Launceston office. I suggest that in selecting works under its re-employment scheme the Government should consider erecting a new building at Invermay, a suburb of Launceston. The existing structure is not in keeping with the importance of this suburb.
– I draw the attention of the Minister to one phase of telephonic service in country districts in which I believe the department could effect a very big im.provement without incurring any cost. In many country districts in Victoria, and I suppose throughout Australia, there is no co-ordination between neighbouring telephone exchanges in fixing the time for the luncheon closing with the result that for all practical purposes adjoining centres are without means of telephonic communication with one another for two hours during the day. The luncheon hour at these exchanges is dictated by the business men of the respective towns.
– That is so.
– The Postal Department could reasonably approach these shopkeepers with a view to having the lunch hour in adjoining districts synchronized. For instance, the Bet Bet shire councillors were anxious to enable working farmers to telephone to neighbouring towns for urgent supplies, such as spare machinery parts, during the lunch hour, and with this end in view, interviewed the leading business people in each town of the shire. The result, I am glad to say, is that at present the whole of the telephone exchanges in that particular shire have abandoned the practice of which I have complained, and all of them now close for lunch at the same hour. The department has been notified of this change and has replied that it is prepared to accept the new arrangement for the midday break and to make arrangements accordingly. That concession was really obtained through the action taken by the shire council, but I am sure the Postal Department could go further - and make similar arrangements in many other country districts. I am not asking that the hours for business shall be increased, but rather that the spread of hours should be varied. I believe that better results are possible, and that the convenience of the public will be served by the arrangement which I have suggested. Under existing conditions many country telephone exchanges open at 8 a.m., and close at 6 p.m. This arrangement is not convenient for country subscribers, especially during the harvest and shearing seasons, because farmers then are at work long before 8 o’clock in the morning, and do not cease work until after 6 o’clock in the evening. If they ‘wish to use the exchange after the hour of closing, they have to pay an opening fee of ls. 6d., and even then have to rely on the operator being willing to return to duty after the closing hour. The alteration which I have suggested would, I am sure, be much appreciated by residents in country districts. The alternative is to establish more automatic telephone exchanges in country districts, but as the cost for a 20 or 30-line exchange is in the vicinity of £600, that expenditure spread all over Australia would be very great. Nevertheless, I commend for the consideration of the Postmaster-General the extension of that system as far as may be possible. I am making this plea on behalf of country people in preference to the claims of those living in the capital cities, where distances are short and facilities are numerous. In country districts distances are great, and because of the restricted hours for the operation of exchanges, great inconvenience is very often caused to subscribers. If, for example, an accident happens in an isolated locality, persons skilled in first-aid measures are not readily available, and if the mishap occurs outside the hours during which the local exchange is in operation, human life may be endangered by the delay. The establishment of more automatic exchanges or some extension of the hours of manually-operated exchanges would be much appreciated by people living in the country districts.
.- Mr. Chairman-
– I rose at the same time as the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock). The same thing occurred last night ; 1 was waiting for the call from the Chair from 8 o’clock til] half-past ten.
– Order ! As the honorable member for Cook has not been long a member of this Parliament, he may be unaware of the procedure followed by the Chair in giving the call to honorable members. For his information, and also for the information of other new members who may, in similar circumstances, feel that the Chair is showing partiality, it is desirable that I should again state that if on one side of the committee there are 40 members, and on the other side 20 members, the Chair feels it is only right that members belonging to the larger party should be called more frequently than members of the smaller party. If members of both parties were called alternately, and if the debate ended when all the members of the smaller party had spoken, the 20 members belonging to the larger party, not having been heard, might feel that they had reason to complain. I hope that the honorable member will be satisfied with this explanation.
– I intend to judge by results.
– It has always been my practice to deal directly with the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in respect of minor matters of administration, and to discuss, on the floor of the House, matters of policy. I have found this rule to work very well, so to-day I intend to deal with postal policy. The Postal Department is one of the most important of the business activities of the Government. Last year its operations showed h profit of £1,000,000, so it cannot be said that the department is in financial difficulties. For this reason, I feel that we can reasonably expect a little more consideration for requests dealing with certain aspects of policy than was the case a year or two ago when we were feeling the depression so severely. My first request has to do with the installation of country telephones. A couple of years ago the maximum allowance toward the cost of erection of a country telephone service was £20; last year it was raised to £25. This meant that if a person living in. the country desired a connexion with the nearest exchange, he would have to pay the difference between the allowance of £25 and the total cost, in addition to the annual ground rent. After a lapse of a certain period, the practice is to allow a rebate of rental charges, but only as a part payment toward the contribution to the cost of constructing the line. It would be more equitable if, instead of insisting on ground rent after a service has been installed, the department allowed subscribers a rebate on their contributions until they were recouped for their outlay. I should also like the department to reconsider its attitude towards a flat rate. In South Africa, the maximum charge for all country subscribers is £7 a year. I hope that the Postmaster-General will have inquiries made and see if it is not possible to establish more uniformity in the rates, thus relieving some country subscribers from the excessive charges now being levied on them for their telephone services.
– The average ground rent in country districts is £3 5s. for each subscriber.
– But there is a charge of 7s. 6d. for every quarter of a mile from existing lines. In many instances this brings the rent up to £20 or £30 a year.
– -Surely the honorable member does not expect the public to pay for the few!
– No, but I think there should be a more equitable distribution of the cost. The suggestion I have just made has been adopted in other activities of the Postal Department. There is a flat rate of 2d. for letters addressed to any part of the Commonwealth, regardless of distance, and more of the same principle should be observed, as far as possible, in connexion with telephone services. In England, there is a fixed charge of ls. for night calls. I admit that, because of its size, construction costs are heavier in Australia in proportion to the use of our telephones than they are in Great Britain, but even here it should be possible to liberalize the charges for night telephone calls.
With regard to border telegrams, it is high time a reduction was made. After 34 years of federation, there is still an absence of the federal spirit, the minimum cost for telegrams interstate being ls. 4d., even if a message is despatched only a few miles across the border of a State. I have been informed that in one border town, local business men desiring to communicate by telegram with clients or customers in the adjoining State, send a boy across the border on a bicycle to despatch the messages from the- post office there and save the additional 4d. The position would be met by the establishment of the zoning system, under which a person could send a sixteen-word telegram within a 50-mile radius of any post office at the present State rate of ls. The adoption of this suggestion would not involve the Postal Department in any serious loss of revenue, but would remove much irritation and dissatisfaction. I hope that the Postmaster-General will consider carefully the several matters which I have mentioned, and institute the reforms indicated.
Sitting suspended from 6.1 J), to S p.m.
.- The Postmaster-General of the Lyons Ministry before the last Cabinet reshuffle (Mr. Parkhill) -was, in my opinion, the be3t Postmaster-General that Australia has known, irrespective of party, particularly in his treatment of commercial broadcasting stations. When he disagreed with a request he was always willing to give his reasons; and if he favoured a proposal put to him, he said so without delay. I am closely identified with one commercial broadcasting station, and I think that I speak on behalf of all similar stations, when I pay that tribute to the honorable gentleman. Unfortunately, since the administration of the department has been undertaken by another Minister, those satisfactory conditions have ceased. I speak particularly of the new rule regarding broadcasting advertisements on Sundays. At first, stations were permitted to broadcast advertisements on Sundays; later, direct advertisements were not permitted, and now the department threatens to disallow altogether advertisements on Sundays. This changed attitude on the part of the department has destroyed the harmony which existed during the administration, of the former Postmaster-General, and I hope that that honorable gentleman, who is at present in charge of the business before the committee, will take this matter up with his successor.
I desire to bring before the Minister the unjustified charges made by the Australasian Performing Right Association. This body, which is one of the biggest combines in Australia, will not. allow an artist to appear in a public hall, even on behalf of charity, unless he first pays to it a licence-fee. Similarly, no commercial broadcasting station may broadcast a gramophone record unless it pays to. this association 4d. every time the record is played. That charge is in addition to any royalty paid to the maker of the record for the right to use it, and to the cost of the record itself. I would not object to n fair payment for the use of ft record if the artist whose performance it records received the fee; that would be some payment for his talent, and for the pleasure that he gives to the community. But I do not think that the artist receives any of these fees. Although some of the records in respect of which this association claims fees are twenty years old, 4d. has to be paid every time they are played. Other countries, notably New Zealand and Ireland, have dealt with this matter effectively.
– A royal commission was appointed to investigate these charges.
– I hope that the Government will soon act on the recommendation of the royal commission, and do something to curb this combine, which now controls every public hall in this country in. which entertainments are given.
– Does the honorable member mean the royal commission presided over by Mr. Justice Owen ?
– No; I mean the body presided over by Mr. Hammond.
I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) regarding automatic telephone exchanges. There are probably more factories at Mascot, in the Cook electorate, than in any other district in Australia, and yet Mascot still has a manual telephone exchange. A proposal to convert to the automatic system would have the support of every business man who now uses the exchange. * Quorum formed. *
– I call the attention of the Minister to the position of country telephone subscribers in relation to the preferential rates allowed for long distance calls. That these rates are for the purpose of granting concessions in respect of long distance is clear from the fact that they do not operate in the case of conversations between places less than 30 miles apart. As many country subscribers are connected with exchanges which give only a limited service, these concession rates are of no practical value to them. For instance, the ordinary day rate operates from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. with a reduced rate between that hour and 9 o’clock, and between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., and a still further reduction from 9 p.m. till 7 a.m. Subscribers to those exchanges which are open only till 8 p.m., have the benefit of the intermediate rate for a couple of hours; but those who are connected with exchanges which operate only between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., derive no benefit whatever from these concessions. I suggest that those exchanges to which, under present conditions, the preferential rates do not apply, should be given some other period during which concession rates will be charged.
It has been the practice of the department to allow a number of subscribers to use what is known as a party line, on condition that they contract with the department to remain subscribers for a definite period - I think seven years. On account of economic conditions, many subscribers to party lines have had their service disconnected, and, in consequence, the remaining subscribers have been called upon to pay the total charges imposed by the department. That places on them an unfair burden. In most cases the services have been disconnected, not because of any lack of desire to retain them, but merely because of economic necessity. The department has already incurred the expenses connected with the installation of the telephones, and as the increased rental charged to the remaining subscribers is likely to lead to other disconnexions, there is danger of further losses of business, and, consequently, of revenue also. Obviously, it is in the interests of the department to maintain the number of subscribers at the highest figure possible, and, therefore, I ask the Minister to take these representations into consideration, with a view not only to country subscribers getting the benefit of the telephone service, but also maintaining the revenue of the department.
.- During recent years considerable settlement has taken place on the Atherton Tableland, and some of the settlers there have sought connexion with the telephonic service, only to be informed that the financial position of the Commonwealth will not permit of the work being carried out. The department suggested that if those interested would ascertain the number of likely subscribers, the matter would be further considered. When a list was supplied, the department said that if the prospective subscribers erected their own lines it would install the telephones. By adopting this attitude the department is not assisting in the settlement of that area. Recently, at Topaz, in the Malanda district, there was an outbreak of diphtheria, but there was no telephone within twelve miles of the stricken children. The installation of a telephonic service would assist in the settlement of this and similar areas.
At one time Dajarra, in western Queensland, was a thriving mining centre, but on account of the low price of copper the population has fallen off in recent years. The old telephone line, which belonged to the Railway Department, is used for communications, but the line is in need of repair, and no one seems willing to accept the responsibility of attending to it. The result is that sometimes the residents of that centre have no service at all. The town communicates with the outside world by telephone to Duchess, and from there through Cloncurry, with other places along the Mount Isa line. Some of the people whose address is given as Dajarra, are from 20 to 80 miles from the post office, and it is most annoying to them to find, after a ride of perhaps 50 miles, that the line is not in working order. This necessitates travelling to Duchess to transact business by telegraph and sometimes results in the loss of a week. The responsibility of maintaining the line iu good order rests with the department which expects payment for the service, but when the service is inefficient loss is caused to the people in that locality. If it is not the responsibility of the Railway Department the postal authorities should act in the matter.
The present post office at Cairns, which was in existence when I was attending school, has not been improved to any extent during the last 30 years. There has been extensive development in Cairns and the surrounding district during recent years, and the present building is quite unsuitable to handle the volume of business transacted there. As the department has promised to re-model the structure -I trust that that will be one of the works undertaken in order to afford relief to the unemployed before Christmas.
A large portion of the Kennedy elector^ ate is served by party telephone lines which cost from £10 to £30 annually, exclusive of the cost for calls; this is altogether too high a charge for the service rendered. Telephones are essential to the man on the land, but the rates and other imposts which country people have to meet are altogether too high. Country residents are as much entitled ‘to an efficient telephone service at a reasonable rate as are city residents who obtain a telephonic service at a much lower cost. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) suggested the imposition of a flat rate. I do not know how such a system would operate, but it is time that the representatives of country districts made a determined effort to ensure that the rates charged to country subscribers more nearly approximate those in force in the metropolitan area, particularly as they have to pay higher prices for practically every commodity they require. For instance, in the Cloncurry district, the price of flour is about £10 per ton higher than it is in the more closely settled districts on the eastern seaboard. People are not likely to engage in rural occupations, and in that way assist the development of this country, unless they receive more encouragement than .at present. Governmental and semi -governmental authorities impose so many charges upon them that it is surprising that there are so many people living in country districts. When the country interests are concerned, the department should disregard the revenue received and afford reasonable facilities to those carrying on important developmental work.
The Public Service Regulations provide that the Postal Department may employ boys from fourteen to fifteen years of age, but when these boys reach their sixteenth year and are entitled to a little more money, they may be discharged. The services of youths engaged at eighteen or nineteen years are also dispensed with when they reach the age of 21, and become entitled to the adult wage. During recent years there have been no examinations for juniors desiring employment in the Postal Department, and under the present system youths are employed for a couple of years and then turned adrift to find employment elsewhere. In some instances boys would have benefited had they not accepted employment in the Public Service, but most of them realized tib.at it was better to work for twelve months than not to have any work at all. Many who devoted all their spare time” to improving their general knowledge and qualifying for positions in the Service, have found after a couple of years that their work has been only temporary. Postmasters should indicate clearly to applicants that the work upon which they are to be employed will last for only a specified period. In some instances girls are engaged at fourteen to operate a telephone switchboard; they may have rendered efficient service to the department for a number of years, but if no permanent position is available when they reach eighteen they are informed that their services will be no longer required. Country postmasters should be instructed to notify persons seeking such employment that the work will last for only a limited period. My only regret is that the ex-Postmaster-General has relinquished that portfolio. He was regarded by the members of all parties as the best mau who has ever occupied that position. He was always willing to do more than his successor is prepared to do.
– I direct the attention of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to the important trunk telephone line connecting the South Coast with Sydney. As that line is constructed through country which is not served by a railway the telephone service is more extensively utilized than it is in districts where there are better transport facilities. For some time governments have been expending money in maintaining the existing line, and the present Government is also expending a considerable amount which, it is contended, will be practically wasted, because it is believed that within a year or two the Government will be compelled to construct a nev/ line. I have brought this matter under the notice of the department by correspondence because a large number of persons in the district continue to complain of the inefficiency of the service.
There is little room for complaint as to the general progress made in connexion with our telephone services. Those who have been members of this House for some years, as I have been, realize that the complaints are not nearly so numerous as they were some years ago; but, as stated by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), the department should make a determined effort to reduce the cost of telephone services. There are tens of thousands of homes and business places in cities and country districts in which telephones would be installed if the rates were reduced. If our telephone system were conducted by private enterprise I believe the service would be much cheaper than it is to-day. As it has always been the policy of governments to construct roads ‘and bridges, sometimes at great cost, to serve only a few residents, it is only reasonable to provide effective telephonic communication even when the number of settlers who will benefit is limited. If the rates were reduced the increase in the number of subscribers would more than compensate the department for any anticipated loss of revenue.
I trust that the Minister will also bring under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral the necessity to improve the wireless reception in the Federal ‘Capital Territory. In Canberra, where there is a population of between 8,000 and 9,000 persons and in Goulburn 14,000 or 15,000, the wireless reception is most unsatisfactory. Many listeners get better reception from the B class stations than from those under the control of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The exPostnnisterGeneral was particularly alive to the necessity for improving this service by establishing relay stations, and there is nowhere in Australia where such a station is needed more than in the CanberraGoulburn district, which serves a large area. Many complaints are received from country districts concerning the reception ; often the interference by electrical equipment becomes so acute that listeningin is practically impossible. It is within the power of the Government to insist that those using such appliances should install a small attachment which has been found to be quite serviceable, and thus dispense with the interference which now prevails. The department directs its representatives in particular towns to instruct, say, a butcher operating an electrical sausage machine, or the proprietor of a laundry using electrical equipment, to install this attachment, and when the request is complied with the reception im proves immediately, but there is no law to compel its use. If the Government endeavoured to improve the service the revenue from licences would improve immediately. In many countrytowns persons who purchase wireless sets decide when their licence expires to dispose of them owing to the unsatisfactory service. Honorable members have received scores of complaints, and if the department wishes to improve the service it should insist that persons whose plant is responsible for interference shall attach the equipment I have mentioned. I trust that the Minister for Defence, who when PostmasterGeneral rendered such excellent service, will bring these matters under the notice of his colleague who at present controls the department. [Quorum formed.]
.- I take it that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) is to-night representing the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson). I ask him whether he can make on behalf of the Government a statement as to what has been done in regard to the unification of railway gauges since the Governor-General’s Speech at the opening of the present Parliament announced that consideration was to be directed to three principal matters, including the undertaking of certain works, and then went on to say -
The selection of these works will be a matter for consultation with the States, which will be invited to consider such undertakings as the unification of the railway gauges between capital cities . . .
Although two months have since elapsed, we have had no further pronouncement from the Government. As Acting Minister for Markets and Transport, I introduced in 1930 a bill for the construction of the Port Augusta to Red Hill railway. Does the Government propose to revive that proposal? The railway to Red Hill on the standard gauge was opened in 1925. [Quorum formed.] There is urgent need for the construction of this additional link between Port Augusta and Red Hill, so as to shorten by twelve hours the time occupied in travelling between Western Australia and the Eastern States. The work would give immediate relief to the unemployed in South Australia, a State that has suffered severely from the depression. Employment would be provided directly for approximately 1,000 persons and indirectly for an additional 3,000. The line would be a further link in the unification of railway gauges, and would ensure unhampered transport between Adelaide and Kalgoorlie, a feature which I believe would popularize land travel in preference to either sea or air transport. It would also be a great boon to livestock owners in the vicinity of Alice Springs, in Central Australia, by bringing the Adelaide stock market closer to them. At present stock have to be spelled for from “24 to 36 hours on the journey. The estimated cost of the work when I brought forward the proposal was £1,200,000. The Government should have very little difficulty in raising the necessary money.
I should like to be informed of the present position in connexion with the contract entered into some years ago between the Commonwealth Government and Westralian Airways Limited. The Bruce-Page Government agreed to the payment of a subsidy for a period of five years at the rate of £40,000 a year. This air service is in direct competition with the East-West railway, a public utility that cost £7,000,000, and is losing approximately £30,000 per annum. The company was so encouraged by the subsidy that it purchased a number of more commodious and up-to-date aeroplanes, hoping that it would withdraw further traffic from the railway.
All agree that the Postmaster-General’s Department is a most efficient public utility. It is an illustration of the fact that, under proper management, a big State enterprise can prove a wonderful success. Were it in the hands of private enterprise, the people of Australia would not be so well treated as they are to-day. We are told that all Commonwealthowned enterprises must inevitably be run at a loss. This is a shining example to the contrary. Last year it made a net profit of £868,000, after paying £1,702,000 on account of interest, and £859,000 into a. sinking fund.
The Minister for Defence was formerly a very good Postmaster-General. Is he in a position to make a statement of the Government’s future policy in regard to wireless broadcasting? We have been advised from time to time that a number of additional broadcasting stations are to be established. I speak in advocacy of the claims of those who are residing in what are known as fading zones in different parts of Australia. The people of Bundaberg, in my electorate, complain bitterly of the very bad reception in that area, and ask that relief bc afforded by the erection of a relay station.
I should like to know how many officers over 21 years of age are at present employed in the Postal Department at less than the basic wage for an adult employee. At one time the number was over 900.
In view of the buoyancy of the finances, I stress the importance of reconsidering the allowance of unofficial postmasters and postmistresses, who are overworked and underpaid. They do not enjoy the benefits and privileges of permanent government servants, and are debarred from superannuation when they reach the age of retirement. Many thousands of them in remote country districts are rendering valuable services to the community.
The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) put the case of those who are engaged in dead-end occupations in country post offices, such as telegraph messengers who are expected to sleep on the job, and telephonists, who are dismissed after two or three years’ service. A system should be evolved for the absorption in the department of these employees, who are receiving useful training, upon their passing the necessary entrance examination.
I invite the Minister to state whether the concessions in connexion with telephone rentals, which were withdrawn from hospitals when the finances were in a less buoyant state, have been restored. These deserving institutions are doing splendid work under extreme difficulties.
For some time Rockhampton has suffered the disabilities of an out-of-date manual telephone system and has clamoured for an automatic exchange. I urge the Minister to indicate when that work will be put in hand.
A large number of painters, carpenters and other tradesmen are out of employment. Now that the post office is making a substantial profit and the revenues are buoyant, the Government should absorb many of them in the renovation and painting of Commonwealth buildings.
In reply to a question asked on the 4th December of last year, the PostmasterGeneral said that it was intended to place 30 automatic telephone exchanges in centres where the subscribers numbered 40 or 50. Can the Minister for Defence mention the centres in which such exchanges are being installed? There is a clamant demand for them in a number of country centres in Queensland. Inasmuch as they provide a continuous service, they are a great, boon to those who are prepared to suffer the disabilities of country life.
It would be interesting to learn the extent to which the manufacture of telephone equipment is now being carried out in Australia. The assurance should be given that as much as possible of this work will be given to Australian factories. There are companies which have the necessary plant and equipment, and are prepared to supply the requirements of the department.
I stress the complaint of people who live in small country districts regarding the early closing of post offices. This applies particularly to allowance post offices. The hour of closing has in many cases been brought forward from 8 p.m. to 6 p.m., with the result that considerable inconvenience is caused to those who are working pastoral properties in outback areas in Central Queensland, because when they return to the homesteads at sundown they are unable to get into telephonic communication with their auctioneer and other business people.
I urge greater generosity in the provision of mail facilities in country districts. Honorable members who represent large closer settlement areas are fully aware of the inconvenience suffered by those who have only a weekly mail service. Numerous instances have come to my notice within the last couple of years of the refusal of the department to provide muchneeded facilities. The customary reply is that the exigencies of the financial position will not permit of their being granted, or that the number of letters carried or the probable revenue does not justify the expenditure involved. Such requests should not be determined on the basis of pounds shillings and pence. The more thickly populated parts of Australia should bear any loss occasioned by the provision of adequate facilities for those who live in the far-flung country districts. I think the Postmaster-General is quite sympathetic, and I ask him to see that the department considers more generously the applications made to it from time to time.
.- I have no local suggestions to offer or criticism of the department to make. I have always found the Deputy-Director of Post and Telegraphs in Victoria most prompt and helpful in his consideration of all proposals put up to him; but I do feel that I might make some useful suggestions to the Postmaster-General’s Department as to ways in which it can render assistance to aviators in Australia. I know it is the policy of the department to render to aviators all facilities in the way of weather reports, and, having regard to the practical help it gives already, I feel confident that my suggestions will receive every consideration. One of the directions in which we can do most to make aviation safe is by providing prompt and accurate weather reports. At present it is the policy of the department to give to any aviator who telephones or telegraphs to any post office, a weather report from that office. I have found these weather reports are for the most part most accurate, considering how difficult it must be for postal officials, with little knowledge of flying conditions, to judge weather conditions. But the value of these weather reports is entirely dependent upon the promptness with which they can be received by the person requiring them. For instance, to ensure the greatest safety, it should be possible for a pilot about to set out on a flight to get a weather report within a few minutes before he leaves the ground. Let me illustrate my point : To get into either of the great capital cities of Sydney or Melbourne a cross-country aviator has to fly over mountain barriers within 30 or 40 miles of both capitals, and the crossing of them very often is most dangerous owing to the clouds being right down on the mountain tops. If an aviator knows what the weather conditions are at his destination, whether it be Sydney or Melbourne, it is quite possible for him to fly above the clouds and come down through them. A weather report received several hours beforehand is useless because both these cities are on the sca coast and fogs come up very rapidly. Only a few days ago I rang from Bendigo a post office in the ranges to the north of Melbourne, and was assured that the weather there was quite fine. That was so at the time. But I had to drive nine or ten miles to the aerodrome, and by the time I had started my engine and had flown to this locality, a fog had come up and I had to take a certain amount of risk in flying over the fog and coming down through it into Melbourne. If I had been able a minute or two before starting to receive a weather report from that office the postmaster would have said that a fog had come up. I suggest that one way in which the department can help is to give to calls for weather reports the same preference that is given to calls made for medical assistance. I do not know whether or not there is a regulation, but it is understood that if one rings for a doctor urgently one is immediately connected. The postal officials are always very willing to help, but it is not possible for them, without authority, to pass over other trunk calls that have been booked. By giving authority to put weather calls through promptly the department would make a great stride towards safer flying facilities. The day when a small aeroplane ca.n carry wireless is far distant. Another great help would be the installation of telephone boxes at all aerodromes, where it can be done without unreasonable expense, so that a pilot could ring up a post office after he had started his engine and immediately before taking off. These boxes should be enter able with a master key. The aerodrome at Duntroon, for instance, has a telephone box which, for obvious reasons, cannot be left open. A limited number of people have keys to it, but the average pilot arriving here, and the pilot who wants to get through most promptly seldom has a key to that box. If all such boxes could be fitted with a master key, which could be supplied to cross-country pilots for a fee - and I think all cross-country pilots would be glad to pay even a considerable fee - it would be a very great help. I have something now to say which concerns the Commonwealth Railways and applies equally to all railways in Australia. Every railway station should have the name of the town or village painted in large letters on the top of the station building. There have been in the history of flying in Australia at least two or three accidents, which people are convinced occurred through the pilot going down to try to read the name of a railway station on the board on the platform. Every one who has flown across country has had on occasions to risk coming down to about 100 feet over a railway station for that purpose. Without any great expense it should be possible to paint the name on the top of every railway station throughout Australia. This move would cost little and only requires to be suggested for all the railway commissioners to act upon it. Railway stations are particularly useful in this regard because of the fact that they are the most reliable landmarks. One can look down, see the name on railway stations and so locate oneself. Every village and town throughout Australia also should endeavour to have its name painted on the top of some local building. I do not wish to delay the committee, as I know that the Minister is anxious to reply to the debate. I raise this matter with some diffidence because it affects me personally, but since I am one of the few members of this Parliament who have experience of the difficulties of a cross-country pilot, I do not think that an apology is necessary.
– In the brief time at my disposal I shall not be able to deal with all the matters to which reference has been made during this debate. But I am sure that the practice which has prevailed on other occasions will be followed on this - that a copy of Hansard containing the report of the debate will be perused by the PostmasterGeneral, Senator McLachlan, and a communication will be forwarded to honorable members concerning any matters they have raised, if I am unable to deal with them at the present time. The remarks made by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) who spoke last, will be duly taken into consideration, because their importance will be realized by the department just as they have been realized by all who have heard them. May I say to the honorable member for Kennedy (‘Mr. Riordan), who spoke of the Cairns post office, that he will find on the works estimates an item of £5,000 to provide an entirely new post and telegraph office in that town. That should minimize, in some measure, his complaint in that respect. Similarly with regard to Rockhampton post office and the introduction of an automatic telephone service there, I would point out that £9,000 for that particular purpose appears on the Estimates. Reference has been made to the desirableness of installing automatic telephones in several suburbs. The Petersham case is well known to me, as three or four deputations waited on me while I was Postmaster-General, and I have no doubt that other deputations with the same object in view will wait on my successor. The installation of an automatic exchange at Mascot and in other suburbs has also been mentioned.
– Including Kogara’h.
– And also at Kogarah. Every one prefers the automatic to the manually operated telephone system. But the department has felt that, as a business proposition, where there is any life left in a manual system it should be exhausted before an amount approximating, in many instances, in the case of the suburbs, £30,000 or £40,000, is expended in substituting for it a new automatic exchange. It would cost such a sum to install a new system in Petersham, North Sydney, Kogarah and probably in Mascot. It will be seen, therefore, that as a business concern the department, like any other commercial venture, must necessarily exhaust the usefulness of the service it has in existence before incurring the very considerable expenditure I have just mentioned in putting in an automatic exchange. So far as rural automatics are concerned I am informed by the department that because of financial reasons delay has taken place in their introduction, hut with the return of better conditions the work has been revived and 20 installations are being provided for on the Estimates for the current year. I regret that I am unable to give the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) a statement of the exact location of these exchanges, but an endeavour will be made to supply him with that information. The honorable member mentioned quite a number of other matters, and perhaps I can deal with some of them as they relate to subjects that were brought up by other honorable members. The concession to hospitals and ambulances has not been actually withdrawn. It was intended at one stage to withdraw the concession which these institutions enjoy and which is really in the nature of a contribution to their upkeep. They are after all State institutions and their upkeep is entirely a State responsibility.
– Officers of the honorable gentleman’s own department may be taken to them.
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Yes; but the same remark applies to the public generally. They are State instrumentalities and it is the responsibility of the States to maintain them, so that what has been done by the post office is, in effect, a contribution to their upkeep by way of a reduction of their expenditure. I think that if the Federal Government, as a matter of policy, desires to make a contribution of this kind it should be made, and that as a business proposition the amount should be refunded to the Postal Department. In regard to Westralian Airways Limited, to which the honorable member for Capricornia referred, the contract that previously existed has been superseded by later aerial contracts connected with the overseas air mail service. The contract with the Defence Department has expired, and from the 31st April, 1934, payment is made by the Postal Department on a non-contract basis.
A complete list of the proposed new regional broadcasting stations has been given from time to time, and I have been furnished with a statement which indicates that those for Northern Tasmania, Townsville, Grafton, Gippsland, the south-west of Western Australia, northern New South Wales, and Western Victoria are well advanced towards completion and it is hoped that during the current financial year they will be in active operation. All these stations will embody every new feature which had been introduced in wireless broadcasting up to the time contracts were let. I am quite sure that when the new stations are in operation great benefit will accrue to the general public.
Several honorable members urged a reduction of the charges for country telephone services. It is purely a matter of business; the telephones in the metropolitan areas are profitable because* of the larger number of subscribers. The loss on the telephone system in Australia is due to the carrying of the lines, quite justifiably, to remote country districts and the heavy cost of their maintenance. The loss on country services during the last three financial years has amounted to £1,000,000, so that it can be said that the country subscribers have been granted a concession of that amount over and above the actual cost of installation.
– Are separate accounts kept for the metropolitan and country services ? ^ Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Yes. Apart from long distance lines for which special rates are charged, the average rental fee for country subscribers is £3 5s. As a matter of fact a further concession was only lately given by the subdivision of the mileage groups up to 40 miles, which is estimated to involve the department in a loss of £50,000 per annum. As to whether the department should incur further losses by giving additional concessions to country districts, that is a matter of policy which the department and the Government will take into consideration in the light of the views expressed by honorable members.
The representations by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) with regard to the commercial broadcasting stations and the Australian Performing Right Association will be considered. I am sorry that time will not permit me to reply to the criticisms of ,the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Kennedy in connexion with the employment of youths in the telephone department, but I assure them that a satisfactory reply can be made.
In regard to the unification of railway gauges and the construction of the Red Hill to Port Augusta railway, a conference is to take place next week between Commonwealth and State Ministers, and it is hoped that some amended scheme will be evolved that will assist the reemployment plan which the Government has in mind.
– The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes for the Commonwealth Railways and the Postmaster-General’s Department has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Territories of the Commonwealth.
Proposed votes - Northern Territory, £140,685; Federal Capital Territory, £242,789; Papua, £59,146; Norfolk Island, £3,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
.- This afternoon I asked the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) if men employed on relief work in the Federal Capital Territory are to be put off on the 21st December to avoid payment to them for the Christmas holidays. I cannot understand why he sidestepped the question by asking me to place it on the notice-paper. He could have answered the question, which was of urgent importance, in view of the near approach of the Christmas holidays. The ordinance governing employment in the Capital Territory lays down that workmen shall be paid for all holidays, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday. If these men are to be paid off before the Christmas holidays they are to be very -unfairly treated. The Minister must take responsibility for the memorandum which has been issued, and I ask him to say definitely now if it is the intention of the Government to put these men off to avoid payment for holidays?
– I was not in a position to give a complete answer to the honorable member’s question this afternoon, and I can assure him that I had no desire to sidestep it. I merely gave him the information which I had, and asked him to place the question on the notice-paper so that a complete answer could be supplied. Since then I have been able to obtain the information. The position is this: Relief workers who have been receiving a few weeks continuous work close up to Christmas will be paid up to and including Friday, the 21st December, and will, in addition, receive, -as an act of grace, holiday-pay for one day. I am not in a position to say whether it will be possible to provide work for them after Christmas, but should circumstances permit the resumption of work by these men on the 2nd January, they will become entitled to the maximum holiday-pay of three days.
.- Some time ago I moved the adjournment of the House to discuss a matter connected with Norfolk Island, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), in his reply, read a statement by the Administrator of the island, which did not exactly fit in with statements made at a public meeting at which about twothirds of the adult population of the island were present. This matter concerned the deportation from Norfolk Island of an Australian-born citizen on the technicality that he could not pass a test in the German language. In view of statements made at that public meeting. I suggest that the matter be further investigated in order to determine what actually occurred.
There is at present i: very serious dispute between the Administrator of Norfolk Island and a boating company which has been carrying on business there for a number of years. The Minister under whose charge Norfolk Island is placed is forced .to accept the opinions and views expressed by officials, and has himself no personal knowledge that would enable him to use his own discretion. It is a significant fact that no Minister having control of the island has ever visited it. For a considerable time the boating company had carried on, but following on representations made by the Administrator a limited company was formed and the boating has since been carried on under a different system. Due to the actions of the Administrator some considerable time elapsed before this company was registered, and from that period a good deal of the trouble which exists on the island dates. A public meeting was held and quite a lot of correspondence passed between Mr. Long, the secretary to the old boating company, and the Prime Minister’s Department. Tip to the present no finality has been reached by the Prime Minister’s Department on the matters raised. I ask the Minister to give very serious consideration to this matter and to be guided more by the views of the residents of the island than by the official reports which come from the Administrator. Reports presented to Parliament are often misleading. On one occasion the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), through mis-reading a report, made a grave misstatement in this chamber. This would not have occurred if the Government had had an accurate knowledge of the position of affairs on the island. The dispute between the Administrator and the boating company should be considered seriously, because the inhabitants are not by any means contented. They are white folk like ourselves, and even the descendants of the mutineers of the Bounty have certain rights.
– What is the population of the island?
– About 1,000 or 1,100. Their affairs receive prominence in the local press, a.nd I suggest that a perusal of the file of the weekly newspaper published there would give the Minister a more accurate idea of what is happening than can be obtained from official reports, which, in some cases at least, are merely an apologia for the Administrator. I do not claim that I am capable of judging between the parties to this dispute; but, in the interest of good administration, it should be cleared up as quickly as possible.
– Some time ago I had a casual conversation with Mr. Macarthur Onslow, concerning whom a dispute recently arose on Norfolk Island. He is now a constituent, though not a supporter, of mine, and I agree with the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) that the case put forward by him at least demands an inquiry. Mr. Onslow belongs to an old and wealthy family, which is descended from the famous Macarthur who helped to depose
Governor Bligh. Members of the Opposition do not believe that anybody should be shanghaied into a vessel and deported without legitimate reason. Mr. Onslow corroborated what has been said by the honorable member for Richmond regarding the dispute between the Administrator and the residents. He declared that the people on the island had real grievances, which arise from misunderstandings, and he condemned the Administrator in round terms. I gather that the trouble arose over a dispute in connexion with the celebration of Anzac Day. The Administrator, though invited to attend the gathering, refused to do so, and Mr. Onslow strongly criticized his action. It seems to me that the island authorities endeavoured to treat Mr. Onslow as the Commonwealth Government tried to deal with Walsh and Johnson. Desiring to deport him, they gave him a test in German; but, although well educated, he was unfamiliar with the language, and failed to pass the test. He and his wife were placed on a vessel and sent from the island as undesirable citizens. One of the charges made against him was that he had illicitly manufactured whisky. He is wealthy enough to be able to purchase all the whisky he can drink, and he declares that he can. prove his innocence. He stated that the trouble had occurred because he stirred up a hornet’s nest by taking the side of the residents in the dispute with the Administrator. Speaking more on behalf of the islanders than in relation to the Onslow case, I claim that they are entitled to reasonable treatment, irrespective of their numbers. I support the honorable member for Richmond in his statement that the inhabitants should be given an opportunity to put their case before the Government from their own point of view.
– In reply to the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green), the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), and the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), who recently asked a question regarding this matter, I point out that representations have been made by letter to the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), and to Senator Sir George Pearce, the Minister directly administering the affairs of the island, and the latter has taken steps to inform himself as to the facts of the unfortunate deportation case. He is satisfied that the Administrator is doing his work effectively and fairly; in short, I can say that the Administrator has the complete confidence of the Government.
In regard to the boating company, I understand that there is no wharf or quay on the island, and the Administrator found it necessary some time ago to promulgate an ordinance whereby the boats carrying goods between ocean-going vessels and the shore would be licensed and allowed to ply only on such conditions as were stipulated. I understand that the company which formerly supplied this service refused to comply with the new ordinance, the object of which was merely to ensure effective control. The Administrator called for a service, and other persons were found who were willing to abide by the ordinance. I understand that they obtained boating licences. Subsequently the original company retracted from its attitude and desired to obtain licences; but by that time the boats necessary to do the work had been registered, and there was no need for a further registration. This company has been making representations to the Government directly, and through other parties, to have what it regards as its grievances redressed. The matter has been investigated, and the Minister is satisfied that substantial justice has already been done.
– >Not to the old company, which has registered as a limited company at the suggestion of the Administrator.
– Only under extreme pressure, and after others who were willing to comply immediately with the regulations had obtained the business. I understand that the old company claims that it has been improperly deprived of its former work.
As to the complaint that Ministers administering Norfolk Island have never visited it, the present Minister (Senator Pearce) has not yet had an opportunity to make a trip to the island, but he proposes to do so at an early date, in order to gain personal knowledge of the conditions obtaining there. [Quorum formed.]
.- I again direct the attention of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) to the additional expenditure caused in the management of the government hotels in Canberra through the continuation of the commissariat branch. I was told on Friday that this subject could be discussed more fully when the Estimates for the Federal Capital Territory were under consideration. Since that time I have been asked by the permanent head of the Department of the Interior, Mr. Brown, whether I really desire a reply to my questions. I should not have asked them if I did not desire the information. It has been suggested to me that Mr. Evans, the former manager of Hotel Canberra, has asked me to make a complaint regarding the management of government hotels in Canberra. Let me disabuse the minds of honorable members on that point. I have not seen Mr. Evans since early in last August. So far as I know, that gentleman did his work efficiently. Had that not been so, he would not have been retained in his job for seven years. Mr. Evans did not. ask me to make any complaint. It has also been suggested that, a pressman asked me to make a complaint; but that also is incorrect. I want the information for myself. I cannot understand why it is necessary to maintain the commissariat section in connexion with the management of Hotel Canberra, for it must cause additional expenditure.
– It effects a reduction of expenditure.
– It seems to me that the commissariat system must duplicate managerial costs. I am told that although Mr. Kay is manager of Hotel Canberra at present, he has nothing to do with the actual management. An important feature of hotel management is the purchasing of supplies, but under the present system the manager of Hotel Canberra has nothing to do with that branch of the business.
I am pleased that I made this inquiry last, week, for the permanent head of the department told me that the Government had been robbed of thousands of pounds in the last few years. That statement is surely a justification for my statement that the commissariat section has not justified itself. I wish to make it quite clear that I have no feeling against either Mr. Garrett or Mr. Bushby. I do not know either of them. Mr. Brown seemed to think that I had some axe to grind, and that I was antagonistic to Mr. Garrett and Mr. Bushby ; but that is not the case. I have no grievance against anybody, and I resent being asked whether I really wanted a reply to my questions.
– The honorable member was not asked that question in a public way.
– I was certainly not asked it in any confidential way. Surely a tram is a public place.
– It is possible to have a private conversation on a tram.
– The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) was with me on the tram when Mr. Brown asked me the question.
– What is there to hide anyway ?
– We have nothing at all to hide.
– The permanent head of the department asked me on a tram in the presence of the honorable member for Franklin, whether I wanted a reply to my questions. I resent that action. The Minister for the Interior informed me last week that I should be given the information when the Estimates for the Federal Capital Territory were under discussion.
– And the honorable member will be given it.
– I had no desire to try to force the situation, and was quite prepared to allow the matter to rest until to-day, but I take strong objection to the suggestion that my inquiry was inspired by Mr. Evans.
– I did not make that suggestion.
– The suggestion has been made. I do not know where Mr. Evans is at present; though I am told that he is managing a hotel in Sydney. If statements made to me about Mr. Evans are correct, he should not have been employed as manager of the hotel; he should have been somewhere else; but he should not be subjected to slander. Similarly, if what I have heard about a certain pressman is true, he should be compelled, by a court of law if necessary, to settle his dues, as he would have to do in respect of any privately conducted business.
There are one or two other matters that I wish to mention in connexion with these hotels. I am told that the employees of the government establishments in Canberra are seething with discontent. This is not as it should be. One of their grounds of cam-plaint is that when they are absent for any reason or when business is slack at a particular establishment, and they are employed only part time, those of them who have not homes in Canberra have to pay for their meals in the ordinary way. I do not know the details of the award which governs cafe and hotel employees in the Federal Capital Territory, but it seems to me that the Government, which should be setting an example to private employers in the treatment of its employees, is actually exploiting those who work for it.
The service at Hotel Canberra is, in my opinion, not as good as it should be at a hotel with a high tariff. That also suggests insufficient staff. Guests at Hotel Canberra are frequently obliged to ring for considerable periods to obtain the service of an attendant. I have been informed that when the Prime Minister was taken ill recently, one of his officers telephoned Hotel Canberra for Dr. Earle Page, but without success. Subsequently, the Prime Minister was taken to the hotel by car because it was thought that that would be a faster way to communicate with the doctor than by telephone. That should not be so.
I wish now to bring under the notice of the Minister a complaint that has been made to me regarding the tendering for supplies of dairy produce for government cafes, and hotels within the Territory. From 1930 to 1933 tenders for those supplies were called in the month of February. The successful tenderer for that period was Messrs. Foley Brothers, and I have been informed that in the first year of their service a saving of £300 was made. At the beginning of February in each subsequent year, up to 1933, Messrs. Foley Brothers wrote to the commissariat department for a tender form, which they obtained, and on which they submitted their tender. But this year for some reason tenders were sought earlier than usual and Messrs. Foley Brothers were not asked to tender^ nor were they advised of the alteration in the time for tendering. Early in February they wrote as usual for a tender form, but were notified that tenders had closed. They then submitted a tender by telegram but were advised by Mr. Garrett that they had little chance of success. From that time until September they endeavoured to obtain certain information in regard to the tenders, but did not get it until a question on the subject was addressed to the then Minister for the Interior during an election - meeting in Goulburn. Had the commissariat department been conducting its affairs on business lines it would undoubtedly have obtained as many tenders as possible for its supplies of dairy produce and it certainly would not have overlooked the firm with which it had been dealing for several years.
I hope that the Minister will give me the information that I desire on these points.
– The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) has directed attention to what he considers to be unnecessary expenditure in the management of the government hotels and cafes in the Federal Capital Territory, and has referred particularly to the commissariat section. He has, however, overlooked the important fact that the Department of the Interior conducts not merely Hotel Canberra, but two hotels, six boarding establishments and two liquor cafes. The honorable gentleman must surely realize that a commissariat section Which buys wholesale for all those establishments is able to make a much better deal than a hotel manager buying for only one unit.
– “Why not lease all the establishments?
– That might be done later; but we are not discussing that point at the moment. In the interests of efficiency and economy it is essential that the activities of these several establishments should be closely co-ordinated for both staffing and supply purposes. It is a decided advantage to be able to transfer staff temporarily from an establishment where business is quiet to another which is experiencing a rush. It is certainly possible to obtain supplies much more cheaply by purchasing wholesale for several establishments through a commissariat section than by purchasing for separate units through a manager. Obviously, also, transport and other charges can be reduced greatly under the present system of management.’ By calling for tenders and arranging contracts for the supply of goods for all establishments, considerable savings have been effected. The honorable member referred to certain losses which had been o sustained.- I assure him that those losses were certainly not incurred as a result of the practice of conducting this business through a commissariat branch.
In regard to the honorable member’s reference to the policing of the Hotel Canberra, the overhead control of that hotel does not differ in any way from that of any other establishment conducted by the Department of the Interior at Canberra. Each manager or manageress is directly responsible to the officerincharge of the commissariat section for the management of his or her own par.ticular establishment. The officerincharge is responsible for the co-ordination of the activities of the whole of the establishments and also for the purchase of all supplies.
– They are not managers then?
– They are managers, but their buying is done on a ‘wholesale scale, and I have given good reasons for this.
The honorable member for Kennedy also stated that during the time when honorable members were accommodated at the Hotel Kurrajong that establishment was efficiently managed without assistance from commissariat officers. The latter part of this statement is incorrect. The Hotel Kurrajong has been efficiently conducted by the manageress, and I give her full credit for her work, but at all times this establishment has formed part of the organization of .the commissariat section, and has been subject to the same conditions as the Hotel Canberra, or any other establishment. I am satisfied that the commissariat section is conducted efficiently and economically, and in the best interests of the taxpayers. It has been stated that during the recent royal visit two guests at the Hotel Kurrajong sharing the same room and dining at the same table may have been charged £5 5s. and £4 4s. per week respectively. That could easily have occurred.
– It may .be that one of the persons was a casual visitor to the hotel and was charged ordinary weekly rates, and that the other, living under the same conditions, was a permanent resident who enjoyed a concession. The honorable gentleman will admit that there is nothing remarkable about that practice. The tariff for casual guests was 15s. a day. On the other hand certain guests who usually stay at the Hotel Canberra at the permanent guest rate of £4 4s. a week were accommodated at the Hotel Kurrajong during the royal visit. No guest at the Hotel Kurrajong was accommodated at £2 2s. a week during that visit. The honorable gentleman was wrong in making that statement.
– No one who stayed at the Hotel Kurrajong was charged only two guineas a week?
– -That is my information.
– Was there any one boarding there at that tariff?
– There was no “ guest “. I cannot go further than that-
Regarding the rates of pay to employees at the hotels and boarding establishments conducted by the Department of the Interior at Canberra, I assure the honorable member that rates of pay and conditions of employment in every case are in accordance with the hotel employees award.
.- The proposed vote for the Federal Territory Police provides for an increase of £1,200, as compared with the expenditure on that branch- last, year. In addition, there is an item of £100 for temporary and casual employees as compared with an expenditure of £207 last year.
Some months ago, the charge was made in the newspapers that the federal police in Canberra were incapable of carrying out their work, and that because of incompetence they had to send to Sydney for a rejected pimp and informer named Kevin Lynch to assist them to “ frame “ innocent people in the Territory on certain charges. Lest this increase of £1,200 or any part of it should be paid to this individual, I move -
That the amount of the vote - “ Federal Capital Territory, £242,789 “ - be reduced by £1.
If the amendment is agreed to, it will be an instruction to the Government that Kevin Lynch, the pimp, cannot be reemployed in the Federal Capital Territory.
– Sydney magistrates will not believe him.
– That is so; I have been reliably informed that the Sydney police will not employ Lynch or give him the opportunity to engage in his nefarious practice of “framing” innocent people. When Lynch came to Canberra he told certain residents in this city that his name was Doone, and that he was a cousin of Alan Doone, the well-known lyric tenor. By these representations, Lynch got into the good graces of the residents. He spent money lavishly, inviting different citizens to cocktail parties, and then casually inquired as to where he could make a bet for the Saturday race meetings. As a result, several people resident in this Territory were framed “ by this man on perjured evidence. In reply to a question asked by me, the Government admitted that it had paid Lynch £200 for his nefarious work in Canberra, and now it is increasing the vote for the local police force by £1,200, part of which may be paid to the same man. I am prepared to divide the committee on this question to see how many of the Government supporters favour the employment of pimps in the Federal Capital Territory. Are the police of this Territory so incompetent that they cannot detect a technical breach of some ordinance and have to employ a rejected pimp to help them in that work? I assure the Minister that the Sydney police will not employ this man. I understand that Detective-sergeant James, of the Sydney Police Force, held an inquiry into Lynch’s conduct, and subsequently advised that he should not be further employed. In view of these facts, it is surprising that the Federal Capital Territory police should send to Sydney to secure the services of this man. I admit that the present Minister was not in charge of the Federal Capital Territory when this action was taken, but I warn him to see that this scandal does not happen again.
– I can relieve the honorable gentleman’s mind immediately. I assure him that none of the money provided in this vote has reference to any payment to Constable Lynch.
– He is not a constable; he is a pimp.
– I prefer to use the designation “ constable “.
– He is not a constable,
– Well, none of this money has reference to any payment to the gentleman mentioned by the honorable member. The proposed vote for salaries and payments in the nature of salaries for this year amounts to £5,002, as compared with £4,685 provided last year. The increase is accounted for by the restoration of salaries that were reduced under the Financial Emergency Act, and statutory increments.
– Will the Minister assure me that Lynch will not be brought back into the Territory?
– I cannot go that far. The police of the Federal Capital Territory are controlled by the AttorneyGeneral’s Department.
Mr.FORDE (Capricornia) [9.59]. - I ask the Minister to state the Government’s policy with respect to the transfer of further Commonwealth Departments to Canberra.
– I have stated it on half-a-dozen occasions.
– The Minister has not dealt with this matter since consideration of the Estimates was commenced. For the “ Transfer of staffs and office equipment to the Federal Capital Territory “ the provision this year is £4,000, as compared with £6,000 voted under the same heading last year. Because of the decrease I ask the Minister whether he intends to push ahead with the transfer of departments not yet located in Canberra. Either ail departments should be established here or consideration should be given to the desirability of abandoning the whole scheme. No one would seriously suggest that the latter course should be adopted. If it is right to have a majority of the departments here, surely the whole of them should be transferred to the Seat of Government. Last year the vote for the Forestry Branch was £3,150, and the actual expenditure amounted to £3,662. The amount provided for this year is £3,000. What is the reason for the reduction ? Those who were present at the distribution of prizes at the Forestry School this morning were greatly impressed by the remarks of the Inspector-General of Forestry in presenting the annual report which showed that wonderfully good work had been done by the school last year. We were informed that one State is not co-operating with the Commonwealth in carrying on the Forestry School at Canberra, but were not told which State is standing out, nor have we been informed of the reason for the curtailment of expenditure on this branch of the Government’s activities. If developed on sound lines Government forests should prove a good investment and give work to a large number of persons throughout the Commonwealth who are at present unemployed. Has the Government a national forestry scheme in view? I notice also an item of £4,000 for the vocational training of youths in the Federal Capital Territory. This is a new proposal of which we should have some explanation. Can the Minister say what chances there are of placing in employment youths who pass through the vocational school; what educational standard is necessary for youths entering the school; and whether it is to be carried on in conjunction . with the school at Telopea Park, Canberra? Within the last few weeks there has been a renewal of the agitation for the representation in this Parliament of the residents in the Federal Capital Territory. Public meetings have been held and deputations have waited upon the Minister for the Interior Mr. Forde. in connexion with the matter. Can he state whether the Government has given consideration to the proposal, and if so, what decision has been reached?
.- I should like some information with reference to the item of £4,000 for the transfer of staffs and office equipment to the Federal Capital Territory and expenses incidental thereto. Oan the Minister state what departments it is proposed to transfer to Canberra during this financial year ?
– I direct attention to newspaper reports published recently to the effect that it is the intention of the Government either to ask for the resignation of the Administrator of Papua (Sir Hubert Murray) or failing his resignation, to retire him from his present position in order to appoint in his stead the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) who, it is understood, will resign his position as Assistant Minister at the conclusion of the visit of His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester. This is a live issue in political circles, and I think I am expressing the opinion generally held, not only in the Commonwealth, but in the territory concerned, that Sir Hubert Murray is the most capable Administrator who has served the Commonwealth in any of its territories. Residents of Papua are, I believe, deeply perturbed by the rumour. I understand that they are perfectly satisfied with the present Administrator whose fairness and ability are not questioned. They feel that nothing should be done to disturb his tenure of the office.
– The £3,000 provided for the Forestry Branch does not relate directly to the Forestry school. It is intended for the maintenance of plantations and fire protection, and covers the cost of maintenance of the softwood plantations at Stromlo and Pierce’s Creek, and the natural hardwood forests. It also includes provision for the maintenance of forestry plantation fences and replacement of tools. Last year’s expenditure of £3,662 included money used in connexion with unemployment relief which is now provided for elsewhere.
– The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) mentioned reports which have appeared in certain newspapers to the effect that arrangements were to be made for the retirement of Sir Hubert Murray, the Lieutenant-Governor of Papua. Every one who knows Sir Hubert will agree with the honorable member’s testimony as to his ability and experience. I have no knowledge of any such intention as he has suggested.
– The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes for the Territories of the Commonwealth has expired.
Question - That the amount proposed to be reduced be so reduced. (Mr. Gander’s amendment) - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That the following resolution be reported to the House: -
That including the several sums already voted for such services, there be granted to His Majesty to defray the charges for the year 1934-35 for the several services hereunder specified, a sum not exceeding £22,516,417.
Resolution reported and adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That towards making good the supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year 1934-35 there be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum not exceeding £10,618,212.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Mr Paterson do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey and read a first and second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
First schedule agreed to.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) to the fact that, while permanent and temporary poll clerks engaged at election booths receive overtime rates, the divisional returning officers, who, in all cases, render excellent and impartial service to candidates, do not receive such consideration, notwithstanding the long hours they work and the frequent elections they have had to contend with in recent years. As this matter has been brought under the notice of various governments from time to time, and nothing has been done, I promised to ask that the anomaly be removed. Divisional returning officers, who do everything possible to ensure that elections are conducted in a fair manner, should be remunerated more in keeping with the responsible work which they perform. Is the Minister agreeable to such officers receiving a higher salary or payment for overtime?
– I support the request of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) with respect to divisional returning officers. Owing to the cheeseparing attitude of the department, the voting facilities provided in the Lang electorate are totally inadequate. The congestion which occurred at the polling booth in the Arncliffe subdivision at the last election was a disgrace to the Electoral Branch. For that the divisional returning officer was not responsible. As every facility should be afforded to electors to record their votes, the saving of a few pounds by neglecting to provide additional accommodation cannot be justified. Some electors can provide their own transport, but there are others who are compelled to travel long distances to record their votes. Moreover, I contend that the present system of asking candidates to make a declaration with respect to their electioneering expenses should be dispensed with. I trust that the Minister will instruct the Electoral Branch to provide additional polling booths in New SouthWales where there has been congestion.
.- Will the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) explain why the date on which tenders closed for the supply of dairy produce to government hotels and hostels for 1934 closed fourteen days earlier than in previous years ? I should also like to know why the successful tenderer for the previous four years was not notified of the change of date, and was thus deprived of the opportunity to tender? Although the firm despatched a telegraphic tender, it was received the day after tenders had closed, and could not be considered. The alteration of the closing date prevented a firm which had previously saved the Government £300 in one year from submitting a tender.
.- I protest against any further expenditure upon what is termed the world conference on reduction and limitation of armaments. Those who study the work of what are designated as disarmament conferences must conclude that they , are convened largely to provide an opportunity for those engaged in the private manufacture of armaments to establish distrust amongst the nations and give an incentive to war.
– I rise to a point of order. The Committee of Supply, having debated the individual items, agreed to the expenditure of the amount proposed to be appropriated. The House then resolved itself into Committee of Ways and Means, the function of which is merely to decide the manner in which the appropriation shall be raised.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The committee is considering the second schedule of the bill, and thus far the remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) have been in order.
– I wish to convince honorable members of the futility of expenditure upon disarmament conferences in the pious hope that they will exert an influence for the preservation of world peace. At the 1932 Disarmament Conference, the French delegation included M. Charles Dumont, of the Schneider-Creusot armaments firm, and the British delegation, Colonel A. 6. Daway, the brother of a director of Vickers Armstrongs, and now the political supervisor of the British Broadcasting Corporation. I think every honorable member will agree that the object of these gentlemen would be, not to preserve the peace of the world, but rather to promote the interests of firms engaged in the private manufacture of armaments. They would be prone to forward the ideal, not of world peace, but of world warfare. As a matter of fact, the only industry which flourishes as the result of competition is the armaments industry, because, the greater the competition among them for the various markets, the greater is the prosperity of each competitor. The ramifications of the ring engaged in this traffic are so extensive that it is able to buy and control legislatures, politicians, _ and high naval and military authorities. Included in the list of shareholders of Vickers Armstrongs are the Bight Honorable Neville Chamberlain, Sir Austen Chamberlain - winner of the Nobel peace prize in 1925 ! - and Sir John Simon, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whose opinions were quoted earlier in the day by government members in answer to arguments put forward by honorable members who sit on this side of the House. They then said that Sir John Simon is not a shareholder of this firm. According to the records, he ceased to be a shareholder some time ago; but we know that it is quite possible for him still to retain his interest by having a dummy to act on his behalf.
One of two illustrations of the manner in which these people carry on their operations will demonstrate to the general public the fact that the only purpose served by the appropriation of Commonwealth revenues for the continuance of alleged disarmament conferences is to enable members of the Government and others who are favoured by it to take trips abroad at the public expense. As I have already said, legislatures and politicians are bought by these people and support them in their operations, which tend towards the prolongation of wars and the disturbance of world peace. Armament vendors find that it is profitable for them to do that. Proof of the manner in which they can prolong wars is furnished by happenings during the great World War of 1914-18. If one combatant was in danger of running short of a basic raw material, his competitors in an enemy country carne to his aid. That can be proved from the records. English and French industries, through a neutral intermediary, maintained into Germany a steady stream of glycerine, nickel, copper, oil and rubber.
– Order ! The honorable member is now going beyond the scope of the bill.
– The bill proposes to appropriate this year £250 for what is termed a world conference on the reduction and limitation of armaments. Although the amount is small, I contend that the expenditure is not warranted, in view of the experience of men who have closely watched the progress of events in this and other parts of the world. I was pointing out that the influence wielded by those who make a profit out of war is so vast that the mere discussion of disagreements at an alleged disarmament conference is not likely to induce in. the nations of the world a readiness to settle their differences peacefully by means of arbitration. That being so, the expenditure of even the small amount of £250 upon the representation of Australia is not only unwise, but also unwarranted.
In 1915, England exported to Sweden twice as much nickel as was exported in the years 1913 and 1914 combined. Very little imagination is needed to realize the purpose for which that was required. Month after month during the same period Germany exported to Switzerland large quantities of scrap iron, steel and barbed wire, which, eventually, found their way into France for the manufacture of armaments and munitions that were used against the German troops.
Prior to 1914, the Briey Basin in France furnished 70 per cent, of the iron ore used by that country. When the
German troops advanced and assumed political control of the Basin, those deposits were drawn on to supply a necessary raw material to the German munition works.
– I again rise to a point of order. If, Mr. Prowse, you do not understand the Standing Orders, I suggest that you seek advice to ascertain whether you should permit the discussion to continue along the lines being followed by the honorable member for East Sydney.
– As I have already intimated, the honorable member for East Sydney was in order at the commencement of his remarks, but he now appears to be dealing with the estimates of expenditure in too wide a sense, and I ask him to confine himself to the bill.
– The bill makes provision for expenses attendant upon the representation of. Australia at a disarmament conference. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is endeavouring to convince the committee of the futility of the item. I, therefore, contend he is in order and that the point of order raised by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) cannot be sustained.
– I have already ruled that the discussion must relate to the bill rather than to the Estimates. The Committee of Supply passed the Estimates after debate, the resolution was reported to the House, which resolved itself into Committee of Ways and Means. That committee’s resolution was adopted by the House. The items are now submitted for final ratification in the schedule to the Appropriation Bill. I think that the latitude permissible in n discussion on an amendment in Committee of Supply does not extend to the committee stages of an Appropriation Bill. The debate must then be relevant to the bill itself. I must rule, therefore, that the honorable member has exceeded that which can be permitted in the discussion on this hill.
– As a new member, I should like to ask you, sir, what an honorable member may discuss in dealing with the bill itself?
– The clauses of the bill have been passed, and we are now dealing with the schedule, which comprises the Estimates. - The Estimates have already been debated, and the schedule is regarded as a rather formal matter.
– What items in the schedule may we discuss?
– It is competent for an honorable member within certain limitations to refer to any of the items in the schedule, but he may not enter into a general debate, as would have been permissible when the Estimates themselves were before the committee’.
– It is very difficult to follow the Chairman’s ruling. If he holds that there is.no reference in this bill to expenses of delegates to a disarmament conference, then I am unable to read English. If it is not permissible for an honorable member to submit, no matter what stage in the consideration of the bill we have reached, anything that goes to show that such expenditure is not warranted, then it appears to me to be difficult to discuss any item at all in the schedule. It is peculiar that such a ruling should have been given at this stage, after other honorable members have been permitted to discuss various matters to which the schedule relates.
– I rule that the honorable member may refer to any item in the schedule, but that it is not competent for him to enter into a general discussion. That ruling is in accordance with precedent and the custom of Parliament.
– In any case, for the reasons I have already given, I am opposed to the expenditure of this money upon a world conference on the reduction and limitation of armaments. Many honorable members opposite may be prepared to vote away Commonwealth revenues merely because such a proposal is brought down by Cabinet, but the Opposition is not prepared to do so. It is not ready to vote moneys to provide pleasure trips overseas for members and supporters of the Government. Owing to the application of the guillotine, many honorable members have not been able to refer to various items under the heading “Miscellaneous claims” concerning which they desire to obtain information.
There is, for instance, an item of £52,000 under the heading of “ Contributions to cost of Secretariat of League of Nations “. That expenditure likewise is unwarranted. Then there is an item in respect to the Commonwealth branch of the .Empire Parliamentary Association.
– I again ask whether the honorable member is in order, and I intimate to you, Mr. Chairman, that if you rule that he is in order 1 shall move that your ruling be disagreed with.
– The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) is not in order in threatening the Chair. I have ruled that an honorable member in discussing the schedule to the bill, may refer to the items contained in it, and it is for me to determine how far his references may go.
– Then I shall move, sir, that your ruling be dissented from, and, if I understand the procedure correctly, it will be for Mr. Speaker to decide whether or not your ruling shall stand.
– The honorable member will submit his dissent in writing.
– I shall do so.
– I have received from the honorable member for Barker, the following notice: -
I move that the ruling of the Chairman be dissented from on the ground that he is allowing the Committee of Ways and Means to debate and object to items of expenditure already agreed to by the House upon the report of the Committee of Supply.
The motion is out of order. It refers to the Committee of the Whole as the Committee of Ways and Means.
– What motion was moved by the Minister when the House resolved itself into this committee?
– No motion was moved by the Minister.
– The House could not resolve into committee without a question having been put from the Chair.
– The honorable member is under a misunderstanding. After the second reading of the bill, the House resolved itself into a committee of the whole and is so constituted at the present time. The honorable member’s motion is out of order.
– The schedule includes an amount of £850 for “ Commonwealth Representation at the International Labour Conference, Geneva “. The conference each year discusses very important questions concerning working conditions in various parts of the world; but its decisions have had very little effect in improving the lot of workers in any country, because the participating countries Lave never ratified any of its decisions which were of any consequence to the workers. Those countries which claim to have the ‘most advanced working and social conditions for their workers show the least desire to improve the conditions of people of the more backward countries. Because of the wide ramifications of international capitalism British financiers are as much interested in repressing the Indian labourer and the Chinese coolie, as are the capitalists in those countries. The capitalists have various interests to serve, and wherever they are operating, they are internationalists in the truest sense of the word. They know no nationality, colour, or flag. It matters not to them whether the workers they exploit are white, yellow or black, and no people can possibly enjoy any improvement, of their conditions as the outcome of decisions of the International Labour Conference. It may be possible for workingclass organizations to obtain valuable data from the investigations carried out by the International Labour Office, but the workers will receive no actual benefit from conference resolutions.
The “goodwill mission to the East” was undertaken last year under the leadership of a former member of this Parliament. I thought that the expenditure incurred had been already paid, but I find on the Estimates for the current year a provision of a further £100 under this heading. The report furnished by the leader of the mission stated that he had obtained very valuable information during his trip abroad, but immediately after his return to Australia, and the expenditure of many thousands of pounds of the taxpayers’ money on a pleasure jaunt, he retired from this Parliament, and the whole of his experiences, whatever their value, have been lost to the Parliament. The Government is not warranted in meeting further expenditure on what it has been pleased to call a goodwill mission. Mr. Latham, who occupied a very influential position in the Cabinet, probably selected himself for that trip at the expense of the Commonwealth. I was opposed to the expenditure of this money at the time it was proposed, and I am definitely against any further payments. I ask the Minister to explain the reason for this provision of £100. Is it to cover outstanding personal accounts of Mr. Latham? I impress upon the committee my opposition to the expenditure of money on the three items which I have mentioned. I know that so far as obtaining any direct result is concerned, our opposition is futile, but that should not deter members of the Labour party from exposing the hypocrisy of those who give lip services to the cause of peace.
– The honorable member for East Sydney has raised a matter which was debated at some length earlier in the day. So far as it was conclusive at all, the debate showed that the majority of honorable members are in favour of some curtailment of the right of private individuals to make munitions of war and have complete freedom in respect of their sale. Speaking to the motion this afternoon I reminded honorable members of the fact that there are certain misconceptions in this regard, in that active steps had been taken in the past to curtail the freedom of private manufacture and international circulation of munitions of war. In 1925, a convention was devised at Geneva to which all the members of the League of Nations were invited to adhere. Up to date only fourteen out of the 50 countries which are members of the League have adhered to the convention; prominent among the adherents are Great Britain and Australia. Had sufficient countries adhered, there would have been a wide range of restriction on private manufacture of armaments and their international circulation.
– How could the delegates arrive at an agreement when they themselves were members of armament firms.
– The honorable member is unduly suspicious of individuals. There is still some nobility of character among individuals, and the mere association of a delegate with the firm of Vickers, through his brother’s wife’s cousin, is not sufficient to carry conviction that the individual concerned is a scoundrel. It is evidently difficult for the honorable member to realize that there are some people who have decent feelings and high standards of conduct. As I have said, in- 1925 efforts were made to achieve a convention, to which the majority of countries would adhere, to limit the private manufacture and circulation of arms. Great Britain has been very active in trying to get this convention concluded, but has realized that it is most unlikely that sufficient countries will adhere to bring it into force. So Great Britain was prominent in getting the Disarmament Conference at Geneva to revise the convention, so that it would command the support of sufficient countries to bring it into operation.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the Minister in order in referring to past conferences? Should his remarks not be confined to the matters under consideration ?
– The Minister is replying to the honorable member.
– The honorable member objects to the proposed vote of £250 to meet the expenses of Australian delegates to the Disarmament Conference at Geneva.
The honorable member for East Sydney interjecting,
– The honorable member for East Sydney will be named if he continues to be insolent.
– Being convinced that there was no chance of a majority of countries adhering to the 1925 convention, Great Britain has been urging the Disarmament Conference at Geneva to bring forward for signature by various countries a revised convention in a form acceptable to them. This is one of the principal activities at the present time of the Disarmament Bureau of the conference. If there were no greater object in view than to bring this convention into operation, which, in a short period, would have a definite effect, it is hoped, on the private manufacture and circulation of armaments, the expenditure of £250 by
Australia would be a mere drop in the bucket; but the eventual aim of the conference is to achieve something very much bigger and more lasting than that.
.- I understand that a contract at a price of about £180,000 has been let for the installation of a cable telephone service between Tasmania and the mainland, because of the isolation which my State has suffered for many years. Honorable members from Tasmania, when in Canberra, do not enjoy the same telephone facilities as those at the disposal of other honorable members. When Tasmanian members desire quick communication with persons in their home State, they must send telegrams, and wait for replies. I hope that the work of providing the much-needed telephone service will be expedited.
.- Although Canberra is situated in an agricultural district, it is surprising to find that the cost of living is much higher in the Federal Capital Territory than in almost any other part of Australia. Almost all the ordinary requirements of the people - even fruit - have to be secured from outside sources. A huge expenditure has been incurred in providing Canberra with parks and gardens, yet little has been done in the direction of reducing the cost of living. The short line of railway connecting Queanbeyan with the Federal Capital is under Commonwealth control, but only one waybill should be required. The extra freight due to the charge imposed, on the branch line from Queanbeyan to Canberra helps to add to the cost of living, which is greater here than on the Kalgoorlie goldfields. This cost should not be more than in an average country town.
.- The remarks of the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey), in reply to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), are astonishing. ‘He said that the British Government favours the abolition of the private manufacture of armaments. This subject was discussed recently in the House of Commons at the instance of the Labour party, whose proposals were definitely rejected by the British Government. The Minister remarked that that government was waiting for action to be taken by other countries ; but, if it sincerely desired to put an end to the private manufacture of armaments and munitions in Great Britain it need not wait for international agreement on the subject; it could take effective action immediately. No doubt some members of the present British Government are directly interested in private armament and munition firms.
– The honorable member did not hear the whole story, as told in the debate this afternoon.
– I heard the debate this afternoon. Will the Assistant Treasurer deny that this subject was discussed in the House of Commons recently on a motion introduced by the Labour party, and that the motion was defeated?
– Certainly I will deny that statement.
– The honorable gentleman would deny his own existence if he could.
I support the requests that have been made by honorable members for consideration to be given to returning officers and other electoral workers in consequence of the arduous duties that they have to perform at election time. We all know that these officers work nearly all night at certain periods.
– On some occasions they have worked 40 hours at a stretch.
– That is so, and they get no extra remuneration for it. In its endeavours to economize, the Government has discontinued certain expenditure that was previously incurred in connexion with the conduct of elections. At one time scrutineers were supplied with specially-prepared pamphlets containing instructions to assist them in their work, and meals Were also provided for them. Returning officers realize that lively and intelligent scrutineers help the electoral machinery to run smoothly.
– The time allotted for the consideration of the bill has expired.
Second schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
House adjourned at 11.15 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether, as a Christmas and centenary gesture of goodwill, he will favorably consider the repeal of all sections (except sections 53, 54, 55 and 50) contained in Part VII. of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1008-33?’
– This question involves a matter of policy, and it is not customary to enunciate the policy of the Government in reply to questions.
COMMONWEALTH SHIPPING BOARD
r asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
e asked the Minister representing ‘the Minister-in-Charge of Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. Owing to constitutional limitations, it would not be competent for the Commonwealth to enact legislation on the lines referred to by the honorable member.
l. - Inquiries will be made, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible to a question asked by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) relating to expenditures for defence purposes.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 December 1934, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1934/19341205_reps_14_145/>.