15th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) tool the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister for External Affairs say’ whether all of the Australian women who were in Germany at the declaration of war have been released, and, if not, what is the present position regarding them?
-Some Australian women in Germany have not been permitted to leave that country. In March, an arrangement was made between the Australian and German Governments, through the medium of the United States of America embassy, for the’, release; of their respective women nationale. Sever German women who were; in! Australia at the time were immediately released from control and permitted to leave this country. Some of them have in fact left, others arc sti H here. The present position is that, notwithstanding repeated representations– by the Commonwealth Government, the German Government has not consented to the. Australian women in Germany leaving: that country
– How many are still there?
– I cannot give the exact number, but it is not great. I regret that this is- another definite instance of bad faith on the part of the. German Government in failing to honour an undertaking entered into.
Teraining Cba ft - -Recruiting
– Has the Minister for ir seen a. report in to-day’s press that, an- aircraft manufacturing company, - Phillips and Powis Aircraft Limited - has stated, that its’ offer to supply 50 training aircraft each month was rejected? Will the Minister say whether the report is true, and, if aor on what grounds the offer was rejected
– I have seen the report in the press. The Government received1, an offer from the company mentioned to provide certain types of elementary training and medium training machines for the purpose of the Empire air training scheme. T am grateful to the company foa its wish to serve. I know both, of the. types of aircraft referred to, as I have flown them at the firm’s factory in the United Kingdom. They ave excellent trainers: We have, however, no shortage whatever of trainees, of either of these types. Our requirements of elementary trainers are being, built, in Australia by. an Australian company, and supplies are coming forward1 up to programme. That is the case also with respect to single-engined advanced trainers: In fact, the supply of these machines is slightly- ahead of 0111, requirement’s for the a-rp training’ scheme.
There has also been a suggestion that the Government ordered the wrong type of aircraft^ when orders were placed for 50’ Moth Minors by the former Minister ton Supply (Mr:. Casey).. Directly the Empire, air training- scheme was proposed, the .Government looked into our require^ ments-, of elementary trainers and found that it could muster 2S0r of them in Australia. It then made inquiries in, England from companies there, as well as- the Air Ministry, and’ was informed that it could not get elementary trainers. It then approached the Australian company to which I have refer red* which said that by May of this year it: could supply the Tiger Moth machines required, and that in the meantime it could commence: to supply 50 Moth Minors. It was well known by the Minister for. Supply and the Air Board that these machines- were of less power and efficiency than were, desirable, for the job, But as they could be used as a stop. gap,. Mr.. Casey rightly placed’ an order for the less- satisfactory machines; When I was in Ottawa I was astonished, in view of private advice, to learn that the United Kingdom could let us- have the Tiger Moths required and an order was. then placed, for 100; of such machines, FiftY of them have Deen delivered, and others are coming forward. As we could obtain the. more efficient machines, we decided not to- use’ the inferior trainers for training purposes;. ‘ They ave. being utilized as exercise aircraft for officers whose- duties do not involve much flying’. The. advanced trainers made m Australia are- better than the machines, which hav«. been offered to us-
We are- faced with- many grave difficulties in implementing’ the Empire1 air training scheme, but a’t the present time there- is no- delay whatever in: giving it effect. As. the; Prime Minister has said, Australia started, on its- programme two month* ear lies than the mission from the. United Kingdom suggested!. We have: kept the programme well up to schedule. The officers; concerned a-re- working: to- the limit of their capacity to carry it. out.. In these circumstances, it is most unhelpful, for any section of the press to- suggest that there is delay. As. I have frequently explained, one: of our greatest difficulties in connexion with the Empire asc training scheme’, is; to persuade: young- men. of action, who are eager to serve their country, to wait until we can train them. We already have a waiting list, and some applicants will not start their training until August or September next. They are naturally somewhat restive at the delay. Others are waiting to be notified when their training is to commence. If these young men see statements in the press that delay is occurring they will become more impatient, and will fear thatthey will neverbe trained. Throughout Australia wehave splendid recruiting committees of ex-air men to stimulateinterest in the Empire air trainingscheme;butthis campaign which isbeing carried on bya section of thepress isdoing more harm than can be compensated for by the good which the recruiting committees can do. I have previously expressed my gratitude to membersof everypartyin this House for the way in which they have refrained from carping criticism. I now express mygratitude to themembersof the press gallery in this House who have never tailed tobe helpful. But oneortwo aviation correspondents in Sydney are doing inAustralia the workof the “fifth column “, by retarding recruiting, either through stupidity, or bitterness against myself or officers connected with the Air Force, or becausethey are definitely subversive in the interests of the enemy. I am inclined to dismiss ‘the idea of stupidity, because I know that at least one of these gentlemen isboth ableand gallant, and I do not think for a moment that these persons are in the pay of the enemy or of Communists. I feel they are lettingtheirbitterness against individuals get the better of their patriotism.
– In view of the fact that the article to which the Minister for the Air has, apparently, so ably replied wasannounced asthe first of a series, I ask the Minister whether, in order to allay public anxiety, and also anyanxiety that honorable members may entertain, he will undertake to reply to subsequent articles as they appear?
– Even though they be anonymous ?
– I know theproprietors, the executive officers and the staff of the journalconcerned, and I feel sure that after appeal to theirpatriotism it will notbe (necessary to reply toany further articles.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether it is the intention of theGovernment to make available to honorable members the Townsend report on the shipbuilding industry and, if so, when?
– The subject-matter of that report is at present under the consideration of the Government. Cabinet was actually engaged upon it this morning.I hope to be able to answer the honorable member’s question at a later stage of the session.
– Yesterday the Prime Minister said that he intended to lay upon the table of the House the report by Sir Leopold Savile inconnexion with theproposed graving dock. As the constructionof this clock is oneof the important items in theGovernment’s expanded war programme, and is a matter ofdeep interestto honorable members, I ask when the report is likely tobe tabled ?
– Certain parts ofthe report cannotpossibly be tabled. I propose to discussthe matter with the Leader of the Opposition later to-day with the object of making available such parts of the document as may be safely released.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Commerce been drawn to a statement by Mr. McPherson, chairmanofthe Australian Wheat Board, which appeared in Monday’s press, that “wheat in newbags only would be accepted next season, as the use of secondhand bags had caused some wheat stacks to collapseandrebagging had increased considerably “? If so,can thehonor able gentleman say what will he done with all thegood second-handcornsacks ? Will he also inform the House where wheat stacks have collapsed owing to the use of secondhandcornsacks?
-Ihave asked the Wheat Board to furnish me with a report on this subject next week. I have no information to the effect that any wheat stacks havecollapsedas the result of the use of second-hand cornsacks. So far the Wheat Board has not been told to interest itself in the next season’s harvest or in’ how it is to be bagged.
– As the Australian Wheat Board has directed that only new cornsacks may foe used for next season’s harvest, will the Minister for Commerce arrange for the board to make credit available to the farmers for the purchase of cornsacks? As the board is taking over the crop, it will have full security.
– I shall sue that the point raised by the honorable member receives consideration.
Fighting in Belgium, and Francis : Ministerial Statement.
– by have - Little change lias been reported in the last 24 hours in the general situation in northern France. The position, however, is undoubtedly still critical. The German infantry divisions, which have been following up in the salient created by the advance mechanized columns, appear now to have reached a line between Cambrai and Albert, near the old Somme battlefield. The latest reports state that to the north of this area, around Arras, a British counter-attack is in progress. Arras itself is believed to bc held by Allied forces. So far there is no other information of the results of the fighting at this point. Too much importance should not, at the moment, be attached to the occupation of Arras.
To the north of the salient, German attacks on the Allied positions across the Belgian frontier have been held successfully. Belgian troops have taken a substantial share in this fighting. Along the south of the salient, the position is unchanged. The Germans here have been able to bring up several divisions to guard their left flank. It is clear now that the initial break-through near .Sedan, and the Germans’ subsequent operations, must have been greatly facilitated by failure to destroy important bridges.
The latest reports confirm that the direction of the German drive is northwesterly towards the Channel ports of Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk. Boulogne and Calais have been bombed and German reconnaissance units have been reported on the coast south of Boulogne. Intensive British air attacks have been made against the spearhead of the German advance. Air -.action has been impeded to some degree by the blocking of roads by refugee and other traffic. Heavy air raids have also been made on the enemy’s rear communications, especially in the Rhineland area east of Aix-la-Chapelle and around Namur.
The situation, as a whole, remains one of considerable danger to the Allied positions in northern France, particularly in the threat to the lines of communication between the British and Belgian forces and the French; but there are good grounds for hoping that our positions can still be retrieved. The main Allied forces are intact and the enemy has yet to meet their full weight. It is understood that the new Allied CommanderinChief, General Weygand, has gone to the battle area. An indication of the close Anglo-French co-operation which is being maintained at this critical time is the visit made to Paris yesterday by the British Prime Minister. Mr. Winston Churchill.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is true that one of the conditions of the settlement of the recent coal 3trike was that the men were to be employed under the award rates and conditions that existed before the strike commenced, and without victimization? Has the right honorable gentleman seen a press report that four men have been discharged from the Jubilee mine, and that the management of the mine has not complied with the seniority rule? Has he seen a further report that two nonunionists have been employed at the Mount Nicholas colliery ? If these reports are true, does the Government propose to take any action to see that the terms of settlement are observed by the Tasmanian mine-owners ?
– I must remind the honorable member that it is not in order to ask a Minister whether a press report is true. If an honorable gentleman refers to a press report he is expected to vouch for its accuracy.
– I have not seen the reports referred to by the honorable gentleman, but if he will make them available to me I shall bring them under (.de notice of the Minister for Industry.
– In view of the serious international crisis, and of the necessity for us to make the greatest war effort of which we are capable, I ask the Minister for the Army whether he does not think it advisable to withdraw the list of reserved occupations, so that men who are willing to serve their country in any capacity may be permitted to do so?
– I am sure that the honorable member will realize that the list of reserved occupations was compiled with the greatest care in order to enable the best use to be made of our man-power cither in the fighting forces or in industry. The list is being kept under constant review and alterations are being made to it from time to time. It should be realized that only a very small proportion of the population is affected by it.
Country Post Offices and Mail Contracts
– Will the PostmasterGeneral consider the necessity for the provision of decent premises as- post offices in country villages, instead of continuing to apply the uneconomic policy of trying to effect repairs and improvements to inadequate, dilapidated and white-ant infested buildings?
– Order ! The honorable gentleman is not in order in expressing his own views.
– I do not agree that the honorable gentleman’s description of country post offices is quite correct, but I shall give my personal attention to any specific cases which the honorable gentleman can bring under my notice. Many small country post offices are contract post offices owned by the contractor ; often they are temporary premises.
– I refer only to buildings owned by the department.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral consider the advisability of compensating mail contractors for the increased price of petrol which was not anticipated when the mail contracts were signed ?
– Mail contractors may apply to local postmasters for forms to fill in to show what price they are paying for petrol. The regulations provide that for every increase of 3d. a gallon the mail contractor is entitled to a commensurate increased payment.
– In view of the rush of . recruits for enlistment at the recruiting depot in Martin-place, Sydney, will the Minister for the Army increase the recruiting facilities there? Will he also increase the number of recruiting staff in this area?
– Steps have already been taken along the lines suggested by the honorable member. I feel sure that the recruiting staff will be able to cope with the supplies of recruits.
– In view of the fact that nien in country districts frequently have to go long distances in order to enlist, will the Minister for the Army arrange for the medical examination of all recruits offering at centres which have no recruiting depots by Government medical officers, or medical practitioners who have been conducting medical examinations for the Repatriation Commission?
– Application forms for enlistment are now being made available at country towns where the ordinary enlisting facilities do not exist, with such bodies as the Returned .Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia and local-governing authorities. The honorable member’s suggestion that such local doctors should be allowed to examine recruits is now in operation. Instructions to that effect have been circulated throughout Australia.
– In view of the chaos existing at Darwin-
– Order ! The honorable member has to be called to order almost every sitting day for the same offence.He is distinctly out of order in sayingthatthere is chaos when asking a question.
Mr.BLAIN. - Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior see that an independent consultant engineer issent to Darwin to investigate thedelay in the construction of the weir, thereticulationof the town and excavationson the waterfront, in order to ascertain whether that delay is caused by inability or lack offinance, andtoadjust the matter immediately?
– I shall refer thequestion to the Minister for the Interior.
– A few weeks ago, I asked the Minister for Air whether wooden radio beacon towers had yet replaced steel. Can he now tell me what progress hasbeen made with the conversion of those towers, and when he contemplatesallof the steel masts will have been replaced by wooden ?
– Icannottell the honorablemember the exactdates on whichthecompletionofthe conversion canbe expected, but I havebeen informed that tenders have been called for the conversion of all towers. I think that contracts have been let for most, if not all.
– Mr. Speaker, in view of the reports published to-day, that members of the Labour party are not permitted to ask for divisions without the authority of the Leader ofthe Opposition (Mr. Curtin), or theDeputy Leader (Mr. Forde), is such a restriction of rights of members in accordance with the Standing Orders, and has the Leader of the Opposition communicatedto you that certain members are not permitted to call for a division? .
– I have no knowledge of the report referred to. I do not know from what source the honorable member is quoting, hut if I did, it would not concern the Chair. The Leader of the Opposition has certainly not approached meabout the matter.
– Nothingof the kind has happened.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that the Police Commissioner of New South Wales has forbiddenmembersof the policeforce in that State to enlist for serviceoverseas? Is that practice applied to police forces in the other States? If so, is that by arrangement with theCommonwealth Government? If not, is the practice a contravention of any of the provisions of the Defence Act or the National Security Regulations’?
– I am not quitesure of the exact position. Perhaps, by reference to the reserved occupations, I could give the honorable gentleman a more definiteanswer, butI shall investigate the state of affairs, which, he alleges,exists, find out the exact position, and give him aconsidered answer..
– In orderto save the timeof busy men and women who wish to listen in to the broadcast news ‘bulletins, will the Postmaster-General arrange with thebroadcasting service to havenew and repeated items of information indicated ?
– I shall be pleased to take up that suggestion with the Australian Broadcasting Commission in order to ascertain whether improvements can be introduced.
– In view of the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday that the Government intends to ‘co-opt business men and industrialists of much experience in the war effort,can the right honorable gentleman inform the House if Mr. Hartnett, of General Motors-Holdens Limited, and Mr.Smith, of Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, have ‘been co-opted by the Government.
– I cannot.
– Will the Prime Ministerinform the House as soon as possible ofthe names and official address of officers in each State to whom inventors should communicate inventions which are thought likely tobe useful in naval, military, or air defence?
– I shall be very glad to see whether that can be done.
– Will the Minister for the Army state whether it is a fact that he has received a large number of applications from returned soldiers and others over the age of 40; who: are anxious to serve the country at this time? Is. it a. fact that there is a large number of younger mens employed in Victoria Barracks, and throughout the Public Service who could well be replaced by some of the older men who have offered their services? Will the Minister take steps, to enable the Commonwealth to avail i tself of the services of these older men ?
– A great number of those who are serving in the Army in Victoria Barracks have been serving in the MilitiaForce formany years; and have been trained in the duties- which they are now performing. It would not be possible to make a general change-over immediately to untrained personnel, and still maintain the present volume of work. Nevertheless, the principle raised by the honorable member’s question is being kept in mind, and a gradual change-over is being effected. I should not like the impression to go abroad, however, that there is extensive employment in Victoria Barracks of young men fit f or military service. That is not so. As far as possible, Class II. men. are employed.
– Will the Minister for the Navy state whether, under the new naval programme, a hospital ship is to be equipped? I make the inquiry because I have received requests from persons desiring to serve in such a vessel.
– The decision to secure a hospital ship was taken some time ago by the Government, and a vessel is now being equipped for that purpose.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that copies of a publication known as Smith’s Weekly Have this weekbeen sent to all members of the Federal Parliament to bring under their notice an article headed,. “Fif th Column in Australia”? In that article, specific instances are given of the activities and flagrant juibilation of German sympathizers presumably of German nationality, in Sydney. Will he have this publication submitted to the proper authorities with a view to checking the allegations, and, if necessary, taking drastic action?
– I have not seen the article, nor the. publication referred to by the honorable member,but I shall have it deferred to the proper authorities..
– In view of the statements of the Prime Minister yesterday regarding the speeding up of Australia’s war effort, will he place definite proposals before members of the State governments indicating how they can help? I have in mind particularly the Ministers for railways. The Prime Minister said that there was not the same assistance to be had in Parliament here as in Great Britain, but I assure him that there are many men fir this House capable of giving valuable assistance if the opportunity were provided.
– No possible means of speeding up our war effort will be neglected.
– Will the Treasurer explain why the Government refused to accept the recommendation of the Senate SelectCommittee to pay compensation to Captain Conway, especially as it had been agreed to by the Senate?
– The honorable member’s question involves a matter of policy, and it. is not.customary to give such information in answer to questions.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to the fact that Canada raised its first war loan of £57,000,000 at 2 per cent. interest? What interest is Canada paying at the present time on new war loans ? Will the Government consider the raising of money in Australia at a lower rate of interest?
– I shall be glad to give particular information to the honorable member on the points raised by him. I think he will find, when he goes into the matter, that the rates of interest paid on war loans in Australia are at least comparable with those paid in Canada, when we consider the conditions prevailing, and the availability of money, in the two countries.
– Seeing that the appraisement scheme does not apply to wool tops and skin wool so that wool of this kind may presumably be purchased in the open market, or under a system of price fixation, will the Minister for Commerce make a statement to the House outlining the policy of the Government in this regard?
– I shall do so as soon as possible.
– Is the Minister for the Navy aware that the residents of Potts Point object to the construction of a graving dock in their vicinity, and that the citizens of Adelaide would be very pleased if the Adelaide site were chosen for this work ?
– The graving dock will be constructed on the site which the Government deems most suitable, regardless of any personal considerations.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether his Government intends to follow the course proposed by the Government of the United Kingdom, namely, to take over and control all industries connected with the manufacture of war materials and munitions, as well as banking, in view of his statement yesterday in regard to the serious crisis which faces Australia and the British Commonwealth of Nations generally?
– The statement made by the Lord Privy Seal in relation to that matter is being examined by the Government in all of its aspects.
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, in whom is vested the right to decide the order in which notices of motion shall appear on the business-paper? This session, the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) was the first and I was the second to place on the businesspaper a notice of motion. Subsequently, notice of motion was given by two other honorable members, and they have been given precedence in the order in which general business is to be taken to-day. Is precedence to be given to honorable members opposite, despite the fact that they were a fortnight later than the honorable member for Maribyrnong and I in giving notice of motion ?
– The honorable members whose notices of motion the honorable member says have been given precedence in the order of general business for to-day gave notice that they would move their motions on this day. The honorable member did not do that.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong and I gave notice that we would move our motions on the next day on which general business was taken.
– The honorable member is wrong; the day was not named.
– In view of the danger arising from the presence in Australia of a Nazi fifth column, will the Minister for the Army state whether the Government has made a complete check of all the persons with whom Count von Luckner made contact when he was in Australia, including Captain James Patrick, the selected and. endorsed United Australia party candidate?
– If the honorable member reads the rules governing the answering of questions, he will learn that he is not in order in mentioning names, unless strictly necessary to render the question intelligible.
– Mr. Speaker–
– The honorable member may ask his question again later.
– Will you, Mr. Speaker, explain in what way the question I had proposed to ask the Minister for the Army was not in order?
– I shall read to the honorable member one of the rules which govern the asking of questions; they are printed for the information of honorable members. It reads -
Questions should not contain -
Statements of facts or names of persons unless they are strictly necessary to rentier the question intelligible and can be authenticated.
In the question of the honorable member the name of a person was given, unnecessarily in my opinion. There is another rule which provides that questions shall not contain imputations. Clearly there was an imputation in the question of the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for the Army: Is it a fact that while Count von Luckner was visiting Australia he was entertained by Captain James Patrick, a selected and endorsed United Australia party candidate?
– The question is out of order.
– In what way is the question out of order?
– For the reason that I gave when I ruled a previous question out of order, that a name was given unnecessarily. Furthermore, the question contains an imputation.
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Army whether any inquiries have been made by the Government concerningthe persons who entertained Count von Luckner during his visit to Australia, whether the Government has any information with respect, to the business that was then transacted, and whether the particular gentleman whom I have already named–
– Order ! The honorable member will resume his seat. He is defiant of the Chair, and his conduct will not be tolerated.
Bill brought up by Mr. Thorby, and read a. first time.
Bill brought up by Mr. Thorby, and read a first time.
– I move-
That, in accordance with sub-section (2) of suction two of the Committee of Public Accounts Act 1032, the suspension of the operation of the Committee of Public Accounts Act 1 9 13-1920 should cease forthwith.
I feel that the time has arrived for the reconstitution of the Committee of Public Accounts, the operation of which was suspended in 1932. It is estimated that the total expenditure of the Commonwealth, from revenue and loan accounts, during the next financial year, will reach the colossal sum of £200,000,000. This calls for closer supervision by Parliament than is possible under present-day conditions. In all democratic countries the control of the public purse is recognized as the supreme function of Parliament. Unfortunately, such control by the Commonwealth Parliament is gradually being reduced to a farce. There is no serious attempt during the course of the budget debate to make a close scrutiny of the proposed items of expenditure. As a matter of fact, examination will show that over 90 per cent, of the speeches made during the budget debate contain no reference whatever to financial matters, that debate being one of the few opportunities afforded to honorable members to refer to important matters affecting their constituencies. Furthermore, items involving the expenditure of millions of pounds are frequently rushed through without any discussion whatever, because of the pressure of time. Again, the necessary detailed information is not available to honorable members, who consequently have to take a great deal for granted when discussing the Estimates. The need for some reform in the direction that I suggest isthe more urgent to-day, in view of the huge expenditure on defence, which, owing to the rush character of the work, is not subject to the strict budgetary control that is exercised in respect of ordinary governmental expenditure. I recognize that under existing conditions Ministers have not the time to examine closely the details of many of the items of expenditure which affect their departments. Apart from the abnormal defence expenditure now being incurred, the growth of governmental expenditure during the last ten years has been so heavy as to call for serious attention. In 1928-29 the total expenditure of the Commonwealth Government from revenue was £73,000,000; by 1938-39, it had risen to £95,000,000, an increase of nearly 30 per cent., notwithstanding that during that decade the population of Australia increased by only about 10 per cent. During that period there was no extension of our social services, although it is true that, owing to the greater number of persons who became eligible for invalid and old-age pensions, the cost of such pensions increased by £6,000,000. That increase was, however, more than compensated for by a fall of interest charges’ amounting to nearly £7,000,000. I emphasize that during that period of ten years there was no abnormal increase of defence expenditure. The vigorous programme associated with the defence of Australia was not embarked upon until after June, 1939. It is difficult for honorable members to ascertain from the information available the causes of so marked an increase of the cost of government.
If we examine the ordinary votes covering the administrative costs of the various departments, sucH as salaries and general expenses, we find that during the last five years the amount has increased from £3,000,000 to £4,500,000, an increase of about 50 per cent. Here again I emphasize that that increase does not include any defence expenditure whatever, either for administration or services. I have examined the comparative statement of administrative expenses, and I find that the only expense which might be regarded as new during those five years was in connexion with the Civil Aviation Department, the expenditure on which increased from £97,000 in 1935-36 to an estimate of £598,000 for the current year. But. oven allowing for that additional amount of about £500,000, the accounts still show an increase amounting to about 33^ per cent, in respect of the administrative costs of the various departments. If the administrative expenses of a private concern showed a similar increase, there would be a most searching inquiry into the cause; but this Parliament allows such things to pass without calling for any explanation. During the budget debate last year, as well as in the previous year, I drew attention to this marked increase of governmental expenditure, but received no explanation. I do not suggest that the increases arc not justified, but .L do say that it is the duty of members of this House to satisfy themselves on that point, and also to see that the money is well expended.
I draw attention to one or two other phases of our public accounts. It is impossible for members to ascertain, from the accounts which arc presented to Parliament, the true position of certain activities of the Government, because they are included in comprehensive votes. I referred some time ago to the interest bill of £1,500,000 which is paid by the Post Office (,o the Treasury: Honorable members who have examined the balancesheet which is published each year by the Post Office will have observed that, whilst it pots out fully the assets of the department, its liability to- the Government is not shown. There are other directions in which honorable members should have mo information in regard to the financial ramifications of the Government.
I desire now to refer to the finances of government hostels in Canberra. I do not think that many honorable members ave aware that government hostels in Canberra incurred a trading loss of £8,544 last year. That represents a loss of abou!. £174 a week. I know that there are certain circumstances associated with these hostels which explain some of that loss. From my experience of similar concerns which are privately controlled, I say that an inquiry into the causes of such losses is warranted-
– If the committee be reconstituted, will the honorable member be a candidate for appointment to it?
– It is for the House to saywhich of its members shall be appointed to the committee.
Another government activity which should he inquired into is the Canberra motor omnibus service, which showeda loss of £5,721 last year, or about £114 a week. The accounts for the omnibuses are combined with those of other transport vehicles owned by the Commonwealth Government in Canberra. When I made some inquiries as to the losses on the omnibus service, I was told that the Transport Branch made a profit of £15,000 last year. That result is obtained by charging other departments10d. for every mile travelled by departmental cars, so that the position really is that the more the profit, the greater the loss because the Commonwealth Government has to pay the £15,000. It is a fictitious gain.
I could mention other directions in which this Parliament should exercise more control over expenditure. I repeat that it is impossible for members, however keen they may be, to make a critical survey of the financial statements which are presented to Parliament. That is due to lack of time, as well as paucity of information. Nevertheless, it is the duty of honorable members to take a keener interest in these matters. In this connexion the British House of Commons and the parliaments of other British dominions have set an excellent example. New Zealand, South Africa and Canada, as well as Great Britain itself, have their Public Accounts Committees. I wish however, to refer particularly to the committee set up by the House of Commons. That committee exercises a considerable measure of control over public expenditure. It is required to make a thorough examination of the Estimates and to report thereon to the Parliament. The House of Commons is not content with a mere formal reception of the appropriation accounts. Honorable members may be interested to know the powers which were vested in the Public Accounts Committee by this Parliament. The act provides that the duties of this committee shall be
Those are wider than in any of the other dominions, although not so comprehensive as those of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee. Our act provides for a committee of ten members, seven of whom shall be appointed by the House of Representatives, and three by the Senate. Moreover, it is to be representative of all of the parties in the Parliament. I am confident that there are members with financial aptitude in this chamber, as well as in the other branch of the legislature, who would be willing to serve on such a committee. In my opinion, members of this Parliament should have greater opportunities to render service than now exist. The re-establishment of the Public Accounts Committee would afford an opportunity to members who are competent to do so to make a critical examination of the financial statements presented to Parliament from time to time.
The Parliament should give more consideration to the Auditor-General’s report. At present that important document is practically ignored by the Parliament.
– It comes before us too late to be of much value.
– I realize that difficulty ; but I suggest that it could be overcome by providing special opportunities for the House to discuss this important document. Unfortunately, it is not often possible for us to have the Auditor-General’s report before us when we are considering the budget. On a number of occasions I have made representations in this connexion, and last year the report of the Auditor-General was presented just before the final consideration of the budget. The law requires every public company to submit, with its annual report and balance-sheet, the auditors’ report, yeta similar provision does not operate in respect of the accounts of the Commonwealth Government.
Another subject to which attention should be directed is the annual report of the Postmaster-General, which incorporates the departmental accounts. The report for the year ended the 30th June, 1939, did not reach us until early this month. This is one of the most important financial institutions of the Commonwealth, having a turnover of about £17,000,000 per annum. I ask honorable members how often this important financial statement concerning one of the biggest business undertakings of Australia has been discussed in Parliament? In the two or three years that I havebeen a member of this House no opportunity has been provided to discuss either the Auditor-General’s report or the Postmaster-General’s report. I urge that some provision be made each year for honorable members to debate the issues raised in these important reports. It can hardly be gainsaid that the members of the Commonwealth Parliament should be given an adequate opportunity to consider and discuss the financial operations of our various big public undertakings as revealed in their statements of accounts. A much closer scrutiny of the various items of expenditure shown in these documents would provide a healthy check against extravagance or the misuse of public funds. The taxpayer is being called upon to carry a. very heavyburden in meeting the everexpanding financial commitments of the Government, and it is the bounden duty of the members of this Parliament to see that public money is well and wisely spent.
I do not wish tobe misunderstood. My remarks are not to be regarded as in any way a reflection upon Cabinet Ministers or responsible members of the Public Service. I pay a tribute to the skill and integrity of the Commonwealth Public Service. It is pointed out in the report of the Auditor-General for last year that the net defalcations of public officers in that period amounted to only about £300. When we consider the wide ramifications of the financial operations which come within the scope of the duties of public servants, it is a tribute to their honesty and probity that the defalcations were so small. This, of course, is also a tribute to the efficiency of the check applied by the Auditor-General’s Department.
– Has the honorable member anything to say about the size of the Public Accounts Committee? The existing act provides for a committee of ten.
– I have an open mind on that subject. An honorable member has asked by interjection whether I would be a candidate for membership of the committee. I have no desire to he a member. I am capable of making any investigations of this kind without being a member of the committee. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that it is desirable that as many honorable members of this Parliament as possible shall be given the opportunity to make a thorough survey of the public accounts. Unless Parliament exercises its power to control the public purse, its authority as an elected body may disappear, or, at any rate, become even more seriously curtailed than it now is. If honorable members allow their rights and privileges to be abrogated in this way they may find their activities limited to the making of investigations, on behalf of their constituents, in various public departments. I hope that my motion will be agreed to (because the time has undoubtedly come for us all to take a more active part in connexion with the financial activities of the nation.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Nock) adjourned.
. -I move -
That in the opinion of this House it is desirable that a select committee, comprising representatives from each party in this House, should be appointed to inquire into and report upon the report of theRoyal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems, with particular reference to paragraph 504.
The report of the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems was presented to Parliament in July, 1937. It may be described as a masterly document, giving considerable guidance in respect of our political economy. It was only by means of such a royal commission that much of the valuable information which the report contains could have been made available. The majority report contains 693 paragraphs covering 257 pages of printed matter. The various sections of the report covered the following subjects : -
Following the majority report, there was a statement of dissents and reservations by minorities. Then came a summary of the recommendations.
The purpose of my motion is to have set up a select committee to undertake an exhaustive examination of the various details of the report, in order to make it clear to Parliament exactly what the commission did recommend.
– Why not ask the commission to interpret its own findings?
– That would not be possible, for the commission is defunct. I agree that an interpretation of many paragraphs is absolutely necessary. In the circumstances the best means to clarify certain aspects of the recommendations is, in my opinion, through the appointment of a select committee. It will hardly be denied that some of the recommendations are obscure and need elucidation. The proposed select committee could also be empowered to deal with matters of importance in our financial structure, which were not referred to the commission. I have no desire at present to advocate any particular banking reform policy. That is not my object. It is necessary, I feel, that the recommendations of the commission should be clarified. The proposed select committee could be authorized to take evidence if it deemed that course to be necessary. Any report that it would make would, I feel, be of the utmost value to the Parliament and the nation.
I think that all honorable members will agree that paragraph 504 of the commission’s report needs considerable elaboration.
– Would the honorable gentleman suggest that Senator Darcey should be a member of the committee?
– I am not concerned at present about the membership of the committee. I suppose that other honorable members have, like myself, received numerous letters concerning certain aspects of the commission’s report, particularly in relation to paragraph 504. Dealing with central bank credit this paragraphstates - 504. Because of this power, the Commonwealth Bank 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.
Having heard this paragraph honorable members will agree that it is high time the position in that respect should be clarified. A select committee could expeditiously carry out its work and report to Parliament.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the intention of paragraph 504 of the commission’s report is not clear?
– I certainly do. I admit that later references in the report are to some degree explanatory, but there can he no doubt at all that further elucidations are highly desirable. I solicit the support of honorable members for my motion, for I believe that the select committee could submit an invaluable report to Parliament.
Debate (on motionby Mr. Nock) adjourned.
Motion for Select Committee. Mr. DRAKEFORD (Maribyrnong) [3.50].- I move-
That a select committee be appointed to inquire into the following matters: -
The permanent filling of higher positions in the Commonwealth Public Service ;
The temporary filling of higher positions in the Commonwealth Public Service;
The administration of the Postmaster General’s Department concerning the replacement of condemned telegraph poles ; and
The administration by the Postmaster-
General’s Department of the provisions of the arbitration award relating to line staffs.
This matterhas been on the notice-paper for a considerable space of time. Last session I moved a similar motion, and the then Postmaster-General (Mr. Harrison) moved the adjournment of the debate, which appears to be the fate of motions moved by private members, but is a practice that makes it impossible to ventilate fully, and to have a thorough discussion on, the merits of motions.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).The honorable member is not in order in criticizing a decision of the House.
– I do not wish to offer any unfavorable criticism of a decision of the House, but there must he dissatisfaction amongst private members if, immediately after the conclusion of the speech of an honorable member who has moved a motion, a Minister moves for the adjournment of the debate. Obviously, the Minister’s motion would be carried if it were pressed. . Twice to-day the debate on private members’ motions has been adjourned on the motion of a Minister, and the rights of honorable members have been taken away by the procedure. It is not good practice to set aside a. day for discussion of private members’ motions if the length to which they can be discussed is to depend absolutely on the will of the Government.
– I remind the honorable gentleman that it is the will of the House.
– When a Minister proposes the adjournment of the debate his motion is carried. It may be that the Government considers that the time is not ripe for discussion, but when the Government obtains the adjournment of the debate, immediately after the mover has spoken, the right that is supposed to be given to honorable members to ventilate matters which the Government itself has not taken up is restricted to the mover of the motion. That cannot be intended. It is merely a way to jockey aside proposals put forward.
– The honorable member should present his case.
– I presented my case in the last session and after I had done so further debate was adjourned and no further discussion was allowed.
Before presenting my case I am entitled to have in the House the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Thorby), or representatives of the departments which will be criticized. If ministerial duties prevent the Minister’s attendance, senior officers of his department should at least occupy the seats reserved for public servants and I strongly resent the fact that they are not present. I do not take up the time of the House unless I have a just cause to do so. The rights of private members are being swept aside and we are getting executive government, not parliamentary government.
No further opportunity was given before Parliament Was prorogued for discussion of my motion. It therefore became necessary for me, when this session began, to give notice of the motion afresh and to move it again to-day. Much disappointment arose amongst those concerned from the fact that this motion was not dealt with in the last session, because they strongly desired that the matter should be discussed and the proposed committee appointed. It may be thought that in the critical times through which we are passing, that this motion should not be persevered with, but it is essential; that the dissatisfaction which exists should not be allowed to continue. No doubt there are men from the. departments which would be affected by the investigations of the select committee, who have volunteered and are already being trained or are on active service, who would take the view that their representatives had fallen down on their job if they did not press for a remedy of their legitimate grievances, so that they would be no longer in existence on their return. In the postal service there is as loyal and efficient a body of men as exists in any other service in Australia. I know this from personal contact with postal officials in my. own electorate, and with the various unions. I feel keenly and strongly on matters of this kind. If this select committee is appointed, it could make an investigation . thorough in character and, if required, could make recommendations which would, if adopted, remove causes of the unrest which is known to exist. I do not want a committee that would have power to ramble round and investigate everything. All that I want is a committee to investigate the four specific matters mentioned in my motion, not a committee of general inquiry. They are worthy of investigation. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has indicated to this House that the Government desires to have created and preserved harmonious industrial relations. Every honorable member will agree with the desirability of that state of affairs being achieved and maintained. Support for the right honorable gentleman’s efforts in. that direction are, I think, assured from most, if not all, sections of the community. This, however, in my view, implies, if it does not demand, that the Government should remove the causes of dissatisfaction within our own Commonwealth Public Service. Failure to do so would bc to set a bad example to other employers, and would have a bad effect on the public mind. The committee that I” propose could complete its inquiries in fairly quick time, so that there could be no objection to the proposal on that score. Any recommendations that the committee made, would, I understand, be the subject of discussion in this House, and the merits of those recommendations could be weighed before we decided whether or not they should be applied. The Amalgamated Postal Workers Union has many thousands of members spread throughout Australia, and I am informed that dissatisfaction has existed for a considerable time and in many places, and that the responsible officers of the organization’ feel that, as the result of the representations made to them, dissatisfaction can be removed only by an investigation such as is proposed by my motion. I can see no difficulties and no reason why the Appeal Board, or the Public Service Board itself, should not be willing to have this investigation made.
The matter of promotions has been the subject of representation by organizations of Commonwealth employees over a long period to the Public Service Board and to the Government itself. Representations have been made to various govern ments and to various PostmastersGeneral about the dissatisfaction which exists. In one case the PostmasterGeneral has been the means of prompt attention. When he was PostmasterGeneral the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) received a deputation, of which I was a member, about one matter which is set out in this motion. In quick time he gave partial relief, but the trouble seems to be that, once a little attention has been given to some trouble, the same trouble arises again. The men in the Postal Department feel that some of the men who are appointed to more favoured positions get those positions because they are under the notice of the chief administrative officer; so in cases of this kind it boils down to this : that those men who are more favorably located and can bring their activities under the notice of responsible officials have a far better chance of promotion than those who happen to be in distant areas. In the Victorian Railway Department, with which I was associated for more than 25 years, either as an employee or as an officer of an organization, very much the same kind of thing happens. Certain officers who had the advantage of being located at, the head office came under the notice of the ‘Commissioners and heads of branches and received appointments to high positions, whereas other men, who had similar seniority, but had no opportunity to come into direct contact with the heads of the branches and the Commissioners, were overlooked altogether. If the record of the Victorian railways were examined it would be found that many of the men promoted to high positions in recent years had been favoured by their coming into direct contact with the Railway Commissioners.
– In those circumstances there is no inducement for men to go outback.”
– No. If men do go outback, they have great difficulty in getting back to the head office. I do not believe that Commonwealth Ministers desire to see that state of affairs exist in the Commonwealth Public Service. I know that it will be said that there is a board of appeal, but I remind the House that it 13 claimed that. the right to appeal is exercised in 40 per cent, or 50 per cent, of the cases in which appointments are made. Though the men are given a chance to set out in writing what they feel to be t heir grievances, the system is altogether unsatisfactory, especially when men find that junior officers who they know have no greater qualifications than they have are given better jobs and eventually rise to high positions because of their close contact with the administrative authorities. In those circumstances, naturally, a state of dissatisfaction, which is not good for the Service, is bound to continue. I do not advocate that men should be promoted to high positions regardless of capacity and efficiency. That would bc against section 50 of the Public Service Act, but men should be given the opportunity to demonstrate their efficiency equally with other applicants for high positions. I do not suggest that the Public Service Board is a partisan body, but, in the circumstances of the last few years, the men feel that they have cause for dissatisfaction and, surely, it is worth something to the Government and to the public, whom those employees serve, that something should be clone to ascertain whether their dissatisfaction is justified.
Apart from the Postal Department there are men in other branches of the Commonwealth Public Service who feel similar dissatisfaction. Let me give one example. Sometimes applications are invited for men to fill the position of divisional returning officer. Under the Public Service Act, any member of the Public Service can :apply for such a position. It frequently happens that men from outside the Electoral Department, who have absolutely no experience in electoral matters, which require to be handled by an expert, are appointed, with the result that experienced junior officers have to help them to do their work. I believe that a similar state of affairs exists in many other branches of the Service, and the object of the investigation for which I am asking i3 an endeavour to remedy the dissatisfaction.
One matter which warrants investigation is the replacement of condemned telegraph poles. The Postal Department’s programme for the replacement of defective poles is always behind the schedule.
In Victoria there were many thousands of defective poles, which employees are expected to climb every day, and that has been only partly dealt with. I can cite instances of loss of life and serious injury as the result of the fall of those poles. Lt is the duty of the Postal Department, which has had large surpluses for years, and could not be described as being short of funds, to remove a danger which threatens the lives and limbs of its employees. There should be no economy within the department at the expense of the safety of employees. The authorities should, see that the danger is completely removed. There is an ample supply of poles, and if there are not enough men in the department to do the work, there are plenty of unemployed who could be trained to do the kind of work required in a very short time. I assure honorable members that I would not press for an investigation into these matters unless I believed that there was good ground for dissatisfaction.
There is also dissatisfaction amongst employees because of infringements of the Public Service Arbitrator’s awards by over-zealous administrators. It may be said that the men can, through their organizations, apply to the Arbitrator for relief, but the Arbitrator has so many applications before him already that any one making a fresh application might have to wait months, or even years, before ho can be heard. However anxious the Arbitrator might, be to hear the men’s grievances, he is unable to do so because of the pressure of work. Nor have the men the right to seek redress in the ordinary courts of the land. It is specifically provided that they may not seek a remedy in law for infringement of awards as in the case of Commonwealth Arbitration Court awards. All these matters furnish strong reasons for the appointment of a select committee to inquire into them. The inquiry need not be protracted, and a report could be furnished quite soon. It is not right that advantage should be taken of the loyalty of the employees by allowing their grievances to remain unredressed. They are entitled to justice and reasonable treatment. The proposed terms of reference, as set out in my motion, do not cover a very wide ambit, and the whole matter could be disposed of without delay. I trust that this motion will not be treated summarily, as are most matters brought forward by private members. It seems to have become the unfortunate practice that the honorable member who moves a motion is allowed to make his speech, and then the debate is adjourned on the motion of a Minister. That would be to treat the matter with contempt. I ask for the support of other honorable members in my request for the appointment of this select committee, so that causes of dissatisfaction in the Postal Department may be removed.
Motion (by Mr. Thorby) put -
That the debate be now adjourned. (Mr. Speaker - Hon.g. J. Bell.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move -
That in the opinion of this House paragraph (fb) of section 17, and paragraph(h) of sub-section (1.) of section 22 of the Invalid and Old-Age Pensions Act should be repealed, or, failing that, the concessions that applied to relatives’ under section 52m, until that section was repealed by Act No. 1 of 1935, should be allowed to parents or relatives of invalid pensioners or applicants for the invalid pension.
I take strong exception to the practice of the Government in avoiding the taking of a vote on motions moved by private members on grievance day, even though the honorable members may have obtained assurances of support from other honorable members. Unless this practice is changed, we can only conclude that this is “ belly-aching “ day for private members, and that there is no chance whatever of a decision being reached on any matter they may bring forward. I have had this motion on the notice-paper at different times for the last five years. Each new session, it becomes necessary to put it on again, and only once have I had an opportunity to speak to it. The provision to which I object was inserted in the Invalid and Old- Age Pensions Act in 1932 by the first Lyons Government. It was included among other equally inequitable amendments of the act, such as the amendment which provided that when a pensioner died the Government could recover from his estate the amount of pension he had received during his life. Section 52m was repealed because it contained one of the most unpopular provisions that had ever been incorporated in the act insofar as very large numbers of electors are concerned. Unfortunately, governments adopt the principle of legislating in accordance with the number of votes involved. Section 52m provided that relatives of pensioners should contribute towards the cost of the pension. It read -
In order to ascertain whether or not any of the relatives (namely, the husband, wife, father, mother, or children over twenty-one years of age) of a pensioner are able and ought to contribute towards the cost of the pension of the pensioner, a deputy commissioner may, from time to time, send by post a notice to every such relative requiring him, within the time limited in the notice, to make a proposal in writing: for w voluntary contribution towards such cost, or furnish- in a prescribed form a declaration as to His means arid- ability.
The section went’ on- to provide’ that,- in the absence of a voluntary contribution, a court of summary jurisdiction could order the making, of such- a contribution’ as- in its opinion the person concerned was- ableto’ make in accordance with his- income ;. and refusal’ to comply with the order of the court rendered- him liable to imprisonment. The government* of the day was challenged by sons” who were’ prepared to make voluntary contributions but absolutely refused to> make them1 under compulsion. It is’ known that members of Parliament defied- the Government to take them to court;, they were prepared, to mallee contributions voluntarily, but objected’ to’ the use of compulsion. I say definitely that any son or daughter who has-‘ age* parents and, being, able, to contribute to their support, is’ not prepared to1 do- so, is not worthy of the name- of son’ or daughter. Were’ I a pensioner with ason or daughter who waa not: prepared to> make; a’ voluntary contribution to my support,. I should definitely refuse to accept anything made under compulsion. 08 the eve- of the- 1934 elections) the government, of the day, recognizing, the unpopularity of the provision and the many thousands of sons and daughters who had a vote* and were- affected by it, suspended its- operation, and- in 1935 the section wasrepealed.. This proves my’ contention that, for vote-catching* purposes, governments are prepared to ignore the claims of a small section, on the principle that legislation’ should be for- the greatest, good of the greatest number, overlooking the fact that an injury to one is. the concern, of. all.. In the industrial field, when. I worked as a miner,. I always opposed the making of rules by miners’ organizations which followed, the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number and overlooked the claims of a minority. There is a minority suffering under the operation of paragraph fu of section 17, and paragraph /(. of sub-section 1 of section 22, which make provision in. respect of the adequate maintenance of an applicant for a pension by relatives. We know that a large number of parents have children. Because votes of thousands of sons arid’ daughters would otherwise have gone ii gainst the Government in. 1934, the operation; of section 52m was suspended, I. have asked in vain* different Treasurers to- repeal these’ paragraphs in; sections 17 and- 22.. However; it seems that as* not many persons-: or votes” are! affected’ thefew who* are must: continue’ te-: suffer. The basic wage is deemed- to be adequate to Support a1- man, his- wife and twochildren, even if one child be– under- 65> years of age and’ unable to work- because’ of invalidity. I had in1 my electorate a-
Uran 54 years of age whose father is- 80! years of age. Because, by thrift, thefather’ has saved a few asset’s, the son is denied a pension. The principal act specified clearly that before- any person could receive an’ invalid’ pension he or she had to be of the age of sixteen years. That must indicate to- any intelligent person that the legislature believed that a parent needed assistance in respect of a child over that age; yet the amendment of the act in 1932 forced, parents to maintain their invalid children despite their age! That is a gross injustice. I do not suppose it would mean a great deal to the Government to pay a pension- in respect of all invalid, children the income of* whose parents- did not exceed’ £10 a- week. I have met on the coal-fields many distressing cases of parents in receiptof the basic wage, whose invalid children are unable to secure a pension. Under the operation of section 52m, a son, before being compelled to make a. contribution- towards the cost of the pension of his parents, was permitted to earn approximately £7 a week, yet to-day a parent receiving the basic wage of £4 2s. 6d’. a week is compelled to maintain an invalid child! What justice isthere in that provision? I realize thatall that I may say on this matter will, have little effect because, as soon as 1 conclude my speech, a Minister will move that the debate be adjourned, and probably we shall hear no more of it for another five years. Some honorable members opposite are in sympathy with my proposal, and would vote for it if given the opportunity to do so: There is no hope of justice being obtained so long as it is impossible to have a vote taken. How often do we- find that a parent with the bare taxable income is. not allowed the concessional deduction of £50 in respect of an invalid child over the age of sixteen years, and yet is allowed such a deduction in respect of a perfectly healthy child up to that age? Many parents have maintained invalid and unemployed children without receiving any benefit from the taxation law. The maintenance of a child up to sixteen years of age is less than that of one from sixteen years onwards. Why should there not be an allowance in respect of the latter? The Government is. permitting this injustice to continue merelybecause so few persons are affected. It always endeavours to gull the people, and at the same time retain their support for its candidates at elections. All attempts to secure sympathetic consideration for the claims of parents of invalid children are put on one side.
– Adult pensioners have votes and they should use them against the Government.
– When they next have an opportunity they will certainly do so, but unfortunately they do not represent a majority of the electors. They would ensure that the Government was removed from office if they were able to decide the question. The amending bill that was passed in 1935 did nothing to remove the injustice of which I am complaining. Its purpose was - to amend sections seventeen, twentytwo and fifty-two k of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908-1933, to repeal sections fifty-two a, fifty-two c, fifty-two d, fifty-two E, fifty-two f and fifty-two M of that act, and to provide for the determination of certain debts due, orders made, and undertakings given in pursuance of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 1908-1932 or in pursuance of that act as subsequently amended,
That simply meant that the Government would not proceed with the prosecution of persons who had refused to contribute towards the support of their pensioner parents. Where is the justice in that? Is not the parent, who is rearing a young family, more entitled to sympathetic consideration from the Government than the child in affluent circumstances who callously refuses to contribute towards the support of his aged parents ? The parent has cared for the child from birth, succoured and comforted him, and made sacrifices in order to educate him and fit him for the struggle of life. But the Government, because of the wrath and themany thousands of votes of individuals who refused to contribute to the support of their parents, saw fit to repeal the section of the act which made contributions compulsory, and left intact the other section compelling a father to maintain an invalid despite the fact that his age maybebeyond sixteen years. How can we expect justice from a government which allows that kind of injustice to be perpetuated? I am prepared to guarantee that the majority of honorable members are in sympathy with my case; I challenge the Minister not to move the adjournment of this debate but to answer my arguments and justify the Government’s inaction in this connexion. He should thenallow the House to vote on the motion.
Motion (by Mr. Thorby) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
SUPPLY (Grievance Day).
Question proposed -
That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of Supply.
.- I take advantage of this opportunity to bring to the notice of the Government a matter of urgent importance, in which Australia can do something extra to help Great Britain in its present time of trial. I refer to the peculiar circumstances of the dairying and pig-raising industry arising from the extraordinary situation overseas. Since Germany has ravaged so many of the smaller countries, Great Britain is experiencing great difficulty in obtaining adequate supplies of primary products, particularly dairy and pig produce. I ask the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) to take definite action to ensure that Australia shall render the greatest possible assistance to Great Britain and, at the same time, help its own dairying industry. Australia is particularly well suited to dairy-farming, because of its great fertile spaces, adequate supplies of men and stock, and its organization and factories. The dairy-farmers of Australia recently expressed concern at the accumulation oi large stocks of dairy products in Great Britain. They raised objections because the United Kingdom Government saw fit to limit the individual weekly allowance of butter to 4 oz. Later the allowance was increased to 8 oz., but later still, it was once more reduced to 4 oz. In view of recent unfortunate happenings in Europe this seems to have been a sound policy. To-day, the great problem in Great Britain is to secure supplies of butter at all. Fears were held by Australian dairy-farmers that the reduction of the butter allowance in Great Britain would encourage the use of margarine to such a degree that they would be seriously affected. The growth of the sales of margarine in the United Kingdom and Australia has reached alarming proportions. An agreement exists between
Great Britain and Australia for the purchase of Australia’s surplus dairy products at a reasonable price. That agreement is due to expire on the 30th June next, approximately five weeks from to-day. I ask the Minister for Commerce if this agreement has been reviewed, and, if it is to continue, at what price Australian dairy and pig products will be purchased on and after the 30th June? The dairyfarmers are entitled to know what will be done. It is time they were taken into the confidence of the Government in this matter. If the Minister will announce his intentions, and tell the dairy producers what prices they will receive on and after the 30th June, plans may be made to meet the situation.
I appreciate the importance of the extraordinary and unfortunate change of conditions overseas. Germany has ruthlessly, without provocation, occupied Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Norway and Poland, and devastated other areas, all of which provided Great Britain with large quantities of dairy products. Those supplies have been cut off. Even if it has not been destroyed, the industry in those countries will be disorganized for many years after the end of the war, and will be unable to- meet Great Britain’s requirements for a long period. Great Britain will soon have to purchase dairy products at prices much higher than those prevailing at the present time, and, therefore, I ask the Minister what arrangements he proposes to make to help the Mother Country in this matter. I have in my hand a list of the quantities of butter imported by Great Britain iri 1937. It will give honorable members some idea of the magnitude of the loss sustained by Great Britain as the result of the German conquests. The total, imports of butter into Great Britain from foreign countries during 1937 were -
Those are the only foreign countries from which Great Britain has obtained butter, and those sources of supply, except Argentina, are now cut off. My point is that, whereas before the German invasion of the countries which I have mentioned, Great Britain obtained 225,000 tons of butter from foreign sources, those supplies are now confined to 4,840 tons a year from Argentina. I urge the Minister to bring this matter before the Australian Agricultural Council, with a view to arranging for a conference with representatives of the dairy producers and pig raisers of Australia, in order to ensure a nationwide effort to increase the production of dairy and pig products in Australia so that additional supplies may be made available to the United Kingdom.
– How will such products be taken to Great Britain ?
– Britain commands the seas, and I am sure will always do so. There will be no difficulty about getting the products to their destination. Great Britain has granted dairy products priority in shipping. Any shortage of shipping can bc overcome by building ships in Australia. The prospects before the Australian dairying industry are particularly bright because of the recent unfortunate activities of Germany in Europe. We must increase our export of dairy produce to the United Kingdom, but that cannot be done overnight. It will require a great deal of careful organizing. Greater production necessitates improved pastures, systematic provision for supplementing natural feeding, and storage of fodder in order to meet periods of drought and low rainfall. We shall have to increase the yield from each cow and each acre. During recent years the number of cows in registered dairies throughout Australia has fallen. That reduction must be checked. Eighteen, mouths must expire before young stock can be brought into production. I ask the Commonwealth Government to take this matter up with the State governments, the Commonwealth Bank, the Australian Dairy Council and other organizations, with a view to making funds available to encourage herd testing, pasture improvements and fodder conservation. Show societies might assist by encouraging with well arranged competitions. The position of Great Britain in regard to the supplies of these foods is critical. Australia can, and must, assist the Old Country to obtain ample food supplies. We have the land, the stock, the experience, the technical organization and the factories, and all that is necessary to supply greatly increased quantities of dairy produce. I appeal to the Government to co-operate with the State governments and dairy organizations in the re-organization of the dairying and pig industries. No other dominion can render to the Old Country the assistance which Australia can render in respect of butter supplies. By assisting Great Britain in this way we shall also render a valuable service to Australia, because increased activity in the dairying industry will make possible the settling of tens of thousands more people on the land, and provide employment for many others in the secondary aspects of the industry and increase the prosperity of those at present engaged in dairy farming. We can help to solve our own unemployment problem by rendering aid to Great Britain in the supply of essential foodstuffs.
– The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) has made a number of suggestions in connexion with the development of the Australian dairying industry, and whilst the Government is most anxious that that industry shall develop to the greatest degree possible, I shall not take the responsibility of advising the people of this country to increase dairy production enormously at this stage.
– The Minister said the same thing in connexion with wheat.
– I know what I am talking about. Should the wheat- crop this year be as great as it was last year, the honorable member, who is himself a wheat-grower, will realize that what I said about wheat was correct.
Although the arguments of the honorable member for Moreton may appeal to the people who are engaged in dairying, there is another side to the question. 3 should be happier if the British Government were showing that concern for Australian dairy production that the honorable member would have us believe; but the fact is that that Government is rationing the supplies of butter to the people of Great Britain, as the honorable member himself pointed out. Moreover, it is disregarding the interests of the Australian dairying industry, in that it insists on keeping Australian butter at the uneconomic price of1s. 7d. sterling per lb. Australian butter is being supplied to the United Kingdom under contract at prices which make possible its sale to British consumers at1s.4d. per lb. The action of the Imperial Government, far from assisting the Australian dairying industry, is creating an artificial demand for margarine. We cannot stand in two different positions in regard to this matter; either the British Government is encouraging the expansion of the Australian dairying industry, or it is not. I say without hesitation, or any possibility of contradiction, that the consumption of Australian butter in the United Kingdom would be considerably increased if the British Government were to reduce the price to1s. 4d. per lb. As it is, the stocks of our butter in that country are increasing heavily. This is a matter ofconcern to the Commonwealth Government. It is true that butter is on the priority list of commodities which may be shipped to Great Britain, but that favorable treatment should be followed by the United Kingdom reducing the price ofbutter, so that the workers and middle-class people of Great Britain may be encouraged to purchase Australian butter in preference to artificial margarine.
– The Minister is missing the main point of my argument, which is, that, whereas previously over 220,000 tons of butter reached Great Britain from continental countries, those supplies are no longer available.
– I know that perfectly well, but it does not get away from the fact that, owing to the policy operated by the British Government, the cold stores of Great Britain are nearly full of butter. There is likely soon to he inadequate storage for it. If shipping difficulties arise, we may find ourselves in a similar position in this country. That is a problem which the Commonwealth Government may have to face. I ask the House to bear with the . Government in this matter, and to accept my assurance that such matters as the supply and the price of butter, the lack of supplies from continental sources because of recent German action, and other aspects of this problem, are being carefully watched by the Department of Commerce..
– Many workers-, in Aus tralia are not able to afford butter.
Mr.ARCHIE CAMERON. - That maybe; at the moment we are dealing with the position in Great Britain. I have stated the facts. If the British Government is prepared to tell the Commonwealth Government that it wants more butter and, moreover, that after the war those Australian dairymen who supply Great Britain during the “war will retain certain rights in the British market, there will be less difficulty.
– Have representations been made to the British Government in this connexion?
– The Government is watching all of these points, but at the present time I shall not take the responsibility of telling dairymen in Australia to increase production heavily in order to supply the British market.
The honorable member for Moreton also referred to herd testing. This is a matter which has received attention for a number of years, and money for the purpose has been provided by the Rural Credits Branch of the Commonwealth Bank. . Because of the heavy demand upon the resources of the bank in other directions, I decided last night that no funds will be made available by the Commonwealth Government for herd testing this year. The amount involved is a little over £5,000, and I firmly believe that the State governments and other interests concerned are well able to find that amount. That sum can be used by the Commonwealth Bank in ways which will be of greaterbenefit to the primary producers of this country than by subsidizing the testing of herds during the next twelve months.
I have replied at this stage to the honorable member for Moreton because I realize his deep interest in the dairying industry. I assure him that when the Australian Agricultural Council meet?., alittle later this year, the future of the industry, will be one of the subjects to be discussed. If, in the meantime, any changes which will warrant the Commonwealth Government adopting a different attitude takes place, no one will be happier than I will be to bring to Parliament a recommendation to meet the situation. The present position is governed, not by what quantity of butter we can produce in Australia, but by the attitude of the British Government, which practically forces the sale of margarine,, to the: detriment of Australian and New Zealand butter..
– Has the British Government been approached in this matter ?
– I direct the attention of the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Archie Cameron) to the case of a young seaman whowas discharged from the Navy without compensation after four and a half years’ service because of a disease caused to his sight. This young fellow was on active service in the Indian Ocean, and while there he was instructed to clean a chute onhis ship, which had been blocked for some time. While he was at work some water shot down over a plank and splashed on his face. For three dayshe suffered agonizing pains in the head and eyes. He was afterwards in hospital for ten days. Various doctors treated him in two hospitals at Ceylon and in India where he was. required to remain for some weeks-. He was not told the nature of his trouble, but was sent back to Australia on a passenger vessel. On the homeward journey he was permitted to mingle with other passengers without any restrictions whatsoever. Upon his arrival in. Australia he was kept under the control of the naval authorities for a fortnight or three weeks and was then discharged without compensation.
I have made personal investigations into this case and have discovered that the naval authorities allege that the disability from which he is now suffering is hereditary and was not caused in the course of his occupation.
– Rubbish !
-That is my view. It seems to me to be absurd for the medical authorities of the Navy to deny com pensation to a discharged rating on the ground that the disease from which he is alleged to be suffering is hereditary and may have come to him from three or four generations back.
– The honorable gentleman is no doubt aware of a certain statement in the scriptures that has a bearing on that point.
– If the Minister would study the scriptures a little more closely, and apply their teachings to his conduct, he would probably be more merciful. In any case, I remind him of the scriptural injunction, “ Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s “.
– Well, I am Caesar for the time being in regard to this matter.
– Honorable members will appreciate that I am not able to. resist the medical testimony, but they must also know that the doctors are not always right. This, youngman was examined in 1937, while he was in the Navy, and returned a negative blood test, being passed as physically fit. Yet he has been discharged on a positive blood test.. Ipresume that it was on that ground that it was asserted that his trouble was hereditary. Ifmeasures of this kind are to be adopted in order to force young men out of the Navy, or the Army for that matter, it is a poor lookout for those who enlist. Iunderstand that just before this young man fell sick he was subjected to a severe eye and ear test to determine whether he was fit for certain submarine service. He passed his tests with high marks.
I have no doubt whatever that his trouble was due to a germ which was in the water thatsplashed on him. Instructions have been issued by the naval authorities that our men are not to swim in the waters around Ceylon, for it is considered to be unhealthy to do so. This, I submit, supports my contention that the young man’s disability is due to a germ that was in the water. Had a case of this kind occurred in the mercantile marine on our own coasts-, the employers of the man concerned would have been obliged to meet his medical and hospital expenses and to pay him compensation while he was unfit for work. Surely it will not be suggested that naval ratings should be subjected to less favorable treatment than men employed in the mercantile marine.
According to the decision in this case, young men who may be found to be suffering from tuberculosis after their entry into the Navy may be discharged without compensation. That would be most unfair. I should lite to know how the medical . authorities explain away the negative blood test of this young man. Surely it must be apparent that if he returned a negative blood test while in the Navy, the cause of the positive blood test, which resulted in his discharge must have arisen during his period of service. I am satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that this is so. I ask the Minister to display a more humane spirit in connexion with this case.
I have already communicated with the honorable gentleman in the interests of this man and have asked that if compensation may not be paid he may at least be given a. position on shore, but the Minister has refused even this modest request. In such circumstances, it is hard to understand how recruiting is to be encouraged. Young men who join the Navy or the Army to defend their country and the Empire should not be subjected to the kind of treatment which might be expected from the Huns who are to-day ravishing the world. As this man would have been entitled to medical attention and compensation until he was cured if his disability had occurred while he was working on our own coast., I ask that similar treatment be accorded to him as a man of our naval forces. The doctors have told him that it will take six or nine months to cure his complaint. Both he and his parents have suffered keen mental anguish because of what has happened. His parents would sign a declaration that, so far as . they know, neither they nor their parents have suffered from the disease which their son is said to have inherited. It is scandalous that a case like this is possible in our democracy.
I have examined this man’s discharge and have found that his conduct while he was in the Navy was good. I therefore appeal to the Minister to reconsider the case and to grant the young man compensation, or at least to find him a job on shore. The doctors have said that he will be quite capable
Mr. Mahoney. of working again. As he is married and has a young wife, he is in a very unhappy and, in my opinion, a most unfair, position. It is quite certain that he would not have been subjected to such treatment had he been in private employment. I have on many occasions been in touch with doctors who, when asked for certificates for men working under our Seamen’s Compensation Act, have said, “ Yes, certainly. I will issue the certificate for a week or two longer than may be justified under the strict letter of the law, so that the patient may be given a better chance to make a complete recovery “. If that can be done in respect of men who become sick while on duty on their own coast, surely it is not too much to ask that it shall be done in respect of men who become sick while on active service abroad. I trust that the Minister will give sympathetic and favorable attention to my representations, for the young man is well worthy of, and to my mind, is fully entitled to, the consideration for which I am asking. I place my protest on record, because 1 do not believe in the philosophy that the.. sins’ of the fathers should be visited on the children. The Minister should be big enough, humane enough, and a clear enough thinker to accept the responsibility to pay compensation to this young naval rating, who was serving in the Navy when the war broke out.
.- I speak to-day on behalf of men who have very little representation in this Parliament, largely because they are unorganized and because their industry is scattered throughout Australia - the tinminers. They have been carrying on for many years under varying conditions, but, mainly, the price which they have received for their product has been scarcely remunerative. If honorable members visited the tin-mining fields of Australia they would find that the economic conditions on the fields leave much to be desired. I have visited a number of those areas and I am satisfied that the men engaged in the production of tin are of such a type that they should be given a good deal of encouragement. Last- year, Senator J. B. Hayes, the President of th, Senate, and I took up the question for the fixation of an Australian price for tiu. We suggested that, owing to the fact that about 80 per cent, of the tin produced in Australia was used within Australia, it should be possible to fix a price governed by Australian standards of living and costs of production. After our agitation, the smelters decided to raise the price of tin. But the price of tin overseas also rose, and to-day, in terms of sterling, it is very much higher than the price which has been fixed in Australia, by the Commonwealth Prices* Commissioner. In Australian currency, the price overseas is £330 a ton, whereas the price fixed in Australia by the Prices Commissioner is only £306. The Australian tinproducer is losing about £25 on the return which he would get if he had a free market and was able to export his product, f have taken up this matter with the Prices Commissioner and I am satisfied from conversations with him that an effort is being made to control, to soma degree, the excess profits that the smelters make from the smelting of tin. I have been informed that the Prices Commissioner has seen fit to reduce smelting costs from £35 to £31 a ton and that, as the result, the unit value of tin has been increased to £2 14s. Nevertheless, the prices which the Australian tin-producers are receiving - I emphasize that 70 per cent, of the tin mined is the output of small mines and of men who could very well do with the maximum that can be obtained from their product - are not high enough. At present, any one who bad the privilege of sending tin to Singapore or the Malay States could obtain about 3s. a unit more than is paid to the Australian producers. I do not raise this matter to-day to urge an increase of price, but I feel that either at a later stage of the war or after the war is over the whole question of tin prices will have to be reviewed. I take this opportunity, therefore, to bring before the Government the sacrifice that is being made by the Australian tin-miners, and to urge that when the price of tin falls after the war, as it probably will fall, the price for tin in Australia should still be fixed in accordance with the Australian standard of living. The sacrifice that the tin-miners are making to-day will justify either myself or some other honorable member of this Parliament, when tin prices overseas fall, in pointing out to the Government the justice of maintaining until long after the war ends prices which accord with Australian conditions irrespective of overseas prices.
Mr. THOMPSON (New England) (“5.29 1 . - I desire to bring before the House a matter different from the ordinary personal or political subjects which are usually raised on these occasions - a matter of front rank national interest,. which has to do with the prolongation of.’ the life of this Parliament during the present war. I bring it under the notice of honorable members, not thinking for one moment that they have not already given consideration to it, because they have. The matter has been considered by the press. Various political organizations have discussed it, and, in some cases, come to a decision. But all of that attention was given to this question before the serious developments in Europe, and I venture to say to-day that most honorable members and the majority of the newspapers of Australia and all political parties are now more prepared to pay serious attention to it than they were before.
– The honorable member should speak for himself.
– I know that there is certain personal conflict about this matter, as indicated by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), but I do not think . that that has any relevance. Personal interests do not come into the present international situation. It does not matter whether the honorable member for East Sydney or the honorable member for New England agrees or disagrees, this question should be considered by this Parliament in the interests of the nation. We should brush aside our immediate personal interests. I have come to the conclusion, since I have been here this week, that we are not in this harbourage of Canberra in a fit mental condition to grasp the full gravity of the situation which has developed in the world outside. We hear news over the wireless and we hear all sorts of rumours and read the papers, but, when we go away to the capital cities and to the electorates, we shall find a high state of public alarm, something entirely different from the mental environment in which we find ourselves -here. This -week-end, as the result -of -the developments of the last few days, honorable members who are still prepared to apply .political tests to this question, and other questions, such as the formation of a national ;government, will find themselves in dwindling numbers and that their position is .difficult. A _ few minutes ago I and certain other honorable members heard a statement from the new Deputy Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee. He was .describing the reasons for the introduction of the new emergency measure in the British Parliament which was passed in the space of two hours. It went through the House of Lords in 20 minutes. The measure is the most revolutionary that has ever passed the British Parlianient. Under it, as explained .by Mr.. Attlee, the property and persons -of the whole .community of Great Britain automatically come under the control of the British Government during the war. Mr. Attlee admitted the gravity of the position and admitted that the new measure was unprecedented. He said, however, that .the situation was so grave, so critical that the Government was forced to take this step, even though it cut deeply into personal interests of the people of Great .Britain. He had no doubt that the innate loyalty of the people would rise to the occasion and, even though the Government took every penny and regimented the whole community on some form of national service, there was no man or woman in Great Britain who would raise an objection. That is the situation of which cognizance should be taken by this Parliament. I raise no party issue in this discussion because the time for party issues is past. When .a measure like that becomes operative in Great Britain, w.e must wake up and realize that we have obligations and responsibilities, not only to the British Government, but .also to ourselves. I know that there are .difficulties in the way of the prolongation of the life of .the Commonwealth Parliament. I .do not suggest for one .moment that political advantage should be taken of the war in order to give the honorable members at present in the Parliament long or -perhaps perpetual tenure of their seats. That would be the negation of democracy. I put this question: Is not the war position that has now developed a negation of .democracy ? Does it not threaten democracy itself ? That feeing aso, .as upholders of the .democratic system, we must consider any method by which we can .-assist ‘Great Britain - -the country that is making all sacrifices to-day .to win the war. I sheard last night over the .air .a description of the preparations , being made by Italy to enter the war. It -appeared evident that we might expect a few days’ more respite, but the general belief seems to .be that it will not he long before the British Empire, already up against it, will be faced with still greater difficulties - that we shall have another enemy to meet, or perhaps more than one more. If that occurs, still greater sacrifices swill be demanded from the British people throughout the Empire. Having regard to all these matters, is it not extraordinary that the national Parliament of Australia, which yesterday approved unanimously of further emergency measures for the prosecution of the war, should have its mind occupied with the coming federal elections? In view of the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies1) yesterday that the Government cannot carry on its duty properly while Parliament is sitting because the responsibilities of Cabinet ar.e so heavy, we should decide now whether we are justified in hindering the work of Parliament and of the Government by holding general elections at this time. If the Government is already overweighted with work, what will be’ the position very soon when it has to give up practically its whole time to the activities associated with a general elections campaign? In view of the statement of the Prime Minister, it is clear that it -will be impossible to give the necessary .attention at this time to general elections. We know what an ^election involves. There is an idea that an election can .be got over in a week or a fortnight, but that is impossible, and against all experience. We know that the holding of general elections involves the complete dislocation of all political administrations for .at least two months. It would be at the very least five or six weeks before we could complete a campaign. I do not think there is any desire in the minds of the people of Australia to-day to change the Government.
They are only concerned with a vigorous prosecution of the war. They are looking to the Opposition parties to assist the Government by amalgamating with it. We do not know what perils may confront us yet. We have witnessed the spectacle of historic nations, such as Norway, Denmark and Holland, going down before the enemy. Now, Belgium is threatened, as also is France, the most historic nation of Europe, and the bulwark of the Allies in the last war. France is the country to whichwe are pinning our faith to-day. All is not lost,but whenwe hear speeches like that delivered by Mr. Attlee to-day, we realize that it is time towake up. We must realize that our responsibilities do not begin and end with the consideration of ourown domestic affairs. I believe it to be the wish of the people of Australia that the general elections should be postponed for at least twelve months. The next twelve monthswill probably be the most critical period in the history of the Empire. I realize, of course, that Ave are tied by the Constitution, and I do not propose to go into the pros and cons’ of that. We know that, under the Constitution, the life of Parliament cannot be prolonged beyond the stipulated period of three years. I have no doubt that, if therewere no such provision in the Constitution, actionwould be taken immediately to prolong the life of Parliament. The State parliaments can prolong their lives because they are sovereign parliaments, but we cannot do the same. We are tied by a Constitution made 40 years ago by people who never visualized the perils that confront us to-day. There is, however, one way by which this might be done. The right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), whom I regard as a constitutional authority, said yesterday that the NationalSecurity Act overrode the Federal Constitution. He was contradicted by the Treasurer (Mr. Spender),who is also a constitutional authority and a leading King’s Counsel. I would not leave the determination of this matter to King’s Counsel. If you put a dozen King’s Counsels in a room together, every one of them would have a different opinion regarding the interpretation of the Constitution. There can be no doubt that theNational Security Act overrides the Constitution in many vital respects. So much is admitted. It virtually supersedes the authority of the State parliaments in their domestic spheres. If it is possible under that act to control trade, industry and commerce, if it gives the Commonwealththe samepower as is possessed by the British Parliament to appropriate the property, and compel the services of the people for war-time activities-, surely it gives us authority, by a resolution of the two Houses of Parliament, to say that, until this peril passes, Ave will not inflict the torment of an unwanted election on Australia.
That is one suggestion. Here is another: We are told that we can pass a resolution of both Houses of Parliament, and send it to the British Parliament; which could then authorize the prolongation of the life of this Parliament.
– I do not think the British Parliament would.
– The British Parliament passed in two hours an act more revolutionary than has ever been passed through that institution. The House of Lords passed it in twenty minutes. I believe that the British Parliament could abolish the Australian Constitution if it wished. The Parliament,’ which embodies our Constitution in one of its acts, can, by repealing that act, cancel our Constitution. In any case, I am sure that Hitler or Mussolini would abolish it very quickly if they had the chance. I do not suggest thatwe should attempt to prolong the life of parliament for the duration of the Avar-. This war might last for ten years, or even twenty, as did the Napoleonic Wars. I do say, however, that in the present situationwe should relieve the people of” the task of sayingwhether this man or that man should enter Parliament. After all, I suppose those who have been in this Parliament foralong time have more right here at a time like this than outsiders. The majority of people, at the present time, do not want a change of government; theywant a non-party government. Unless we prolong the life of Parliament, it is impossible to have a national government, because it would be impracticable to form such agovernment ifwewere heading for electionswhich might smash it within a few months. The great strength of the British Government is that there will be no general elections for ibc duration of the war, and, even at by-elections, the parties have agreed not to fight one another. I am not saying that we should copy in toto the procedure of the British Parliament, but I do say that we cannot afford to go on as if this whole war were a joke, or as if there were a lot of fun in the situation. It was not funny for the Dutch, when 100,000 people were killed in Rotterdam - a third of the population of the city. The casualties of the Allies alone . have been variously estimated at.” between 500,000 and 1,000,000, and we have been told by the leaders in Great Britain that there is worse to come. I ask honorable members to face the situation. There is no reason why honorable members should be afraid to stand up here at a time like this, when every effort should be directed to the winning of the war, and ask for the approval of the people to carry on the job for another twelve months. If we passed a resolution in both Houses to this effect, it would have the approval of 95. per. cent, of the people. Those who disapprove would only be the cranks and ratbags of the community, who are not worth five minutes’ consideration, in any case. Two Cabinet Ministers in New South Wales have expressed to me the view that Commonwealth elections at the presenttime would be extremely foolish and dangerous. We should remove from the mind of the people the idea that we are gathering our party forces for an appeal lo them. An appeal on what issue? There could be only the one issue, that of the conduct of the war. The majority of thepresent members of this House have been here for years, and by reason of their experience and knowledge of the situation have the right, without hindrance or interruption, to do their best to save, this country from the perils that overhang it. Without putting any specific proposition to the electorate, steps should be taken immediately to prolong the life nf this Parliament for at, least twelve months. 1 leave to the constitutional brains of both parties the devising of means whereby that might be done. Such action would bring great relief to the people, and would be the surest means of awakening them to the .perils that th raa ten “them to-day. ‘
– With. that, portion of the speech of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) in which he said that Australia must awaken to- the perils of the present situation, but with- little else, I agree. We should wake up for a reason vastly different from that which he mentioned; it is that we have in our midst very many persons who could cause untold damage in this country at the appropriate time. I refer to what has become known all over the world as the “ fifth column “. There is no need for me to remind honorable members of what that fifth column has done in certain countries, nor of what could be done by it in Australia when the right time presented itself. I refer to two organizations, one the Communists and the other the Nazis. There is some evidence to indicate that the authorities established in Australia to combat such influences are not fully seised of the dangerous character of those two organizations. I have no doubt that there is a certain degree of collaboration between the Commonwealth Intelligence Department and the Commonwealth Investigation Branch, but the evidence goes to show that there is not sufficient. I suggest that there should bc complete collaboration, if not complete amalgamation, of the two services 1 stress this because the position is becoming dangerous. I hope that what I have to say will be brought to the notice of the; responsible Minister, and that he will have an investigation made of the very serious state of affairs that is being daily revealed. Only a few days ago the Minister for Commerce and the Navy (Mr.. Archie Cameron) had occasion to broadcast, to the nation his fears in regard to one of these organizations. When he is seised of the great importance of the activities of a fifth column in Australia, it, is time that the Minister who is directly in charge of the investigation of such, matters should take notice. I am afraid that very little notice has so far been taken of those elements which arc likely to cause very great disturbance when the time is ripe for them to commence their nefarious activities. Nearly every . small country district with which I am associated contains Communists who are distributing literature among unthinking people, and receiving assistance in doing- everything possible to retard our war effort. A report in a daily newspaper shows that the Portland town council in my electorate regards this menace so seriously that it has been discussed at one of its meetings. I have no doubt that the report of what occurred at the meeting is considerably abridged, but I shall quote two extracts from it. lt is reported that a person alleged to represent a. reputable firm was spreading communistic literature, and that on Sunday mornings gatherings of Germans in a public hall for church services were regarded with suspicion in many places. Before I proceed, I wish to say that there are many Germans in our community who are definitely loyal to the British Empire and its King. I. had evidence of that in the last war. I know of many Germans who then served with distinction in the Australian forces, and I pay tribute to them on that account. But unfortunately, there are Nazi supporters with whom loyal Germans have no sympathy, and I suggest that there should be much closer investigation of the activities of those persons. The report from which I have quoted also states what I heard when I was in the electorate some weeks ago, namely, that swastika signs are being painted on the windows of many vacant shops, and that Communist meetingsare held at farms in small districts, in which a very grave adverse influence can be exerted against our war effort
– What has die honorable member done about it?
– T am trying to tlo something, but the honorable member has not the intelligence to recognize the fact. Regular meetings of these organizations are being held. It has been brought to my notice that in one township there are many eligible youths who could enlist, but there has not been one enlistment. The local people, who usually know what trend events are taking, attribute this “to the influence of one person, who is a (.public servant and a known Communist. In other places, it is freely rumoured that (public servants are Communists and also Nazis. Where such influences are prominent, in some of these places, there has mot been one enlistment..
– Communism is not illegal.
– The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), championing communism, says that it is not illegal. I do not care whether it is illegal or legal; if Communists are doing a. disservice to Australia in this time of crisis, they should be put under lock and key. The public has reason to be concerned. . Much valuable information could be gleaned if officers of the Investigation Branch were empowered to travel round the country ‘ to ascertain what is being done. The matter is left to the police, or to any person who cares to volunteer information. How many persons will give information; and when it is given, how many policemen will pass it on ? What notice is taken of information when it is passed on? The Investigation Branch is not doing its job in this matter, and Australia may later have reason to be sorry that it has not been tackled more vigorously. I have information that in a certain post office there is a strong Communist cell, and that in an electoral office - of all places - there is an officer who has definitely expressed Nazi sympathies. Unfortunately, judging by the interjections that have been made while I have been trying to impress upon the Government the importance of this matter, certain honorable members practically ridicule my statements.
– Not at all.
-! did not. refer to the honorable member for New England; his sympathies are probably with me. Other honorable members, notably the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) and the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), have led me to believe by their interjections that.- they are not in sympathy with what I am saying.
– The honorable member has only to report the. matter to an investigating officer and action’- will -be taken.
– The matter is so serious that many persons have been constrained to write letters and contribute articles to the press of our capital cities in respect of it. This morning, a newspaper containing certain- information was circulated among honorable members. Before its circulation I had decided to speak on the matter. A returned soldier friend of mine, who is a commercial traveller, and- covers a wide area of country, is astounded at the sympathy with Germany and Russia that is being expressed at this time of crisis. I do not say that sympathy with Russia is doing any great harm at the present time ; but there is the disruptive element known as communism, which is too serious to be allowed to go farther, considering what we know of what such organizations have done in other countries.. There are many ways in which we ought to wake up. I implore the. Government to take steps to put under , look and key those elements that are likely to cause trouble in time of crisis. It would be very much better for 100 persons to lose their liberty for a short period than that one dangerous person should be allowed to cause unlimited damage. We have only to consider the action taken in Great Britain and France to curb the activities of these dangerous elements, to realize that something along similar lines ought to be done in Australia. I implore the Government to take action before it is too late. There are very many things that I could say, but do not desire to say, even in this House. I should like to be able to give the information ih the right quarter.
.- I view with great concern the action which, [ am informed,- is to he taken by the Minister for the Interior (‘Senator Foll) to,, make a corridor through a certain reserve for .aborigines in Central Australia. * The- .proposal is causing the deepest concern to -persons who are seeking to improve the conditions and care -for the welfare pf, ‘the aborigines.
– A corridor of access or egress?
– The intention -is to throw ‘the corridor open for prospecting purposes. I believe that the request has been made to the Minister to open up “the fi i ea in question. This is not the first occasion bh which the matter has- engaged the a Mention -of the department. It WaSbrought under the notice of the honorablemember for ‘Gippsland ‘(Mr. Paterson) when he was -Minister for this Interior.
Desiring to serve the best interests of the aborigines, he very logically opposed the suggestion and gave a firm promise that during his term of office he would not accede to any requests that a corridor should be made through tho reserve. The Ernabella mission, in which the Presbyterian Missionary Society has an interest, is working among the aborigines in the reserve. One of its founders’ is Dr. Charles Duguid, of Adelaide, a most estimable man who has given very generously of his personal services and means to help the work of the mission.
– He is worthy of the name “ Do good “.
– That is true. I have great respect for any man who is prepared to give so ..generously as Dr.Duguid has given in the interests of the native races of this country. The honorable member foi- Gippsland was succeeded as Minister for the Interior by the present. Minister for External Affairs (Mr. McEwen) who, in what was termed hi6 “ New Deal “, substantially supported the promise of the honorable member for Gippsland and said that he would not countenance any incursion into territories that had been set aside for the aborigines. The matter was revived when the presentMinister for the Interior (Senator Foll)’ caine into that office. Unfortunately, thaihonorable gentleman seems to have shown some sympathy for the request, which was made by people who desire to exploit the reserve for gold, prospecting. I am informed that Dr. Duguid and those associated with him in mission work in that locality have .been assured, on the best of authority, that there are no indications of the existence of gold in the reserve in payable quantities.
Past Governments have been inclined to establish reserves in areas abutting on pastoral leases ; ‘that has hot been in the best interests of the aborigines. We should. riot be unmindful of ‘the .responsibility placed upon us ‘for proper care of the native races and we should -ensure tha’t’ they are -protected from men who migrate to ‘districts -adjacent to -‘their ‘reserves ih: order to engage in gold prospecting or. some other ‘form df commercial exploitation. We should not iii any way endanger”’ the well-being of the aborigines. But if seems that their interests have been subordinated to those of the white men. The history of the treatment ofaborigines in Australia since the arrival of white settlershas been most unfortunate. The rime has now arrived when we should assert that nofurther intrusions will be permitted into territories which have been definitely set aside for thenativeraces. The Government should provide them with suitable hunting grounds with proper water supplies. In thepast, leaseholds have been granted over the best lands to the disadvantage of those who rightlyhave first claimupon them. Therefore, I proteststrongly against any intentionof the Ministerfor the Interior to take part of this aboriginal reserve for the use of prospectors.
– : Is the reserve in the Northern Territory or South Australia?
– It is partly in the Northern Territory and partly in South Australia.
– That is true. The corridor is to be cut in the reserve north of Ayer’sRock, Mount Olga and Mount Carrie. The proposed line from Lake Hopkins to apoint just south of Lake Amadeus is regarded as being much too handy tothe Mann Ranges, which are connected with the Musgrave Ranges by a series of isolated mountains. It is feared that the cutting of a corridor in the reserve would intensify the menace, both socialand otherwise, presented by the intrusion of white men into aboriginal sanctuaries.
– We have little to be proud of in our treatment of the aborigines. Men like Dr. Duguid should be assisted.
– As the honorable member hasrightly said, men of the character of Dr. Duguid and his associates at the Ernabella mission are entitled to every kind of assistance that the Government can give them. We should not in any way jeopardize the good work that such missions are doing.
– Has the Minister for the Interior been informed of Dr. Duguid’s objection to the establishment of a corridor through the reserve ?
– Yes, Dr. Duguid has personally written to the Minister, and I understand that the honorable member for
Grey (Mr. Badman) has maderepresentations in regard to the matter,but I do not know if the Minister hasgiven any definite assurancethat thecorridor will not be established. I believe that I can say, on behalf of allSouth Australian members of this House,, that we are deeply concerned at the suggestion that the Minister will permit this proposed cut into the reserve.
Christian enterprises such as the Ernabella mission are also justified in expecting financial aid from ‘the Commonwealth Government. They doa great deal of good work for the welfareofthe natives, who gladly seek such services as they provide.
Mr.Holloway. - They should be given much more financialassistance thanthey are given now.
Mr.Scully. - All missions should receive more assistance.
– I agree. All missions in Australian territories, of whatever denomination they may be, are deserving of encouragement and financial ‘assistance. I Urge upon the Assistant Minister (Mr. Nock) to bring the representations that I have made before the Government. I believe that I have the sympathy and support of allhonorable members in this matter. We desire that all of our native races shall receive greater care and consideration than they have received in the past. The work of all men who seek to advance the welfare of the aborigines at least should not be impeded by any desire to exploit the commercial possibilities of areas that have been set aside as reserves. We should do all that lies within our power to assist the goodwork that is being done on behalf of the aborigines by religious organizations.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
. -I wish to refer to the position of new manufacturing industries in Australia, which have a most important bearing on the economic outlook and on employment iii this country. Several new industries have been started in Australia in recent years and have applied for tariff protection. In at least one report of the Tariff Board, which was recently placed before the
House, there appeared the following comments : -
Thu position in this industry has been materially changed by the outbreak of war.
The Australian manufacturers will also have an opportunity to establish a reputation for quality of product and efficiency of service that should enable the market to be retained when overseas competition again becomes possible.
I shall cite one instance which is typical of many. It refers to an important section of the builders’ hardware manufacturing industry of Australia the sales of which seldom fall below £100,000 per annum. This industry started manufacturing four years ago when it installed a plant valued at £23,000. The trade was formerly held by Swedish and German firms, one firm from each country holding most of the Australian trade. As soon as the local product appeared on the market - and I emphasize that its quality was equal to that of the imported article - the battle began. There . wa3 a price cutting campaign which is familiar to many Australian manufacturers. Extraordinary discounts were allowed by these firms ; they were as great as 70 per cent, plus 10 per cent. That represents a total of 73 per cent, discount to the firms in Australia which distributed their goods. The purpose obviously was to force the local article off the market. Subsidiary methods have been practised by German firms for many years. All of these facts are known to the Tariff Board, as they were placed before that body by the industries concerned, but despite these extraordinary revelations of the persistent tactics adopted by importers in order to cripple Australian industries, the Tariff Board has adopted an attitude which can only be described as inexplicable. It disregards the basis of the claim for protection of these Australian industries which submitted evidence based on peacetime trading conditions. It is true that this country is at war, but these industries rightly look for a guarantee agains* such tactics in the future when the war is over. No Australian manufacturer who has embarked on any enterprise can be expected to develop it and to establish machinery and equipment for that purpose unless given some permanent guarantee of protection. I trust that the Government will review this matter and frame a suitable policy to guide the Tariff Board in dealing with applications of this kind.
.- 1 support the remarks of the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) regarding the treatment of a member of the Royal Australian Navy, and compliment him on having made out a splendid case. I hope that the Government will grant compensation to the man referred to by the honorable member. In this connexion, Australia would do well to follow the example of the United States of America where every man who is accepted foi service is regarded as having been in perfect health at the time of enlistment. The authorities have every means of ascertaining whether or not a man is in go >d health when he enlists. If any doubt exists, blood tests can be taken. The least that should be done for a man whose services are accepted in the defence of his country is to regard him as having been perfectly healthy at the time of his enlistment. At one time I was the resident surgeon in a. hospital where many cases similar to that referred to by the Minister in reply to the honorable member for Denison were dealt with. In five cases patients were supposed to have made a complete recovery, but because they caught the disease again about 20 years later there was a recurrence of the trouble. A negative blood test in the case of this unfortunate man should be accepted without demur.
The powers vested in the Government by the National Security Act are sufficient to make the leader of the Government a veritable dictator. He could be a second Hitler, but not, I hope, in character. I am sorry to see such a law on the statutebook of this country. However, there are associations in Australia to protect the civil rights of the people, and I have no doubt that they will carefully note what is done under the emergency legislation.
I agree with the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) that in this wealthy country, which is capable of producing more food than can be consumed, the aboriginal inhabitants should be treated well. We have not always treated them well in the past, but I hope that we shall turn over a new leaf and give these natives of our country a fair deal.
Although we are prepared to spend millions of pounds in a war to murder other men, we are not willing to expend thousands of pounds in order to provide work for our own unemployed. It is a disgrace to this country that there are so many unemployed men and women in it. I have heard it said that one reason for not dealing more effectively with the unemployment problem is that unemployment makes it easier to obtain recruits for the defence forces. I hope, however, that that is not the reason. If it be contended that budgets must be balanced, whether or not work is found for men, my answer is that no one but a lunatic expects that England will ever repay the colossal debt that it already owes. If the Allies win the war, that indebtedness will increase immeasurably, whereas, if they fail in their war effort, the debt will be wiped out. No person outside a lunatic asylum thinks that it will ever be paid. England is not even paying interest on its war debt to the United States of America, although Australia pays to England interest on the money borrowed to prosecute the last war in addition to repayments of the principal. In reply to a question which I asked some time ago, I was informed that when we sent money to the United States of America, in repayment of Australia’s war debt, it cost £169 to send £.100, the £69 representing exchange. Does anyone think that Australia will ever pay its debt of £1,200,000,000? I say these things, not for the pleasure of speaking against this country, or England, but in order to show the foolishness of expending millions of pounds to murder mcn while objecting to expending money to provide employment for our own people. Every man has the right to a job, and the Government should find work for the unemployed.
– I rise to mention several matters concerning the Northern Territory. First, [ shall refer to some matters requiring attention, at Darwin, because that place is in the eye of the public as an outpost of the Empire and. is associated with Singapore in the defence of the archipelago extending from the Malay Peninsula to the Solomon Islands. I am- disturbed because of the way in which defence works at Darwin are being carried out. Letters which I have received this week from some of my constituents confirm everything that I said during the last session and repeated a few days ago following a speech by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) on a motion for the adjournment of the House. Among the important defence works being undertaken at Darwin is the provision of a water supply for the town. I am informed that the contractor is not making the progress that he should make. Moreover, the contract for the reticulation of the water is not being proceeded with satisfactorily, noi is the work of preparing excavations for the naval boom progressing as quickly as it should be. The people in the Northern Territory are disturbed, as are some of the technical officers also, although I have not been in direct communication with them. The Assistant Minister £Mr. Nock) bas not .visited Darwin, but it would be well if he were to do so.
– He will probably go there, shortly.
– I hope that he will invite me to accompany him. All persons who are interested in the defence of this country should be disturbed by the lack of progress of the works being undertaken at Darwin. What is the reason for the delay? It can arise from only one of two causes, so far as I can see. Either the contractors are not competent, having i undertaken jobs of much greater magnitude than the works they are accustomed to do, or else they have not the finance to carry on their operations.
– When there was a good contractor at Darwin, there was nothing but strikes.
– The interjection gives me the opportunity to say that young and more or less inexperienced pressmen at Darwin have continually exaggerated the amount of industrial unrest at Darwin, with the result that the people in the south think that we are nothing but a crowd of Bolsheviks and- Communists. ] emphatically deny the charge. We have very good workmen in Darwin. We have recently secured the services of a. number of capable tradesmen from Sydney and other capital cities. I am surprised that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) is not better informed of the real position.
I regret that I have not been able to visit Darwin since last November, but the informationthat has reachedme from there emphasizestheneed for urgent action to correct the present lag. If the contractors are incompetent, the Government should take over thework. If lack of finance is the trouble the Government should remedy it. My attitude is clear. These works should be regarded as urgent. The provision of an adequate water supply maynot seem of great importance to people inthe southern States,but it is important from thedefence point of view. The reticulation ofthearea is a ‘subsidiary matter,but italso is of some consequence, as the watersupply is 40 miles distant from the town.
Only about an hour ago, I had placed in my hands the annual report of the Administrator of the Northern Territory. I have not had time to study it carefully, but from a cursory glance, it appears to be a fairly comprehensive document. I amrather disappointed,however, that more attention has not been paid to the northern end of the Territory, where large cattle holdings are a feature of the settlement. A good deal more is said about the circumstances at the Alice Springs end. We have appointed a lands officer in that locality who is making subdivisions of large holdings in areas with a rainfall of anything from 9 to 13 inches per annum. But even under the most favorable conditions, those holdings will not be able to carry large herds. The best of them could not carry more than about forty sheep to the square mile, which is equivalent to one sheep to 15 acres, or five cattle to the square mile. We should be sub-dividing some of the abnormally large holdings at the northern end of the Territory, where the rainfall is better and the carrying capacity of the country much greater. On previous occasions I have referred to the need to sub-dividethe properties up there into areas which would carry from eight to ten thousand head of cattle. I do notwish to penalizean enterprise such as Vestey’s, or that of LordLuke’s station. When I gave evidence about two years ago before the Payne Commission, I said that, because of the large amount of capital’ that hasalready been expended todevelop thosegreat stations, theyshould not be reduced to a carrying capacity of less than 25,000cattle. The figuresthat Iam giving may seem to be of astronomical proportions to honorable -members accustomed to conditions in the south, hut they are reasonable, having in mindthe circumstances of the Northern Territory. In view of the great amount of capital that has been expended on some of these stations, Ipostulate a holding capable of carrying 25,000cattle as reasonable. I do notdesire to be unjust to any some.
Another aspect of the subject is, however, crying out for consideration, and I intend to discuss it at some ‘length when the Australian meat industry is recei ving the attention of the House. Icontend that we should not allow thesegreat financial interests to have a foot in two camps. They -should be either exporters or landholders, but not both. This problem has had to be faced in Argentina, in which country particular interests must confine their attention either to exporting or to land-holding by law. Ever since I have been a member of this Parliament I have ‘been trying to influence the Government toadopt a truly national policy on this issue. Financial institutions which hold these dual interests, not only in the Northern Territory but also in parts of New South Wales, Queensland or Victoria, are a curse to the country. I know something of the situation from the experience I have had on my own holding in the Maranoa Division of south-eastern Queensland. We are all probably well aware that certain business menin Victoria who have made their money in industrial undertakings have invested in landed properties. They are not concerned, so long as they can obtain from 11/2 to 2 per cent.on these investments. In some cases, they live on the properties and are able to use their assets to depress prices. This policy is definitely to the economic disadvantage of the Commonwealth and to genuine settlers.
– That is so.
– I am glad to have the approval of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), whose electorate borders on the Northern Territory in places. I am sure that the honorable member will bear me out when I say that the large areas running from Lawn Hill to Burketown with that adjoining the Barkly Tablelands are suitable for subdivision. This country is also full of copper, gold and silver-lead ore deposits. Not only could it be subdivided with advantage for cattle and sheep raising, but it could also be developed for mining operations. I was glad to hear the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) refer to the production of tin. A certain quantity of tin is being produced to-day in the Northern Territory under barbarous conditions.
The honorable member for Grey (Mr. Badman) has only to-day directed my attention to certain sinister features in relation to mining for wolfram in this country. It appears that mysterious forces have been at work since the outbreak of war, which are seeking either to limit the production of wolfram, which is s.o necessary for war purposes, or else to divert, it to other than Empire countries. Within the last few months I have urged the Government to take steps to ensure that all wolfram produced in Australia shall he marketed within the British Empire and shall be used for our own defence. It seems, however, that a gravely unsatisfactory position has arisen in respect of the wolfram being mined in the region of “ Alice Springs. These remarks also apply in some degree to mica. Italian buyers operating in that area have been purchasing mica and wolfram for their own country. Indeed, the wolfram, which I urge shall he sealed in the mines unless it can be sent to Great Britain, or used in Australia, has actually been passing down through the Swedish corridor into Germany. Wolfram is also being mined at Hatch’s Creek and Wauchope, but much larger quantities could be obtained if the operations were engaged in more seriously. The sinister influences to which the honorable member for Grey has directed my attention should: be dealt with at once. I hope that when the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) pays his promised visit to the Northern Territory iri the the near future, he will make n personal investigation of the whole position. In the meantime, I urge him to communicate by” urgent telegram with the district officer at Alice Springs to ascertain exactly what is happening and to ask why the wolfram mines of Central Australia are not working at full capacity. I am informed that whereas the output was about 400 tons a year until recently, it has now declined to only one ton a month. I am aware that one of the reasons for this falling off is that an individual interested in the proposition has become bankrupt, but that should not be permitted to interfere with the production of this valuable mineral. However, the sinister influence that the member for Grey refers to is that foreign controllers insist that if the wolfram cannot reach Germany they have determined to leave it in the ground.
I do not wish to discuss the situation at Tennant Creek goldfields at any length. After the agitation which I have maintained for several years, the Government at last established some batteries on the field. I regret, however, that the charges made for treating ore at them are exorbitant when compared with those levied at the batteries established in certain areas by the Government of South Australia.
– What is the charge?
– The charge for crushing is 12s. 6d. a ton plus a rate on a sliding scale for 2 dwt., 5 dwt. or 7 dwt. parcels of ore. I have been able within the last few months to secure some reduction of the charges formerly made, but the rates are still too high. I understand that the Government is about to treat the tailings from the batteries. The returns from this source will, in my opinion, prove that the tailings are the best gold-mine at Tennant Creek. I urge the Government to give immediate consideration to the practicability of making an immediate further reduction of the charges levied at the Government batteries at Tennant Creek so as to bring them more into line with those levied at the batteries established by the Government of South Australia. The South Australian authorities are prepared to carry up to 40 per cent, of the losses incurred in operating the bat,teries because it is realized that they are’ providing employment and increasing business activities. Surely in these circumstances, the Commonwealth Government’ should be more liberal in relation to its batteries, which are operating 320 miles north of Alice Springs.
– The South Australian position is mainly due to the fact that the State at one time had a practical miner as Premier.
– That may be so. At any rate., the honorable gentleman’s interjection reminds me of the magnificent work (lone by the former Minister for Mines of Western Australia, the late Mr. Munsie. The late Mr. Munsie did a wonderful job, not only for his own State, but also for the whole of Australia. A miner himself, he possessed an extraordinary knowledge of the mining industry, and was thus admirably suited for the Ministry of Mines.
We are now down to the Alice Springe area, 1,000 miles south of Darwin. I ask honorable members to remember that Mr. Grenfell, the British member of parliament, told them, in unmistakeable terms, at the dinner that was given for him at Parliament House, not at the private lecture, which was confidential, that he had seen a coloured map published by the Nazi Hitler, showing Central Australia as a Nazi area. What are we to do about this “fifth column”.? In his inimitable’ way the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Scholfield) to-day attempted to stir honorable members and Ministers from their apparent apathy about this enemy within. I now give” him my support. Hermannsburg mission ! Can honorable members spell it? Is it Norwegian? Is it Czechoslovak or Rumanian ? Does it spell anything else but “Nazi”? This Nazi mission is only 40 miles west of Alice Springs.
– The Nazis have friends in this Parliament.
– I am surprised at the honor able,, gentleman’s statement. I do not believe it. This mission is the headquarters of nazi-ism in Central Australia. In 1933 I met, when I was surveying the Granites, three Nazis who went back to Germany from the mission. One was a geologist and another a miner. The royal mail contractor from Alice Springs to Darwin is a Nazi. Our own Commonwealth Anthropologist, Dr. Strehlow, who is on the exempt list, is another Nazi. Ho is the. man who is engaged to teach the natives; Why there are swastikas -on the rocks at Alice Springs! I could make another charge, but I shall reserve it for the ear of the Minister. The returned soldiers at Alice Springs do not treat this matter as a joke. I am surprised that honorable members paid such scant heed to what the honorable member for Wannon told them earlier. The “fifth column “ is here, right in the centre of Australia. I marvel that the honorable member for Wannon was not taken more seriously by the Opposition. The only positive Minister about the place is the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Archie Cameron). He has come in for a lot of criticism for what he said in Sydney, but I admire him, and hope that the next time he will make his words even stronger. May he continue to scorn the press as he has always done. I hope that the Opposition will realize that, it is its duty to get its teeth into this matter and to support the Minister for the Navy, the member for Wannon and myself in what we are doing to awaken Australia, because 1,000 Australian lives may be lost; as the result of the activities of each one of the Central Australian Nazis.
– I have received from the Queensland building trades group a complaint, which I have previously placed before the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for the Army (Mr Street), against the formation of a field park workshop battalion at Brisbane, as the result of which hundreds of painters, carpenters, bricklayers and the like, members of the Queensland building trade* group, who were formerly employed, and around military camps in Queens1 land, have been replaced by soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force and the Militia at army rates of pay. That contrasted with the promise made by the Prime Minister to the representatives of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions in Melbourne, when the national register was under discussion, that nothing would .be done by the Government to militate against the rates and conditions of Australian industrial awards. The building trades group claims that, this is the first time in the history, at any rate,, of Queensland that a field park workshop battalion has been formed. With justification, the group believes that the purpose of the battalion is the destruction of wages and- conditions. I hope that even now the Government will reconsider the position and allow the work to continue to be done by members of the building trades group.
I received to-day this telegram from the secretary of the Storemen and Packers Union at Brisbane -
Understand Military Board considering creating an ordnance corps. This union strongly protests against this action. Your representations this matter will be appreciated.
I have not had the opportunity to bring this matter under the notice of the Minister for the Army, but I hope that the Assistant Minister (Mr. ‘.Nock) will do so on ray behalf. The formation of an ordnance corps places the storemen and packers in a similar position to that which was created for the building trades group by the formation of the field park workshop battalion. The Storemen and Packers Union knows that the fate of its members who are at present working in ordnance stores will be dismissal, so that they may be replaced by soldiers on soldiers’ pay.
The secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering Union at Brisbane, which I am certain the Assistant Minister will admit is a loyal organization co-operating with the Government in the defence of this country, has sent me a long letter, pointing out that the union, a federal organisation, has entered into an agreement with the Government to ensure a regulated supply of labour to meet the requirements of the Government. The letter points out that, whereas in Brisbane there is a surplus of skilled artisans, there is a scarcity in Victoria, with the result that, in order to carry out its part of the agreement, the union has had to send its members to Melbourne. It now finds it impossible to send any more men, because the majority are married with their homes in Brisbane. The secretary asks that the Government endeavour to give Queensland more defence work than it has done hitherto. I, in company with other honorable members from Queensland, have repeatedly complained about the sparseness of the defence work and defence expenditure that is given to Queensland as compared with Victoria, New South “Wales and <iven South Australia. A few weeks ago f received from the Minister for the Army a long reply to a question- :it was not encouraging - that from the 1st July, 1.939, to the 31st March, 19’40, expenditure on defence works in each” State was as follows : - -
It is evident, therefore, that the amount of money made available for expenditure in Queensland is much less even than for South Australia. No defence works of any magnitude have been undertaken in Queensland. I am voicing the opinion of practically all the people of that State when I say that Queensland has been neglected in this respect. The Government should make more money available for expenditure there, thus helping to relieve the unemployment situation, par?ticularly among engineers. The engineers’ union has suggested that such work as can he done in Queensland should be done there. The members of the union realize quite well that it is impossible for certain commodities to be manufactured in Queensland. They do not ask that contracts be let to Queensland firms for the manufacture of shells, and similar articles, but they say that the department could let contracts to Brisbane engineering establishments for the supply of such articles as barges, launches, sloops, &c, as well as heavy parts of aircraft, and the fabrication of steel for new factories. The workers in Queensland have done their part, in assisting the Government’s. war effort, and many of them have gone to other States to engage in war work.
I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister for the Army the complaint of a man who was discharged from the Australian Imperial Force just before he was due to embark for overseas. I do not vouch for the accuracy of the particulars supplied to me, brit if they are as represented, the case should be investigated, because other honorable members have told, me that similar complaints have been made to ‘them. The man’s name is Adam Ernest Green, QX1534, who was an acting-sergeant undergoing training in Ingleburn1 camp until he was discharged on the 20th April, 1940, for being absent without leave. He admits the charge, but states that there were extenuating circumstances. He was married only a few weeks before he enlisted, and he brought his wife from Queensland, to Sydney so that she could be near him at the time of his embarkation. Arrangements had to be made for the payment of her allotment money in Sydney, instead of in Queensland, where she had previously been drawing it. After she had been in Sydney for several weeks she applied for her allotment money, but was- informed that the necessary papers had not come through. Thus, she was in Sydney without money or friends. During one week-end leave, Green made inquiries to find out whether the papers had come through. He was told by the pay officer in the camp that he would have to go to- the Sydney pay office. He went there on the Saturday, only to find that nothing could be done until the following Monday. “When he called again, he was told that the papers had not arrived, and that nothing could be done until the next day. He waited until the Tuesday, and succeeded in fixing the business up satisfactorily. When he returned’ to camp, he was charged with being absent without leave, was given seven days CB., and fined £2 10s. This man is one of the finest physical specimens I have ever seen. He is six feet two inches in height, and is a very intelligent and good-living man. He was earning £12 a week in northern Queensland before he enlisted. He informed me that when he first entered the Rutherford camp, the Queensland members of the Australian Imperial Force were dissatisfied with the way in which the canteen was being conducted. They discussed the matter, and appointed him to interview Colonel Field, the Commanding Officer, and place their complaint before him. He informed Colonel Field that he was speaking on behalf of the other Queensland members. Colonel Field told him that none of the other trainees had complained, and that he did not see why the Queensland men should. He said, “ Evidently you are an agitator, and you are frying to create discontent. If you ever come before me again, I will deal with you Unfortunately, that is the man before whom Green had’ to appear on the charge of being absent without leave, and it was Colonel Field who eventually discharged him. The point is that it took the authorities six months to find out that he would not make a satisfactory soldier. Even- after he had complained about the canteen, he was considered worthy to be appointed acting sergeant, and he remained in that position until he was discharged. He also complained to me about the way in which ho was sent out of camp, and a similar complaint was made to me only on Saturday last by another Queenslander who stopped me- in the street. These men told me that, before, their discharge,, every item of clothing was taken from them except their boots, and they were then supplied with slop-made suits of clothes that looked as if they had been obtained second-hand. In that rigout they were sent out of camp, with no hats-, and not even shirts, but only singlets. That is a disgraceful state of affairs, and one that should not be allowed to continue. If a man is good enough to be kept in camp for six months, he is at least good enough to be sent out of. camp, upon discharge, with clothing no worse than he had when he went in.
.- I listened with a great deal of interest to the remarks of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mi-. Blain). I desire to make some reference to the situation of the miners at Tennant Creek, and also to the Hermannsburg mission, in Central Australia. About four years ago, I visited the Tennant Creek field in company with the then Minister for the Interior, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), and I agree that the Government should’ do all in its power to assist the miners there. Prior to our visit four years ago; the miners were paying £2 a ton to have their ore treated in the batteries, and there was no cyanide plant. On the recommendation of the Minister, supported by those honorable members who were interested, Government batteries were erected. Ore is now crushed for 12s 6d. a ton, and a further 12s 6d. a’ ton is charged’ for cyanide treatment, the” total charge being only half of the previous cost for crushing alone. The Tennant Creek’ field is & very large one, and ls gold-:bearing in most parts. The miners can be assisted greatly by the provision of water and batteries. With these facilities at hand, they will be encouraged to develop existing mines, and to prospect for new fields. The Minister should also consider providing a diamond drill boring plant, in order to conduct boring operations with a view to discovering whether the gold goes to any depth. We know that if gold can be traced to .a considerable depth we can practically be assured oil a long life for that .field.
I -wish more particularly to endorse what the honorable member for the Northern Territory has said in reference to .the Hermannsburg mission .station. Four years ago I visited that .station in company with others, and even at that early date was suspicious concerning the loyalty. o’f those who were in charge of it. During last winter I was again .able to visit Central Australia, and I.’ paid .a further visit to the station, with the result that I was more than convinced that any first suspicions were well grounded. I heard, not from one source, but from many -sources, that those who are managing the station and those who visit it are capable of giving secret information to .an enemy in time of war. For_many years the Commonwealth Government has paid .a large subsidy to this mission, and should, therefore, see that those who manage it are loyal subjects of this country. Four years ago, miles of 3 -inch piping were laid to carry water from some miles distant to the mission station for the purpose of growing vegetables for the natives, the expense of the work being borne by the Commonwealth Government. On my last visit I found that, although the water was supplied, .no effort was made to grow anything. What was supposed to be a garden was as bare as a road. The mission has now developed into a commercial proposition as a large cattle station, and I say without fear of contradiction that very little is done for the welfare of the aborigines. A few years ago -there was an outbreak of scurvy at the mission, and many packages of fruit and vegetables were sent to the station for the benefit of the aborigines. During our visit we heard, that the Germans received quite a lot and the aborigines very little of what was sent. When last there, 1 was -told that at one time the mission had 7’00 natives under its charge. 1 asked what the number was at that time and was informed that it was in the vicinity -of 200 or 300. I .inquired where the remainder were, and learned that they were “ planted “ in an enclosed piece of ground in -front of the building. From what I heard it would seem that those who are in charge of the mission are disloyal to this nation. It is the duty o’f the Commonwealth Government, and particularly of the Minister for the Interior to see that the mission is run by the right people. I am pleased that the honorable -mem’ber for the Northern Territory has raised the subject. I remind my friends opposite that the British Empire is at war, as also is Australia, and ask them not only to be loyal but also to do their utmost to see that others in Australia are loyal.
Mr GREEN (Kalgoorlie) 19.6].- I desire to speak on behalf of persons who have no representatives in this chamber, and are unable on that account to have their needs brought directly under the notice of the Government. I refer to those who reside in the territories of Papua and New Guinea, both of which are under the control of the Commonwealth. Copra, as we all know, is the dried kernel of the coco-nut; it is kiln dried in those territories, and exported abroad. The oil is pressed out of it in Australia and elsewhere, and manufactured largely into soap. It is a primary product, upon which the planters of these territories principally exist. In rather unfortunate times those who are engaged in the wheatgrowing industry and other industries in Australia have had in this chamber representatives who have pointed out to the Government the difficult position in which they are placed, ‘but the claims of the copra planters of New Guinea can be advanced only through the local press. Occasionally the Administrator visits Australia, but we do not know’ what representations he may make to the Government. Some of the planters have written to me, and I desire to disclose the position in which they are placed. Not only the quantity produced, but also the price of copra, has decreased both in Papua and in New Guinea, whilst the freight charges for its transport have risen. Last, but not least, the planters today find it impossible to ship any of their product abroad because of the lack of shipping space. To prove my statement that the quantity produced and the price of copra have decreased - in 1936-37 the price received in Papua was £17 10s. 2d. sterling a ton and the quantity exported was 13,600 tons, the value of which was £238,000, whereas in 1938-39 the quantity produced had decreased to 9,300 tons, the value of which was £93,000 sterling. These people are carrying the Australian flag not into the interior of Australia, which would be difficult enough, but into the wilds of New Guinea, and in such circumstances should receive the greatest consideration, yet they are receiving no consideration whatever from this Government. In New Guinea, the quantity of copra produced decreased only slightly, from 76,000 tons in 1936-37 to 73,000 tons in 1938-39, but the value decreased by one-third. This has resulted in a complete dislocation of commerce.I have received a letter from a planter at a place in New Guinea, whose name I shall not disclose because he makes certain revelations in connexion with the shipping companies. There are three boats which take copra abroad from New Guinea, and W. R. Carpenter and Company practically have a monopoly of its carriage. I cannot do better than read the letter. It is as follows: -
Some years ago I entered into a contract with Messrs. W. R. Carpenter and Company where it was agreed to pay me a certain sum per ton of copra less £2 15s. (English) freight fromRabaul to London, the company reserving the right to increase such freight in the event of shortage of shipping, war, &c.
In consequence I have received the following advices from Messrs. W.R. Carpenter and Company notifying me of such increases: - 9th August. 1937, increase to £3 15s. (English). 27th September, 1939, increase to £4 3s. (English). 23rd October, 1939. increase to £47s. (English). 3rd January. 1940, increase to £511s. 9d. (English).
Whilst quite realizing that an increase in freight in war-time is inevitable it is, however, difficult for a planter to carry on, let alone plant up, under conditions where freights are constantly and drastically affecting copra prices. Should, however, the planter be paid a fixed price for his copra at the various shipping or concentration centres in the territory, it would then be possible for him to carry on ashe would then know in advance approximately how muchhe may expect for his pro duct, and be able to limit his expenses in proportion thereto.
Wheat and wool are bought in Australia in the way suggested, and I cannot see why copra and other tropical products such as cocoa and coffee cannot be similarly bought.
Up to as recently as the 16th January last there was no accumulation of copra. According to an article in the Pacific Islands Monthly of that date, since the outbreak of war the three vessels of the Carpenter line have been placed unreservedly at the disposal of Pacific trading firms, which between them have shifted 20,000 tons of New Guinea and South Seas copra. There is no accumulation in the stores of Pacific copra which comes from the Solomon Islands and other islands in the Pacific; it has all found shipment. That does not apply to New Guinea copra. The three boats belonging to the Carpenter line are on the English register, and consequently have not to pay Australian rates of wages and observe Australian conditions of labour, for which the Australian Navigation Act makes provision; yet this company has raised the freight charges, and would put the planters of this particular territory out of business, if necessary, because its boats have been taken over by Great Britain.
– In ordinary times it has what is practically a monopoly.
– It has an absolute monopoly, apart from the operations of a few Chinese junks. The Japanese would like to engage in the trade, but naturally those who reside in the territory are sufficiently loyal not to desire to have them established in it, because they might in these times of stress endeavour to establish themselves in the territory itself ; and the people of New Guinea, in common with the people of Australia, are prepared to fight to the death rather than allow that to happen. The Pacific Islands Monthly published the following account of an interview given to its editor by Sir Walter Carpenter -
The editor of thePacific Islands Monthly asked Sir Walter Carpenter if he regarded £12 7s.6d. English (or £13 5s., under the new freight rates) as a fair price for copra - seeing that other commodities had risen more, in proportion, under war conditions. “Quite a fair price, I think”, said Sir Walter.
Within a few months of the outbreak of war, he had raised his freight rates by £1 163. a ton. His view was that, although the company was getting enough profit, it wanted more. The report of the interview continued- “ 1 cannot see how prices would go higher in a free market. Where would the demand como from? You must remember that shipping, as well as the copra market, is now controlled.”
Is it any wonder that the planters have expressed dissatisfaction, and asked a representative of the Labour party to place their troubles before the Government? The report continued -
It was pointed out that producers, in some territories, are complaining that, although the London price of copra runs between £15 and £10 per ton, Australian currency, they cannot get more than £5 or £0 per ton. Sir Walter said he could not speak for all territories: hut New Guinea producers were receiving £8 3s. fid. per ton in Rabaul which, in the circumstances, was a good price. The rate of freight, “agreed and allowed”, was £4 lis. 9d. : and, as the cost of running ships had more than doubled since September 3, this was not at ali] excessive.
Although Sir Walter Carpenter said thai the rate of freight agreed upon was £4 lis. 9d. a ton, the letter which I have received from a planter states that the rate charged is £5 lis. 9d. a ton. Sir Walter Carpenter concluded his statement with the following words: - “ I can state definitely that we, as merchants handling copra, make a profit, under present conditions, that is not in excess of 5s. to 6s. per ton “.
But that profit does not enable him to send his company’s vessels to New Guinea, because they have been requisitioned by the British Government. I cannot blame him for that; but it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to assist, the copra, producers, who are faced with blue ruin, as it has assisted wheat-growers and other primary producers in Australia.
The Legislative Council of New Guinea is one of the most undemocratic bodies in the world. The majority of its members are officials, and the remainder are planters. I have repeatedly asked that a representative of the Labour party at Wau, which has a membership of 600. should be admitted to the council. As at present constituted, this body does not attempt to deal adequately with industrial matters affecting the Territory because its members fear that they would be treading on dangerous ground if they did so. The proceedings of the Legislative Council are conducted by a gentleman about whom I shall say very little, because I do not believe in saying anything bad about a man for whom I can say nothing good. The Hon. J. C. Mullaly, a member of the Legislative Council, stated on the 2nd April -
In view of world conditions consequent upon the war I submit for consideration of the Commonwealth Government, that should adequate facilities and .markets to absorb this territory’s output of copra be not available then the Commonwealth Government itself is under moral and political obligation to purchase the whole of the output and if necessary, to extract the oil either here or in Australia and store it until such time as circumstances permit of its disposal,
I would not recommend that the Government, should establish refineries to extract oil from copra, and I do nol believe that the Government would consider such a suggestion seriously, but I do agree with Mr. Mullaly that the Commonwealth Government is under an obligation to acquire the output if necessary. But there is an easier solution to the problem. The Government could hold the copra in Australia, and advance a price for it, through the Commonwealth Bank, in order to enable the producers to continue their operations. That would be no different from the action that has been taken by the Government in the interests of wheat farmers and other primary producers. Since overseas shipping has been withdrawn from service in New Guinea and Papua, copra producers have no means of securing a return for their labour. They live in the wilderness and, at times, they find it well nigh impossible to obtain food. They are proud people and not of the kind to come, cap in hand, to the Government to beg for- assistance. In any case, they have no easy means of coming to Canberra. They are not in the position of Sydney and Melbourne residents, who can easily travel to the Seat of Government by train and put their cases to members of Parliament in the lobbies. They have seas to cross. The Papuan Courier, which i3 not a Labour paper, made the following plain statement of the position last April : -
The plight of the copra industry in Papua, for long enough precarious, is now rapidly becoming desperate, and. unless something can be done for it in the very near future it looks as though for the time being at least it will cease to exist.
Copra is practically the only industry in Papua. That territory has no extensive gold resources like those of New Guinea, which are worth three times the value of the copra industry. The Papuan Courier’s article continued -
Since the. outbreak of war, or. very soon after, there have been no shipments of. copra from this territory. At first it was. thought the interruption of shipping would right itself in time; copra was made; and stored, tonnage to ship it away being expected from month to. month.. Up to the present, however,, nothing has come to take away our copra and the position now is that all available storage space in the ports of shipment is full and all storage space on plantations is very nearly so. Unless, therefore, some copra can be shipped in the near future, the plantations may be forced to stop making copra and the industry will come to a standstill.
Shipping tonnage naturally became scarce immediately war broke out, ships being lost, commandeered by the various governments for defenserequirements and for other causes. Then,for the better conduct of thewar, the British Government took control over all ships trading overseas. Naturally enough what tonnage is available the British Government utilizes for its most urgent needs - ships available for loading in Australia are loaded with foodstuffs,, wool and. any other commodities most urgently needed, and it appears copra is not so urgently needed.
Next comes the most important part of that journal’s suggestion,which I heartily endorse -
Whatever the position, government, must do something - and that somethingvery quickly - if the copraindustry in the territory is not to pass away. And this applies not only to Papua, but to other British territories in the Pacific to a greater or lesser extent. It seems there are only three methods of assistance possible: Find overseas tonnage toship copra away from the territory; make Australian tonnage available to ship copra to Australia for storage and advance cash against stocks held there; or pay a subsidy to producers based on average tonnage produced to keep them from extinction until shipment of stocks on hand can be arranged.. It must be remembered that the whole economic framework of the territory is bound up with the copra industry.
This matter should be dealt with immediately. The British and French Governments have agreed upon an increase of the price of copra from £12 7s. 6d. a ton to £13 5s. c.i.f. in London. The whole trouble is that the producers cannot secure shipping accommodation. In any ease, the whole of that increase would be swallowed up by the- increased freight rates. Therefore, the producerswould not gain anything, even if. they could find a means of transport for their product. It is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to do. something in the interests of residents of these territories. New Guinea was taken from Germany. Will the Commonwealth Governmentallow it to go back to that country in this time of danger-?
.- I take this opportunity to bring to the notice of the House a severe injustice inflicted by the Defence. Department upon a. widow. Last year,when the Minister for the Army (Mr.Street) appealed to the country for 75,000 volunteers for service with the Militia Forces, this woman’s young husband: enlisted. For five or six years he had been working at the electrolytic zinc works in Tasmania, where the conditions of employment, provide that a man must submit to an annual medical examination. This man was given an “ A “ class medical certificate at each examination. Hewas accepted for servicewith the Militia Forces and, while in camp,was vaccinated threetimes.On the. first two occasions, he felt some slight. . ill effects, but after the third vaccination hewas removed to the Repatriation Hospital,where he died after undergoing an operation. His death occurred within a week of his entering the hospital. During thewhole of his service at the electrolytic zinc works, he had been absent from work for only two or three days on account of minor ailments, such as influenza. He had never suffered from a serious illness. It is considered by many people who have knowledge of the case that his death was the result of his vaccination, but the medical certificate issued after the post-mortem examination at the hospital stated that he had been suffering from cancer. I made representations to the Minister for the Army in connexion with the matter, and, after an inquiry had been made, he sent me the following reply : -
With further reference to your personal representations on behalf of Mrs. T. Hawkins, 39 Cascade-road, South Hobart, who desires to know if she is entitled to compensation in respect of the death of her late husband, Sapper Thomas W. Hawkins, I desire to inform you thatI have caused inquiries to be made andfind that compensation is not payable in this case. The matter was investigated very carefully, but, as the death was due to a preexist en t disability and not to a disease contracted on war service or on duty, there is no entitlement to compensation under the provisions of the Defence Act.
This young man left a widow with two little children. He was in the best of health when he left his place of employment to go into the Militia camp. The Government should give that widow a pension. She stated the case fully to me. I believe that the medical certificate gave cancer as the cause of death. If that were the true reason the cancer must have been dormant. The point is that had this man not enlisted, ho would probably have lived for many years to support his family. Something should be done to assist the widow.
Another case to which I wish to refer is that of a returned soldier in my electorate who was in receipt of a small pension. After his death I endeavoured to get a larger pension for his widow, but the authorities said that as the man had worked at the zinc works and had been given “ A “ class certificates of health there, they regarded those certificates as sufficient evidence that he was in good health. It is clear, therefore, that the certificate of the zinc works’ authorities is recognized by the departmental officers when it suits them to do so, but not otherwise. Unless something is done for this woman, no married man who goes into camp can be sure that his family will receive any compensation in the event of his death. I trust that something will be done for this woman, even if it be only the granting of a lump sum to her.
.- This afternoon I asked the Prime Minister certain questions relating to statements made by the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) and the Postmaster-General (Mr. Thorby). I am not satisfied with the answers that were given to me. They related, not to the questions which I asked, but to other statements which the right honorable gentleman alleges were made. I propose to deal with each of these questions separately. My firstquestion to-day was -
Speaking in this House on the 25th August, 1937, the present Minister for Commerce said : “ The idea that aircraft are going to fight the next war is absolutely wrong.” The answer of the Prime Minister to my question was -
The words referred to have been taken from a speech in the course of which it was stated that “ in the next war aircraft will undoubtedly play a big part”.
The Prime Minister omitted to mention that his colleague went on to say, “but their principal duty will be to obtain information “. It will be seen that the Minister for Commerce in 1937 ridiculed the suggestion that aircraft would be an important fighting factor in the next war. He also said that the defensive capacity of aircraft was very uncertain, and after referring to their limited capacity for hitting targets, he added -
If we require any lesson on the futility of aircraft as a means of arriving at a quick decisionin war, we can obtain it in Spain to-day.
The unfortunate position of the Allied armies in northern France to-day does not bear out that statement, nor does the statement made this morning by the Minister for the Air (Mr. Fairbairn) suggest that things are as his colleague believed in1937. My second question was -
The Prime Minister’s reply to that question was a repetition of a complaint frequently made by the PostmasterGeneral, namely, that he had been incorrectly reported by the newspapers. The reply said that the statements which I had cited in my question were not accurate, and., therefore, I shall now quote reports from various newspapers as to what the Postmaster-General is alleged to have said. According to the
Sydney Morning Herald of the 22nd Tune, 1938^ the honorable gentleman, speaking in reference to the aircraft factory at Fisherman’s Bend, said -
Neither Mr.? Curtin nor anybody else could improve on what is being done for the Air Force at present.
The report in the Sun of the same date stated-
Neither Mr. Our tin nor anybody else could improve” on’ what is being done for the Air Force at present.
Whilst the Age of the 3ame date said - 1 venture to say that neither Mr. Curtin nor anybody else could improve on what is being done for the Air Force at present. He (Mr. Thorby) added that the Royal Australian Air Force was one of the most up-to-date air forces in the world.
It will be seen that those three newspapers contained practically identical statements of what the Postmaster-General said, yet he now denies the accuracy of the report. My third question this morning was -
In reply to that question, the Prime Minister referred to a statement which the then Postmaster-General made in a broadcast address in 1938, but he did not deny the allegation contained in the question. Although the Postmaster-General may be able to deny that he made certain statements attributed to him by the press, I do not think that he will be able to deny the authenticity of the article from which f shall now quote. The Australian Country party news service circular of the 6th October, 1938, in praising the work done by the right honorable member for Cowper- (Sir Earle Page) and the then Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby), said -
He hod the satisfaction of being able to assure Cabinet from his own personal investigations that Australia’s military organization was complete for any emergency.
Subsequent events have proved that we were not ready for any emergency. I asked the Prime Minister to-day whether the present Postmaster-General had said hi 193S that our military -organization was ready for any emergency, but the right; honorable gentleman, instead of, replying to my question, referred to some other statement. I now say definitely that, according to the journal which I have mentioned, he did make that statement, and thereby showed his incompetence and lack of knowledge of the true defence position of Australia. The only other deduction to be drawn from the Minister’s statement is that he attempted deliberately to mislead the people. In addition to the Minister for Commerce, members of the then United Australia party Government also ridiculed Labour’s advocacy of a huge air force in 1937. The result is seen in the frantic efforts now being made to do what should have been done three or four years ago.
– The Labour party never had any suggestion excepting proposals for shirking and slacking.
– The Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Curtin) said in 1937 that Australia should produce large numbers of aircraft for the protection of Australia. The then Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) said that aircraft would be of no use. On more than one occasion the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Archie Cameron) has made disparaging references to this arm of our Defence Forces, but it is a fact that to-day not only the Commonwealth Government, but also almost every other government which fears that it will become involved in this war, is doing all that it can to strengthen its air force.
To-night, when I interjected that there were Nazis in Australia, the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) appeared to be embarrassed, because he got hot under the collar. There are men in this House who would be prepared to act as Hitler acts. I remind the House that on one occasion the Postmaster-General said publicly that if he had his way with traitors like the Leader of the Opposition, he would put them before a Avail and shoot them. Hitler would not say more than that. Recently, I listened to a broadcast address by the Minister for the Navy. Some of his remarks were worthy of a dictator. [ have no illusions about what the honorable gentleman would do if given the opportunity. The honorable member for the Northern Territory would not be much leas of a dictator. In his first speech in this House the honorable gentleman attacked every person in the Northern Territory who mattered-
– I attacked the scum.
– The honorable gentleman attacked better men than he will ever become. To-night he attacked people who are unable to reply. If the statements made by the honorable gentleman are true, the Government should get busy, but it will not arrest all of the Nazis in Australia by going to Hermannsburg, because not all of the Nazis in this country are Germans.
There have been many suggestions made in this House to-day, some of them being of great importance. Evidently, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) is afraid to face a general election, and, consequently, he used the war position as a pretext for advocating an extension of the life of this Parliament. Notwithstanding that the honorable gentleman has convinced himself that the people of this country do not want an election, I remind him that the present Government has never faced an election, and that the electors have not yet had an opportunity to pass judgment on it or its policy. As one who believes in the adequate defence of this country, I believe that in this critical period of its history the best thing for the nation would be to have general elections, resulting in the return of a Labour government. It is foolish to suggest that Australia can have a home defence policy which is anything like perfect, so long as there is in power a government which represents monopolies. Since the war began, there have been many instances of profiteering, but the Government has not taken any steps to deal with the offenders. Some months ago the Minister for Supply and Development (Sir Frederick Stewart) became most vehement in his denunciation of certain manufacturers of boots, who, he said, had conspired to defraud the Government. Recently, I brought before the chamber some amazing facts in connexion with the supply of boots to the military authorities. I pointed out that departmental officers, in collaboration with the Minister for the Army (Mr. Street), transferred from Sydney to Melbourne a ‘Commonwealth officer who was doing good work in Sydney as an examiner of boots because he showed zeal in attempting to prevent inferior goods from being supplied. How can the paid servants of the (monopolists effectively defend this country when they are more concerned about protecting the profits of their influential friends, than, with the national welfare ? The Minister for the Army has admitted that a pair of military boots- last for only six weeks, which would mean., that a. soldier would require, at least eight pairs of boots a year. That is a scandalous state of affairs. Yet the Minister was a party to the removal from his position of a public officer who attempted to insist upon the delivery of boots of proper quality. We have been told that the Opposition should not criticize the Government but should co-operate with it; but the Labour party could hot possibly support a government which in a time of national necessity and difficulty would allow private individuals to enrich themselves at the public expense as this Government is doing.
When the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) referred to the unsatisfactory carrying out of certain schemes by the Government with the object of developing our air arm of defence, the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn), whilst not replying to the charges of the honorable member, said that any one who criticized the Government in present circumstances was doing a disservice to the country.
Notwithstanding all this, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) desires to take away from the people the right to determine who shall govern them. It appears to me, that every time the honorable member thinks about an election he is overtaken by an attack of mental paralysis, as, of course, are his colleagues of the Country party who, having supported this Government, do not desire to answer for its sins.
– At any rate, my seat is safer than that of the honorable member for East Sydney.
– Although I disagree with that remark it may absolve me from any kind of self-seeking in my desire to give the people an .opportunity to determine who shall govern them. I genuinely desire that the people shall be consulted at this important stage of our national history, and personal interests shall not deflect me from that course.
Frequent references have been made of late to what is called the “ fifth column “ which is said to be a Nazi organization, designed to undermine the defence forces of the ‘Country, ibo white-ant our system of government, and to sabotage our factories with the object of preventing us from putting forward our fullest effort to defend our shores. It is not very long ago, however, since a German named von Luckner was in this country. I did not attempt to get very near to this so-called distinguished gentleman, but had I wished to do so I should have found it necessary to climb over the backs of the honorable gentlemen opposite who were almost continually standing five and six deep about him. The members of the Government parties feted von Luckner on every possible occasion. One person in particular who did so was Captain James Patrick, who has recently been (endorsed as a United Australia party candidate for New South Wales for the next Senate election. Despite what Captain Patrick may now say, it is undeniable that he lavishly .entertained this visiting German.
When I asked the Government to make available to honorable members of the Parliament, not for publication but for their personal information, the list of the names of persons who had been interned in Australia .since the outbreak of war, together with the names of those who had been subsequently released ana later were re-arrested and now remain in internment, I was told ‘that the information could not be released, the old excuse being given that to do so would imperil the national safety.
– What purposes would he served by making the names available in that way?
– I shall tell the honorable member presently. It is a strange circumstance, .and perhaps an accident, that the censors, who are taking all sorts of care not to allow any statements to be published which may possibly embarrass the Government, permitted a report to be published in one Sydney newspaper that certain’ persons interned at the out break of the war were subsequently released and have since been re-arrested. A very strong rumour is current in Sydney to the effect that a member of the Cabinet made representations with the object of .securing the release of a German named Bittner, a chemist of Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, who was interned at the outbreak of the war. A gentleman who held a controlling interest in Australian Consolidated Industries Limited desired the release of this chemist because of his value to the organization. His representations were successful, but it was not long before the Investigation Branch of the Attorney-General’s Department, which knows a great deal about the activities of Germans and other aliens in this country, was able to re-arrest Bittner while he actually had incriminating evidence upon him. I asked for information about these internees because I wished to ascertain how many others were in the same position as Bittner. Only a few days ago, I received a letter which referred to a Conrad Mollar, an exGerman officer who was decorated with the Iron Cross during the last war and was suspected of having Nazi sympathies. Mollar was employed by the Phillips Valve Company, the general manager of which was also interned. That .gentleman was subsequently released and he at once took steps to secure the release of Mr. Mollar. It is reported that he paid two visits to Canberra with this object in mind. Whom would he interview in Canberra on this subject other than persons moving in influential governmental circles’? In spite of such circumstances as these, the censorship is being exercised in such a way as to prevent the pu’blication of any criticism of the Government. It is a disgrace that members of- the Opposition in this chamber should be told that they must not indulge in such criticism. Actually, it is almost impossible to secure the publication o’f any criticism of the Government, in consequence of the activities of the censors.
No one would object to a reasonable censorship with the object of preventing the dissemination of information likely to be of value to the enemy, but the censorship has gone far beyond that point. It has, in fact, denied to a certain newspaper the’ night to publish information concerning th& profits of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited on the ground that to dp so might incite unrest. It is deplorable that, while- the members of the Government are appealing to the workers of Australia to work longer hours for less pay than formerly, and to preserve industrial peace, the Government is adopting adifferent attitude towards certain employers. The workers are being, subjected to very much, heavier taxation,, yet the monopolistic commercial enterprises of the country are; in some cases-, at least, avoiding, all extra taxation. The: Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, for example-, has been permitted to< distribute profits, amounting to £4:,500;0Q0, accumulated over’ a period’ of years,, without the imposition of a single- penny of additional taxation. It cannot be denied, therefore, that the Government is favouring’ these huge monopolies.
It was bad! enough that Mr. Essington Lewis; the managing director’ of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited’, should have been called in to act as an- adviser to the Government on the plea- that if was desirable to secure- the services of prominent industrial magnates to assist in the- organization- of our war effort;- but a worse thing has- happened. “We- were fold’, of course, that Mr. Essington- Lewis was prepared to give his services in an honorary capacity. He could afford tb’ do- so because, as an adviser to tire- Government,, he was able to- influence business in the direction of Ms own companies, which would enhance their profit’s and so benefit himself. Not being satisfied’ with- that the Government has now appointed Mr: Lewis to> take- supreme control of the production of war munitions and has withdrawn the application of all restrictive regulations in respect of his activities. In these circumstances, how can we be expected to believe that the intention of the- Government is to defend, the democratic rights of our people? That contention’ must bc treated as a joke.
Notwithstanding all these considerations;, the honorable member for New England has advocated that the life of this Parliament should be extended.. In- fact, he, and some other honorable gentlemen opposite, appear to- favour the establish” ment of. a form- of dictatorship, although we have all seen the. perils’ of such action in other parts, of the world. It is’ all very well to say that the Governments purpose is to defend democracy. The fact is thai whenever, the workers have foolishly sacrificed their hard-won gains in order to permit governments to- act without restriction! in a. time- of war or- other crisis, they have found it. extremely difficult,, with the return of: normal conditions;, to regain their rights: The honorable member- for New England; appears5 to- think that Australia, is- still a kind of colonial, possession or’ vassal. State of the Imperial Parliament. This puny Australian with a puny mind suggests- that we should not hold an. election- without first obtaining the authority of. the Imperial Parliament. Does he forget the provisions, of our- own Constitution ? Apparently he thinks that, as the Imperial Parliament, gave us out Constitution, it can. also take it. away from. us. To show how ridiculous that attitude is, let me refer to- the “United States of America. After the War of American Independence the- United States of America received recognition of its independence by means of an act of the Imperial Parliament. Surely the honorable gentleman would not suggest that, the Imperial Parliament could mow take away the independence, of the United States of America merely by repealing that act ? Such a proposal in relation to either the United. States: of America or Australia is too ridiculous- for- words. The Commonwealth of Australia, while ai member of the British. Commonwealth of Nations, is still independent as to both its internal and external affairs. It would be. most dangerous for any authority to attempt to. deprive us of out sovereign rights. Ministers and supporters of this Government have- been making a lot out of “fifth column” and subversive activities in this country. The honorable member for the Northern Territory knows of some- organization in South Australia and the Minister for the Navy knows of some- organization somewhere, else, but let me tell, the House that, provided the enemy subjects have moved in sufficiently influential circles, they have immunity, in spite of the fact that they a:re known to have been
Nazi agents. If they can bring political influence to bear they can secure their release from internment. The Government itself is carrying on negotiations with a certain company in Australia and, if honorable members were allowed to peruse the departmental files, they would discover that one of the gentlemen in that company was actually questioned by the Commonwealth investigation officers about his activities in this country. The Government will not let honorable members have access to those papers, because it does not want to have public attention f focussed on its mismanagement of Australian affairs. How can it be suggested that the Government is putting forward its best efforts for the defence of Australia when, in spite of the fact that it is asking men to work abnormal hours, there are still thousands of unemployed ? If this country were invaded and a landing accomplished there is only a single track railway running to the rich coastal districts in the north. If the Japanese landed there it would not matter what armies of defence there were in the south; they could not be transported by rail to the danger point. In spite of the fact that there is sufficiency of materials and men idle, the Government says that nothing can be done because it has not the necessary finance; that what money it has is required elsewhere. What is physically possible is financially possible. No man capable of rendering service should be out of employment; yet the war has been in progress since early in September and thousands of men are still walking the streets without employment.
The Government says that it wants to get the right spirit among the people. There is only one Government which could get the right spirit among the people - a Labour Government. What is the Government doing to-day to get that spirit ? The Minister for the Army to-day issued a statement about allowances for dependants of soldiers. If any honorable member reads that statement he will wonder no longer why the workers are not enthusiastic. They could not be enthusiastic, knowing that the mothers of young men in well-to-do circumstances, who, before their enlistment, could contribute £4 or £5 a week to the family maintenance, have no difficulty in obtaining the separation allowance, whereas the mother of an unemployed boy, who had allotted her 3s. a day from his soldier’s pay was, until to-day, refused a separation allowance on the grounds that she was, as the result of the allotment, better off than she was before her son enlisted. The principle, which apparently actuated the military authorities in determining that, was that the boys concerned were unemployed and would not get a job whether there was a war on or not. The Government could not stand up to the criticism that was made from this side of the House, and to-day certain alterations of the system were announced. The Minister has announced that if a mother receives the invalid or old-age pension of £1 a week as her only income, apart from the allotment from her soldier son, she will be given one-half of the dependant’s allowance - ls. 6d. a day instead of 3s. Surely the Government does not suggest that the boys who have enlisted would never have got jobs if they had stayed at home. In my electorate the son of an old-age pensioner made to her an allotment of 3s. a day from his pay. She will not touch the money. She says that it belongs to her son and that she is banking it for him. Under the amended regulations she will get only ls. 6d. a day as a separation allowance and, unless she banks her son’s money in his name, instead of her own, the Pensions Department will eventually swoop down on her and reduce her pension because she has assets in the bank. I could cite innumerable cases of unfortunate women and children who have experienced all sorts of difficulties about the payment of allotments, which are a pre-requisite to the payment of dependants’ allowances. To cite one case, the wife of one member of the Australian Imperial Force and her child have been compelled to accept food relief because of the delay which has occurred in the making of payments to her.
The best contribution that this Government could make to the country would be to hold general elections. I reject any suggestion that there should be any delay in holding them. Why should there be delay? The honorable member for
New England speaks as if this country were on the eve of- being invaded, but evidently the Prime Minister does not share the honorable gentleman’s view, because yesterday he announced plans for a graving dock, the building of which will occupy three years. Yet the honorable member for New England says that the life of Parliament should be extended by twelve months. Once that were conceded there would be a further extension until the war was finished. Let the people speak their mind about the policy of this Government, as they have the right to do, at the end of this Parliament. Let the Government also remove the stupid restrictions on free speech and the freedom of the press. If there be abuses - and there are abuses, because I brought evidence of corruption in regard to boot contracts here the other day - let those abuses be given the light of day. But what happened when I did raise in this House the fate that befell an honest boot inspector who insisted upon contractors keeping to specifications? The Minister made the most futile effort to answer the charges that I levelled.
-Order ! The honorable member is not in order in referring to a debate which has taken place in this House previously.
– All I desire to say if that efforts made in this House to ventilate scandals have been prevented by the Government’s use of its majority, in spite of the fact that the Prime Minister said that he did not want to muzzle the Opposition, and that free discussion and criticism of the policy of the Government would not be prevented. Provided the Government gives the people the opportunity to know what is happening, there can be only one result of general elections. If the Government continues to prevent newspapers from making mere statements about the profits derived by monopolists and to prevent the ventilation of the facts in this Parliament, and if it continues to suppress organizations and newspapers because they criticize it, it will do so for one purpose only, and that is to ensure its return to office. I am an Australian, and I believe that the interests of this country can be met only by having a government which is not tied to big business. Of what use is’ it to talk about the adequacy of the defence plans when I know that whatever plans the Government wishes to put into operation have first to be submitted to interests outside this Parliament before they are brought before Parliament?
– That is only the honorable member’s opinion.
– It was not only my opinion about the boot contracts. What I said was supported by the evidence on the official files. The honorable member for New England did not utter one word of protest, but the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin), who, I understand, is a member of the honorable member’s party, admitted that the boots provided to the troops are inferior. Surely the honorable member for New England would not suggest that the troops should be asked to go into action with inferior equipment?
– Of course not.
– Well, that is what is happening. If the manufacturers can exercise such influence on the Government as to be able to supply boots below specification, as was admitted by the departmental file, all I can say is that the earlier we have general elections the sooner there will be a change of government and the better it will be for Australia.
.- Recently the Ballarat City Council applied to this Government for authority to raise a loan of £50,000 for the purpose of building a city hall and for other essential public works. I have been informed by the Treasurer (Mr. Spender) as follows : -
An application has ‘ been received from the City of Ballarat for permission to raise a loan of £50,000, the greater portion of which is required for the erection of a new public hall. While a need may exist for this particular building, I am not convinced that construction should be authorized at this stage of national emergency. In view of the necessity for providing funds for war and other vital purposes, there must be some curtailment in other directions. What money is available must bc utilized for the most urgent and vital matters.
Naturally it is essential to have money available for defence purposes, but, in the circumstances which exist in Ballarat, consent for the raising of that loan should have been given because, owing to the fact that practically the whole of the defence expenditure is concentrated in the capital cities and the whole of the materials and labour required for the manufacture of munitions come from the coastal areas, there is a vast number of. unemployed in inland centres. For the work required tobe undertaken at Ballarat neither labour nor materials would be diverted from the manufacture of munitions or other defence works. The construction of a new city hall would involve the use of cement, bricks, tiles and! probably a certain quantity of steel, as well as the employment of a large number of labourers. One of the reasons for the continued existence of unemployed - Ballarat has 500 - is the restriction of recruitment of labour for the manufacture of munitions to artisans, unemployed or otherwise, in the capital cities. Unemployed people residing in inland towns have no opportunity to obtain employment on defence works. I ask that this application be considered on its merits.I understand that applications of this kind are first submitted to an economic advisory committee for a recommendation. This is merely another example of the Government handing over its responsibilities to persons who are more interested in the making of profits than in helping the country. The City of Ballarat should be allowed to raise this money, so that the building may be constructed out of materials available in the district, and employment found for persons out of work. The Mayor of Ballarat is very conscious of the need for beginning this undertaking. Notwithstanding the assurances of members of the Government that unemployment is declining, there are still 566 on sustenance in Ballarat. I hope that the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) will bring my representations under the notice of. the Treasurer, and that he will pay less attention to economic councillors than to the elected representatives of the people.
Question resolved in the negative.
Second Reading. mr. NOCK (Riverina - Assistant Minis ter) [10.20].- I move-
That thebill be now read a second tune.
This bill is similar to one that was passed through this chamber yesterday dealing with the administration of the Seat of Government. It proposes an amendment of the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910-1939, by the insertion of a provision to the effect that a notice in the Gazette of any ordinance of the Northern Territory having been made, and of the place where copies of the ordinance can be purchased, shallbe sufficient notification of the ordinance for the purposes of the act. At present, ordinances of the Northern Territory are notified in full in the Commonwealth Gazette. Often this legislation is lengthy and occupies many pages of the Gazette. It is proposed that, in future, the title only of the ordinance shall be published, together with information as to where copies can be purchased. The resultant saving in paper should commend itself on the grounds of economy.
Commonwealth acts and statutory rules are not published in the Gazette in full, and no inconvenience should be caused to persons interested by reason of the nonpublication of the full terms of ordinances. It is also proposed to discontinue publication in full of regulations made under ordinances of the Northern Territory.
Many ordinances which affect the Northern Territory relate only to minor matters, but are very lengthy, and interest only about 5 per cent. of those who now receive the Gazette. The notification of new ordinances in the Gazette in the form now proposed will give to these people all the information they require to enable them to secure complete copies of such ordinances, which will freely be made available to them upon application.
– The cost of the paper, and of settingup the type.
– And no inconvenience will be occasioned to residents of the Northern Territory ?
.- I have examined this bill, and discussed its contents with the Assistant Minister (Mr. Nock). I am. satisfied that it is a noncontentious measure, and that no inconvenience will be ocasioned to any one, while it will effect economies in certain directions.
. - I know that the Government has made up its mind to put this measure through, and thus cease the publication of Northern Territory ordinances in the Commonwealth Gazette. A previous bill dealt with ordinances affecting the southern part of Australia, but our position in the Northern Territory is different. In the south, there are subordinate legislatures, including State governments and local governing bodies. In the Northern Territory we are controlled completely by ordinances. As the Government is determined to put this measure through, I ask it at least to publish in the Northern Standard, the newspaper which circulates in the territory, the citation of the ordinance and the number of the Gazette in which the notice appears. I have the latest ordinance for the Northern Territory before me - No . 7 of 1940 - of which the citation is, “An ordinance to amend the Mining Development Ordinance 1939 “. I am proud of being responsible for the promulgation of that ordinance. I consulted with officers of the Department ‘ of the Interior, and the Minister has been pleased to accede to my request. This ordinance is printed on quite a small sheet, and not much paperwill be saved by not publishing it in the Gazette. It confers on the authorities the right to prosecute persons on charges of stealing gold from a battery. Under the previous law, which was taken from the South Australian statute, it was not possible to prosecute any one except for stealing amalgam from a mine. At Tennant Creek, as much as £200 worth of amalgam has been stolen from a battery. I congratulate the Government upon acceding to my request to have this ordinance promulgated. . I ask the Minister that all ordinances, particularly those affecting the raining industry, be communicated to those concerned, through the district officer, and that the -number and citation of all ordinances be published in the Northern Standard.
.- I do not wish to prevent this bill from going through. As a matter of fact, we have agreed to it, but I think that the Assistant Minister (Mr. Nock) should have consulted the Printing Committee, which has been chosen by this House to consider matters of this kind. I regard the Printing Committee as one of the most able committees of the Parliament. It is jealous of its position, and should have been asked for a recommendation.
– There is no need to review the bill for the purpose of giving consideration to the suggestion of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain). It can be considered later.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill returned from the Senate without requests.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I should like honorable members to come to-morrow prepared to pass the Sugar Agreement Bill, and two bills dealing with postal matters.
During the day the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) raised certain questions concerning the discharge of a rating from the Royal Australian Navy.
– Order ! The Minister is not entitled to discuss a subject referred to earlier in the day’s proceedings.
– I merely wish to make a statement. The rating in question was discharged owing to the development of a disease of an hereditary nature. Whenever such a disease develops on active service, the pay of the person concerned ceases immediately. The honorable member has asked whether in such circumstances I would agree to the payment of compensation. The law does not permit me to do so. A person may carry such a disease for a number of years, hut it develops only under certain conditions; but when it does develop he is discharged without compensation.
– After how many generations ?
– I do not profess to be an authority on such a matter. It is my duty to state what the law provides; I am merely carrying out the law.
.- The point which I raised during the day–
– I allowed the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Archie Cameron), perhaps irregularly, to answer a debate which occurred earlier in the day, but I cannot permit a debate on the subject to proceed.
– Am I not allowed to speak on the motion for the adjournment?
– The honorable member is entitled to do so, but he must not refer to a debate earlier in the day.
-I merely wish to ask whether the Minister will give consideration to the representations which I made for the payment of compensation to a person who issaid to be the victim of an hereditary disease?
– I have already informed the honorable member that I have given the matter full consideration.
– I want to know–
– Order ! Obviously, the honorable member is continuing the debate.
– Do you, sir, rule that I cannot discuss the subject?
– The honorable member must not continue the debate on that subject.
– Will the Minister recommend an amendment of the existing law to bring it into conformity with the legislation governing seamen’s compensation? I do not know why the Minister should act to the detriment of these young men who volunteered for service in the Navy–
– The matter he refers to was the subject of debate earlier in the sitting. It cannot be revived on the motion now before the Chair.
-I shall obey your ruling, sir, but the Minister was allowed to “ get away “ with it.
– I spoke at the request of the honorable member.
– Order ! Honorable members will realize, as the Chair does, that if this procedure, which is irregular, is permitted, similar attempts will he made in the future. The honorable member for Denison must not pursue the subject further.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
House adjourned at 10.35 p.m.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– An application has been received from the City of Ballarat for permission to raise a loan of £50,000, the greater portion of which is required for the erection of a new public hall. While a need may exist for this particular building, I am not convinced that construction should be authorized at this stage of national emergency. In view of the necessity for providing funds for war and other vital purposes, there must be some curtailment in other directions. What money is available must be utilized for the most urgent and vital matters.
y asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– No request has been received by the Commonwealth Government from abroad for supplies of mercury.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
d asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answers be the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. This matter is being investigated upon representations made by the Melbourne and Geelong Wool Merchants’ Association. The difficulties confronting the members of that association in connexion with the wartime acquirement scheme are fully recognized by both the Government and the Central Wool Committee and every effort is being made to find a satisfactory solution of those difficulties.
n asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
With reference to his announcement that the Government proposes to call in the aid of Mr. Essington Lewis and other qualified citizens as responsible controllers and executive officers in connection with the supplies, &c., for an increased war effort, will he seek some of the required personnel from practising members of the Institutes of Civil Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Architects and Licensed Surveyors?
– To the extent that additional assistance is required in connexion with governmental activities related to the war effort, full consideration will be given gladly to the offers of the services of the professional men referred to by the honorable member.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers: -
Employment in Canberra.
k. - On the15th May, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) asked the following question, without notice -
Is the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior able to say whether the report is true that a number of. artisans who have been regularly employed by the . Department of the Interior, in Canberra, are now out of employment, due, it is -alleged, to a shortage of money? Is it a fact that these men have been told that no further employment will be available for them until after the 1st July? Are these men married, and have they their homes in the Territory? Have they been resident in the Territory for some considerable time?
I am now in a position to supply the following information: -
Before a person is eligible for regular employment by the Department of the Interior, it is necessary thathe be registered. Before he can be registered it is necessary thathe shall have been resident in the Australian Capital Territory for a period of at least three years immediately prior to the registration. No married or single artisan or labourer, who is registered with the department for employment, is at present out of work.
– On the 10th May the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) asked whether the Minister for Supply and Development would make inquiries as to the truth or -otherwise of the report that wool supplied by Australian woollen mills for socks for soldiers at 5s. per lb. is being sold by retailers in Sydney at 16s.per lb.
Inquiries have been made by the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner who has ascertained that in the early months of the war the Australian Woollen Mills Proprietary Limited, in response to requests from patriotic organizations, commenced the production of yarn suitable for soldiers’ socks. This yarn is sold only to voluntary workers and is supplied at a price of 5s. to 5s. 3d. per lb. It is not sold to traders and no evidence could he obtained of sales by retailers at 16s. per lb.
Pap oa:AppointmentofLieutenant- Governor.
asked the Minister in charge of External Territories, upon notice -
k. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 nnd 2. The appointment of a successor to thu late Lieutenant-Governor of Papua (Sir Hubert Murray) is receiving attention and an appointment will be made as soon as practicable.
d asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice–
– The answers to the honorable member’s . questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 May 1940, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1940/19400523_reps_15_163/>.