15th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 10,30 a.m., and road prayers.
– Is the Prime Minister in receipt of a communication from the AustralianWoolgrowers Council, pointing out the desperate position of the wool industry, and asking for a bounty to enable a margin of profit to be obtained?
– I have no recollection of such a communication having been sent direct to me, but I have seen a reference to the matter in the press.
– Will the Government take action in regard to it?
– That will be considered. .
– Can the AttorneyGeneral give the House any information with regard to the industrial dispute at Darwin? What measures, if any, are being taken with a view to bringing the dispute to a peaceful termination?
– The position can hardly be termed satisfactory. Negotiations have been in progress with a view to effecting a satisfactory settlement, and, as the result of these efforts, the contractors offered the employees higher wages than were being paid at the time the strike occurred; but the employees, for some reason or other - I confess that I do not understand the position exactly - refused to accept the offer . In view of the fact that the construction of a water supply for Darwin is an urgent matter, the Government is of the opinion that every effort should be made to settle the dispute, and has asked Judge DrakeBrockman to proceed forthwith to Darwin. I understand that he will do so either to-morrow or on Monday.
Fifth report of the Printing Committee brought up by Mr. Jennings, read by the Clerk, and - by leave - agreed to.
– In view of the British Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons with regard to the proposed pact between Great Britain, France and Russia, does the Minister for External Affairs consider this to be an appropriate time to make a statement regarding Australia’s position in the matter, and its relations with countries bordering the Pacific?
– The Government will be pleased to give immediate consideration to the suggestion made’ by the honorable member.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior state whether, having regard to the urgency of the need for the development of the Gippsland oil-field by re-pressuring and other means, he will bring down, before the House rises, the bill, of which he has already given notice, to amend the Petroleum Oil Search Act?
– I am afraid that, in view of the number of items on the noticepaper, I cannot give a definite reply to the honorable member’s question. The Government will do all it can to dispose of the business before the House.
– Will the Minister for Supply and Development say whether it is a fact that Mr. Rogers, one of the Commonwealth fuel advisers, has made an inspection of the Phoenix oil-from-coal plant in Sydney? If so, has Mr. Rogers submitted a report to the Minister, and what are the contents of the report?
– I instructed Mr. Rogers to inspect the plant, and I am now awaiting his report.
– Does the responsibility rest with the Minister for Trade and Customs to decide whether an application for a duty, or for an increase of duty, should be referred to the Tariff Board? If so, what principles guide the Minister in making his decision?
– The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As to the latter part, the responsibility is on the applicant to establish a prima facie case for reference to the board. Unless that is done, there is, of course, no case to go to the board.
– In view of the enormous deposits of dolomite in Tasmania, I ask the Minister for Supply and Development whether he will obtain a report from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, with a view to having an investigation made regarding the possibility of the Commonwealth Government developing the deposits, as I understand that they occupy an area 5 miles long, and 23/4 miles wide and are thousands of feet deep, and that for every 10 acres worked to a depth of 50 feet, 1,700,000 tons of dolomite could be extracted?
– I shall certainly look into the matter, and furnish the honorable member with a reply later.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state how many reports by the Tariff Board are awaiting considerationby the Government? If among those reports is one relating to tractor wheels not tyred, when will the Government give it consideration?
– Speaking from memory, there are 21 reports awaiting consideration by the Government, and they include a report referring to tractor wheels. Appropriate action will be taken in respect of them as soon as possible after the forthcoming recess.
– A fortnight ago 1 asked a question regarding the interpretation placed on the latest amendment of the Public Service Act by the Public Service Commissioners. Has the Prime Minister had the matter investigated and what is the present position ?
– I asked for an answer to be supplied to me on that matter, but I have not yet received it. I shall endeavour to supply the honorable member with it during the day.
– Has the Prime Minister seena statement in the Sydney Sun of yesterday by Mr. George Sutherland, managing director of Allan and Company Proprietary Limited, and a director of Australasian. Performing Right Association, that he is willing to submit to an independent investigation regarding the fees which he has collected as a member of the association ? In view of that statement, and of the statement made in this House yesterday by the Postmaster-General disclosing that the Australasian Performing Right Association had disbursed among Australasian authors and composers only £88 12s. 8d. out of about £20,000 collected, will he consider the setting up of an independent inquiry into the whole of the activities of the association?
– I have not seen the statement, but I shall obtain it, and discuss it with my colleague, the PostmasterGeneral.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral seen the statement of the general manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (Mr. C. Moses), that for every licensed wireless set in Australia the Australasian Performing Right Association is paid ls.1d. a year, which is more than is paid in any other country? With a view to safeguarding the interests of the taxpayers, will the Postmaster-General give immediate consideration to bringing about a reduction of fees paid by the Australian Broadcasting Commission to the Australasian Performing Right Association?
– I have seen the statement referred to, but the Australian Broadcasting Commission does not pay the whole of the ls.1d. mentioned. It pays only Gd., the remaining 7d. being paid by the commercial stations. Contact has been established with the Australasian Performing Right Association, the outcome of which may be some form of arbitration on the subject of fees.
– Can the Prime Minister give any information to the House concerning the progress made by the Government in regard to the scheme for the manufacture of complete’ motor cars in Australia? Owing to the uncertainty in the minds of those connected with the industry, its development is ‘being restricted.
– I regret that at the present time I cannot usefully add to what has already been said on the matter.
– Has the Minister for Social Services yet arrived at a decision with regard to the method of payment of the invalid and old-age pensions? If not, will he also consider the suggestion that it be left to the discretion of the pensioner whether he should be paid by cheque or in the usual way ?
– I have been waiting until the House goes into recess to enable me to investigate personally the conditions under which the payments are made, but I can assure the honorable member that something in the nature of an optional arrangement will receive due consideration, because my own thoughts run along those lines.
– In view of the fact that certain States do not participate to any extent in the large expenditure on defence works, will the Prime Minister give an assurance that consideration will be given to this aspect when the programme of public works is being framed for next year, so as to ensure an equable distribution of expenditure of public funds throughout the Commonwealth?
– The matter will receive consideration.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
– In the event of the. Government’s appeasement policy in. regard to national insurance succeeding with the Country party to the extent of getting its proposal for the appointment of a select committee through the House, will the Minister for Social Services consider giving increased representation upon the committee to representatives of the trade union movement?
Sir FREDERICK STEWART.That matter might well be deferred until the issue upon which it depends has been settled. If the honorable member will assist the Government in arranging for the appointment of the committee, due consideration will be given to his request.
Road to Wau
– Has the attention of the Minister in charge of External Affairs been directed to the statement by Mr. H. Taylor, of the New Guinea Gold Company, that on the No. 3 level horizon of the Edie mine 2S3,000 tons of ore are available which could be worked at a profit if a road were constructed to the coast, thus enabling the ore to be worked at a saving of £15 a ton, as compared with cost of working when aeroplane transport charges have to be paid? In view of that statement, will the Minister take steps to push on with the construction of the road from thecoast?
– I have not seen the statement, but, as for the road, the Government is pushing on with the survey as quickly as possible.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs have a statement prepared showing the number of Labour conventions adopted by the International Labour Office since 1930; also the number adopted by Australia, and those which have yet to be adopted?
– I shall do so.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether it is a fact that the Honours List is not supposed to be released for publication until the morning of the day in respect of which the honours are conferred?
– This is a matter with which I have not yet become familiar, but I shall have inquiries made.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral say whether the Government has decided upon the form of legislation which it is proposed to introduce for the reconstruction of the Australian Broadcasting Commission ? If not, will he take steps to ensure that the personnel of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in future will be more fully representative of the various sections of the community, and particularly that there is direct Labour representation upon it?
– All of those matters are receiving the consideration of the Government.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 8th June (vide page 1567).
Clause 16 - (1.) A census or censuses of male persons or classes of persons who have attained the age of eighteen years and have not attained the age of65 years shall be taken in such
States, Territories orparts of the Commonwealth and on such day or days or within such period or periods as the Governor-General by proclamation directs. (2.) The nature of the particulars required to be furnished by the persons or classes of persons of whom a census is taken under this section shall be specified in the proclamation.
Upon which Mr. Nairn had moved by way of amendment -
That after the word “ years”, sub-clause ( 1 ) , the words “ and a census of property “ be inserted.
Mr.HOLLOWAY (Melbourne Ports) [10.53]. - Last night, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) repeatedly referred to statements made by me and other honorable members regarding the national register, and made it appear that our only objection to the proposal was that it would create a psychology of fear and distrust among the workers. I admit that I frequently made such a statement during my second-reading speech, but I did not suggest that that was the only objection I had to the proposal. I pointed out that the action of the Government in excluding the Commonwealth Government as an employer under the provisions of the Supply and Development Bill, and the absence of a census of wealth from the national register proposals, would definitely create a feeling of distrust and antagonism. Apart from that phase of the matter, however, I have very definite objections to the proposal.I suggest that the amendment of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) has no real substance in it. It does not offer any compensation to the people for having to submit to a registration of manpower. Every body knows that, for many years past, some of our people have been fed upon this pap of a census of wealth, but the fact is that the mere making of a record of who owns the wealth of the country will not affect the issue in any way whatever. It may be useful as giving a picture of the distribution of wealth, but it will have no bearing on the question now before us. No useful purpose will be served by preparing a census of wealth unless the Government means to commandeer some of it, and every one knows that the Government has not the slightest intention of doing that. The Minister has said that the Government already has power, in event of an emergency, to commandeer anything it wants. The Government already has power under the taxation laws to take as much of the income of the people as it thinks fit, but whether it will have the courage to exercise that power to the highest degree is another matter.
Two proposals were submitted to the Government in connexion with the census of wealth. The honorable member for Perth proposed that a census should be taken of the property of every one in the community, from pensioners upwards.
– I have no desire to put the position unfairly. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall ) proposed that only those persons owning net capital to .the value of £1,000 or more should be required to make returns. The Government, of course, did not want to accept either proposition, but when it had to yield to pressure, it decided to accept the proposal that roped in all of the poor people. That decision, plus the decision to exempt the Government as an employer under the Supply and Development Bill, will certainly create suspicion in the minds of the people.
– The Minister has definitely stated that those owning only a small amount of property will not have to make returns.
– The Minister has made that statement, I know, but he will not be able to address meetings all over Australia and make the people understand what is in his mind. I have said that there is a suspicion in the minds of the people as the result of what has happened in the past, and that suspicion cannot easily be dissipated. When the time arrives, the Minister for Defence will have no more effective power in the administration of this provision than had the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) when he was Prime Minister during the last war. He told the people that no search warrants would be issued unless they bore his signature, that any others should be ignored; but, as a matter of fact, none of the search warrants bore his signature.
In the past Brigadier Williams, or somebody else, signed them, and the present Minister will have no more power than any of his predecessors. Consequently, the fear and mistrust which I have described exist among the people. The Minister has not misquoted me in that respect. I agree with the statement he made last night that the acceptance of this amendment does not make the slightest difference, because the Government now has the power to tap income when it feels it necessary to do so. One point mentioned in that respect, of course, was that such information must be secret. The Minister also said that he did not want to probe into the income tax returns, that he simply wanted to be able to cut a slab off the aggregate income of the taxpayers. I agree with that view. But this amendment will not make the slightest difference in the matter. It does not hold out any hope to the people, because they can see through it just as easily as anybody else. To them it is pure hooey, as* the Americans would say. I am certain that .this proposal to hold a wealth census will not be fully carried out. Forms might be issued, and the information obtained might be summarized, but the information will then be pigeon-holed and never used. I do not propose to vote against, the amendment, but I do intend to vote against the bil] as amended. I have expressed my opposition to it, and made it clear to the people that I am not. attempting to fool them with this proposal.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) quite unconsciously misrepresented the position when he said that the amendment involves the making of returns by every person possessing property, however small its value. He should have studied the proposal in conjunction with the two further amendments which have been forecast. They show clearly, as was stated by both the Minister (Mr. Street) and myself last night, that the Government does not intend to ask for returns from all of the people.
– Why does not the honorable member’s amendment make that clear ?
– For the information of honorable members I shall read the amendment forecast in connexion with clause IS -
Every person who owns property of a value not less than the prescribed value shall fill in and furnish to the Commonwealth Statistician in accordance with the regulations a form in accordance with the form in the first schedule to this act setting out the particulars specified in that form.
That amendment makes it perfectly clear that only persons possessing property up to a certain value will be obliged to furnish a return. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports also-argued that this census will be of no value. It is quite clear to me that whenever honorable members opposite get what they ask for they do not want .it. Their speeches prior to the acceptance of this amendment by the Government had one feature in common, namely, the complaint that this measure did not provide for the taking of a census of wealth, but only for a census of man-power, with the result that the moneyed interests would escape. That was the burden of their arguments before my amendment was accepted. Now that they have been given what they asked for, they realize that they have been deprived of their best election talking point. Had the Government refused to provide for the taking of a wealth census they would have had a magnificent opportunity to. persuade the ordinary working man to refuse to give the information asked for on the forms on the ground that, although the Government was calling up the working men it was allowing the moneyed interests to go scot free.
– Will the honorable member say that his amendment for the taking of a wealth census is as definite as the schedule dealing with the census of man-power?
– The census of manpower, of course, is limited to men between the ages of 18 and 65 years. To limit :i census of wealth to a basis of ages would be ridiculous. Consequently, a census of wealth must be treated on a different basis.
– For the information of honorable members *I may say that a schedule has, in fact, been prepared, and will be incorporated in the measure.
– It will be made available to honorable members as soon as it is printed.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports also claimed that what his colleagues had been saying prior to the acceptance by the Government of my amendment is all hooey. Here is a fresh piece of what the honorable member calls hooey. I have in my hand a letter from the Metropolitan Council of the Western Australian branch of the Australian Labour party setting out the following resolution which was passed at a public meeting held under the auspices of the Australian Labour party in the Unity Theatre, Perth, last Friday evening -
Believing that the national register proposed by the Menzies Government is the first step towards the conscription of man-power, this public meeting, held under the auspices of the Metropolitan Council of the Australian Labour party, strongly protests against and declares its determined opposition to such a register, contending that if a national register is necessary, it should include wealth as well as manhood.
– After listening to the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) and the honorable’ member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) I -am more convinced than ever that the Government has made a colossal mistake in retreating ingloriously from the strong- .attitude that was taken up by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) on the second-reading debate. Speaking during that debate I g.ive reasons why I was very strongly opposed to the inclusion of a so-called wealth census in the national register. I was very gratified to hear the Minister for Defence, when speaking ,a little later, not only endorse those opinions, but also amplify them to a degree which confirmed my own convictions. I was very sorry indeed that, later, the Minister was obliged to come to this chamber and confess that something had happened which compelled him to go back on the attitude he had previously adopted. Of course, I have a great deal of sympathy with the Government in this matter. I am very sorry that it is being forced into a position on such an important national issue as defence in which it finds itself unable to stand up to the commitments which it made to the country. I understood clearly that one of those commitments was that this register of man-power was merely a preliminary defensive measure, and that it had no political significance whatever. The actions of certain alleged supporters of the Government have definitely removed the defensive feature of this register and converted the whole matter into a political issue. As a matter of fact, the honorable member for Perth himself indicates quite clearly that if the Government proceeds with this proposal, it will not only get itself into an unholy mess with regard to this register, but will also raise an issue that need not be raised at all - an issue which will divide the community, one section holding the view that the ultimate intention ‘behind the register is to make a capital levy on the wealth of this country. When speaking last night the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) made what T. regard as the most significant speech in this debate. He made it clear, unless I am doing him a very serious injustice, that nothing short of a capital levy will suit him. He was- bitterly disappointed at the possibility that no such capital levy would be made. In that respect he appeared to be quite out of touch with a section of his colleagues who do not desire to reveal at this stage that the Labour party has any intention to impose a capital levy for defence purposes. Judging by the statements made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports this morning, one result of this amendment - and probably the only good result - is the creation of a definite cleavage in the ranks of the Opposition.
– The honorable member would like to think so.
– I agree with the Minister for Defence that if it is not intended to make a capital levy sooner or later, a wealth census is of no value at all, because, quite obviously, any government, irrespective of its political colour, can obtain all the finance it requires through the ordinary legitimate channels, such as income tax, without resorting to a wealth census at all. We are told that in 1915 - and most of us remember the occasion - a census similar to that now proposed was taken, but nothing was ever done with the information then obtained, the whole of the returns eventually being destroyed. Why repeat such a farcical procedure? Why hold over the he,ds of vested interests not only here but also outside - and, of course, Australia’s economy like that of every other country is based on vested interests - the threat that Australia is in panic and proposes to do something that has never been suggested in Great Britain but is peculiar only to totalitarian countries? We know th.it a capital levy has been in operation in Italy for a number of years. I suggest that the slump evidenced in connexion with our recent London loan was due to the fact that our intimation of the likelihood of Australia doing something of this kind was given abroad. As I said the other d.ay, I believe that unless the Government removes from the minds of the people possessing limited resources, who are required to invest in all Government undertakings - and in spite of all they did to help this country in the Great War, and all they .are doing now and will do when called upon - the threat of confiscation of their wealth as a purely political gesture, it will create a serious position in this country, which we are not prepared to face at the present juncture. Some honorable members, particularly the honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall), declare that the people are failing to respond sufficiently to Government loans for defence. In the last four years £105,000,000 has been taken out of the pockets of the Australian people and vested interests to finance government commitments and only a small proportion of it has been for defence needs. The Treasurers will be in Canberra in a. few days to make colossal demands on the remaining financial balance of this country. Talk in this Parliament about, the conscription of wealth such as has occurred in the last few days is the “best means available to cripple the legitimate financial requirements of the States and to prejudice the chances of the success of Commonwealth loans for purposes of defence. Why not tell the people that this census of property will ‘be of no practical value at all ? I do not expect the Minister to answer that question because it is too difficult to answer. I realize the difficulties that the Government is facing, but if the Govern- ment explored the support that it could get before rushing into sham fights and then beating hasty retreats it would find itself in a better position. Property consists of such things as houses, land, stocks and shares and such things, as well as actual cash, but the people have very little actual cash lying loose in the banks ; what little there is is generally used by the banks for the general purposes of the community, particularly for subscriptions to Commonwealth loans. As was said by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) himself, this proposed census of property will cause to the people concerned a great deal of brain-racking trouble in the preparation of complicated returns which the Government never will and never can use. Bather than go on with this Gilbertian procedure, which will completely destroy the efficiency and the value of the man-power register, the Government should courageously face the issue, withdraw the bill and tell the people that it is impossible to do anything, even to make a beginning in the regimentation of defensive measures because of the political issues that are intruded. “Psychology” is a word that has been over used. Honorable members opposite have made frequent recourse to the word during this discussion, but can any honorable member analyse those psychological reasons “ about which they have made so much play? Have they any value? If the Government withdrew the bill and advanced its real reasons for doing so it would receive more support from the people, and the blame for the failure to meet an important requirement in the defence programme would fall where it rightly belongs - on the Opposition and on those sections of the Government party which, for political reasons, do not show any enthusiasm for getting on with a -job which, we, at the last election, as members of the coalition government and supporters of this Government, said must be done. Our first obligation is to make this country safe.
.- I listened with great interest to the arguments advanced ‘by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) in favour of the taking of a census of property as well as of man-power, but it was merely camouflage. There is a great difference between human life and property. Human life is sacred and its value cannot be assessed. The census of man-power has as its purpose the pressing of the young men from IS to 21 years of age to undertake the greatest tasks with the greatest risks to life and limb. In my second-reading speech I said that I should never compromise with any government on any question in which human life was involved. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) made a case for wealth against human life.
– I did nothing of the kind.
– If that is the value which the honorable gentleman puts on human life he takes up an inhuman attitude.
– Is the honorable gentleman in order in making an offensive statement? It is offensive to me for him to say that I am inhuman or have put up a case for wealth against human life. I take strong exception to the honorable gentleman’s remark. It is slanderous and T ask for its withdrawal.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).If the honorable member thinks that he has been misrepresented he will have an opportunity later to make a. personal explanation.
– My point is that the honorable member made “ a statement which is offensive to me. He said that I was inhuman. That is an unparliamentary remark and I wish to have it withdrawn.
– If the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) said that the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) was inhuman-
– If the honorable member for New England thinks that I have injured him in any way I am prepared to withdraw, but I give the honorable member credit for the fact that he put up a case for wealth against human life.
– I shall answer that later.
– The honorable member said that wealth would suffer more from this census than would human life.
– That is a gross misrepresentation. The honorable member for New England said nothing of the kind.
– I rise to put up a case for human life against wealth. The last war is our only guide in this matter. I am well acquainted with the sufferings that have been experienced by many men who went to that war. The people who helped to finance that war have had no sufferings as the result of it. On the contrary, they have grown fat on their income from the interest on the money that they so wisely invested in the conflict. Yet the honorable member for New England has the temerity to suggest that the mere taking of a census of property is waving the big stick over the moneyed classes and that to do so is objectionable. The bludgeon will be thrust at the boys of from 18 to 21 who, before they have had the opportunity to join in industry, will be clad in uniform and thrown into the front line.
– Order! The honorable member is getting far wide of the clause
– The census will lead to a compulsory utilization of manpower for the defence of this country.
– The honorable member is incorrect. He has the clause before him and I ask that he confine himself to it.
– The committee is also discussing the amendment moved by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn). The intimation by the Minister that he would agree to a census of property being taken was an attempt to rope in tho Opposition.
– I was never so optimistic as that.
– The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Street) was given the defence portfolio because the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) realized that the honorable gentleman would be able to satisfy the Opposition to a greater degree than any other honorable gentleman on the Government side. I am satisfied that the honorable member is the right man for the job. Under the amendment moved by the honorable member for Perth we are to have a census of the means of every person in Australia; even the invalid and old-age pensioners.
– If the honorable gentleman will allow me the opportunity later I shall convince him that that is not so.
– I am not allowed to anticipate. The Standing Orders prevent me from discussing anything other than that which is before the committee. I expect that the Minister for Defence will inform me that regulations will be framed to limit the scope of the property census, but I demand a stipulation in the bill, so that honorable members will be satisfied that wealth, to the same degree as manpower, will be available for use to the best advantage in time of need. The Government would have done well to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) because it was mandatory, whereas, under regulations, the Minister will be able to do anything he wishes. The honorable member for Perth knows very well that he will receive a big bump from his electors as the result of his action. He has already received a letter - he quoted it in committee - which supports the attitude taken by the Opposition against a compulsory census which will be the prelude to conscription of manhood. I know from my experience that conscription will be the result of this measure, because when I filled in my war census card the information which I thought was to be kept secret was used by & recruiting sergeant, who came to me on my job and said, “I have received the information on your card and I want to know when you are going to enlist “. He tried to intimidate me. I was able to overcome the shock, but I object to the adoption of such methods. I am opposed to any procedure which will enable recruiting sergeants to intimidate young men and force them into the army by a process of economic conscription. That method was used during the last war. Recruiting sergeants came on various jobs and, in the presence of the bosses, said to young men, “ I understand from your recruiting cards that you have certain qualifications for active service. Why do you not enlist?” That cruel and unfair form of compulsion was frequently adopted during 1915, 1916 and 1917. During those years I personally suffered very severely. I shall resist any effort to take a census similar to that taken about that time. Any young man who in those days was not in khaki was fair game for the recruiting sergeants. This is the only opportunity I am likely to have to make these references to the injustice that I think was done to me in those years by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), for he was the Prime Minister of the day.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I do not wish to intervene in this discussion more often than is necessary; but as I am now in a position to give an even more complete fulfilment than I expected to be able to do of certain undertakings that I gave honorable members last night, I feel that I ought to do so. The proposed schedule in relation to the wealth census is now available for distribution. It will not be necessary, therefore, to wait until the bill is before another place for the information to be furnished to honorable members. The schedule will now he included in the bill, and no Government will thereafter have power to alter it by regulation. I think what I have said will he accepted as a complete redemption of my promise of last night. If honorable members read the schedule they will at least have no misapprehensions about it.
– Can the Minister tell us how he proposes to use the information obtained by means of the wealth census?
– I hardly think the honorable member can be serious in putting that question to me. Surely he will not expect me to say that if it he found that so many people have property valued at £100,000, so many have property valued at £50,000, and so many have property valued at £20,000, the Government ought to say at this stage, “ It is intended to take 30 per cent., say, of th;; capital of the people who possess property valued at £100,000.” Even the honorable member for East Sydney could scarcely expect a specific undertaking of that description.
– I would take more than 30 per cent, from those who had an income of £100,000.
– :line honorable member must realize that we are dealing with property and not income. I rose merely to indicate that I shall be able to give a complete fulfilment of my promises in respect of the schedule to be used in connexion with the wealth census. Honorable members need not fear that they will be asked to sign a blank cheque.
– I wish to refer only to one point in respect of persons of 18 years and less than 21 years of age. All such individuals who are required to furnish information in connexion with the proposed censuses of wealth and man-power should be granted full citizen rights.
– Does the honorable member mean if and when any demand is made upon them in connexion with the census?
– If they are called upon to fill in the schedules they should be granted full citizen rights. In Soviet Russia, which has a population of 166,000,000, every man and woman over eighteen years of age is granted full citizen rights. I quote the following passage from the Statesman’s Year Book, 1938, a volume which should be regarded as the bible of politicians: -
The franchise is enjoyed irrespective of religion, nationality, residence, sex, etc., by all citizens over eighteen years of age who earn their livelihood by productive labour and soldiers and sailors (including the commanders) in the Red Army and Navy.
Surely, if the young people of this country are to furnish information that may be used in connexion with defence measures, they should be granted full citizen rights.
My colleagues- have very definitely stated the objections of the Labour party to this measure as a whole, and I endorse their views. We regard this bill as th* thin end of the wedge of compulsion, and therefore we are resisting it with all our strength. I leave it at that.
In conclusion, I compliment the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) upon his good temper and tact in connexion with the passage of. this bill, and I wish him good luck.
– The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) stated a few moments ago that I had made out a case for wealth against human life. I do not see how anything that I have said in any of my speeches on this measure could be so interpreted by reasonable people. My attitude in opposing the inclusion in the bill of the provisions for the so-called wealth register, which is purely a property census, has been more or less endorsed by such distinguished members of the Opposition as the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), and, unless I am doing him an injustice, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). 1 listened to the speech made last night by the honorable member for Batman, and I concluded that he was opposed to the census of wealth for the reason that it could have no practical value unless it was intended to lead ultimately to a levy -on wealth. I take the 3ame view. That is the whole of my case. Unless the Government has some practical objective in mind in taking this census which has not yet been disclosed, no rational purpose can be served by taking it, I do not think it can serve any useful end in strengthening the defence measures that the Government is taking. It might, be useful for the purpose of imposing a capital levy, but merely to take it for statistical purposes is to deceive the public. I am not in favour of a capital levy for reasons which I have already given. Our experience during the last war showed that there was no, need to compel the people of this country, who control our financial resources, to furnish the sinews of war.
– Oh ! That is silly !
– The records show that our people are ready to respond with all the resources at their disposal
– At a high rate of interest !
– The right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) stated yesterday that the Scullin Government had carried out the most successful conversion loan in the history of th<* world up to that time. I remind him that all parties co-operated in connexion with the floating of that. loan. What had happened, of course, was that interest rates had grown to such a point that it was beyond the financial economy of the country to meet them. That being so, the Scullin Government, with the cooperation of the Opposition parties at the time, floated and carried through conversion operations which had the effect of reducing interest rates. It was not a party issue. I remind honorable gentlemen that berind the procedure adopted at that time was a definite threat of compulsion. If those concerned had not converted their holdings, they would have been compelled to do so. In those circumstances, the conversion loan was carried out speedily and completely. I wish to make it very clear that I am opposed to a capital levy. This may be an important issue at the next general elections. I have a considerable respect for the honorable members of the Opposition, but I would not trust all of them “to state my position in this regard clearly during a general election campaign. Therefore, I take this opportunity to do so myself.
There is no truth in the suggestion made by the honorable member for Denison that. I am endeavouring to make out a case for wealth as against human life. No such construction could possibly be placed upon my remarks by any reasonable or fair-minded person. I have no objection to the Government taking action to compel the youth of this country to make their contribution to national security, and I shall be prepared at all times to support any practical measures, whether involving compulsion or not, to ensure that those who control the sinews of war in Australia do their part should emergency arise. I shall always support any legislation which I regard as vital to the safety of the country, irrespective of any influence which may be brought to bear by wealthy interests. I hope that the Government will not be misled into supporting the amendment moved by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn). That amendment has no logical basis, and it involves differentiation in the so-called wealth register, which, in effect, is actually a register of property. In my opinion the people, of Australia will strongly resent any differentiation, and I see no justification for it. Any person who is required to fill in a registration card with regard to his ability to perform certain work in time of emergency, should also be obliged to fill questions relating to his financial position whether he has any property or not. Any information with regard to wealth will of course be supplemented through ordinary statistical channels, and so the Government will have in its possession a complete record of private financial resources. I fail to see the urgency for the compilation of a national register in regard to man-power, but if it is regarded as necessary, then it should riot have added to it this purely political or psychological factor providing for the investigation of wealth resources. Moreover if there is to be this degree of differentiation which the amendment moved by the honorable member for Perth envisages, then there will be strong resentment among the people of Australia. In my opinion the working people will not be afraid or ashamed to indicate whether or not they have any property. Such information would be kept confidential by the Government and therefore no injustice would be done. I strongly urge that before the Government gives its support to this amendment, it should thoroughly consider whether or not any section of the community should be excluded from the property census. If all men are to be compulsorily required to fill in cards setting out details of their ability to perform certain work as a contribution to national security, then they should also be asked to give details regarding what contribution they could make from their property or wealth resources.
– I regret the necessity for this clause and for the bill itself. I believe it will have a detrimental effect on the freedom-loving youth of Australia, who will have imposed on them restrictions similar to those existing only in totalitarian countries. Sub-clause 2 of the clause now under consideration states -
The nature of the particulars required to be furnished by the persons or classes of persons of whom a census is taken under this section shall be specified in the proclamation.
I point out, however, that the proclamation will not be in the schedule. The terms of this clause should be varied to such a degree that the proclamation cannot alter anything set out in the schedule, which, I presume, will be introduced by the Minister for Defence to-day.
– lt is here now.
– This bill provides for the compulsory registration of all males between the ages of 18 and 65 years of age, despite the fact that some of them may be mentally defective, and inmates of institutions. It also includes those young fellows who to-day are seeking to make their way in life by pursuing courses of higher education. In some cases the parents of these boys have had a very difficult task in saving sufficient money to educate their families. A census such as this will take from these young men their desire to launch out into various professions, because they will feel that at any moment their education may be interrupted, and they may be called upon to take their places in some branch of defence activity. Probably those who will be charged with the administration of this legislation will not be possessed of the spirit of humanitarianism. One member of the National Register Board will be the Commonwealth Statistician, a man who deals entirely with figures. Possibly the executive officer of the board will be a. military “ brass-hat “ who thinks only in terms of platoons, companies, battalions and divisions. No consideration will be given to individuals who seek exemption from the provisions of this legislation. I am strongly opposed to the inclusion of youths between the ages of 18 and 21 years in this measure, and I request that it be withdrawn.
.- I intend to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) which provides for the taking of a wealth census. It is intended to use compulsion with regard to the compilation of a register of man-power, and in the event of serious trouble arising the Government should have at its disposal full information regarding the private wealth existing in this country. There is no doubt that in time of war money is a most important factor. It is useless to argue that during the last war ample funds were made available by investors. It is true that many patriotic citizens did offer to place their resources at the disposal of the Government; and even went to the length of mortgaging their properties to do so; but while these people were making their money available at a low rate of interest, other wealthy, but less public spirited, investors were receiving 12 and 15 per cent, on their capital. When the time for the conversion of war loans arrived, those who had been patriotic enough to put their money into war bonds, had to accept a lower rate of interest, while the other wealthy people to whom I have referred continued to draw the same high rates. Both in Australia and in England a great mistake was made in connexion with war loans. In time of emergency every citizen should be compelled to make some sacrifice. If war i3 threatened then subscription to loans, according to a’bility to pay, should be made compulsory, and only a low rate of interest should be paid. In my opinion money borrowed for defence purposes should not carry interest exceeding 2$ per cent. Had such a figure been fixed during the last war, instead of paying up to 6 per cent., a huge saving would have been effected. In addition to high interest rates on all war loans, huge profits were made in Great Britain and many people who at the beginning of the war years had very little money were worth anything up to £16,000,000 or £17,000,000 at the end of the conflict. That money was amassed while other citizens were making sacrifices in the interests of their country.
While the figures relating to wealth would be of little value to the Government in time of peace, they, would undoubtedly be of great value should war occur, and I hope that the committee will agree to have provision for a wealth census incorporated .in this bill.
.- It was very interesting to me to listen to the special pleading on the part of wealth, made by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson). That honorable gentleman said that wealth has always played its part in times of emergency, but I submit that, in the history of this world, wealth has only played its part when a high rate of interest has been offered. The honorable member referred to’ the record conversion loan floated by the Labour Government under the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), and claimed that subscriptions to that loan were made under threat of compulsion. Surely that is an answer to his own argument that wealth has always played its part. While investors were drawing huge sums from war loans during the Great War, 60,000 Australian men sacrificed their lives, and to-day their loved ones are expected to exist on a pittance. When Commonwealth loans were arranged by outside agencies in former years, the average charge was £2 7s. 6d. per cent., but when the Commonwealth Bank took over that work, it was carried out at an -average cost of 7s. 6d. per cent. It ill becomes the honorable member to suggest that the wealthy section desires to do its share towards assisting in the defence of the country, because experience shows that it invariably makes no sacrifices, but insists on drawing full interest rates on all money lent to the Government. The workers, on the other hand, are urged to fight for their country when called upon.
– Is the honorable member in favour of interest-free loans ?
– -I would compel the wealthy sections to do their share. ‘ The workers are asked to sacrifice their lives in times of national emergency, but the sections which control the money protest at even the slightest reduction of interest rates.
– I have had an opportunity to peruse the schedule and the amendments proposed by the Minister, but I still stand on the same ground as that taken by him originally in regard to the wealth census. The statement made by some of my friends on the Opposition side last night that the census would not serve a useful purpose, is true. It. would involve a waste of public money, but, worse than that, it would have a serious effect upon the financial and economic stability of the country. I agree with the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) that the mere mention of a wealth census would cause visions of a capital levy, and this would have unfavorable repercussions overseas. Financial and economic conditions in Australia, also, would be adversely affected. The next effect of the proposal would be to produce uncertainty to a grave degree as to the ultimate desire of the Government in regard to the census. I say emphatically, and with very great regret, that the bill would be of little value as far as defence is concerned. I was hoping that the proposed national register would yield something of calculable value. I endeavoured unsuccessfully to have certain additional information obtained by means of the questionnaire, and I said that if, for political reasons, it was considered inadvisable to ask for that further information, it was clear that the altered attitude of the Government regarding the wealth census was due entirely to political considerations.
– I deny that.
– I still maintain that it was on account of political reasons alone. Probably the Government has not calculated the reaction which must follow its acceptance of the amendment submitted last night by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn). The glee with which the Opposition regarded its acceptance by the Government, and the way in which the Opposition used that fact to its own advantage, is proof positive that I am right in my. contention. The actual value of the bill has been seriously diminished, and I suggest that, even at this late stage, it would be wise for the Government to reconsider the matter, with a view to securing a more satisfactory result than that which I contemplate. The Government is entitled to the information that it desires to obtain, but economic stability and public confidence should be preserved.
– I oppose this clause. There is no necessity for a register of the man-power of the country to induce the people to rise to the occasion in the event of their services being required for defence purposes. I am convinced that the wealthy interests would contribute nothing voluntarily to the defence of Australia. During the Great War, while the toilers made enormous voluntary sacrifices, the wealthy sections insisted on receiving their pound of flesh in the shape of full interest rates. I was surprised to hear the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thomp-
son) suggest that the Labour party might eventually use the information which would be obtained by a wealth census in order to impose a levy on capital. The Labour movement has never announced that it would impose a levy on wealth. The honorable member for New England remarked that a wealth census would be useful, but that only persons between the ages of 18 and 65 years should be called upon to supply returns ; but I point out that large numbers of people over the age of 65 years control an enormous amount of. wealth. Of course, one expects the honorable member to be in favour of excluding persons over the age of 65 years because, in this chamber, he represents wealthy interests. The returns contemplated would be useless as a record of the wealth of the community, and the Government should withdraw the bill. Why should youths between the ages of 18 and 21 years be . called upon to register,’ when they are not even given the right to vote? If they did not register, they could be cast into prison for three months, or fined £50. The same penalties would be provided for the man on the dole as for the wealthy. This is unfair. Any information required by the Government should be obtained by means of the general census that is held periodically.
.– I . regard this proposed stock-taking as absolutely necessary so that we may know just what resources we possess, and where they are owned. The amendment of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) may or may not be necessary in actual fact, but it is certain that honorable members opposite have all along opposed the Government’s proposal for a national register on the ground that it did not include a register of wealth. To-day, like the honorable member for Perth, I received a communication from the Metropolitan Council of the Australian Labour party in Western Australia. It is as follows -
At a public meeting held under the auspices of the Metropolitan Council, Australian Labour party, in the Unity Theatre, Perth, on Friday, 2nd June, the following resolution was unanimously agreed to, and I was instructed to forward same to you: -
Believing that the national register proposed by the Menzies Government is thefirst step towards the conscriptionof manhood, this public meeting held under the auspices of the Metropolitan Council, Australian Labour party, Perth, Western Australia, strongly protests against and declares its determined opposition to such a register, contending that if a national register is necessary, it should include wealth as well as manhood.
– But they do not say that it is necessary.
– They say that if there is to be a register of man-power there should be a register of wealth also. Now the Government has conceded that point. So far as man-power is concerned, thp register will place the Government in possession of information which it can use in case of necessity, and the same will apply to the register of wealth.
– Yes, hut the Government will use the information in the one case, and not in the other.
-From the speeches of honorable members opposite, one might imagine that it was only members of the unions or of the poorer families in the community that would have to register. The fact is that the families of the wealthy will also have to register. Every male between the ages of 18 and 65, whether rich or poor, will have to register, and the Government now proposes to make a register of wealth also. The Labour party seems to be nonplussed now that the Government has accepted its proposal, and is trying to retreat from the position which it formerly took up. I cannot see that there is any reason why the clause should not be agreed to.
– I was astounded at the statements of . the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). Two days ago, he was almost enthusiastic when he dwelt upon what unionists would probably have to suffer in time of war, but now, when it is proposed to make a register of wealth, and there is some suggestion that the wealthy interests also might be called upon to make sacrifices, his indignation knows no bounds. We are told that, if any action is taken to suggest a possible levy upon wealth, capital will become scared. Some one has said that the banks might close down, and that capital would leave the country. We have heard all of those stories before. As for the suggestion that wealth might leave the country, that is too stupid to be considered as an intelligent argument. The wealth of a country consists of its resources. Has any one ever heard of a coal mine being put on board a ship and sent away to another country, or of a factory being pulled down and sent abroad? Admittedly, some persons might try to take their cash resources away, but that can be easily prevented.
For my part, I would not be satisfied merely to ask the wealthy interests to disclose the extent of their resources; I should like to make them disclose how they obtained their wealth. I would make them tell how much watered stock had been issued, how much fictitious capital there was in their concerns upon which they were paying dividends. I would ask some pointed questions of those who sit on directorates, and draw princely fees for a couple of hours’ attendance a week. They are just hangers-on in industry. Theirs is the kind of wealth which the Government would be justified in confiscating almost entirely. I have said before that, if Mrs. Kelly were alive today, she would not allow Ned to play with some of the men of whom I have been speaking. He was a gentleman compared with them.
– The honorable member is a bit hard on Theodore.
– I am not talking about decent trade, but of concerns which water their stock, and falsify their hooks in order to defraud the revenue of the country. I want to turn the prying eye not upon the affairs of honest people who are developing the resources of the country, and giving good service, but upon those who collect incomes which they do not earn. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) is always loud in the defence of those thieving interests. I suppose he developed that psychology when he was debt collecting from the unfortunate workers.
The Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) said that one advantage of taking a census of young men between 18 and 21 would be to prevent qualified men from joining services in which their talents would be wasted. It would be tragic, he said, to take from the universities youths who were studying for medicine or for arts.
– Or to take trainees from the workshop.
– The Minister did not mention the workshop.
– I said apprentices.
– If it is proposed to exclude from military service the apprentice who has not yet finished his time, who is to be taken for military service? Evidently it is proposed to take only the unfortunate men who have no trade or no profession. The attitude of the Government towards such persons seems to be that of Malthus who, a hundred years ugo, said of the same class, “ There is no place for you at Nature’s banquet. You were born into poverty, and in poverty you must live.” The Governmentsaysto them that they can take their place on the battlefield, but the sons of the wealthy will be exempt. I am not opposed to higher education, but if the promise is held out that young men attending the university will be exempt from military service, therewill not be universities enough to hold all those who will want to attend. I know the shifts which wealthy persons employed in order to keep their sons from serving in the last war, particularly when conscription was threatened. If apprentices, as well as university students, are to be excluded from service, who will be left? What does the Government want?
– I want to do what the honorable member’s own leader has proposed,make a survey of man-power.
– Then why say that it is not proposed to break into the training of youths at the university? Of course, the Minister approaches this matter in a different way altogether from the way in which the Labour party approaches it. It is evident to me that the proposed register can mean only industrial and military conscription. Honorable members opposite, who objected to the taking of a census of wealth, said that it could be of no possible use unless it was proposed to make a capital levy. Now I employ the same argument, and say that it is of no use to make a register of man-power unless it is proposed to compel the men to render service of some kind.
– Then what does the Labour party want a register for? lt is partof its policy.
– I can only give information “ to the honorable member; he will have to depend on the Lord for the brains to understand it. As I said in my secondreading speech, it is tragic that the Government should seek to put its hands on the youth of this country in this way before they even exercise a vote and are still recognized under the laws as minors. Furthermore, if our young men do not comply with the provisions of this measure, they will be treated as criminals. Such legislation, I suggest, harkens _ back to pagan days when all kinds of pain and penalties were inflicted on human beings, and the common people were denied any say in government. It is most unjust that the youth of this country should be subjected to the pains and penalties prescribed in this measure before they even have a vote in the election of their national government. This bill is of vital importance to them ; under its provisions, the whole course of their lives may be changed.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– Do I understand the Minister to say that it Ls not proposed to interfere with ‘university students in any way which would interrupt their studies? If that be so, will similar treatment be meted out to other young men who are undergoing courses of study, such as apprentices? If such exemptions are to be made, I cannot see what useful purpose this register will fulfil so far as young men aged from 18 to 21 years are concerned.
– That is thu kind of information which we desire to find out.
– What does the Government want it for if it is not going to use it?
– Our proposal is similar to that which the honorable member’s leader says he would favour.
– My leader suggested something altogether different. He proposed the compilation of a register for a specific purpose, but the Government says that it does not want this information for any particular purpose. It. denies, however,’ that this register is a camouflage for conscription. If that is the case, why should it require this information from young men between the ages of 18 and 21?
– -The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am surprised at the attitude adopted by honorable members opposite towards this amendment. Apparently they are of the opinion that no opportunity should be afforded the youth of this country to be trained as soldiers in the event of Australia being attacked. I suppose that many honorable members are the fathers of boys. They at least will realize the necessity for preparing our young men in this “way to meet any possibility of attack. If Australia should be attacked by Italy, for instance, and that country sent a few capital ships to harass our shores, we should be foolish to rely upon untrained lads to defend this country. Every parent realizes that it would be most unfair to neglect the military training of the young men of this country, particularly when it is evident that the forces of any invader would be fully trained and equipped with the most modern weapons. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) complained that university students were to be exempted, and wanted to know if similar treatment would be meted out to apprentices and other young men undergoing courses of study. I suggest that university students would be more eager than any other class of young men to equip themselves as defenders of this country. As a father of three .boys who have undergone compulsory military training, I have no doubt that the average young man finds military discipline irksome. At the same time, however, every father realizes that it is essential that his sons he taught to handle a gun in order that they may be of use in the defence of this country should it ever he attacked. As I said earlier, we can rest assured that any force which might attack this country would be highly trained and equipped with the most modern weapons. We .cannot disregard the big advance which has been made in the modernizing of weapons since the Great War. As the result of this development every country to-day is forced to rely more and more upon specially trained men. Honorable members opposite say they fear that the Government intends to show preferential treatment to educated lads. They suggest that university students and skilled artisans will be exempt from the real risks involved in war. Such a suggestion is ridiculous, and I do not believe that honorable members are sincere in making it. The honorable member for Werriwa said that the Government’s proposal savoured of the tyranny of pagan days. The main object of this measure is to prepare the man-, power of this country in order to fight paganism. Apparently the honorable member needs to revise his ideas of what constitutes freedom. His suggestion that our youth will object to giving this information for the purpose for which it is required shows that he does not understand democracy. Various statements have been advanced as to how this measure will affect young men, particularly those between the ages of 18 and 21. Is it suggested that because the Government merely asks our young men to supply their names and addresses, and other essential particulars, in order to organize the defence of this country, they will be penalized in any way? It is clear from the speeches of honorable members opposite that the Labour party has no sound policy for defence. I hold the view that our young men of all classes, including university students, the skilled and the unskilled, will respond readily to the Government’s efforts to defend this country effectively. Knowing what is happening on the other, side of the world, we cannot be blind to the possibility of war, perhaps in . the near future. Honorable members opposite should abandon the argument that the compilation of this register is intended by the Government to be the first step towards conscription. Such a suggestion is false and wicked, and could only be made by honorable members who do not realize the meaning of democracy, and who reject the principle that it is the duty of every Australian man to train himself to defend this country in its hour of need.
I hope that the Government will reconsider its decision to take a census of wealth. I feel sure that in a time of emergency the so-called wealthy would be the first to fulfil their duty towards this country. That fact has been emphasized on more than one occasion in the past. Previous attempts to conscript the wealth of Australia have not only failed miserably but have also defeated the very objective which those who advocated that policy had in mind. The money has been raised in the past by loans, income tax, land tax, property tax and increases in all other forms of taxation, calling upon those with the highest incomes <and greatest wealth to pay the larger portion of defence expenditure. While we may have the registration of wealth, the method of collecting the finance to carry on against an aggressive foe will always be through the Taxation Department, levying where the greatest wealth lies.
Sitting suspended from lS.Ji-5 to 2.15 p.m.
.-This amendment is nothing more than a political makebelieve. We should have a wealth census, but i’t should be taken at the proper time, namely, when the general census is taken eighteen or twenty months hence. A census of wealth taken under the same conditions as the proposed census of man-power, that is from males of from 18 to 65 years of age, would he futile, whilst a complete recording would involve unnecessary extra, expenditure. So many returns are already expected from the people that every additional one adds a new pin-prick to harass the taxpayers. [Quorum formed.’]
.- The Government has wisely accepted the amendment moved by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn). Although every year we have n practical census of all the wealth of Australia under the income tax law, company and land laws, and by local government bodies, there is no harm in obtaining particulars as to that property in a specific way in a national register. The Government has adopted the policy of “one in, all in”. I welcome the expressed intention of the
Government to exempt owners of small property from the compliance with the provisions of the amendment. I impress upon the Ministry the fact that not all property in Australia is liquid, in fact, that a large proportion of it is held against overdrafts in industry, and that disturbance of conditions might adversely affect employment. No government, whatever be its political allegiance, can be too careful in making use of any information gleaned from a census of property, but I have no doubt that this Government is sincere in its intention to exercise due caution. However the protection to those sending in these census forms lies in the fact that the contents are to be kept by the Taxation Department and cannot he divulged to any one outside that department.
.- The Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) said that there would be certain classifications which would be exempt, not from registration, but from service. He specified university students, and, by way of interjection, apprentices. Many apprentices have volunteered for service in the militia, and they seem to be able to undergo their training without interference to their careers. If this bill become law, will apprentices be withdrawn from the militia?
– There will be a combing out of the militia forces.
– It would appear that the Government is anxious to discriminate against the sons of the less fortunate people in the community who are to be trained to bear the brunt of battle whilst the sons of those parents who can afford to pay university fees will be exempt. That discrimination supplies an additional reason, if any be required, why the Opposition should support the stand taken by the trade unions against this legislation. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made a speech at the Sydney Town Hall in which he said that wealth must play its part in defence. How does the Government intend to compel wealth to play its part ? The Minister has made it plain -that he accepts the amendment moved by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) merely to placate a minority of the committee, because he feared that that minority with the sup- port of the Labour party would constitute a majority on a division, and he added that the Government had no intention to make use of the information that would be gained from a census of property. If the Ministry does not intend to impose a capital levy or to impose increased taxes on higher incomes - neither the Minister nor the Prime Minister has said that that will be done - in order to make wealth play its part, the only remaining ,way in which the defence programme can be financed is by an extension of the policy of raising loans. 1
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).Order! The honorable gentleman is out of order.
– In discussing a wealth census, surely we can answer the arguments advanced by the Minister, who claims that the Government has adequate power to compel wealth to make its contribution. I am endeavouring to elicit from the Ministry the plans which it has formulated in order to make use of that power. If the Government proposes an extension of the loan policy instead of “a capital levy or higher tax rates on the higher scales of income, it should not involve this country in the expense of gathering information which, on the admission of the Minister, it does not intend to use. If the Labour party were to make a survey of the resources of the country, including wealth, it would make use of the information so gained in order to give effect to some plan to compel the more fortunately placed members of the community to make their contribution towards the financing of the defence programme. The honorable member for Perth himself was not sincere when he moved this amendment, because he said, “ All that I propose to do is to take away from the Opposition an argument that it would use in the electorates to defeat the effects of this legislation “.
– The honorable member for East Sydney is extremely careless of the truth.
– Despite that interjection 1 repeat my assertion. Moreover, if I were to judge the honorable member for Perth on his various statements I should say he is a direct descendant of Ananias.
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney must moderate his language.
– I do not believe that the honorable member for Perth was sincere in submitting this amendment. No limitations have been proposed in respect of the examination of the circumstances of invalid and old-age pensioners, but the same searching inquiry is not likely to he made into the affairs of the wealthy people of this community in connexion with the proposed wealth census. Unless the information secured is to be used for some definite purpose the Government is not justified in incurring the expense of obtaining it. A real justification for such an amendment would be that the information obtained is intended to be used to oblige wealthy people to make a more adequate contribution towards defence expenditure. But the Government does not intend so to use it. The Minister is silent in regard to my inquiry as to whether the Government intends to increase the rate of taxation on higher incomes in order to assist in financing our defence programme. We have been told that the purpose of the man-power census is to enable the Government, on the information so obtained, to allocate the services of the men of this community in the most effective manner in a time of emergency. In my opinion the men will be allocated for service not according to their capacity, but according to whether their parents are wealthy and move in fashionable circles or not.
– The honorable member is again departing from the subject before the Chair.
– With respect, Mr. Chairman, I submit that the Minister clearly indicated that the alleged intention of the Government was to allocate certain people for service and to exempt certain other people from service in accordance with the information furnished on their returns. I submit that the allocations will be made according to whether the fathers of the young men concerned .are members of wealthy city clubs or not. I represent the working class people of the division of East Syd: ney who are carefully watching the actions of the Government in connexion with this measure.
– The honorable member will not be in order in referring to the working class people of East Sydney in detail.
– Then 1 shall say, Mr. Chairman, that the working class people of the whole of this community- are watching this matter with close interest.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Last evening I criticized the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) for having, on one occasion, skilfully argued against the proposal to take a wealth census, and then, later, with having accepted the amendment of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn). I do not wish to repeat what J. then said except to state that if the Government had no mandate for the introduction of this .bill as a whole, it certainly has no mandate for the acceptance of the amendment of the honorable member for Perth. The Minister said that he had not changed has views and he referred to certain of his previous remarks to substantiate that point; but he went on to indicate that, in his opinion, the amendment was quite unnecessary and would serve no useful purpose. Why then should it be included in the bill and why should the Minister also propose to include in the measure the new schedule which has also been circulated? It is certain that the business community, as well as certain other sections of the people, will be disturbed by the provisions of this new schedule. Consequently, the Government should advance strong reasons to justify it. This is no light matter, and it will not be so regarded by the people of Australia. .
– Does the honorable member suggest that he represents business people?
– As a number of business people reside in my electorate, I represent them, willy-nilly whether they desire it or not. I ask the Minister to answer this pertinent question : What useful purpose will be served by the inclusion of the new schedule in the hill?
– It will make possible the compilation of a great deal of information that is not now available.
– Well, that is a fair answer as far as it goes, but I repeat that earlier in this discussion the Minister said that neither the amendment of the honorable member for Perth nor the proposed new schedule was necessary. That -being so, 1 warn the honorable gentleman and also the Government that they will have to shoulder the responsibility for accepting these proposals. We know, of course, that they are being accepted on the ground of political expediency. The newspaper friends of the Government are endeavouring to justify the proposal of the honorable member for Perth, and also the new schedule, but it is clear that they cannot be justified on any substantial grounds, and are being inserted purely out of considerations of political necessity. The schedule provides that information shall be furnished in regard to cash in hand, savings bank deposits, money on current account in banks, and no fewer than seventeen other items.
– I suggest that the Chairman might look at the standing order which relates to tedious repetition.
– I have not discussed these matters previously.
– I think the honorable member is anticipating the schedule.
– But surely the schedule is contemplated in the amendment ?
– But we have not yet reached it.
– Well, I shall reserve until later what I wish to say in connexion with it. My main point at the moment is that as the Government had no mandate to introduce the bill, it certainly has no mandate to introduce the proposed new schedule which the Minister has disowned as unnecessary and undesirable. The scope of the bill, as originally introduced, is being greatly widened out of considerations of political necessity.
– The Government does not propose to divulge any of the information obtained in connexion with the wealth census, but it will not regard as confidential the information obtained in connexion with the census of man-power.
– That is so. The inquiries in regard to wealth are intended to cover persons of all ages, so that a hoary-headed man of 90 who has a bank balance will be required to disclose it. This strengthens my point that the Government is less justified in accepting the amendment than it was in introducing the bill as originally drafted. As the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Scholfield) seems to be sensitive concerning whether or not I represent the business community in my electorate, I shall content myself with saying, at this point, that the working class in my electorate, which I unquestionably represent, is definitely antagonistic to this whole proposal. No assurance has been given regarding what the regulations to be made under the bill will provide, or to what classes they will apply. The Minister has not even given us his personal assurance with regard to the classes to be covered.
– I would be out of order in doing that.
– That is a reflection on the Chair. The committee does not yet know whether the regulation will apply to people who have no property as well as to those who have property.
– The honorable member is out of order.
– Apparently, there is to be no discussion on the schedule at this juncture, and I will reserve further remarks until the matter is specifically before the committee.
Amendment agreed to.
Question put -
That the clause, as amended, be agreed to.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 17 (Preparation and issue of forms).
Question put -
That the clause be agreed to.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . 8
Question so resolved in theaffirmative.
Clause 18 (Persons required to fill in and supply census forms to Commonwealth Statistician).
.- I move -
That at the end of the clause the following new sub-clauses be added: - “ (2.) Every person who owns property of a value not less than the prescribed value shall fill in and furnish to the Commonwealth Statistician in accordance with the regulations a form in accordance with the form in the First Schedule to this Act setting out the particulars specified in that form. “ (3:) Where a person to whom sub-section (.2.) of this section applies is absent from Australia the agent (if any) of that person in Australia shall for the purposes of this sectionbe deemed to be owner of the property of that person. “
The amendment which I have moved is In slightly different form from that previously circulated in my name, because it is now intended to insert in the schedule the form of the wealth registration return.
.- This amendment which, I take it, is a redraft of the previous amendment circulated by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) provides: “Every person who owns property of a value not less than the prescribed value…” I would like the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) to indicate to the House what the Government thinks the prescribed value should he.
– Will that be prescribed by regulation?
– When will that regulation be proclaimed?
– Before the census is taken.
– Can the Minister indicate what use the Government intends to make of the information to be compiled under the provisions of this clause?
Many contradictory statements have been made, and several honorable members have urged that the information should be put to some practical use.
– As was the case with a similar census taken twenty years ago, a bulk surveywill be made and published.
– Surely the Minister does not mean that information contained in the registration cards will be published?
– No. Only the bulk survey.
– After the result of the hulk survey has been published to what use does the Government anticipate it will put the information at its disposal? According to the revised schedule, twenty different questions will be submitted to persons called upon to supply information. They will be asked what cash they have in hand, what savings bank deposits, what money at current account in banks, &c, what fixed deposits in banks, building societies, &c.-
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).Order ! The honorable member should discuss the amendment.
– The amendment contain.? the following provision: -
Every person who owns property of a value not less than the prescribed value shall fill in and furnish to the Commonwealth Statistician, in accordance with the regulations, a form in accordance with the form in the first schedule to this act setting out the particulars specified in that form.
I am merely referring to the particulars required to be supplied on the form mentioned in the amendment. The further particulars to be supplied, according to the schedule, are as follow : -
Amounts owing -
Value of stock-in-trade.
Value of live stock.
Value of plant, including machinery, tools, implements, vehicles, rolling stock, &c, used for trade purposes.
Value of furniture and fittings used for trade purposes.
Estimated value of goodwill of business. Value, of land owned - if sole owner -
Unimproved value -
Value of improvements (including buildings ) . lf not sole owner, value of your interests. Net value of interests in leases held -
Value of share of net assets in partnership or syndicate undertakings.
Value of household furniture and effects and personal effects (including vehicles and plant used for other purposes than trade or occupation ) .
Value of interests as a beneficiary in trust estates.
Value of property not enumerated above, exclusive of life assurance and friendly society policies.
Possibly the Minister has an idea of collecting this information, and handing it over to a new government. He should give the public the benefit of the whole story. We have been told that there is a sinister motive behind this measure, that there will be an inquisitorial campaign followed by drastic action. The Minister declares that the Government does not intend to take any action, but the public has the right to know what it may expect when the information has been compiled and made available to the National Register Board. We are informed that the board will consist of three eminent gentlemen, representing the Commonwealth Statistician’s Branch, the Defence Department and the Department of Supply and Development respectively.
– Should not the information be made public?
– I am told that the result of the bulk survey will be published, but that individual returns will not be made known. We are given to understand that the national register will cost £40,000, but what will the wealth register cost? Whilst the national register will be confined to males between the ages of 18 and 65 years, the wealth register will apply to all males and females, irrespective of age. Having listened to the welter of argument on this measure, I am more satisfied than ever that the Government was not convinced by the. speeches of members of the committee when it decided to accept the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn). We all know that that honorable member is capable of most eloquent and persuasive addresses, but I think that the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Gardner) was respon sible for the sudden change of attitude on the part of the Minister because of the report submitted by him to the Prime Minister that the numbers were against the Government.
– Order ! Numbers have nothing to do with the question before the Chair.
– This clause could not be carried if the Government had not the necessary numbers.
– I do not think that I should be showing disrespect to the Chair if I said that the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) reminded me of a line from the well-known song about the flowers that bloom in the spring.
– That also has nothing to do with the case.
– The honorable gentleman asked what the prescribed value would be, and I replied, “ Not less than £500 “. What action may be taken by the Government as the result of the census will depend upon what the bulk survey reveals. When. the . periodical census is taken, the figures are tabulated in groups, and, if action be considered necessary, it may be taken accordingly.
– That is very cheery news for the boys.
– The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), with his ingenious brain, will, no doubt, be able to suggest many methods by which practical use could be made of the results of the survey.
.- I understand that a substantial penalty would be imposed upon persons who failed to fill in the forms; but many people throughout Australia are so situated that they might not be able to fill them in within the prescribed period.
– The Government appreciates the fact that a reasonable time must be allowed for that purpose.
– Many people may not hear about this legislation. Thousands of men throughout Australia lead a nomadic life, and are not even able to have their names placed on the electoral roll, because they seldom remain in one centre for a month. Many workers in the bush would not find it convenient to obtain the forms and lodge them within the specified time. The regulations would also require them to notify changes of address; but, as thousands of them have no fixed place of abode, they could not supply a permanent address that would enable them to be reached at any particular time. Many of them are constantly carrying their swags from one centre to another. Can the Minister state what these men would be called upon to do? What time would they be allowed in which to lodge their returns, and what latitude would be permitted in regard to notification of changes of address? Food relief is given to travellers in the country, provided they keep moving, but they cannot receive more than one issue of food in one town. Before a fortnight ha3 elapsed they must reach another centre before they become entitled to secure a second issue. If they desire to obtain food relief, therefore, they must have no fixed place of abode. A person unable to have his name placed on the electoral roll would find it difficult to give his address when filling in a return of this nature.
– This clause must be discussed in relation to an amendment which the Minister (Mr. Street) has circulated. The Minister has stated that, after the information is collected, it will be the duty of the Government to determine to what use it will be put. Now it has been proposed that the information obtained in this census is not to be divulged to the Minister, or to any authority which he may appoint.
– ‘Except to the Commissioner for Taxation.
– The Commissioner for Taxation is not the Government. So far as this matter is concerned, the Government is the Minister, and the Minister has just said that the information will not ‘be disclosed to him.
– I shall have access to the results of the bulk survey ; it is only individual returns that will not be made available.
– Where will this information be obtained?
– From the census office.
– Then a public servant will be in possession ‘ of information11 which is to be withheld from the Government ?
– That has been the position in regard to taxation information for 30 years.
– When governments want to get information of this kind they always seem to be able to get it. We know that the Government of New South Wales, when the New Guard controversy was on, made it evident that the Government was in possession of certain information which could only have been obtained from the Taxation Department.
– No Commonwealth Minister has ever obtained from the Commissioner of Taxation- a return or assessment of an individual taxpayer.
– A Minister can speak only for himself; he cannot, give an assurance of any value regarding what may happen in the future. It is remarkable what can be done, particularly to Labour supporters, in j time of a crisis. For instance, it has been revealed that during the last war information . of the most secret character was made available to the recruiting officers and used by them from public platforms in country towns.
– The point made by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark), and the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), ;by interjection, was that many men who are wandering around the country with no fixed place of abode are not able to become enrolled for electoral purposes, and may, consequently, suffer under the provisions of this legislation. The department of statistics has a wealth of experience in dealing with cases of that kind, and the public may be assured that in the future, as in the past, the administration will be sympathetic. I. admit that some men may have to fill in on their cards “ No fixed abode “ ; that is all they can do; but no harsh conditions will be imposed upon: men in remote parts of the country.
In answer to the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), I assure him that only the bulk results of the survey will be made available to Ministers.
– How often will the Returns have to be made ?
-Whenever the Government desires.
– Will it be every six months ?
– That would be impossible because of the cost. I cannot say now what the cost of taking the census will be, but I shall have it worked out.
– It will be popular with the accountants.
– And with the Labour party.
– There is nothing in the foreshadowed amendment that would prevent the results of the bulk survey being made available to the Government.
.- This is to be a census of property, not a census of wealth, and it is inaccurate to describe it as a census of wealth. The use of that expression carries an implication that it is proposed to ask for information regarding surplus wealth possessed by individuals, but the Government proposes that every one who owns property of any kind, a house, or an interest in a house, or furniture and so forth, of a value exceeding £500, must make a return. A census of property may have two objects. It ‘may be desired to make a kind of Domesday Book of all property belonging to. the community. That was put forward as one of the reasons for the census of 1915. I point out, however, that we cannot obtain an accurate idea of the property of the community when a minimum of £500 is imposed. The survey will be incomplete. The other reason for a property census is the one that the Government rejects. I am qualified to discuss this issue critically, because I was never one of those who advocated the taking of a wealth census concurrently with a census of man-power. Our experience in 1915 convinced me that the wealth census was taken only to induce the people to accept the manpower, register, and that is why a property census is to be taken now. The Government says that it is not prepared to use the information obtained in the census as a means of equipping itself, in time of emergency, to requisition the wealth of the community. Although it is proposed to register men so that we may requisi tion their industrial or military services, we are to register wealth not with the idea of requisitioning it in time of need, but merely in order that the people may be reconciled to accept the bill. It is quite possible that the cards returned in connexion with the register of property will b.e burned even sooner than they were after the taking of the 1915 census. I remember reading in a book that the dossiers prepared by the French police would be of use only if France were to run out of coal. Similarly, the cards that will be returned under the property survey will be of use only if Canberra should run out of coal. For the purpose of recording the capacity of individuals to make a sacrifice to the community, the census will be of no use at all. The questionnaire is to be administered to small holders and large holders alike. No one imagines that a person with an interest of £500 in a house and furniture can be called upon to make a sacrifice for the benefit of the community. That is the thing which is absolutely necessary in order to enable him to keep his family going. If the Government intends to take a genuine census of wealth it should make the minimum proposed here much higher. However, it will not do that, because the higher it makes the minimum the more it will surrender the value of the argument that it wants a record of property. The Government cannot, by this device, get a true picture of the community’s resources, or of the community’s property, because for census purposes, record purposes or Domesday Book purposes, this record will be absolutely valueless.
– It is the same method as that employed by the Labour Government in 1915.
– Precisely, and in my view that Government put forward that proposal in order to recommend to the people the registration of life and labour. As a matter - of fact, Labour members in this Parliament at that time would not have accepted registration of life and labour unless the proposal was sweetened with the demand for a record of wealth. Every one knows, however, that no Attempt was made to use that register of wealth, and ii: the course of time all of those records were destroyed. In the same way, this Government is trying to sweeten this nauseous draught. It says in effect, “ We intend to register not only life and labour but also wealth. The register of life and labour is not for the purpose of records only, but will be used should an emergency arise. We want to know where each man is, and what he can do, so we may be able to use him industrially or militarily to the greatest advantage. We do not want to register wealth in order to use wealth to the greatest advantage in a time of emergency, but we propose to rely on the orthodox methods of taxa-tion and loan of using wealth should an emergency arise “. I suggest that if the Government really wants to take a census of wealth in a workmanlike fashion, it should raise the minimum proposed here to a much higher figure. Otherwise, a vast number of people who, in no circumstances at all, could be asked to put their property at the disposal of the community, will be asked to fill in these forms. That information will be of no use whatever, even if the records are complete, because to be complete the records must be of property below, as well as above, the value of £500. I submit that the minimum should be made much higher than £500.
– That would reduce its value as a conspectus of wealth.
– But it will be of no value at all as a conspectus of wealth unless it brings in all property, and, if’ the Government wants a record of the private wealth of the community, it must bring in all property. For instance, a single man living with his parents might have no obligations at all, yet he might have an income of £500 a year. His wealth would, ‘to a large degree, be surplus wealth. On the other .hand a married man who is bringing up. a family might have partly paid off. a home. and furniture to a greater value than £500. If the Government wishes to secure an actual picture of the wealth of the community for the sake of having a record then.it will need to secure a record of the property of everybody. If it does not want to do that, but desires to secure merely a record of the resources of the community to be used in case of emergency, then if must make its minimum much higher. I repeat that this is only an attempt to make this unpalatable mea sure more acceptable to the people by giving them ideas that if a requisition is made it will affect not only labour and life, but also the wealth of the community. The Government repudiates the idea of taking wealth in any emergency no matter what that emergency might be; but no matter what the emergency might be, itproposes to - make a requisition on the lives of the people and to subject them to industrial and military conscription. Whatever finance it requires, it will raise by the old methods of taxation and loan, and we shall find, as happens in every war, that the poor will .emerge poorer and the wealthy will emerge wealthier.
– How can we take wealth except by taking what it produces ? What does wealth amount to unless it produces something?
– Wealth is not disturbed by taxation and loans. People who were moderately wealthy at the start of the Great War amassed great wealth during the war. When you levy taxes you -merely take from the income of people, and you can take wealth without taxing the incomes of people. You can take property for which people have no need without taxing income. I am not saying that that should be done, but I suggest that should a crisis arise in which the people are to be called upon to serve or work, then it is of sufficient magnitude to entitle the Government to say that it will also take surplus wealth of the wealthy in order to use it for the benefit of the nation. However, in any war carried on by this Government, the workers and the young men .will be called upon to make the maximum sacrifice of life and labour, while wealth will .not be called upon to make any permanent sacrifice. The wealthy are merely to- contribute by way of .-taxes and loans, interest on which will be exempt from tax; the wealthy will not ‘.be required to make any permanent sacrifice. Therefore* I submit that this legislation is a . mere sham. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) has been quite frank with the committee. He has put it. quite clearly that honorable members cannot expect the Government to secure information upon which -it will hase a levy on wealth.
On the other hand, however, the Government is satisfied to take a census of wealth, but to take no notice of the information thus obtained. Because it consents to take a census of property, it believes that the young men of this community will more readily be persuaded to register themselves for military and industrial service when required. I am not attacking the Government for adopting that position. It gets itself into a difficulty where it is met with the argument that wealth, as well as life and labour, should be called upon to make sacrifices, and in reply it says that it is not going to exact any sacrifice for wealth commensurate with those which will be made by life and labour; and it adds, in effect, “ But if you are satisfied that we should have a register of wealth without taking any part of that wealth we shall go that far with you “.
Amendment agreed to.
Question put -
That the clause, as amended, he agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
N oes . . . . 22
Majority . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
The form which shall beused for the purpose of any census directed to be taken under this Act shall be in accordance with the form in the Schedule to this Act. with such modifications or additions (if any) as are prescribed.
Consequential amendments agreed to.
Mr. STREET (Corangamite - Minister for Defence [3.45]. - I move -
That the words “ with such modifications or additions ( if any ) as are prescribed “ be omitted.
The purpose of this amendment is to prevent the alteration of the schedule without the authority of Parliament.
Amendment agreed to.
Question put -
That the clause, as amended, be agreed to. (The Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Ayes . . . . 30
Noes . . . . 22
Question so resolved in the affirmative.’
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed clause 14 -
The Board and the Commonwealth Statistician, and any officer of theCommonwealthwealth or a State to whom any information obtained under this Act is made known in accordance with this Act or the regulations, shall not, unless the Minister certifies that it is necessary in the public interest that the information contained in any form filled in in pursuance of this Act or the regulations should be divulged, divulge the contents of any such form, and then only to the Minister or to such other officer or officers as the Minister directs.
– I move -
That the following proviso be added - “ Provided that the contents of any such form relating to property shall not be divulged to the Minister, and the Minister shall not direct that its contents be divulged to any officer other than the Commissioner of Taxation “.
This amendment is in accordance with taxation laws and principles and the principle of it has been affirmed by this Parliament ever since its inception.
.- Will the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) agree to the deletion of the words “ or to such other officer or officers as the Minister directs” from this clause? The amendment just moved by the Minister is designed to prevent the Minister from directing that the contents of any census form relating to property shall not be divulged to any officer other than the Commissioner of Taxation. My suggested amendment would put information gained from the personal census on the same basis.
– I cannot do that.
– Clause 14 pretends to protect the person who has made a personal return of information against the divulgence of that information, but it is open to the Minister to direct that such information may be divulged to such other officer or officers as he directs. The “ other officers “ may be State policemen or any other servants of a State, because another clause provides that State machinery may be employed in the administration of this proposed act. In asking for provision to prevent the disclosure of personal information to persons other than the Minister, I am seeking to have applied to persona] information the same principle as is to be applied to information relating to property. It is not that I mistrust either the present Minister or the present Ministry, but I assume the powers given under this bill can be used in bad faith as well . as good faith, and I should be unwilling to comply with any law which could be tised in bad faith. It is in our experience that powers under the War Census Act were used in bad faith. The confidential nature of returns was not respected and men were openly twitted with having made this or that statement. One man was twitted from the recruiting platform by Sir William Irvine that, although he was a slaughterman, he objected to taking human life and, therefore, was not prepared to enlist. Men were bullied about statements that they had made by persons who had no right, under the act, to know- the contents of the returns that they had made. I hope that the Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes) is listening. I should be sorry if he were not because he, probably more than anybody else, knows the truth of my assertion. We must assume that the powers under this hill will be used in bad faith, and this legislature should make it clear at any rate that the Minister is responsible for any disclosures that are made. No disclosures of personal information should be made; such information should be placed on the same footing as information about property.
– The point made by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr, Blackburn) can be more forcibly expressed by my reading exactly what the clause contains. The clause reads-
The board and the Coin mon wealth statistician, and any officer of the Commonwealth or a State to whom any information obtained under this act is made known in accordance with this act or the regulations shall not, unless the Minister certifies that it is necessary in the public interest that the information contained in any form filled in in pursuance of this act or the regulations’ should be divulged, divulge the contents of any such form, and then only to the Minister or to such other officer or officers as the Minister directs.
The widest, interpretation that can be placed on this clause is that the Minister is to determine that information shall be made available in the public interest. The Minister himself should . have come forward with an amendment such as that suggested by the honorable member for Bourke. As the clause stands, it, would bc possible for information given by a man in compliance with the requirements of the act, in the belief that it was to be treated as confidential, to be divulged to any tribunal which may be set up and used against that man. We have no knowledge of the regulations which may be made under this act, and it is possible that a man could be convicted as the result of his own action in supplying personal information if that information were transmitted to military or other authorities. Honorable members had such experience of the working of the War Census Act as to warrant their being fearful of the provisions of this legislation. Personal information should be made known to nobody. Information relating to myself is as sacred to me as information relating to their properties would bc to those persons who have investments.
– Much more sacred.
– Yes ; but at least I am entitled to argue on the basis of equality. We cannot value life as against property. If information be sacred in one case, it should, at. the very least, be equally sacred in another. This clause strengthens the arguments of those who feel that such information as is to be ought under this legislation should not he given, because no one can tell how far that information will travel before its force is silent. Men would be warranted in such circumstances in refusing to supply information or to make returns which may not be true in particulars. Men would he justified in taking either of those courses if my fears are justified, because they would never know whether or not the information that they had supplied would be the means of judgment being passed upon them either in civil courts or military tribunals. The Opposition must insist that the principle to be observed in respect of information about property should be made to .apply also to information about human lives.
..- Under this clause regulations may be prescribed which will make possible the disclosure to the Minister of any of the information contained in the forms furnished by registered persons. Parliament is not aware of the proposed wording of the contemplated regulations, and although it may subsequently have some power to disallow them, it cannot express a sound opinion on the subject at the moment, for the exact verbiage of them is not available. What wo do know is that the Minister will have access to con:fidential information, and that he may also disclose the information to other persons. It is obvious, therefore, that perhaps within 24 hours the information which our people have supplied in good faith on the understanding that it will lie regarded as confidential may be made available to every officer in « State or, for that matter, in the Commonwealth. No secrecy whatever can bc preserved in such circumstances. But while the Government is quite prepared to allow the details of the private lives of those who register to be published in this wholesale fashion, it does not propose to allow details contained in the wealth census returns to be made available. I strongly object to this differentiation. The private affairs of people are of far more importance to them than are their monetary affairs. The same principle should apply to the details on the returns supplied in connexion with the wealth census returns, and to those supplied in connexion with the man-power returns.
I shall, therefore, resist both the amend ment and the clause itself.
Question put -
That the proviso proposed to be added (Mr. Street’s amendment) be added.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. Prowse.;
Majority . . . . ‘ 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the clause, as amended, be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
For the purpose of any inquiries or observations necessary for the proper carrying out of this act or the regulations, all persons shall, when required by the Commonwealth Statistician or by any officer authorized in that behalf in writing “by the Commonwealth Statistician, answer questions and produce documents within such time as the Commonwealth Statistician or the authorized officer thinks fit.
.- The purpose of this clause is to confer inquisitorial power not only upon the Commonwealth Statistician, but also upon any officer nominated by him. There is no need for the inclusion of the clause in the bill. Although it is proposed to compel certain individuals to furnish returns, we surely should not contemplate allowing the Commonwealth Statistician or, for that matter, any State policeman to whom he may delegate the power, to make inquiries in regard to particular cases. It will be obvious to honorable members that if a police officer clothed with the power sought to be conferred by this clause visits the home of a citizen and asks questions, the individual concerned will not feel that he is in a position to refuse to furnish the desired information. A householder may be confronted by an officer, other than a policeman, and may not be aware of the power of interrogation possessed by that officer. To a great degree provisions such as this take away from the people the protection given by having a statutory form unalterable except by Parliament. If an officer is sent to a house to question an occupant then it is likely that that occupant will supply whatever information is desired without knowing whether or not the officer has been authorized to ask such questions. An ordinary working man confronted by a policeman who produces his authority under this bill, is not going to say, “ You have no right to ask me these questions “. I submit that the Government should rely upon the form. If anybody makes untrue statements in the form then a prosecution may be initiated and the prescribed penalty imposed. The Government should not supplement, that form by the inquisitorial procedure provided in this clause. The spirit, of this provision is quite contrary to that conciliatory spirit which has actuated the Minister in making the concessions which he has granted so far. Statements by the Minister have been to the effect that Parliament only would have the right to authorize the asking of questions Tinder this legislation. If an officer to whom power is delegated by the National Register Board is to have the authority to question a person who has made a return, or who has not made a return, then a great deal of the protection given by the Minister’s amendments is taken away. I submit that this clause should not be agreed to.
.- Like the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) I have strong objection to this clause, the effect of which will he to permit an officer of the Crown to enter premises and interrogate occupants - a power that this Parliament should not be prepared to give, particularly in view of the fact that authority is given elsewhere in the bill for the National Register
Board to delegate its authority to any officer. The Labour party knows from experience that authority is very often given to persons who subsequently are found to be incompetent and unworthy of that authority. Apart from that aspect, however, I am strongly of the opinion that no officer should be given power to enter homes and submit the occupants to questioning, or to force them to produce documents. This clause gives to an officer power to ask questions which are not provided for in the hill. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) . has seen fit to amend earlier clauses in order to satisfy objections raised by. honorable members, and he gave an assurance that the schedule would not be altered or added to unless Parliament were consulted. I understood that the questions to be asked were to be confined to those appearing in the schedule, but this clause obviously gives to officers the power to seek information far and above anything contemplated in this measure. As the honorable member for Bourke pointed out, this authority might be invested in police officers. Honorable members know from their reading of court proceedings how often authority is abused by such people. In the course of their ordinary duties, police officers are bound by law to inform persons whom they interrogate, that they are not bound to answer questions, and that they are entitled to have a legal adviser in their presence when the .questions are asked. Unfortunately, there is no such provision in this bill, and officers might endeavour to intimidate people in order to obtain information not provided for in the schedule. The officers themselves might not know that they are not entitled to ask certain questions. Again there will probably be some officers who, knowing that they have not the requisite power, will seek by intimidating methods to go further than this legislation permits. This legislation is supposed to be availed of, not at a time when all is cool and calm, but at a time of national crisis, when the people are usually not in a normal state of mind. Advantage might be taken of the atmosphere of hysteria to bully people into giving information, possibly for purposes entirely outside the scope of this bill. Honorable members on this side are not prepared to permit of the inclusion in clause 20 of power which has been taken out of other clauses. The Minister for Defence should assure the committee that he is prepared to accept the suggestion that the part of the clause ,to which objection is being taken, should be eliminated in order to allay the fears . which honorable members have expressed. * Quorum formed. *
– This clause provides that the Commonwealth Statistician or any officer, authorized by the statistician may ask questions and require the production of documents for the purpose of properly carrying out the provisions of this bill. The reason for that is that in some cases- it may be necessary to ensure that returns are filled in correctly, and the assistance of officers, may be called upon to ensure that tha t is done. I draw attention to the Census and Statistics Act, section 19 of which states -
Vor the purpose of making any inquiries or observations necessary for the proper carrying out of this act, the Statistician or any officer authorized in writing by him may at any time during working hours, enter any factory, mine, workshop or place where persons are employed and may inspect any part of it, and all plant mid machinery used in connexion with it, and may make such inquiries as are prescribed or allowed by the regulations.
– There can be no comparison of a census act to a military act.
– There is a similar provision in almost every act. The Government, feels that this is a necessary power and consequently cannot accept the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn).
Mr. GREEN (Kalgoorlie) [4.24’.There is no doubt in the minds of menbers of the Opposition that this legislation is entirely opposed to the Australian spirit. In the past there had been a reverence, for the freedom which existed in Australia, but as the Minister for defence (Mr. Street) has said, the sole purpose of this clause is that men, and more particularly lads, will be called upon to answer questions and to produce documents. It reminds me of the incident of the Eureka Stockade, when the miners of Ballarat refused to submit to legislation requiring the production of their licences on demand. Many of them died for that, principle, .and history books gave us the impression that the victory on that occa sion was a milestone in our march to freedom. We have been told that such a thing could never happen again, ye; the liberty of the people of Australia is being imperilled in a similar way by th is legislation. Throughout the world to-day, particularly in European countries, there is a tendency to curtail personal liberty considerably. For instance, conscription for military service has been introduced into Great Britain.
– The honorable member will not be in order in pursuing that line of discussion.
– The clause under discussion states -
For the purpose of any inquiries or observations necessary for the proper carrying out of this act or the regulations, all persons shall, when required by tlie Commonwealth Statistician or by any officer authorized in that behalf in writing by the Commonwealth Statistician, answer questions and produce documents within such time as the Commonwealth Statistician or the authorized officer thinks fit.
I warn the Minister that there would be grave danger of a repetition of what occurred at, Eureka during the early history of this country, if this bill became law. [Quorum formed.’] I cannot understand the Government pressing a proposal of this kind. The diggers of Ballarat went out for less than the Government is trying to impose on the people of Australia, although the people have been under the impression that those diggers did not die in vain. At that time policemen went from digger to digger and demanded their licences.
– The honorable member must not make further reference to the Eureka incident.
– This bill would cause a serious division of the people. That might suit the political purposes of the Government, but I should deplore a division of the people on the conscription issue.
– -If the honorable member persists in discussing matters other than the question before the Chair, 1 shall have to ask him to resume his seat.
– If I see a danger confronting the people, it is my duty, as one of their representatives-
– The honorable member, like every other member of the committee, must comply with the Standing Orders.
– I trust that the Minister will take a warning from what I have said. Does he imagine that the workers would allow themselves to be dragooned by policemen or other officers into answering questions, or producing documents?
– A similar provision is incorporated in about sixteen other acts.
– I shall vote against any measure likely to cause division among the people. Of course, it might suit the political purposes of the Government
– Order ! The honorable member is not entitled to make a second-reading speech at this stage.
– This clause, like all other provisions in the bill, shows that the measure will have a bad effect upon the people, and I again warn the Government against what they must know would happen if it became law.
.- The schedule sets out certain questions, and,- according to the Minister’s own statement, he would not be prepared to allow any officer to go beyond those matters. Yet he now asks the committee to accept clause 20, which states -
For the purpose of any inquiries or observations necessary for the proper -carrying out of this act or the regulations, all persons shall, when required by the Commonwealth’ Statistician or by any officer authorized in that behalf in writing by the Com moil wealth Statistician, answer questions and produce documents within such times as the Commonwealth Statistician or the authorized officer thinks fit. ‘
Apparently, there would be no limit to the’ questions that might be asked, or the documents that might be demanded. If the person answering questions could take as a guide the matters set down in black and white in the schedule, he would know where he stood. Any officer might be authorized to ask innumerable questions on any subject, and this measure would contain nothing to guide the individual who was to be questioned as to his rights, or to guide the officer as to the sort of questions he would be entitled to ask.
– I agree, to some extent, with the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) but I think that his, fears are somewhat far-fetched. However, I move -
That the words “ or the regulations “ be omitted.
– I regard this as a military measure, and I am afraid that the Commonwealth Statistician, under directions of the Minister, might pick out a military bully for the purpose of securing certain answers to questions. Experience shows that these inquiries might be carried out by officers who would unnecessarily frighten people in connexion with the filling in of the cards.
– They might be police “ pimps “.
– Yes. Had the Government been sincere in regard to this matter, it would not have introduced this measure, but would have been content to obtain the desired information by .means of an ordinary census., i am surprised that the Prime Minister, should sponsor legislation the effect of which will be to divide the people in a time of crisis.
– If we had taken a census, as the honorable member suggests, it would have been taken under an act in which this very provision occurs.
– This is a military provision, and that is why I object to it. An ordinary civil census would be taken in normal times, and the. atmosphere would be very different from what it is now. I appeal to the Minister and to the Government not to raise contentions issues at a time like this. The people are united now in. their determination to defend Australia if necessary, and we should not divide them. This legislation will fetter the workers. The Government will march them in chains.
– Order.! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the clause.
– I am the representative of a democracy in this House. I was gent here by people who believe in democracy.
– The honorable member may have been sent here, but he cannot do as he. likes when he is here.
– It is undemocratic
Tlie CHAIRMAN. - “Will the honorable member be seated.
Motion (by Mr. Mahoney) agreed to -
That the honorable member for Denison be further heard.
– At no time would I be a party to holding up a measure required for the immediate defence of Australia, but I object, to legislation which will interfere with the liberty of the subject. That is the basis of our freedom, of which we boast so proudly. We want to be assured that the officers who take this census are men who can be trusted. [ record my protest against the proposal, and I hope that the Minister, in the interests of national unity, will withdraw the ‘measure altogether.
– The Minister for Defence (Mr. Street), and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), by interjection, defended the clause on the ground that it is a reproduction of a section in the Census and Statistics Act, under which, they say, the officers will have the same power as it is proposed to give them under this measure. The act which they have mentioned provides for the periodical taking of a census, and a periodical collection of statistics. In connexion with the census, the collector may, if invited to do so by the occupier, help with the filling in of the form, and he may ask questions relating to matters set out in the form. It is a limited provision. I am referring to section 14 of the act, which is as follows: -
Every person shall, to the best of his knowledge and belief, answer all questions asked him by a collector necessary to obtain any information required to be filled up and supplied in the house-holder’s schedule.
Part IV. of the Census and Statistics Act deals with the collection of statistics. The obligation on a person to furnish statistics is very different from the obligation which will be imposed on persons under this proposed legislation. Under the Census and Statistics Act the citizen is obliged to furnish information upon which statements, reports and other publications may be made regarding certain matters. Under this proposed legislation, the obligation- is to make statements from which certain records may be made regarding man-power, &c, but also upon which the individual may become subject to certain liabilities that he does not want. The person who furnishes statistics regarding population, employment, exports and imports, &c, is not imposing on himself any ulterior obligation. Once he has made the return, he is -finished with the matter. No personal consequences can follow to him from making the statement. Then, -in section 19 of the Census and Statistics Act, the Statistician, or any. officer appointed by him, may enter a workshop, mine or place of employment to inspect and make inquiries. No obligation is imposed in that section to produce documents, but even if it were, the next point of distinction is this: the officer who makes those inquiries under the Census and Statistics Act is directed by the act to take an oath of secrecy. That requirement is omitted in this bill, because it is clear that the officer making the inquiries is not to keep the information secret. He may be directed to disclose it to the Minister, or to any officer whom the Minister appoints. Therefore, the Census and Statistics Act does not afford a precedent. . .
The Prime Minister said that the person questioned may say to the officer who asks improper questions, “ You have no authority to ask me that”; but how will the man questioned know the extent of the authority of the questioner; or, for that matter, how will the policeman himself know the extent of his authority? It is well-known that a poor man, whoso house is entered by a policeman, is usually prepared to answer any questions put to him if he can honestly do so.
– When I heard the Minister attempting to make a comparison between the Census and Statistics Act and this bill, I felt that he was going back a -long way in order to justify .the action of the- Government. The Census and Statistics Act was passed in 1905, and there have been some subsequent amendments. The purpose of that act was to collect information for civil purposes. Such -information- is collected in most civilized countries in the world, and relates to such matters as population, employment, occupation, &c, required for statistical purposes. The atmosphere surrounding the taking of such a census is very different from that which will surround the taking of this census. We are thankful to the honorable member for
Bourke (Mr.’ Blackburn) for explaining to us the essential difference between the Census and Statistics Act and the provisions in this bill. The argument of the Minister falls entirely to the ground in the light of the explanation of the honorable member for Bourke, and the Minister does not seem to have anything else with which to justify his position. For instance, there is no provision in the Census and Statistics Aci, regarding the production of documents. There is a provision in that act for imposing an oath of secrecy on officers, but there is no such provision in this bill.
Mr. Struct. What about’ clause 12 of the bill?
– That clause does not make provision for the imposition of an oath of secrecy.
– The whole bill seems to me to be a mass of contradictions. The contents of one clause do not square with the contents of another. Honorable members can imagine the legal arguments that could take place regarding the rights of officers under this legislation. As for testing the powers of officers, we all know that the great majority of those who will be affected by this legislation will not have two “ bob “ to test anything under the law. They would have to submit to the bullying of the officers taking the census. The Minister in charge of the bill will not be policing it throughout Australia. For my part, T resent very strongly the suggestion that an officer of the Commonwealth Statistician’s Department is to have the right to come into my office or home and turn over my documents and records, and examine my pass-book.
– The honorable member’s proposal is that there ought not to be any means of inquiring into the truth of the returns.
– The responsibility is on the parties concerned to furnish information.
– Whether it is true ov false?
– J refuse to allow the average Australian to be indicted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Australians are respected for their veracity.
– The honorable member should live up to his form. He cannot impute nonsense of that description.,
– The right honorable gentleman cannot slide away from it.
– The honorable member would have us believe that the people of Australia, unlike the people of other countries, will always make a completely accurate return.
– 1 should say that the percentage of Australians who stick to the truth is greater than that of other peoples.
– Agreed; but the honorable gentleman’s proposition is that there should be no means of testing the truth.
– I object to the Com.monwealth Statistician having power to delegate power to police “ pimps “ to go into my home and turn over documents. 1’ impress upon tlie committee that this clause nullifies the effect of the amendment to clause 14, which the committee made at the behest of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street), in order to preserve the secrecy of information about property. Some honorable gentlemen opposite may have occasion to be concerned about the intrusion of clause 20 into the bill because, despite the fact that information contained in property census cards, under clause 14, must not be divulged to other than the Commissioner of Taxation, this clause will enable delegated officers to enter people’s homes and demand the production of, say, bank pass-books, or any other documents relating to their wealth, property, or matters concerning their personal welfare. I leave the matter at that, and hope for a satisfactory reply from the Minister for Defence.
.- It seems rather an indication of perversity on the part of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) that he is not prepared to make a common-sense concession in regard to a clause - after all, it is only one clause in the bill - which has excited so much opposition and necessarily so much acrimony. I entertain no doubt that this clause is, first of all, as I said in connexion with the Supply and Development Bill, a form of inquisition. It imposes obligations and finally opportunities for harassing and even insults, and is, therefore, an affront to the law-abiding people of this country. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) raised a question as to whether we are prepared o test the truth and accuracy of a return already furnished. There are many acts of Parliament in this country which impose obligations on the citizens, notably the Income Tax Assessment Act. I speak from, memory, but I do not think that honorable members will find any parallel to this clause in the Income Tax Assessment Act, though for specific and proper purposes it gives wide powers, and it is very important that truthful returns be furnished, and there is a strong incentive to inaccuracy and suppression of truth. I confess that there is a good deal of evasion of the truth in high places, but, generally speaking, the people of this country manifest an extraordinarily and almost universal respect for the law of the land. A significant, example of that is offered by the compulsory voting law, and the small number of persons who leave themselves liable for not obeying that act, although the penalties are smaller than those provided in this bill. Under the Pensions Act there is an obligation on. the general public to give information to the pensions authorities, and I am sure that you, yourself, Mr. Temporary Chairman, can equal my experience of receiving letters from the Pensions Department requiring me to supply it with information relative to the property of an individual who has made application for a pension. The method adopted there is the method of a polite letter, but that letter bears upon its face the stamp of authority and contains, perhaps, a significant reminder of the section under which the request for information is made. The information is usually supplied if it is within the knowledge of the person asked. It assists in the administration of the act and incidentally assists the person who is an applicant for the pension. Mark the significant difference in this hill ! This clause does not come into operation until a subject of the King has presumably complied with the law and furnished a return. It is not specifically directed against a person who has not sent in a return. It may be applied against a person who in good faith has sent in a return, and at that stage the Statistician is em powered to authorize some person, any person, no matter ‘what his status may be or how inferior that status may be, to call upon another person, presumably in the privacy of his home if he is not to be waylaid in the public street, and require him to produce papers and to answer questions. To my mind it is a terrible thing that a kind of irregular and secret court should be set up in which some subordinate officer will become an inquisitor and back a citizen up against the wall of his own home perhaps and demand that he answer all questions that are put to him - because there is no test of relevance, necessity or importance of the questions; nor will there be any method of testing, at a later stage, the validity of the proceedings. No one knows better than you, Mr. Nairn, from your wide experience of court procedure, that the evidence of even a subordinate official who carries the stamp of officialdom is received in a police court with more readiness than that of a private individual. The private individual is generally unskilled and inexperienced in court procedure. He becomes confused and frightened. For this reason, also, the court, almost of necessity, accepts the evidence clearly presented by an official. Sometimes heavy penalties follow the evidence of these officials against private citizens. This bill has awakened the antagonism of a very large section of the general community, which the Opposition has not hesitated to manifest.
– In almost every direction.
– Yes ; and it will continue to do so. We object to this clause on the ground that it is not even necessary. No reasons have been advanced in support of it except those given by the Prime Minister. It has been suggested, however, by innuendo, that some persons may tell lies in answer to questions, or suppress facts or be guilty of evasions. Even if the clause were not in the measure, penalties could be imposed for that kind of thing. This provision, as a matter of fact, is a very severe, obnoxious, and objectionable “ extra “. Irrespective of whether the person asking the questions under the provisions of this clause were an understrapper or a superior officer, it would be objectionable to me to be put on the grill, or subjected to the third degree, in private, in the dark, in the star chamber, in order to discover whether certain statements that I had made were accurate or inaccurate and whether some return that I had furnished were reliable or not. Such a procedure is repugnant to common sense. It is particularly objectionable to that sense of justice which we sometimes complacently refer to as “ British “.
– If a person does not fill in his form accurately in the first place, how is he to be compelled to do it afterwards? Is he to be bullied into doing so ?
– The person interrogating him would no doubt have his own methods, but the unfortunate citizen who was being questioned would have no means at hand to satisfy himself as to the genuineness of the official who waited upon him, nor would he be able to determine whether the questions asked fell within the category of proper questions or not. Moreover, no consideration of time, place, or circumstance, seems to apply to the kind of pillory that the Government is proposing to establish. The Minister seemed only imperfectly to realize that our objections would not be met by .the mere excision of the words, “ or the regulations “. We object to the clause as a whole.
The ‘ TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Nairn). - The honorable gentleman’s time has expired. * Quorum formed.]*
.- This bill is repugnant, not because the Opposition says so, but because a very great body of people outside of Parliament have declared it to be so. The clause now under consideration is one of the most objectionable in the bill. It provides that the Commonwealth Statistician, who resides in Canberra, may authorize in writing, and appoint, any person anywhere within the Commonwealth to require individuals to answer questions and to produce documents. What facilities has the Commonwealth Statistician to judge as to the fitness of individuals elsewhere to carry out this delicate duty? To do this work effectively a person must, of necessity, be of good character, good conduct, good address, considerable capacity, and good approach. He must not be an individual who, for political or private reasons, may assume some bias in respect of the person he has to examine. The Commonwealth Statistician, residing in Canberra, cannot, therefore, be expected to be responsible for the fitness of individuals in remote parts of Australia to do this work in the way that it ought to be done. It may happen that the person appointed to do this work in a little village happens to be a member of the Women’s National League or the National Federation. Imagine me having to submit to ali examination on the matters that will be at issue by a member of a hostile political organization ! It is provided that persons appointed to do this work by the Common wealth .Statistician must be permanent or temporary employees of the Commonwealth Government or a State government. It will be apparent, therefore, that an inspector of noxious weeds, or a rate collector, might be appointed. But it is also obvious that by the adoption of the simple expedient of inserting an appropriate notice in the Commonwealth Gazette or a State Gazette, a local bank manager, a secretary of a shire council, a police magistrate, a collector for the Electricity Commission, or a telephone lineman, could be detailed to carry out these inquisitions.
I submit that such persons should not be authorized to require their fellow citizens to answer personal’ questions and to produce private documents. Some people in this community have good reasons for suspecting the good faith and integrity of other persons who live in their neighbourhood and it would be repugnant in the extreme for them to have to submit to interrogation by such individuals. In any case, it may well happen that the interrogation would prove abortive and ‘ futile. But, let us suppose that, arising out of one of these private investigations, a court case occurred. Would the magistrate be expected to accept as conclusive the word of one witness against that of another witness, for I suppose it is not suggested that these investigations shall be carried out in the presence of witnesses? Unless that is the case a magistrate might be expected to say that the word of one man should . be accepted in preference to that of. another. That is not a proper situation to permit to arise. How can it be said, except on the balance of evidence from a number of witnesses, that one man is telling the truth and another man is not telling it? Corroboration of one kind or another is essential. In all the circumstances, I hope that the committee will reject the clause. We have no assurance that competent persons will be appointed to discharge these onerous and objectionable duties. Moreover, who is to decide whether the questions asked are proper or improper? How can the person being questioned satisfy himself on that point? How is he to know whether the documents which he is requested to produce should he produced? Is a man, if requested to do so, to produce his birth certificate, or his marriage certificate, if he be married, or the title deeds to his property? Apparently a man may be required to produce any and every document in his possession, and for that reason I regard the power to be conferred by this measure as far too wide. There is no guarantee that officers selected to carry out the inquisitorial work of this National Register Board will be acceptable to the witnesses, or persons who are to be examined. Imagine, for instance, authority being conferred upon me to make inquiries into the affairs of, say, for instance, the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Henry Gullett). How would that honorable gentleman like me to ask him the questions which are provided for in this bill and perhaps others which are not specified? Should he refuse to answer these questions he would be arraigned before a court, and possibly the position would arise in which I, as the authorized officer, would give evidence that the honorable gentleman had said certain things or had refused to produce documents. Sir Henry Gullett on the other hand might deny the evidence given by me. ‘That, I suggest, is a most vivid illustration of the situations which may arise under this legislation. The word of one man is as good as the word of another. That the rights of the people should be safeguarded not only by providing that the officer carrying out the inquisition must be acceptable to . the person who is to be registered, but .also by allowing the person required to answer questions to insist upon the presence of an adviser. In my opinion, people would be justified in resisting an officer who is repugnant, to them or whom they may not like. Why should I be called upon to produce all documents which are in my possession? I might be asked who my grandmothers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers were, and it might be revealed that one of my ancestors was a pirate out of Penzance. Such arbitrary inquisition will not be acceptable to the people of Australia, because it is not in accord with the Australian conception of democracy. I am satisfied from information which has been conveyed to me that in this opinion, I om backed up by. a vast, majority of the people. Consequently T am opposed to the clause.
.- I take very strong exception to this clause. A portion of it which honorable members should certainly not be willing to support is that under which powers may he delegated to “ any officer “, because these powers are not specifically defined. Clause 20 provides that the inquiries which may be made are not confined solely to those specified in the schedule to the bill, but are also to be fixed by regulation.
– The honorable member was not here when I moved an amendment to omit that.
– Unfortunately I was unavoidably absent, but I am glad to hear that the difficulty which I foresaw has been obviated. This clause still permits the delegation to officers of power not fully specified, and serious injustice may be caused by those officers acting in a way which may greatly prejudice the position of citizens who are questioned under the provisions of this bill. I strongly urge the Minister. to review this clause. It is quite evident that even he has serious doubt as to the wisdom of conferring this wide power, and must realize the seriousness of situations which may arise.
– I cannot admit that.
– I suggest that the Minister should look into this phase of the matter and, if he likes, consult with his advisers to see whether or not the fears entertained by the Opposition are wellfounded. He must recognize that’ there are portions of this clause which make possible situations which may alienate the feelings of a large section of the community. The liberties which we possess and the freedom which we enjoy have been won by hard effort and bitter suffering, and we should not be justified in permitting the Government to adopt arbitrary power of this character. This legislation provides for the delegation of wide powers not merely to ordinary departmental officials but also to other persons unspecified. I protest strongly against the action of the Government in refusing to reconsider or withdraw this clause, because I feel it subverts the right of freedom to the citizen, and is likely to place upon officials, not clearly defined, very grave responsibilities. Endless litigation may be caused. The clause is very badly drafted, and does not give a clear interpretation of the Government’s intention. -Vo parliament should be prepared to sanction this delegation of power, and I feel that the Minister is rather unfair in expecting this committee to agree to such a proposal. I hope that, even at thi3 late moment, he will be prepared to give further, consideration to this matter. Is he fully satisfied that the conditions which prompted him to accept amendments in other parts of this bill do not also apply to this clause? Action on the part of officers to whom power to administer “this clause is delegated may go beyond the legitimate enforcement of the law. It is a dangerous clause and the Minister is not justified in asking the committee to accept it. * Quorum formed.]*
.- There are three ways under which the Government could obtain the desired information. The first is by means of the questionnaire set out in the schedule; the second is by questions asked in accordance with regulations; and the third is the reprehensible method suggested in this clause of allowing any officer authorized by the Minister to ask an unlimited number of unspecified questions. Whether members are in favour of the bill or not, there might be some thing to be said in favour of allowing the questions set out in the schedule. The Minister asked the committee to amend the previous clause by deleting the power giving to some authority the right to extend the questions beyond those mentioned in the schedule. Of his own volition, he submitted an amendment which had the effect of limiting the number of questions to be asked to those provided, for in the schedule, by the deletion of the words “ or the regulations “. Now he asks us to accept a clause giving to an officer power to ask unlimited questions, and to demand the production of documents. There is nothing in the bill that would limit the right of this officer to ask any questions he might desire. Why should the committee limit the right of the Executive to frame questions by regulations, and yet give to some individual power to frame questions of his own? lt would be entirely illogical to give to a servant of the Crown, a right that would not be given to the Parliament or the Executive.
The bill contains no reference to the standing of the various officers who would operate under this measure in the various States and in the territories of the Commonwealth. As the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) pointed out, the officer who would be made a grand inquisitor, and could ask questions that even the Executive would be prevented from asking, might be a garbage remover it Darwin. If these officers were men of standing in the community, one would still object to the granting to them of even limited unspecified powers, but, in the territories of the Commonwealth, particularly, powers would be given to certain unspecified officers of unknown ability and standing in the community which would be denied to the Parliament, and even to the Cabinet itself. Why should these persons be given the right to pry into the intimate personal affairs of the people? Clause 19 would at least, limit the number and nature of the questions that might be asked; but, by the clause under the consideration of the committee, unspecified questions would be permitted, and no protection would be afforded to individuals who might become the victims of inquisition. The people are entitled to protection under this measure.
Question put -
That the Chairman do report progress and ask leave to sit again.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the House will, at a later hour this day, again resolve itself into the said committee.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. j. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Declaration of Urgency.
– I declare that the National Registration Bill 1939 is an urgent bill.
Question put -
That the National Registration Bill 1939 be considered an urgent bill.
The House divided. (Mr.speaker - Hon. G. j. Bell.)
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Allotment of Time.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) proposed -
That the time allotted in connexion with the hill be as follows: -
for the completion of the remainder of the committee stage until 8.15 o’clock p.m. this day.
for the remaining stages until 8.20 o’clock p.m. this day.
Several honorable members rising to address theHouse -
Motion (by Mr. Holt) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. j. Bell.)
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. j. Bell.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 6.25 to 7.50 p.m.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
Clause 20. (Power of officers to ask questions and require production of documents).
Amendment agreed to.
Question put -
That the clause, as amended, be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Street) - by leave - agreed to -
That the remainder of the bill be taken as a whole.
.- I understand that we are to discuss the clauses and the amendments together, hut that we are to vote on them separately. I desire to direct the attention of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) to clause 24, which specifies offences and penalties. What strikes me is the curious inequity of the penalties that are imposed. The same penalties are imposed upon a person who makes no statement at all or a statement which is false in some detail as upon the person who makes a dishonest statement.
– The maximum penalty is the same.
– A magistrate can impose the maximum penalty of £50 upon a person who fails to make a return or upon a person who makes an incompletereturn, and the maximum penalty is no higher for the person who forges the return or dishonestly makes a return.
– Yes, but that never happens.
– The penalties imposed by the Census and Statistics Act for offences of this kind are interesting as a matter of comparison, because that act prescribes that -
Any person who forges …. any form or document under this act shall be guilty of an indictable offence, and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.
This is section 25 of the Census and Statistics Act. Contrast with this the maximum penalty of a £5 fine without imprisonment imposed upon a person knowingly making a false statistical return. This is section 26 of the. same act. Both these offences are here grouped together and punishable by a £50 fine and three months’ imprisonment. An even stranger provision in this bill is this: A boy of under 21 years of age and over18 years of age who fails to notify a change of address will be liable to a fine of £50 or imprisonment or both. Under the Electoral Act the adult who fails to notify his change of address is liable for the first offence to a penalty of 10s. and for the second a penalty of £2. Such discrimination between adults and boys is absurd, and I hope that the Minister will reconsider this matter before the bill is sent to the Senate. I direct the attention of the committee to the fact that in the War Census Act of 1915 the power to authorize prosecutions was reserved to the Minister, whereas in this bill a prosecution can be launched with the consent of the Minister or a person authorized by the Minister. I see no reason for the departure from the scheme in the 1915 act. As the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) has pointed out, the provision in the 1915 act was a son of safeguard.
Now I come to clause 27. This empowers the Government to make regulations not inconsistent with the act and necessary or convenient to be described. The word “ convenient “ is of the greatest significance. It means in effect that, so long as the Ministry does not go outside the powers conferred by the act, it can make any regulation it likes. I can cite an opinion by Mr. Justice Isaacs, afterwards Chief Justice, to that effect.
– That opinion was not followed in subsequent cases.
– When the Minister is reminded of the opinion he says it has not been followed ‘by other judges.
– I still say that.
– That is only setting one opinion against another. That does not mean that the opinion of Mr. Justice Isaacs is wrong. In fact, he went with the majority in the case to which I refer. Whatever other judges may think, whatever the Minister says, no one can fail to attach great weight to the opinion of one of the greatest lawyers of the English-speaking world. In 1928, Mr. Justice Isaacs, in the case ofGibson v. Mitchell, said-
Those words in that collocation mean necessary or convenient from the standpoint of ad ministration. Primarily they signify what the Governor-General may consider necessary or convenient, and no court can overrule that unless utterly beyond the bounds of reason and so outside the power.
– That is consistent with the act.
– It has to be consistent with the act. It is within the power of the Governor-General to consider a thing necessary or convenient unless it is expressly forbidden by the act or is unreasonable in the opinion of a court. That is the effect of the opinion expressed by Mr. Justice Isaacs with the support of the other judges in the case cited.
– If the Minister is right, then the words are unnecessary.
-To justify the provision inserted in the bill, the Minister calls to his aid an act that collects information and is not involved in penalties to the person. The powers that the Government is taking to make regulations are too wide, even though we have succeeded to some extent in cutting them down.
The next matter to which I refer, is the schedule. I submit that it is undesirable that a person who is rendering a return should be called upon to state the name, business address and business of his preent employer. For what reason can he be required to furnish that information but to enable the Commonwealth Government to get at him through his employer? The only interest that the Commonwealth Government can have in knowing that John Smith is now employed in Alcocks butcher’s shop in Union-street, Ascot Vale, is that it can exert pressure on his employer. That kind of thing was done in 1915 when men were compelled to enlist by pressure put on their employers. An. employer might have said : “ If you go to the war, I will keep your job, but if you do not go, I cannot keep you. Pressure is being exerted oh me. If you do not go -to. the war, I shall have to dismiss you orotherwise I shall lose my business connexions.” I cannot understand why the Government should excite suspicion in this way. People are being asked to state the names, business addresses, and business of their present employers. It should be sufficient to state the class of employment. If they are to be- called up for industrial work or under section 59, the fact that they can give their names and a description of their employment should be enough.
..- I wish to refer to clause 26 which is the most objectionable provision in the bill, and that is saying a lot when we consider the others. This clause throws the onus of proof on to the individual in the event of his being prosecuted. Paragraph a states -
The averment of the prosecutor …. shall be deemed to be proved in the absence of proof to tlie contrary.
In other words, a person who is called upon to furnish a return will have to prove that he sent in one, .and he is guilty until he proves himself innocent. That is contrary to the legal practices followed for prosecutions throughout the British Empire. Such a provision is found only on rare occasions. I do not know where the Minister found it. I can see what is going to happen. A return sent in by a person, is mislaid through the inefficiency or incompetency of the department, or some other cause. What will happen? He will receive a note asking him to explain the omission to comply with the act. He will be prosecuted, and will have to attend a court and give evidence and prove that he. sent in a return. The prosecution Will not have to prove that the defendant did not send in a return.
– In the absence of paragraph b of clause 26, how could you prove negligence ?
– If the clause remains in the bill everybody will have to take another person as a witness to the fact that he posted the document. If he doe? not do so, and his return is mislaid in the department, he will find himself in the police court. The Assistant Treasurer referred to paragraph b which states that in any proceedings for an offence against this act - a certificate in writing signed by the Commonwealth Statistician, certifying that no form, filled in and signed by the defendant in accordance with this act, has been .received by the Commonwealth Statistician, shall be prima, facie evidence that the defendant has- failed to transmit the form to the Commonwealth Statistician.
That paragraph re-affirms what is stated in paragraph a to the extent that the defendant has to prove that he sent in his return. .
– To prove does noi mean to prove beyond all doubt.
– We cannot, crossexamine a certificate or an affidavit. The bill is loaded against persons who have to furnish returns, and this provision shows, what a poor chance they would have if .they were prosecuted. In an ordinary prosecution the police must show beyond a reasonable doubt that an offence has been committed. Under this clause the individual has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he sent in a return.
– The prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offence was committed.
– That is the Minister’s interpretation.
– What chance would a man have in a police court where the magistrate always believes the witnesses for the prosecution?
– No chance at all. It is unfair and contrary to the principles of British justice to place the onus of proof upon an individual. How can he show that he has- posted his return ? This is one of the most objectionable clauses in the bill and if full effect is given to its provisions the people of this country will discover that they have been treated most harshly. The clause is definitely detrimental to the best interest of’ the community.
.- I take exception to clause 22.
– Does not the Minister propose to say anything in reply to the points taken concerning the anomalies in respect to penalties?
– It seems not. Clause 22 requires persons who attain the age of eighteen years, or who arrive in the Commonwealth for the purpose of residing here after the passage of this bill, to furnish certain returns on the prescribedforms within 30 days. That provision relates not only to British-born subjects, but also to migrants from other countries. Many of these people have left their own country because of the ill-treatment to which they have been subjected. In consequence of the sympathetic treatment they are accorded by the Commonwealth Government, they are not being required to satisfy every provision of the law in regard to the language test. Consequently many of them are unable either to read or to write English in any effective way. Some of them will go to live in group settlements among their own countrymen who also may be quite ignorant of this law. It is unfair to subject such people to this hardship. The penalties are, of course, exceptionally severe. I again protest against the action of the Government in obliging young men, who have no stake in the country and no vote for the election of either Commonwealth or State Parliaments, to fill in forms under the provisions of this measure. I say again that all the Government desires is to be in a position to call upon these young fellows to offer their bodies as a sacrifice on the altar of war if war should occur. This ia particularly unjust to. those to whom this social order has refused either a decent standard of living or regular employment. Clause 23 requires males between the ages of 18 and 21 years to notify- changes of address in a prescribed manner. This means that every unemployed ‘young man who decides to leave the parental roof so that he will no longer be a burden upon his parents, will be obliged to maintain a regular connexion with” the authorities or suffer severe penalties. Some of these young men travel by way of motor car rides as much as 100 miles a day at times in searching for work, and it seems that they may be arrested almost anywhere and called upon to prove that they have furnished certain information to the authorities. They will be placed in an impossible position. How can they prove that they have posted either their original return or letters notifying change of address?
– They will have to take a witness with them every time they post letters.
– I am trying to look at this matter in a common-sense way, and it would be impossible for them to do as the honorable gentleman suggests.
– They, could rely upon the intelligence of the court if they were taken to court.
– What chance’ would they have if an individual like Judge Lukin were on the bench? The whole thing is definitely wrong. The averment of the prosecutor is declared to be sufficient evidence that certain things have been done or not done. That puts the accused person in a most unfair position. This provision, with some slight changes of verbiage, has been lifted from the Crimes Act. Obviously therefore the prosecutor simply has to charge a person with a certain act of omission or commission and it is as good as proved. The provision of clause 25 respecting the despatch of census matter through the post is unsatisfactory because, unless an article is registered, it is unlikely that any satisfactory evidence can be furnished that it has been posted. He has to prove that he posted the letter. We all know how sometimes letters do not reach their destination.
– If it had been posted, the Commonwealth Statistician would have to show that he had not received it.
– The opinion given by the Minister has excited the greatest astonishment of his King’s Counsel colleague on his right.
– Nevertheless, it is correct.
– Under English law, every person charged with an offence is deemed to be innocent until he has been proved guilty. That principle will not apply under this bill. I have always regarded the Minister as’ a fair-minded man, and I should regret to think that my confidence in him had been misplaced. I can only conclude that he has been misled in some way, and does not understand what the clause means. Only to-day I was called to interview the postal officials in the post office in this building to make inquiries about a legal document which I had posted to the Probate Office in the Supreme Court. Information had been received that it had not been delivered. No one suggests that I am to blame for that, yet under this proposed law, a young man who may have posted his return in good faith would be adjudged guilty simply because, the return had not reached the Statistician. This is not my idea of British fair play.
.- I should like the Minister to give further consideration to item 11 of the first schedule.
– The honorable member voted in favour of the application of the guillotine. What right has he to speak?
– My right to speak is not lost on that account.
Motion (by Mr. Ward) negatived -
That the honorable member be not further heard.
– Item 11 requires the person concerned to give the estimated value of the goodwill of business. This is likely to lead to considerable confusion, because goodwill is a fictitious, and not a tangible asset. No good purpose will be served by including this item in a return intended to show the amount of the country’s wealth.
– I ask the Minister (Mr. Street) to omit from the schedule, which appears as an annexure to the bill, item 8, requiring an employed person filling in the return to state the names, business address and business of present employer, if any. The purpose of the register is to ascertain from the individual his qualification to .serve the Commonwealth in a state of emergency. That qualification, no doubt, will have relation to his training in industry and his physical fitness, and whether or not he is capable of being usefully employed in some sphere of activity associated with the defence of the Commonwealth. Information as to whether he is working for this firm or that firm is, I submit, beside the point. For example, John Jones is a carpenter. It may be important from the point of view of the Government to know whether John Jones is a carpenter or a plumber. If John Jones returns information to the effect that he is a carpenter, and gives his address where communications may reach him, it is no business of the Commonwealth Government to know the name of his present employer. If John Jones ceases to work for that particular employer- the value of the return is lost. There is no obligation on the adult who is more than 21 years of age to forward to the department any intimation of his change of employment. That obligation will be imposed only on youths between the ages of 18 and 21 years. Apparently, the Electoral Act is regarded as providing sufficient means of discovering the whereabouts of an adult. Information gleaned under that legislation f tfr- nishes particulars of the occupations of . electors, but it does not give the names of their employers. No such information as that has ever been sought. ‘ That has no bearing on the question whether Jones, the plumber or bricklayer, is available for service as an individual. If the department desires to communicate with Jones, it is its business to do so; but the supposition here is that the department may communicate with him through his employer, and ‘bring in the employer as a person connected with the relationship of Jones to his country in connexion with the register. I submit to the Minister that the information would be irrelevant to the purposes of the register, and, therefore, could only add a further suspicious feature of the register. Those of us who have recollections of what occurred many years ago have reason to believe that the purpose of ascertaining the name of the employer of Jones is that the Government in some way may approach Jones through his employer, or -bring pressure on the employer in regard to Jones’ relationship to the register. All of the suggestions about the conscription threat which lurks in the background of this measure have been increased by the fact that the ordinary workman would have to give the name of his employer. The employer would not have to give the names of his employees, nor would he have to give those of the shareholders in his company. This is to be an individual and personal register, And the only persons connected with it should be the citizens who fill in their names and give their addresses and occupations. The question whether a citizen works for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited or the Australian Glass Manufacturers Company Limited, ought not to be raised. I ask the Minister either to accept my suggestion, or, at least, tell the committee why he will not do so.
– I am somewhat impressedby the arguments advanced by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), and I can give an undertaking at this stage that at least the inclusion of the name and business address of the employer will be reconsidered, and that the schedule may be altered in that regard when the bill reaches the Senate . I should like to have time to consider that matter, but the honorable member’s arguments have impressed me as having some substance in them.
– What about the difference in the penalties?
– The argument advanced in that regard has no substance, because, in each case, the maximum penalty is provided.
Mr.Jolly. - Will the Minister answer the question that I asked about goodwill ? That is a fictitious value. The information would be useless and would involve unnecessary work.
– The time allotted for the consideration of the remainder of the committee stage of the bill has expired.
Question put -
That the remainder of the hill, and the circulated amendments of the Government, be agreed to, and that the bill be reported with amendments.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority … . . 7
Question so resolvedin the affirmative.
Clause 21 -
The board, with the consent of the Minister, may, from time to time, require any person included among the persons or classes of persons of whom a census has been taken under this act to till in and furnish to the Commonwealth Statistician a form, in accordance with the schedule to this act, with such modifications or additions (if any) as are prescribed, setting out the particulars specified in that form as at the date the requirement is made. Clause 24 - (1.) Any person who -
Circulated amendments of the Government -
Clause 21 -
Omit all words after “persons” (second occurring), insert “required to furnish particulars for the purpose of any census taken under this act to fill in and furnish to the Commonwealth Statistician a form or forms in accordance with one or both of the forma in the schedules to this act setting out the particulars specified in the form or forme as at the date the requirement is made “.
Clause 22 - (Consequential amendments made) .
Clause 24 -
Omit paragraph(b), insert the following paragraph : - “ (b) is included among the persons or classes of persons required to furnish particulars for the purpose of any census taken under this act and who fail’s to transmit to the Commonwealth Statistician within the time specified in the proclamation by which the census is directed to be taken, a form filled in in accordance with the instructions contained in or accompanying it; “.
Insert the following new schedule: -
Bill reported with amendments.
– The time allotted for the consideration of the remaining stages of the bill has expired.
That the report he adopted and the bill be nowread a third time - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1939, No. 46 (Parliamentary Officers).
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act-
Ordinances of 1939-
No. 9 - Mining.
No. 10 - Buffaloes Protection.
No. 11 - Darwin Rates.
No. 12 - Birds Protection.
Marine Ordinance - Regulations.
House adjourned at 8.26 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated : -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in 1936 decided that before any decision was arrived at with respect to the standardization of railway gauges, a further inquiry should he made by a competent body, having special reference to the economic and defence aspects. The same conference also decided that a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers for Transport should be convened, and the Government subsequently decided to refer to the Ministers for Transport the question of the personnel of the body to conduct the inquiry on the standardization of railway gauges. It has not yet been found practicable to hold the conference of Ministers for Transport, but when it is held the question of the employment value of the work of standardization of gauges will be taken into consideration.
e asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers : - 1. (a) £14,947,360; (6) £15,973,895. 2. (a) £0,905,933; (b) £10,781,124. 3. (a) £21,852,177; (6) £26,755,052.
Note. - The items included under this head ure - Milk, consumed as such, butter, cheese, condensed and concentrated milk, &c.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers: -
The average price of wool per lb. for the 1937-38 season was-Greasy, 12.51d. per lb.; scoured, 21.83d. per lb. The prices realized for the five months ended the 31st May, 1939, were -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers : - 1. (a) New South Wales, 51,563,181; Victoria, 18,863,467; Queensland, 22,497,970; South Australia, 8,904,402; Western Australia, 8,732,076; Tasmania, 2,520,950; Northern Territory, 26,856; Australian Capital Territory 263,610. (6) 113,372,518.
Figures for New South Wales, Victoria and Australian Capital Territory relate to the 31st March, 1938. For the other States the figures relate to the 31st December, 1937.
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers: - 1. (a) New South Wales, 3,019,581; Victoria, 1,880,429; Queensland, 5,959,165; South
Australia, 324,163; Western Australia, 740,241; Tasmania, 254,812; Northern Territory, 891,640; Australian Capital Territory, 8,325. (6) 13,078,356. Figures for New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory relate to the 31st March, 1938. Figures for other States relate to the 31st December, 1937. 2. (a) 1927-28, ?30,463,964; 1937-38, ?37,515,024. 3. (a) 19 per cent., (6) 81 per cent. 4. (a) 1929, 5id. per lb.; 1939, (January to May) 4jd. per lb. (6) Melbourne wholesale prices, 1929, 5Jd. per lb; 1939, 4id. per lb.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1. (a) ?5,160,000; (6) ?5,880,000. 2. (a) ?1,309,350; (6) ?1,492,050.
As against this, it should be remembered that the amount of the loan, viz., ?6,000,000 sterling, is the equivalent of ?7,500,000 Australian currency
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act 1938, capable of execution, and, if so, by what means?
Mr. Archie Cameron also asked the Prime Minister, upon notice le the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act 1938,. incapable of execution, and, if so, for what reasons?
– In reply to both questions I may state that the reasons which have prompted the postponement of the operations of the act will be explained by the Minister for Social Services in the course of debate on matters now on the notice-paper.
n asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s. - On the 8th June, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Green) asked the following questions, upon notice -
The Minister for the Interior has now supplied the following information : - 1. (a) Japanese pearling vessels - Year ended the 30th June, 1937, 28,876 gallons; year ended the 30th June, 1938, 37,815 gal- ions; 1st July, 1938, to date. 51,782 gallons.
n. - On the 8th June tho honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) asked the following questions, upon notice -
How much Australian leaf waa used blended with imported leaf during the abovementioned period?
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
All the above figured ure on the basis of unstemmed tobacco leaf.
n. - On the 8th June the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) asked the following questions, upon notice -
T am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
n. - On the 8th June, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. jennings) asked the following questions, upon notice -
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following answers to his inquiries: -
Defence: Oil STORAGE
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
t. - The storage of oil at Brisbane has been decided upon, but investigations are proceeding as to the method of storage, and until these investigations are completed the site will not he determined. The quantity to he stored cannot he disclosed.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 June 1939, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1939/19390609_reps_15_160/>.