16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W.M. Nairn) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Monday next, at 3 p.m.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral had brought to ‘his notice the press report this morning that Aircraftman PercivalReed was court-martialled in Sydney because he had seen fit to place before the right honorable gentleman and other government authorities the need for the rectification of certain grievances? Does the right honorable gentleman approve of the action taken? Will he institute inquiries in order to prevent what appears to be an injustice to this man?
– I know nothing of this matter. Doubtless, this aircraftman wrote to me - I cannot say whether he did or not - but I have no recollection of having received such a communication, and I have taken no action in respect of the matter. I should certainly not take action upon information supplied by a man who wrote to me in confidence.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral consider it proper that the letter written to him by Aircraftman Percival Reed should have been made the basis of court martial proceedings? Was the consent of the Minister obtained to use the letter in connexion with this trial? Will the right honorable gentleman cause an inquiry to be made as to who released the letter ?
– I know nothing whatever of the circumstances that led up to this case. I heard of it this morning for the first time, and my knowledge is entirely confined to what I have read in the newspapers and have heard in the House. As soon as the case came under my notice I caused inquiries to be made as to whether the department had originated the prosecution, and I havebeen informed that nothing is known of it in the department. I have no recollection of having received a letter from this aircraftman, although I may have done so. In any case I should certainly not take action, or consider it right for action of this nature to be taken, upon a letter sent to me in such circumstances, irrespective of whether the person concerned had acted properly or otherwise in addressing his letter to me. Strictly speaking, perhaps, letters should not be addressed to Ministers by members of the forces. I certainly should not consider it my duty to use such a letter as the foundation for a charge.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy whether it is believed that the laying of mines off the coast of Australia in recent weeks was the work of an enemy raider or of persons and vessels operating from Australia? Has the right honorable gentleman any further statement to make on the recent sinking of a ship off the coast of New South Wales?
– This question is more easily asked than answered. There is no reason whatever to believe that mines have been laid by persons either domiciled or temporarily resident in Australia. The presumption is that they have been laid by a raider. We have no information as to the cause of the sinking of a ship off the coast of New South Wales, but, in the absence of precise knowledge of the facts, it is presumed that the vessel was sunk by amine, as were other vessels in Bass Strait. All precautions are being taken.
– How far from the coast was this mine?
– The honorable gentleman must see that it would be improper and very dangerous for me to disclose anything further in the matter. It was off the coast of New South Wales.
-Why does not the right honorable gentleman tell the House where it was?
– I have already said that it was off the coast of NewSouth Wales; beyond that, I shall not go. I remind the honorable member that on one day last week the ports of Sydney and Newcastle were closed. Complaints were made, but what occurred yesterday showed that the action of the authorities was fully justified. All that we can do is to continue our precautions and our mine-sweeping operations. As soon as further information comes to hand I shallannounce it to the House.
– Has the right honorable gentleman any information concerning the name of the vessel that was mined and the number of survivors?
– I have no information except that which was passed on by the Air Board to the Navy Board, and published in the press. Information is being awaited and. so soon as it comes to hand I shall let the honorable member know of it.
– I ask the Minister for Air if it be not a fact that the station at Rathmines, to which is attached the amphibian aircraft which located the wreckage off the coast of Swansea, only eight miles from the Port of Newcastle, is not fully equipped, despite the fact that the work of the engineers is practically completed? Are there not only about four obsolete machines at the station? Was not the condition of the amphibian such that it could not move among the wreckage, and thus may have been prevented from rescuing other members of the crew? Is not the honorable gentleman of the opinion that the time has arrived when these air stations should be properly equipped with aeroplanes of the latest types, instead of with the obsolete machines at present in use?
– It is neither the practice nor the intention of the Government to disclose details of the number of operational types of aircraft stationed at any particular establishment. The honorable member may rest assured that the aircraft available to the service at the present time is being used to the very best advantage for the general purpose of maintaining the safety of this country and of shipping in Australian waters. I am informed that the inability of the amphibian aircraft which figured in this particular incident to take on board the men who were seen clinging to certain wreckage was due, not to the condition of the aircraft itself, but entirely to the roughness of the sea at the time. The Government, some considerable time ago, ordered a number of flying boats of the most modern and long-range type. These will be delivered in Australia in the not distant future and will be situated in the localities where, in the opinion of the advisers to the Government, they can best serve the purposes for which they have been ordered.
– Can the Minister for the Navy inform the House whether, during the period in which the ports of Sydney and Newcastle were closed to shipping, any mines were swept up off the east coast?
– Mine-sweeping is proceeding continuously, and the waters in which these latest disasters have occurred are now being patrolled and swept.
– Were any mines swept up?
– I have already told the honorable member all I know about the matter.
– I have now received some information in regard to the loss of a steamer off the eastern coast of New
South Wales. I am informed that seven of the crew, including the captain,were lost, and that thirteen survivorswere landed in Sydney late last night. The survivors say that the explosion was external and that the ship went down in three minutes. They were in the water clinging to portions of the ship’s cargo for two and a half hours before they were picked up.
– Will the Minister for the Navy supply the name and tonnage of the vessel recently sunk off Newcastle ?
– I cannot do that because if these particulars were disclosed they would become at once available to the enemy. Although, on the face of it, the disclosure of this information does not seem important, I cannot supply the information.
– Does not the Prime Minister consider that in view of the reports published in the press this morning to the effect that so far petrol rationing has failed to achieve fully the results expected of it, thetime has arrived for stronger Government intervention in the production of petrol in Australia? Can the right honorable gentleman also inform me as to whether the industry at Capertee has already experienced difficulties,both technical and financial? Is not this a suitable occasion for the Government to exploit the shale deposits at Baerami, for purposes of petrol storage during war-time?
– The matters referred to by the honorable member are, in fact, under consideration. I can say no more.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs obtain from the Deputy Commissioner of Prices in South Australia a report concerning evasion in that State of the prices fixed for soaps and eucalyptus? I received this morning a letter stating that manufacturers are not only increasing prices, in some cases excessively, hut also reducing the size of the cakes of soap. Not only has the price of eucalyptus been increased, but the size of the bottle in which it is sold hasbeen reduced by 25 per cent. Will the Minister inquire into these matters?
– I shall instruct the Prices Commissioner to obtain a report from the Deputy Commissioner in South Australia.
– Is the Minister assisting the Minister for Commerce in a position to make a statement with respect to final arrangements for the marketing of the apple and pear crop for the coming season ?
– Arrangements have been completed foran acquisition scheme to be put into operation, commencing from the 1st January next. The necessary regulations will be gazettedto-day.
– As shipping is to be brought under a control board, will the Minister for Commerce give urgent consideration to the advisability of making Hobart a regular port of call for ships moving around the Australian coast?
-I shall bring the representations of the honorable member to the notice of the Minister for Commerce.
– Last night, on the motion for the adjournment of the House, I referred to the conditions under which a member of the forces had been compelled to undergo solitary confinement in a military camp at Seymour. Will the Minister for the Army call for a report upon the suitability of places of detention in military camps, having regard to space, temperature, ventilation, and other hygienic conditions?
– I have already done so.
– The report should deal with the conditions, not only at the Seymour camp, but also at all other camps.
– Some time ago I brought to the notice of the Minister for the Army complaints concerning the brutal treatment meted out to members of the 2nd Australian Imperial Force who hadbeen sentenced to detention in barracks in New South Wales, and drew particular attention to the accommodation provided for those men. The Minister advised me that he was having an inquiry made. A considerable time having since elapsed, I now ask him when he is likely to let me know the result of the inquiry?
– I must confess that I have no recollection of having had that inquiry directed to me.
– I have the Minister’s letter of acknowledgment.
– That may be so,but I have no recollection of it. If the honorable member will see me immediately after questions, I shall see that the information he seeks is furnished to him.
– In view of the disclosure by me during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House last night that the Pur cell Engineering Company, in Auburn, New South Wales, has been wanting for over three months for a reply to its urgent request to the Munitions Department for 95 skilled workers, and in view of the fact that the company is engaged in the manufacture of machine tools, a vital section of Australia’s war effort, will the Minister take steps to see that the matter is attended to, and that the company’s labour requirements are supplied without further delay?
– I shallbe gladto investigate the conditions referred to by the honorable member.
– Is the Minister for the Army yet in a position to announce a decision with reference to the many representations made to him that members of the military forces he granted free railway passes to enable them to visit their homes during the Christmas season ?
– I hope to be able to announce a decision at the beginning of next week.
– Having regard to the fact that the weather forecasts of Mr. Inigo Jones, the Queensland meteorologist, have proved so beneficial to rural communities throughout Australia, will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior bring under the notice of the Government the desirability of granting a Commonwealth subsidy to Mr. Jones in order to enable him to proceed with his scientific work?
– I shall he pleased to bring the honorable member’s representations under the notice of the Minister for the Interior.
– Has a decision yet been reached regarding Christmas leave for members of the Royal Australian Air Force in Australia?
– A few days ago I made a statement to the press regarding Christmas leave to members of the Royal Australian Air Force. I was informed afterwards that the information furnished to me for the purpose of making the statement was not correct. The actual position is that to men attending air force schools of technical training, leave will be granted from Wednesday, the 25th December, to Sunday, the 29th December, inclusive, and on Wednesday, the 1st January. An exception will be made in respect of the technical training school at Adelaide, where leave will be granted on Wednesday, the 25th December, and from Saturday, the 28th December, to Wednesday, the 1st January, 1941, inclusive. Leave will be granted generally to members of the Royal Australian Air Force on Christmas Day, Boxing Day. and New Year’s Day, except for air crew and ground staff required for necessary duty. The civil staff, Department of Air, will have leave from the 25th December to the 27th December, inclusive, and on New Year’s Day. I understand that, in addition, where ordinary leave has accrued, and is due, to service men, an endeavour will be made to attach that leave to the special Christmas leave, provided no dislocation of civil services or training establishments will be caused thereby.
Liability to Military Service
– Can the Prime Minister say whether any agreement has been reached between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New Zealand regarding the liability to military service of persons whose homes are in Australia, but who are temporarily in New Zealand? Will he endeavour to reach an agreement that will place such persons on the same footing as Australians temporarily resident in Great Britain ?
– I have handed in a supplementary answer to-day which covers the point raised by the honorable member.
– Will the Minister for the Army state when the authorities will be in a position to deal more expeditiously with persons desiring to leave the Australian Imperial Force owing to changed personal circumstances, or for reasons of public interest?
– The question assumes that there is at present undue delay in such cases. If such delays have occurred, I ask the honorable member to place the details before me. I am aware that there has been delay in isolated instances, but I do not think that it has been general.
– On several occasions I have asked the Minister for the Army if he will take action in regard to the unsatisfactory transport arrangements at the Darley military camp. I should now like to know what is the maximum period which the Minister requires for the consideration of such representations before making a decision?
Question not answered.
– Last night, when speaking on the budget, I said that I had been informed that an honorable member on the front ministerial bench was active in trying to secure the release of certain internees. Has the Minister for the Army made any inquiries into the matter and, if so, with what result?
– I know something of the case to which the honorable member has referred. No member of the Government, nor any other member of this House, was concerned with the application to have a certain person released from internment. An application for his release was made to me by some one outside Parliament, and I refused it.
-Will the Minister for
Air consider using the flying boats stationed at Rose Bay for the purpose of patrolling the coast in cases of urgent necessity ?
– To the best of my knowledge no flying boats are stationed at Rose Bay.
– There are nearly always two of them there.
– Rose Bay is a point of arrival and departure for overseas flying boats, and there is a servicing establishment there. The honorable member may be assured, without my going into details, that the Government has availed itself of every opportunity to utilize the flying boats in order to maintain necessary patrols.
Representations by Membersof Parliament.
– Will the Minister for the Army consider the introduction of an amendment of army regulations in order that members of the Australian Imperial Force and the Militia Forces, who have suffered injustices, will he prevented from being victimized solely because they have made representations to their federal member to assist them?
– The honorable member will realize that the introduction of such a practice could easily be abused. Upon occasion, representations have been made to me personally on behalf of persons who believed themselves to be the victims of injustice, and even though such procedure might be in conflict with military regulations, I have ensured that no action was taken against the persons concerned. That, however, is very different from introducing it as a general practice.
– Has a decision yet been reached on the proposal to make a second payment from the barley pool to the growers ?
– The matter is under consideration, but I shall refer the honorable member’s inquiry to the Minister for Commerce.
– Can the Prime Minister say upon which of the remaining sitting days of Parliament honorable members will be given the promised opportunity to debate the recent statement on the international situation by the Minister for External Affairs?
– I cannot.
– In view of the fact that the time of this Parliament, which could have been devoted to urgent national business, has for the last week been expended on matters which could have been adjusted far more quickly if there had been an all-party national government, will the Prime Minister immediately open negotiations for the formation of the national government which the country desires?
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the question of the honorable member is couched in terms which are a reflection on this House, and is therefore disorderly. It reflects on the proceedings of the House during the last week, under the guidance and direction of yourself, Mr . Speaker, and under the Standing Orders, and I submit that the question should not have been asked, and should not be answered.
– Whether the question is disorderly or not, it obviously contains an expression of opinion and on that ground is not allowable.
– In view of the pronounced difficulties which the Government has experienced this week in carry ing on its administration, will the Prime Minister immediately re-open negotiations for the formation of a national government, which the country desires?
– At a meeting of the Advisory War Council during the week, reference was made once more to that matter. No good purpose would be served in further discussing the question now because, as the honorable member knows, there are very strongly held differences of opinion on this very subject, and no advantage could be derived from endeavouring to canvass them in the House at this time.
– Will the Minister for the Army say whether it is a fact that members of the Militia Forces who are now in camp have been granted leave without pay over the Christmas period? As the men were compelled to leave their employment in order to go into camp and will be without funds at Christmas, will the Minister take the necessary action to see that they receive their military pay for that period?
– The facts are, I understand, as the honorable member has stated. I shall give consideration to the second part of the question.
– Twelve months ago, a deputation waited on the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Interior in Sydney and expressed fears that the Government of New South Wales would safeguard its own revenues by transferring to defence works large numbers of men who were employed on State works. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that such fears have been realized, and that men, who were transferred from State to Commonwealth works are obliged, on completing their term of employment, to apply for the dole? Will the Prime Minister ensure that in future the administration of federal moneys is undertaken, not by the State Government, but by the CommonwealthWorks Department ?
– I am not aware of the facts suggested by the honorable member. I remember the deputation to which he referred, and, at that time, I had explicit assurances from the Government of New South Wales that the practice mentioned by the honorable member would not be pursued. However, I appreciate the force of his last suggestion, and I shall discuss it with my colleague, the Minister for the Interior.
– As the Defence Act provides for the punishment of an employer for penalizing an employee who has been called up for military training, does not the Prime Minister consider that a similar penalty should be imposed upon a State Government which transfers its employees from State works to Commonwealth defence works, upon completion of which it compels them to apply for the dole? Does not the right honorable gentleman believe that the State Government should be asked to re-engage such men on the samebasis as that on which they were employed before being placed on defence works? As this unfortunate section of the community has now suffered for years, does the Prime Minister propose to make available a special grant to enable the unemployed to purchase Christmas cheer?
– I shall see that the honorable member’s suggestion is considered.
– Early this year, Lance-Corporal H. W. Mulliner was killed at the military camp at Liverpool, and the Government offered to his parents a solatium payment of £50. Is the Minister for the Army aware that the Department, before paying the £50, asked the parents to indemnify the Government against any further claim? I understand that the parents have refused to sign such an undertaking. Does the Minister consider that the department’s request is a fair one?
– I am not aware of the facts as alleged by the honorable member, but I do not think that it is fair, on the part of the department, to ask for the indemnity. I shall direct that the request be not pressed.
– Is the Minister for
Defence Co-ordination aware that up to September last, only £50 had been made available to the energetic committee which exists in Darwin, to expend upon air raid precaution measures in the town ? I wrote to the Prime Minister suggesting that £5,000 should be provided immediately to finance the construction of tunnels in the cliffs under the town, similar to those which have been built at Dover. Because of the enormous quantities of oil stored at Darwin and the proximity of the town to Asia, will the right honorable gentleman immediately provide money for this urgent work?
– The honorable member’s suggestion will be considered.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy whether the Government possesses power to compel shipowners to equip their vessels with paravanes, and, if so, whether it is being exercised ? If it does not possess such authority, does not the right honorable gentleman consider that it should be taken under the National Security Act as a practical move towards protecting shipping on the coast which, unfortunately, appears to be mined at the moment ?
– The Government has power to compel shipowners to equip their vessels with paravanes, and a number have already been fitted with them. Preference is given in this work to ships engaged in overseas trade. A few days ago, instructions were issued that all ships on the coast that had not been fitted with paravanes should be so equipped, and the work is now proceeding. The honorable member suggested that the Government should compel all shipowners to submit their vessels to be fitted with paravanes; that matter has not been considered by the Government, but no doubt it will be.
-HUG HES. - Owing to the large number of committees which have been appointed by the Commonwealth Government since the outbreak of war, will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of having compiled for the convenience of honorable members a full list of such committees, setting out the addresses and functions of each, the names of the present personnel and the names of the departments with which they are officially associated?
Country Applicants for Employment
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service state whether it is proposed to use the facilities of the Department of Technical Education in New South Wales to examine the qualifications of applicants in country districts for work in munition factories, as there are other centres in the State besides Sydney?
– The department is at present investigating the manner in which the Government can most effectively investigate the labour available in country areas, and the suggestion made by the honorable member will be taken into consideration.
Supply of Bread
– Will the Minister for the Army say whether a Sydney firm of bakers, Gartrell, White Ltd., was the successful tenderer for the supply of bread for the Army at a price which the firm knew at the time was below the cost of production? Is it a fact that Gartrell, White Limited recently applied to the Prices Commissioner to fix a price for bread in excess of the contract price? Will the Minister lay the relevant papers upon the table of the Library in order that I may have an opportunity to peruse them?
– I do not know whether the honorable member’s information is correct, but I shall obtain the papers and make them available to him.
– Will the Minister for the Army say whether a master baker named Raith was fined £1,000 for having supplied short-weight bread to the Army? Has that person yet paid the fine? Is it a fact that he has since been granted another army contract?
– I shall inquire into the matter and convey an answer to the honorable member.
– With regard to Statutory Rule No. 268 relating to the stabilization of the wheat industry, will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce say whether the Australian Wheat Board proposes to insist that wheat shall be sown this year only on fallow land? If so, will he issue instructions to the board to give sympathetic consideration to farmers in areas which have suffered from drought and where the land, although technically stubble, has been lying fallow two years and still contains a large proportion of superphosphate which, owing to the dry conditions, has not been absorbed?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s suggestions under the notice of the Minister for Commerce.
– I desire to inform honorable members that it has been agreed between the leaders of the parties that the committee to examine the war-time company tax shall be established, not as a select committee, but as an ordinary committee. It will meet under the chairmanship of the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden), and the following honorable gentlemen have agreed to act upon it: - Mr. Abbott, Mr. Coles, Mr. Dedman, Mr. Jolly, Mr. Mulcahy, Mr. Riordan, Mr. Scullin, and Mr. Spooner.
– As yesterday’s newspaper cables reported that the Australian Minister to Washington, Mr. R. G. Casey, had had an unusually satisfactory discussion with the Secretary of State, Mr. Cordell Hull, concerning Pacific relations, can the Prime Minister make a statement to the House about those discussions?
– I regret that it is not possible for me to do so.
Alleged Dismissal from Employment.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that many complaints have been made by employees that employers have failed to re-employ them after they have completed. their military training? If so, how many such cases have been reported to him and how many prosecutions have been launched against employers who have thus victimized employees and broken the law?
– This matter, which was referred to yesterday, is at present engaging my attention. Lf the honorable member will place his question on the notice-paper a reply will be furnished to him.
– I have received a number of complaints from lads who have been in militia camps and returned to their employment that, after being re-employed for a few days or a week in order to comply with the regulations, their services were dispensed with. Will the Minister arrange to have the regulations altered so that they will be observed instead of being avoided as they are to-day by unscrupulous employers ?
– As I have already indicated, this matter is engaging my personal attention. The honorable member may rest assured that if any alterations are necessary to prevent a shadowy compliance with the regulations, they will be made.
– How many prosecutions have been launched and convictions recorded against employers for refusing to employ men after they have served a period of training in military camps ? ls it a fact that, following a conviction, the employer is compelled to re-employ the dismissed man, or is it the practice to pay to the dismissed employee a portion of the fine imposed on the employer for the offence? Does the Government consider that a satisfactory arrangement?
– A substantial portion of the honorable member’s question has already been put by another honorable member. I cannot answer the question without notice, but I shall be glad to secure the information and convey it to the honorable member.
– The budget has recently been altered to provide £1,000,000 for the relief of farmers who have lost their crops in drought-stricken areas. In view of that, will the Assistant Minister for Commerce alter his mind now with regard to the growers of small fruits who are in necessitous circumstances as the result of the loss of the whole of their crops owing to the frosts and blizzards that raged during the month of October ? The Minister should give the matter consideration-
-Order ! The honorable member may not express an opinion.
– Tasmania will not participate in the relief to be granted to necessitous wheat-growers.
– I have already informed the honorable member that the Commonwealth cannot accept responsibility for what are purely local misfortunes. That is a responsibility which the State governments must accept. The provision of £1,000,000 recently made in the budget for the assistance of necessitous wheat-farmers will be allocated by the Australian Agricultural Council, on which Tasmania has equal representation with the other States.
– Will the Acting Minister for Commerce advise the respective States that, in making payments out of the grant of £1,000,000 to distressed wheat-growers, the payments should be made direct to the growers, and not through the banks and other organizations which, in most cases when grants are made through them, receive the only direct benefit?
– The honorable member’s suggestion will be brought under the notice of the Minister for Commerce and given full consideration.
– On two occasions recently I asked the Minister for Commerce a question regarding the chartering of the steamer Bratdal by West Australian Farmers Limited and its subsequent re-charter to the Commonwealth Government at a very much increased rate of charter. When may I expect an answer to the question?
– I shall refer the matter to the Minister for Commerce and ask him to supply an answer as early as possible.
– Is it a fact that the Oversea Shipping Representatives Association, which charters ships on behalf of the British Ministry of Shipping, made a renewal charge of 5 per cent, over all freight handling charges, and that, after the certificate officer complained, the organization was compelled to refund to the Commonwealth the sum of £25,000 in respect of the renewal payment?
– I shall refer the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Commerce and endeavour to secure a reply.
– The ration of meat which is supposed to be supplied on the soldiers’ plate in camps of the Australian Imperial Force is l lb. daily, but the ration is not supplied. Fresh beef is supplied to the camps in quarters, and mutton, most of which is fat mutton, in whole carcasses. Thirty-four per cent, of the quantity supplied is bone and fat. The officers are unable to effect an improvement without instructions from a higher authority. Will the Minister for the Army give instructions that, in future supplies of meat to the Australian Imperial Force camps, allowance shall be made for the waste or that first-grade meat shall be supplied?
– I shall have the subjectmatter of the honorable member’s complaint investigated. The look of the honorable member, however, indicates that the ration must be pretty good.
Repairs to Damaged Motor Cycle
– Is the Minister aware that the parents of a trainee who was killed while on duty as a despatch rider, and whose motor cycle was extensively damaged, have been informed that the repair of the cycle was their responsibility? Will the honorable member look into the matter and see that justice is done?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable member’s question is, “ No “ and to the second part, “Yes”.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior yet obtained information regarding the difficulty of obtaining berths on the East- West railway, and the shortage of rolling stock, including both carriages and locomotives?
– I shall see that the information is supplied.
Use of Air Mail Planes
– Was it not a condition of the establishment of the Empire air mail service that the planes used by Qantas Empire Airways between Singapore and Sydney, particularly after the change over was made to flying boats, should be used for the defence of Australia when required? If so, is full use being made of these planes by the Department of Air?
– I am not aware whether any such condition was made in the original contract. I am able to inform the honorable member, however, that very substantial use has been and is now being made of the Empire flying boats.
– The Government, is not prepared to answer any further questions this morning.
– Why not?
– A meeting of the Advisory ‘War Council is to be held.
– That is no reason why the Government should refuse to answer further questions. All Ministers are not members of the Advisory War Council.
– I rise to a point of order. I was on my feet to ask a question when the Treasurer rose and stated that no further questions would be answered. It is not right that I should be debarred in that way.
– The Government will have a stormy passage if it intends to adopt this course.
– Do the members of the Government realize that there is a raider operating on our coast?
Consideration resumed from the 5th December (vide page 504), on motion by Mr. Fadden -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division I. - The Senate - namely, “ Salaries and allowances, £8,176 “, be agreed to.
– I greatly regret the circumstances which made it possible for me to enter this House as the representative of the division of Corangamite. I realize that it will be very difficult for me to follow such a distinguished gentleman as the late Honorable G. A. Street, who rendered such efficient service not only to his constituents, but also to the Commonwealth as a whole. By his charm of manner, his untiring energy and his enthusiasm Mr. Street made many friends in this Parliament, and also throughout Australia. I greatly regret his untimely death.
I propose to make some brief comments on the budget. First, I have been greatly surprised at the magnitude of the budget; and, secondly, I have been surprised at the general approval which honorable members have given to the raising of such a vast sum of money. Honorable gentlemen on both sides of the committee, while complaining about the methods by which it is proposed to raise the needed money, have offered no objections to the aggregate amount involved. In my view the average wage-earner of Australia will not quarrel because he is being asked to contribute, with his fellows, towards the money required for the defence of Australia and the prosecution of the war. The people of the other British dominions, particularly New Zealand and Canada, have set us a worthy example in this respect.
I direct the attention of honorable members to the following extract from an article written by Dr. H. V. Evatt, K.C., who, as honorable members know, is identical with the honorable member for Barton in this Parliament, which appeared in the Melbourne Argus on the 20th September, the day before the general elections : -
Labourhas been out of power for too long. It should be restored to power and we shall follow the illustrious examples of Andrew Fisher, and of the great New Zealand Labour Government which is doing so much to-day.
I regret that honorable members of the Opposition are now seeking to repudiate the views expressed so recently as the eve of the general elections by one of their most distinguished colleagues. May I remind them, too, that another of their distinguished leaders, the late Honorable Andrew Fisher, is best remembered for the statement he made in the early days of the last war: “Australia is in this war to the last man and the last shilling.” It is remarkable in these circumstances that the Opposition should be offering such bitter objection to a proposal that about 500,000 of our citizens should be asked to contribute their first shilling towards the cost of the defence of their country. Do honorable members opposite realize that the people of New Zealand, who are governed by a Labour Administration, are being taxed much more heavily than it is proposed to tax the people of Australia? Moreover, industrial and military conscription are actually in force in New Zealand. I wonder whether that is the example which the honorable member for Barton desired to commend to us. I do not hear honorable gentlemen opposite saying, “ Hear, hear !”
In connexion with the taxing measures already taken in Canada I invite members of the Labour party to consider the following statements of the November issue of the Readers’ Digest : -
It is only human to squawk about taxes, but Canada is paying taxes that are taxes and complaining little enough. With hardly a murmur 1,000,000 workers will pay income taxes for the first time. A 2 per cent. deduction from all wages hits even the scrub-woman, the shop girl and the messenger boy. There are sales taxes on almost everything. There is a processing tax even on bread. Cigarette taxes are so high that many Canadians are rolling their own. The average man will pay at least 30 per cent. of his income for taxes - and buy a lot of war savings stamps, too.
In view of what is being done in the sister dominions I can see very little ground for complaint about what the Commonwealth Government is now proposing to do. I do not believe that the attitude of honorable members opposite is a true reflection of the views of the ordinary wage-earner of Australia in relation to the Government’s taxation proposals.
– The ordinary worker has not enough to live on now, so how can he contribute anything?
– The honorable member’s statement is utter nonsense. Under the revised budget proposals, a single man earning less than £200 a year and a married man with a wife and no children earning less than £250 a year, will not be required to contribute a penny in income tax. A married man with a wife and one child will have to earn more than £300 a year before he will be required to pay income tax. Surely it will not be suggested that such persons are being subjected to great hardship! I believe that every working man who is in receipt of a regular income would be dad to contribute his fair share towards the money necessary to bring the war to a successful conclusion. Honorable gentlemen opposite have not correctly interpreted the minds of the workers in general.
– What about the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited?
– We are not discussing that company at the moment.
I listened with interest to the speech made by the honorable member for East Sydney last night, although I did not agree with some of bis submissions. The honorable gentleman made the statement that we, on this side of the committee, would not vote according to our conscience.
– And I believe it.
– A good deal depends, of course, upon the condition of a man’s conscience. If it has become rusty through little use, strange things may happen. The honorable member blatantly declared that he had opened a confidential letter addressed to another person, and even boasted that he had revealed its contents.
– Would the honorable member defend the contents of that letter?
– A man with a conscience which would permit him to do that sort of thing may be expected to cast his votes in a most extraordinary way in this Parliament.
Mr. Ward interjecting,
– Order !
– Go and get work!
– Probably I can speak just as authoritatively on the subject of hard work as can the honorable member for East Sydney. It is possible that I have done more hard work in five years than the honorable member has done during his whole life.
– That is very problematical.
– I have had a life time’s experience of working men, and I claim among them some of my best friends. I know that many of them do not favour the representations made in this Parliament, allegedly on their behalf, by certain honorable members opposite.
– The honorable member is quite in error.
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney must contain himself or he must leave the chamber.
– I am containing myself. Mr. Archie Cameron. - Heave him out!
– The Government has not the numbers to do it.
– The honorable member for East Sydney had a fair hearing last night.
– And no thanks to the Assistant Minister (Mr. Anthony), for he was not here.
– Order ! If the honorable member for East Sydney does not cease interjecting I shall be obliged to name him.
– After this exchange of pleasantries, perhaps I may be permitted to proceed with my speech.
During the last twelve months a great many people have had to re-adjust, and even completely reconstruct, their ideas about world events. There was a time when many of our citizens subscribed to the view that not a man should be permitted to leave our shores to fight on the other side of the world. There were also many people in the community who, after the last war, declared that if a nation did not desire a war it would not get it. Possibly that was a natural reaction on the part of those who had witnessed during the last war the prodigal out-pouring of the red wine of youth on the battlefields of Europe. But we have been sadly disillusioned, for within the last twelve months such peace-loving and industrious countries as Norway, Holland and Denmark have been absolutely overrun by the invader. One honorable member has observed, in the course of this discussion, that Great Britain had something to answer for because of its unpreparedness for war. I am afraid that Great Britain is not alone in that respect. Australia is equally to blame, and every member of the community should shoulder responsibility. In a large measure, our unpreparedness dates back to the time when compulsory military training was suspended. Had that system been continued, we would have had, at the outbreak of war, a disciplined army ready to go into the field at very short notice, and we would have had the equipment to supply that army. In the original Australian Imperial Force those young men who had been trained under the compulsory system proved to be some of the best soldiers that Australia produced, and they played no unimportant part in the struggle overseas.
– Who has been governing Australia for the last six or seven years 1
– I have not mentioned any government ; I have not attributed blame to any party. Successive governments acquiesced in the continuance of the voluntary training system. We realize now that it was a delusion and a snare. This country must be defended, and its frontiers are not its coastal waters, but the frontiers of Great Britain. The fight in progress on the other side of the world is being waged as much on our behalf as on behalf of the British people. It is unreasonable to say that Australians who are receiving £4, £5 or £6 a week, and living in security and comfort, should not be asked to contribute to the war effort; such talk will not go down with me. If we remember that the people whom we expect to purchase our surplus primary products are carrying on courageously in the heat of the battle for Britain, we shall realize that we have much for which to thank them. We have been able to supply them with our surplus products only because Great Britain has a navy powerful enough to keep the trade routes clear for our ships of commerce.
I wish to refer briefly now to the plight of primary producers. I have noticed since I came into this House that there has been a great deal of agitation on behalf of the wheat-growers. I realize that the wheat-growers need help, but there are thousands of other primary producers who to-day, owing to bad seasonal conditions, are in just as desperate straits. Because they have not been so well organized as the wheatgrowers and have not constantly agitated for assistance, they have been neglected by various governments. It is ‘bad for Australia that so many men should be anxious to leave their farms in order to secure employment in munition factories and other secondary industries. A great disservice will be done to the nation if farmers are forced to walk off their holdings through the lack of a little temporary assistance. Many of them work harder for longer hours and for less remuneration than men on the basic wage. They are a class of almost forgotten people. Before it provides special assistance for the wheat-growers the Government would be wise to make a wider survey in order to learn how many other primary producers are in difficulties. As the result of the contracts entered into between Australia and Great Britain, we have been able to obtain prices for our primary products in excess of those ruling in the year just prior to the outbreak of war. Wool prices have increased by 20 per cent. They may not be high, but, after all, they are substantial when we take into consideration the magnitude of the taxes which the people of the Mother Country are paying and the severity of the fighting which they have done on our behalf. If the people of Australia could realize what it means to the people in the Old Country to be harassed day and night by bursting bombs and screaming shells, there would be less talk here about hardships, and all of us would be thankful that we are so far from the scene of the war. This realization would do much to inspire us to do better service and make bigger sacrifices in order to ensure that Great Britain shall obtain the help which it urgently needs.
It is ridiculous to say that this is a war in which the rich will amass great profits whilst the poor make all the sacrifices. It is a war in which all of us are vitally concerned. Our security, not only in the family circle, but also as a nation, is at stake. A measurement of that risk against accumulated profits and standards of living will show that too much attention is being paid to unimportant matters. We in Australia have been singularly fortunate to enjoy such a long period of peace; possibly it has had the effect of making us selfish and careless of the tribulations of people overseas. If now we are reluctant to make some small sacrifice, we should be reminded of the greater sacrifices that are being made by those Australians who are serving overseas. They deserve all the help that we can give to them; we can serve them best by making a united effort. We are told that up to date Australia has not felt the full impact of the war. That is true, except in the case of those families whose relatives have gone overseas to fight. It is useless to try to delude the people that a time is not coming when Australia, as well as Great Britain, will be called upon to give better service than it has ever given, and to make greater sacrifices. From a conflict of the magnitude of the present one hardships must inevitably arise and they must be endured with fortitude. I have sufficient faith in the Australian people to believe that they will not be lacking in courage and unselfishness when the time comes for bigger sacrifices to be made. This is not the time to tell them that everything in the garden is lovely, that wages, pensions, and the spending-power of the individual should be increased. They should be told that our problem now is not one of maintaining the standard of living, hut of maintaining the standard under which we live, the standard that has kept us safe for 100 years in this country, the symbol of a liberty which has been enjoyed to a greater measure in Australia possibly than in any other country - the Union Jack. Our choice now lies between that standard and the standard of the
Swastika., which stands for slaughter and slavery. That is the issue and we must face it.
I thank honorable members for having listened attentively to me and for having refrained from embarrassing me with interjections.
.- The speech which I prepared some days ago has necessarily been altered in some respects because of the events of the last 24 hours. Possibly, it will assist honorable members to follow the course of my remarks if I outline for them the points which I intend to make: - (1) I shall discuss the Government’s attitude towards the Opposition in this chamber; (2) I shall give some illustrations of the lopsidedness of the budget; (3) I shall briefly discuss national credit; (4) I shall refer to what I have termed “ the oil case “ ; (5) I shall advocate the nationalization of certain key industries; and (6) I shall examine the question of the need for suitable taxes on companies which are making excessive profits as the result of war activities. Finally, I shall explain my conclusions on these points for the information of honorable members.
Before I became a member of this Parliament I had learned something of the Government’s reputation, but nevertheless I was surprised and disappointed at the attitude adopted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) when he replied to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). It was a truculent attitude which showed beyond doubt that the Prime Minister had lost his grip of the situation. The only remedy for this condition is for the Labour party to assume control of the treasury bench, if its candidate be successful at the Swan by-election. For the sake of the workers and, in fact, for the sake of the nation in its hour of need, I hope that that change will be effected within the next few weeks.
The Prime Minister’s speech was a diatribe against the Opposition, and it was supported by the press, particularly in New South Wales. The right honorable gentleman treats the Opposition as being entirely unworthy to represent the hundreds of thousands of electors who returned its members to this Parliament.
The Government is mistaken if it believes that, without a majority in this chamber, it can force down the throats of Opposition members a policy which is viciously anti-working-class. We shall not submit. Unless the Prime Minister can make a better compromise than he has made in the last 24 hours, he will find that the threat of a general election, which he thinks he holds over us, is ineffective. I would welcome another general election if it became necessary in order to resolve the difficulties that have arisen during this week in Canberra. But an election is not necessary. I regard this threat of the Prime Minister as a deliberate attempt to blackmail those honorable members who have been elected to represent the workers of Australia into falling in with some course of action with which they do not agree.
I can speak with some authority on the tenor of the Prime Minister’s speech because I, too, am a lawyer and practise at the Bar in Sydney when I have the opportunity to do so. His speech was marked by forensic trickery. He referred to the fact that, under the budget proposals, taxes on high incomes would be trebled and he said that therefore the richer persons - those with incomes above £700 a year - would be required to make great sacrifices. He did not say that the proposals included the collection of £5,000,000 from people receiving less than £400 a year, from whom the maximum collection in previous years was £100,000. What he said was, that the £5,000,000 represented less than 1 per cent, of the total income of persons in that lower income group. He did not say that this year the collection from those whose incomes are below £400 a year will be fifty-fold what it was last year. To say that the tax on one class of income has trebled, and to refrain from referring to the effect of the tax on other classes of income, is to advance a shallow argument.
The Prime Minister also said that this is a compromise budget. That is a remarkable statement. If it was a compromise budget when introduced by the Treasurer, the workers must realize that it is substantially different from what would have been brought down had the Government had a clear majority. I particularly draw attention not only to that fact, but also to the further fact that it represents a much heavier burden on the richer people than would have been imposed had the Government been in control in this chamber. The lightness of the burdens imposed on the wealthy classes and companies, is an admission that the purpose of the Government is merely to serve the interests of combines and monopolies in this country. The speech of the Prime Minister surprised me, because it indicated that the right honorable gentleman was not taking the amendment seriously. In fact, I gained the impression that he was not taking the business of Parliament seriously.
– He treated the amendment with ridicule.
– I thank the honorable member for that interjection. Throughout his speech, the right honorable gentleman exhibited a callous indifference to the need for proper social conditions. Not a single reference did he make to the need for helping those who unfortunately are not able to help themselves. Apparently, he is prepared to be generous with other people’s money, particularly that of the workers. The few shillings that the Treasurer seeks to take from the workers mean a very great deal more to them than the pounds which ought to be taken from the wealthy classes and companies will mean to them. It is shameful that the workers should have to bear the burden of this tax simply because their number is greater than is that of companies and other friends of the Government. If ever a government wrote it3 own. doom, this Government has done so in this lopsided budget. I shall give illustrations for the benefit of honorable members. The budget itself makes necessary an increase of invalid and old-age pensions. Does any honorable member imagine that the cost of living will not be affected by it? Would honorable members opposite contend that an increase of the pension by ls. a week is adequate, having regard to the direct and indirect impositions of the budget? I think that I can reply fairly on their behalf that they would not do so. Not only have pensioners not been treated properly in the matter of the rate of pension, but in addition the Government has not promised to liberalize the conditions governing the grant of the pension. It must not be thought that because the rate of pension is £1 a week, all pensioners receive that amount. Many of them receive far less. A pensioner who asked me to make representations on his behalf had not seen his wife, who had deserted him, for twelve years, and did not know where she lived ; but the department possessed that knowledge, and because she had an income the husband was deemed to be in receipt of half the income of his wife and was granted only 12s. 6d. a week. That is a very serious state of affairs.
– It is not general, is it?
– That illustrates only one of the anomalies that exist under the present legislation. In addition to the increased amount which the Government proposes to give under the terms of the compromise, it should liberalize the conditions upon which pensions are granted, so that many injustices now being done may be removed. Amending legislation should be introduced to give effect to a more liberal policy than is now possible because of a short-sighted outlook, and failure to consider all possible contingencies.
Yesterday an honorable member of the Opposition - I believe it was the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) - mentioned that the Commissioner of Prices had approved a principle under which the liquor interests are allowed not only to recover the additional excise duty, but also to make a greater profit. Workers who will have to pay the proposed heavier taxes are not to be allowed to pass on to the boss the added cost to them. This anomaly apparently has the approval of the Government. It is a travesty of the principles which the Government allegedly supports. The Prime Minister has said that the sole object of the Government’s war policy is to make Australia safe for its people. I contend that the only object of the right honorable gentleman and his colleagues is to make Australia safe for the profiteers. The man who stands idly by and allows such a principle to be endorsed by a commission established with his approval is guilty of chicanery of the worst type. More and more, since I have been a member of this legislature, has it become evident to me that the Government merely seeks to serve and be the tool of persons who really govern this country from outside.
It was estimated” last May, when estate duties were increased by 25 per cent., that thereby an additional £500,000 would be raised. I suggest to the Government that, in order to lift the burden from those who are below the basic wage but still have an income above £200 a year, estate duties should be doubled. By that means, consolidated revenue would benefit to an amount of £2,000,000 over the Treasurer’s May estimate, and that would more than cover the loss sustained by raising the exemption to at least £4 5s. a week, which is the basic wage in some of the States. That is the least the Government can do if it wishes to be fair in the apportionment of taxes. My eyes have been opened very widely since I have come to this Parliament. Although I was suspicious, little did I dream of what was taking place in Canberra. When I return to my electorate, I shall make sure that my constituents are told of what really happens here.
I was indeed surprised that the Treasurer’s speech contained no mention of the need for increasing the maternity allowance. A week ago, I had placed before me the case of a man who has been earning £5 10s. a week or £285 a year. He had three children, one of whom passed away shortly before a fourth was born. In order that his wife might obtain the maternity allowance, he was permitted to earn only £273. Had the child who died continued to live the amount would have been £286. Despite the fact that complications supervened on the last pregnancy and birth, and his wife was a hospital inmate for ten weeks, instead of the ordinary confinement period of two weeks, she was refused the maternity allowance of £5. Surely to goodness the original provisions in relation to the granting of a maternity allowance, enacted in 1912, could be restored, thus enabling persons earning less than £500 a year to receive it, irrespective of the number of their children ! I consider that a maternity bonus of £5 is quite inadequate. Having regard to the costs that have to be incurred at such a time - pre-natal care, and the expenses associated with the birth, and the subsequent treatment of the child and mother - £10 is little enough to give to a woman who is prepared to populate Australia with the very best kind of immigrant, namely, the native-born. This matter should be reviewed by the Government immediately, not at some time in the future. It is as important to the defence of Australia - certainly its future defence - as anything else that the Government could do.
Some system of national insurance should certainly be introduced. I was not a member of this Parliament at the time, but I remember reading the statement of the Prime Minister, who was then Attorney-General in the Lyons Government - “I will stand or fall by the principle of national insurance “. We all know how, after making that firm statement, he subsequently climbed down. Now, as Prime Minister, he is in a position to take a hand in the fashioning of this budget. Therefore, one might have expected him to stand by the principles heenunciated only about twelve months ago, and include in the budget some provision for national insurance. When the amended scheme was dropped, we were told that it was not possible to go on with it because it would involve the expenditure of an extra £1,000,000. How shallow that excuse seems now in the light of existing circumstances. For myself, I should like to see in operation the system of national superannuation which obtains in New Zealand. I have had some experience of the working of this system, having been in New Zealand for two years. The spending power of the people of Australia needs to be increased, and spending needs to be more free than has been the case during the last 25 years. One way to bring that about is to guarantee to the people a proper measure of security when they attain a certain age, say, 60 years. If they were assured of a superannuation pension of 30s. a week when they attained that age, they would spend more freely the money which they now have. In that way we would be encouraging the wheels of industry to turn more rapidly, and would also be helping the war effort.
I come now to the subject of national credit, and crave the indulgence of the committee to read part of a broadcast address which I prepared and delivered during the recent election campaign. Referring to the programme of the Labour party I said -
It is our intention to finance the war and the civil administration by a proper utilization of the national credit. Labour claims that the conservative method of employing credit facilities through the medium of a private banking system is militating against the exertion of our maximum war effort.
You will remember that not so long ago the daily newspapers were saying Japan could not endure a war with China which would extend beyond six months.
Similar things were written in relation to Germany.
We were assured that Germany and Japan were in imminent danger of economic collapse. Despite these smugly complacent prophecies, the effect of which was to lull us into a sense of false security, those countries have built up vast war machines.
I say definitely - this was made possible only by the abandonment of orthodox method? and the gearing of the financial structure in the service of an integrated war effort. In a similar way, a Labour government will make money the servant of the Australian people and not their master.
And lest you might think I am embarking on some irrational scheme, I tell you that the 1935 Royal Commission on Banking after hearing expert evidence expressly recommended the same banking reform which Labour has consistently advocated.
It will be seen, therefore, that our financial policy is not an expedient devised merely to meet the exigencies of an emergency, but a policy which has been for a long time a vital part of our platform and has received in the main, as I said, the approval of a royal commission of experts.
On the other hand, the Menzies administration, spurning the advice of noted economists, seeks to wage a 1940 war with 1914 methods - methods, I say, which are hamstrung by the paramount consideration of serving only the interests of a select clique of wealthy shareholders in our private banks.
That was what I said when I believed that Labour would win the election, and I do not depart from it in the least particular. We shall have to adopt that scheme if we are to produce our maximum war effort. The following extract from Truth, of Sunday, the 24th November, refers to the financial methods of the New Zealand Labour Government: -
The June issue of the Financial Times (London) refers to the remarkable recovery of New Zealand’s London funds which were stated to have grown by over £11,000,000, well over 100 per cent., in the six months ending February, 1940. An examination of the New Zealand Reserve Bank statistical summary for September last clearly shows that this improvement in the dominion’s overseas financial position has not only been maintained, but considerably improved, in subsequent months.
– That was achieved by heavy exports.
Mi-. FALSTEIN. - The honorable member’s observation is answered in the next few lines. The article goes on -
At the end of September last London funds aggregated over £22,000,000, compared with £8,500,000 in September, 1939, an improvement for the year of no less than £14,500,000. Strangely enough, New Zealand exports for the same period fail to reflect any corresponding increase. They have not varied for some time. Imports have declined by about £8,000.000. At the end of August, excess of New Zealand exports over imports were represented by a comforting balance of over £20,750,000.
That article was not written by a correspondent of Truth, but was published in the London Financial Times, the official organ of the Lombard-street bankers.
– Evidently New Zealand reduced its imports.
– I wish the honorable member could make up his mind as to the ground on which he will take his stand. The article continues -
Domestic conditions in the dominion do not indicate any national privations in the stabilization of overseas funds. Rises in wholesale prices and cost of living are readily comparable with present Australian conditions. Here they are, based in both cases on 1,030-100-
The State use of the Reserve Bank dominion credit has grown from nil in 1934 to £8,000,000 in 1939 and £28,000,000 in 1940. Critics, of course, will say that in so pledging 70 per cent, of the dominion’s resources, the New Zealand Government is embarked on inflation, even if justification for such a policy is that of the greatest good for the greatest all. So far it has enabled New Zealand to put up a rather wonderful war effort for its size, an effort which might not have been otherwise possible.
The population of New Zealand is 1,500,000, little more than a fifth of that of Australia. Therefore, even on the basis of comparative populations, Australia should be capable of almost five times the economic expansion achieved in New Zealand. If the dominion has ‘been able to expand its national credit by £28,000,000 in a relatively short period, Australia, on a population basis, should be able to expand its national credit by £140,000,000. The Treasurer referred in his budget speech to the necessity for utilizing national credit within the limits dictated by considerations of safety. The Labour party desires to learn the limit beyond which the honorable gentleman is not prepared to expand credit. If we accept as being fundamentally correct the opinions expressed in the Financial Times, the limit of safety for Australia is £140,000,000. Up to date, the Commonwealth Bank has made no permanent contribution to the expansion of credit, but has given only temporary accommodation by underwriting loans which have not been fully subscribed. So soon as a favorable opportunity presents itself, the bank disposes of such bonds on “the open market. On those premises, a case can be adduced to justify the Commonwealth Bank expanding the national credit by at least £140,000,000. If the Ministry had been defeated this week, and an election had been forced upon the country, the Government would have adopted the slogan “ No inflation “.
– Even if the Ministry had been defeated, a general election would not have been held !
– That may be; I do not know. I wish, however, to inform the honorable member that at no time shall I shirk my responsibilities to my constituents. I, for one, considered that the Government should have been voted out of office yesterday.
– The Labour party will defeat the Ministry when its candidate wins the Swan by-election.
– Yes, I sincerely trust that that opportunity will arise. I am not afraid to meet my masters, even if some honorable members opposite are. From that statement, I exclude the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie
Cameron), who was responsible in a large measure for the decision of the Government to proceed with the last general election. The Prime Minister and his advisers desired to postpone them.
An anomalous position has arisen out of the fact that no trained bankers are members of the Commonwealth Bank Board. The policy of the institution is determined by theoreticians with no practical knowledge of sound banking principles. Until the country abolishes the Commonwealth Bank Board and makes the institution the servant of the nation by placing it under the direct control of Parliament, our war effort will be hampered. We cannot exert every ounce of the energy of which we are capable until we break the financial shackles that now impede our development. The Treasurer has appealed to the public to subscribe £25,000,000 to war savings certificates during the current financial year. As these certificates may be surrendered by the purchaser the day after they have been bought, I should like the honorable gentleman to disclose the actual amount from this source which actually lies in the coffers of the Commonwealth Bank. In my opinion, the amount which the Treasurer stated has been subscribed to date can be reduced by £5,000,000. At all events, it is substantially less than the sum which the Treasurer would have us believe is there.
As part of the preparation for this speech, I read the budget speech which was delivered last year by the then Treasurer (Mr. Menzies). On that occasion, the right honorable gentleman declared that money which could be borrowed for slightly less than 4 per cent. was cheap. Such an amazing statement is not surprising when one considers the interests which the Prime Minister represents in Parliament. He is the mouthpiece of the owners and lenders of money, and not of the people who borrow it and have to pay high rates of interest thereon.
I now desire to refer briefly to the activities of the major oil companies in Australia. My remarks have a general application, and I single out no particular company for adverse comment. I should like to know what associations four of the seven directors of Commonwealth
OilRefineries Limited have with the other major oil companies. In my opinion, such associations must be detrimental to the successful conduct of the business of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited having regard to the original purpose for which the company was established. [Leave to continue given]. The original purpose of the company was to keep down to a minimum the price of petrol and oil in Australia, but unfortunately, that objective has not been realized. The association of the majority of its directors with the privately controlled oil companies has resulted in the adoption of a hand-in-glove arrangement which has influenced the profits of the private companies, to their great advantage. This is a damning indictment of the failure of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited to carry out the purpose for which it was established. In addition, it has failed to make proper provision for the conservation of petrol supplies in the Commonwealth. Had it not neglected that most important responsibility, Australia’s war effort would have been considerably more advanced than it is at present.
– The honorable member’s criticism in that respect is justified.
– The chairman of directors of the Anglo-Iranian oil interests, Lord Bearsted, admitted in answer to a question asked at the annual general meeting of shareholders in London in 1938 that the cost of petrol at the well was less than one-tenth of a penny a gallon. A number of Americans, including Rockefeller, became multimillionaires by making enormous profits out of the sale of petrol when the retail price received by them did not exceed 9 cents a gallon. Admittedly, their market was considerably larger than the Australian market; but it is curious that petrol cannot be sold in Australia at a much lower price than it has been. In recent years, the Commonwealth appointed two royal commissions to investigate the price of petrol. On the second occasion, the Prime Minister held a well-paid brief on behalf of the wealthy oil companies.
– He always has a brief for “ big business “.
Mr.FALSTEIN.- The presence of the right honorable gentleman in this House is a permanent assurance that the interests of “ big business “ will be carefully safeguarded. The second royal commission was instructed to ascertain the actual landed cost of petrol and petroleum oils in Australia, but it neglected to do so. A former Auditor-General of the Commonwealth, Mr. Cerutty, estimated that the major oil companies, by loading their invoice prices in a certain manner, evade the payment of taxes on their actual net profits. This evasion represented a loss to the Treasury of £2,500,000 a year, over the last ten years.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I was disappointed to find that no provision was made in the Estimates for the taking over of four or five of the largest companies engaged in key industries in this country. If these concerns were taken over by the Government, not at a market valuation, because that would open up the field for speculation in advance, but at a fair and reasonable valuation, the huge profits which those companies enjoy each year would go to fill the coffers of the nation. Provision should also have been made in the Estimates for the purchase and conservation of coal. As Joseph warned the Egyptians, I warn this committee, “ Behold there come seven years of great plenty . . . and there shall arise after them seven years of famine “. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) told me recently that the great city of Melbourne has a reserve supply of coal for only fifteen days. Coal is of such vital importance to the nation, not only in time of war, but also in peace, that very substantial stocks should always be kept in hand. I am sure that the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) will agree that many of the idle coal-mines in this country could be profitably worked if the necessary assurances were given by the Government to the owners that all coal won would be purchased. In the national interest that should be done without delay.
I propose now to deal briefly with excess profits; but as the whole matter is under review, and as one of the terms of the compromise is that a report in regard to it should be brought before the Parliament by a special committee of members within a week, I am necessarily somewhat muzzled. Last week the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) submitted to the chamber a list of 70 large companies which he said were making exorbitant profits. Unfortunately he did not state their substantial hidden reserves. I recollect clearly that the value of the assets of one of these concerns, a life insurance company, was stated as being £35,000,000. Its hidden reserves amount to £7,000,000, or 20 per cent. of its capital. In its published accounts the value of its magnificent head-office building in Martin Place, Sydney, has been written down to nil. Thevalue of land on which the building is erected was written off many years ago. The only consulting economist in private practice in Australia, Mr. McConnell, told me last night that after inquiring into the subject of excess profits he arrived at the conclusion that a tax of 2s. in the £1 on the profits of companies - not necessarily only large companies but not including proprietary companies - could easily be met, and that it would yield in revenue to the Government not less than £10,000,000. These companies can well afford to bear heavier burdens. If, upon inquiry, the calculation made by Mr. McConnell proves correct, the Government should lose no time in imposing such a tax. As honorable members know, a bill to impose a tax on excess profits has been on the notice-paper for almost twelve months, but the Government has not proceeded with it. I take it that the proposals contained in that measure will be merged in the proposals that will emanate from the inquiry into the whole matter promised under the compromise arrangement with the Government, and that a new bill will he speedily introduced. I refer honorable members to an article written by Lindsay Soutter, a bachelor of economics at the University of Sydney, in the Sunday Sun of the 1st December, in which the following paragraph appeared : -
Details of the heaviest taxes in history, announced by the Federal Treasurer (Mr. Fadden), have had no apparent adverse effect upon the investment market. Indeed, the tendency on the Stock Exchange has been for prices to harden.
Opinion among investors inclines to the belief that the sound position of Australia’s leading industrial companies will enable them to meet the proposed new imposts and at the same time maintain their dividends.
That article waa written by a man who has been trained in the theory of economics.
– I have read some of the strangest things written by economists.
- Mr. Soutter is a regular contributor to the columns of the Sydney Sun; I take it that he is a member of the staff of Associated Newspapers Limited. As my time has expired I conclude -by reminding the committee of a recent statement by Professor J. M. Keynes, “ This war will not be won on the playing fields of Eton, but in the mines, the factories and the workshops of England and the Empire”. Honorable members will do well to bear that in mind.
The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- When you first put the question, Mr. Chairman, that the first item of the Estimates be agreed to, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) moved an amendment. That amendment having been withdrawn, I do not propose to refer to it except to say that when it was announced it confirmed, in my mind, what I have thought since I first heard the policy speech of the Leader of the Opposition during the election campaign, that there is little material difference between the policy of the parties on this side of the House and that of the Opposition. There has been a compromise in regard to these differences and the Government has agreed, at the behest of the Advisory War Council, that the amounts to be collected by way of taxation and the provision of certain benefits should be altered to the extent that the Government will sustain a loss of revenue amounting to £4,500,000. That is not a very large amount in a budget of approximately £186,000,000. It appears that the only difference between the policies of the Government and of the Opposition is that the Opposition thinks that greater resort should be had to the issue of bank credit rather than increased taxation or loans, as a means of providing funds with which to carry on the war. Honorable members on this side of the House are rather fearful of the idea that money should be obtained by unlimited issue of bank credit, free of interest. Even honorable members opposite are not all of the same mind on these matters. En drafting his amendment, the Leader of the Opposition merely expressed the opinion of the majority of his party. I do not regard the honorable gentleman as a foolish man, nor do I think that many members who sit behind him are foolish, ft appears to me that the only difference between the Opposition and the Government on this point is that the Government does not intend to inflate up to the point of danger, whereas the Opposition is prepared to inflate as far as it is safe to do so.
– What is the difference?
– If the Leader of the Opposition speaks for his party through the amendment, there is no difference. It did appear at one time, however, to be a rita! difference, and for that reason I emphasize now that the two parties are nearer together in policy and so nearly equally divided in numbers, that it is reasonable for the people to expect that they will come together and form one Government to carry out what both parties have pledged themselves to ensure, namely, that Australia shall put forward the greatest possible war effort. I took the view even before the last Parliament was dissolved, and I still hold the opinion, that the only way to get an effective compromise between the Government and the Opposition so that the Labour party can get what it considers it should have, having regard to its numerical strength in this House, is for the two parties to sit together around the Cabinet table. Of course, there are bound to be differences of opinion ; there always have been and there will continue to ‘be, but if adjustments are to be made, they must be made at the Cabinet table, and not in this chamber. It would be an extraordinary budget that expressed the desires of every honorable member. Of course that could not be done. For that reason, the whole matter should be discussed around the Cabinet table by representatives of all the political parties. In the Cabinet room a picture, complete in all its details, could be presented by departmental officers and true judgment could be passed upon it:
– We think that we can act more effectively in opposition.
– One fear that was expressed frequently in the last Parliament was that the Government might use its power under our national emergency legislation to frame regulations detrimental to the workers. Surely if the members of this Parliament who consider that they specially represent the workers, could have their representatives sitting at the Cabinet table, where regulations are considered before they are promulgated, difficulties could be considered and objectionable features remedied before the danger had been incurred. We should be bending all our energies to the making of a maximum war effort, so that munitionmaking, in particular, may not be hindered in any way. That end could best be served by having a national government in office. I repeat that there is so little difference between the present policies of the Government and Opposition parries that it should be comparatively easy to form a national government and so give expression to what I believe to be the will of the people.
I have talked to many people in my own electorate and elsewhere in Australia, including many who in peace time were politically opposed to my own view, and I have found a very general desire for a national government. The people of Australia, speaking in general terms, are disgusted and disappointed that the Parliament is still wrangling about things that really do not matter. It is not for me to state the conditions upon which unity may be achieved. The Prime Minister, as every body knows, has invited the Opposition to join a national government, but apparently Labour is not prepared even to discuss terms. I do not wish to condemn the Labour party, for doubtless it considers that it knows its own business best. I am glad that the Advisory War Council has been established, and I believe that it will be able to do useful work ; but far more effective service could be rendered to the country, in my opinion, if the Labour party would share in the responsibilitiy of the making of laws and regulations and their administration.
The most general complaint against the budget has been that incomes in the lower ranges are to be taxed. Some honorable members consider that the proposed impost on the lower incomes is too heavy, and that on higher incomes so light as to be inequitable. I don’t suppose there is one honorable member who is desirous of taxing those people whose incomes are small. I suggest that we make a comparison of the taxation in Australia with that of New Zealand, where a Labour government is in office. Although honorable members on both sides of the committee have made some reference to the taxation measures of New Zealand, it is noticeable that members of the Opposition refer only to the small imposts that appear to harmonize with the views of their party. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) gave honorable members some illuminating informaiton upon the matter this morning. Can it be truthfully denied that there is not another country in the Empire which exempts low incomes from taxation to the same degree as we do in Australia? Indirect taxation of persons in the low income ranges is also higher in Australia than in any other country within the Empire. In Australia many of the necessaries of life are completely exempt from sales tax. The tools of trade required by craftsmen, farmers and others are exempt. This is not so in New Zealand. There even those people in receipt of the smallest incomes have to pay income tax.
– But the rate of pension is 30s. a week.
– The pensioners of New Zealand have had to pay a tax of1s. in the £1 to provide a portion of their own pensions.
– That does not make it right.
– But it shows that the Labour Government of New Zealand is not so generous to people with small incomes as is the Commonwealth Government.
– The pensioners of New Zealand are entitled to free hospitalization, 30s. a week, and certain social security benefits which are not available in Australia.
– Order! The honorable member for Darwin is entitled to be heard in silence.
– The important difference i:3 that in New Zealand wage-earners upon even the smallest income ranges pay taxes, whereas in Australia they do not. Records are available to substantiate my statement that people in the low income ranges in Australia are better off in respect of taxation in Australia than in New Zealand, or any other part of the British Empire.
One of the worst features of this budget is its effect upon people in the middle income range. The taxation proposed to be inflicted by this budget has been referred to as “ staggering “. It seems to me that because of its retrospectivity the people who will be most staggered by the budget are those in the middle income range. These represent some of our most thrifty citizens who, generally speaking, arrange their own personal budget with care so as to provide for the heavy commitments which many of them have entered into and which cannot be altered. The new taxes are to be paid on last year’s income, and many people; in the middle income range will, in actual fact, not have the money to pay. They have incurred certain liabilities, on the education of their children, for instance, which they cannot very well discontinue. I do not suppose that it would he suggested that such expenditure should be discontinued; but the fact remains that these people will find it extremely difficult to make ends meet. In my view they will be hit harder by the budget than will any other section of the community. The compromises that have been agreed to in respect of the budget do not take into account the position of these people. However, as I have already said, it is impossible to meet every wish of every honorable member.
The Leader of the Opposition has stated that he and his party do not take exception to the total amount of money which the Government is proposing to spend. I cannot see how it will be practicable to spend £186,000,000 this year, although the Treasurer doubtless expects that it will be spent. I was pleased to hear the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) express surprise that no exception had been taken to this proposed aggregate expenditure, but it will not be possible, in my view, to spend such a vast sum of money without seriously upsetting our general monetary procedure.
– It represents about £500,000 a day.
– That is so. Some honorable members have said that our standards of living are in danger of being lowered. That is a mere truism. It is impossible to wage war on the scale of the present conflict and at the same time continue to live up to the peace-time standard of comfort and luxury. Our standards of living will certainly be lowered. But there is one way in which the difficulty could be relieved to a degree. A great deal of public money is being extra.vangantly spent in Australia. In fact the amount of waste that is going on in some quarters is shocking. Public works generally are costing more than they should. With proper supervision public expenditure could be substantially reduced and millions of pounds could be saved. So far no honorable member has touched upon this important consideration. I know that people generally like public money to be expended within their own State, district, city or town. But the money has to be found from somewhere. It has been said that the people will bear this taxation cheerfully. I say deliberately that they will not. They may be willing to pay every penny that they are called upon to pay, in order that the war may be brought to a successful conclusion, but while money is being expended extravagantly people are not likely to pay their taxes cheerfully. They are entitled to expect value for pounds spent. We should take immediate steps to ensure a more effective supervision of public expenditure. To achieve this end, strong action will be necessary. But unless such action be taken there can be no doubt about what will happen to Australia economically and financially. Economies could be effected through many public departments, and although this is one of the most important aspects of the budget to which we should now be directing our attention, most honorable members appear to be indifferent or apathetic about it.
I wish now to touch briefly upon the subject of bank credits. I do not suppose that any member of the committee is really competent to pass judgment upon the effect pf a policy involving the release of bank credits in the manner suggested by certain honorable gentlemen. I do not think that the .leader of “any one of our political parties could say, with any degree of certainty, where the margin of safety is in relation to the release of bank credits. Some honorable members consider that we could go to almost any lengths in this direction. I shall refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Dedman) in this connexion, for he has spoken on the subject more frequently in this chamber than, perhaps, any other member. I have listened to his remarks with deep interest, though I find myself in entire disagreement with some of his submissions.
– The honorable member for Darwin does not understand them.
– I question whether any honorable member on the Opposition side of the committee understands them. I understood the honorable member for Corio to say that although about £350,000,000 was borrowed from our people during the last war, and an almost equal amount has been repaid in interest, we still owe the capital sum. The honorable gentleman, in my opinion, ignored the sinking fund, through the operation of which there has been a substantial reduction. In any case, what he said in regard to public borrowing refers also to private borrowing. Every man who rents a farm, or buys a house, or borrows money for industrial purposes, for any long term, ultimately pays more in interest than the original capital that he borrowed. The honorable member for Corio said that if it were possible to secure money by borrowing methods it should also be possible to secure it by taxing methods. No one can dispute that contention, but that it would be wise to adopt that procedure is open to the most serious question. Honorable members opposite contend that loan funds are provided by the wealthy sections of the community. That is not so. The honorable member for Corio .(Mr. Dedman) said that, instead of borrowing money from the people, governments should obtain it by means of taxes. Surely the honorable gentleman realizes that to do that would be to take from the most thrifty and needy sections of the people all that they have saved. Amongst the largest investors in government loans are the insurance companies. Where do they obtain the money that they lend ? They get it from persons who pay £5, £10 or £20 a year for insurance policies. From the same source come the funds of savings banks and friendly societies. The honorable member for Corio would take the money away from those people rather than allow them to invest it in insurance companies and other organizations which in turn lend the money to the Government. I cannot understand how anybody .in this House could support such a proposal. The insurance companies would not be able to meet any of their liabilities if the proposals of that honorable member, and some of his COleagues were carried into effect. They would confiscate the savings of the masses of the people, although those savings provide the money for public loans. Very few wealthy people invest their money in government loans; they prefer to invest in industry, and employ people who put the small savings from their wages into bank accounts or insurance policies. The fact is that the amount of money, required by the Government cannot be obtained from people in the higher income group. The total net income pf every person in Australia in receipt of more than £1,000 a year would not finance the country’s war effort for two months. But honorable members opposite always raise the cry that people in receipt of high incomes should pay for the war. Of course the Government taxes them ; it has no wish to do otherwise. The time will arrive when we shall have to take money from every person who has a penny to spare. We cannot finance the war otherwise, and if we cannot finance it we cannot win.
– There will be a few more millionaires in the country before the war is over.
– That is a very foolish remark, as we shall have to win the war quickly if there are to be any millionaires left in Australia. All will have to make more sacrifices before the war is ended. I fear that honorable members opposite do not yet appreciate the seriousness of our position. We are in great danger. Our financial and economic position is most precarious. Ships are being sunk by the enemy almost every day. We have lost vessels near our own coast, many are being sunk in the Atlantic and in almost every other part of the world, and we shall lose many more. If we are prevented from exporting our primary products and the munitions which we are manufacturing in order to assist the Old Country, our economic position will deteriorate immediately. In that event it will be useless to argue whether a man earning £400 a year should contribute a few shillings to the war effort, whether those on higher incomes should be taxed more than 14s. in the £1, or whether bank credit should be used to a greater degree. Certainly we would not starve, but it would be impossible to maintain the existing financial structure. Honorable members should realize that this danger is imminent. This senseless wrangling over things that do not matter very much at this time of crisis must disgust every right-thinking person in Australia. I ask honorable members to take a clear view of this matter, to look at it understandingly and, if they can, boldly. This is no time for subtle debate of “‘ifs “ and “ buts “ and of how this thing can be done and the other thing cannot be done. We must, as a united people, face the problem squarely. Unless we members of this Parliament give a lead in this respect we shall not be worthy representatives of the people. What should matter to every honorable member is that the people expect this of us, and expect that it be done soon.
.- The withdrawal of the amendment which was moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has taken a lot of the interest out of this debate. My style is cramped if I have to give my support to some proposal with which I do not agree.
Supporters of the Government have attempted to make out a case in support of the budget proposals. The honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) said that the sales tax exemptions are more liberal in this country than in other parts of the British Empire. The honorable gentleman went so far as to name certain commodities that are not included in the list of goods subject to sales tax, and spoke particularly of tools of trade. But I refer him to the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill, the second schedule to which provides that certain tools of trade, including axes and tool handles, also timber and many other items used by workers, shall be subject to sales tax. Some time ago I made successful representations to have explosives used in mining operations exempted from sales tax. But this measure proposes to return those commodities to the list of taxable articles. The rate of tax proposed is 5 per cent. I spent many of my earlier years in the mining industry. I was charged £4 or £5 a fortnight for the explosives I used in the course of earning my wage. The average rate was about 4d. for each ton of coal, and that charge was deducted from my wages. Now, this extra burden will increase the miners’ explosives bills. The basic wage is assessed in accordance with the minimum requirements of unskilled workmen. No allowance is made in it for the payment of taxes. When trade unions submit claims to the Arbitration Court, the judges investigate the price of the items necessary to existence and a wage is fixed that provides barely sufficient money for a man to live in decent circumstances. The rate is usually based on the requirements of a man with a wife and one child. In addition to other taxes, which will take from the wage earner an amount of approximately 7s. a week, the Government proposes to levy a tax upon his tools of trade. He has to pay sales tax on every thing essential to his existence, including clothing and boots.
– Sales tax is not levied on boots that cost less than 15s. a pair wholesale.
– A miner cannot buy a decent pair of boots for less than £1.
– Boots bought wholesale at 15s. a pair are sold retail for about £11s.
– There is no reason why the items I have mentioned should be returned to the list of taxable goods. The bill provides for taxes on “ machinery, implements and apparatus (and parts therefor), for use in the mining industry in carrying out mining operations and in the treatment of the products of those operations” and on various materials, including brattice cloth and carbide. I was instrumental once before in having brattice cloth and carbide removed from the schedule. Carbide is used to provide light for miners working underground. The tax on these commodities will place an unfair strain on the miners. But they are not the only workers to suffer. Fishermen also will be seriously affected. I was deeply interested in the affairs of the fishing industry prior to the redistribution of Commonwealth electorates in 1934, because the whole of the Lake Macquarie area then came within my constituency and many of the electors were fishermen. Now it is proposed that these men shall pay sales tax on crayfish pots, engines for their motor boats, nets and netting for fishing, and cotton, hemp twine and other materials used to repair nets.
– Will the fishermen not be glad to do their bit to pay for our war effort?
– They would probably like to kick somebody in the neck for imposing these taxes. It is quite evident that the Government proposes to throw a dragnet over the poorest sections of the community in order to augment its revenue. These low-income earners will be required to pay not only direct taxes but also very heavy indirect taxes. It is estimated that they will pay through the flour tax and other indirect taxes, approximately £20,000,000 of the amount mentioned in the budget proposals. That is not fair. The flour tax is iniquitous. Who pays the greatest amount of it? The man whose meagre earnings will permit him to live only very frugally suffers most. He purchases more bread than any individual with a higher in come who is able to buy richer foods. Investigate the bread bill of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms. I have been a member of the House Committee for years, and I know that the bread bill in the refreshment rooms is almost negligible in relation to other commodities, whereas bread forms a substantial part of the average working-class menu. I have seen honorable members of this House eating bread in the refreshment rooms only when they have been trying to prevent themselves from being sick through eating rich foods. That is perfectly true. Bread means nothing to many honorable members, because they are able to buy higher-class foods which contain the vitamins necessary for existence. The workers can afford only bread. I say definitely that the basic wageearner should be exempt. The total income of those who receive between £1,000 and £2,000 per annum is £31,000,000; of those who receive between £2,000 and £5,000 per annum, £35,000,000; and of those who receive £5,000 and upwards, £19,000,000 per annum. Would it not be more equitable to increase the tax on those individuals rather than tax the wage-earners on the lowest scale? It is said that, at 14s. in the £1, the limit of taxable capacity has been reached. We should pay regard to not what is collected, but what is left with the individual to live upon after the collection has been made. Many workers would gladly volunteer to pay up to 17s. 6d. in the £1 if they had an income which made them liable to pay 14s. in the £1. Who are the most willing contributors to appeals for the Red Cross and all other forms of charity? The poor will always be found helping the poor. Many women workers in retail establishments in the cities who have no parents and have to live in apartments are compelled to pay from 17s. 6d. to £1 a week to obtain decent accommodation. Only God and they know how they live. They will be ensnared by this dragnet of taxation. Many of them are involved in considerable expense in order to keep up their appearance, yet in future they will have to bear the burden of a tax of 15 per cent. on the powder, perfume and other toilet accessories they require.
The intention to raise £276,000,000, of which £186,000,000 is to be devoted to war purposes, demonstrates to the people of Australia the ease with which money can be obtained when there is the will to obtain it.
– I do not know that it will be easy.
– In 1931, the honorable member’s party criticized the proposal of the Scullin Government to apply £20,000,000 to the relief of unemployment, which had then reached its peak. That measure was rejected on the ground that it would lead to inflation of the currency. We were told that we proposed to utilize the savings of the people. It is admitted to-day that credit expansion for the prosecution of the war has reached an amount of £40,000,000. Honorable members opposite were opposed to a similar expansion of credit when the object was to place people in employment in order that they might live decently. This should teach the people a lesson. We predicted at that time that there would be no hesitation in finding whatever money was needed for purposes of war. If it be sound policy to utilize the credit resources of the country to manufacture hellish instruments of death and destruction, it will be equally sound policy after the war to make an even greater expansion of credit in order to feed the people. The argument in 1931 was that we could pay our way only by tightening our belts and reducing governmental expenditure. Heed was paid to the advice of Professor Copland and other experts. Wages were reduced by 10 per cent., and social services were lowered. With what result? Retail stores experienced a slowing of the movement of their commodities. They, and the manufacturers, in the desire to balance their budgets, dismissed employees, and thus increased unemployment. Now, by imposing a tax on the wage-earner, the Government will reduce his purchasing power and leave him with less than sufficient to provide himself with necessary commodities ; consequently there will be slowness of movement in the disposal of those commodities, and the retail stores will add to unemployment by the dismissal of employees.
The proposal in regard to invalid and old-age pensions represents the greatest injustice ever done to the most defenceless section of the community. I believe that the total number of pensioners is approximately 300,000. When, in 1931, thenpension was reduced by 23. 6d. a week, I said, “ This is a lesson to these old people, who have no organization; they are left at the mercy of politicians “. Had they had an organization, with delegates lobbying members of Parliament, as was done by returned soldiers and others, probably they would have received greater justice in 1931. Subsequently, the pensioners began to organize, but even to-day they lack co-ordination; many branches speak with different voices instead of having one united voice for the whole of Australia. I understand that a deputation which visited Canberra said that the pensioners were prepared to accept a compromise of 2s. 6d. a week. A telegram which the secretary of our party received from Melbourne, from some person who described himself as the president of the Supreme Council of the Invalid and Old-age Pensioners Organization, stated that the pensioners did not want to embarrass the Government or the Labour party, and were prepared to accept an additional ls. a week despite the fact that they sent petitions for an increase of 10s. a week and Labour in its policy speech promised an extra 5s. a week. That is not in accordance with the wishes of the majority of these old people. I have received telegrams, and so have our party leaders, from New South Wales, demanding that, as the policy enunciated at the general elections by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) was endorsed by the majority of the people of Australia, the 5s. which that gentleman promised should immediately be given. As the pensioners have not one voice to speak on their behalf, advantage is taken of them, and they are to be put off with a miserable ls. Do we not owe something to these people? Should we not at least show some gratitude for the sacrifices which the pioneers of Australia made in the development of this country? They have handed to us the heritage we now enjoy.
Our recreational and educational institutions are the result of the sacrifices that they made. Now that, on the edge of the grave, they cry for justice, the Government parties consider that an extra ls. a week is ample for them. I have an electorate in which I do not depend for my return on the votes of the old folk ; I should still be elected even if I overlooked them; but it is not my principle to overlook them, because I consider that I owe them gratitude for the sacrifices that they made for the industry in which I was reared. They were responsible for commencing and perfecting our industrial organizations, which have given to us younger men a decent standard of conditions in the mining industry. In support of their principles, they have not only engaged in strikes, but also suffered imprisonment, so that those who came after them might profit. Nobody can foretell what lies ahead. These old people, who fought for better conditions for us when we were younger, are still fighting for better conditions even though they are on the edge of the grave, in the interests of those who may follow them into the ranks of the pensioners. We who now sit in this Parliament may be in those ranks at some future date. I have nothing but admiration for the fight that they waged, and nothing but condemnation for the agreement by the terms of which they are to receive only an additional ls. a week. This agreement is a gross betrayal of the aged and infirm people and I cannot support it.
The system of collecting income tax at the source is likely to work grave injustice in some instances. In the mining industry, for instance, many men receive only casual employment, but the taxation authorities are not going to wait to see if a miner earns an assessable income over a period of twelve months. They will deduct the tax from his pay every fortnight. It may happen that a miner, owing to the injury of another man, may get a month’s work, and then be unemployed for six months.
– Such a man would receive a refund of the tax collected.
– My experience of the Taxation Department is that, once it gets its claws on to one’s money getting it back is a hell of a job.
I have on previous occasions urged that some relief should be granted to the taxpayer who supports an invalid or unemployed child over sixteen years of age. Under the act, an invalid person is not eligible to receive a pension if he is living with his parents who are in receipt of an income of more than a specified amount. I know of one invalid man of 55 years of age who lives with his mother, and is not entitled to a pension because his mother is in receipt of an income of more than the basic wage by way of rent. In such cases, a parent should be allowed to claim a deduction in respect of the invalid or unemployed child whom he is supporting. I have no desire that a concession should be granted to the idle rich, who may have children whom they do not want to work, but some concession should be given to the taxpayer on an income up to £400 or £500 a year. As for persons receiving high incomes, I should have no compunction in taxing them to the limit. In fact, I should be prepared to confiscate everything over £800 a year. That would still leave people with quite a handsome income. It is a fact that some persons receive in directors’ fees more than the basic wage, but they do not return those fees as income. Such receipts are put down as business costs. I also notice that the tax on small companies is to be very heavy, and out of all proportion to that on the big companies. Why is this? We are told, .of course, that some big companies are rendering national service in the manufacture of munitions in these industries. It is a fact, however, that these merchants of death net their greatest incomes during war-time. They become wealthy out of the sorrow and suffering of the people.
I recognize that many of the wheatfarmers are in a desperate financial plight. When I first entered Parliament I had, I confess, a parochial outlook; I was interested only in the mining community. Since then I have travelled and I have seen people struggling for a bare existence on the land. Government after government has promised to do something for them, but the promises have never been kept.
The policy of the Labour party on the financial issue is the utilization of the national credit, and direct taxation of those who can afford to pay. After all, who has the most to lose? Surely it is the man with a substantial income. What has the worker to lose, anyway? Nevertheless, we are prepared to defend our country and the Empire, but we must give the worker the best possible conditions in order to convince him that his country is worth fighting for. However, I say to those who cannot go to the war that the very least they might do is to offer their money. Even then they would not be making sacrifices equal to those of the men who have offered their lives, but at any rate they would be doing all they could. They do not, however, make even that gesture. All we ever see them do is wave a flag while they are sending working men’s sons off to the war. Their war effort consists in attending feasts, and cheering for the King while they hold the wing of a chicken in one hand and a bottle of “fizz” in the other.
I am opposed to the Government’s proposal to raise loans in order to defray the cost of the war. During the last war, the Commonwealth raised £300,000,000 in loans. We have paid that and more back in interest since then, but we still owe nearly all of the principal. Our war effort should be financed in the way explained by the Leader of the Opposition, and by other spokesmen of the Labour party.’
Promises have been made from time to time that a larger share of defence expenditure would be allocated to country districts, but so far very little has been done in this way. Many people in New South Wales believe that Victoria is getting an unduly large share of defence expenditure. I do not propose to debate that point, but I urge the Government, if only for strategic reasons, to establish more munition factories in country towns far removed from the large centres of population. Factories in Melbourne, Sydney or Newcastle are particularly vulnerable to attack. Last night we were informed that a ship had been sunk off the Australian coast only eight miles from the steel works at Newcastle, and three miles from the seaplane base at
Rathmines. It is obvious that an enemy raider is sneaking about our coasts. How easy it would be for such a raider to do incalculable harm to the Newcastle steel works. I therefore urge the Government to establish munitions undertakings in country towns where they would be safe from attack, and where, incidentally, they would provide employment for men who are either too old or too young to .-join the Military Forces. Ever since 1927 there has been more unemployment in the electorate of Hunter than in any other two federal electorates in Australia. That has been due to a cause over which the Government should, hut does not, exercise control, because the consumption of coal as a power-raising unit has declined with the increased use of oil and electricity. My contention, however, is that miners who have been displaced from their employment have every right to earn a living in some other occupation. At present, they are obliged to ride their bicycles a distance of 30 miles from their homes to the steel works in order to seek work. If they do not attend the call-up every day, they must forfeit all hope of securing a job. When the Prime Minister visited the coal-fields some months ago, he declared that steps must be taken to provide work for the unemployed there. To date, nothing has been done, and munition factories, which would absorb a large volume of labour, have irrationally been built in other parts of the country.
The claim of the coal-fields to be the centre of large industrial expansion is legitimate, because an abundance of coal is available for use in the manufacture of steel and the production of power for the generation of electricity. The great sulphide corporation, which is situated at Cockle Creek, on the shores of Lake Macquarie, makes the constituents of high explosives. The principal manufactures are acids, cement and superphosphates. In addition, there are two Chemico contact acid plants of the latest type, six Grillo contact acid plants and four chamber acid plants, which are capable of producing 1,170 tons of monosulphuric acid a week. Of this total, 400 tons could be produced as 98 per cent, contact acid, which with the use of weak chamber acid, could be employed in the manufacture of oleum. This substance, which is also known as “ fuming sulphuric acid “, is essential in the manufacture of nitro-glycerine, gun cotton and other explosives. The Chemico and Grillo plants are the only plants in New South Wales which are capable of producing these important acids, and in addition, they are the only plants which can manufacture nitric acid and muriatic acid. Instead of erecting munitions factories in Melbourne, the Government would find it infinitely more economical to build them on the coalfields, where labour, coal, iron, steel and acids are readily available; Although deputations have frequently waited on Sir Philip Goldfinch, and I have had voluminous correspondence with Commonwealth Ministers on the subject, nothing, tangible has been done. Between Maitland and Cessnock and Lake Macquarie lives a vast army of unemployed. At present many of the men are undergoing military training in various camps in the district, but when they are released, they will again be forced to live on the dole. [Leave to continue given.]
– Whilst the Standing Orders do not enable me to state that the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) should not divest himself of his coat, he should be properly dressed in the chamber. In other parliaments, an honorable member is not allowed to remove his coat in the chamber, and I do not think that it is proper for the honorable member to do so.
– I removed my coat because the weather is very hot.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I ask the honorable member to resume his speech.
– My collar is as limp as a dish-cloth. Chidley was the only sane man I know of, in the matter of wearing suitable clothes.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! If the honorable member does not continue his speech, I shall ask him to resume his seat.
– I desire to compliment the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) upon his advocacy of a subject with which I have persevered for the last twelve years, and I trust that his efforts to impress honorable members will be more successful than mine. The extraction of oil from coal is, in my opinion, a commercial proposition, although many arguments have been adduced to rebut this contention. Governments are frequently obliged, in the interests of national security, to engage in uncommercial propositions. Does any honorable member contend that the manufacture of guns, battleships, and other weapons of destruction is a .commercial proposition? In view of the growing hazards of sea transport, the Government should lose no time in developing processes for the extraction of oil from coal. During the last war, tankers were torpedoed almost in the approaches to New York harbour, and a continuation of the present heavy shipping losses may jeopardize future deliveries of oil fuel to the Commonwealth. Australia must have oil to enable it to prosecute its war effort. If supplies from abroad were suddenly cut off, our Army, Navy, and Air Force might be immobilized. The Commonwealth Fuel Adviser (Mr. Rogers) admitted to the Lyons brothers of Newcastle, that he did not understand the intricacies of the low temperature carbonization process. In addition to this process, we have valuable data dealing with high temperature carbonization, the Fischer-Tropsch process and the hydrogenation method that has been adopted at Billingham-on-Tees. No honorable member can contend with justification that I have not diligently carried on extensive enquiry and advocacy regarding this subject. Before the outbreak of war, the plant at Billingham-on Tees was producing sufficient quantities of oil to supply seven squadrons of the Royal Air Force, and a number of warships.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).Order! The Chair cannot permit the honorable member for Hunter to create an undesirable precedent in this chamber in connexion with his dress. If he feels that the weather is excessively warm, I suggest that he remove his vest and restore his coat. It is inadvisable to create a precedent for honorable members to be coatless in this chamber. In my opinion the honorable member is not correctly dressed.
– I rise to order. The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Martens) has already ruled that the honorable member for Hunter is entitled, in the circumstances, to remove his coat.
– No such ruling has been given.
– I understand that the Temporary Chairman ruled that the honorable member was in order in removing his coat.
– I heard the remarks of the Temporary Chairman.
– So did I. Perhaps we should hear his version of his ruling, because I am of opinion that the honorable member for Hunter is in order in removing his coat.
– The Chair now rules that the honorable member for Hunter is not properly dressed.
– In deference to the Chair, I shall put on my coat. At the same time, I protest against a rigid observance of old customs which should be broken down, because they are stupid.
– Order !
– May I remove my collar, or would you, Mr. Chairman, consider that I was not properly dressed without it?
– 1 ask the honorable member to resume his speech.
– At least, I had the privilege of removing my coat for 20 minutes. The Government should endeavour to make Australia independent of overseas supplies of oil. Already a beginning has been made at Glen Davis, but much remains yet to be done before the goal is reached. Commonwealth officers, after visiting the plant at BillinghamonTees, reported that it would not be suitable for Australian conditions, despite the fact that the oil content of Australian coal is 15 per cent, greater than that of British coal. That fact has been proved by analytical tests, which were conducted at Greenwich. Great Britain is now extracting many thousands of tons of oil from coal for defence requirements. Australia has more and richer coal than Great Britain, yet we do nothing with the greater part of it. Germany, Italy, and Japan are engaged in extracting oil from coal, and even the United States of America, despite its vast reserves of natural flow oil, is making preparations for the extraction of oil from coal. What is the reason for the continued apathy of Australian Governments in relation to this matter? It is a great pity that a royal commission has not been appointed to inquire into the sources of the funds which are used to keep governments of the United Australia party in office in the Commonwealth and State spheres, for I believe that here would be found the explanation of the consistent failure to develop our coal resources. Why should the people be compelled to remain in the grip of the oil octopus? The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) asked thi9 morning if the shale oil deposits at Baerami did not offer better prospects than those at Glen Davis. I shall prove that they do. I readily admit that the oil content of Glen Davis shale is higher than that of Baerami shale, though I have no doubt that I shall be criticized for that admission. It is certain, however, that the Glen Davis seam is not more than 2 ft. -6 in. high, and this necessitates in mining parlance, “brushing the roof “ ; that is, blowing down the hard granite-like strata, a very costly procedure. At Baerami the seam is from 5 ft. to 5 ft. 6 in. high and mining costs represent practically the only overhead charge. Horses can go into the mine at Baerami, and wheelers and miners can work in comfort. Overhead costs are approximately 75 per cent, lower than at Glen Davis. The oil content of the shale at Glen Davis is not 75 per cent, but only 20 per cent, higher than that of the Baerami shale. Any mining engineer will say that the development of the Baerami deposits’ offers much better economic prospects. But what is holding up their development? The big oil combine which has interests at Glen Davis is not concerned with Baerami. [Further leave to continue given.] With the concurrence of the committee I shall defer my further remarks until the debate is resumed next week.
Leave granted; progress reported.
Transport Arrangements at Darley Camp - Postal Concessions to Noncombatants with Australian Imperial Force -Petrol Rationing - Apple and Pear Acquisition Scheme - Munitions Factories: Air-Raid Shelters: Housing at Maribyrnong: Training of UnskilledWorkers - House Rents.
Motion (by Mr. Collins) - proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- The troops in the military camp at Darley have been refused permission to use the bus service between the Bacchus Marsh railway station and the camp when returning from week-end leave.I have endeavoured, by questions in this House and by correspondence with the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender), to have this matter rectified, but although the Minister has informed me that the matter is under consideration and that he hopes to be able in due course to visit Darley camp, so far nothing has been done. A decision in regard to a matter of this kind could be made almost immediately without necessitating a Ministerial visit to the camp. The Minister can communicate by telephone with the Commanding Officer at the camp and the officer commanding the Southern Command, and learn all that is required to inform his mind on the subject without leaving his office in Canberra. The grievance of the troops is that on returning from week-end leave they arrive at Bacchus Marsh tired and not always in the best of humour, only to find that they have to march to the camp four or five miles away. I understand that the official explanation of this order isthat the march is regarded as a part of their training. The fact that it creates very bad feeling among the men is not taken into account. Their simple request should be granted without delay. I warn the Minister that unless the position is remedied serious trouble may occur at Bacchus Marsh. Only a month ago a disturbance occurred among the troops in the township of Bacchus Marsh because of the harshness of this order. Since then the weather has become hotter.
Leave is given for recuperative purposes, and long marches at the end of a leave period are always irksome.
Representatives of charitable and benevolent organizations, such as the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Salvation Army, which have officers abroad with the Australian Imperial Force, have approached me with a request that the same postal, cable, and other privileges as are granted to the members of the Australian Imperial Force shall be extended to noncombatant officers of these organizations with the troops abroad. I wrote to the Minister for the Army with regard to this request and he promised that it would be given consideration. About a fortnight later I again wrote to the honorable gentleman and informed him that if a favorable decision were given without delay, the relatives of these people in Australia would be able to take advantage of the cheaper facilities for the posting of Christmas mail. However, nothing was done, and Christmas letters and parcels addressed to the representatives of these charitable organizations abroad had to bear the higher postage. It is true that these people are not members of the fighting forces, but they are rendering valuable services to the troops and should be placed on an equal footing with the members of the Australian Imperial Force in regard to postal privileges. The granting of this request would involve only a slight loss of revenue. In trivial matters of this kind the Minister should be able to give a prompt decision.
I wish now to deal with the subject of petrol rationing. It is common knowledge that during the recent election campaign this was one of the important issues. Various views were expressed upon it by candidates of every political party.
– Including the present Minister for Commerce.
– That is so. It was generally admitted that some curtailment of the use of petrol might be necessary, but there was a marked difference of opinion as to the method of curtailment that should be applied. The view was very generally held, even by many candidates who do not belong to the Labour party, that the method adopted by the
Government was not the best that could be devised. The present Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page), speaking at Grafton on the 27th September, a week after the election, said -
When Parliament reassembled he would take early action to ascertain whether it would disallow the petrol rationing scheme and substitute some more practical and just method of dealing with the question. No one would deny the urgent necessity to make certain that such essential industries as mining, dairying, and timber were not merely maintained, but expanded. To-day’s news indicated that Britain had been forced to reduce the butter ration by half because supplies were not forthcoming from the Dominions.
According to a report which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald the right honorable member, after observing that he still believed that the only solution of the political difficulties then being faced was a national government-
– As the honorable member for Ballarat disagreed with the Minister for Commerce on the national government issue I cannot see why he should place any importance on his opinions in regard to petrol rationing.
– I am ready to discuss the formation of a national government, or any other subject, with the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), here or elsewhere, but at the moment I am dealing with petrol rationing. On that issue, according to the report to which I have just referred, the Minister for Commerce said that “ he had not changed his opinion that the petrol-rationing scheme should be abandoned “. I agree with the right honorable member that the present scheme should be abandoned. It is obvious that a more just and equitable scheme should be introduced to curtail in some drastic way the use of petrol for pleasure and non-essential transport, and to make available on more liberal terms larger quantities of petrol for essential transport services. Unfortunately the position is going from bad to worse, insofar as the Minister for Commerce is concerned. On the 5th December, 1940, he was asked a question on the subject in this House. I quote the following extract from Hansard: -
– Has the Minister for Commerce yet taken steps to have the inci dence of petrol rationing reviewed, with a view to easing the difficulties of those engaged in cartage and haulage for their living? If not, will he take early steps to have the matter reviewed ?
– The Minister for Supply and Development has already made a statement on this matter, in which he showed that great relief had already been given to the section referred to by the honorable member.
– Is there any evidence available that relief has been given?
– None whatever. On the 27th November, before the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) had asked his question, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) asked the Minister for Commerce a question on the subject. I refer honorable members to the following extract from Hansard : -
– Does the Minister for Commerce intend to carry out the threat made by him before he joined the Cabinet that he would move in this House for the abolition of petrol rationing, or is the right honorable gentleman reconciled to the iniquities of the scheme now that he is a Cabinet Minister?
– If the honorable member makes inquiries from users of essential motor lorries he will find that the quantities of petrol now made available to them are much more liberal than they were in the past. He will also find that the Minister for Supply and Development has made a statement that the controlling bodies in the States are to give the greatest consideration to the needs of such petrol users.
– Is the honorable member aware of the need to ration paper ?
– I do not intend to be taken off my subject. I contend that people who are performing a useful transport service should be given much more favorable consideration than is given to individuals who are using petrol wastefully for non-essential or luxury purposes.
Following the questions asked in this House by the honorable member for Maribyrnong and the honorable member for Dalley, in reply to which the Minister for Commerce endeavoured to create the impression that, as the result of what he had done, a more liberal petrol allowance was now being made available,
Senator Clothier to day asked the Minister for Supply and Development (Senator McBride) a question, upon notice -
The Minister’s reply was as follows - 1 and 2. No. The scheme is to be reviewed early in tlie new year.
It would therefore appear that, in spite of the replies given to questions in this House by the Minister for Commerce, no substantial alterations of the scheme have been made, and no real relief has been given.
I frankly admit that, relief has been given in certain individual cases in respect of which I have made representations to the responsible authorities, and produced irrefutable evidence that hardship has occurred; but no relief has been afforded in other equally good cases. I have in mind at the moment a hirecar driver who was refused a revision of his petrol ration. It will be agreed that, generally speaking, hirecar services are necessary, and it might have been expected that relief would have been given in such a case, but in this instance it was refused.
I urge that, without any further delay, the Government should review this whole scheme with the object of bringing into operation a more equitable plan. Certain people in the community, whose businesses are being adversely affected, are fully entitled to more liberal treatment. I had brought under my notice only this week the case of the secretary of a trade union who, in connexion with his activities in the textile” industry, is required to do a good deal of travelling. Much of his work is closely associated with the production of war equipment. His ration was only sixteen gallons a month. [Leave to continue given.’] This man was required to travel over a wide area to visit such important textile centres as Castlemaine, Maryborough, Bendigo and “Warburton. A good deal of his time is occupied in conferring with employers and employees with the object of preventing industrial disputes so that our war activities may be continued without interruption, and it will be impossible for him to continue to carry out his work effectively unless he be given a more reasonable petrol ration. I urge that these facts be brought under the notice of the Government for prompt attention.
To-day I received the following telegram from the chairman of the Harcourt Fruit-growers Association : -
Harcourt acquisition committee last night at meeting of growers carried the following resolution: Bequest that this centre must have representative on Victorian Acquisition Committee as Harcourt district is the largest producer in this State with potential crop of 1,000,000 bushels. Copy of same has been forwarded to Minister for Commerce.
This is a reasonable request which should receive favorable consideration by the Government. The Harcourt Fruitgrowers Association is an important body which stands 100 per cent, behind the apple and pear acquisition scheme. The association is doing a good deal to assist the officers of the Department of Commerce to make this year’s scheme more satisfactory than the scheme which operated last year. I am satisfied that if the association be given representation on the Victorian State Committee its delegate, who would have a sound practical experience of the industry, would be able to render much useful service.
– There are two matters which I should like to bring under the notice of the Government. The first of these has not only local implications, but also much wider implications which I am .sure the Government will take into consideration - I refer to the erection of air-raid shelters in the vicinity of the munition works al Maribyrnong. I have already asked a question on this subject, but I think the matter is one which requires prompt attention, and therefore I shall represent it more fully to the Government.
Recently, we have had ample evidence of the fact that enemy action can be brought very close .to our own shores with dire results, and we can envisage the possibility of a sea raider capable of carrying aircraft, coming within striking distance of our cities. In that event the most likely targets would be munition establishments and, should Melbourne be attacked, it would be very easy for raiding aircraft to hit at least some portions of the Maribyrnong works, because of the huge area which they cover. At Maribyrnong there is probably the greatest explosives establishment in the southern hemisphere, at any rate in the British Dominions, and the people in that locality are very concerned about the danger in which they may be placed. I do not make that statement without having something to back it up. People have spoken to me about this matter, and have urged that the Government be prevailed upon to take some precautions so that in the event of an attack upon that area some protection may be afforded to the residents. Naturally I do not suggest that we would be completely without any defence whatever, but I submit that it would be possible for disaster to be upon us before the situation was fully appreciated. In view of that possibility the men engaged in the vital work of manufacturing munitions at Maribyrnong should be made reasonably safe from attack should hostile aircraft appear over that area.
The Braybrook Shire Council, in whose area some of the works are located, has written to me in the following terms: -
My council lias recently been urged by the Sunshine and Footscray North branches of the Australian Labour party, also by the Sunshine State School Mothers’ Club, to take steps with a view to having suitable airraid shelters provided for the residents of this municipality. lt is feared that in the event of an air raid, this municipality, with its munitions establishments, explosives factories and various other factories engaged in the manufacture of war requirements, would be singled out for attack. The provision of suitable community shelters is beyond the financial resources of this council, and at the last meeting of the council, the following resolution was passed-
I stress this because other honorable members will be affected should this claim be regarded as a legitimate one - “ That overtures be made to Messrs. A. S. Drakeford and J. J. Dedman, members of the House of Representatives seeking their cooperation in devising suitable shelters and seeking financial aid from the Federal Government for the erection of such shelters.”
The resolution is accordingly submitted for your consideration. (Sgd.) E. Hargreaves, Shire secretary.
I am not basing my representations solely upon that letter but also upon representations which have been made to me personally. The council’s view of course must carry much weight, and I sympathize with it, because I realize that Maribyrnong would be one of the first targets singled out should an air attack be launched upon this country. For that reason the workers at Maribyrnong have a particular claim upon the Government for the provision of air-raid shelters. I do not suggest for a moment that the Government should not give consideration to equally just claims from places like Lithgow, Port Kembla and Newcastle, because those areas also would be the focal points of attack should an enemy descend upon our coasts. The Braybrook Shire Council has put forward this request because a portion of the Maribyrnong works i3 in the council’s area; the other portions are in the shire of Braybrook.
– There is a fleet of potential enemy whaling vessels extending from the Carolines to the South Pole which could easily be U3ed to carry aircraft.
– No doubt what the honorable members say8 is true, but that is a wider aspect of this matter which I do not propose to discuss at present. I am dealing now merely with our local troubles, although I am not losing sight of the fact that this problem has a much wider application. In my opinion the Government is not fully alive to the situation. An article published in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday referred to the controversy over the erection of air-raid shelters, and no doubt there are grounds for debate as to whether these shelters should be built by the Commonwealth Government in conjunction with the State Governments, or by the municipal authorities, but somebody ought to do something quickly. Up to the present nothing has been done. I hope that the Government will realize the importance of this matter and will take the initiative now, because should an attack take place, it will be of little use to try to find a remedy after the damage has been done.
Another urgent problem is that of housing in the Maribyrnong area. Between the general election of 1937 and the general election of this year, 6,000 names were added to the roll of voters in the Maribrynong electorate. That increase was due to the expansion of munition works, and most of the newcomers are employed in the munition factories. The result of that influx is that housing accommodation is almost impossible to obtain, and those who have been fortunate enough to get houses, are being exploited by house-owners and building speculators who are taking advantage of the shortage to charge extortionate rents. I do not know whether or not this matter comes within the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner’s jurisdiction, but if it does, the areas to which I have referred open up a large field of inquiry. Figures which have come to my notice recently show that high rentals are being asked for homes which are nothing like worth the money, but the people have either to accept whatever houses are available in the area in which they work, or pay the cost of transport from other districts. I may point out that transport facilities there are not very good, and, in addition, there is the added disadvantage of travelling time. The State Government recently decided to extend the Ascot Vale tram service to Braybrook, and that will give some measure of relief, but only those who have seen the huge streams of workers proceeding to and from Maribyrnong workshops when shifts are being changed can appreciate the magnitude of the transport problem. There is a vast amount of land in that locality suitable for housing, and the Footscray City Council has asked me to make representations to the Government that a housing scheme, similar to those in operation at Lithgow and other places, should be undertaken. The Government is not being asked to invest money in something that will not give an adequate return. If the provision of homes for the many hundreds of people who are engaged on the manufacture of munitions - unfortunately they probably will be so engaged for a long time - is to be left to private enterprise, exploitation will continue. I do not know what the Government is doing about this matter, but my information on the subject does not encourage the hope that it will undertake the expenditure of much money in the way I have indicated. If the Government is not prepared to provide suitable accommodation for essential war-time workers, private enterprise should not be allowed to exploit them, and I suggest that the Government should give early consideration to this matter because the problem is a serious one. Unless the Government takes some steps in the near future, I am afraid that action will have to be taken by honorable members on this side of the House, to demand an inquiry. It appears that the Government has completely neglected this matter, and I consider that my duty is to make some representations. I am not doing this merely to advertise myself in my own electorate. This is a serious problem, and it, is the proper occasion to bring these matters to the notice of Ministers. In order that my representations will be recorded fully, I read the letter sent to me by the secretary of Braybrook Shire Council -
A report appeared in the press recently in which it was suggested that the Federal Government might consider a scheme to provide for the erection of houses for its employees at Maribyrnong. My council will be glad if you will ascertain if such a proposal is being considered by the Government. The matter of transporting workers to the factories is, I understand, becoming a serious problem for tlie authorities. If the workers could be housed in the district the transport problem would gradually disappear (See cutting from Footscray Advertiser. ) If the matter of a housing scheme is being considered by the Government, my council would like you to bring to the notice of the authorities the large areas of suitable building land in close proximity to the Maribyrnong factories. One area of twelve acres in Rosamond-road is owned by the Victorian State Government. The council had a plan of subdivision of this area prepared and submitted to the housing commission. The plan showed that 61 houses, each with an area of 5.000 square feet, could be accommodated on the area.
There is plenty of land available. Some of it is owned by the State Government and could be obtained at a reasonable price. This is a field in which the Commonwealth Government can do good service; it should ensure that its employees obtain houses at reasonable rents. The extract from the Footscray Advertiser referred to in the letter stated -
An additional 3,000 persons will be employed at the Gordon-street factories of the munitions works in the near future, when building operations are completed. Special provision is to be made for car parking in an already congested area. Where the men arc going to live is another problem. Local houses and hoard and residence are already at a premium.
Higher than usual rates for board and residence are being charged to men who wish to live near the factories. After working ten or twelve hours they do not want to travel long distances to their boarding houses ; the proprietors of some establishments realize this and charge high tariffs. It is nearly always the case that men who are rendering national service in time of war are exploited by private enterprise. The Government’s duty is to put a stop to this sort of thing. I believe that the Prime Minister replied through the Department of the Interior to the representations I made, indicating that the department had no intention of dealing with the housing problem. That is a wrong attitude to adopt. I ask that the matter be reconsidered in the light of the facts that I have stated. to-day. I have presented my case with all the vigour I can command, because strong action is needed in order to force the Government to mete out fair treatment to employees of the munitions establishments.
.- The training of unskilled workers for employment in munition industries is a matter of vital importance to the war effort. Although the war has been in progress for fifteen months, nothing concrete has been done by the Government towards training men for technical jobs in factories engaged on war work. I have received a flood of requests from men living in the Reid electorate who are seeking employment in the munition industry, but I have been unable to help them because they lack the technical skill required. “When I visited Melbourne recently I was informed that 30,000 skilled labourers were required in the munition industry there; 2,000 were needed in the machine tools industry alone. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has told me that 30,000 unskilled workers in Melbourne have registered as applicants for employment in munition factories. Surely there is some means of satisfying the needs of the factories and the needs of the men. The work is waiting, and the men are waiting for the work. I know that the
Government has some plan for the technical education of youth, but that is not sufficient. It should take some practical steps to train the older unemployed men. They are willing to work and, with the exercise of a little patience, they could be trained for the technical jobs in munition factories under the supervision of experienced hands. The training course could be completed in a few months. As the war progresses, every available man will be needed. The country is now paying for the lack of foresight of past governments in regard to technical education; the Commonwealth Government has never encouraged the establishment of technical colleges. I was associated for ten years with a campaign for the establishment of an up-to-date technical high school in the city of Sydney. Members of the Old Boys Union of the Sydney Technical School agitated in this campaign year after year. We interviewed the State Minister for Education regularly, but for many years we received nothing but promises. Finally, however, we extracted from the Minister a definite promise that a technical high school would be erected. Plans for the building were prepared, and a site was selected at Moore Park, but when work was about to begin somebody thought that the site would be more suitable for an ordinary high school for the training of young men for the professions. The scheme was changed and the technical high school was not built. The work of this school is now being carried on in dilapidated premises at East Sydney. The Commonwealth Government could give practical assistance to the States for the establishment of technical colleges. It should take immediate steps to ensure that unskilled workers are given proper training. In the metropolitan area of New South Wales alone 40,000 unskilled labourers are seeking work. If it be said that, there are not sufficient qualified instructors in this country, then I suggest that we import them. The New Zealand Government took such action in connexion with its housing scheme. It imported skilled labourers from New South Wales and other parts of the Commonwealth; in fact, it has now prohibited them from returning to Australia. Surely in the United States of America, and other countries where there are vast industrial undertakings, we could find experts who could be brought to Australia in order to train our unskilled workers, and thus give an impetus to our war effort. They could also take part in the era of industrial development that will come after the war. I hope that the Minister will see that this matter is brought before the Advisory War Council. My proposals are constructive. We came to this Parliament in order to co-operate with whatever government might be in power in promoting the war effort. When I rise to speak I do so only in order to bring forward some constructive proposal.
– In the same spirit as the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan), who expressed a desire to assist in making this Parliament workable, I support the representations which he and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) have just made in relation to matters affecting the war effort. Many people in the electorate of Melbourne want work in munition factories but, unfortunately, the factories cannot employ them because they do not possess the skill required of technical process-workers. There are not sufficient technical training facilities even for the youths who will be our technicians after this war and, perhaps, our technicians in a third Australian Imperial Force. I have raised this subject before, and I hope that the Minister has made representations in the proper quarter in order that my submissions shall receive the consideration that they merit.
The problem of housing munition workers is not merely acute; it has long since become chronic. It is of no use to say that this is a matter for the State or municipal authorities. Huge armies of men and women employed in munition factories are congregated in areas where there are not sufficient houses for them. It is the Commonwealth Government’s job to remedy that deficiency. I do not want the Government to engage in a great housing scheme in certain parts of the Commonwealth for munition workers, but the amenities of a decent home should be provided for people who are doing a job of work in our war organiza tion. It is the responsibility of the Commonwealth to pay them wages which will provide, not only for the cost of food and clothing, but also for the renting of decent houses. The problem that has arisen in Maribyrnong is a vexed one also in the electorate of Melbourne, from which great armies of workmen travel backwards and forwards night and day to help in the production of munitions. In view of the shortage of houses, it is necessary to prevent rack-renting landlords from continuing their depredations at the expense of the wage-earning section. The Prices Commissioner is expected to see that the public is not exploited by unfair increases of the prices of essentia] foodstuffs, but he is not called upon to fix house rents as at the commencement of the war, and to make investigations from time to time, in order to ascertain whether the increases of rents are justified. The tenant is placed in an unfair position, because, if he is dissatisfied, he must go to court. The police magistrates, who hear claims against increases of rents, no doubt try to do justice to tenants who consider themselves to have been harshly treated; but, if a tenant takes his case into court, the landlord quickly turns him out of his cottage, and, owing to the shortage of houses, he finds himself homeless.
In my electorate, not far from where I live, a landlord recently expended a few pounds on repairs to a terrace of cottages, and immediately raised the rents by 25 per cent., or 5s. a week. Had the tenants taken the matter to court, they would have been left without homes within a fortnight or so. In one case, a hardworking woman, members of whose family are engaged as war workers, had been purchasing warsavings certificates; owing to her house rent having been increased, she found it necessary to reduce her contributions to the war effort. I claim that house rents should be fixed as at the beginning of the war, and that no increases should be permitted until applications by landlords for permission to raise rents have been granted. Most landlords act decently towards their tenants, but the rapacity of some of them must be curbed. A tenant should not be placed at the disadvantage of having to appeal to a court against an increase of his rent. The regulations under the National Security Act should he amended, as I have indicated, and the onus for an appeal for an increase in rent placed on the owner of the property. Some of the tenants of the houses which I have in mind are returned soldiers, who are engaged in munition factories. Others are old-age pensioners, who also cannot afford the cost or the risk of taking their housing troubles to the courts.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.34 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answer: -
Owing to the increasingly large quantities of copper required for defence purposes, it has been found necessary to import certain supplies from overseas. Arrangements as to deliveries and price have been made through the Ministry of Supply, London. In view of the essential nature of this material for the munitions programme, it is not considered to be in the national interest to make the required information public. I would be prepared, however, to furnish the honorable member privately with some of the particulars sought.
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
As a great amount of iron ore will be transported by rail from Port Pirie to Newcastle, will he reconsider the request to make a grant to the New South Wales Government to enable the completion of the Sandy Hollow to Maryvale railway, which, when constructed, will provide a more direct route, a saving in haulage and an essential railway link from a defence point of view.
– This matter will receive further consideration.
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
In view of the statement of the Prime Minister that some people were interned because of their subversive activities and others for their own safety, will he see that separate accommodation is provided in the internment camps for those with Nazi sympathies and those opposed to such views ?
– Consideration is always given to representations made by internees if it is considered that there is possibility of persecution owing to extreme differences of political outlook, and where it is considered desirable and resources permit, such internees are segregated. In allotting accommodation, internees of different nationalities are also separated as far as possible.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
Will he furnish the names of the members of the various State Contract Boards; whether any of them were, or still are, connected with any private commercial undertaking, and, if so, will he supply particulars?
– The Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answer : -
There are District Contract Boards in all States except Victoria, where the Contract Board acts in the dual capacity of Central and District Board. Membership of the District Contract Boards consists of representatives of each of the defence services, and also, in certain States, munitions officers are included. An officer of the Department of Supply and Development acts as secretary and executive officer of the board. The following are the names of members of the boards: -
Central Contract Board, Melbourne, Victoria - A. S. V. Smith, chairman; G. Mackinolty, O.B.E., deputy chairman; F. A. O’Connor, secretary and executive member; H. G. Viney, C.M.G., D.S.O., member;R. H. K. Donaldson, member; G. A. Davis, member; M. C. Coates, business member; and M. Maguire, O.B.E., I.S.O., consultant member.
District Contract Board, Sydney, New South Wales - H. N. Mortensen, chairman; R. Christie, deputy chairman; L. H. Story, member; E. J. O’Connell, secretary and executive member; R. N. White, member; A. S. Ford, member; E. S. Anderson, M.C., member; T. G. Millner, M.C., V.D., member; J. T. Murray, member; S. Lucas, member; and P. H. Jeffrey, business member.
District Contract Board, Brisbane, Queensland - T. Weavers, chairman; R. Y. Pike, deputy chairman; A. R. W. Buttner, member; R. A. Arnold, member; W. L. Hammond, member; X. P. Neylan, member; and R. M. White, business member.
District Contract Board, Keswick, South Australia - W. J. Urquhart, chairman; B. M. Heafey, deputy chairman; A. G. Hayle, member; F. C. E. Bannister, member; and H. G. Tolley, D.S.O., member.
District Contract Board, Perth, Western Australia - 0. V. Hoad, chairman; J. H. Beavis, deputy chairman; G. L. Bennett, member; J. H. Sinclair, member; H. C. R. Korner, member; and K. T. Nicklin, member.
District Contract Board, Hobart, Tasmania - K. A. Hall, chairman; V. A. Geard, deputy chairman; W. R. Hodgson, member; J. Crow, member; P. G. Whiteside, member; and C. S. Parry, member.
In Brisbane, the business representative is Mr. R. M. White, director of the Brisbane Milling Company, who is also president of the Queensland Chamber of Manufactures. In Sydney, the representative is Mr. P. H. Jeffrey, of John Bardsley and Company, who is also chairman of the Wholesale Grocery Association. Business representatives are not attached to other District Contract Boards.
Military FORCES : Issue of Contraceptives.
l asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– Action in matters affecting the health and efficiency of the fighting forces is taken on the advice of the Army medical authorities and, in this instance, I do not consider that any good purpose will be served by publicly stating details of the prophylactic precautions adapted.
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Prior to embarkation. - Single men without dependants - 6s., 7e.,-8s. per day; married mon with wife and one child - 10s. 6d., Ils. 6d., 12s. nd. per day.
After embarkation. - Single men without dependants - 8s. 7d., 9s. 9d., 10s. 10d. per day; married man with wife and one child - 13s. Id., 14s. 3d., 15s. 4d. per day.
Royal Australian Air Force: Training in Canada.
n asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
How is it proposed to select the two-ninths of the Royal Australian Air Force who are to be chosen to go to Canada to complete their training for the Empire Air Training Scheme after doing preliminary training of eight weeks in Australia?
– Details are chosen from trainees whose training has reached the point requisite prior to drafting to Canada, coincident with the departure of a suitable vessel for Canada. For preference these details are chosen from a training establishment convenient to the port of departure.
l asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
To prevent large-scale evasions of probate duties, will he give directions that no more debentures shall be issued by the Treasury?
– Debentures are not issued by the Treasury to the public. I assume the honorable member refers to treasury bonds. There is no evidence that there have been any large-scale evasions of probate duty by means of transactions in treasury bonds. The discontinuance of the issue of bonds would, it is believed, react unfavorably on government loans.
Australian Nationals in New Zealand: Military Service.
s. - On the 21st November, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) asked me a question, upon notice, regarding the attitude of the Government towards the position of Australians who may be affected by the New Zealand Government’s decision to exercise control over the departure of persons from New Zealand.
I desire to inform the honorable member that in reply to the inquiry which I addressed to the New Zealand Government in regard to the matter the following information has now been received from the Prime Minister of New Zealand : -
It appears that under the Overseas Passengers Emergency Regulations 1939, all persons leaving New Zealand, whether temporarily or permanently, are required to obtain a permit. Prior to June, 1940, no difficulties had been placed in the way of Australian citizens who desired to return home obtaining permits to leave New Zealand, unless they had resided in the Dominion for some considerable time and were skilled workers employed in essential industries.
When provision was made, however, under the National Service Emergency Regulations, for compulsory national service for all persons in New Zealand of sixteen years of age or over, it became necessary to review the policy regarding the issue of permits in order to eonserve the man-power of the Dominion and to prevent men of military age from leaving the country to avoid their military obligations. For the purposes of the National Service Emergency Regulations a person who arrived in New Zealand with the intention of remaining there for an indefinite period is deemed to be a resident in New Zealand. Also any person remaining in the Dominion for a continuous period of twelve months is deemed to be resident in New Zealand unless and until he satisfies the Director of National Services to the contrary.
Tt is pointed out by the New Zealand Government that Australian tradesmen who went over to New Zealand to accept employment on housing construction and other Government works went on the condition that they would remain there for a period of twelve months. No objection has been raised to the issue of the necessary permit for Australian tradesmen to leave New Zealand where applications have been made within a reasonable period of the expiration of their contract.
It was not usual to issue a permit where such men continued to work in New Zealand for some considerable time after their contract had expired, and did not apply for a permit to leave until after the passing of the National Service Emergency Regulations, unless the applicant could show that he had no intention of remaining in New Zealand for an indefinite period.
The New Zealand Government has now decided, after giving further consideration to this matter, to issue permits to those Australian tradesmen who came over to New Zealand under contract for employment on housing construction and other Government works, provided that they leave before the 31st January, 1941. The issue of permits to other Australian citizens who are resident in New Zealand will be considered on their merits, but the general policy will be that where such men have been resident in the Dominion for less than twelve months, no objection will be raised to the issue of permits, while those persons who have been there for more than twelve months will have to satisfy the Director of National Services that they had no intention of remaining indefinitely in New Zealand before a permit will be issued.
s. - On the 22nd November, the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), in referring to a statement reported to have been made by the Minister for the Interior (Senator Poll), regarding expenditure of the amount of £1,750,000, of which £1,000,000 would be expended in Brisbane in connexion with the construction of ships in Queensland, asked a question, without notice, as to whether or not it was a fact that contracts had been let covering this expenditure.
I now desire to inform the honorable member that the Department of the Navy has advised that orders have been placed in Brisbane for the construction of six minesweeping vessels, one floating dock and one oil-fuel lighter. The cost of these, together with orders placed in Brisbane for items of machinery for other naval contracts, will be approximately £1,000,000. Orders placed in Maryborough for minesweepers and in Toowoomba for auxiliary machinery will bring the total expenditure in Queensland on naval construction to approximately £1,750,000.
s. - On the 3rd December, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), asked a question, without notice, as to whether the Commonwealth Government will consider granting temporary relief to numbers of imperial pensioners now residing in Australia in order to tide them over a period until remittances from Great Britain come to hand.
I am advised by the Treasurer that, under arrangements made with the British Government several years ago, certain imperial pensions are paid by the Commonwealth on behalf of that Government on the written authority of the relative British department concerned. Over 2,000 of these pensions are being paid regularly by the Commonwealth Treasury at present and no delay has occurred in effecting these payments. If the honorable member will give me additional information regarding the particular class of imperial pensioner to which he refers, I shall give his request further consideration.
– On the 5th December, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), asked a question, without notice, as to the name of the firm which was guaranteed in respect of the supply of gas producers, together with the eontract price, whether the price was checked, and whether the firm was an agent and not a manufacturer.
The Minister for Supply and Development has furnished the following reply to the honorable member’s question : -
The guarantees were parts of contracts entered into by tlie Contract Board in the usual way in all other respects. Numerous tenders were received and referred to a technical committee for advice. The accepted tenders covered a range of types. In each case the contract was made with the manufacturers. The following list -gives the names of the contracting companies and tlie contract prices: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : - 1, 2 and 3. I would refer the honorable member to the statement on this subject made by the Prime Minister last evening.
d asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
How many vessels of the mercantile marine have been taken over by the Commonwealth Government since the outbreak of war. and upon what terms and conditions?
– Forty-nine mercantile marine vessels on the Australian register have been requisitioned by the Commonwealth Government since the outbreak of war. Of this number twelve have been returned to owners. In addition, four vessels on the Australian register have been requisitioned on behalf of the British Government. The terms and conditions governing the vessels requisitioned by the Commonwealth Government are still the subject of negotiation. The terms for the four vessels requisitioned on behalf of the British Government will be settled by that Government.
Royal Australian Navy: “Hard Lying “ Pay : Pensions to Relatives.
d asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Is it a fact that what is known as “’ hard lying “ pay has been paid to the (members of the Royal Australian Naval Forces now on active service abroad, as from the 7th March last, whereas men of the Royal Navy engaged on similar duty have been paid this allowance since the outbreak of hostilities? If so, will he take the necessary action to have this allowance paid to Royal Australian Naval personnel as from the beginning of the war ?
– No distinction exists between the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy serving abroad in respect of payment of “ hard lying “ money. This allowance has been credited to Royal Australian Navy personnel entitled thereto from the commencement of hostilities.
s. - Yesterday the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), asked the following question, without notice -
Will the Minister for the Navystate whether full pensions are paid to the relatives of deceased men formerly serving in the Royal Australian Navy, irrespective of whether their deaths are attributable to enemy actionor accident?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that in the event of the death of a member of the Naval Reserve Forces mobilized for war service, as a result of an occurrence happening during the period of his mobilized service - whether by enemy action or accident - theRepatriation Act makes provision for war pensions for dependent relatives, as defined in that act. Similar conditions apply in respect of the death of a member of the Permanent Naval Forces where the occurrence resulting in death takes place during the present war when on active service outside Australia.
The Repatriation Act does not apply in the case of a member of the Permanent Naval Forces who has not been on active service outside Australia, but the Naval Defence Act provides for lump sum compensation to the widow and children of any such member who is killed on active service or on duty.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 December 1940, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1940/19401206_reps_16_165/>.