15th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.G. J. Bell) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - On the motion for the adjournment on Friday last, the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) directed my attention to subregulations 2 and 3 of regulation 44, and to regulation 88 of the Defence (National Security - General) Regulations. The honorable member also referred to other provisions of those regulations, which provide for the punishment of persons who make statements at meetings or elsewhere that would disturb public order or promote disaffection.
In referring to these provisions, the honorable member expressed the opinion that they seriously affect the right of people to hold public meetings, and he asked meto give my personal attention to the matter. I have done so, and I find that the provisions of regulation 44 referred to by the honorable member are in substantially the same terms as are those of a draft regulation prepared by the British Government, which I presume is now in force in Great Britain. The British regulation also expressly empowers the Secretary of State, in whom the powers given by the regulation are vested, to delegate his functions to certain persons. The power of delegation given by regulation 88, which was referred to by the honorable member, is certainly in general terms, and is wider in effect than the provision contained in the British regulations.
I feel sure that, as the result of the adoption of these safeguards, honorable members will realize that the right,of free speech will be jealously guarded by the Government.
– In view of the importance of the emergency legislation passed recently, giving to the Government the power to make regulations, will the Prime Minister have the instruction issued that immediately’ these regulations are gazetted they shall be supplied to honorable members at their home address if they are not in Canberra?
-Arrangements will be made to have the regulations circulated to honorable members. I may soy that Ialso propose- to confer with the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Country party with reference to ways and means of ensuring- from time to time effective criticism in Parliament of the regulations that are made. I realize that one way by which that may be done - and I hope to work it out - is by having reasonably frequent meetings of Parliament, whilst another way, I suggest, is by having an all-party committee if honorable members of this House, who could have the opportunity to examine the regulations and formulate criticisms, being assisted from time to time by expert advice on the interpretation of these documents. I imagine that that idea will commend itself to the House as a means of having informed criticism of the regulations that are made, whenever the House meets.
– I have re- ceived from the Storemen and Packers Union correspondence with respect to casual employees engaged in the wool industry. As the cancellation of the Brisbane wool sales has . seriously affected employees associated with that industry, many of whom are now unable to find employment, can the Prime Minister give any indication as to when the negotiations for the sale of Australian wool to the United Kingdom are likely to be- completed ?
– I regret that I can not say exactly when those negotiations will be completed, but I can say that they are being prosecuted with great speed. There have been cables in and out with respect to the matter, even this morning. I assure the honorable member that it is appreciated that a great deal depends upon a speedy determination of the matter.
Mr. JOHN LAWSON laid on the t able reports and recommendations of the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Vessels nut exceeding 500 tons gross register.
Ordered to be printed.
– I lay on the table -
Tariff Board - Report for the year 1938-39, together withsummary of recommenda tions.
The report is accompanied by an annexure, containing a summary of the Tariff Board’s recommendations which have been finally considered by the Government, and setting out what action has been taken in respect of each recommendation.
As practically the whole of the Tariff Board’s recommendations included in the annexure as tabled are covered by Tariff Board reports which have already been made available to honorable members, it is not proposed to print the annexure.I move -
That the report be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs what steps he has taken to secure an agreement with the Government of India covering the price of cornsacks and woolpacks which may be imported into Australia as the result: of orders placed after the 31st August last?
– Negotiations on that matter are proceeding.
– I ask the Minister in charge of Territories if it is a fact that, in consequence of the policy practised by German missions in New Guinea, of teaching the natives more or less to regard the mandate, and not Australia, as “big feller boss”, the native in Rabaul and elsewherehas become arrogant and insulting to women? Further, is it a fact that two armed German aeroplanes have escaped from the German missions in New Guinea ? If so, what action is proposed ?
– I have no information regarding either of the matters referred to by the honorable member, and do not believe that what he has said is correct.
– Will the Prime Minister give me an assurance that . before the agreement is finalized for the sale of Australian meat, wheat, wool and other primary products, due consideration will be given to the cost of production in each case and also to the fact that for some time certain primary producers have been carrying on their operations at a loss?
– That consideration is being kept well in mind in the conduct of the negotiations.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce whether, having in mind the sale of our products, it would be possible to co-operate with the State governments to obtain a return showing the amount of wheat held by merchants in storage for farmers, and also the quantity of wheat actually held by the merchants in the respective States against that storage?
– I shall communicate the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Commerce with a view to seeing whether it is practicable to obtain the information.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce make a statement concerning the conditions under which the Government proposes to purchase Australian meat for the British Government? Will he indicate whether the Meat Board is to be the sole advisory body in that connexion? Will he also say whether co-operative bodies of producers not under the control of the Meat Board will have an opportunity to offer supplies to the Government in connexion with this purchase?
– The Prime Minister has announced that he hopes, within the next day or two, to make a complete statement on all of these matters; but I think the honorable member may take it for granted that all relevant interests involved will be given due consideration before- the details are completed.
– In order to remove certain misunderstandings which have arisen,I ask the Minister for De fence whether members of the Naval Reserve who are called upon to serve on merchant ships instead of on their ordinary ships will be under the same regulations and orders as would be thecase if they were serving on their own ships’ Will they be compelled to comply with requests to serve on merchant ships?
– If naval reservists are called upon to man merchant ships it may be assumed that such ships have been taken over by the Royal Australian Navy; consequently their terms of service will not be altered.
– In view of certain inquiries concerning the additions thai are to be made to the General Post Office in Sydney, I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether the present crisis will interfere with this work ?
– I have no knowledge of any restrictions in regard to those operations. So far a. I know they are proceeding normally.
– During the last period of this session. I drew the attention of the Prime Minister to the manner in which section 84 9 of the Public -Service Act was being administered with respect to returned soldiers’ claims to permanent employment in the Service. The right honorable gentleman promised to investigate my complaint. Has the Government yet reached a decision in regard to it, and has the Public Service Board made a report on the matter?
– An investigation has been made, but the events of the last week or so have crowded the matter out of my mind. I shall ascertain the position and inform the honorable member of it tomorrow.
– Is the Minister for Defence able to inform me whether finality has been reached concerning the request that railway passes should be granted to militiamen on service? If a decision has not been made, will the Minister expedite the matter, as a continuance of the existing conditions will cause added inconvenience, waste of time, and general delay?
– 1 was under the impression that this matter had been dealt with, but I shall make an inquiry into the present position.
– Will the Minister for External Territories inform me if the route of the road from Salamaua to Wau has yet been determined ? Is the construction work proceeding? When is it conm templated that it will be completed?
– My latest information is that the survey is still in progress. It will be some time before it is completed. An alternative route is being surveyed in one area. This is a long job, and there is no sign yet that it will soon be completed.
– Last night on the motion for the adjournment of the House, I referred to the situation which has arisen in connexion with the wool scouring and carbonizing industry in consequence of the negotiations with the British Government that are at present proceeding for the purchase of the Australian wool clip. I have since been informed by the secretary of the. Wool and Basil Workers Union that the employment of 500 members of the union is in danger. Will the Prime Minister inform me whether finality has yet been reached concerning the sale of our wool clip? Delay in regard to the matter is very serious to the men to whom I have referred.
– As I have already indicated in answer to other honorable members, negotiations on these subjects arc being pressed on as rapidly as possible, for the importance of problems of the kind referred to by the honorable member is well in mind.
– ls the Minister for Defence able to say when the Chief of the General Staff is expected to arrive in Australia ?
– I am unable to say with any accuracy, because of the variation of the routes of ships proceeding to Australia, li is expected, however, that he will arrive at the end of this month or the beginning of next.
– Is the Prime Minister able to give me any information concerning the proposed sitting days for the remainder of this week and for next week ?
– I hope to be in a position to make an announcement on this subject before the adjournment of the House to-day. Something is dependent on the rate of progress between now and the adjournment.
– Has the Postmaster-General given any consideration to the possibility of dealing with the Australasian Performing Right Association under our profiteering legislation?
– Some consideration has certainly been given to the matter referred to by the honorable member, but not under our profiteering legislation. I hope in the near future to be able to make a. statement on the matter.
– With the desire to ensure that some recognition should be given to that noble body of men and women in this country who offer their blood for blood transfusion in order to help their distressed fellow citizens, I ask the Minister for Health whether the Government will consider the advisableness of presenting a medal to all men and women who offer their blood for this purpose? I have in mind something like the Legion of Honour, of France, awards in connexion with which are given for other than military service.
– Consideration will be given to the proposal of the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether it is the intention of the Government to fix the price of hides? If no decision has been reached on this subject, will the Government give immediate consideration to the matter, for a continuance of the existing conditions will cause considerable disturbance in business.
– This afternoon I am meeting representatives of the leather, skin and hide trades, and this subject will be discussed.
– -Some little time ago Judge Beeby indicated that he was considering suspending the provisions of the Waterside Workers Act insofar as they applied to men engaged on the waterside of Innisfail and Mourilyan. Will the Attorney-General inform- me of the present position in this regard?
– i cannot do so offhand. Considerable correspondence has passed between the organization concerned and the Government. I shall ascertain the present position and inform the honorable member of it.
-I have to-day laid on the table of the Library for the information of honorable members a copy of the’ report on the geophysical survey of the lignite deposits near Moorelands, South Australia, by Mr. J. M. Raynor.
M r. ROSE VE A R. - Have the officers of the Postmaster-General’s Departmentdrawn bis attention to the fact that as yet no regulations have been made to compel persons to insulate electrical apparatus properly so that it will not interfere with neighbouring radios? If no such regulations have been made to empower the department to prevent the use of faulty electrical apparatus, will he have the matter investigated to see what can be done to protect radio listeners against interference of that description?
– From time to time complaints are received by the department, with regard to electrical interference. Officers are immediately made available to ascertain and overcome the disability in such cases. With regard to the regulation and ‘possible control of electrical apparatus outside my department. i. shall have inquiries made to see if some arrangement can be arrived at with the authorities concerned.
Royalty on Gold Production.
– Has the Administration of New Guinea yet decided to remove the royalty on gold produced by prospectors in the Mandated Territory? If so. when will a statement regarding its decision be made available to honorable members ? .
– At a meeting of the Legislative Council of New Guinea, held a few days ago, an alteration of the ordinance affecting this matter was recommended and approved. It now awaits the assent of the GovernorGeneral. I hope shortly to be able to give the honorable member full information in regard to the matter.
Withdrawal of Facilities at Bowen.
– Air-mail services were discontinued at Bowen when the Douglas machines were brought on to theroute. Now that. Airlines of Australia arc again using Rapide machines, will the Postmaster-General have inquiries made with a. view to’ making Bowen one again a port of call?
– I shall have in- quiries made and, in consultation with my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation, endeavour to ascertain if some arrangements can be made to extend the air-mail service to Bowen.
– Is it true that at the Premiers Conference held on Saturday last, the Commonwealth Government advanced a proposal that public servants who are members of the Militia Forces should not. be paid by the State governments the difference between their Civil Service salaries and their militia pay whilst in camp? If that is correct, is that regarded as encouragement to private employers throughout Australia to urge their employees to join the Militia?
– The conference with the State Premiers on Saturday last was held in camera. Any statement that may he made as to what any government said at the conference is very clearly unauthorized. I am not prepared to answer as to what was said ‘by any representative of any government at the meeting. The result of the discussion was embodied in a resolution which was agreed to in the twins in which I have recorded it to-day in answer to a question on notice.
Motion (by Mr. Spender) agreed to -
Thathe have leave to bring in a bill for anact to amend the Sales Tax Assessment Act (No. 5) 1930-1936.
Bill brought up. and reada first time.
Motion (by Mr. CURTIN) agreedto -
Thathe have leave to bring- in a bill for an act to amend the Defence Act 1003-1039.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Curtin) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to provide that regulations made under the Defence Act 1003-193!) or the Supply and Development Act 1.939 or the National Registration Act 1939 shall not take effect until they have been laid before each House of the Parliament.
Bill brought up. and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. CURTIN) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for anact to amend the Supply and Development Act 1939.
Bill brought up. andreada first time.
Consideration resumed from the12th
September, (vide page 435). on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division 1 - The Senate–namely, “Salaries find allowances, £8,040,” be agreed to.
.- The debate on the budget so far has been marked by the number of invitations issued by honorable members opposite and of the Country party in particularto members of the Labour party to join in the formation of a national government. This is all the more remarkable, having regard to the manner in which representatives of the parties opposite have always expressed themselves regarding members of the Labour party in this House and their attitude towards the welfare of this country. For a long period, honorable members opposite have resorted to every means in endeavouring to lower the standing of the Labour movement in the public opinion. It is remarkable, therefore, that they should now seek to induce members of the Labour party to join a national government. The manoeuvring within the Country party indicates that its efforts to interest the Opposition in a national government are directed merely to satisfy Country party members’ own selfish desires to share in the emoluments of office. Members of the Country party have no wish to offer special, service to the country other than that which will serve their own interests. Members of this party will nor, be parties to that kind of bargaining. We shall do our part. We shall co-operate in whatever ways are possible to serve the best interests of this country, but we shall do so without seeking those special favours of ministerial preferment that are being sought by Country party members.
Yesterday the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) accused the. Scullin Government of having taxed the Australia n people to a degree which has neverbeen surpassed, but if the honorable gentleman had been a little better informed, he would never have made that ch arge, beca use during the period in which the right honorable mem- ber for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) was Prime Minister, the amount of taxation collected annually was less than not only that which wascollected by the Nationalist Government which preceded it, but also that which hasbeen collected by succeeding governments. The financial records of the country prove that.
Although the budget which we are now discussing is only the first instalment of the financial proposals for this year - the war will demand further provision - projected expenditure has reached the stupendous level of more than £100,000,000. That figure was reached before it was known definitely whether or not this country would be involved in war, and I do not doubt that before this year ends, the total expenditure will be double that which is contemplated in this document. We should not lose sight of the obligations which are a legacy from the last war. Up to the 30th June last, war services had cost this country £906,219,250- £533,133,436 from Consolidated Revenue and £373,186,814 from loan’s. ‘ There are limits beyond which the financial resources of the people cannot be strained, and I hope that the Government will be mindful of the capacity of this nation to meet obligations. A load should not be placed on future generations. In the last ten years, we have learnt that we cannot rely on reparations to recoup us for the expenditure in which we are involved in time of war. The Australian people will, to the fullest extent that their powers permit, gladly meet any obligation that will bring to this world more peaceful conditions than have been possible in the last 25 years. It must be remembered that there has been either a total repudiation or a suspension of war debts. Even Great Britain bad to ask America to accept a token payment’ .in acknowledgment of war indebtedness. ‘ Similarly at a certain period in our,-own history we had to ask Great Britain to suspend interest and sinking Wild. ‘ ‘payments due by Australia on £78,000,000 advanced by Great Britain during the last war. Although, during the last decade, we have had proven conclusively to us our inability to meet our obligations arising out of one war, we find now that the world has’ once more been thrown into a similar state of conflict which will bring in its train economic and financial difficulties, and we shall be asked to add to the utmost limit to our already mountainous burden of debt. If is necessary, therefore, that we should radically alter our financial system in order that we may adequately meet the heavy commitments arising from the struggle upon which we are now embarked. It would be wrong for this country to place itself under an obligation to private financial institutions for financial accommodation required in this time of emergency, while at the same time taking no steps to secure funds from the nation’s vast reserves of wealth Whether that wealth is in the form of assets held by private citizens or of public assets, it should be utilized to the fullest possible degree. Every form of asset has a taxable or credit bearing capacity which should be used by the nation in order to carry out adequate defence preparations. An effort should be made to stay our ever-increasing indebtedness, which, even now, is placing upon the nation an interest burden that is staggering in dimension. The constitutional powers which the Commonwealth Government possesses provide a medium whereby wealth resources may be utilized to the fullest possible degree without unduly straining the financial structure of this country. The credit-making functions of the Commonwealth Bank could be prudently employed in such a way as to substantially meet the liabilities arising out of the war. I remind honorable members that during the last “war. the Commonwealth Bank rendered a valuable service. I urge, therefore, that on this occasion, the Commonwealth Bank should be given the exclusive right to undertake financial transactions required by the nation to meet its obligations. In that way great savings could be effected. It must be remembered that half the profits made by the Commonwealth Bank are devoted to the liquidation of Australia’s public debt. I hope that outside borrowings will be kept to the minimum, and that the Government will be prepared to utilize more thoroughly the capabilities of Australia’s own credit resources. If money must be borrowed, it should be raised wholly within Australia. Many of our present difficulties are due to the fact that we borrowed too much overseas. I am definitely opposed to overseas borrowing, when it should be possible for us to finance all works and services from internal sources. We have had sufficient experience to warn us against getting once more into a financial impasse.
I compliment the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) on the splendid analysis which he gave the. House of the taxation, proposals of the Government, aud the way in which the taxation burden has been distributed among the people of Australia during the last six years. He proved conclusively that the policy of -the Government had resulted in relieving the wealthy sections of the community of the burden they should bear, and placing it upon the poorer sections whose standard of living has thereby’ been seriously reduced - and to many who have no standard of living at all. In the matter of direct taxation the Government has been most generous to its wealthy friends. Those interests which support the Government have reaped rich dividends in the form of taxation remissions. Since 1931-32. those interests, which could well afford to pay something more towards defraying the cost of defence measures, have been relieved of taxation to an amount of £26,000,000, and this huge sum has been transferred by way of increased indirect taxation to the poorer section.of the community. .Not only have the poorer people suffered because of severe economic conditions, but they have also bad to bear this increased impost for the benefit of the wealthy few. In the meantime, direct taxation in the form of income tax, land tax, &c. has either remained stationary, or has actually been decreased. It is only fair that those who have shared so generously in the wealth of the country during the last six years should now make a higher contribution towards its defence. In. 1931-32, direct taxation amounted to £2 12s. 6d. a head, and it is estimated that in 1939-40 it will amount to £2 9s. Id. a head. That represents an actual per capita reduction, but indirect taxation, which is borne by the whole community, and which falls most severely on the poorer sections, has increased from £5 12s. 10 a head in 1931- 32, to £8 19s. 9d. a head. Between 1932- 33 and 1937-38, approximately £7,600,000 lias been remitted to certain interests in the form of reduced land tax, and thai; very large sum has been distributed among a comparatively small number of persons and institutions. As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out yesterday, the Bank of New South Wales has benefited in this way to an amount of £64,500. That is a very generous gift at this time of national emergency. The position in regard to certain other firms is as fol lows : -
There are others who might be included in that list; these are only those that are in the city of Sydney. The same thing i.-ould jio doubt be repeated in every capital city of Australia, where the big commercial, financial and insurance institutions have been treated so generously in regard to remissions of taxes which rightly should have been contributed to the revenues of this country to enable it to meet the demands of thu times through which we are now passing, in the provision of such defence preparations as have been necessary within recent years. A total of over £7,000,000 has been remitted to the wealthy interests in respect of land tax alone, whilst. «.t the same time, the Government has been seeking means to place the wheatgrower in a condition of SOvency and assure hi?n of an adequate return for the services he is rendering to the nation. When the Government needed finance to effect thai purpose it imposed levy on Hie most staple food of the community, namely, bread. This merely proves that the Government is not prepared to insist upon equitable contributions to the revenue by those who are in a position to make them, but rather is everincreasingly prone to levy on the poorer section such direct and indirect taxes as make it almost impossible for those persons to have decent living conditions. It is time that the position was corrected. I trust that in any re-adjustment of the budget which may be found necessary luring the next month or two, we shall see greater willingness on the part of the Government to increase the tax burden on those wealthy corporations which are making large profits. Some of the big enterprises have made colossal profits within recent years. T need only instance the steel works of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited at Newcastle. That particular company has become so embarrassed by the profits it has made that it has deemed it necessary to water its stock by £4,500,000 in bonus shares. Thus it is able to hide from the general public its real financial position and the colossal profits it is making.
I hope that the Government will realize the wisdom of keeping this Parliament as well informed upon these matters as the circumstances dictate. It would be wrong for the Government to close up Parliament and, under the powers it has secured by the passage of the National Security Act, endeavour to discharge its executive functions in such a way as to disturb and divide the nation and give rise to serious agitation. With the idea of ensuring the beat measure of co-operation possible, so that there may be co-ordination of all national effort and a correct understanding of all the issues involved in the present hours of emergency, I urge the Government to keep this Parliament in session as long as it is possible to do so, and to inform us regularly of exactly what it intends to do to meet the economic circumstances that will no doubt arise, by reason of conditions caused by war, and the manner in which emergency measures are to be financed. In this way we oan best meet the emergencies, which beset us as British people, and are of vital concern to every section of the community.
In the very few moments of my time that remain I wish to direct the attention of the Government to the railway workshops at Port Augusta. It is remarkable that whilst the Government has made provision for defence annexes to all of the railway workshops associated with the State railway systems throughout Australia, no work of a similar character ha3 bonn undertaken at its own workshops, “Furthermore, the Commonwealth Railways Department is not even training thi- number of apprentices who could be trained. At Port Augusta there are only three apprentices for the whole of the technical trades. Whilst State governments and private industry are being urged to train men in the different trades, particularly the: engineering trade, the Commonwealth Railways Department is keeping to the minimum number those who could be indentured as apprentice* and thus receive proper training in what is essential to the successful prosecution of the war. There ought to be a complete review of the position of the Commonwealth railways. At some later date I shall doubtless have an opportunity more fully to ventilate my views iri respect of that matter. The sooner a competent railway engineer of standing makes a thorough investigation of the whole of the Commonwealth railways system the better it will be. I am not at all satisfied with the conditions that I have seen, particularly for meeting an emergency. The system is not competent to cope with military needs.
– At the moment, I have not the time to elaborate my point fully, but here are in brief certain factors that justify that view: Different parts are being taken from what are supposed to be reserve locomotives at Port Augusta, for the repair and maintenance of other locomotives on the track. Consequently there will be no rolling stock in reserve when it is needed. I am not satisfied that even the permanent way would meet the requirements of heavy military operations. Depots and repair shops are not equipped suitably. Certainly the rolling stock generally is neither adequate nor of the class required to transfer military equipment and men from one point to another.
.- Before dealing with what I consider are the more fundamental issues in the budget, namely, greater national unity and a more determined national effort in defence, I wish to make a. few observations on the criticism levelled against the budget by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) and- the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), who has just resumed his seat. The weight of their criticism is against indirect taxation. They have contended that the proposed measure of direct taxation is equivalent to what was imposed in 1931. That, is true. I hold no brief for the non-taxation of wealthy companies. In a measure, I support what the honorable member for Hindmarsh has just said. T believe that these companies might, rightly institute a fund which would be the means of carrying men on during periods of intermittency of work, although national insurance against unemployment would go a long way towards correcting that position. In the supplementary budgets that will come down there will doubtless be heavier taxation of those companies which make excessive profits. We all hope that then: will be no exploitation or profiteering in this war. Some of those who thrived on it during the last war are still with us.
What is indirect taxation? It is the taxation -levied on imports by means of customs duties and primage and by moans of excise on other goods. The sales tax is also an indirect tax. Do honorable members opposite say that these taxes should be abolished ? It may bt’ true that they are vexatious, but the government of a democracy cannot be maintained without such taxes. The sales tax was introduced by the Scullin Labour Government in a time of dire difficulty when it was essential that revenue should be obtained by some means. Even at that time, I contended flint a turnover tax was preferable to the sales tax, and that it would cause less embarrassment bo business ; but, of course, the view of the Government prevailed. During the regime of the Lyons Administrations, many articles used by the poorer people were exempted from sales tax, as also were many articles required by the building industry. The exemptions of building materials were made on the ground that the expenditure involved was largely of a capital nature. The Lyons Government not only altered the incidence of the sales tax, but also reduced the rates. The same may be said of customs, excise and primage duties. Primage duty, of’ course, is merely a revenue tax superimposed on the customs duties. The Scullin Government applied these taxes both heavily and crudely in its hurried “attempt to improve our trade balances. I said at that time that I supported its action in general principle. I did not, however, support its detailed application of these taxes. In many instances, the increased taxes reacted badly on business. The many prohibitions of imports and the increases of customs and excise duty, with the sales tax imposed by the Scullin Government, actually contributed to the increase of unemployment which at that time reached a figure unparalleled in the history of the Commonwealth.
I do not blame the Scullin Government for the depression ot for the troubles that fell so thickly on the country at that time; but I am definitely of the opinion that the crude manner in which that Government applied its taxation had an adverse affect. Whilst a more prudent application of increased duties might have helped to remedy the general position, the increased import duties then inflicted on the community actually had the reverse effect, for the revenue diminished; in fact, it almost disappeared in some instances.
– Why not leave all that, behind us, and deal with something a bit up to date?
– I am making these remarks because the Leader of the Opposition saw fit to refer to these matters in his criticism of the budget. If I can convert the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) to my view, I shall be gratified.
– -The honorable member for Balaclava knows very well that the troubles to which he is referring were caused by world conditions. Actually the policy adopted by the Scullin Government laid the foundation for an effective application of our protectionist policy, and the consequent improvement of our circumstances.
– I am quite prepared to admit that some of the increased duties imposed by the Scullin Government helped to establish Australian industries and create employment. My complaint is that that Government put the duties on with a spade and declared that prosperity would return immediately. It was my obligation, subsequently, as Minister for Trade and Customs, to refine the Scullin tariff and make many very necessary re-adjustments. The Tariff Board made recommendations in respect, of the items affected, and in consequence 6T the prudent policy which the Lyons Government adopted, it was possible, after some little time, very greatly to increase the number of our factory employees. In fact, over 4,000 new factories have sprung up, and over 225,000 more employees are at work in factories.
The Leader of the Opposition asked why indirect taxation, which yielded only £35,000,000 in revenue in 1931-32, yielded £62,000,000 last year. The answer is simple. More people are in employment today and so able to purchase goods and pay taxes. The Scullin Government did not appreciate the fact that an undue use of the taxing machine would diminish, and not increase, return*!. The customs duties imposed at that time were so heavy that they caused the price of goods to rise so high that people could not afford to buy them. That policy accentuated, rather than alleviated, the unemployment position. While a moderate tariff policy carefully devised and equitably applied will keep people in employment and maintain our trade balances, an extreme tariff policy will always act adversely. It must be remembered that two-thirds of the total Commonwealth revenue is obtained from indirect taxes.
Mr.holloway. - The Scullin Government had to correct the situation which it faced when it assumed office.
– I admit that world conditions contributed very greatly to the difficulties of those days. Seeing that twothirds of our revenue comes from indirect taxation, it must be apparent that direct taxes are of minor importance. The reverse is the case in Great, . Britain, which is a great exporting country with large well-established manufacturing industries. Direct taxation is very much heavier in that country than it is in Australia.
Perhaps I may be permitted to mention one. item, to show how ill-conceived were some of the Scullin Government’s tariff imposts. The duty on tea, which is a household necessity for all classes, was increased by 4d per lb. plus 10 per cent, primage, although tea is not grown in Australia. The consequence was that many poor people suffered a shortage. The Lyons Government reviewed that duty and other duties imposed by the Scullin Administration. It reduced the tax on tea by 25 per cent, and abolished the primage duty on tea. If revenue duties are light, the people are able to afford, to buy commodities. This assists employment and is ultimately of great value to the whole, community.
It is useless for the Leader of the Opposition to protest against the incidence of indirect taxation, yet that was almost his sole criticism of the budget. Obviously, money must be obtained from, some source for Government purposes. It was necessary for instance, to provide £12,000,000 for the assistance of the wheat-growers, and also to find large amounts to finance our expanding defence programme. We had, likewise, to provide money for bounties for the cotton and wine industries, and for increased pensions. The Leader of the Opposition and his supporters surely show the poverty of their case when they adopt argumentssuch as we have heard in the last day or two.
I wish now to refer to the two fundamental points that I mentioned earlier in my speech - which I regard to be of outstanding significance. I should like honorable members to consider these matters apart altogether from preconceived party opinions. We must all agree that Australia must participate more actively in the war than it is doing and that we must do our utmost to ensure complete national unity. It has been reported in. the press that increased militia activity is likely, but only to the extent that 30,000 men are likely to be called into camp at a time instead of 10,000. Do honorable members imagine that this is adequate participation by Australiain the war? Under ‘existing conditions, only oneseventh of our recently recruited Militia goes into camp at a time. It simply means that the annual training willbe undergone now instead of in the autumn. To advance the period of the camps a few months is hardly worth referring to. It must be remembered that many of our men now called up are not even now receiving their ordinary continuous camp training, for they are doing guard duty and other routine work that could well be performed by older men. “ The plain fact is that the Militia is not getting the training it . ought to have at this time.
I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition has offered to co-operate with the Government in the conduct of the war; but surely he does not imagine that our co-operation should be limited to the supplying of foodstuffs to Great Britain. In other countries of the world the provision of foodstuffs is work for the aged and infirm. It is not enough for us to say that we will do this work, for that would simply amount to a kind of benevolent neutrality. I hope the Australian Labour party will follow the example of the British Labour party, which, in these troublesome times, has agreed to the dilution of labour. It will not adhere to the rigid rules and regulations in force prior to the war.
– ‘What more can we do?
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) complained about the lack of apprentices in government workshops. I suggest that more apprentices should be engaged to set men free. The principle of one apprentice for each journeyman could be adopted in this time of trial. That would ensure that an efficient body of men would always be in training. Women could be employed in many callings, as was done in Great Britain during the last war, in order to release our menfolk for sterner duties. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) could give a lead in these matters by advising those whom they represent to agree to less rigid labour conditions.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that practically no apprentices had been engaged by the Commonwealth Railways in recent years.
– That is so. I suggest that more should be put on at once. [Quorum formed.] -
In these, desperate times, we should help the British Government by offering an expeditionary force, and putting the men into camp at once. The present scheme of holding camps of 10,000 militiamen at a time is quite inadequate. Even if men are not recruited for immediate overseas service, they could be recruited for home service. Meanwhile I suggest that the Australian Imperial Force Reserve would be of great use also if it were mobilized. It is of no use for us to adopt the “ wait and see “ policy. We know that equipment is badly needed, although I do not think it wise to refer to this subject at any length. Bren guns, anti-tank equipment and other military requirements are urgently required. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) is doing his utmost personally, and he has done a very good job since he has been in office. I know that he is a tired man. I wish to make it clear that I am attacking policy, not individuals. The Government should take much more active steps to permit Australia to participate more effectively in the war. We Australians do not realize what we are up against, for we are living in a pleasant backwater, in a far outpost of the Empire. We do not even realize the strength of the German army. I believe that many private citizens have sounder views on this subject than have some honorable members of this Parliament. We do not appreciate the frenzy with which the fanatical Nazi, leadership has embarked upon this great, enterprise of violence, and of menace and abuse of small nations. France, our splendid ally in the last war, has once again, with the full knowledge of all the horrors of war, indicated clearly its preparedness to fight for an ideal, as it did in 1914 when it ranged itself beside Belgium. Yet it has gone into the war gallantly and has honoured its compact with Great Britain. Australia is a part of the British Empire. We wave the flag and say that we are proud to be a part of the Empire, and yet all that has been done so far is that we have promised to supply goods to the Mother Country, goods for which we shall be paid good prices that will be transported under convoy by the British navy. At present the position is that the British navy, the Royal Air Force and the British army are defending us. Are we not to offer an expeditionary force this time? I point out that it is very unfair to talk about defence by the Militia. The militiamen were recruited very hurriedly last year, and now those who wish to join up find the ranks closed. I know of an offer of a troop of light horse near Melbourne the members of which are prepared to supply their own horses and go to Melbourne to train, as they were told that the strength of the regiment in their district was complete. Yet their- offer was rejected. In many parts of the Commonwealth, particularly in country towns where no training facilities arc provided, men are offering their services daily. Honorable members from Tasmania particularly must be aware of that. Is it fair that those young men who want to volunteer cannot enlist ; that they cannot join the Militia Forces for home defence even and receive the training which may be all-essential? “We do not know yet what the result of this war may be. . We place our confidence in Great Britain because it has won out so often before, but are we to stand aloof because the conflict is not at our immediate front door? We do not know how the tide of fortune will ebb andflow in this campaign whilst so many nations sit on the fence. If Poland is crushed - and it seems very near annihilation now - and the German forces areturned to the West, shall we be able to make any headway? It may mean that those nations which at present are preserving neutrality may become our enemies and, after a few defeats, we may find that we have very few friends. Do honorable members suggest that if the tide of fortune should go that way we should do no more than we are doing now? Let us take our thoughts back to 1914. Within two or three days after the outbreak of war the Commonwealth had promised an expeditionary force to assist Great Britain in any part of the world; within a fortnight a division was in camp; and within three months that division had left Australian shores. Yet to-day we adopt a “ wait and see “ policy.
– Is not the position in the East different from what, it was in 1.914?
– I admit that it is; but our battles are not necessarily fought in our own backyard. If Great Britain is defeated in this conflict - and I do not suggest that it will be because it seems to have had the happy historical knack of winning the last battle - what will become of us? In this war the Empire would be powerless without the aid of the French people.
– If the position is differ ent in the East, is not that all the more reason why we should have our young men in camp being trained?
– I have emphasized that ; we could then send them away when the time is propitious. Our fate may be decided on some distant battlefield. If the Allies are defeated in this war, Australia may be bartered away in a treaty like so many sacks of potatoes.
– The honorable member has not much confidence in the British Empire when he says that.
Mr.WHITE. - I say that the Allies will win this war. Although I have every confidence in the outcome, I am trying to awaken in the minds of honorable members the realization that danger faces the British Empire and Australia in -this conflict. It is said that we can do our part by supplying wheat and wool to the Mother Country. Undoubtedly, we shall sell our wheat and wool. But are we to be content to be merely shopkeepers and to play a passive role no move helpful than that played by the weakest neutral conntry? Are we a part of the Empire? If we are it is our duty to fight for its preservation. We must get men into camp to train them, and if Great Britain says it has use for them to replace British regiments in Singapore they may be sent there or to some, other front.
– I would sooner fight for Australia than for Poland.
– After returning from Germany I said that the Czechoslovak fight might some day be our fightCzechoslovakia has since been mopped up. We have seen the Fuhrer’s tactics against Poland, and his scheming technique in alleging that the minorities in that country were being ill treated. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is not an ignorant man: he knows very well that for hundreds of years Danzigwas a Polish State.
– Oh, no.
– Danzig was a Polish State from 1410 to 1772.’ The honorable member also knows that in 1772 Frederick (he Great partitioned Poland. It is time that honorable members made themselves aware of the history of territories now in dispute.. Frederick the Great said then that he who holds Danzig is more king of Poland, than the man who rules there. The German majority in Danzig City was made the casus belli for the present conflict. Far from merely seeking to get Danzig back to the Reich, however, the objective and the technique for partition were the same as were followed in Czechoslovakia. Honorable members all rememberhow the Sudeten Germans were worked up in protest in Czechoslovakia. 1! had the privilege of having a conversation with Mr. Masaryk, Junior, the son of the former President of Czechoslovakia. He told, me that the agitation on behalf of the Sudeten Germans was merely a masquerade to march into Czechoslovakia and take the whole country. That has already been done. When the Sudetenland washanded over to Hitler after the Munich Pact, he continued his march into Czechoslovakia, and overran Moravia, and Bohemia. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports said that he would sooner fight for Australia than for Poland. The war is coming to Australia by such slow degrees that a number of honorable members have not been shaken out of their lethargy. They must understand that Great Britain is hearing the brunt in this fight for us. They must realize that if they fight for Britain they fight, for Australia. . The attempt to make Danzig go back to the Reich was merely an excuse to invade Poland and add another 30,000,000 people to the German nation.
– The honorable memberhas quoted some ancient history; perhaps I might be permitted to remind him of some more up-to-date historical facts. A portion of Czechoslovakia which has been taken by the Germans was originally taken by Poland.
– Would the honorable member say that that is a reason why he should sit with, folded hands during this world crisis and say that he believes only in fighting for Australia ? We know that Britain and France had to honour their obligations to Poland. If Poland were sacrificed to the over-powering strength of the Reich other countries in Eastern Europe, including Rumania, would also go the same way. until Germany’s strength was so overwhelmingly strong that “the Reich would be well on the road to threaten worldomination. I.t is difficult to understand how in these enlightened days thinking people have accepted Hitler’s doctrine of race consciousness.He claims that the German people arc Aryans though every one knows that the German race is just as mixed as the. British. Hitler claims that, as Germans are of Aryan race, they are superior peopleto whom all others must bow down. Not content with carrying out that policy of terrorism in party politics in his own country, and on’ individuals suchas Schussnigg, Hacha and Dolfuss in other countries, he is now applying these terrorist principals internationally’, first, in Austria, then in Czechoslovakia, and now in Poland. But at last the democracies, so often defied and believed by the German Fuhrer to be decadent, have taken a stand. It is satisfactory to note that the whole of the British Empire, with the exception of Eire, is entirely behind the British Government in this conflict.
– The. honorable member has no right to say that.
– So far, Eire is neutral. I have no doubt that the people of that country, which responded so nobly during the last war, will cross to England to serve, with the British Army. I do not say that, it is a great disadvantage that Eire has so far remained neutral.
– It is an evil bird that fouls its own nest.
– I am half Irish myself, and it is to the credit of the Irish people that wherever there is war they have invariably gone into it. I am not making any attack on the Government of Eire. It may be that it is merely slow in making up its mind. There is, however, one dominion which has shown Australia wha t it should do in these difficult days, and at the moment it has a Labour government. I refer to New Zealand. Yet the Labour party in Australia and even our own Government has not yet said what the Government of New Zealand has said, that we shall enlist and train a force for overseas . service. Within a day of the ‘ making of this offer in New Zealand, the requisite number of volunteers had been enlisted. Surely the Australian Government should have made a similar pronouncement, and have asked the British Government where it- forces were needed. Every day young men who are anxious to join the Militia are turned away in hundreds. lt is high time that the Government said definitely that it believed that a force should go into camp for home or overseas service. There should he immediate enlistment of such a force, applications should be invited from militiamen and former members of the Australian Imperial Force for appointment as instructors, and the Australian Imperial Force Reserve, should be immediately mobilized for guard duties at present carried out by the Militia.
The other matter upon which I propose to say a few words is the formation of a national government. I submit that this is not the time for the continuance of personal feuds and vendettas. Every ounce of brain and ability is needed at this time from public men as well as from the people. If we are to see this war waged to a successful conclusion, party lines and demarcations should, for the common good, be relegated as far as possible to the background. We have seen the example set in Great Britain, where Mr. Chamberlain has sunk all his personal differences with Mr. Churchill and Mr. Eden and has also invited Labour to participate in a national government. The British Labour party has promised the Government every assistance. There should be an end to any unedifying bargaining. We should have at this moment a cabinet of the greatest stability so that we may put forward our best efforts to bring the war to a successful conclusion. If we are to win, our man-power must he trained and our economic resources strengthened. I suggest that we might also very well consider in this latter regard the. proposal I made recently regarding an Indian Ocean union comprising every country bordering on the Indian Ocean. With little exception, every country bordering on the Indian Ocean is- either British or French. We could minimize the amounts of sea transport that we want, if we invited those countries into a conference at Colombo, in India, or even in Western Australia, to get down to the tonnages and the like, by co-ordinating our transport. Above all, if we are going to put forward our best national effort, we must not be false to our traditions. Our own government must itself be beyond reproach and must give us unity and better defence results.
.- The Labour party fully realizes the seriousness of the situation, and as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has announced, we shall do all that we can for the adequate defence of Australia. We realize that the position may change from time to time, and that what may be politic to-day may. not be politic to-morrow, but, in our opinion, Australia’s best contribution to Britain in the present cause is defence of this part of the Empire. Everything possible must be done to accelerate arrangements for that defence.
I address the committee to-day as a member for a rural constituency in which wheat-growing and wool-raising are carried, on. The negotiations between the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth for the purchase by Great Britain of the whole of the wool clip is appreciated by the wool industry, but, in concluding any arrangement with, the British Government, the Commonwealth Government must ensure that the interests are conserved of those neutral countries which, for a long period of years, have been the purchasers of Australian wool. It would be criminal folly if arrangements for the supply of Australian wool to those countries were not continued. Most of them are highly industrialized and, deprived of our wool, they would be forced to manufacture synthetic substitutes, with the result that when the war ended a valuable market for our wool would be lost to us.
When the British Government took the Australian wool clip during the last war the purchase was made on gold parity and the return was about £30 a bale, but” we have departed from that standard in favour of a goods standard, and the wool industry views with alarm the prospective payments for their product. Anxiety might be allayed if the Commonwealth Government were to take the wool industry into its confidence. It is proposed to create a board to govern the disposal of the wool clip, and I am fearful that on that board there will be no representation of the smallerproducers. If the board is representative only of the major wool-selling companies^ iu Australia, which are large concerns directed from overseas, the point” of view of the smaller growers will be overlooked. In fact, transactions may be entered into which would be beneficial to the companies possessing vast holdings in Australia, but inimical to the interest of the men whose production is limited. Advisedly, I urge the Government to ask the small wool-growers to submit nominations for the selection of a representative of their interests on the proposed hoard.
Like the wool industry, the wheat industry is in an unfortunate position. Before the last war both industries were enjoying prosperous conditions by reason of payable prices, but that is not the circumstance to-day. Both wool and wheat producers are in a. state of depression as the result of the low prices that have prevailed for so long and any plans formulated by the Government should be on the basis of that fact. In the last few months stabilization of the wheat industry has been urged upon all governments, Commonwealth and State, but nothing definite litis been done. In present conditions, stabilization may not ‘be possible, but opinion, which is shared by the growers is that the Commonwealth Government, has failed the -wheat industry. Any excuse may be better than none, but I do not think much of the excuse advanced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that the Commonwealth’s efforts were nullified by the refusal of the .Premier of Victoria, a major wheat-growing State, to participate in the Commonwealth’s wheat stabilization plan because of the necessity for the Victorian Government to accept in part financial responsibility for the plan. As the result of the Victorian. Premier’s attitude, the Commonwealth has dropped its scheme, but it has made a tentative offer of £2,000,000 a year to the industry. Financial responsibility for the stabilization of the wheat industry is entirely a matter for the Commonwealth. The States have the responsibility to provide for the unemployed, ls it any wonder that Mr. Dunstan threw the onus back on the Commonwealth?
The honorable; member for Balaclava (Mr. White) delivered an interesting speech on the measures which Australia should take for its defence, but is not th’.’ nucleus of any solid defence a contented community? How can the primary producers be contented ? What is the outlook for the unemployed? ls it any wonder that any person who thinks views with alarm the future of this country? Here we have a land of plenty, but, owing re the inaction and malpractice of governments, thousands of our citizens are workless and the primary producers, the backbone of the country, are in a perilous state. Go outback, and you will find discontent in nine out of ten homes - not only discontent, hut also great hardship, because the occupants are battling agains! tremendous odds. They are watching their assets dwindle away. Many of them have worked for years to build a home and to pay off their indebtedness, only to slip back to the verge of insolvency because their appeals to the Commonwealth Government have been in vain. The position in the wheat areas is desperate. Meeting after meeting of whea(-growers has carried a resolution asking for the stabilization .of the industry, but the appeals have met with no response. What we want to-day is more men on the land on smaller areas. Unless action to ensure that is taken, we shall see in the near future the passing of the small settler. That would be utterly ruinous to this country. Whereas a man or a company with 30,000 or so acres is able, economically to engage in wheatgrowing oven at the low return of 2s. a bushel, the small man who harvests only 3,000 or 4,000 bushels cannot carry on. Their position was not so bad in the old days, but now that machinery has displaced the horse they are una’ble to finance their industry. The plan which I and the majority of the wheat farmers have in mind is one under which the first 3,000 bushels of wheat would be paid for at 4s. a bushel at country sidings. For the residue the farmers would be prepared to accept world parity. In New South Wales, a ballot: for a compulsory pool in conjunction with t.he Commonwealth is sought. I (10 not know what U wanted by farmers in the other States insofar as pooling is concerned. By means of resolutions passed at meetings of various wheat-growers’ organizations the Government . of New South Wales has been asked to take action to stablizethewheatmarket. I have been actively associated with the wheatgrowing industry all my life, and I know that price stabilization has been discussed at great length,It has been decided that t he only solution to the many problems w hich confront the industry to-day is the establishment of a Commonwealth-wide compulsory pool controlled by the Commonwealth and operated in conjunction with the State governments. It is an. experiment worth trying. Many of the difficulties in. the wheat industry to-day have been brought about by the mechanization of industry and the application of scientific methods to wheat-farming which have resulted in almost a complete elimination of total crop failures. Crops are of course subject to seasonal conditions and while harvests still vary to a considerable degree, complete failures, except perhaps on marginal country, are very rarely experienced. I submit that the proposal for a guaranteed price for the first 3,000 bushels produced is a good one, because although it would possibly reduce the output, it would increase the price, and thus give some degree of security to the growers. It might mean the salvation of the wheat industry. The Government should do its utmost to work in conjunction with the various wheatt’armers’ organizations, and so give some measure ofprotection to the small wheatgrower, because it is upon the small wheat-grower and the small wool-grower that the solvency of the nation depends. Throughout the country districts of New South Wales, and, for that matter, of other States, will be found fine country towns. How have these towns been built up? Have they been established by the large land monopolists, and wealthy pastoralists? No, they have been built as the result of the breaking up of large estates, and by the introduction of closer settlement schemes. I am sorry to say, however, that, in many districts, the big laud monopolist is again assuming control through family purchases of many sm.” holdings - farmers buying for their sons. Under the adverse, conditions which exist to-day in the wheat industry, small farmers are forced to sell out. holdings which are rapidly becoming unprofitable, and so once more there is a growing tendency towards large estates. I appeal to the Government to take a serious view ofthis matter. The major responsibility for the stabilization of the wheat industry rests with the Commonwealth and not with the States. Itis only burking the issue to suggest that that responsibility does not lie with the Commonwealth.
I should like now to refer to some aspects of our defence policy. The honorable member for Balaclava criticized the Government very severely for its lack of appreciation of the importance of establishing training facilities for militia recruits throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member for Balaclava was a member of the Cabinet himself for a considerable time.
– That is so, but it is much easier to be a critic than to do the job. As he was, until recently, a member of the Executive Government, he must accept . his share of the responsibility for inaction. For two years I made representations on1 behalf of the Narrabri branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia for the establishment of a militia unit in Narrabri. In that centre there are many patriotic men who served with distinction in the last war as captains and majors, and they have volunteered their services for the training of militia recruits, but up to the present their generous offers have been rejected. The Minister for Defence has been most courteous in his replies to representations, but. he has refused to accede to the many requests far training facilities, and there is still no provision for the training of militia recruits in that centre. In Narrabri there is a population of between 5,000 and 7,000 people, but it is. 50 or 60 miles from the nearest militia training centre. It is a large wool-growing district and the men who have volunteered their services are of. a fine type and would be a credit to the nation. They have ‘been driven almost desperate. All avenues of approach to the Defence authorities have been tried without success. We realize that the Minister for Defence has had a colossal amount of work to perform during the last few months, and I sympathize with him because of the gigantic task which now confronts him. I know that he gives of his best, but I believe that in the Defence Department there is a certain amount of red-tape or needless formality that is inimical to the best interests of the adequate defence of Australia. Men such as those to whom I have referred should be given facilities to train, or their morale and enthusiasm, will be destroyed. They are disappointed, as aru the many prominent citizens of Narrabri who volunteered their services to train militia recruits. An officer of the Defence Department informed me that- no instructors are available to take up duties in country centres, but I submit that there is no excuse for holding up this vital work. It is the duty of the Government to see that instructors are provided wherever recruits are offering. This matter should not be left in the hands of subordinate officers of the Defence Department. If our defence preparations are lacking, the responsibility lies with the Government itself, not with subordinate officers. If centres such a3 those to which [ have referred were provided with instructors, much of the difficulty which arises in connexion with, militia recruiting and training would soon be overcome. In the town of Belungra, which is 30 or 40 miles from Inverell, many young men have handed in their names for military training after travelling 10, 15 or 20 miles from outlying districts. They are compelled to travel at their own expense in order to receive instruction.
– They undertook to do that when they joined up.
– They were forced to do it, and they should not have been. Many of them sacrifice a. day’s pay while others who worked for themselves lose a day’s work to go to Inverell to bc trained. That state of affairs is not conductive to contentment in the Militia, or to the adequate defence of Australia. I make a plea on behalf of these men, and 1” hope that the Government will take steps to see that the matter is rectified.
Many applications have been forwarded from country districts for the establishment of rifle clubs. Rifle training is necessary for military preparedness. In many instances these applications have .been backed by an offer to do all work necessary in the establishment of the range and the formation of the club. In one case, a public-spirited citizen offered to find all the money necessary for the establishment of a club if the Government would agree to supply the necessary rifles and ammunition. The offer was refused. The last letter I received from the department in reply iu an application for the formation of >i rifle club was that it was the fiftieth on the list. Only five such clubs are permitted to be formed each year in New South Wales, so that it will be ten years before my last application to the department will be granted. That state of affairs should not be allowed to continue, because in. nearly every instance, the prospective members of the clubs have offered to do all of the work involved in preparing the range. These offers are most generous, and I hope that the Government will take steps to sec that advantage is taken of them. The establishment of only five new rifle clubs a year in New South Wales is not in the best interests of the defence of this country.
In conclusion, I should like to make brief .mention of what I consider to lie the financial responsibility of the Commonwealth under the budget which has just- been presented. The budget contemplates an expenditure which i3 a record for Australia. That, of course, was expected, because when money is required for the defence of Australia, it must be found. There are, however, grounds for serious criticism of the methods adopted by the Government to finance this colossal expenditure. To-day we envisage an expenditure of £100,000,000, but next year it may be £200,000,000 and so on. It is almost impossible for us to carry on with ordinary methods of taxation. We know that the Royal Commission on Banking brought in a direction which, if given effect would enable the central bank, if it so wished, to issue credits to the Government free of interest, and that policy should be applied in an extraordinary time like this. Every one knows that Germany by the issue of short-term credits, has built up a tremendously powerful defence system, which makes that country practically impregnable to attack. Germany was one of the poorest nation* in the world, and yet, by the use of credits issued through the central bank, it. has equipped itself with armaments equal to those of any other country in Europe. Japan, another poor country, has also established an extraordinarily powerful war machine, and it has done so by employing the same method of finance. The timehas arrived when we in Australia should do the same, and thus relieve our people of an intolerable burden. The already gigantic public debts of Great Britain and Australia are rapidly increasing, and it is obvious that we cannot persist with the present s-ystem. The Government, should resolutely depart from orthodox methods of finance, which have only resulted in starving thousands of the men, women and children in Australia. It is obvious that there is something wrong with a financial system which produces that result. It is only because the shackles of private finance weigh so heavily upon the Australian people thatwe are at present in our unfortunate position. In every town throughout the whole of Australia, men are out of work, and women and children are hungry because of the breakdown of our financial system. All. such difficulties would be overcome if the Government were to use the credit resources of the country as they shouldbe used. [ Quorum formed.’]
.- The Government to-day is faced with responsibility of a kind which no previous Commonwealth Government has had to hear. The depression which began in 1.929-30 has continued to this day. with slight intermissions of prosperity caused by temporary increases of export commodity prices. The man on the land today has less reserve strength than at the commencement of the depression. There appears on the notice-paper a bill to provide for the establishment of a long-term mortgage bank as a branch of the Commonwealth Bank. Had such a bank been established in 1929 it would have served a much more useful purpose than is possible to-day. It is proposed to stipulate that there shall be a 40 per cent, margin of value, and in 1929 many farmers possessed, in fact, such a margin. Today, that margin has largely disappeared. In reality. it has been exported in the form of commodities which have been produced and sold at a loss. The result is that, at the present time, very few farmers arc in a position to avail themselves of the facilities of a mortgage bank unless the margin of value is reduced. The asset that existed in better times has depreciated, and the question arises whether properties are to be assessed at present-day values or at the values prevailing in normal times. . Property values have depreciated over 50 per cent, because of the reduced return for commodities. Values might, recover if prices were to improve. I invite the Government to lake this point into serious consideration, and to amend the bill in order to provide for a lower margin of value.’.It is in the . interests of the nation thai the farmers should be kept on the land as wealth producers, and they should be able to borrow money at the lowest possible rate of interest, over a long term.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) deplored the heavy indirect taxation that had been imposed on the community, taxation which hits the poorer people harder than those better off. I remind the honorable gentleman that, when the Labour party was last in power, it introduced one of the heaviest indirect taxes of all - the sales tax, which undoubtedly bears most heavily on the poorer section of the community. Evidently, necessity knows no law. Almost in the same breath, the Leader of the Opposition advocated an extension of credit, saying that the old methods of finance would have to be abandoned.I wish that he had been a little more explicit, and had gone on to say that, if he were in power, he would use the national resources of the country as a backing for the issue of more credit. I am not sure that he meant the issue of free money, as was suggested by the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Scully) and as, according to him, was recommended in paragraph 504 of the report of theRoyal Commission on Banking. As a . matter of fact, the royal commission recommended nothing of the kind. It said that this could be done but did not recommend that it should be done. I desire to bring under the notice of the committee a warning issued recently by the Commonwealth Bank Board. Finance is a very intricate subject for a layman to understand, and we should therefore pay careful attention to what the board has to say. This pronouncement was published in the West Australian, of the 7th July last, having been made by the Commonwealth Bank Board in Sydney the previous day. It is as follows: -
Sydney, July 6. - The Commonwealth Bank issued to-day a memorandum dealing with expansion of credit by means of central bank loans which was submitted to the Federal Government last March. It states that when there is not general unemployment loans by the central bank will cause prices to rise, with adverse effects upon the general economy, and that when there is general unemployment a loan by the central bank can be advantageous only for bringing into use unemployed resources in men and equipment. Having done that its effects would be adverse through causing prices to rise. “ When there is not general unemployment “, the memorandum states. “ loans by the central bank can be no help for defence or any other purpose. They, cannot cause any new production, and they can only compete with existing money for the resources which are already being used. We shall not have any more goods produced and. in ..the long run we may even have less because of the dislocations in the productive organization caused by the use of central bank loans. “ We shall have more defence works, but so much less consumption goods or ordinary capital goods. Our standard of living will be lowered just as if the money were being raised by taxation, but if it were raised by taxation it is probable that the loss would be borne by those best able to afford it. -When the money is raised from the central bank and there is not general unemployment the effect is to raise prices, and rising prices would spread, the loss unevenly and inequitably. “ It is true that in an emergency a loan might be made for defence by the central bank when it was quite impossible to raise the money in any other way, although economic and financial conditions did not justify it. In that case we should pay for it to the full. If the safety of the country demanded it and there was no alternative such a course would have to be faced, whatever the cost, but it is an expedient to be used only in the last resort.”
That is the considered report of the Commonwealth Bank Board. I am not competent to say whether the matter would work out in that way; but, so far as I am able to judge, the credit of the Commonwealth has already been drawn on to the tune of over £1,300,000,000, and that has had the result, of reducing the purchasing power of the £1 note in Australia to 9s. I. imagine that if we continue to dra w on our credit the value of our assets will automatically be reduced and the purchasing power of the £1 note in Australia will be further lowered. It occurs to me that, without an automatic raising of wages, the poorer class of the community would be done more injury than would any other class. I urge honorable members not to seek party political advantage in advocating the unlimited expansion of credit, because to drawfurther on the national credit would have repercussions on the poorer class, and would hit them harder than any form of indirect taxation, even though they may refuse to admit it, believing that the issue of money free of interest would “ make things hum “, and that they would derive some advantage from the process. I can understand the feelings of a drowning man who grasps at a straw. Similarly; I can understand that the man who has struggled hard on the land, and in other occupations, finding himself down and out, with his assets gone and his future dark, would be ready to grasp at any straw. It would be politically easy to convince such persons that the issue of free money would solve the problems ofAustralia, individually and nationally. I hope that some notice will be taken of the excellent report of the Monetary and Banking Commission. I believe that 1 was as much responsible as any man in in this chamber for the appointment of that commission. Paragraph 504 of its report, which has been distributed widely in circulars and pamphlets, contains merely a passing statement, and recommends something which should be done only as a last resort.
It would be of advantage to the Government to recognize the present position of the great primary industries of Australia. The purchase by the Imperial Government of certain . of our commodities will probably relieve the tension and correct- the position for the time being. I am waiting to hear the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) as to what action the Government proposes to take in relation to the wheat industry. That industry was never in a more parlous condition in the history of the world than that in which it finds itself to-day. Thousands of our rural settlers have left the land because, during the last nine years, they have been unable to make a living, have lost their assets, and have failed to obtain credits.
The wheat industry is one of the largest employers of la hour in Australia. Prior to and since the depression it has supplied the people of this country with wheat at a cheaper price than that at which it could be bought in any other country free of duty, lt has also brought into i his country an average of about £2^,000,000 of nen- money annually. It is an industry which is worth conserving.
– lt would be a sad thing for Australia generally if there «”ere no commodities to export to meet our national obligations.
M.r. MAHONEY. - The wheat industry has had a bounty for the last ten years.
– The honorable member forgets that there is added to the cost of living of the people of Australia over £100,000,000 a year for the protection of our secondary industries. Those industries shelter behind the tarin’. Even in the years of depression they were able to return abnormal profits. I say nothing of properly-constituted secondary .industries, which can stand on their own feet and are of service to the community, but 1. do object io hedging round and protecting an industry which is able to make a profit of So” per cent., while the farmer is going off the land in a starving condition. A glass company which was virtually established during the years of the depression was able t.o return to its shareholders in bonuses last year £2,500,000, whilst the farmers were unable to make a living, and were compelled to leave the land and go on the dole. Any honorable member who claims that that is sound management of a country does not know what he is talking about. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) yesterday read a list of commodity prices in 1914 and to-day, to show that they had just about doubled; in many cases they have more than doubled. The primary producers must purchase at the market price in Australia all that they require, yet with their commodity they have to compete in the markets of the world. The sale of primary products abroad is necessary for the welfare of the whole of the people of Australia. No one knows that better than the right honorable member for
Yarra (Mr. Scullin). Why did he not have stamped on all postal matter the request to “ Produce More Boots “ Produce More Motor Cars as well as “ Produce More Wheat”? We did produce more wheat. The costs with which the primary producer is loaded, and his contributions to the national income, are out of all proportion to what he should be asked to bear. The labouring man has the. Arbitration Court to assure to him a reasonable standard of living. The tari ff assures to the manufacturers the Australian market. Where is the standard of living for the man on the land? I am glad that the Prime Minister has declared as part of his policy that there should be a fair deal and a proper standard of living for the whole of the community, including the man on the land. I am anxious that that policy shall be given effect. The principal trouble is. not thai wheat is grown on poor land, not that thu producer is loaded with heavy costs in respect of everything that he has to purchase, not that his railway and shipping freights are high, but that this country has adopted an insular attitude, andexpects to sell its goods to other countries’ which are not allowed to sell anything here. That point is explained in a letter that, I received to-day from the Western Australian Fruit Growers Association Incorporated. It states -
At the annual conference of the association held last week, the following motion was passed : -
That conference considers that the only remedy fur the growing over-production and poor price* of expert apples is the rinding of fresh markets. This could only bn obtained by reciprocal trading with other nations. ‘Hie alternative is n bounty on all (.’.sport apples.
There is a marvellous volume of information in that resolution, and it confirms what I have been saying. We have taken up the attitude that we should buy from no one and yet expect others to buy from us. That intense nationalism or selfcontainment in all the countries of the world during the last 25 years has been the- greatest potential cause of war. It leads to international unfriendliness more, readily than does anything else. Had that spirit not prevailed - and we were the greatest offenders - other countries would ha ve been taking our wheat. Therefore, not only have we to contend with high costs in Australia, but in addition the markets of the world have been closed against us, and other countrieshave grown wheat at an immense cost. I believe that the German people are paying11s. 3d. a bushel for wheat grown in Germany. The price of wheat grownin France is about 9s. a bushel, and in Italy it is about the same. Under a. reciprocal trading arrangement, those countries would not have gone to such expense to produce wheat when they could have pro cured it at half the price from Australia, a price at which we should have made a profit on its sale.
The honorable member for Gwydir has referred to the Australian Wool Committee, just appointed. Of the wool grown in Australia, 00 per cent, is grown by 95 per cent, of the growers, whilst the remaining 50 per cent, is grown by the balance of the growers; therefore, the small growers are largely in the majority. The Primary Producers Conference, representing the small growers in Western Australia, unanimously recommended for appointment to the Australian Wool Committee a certain man who has a wide knowledge of the industry and considerable competence. These small growers were greatly offended when the Government took no notice of their recommendation. I hope that the Government will see if it is possible to appoint that gentleman to the committee, so that those small growers will be represented on it.
The honorable member for Gwydir also said that the powerful war machine of Germany had been constructed by the issue of free credit. He and some others who repeat similar stories apparently do not desire to know the truth. Actually, Herr Schacht, who is probably one of the greatest financial geniuses in the world to-day, went back to the old method to provide money for Hitler to construct his war machine. He issued 4½ per cent, loans at £98 to replace all the money that Hitler had expended. Germany’s borrowing last year totalled 13,2.00,000,000 reichsmarks. In these circumstances I cannot understand why honorable gentlemen opposite should try to mislead people. If the Commonwealth Bank and the Commonwealth Government can issue free money, let them do it, but. the facts are set out clearly in the statement by the Commonwealth Bank to which I have already referred. The Commonwealth Bank simply cannot issue free money to an unlimited amount for either war or industrial purposes without laying hea vier burdens upon’ the poor.
It appears that the whole of the Australian wool clip islikely to be purchased for the British Government on terms which will be of great assistance to the wool industry. J. hope that a pronouncement will be made at a. very early stage concerning wheat, for . 1. understand that certain . merchants in Western Australia propose; to purchase the whole of last year’s carry-over wheat, which they are holding for certain farmers, for1s.8¼d a bushel although the ruling price in Sydney at present, in similar circumstances, is 2s. 8d. a bushel. Immediate steps should be taken to prevent the merchants from inflicting such a grave injustice upon the wheat-growers.
-Is the honorable member suggesting that, these merchants intend to buy the wheat for1s.8¼d. and then sell it to the Commonwealth Government for 2s.8d.?
– They have an option or have advanced money to take the wheat over at their own price after a certain date, and I understand that they propose to pay1s.8¼d. a bushel for it.
– That is surely profiteer ing!
Mr.PROWSE.- It is, and . I hope that the. Government will take prompt action to protect the farmers, particularly as it wits busily engaged, when the war broke out, in attempting to evolve a stabilization scheme to enable the farmers to enjoy a reasonable standard of living.
– The sooner the honorable member advocates a compulsory wheat pool the sooner shall we be able to deal with these agent? who exploit the. fa rmers.
– I have before me at this moment a. note dealing with compulsory wheat pools, and I intended to deal with that subject. I advocated the continuance of the compulsory wheat pool that operated during the last war, though I considered that it should be, to a greater extent, under the control of the growers. I do not consider that the wheat industry can be properly controlled except by means of a national compulsory pool. If a wheat pool is established for war purposes in the near future - and I do not see any other way to deal effectively with the industry - I hope that it will be continued after the war is over. If wheat were compulsorily pooled and the pool were controlled by the growers, to a large extent at any rate, I am sure that conditions all round would be better. The wheat could be handled and sold more economically, and the growers would be sure of a fair return for their labour. I can see no earthly reason why a compulsory pool should not be established to operate in either war time or peace time. A reference to Hansard for the period immediately following 1«he end of the last war will show that I strongly advocated the retention of the then existing wheat pool. I can see no reason to change my view, and I hope that the Government will establish a pool on a basis that will permit of its continuance after this war.
.- 1” shall not say a great deal about the budget, for the war has, to a considerable degree, stifled criticism..
I wish, however, to direct the attention of the Government to the necessity for the more equable distribution of the employment that must flow from our defence expenditure. As things are now, practically all of the money is being expended in New South Wales and Victoria. Very little of it is being expended in the small States, even though some of them could provide defence requirements for lower prices than will be paid in New South Wales and Victoria. Tasmania has not had a fair deal, although it can offer facilities in respect of both power and some raw materials, at any rate, superior to those available in any other Australian State. We have a vast supply of cheap hydro-electric power. In most places the generation of electric power is expensive. In Tasmania it is exceptionally cheap, and the State government has offered exceptionally good terms to the Commonwealth Government to encourage it to establish defence works there. Hydroelectric power, for example, has been offered at practically cost price.
Tasmania also has available large quantities of zinc and copper, which, as honorable members’ know, are two vital requirements for munitions making. The only zinc smelters in the southern hemisphere are located in Tasmania. Zinc is a veryimportant component of shells. It ie unjust to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth that full advantage is not being taken of Tasmania’s supplies of zinc. Until quite recently, at any rate, the great bulk of the zinc produced by the Tasmanian smelters was being shipped to Japan and other overseas countries. 1 should like to know whether any embargo has yet been placed upon these shipments. If not, such action should be taken at once. Judging by the quantity of zinc produced at the smelters, and the quantity exported, our reserves in Australia must be very low. The same thing is true of copper. Tasmania has practically the only copper mine in Australia. Of course, when I speak of a “ copper mine “ I mean a real copper mine. We have allowed the bulk of our copper, to be shipped from Tasmania, and. I am informed that our reserves of this important metal are also very low.
The Tasmanian people are very loyal, and they desire to do their very best to assist the Government in connexion with this war. The quota of militiamen allowed to Tasmania was filled very quickly after the recent, recruiting campaign began, and many hundreds of young Tasmanians found that they could not enlist. I believe that it was a mistake to refuse the services of these men, for Tasmania is isolated, and, if trouble occurred, it would need a larger force, proportionately, than the other States. Its isolation would make it difficult for reinforcements to be sent from the mainland if that need should, unhappily, arise.
The honora’ble member for Balaclava (Mr. White) urged that men should be enlisted for an expeditionary force. I agree that additional men should be enlisted, but it would be quite wrong for us to enlist them for overseas service. Some honorable gentlemen opposite appear to imagine that Great Britain desires Australia to send an expeditionary force to its assistance. That is far from true. At a conference that I attended in London, in 1935, an address was delivered by Mr. Anthony Eden, who was then Minister for Foreign Affairs. A Canadian representative asked him whether Great Britain would expect expeditionary forces from the dominions if war occurred. Mr. Eden said, “ We do not want that. It would be of far more value to us if the dominions made themselves self-supporting “. Apparently, honorable gentlemen opposite seem desirous that the Commonwealth should enlist, an expeditionary force of anything from 250,000 to 500,000 men so that they may have the opportunity to say: “Look what we have done. We are willing to send the last man and the last shilling from Australia”. The honorable member for Balaclava said that in enlisting men for service either at home or abroad, New Zealand has set us an admirable example which we might well follow. The Government of that dominion may have very good reasons for doing that; it has its own destiny to work out. I believe that we should do everything possible to remove the fear in the minds of the people of this country that an expeditionary force will be sent from Australia before it is needed. Every man and woman in this country stands behind the Government in its measures for the protection of the country. When the appeal for volunteers for the Militia was made last year I was asked by a large number of young lads whom I had known since childhood what they should do. My invariable reply was that they should volunteer. My belief was that even if their training was never utilized it would not hurt them. I served for seven or eight years in the Militia Forces and enjoyed doing so. Those of us who were members looked forward to the camps; we never suffered any harm from them, and we made life-long friends. Although the Labour party does notfavour compulsory military training, I have my own opinion and I do not believe that there would be any harm in it. Australians are opposed to compulsory military training because they do not want to be sent overseas. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) said last night that he was in favour of shipping men to Singapore and New
Guinea, but neither of those places is in danger at the present time. The Commonwealth Government is in constant communication with the Government of Great Britain and it knows that our soldiers are not needed outside Australia. If it wanted to send troops abroad, it would ask for volunteers. Honorable members who went overseas during the last war know as well as I do that the Government of Great Britain does not want to bleed Australia’s strength by calling for an expeditionary force; it realizes that this country is sparsely populated. It has not asked for troops from New Zealand, Canada, South Africa or India.
– Those dominions have offered to send forces.
– Not because they are patriotic, but because they are seeking-
– I would not be accepted for service overseas, because of my age. I did not go overseas during the last war, although the honorable member for Balaclava did. Like the Prime Minister, I had my own reasons for remaining in Australia. We had ourselves to please and we were entitled to exercise our own discretion as to whether or not we should go. The people should be relieved of any fear that they may be sent overseas. Unless the Government goes mad, it will not send one man out of Australia this year. Anthony Eden said recently that dominion forces were not required overseas and that they would be of more assistance to the Empire if they remained at home to defend their own shores.
– Does the honorable member think it. sufficient that Australia should merely sell goods to Great Britain?
– No doubt the parrotcry will be raised that the Opposition wants Australia to sell goods to the Mother Country and make capital out of the war, but that will be wrong. Australia is a part ‘ of the great British Empire, and I trust that if ever its help is wanted it will respond promptly.- Its help is not needed yet, however.
– The point is not so much to send men overseas, as to get them into camp and train them.
– I agree with that. Australia could put only about 300,000 mcn into the field. According to press reports, there are over 6,000,000 men available in France and 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 in Great Britain; Poland has enormous man-power also. Man-power is only one item in the war-time strength of a country. It is not wise to put too many men into the front line at one time. Australia can assist the Empire’s cause by producing, and I trust that it will do everything that it can to prevent profiteering. That feeling was expressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) when he said that he would rather see Australia supplying Great Britain with goods free of cost than at a profiteers’ prices.
The Treasurer said in hig budget speech that the Government was arranging for the disposal of wool, wheat, and meat, and that Great Britain would take practically the whole of Australia’s surpluses of those goods. I make a plea on behalf of the fruit-growers. During the last war, they were the only primary producers to suffer financially. They were unable to transport their fruit overseas and consequently it rotted in the orchards. They were not compensated for that, and at the end of the war, their shipments were limited because butter and other commodities were given priority in refrigerated shipping space, and were sent overseas to fulfil contracts, even though the market for those goods was already over-supplied. Although the prices of other primary products were not fixed, fruit prices were controlled. Consequently growers could not benefit from the high prices which they could have obtained. Probably very little fruit will be shipped overseas in the coming season, despite the fact that it is needed by the armed forces and general population in Great Britain and France. It can be canned so that it will last for several years without deteriorating. I. understand that the Government intends to set up boards to control the marketing of meat, wheat, and wool. It should also invite representatives of the Fruit Control Board to confer with it, in order to discover some means of disposing of the fruit crop. Many varieties of fruit arc suitable for canning, and the Government could arrange with the canneries to obtain the fruit at the cost of production. The fruit-growers are in a different position from the wheat-growers for, if the wheatproducer does not wish to have a crop in any particular season, he need not sow it. whereas each year the fruit-growers must cultivate their orchards and keep them free of fungus and other pests. If their trees are neglected for even one year, they take seven or eight years to recover sufficiently to produce another good crop.
The Government can assist the fruitgrowers also by encouraging the use of fruit juices, both as beverages and as medicines. Germany last year processed 193,000,000 gallons of fruit juices, and the United States of America used more than 90,000,000 gallons. In those countries, fruit juice is rationed to the armies. Australia produces the best fruit juices in the world. Instead of offering the public pure fruit juice, however, traders give them synthetic juices, most of which are mixed in drug stores. Because the fruitgrowers do not receive any protection, drug stores can produce their substitutes more cheaply and can place them more prominently before the public. Many diseases, even as severe as cancer, may be caused by some of the synthetic product? that are on the market at the present time. I hope that the Government will grant some assistance to the companies which are producing pure fruit juice, than which there is nothing healthier. Many people who are unable to eat apples can with benefit drink apple juice. If they drank synthetic fruit juice their health would suffer abominably.
When the Commonwealth Ministry met in Hobart last February, among several deputations which, waited upon it was one from the Huon shippers. The port of Huon is 30 miles from Hobart, and is in the midst of the fruit-growing district. There is a good wharf and a perfect harbour with a sufficient depth to accommodate vessels from overseas. In spite of that, the shippers are compelled to transport their fruit 30 miles over Mount Wellington for loading at Hobart, hecause sufficient vessels do not call at Huon. Arrangements for mora vessels to go to the port should be made, because transport of the fruit to Hobart requires the use of petrol, stocks of which may be severely limited in the near future. Within a radius of 1.1 miles from Port Huon, about 2,000,000 bushels of fruit are produced each year, but last year only 294,817 cases were loaded at the port for overseas, lt is reckoned that it costs an additional 4d. a. ease to get the fruit to Hobart. The saving of tha nine h money, the development of the fruit-juice industry, and the disposal of dessert varieties of apples locally will permit the maintenance of the apple industry. Otherwise, many of the growers will have to allow their orchards to go to ruin, and it will take many years then to bring them back into production.
The Treasurer (Mr. Menzies) declared that, to assist in the raising of more revenue, it is necessary to increase the excise on whisky by ls. and on beer by 3d. a gallon. I should not object to that were it not for the fact that the people who drink beer and whisky are already paying more than they should be called upon to pay. I am principally concerned with the increase of the excise on beer, because most of the hops that are used in Australia are grown in my electorate. The hop industry employs more people to the acre than any other primary pursuit. It is also a good industry in that it provides employment for people, semiinvalids, and cripples, who are otherwise unemployable. That employment is given during hop-picking season only, but the money that those then employed earn enables them to live through the rest of the year in more comfort than could otherwise be possible. For the whole of the year, many women and girls are employed on tying, binding and stripping hops. If the consumption of beer is reduced as the result of the additional excise, fewer hops will be required and my district will suffer accordingly. Some people say that if less beer were drunk, there would be less poverty. I do not know why people have a “down “ on the people who want a glass of beer after they have done a hard day’s work. It is a remarkable thing that beer is subjected to heavy taxes, whereas the synthetic juices which are imported or manufactured in drug factories are not taxed. Last year the beer drinkers of Australia paid £6,500,000 in excise. Any one who knows what hard work is knows that there is nothing better as a beverage at the end of a day than a pint of beer.
– ‘Beer, beer, beautiful beer !
– I am glad that the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Jennings) agrees with me. The honorable gentleman does not look any worse for the beer he drinks. I do not like to see the honorable gentleman supporting a Government which intends to add another 3d. a gallon to the cost of beer. If it be necessary to impose another ls. a gallon on whisky, I hope that it will not be passed on because those who drink it are already paying enough. One man told me that he had to pay £S0 and duty on a barrel of whisky. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Street) is supporting that kind of thing.
– Why pick on me ? I am a supporter of fruit juice.
– I do not say that beer and whisky should not be taxed, but I do say that the synthetic juices should also be taxed. Of course, the workers will not drink these synthetic products, because they know they would soon be in their graves if they did. The Treasurer said that in the near future, it may be necessary to bring down more taxes. If some one does not protest against the additional excise on beer and whisky, Ministers may take into their heads that whisky and beer drinkers are accepting the added impost without regret, and that they will not object to a little more tax. If that be the case, the Lord knows what the people will have to pay for their drinks in the end.
I turn now to post offices. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), as Assistant Minister for Commerce, inspected the post office at New Norfolk when he went to Tasmania last year. At that time, the people there were asking for either a new post office or renovation of the old building. The honorable member said, “ I should not like to waste money on having this place done up. I consider that you are entitled to a new post office.” Subsequently, the honorable gentleman became PostmasterGeneral. When the Federal Cabinet met in Hobart, a deputation met the honorable member and asked him whether he was still of the opinion that the. post office at New Norfolk should be replaced. He said “ Yes, I would not waste money on having it renovated, but I cannot give you an assurance that it will be done this year, because I have no money available, I shall, however, sec that sufficient money is provided for the work in the next, budget”. Governments have changed-
– Conditions have r- hanged.
– That is so, but the Government changed before conditions changed. The Government changed before the war broke out. I called upon the former Postmaster-General in Sydney, and I was referred by him to a letter which he had sent to me in reply to previous representations. The post office to which I refer was inspected by the Conner Postmaster-General and by several senators and postal officials. The general opinion expressed by these people was that it would be a waste to spend money on renovating the old building.
– -It is a disgraceful place.
– It is undoubtedly a thorough disgrace to the country. Since the former Postmaster-General visited the district the newsprint industry has been started and this will provide employment for 500 or 600 people. In addition the district is very suitable “for closer settlement, yet the residents have to put up with an obsolete post office. I onlywish that we had even part of the building which is being pulled down in Sydney, lt would at least give some shelter. When the former Postmaster-General went into the New Norfolk post office, the postmaster showed him a cupboard and said that in the mornings all bedclothes had to be removed from the beds and placed in the cupboard because of the water that leaked through the roof of the building. The whole atmosphere of the building, which was erected over an old well, is damp. The present Postmaster-General says now that conditions have changed, and because of that, a new post office cannot he built. Surely, he docs not suggest that all essential works throughout the Commonwealth are to be abandoned. The slogan of the .Prime Minister is, “ Business as usual “, and I submit that there is a very real necessity for a new post office at’ New Norfolk. It would i ;>st only a few thousand pounds and aplarently there has been no difficulty in finding nearly £1,000,000 for the construc tion of additions to the Sydney General Post Office. I trust that favorable consideration will ,be given to my representations and that the Postmaster-General will see his way clear to find the small sum required for a new post office in the district to which I have referred.
– Although this is primarily a defence budget, I do not wish to deliver a defence speech in the ordinary sense, although my remarks must of necessity have a decidedly defence flavour. I do not intend to commence with empirical data as an hypothesis and then weave it into a curtain for a political background. I, therefore, address the committee with a view to enunciating a policy which I consider would result in an almost completely regional economy, sponsored by regional banks and by government and private finance. By adopting such a regional policy, the population-carrying capacity of Australia would be increased five-fold. Honorable members will agree that we, a people of 7,000,000, are now engaged in a defence effort worthy of a people of 35,000,000. It is axiomatic that land-planning and land-use form the basis of all human economy. That truth, however, has been consistently ignored in this country and as the result it must be admitted that Australian development has now become almost static. There is no excuse for that. Even our choicest lands aic depreciating every year by 3 per cent., 5 per cent, and even 7 per cent.
– .Sometimes 50 per cent.
– Even an economic surplus does not necessarily result in a prosperous and happy people; such a surplus often brings tyranny, servitude and oppression, not well-being. Already Australia has bred a peasantry that is on the increase because we refuse to plan regionally. We prefer to go in for competitive social expenditure in the cities. In other words our large houses are too large and our small houses are too small. I repeat that land-planning and land-use are the basis of human economy. Let us, therefore, collect the facts .by a Commonwealthwide land-use survey - England has already led the way in such planning - so that industry may be placed in juxtaposition to agricultural endeavour instead of industry draining choice agricultural areas of their raw materials.
Whether Australians are to settle down to ameliorated peasantry or achieve new levels of national and social well-being will depend on the thoroughness and social-mindedness of our planning in rural areas, and our capacity for putting these plans into practical operation. It is safe to say that there is at least five times as much potential wealth in our country than we are now realizing. That wealth could be utilized if only we planned. As honorable members representing country districts are aware, at present only skeleton populations are occupying richly endowed areas. I submit that if development is to be full and complete, there must be available a substantial body of information about physical environment. That would be provided by a land-use survey. Australia reeks with such locations in the vicinity of the Great Dividing Range, and in the hinterland, yet State governments have never been game enough to plan for the re-allocation of small industries to new inland centres. Rather have they built speedways with federal grants to ensure that the inland towns may be pirated by city interests, leaving them as deserted villages or whistling stations. Verily we can have too much transport if it be designed for crafty purposes, without insisting on cheek-valves to preserve a regional economy. Is it not time, therefore, that the ‘Commonwealth Government set about sectionalizing the conti nent by re-drawing the map into economic regions so that we could boast a real federation of regions as in England, rather than a so-called federation of States? I ask where can a balance be struck between centralization and decentralization.; between the unmanageable vastness of Australia and the feebleness of districts ? The answer is the realignment of the country along regional lines, and the adaptation of policy to sectional needs in acknowledgment of the cold truth that finance, cannot be fairly or judiciously administered from a central point, much as our surfeit of bureaucracies cling to that crazy and squandering idea. Every honorable member knows that. This isa theory which I have enunciated time and time again. Support of my argument is contained in a circular letter which no doubt every hon orable member received. It contains an extract from the monthly letter by the London correspondent of The Chartered Accountant in Australia, published on the 20th June, 1939. I shall not read all of the letter although it contains much interesting information under such headings as “ Population and Industry ‘”, “ Transfer of Population “, “ Wholesale Town Evacuation “ “’ The Australia Aircraft Industry “, and “ Planning for Industry “. I should like to read to honorable members the paragraph headed “ The Australian Aircraft Industry This will show that I am not the only one thinking along the lines which I have indicated. The Britisher is far ahead of the Commonwealth Government when it comes to regional development. The paragraph reads -
It would be a mistake for your readers to think that this problem of the location of industry does not concern Australia. Your March issue refers to the reported intention of the British Air Mission to Australia to recommend that the aircraft industry to be established “ should be widely spread, and that manufacture should not be concentrated, under one roof “, but “.be spread over hundreds of engineering shops’ throughout Australia, with the central factories in Sydney and Melbourne serving, merely as assembling depots.
Another paragraph reads -
Here is an example of real planning for industry. It may, of course, be argued that diffusion of manufacture of aircraft is to be recommended on the ground that such a policy greatly lessens the vulnerability of factories in war time. That is undoubtedly a special advantage in this particular instance, but it is also undeniable that planning, on these lines for industry in general, and without specific reference to war-time conditions, would tend to lessen certain social and economic problems which must ultimately become acute in the absence of planning.
In view of that eminent authority, 1 hope that my representations in this House will not run off honorable members like water off a duck’s back.
I wish to refer specifically for a moment to some remarks on the budget made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr.Curtin).
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to8 p.m.
– The Leader of the Opposition, replying to the budget speech of the Prime Minister, said that defence expenditure, being concentrated in a few isolated spots, was not so effective in the relief of unemployment as an equal expenditure by the States. While there is a modicum of truth in that statement, I point out that in some directions there is even greater mis-spending of money by the States than by. the Commonwealth, and I say that even though I am aware that, in the territory I represent, the Commonwealth is pouring money down the sink through the employment of ill-qualified field personnel. The States are wasting money on public works, and by utilizing intriguing local authorities, are able to evade the provisions of the Financial Agreement, and borrow money without the authority of the Loan Council. That applies to New South Wales, and it may apply to other States also. The Leader of the Opposition did not go so far as he might have gone, because the financing of works out of national credit postulates national expenditure which is usually inefficiently executed whereas regional development postulates the making of an economic survey, and the efficient expenditure of the money available. The Leader of the Opposition mentioned, that 67 per cent, of the land tax is paid by city land-owners, and he might have gone on from there to point out what is the correct use of freehold land. In my opinion, a great deal of the land is not being effectively used to-day. I am not now referring to the great pastoral leases of the Northern Territory and western Queensland, where the beef barons, who pose as producers, are actually exporters in disguise. I am referring to those areas within the safe rainfall limits in Victoria, western New South Wales and Queensland in the vicinity of the Great Dividing Range. Those occupying such land may be divided into four classes : those who own too much good land, and will not develop it; those who have too much land and are unable to develop it; those with too little land, and thus occupy uneconomic areas; and those who should not be on the land at all. It is only by a proper survey that we can ensure that land is put to its best economic use. It is obvious that until Parliament adopts a proper regional policy it dare not ask the people to give it increased power. I make that bold statement, and I hope to be here to see that no such attempt is carried out. The danger is that, in these crucial times, the Government and Parliament may endeavour to take authority by stealth; that they will try improperly to retain the powers granted as a war measure. The tendency is for the States to have less and less effective representation on the Loan Council. By virtue of its control of finance the Commonwealth, especially in a time of emergency, is able, to draw to itself more and more power. Those of us who have been trained in the hard school of adversity in Australia, and have learned the need to set up a regional economy, are disappointed that the Prime Minister, a brilliant lawyer, is either unable to recognize the value of such a policy, or unable to break down the economic resistance of the capital cities. I remind the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Country party that I am alone in this House in advocating a broad Australian regional policy. Surely those honorable members who represent electorates in the hinterland will in future recognize the need for such a policy. They must be aware of the numerous problems that cannot be fitted nicely into the framework of a national or State administration; they are regional functions. It is more than likely that the interests bo involved may be badly served or, indeed, not served at all through the ordinary channels of national or State administration. Under existing methods, such problems and assets may not be recognized, with the result that development will be retarded and the populating of our continent, which is so vitally necessary, may be unduly delayed. We need not seek far in order to discover who is to blame. The responsibility must rest upon the powerful commercial interests in our great cities. . It has also been stated that there are legal difficulties in the way of granting concessions through the Commonwealth income tax and land tax to inland towns and regional centres. This objection was effectively disposed of some time ago by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn), who cited the case of Elliott v. The Commonwealth as showing that no such objections really exist. The judgment of the Chief Justice in that case was as follows -
Suction 99 says that the Commonwealth shall not by any law or regulation of trade, commerce, or revenue, give preference to any mie State or any part thereof over another State or any part thereof. I agree with the explanation of the latter part oi the provision given by Knox, C. J., tn Cameron v. The Deputy Federal Commissioner of Taxation for Tasmania, 32 C.L.R. 08 at p. 72, 29, A.L.R. at p. 121. Knox, C. .1., referred to Bar ger’ s cu#e in relation to sec. 51 (11) (which with reference to taxation prohibits discrimination between States or parts of States), and approve the following statement of Isaacs, J., concerning discrimination between localities in a general sense - “ Discrimination between localities in thu widest sense means that, lui! a.u se one man or his property is in one locality, then, regardless of any other circumstance, he or it is to bc treated differently from the man or simitar property in another locality.”
It is clear from that ruling that there is no reason why we should not, if we wish to do so, assist financially and by concessions, a regional economy. Majorbanks in his life of Lord Birkenhead, said that lawyers in the British Parliament were there to be used and then forgotten, but that does not apply to those in this Parliament. There are enough of them here to defend their own interests and assist u regional policy. My opinion on this matter is fortified by an article which appears in the American Readers Digest on Mr. Justice William 0. Douglas, a judge of the American Supreme Court. The article is condensed from the St. Louis Post-Despatch, and I quote the following -
Not since the administration of James Madison has so young a man as the 40-year- <>1(1 William 0. Douglas been named to the Supreme Court. And never before, perhaps, has any man been named who has had so much tough first-hand experience of how Americans live.
Douglas has picked cherries on a Western fruit ranch and driven a huge wheatharvesting combine. He has herded sheep in Montana. He has given elocution lessons in New York and has done all manner of other odd jobs. And as a professor of law he revolutionized the teaching of one of the most important phases of contemporary legal practice. It is this combination of practical experience and profound knowledge of the law that makes his appointment full of promise. . . .
His political-economic philosophy grows out of his knowledge of America. He is convinced of the need for a regional economy in this groat sprawling continent. As Douglas sees it, Now York through its financial domination is constantly draining oil’ the economic lifeblood not only of the Smith but of the Middle West, the Far West and even New England. He sponsored some time ago a move to set up regional banks with government and private capital to li nance regional industry.
It is not so well known that more recently lie made a significant ott’-thc-record speech to the Southern Policy Association, frankly analyzing why the South had become the nation’s N». 1 economic problem.
Just as our No. 1 economic problem is the north of New South Wales, Queensland country districts, and the area leading to the Northern Territory. 1 continue the quotation -
He showed with an array nl figure.* huw capital has constantly been drained off until to-day it is virtually iinpo.ssil.ilo for thi’ soui.h to finance its own industries. And it was not enough, ho told the group, merely to esriibli-.ii northern-owned mills below (tie Mason nml Dixon line. They paid thu low j>i-f-v-s« i I i “. wage, mid profits were returned l.u the north again. This talk made it tremendous impression on the southerners.
Douglas has an intense nervous energy that finds expression in an endless capacity for hari! work. Que can bo sure that not only great technical proficiency but his understanding of America and Americans as living struggling, human beings will infuse the new justice’s opinions.
When .1. heard the Treasurer deliver his budget speech, and found that there was not in it one suggestion for the setting up of a regional economy by utilizing the defence vote, except in the larger centres, I decided to write to that justice, and when I receive his reply I hope to have something more to say. I suggest that if ever there was a time when regionalism should be a force in Australia, it is now. We have the defence vote and should have the will, but apparently only one person is sponsoring the idea in this honorable chamber. It will be a matter for shame if the people of this continent do not demand of their representatives a regional economy. Why should the piracies of the cities be the only thing with which this Government is concerned? Speaking by and large, obviously that is all that- it is concerned with.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) referred to the Commonwealth Railways, but although he obviously was fully equipped with information, he was not prepared to answer my question, “ Why are the Commonwealth Railways in such a state; why is it necessary to hold a royal commission to elicit the truth “ ? I register my protest against any man being given the almost plenary powers that have been delegated to the Commissioner of Commonwealth Railways. I have asked in this chamber many a time for the setting up of an advisory economic committee, or a national planning authority. The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Spender) and the Postmaster-General (Mr. Harrison), when private members on the back benches, opposed the setting up of an authority that would be superior to Parliament. I did not suggest anything of the kind. All that I asked for was simply an advisory body to map out a well-rounded programme of advice for the Government. The Ministers ‘to whom I have referred are complacent about giving to the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner the powers that he possesses; that is a mere detail to them. What has happened? I do not object to Mr. Gahan as Commissioner of Commonwealth Railways; in fact, on three or four occasions I Iia ve praised him most highly as one of our most efficient officers. I still think that he is most efficient in his own sphere. But the fact is, that the railway from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs is the most disgraceful piece of engineering it has been my unfortunate lot to observe. So far as I have been able to learn - I went to the. Northern Territory only in 1929 - a gang of crooks secured the contract and made a lot of money out of it. They turned the line over to the Commonwealth before the commencement of the wet season. It had been built over sandy creeks, and in the first wet weather was washed into the creeks; care was taken though to secure payment before- the wet. The Commissioner, instead of placing railroad engineers in the senior maintenance positions, has caused a good deal of dissension by giving control, to the mechanical engineer. The chief function of the outside engineers is to see that the line is completely effective; in other words, that it is kept in good order. I understand that the chief mechanical engineer is a bril- liant man in his own sphere, which is the workshop. Yet he has to go out on the line and expose his ignorance of railroad engineering; and the fact that he cannot advise on matters of a minor practical nature has become a joke, even among the navvies. Qualified engineers and licensed surveyors have been gratuitously insulted by being made roadmasters. This state of affaire has continued until there is the spirit of revolt, which I am informed has extended even to the clerical branch. The railroad engineer should be given charge of what is his job, and the mechanical engineer should again undertake his real function. But there is something else which I have not been able to fathom. This Parliament allocates money to the Commissioner for capital expenditure, but what does he do with it? The Committee of Public Accounts should be resuscitated to see that there is a check on this sort of expenditure. Ministers are not interested in the matter, they arc too pre-occupied with other things and treat as a huge joke the policing of expenditure after the Estimates are passed. The time will come when the people will treat them as a joke if they do not discharge their duties properly. The Cabinet is too pre-occupied with other matters to see what the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner does with the money that is allocated for capital expenditure. He goes to an old dump at Port Augusta and takes out second-hand machinery, when we have provided him with money for capital expenditure on new machinery. So fearful was he that this would leak out and the woeful state of disrepair into which the line had degenerated because railroad engineers were not in charge, that he hurriedly repaired the line to Kalgoorlie. I am informed that, according to the books, the cost as a maintenance charge of laying a sleeper was £18, by wrongful book manipulation designed to bolster up fictitious profits. It is high time that we had an inquiry free from departmental control. If Parliament acquiesces in the finding of a body that is not free from departmental influence, the result is farcical and dust is thrown in the eyes of the people. The railway from Ooduadatta to Alice Springs is in a terrible state. I feel confident that the cost of putting it in proper condition would be £500,000. So disturbed was I when I passed over the line last March that I wrote at length the results of my observations. I suggest to the committee that a railroad engineer is needed to take charge of that line and to report as to the state it is in. The engineers and surveyors should be given the status that is warranted by their ability to perform that class of work; they should not have to take second place to mechanical engineers who are not so efficient as the trained engineers, or be classified as roadmasters.
.- Nearly a quarter of a century ago, I had occasion to say that any member of this Parliament who, in time of war, shirked t he duty of saying what he thought ought to be said, was guilty of more despicable cowardice than was one who, under the stress of terror and sudden emotional constraint, deserted in the face of the enemy. I now endorse that statement. Silence in such a case. I conceive to be treason to oneself, morally, if not in the legal sense; treason to the theory of government for which lives are to be and are being sacrificed; and treason to the electorate which sends members into this Parliament. Yet at such a time as the present one should not speak merely for the sake of speaking, much less to add unnecessarily to the anxieties of those who are charged with the duties of government. With these guiding principles in mind, I have a few observations to make regarding the state of war in which we now are. Matters, perhaps in one sense more pertinent to the budget itself, our ample resources, and our undischarged obligations to our men, women and children, must be postponed for another occasion. The war had scarcely commenced when certain, persons whose minds turn rapidly and readily from matters of grave importance to those of much lesser concern took occasion to criticize my attitude towards war in general. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), not wishing; I am sure, consciously to do me a wrong, said of me that before the war I had said that all was well, and that there was no danger of war. I have said neither the one thing nor the other, and I have believed neither one nor the other. Others have attributed similar views to me. ‘So far as the House is interested, my speeches are on record. They are certainly not complete expressions of my views. Neither are they, in themselves, works of art or models of eloquence, hut they do in a general way indicate what my views really are upon this subject. Among other things, they disclose my mature opinion, which is shared with very much more eminent and able men in Britain and elsewhere, that those who engage in competition in the construction of towers of Babel will find those towers crashing about them to their great confusion. By that I meant simply that if the armaments race is pursued long enough it must inevitably lead to war, and the longer it is carried on the harder it becomes to avoid that natural consequence. That statement does not solve the problem of international relations. It is merely one of the facts which have to be accepted as indisputably true, and as an approach to the general question of the treatment of a condition of war.
It is true, that in spite of this, I did hope and believe that the collective wisdom of highly organized humanity was equal to the task of averting the major calamity of war. I was wrong. It was not. Great as is that wisdom, beautiful as is its idealism, profound as is its philosophy, deep-rooted as is its religious suasion, none of these things availed against the evil influences which make for war. There are those who will say, “What matter about the past? What use recriminations or post-mortems ? Let us get on with the war . and win it”. So narrow a view begs the question and pre-supposes the existence of a state of mind to which I do not subscribe, and whichI cannot accept. It is based on the fallacy that in an argument only the loudest voices are entitled to be heard. The Government declares that it must prosecute the war to victory. I shall not hinder it. I shall not oppose it. I am beyond the belligerent age in any case, even if my inclinations led me in that direction. But, as I see my duty, it is to prosecute the peace to much greater victory. “ War says an eminent English statesman, “ settles nothing “. I agree, with this qualification, proven to demonstration by the last war, that war prosecuted to conquest settles nothing. lt may end the war for the time being; but as the extermination of whole peoples is not practicable, even if it were desirable, and as discontent and hatred are not appeased, the causes of war and those who wage war still remain, and war inevitably follows. The recognition of this fact, so conclusively proved by the last war and its aftermath, should surely be of some use to us in the present grave emergency. The Great War, so called, dragged on its weary length across four dreadful years of torture, but the suffering consequent upon it, affecting humanity at large - more war, pestilence, famine and humiliation - is a. record as poignant and intense as the war itself, and this festering condition of discontent, turbulence, dissatisfaction and unrest has continued down to the declaration of this present war.
There are certainly some antecedent matters which, although they cannot properly be discussed in detail at this stage, must be mentioned in order to avoid misunderstanding. The propositions themselves at least should be barely and fairly stated. It must not be taken, for example, that I agree with the political necessity or the wisdom of the pledge given by Great Britain to Poland. My sympathies are naturally, and concurrently with my well-known views, with the Polish people. Indeed, it has been said of me with truth that my interests are more with people than with geographical frontiers. It was charged against the Labour party at one time that it was an international party. That has ceased to be fashionable, so the critics run to the opposite extreme and declare our party to be an isolationist party. In each case, whether when we were charged with being an internationalist parity or now that we are being charged with being an isolationist party, the term was meant to be one of scathing reproach. Of course, in any extreme sense, neither is correct, hut in a sane sense both are true.
It is entirely beyond my comprehension how so widely diffused an empire as the British Empire can undertake, in addi- tion to its other manifold responsibilities, the pacification of Europe, especially when* the terms of the pact between Poland and Great Britain leave the vital decision of peace or war to a very large degree in the discretion of the foreign nation. Still more so, since the structure of Poland, as we know it to-day, is modern, and to some extent, in its makeup, as most honest observers admit, inconsistent with the rights of Germany. 1 reject as too remote and quite untenable the theory that France or Great Britain was in clanger. No doubt, certain French interests and certain British interests were in danger, but to my mind they were only the special interests of privileged people. I am not influenced by the special material interests of privileged persons, but I am vastly interested in the rights that are fundamental and natural to my fellow men.
The world had suffered at various times under various kinds of dictatorships and despotisms long before the altogether undistinguished name of Hitler was written upon the scroll. Altogether too great s compliment is paid to Hitler when it is suggested that he is the greatest monster that has ever lived. Despots, tyrants, imperialists and buccaneers have had their day and ceased to be, giving place to stronger influences and better men. We have so many abuses nearer at hand, so much suffering among humanity within the Empire itself, such a huge volume of wrongs to be righted, so many wolves to be driven from the door, that it seems to be idle to assume the role of worldbenefactor because of some particular wrong for which, it must be granted, neither we nor the Empire are immediately responsible. That, however, in my view, was Britain’s affair, and I Mtn prepared to concede that Britain is undoubtedly the best judge of it. But it. became our affair as soon as the Prime Minister of this country made it our affair, and for that reason only J am required to speak about it.
On the 3rd September, 1939, the Prime Minister of Australia in an impressive speech declared over the radio “Britain has declared war upon Germany and, as a result, Australia is also at war”. Those historic words and their immediate practical application will live in history; but they will live also in the constitutional history of this country, and for very good reasons. It will be noticed that the Prime Minister did not say that he had declared war upon Germany. He said that Britain had declared war and I hat, as a result, Australia was also at war. I cannot accept that view, though I do not propose to argue it at length. It is interesting to note that neither South Africa nor - if I am fully informed - Canada has acted upon that theory, though both, in the result, have declared war. It is,- of course, partly a legal question, not permitting of exact definition, but it is mainly one of stark fact. The position of Australia in this aspect is vastly different from what it was in 1914. In 1914 Australia had at most the privilege - I would hardly say the right - of consultation with British Ministers as to Australia’s foreign policy. Hut times have changed. Australia’s national growth has been an organic growth from day to day. It has proceeded from strength to strength. From being the mere depository of convicts to Crown colony, from Crown colony to consultative council, and from consultative council to responsible government, Australia has moved upwards and onwards, thanks to the great men who nurtured its infancy and tended it in its adolescence. To-day they have brought it. with the aid be it said of our friends in Great Britain, to the status of full nationhood when it is correctly described as an autonomous community within the British Empire equal in status and in no way subordinate to any other member in any aspect of domestic or external affairs. I have transposed the words of the declaration of 1926 to apply them in particular to Australia. The King acts officially but only on advice. On matters affecting the lives and liberty and property of the people of Australia the King acts on the advice of Ministers responsible to the Australian electorate, either in person as a monarch or through his personal representative in this country. The question to be answered by the Prime Minister of Australia is “ Shall His Majesty act in pledging the lives of Australian citizens on the advice of Ministers responsible to Australia, or on the advice of Ministers having no respon sibility whatever to the electors of Australia ?” In trade matters, tariffs, trade treaties, matters of migration and naturalization, in fact in everything except the most important thing, Australia is jealous .of its self-sufficiency and brooks no interference bli t in this one matter of supreme importance involving the lives of our own citizens and the health and happiness of our own people the position is said to be otherwise and that the Sovereign acts formally, not. upon the advice of Ministers responsible to the Australian electorate, but on the advice of Ministers who have no responsibility whatever to the electors of this country and very little knowledge of their special conditions. In this thing of paramount importance, with the Parliament just about to meet, but not consulted, the Prime Minister abdicated at once both his authority and his responsibility, but none the less he undertook to pledge the lives of the manhood of Australia, we must suppose, to the last man and to the last shilling. I say that they were not his to pledge. If, on the eve of the meeting of the Parliament, he was so determined to harness us to this war on foreign battlefields, at least he might have had the discrimination - I had almost said courage - to embrace responsibility instead of declaring that responsibility to belong to another government.
The war up to the present, is merely preparatory. Deplorable, no doubt, as i3 the loss of life, it is a mere bagatelle to the blight and torment which must follow an intensive prosecution of the war. Many countries which must become involved in a protracted war are still neutral; let us hope they will remain so. There has been no fighting worth mentioning on. the rigid line of the western front. Britain declares - I think rightly - that there was no excuse for the invasion of Poland, and that the German peace proposals at the last moment were insincere. Pending the judgment of history on these matters, and remembering how the judgment of history revised the view held in the early stages of the war in 1914-18, 1 am inclined to agree with that view. Germany, on the other hand, contends that it had real grievances which remained unredressed for the greater part of a quarter of a century, and that it was endeavouring to redress them by force of arms which., as I have said, settles nothing and finally redresses nothing. It is at this point that, in company with many distinguished minds in Great Britain and elsewhere, it seems to me that we who are not belligerents must prosecute the peace. It may well be that a little later, when opinion becomes more sharply divided, as it inevitably will, and legislation is passed such as that which in the last war determined matters prejudicial to recruiting, the right to say anything in support of peace will be taken away. That right remained during the last war in the Parliament when the Parliament was assembled; but outside the Parliament there was no right in any man, without breach of the law, to present the argument for peace. The philosophy of war-making excludes all other philosophies, as well as religious doctrine. The matter can not be disposed of by the mere reading of a white paper which deals particularly with last-minute events. It must be viewed as a whole to be seen in correct perspective. For the same reason the war cannot be settled or ended satisfactorily by fantastic theories of destroying Hitlerism or, in the familiar phrase of the die-hards, “Beating Germany to her knees Hitlerism is a mere symptom of government which grew out of the world folly of the last war. It can be destroyed only by avoiding the errors incidental to the last war. In that regard I refer honorable members to an excellent article, with which for the most part 1 agree, contributed to the Daily Telegraph of Saturday last by that distinguished jurist, Mr. Justice Evatt. Wars of extermination are futile. That is the mildest phrase we can apply to them with truth. Peace by negotiation advocated during the last war by Labour at its peril would have brought about the end of the war and have avoided the Cross of Peace of which Sir Phillip Gibbs has so eloquently written in his work of fiction under that name. The Western Australia Worker, with which the honorable member, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), was so long and creditably associated, may be quoted in this regard. On the 8th September of this year, in an admirable article entitled ‘‘Peace after the War’’, which will repay perusal, this paragraph appears -
The men and women who bore the burden of the last war were given no voice in the shaping of the peace they bad won. On their sacrifices and heroism, the men to whom they en trusted their destinies made peace that provided full opportunity for the perpetuation of past follies and injustices. In the dreadful years of 1014-18 the workers of the democracies won the war, but they lost the uneasy peace that has since existed. They stood shoulder to shoulder until the forces of aggression had been smashed, but they failed to make use of the opportunity .their sacrifices had provided for the building of a world democracy.
War to a finish is war upon the innocent. Let us be courageous with ourselves. Our blockade of Germany was a terrible scourge on defenceless men, women and children who had nothing to do with the making or the shaping of the war. lt brought no comfort to Australian mothers or fathers, or punishment to those who had actually brought the war about. I saw in the press a week or so ago that 480,000 children were evacuated from London. I can picture such children. I have seen them in London, young, beautiful, entirely innocent. I have not seen, but I oan imagine 480,000 German children equally young, beautiful and innocent, and if I am asked to discriminate between these young people whom I have described to tip prejudice of one against the other my answer is that, the soul, of decent men revolts against the suggestion. I can equally well imagine 480,000 English youths. I have seen them - young, strong, hopeful - typical English boys than which there are no better in the world. Yet the question arises if we are honest with ourselves. Are they better. or vastly different from 480,000 similarly placed and trained German youths of the same ages ? In each case it is youth, hopeful life and vigour brought into this world by parents intent, not on war, but on family cares and responsibilities, and inspired by the hope and belief that the labour and sacrifices of their upbringing woulI be repaid in the fulfilment of their lives and so on, through the whole gamut of the various classes until we have exhausted the millions of Britons on the one side and the millions of Germans on the other - but not quite exhausted them; for nr. both sides there still remain the diplomats, the capitalists, the armaments makers, the food manipulators, coal barons, the aged aristocracies with little life to sacrifice and no intention of sacrificing it, and. others of the same kind whose sole responsibility is the engineering of this and every other war. Never* theless the dreadful fact remains that there is real danger to-day - that of these mighty millions at least many millions may suffer death by asphyxiation, of violence worse than death and of other horrid kinds of torture; and there is a danger, too, of the survivors inheriting nothing better than but dead sea fruit, and of their disseminating the deadly germs of future wars and always worse wars. 1 am not pessimistic. I think the world is getting better and better, not worse, in an individual and personal sense. If it had not been for that, we should have been cast into war at least a year ago. But the truth is that we have not mastered the art of government which is, for the most part, experimen tal and inefficient and is deeply distrusted by the people who are required to yield obedience to it. Knowledge emanating from the brain of deeply philosophic and in many cases deeply religious men, but stolen by capitalism, has been harnessed to materialism and made to serve mammon and the master of mammon. “We who are of necessity non-belligerents must bend our best endeavours to prevent this war from degenerating into the worst and last example of man’s inhumanity to man.
.- I intend to leave the war alone, but I want to deal with a war that exists in this Commonwealth, a war on the waterfront. We hear a good deal about inhumanity of man to man and the democratic ideals of this Government and about the fact that men should go to the Arbitration Court to settle their differences, but we have on the statute-book of this country a piece of legislation which is generally spoken of as the “ dog collar act “. A more vicious thing I cannot imagine. I want to give the House, and through Hansard the nation, the opinion of men who suffer under this act as contained in a letter sent by the general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation of Aus tralia, Mr. J. Healy, to the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Hughes). Mr. Healy has supplied me with a copy of this letter which reads -
The Right Honorable W. M. Hughes, M.H.R., Federal Attorney-General, Federal Members’ Rooms, Martin-place, Sydney, New South Wales.
I am instructed by the Waterside Workers’ Federation to draw the attention of the Commonwealth Government to the acute situation that is arising in Innisfail, North Queensland.
Quite recently a meeting of all waterside workers in the Port of Innisfail decided unanimously that they could no longer continue to work under the unsafe conditions that had been operating there for the past six or seven years.
It appears that as a result of this action, a reduction took place in the average loading rate at the Port from 36.4 tons to 25.0 tons in the case of fifteen-men gangs, and from 29.!) tons to 20.1 tons in the case of six-men gangs (figures supplied by the employers).
The employers immediately proceeded before a board of reference against the federation, alleging that a breach of the award had been committed,, and that job control was being introduced.
Two boards of reference were held, both of which failed to find that a breach had been committed, or that job control was in operation; although it was beyond argument that the loading rate had been considerably decreased.
At a later stage I shall read where His Honour Judge Beeby himself said that he would appoint a magistrate in Cairns to go into this matter ; but the magistrate at Innisfail, knowing all the particulars and after taking evidence, decided that there was no breach of the award. The letter continues -
The employers then prevailed upon the Chief Judge to call a compulsory conference whilst he was on vacation in Cairns. This conference was declared to be informal in character, but the Chief Judge indicated to the men that he would not order an inquiry until the old rate of loading was restored, and that if the men persisted in their refusal to restore the old rate, that the employers could obtain relief by approaching the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration by way of an application for suspension of the award.
The waterside workers at Innisfail comprising three sections -
Waterside Workers’ Federation.
Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers’ Union.
Non-unionists. who had hitherto been definitely antagonistic to one another -
Anybody with experience of men knows how easy it is for that to be - held a meeting and carried a resolution indicating that whilst they were prepared to observe the award, they were not prepared to return to the unsafe conditions that had been in operation during the previous years.
The employers thereupon filed an application in the Commonwealth Court asking that thu award be suspended from operation at Mourilyan Harbour, and that the employers at that port be exempted. lt may be suggested, in view of the fact that the men have put up with this condition for so long, that it is strange that they should now refuse to carry on, but throughout these years there has been a change of personnel among the men on the waterfront. The Attorney-General appointed one of the Senate Ministers as an investigator of these conditions. Earlier the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) was appointed to do the work, but when he followed the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) into retirement after the trouble in the LyonsMinistry his investigations ceased. That was a pity in every way. It was because of the treachery of the employers in dealing with the men under this act that this trouble arose. The employers apparently can do whatever they like. If a man refuses because of danger to do work he is stood down for weeks. The men, there fore, do things that they normally would not do. The letter continues -
The mutter was heard before His Honour Beeby C.J. in Sydney on the 10th instant and following argument by both parties, His Honour made mi order suspending the operation of the award at Mourilyan Harbour, but delayed tlie operation of the order for a period of three weeks, i.e. till September 1st, to allow the waterside workers at Innisfail to reconsider their attitude (a copy of the Judge’s remark* at the conclusion of thu case arc attached herewith for your information).
The award was suspended on the 7th of this month -
The decision of the Court has been communicated to the mou at Innisfail, but memhers of both unions intimate that, whilst they are prepared to observe the award in its complete entirety, they feel that they should not bo compelled to revert to the dangerous practices that lui ve been in operation for some years.
The reason for that attitude is that finally the men realized as human beings that they had to look after themselves or get hurt. So they decided to invoke the aid of the court and a board of reference was created. In two instance the board decided that there -was no breach of thi; award -
The chief of these practices, which has raised very strong objection, is the use of a bull-rope to haul sugar along the wharf, whilst men are working (see diagram attached); and all competent authorities on waterfront practice cannot but agree that to force men to carry on work inside the bight of a bull-rope pulling weights up to and over one hundred tons, dead weight, is a constant danger to life and limb. The fact that this point was completely ignored by the judge in his finding, indicates on his part ii lack of appreciation of the natural and civil rights of the individual to safeguard himself from unnecessary dangers.
In this matter we would respectfully draw the attention of the Government to the action taken by the Pacific Coast (U.S.A.) Marine Safety Code Committee, which has recently issued posters throughout thu porta of the Pacific coast of the United States, instructing wharf labourers not to work within a bight nf any rope on which haulage is being made,- al the same time emphasizing the danger to lives involved in such a practice (address of Pacific Coast Marine Safety Code Committee attached ) .
The Waterside Workers Federation wish to emphatically protest against the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration being placed in a position of supporting the action of employers who have been enabled to enforce conditions of work which are regarded m dangerous, and which aru condemned elsewhere.
The suggestion has been made that the present action of the mcn at Innisfail is a return to job control methods that were in operation previously, or alternatively that, a go slow strike is in progress. This cannot be substantiated if the matter is fully investigated, a course which has not been pursued by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court; which hits accepted the figures supplied by the employers, and which in themselves indicate that the rmc of work now in operation is quite fair, if the right of the men to protect themselves from danger is accepted as correct (see comparative list of figures attached)..
According to the figures supplied by the employers, the average rate of loading for fifteen men gangs, eight mun ch Trying down below in the hold of the vessel, has been 3fi.4 mid for twelve men gang’s, six nien carrying in the bold 20.9 tons per hour, over the past eight years, and these figures, T am informed, include, stoppages th«:t have occurred for smoke-oh fifteen minutus in each four hour period during; the. day and thirty minutes each six hour period liming the night; also stoppages for rain, shifting of vessels and other such item*.
An analysis of the figures shows that the ci.U’ht men engaged in the hold carrying sugar at the rate of 30.4 tons per hour would have to carry 512 bags every hour continuously whilst the work of loading was in progress. This means that each individual man would have to carry one bag every 50 seconds. For the six men carrying sugar at the rate of 29.9 tons per hour they would carry 420 bags every hour, or each individual man would carry one bug every 51 seconds. If stoppages are taken into account the rate is considerably increased.
When it is realized that each bag contains a weight, of sugar not less than 160 lb., and at times set as hard as cement, it will be appreciated that some very coercive methods must have been in operation to compel men to work at such an abnormal speed.
In connexion with the hardening of sugar, since becoming a member of this House, I, myself, have had to make representations to the employers with a view to eliminating, as far as possible, the carrying of hardened sugar -
According to the employers’ figures now supplied, the rate at which the work is being done shows for eight men gangs an average of 25.8 tons per hour, which, of course, includes the same stoppages. This means that each gang is carrying 300 bags per hour, or each man in the gang is carrying one bag every eighty seconds;for six men gangs the average is shown as 20.1 tons or 282 bags per hour - each man carryinga bag every seventy-six seconds.
This would appear to be a much fairer rate of work, but in itself does nut clearly indicate the true speed at which the work is being done, because the stoppages referred to have now been increased by reason of the fact that the men do not work while the bull-rope is being used. This is in accordance with the practice in operation elsewhere, and if such stoppages are taken into account it will indicate that the men are not introducing a goslow policy as such, but the rate of carrying per mini per hour whilst the work is in progress may bo found on investigation to be close to what, it was formerly, and the chief point at issue is not one of loading rates but one of safety as against danger.
That was the real reason why the board of reference found in the direction it did. The magistrate was satisfied that, although the men did not work in that dangerous place, in certain periods they did carry as much sugar and were doing as much work as formerly -
Another question that arises and which possibly had some weight in determining the attitude of the Court, is that if this practice is so unsafe, why had it been allowed to continue for such a long period without complaint?
The first answer to this is that the three sections existing at Innisfail have hitherto been definitely antagonistic and were not prepared to work together on any basis, and accordingly were played off one against the other: consequently the high speed of working was maintained by the economic fear failing each worker that if he was not prepared to keep up the rate that had been set somebody else would take his place.
That is the position. The right honorable the Attorney-General and all honorable members know very well how difficult it is to get unionists to work with non-unionists, especially if the nonunionist takes the place of the unionist during a strike -
Secondly, complaint was made by the federation through a Board of Reference in 1935, and amongthe complaints dealt with was that the bull-rope caused undue strain and was also dangerous. This inquiry was mentioned at the court proceedings, and much was made of the fact that the Board of Reference chairman had dismissed the complaint; but an examination of the Board of Reference proceedings in 1938 indicates that the only finding made by the Board of Reference on this matter was that the bull-rope did not cause undue strain, and the board refused to agree that extra men should be employed, but’ nofinding whatsoever was made on the question of danger, and consequently the men at Innisfail concluded that it was futile to proceed in such a manner.
The men have never at. any time questioned the first matter, but they have at all times, said there was danger -
Notwithstanding this, the men have made frequent complaint, not only to the employers, but to the federation and to the local parlia- men taryrepresentatives.
We feel that this question is not purely one of industrial dispute, but is one involving the civic, rights of individualmembers of the Australian community. It has been held that there is no law in existence to compel any man to work, and by the same rule it can be held that there is no law in existence that cancompel a man to submit his life to dangerunnecessa rily.
We ask that the Federal Government give the closest possible consideration to this question,and to determine that unsafe methods of working- shall not be enforced under the guise of maintaining industrial peace.
The award was suspended by the chief judge of the court without any investigation whatever, and without reference to the finding of the board of reference which the Chief Judge and his court were responsible for setting up -
The bull-rope is wire or hemp rope which is used for the purpose of hauling trucks of sugar into position for unloading! One end is fastened on a winch or capstan on the ship to be loaded, thence througha pulley block which is anchored to a bollard or a beam under the decking of the wharf by means of a wire snorter, thence back along the wharf and is hooked on to the rear coupling of the trucks tobe moved (in case of coastal vessels about 100 yards). The load imposed on thisrope when pulling the trucks would be80 tons ‘of sugar plus the weight 01 the trucks, about three and three-quarters (3¾) “tons each - a total of 100 tons dead weight. At times there are upwards of twenty empty trucks to be pushed in advance. The starting of this loading, the taking of the strain and the pulling of same imposes a tremendous strain on the bull-rope, causing the rope to jump and spring about the wharf to the danger of men working there.
There is a further danger. Should the rope break and strike one or two men, there is not much doubt what would happen. Somebody would be killed, and probably those indirectly responsible would then wake up to the danger.
I should like to read a letter written by the secretary of the Cairns Branch of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, in connexion with the work of His Honour at Cairns. The secretary, Mr. Brophy, states -
When we assembled in conference as summoned by the Deputy Industrial Registrar, the Chief Judge informed us that he had been furnished with a report of the Board of Reference proceedings wherein it was alleged that certain action had been taken by . the federation which had brought about a restriction of the tonnages handled per hour. He also stated that this was an informal conference, the object being to find a solution to what was likely to develop into a serious industrial dispute.
We denied that we had taken any action as suggested by the employers, but if the present tonnages handled showed any decline on that of previous years it would be attributed to the adoption of safety precautions with a view to reducing to a minimum the number of accidents which were unduly high.
To this the judge replied - if your members have been subjected to undue risks or undue strain the proper course is to have the conditions investigated by the Board of Reference, and if we established our case the court would do everything in its power to minimize accidents, but under no circumstances would the court tolerate unauthorized reduction of output by groups or sections of employees-
emphasize that’ twice this matter was submitted to the Board of Reference -
During the course of argument the judge declared : “ Don’t try and bluff me, I have twenty years’ experience at this game, and I am convinced that you have decided arbitrally to reduce the tonnage. If you want the benefits of arbitration you must be prepared to accept the awards of the court in their entirety, you cannot pick and choose what portions you will or will not obey.”
He also stated that if a settlement could not be reached at this conference further action was open to the employers, which might involve an application for cancellation of the award or certain portions of it in regard to the port of Cairns or any application the employers might be advised to make. He reiterated, “ I am not here to pre-judgesuch an application,” but he never lost an opportunity of emphasizing that we had deliberately condoned an unauthorized reduction of tonnage, and if we did not resume normal working he would be compelled to give very serious consideration to any application the employers might make.
For a man with a judicial mind, who was not there to pre-judge anything, it was surely an extraordinary attitude. His attitude was so menacing that we considered it advisable to obtain an adjournment of the conference and place his views before a stop-work meeting. The meeting took place on the following morning when the following resolution was carried: -
That this branch instructs its official to make immediate application to the. Board of Reference for a complete inquiry into conditions of work on the waterfront and in the meantime, subject to members’ safety, we continue working under normal conditions.
We placed the resolution before the judge when conference reassembled on Monday afternoon, he expressed himself as being satisfied, and promised to expedite the hearing of any report the chairman of the Board of Reference might submit.
All through the conference the position of Cairns and Innisfail was frequently intermingled, -with resultant confusion. I have refrained from mentioning anything that took place in relation to Innisfail as that branch will, no doubt, furnish a full report.
The conference opened at 11 a.m. on Friday, 14th July, adjourned at 1 p.m., re-assembled at 2.30 p.m., adjourned at 3.30 p.m., re-assembled at 2 p.m. on Monday, 17th July, and closed at about 2.30 p.m.
As no notes were taken at ‘the conference, and judging by the time taken, between three and four hours, you will realize that only the main features are touched upon here. The outstanding characteristic of the whole sorry business is that he has definitely made up his mind that we have done something in the nature of a breach of the award, and no argument no matter how convincing would convince him otherwise. We are formulating a claim to be placed before the Board of Reference, and when that investigation starts we will keep you fully informed of -its progress.
The first sentence of the letter is to the effect that the judge called a voluntary conference. I remember on one occasion when His Honour visited Innisfail on a vacation, he was asked by the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia to do that, and he replied that he would consider the matter after his vacation. It would, appear, therefore, that if one belongs, not to the toilers, but to the employing class, one may call upon the judge at any time, and he- is at one’s beck and call.
should now like to deal with another phase of this matter, and this also will interest the right honorable the AttorneyGeneral. Some time ago I made a reference to the present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. John Lawson) being deputed by this Government to acquaint it of the conditions on the waterfront and to make recommendations. Unfortunately, he did not remain in the position long enough to complete the task. The waterside workers of Innisfail state that Senator Allan MacDonald did not. attempt to do the job, and I have heard some of the comments which have been madein connexion with that matter. I wrote to- the secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia at Innisfail^ and gave him an idea of what had been reported to the Minister by Senator Allan’ MacDonald, in connexion with the alleviation of trouble on the waterfront. He replied in the following terms’: -
On examining same, in regard to the ports of Innisfail’ and! Mourilyan. we find! that Senator MacDonald has made his- report to suit his.own. convenience,, and. has misconstrued certain facts supplied’ by representatives of the Innisfail- Branch of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia- regarding the true position, of. the port concerned..
In. fact, the federation representatives had to- answer a set of questions prepared by the senator, which only dealt with- the conditions of, the ports- of Innisfail and. Mourilyan Harbour the previous twelve months, and- the senator was- very definite, and- would not entertain, an- inquiry over, a period of- at. least five years, for ha saidsuch-was ancient: history-
I say. definitely now that. Senator Allan MacDonald does not know half ofwhat happened*, even although he visited the port in question -
All his questions- submitted to us were double edged; and we were quite convinced within- three, minutes that: the inquiry of MacDonald’s > was a. farce; and: a set- up frontfor: other, political business-he was- conducting in the north of- Queensland.
In- dealing with his- report we draw your attention to. the paragraph, in relation to the non-unionists in this port.
We definitely deny MacDonald’s statement for we suppliedhim- with the number of these persons and- also could have given him a fullhistory of these individuals from the day they took their first licence.
In fact, he was told there wore fourteen, consisting. of’ two original’ volunteers, the rest being recruited to the waterfront by the shipowners, two in 1930, three in 1932, the rest at intervals from 1936 to date, so you may take his report- in that paragraph as an indication’ to say the non-unionistelement were original volunteers- and that there has been no recruitmonfc of labour to the waterfront except through a union.
One of the undertakings given by the court was that only original volunteers would be given preference of employment ;. that after a certain period no others were to be taken on. The letter continues -
Furthermore, he was notconcerned that the P- and C- Union gained its strength only through recruited! licensed labour and that this union for year’s consisted of five members and they’ acquired the Balance from recruited licensed labour since’ 1936.
They were decepted into the P- and CUnion after the shipowners’ had. assured them of work and had worked several months as licensed non-unionists. l.’if regard to earnings. MacDonald was right when he stated1 the figures’ Were1 of littleuse to1 whathe represents politically ) and the’ amounts lie’ supplied* in’ His report were the highest* average- earnings of the (bulls-) and the average is’ not of all concerned1.
We definitely state that the average for the year of all waterside workers; would Be approximately £3 per’ week, or £1-‘50’ a year, while MacDonal’d’'’s figures make the average £20’8 ; a year, and we can say definitely there would lie no more than twelve men of the total of 80 (all’ sections included) employed would’ earn £208- or over for’ the year.
We will not deal w’ith Goondi, for we do’ not’ countenance the- contract system where eight men- earn- £12’ a> week for one-third- of the. output of sugar in the district while- 80 men handle two-thirds of’the. sugar for under the” basic wage.
The method of engaging labour is rotten, for the shipping companies have full’ charge of the engagement and the unions have no say in the control,- and they have . used this’ system of pick-up to systematically victimize the Waterside Workers Federation members who are’ militant unionist’s or who fry to organize the waterfront) to acquire better conditions.
The conditions’ at the barrack’s’ are very bad and we have at last’ convinced- the authorities-: by our protests through Mr. P. Pease that the barracks were unhygeiiic and repairs are being made, but not through any. appeal of MacDonald’s, to better the wharfies’ condition?.
In conclusion of his- report, the statement that conditions of work are unsatisfactory is correct, but his suggestionor conveyed impression that the representatives of- the watersiders (federation and permanent and casuals) were foreigners is a- studied insult because both parties- were awake that: the inquiry was a false pretence and a political front to cover his real business in north Queensland. For the representatives of the Watersiders Federation and Permanent and Casuals’ are of English’ stock (with, white skin.), unless- he suggests . Jack Douglas, the Scotchman, is a foreigner- or 0. Pepper, the English Permanent and Casual representative, a foreigner.
The others ure Australian-born and MacDonald was well aware that J. Douglas and U. Pepper were both returned soldiers.
MacDonald was not impressed, because he met mcn who wore as wide-awake as he was and did not .fall for his “bull”; he was not impressed by the shipowners’ representatives because they could not refute our statements and you can convey to MacDonald that we were “not impressed by bini or his inquiry, for he waa not “fair dinkum “ in his approach to the waterside question at Innisfail or Mourilyan Harbour.
Vor your information, the Permanent and Casuals Union approached the federation to support them to acquire better conditions and at least a living wage on the waterfront; we agreed to assist and enclosed is a circular that was issued to all who worked on the waterfront at Innisfail and Mourilyan Harbour.
The meeting was highly successful; OS waterside workers attended, comprised of federation, permanent and casuals and non-unionists. The position was fully discussed by all parties and a committee was elected consisting of three from each party. Nine in all to draw up a programme for better conditions.
The committee met and drew up a programme and a further general meeting of all sections was called and 03 attended (those who did not attend notified their full support of the decision of tlie meeting).
There are three groups of men working on the wharf, and there has been considerable animosity between them as there always will be between unionists and those who came in to take their places while they were on strike. They met on two different occasions, and decided that they would no longer continue to work under existing conditions. They believed that they were entitled to be protected against the action of the employers, but the court lias decided that the award shall be suspended, and perhaps nothing can he done about that now. I have made representations to the court to have a board of reference appointed to investigate certain matters. On more than one occasion the board, acting on instructions of the court, has conducted an investigation and made a recommendation to the court. I am told that the board has no authority to make recommendations; that its duty is merely to inquire, and to report to the court, which itself must decide what is to ho done. The cancellation of the award was a high-handed action on the part of the court, and the decision was reached without any proper evidence being collected by the judge in his official capacity. He said that he was prepared to appoint the magistrate at Cairns as a board of review if the men went back to work. The men, however, were not prepared to accept those terms, and I do not think E li ey would have been justified in doing so. There was no reason why the magistrate at Innisfail should not have been appointed. He was just as well qualified as was the man at Cairns, but when they asked that he should be appointed, their request was refused. The magistrate at Cairns had no idea of what had taken place at Innisfail, and he was no better qualified to undertake the inquiry than was the magistrate at Innisfail. The judge said that he knew the man at Cairns, and did not know the one at Innisfail. That, in itself, might well have made the waterside workers chary of accepting his nominee. I have quoted this letter to show what can take place in the Arbitration Court under the direction of Judge Beeby.
The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) made reference to the Royal Commission on Banking, and said that paragraph 504 of that report was only a passing reference, and could not be taken as representing the considered opinion of the commission. Paragraph 504 is as follows: -
Because of this power, the Commonwealth iia uk is able to increase the cash of the trading banks in the ways we have pointed out above. Because of this power, too, the Commonwealth Bank can increase the cash reserves of the trading banks; for example, it can buy securities or other property, it can lend to the governments or to others in a variety of ways, and it can even make money available to governments or to others free of any charge.
We cannot believe that the commission meant other than it said, and this issurely the time when its recommendation in this respect should be put into effect. Paragraph 505 is as follows: -
If it buys securities, the seller receives a cheque which will usually be deposited with a trading bank. When the cheque is presented to the Commonwealth Bank for payment, whether it is cashed or added to the trading hank’s deposit with the Commonwealth Bank, the cash reserves of the trading bank a.rethereby increased. The same remit follows from the adoption of any of the other methods.
There can he little doubt as to what ismeant in that paragraph. The honorable member for Forrest said that it was rather a pity that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) did not amplify his remarks on this phase of the subject. I know of no reason why he should, nor do I* know how he could have improved on the statement of the commission. Paragraphs 529 and 530 of the report deal with another phase of the matter.
The Labour party is accused by the Government and the press of desiring to place the Commonwealth Bank Board under political control. As a matter of fact, there is no need to place the board under political control; it is there already. All of the members of the board arc of one political complexion - they have their minds made up on hanking policy before they take their places on the board, and I have no illusion about their leaving their political convictions behind them -when they take on the job. Paragraph 529 of the report states - .
Where responsibility is divided between two authorities, the question may arise as to which authority is to decide upon monetary policy. An answer to this question might be to provide that the Commonwealth Bank shall be at all times under the direction of the Government. In this case there can be no conflict between the two authorities. But where the Commonwealth Bank is not under this direction, the question arises as to which view is to prevail if the Government’s view and that of the bank differ on a matter of monetary policy. An answer to this question might be that, in exercising the authority delegated by Parliament, the Commonwealth Bank should be entirely independent and should refuse to accept direction from the Government. Then, if the Government is determined upon a policy which the Bank Board will not accept, the Government will have to obtain any legislation required, and if necessary appoint a board which will carry out that policy.
Paragraph 530 is as follows; -
Neither of these answers commends itself to us. In our view the proper relations between the two authorities are these. The Federal Parliament is ultimately responsible for monetary policy, and the Government of the day is the executive of the Parliament. The Commonwealth Bank has certain powers delegated to it by statute, and the board’s duty to the community is to exercise those powers to the best of its ability. Where there is a conflict between the Government’s view of what is best in the national interest and the board’s view, the first essential is full and frank discussion between the two authorities with a view to exploring the whole problem. Tn most cases this should ensure agreement on a policy to be carried out by the bank which it can reconcile with its duty to the community and which has the approval of the Government. In cases in which it is clear beyond doubt that the differences are irreconcilable, the Government should give the bank an assurance that it accepts full responsibility for the proposed policy, and is in a position to take, and will take, any action necessary to implement it. It is then the duty of the bank to accept this assurance and to carry out the policy of the Government. This does not imply that’ there should at any time be interference by the Government or by any member of the Government, in the administration of the Commonwealth Bank. Once the question of authority is decided there should be little difficulty in preserving close and cordial relations between the Commonwealth Government and the Commonwealth Bank.
Tn another part of the report, it is stated that when there is a conflict of opinion between the board and the Government, the opinion of the Treasurer as the representative of the Government should prevail. That is all the Labour party asks for. Our leader promised the late Mr. Lyons that if the Government were to .bring in legislation to give effect to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Banking we would allow the bill to pass with only one speech from this side of the House. That is not to say that we agree with everything in the report, but we believe that the recommendations, if given legislative effect, would be for the good of the country. The report, however, did not suit the Government, and nothing was done.
It is a great pity that the nations did not negotiate regarding their problems before going to war. This war may go on for years. It may turn out to be a war of attrition, resulting in the final collapse of one side, but even then it cannot be said that any side will win. An enormous number of young men will be killed off because they have been influenced by propaganda to enter the fight believing that h is their duty to offer their lives for their country. Any one who has read the book All Quiet on the Western Front will know that in Germany they were employing exactly the same kind of propaganda in order to sustain the resolution of their people as we in this country were using for the same purpose. They were being told that they were fighting for the preservation of the’ Fatherland, just as we were told that we were fighting for the defence of democracy. The same kind of propaganda is being used in all the warring countries now. The Germans were told that England and France had taken their colonies from them, and were responsible for all the difficulties in which they found themselves, difficulties which could only he remedied by a resort lo war. It. does not matter whether propaganda is truthful or not; it has only to be sufficiently sustained in order to influence all sections of a community. No one is immune from its influence. Sooner or later this war will end, and then there will be a discussion to settle the terms of peace. Surely it would have been, better if the discussion had taken place before the war. It might be suggested that the other side was not prepared to discuss these matters. I have no illusions about the lunatic who is presently in control of Germany, nor have I any illusions as to there being lunatics just as bad in other countries who are saying that Hitler is entirely responsible. This man submitted sixteen [joints on which peace could be based. I believe that had the British people had those a month before the German troops crossed the Polish border there would have been no war. It did not suit the purpose of the Hitler regime to place these points before the Governments of Great Britain, France and other Powers, because they would then have had little chance of getting what, they were determined at all costs to obtain. I have read the points very closely, and consider that they provide plenty of scope for good solid debate. I believe that they would have formed tlie basis of peace for probably very many years; but these so-called peace proposals were submitted to the Prime Minister of Great Britain after the first German soldiers had crossed the. border nf Poland.
I wish to reiterate a statement made by my leader in connexion with the benefits which accrued to the big interests that the Government represents in this Parliament as the result of certain tax remissions. T shall have the list inserted iti Hansard for handy reference. The accumulated remissions of laud tax granted by this Government from 1932-33 to 1938-39 amount to approximately £8,800,000. The Bank of New South Wales received £64,500, the English. Scottish and Australian Bank £37,500, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited £12,600, Tooth and Company £40,000, Tooheys Limited £18,000, the Commercial Banking Company £34,000, Farmer and Company £25.000. the Union
Bank £27,000, Bums, Philp and Company £9,250, Howard Smith Limited £6,390, David. Jones Limited £2,100, and Sargents Limited £7,100. The Leader of the Opposition went on to say that he believed that that list could be amplified. I am sorry that I have not the whole of the particulars in relation to the city of Sydney. .1. have in mind others who have benefited very greatly by reason of the remission of taxes. There are firms in the State of Queensland, as well as in other States, which are in the same position. Enormous amounts have been returned to these people by the present Government. I say quite definitely that if they were to pay for this .war in accordance with their capacity to pay quite a lot of the legislation suggested by the Government would be unnecessary, il…. contributed very little towards the cost of the last war. .1 have made that statement previously, and I repeat it, notwithstanding the fact that it will be contradicted and pooh-poohed. Had the Germans conquered this country by reason of victory in the war which raged from 1914 to 19.1S, these people would not have retained the assets that they now hold. It was not they who made the sacrifices, but the nien who fought overseas and who to-day are denied a pension by this Government, because, according to some doctor. they are not suffering from war injuries. I have in mind one man in particular who drew a pension until his death. To-day. his widow is getting less than one-half of the pension, because it is alleged that he was not really entitled to what he was receiving, that he was given it owing to a misunderstanding. Many thousands of women are being treated in (he same way. These people who claim to have made sacrifices, who waved flags when nien went, to the front to fight for their country, are too miserable to pay their share of the cost of the war, yet; are continually drawing interest from the Commonwealth, whilst the soldiers who won the war for them are contributing towards the revenues which provide that interest. I hope that in the very near future reason will prevail over armed force, and that we shall see the world at peace - a peace that will last for very many years. *</inline>
– The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) made some references to industrial conditions of Mourilyan. He set out at considerable length the conditions under which the men are carrying on the work of that port, and criticized the Arbitration Court for the way in which it had dealt with their ease.
– That is the report of the waterside workers, and I endorse every word of it.
– The honorable member will not, of course, expect me in my position to comment upon, let alone criticize, the court. He said that no attempt was made by the court personally to investigate the conditions up there, and asked the committee to believe that had such an investigation been made the court would not have suspended the award. In support of his contention, he reminded the committee that although there are three sections at Mourilyan, and that for some years there has been considerable, feeling between the members of the Waterside Workers Federation and the other two bodies ; yet they are united in their stand against existing conditions. I know nothing at first hand, but I have had an opportunity to hear from the secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, and to have had direct communication from Mourilyan. The shipowners complain that the rate of loading has been greatly reduced. The court, after reviewing the facts, was driven to the conclusion that this slowing up was deliberate. In substance the facts are admitted, but the men contend that they are justified in slowing up the rate of loading as a protest against conditions on the wharf. That, shortly stated, is the position, and I express no opinion on the merits of the men’s case; but the honorable member knows perfectly well that I have set out the men’s case to the shipowners as clearly and forcibly as possible.
– I know that.
– I have seen to it that the shipowners were presented with the case from the point of view of the men at Mourilyan. I have done that, not in one letter, but in a series of letters. I have had personal interviews and con ferences with the shipowners. The court was communicated with, and as the result the Chief Judge visited Mourilyan during vacation. Shortly put, the men say that the bull-rope works in such a way that when the slack has been taken up those who are on the water side of it are in danger of being struck by it and of being driven over the wharf. I made certain recommendations, of the nature of which the honorable member is aware, not once but several times. I suggested that a winch be placed on the wharf. The objection to that, so I am told, is that there is no power available. I made certain suggestions with a view to overcoming that difficulty. In short, I have dons everything that lay in my power to effect a settlement, but I have not been successful. I am sure that the honorable member will agree that my lack of success has not been due to my not having tried.
– I never mentioned the right honorable gentleman in the matter.
– I do not know that I can do any more. I have no doubt that the court will note what the honorable gentleman has said; but I suggest to him that it is open to the union to make representations to the court at any time.
– That would be a waste of time.
– I have no doubt whatever that if the complaints are well grounded the court will listen most sympathetically to them. I advise the honorable member to suggest to the union at Mourilyan that they do this without delay.
Mr. LAZZARINI (Werriwa) [9.581.- The other day, in common with other honorable members, I .was rather heartened by the definite statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that he would deal with profiteers. In fact, the statement was published in many newspapers that any profiteer would be gaoled a,nd otherwise effectively dealt with. Last Friday, I asked the right, honorable gentleman the following questions, upon notice -
This issue was made on the eve of war, when possibly the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, being better informed than others, knew thatwar was about to commence. The answers that I received were -
I was not referring - ami the right honorable gentleman knew it - to certain profits being earmarked for the expansion of business. That, is too childish for any one to try to “ put over “ this chamber. By reason of the right honorable gentleman’s knowledge of the ramifications of the capitalist system, particularly in respect of the soulless limited liability companies, he knew full well what I was seeking toascertain. Throughout the Napoleonic wars, the Russo-Japanese war, and every other war, the most prolific cause of profiteering was the pyramiding of capital by means of paper issues. We read inthe newspapers almost daily that the prices of rice and other commodities have been fixed, but no attempt is being made to fix iron and steel prices or the prices of other heavy commodities in respect of which profiteering is rampant.’ Mr. Bonar Law, speaking in the House of Commons on the 24th May, 1.9:17, said that for every £100 invested in shipping in that year he had got back £47, after all taxes, including excess profits tax. had been paid. The shipowners made a profit of £350,000,000. The pre-war value of the British mercantile marine was , £170,000,000 and in two years of war, the value of the. ships increased by £300,000,000. The people of Great Britain, who were fighting for their lives, were exploited to an amount of £650,000,000 in two years. Mr. Bonar Law also said that the British Government had paid £150,000 for a vessel of 8.000 tons which had been sunk in 1917, and which had cost the owners only £40,000. The operations of those who make profits amounting to thousands of pounds are restricted, but those who rob the public of millions escape.
At the present time there is a boom on the Sydney Stock Exchange in metals, but nothing has been done with regard to profiteering in that quarter. The Sunday , Sun and Guardian of the 10th September, published the following statement: -
Leading metal stocks made sensational rises and the Stock Exchange Research Bureau’s index of mining share prices rose from 134.90 to 173.20.
Tinstocks were particularly active and the index of share prices in this group rose from 87.77 to 101.32.
Announcement of higher company taxation had been fully anticipated by the market, with the result that leading industrial stocks were able to maintain a linn tone.
In the three weeks preceding the outbreak of war. share prices fluctuated violently.
The following table of representative stocks shows the lowest levels touched during those weeks, and the latest quotations on the Sydney stock Exchange : -
Because of the profits made in this way, the public and the Government are exploited in connexion with the supply of war materials.
We are told by tanners and boot manufacturers, that, unless they are allowed to increase the prices of leather and boots by 25 per cent., they will have to go out of business; but I should like to know what has happened in the last few days, except the war, to place them in such a position. If a Labour government were now in office in the ‘ Commonwealth, appeals of this kind would have no effect.
Judging by our experience of war conditions in the past, 1 am afraid that the people will again he exploited.
One hundred tons of pig-iron were suddenly taken out of a Dutch ship’s holds in Sydney yesterday. It was consigned to Germany, wharf labourers were told. The ship moved from her harbour anchorage to a wharf at Pyrmont yesterday morning. Filled with pig- iron, 14 railway trucks were waiting a.t the wharf. Trucks had B.H.P. painted on the !>ides, wharf men declared.
All knowledge of the fact that the pig iron had been placed on the vessel was officially denied. Are we to suppose that rh is materia! fell from the skies into the trucks and finally found its way into the ship’s hold? Those responsible for the loading of the iron should be dealt with immediately. I. call the Government’s bluff on this matter, since legislation has recently been passed allegedly with tha object of preventing trading with the enemy. The pig iron was on the point <>f being shipped away to Germany, and, if action is not taken to sheet the blame home, the people will realize that the Government is guilty of rank hypocrisy. 1 pause here to comment upon the proposal of the Government to budget for an expenditure in the current, year of £100,000,000. The Government proposes to increase the sales tax. This will affect everybody in the community, even the poor people, and when I say “poor” I use the word only in its economic sense, for these people are of a far higher standard morally than the profiteers about whom I have been speaking. The sales tax will fall most heavily upon the goods which the ordinary people use. Customs and excise duties are also to be increased. Here again it is the economically underprivileged who will suffer most. The poor people always have, to pay for wars. They have been doing so since the days of William the Conqueror. Wealthy land-owners and people financially interested in big companies will escape, yet they should be fooling the bill, for it is their property which is being protected. They should have to pay for the war as a kind of insurance, lt will be most unjust if any section of the community is permitted to make even a penny profit out of the war. I hope that when peace comes it will be found that the wealthier people are not a penny better off than when the war began, and that many of the poor people will be in an improved position. If this war is being fought to destroy Hitlerism - and I abhor Hitlerism as much as any one - if it is being fought for the sacred liberties of democracy - and I treasure these as much as any one - conditions should be such as to prevent any one in the community from making a profit. All possessions should be placed at the disposal of the nation.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr, Curtin) advocated last night that Australia should contribute large supplies of foodstuffs to Great Britain. I agree with that course, but it would be iniquitous if, while, we were doing that, certain people were being permitted to make profits. All commodities required for war purposes should he provided at cost price, which should include only a reasonable amount for depreciation of manufacturing plants and the like. If our democracy is such a wonderful thing that it should be upheld - and T believe it. is - and if the free institutions of this nation are more precious than life itself - and I believe they are - all of the resources of the nation should be devoted to their preservation. All profit making should be suspended until after the war is over.
I come now to a consideration of methods by which the war may be financed. Wars were fought for a century by the people of England before, they were known as the British ra.ee. The people also fought wars of aggression and of defence, and internal wars and external wars for a thousand years, and emerged from them without one penny of public debt. It was not until the unholy trinity of public borrowing, private finance and war came into being that public debts began to mount up. If all countries had to pay for wars as they were waged, there would be no wars, for it would be impossible to pay for them. Under our existing methods war debts are piled up for posterity to pay, with the result that every so many years a depression affects us to the enormous detriment of the body politic. We have been told that Australia “will have to raise £100,000,000 in order to meet war expenditure. The plain fact is that we have not more than £60,000,000 in the country. All of our .borrowing will have behind it the security of the nation. That being so, it is iniquitous and intolerable that interest debts should be piled up in respect of this so-called borrowing and that the masses of the people should have to toil to meet charges which should never have been levied. During the last war a man with a house worth £1,000 could get a war bond of £900 from the bank on tlie security of it. Later on the outbreak of another war he could put his bond into the bank and get £800 for it, and so on. A credit of as much as £4,000 was pyramided on a house worth only £1,000. If that kind of thing could be done during the last war it can be done during this war, and if it can be done in war time it can be done in peace time. If we are ever to beat our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning hooks we shall have to alter our financial methods.
It has been stated that the whole of the wheat crop is to be bought in consequence of war necessities. I was’ a member of this Parliament when Sir Joseph Cook, who was then Commonwealth Treasurer, gave a guarantee to the farmers of 5s. a bushel for their wheat. “But”, he said, “it will be impossible to pay you 5s. at once. You will be paid 2s. 6d. in cash, and you will also be given a voucher for the other 2s. 6d.”. I asked him why the farmers could not be paid the 5s. at once, and he said that the Government could not get credit to that extent. The Commonwealth Bank, we were told, could not advance the money, nor could the Treasury. Yet we know very well that subsequently the private trading banks cashed these half-crown vouchers at a discount of 4d., and so the wheat-grower got his money. We all know that the wheat itself was the security for the advance. Had there been no wheat there would have been no advance. I have no doubt that the same kind of thing wall be done during this war in connexion with wheat, meat, butter and other products. My contention is that the Commonwealth Bank should handle all of this business. It has the capacity to do so. I believe that even under the existing law it could cope with the situation. Whether that be so or not, a very simple amendment of the Commonwealth Bank Act would enable the bank to do the whole of our marketing business. When advances are made for primary products the vouchers trickle back to the bank week by week and month by month, and I can see no difficulty whatever in authorizing the Commonwealth Bank to deal with all of this business. It would require only a relatively small staff to be set aside for the purpose, and the only obligation that need be incurred, would be in respect of an amount sufficient to pay the costs of administration. I am bitterly opposed to the loading of interest charges on the nation while we are fighting for our democracy and our sacred principles of liberty. Not a penny profit should be made by any one out of this war. During the last war men who were not worth a penny became wealthy overnight. That state of affairs should not be allowed to recur in this war. However, I am fearful that these evils will again arise in our midst, particularly when no indication is given in the budget speech of any intention by the Government to deal with the real profiteers in this country who are the banks and private companies. I do not apologize for likening these profiteers to slimy snails who in the daytime hide under rubbish and at night leave behind them a slimy track wherever they move.
In the previous sittings of this Parliament I asked the Minister for Health and Social Services (Sir Frederick Stewart) -
Has the Minister for Social Services seen the report of the Now South Wales Housing Hoard, which says that in Sydney one in every 12 families is living in slum, conditions; that there arc over 30,000 houses in the metropolitan area unfit for habitation; and that there is an acute shortage of houses in the metropolitan area? If he has seen the report will he direct to it the attention of members, of the Cabinet with a view to impressing upon them the need for improving housing conditions ?
The honorable gentleman replied -
I have seen the report. As chairman of” tlie New South Wales Housing Council sinceits inauguration I should have been recreant if I bad not. I hope that, before I lay downs
Die reins of this 0 mce in September of next year, the Government will have an opportunity to consider matters raised by the honorable member.
Speaking at a meeting of a youth league in Sydney recently, the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Spender) declared that if young men were in Parliament the problem of our jobless youth would have been solved long ago. I endeavoured to ask. him a question on the matter the other day, but I ran foul of the Standing Orders. The Assistant Treasurer apparently does not realize the full significance of his statement. He bad no hesitation in saying that where the bald heads had failed the young men could succeed. In any case, he admitted that this problem was capable of solution. Therefore. I ask bini to use his influence in the Cabinet to see that something more is done to relievo the lot. of our jobless youth than merely putting them into trenches. If the Government undertook a housing scheme such as I have suggested it would provide jobs for om- unemployed, and would give to our youths an opportunity to learn a trade. Furthermore, instead of rendering our youth unfit to defend this nation it would thus improve their morale to such a degree that; they would be more than equal to the task of resisting any attack on this country. I draw the attention of the Government to the following statement, which was made recently by Dr. Burgmann. Anglican Bishop of Goulburn -
When finance becomes an instrument of exploitation in the hands of irresponsible private interests, it .is time the Government gol to work and made finance a public utility for Ohe purposes of tlie. people. Governments are surely wise enough and strong enough nml moral enough for this great democratic task.
If Dr. Burgmann knew the attitude of honorable members opposite .regarding these questions he would see how hopeless it is to talk about anything touching the sacred powers of finance.. The real profiteers and exploiters will go on unchecked war or no war. The Treasurer (Mr. Menzies) has deserted his place as a lawyer and assumed the role of a judge. During his budget speech he donned the economic black cap and condemned our you t]]. our unemployed, and, indeed, the people of Australia to economic death. Only his friends, the exploiters and profiteers, were excepted.
.- This is a record budget for the Commonwealth. One might describe it as a war budget, because estimates of expenditure have been made in anticipation of Australia’s participation in the European war. We know full well, however, that this is merely a tentative budget, and that it. will be thrown overboard long before Christmas. We have only to recall what happened on the last occasion when Australia found itself at war. Although the budget presented in 1914 made provision for greatly increased expenditure, it did not nearly approach in magnitude the budget which we are now called upon to consider.
In 1914 great slogans were coined. lt was said that the Allies were engaged in “a war to end wars”, and one “to make the world safe for democracy “. What followed the termination of that war? Since then the G reeks have fought the Turks, Italy has seized Abyssinia, Czechoslovakia has been overrun by the German hordes, and Albania by the armed forces of Italy, la-pan has attacked China, Spain has been ravaged by civil war, and to-day Europe is the scene of conflict of some of thu mightiest nations in the world. So much for the claim that the war of I914-1S was a war to end war. And what about the slogan that the war of 1914-18 was waged by the Allies to make the world safe for democracy? Democracy lias since gone by the board in Russia, Italy, Germany, Spain and Japan. International law has been thrown overboa rd, pacts, treaties and agreements are made only to be broken, and international organization seems to be a thing of the past. In short, the world has gone mad. To-day, the smaller democracies in Europe exist in fear and trembling that annihilation in the avalanche of totalitarianism awaits them. Although it is only but a short time since the flower of our manhood fell on foreign battlefields, Australia is involved in another conflict. While we are preparing to engage in another war, thousands of those -who returned from the last war are still enduring the agonies of a living death. Many returned soldiers are only now beginning to feel the effects of their war injuries; but when they make application to the Repatriation Department for a war pension they are called upon to prove that their disability is due to service in a theatre of war. Every honorable member in this Parliament is approached by maimed soldiers, widows and orphans for assistance in obtaining the meagre pitlance to which they are entitled, but which is denied to them because of the inflexible and unsympathetic attitude of this Government in regard to the granting of war pensions. This Government would do well to emulate the good example set by the British Government and give more sympathetic consideration to these claims.
Only yesterday the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. John Lawson) informed us that action is being taken by the Government to prevent the exploitation of the people of Australia during the war period, and he went so far as to say that the Government would gaol those who dared to exploit the people during this conflict. We all remember that the regulations issued under the War Precautions Act for the prevention of profiteering during the last war had no effect in keeping commodity prices in check. The statement that the Government promises to keep a check on prices on this occasion would be ludicrous if the matter were not so serious; we know that the exploiters whose wings it states it will clip are its wealthy’ supporters. Not so long ago, when Australia was in the depths of the economic depression, there was a great squeal from the supporters of the Government when it was suggested that it would be essential for all to make sacrifices in order that economic equilibrium might be restored. Old-age and invalid pensioners and the workers were called upon to make a sacrifice, but when the people who remained at home during the war years, and exploited the community by making excessive profits which were re-invested in war loans, were asked to take their share of the universal sacrifice, they claimed that interest rates should not be interfered with. Interference would amount to repudiation. It was only when they were told that if they would not make a sacrifice voluntarily, action would be taken in Parliament to force them to do so, that they agreed to share in the sacrifice. These are the people whose wings are going to be clipped during this war ! They are supporters of the Government, for they certainly do not support the Labour party.
Undoubtedly, one effect of the budget will be an increased cost of living, and we all know that the worker will have to foot the bill. Despite the proposed action of the Government to prevent profiteering, the imposition of these extra taxes will cause the cost of living to rise, with harmful effects on the workers, who alone have large families. During recent years the Lyons Government made remissions of taxes amounting to many thousands of pounds to its friends - the wealthy sections of the community. In order to compensate for the losses of revenue resulting from those remissions, the Government found it necessary to raise money in oilier directions. It is true that direct taxation has risen a little, but the increase has not been in proportion to the rise of indirect taxation, which conies like a thief in the night and takes people unawares. Not until an indirect tax has been, in operation for some time, and the people have had an opportunity to study year books and governmental returns, do they realize the amount of tax being paid by them. The financing of this country during the war will present many difficulties. It is, perhaps, one of the most difficult phases of war. Since 1914 taxes have progressively become heavier. The rate of increase has been greatly accelerated since 1929 because of the economic crisis, with the result that to-day the Government is a partner in every business enterprise. Whether a business man makes a profit or a loss, the Government receives a proportion of his takings. If he makes a living wage or more, the Government gets, at him through direct taxation; in any case, it exacts from him taxes imposed by indirect taxation. We are passing through a transition period. This war will accelerate still further the movement in the direction of a new economic order. Taxation is reaching saturation point in every country of the world.
The Commonwealth Bank, which was established by a Labour government, proved of great benefit to the people of Australia during the war of 1914-18. Unfortunately, that bank has not been permitted to function as its founders intended, because its policy and control were altered by a government holding views similar, to the present Government. Governmental interference made of it a bankers’ bank, and not a people’s bank like the flourishing institution in Sweden which was modelled on lines similar to the Commonwealth Bani? as originally established. If its policy had not. been interfered with, the Commonwealth Bank would, have been able to function in the interests of the community. It could do so even now if its policy were altered a little. Economic considerations have forced the Commonwealth Bank Board to review its policy. When in June of this year it found that more than twothirds of the loan floated by the Commonwealth Government was left in its hands, the board was forced to put into operation a policy of credit expansion. We have been told that during recent years Germany, Italy and Japan have been on the verge of bankruptcy, and that economic collapse has stared them in the face. Only in January of this year Dr. Shacht, the Governor of the Reichsbank, went to England to interview Mr. Montague Norman, the Governor of the Bank of England. Mr. Montague Norman is reported to have said that he would have to make credits available to Germany immediately, or else make that nation a gift of £50,000,000 within six months. Dr. Shacht returned to Berlin, and later, went away as a super commercial traveller. His place in the Reichsbank was taken by another man, who immediately put into operation an extension of the system of credit expansion. This policy of credit expansion has been one of the chief instruments that have assisted Hitler in developing the vast armed machine that he has to-day. Being steeped in the conservative methods of finance the present Commonwealth Government is not prepared to accept the inevitable fact that it will be forced before this war is done with to reconsider its financial policy, and reconsider methods of financing Australia throughout the war. Conservative methods of finance must be thrown overboard, and the Government must put into operation a policy of credit expansion. We have been told often enough that Hitler has taught us much, but this Government was not prepared to consider how Hitler has financed his policy because it would have been forced thereby to break from the old methods of finance. But the day is not far distant when the Labour party will occupy the treasury bench. Only then will the workers of Australia have lifted from their shoulders some of the burdens which this Government is heaping upon them. Only then will the Commonwealth Bank function in the interests of the people. Its policy will have to be changed and its control will have to be in different hands - in hands similar to those which controlled it at its inception.
In times of trouble, stress or crisis, the worker of Australia, if he is called upon, is over ready to give to the Government the fullest cooperation. This Government asked for the cooperation of the workers in the joining up with the Militia at the beginning of the year, and it got all the response that it wanted. Thousands more offered, but the Government refused to form the units in curtain districts. That is a matter to which I shall refer subsequently.
For a long time I have endeavoured to place before this Parliament the question of the vulnerability of our coast line, particularly in the north. I intend to reiterate statements that I have previously made, because, notwithstanding the fact that I have been in this Parliament for nearly three years and have harped and harped on this question, Ministers have consistently refused to go into the north of Queensland. On the 6th December lastyear, the Minister for . Defence (Mr. Street) stated, in effect, that it was an elementary principle of defence that we must not disperse our strength because to do so would be fatal. We are not dispersing our strength if we defend the northern sections ofthe continent. The people who live in the north do not ask for dispersal of our strength. All that they want is that the Government should make available to them weapons and other means whereby they can protect themselves against not only a raider, but also an invader. Another statement that has been made is that a place which is remote is not a place of strategic importance and that that is its best guarantee of immunity from attack.
– Does the honorable gentleman quarrel with that statement?
– Up to a point, no. But. this Government has selected a little portion of Australia between Port Stephens and Port Phillip and expended money there, and it then says that we must fortify this area because within it are the centres of strategic importance. They are made centres of strategic importance, and then that fact is held up as justification for the expenditure upon them of further money, portion of which is contributed by taxpayers in other parts of the country. Taxpayers in the northeastern and north-western portions of
Queensland are receiving a raw deal from the point of view of defence.Now that we are at war, the defence of this country is paramount. Its importance is not overlooked by the Labour party which insists that defence expenditure should be distributed instead of being confined to the south-eastern corner of the continent.
Defence must be treated as an Empire problem, and every aspect of it analysed, but unfortunately there are sections, advisers of the Ministry perhaps, which do not examine closely every phase of defence matters. The regimentation of military minds begets casualties. How long was it before the machine gun was recognized as a proper weapon of war? It has been laid down by this Government and this Parliament that our part in the Imperial defence is the defence of Australia, but nothing of a defensive character has been, clone north of Brisbane. Just prior to the outbreak of war, a couple of Avro-Anson bombing aircraft, obsolete machines-
– I object to the word obsolete “.
– Well, machines many years of age. The Minister, an expert, knows better than I, a layman, that to-day the first-line machines are less then twelve months old. Compared with modern flying machines Avro-Anson bombers are regarded as obsolete. It is true that four Avro-Anson machines are stationed in. Brisbane, and that certain defence works have been undertaken there, but apart from that and the enlistment of a few youths nothing has been done by this Government to protect 1,400 miles of coast line in the north. It may be said that some possess rifles, but the supply of ammunition is totally inadequate. Many youths in the north, who are willing to co-operate with their fathers who fought in the last war, are anxious to form militia, units, but their request has been refused. In Cooktown, the most northerly port on the eastern seaboard, an application for the formation of a militia unit was also rejected by the military authorities. At Mossman, 40 miles south of Cooktown, and Mareeba and Mount Molloy unsuccessful attempts have been made to establish units by men who are prepared to sacrifice their own time, but they have been refused permission to form units. In view of the heavy defence expenditure proposed and the fact that before the end of this financial year the appropriation may be doubled^ the people of northern Queensland are expecting some protection. Under the Anglo-German Naval Agreement submarine parity was established between the two countries, but eventually that agreement was cancelled. During the currency of the agreement the Commonwealth Government did not consider submarine warfare, but the construction of submarines should be investigated and possibly some could be built to protect Australia.
– Submarines are not coastal defensive vessels.
– Du ring the great war Germany had 98 submarines operating, in the Atlantic to break the blockade which Great Britain had imposed. Even during the present conflict we have had a striking indication of the damage which can be caused to shipping by submarines which the Minister (Mr. Street) says are not coastal defensive vessels. Although, it. may be beyond our financial capacity to construct or, if we could, purchase cruisers and battleships, we should at least have sufficient naval vessels to afford us some security. Submarines could safeguard our merchant shipping which at present is wholly unprotected. Doubtless honorable members have read the exploits of the raider Wolf and how the Matunga was sunk in the Pacific near New Guinea by the Wolf. If we cannot afford to purchase or construct battleships we should be able to build submarines which would cost only a fraction of what a battleship costs. Vessels operating within the calm waters of the Barrier Reef could be protected by fort torpedo boats such as those which Italy is using. We have complained from time to time of the small number of aircraft available for the defence of Australia, and an order for additional aeroplanes was not placed until after the September crisis.
– What makes the honorable member think that they were ordered after the crisis in September?
– If they were not ordered after the crisis they were ordered only a short time before.
– The honorable member does not know that.
– Some were ordered after the crisis. Although a tense international situation has been developing for some time, the Government has not made adequate preparations for the defence of Australia’s long coastline.
Up to tlie present, we have been fortunate in that we have had sufficient supplies of petrol to make rationing unnecessary, although I understand that the Government, of New South Wales has suggested that restrictions should be imposed. The Government appointed a standing committee on liquid fuels, and this committee has submitted a report. Honorable members on this side of the House asked the Prime Minister to supply them with a copy of the report, or, at any rate, to allow them to see it, but their request was refused. We know, however, that we are in a pretty bad way in regard to petrol. The principal storage tanks are on the seaboard, and are built high above ground. Even at Darwin they are on the side of the hill in a very prominent position where they would make a wonderful target for any raider. In our defence force we have mechanized units, aeroplane fighters and bombers which are dependent upon petrol. There is in Australia an industry for the production of power alcohol from various agricultural products, and the Government should do something more to encourage its development. Even at this early stage of the war we have been told that it is likely to last for three years. That being so, wc should look to the future, and ensure adequate supplies of petrol for our aeroplanes and mechanized units. The position is different now from what it was in 1914. Then Japan was our friend, and its ships were made available to convoy our troops overseas, and to guard the sea lanes, for our commerce. On this occasions we do not know whether Japan will remain neutral, although we hope that it will. We do not know whether or not there is another Wolf or Emden in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific, but if there is, tankers bringing petrol to Australia will have to run the gauntlet.. We must make provision against such contingencies by developing our own liquid fuel supply. We have no flow oil in Australia, and the quantity of shale oil that we could produce would bo insufficient to meet defence requirements^ Therefore, the Government should give consideration to the matter of substitutes. Here, again, Hitler has shown us the way, because in Germany power alcohol is being produced on a large scale.
– The honorable member has exhausted bis time.
Reservation of assent notified.
Motion (by Mr. Street) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I. have a matter to bring under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Harrison). The case to which I propose to direct attention provides a direct contradiction to the statement of the Minister that the various authorities established to deal with applications by soldiers for pensions treat those applications sympathetically. At the present time, when so much is being done by the Government to stimulate a martial spirit amongst the young men, it might be a good thing to examine the treatment meted out to those who served in the last war. Patrick Charles Hynes is a returned soldier in receipt of a Avar pension at a rate based on 50 per cent, incapacity. he applied to the Repatriation Commission for the acceptance of an additional disability, sinus tachycardia. On the 19th August, 1938, he received a reply from the department stating that his ailment was not regarded as being attributable to war service. He appealed to the War Pensions Entitlement Tribunal, and was advised on the 13th September, 1938, that his appeal had been upheld. He naturally expected that his pension would be increased, but on the 22nd December, 1938, he received a further communication from the Repatriation Department stating that the incapacity caused by the ailment was so slight as not to warrant the granting of a pension in respect of it. : He appealed to the War Pensions Assessment Tribunal against this decision, and on the 17th February, 1939, be was advised that his appeal had been disallowed. The department at first rejected his claim that the disability was due to Avar service. He won his appeal before the War Pensions Entitlement Tribunal, but the department decided then that his incapacitywas not due to his ailment. That decision was upheld by the War Pensions Assessment Tribunal. The most important point about this case is that between the time when the Repatriation Commission decided that no incapacity existed and the time when the War Pensions Assessment Tribunal upheld that decision, Hynes was retired from his employment with the Sydney Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board on the certificate of the board’s medical officer, Dr. C. S. Bull. Dr. Bull’s certificate stated : “ Mr. P. C Hynes is suffering from sinus tachycardia and is an unsuitable’ candidate for employment on the Water Board “. It seems remarkable reasoning on the part of the Repatriation Commission and the War Pensions Assessment Tribunal that this man’s incapacity from accepted Avar disability of sinus tachycardia was nilwhen a reliable medical officer certified that, on account of this ailment he was medically unfit for employment. I hope that the Minister will appreciate the inconsistency between the decisions of the department and the Assessment Tribunal on the one hand, and the medical officer of the Water Sewerage and Drainage Board on the other. That returned soldier is now asked to live on a 50 per cent, pension which, I understand, amounts to £11s. aweek. This matter should be reviewed with a view to increasing the pension to the maximum amount payable. I direct attention to a second matter affecting the same department. Another soldier, F. M. Winters, returned from the war and was granted a pension on the acceptance of rheumatism as a disability due to war service; but, after he had been receiving payments for a period, they were discontinued. The department contended that certain documents which had come into, its possession from overseas disclosed that Mr. Winters had suffered from this disability before he enlisted. That is not the only case in which the department has cancelled a pension on the ground that later evidence showed that a pensioner had, prior to the date of enlistment, suffered from the disability in respect of which a pension was claimed. All of these men, however, must have been in perfect physical condition before they were accepted foi- military service overseas. Mr. Winters now suffers from chronic bronchitis and complete deafness as well as rheumatism, and is in a sad condition because he has neither friends nor relatives in Australia. He is so impoverished that: he has no fixed place of abode and his correspondence has to be addressed to the office of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia at the War Memorial in Sydney. He is in receipt of a service pension, which is not sufficient fully to maintain anybody. He is a native of New Zealand, and is anxious to return ‘to that dominion, but, without assistance, is unable to pay the passage money. He is of the opinion that he would be cared for better in New Zealand than in Australia. An examination of the legislation operating in the dominion shows that he has good reason foi- that opinion. However, he is faced with the further difficulty that if he goes to New Zealand he will lose tlie service pension. Therefore, he asks that his case be again considered with a view to the restoration of the pension which he previously received. I ask the Minister to review this case with the object of restoring the pension previously paid on account of the accepted disability of rheumatism and assisting the applicant by providing him with a free passage so that he may go to his friends and relatives in his own country.
.- I direct attention to the attitude adopted by the lessees of certain government hotels and boarding houses in Canberra during recent months. I arn informed that a number of persons who have to take up residence in this capital city during the parliamentary session experience a great deal of difficulty in securing accommodation. A canvass of the hotels and guest houses made recently disclosed that none was prepared to give accommodation to people who come here in the course of their employment for the parliamentary session. Furthermore the complaint is made that in most of the places the tariff has been raised by 25 per cent. That increase, I understand, was decided upon when it was thought that the Duke and Duchess of Kent would arrive in Canberra during November to take up residence at Yarralumla. I am informed that the only accommodation available for, say a month or a little longer for one person was at the Hotel Canberra where the tariff is £6 10s. a week for a single room. Formerly the charge was £4 7s. 6d. The management of this hotel has also stated that it will not take any more permanent boarders. Hotel Civic has no single room vacant; Hotel Wellington may have a. single room vacant, after the 11th September. The lessee of the latter hotel, I am told, has consistently refused to take permanent boarders. Hotel Ainslie has no vacancies for permanent boarders, and Hotel Kingston may have some vacancies between the 10th and 30th September. Brassey House and Beauchamp House have no accommodation available. Since the Government has leased all these places to private enterprise, it seems to me that lessees of the hotels should be required, in accordance with the provisions of the liquor ordinance, to provide board and lodging for all persons who desire accommodation. I am also informed that a person who came to Canberra early in the last session and is permanently stationed here has been unable to secure a house in which to live. I understand that it is difficult, if notimpossible, to obtain accommodation at the Hotel Kurrajong, owing largely to the fact that during the parliamentary session many members of Parliament reside there. Owing to the increase of the tariffs at hotels and guest houses, considerable difficulty is experienced in obtaining board and residence anywhere in Canberra. I am informed that about 440 families are waiting for houses. This number includes 50 permanent Commonwealth servants, 135 other government employees, and 256 persons in private employment.
I hope that this matter will be brought under the notice of the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll), and that inquiry will be made as to whether the proprietors of hotels and guest houses owned by the Government are not contravening the law when they refuse to grant accommodation to persons who desire to reside here for a month or more. The hotelkeepers seem to regard tourists who visit Canberra for a day or two as more profitable guests than are permanent boarders. Some aspects of this matter, particularly the housing problem, have been mentioned by me on several previous occasions, and it seems to me that the position has now gone from bad to worse. There were not so many persons on the waiting list for houses at the conclusion of the last parliamentary sittings as there are to-day, although numerous houses have recently been erected for public servants. Legislation has been passed to give the Government power to deal with profiteers throughout Australia, and action should be taken to protect government employees in this territory against undue increases of the tariffs imposed by hotels and guest houses. The problem of preventing profiteering in Canberra should be the special concern of the Government, since it has full administrative power in the Australian Capital Territory. I hope that a full report will be obtained regarding the complaint that I have put before the House.
– I listened with interest to the remarks of the honorable member for East ‘Sydney (Mr. Ward). I know something of the case of Patrick Hynes to which he has referred, because, as a private member, I made representations on behalf of this man with much the same result as that obtained by the honorable member. The case has received consideration by the Repatriation Commission and the various appeal tribunals from time to time, and any decisions reached in regard to it have been arrived at after sympathetic consideration. The various tribunals which deal with these matters are composed in the main of returned soldiers, and on them are representatives of the returned soldiers’ organizations. Consequently these bodies may be relied upon to give sympathetic consideration to requests made to them.
– It will be admitted, I think, that this case deserves special consideration, seeing that. Hynes has lost his employment.
– I admit that, but sometimes the diagnosis of a doctor employed by a returned soldier conflicts with that of the medical men appointed by the department. Notwithstanding the decisions made from time to time by the commission and the tribunals, I shall give attention to the honorable member’s representations in this case, and, if it be found that there is a reason why the whole matter should be re-opened, it will receive further consideration. The representations made with regard to the case of Winters will also be carefully considered.
I shall draw the attention of the Minister for the Interior to the remarks made by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) regarding housing accommodation, and board and residence at hotels and boarding houses. I trust that in due course a satisfactory explanation will be furnished to the honorable member.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals - Report for year 1938-39.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes at Pymble, New South Wales.
New Guinea Act - Ordinance of 1939 - No.6 -Supply 1939-1940.
House adjourned at 11.39 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Willhe supply a statement giving a list of officers, in order of seniority, employed in the Immigration Branch, and showing the actual salaries and allowances’ each officer receives?
– The information will be supplied.
Department of Information: Appointment op Director.
e asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
What was the total amount expended on works (excluding defence) in each State for the year 1 938-39?
– The Minister for the Interiorhas supplied the following answer to the honorable member’s question : -
Total expenditure on works (excluding defence) during 1938-39 -
The above figures include expenditure, as under, in respect of the Civil Aviation Department, which was formerly attached to the Defence Department -
s asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will- be furnished as soon as possible.
La nd Tax Rates.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What additions to and reductions of the rateof land tax operating in 191 0 have been made ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : - 1910-11 to 1913-14. - The rate of tax was1d. on the first £1 of unimproved value in excess of £5,000. It increased by l/30000d. for every additional £1 up to £75,000 taxable value. The average rate at this point was 3½d. The excess over £75,000 was taxable at6d. (Absentees received no statutory exemption of £5,000 and the rate for an absentee was always1d. more than for a resident. The first £5,000 of unimproved value for an absentee carried a flat rate of1d. per £1.) 1914-15 to 1917-18- The rate of tax was, altered by increasing1/30000d. to1/18750d.; consequently every additional £1 in excess of £75,000 taxable value was taxed at9d. in lieu of 6d. The average rate over the taxable field - £1 -£75,000- was 5d. in lieu of 3½d. 1918-19 to 1921-22-Rates for years 1914-15 to 1917-18 increased by 20 per cent. 1922-23 to 1926-27. - Increase of 20 per cent, withdrawn. 1027-28 to 1931-32.- Reduction of 10 per cent. 1932-33. - Reduction of 33.1/3rd per cent, on 1931-32. 1933-34 to 1937-38. - Reduction of50 per cent, on 1931-32. 1938-39. - Increase of approximately 1.1.1 per cent, on years 1933-34 to 1937-38 - equivalent to 50 per cent, reduction on 1914-15.
– On the8th
September, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) asked a question, without notice, in respect of the negotiations between the Commonwealth and the States in relation to margarine.
The Minister for Commerce has now supplied the following information: -
At the last meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council, held in Melbourne on the 11th and 14th August, the whole question of the margarine competition with the Australian dairying industry was fully considered. This problem is one which has exercised the minds of members of the Australian Agricultural Council now for some time, and after due deliberation, they formed the opinion that the matter could best be adjusted by the adoption of a quota system, the introduction of uniform legislation to control margarine production and an excise duty.
Dealing with the question of a quota, the Australian Agricultural Council recommended that the State governments should be invited to agree to a quantative limitation of the production of margarine within each State. Representations have now been made by the Minister for Commerce to all State Ministers for Agriculture to ascertain the present approximate production of margarine within their States, and to obtain the consent of their respective governments to the quantum figure recommended by the council as being sufficient for the needs of each State.
With regard to uniform legislation, the council recommended the adoption of a provision in State bills forthe licensing of all margarine manufacturers and, with the object of achieving uniformity Queensland has been requested to draw up a preliminary draft which will be submitted to the other States for revision and review.
The third recommendation of the council has referenco to a proposal that the Commonwealth should examine the question of an excise duty for ascertaining the costs of manufacture of table margarine.
It will be appreciated that some time is likely to elapse before the Australian Agricultural Council’s recommendations can be fully implemented, but work in this connexion is proceeding as speedily as possible.
Civil Servants on Military Service.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) asked me a question, without notice, regarding the conditions of pay of Commonwealth and State public servants who are members of the militia forces, and who are called out for duty during the war.
As I intimated to the honorable member, the matter was discussed at the Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Canberra on Saturday, the 9th September. The following conditions to be extended to permanent public servants who are called out for naval, military or air force duty were agreed upon by the conference, subject to reservations where mentioned: -
Reservation to (v): Subject in the case of New South Wales and South Australia, who desire to consider their position on this aspect, to the provision that neither State will act on any other basis without first placing the matter before the Premiers Conference.
That the service of officers with naval, military or air force units be recognized for the purposes of- ‘
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 September 1939, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1939/19390913_reps_15_161/>.