16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. If. Nairn) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister for External Territories furnish to the House information -with respect to the reported strike on the New Guinea gold-fields?
– I am awaiting replies to certain questions that I have asked. When I receive them, I shall make a complete statement in this House.
– When does the honorable gentleman expect to receive the information?
– Either to-morrow or the next day.
– I have received from the Victorian Carters and Drivers Union a telegram in the following terms : -
Stop-work, meeting Melbourne cement and lime carters to-morrow Thursday. Men endeavouring to get decision from Board of Reference for past six months. Judge Piper fixed rates for cartage of dirty material last December but Industrial Registrar unable to find time to complete inspections and give decision. Employers- approached but .they refused to confer. Carters holding stop-work meeting to consider means of getting justice which the Arbitration Court machinery has failed to give.
Will the Minister for Labour and National Service request the court official responsible for the delay, if he has not already done so, to make an effort to have the matter dealt with immediately, and thus obviate the need for a further stop-work meeting?
– I received this morning from the union a telegram in terms similar to those read by the honorable member. I instituted inquiries immediately, and later in the day shall advise the honorable member of the result.
– by leave - ‘Yesterday the honorable members for Swan (Mr. Marwick) and Calare (Mr. Breen), and other honorable members, questioned me regarding the possibility of further payments being made from wheat pools Nos. 2, 3 and 4. Arrangements have been made by the Commonwealth Government with the Commonwealth Bank Board for funds to be made available to the Australian Wheat Board for a final payment of lid. a bushel to be made in respect of wheat in No. 2 and No. 3 pools; covering the 1939-40 crop. Growers have already been paid 3s.5½d. a bushel, less rail freight, for bagged wheat, and 3s. 3½d. a bushel, less rail freight, for bulk wheat, in respect of wheat in No. 2 pool. The final advance now to be paid will increase the payments to growers to 3s. 65/8d. a bushel, less rail freight, for bagged wheat, and 3s. 45/8d. a bushel, less rail freight, for bulk wheat. A deduction is made in respect of wheat in No. 3 pool.
The payment of a final advance in respect of the 1939-40 crop must be regarded as very creditable, and growers will have every reason to be satisfied with the returns they will have received for wheat delivered to these two pools. The total received by the Wheat Board was 195,500,000 bushels, of which at present only a very small portion remains unsold. It will be recalled that the 1939-40 harvest was in the nature of a record crop. The Australian Wheat Board has completed a very difficult task in disposing of practically the whole of this huge crop.
I am pleased to announce also that arrangements have been made for the payment by the Australian Wheat Board of a second advance of 4d. a bushel in respect of wheat in. No. 4 pool, covering the 1940-41 crop. The first advances of 3s. a bushel bagged wheat, less Tail freight, and 2s.10½d. a bushel bulk wheat, less rail freight, have already been paid to growers. The 1940-41 crop was the lowest for twenty years, and total receipts by the Australian Wheat Board have been recorded at approximately 63,000,000 bushels. Satisfactory progress has been made by the board regarding the disposal of this wheat.
The. foregoing advances will result in a sum of approximately £2,000,000 being made available for immediate payment to the wheat-growers of Australia.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs prepared to make a statement with respect to the allegation that Australian Consolidated Industries Limited and its subsidiaries have indulged in profiteering?
– I understand that the honorable member commented on this matter on the motion for the adjournment of the House last night. Investigations were carried out by officers of my department, but those officers were not vested with sufficient power to demand the production ofbooks that were material to their inquiry. Upon the receipt of their report,’ the Government decided to place the matter in the hands of the Prices ‘Commissioner, who is clothed with the necessary powers to demand the production of these books, and to make whatever investigation he may consider expedient. The Government is determined to make every effort to prevent profiteering by any industry in time of war.
– The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) asked me yesterday whether I could inform the House why lamb was sold to butchers on Wednesday, the 11th June, 1941, at5½d. per lb., and lamb of similar quality was sold on the 17th June at7d. per lb.
Reports issued by the Metropolitan Meat Industry Commissioner in Sydney disclose that the wholesale prices of lamb delivered to retail butchers’ shops from the Meat Hall at Homebush Bay were the same on Tuesday, the 17th June, 1941, as on Wednesday, the 11th June, 1941. On both those dates the wholesale prices of lamb were -
-Last Sunday I telephoned the Minister for the Army with . respect to the exemption of certain miners from compulsory military training, and the honorable gentleman informed me that he would instruct the Officer Commanding at Broadmeadows camp to release these men. I have received a telegram which states that a reply from the Minister is still awaited, and that the Officer Commanding has threatened the men that if they leave the camp, military police will be sent to arrest them for being absent without leave. Will the Minister explain the position?
– On Sunday last the honorable member got in touch with me in regard to this matter. I did not promise to instruct that these men should be released, but said that I would communicate with the Officer Commanding at Broadmeadows camp to ascertain the facts. I immediately asked my Military Secretary to take the matter up ; and I understood that it had been adjusted. I regret that such is not the case. I shall endeavour to learn what the facts are, and what steps I may take to clarify the position.
– What will happen if there is industrial trouble in the meantime ?
– That is all that I can say at the moment.
– In view of the Prime Minister’s brief but emphatic telegram to- me a fortnight ago that mining was a reserved occupation, and that there was no need for mine-owners to make application for the exemption of their employees from military service, will the right honorable gentleman inform the House why some miners are still being kept in the Broadmeadows camp, and why they should be threatened by the commanding officer with arrest if they leave the camp ?
– I have no personal recollection of this matter. I shall be glad to have a look into it.
Mi-. Jambs. - No recollection of the telegram ?
– No. No doubt it. was sent out from my office.
– Oan the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior state when the arrival in Australia may be expected of the two oil production experts from the United States of America whose services have been secured by the Government for the purpose of giving advice upon the development of the Lakes Entrance oil-field?
– If my memory serves me aright, these experts will leave the United States of America by clipper for Australia on the 2.5th June.
– I draw the Prime Minister’s attention to the fact that I have received a telegram - and I understand that the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) has received a similar communication - as follows: -
Drive Yourself, car proprietors, of Queensland, strongly protest against closing their businesses by drastic action in complete cessation of petrol supplies. Several hundred thousand pounds involved in this line of business in this State, also livelihood of many married employees. Suggest grant’ allowance of 50 per cent, on old ration for one month to enable operators adopt suitable substitutes plus petrol allowance, keep their cars operating. Meantime request permission to use present stocks of petrol and current ration tickets.
In view of the seriousness of the position of this enterprise, and having regard to the fact that many thousands of pounds are involved, and that a number of married men will be thrown on the employment market, will the right honorable gentleman give consideration to the request of these car proprietors, and, if possible, accede- to it ?
– I shall at once ask the Minister for Supply to look into the matter.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply state whether, in view of the necessity for a further drastic restriction of the use of petrol, the Government will give special consideration to , the claims of people living in the outback areas 20 or 30 miles from a railway station, as compared with those of persons residing in the capital cities, who have excellent means of transport at their doors?
– This problem is engaging the attention of the Minister for Supply and I am sure that he will find a solution of it.
– In view of the acute shortage of labour in agricultural districts, and the imperative need to produce all -we possibly can for national purposes, will the Prime Minister give consideration to a scheme whereby prisoners of war at present in Australia may be made available for employment in rural areas ?
– The matter of utilizing the services of prisoners of war is already under the consideration of the Minister for the Army and I shall refer to him the matter mentioned by the honorable member.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Commerce been drawn to an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald last month, in which serious allegations appeared with respect to the export of lamb. The charge was made that incorrect information had been supplied to exporters, in consequence of which they had suffered considerably, and that producers also had been put to considerable loss?
– The honorable member was good enough to show me the press statement to which he has referred. It was published on the 14th May and stated -
The carcase business - . . had been disorganized as a result of wrong information supplied to exporters, and large sums estimated to be paid for cold storage charges and deducted from stock bought at Flemington yards in other circumstances would have gone to the producer.
That statement was attributed to a representative exporter. My first comment on the statement is that it is anonymous, and the second is that it is absolutely untrue. It seems to me that when statements of this kind are made those responsible for them should do as we public men do in this Parliament. “We make them under our own name and are prepared to back them with facts. It is against the public interest to disclose to the world at large, and to the enemy in particular, how big are the reserves of food in this country, but the Meat Board and the veterinary officers of the Depart ment of Commerce have a day-to-day knowledge of the position with regard to the cold storage of meat. When the shipping position became suddenly acute in March, the British Ministry of Shipping cut down from 200,000 to 140,000 tons the refrigerated shipping space available to Australia for meat exports for the year ending September, 1941. It recommended that, in order to prevent the complete collapse of the whole of the lamb industry during the height of the season in September and October, thereby throwing thousands of men out pf work because of inability to store the lamb when it comes into heavy production, an embargo on slaughtering lamb and mutton for export be imposed. As a result of this drastic action to assist our position, we were able to make such representations to the British Government as induced it to give to us an additional 54,000 Ions of refrigerated shipping space during the period from the 1st May to the end of September. Despite the facts that this extra tonnage has been made available, and that there has been an embargo for ten weeks on the prohibition of the killing of lamb and mutton for export, it will be found that at the beginning of the third meat year in October our stores will not even then be empty, but will contain several thousand tons of meat. This completely disproves the anonymous newspaper statement.
– With regard to the information supplied by the Minister for the Navy concerning the building of wooden ships in Australia, wherein he says that the building of wooden ships for naval purposes is largely dependent on the importation of engines from abroad. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether it is not a fact that preparations are being made in Queensland and New South Wales to build engines for 10,000- ton vessels? If that be so, why is it necessary to get smaller engines from abroad for the wooden ships ?
– The question asked by the honorable gentleman can be. answered only by those who have the right to call themselves experts in this matter, but it is proposed, as I think the honorable member knows, to build twelve steel ships in Australia of an average of about 9,000 tons. The Navy has a building plan in respect of 48 vessels, and all of these have to be provided with engines. I should say, ‘ therefore, that the answer to the honorable gentleman is that, having regard to the amount of skilled labour available, we are quite right in seeking to supplement the engines that can be built here with engines from abroad- However, the point which the honorable gentleman has taken deserves attention, and I shall look into it.
– Yesterday the honorable .member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) asked a question, without notice, concerning the number of members of the ‘ Australian Imperial Force who lost their lives in the operations in Greece and Crete, or who have subsequently died of wounds received in those operations. As I indicated in my reply, it will be impossible to say what are the proportions of men killed, wounded and taken prisoner until the information becomes available through the International Red Cross Society; but the latest position with regard to the casualties, on information received from the General Officer Commanding the Australian Imperial Force, is as follows: -
The figure of 17,236 . does not tally with the previous total given some weeks ago, and the General Officer in Command of the Australian Imperial Force has cabled to me that he cannot explain the discrepancy. There had, apparently, been some mistake in the calculation, and, owing to the death of Brigadier-General Andrew, it is not now possible to discover how the mistake occurred. Of the total of 5,951 who have not returned, 2,275 are attributed to the Grecian campaign, and 3,676 to the campaign in Crete. No official figures have been received regarding British losses in Greece and Crete. The only information available is the statement contained in a cablegram which I have cited conveying information to the effect that in Greece more than 9,000 British, Australian and New Zealand troops were prisoners in that country. That has not been officially confirmed.
– Speaking on the motion for the adjournment of the House last night, I referred to the firm of Brown and Dureau Company Proprietary Limited, of Melbourne, which was buying up valuable machinery on disused copper mines, and breaking it up for export as scrap iron. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply take steps to learn the destination of this scrap iron, and will he place an embargo upon the sale of machinery of this kind except by permission of the Minister?
– I shall place the matter before the Minister for Supply, and communicate his reply to the honorable member.
– In response to a question which I asked during the last session of Parliament, the Minister for the Army promised that action would be taken to camouflage certain buildings at Port Kembla. I should like to know whether any action has yet been taken?
– A central camouflage committee was recently set up, and in addition State committees have been appointed, to consider this problem of camouflaging, a problem which is of considerable magnitude. I agree that the question of camouflaging the Port Kembla building referred to by the honorable member requires special consideration which it is now receiving. Tt is not a simple matter, but the honorable member may rest assured that it is not being overlooked.
– Some time ago it was stated that prosecutions against certain boot manufacturing firms were to be heard before the High Court in order to expedite the hearings. Can the AttorneyGeneral inform the House when we may expect the High Court to deal with the charges ?
– The cases have been listed in the High Court, and I ascertained just before the meeting of the House that the decision of the court regarding the order in which they will be taken will probably be announced before the end. of the week.
– ‘During this week, three cases have been brought under my notice of men who were called into camp by area officers, and afterwards released by order of the Eastern Command on the ground that they were engaged in reserved occupations. Can the Minister for the Army state whether area officers are fully acquainted with the list of reserved occupations? If so, how is it that men in reserved occupations are sent into camp? Is there any further supervision at head-quarters over the call-up before men are actually sent to camp ?
– The list of reserved occupations is quite clear, but the honorable member will admit that, in many cases, it must be very difficult to state definitely whether a particular man should be included in one category or another. I do not think that there can be many cases of the kind mentioned by the honorable member.
– There were three in one week that I know of.
– Even that does not prove that area officers have failed in their duty. It is impossible to prevent some mistakes of that kind.
– Is it the practice of Government departments, when letting out defence work on contract, to stipulate that all wages due to workers employed by the contractors shall be paid before the contract is completed, and is there any provision to ensure the payment of wages in respect of contracts which are not completed?
– I am not conversant with the procedure, but I shall obtain the information and furnish it to the honorable member.
– Will the Minister for the Army state what is the usual status of area officers, and are they provided with staffs to deal with their correspondence ?
– The salary paid to an area officer depends on his rank, which is usually that of captain or major. Each officer is supplied with a staff, but, in my opinion, those staffs are in some instances not sufficient to deal with the work. I am doing my best to improve the position.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Munitions take steps immediately to provide hospital accommodation at Port Adelaide and Woodville where so many workers are engaged on defence undertakings, apart from those employed in Holden’s body-building works which also are engaged on war work?
– I shall discuss the matter with the Minister for Munitions, and a reply will he furnished later.
– Is it a fact that some persons in Sydney are contemplating the establishment of an organization to compete with the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia? If so, will the Minister for the Army consider introducing legislation to ensure that the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia shall be the only organization authorized to handle the affairs of returned soldiers, whether of this war or of the last ?
– As to the honorable gentleman’s first question, I do not know whether it is a fact or not. As to the second, it must be a matter of policy for the Government to decide.
– Has the Prime Minister seen reports furnished over a period. of years advocating the extraction of oil from coal made by such highly placed persons as the Premier ‘of Victoria, Mr. Dunstan, the former Premier of New South Wales, Sir Bertram Stevens, and one of his own colleagues, the Minister for. Social Services (Sir Frederick Stewart) ? Why has the policy they advocated not been given effect to ? Further, has- the Prime Minister seen the press statement by the Minister for Mines in New South Wales, Mr. Baddeley, that he intends to proceed with the process? What assistance will the Commonwealth Government offer to the State of New South Wales in order to enable it to go ahead with this very urgent national project?
– I have a distant acquaintance with the reports referred to by. the honorable gentleman in the earlier portion of his question. I have not seen the statement in the press. No doubt, if some measure is suggested involving the co-operation of the Commonwealth and tire Government of .New South Wales, that Government will communicate with me about it. In fact, I am to see the Premier of New South Wales to-morrow and it may be that he will raise this matter.
– In view of the greatly increased price of copper and the urgency of increasing supplies of this metal for use in the munition industry, I ask the. Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development whether the Government has considered the desirability of assisting in the reopening of copper mines, particularly in the States of Victoria, South Australia a:nd Queensland? If so, has action been decided upon? If not, will the Government give early consideration to the matter with a view to deciding conditions under which assistance will be given?
– A sub-committee has been set. up to investigate the matter. I shall endeavour to supply the honorable member with a more detailed reply.
– Owing to the possibilities of discovering oil, will the Minister in charge of External Territories permit the exploration of uncontrolled portions of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea by certain companies which are seeking such permission?
– That matter is now under consideration.
– .Some time ago, I directed the attention of the Minister for Health and Social Services to the fact that Australian wheat was milled in such a way as to extract the gluten and vital nutriment and. render the flour not only useless, but also detrimental to health, when manufactured into bread. The Minister indicated that he had directed his departmental officials to confer with the millers with a view to overcoming the problem. Has anything ‘ further been done?
– This matter has engaged the attention of the Nutritional Committee within the ambit of the National Health Research Council. The committee made a recent report which indicated that there was no necessity for governmental action, but that it was in touch with the milling interests of Australia in connexion with the- matter. One important fact which emerged from the committee’s investigations is that Australian white flour is higher in content of vitamin B than is white flour in other parts of the world.
– Is the Minister prepared to table the report of the experts on this matter so that honorable members may form their own conclusion as to whether his interpretation of the information supplied to him is1 correct?
– I have no diffidence in publicizing the information at my disposal. Indeed, it has already been published.
– Can the Minister for Health and Social Services indicate whether the Government intends fully to reimburse to friendly societies the expenditure which they incurred in forming approved societies under the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act?
– I say without reservation that the Government has been most generous in its treatment of those societies. It is true that the claims of some societies have not been met in full, but that is because the Government’s view, formed most sympathetically, is that they incurred expenditure far above what was necessary. The per capita expenditure of those particular societies on recruiting members- was startling.
– Will the Minister for the Army favorably consider the introduction of legislation to amend the law relating to conscientious objectors in order to bring it into line with the law as it applies in England, the United States of America and New Zealand ?
– In a different form, that question has already been asked twice, and answered by the Prime Minister.
– In view of the need to keep motor transport in commission in rural areas, will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development consider the granting of a subsidy to builders of producer-gas units in rural garage workshops? Alternatively, will the Minister consider a plan to make available to owners of such workshops blue prints for standard producer-gas units, materials to construct such units, and a guarantee that the manufacturers will have a market?
– The whole question of assistance to manufacturers of producergas units is engaging the attention of the Minister for Supply and Development.
Tax Deductions- -NEW Staff.
– I direct the attention of the Treasurer to the notice issued by the Taxation Department and received by some honorable members to-day which makes it evident that the department intends to apply certain limitations on deductions from income tax for dependent children in the assessments for 1940-43. as the result, no doubt, of the establishment of child endowment. Will the Treasurer ascertain whether this limitation is legitimate at this juncture in view of the fact that child endowment has not been paid in 1940^41?
– I think that the notice referred to by the honorable .member is incidental to the new tax instalment plan which is to operate from t.hp 1st August next.
– But the tax is levied on earnings for 1940-41 when child endowment was not paid.
– But there is an adjustment of the whole matter, and all factors are taken into consideration. Any taxpayer whose tax instalments exceed his assessment will receive an expeditious refund. I shall be pleased to deal with any particular case which is brought under my notice.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services to explain how the staff for the new department to administer child endowment has been selected? From what places have the members of the new staff been selected, and how many have already been engaged? What educational test must applicants pass?
– The honorable member would hardly expect me at this juncture to be able to give precise numbers of employees engaged. In answer generally to his question, however, I point out that the new staff ie being selected by the Public Service Board in accordance with the practice followed in respect of the employment of all Commonwealth public servants, temporary or permanent. Due consideration, is given to the policy of preference to returned soldiers. In New South Wales we were able to recruit practically all the staff we required from the department which was administering the State endowment legislation. In the other States we have been obliged to build up from zero and the staffs have been chosen by the Public Service Inspector.
– Will child endowment be paid to mothers of children who are inmates of an institution assisted by a State government when the mothers supply clothing and other little wants to those children?
– The Child Endowment Act which, incidentally, was passed by this House without division not so long ago, excludes children resident in a home mainly maintained by either a State Government or the Commonwealth Government.
– In view of the dangerous position in which Australia might be placed in a state of national emergency, owing to the existence of so many breaks of railway gauge, does the Minister for the Interior intend to recommend a broadening of the gauge from Broken Hill to Port Pirie?
– I shall be pleased to bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister for the Interior.
– Is the Abbco Bread Company Proprietary Limited still carrying out contracts for the supply of bread to the Department of the Army; if so, does the Government approve of the policy of continuing to do business with firms which have been convicted of dishonest practices?
– It would surprise me if this firm is still supplying bread for the department. I shall have inquiries made and supply an answer to the honorable member.
– When does the Prime Minister intend to announce details of the Government’s proposals outlined in his latest broadcast address with regard to the restriction of imports, the closing down of certain industries,, and other matters affecting the employment of large sections of the people?
– At the earliest possible moment.
– Can. the Treasurer inform the House whether the recommendations of the Power Alcohol Committee on the production of power alcohol from wheat are to be put into operation, and if so, how soon ? .
– The long-range plan recommended by the Power Alcohol Committee is receiving the consideration of the Government, and the portions relat-ing to the use of wheat will receive the Government’s earnest attention.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs satisfied in his own mind that the agents distributing tobacco are not operating a tobacco selling ring in Australia? Will the honorable gentleman have inquiries made to ascertain whether it is a fact that whilst retail tobacconists arc unable to get supplies of cigarettes there are ample supplies for cigarette distributing machines? Are these machines the property of the distributing agents; and is the honorable gentleman satisfied that the shortage of tobacco has not been deliberately brought about in order to set the stage for a further rise of the price?
– I am not satisfied in my own mind that there is not a tobacco ring controlling the distribution of tobacco in* the various capital cities. As a matter of fact, I have instituted inquiries through my officers to see if certain complaints that have been made can be substantiated. If I find that manufacturers or wholesalers are operating such a ring action will be taken against them. With regard to the other matters raised by the honorable member, I shall have inquiries made and convey a full answer to him.
– I understand that one of the expert men from the Department of Labour and National Service in
Melbourne, Mr. Eltham, is visiting and reporting on technical colleges throughout, the Commonwealth. Will Mr. Eltham’s report be made available to honorable members ?
– I understand that Mr. Elthamhas now visited all of the States. The reports which he furnishes, however are not in a form suitable for tabling in the House. If the honorable member desires any particular information in regard to Mr. Eltham’s inquiries, I shall be glad to make it available to him.
– ls the Minister for Labour and National Service in any way responsible for the statement made in the press last week by Senator Leckie that approximately 70 technical colleges would be set up throughout Australia? If not, will he point out to Senator Leckie that there are not sufficient machine tools in Australia to-day to service the existing technical colleges, and that to talk about the setting up of a fantastic number of technical colleges-
-Order ! The honorable member must state his question without comment.
– I abandon the comment, and ask for a reply to the remainder of the question.
– I am not responsible for statements made by Senator Leckie, nor did I see the particular statement to which the honorable member refers. I feel sure, however, that if the statement was made by Senator Leckie he had ample grounds for making it. The policy he has in mind involves an extension of space in relation to existing technical colleges, and, consequently, will also involve an even greater use of machines already available in the colleges, in addition to the machines which will become available as the result of the speeding up of machine tool production.
Sustenance Payments to Returned Members
– Is the payment of sustenance to returned members of the Australian Imperial Force discharged medically unfit limited to any particular period pending the absorption of the soldier into industry? If a limit is imposed., will the Minister for the Army see that it is removed so that sustenance payments may be continued up to the time the soldier is placed in employment?
– I shall give consideration to the matter and make a full statement in regard to it to-morrow or next week.
– In the new plans for the more effective prosecution of Australia’s war effort, does the Prime Minister contemplate taking any action to curtail organized and commercialized sport, so that the people’s minds might be more properly directed to the winning of the war?
– That matter has from time to time received the consideration of the Government. I am not able to say more than that at present.
– In view of the inability of the Prices Commissioner to keep down the costs of essential commodities will the Minister for Trade and Customs, in order to enable the intentions of the Prices Commissioner to be carried out, appoint inspectors, particularly women, to police prices ?
– The honorable member is not serious, of course, when he says that the Prices Commissioner is unalble to control the prices of commodities, because up to date the prices of food and general commodities in Australia have increased by only 9 per cent. as compared with 52 per cent, in the comparable period of the last war, and an increase of approximately 22 per cent. in the United Kingdom today. As to the appointment of inspectors, I remind the honorable member that the States are supplying inspectors who are rendering valuable service under the Deputy Prices Commissioner in the various capitals, and they in their turn are advised by a committee upon which women are represented.
– How can the Minister justify the statement he hasjust made in view of the fact that the wheat farmer is receiving only 3s. a bushel for prime wheat although wheat for poultry feed is being sold in Sydney at 10s. a bushel ?
– I have no intention of endeavouring to justify what the honorable member says. If he desires a concise answer to a question of that kind, he should put it on the notice-paper.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1934.
Debate resumed from18th June(vide page 153), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the following paper be printed: - Prime Minister’s Mission Abroad and War Position - Ministerial Statement by the Prime Minister, 28th May, 1941.
– I was very pleased to hear the Prime Minister say in his broadcast speech on Tuesday night that the Government proposes to review thelist of reserved occupations. In that respect a start should be made with the postal department. Many positions in that department couldbe filled by not only elderly returned soldiers, many of whom have waited for years to obtain employment in the department, but also women. Thus a large number of men of military age could be released for service overseas. 1 have received letters from many employees of the postal department who have endeavoured to enlist but have been rejected because they are engaged in a reserved occupation. Some of those men possess high technical qualifications, and their services are urgently needed in the Air Force. I have in my hand a letter from one man who failed to pass the trade test for entrance to the Air Force. Subsequently, he studied for six nights a week for six weeks, and then travelled at his own expense a distance of 80 miles to a capital city in order to sit for his examination, which he passed. Later he was called up, but was then told that he could not be taken into the Air Force because he was employed in a re served occupation. The Air Force authorities applied to the postal department to release this man, but their application was refused. That man is engaged as a postal clerk, and is doing work which thousands of elderly returned soldiers are available to take over. I sincerely hope that local committees will be appointed in the various States to assist in the proposed review of reserved occupations.
I agree with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) that we must conserve every gallon of petrol.
– Even in respect of government cars?
– Yes. The greatest waste of petrol to-day takes place in the Defence Department. In Western Australia it is not uncommon to see car after car going from the city to the big military camp 60 miles away. They pass every ten minutes or so, and most of them convey only one individual in the back seat. Surely some of those people could travel in the one car. Also much of the merchandise carried by road could be taken by rail. If one were to sit by that road for an hour, one would probably see passing at least 20 trucks or motor cars with gas producers fitted to them, but, during the same period, there would be at least ten or twelve military vehicles running on petrol. An excellent opportunity to test producergas units is offered by these military vehicles which run over long distances. In Western Australia the use of producevgas is a problem no longer. The production of these appliances has become a large industry, and I am very pleased to say that in that State there are probably more gas producers in operation than in the rest of Australia. In the country areas, there are at least 50 to 60 blacksmiths making producer-gas units. The use of charcoal gas in Western Australia is not in its experimental stage. Various units have been tried out during the last two years, and they have been brought to a high degree of efficiency. However, regulations have now been introduced - I am. not sure whether they have been recommended by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; the Department of Supply and Development or some other body - the result of which will be that very few of these producergas units will pass the tests prescribed. That hardly seems reasonable in view of the fact that during the last two years the units in Western Australia have been proved to be very efficient. I plead with the Government in this connexion. Unfortunately the blacksmiths who are making these producer-gas units have no other way of contributing to our war effort. They cannot get contracts for the supply of arms, shells, or other types of munitions, but they can render a great service to this country by continuing the manufacture of producer-gas units.
Consideration should also be given to another method of propelling vehicles, namely, by electricity. In Adelaide a large baking firm, Parker Brothers, is running ten electrically driven vans at a very low cost. These vehicles are propelled by a motor which is operated by batteries. The whole machine ds made in Australia. The batteries are recharged during the night on the electric mains and the units are ready for the road again next morning. The batteries are capable of running the vehicles for a long period without recharging. I appeal to the Government to give some encouragement to the manufacture of these electrical units and the batteries that drive them.
I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) give to the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) an assurance that consideration would be given to the setting up of a committee to examine methods of giving primary producers whose markets have been swept away, greater security of tenure in this critical period. Before such a committee is set up, the first essential is that the report of the royal commission which inquired into the wheat, flour and bread industries some four years ago, should be brought up to date. I look upon that report, which was compiled at a cost of more than £30,000, as one of the greatest pronouncements on these industries. It is one of the finest reports that ever reached the pigeon-holes of this Parliament, and I sincerely hope that it will be brought out of those pigeon-holes and brought up to date at the earliest opportunity. If that be done, it will be found that the cost of producing has in- creased considerably, since the report was made. It grieves me considerably to know that in my own State at least 17 per cent, of the wheat-growers have abandoned their farms. In that way we have lost more than 2,000 of our farmers from the wheat areas, and such a state of affairs cannot be permitted to continue. I sincerely hope that a committee will bc appointed at the earliest opportunity to deal with that matter.
The time is overdue when this Government should live up to its election promise to establish a mortgage bank.
.- This debate arises out of a motion of a formal character, moved by the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) some few weeks ago, that the paper - being a report of the speech made by the right honorable gentleman in this House - be printed. The motion is rather a work of supererogation because as a matter of practice all statements made in this House axe printed. Since the making of the speech, the printing of which we are supposed to be considering, much water has flowed under the bridge, and, indeed, I think it might rightly be said, that some has flowed over the bridge. Amongst the less important occurrences has been the delivery of a second speech by the Prime Minister, which nobody seems to require to have printed. It is significant and interesting that the Prime Minister’s second speech was delivered on the eve of the assembling of this Parliament. I have frequently urged that such addresses should be made in this Parliament, and to this Parliament, but the Prime Minister prefers another course, and ironically enough, so far from addressing the Parliament, he chose for the delivery of the speech the very time that, members were in trains or other means of transport to this city, the practical effect being that the only persons in Australia excluded from hearing the speech were members of Parliament.
When the Prime Minister delivered to the country the first of this series of speeches, the debacle in Greece had just occurred, and the debacle in Crete was imminent. Now, Australian troops are disposed in Syria, where they are fighting our former ally. The issue of thi* campaign no one is able to foretell. though every one must most profoundly deplore the fact that we are locked in a death grip, not with the deadly enemy of liberty, but with our late ally in the vindication of liberty. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), in the course of an interesting speech last evening, asserted that it was the function of a government to choose theatres of war. I should be sorry to think that such a statement was in every case to be taken as literally true. But it goes beyond question that it is a part of the function of this Government to make a choice in such cases as those which involved the disposition of Australian troops in Greece, or in Crete. Having regard to our remoteness from any theatre of war, responsibility undoubtedly rests with the Government to choose, and to accept the responsibility of choosing the places to which Australian troops are sent. Is the Government under no obligation to accept responsibility to the extent of justifying its repeated failures? I say, “its repeated failures “, because all honorable members agree that our failure attaches, not to the gallant troopsthat have represented Australia in these theatres of war, but to their equipment or to their numbers or to both, or at least to some factor within the control of the Government.
– Has not the fact that they, have been badly outnumbered something to do with it?
– That also is the responsibility of the Government; but proportionate to our population and to our general responsibility in this war, the numbers from Australia were greater than might reasonably have been expected of the ‘ Commonwealth. I ask again, must not this Government accept the burden of proof that our men are adequately equipped, that they are in numbers appropriate to our obligations, and that the venture upon which they had been sent was reasonably certain of success? Did the balance of expert argument favour the view that they would succeed, or that the operation was, in itself, a necessary part of the war plan of the High Command? If it were so, was the venture more likely to succeed than to fail? Noattempt has been made either in this chamber, or so far as 1 know, elsewhere, unless conceivably at a secret meeting of the House on some occasion, to discharge this onus which rests upon the Government. No discussion upon the subject has taken place in this Parliament. True, some strategical points were made by the Prime Minister in connexion with the campaign in Greece. But the right honorable gentleman attempted a function which he was ill-equipped, to undertake, having never evinced either aptitude or inclination to acquire knowledge regarding the disposition of troops, or military matters generally. He did not attempt to tell us on whose advice he had acted, and what were the facts which had induced him to conclude that the troops were more likely to succeed than to fail. Nothing was said to justify the action of the Government, in particular inthe eyes of the widows, mothers and other relatives of the fallen soldiers, or even to explain it. In addition, nothing has been said to justify the Government in the eyes of a critically-minded Australia regarding the obligations which we should undertake, and how they should be discharged.
On the outbreak of war in September, 1939, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Chamberlain, publicly declared in effect : “ The Munich Agreement twelve months ago served a valuable purpose. The negotiations secured for the country a breathing space, because it was not then ready for war. Now, it is ready “.
– He was a parlour strategist, like the honorable member.
– Six months later, after the collapse of Poland and the delay of the expected invasion of Britain, the Chief of the General Staff, who was not. a parlour strategist like myself, declared: “ The country is in a position to defend itself. At the outbreak of war, it was not”. The Chief of the General Staff thus put himself in direct conflict with has Prime Minister. So it has gone on from that day to this. Every six months that has expired has led to a public statement that six months previously we were not ready, but now - always in the present tense - we are completely ready. So we pursue this mirage of readiness always receding from our view, always apparently present, and yet never realizable. And we come finally to the colossal disasters of Greece and Crete, with the possibility of course, if history is to repeat itself, of disaster in this internecine war in which we are engaged in Syria. In his more recent speech the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) spoke of an “ unlimited “ war effort. He forecast, in this most portentous public declaration, something which was to shake the very foundations of Australia, and he delivered it in the circumstances which I have mentioned. There was much of the heavy father in it, but I could not find a great deal of meat beyond some threats of penal provisions in regard to the workers, of further drastic petrol rationing and of the recruiting of young ladies along the lines so caustically dealt with by the honorable member for Barker last evening. Apart from those threats I found very little in it which would lead us to conclude that our men will fight in future in circumstances of greater safety upon more equal terms with the enemy, or in a geographical situation more reasonably suited to them as Australian troops. An “unlimited “ war effort, nevertheless, it has to be. I ask: What has our war effort hitherto been ? When the enemy invaded Norway many months ago, did that not awaken this Government to the necessity for the kind of war effort which represented the very maximum of which Australia is capable? Was the Government not already alive at the outbreak of war to the necessity for an unlimited war effort, as now outlined by the Prime Minister? If not at the beginning of the war, if not on the invasion of Norway, then, surely, on the collapse of France and the Lowlands, and the deplorable, though skilfully conducted, strategic retreat from Dunkirk, the Prime Minister became fully alive to the necessity, from his purely militarist point of view, for an unlimited war effort. The Government was not lacking in authority. It had in abundance before it the signs and portents which should have moved it to do all that was necessary. It had invested itself with legislative authority to do everything that it desired to do, including the mobilization of the whole of the resources of Australia. Surely there can be no argument about that? In the circumstances one would have expected that long ago, not 21 months or thereabouts after the commencement of the war, but from the very date of its outbreak, or at least from the time when it assumed such a serious aspect, the Government would have done everything possible for the protection of our troops and, according to its lights, the prosecution of the war to that absolute and total limit which now, after disaster has fallen upon us, it proposes for the first time. “ These things must change “, says the Prime Minister, after he has reviewed the position in Australia, where he finds businesses proceeding as usual, pleasure to a very large degree proceeding as usual, and life surprisingly normal. I say that the people have shown unmistakably that they are not impressed with the Prime Minister’s unctuous observations, so frequently repeated, in regard to the possible and even probable consequences of this war. They realize the position as well as the Prime Minister does. As a matter of fact their means of information, imperfect as they are, are equal to those possessed by the Prime Minister and his Government. I do not believe for a moment that the German Chancellor, Signor Mussolini, or any other of our enemies, has taken the Prime Minister into his confidence as to the conduct of the war. The people generally believe that the war is just about as dangerous, just about as dreadful, and just about as threatening as it can be. In spite of that - and I give them credit for it - the people of this country maintain an attitude of cheerfulness. They live out their lives believing that they serve no useful purpose by listening to jeremiads preached in boudoirs by slippered Prime Ministers who expose themselves to no greater peril than the peril of lecturing and hectoring other people.
What things must change ? We cannot change the admitted and established valour of our soldiers, nor do we wish to do so. Do we wish the people to sit in sackcloth and . ashes listening to the Prime Minister, or to melt into tears because of the impending doom which is said to hang over us ? Perish the thought ! The attitude of the Australian people, in the full discharge of the duty that rests upon them, is that they are willing to shoulder their responsibilities whatever the differences in their outlook on life - and they have their own outlook, as I have mine. The Prime Minister says that the Government will punish the profiteer and arrest him, but the fact is that the dividends disclosed in the published lists of company profits give no indication of any success, in dealing with profiteers, or of any hesitancy on the part of big business in seizing the golden opportunity to make large profits and to load itself with greater unearned, and unusable, wealth than it had before the war.
Shall we win the war by driving the farmer off his land, or by driving small business people into the Bankruptcy Court, as Government policy is undoubtedly doing? Shall we win the war by coercing wage earners into leaving the occupations of their choice and threatening them with all sorts of penalties’ if they assert their right to maintain their meagre living standards for the present, knowing as they do, that in the not distant future, when the war is over, they will again be thrown upon the industrial scrap heap and will be looking in vain for a job? The workers know that then’ the question will not arise whether they should be directed to specialize in this or that craft, for the flags of victory will have been unfurled and those now in secure positions will still be secure. Only the working masses and the starving women and children of this continent, and others, will feel the real brunt of the war, which for victory’s sake is now being waged with such enthusiasm. “ Business as usual “ is a slogan that we have heard frequently, but the Prime Minister now says that business is not to be as usual. Why not? How are the wage earners to pay their taxes, and the shopkeepers to meet their commitments, and how are the affairs of this continent to .be maintained, unless people continue, to the limit, of their endurance, to carry on their business as usual - that is to say, as nearly usual as is humanly possible ?
Yesterday we heard two speeches of special significance from honorable members opposite, one from the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. DuncanHughes) and the other by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). Both utterances dealt with conscription and, so far as the subject admitted of reasoned treatment, were well reasoned speeches in support of the policy of conscripting the Australian youth for overseas service. Some other honorable gentleman opposite could, no doubt, have spoken in the same strain, for they are obviously favorable to conscription. I do not know how many of them hold such views. I know only that a good number of them favored conscription during the last war, and I take leave to doubt whether the leopard can change his spots.
– Why call a conscriptionist a leopard?
– If I were to form an opinion from the public utterances of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles), I should say that if he makes a contribution to this debate he may encourage both the honorable member for Wakefield and the honorable member for Barker by confessing that he also is a conscriptionist.’ I have noticed that it is the function of those who have achieved the possession of great wealth through the practice of complete and undiluted individualism to invoke the principles of socialism for the first time to defend such wealth when it is threatened. By means of persuasion or, if necessary, of coercion, these individualists of unspotted patriotism require the working classes, who have done nothing to amass the wealth except to pay tribute to it out of their meagre earnings, to align themselves, man by mau, to defend it in the hands of its individualist possessors. That is the only contribution that individualism makes to socialism.
I point out that the honorable members to whom I have referred are more than sufficient in number to overturn this Government if they were to vote against it. The Prime Minister has told us that he accepts the voluntary system. I wonder for how long he will continue to accept it, because he knows that he is dependent for his position as Prime Minister upon the votes of these gentlemen behind him who advocate a policy entirely different from his own.
– How has the honorable member come to change his policy? A little while ago he told us that he did not know from where our enemies were likely to come.
– I am dealing, at the moment, with certain classes of public enemies in my own country of whom I have perfect knowledge. I may tell the honorable member for Bendigo that although I have made many speeches in this House in relation to war and. peace I have never had to unsay a single word that I have uttered, for every word that I have said has been justified by events.
– The honorable member is the only one who believes that.
– Possibly. Why is it that we have heard so little, save from a few private members of the Opposition, in exposure of what is really involved in the conseriptionist policy? I have mentioned Greece and Crete and have pointed out, on this as well as on another occasion, that our soldiers were thrown into those campaigns without due inquiry and without sufficient justification or excuse, and that no attempt was made after those events to explain away what had happened. It would appear that the spending of thousands of Australian lives, and the consequent grief and desolation involved, is a matter of minor importance and scarcely worth half an hour of the valuable time of the Parliament or of the Prime Minister. I am not at all satisfied that there was either justification or excuse for Greece or Crete. . It is to this kind of thing on distant battlefields that the honorable member for Barker and the honorable member for Wakefield, in the name of democracy, would not only persuade but also compel Australians to go. I take a different view. I take the view that the intrusion of the press gang into the home of an individual who is prepared to defend this country of which he is a citizen under a government responsible to him, would amount to a declaration of civil war. I take leave to say that I, for one, in the faceof a declared enemy in my own country, would take upon myself the obligation and responsibility of treating him as such, and of treating the condition created by him as. one of civil war. There can be only one attitude by free men towards a policy which would do violence to the lives of the people of this country, which would drive them out of their homes, take them across the seas, and throw them into a shambles, for the fulfilment of a pledge given by a government which is not the Government of my country and for a purpose unconsidered by the Parliament and unapproved by the people of my country. That is, in the name of conscience and of Christianity, resistance to the last and to the extent necessary. [Leave to continue given.’]
I have a suggestion to make, and I am glad that I have been given leave to continue in order that I may make it. Let it be understood at once that I make it, not flippantly, not cynically, but with sincerity; and I hope that the Assistant Minister at the table (Mr. Collins) will in. due course convey it to Ministers who are absent. Apart altogether from the use of physical force for the purpose of “ shanghai-ing “ native Australians into engagement in a war for which they are not responsible and the issue of which they cannot foresee, leaving their own country, their hearths and homes, undefended, we are agreed that the Government is at least entitled to use a reasonable measure of persuasion, in accordance with its policy, to induce men to enlist for service overseas. The Prime Minister himself has pointed out that nothing muststand in the. way of the voluntary system of enlistment. He has given some broad hints of what he means by that. He intends that people who disagree with his policy shall be liable to be interned; he has made that clear.
– I do not think that he said that.
– He has made other statements equally clearly, in support of his policy. I am well aware that pressure is brought to bear on the youth who have to do service in military camps, while they are in camp, to persuade them, morally to coerce them, to enlist for service overseas. I know of men in the Militia who have said “ If I have to go into camp for three months now and three months later, my business will be ruined, I shall not be able to keep my job, I shall receive no sympathy from the boss ; I may as well enlist “. This policy of moral conscription sometimes works in that way. The treasury bench opposite is empty at the moment, but I have seen it full. A tremendous impetus would be given to enlistment if a considerable number of those gentlemen who are entitled to occupy it were to put themselves in khaki at the earliest possible moment. The Minister at the table might enlist. It is quite idle to plead that one is a few years over age, or that one cannot quite comply with the strict requirements of the military authorities in regard to physical fitness.
– I should be glad to enlist to-morrow if I thought that I would be accepted. I have done service before, and would, do it again.
– Ministers could immediately pass « a regulation under the extensive powers they possess, which would enable them to enlist to-morrow. True, some of them may be over age, or may not be up to the standard of physical fitness required by the military authorities. But, good heavens, our men have fallen in thousands in the dreadful ventures to which this Government has sent them! Some Ministers might fall. If they did, I am sure that all of us would deeply regret it. But what, .after all, is the. life of an individual ? The majority of us are already well past middle age. The future holds out to us no very alluring prospect. When the miseries of life incidental to the conclusion of the war press hard on our starving, suffering people, surely life will not hold such extraordinary attractions that any of us can be so sensible of the importance of our earthly existence that we dare not risk our lives! If two, three, or four Ministers should appear in this House to-morrow in the uniform of His Majesty, and announce that they had enlisted as private soldiers, and would insist, on remaining private soldiers; that they would be found in the very vortex of battle in the ranks of those exposing themselves to the horrible dangers and sacrifices of war; that they would be among those who saw their brothers fall mutilated, crushed and broken ; that they would be eye-witnesses of the enemy rush ing ruthlessly over the fallen bodies of Australia’s sons; what could happen? A life might be lost. We would all be sorry for that, personally, because we know one another and have no desire to see a fellow member fall. But we cannot compare little things with greater things.- The greater thing is that every possible stimulus must according to the Government, be given to recruiting in this country. I am not speakfrom my own point of view, because I have no wish to bring persuasion to bear on any man to do what I myself would not do; but I say to the Government, whose business it is to persuade other men to do what Ministers themselves will not do, that the greatest stimulus which could be given to recruiting would be given by the splendid fact that a number of them were to be found with the common soldiers, sharing common risks, drinking in common the horrors of the conflict, maybe falling with them, or seeing the prostrate bodies of their broken and destroyed comrades. That applies not only to members of the Ministry but also to members of the Parliament who are intent on the recruiting campaign ; because, after all, many of them can be spared from here; the Government and the Parliament would still continue to function.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) could go.
– I would go with the honorable member for EastSydney (Mr. Ward) at any time. I would enlist with him to-morrow.
– I know that in the last war there were those who said at public .meetings, “ Would to God I were a young man, that I might enlist and be accepted “ ! Honorable members have it in their own hands to enlist. If it could have been announced in connexion with the campaigns in Greece, Crete, or Syria, that the Prime Minister would take the rank of a private soldier, that would make an impression on the minds of the military authorities, the professional warmakers and the soldiers, out of all proportion to what could possibly be achieved by any speech delivered in slippers in the security of a private boudoir. I make this suggestion in all sincerity, because I feel deeply, not ‘because I have any intention of indulging in levity concerning a matter in which the lives of so many of my fellow countrymen are involved or are threatened by supporters of the Government. In this, more than in any other way, can the Government justify its existence.
– There would be no medical examination.
– I have already pointed out that if Ministers are well enough to discharge their departmental duties, they are well enough to enlist under a special regulation which would make medical examination unnecessary.
– If ten members of the Government would go, I would go with them.
– The Prime Minister has said that this is his declaration for an unlimited war.
– Total war.
– Yes, the totalitarian system. 1 In that, he paid the highest compliment, that of imitation, to the German Chancellor. I hope to have the opportunity, on another occasion, to point out ‘that we cannot fight an unlimited war, for the simple reason that there are some things which Hitler may do, and we are told has done, but which we cannot do.” Therefore, a limit is imposed by conscience and Christian theory beyond which we cannot go. One of the disabilities of warfare is that if our opponent places no limit upon the things he will do, and we must necessarily place limits on the things we do, we fight with one hand behind our back; but better we should fight that way and die than that we should imitate our enemy and live.
.- We are discussing the speech made by the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) about a fortnight ago, in which he gave notice of his intention to outline the steps he considered necessary in order to enable Australia to accept its full share in the defence of the Empire. I have been rather amazed that practically every speech on this subject has been detrimental to the views put forward by the Prime Minister, with the exception of the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), who was most generous. ‘ He made a statement which to-day seams to me to be rather important. He said that this is a time not for words but for action. The Prime Minister adopted an unusual course. He took his life in his hands, and went to the battle areas and to Britain in order to ascertain the conditions prevailing there and the dangers facing the Empire. He came back with a message for us, and he speaks as one with knowledge. He has put his case clearly, fearlessly, and cleanly to the public of Australia. I also have some knowledge of what the Prime Minister found out, because I recently visited England. I did not stay there so long as did the right honorable gentleman and I did not undergo the risks which he took. Ho went into cities that were actually under bombing conditions, in order to find out the truth about what we are facing. To my mind, it seems - rather important that we should take every opportunity we can to enlighten ourselves regarding the facts in the world to-day, and should not argue and waste our time over side issues.
I suggest to the Government that, in considering the matter of war-time organization, it should offer to transport overseas members of the Cabinet, members of the Advisory War Council, and members of Parliament. This should.be done, not by conscription; but as the result of voluntary offers on the part of those who are willing to go. ‘ It- would enable them to obtain personal experience of the conditions overseas, and.- it should be done at the public expense. They would then view the world’ situation from a different point of view - I venture to say from a very different point of view - from that from which it is’ being discussed, in this House to-day. Britain has been our protector throughout this country’s whole existence. It has borne the brunt of the expense associated with the major part of our defence. Hence we have grown up in an atmosphere of unreality, and have not previously met the world of greed and avarice that we are now up against. Our nation has never been challenged, and we have never had an enemy on our soil. I know what war is. I had experience in the last war, and, for the benefit of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), I may mention that I served’ eighteen months as a private. I have seen something of what is happening to civilian populations in this war. I have received a severe shock, and I should like other people in responsible public positions in Australia to be exposed to the same things as I have experienced.
– “Was the honorable member exposed to them for patriotic or for business reasons?
– I went overseas to have a look at war conditions, and I went at my own expense. I did no business. It is impossible to do business overseas today, and it is foolish to try. I admit having been guilty of a small deceit in order to obtain £75 worth of dollars so that I could travel from New Zealand to England. I had to give a reason for requiring the dollars, and the Commonwealth Bank told me that a reasonable excuse would be that I required them for business purposes.
– Then the honorable member ought to be prosecuted.
– Possibly, but I considered that the experience gained was worth while, and I should advise many others to have it.
The people’ of Britain are of the same stock as ourselves, have the same ideals, and have much the same method of living. We have been told that they are undergoing certain trials. It may be interesting to honorable members if I outline some of the sacrifices that I discovered that the people of Britain were voluntarily undergoing, so that they could defend themselves and us against the. dangers we are facing. They realize the dangers because they are up against them. If Britain falls, we fall. When I say that I favour every one being required to do his share, my reason is. that in my opinion we should take an equal share with the people of Britain, because the risk is the same. Let me tell honorable members what the people of Britain have taken upon themselves. They are subject, as honorable members know, to aerial bombardment’ of their homes and business places by night - they were subject to that bombardment by day - and that has necessitated a continuous blackout. If honorable members have not experienced life under blackout conditions, they cannot realize what it actually means. There are no night amusements, and, after dark, people merely return to their homes or go to work. The people of Britain have the same ideals as we have. That country does not run swiftly to conscription; it imposes compulsion on its people only when that course becomes absolutely necessary. But Britain in order to exist had to parry the blow being made by the enemy. Consequently, it had to transfer its people from peace-time pursuits to war-time occupations. They had to turn from pleasurable pursuits to what the honorable member for Batman rightly dislikes.- No one’ goes enthusiastically into war, and Britain did not do it. We know how Britain attempted to preserve the peace, and how Mr. Chamberlain, the late Prime Minister, even humiliated himself by going to Munich in a last despairing attempt to keep’ peace in the world. But this could not be done. The forces up against us are not interested in anything at the present time except our destruction, and all their moves are to that end. The transference of .men and women from peace-time to war-time occupations is not an easy matter, but it has been done in Britain with a minimum of hardship by a rationing process. The Government took control of all imported goods necessary for the prosecution of the war. In order to provide the necessary space, man-power, and money for war-time activities, it had to ration the consumption of goods by civilians. We have been told about that, but we have not been informed as to the extent to which rationing occurs. I shall indicate some of the things which the people of Britain are going without. We have been told by some members by insinuation that profits are being made in Britain, and that the picture there is something like that in Australia ; but the two positions are totally different. Apart from the primary producers, we in Australia are enjoying .a minor boom, whereas in Britain the position is exactly the reverse. Petrol is rationed in Australia, and that is one of. the things about which complaints are heard, but in Britain the sale of new motor cars is completely prohibited. The sale of all articles made of aluminium is also prohibited, and women cannot buy silk stockings.
– Will not petrol rationing, under the new scale to be applied in Australia, be more severe than in England ?
– When I was in England, the rationing was much more severe there than in Australia. .In order that the workers may be transferred from the production of domestic goods to war industries, the consumption of many goods has been severely rationed. Cotton goods, rayon and flax have been rationed by 80 per cent, of the 1938 factory sales, so that only 20 per cent, of that quantity reaches the’ consumers. Woollen goods have been rationed by 60 per cent., which means that only 40 per cent, of the quantity sold” in 1938 is now available to the public. That is why ration tickets are now issued to people in Great Britain to enable them to purchase woollen goods. As to miscellaneous goods, including all the e very-day necessaries and comforts of life, rationing has been carried out to the extent of 75 per cent. To show how much rationing in Britain has affected the commercial community and retail houses, I mention that in the miscellaneous field it has been responsible for a reduction of retail sales by £220,000,000, whilst the rationing of textile goods has reduced retail sales by £125,000,000.
– It was reported in the press that the honorable member was delegated by the Prime Minister to inquire into certain matters in England.
– The Prime Minister asked me to make inquiries on his behalf with regard to petrol rationing and air-raid precautions. The rationing of goods, because of the control of imported materials such as non-ferrous metals, timber and paper has affected business to the amount of £440,000,000 worth of retail sales, ls that going to make any difference to the way of life of the people of Great Britain ? Add to that the effect of food rationing, and the fact that the cost of living has increased by 26 per cent, and the basic wage by 16-£ per cent., and it is evident that the people of Britain are more or less stripped for the war effort. On the higher incomes taxation ranges from 10s. in the £1 to 19s. 6d. A system of compulsory saving is in operation. Nevertheless, because the people cannot buy goods, and cannot spend their money on amusements, .their savings were nine times as high in 1940 as in 1938, which was the peak year up to then.
I mention these matters so that honorable members may realize that the people of Britain, our own flesh and blood, our partners in this war, are willing to go without a great many things in order to achieve victory. It would be of no use for me to indulge in argument as to whether or not we should do the same as they are doing. I merely point out what Britain has clone. The people of Britain are our full partners in the fight, and the things they have done are pointers on the road along which we may have to go if we are to save this country. The Prime Minister has told Australia what we must do if we are to win the war, and I understand that he will place a detailed scheme before Parliament very shortly. I believe that the policy which the Prime Minister outlined in his broadcast speech is a reasoned and enlightened one. It was put before us by a man who has seen what is going on in the world. In order to implement the plan it will be necessary to work within the limits of the National Emergency Regulations. I should prefer to see those limits widened, but for the time being they prescribe how far we can go. It behoves all of us now to get behind the Prime Minister, and make his plan our national policy. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has expressed himself as favorably impressed with it. He has no criticism to offer. It is not very edifying in this debate to hear the criticism offered by some honorable members. Australia has laid a solid foundation for its armament industries. We have men abroad who are bringing honour to our name throughout the world, and those men must be reinforced. The whole question before us is, where do we go from here? Within the next few months we shall probably need an additional 10,000 or 20,000 men for our munition industries. It may be necessary to enlist the services of women to a greater degree, in spite of references by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) to “pandering to ladies’ clubs “. The women of Great Britain have made a tremendous contribution to the war effort. They are matching themselves with men in numerous branches of industry. I saw hundreds of women being trained in aeroplane factories to take the place of men so that the munition industries could be expanded. Aeroplane engines are being manufactured in Great Britain with four per cent, of skilled labour. Here, under peaceful conditions, it should, be possible for us to make an enormously greater war effort than we have so far imagined. The policy outlined by the Prime Minister will, if fully implemented, place this country in a position of security, but we must all co-operate to give effect to it.
.- Australia has been in a state of national emergency since the passing of the National Security Act last year, yet only now does the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) come forward with proposals by which he hopes to secure a maximum war effort. The fact is that the Prime Minister is no more sincere in regard to these proposals than he was when he made bis second-reading speech on the National Security Bill. I have been a member of this Parliament for nine months, and I am convinced from my observation of the Prime Minister that he would rather make a speech than settle down to the drudgery of .doing his job. He has shown himself to be most ungrateful and ungenerous to the Opposition, notwithstanding the fact that the Opposition is propping up his Government. I listened intently to the right honorable gentleman to note whether there was anything in his statement, in his demeanour, or even in the inflection of his voice, to indicate that he had changed during the time he was away, hut I find that he is the same Bob Menzies, the avowed champion of vested interests. Indeed, if he acknowledges any guiding principle in his administration of the country’s war effort it is this: When he is seeking some one to fill a position, he concerns himself, not with what that person can do, but with whom that person knows. I am reliably informed that the post of Director-General of Supply, a position to be created under the Prime Minister’s new deal, has already been offered to Lieutenant-Colonel R. J. A. Massey, chairman of directors of the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Limited, a director of W. D. and H. O. Wills Limited, and of the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney. What sort of a tie-up is this between the Government and big business? Has the Prime Minister changed? Certainly not. He is the same man who appointed Norman Myer and Essington Lewis to important positions. He is the same cold, callous, insincere person to-day that he always- was. My feeling in regard to the Prime Minister’s speech on Tuesday evening is that it is incumbent upon him to furnish members of the Opposition with further and better particulars regarding his proposals. His speech was purposely couched in very general terms, because he knows that it is not what he proposes, but the manner in which his proposals are to be implemented, that will be objectionable. No doubt he will receive his instructions in due course. Is it not singular that, of all. the proposals which the- Prime Minister put forward, the only ones which have been given immediate effect are those which impose disciplinary restrictions upon the workers? They came into operation yesterday. That part of his speech must have given great satisfaction to the representatives of big business, in whose interests the Government has always worked.
One fact which emerges from a consideration of his speech is that the Prime Minister contemplates the imposition of industrial and economic conscription. If it is necessary that industry be conscripted in order to prosecute the war effectively, the Labour party may be prepared to agree, but the Prime Minister proposes to conscript labour for employment by private enterprise. That is the very thing which Icd to the establishment of mazi-ism in Germany. Its introduction here will amount to incipient fascism in Australia. Moreover, by eliminating non-essential industries, the Government will force men out of the occupations which they previously followed, and, when their resources are exhausted, they will be compelled to enter one or other of the fighting services. That is a wicked way of achieving what the Government wants, but what it is not game to advocate openly, namely, military conscription.
This war can be won only if this, or some other .government, adopts a better concept than the German concept of mechanization. The Prime Minister made certain statements about the manner in which the war would be .prosecuted and its effect on the people. One thing he said, which I should like honorable members particularly to notice, was that capital would be lucky to come out of this war unimpaired. The obvious inference is that the Prime Minister believes that, while his Government remains in power, there is every prospect of capital remaining unimpaired. But are the lives of the people to come out of the war unimpaired.? I think not.
On the subject of capital and the need for greater utilization of national credit, there are considerable energies required and devoted to the raising of finance under the orthodox system adopted by the Government which could otherwise be applied if the Government were to utilize national credit iri the proper fashion. Now, if the Government is hampered in any way in its war effort it would be better for it to strike out in another direction by allowing the Commonwealth Bank to employ its full resources in the interests of the nation. Indeed, notice of motion has been given this very day by the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Dedman) for the disallowance of a recently gazetted regulation designed to allow an even greater increase of the trading of private banks on the basis of a government guarantee. If the war is to be won, it can be won only by carrying the present financial structure into an integrated war effort and by making the banks subservient to Parliament and the people instead of being their masters.
– What about the men fighting ?
– We have been told . by the Prime Minister of England that not men, but material and equipment are wanted. Material and equipment can be provided by having available the money with which to finance the projects which will supply the things needed.
The Prime Minister has said that his Government stands for an unlimited war effort. While this Government remains in power there can be no unlimited war effort, because the Government itself is an obstacle to it, for two reasons: its hamstringing of finance, and its method of deciding matters with which it has to deal from day-to-day. Ministers are confronted by .piles of correspondence and files to which they have to give their personal attention, but it is certain that they cannot give to those matters the proper attention which they deserve. If one thing more than another is apparent from the administration of the Government it is the fact that Ministers are incapable of giving a quick decision on any particular matter which may be referred to them. It has been said that the Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Curtin) in this House has been generous to the Government. There are some of us who think that he may have been over-generous. At any rate we can say to the Government that so long as it occupies the treasury bench we shall support any measures to prosecute the war, but not any measures which involve compulsion, because the Labour party is aware that Australia in the last war pUt forward a maximum effort on a voluntary basis, and it could do so again under a Labour Government.
– Why has England altered its course in this war?
– I should like the honorable member to be more explicit in his question.
– England has had conscription since the beginning of this war and had it from half-way through the last war.
– I remind the honorable member for Wakefield that Mr. Churchill’s predecessor as Prime Minister of England was Mr. Neville Chamberlain. Men like Mr. Chamberlain and the Prime Minister of this country, by their slavish subservience to financial and monopolistic interests of England and Australia, are responsible for the fact that we are at war. Indeed- I did not want to refer to this matter, but I shall do so now - we read in the press in Australia that while an air raid was on the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) who was in England on an important mission on behalf of Australia, sheltered at Cliveden Manor, the home of Lady Astor and the meeting place of the great industrialists of England who before the war openly advocated the adoption of a totalitarian system in England.
– What authority has the honorable gentleman to make such a defamatory statement?
– It appeared in all the newspapers. I am sorry that the Minister is so ill-informed as to be unaware of what has happened. Members of the Cliveden set did more than anybody else to bolster the German Government before the war. The Prime Minister found time to visit the homes of members of that set.
In the Prime Minister’s broadcast address certain things were mentioned which may at a cursory glance seem to be advantages for the workers of the Commonwealth. Those things were sops put in deliberately to mislead the workers into conceding more than they would otherwise concede. ‘ Those sops, such as preference to unionists, were put into the speech in the same way as a lawyer would emphasize in an address to a jury, who not being trained lawyers cannot distinguish between the material and the immaterial things which ought not to be taken into consideration. Those sops were put into the Prime Minister’s speech with the premeditated purpose of gulling the people into a belief that they will get something which in fact there is no intention to give to them.
– A sugar-coated pill.
– Yes. Another piece of the grossest misrepresentation which appeared in the Prime Minister’s address was the statement that prices have been effectively regulated since the inception of the price-fixing machinery. If you speak to the women of the working class, who have to carry on the home, you will” find how utterly ridiculous that statement is. Statisticians may say that prices have increased by only a small percentage, say, 10 per cent. or 15 per cent., but the fact is that the every-day problem of living which men and women of the working class have to tackle has become exceedingly acute. I am disgusted that men on the Government side of the House should smugly and complacently refer to things of which they have no knowledge at all. This war is being fought by the workers on the battle-fields and in the mines, factories and workshops of Australia, for whom the best thing that can be done is the removal of the Menzies Government from office as speedily as possible. That is necessary in the interests of the people and, indeed, for the safety of Australia. To the Prime Minister, members of his Government, and the party which supports him in this House, who say that they favour military conscription because there is a lag in recruiting, I say, “ What else would one expect when the people have already seen the hopeless mismanagement of the campaigns in Greece and Crete? “ Is any one so utterly stupid as to trust himself in the hands of a government like the Imperial Government and the Menzies Government which since the beginning of the war have committed the errors of Narvik, Dunkirk, Dakar and, more latterly, in which our own soldiers have been involved, Greece and Crete? It is tragic that this Government should be allowed to remain in office one moment longer than the people of Australia can express themselves about the things that it has done and more especially about the things that it has failed to do. It may be said that I am. a young man, and that my place is in uniform.
– Definitely! One thing you have failed to do is “ hop in “.
– To those criticisms I have to say this : that while the present Governonent remains in office I shall not offer my services to Australia because I fear that if I were to go abroad the same kind of hopeless thing would happen as is happening at present. Honorable ‘members opposite have advocated conscription. If there be any doubt, in their minds as to the views of the people regarding conscription, I give them the opportunity to resolve it.I am prepared to resign my seat if an honorable member opposite will do likewise, and I am willing to contest eithor of the two seats solely on the conscription issue. The Assistant Minister (Mr. Collins) challenged me; I throw out that challenge to him now. Is the Assistant Minister game to accept it?
– Will the honorable member enlist with me?
– If it be good enough for young men to go abroad to fight for their country, it should also be good enough for young men to stay at home and administer it. As long as this Government remains in office there will be a fight not only abroad but also ac home.
– It is safer to fight at home.
– That may be so. I say quite frankly that, one of the reasons why I would not enlist, even if another government were in power, is because 1 would be frightened to do so. I am not afraid to make that, statement. If I have to take a stand to preserve some principle which I hold dear, then I shall take that stand in the same way as did the workers at the Eureka Stockade when they solemnly took the oath to stand truly by each other in the fight to defend their liberties.
– That is the big fight to-day for all of us.
– That was the oath of the workers, not one which has been littered in all solemnity by big business interests. I deprecate the use of the national broadcasting stations by the Prime Minister and the members of his Government for the purpose of making statements to the nation which in themselves mean nothing, because we have yet to see brought down in this House the bills by which they are to.be implemented. The national broadcasting service is being used by the Prime Minister and the Government for no other purpose than political propaganda. If the Prime Minister has any statements to make, he should make them on the floor of this House. The address delivered by the light honorable gentleman on Tuesday night should have been made in the Parliament of the Commonwealth and not, broadcast over the air from his private home, or from a studio. Statements which are claimed to be of the utmost moment should be made to the representatives of the people in the institution specially provided for in our Constitution for that purpose.
– Does the honorable member not think that the people have a right to hear such statements at first hand ?
– The Labour party says that the debates of the National Parliament should be broadcast. If that were done, the fate of certain government members when they next face the electors would be sealed. Since I came into this Parliament as a new member nine months ago, I have seen and heard things which have made me sick to death. My only purpose in rising to participate in this debate was to say that the way in which Australia can best prosecute the war at- this time is to remove the present Government from office.
.- In common with other honorable members, I listened with interest to the broadcast address delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on Tuesday night. During the course of his remarks the right honorable gentleman said that an opportunity should be afforded to every member of this Parliament to assist the Government in its heavy task. Eighteen months ago I urged that private members be given a share in the administration of the country and that the undoubted abilities of private members should be fully availed of. During his speech this, afternoon, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles), who has recently returned from abroad, voiced his disappointment with the Australian war effort. The honorable gentleman seems to think that it is not so complete as it should be. If that be so, I suggest that the only reason is because the Government has failed to give a lead to the people. Let Ministers give a lead and. they will find the people are prepared to follow. Can any honorable member cite, one instance in which the people of Australia have let the Government down ?
– No; but the Government has let the people down.
– Yes, in failing to give them a lead. The leader of the party to which I belong has said in this place, not once but dozens of times, “ My party is right behind the Government in its measures for the defence of the country “. In 1938 I advocated the re-introduction of compulsory military training. At that time the Government had the necessary numbers to give effect to the proposal which would have had the support of a large number of members on this side of the House. Compulsory training was unanimously advocated by representatives of all unions and political bodies in Tasmania assembled in conference at Burnie in 1938.
– What did the interstate Labour Conference say on the matter?
– I am speaking of a unanimous decision of the State Labour Conference. I feel sure that at that time Labour in all of the States would have agreed to the reintroduction of compulsory training.
– Tasmania is much more sound on this subject than are most of the States.
– That is so, but for all our soundness on this and other equally important matters what sort of treatment has been meted out to us? Recently, I received the following letter from the Minister for Munitions, Senator McBride : -
With reference to a recommendation of the Advisory War Council that members and senators be given an opportunity to inspect munitions establishments during the recess, I am forwarding herewith a list of Government munition factories (existing and projected), and of other munitions and aircraft establishments, to which I would be pleased to have visits arranged upon application to me.
I thought I would take the opportunity presented by the first recess to examine thb munitions establishments in my own electorate. On referring to the list attached to the letter I discovered, however, that although there were twelve munitions factories in Victoria, six in New South Wales, and four in South Australia, the foundation work had been commenced for one in Queensland and a site selected for one in Western Australia, the cartridge case factory in Tasmania was only “projected”. I. ‘.found that there were thirteen annexes in New South Wales, fifteen in Victoria, four in South Australia, and one in Queensland. Tasmania and Western Australia were not even mentioned in the list. Turning to the list of establishments engaged in aircraft production, I found that under the Aircraft Production Commission, there were four in Victoria, two in New South Wales, and two in South Australia, and that, of the other establishments engaged in aircraft production, two were situated in New South Wales, three in Victoria, and one in South Australia. Again Tasmania and Western Australia were not mentioned. How can we get the best out of the people if three important States with great potentialities are completely ignored? To show what can be done in these States I need only mention what has been done in Tasmania since the last war to develop the carbide industry. During the last war, the price of carbide rose from £24 a ton to over £80 a ton, and supplies were unprocurable. After the cessation of hostilities, a factory for the manufacture of carbide was established in Tasmania. That factory is now able to supply not only the whole of the Australian requirements, but also to ship its surplus production to the Near East. As the result of the establishment of that industry, full stocks of carbide are now available to Australian consumers at a reasonable price. Tasmania also has a very valuable zinc enterprise, the only one in the southern hemisphere. These works produce about 60,000 tons of zinc per annum. As honorable members know, zinc is an essential ingredient in the manufacture of munitions, and but for the establishment of this industry in Tasmania, a steady manufacture of munitions in Australia would not be possible. Tasmania also has one of the largest copper mines in Australia; the output of this mine represents approximately 64 per cent, of the total Australian production. Tasmanians would like an opportunity to convert some of that copper into munitions in their own factories. The Government of Tasmania has offered to assist in every way in the production of munitions. I do not know whether vested interests have exerted any influence in this matter, but this Government, apparently, has decided not to undertake any wai- work on a large scale in Tasmania. At the same time, we are losing thousands of skilled tradesmen to factories in Victoria and New South Wales. Periodically, firms on the mainland send representatives to Tasmania to engage artisans. But when a deputation asked that war factories be established in Tasmania, the Minister replied : “ Have you sufficient tradesmen to staff the factories if they be established ?” We shall certainly have no tradesmen left if the Government continues its present policy. It is wrong in principle to centralize industries in New South Wales and Victoria, but the Government has allocated practically the whole of its expenditure in connexion with the war effort to those two States. Such centralization of industries will make it easier for an enemy to disorganize our production. Apart from the military necessity for decentralizing our war industries, such a policy would enable us to provide work in districts where unemployment is most acute. Notwithstanding the numbers of skilled men attracted from Tasmania to the mainland, a great reserve of labour exists in that State which will not be drawn upon in any way in connexion with the War effort. In connexion with the establishment of a graving dock, I recall that the investigating engineers reported that North West Bay, adjacent to Hobart, was the best site available. The objection was raised, however, that there were no engineering workshops in Tasmania. That dock is now being built in Sydney Harbour, on a site which many experts believe to be most unsuitable. Had the Government established the graving dock in Tasmania, together with the necessary engineering workshops, it would have enabled the people of that State to cope with a large share of our war work. Tasmania has been constructing wooden ships for over 100 years. Over twelve months ago, I submitted a proposition to this Government to undertake the construction of wooden ships in Tasmania, but I was told that, perhaps, we should not need them. Wooden vessels are always in demand for the inter-island trade and I have received many inquiries for them from people in the Pacific area. I believe that one reason why that proposition has been rejected is because the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and other interests, including Walsh Island, are endeavouring to retain a monopoly of shipbuilding. They do not wish to see com- petitors established on a large scale. I often think it is quite possible we may lose this war owing to the selfishness of a few big companies.
Every effort has been made in Tasmania to conserve petrol, the price of which has always been higher in that State . than on the mainland. The proposed basis of the rationing of petrol is grossly unfair, particularly to country people. I am allowed 27 gallons a month. Although my electorate is very extensive, I am not grumbling personally. However, an honorable member who represents a larger electorate than mine is allowed 9 gallons a month. At the same time another honorable member who represents a metropolitan electorate is allowed 44 gallons a month. Can any one say that such a distribution is just ? Honorable members who represent metropolitan electorates could very easily do without petrol, and in the national interest they should do so.
– The whole scheme of petrol rationing is being revised at the moment.
– I am glad to hear that. Honorable members who represent city electorates and can easily avail themselves of bus, tram or train transport, should be the first to co-operate in the conservation of petrol. It would indeed be very interesting if details of petrol allowances to honorable members were published.
The Government has not given very much attention to the construction of cool stores. Our primary producers are now enjoying fairly good seasons, but probably very soon we shall not be able to ship our products across the Atlantic. Consequently, the greatest possible storage space should be provided. Nevertheless, an application which I made on behalf of certain interests in Tasmania for permission to construct cool stores was refused.
– Cool storage accommodation has been increased by thousands of tons. :Mr. FROST.- Yes, in New South Wales and Victoria.
– Wherever it has been found necessary.
– Can the Minister say why it is not necessary to provide additional cool storage in Tasmania? It is obvious that if shipping to Tasmania be interrupted, as it was recently, when two vessels were lost in Bass Strait, we shall not be able to market our goods on the mainland. In this connexion the Government should bear in mind the very small proportion of its war expenditure which it has allocated to Tasmania, and should construct huge cool stores there. Such stores could, if necessary, be used for the storage of goods, .for which no accommodation is available on the mainland.
– This work has not been done solely by the Commonwealth, but in co-operation with the State Governments and people interested in cool storage.
– 1 have no doubt that the Government of Tasmania and private interests in that State would be only too willing to co-operate with the Commonwealth Government in a similar way. Recently the Marine Board in Tasmania constructed a concrete shed in Hobart at a cost of £27,000, but immediately that building was finished the military authorities commandeered it. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Beck) and I have been endeavouring ever since to have it returned to the State. So far our efforts have been in vain. Although the military authorities declared that they needed this shed urgently, they had carried on in temporary buildings for six months, and during that period had done nothing on their own behalf. That is the sort of justice that is being meted out by the Commonwealth Government to Tasmania and I cannot protest too strongly against it. The Commonwealth now proposes to establish a cartridge case factory in Tasmania. I urge the Government to go further and establish complete munitions works in that State. All of the raw materials required for munitions, including zinc and copper, are to be had in greater quantity in Tasmania than elsewhere in the [Commonwealth. Furthermore, our climatic conditions are ideal for the establishment of such industries, and, in addition, cheap power is available. It- is significant that the only big industries established in Tasmania are industries which it is impossible to establish on the mainland, owing to the shortage of raw materials outside Tasmania. We have, for instance, the newsprint industry. That was established in Tasmania because cheap power, and suitable forests are available. The mills at Burnie which are engaged in the manufacture of paper of the finer kinds, are turning out about 30,000 tons a year, whilst the newsprint mills are also turning out 30,000 tons a year and will increase that output to 100,000 tons a year when the present plant is duplicated. Then there is the carbide industry, for which the principal raw material is lime. That is available in the required quantities only in Tasmania. I have no doubt that had it been possible to establish any of those industries on the mainland, Tasmania would not have been given the benefit of them. The Labour party will be wholeheartedly behind the Government if it does something, but if it does not implement quickly the programme laid down by the Prime Minister, it will have to resign.
.- In common with many other people in this country, I had looked forward with interest to the return from abroad of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), especially in view of the manner in which he had been lauded by the press, and the fanfare of trumpets .with which he was greeted upon his arrival. We were told that we were to see a new Menzies, a new Messiah. In fact, one of his enthusiastic women supporters went so far as to say “ The Prime Minister has at last found his soul. We have now the real Menzies returned to us “. Possessing as I do, a great admiration for the Prime Minister’s capabilities, I was very pleased to hear these remarks, but like many other people in this community, I consider that he is holding the wrong briefs; like many other sons of workers in this capitalistic system of ours, inevitably he finds himself working for vested interests. Maybe that was how our worthy Prime Minister came into this House in the first place, but I believe that in his heart of hearts Mr. Menzies would like to be a real man of the people, and that is why he came back so deeply impressed by the wonderful sacrifices of the common people of Great Britain, about whose hearts of gold he has spoken so glowingly. Doubtless he came home with a new spirit in his heart, resolved to fight and work in the interests of the common people of Australia - people who are second to none anywhere in the world. However, he had not been home very long before there was a complete change in him. As I said before, as a young barrister, the Prime Minister found himself inevitably working for certain monopolistic interests, and it was those interests which sent him into this Parliament. When I was in Mel bourne recently, I met various people who knew something about the election campaign in Kooyong last year. One of them had been a candidate at that election, and he told me that a few weeks before polling day, every hoarding for miles outside Melbourne - some of them as big as houses - had been tied up by the campaign director behind the Prime Minister. That hold applied even to the local press. Every local newspaper was “ bottled up and the Opposition candidates, far from having their speeches published in the local press, were not allowed even to put their views before the public by means of paid advertisements. It is no wonder that the worthy Prime Minister says he is sick at heart of diabolical politics, because nobody knows better than he the sickening game that was played in that election. No wonder he is sick at heart. Thousands and thousands of pounds were paid out for his return to Parliament by the Baillieu group of monopolistic vested interests which stood behind the Government, and has stood behind it ever since it came into office.
Sitting suspended from5.45 to 8 p.m. [Quorum formed.]
– On his return to Australia, the . Prime Minister assured the country that no vested interests would be permitted to impede a total war effort. Every body was pleased to hear that announcement, even though it may have been in the nature of a death-bed repentance. Our preparations to celebrate the prodigal’s return to this House did not exclude even the sacrifice of the fatted calf, and we gathered expectantly to listen to his great message. But our hopes were dashed to pieces when we heard the plan that he outlined on Tuesday evening, because it is obvious that since his return he has dallied too long among his former associates and has fallen back into his old ways. He delivered what he very properly described as a prospectus. Its language was couched in the best legal terms and contained many flowery phrases. Some of the proposals for administrative reform are highly commendable, but were advocated by the Labour party long ago. For example, last December I asked the Prime Minister whether he would consider the advisability of appointing parliamentary committees for the purpose of accelerating the machinery of the House. He replied that he would consider the proposal, and it has taken him six months to do so.
Upon examining the prospectus, we have no difficulty in ascertaining the identity of those who prepared it. Obviously, it is in effect a Bank of England prospectus and the principal participants in this country are the Baillieu group and monopolistic interests which support the Government. An examination of the part played by the Bank of England in the present war reveals* the guilty men who are responsible for the present parlous position of the British Empire. A book entitled Guilty Men contains some staggering information upon this subject. After reading it, honorable members will realize that Australia also has its guilty men.
– In this Parliament, too!
– The honorable member is getting on to dangerous ground.
– Before I deal with that subject, I shall make further reference to the Bank of England, the part it played in bringing about the war, and its responsibility for placing Great Britain in such a position where it may yet encounter defeat. The following article recently appeared in the press: -
Industrial sins of British ship-builders in the between-wars period are recalled by many writers just now when the situation is that the Germans have been able to sinkBritish shipping three times as fast as British shipyards could replace it. When world trade languished in the Big Depression and ocean shipping was laid up, Big Interests in Britain resolved to “ stabilize “, by forming the combine called National Shipbuilders’ Securities.
The method was like that of the good old brick combine in New South Wales. The ring bought out shipyard after shipyard, and closed them down, so as to keep cosy dividends for the survivors from available freights.
Worse than closing the yards they razed them to the ground, clearing off buildings and plant. The sites were sold, or leased for long terms on covenants that they must never again be used for shipbuilding. The once busy shipyard town of Jarrow (to quote only one example) became virtually a piece of waste land. From all shipyards, fully 15,000 expert shipwrights were dismissed and scattered, so that Ernest Bevin last year had immense trouble in tracing and collecting even half of them. Quantities of machinery laid idle were sold to Germany!
Result, that Britain began the war of 1939 with fewer ships than in 1914, and with only two-thirds the former capacity to replace sinkings.
Wc behaved almost as badly in Australia. Walsh Island in New South Wales was dismantled; and the Commonwealth Line was sold off, at bargain price, to a noble lord who went to gaol without paying for it.
The Bank of England’s activities in financing national shipbuilders’ securities were not .confined to causing the partial destruction of the ‘ British shipbuilding industry.. Even after Hitler had seized Czechoslovakia, the bank endeavoured surreptitiously to smuggle £6,000,000 worth of Czech gold to that country. The Governor of the bank, Sir Montagu Norman, and his international financial friends were responsible for that act. The bank resolutely declines to publish the names of its shareholders. When members of the House of Commons recently requested the Government to compel the disclosure of that information, it refused to do so. The reason was obvious. Some of the shareholders are our enemies. Worse than that, until the eve of the outbreak of war the Bank of England was granting financial assistance to Hitler and was helping him to re-arm Germany for the purpose of fighting the British Empire while Britain’s defences were neglected. That is the institution behind the prospectus which the Prime Minister produced on his’ return to this country. The “suckers” which the Prime Minister delivered on Lis return to this country. The “ suckers “ that the prospectus endeavours to hoodwink into paying for the war are the middle class and the working class. Usually the’ middle class has to bear most of the burden of taxation, but on thi6
Seven million Australians can do a mighty and triumphant work in this war, but half a million Australians in the armed forces and munition factories cannot do that mighty work unless the remaining six and a half million devote themselves body and soul to their support.
The implication is that future generations as well as the present generation must bear the cost of the war. Like every other prospectus, this one contained a prospective balance-sheet. I propose to analyse it. On the debit side, the contributors are the workers, the middle class and future generations who will bear the cost of the war in blood, sweat, toil and sacrifice. They will receive in return, an era of poverty both during and after the war. On the credit side, the class that will reap the rewards are its promoters, the Bank of England, the Ballieu group, and monopolistic concerns which dominate the financial and economic life of the Commonwealth. The foundation of this prospectus is bigger and better monopolies. . All of the smaller factories which employ from 5 to 100 men will, for the duration of the war, be put into “ cold store “. In England, where a trend towards monopolistic control is noticeable, 3,000 factories have been put into cold store, and may never be re-established, because an era of stronger and bigger monopolies will follow the conclusion of hostilities. According to the right honorable gentleman, capital is to remain “ unimpaired “. Money-power will be more firmly entrenched than ever. The profits of the financial institutions will not be taxed and the banks will not be called upon to pay their contribution towards the financing of the war.
I have presented to the House the debit and credit sides of the prospectus. What will be the method of collection? First, the Prime Minister will endeavour to cajole, as he usually does, and when that does not prove effective, he will threaten. If threats are abortive, he will act in good totalitarian style, because he has made it perfectly clear that he will introduce legislation to deal with the trade unions and if necessary, he will confiscate their funds. That method is quite in line with the action taken by the Nazis in Germany, who abolished the trade unions and confiscated their funds in order to extinguish their influence in politics. The press will not escape. Already a tendency is evident to muzzle even those newspapers that are friendly disposed to the Government. A threat that supplies of newsprint will be reduced by 60 per cent, has been issued, though the Government has indicated that it may revise that figure. Why it should re-consider the matter, I cannot understand. If such a drastic reduction of supplies be necessary, the Government should not shirk its responsibility. When Sydney newspapers exposed the true condition of affairs in Greece, the imposition of an iron censorship was threatened. Another section of the press incurred official displeasure by disclosing that war materials were being sent from Australia to Japan. As the result of the exposure, the censor was instructed to allow no newspaper to publish any matter relating to the export of war materials from this country. The Government will not hesitate to muzzle its own press. Presently it may be. forced to take that action.
The Prime Minister also declared in his speech that the Government would intern Communists, as from yesterday morning. How many persons have already been dealt with under that order, I do not know. What is a Communist? What constitutes a Communist? What makes a Communist? Recently I received from two returned soldiers communications which I propose to read to the House. They may provide an answer to the questions that I have asked. One of the writers was born and bred in Australia, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at the age of fifteen, was wounded twice and served in the forces for four years. Upon his return to this country, he was granted a small pension. He married and raised a family. By had work, he managed to save £1,500 which he decided to invest in a garage. He did not go to the major oil companies for assistance because he wanted to be free of that octopus, the oil combine. He built his own garage and bought the petrol pumps outright, in the belief that he would have no difficulty in obtaining supplies because he was prepared to pay cash. However, he found that because he was not linked with the oil combine and had not leased his pumps from them, he could not obtain any supplies whatever. «So his garage lay idle for nine months, and the money which he had struggled hard to earn was tied up in the business and of no use to him. Finally, a representative of an independent oil company, the Purr-Pull concern, who was an ex-digger officer took pity on this man and obtained supplies for him. But he could not get supplies from the other companies. At the outbreak of the war the Purr-Pull company had to join the cartel, and thereafter he could obtain no further stocks. That man, like many other good Australians, has been ruined. This is what he wrote to me -
Having fought for British justice, these companies deny it to me. Evidently the only crime I’ve committed is that I’m an Australian who had the guts to go away and fight for these big oil companies’’ existence. Now is the time to act. Is the Government in favour of monopolies or not?
I, too, ask : Is the Government in favour of monopolies or not? I have another case that came to my notice during the last few days. A constituent of mine wrote to me in the following terms : -
I am a returned soldier. I have ten children in family. I have a sick wife. Seven years ago I was on relief work. At the end of 1933 I got my first new lorry. I had an old lorry. I got a loan on my furniture and I put the old truck in for a deposit on the new lorry, which took me three years to pay for.
Finally, by entering into hire-purchase agreements, he was able to get. four more lorries in order to bring his sons into the business with him. He obtained war contracts, but he has been refused supplies of liquid fuel and has had to close down, although he is still paying for the lorries. This was done in spite of the fact that he was engaged in essential war work. He was refused supplies of petrol merely because he was not a member of one of the big groups. That is the sort of thing that makes Communists of good Australians. These men whom I have mentioned are strong and loyal citizens, but there are others who are not so strong and not so patient. They are the sort who become Communists. Although the Prime Minister’s prospectus referred to the Communists, it was significantly silent as to the action proposed against Fascists and Fifth Columnists. These enemies are to-day right in our inner circle. There are men in our fighting services who are straight-out Fascists. The chief recruiting officer of this country, Brigadier-General Lloyd, was a highly-placed member of the New Guard and a close associate of Colonel Campbell, the leader of that organization. This is the man who goes out into the highways and byways to appeal to our young men to join the ranks of the fighting forces. We have Nazis, Fascists and other Fifth Columnists in our munition establishments. There is one; of these in Brisbane who was decorated by Hitler. A newspaper article had this to say -
In recognition of the services of Mr. J. Beiers, who recently resigned the post of German Consul in Queensland, Herr Hitler has honoured him with the Service Cross of the German Red Cross. The decoration was presented to Mr. Beiers by Chancellor M. Jahn, who has charge of the Brisbane office of the German Consul-General, at the 54th anniversary celebrations of the Brisbane Deutscher Turn-Vcrein last evening.
Mr. Beiers is today an executive officer of a shipbuilding yard’ which is engaged in the construction of naval vessels for the Commonwealth Government.
– Mr. Beiers was not decorated after the outbreak of war, but in 1937. He is to-day a highly-placed official in a naval construction yard. How can the Government justify that? The Prime Minister has not said what he intends to do about these Fascists and Nazis. We thought, when he first returned from abroad and assured us that no vested interests would stand in the way of the war effort, that he would repudiate his association with these guilty men. But he has not done so. Only a few weeks ago the Sydney Sunday Telegraph published an article written by Mr. Godfrey Blunden, who formerly sat in the press gallery of this House. Whilst pressmen do not always see things in their true perspective, apparently this man was very far-seeing; in fact, he must have had second sight because, as he looked down from the press gallery, he wrote these words about the Government
There seems to be a big invisible fat hand dangling over them, and the Ministers seem like so many puppets dangling therefrom.
We have only to trace the Government’s record in order to learn to whom this big’ fat hand belongs. The whole regime of this Government has been marked by rackets galore.
We have heard about the military footwear’ and clothing contracts, and the bread scandal, the company responsible for which has not been prosecuted by the Commonwealth up to the present time. We also know that the millers are taking vital nutriment out of the flour from which bread is made for our troops. When I brought this matter before the Minister for Health (Sir Frederick Stewart) he merely smirked and passed it off as a big joke. The same attitude was adopted in regard to the clothing supplied to our troops. Newspaper articles and complaints made by clothing manufacturers have disclosed that nobody can obtain big clothing contracts from the Department of Supply in Melbourne unless the matter passes through the hands of certain financial interests. These concerns which seem to have inside information, approach manufacturers who want contracts and offer to arrange finance for them. One financier now controls 40 different concerns. He stipulates, when he arranges the contracts, that he must have a certain share of the profits - usually about one half - and now he virtually owns a number of these clothing manufacturing businesses. The same sort of thing applies to the manufacture of boots for the armed forces. We know what happened to the troops in Greece, who had to trudge back, bare-footed, from the mountainous regions of that land. Only recently I obtained some enlightening information from a well-known tanner who is disgusted because certain members of the Hides Appraisement Committee of New South Wales, who are interested in the supply of hides to their own concerns, make sure that they get the best of the hides that are available. The remaining rotten materials are left for the Government - and their competitors. The hides that should be providing equipment for our troops go to these men, who send them overseas. Vhat their ultimate destination is I do not know. I should he. interested if the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Harrison) would enlighten me on that point. Statistics show that during the six months ended the 30th December last, 184,350 calf hides and 167,209 cattle hides were exported from Australia. I am assured by men engaged in this business that the best quality hides are being sent overseas.
But these rackets are only small change compared with the hig boodling that is going on. I wish to deal with these big boodlers now. First of all are the Ministries of Munitions and Supply. The Minister for Munitions (Senator McBride) recently announced the names of the people who are in charge of the activities of his department. In supreme charge, as Director-General of Munitions Supply, is Mr. Essington Lewis of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. In charge of the materials section is Sir Colin Fraser of the Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Limited. The director of the machine tools section is Colonel Thorpe, of Associated Machine Tools of Australia, the McPherson-Bevin monopoly group. Mr. L. J. Hartnett, general manager of General Motors-Hold ens Limited, who have vested interests in Australia and the United States of America, is in charge of the transport section. Mr. W. J. Smith, general manager of Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, is director of the gun ammunition section. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) had something to say about Mr. Smith last evening, and an official of the Department of Trade and Customs recently stated that Australian Consolidated Industries Limited had been profiteering, and that certain proportions of its funds should be confiscated.
– That is not correct.
– In charge of the Shipping Board is Mr. Kneeshaw, who is associated with the cement combine, and Mr. Donaldson of Imperial Chemical Industries, the chemical monopoly, is in charge of the explosives section. The representatives of the major oil companies dominate the liquid fuel supply section. I shall deal individually with these gentlemen whom I have mentioned.
In complete charge is Mr. Essington Lewis. The Prime Minister told us that Mr. Lewis is given a completely free hand. In fact, he enjoys the unique privilege in this country of being entitled to write cheques for £250,000, not once but as often as he wishes, on the resources of this country without being subject to question. The Prime Minister has said that Mr. Lewis places sheafs of papers before him and that he signs them without question. The Commonwealth Government has provided nearly £1,000,000 for the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation’s works at Lidcombe in which the Broken Hill Proprietary is interested and which is controlled by the Baillieu group as its directors. There is nothing in any of the agreements entered into to protect the people of this country, and the Government is not even represented on the board of directors of the concern. The factory has not yet entered fully into production. I cannot imagine any business man advancing £1,000,000 to a company without obtaining some document, at least, as a protection. “We know what would happen to any man who carried on business in that way.
– Does the honorable member suggest that there has been corruption in the use of this money?
– The honorable gentleman is so simple-minded that I shall not answer that question but will leave it to his imagination.
– Does the honorable gentleman consider that the public finances are not being adequately protected in this matter ? He has made a serious charge, and he should substantiate it.
– I shall make other serious charges to-night. If the Government will appoint a select committee to inquire into them I shall provide it with some facts that will startle the people of Australia. But of course the Govern-, ment is not courageous enough to do so. These scandals would not bear the searchlight of a public investigation.
– Order! The honorable member must address himself to the Chair.
– Mr. Essington Lewis has the right to give money with one hand on behalf of the people of Australia, and to take it with the other hand on behalf of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. Shipbuilding has been delayed for nearly two years, while our ships are being sunk and our products cannot be sent to the other side of the world. Why is this? It has been done simply in order to give the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited a monopoly over shipbuilding not only for the duration of the war but also for the years that will come afterwards.
But there is worse than that to come. Recently the Government has agreed to subsidize the Broken Hill’ Proprietary Company Limited up to an amount of £3,000,000 per annum in connexion with rail freight charges from Whyalla to Newcastle and Port Kembla in consequence of shipping difficulties; but the public has not been told the facts, and its interests have not been protected in any way. Although so much public money is to be put into this concern the public is to have no financial interest in the undertaking. This great monopoly is being allowed to go on its way unimpeded. [Leave to continue given.~
I am sorry that I shall not have time to deal in detail with every aspect of the operations of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, but the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has dealt with the company very effectively. He, and other honorable members, have shown clearly that the ramifications of this vast octopus touch the life of people injuriously throughout the length and breadth of this country.
I wish now to deal with the activities of another monopoly with which Sir Colin Eraser is connected. This gentleman is in charge of the materials section of our munition enterprises, including aluminium and other raw materials. Many people in Australia are deeply interested in the development of aluminium manufacturing, because they realize that aluminium is vital in the construction of aircraft. We are all well aware that the great lack of our troops in Greece was aircraft. Our men were entirely unprotected by aircraft, although the sky was black with Nazi airplanes. The incessant appeal pf our soldiers was for more Spitfires and other aircraft to protect them. It was the Dunkirk cry over again ! Why has the manufacture of aircraft in Australia been impeded? Here are some of the facts of the situation. After the outbreak of the war many prominent citizens became deeply interested in the production of aluminium. One, in particular, is Dr. Bradfield, who is well known to many honorable members by repute if not otherwise. He is one of the greatest engineers in this country and was the engineer for th« Sydney Harbour Bridge, so he needs no recommendation from me. He approached the Commonwealth Government soon after the outbreak of the war, and made certain representations in relation to the production of aluminium. He was sent to interview Mr. Essington Lewis, and Mr. Lewis sent him to interview Sir Colin Eraser. But Sir Colin Eraser gave him no encouragement, for he threw cold water on the proposals submitted to him. Dr. Bradfield was deeply interested in the development of the bauxite deposit» of Queensland and desired to show how they could be exploited for the production of aluminium, but no one wai prepared to listen to him. He offered his services to the country free of charge for .the purpose of developing the production of aluminium, but they were not accepted by the Commonwealth Government. Dr. Bradfield then approached the Labour Government of Queensland, and through its cooperation and the active interest of the Queensland Department of Mines, he was able to demonstrate that there existed in Queensland large deposits of almost pure aluminium. But still neither the Commonwealth Government nor its officials engaged in developing the production of munitions were interested in the matter.
Some young students of the Sydney Technical College devised a process for the manufacture of aluminium from Australian bauxite, but still the’ Commonwealth Government was not interested. I support all that the honorable member for East Sydney had to say concerning aluminium supplies and the inaction of the Government. A group of gentlemen at Berrima who had had experience in the production of aluminium in Yugoslavia, Greece, and other countries also interested themselves in the subject. They offered to the Government the services of two experts and also undertook to provide copies of blue prints, which would have been valuable in the development of our aluminium resources and to obtain the concessions over the bauxite deposits. But still the Commonwealth Government was not interested. I have seen copies of the correspondence that passed between these people and the Commonwealth Government and I know that what I am saying is true.
Why has the Government been unwilling to encourage the development of our bauxite deposits and the manufacture of aluminium? Truth, like murder, will out. Only recently, I read the following article in the financial columns of the Sydney Sunday Sun: -
One of the basic principles of sound investment is a spread of interests. This is particularly desirable at a time like the present when the war’s effect upon individual industrial enterprises is difficult to gauge.
In addition to capital security, investors naturally want to assure themselves, as far as possible, of a reasonable and steady return on their money.
To a person of email or moderate means, these requirements are of more importance than they are to the “big” man who may be in a position to afford risks.
The investor with only a few hundred pounds at his disposal obviously cannot spread the amount over a large number of different shares.
There are however certain companies which have investments in subsidiary and other Industries and a buyer of shares in a company of this type automatically secures a spread of interests, even if he merely takes 100 shares.
One such company is the Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Limited.
In addition to carrying on its own profitable business as a refiner of zinc, it holds shares in a large number of associated companies, most of which are at present working to capacity and which, moreover, are likely to continue to fill an important role in the post war industrial activity of the Commonwealth.
It appears that this organization is interested not only in its present operations but also in the possibilities of firmly entrenching itself in this country afteT the war. The company has many subsidiaries. The list, which shows how wide are the ramifications of the organization, is as follows:-
An investor in E.Z. shares obtains an interest in soundly established, as well as new and rapidly expanding, industries.
I ask honorable members to take particular note that the names of the Australias Aluminium Company Proprietary Limited and also the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Proprietary Limited, in which organization the Government has invested about £1,000,000, appear in the list. These companies are new and expanding rapidly because of the war. The article proceded as follows : -
Australian Aluminium Company Proprietary Limited, located at Granville (N.S.W.) in which E.Z. has a 20 per cent. share-holding, will be producing aluminium alloy sheets and strip for exclusive supply to the Australian aircraft industry next month. Extrusion operations are expected to commence a few months later.
Production of aircraft material by this company will make Australia secure in regard to fabricated aluminium now widely used in aircraft manufacture.
It is obvious to me that just as the Government retarded shipbuilding operations in this country in order to benefit the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, so it has discouraged the production of aluminium in order to benefit the Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Limited, and give it a monopoly over aluminium production. It is significan that Sir Colin Eraser, the director of the materials section of the Munitions Department, is a director of a number of these companies and chairman of the Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Limited.
I wish now to deal for a few minutes with machine tool production. My time is too short to devote to the subject all the attention that it deserves. The Director of Machine Tool Production is Colonel Thorpe, who is the nominee of the Associated Machine Tools group of
Melbourne. The Prime Minister has told us that at the outbreak of the war there were only five machine tool manufacturers operating in Australia. It is significant, however, that the Minister for Supply (Senator McBride) should have made three different statements on this subject. At first, he said that only one machine tool company was manufacturing in Australia at the outbreak of war, but later he said there were two, and later again, he increased the number to three. Yet the Prime Minister now tells us that there were five. Why was it not possible to obtain accurate information on this subject? The reason is that another big monopoly is involved. The Associated Machine Tool group is, of course, linked up with the McPherson Bevin organization, which for twenty years has been holding back the production of machine tools in Australia. By its undesirable association with the Commonwealth Government and the Customs Department, this organization has been able to prevent other interested enterprises from engaging in machine tool production, for it was not possible for them to import machine tool-making equipment except through the McPherson Bevin monopoly or through the payment of prohibitive rates of duty. Consequently, only one type of lathe out of 10,000 in the whole world was available in this country for the manufacture of machine tools at the outbreak of war. When the war broke out this big organization and its subsidiaries were hard put to it to cover up their sins. In fact, it was only possible to do so with the connivance of the Ministry for Munitions. Actually, we have Japanese and German machine tool-making equipment operating in Australia, but the position is so bad that even the technical colleges have been stripped of their most modern machines in order that they may he used to supplement our slender resources. Obviously the technical college equipment should have been left in the colleges for training the youth of this country. But not only have the colleges been stripped of their original equipment, they also have had taken from them machines which have been built by the youths within the colleges to replace the original plant. I cannot deal at great length with this subject, but I wish to refer to a certain, individual who stands behind the machine tool racket. I direct the attention of honorable members to an article headed’. “ On Top of the World “ which appeared in a recent issue of Smith’s Weekly.. It read as follows : -
Sydney’s Latest Launch Host
Yacht, Chauffeur-driven Oar, Home at Jervis’ Bay (New South Wales). lt seems but the other day that Phillip’ Bevan burst on our horizon, but time, like Phillip, moves fast.
Thus he had arrived before we grasped his full significance. He hit Sydney in what might be called restaurant society, although Sydney gathered that he was one of Melbourne’s 200.
Inquiry very likely would have confirmed that fashionable hostesses considered no dinner party could make the social news of the Melbourne Herald unless he was among those present. Aspiring Toorak is like that. Travel and culture which Mr. Bevan has, together with an engaging modesty of demeanour, are his open sesame to its social elite.
The article states that this magnate, Phillip Bevan, who has recently arrived in New South Wales from Melbourne, has taken over a beautiful villa at Jervis Bay and that he keeps an ocean-going yacht in going order in the bay. The article added that he had located himself at Jervis Bay for a very good reason. I quote the following passage from the article : -
It is convenient both to Sydney and Canberra for a chauffeur-driven magnate as Mr. Bevan is. But in case his engagements keep him in Sydney he has a pied-de-terre at Potts Point, one of the spacious flats Mr. Hugh J. Ward leases to approved tenants. When Mr. Bevan is in Melbourne he makes shift with a suite at Menzies.
He is a well-nourished little man, rather thoughtful as to attire, and firmly gripped in his right hand as he bounces his way jovially through life is a pair of lurid yellow gloves.
Wc have seen him in an “Anthony Eden” hat, but he generally affects the formal grey felt. We believe he is in machine tools and wouldn’t be surprised if he sold them. But wc would be disappointed if he were noi. in many vast enterprises and had achieved a position of very agreeable prosperity.
When he goes abroad we can imagine him in a suite de luxe. It is only a short while back, as we count time,’ that he was in the United States of America and, indeed, the great hardware centres of the world would know him as a man of affairs. Federal politicians are on easy speaking terms with him for be is quite a figure at Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.
Of course, the time may come when he will be almost too wealthy to know, for his bankroll must be swelling visibly and his lavish hospitality wouldn’t be a button off his undershirt, as the saying is.
There are one or two notable rich about Sydney these days who hope to flower into knighthood.
But that wouldn’t be Mr. Phillip Sevan’s ambition.
He is happy as he is, and from all appearances has every right to be. For he is at the peak of his popularity and on the top of the world.
Not long ago, the financial position of Phillip Bevan was anything but flourishing, but now he is a millionaire. He is “on top of the world” because of his activities in machine tools.
I knew of another gentleman who had an ocean-going yacht and who used to entertain high personages. His name was MacArthur. Still another gentleman of the same type who used to entertain lavishly and built a luxurious home was Mr. Woolcott Forbes. He could be seen at times “ doing it grand “ in bright attire and lurid yellow gloves. I have in mind yet another of these moneyed individuals, who made millions during the last war through the sale of armaments to all and sundry. I refer to Sir Basil Zaharoff. We do not want men of the MacArthur, Woolcott Forbes or Zaharoff class to operate during this war.
Another gentleman to whom I must refer is Mr. L. J. Hartnett, the chief executive officer of General MotorsHoldens Limited, who is also interested in the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and many other directorates associated with the Baillieu group. In this connexion, I remind honorable members that a year or so ago, the Army authorities were much concerned about the breakdowns that were occurring in their motor transport units. Motorized equipment, as honorable members are well aware, is of great importance to our troops in the Middle East. I read a few days ago that certain wounded soldiers who were being transported in a particular area during the retreat in Greece were travelling on a lorry which broke down. They were removed to another lorry and that also broke down. When they got to their destination, the Germans had arrived and they were cut off. It is extraordinary to me that our motorized equipment should fail us in this way, when we have persons like Mr. Hartnett in important positions. Here again, there is room for complaint. Some time ago the Army authorities approached in Melbourne a young engineer named Wales, who had devoted ten years of his life to the study of a new type of differential, which he contended would prevent breakdowns of the kind to which I am referring. The Army tested his differential device thoroughly on vehicles that travelled thousands of miles in rough country and they were satisfied that it would meet all their requirements. So pleased were they, in fact, that they requisitioned all available units through the Supply Department. That was a year ago. Month after month, although the Army authorities had tried it out, the matter was held up by the Supply Department and the Contracts Board in Melbourne. (Further leave to continue given.] Why has that installation been held up? The explanation is a simple one. It would- mean the dismantling of another differential put in by vested interests which supply the equipment to the department at a cost of £15. But in its place there would be Australian equipment costing only £10, and its use would result in a considerable extension of the life of these vehicles. John Storey, recently a high executive officer of General Motors-Holdens Limited, who left Australia with the Prime Minister on his recent tour abroad, and spent several months in America, said publicly on his return that Australia was not getting war material from America, because the manufacturers of that country thought that there was political disunity in this country in the prosecution of the war. Answering a question that I asked him yesterday, the Prime Minister informed me that John Storey dissociated himself from General MotorsHoldens Limited upon his appointment to the Aircraft Production Commission. Yet we find that General Motors-Holdens Limited is a shareholder in the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Proprietary Limited, which is financed by this Government !
Then we have Mr. W. J. Smith, of Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, Mr. Kneeshaw, of the cement combine, and Mr. Donaldson, of Imperial Chemical Industries, and the major oil companies. The operations of those major oil companies have been one of the principal factors responsible for the present parlous condition of Australia’s war effort. They have contributed to the closing down of works, and to the ruin of primary producers and business men in our community who are unable to obtain oil supplies. Because of the influence exercised by those companies in years gone by, Australia has failed to become selfsupporting in respect of oil supplies. They not only have made enormous profits from sales of petrol imported in the ordinary way, but also have taken advantage of certain customs regulations which have enabled them to smuggle in petrol under the guise of rich crude oil. By means of this practice, they have robbed our people of many millions of pounds. What influences have operated to discourage the production of flow oil in Australia and New Guinea and other places, which would have made Australia self-supporting ? They have been exercised by the major oil companies, which dominate the life of this country. Although the Government has advanced nearly £1,000,000 in respect of the Newnes project, distribution of the oil obtained has already been handed over to the major oil companies. If these things can happen while the war is in progress, what is likely to happen after it is over? Why has there been discouragement of proposals for the extraction of oil from shale and coal? Why is the registration of companies held up by the Capital Issues Board when they desire to embark on undertakings that are designed to increase local production? The same influences are at work from top to bottom. A prominent member of the Capital Issues Advisory Board, Sir Walter MassyGreene, is a nominee of the Baillieu group, and is associated with companies whose capital aggregates £13,000,000. The whole of the financial set-up is connected with those people. The chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board, Sir Claude Reading, is connected with the tobacco monopoly, and another member is Sir
Olive McPherson, who recently received a knighthood1 on the recommendation of the Government. The Government cannot make up its mind as to who is to be the next Governor of the Commonwealth Bank. It is waiting to see who’ is preferred by certain financial interests. Would it not be a simple matter to appoint the present Deputy Governor? The resources of the Commonwealth Bank are needed to finance the war effort, yet this important appointment has been delayed for three months! The Government is standing in the way of the people. It must, of course, serve its real masters. It cannot serve two masters- God and Mammon. While serving vested interests, it “cannot also serve the interests of the people of this country.
Then there are the Supply Groups superimposed on the whole outfit. We have not been given any information as to their constitution, but we do know that Sir Olive Baillieu represents one group in America, and that no war materials can come into this country and no worthwhile exports can leave it unless they pass through that particular group. I know that war materials have been held up because they have not been obtained through the group. Certain manufacturers wanted to import 54 Pratt- Whitney machines that were vitally needed for war work, but they were banned by the man who is in charge of the machinetools section. The import of other vital machines and materials was also banned by him, but when the matter was ventilated the ban was lifted and those machines are- now installed at the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow. I am acquainted with another case in which eight tons of aluminium were needed by a manufacturer for war work, and a ban was placed upon its import because it was not ordered through the Supply Group. Similar conditions exist in London, where apparently the High Commissioner, Mr. Stanley Bruce, is in charge of affairs. The ramifications of these groups are international, and so far > as the war is concerned it is a case of “ Heads they win, tails we lose “. A year or two’ before the war, a representative of the Skoda armament works, one of the largest armament works in the world, offered to place their resources at the disposal of this country. He was here for months cooling his heels. .He put a proposition to the Government, hut it turned him down flat, and he gave up in disgust. A month or two later, orders were placed by the Defence Department for foreign machine tools which were placed through Associated Machine Tools (A.M.T.A.) in Germany. I recently brought the matter to the notice of the Minister for Munitions. He investigated it, and replied to me in the following terms: -
I have been advised that about the end of 1938 orders were placed with Hahn and Company and Kolb, Stuttgart, Germany, by the Australian High Commissioner in London on behalf of the Defence Department for a number of index automatics required for fuze manufacture in Australia. Although E. P. Bevan and Sons Proprietary Limited were at the time agents for Hahn and. Kolb you will note that the order was placed by the Australian High Commissioner.
Last, if not least, there is our good old friend Sir Bertram Stevens, who was appointed by the Commonwealth Government to the Eastern Group Supply Council at New Delhi. Parliament was not consulted before the appointment was made, and we have not been informed of the basis on which he has proceeded overseas, but we know that he is receiving over £4,000 a year. He stipulated that he should be paid in sterling, whereas the Australian troops are paid in the currency of this country and thus lose the amount of the exchange. Millions of pounds’ worth of material are leaving Australia. We want to know where it is going, and on whose behalf it is being supplied. There is one illuminating piece of information which may have a bearing on the matter. A day or two after we had seen in the press photographs of the send-off given to Sir Bertram Stevens at Rose Bay, a buying and selling company was registered in Sydney. Its directors were Sir Bertram Stevens and Mr. Westray H. Pearce, who is the secretary of Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, which deals largely in war materials and, according to a report made by experts, has indulged in profiteering. He is also secretary to Australian Glass Manufacturers Company Proprietary Limited and to Mr. W. J. Smith, Director of Gun Ammunition. What conclusions do honorable members draw from that? Moreover, materials are being sent from Australia to Japan, an Axis power, and are finding their way to the enemy. Honorable members, even Government supporters, may be surprised to learn that only recently the Government put through a National Security Regulation to legalize such transactions. During the last war, when I was a clerk in a solicitor’s office studying law, numerous prosecutions were launched against individuals and firms for having traded with the enemy. There is none of that to-day. The provisions of the law have been altered to enable trading with the enemy to take place if it does not take place in actual German territory. Goods must not, of course, be sent to German territory - in any event, they could not reach it - but they can be sent to Japan - which is a member of the Axis powers - or any other neutral State, and it does not matter a tinker’s curse where they go from there. There are Nazis and Fascists working in our munition factories to-day. The only way in which we may win this war is by the Government scrapping the prospectus issued by the Prime Minister, and giving to the people of this country a real plan. Profiteering must be stopped. The nationalized munition industry must be placed on a co-operative basis, so that the workers may have a voice in its control and a share in its profits. Control by the money power, which has dominated the financial policy of the Government, should be abolished, and the credit of the nation should be utilized in promoting the war effort. The people of this country should be given a taste of the new era of social justice of which we have heard so much.
.- I have ‘ listened to many speeches, this week regarding the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on his return from overseas, and, if I am not mistaken, he asked for the adjournment of the last sittings about a fortnight ago in order to! give him time to prepare a plan to be placed before the Parliament for the re-organization of the war effort of Australia.
The only knowledge ‘that I have of the re-organization was gleaned from his speech broadcast to the people of Australia on Tuesday evening, but on that occasion he dealt only in generalities. Bie has not yet placed before us a definite plan for the re-organization of our war industries. Candidly, I should like the Prime Minister to go into details regarding that matter and tell the people of this country what the Government requires them to do. I listened with a good deal of attention to the remarks of my colleague, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan), who referred to the actions of monopolies ; but I am not concerned at the moment with monopolies as such, except in so far as they are hindering our war effort. I am more concerned with what the Government is doing to control monopolies in order to direct their energies to the assistance of the war effort. If the Government desires a full war effort by Australia it must first obtain the confidence of the people, and the only way in which that can be secured is by placing monopolies under Commonwealth control and thus eliminating profits from war production.
A great, deal has been said about the need for equality of sacrifice. I believe in that principle, but, unless the people get a proper direction from the Government, that most desirable state of affairs will not be brought about. There can be no equality of sacrifice if the war-time profiteer hides in a coward’s castle. Much has been said in the last day or two about the loyalty or lack of loyalty of the industrial movement in this country, and about what it should and should not do in connexion with the war effort. I repeat what has been claimed previously by the leaders of Labour, and declare that loyalty is nowhere stronger than in the industrial movement. In my electorate, employees of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and other companies engaged in war production in Newcastle and adjacent districts may be 3een working overtime day after day and night after night. If honorable members generally had seen them sweating as I Kaye done, owing to their long hours of labour and the nature of their work, they would realize that those men arc making a full effort towards the win ning of the war. “We have some dissentients in our ranks, just as malcontents are to be found among the supporters of the Government; but the labour movement generally is heart and soul behind the war effort, and stands foursquare behind Great Britain.
In the conduct of the war I hope that Nazi methods will not be introduced. We should not lose sight of the fact that, while we are fighting for principles that we all hold dear, the workers in industry, even in time of war, cannot be expected to forget entirely the rights which they desire to preserve. In that respect I much regret that, during the speech of the Prime Minister broadcast this week, he issued a veiled threat to the trade unions as to what he would do if they resorted to direct action. Only occasionally do trade unionists take this extreme step, and probably they do it only because they cannot get redress of their grievances through the Arbitration Court or other industrial tribunals. Often unions have been forced to wait for many months before they could have their grievances considered by the arbitration tribunals. In some industries the conditions change from time to time, and, if unionists have to wait eighteen months after a plaint is filed before their case can be heard, an entirely new set of circumstances may have arisen in the meantime, and further grievances may require adjustment. In such circumstances the unionists consider that their only means of redress is to take the matter into their own hands, in order to let it be known that they are an organized body whose claims should be dealt with promptly.
The desired change-over from peacetime production to war production involves an immense task. I offer my appreciation of the services of those who arc endeavouring to effect this transfer, but they are confronted with enormous difficulties, such as those associated with the shortage of supplies, instruments, machine tools and labour. Nevertheless, I repeat that industry has suffered definitely owing to lack of direction by the Government as to what it desires the people to do. Members of the Opposition, and probably also supporters of the Government, have made representations to Ministers day after day with regard to men -whom they know to have special ability to render war-time service, but the only reply we get to such requests is to this effect, “If the services of these men can be availed of we shall be glad to let you know”. Then the matter is pigeon-holed, and we hear nothing more about it. I stress the fact that the people are looking for direction so that a maximum war effort may be obtained. They are craving to know what they should do. Any government, no matter from what party or parties it may be formed, requires the confidence of the people, and that can be obtained only by satisfying them that it is doing its best for the security aud welfare of the community. The Government is definitely out of touch with the people’s requirements, and with what they desire the Government to do for their welfare and protection. The destinies of the people are in the hands of the Government, and they should be given a fighting chance. This is not the responsibility of the Labour party, but the Opposition will co-operate as far as possible, provided the Government does its best in the interests of Australia and the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
There is need at the present time for reinforcements at an increased rate for our forces overseas. Whilst some members of the Opposition may make suggestions regarding soldiers’ rates of pay and other matters, I should say that the reason for the shortage of recruits is that it is common knowledge that our troops went to Greece equipped only as an infantry force, and were not nearly so effectively equipped as the enemy whom they had to oppose. The Government should ask itself whether it is fair to send men into action unless their equipment is equal to that of the enemy.
– Is it fair to ask men to enlist under those conditions?
– I have said that recruitment is not at its peak at a time when men are urgently required. It seems to me that the young men of this country will say to themselves, “ Am I such a fool as to go away and be slaughtered or captured, as thousands of our men were, through lack of equipment,?” Australian troops haw un doubted valour, and the job of the present Government is to give them a chance to fight back.
– Is not the whole purpose of the Government to provide them with the necessary equipment?
– That should be the main object of the Government. There is something lacking in the propaganda which reaches the people with regard to the war. I do not know whether this Government is drawn willy-ni’lly at the heels of the British Government, but I was most disgusted when I read in the press recently that when a search was being made for a ‘captain who was missing, a soldier said, “When I last saw him he was sheltering behind a tree and emptying his revolver into a barrage of oncoming tanks “. That story may or may not be true, but it indicates a shocking lack of equipment. For many years the Labour party has urged upon various governments of the day that full preparation should be made for the defence of this country. Had the Government taken the advice of the Labour party, even in 1935 and 1936, we should not now have to listen to Ministers .telling us how unprepared we are to meet the threat of an invasion. Had the advice of the Labour party been taken, our soldiers overseas would have been better equipped for their campaigns in Greece and Crete, and not so many of them would be missing to-day.
For many years past the Labour party has been urging the Government to embark upon a shipbuilding programme in Australia. The matter has been reported upon by several commissions and boards of inquiry, and some time ago the Government set up a shipbuilding commission, but no one knows what it has done. So far as 1 know, it ha3 done very little, although it is recognized that shipping is a vital factor in the successful prosecution of the war. The outcome of the battle of the Atlantic depends upon the volume of shipping, both merchant and naval, which we are able to provide. We have been told that we are losing ships at a greater rate than they can be built in the yards of both Great Britain and America, yet our Government here has done nothing to forward an active shipbuilding programme in Australia.
The Prime Minister stated several nights ago that the Government would assume control of all coastal shipping, but nothing was said about shipbuilding.
I again urge upon the Government the need for improving the defences of Newcastle arid the surrounding district. Some months ago, I invited the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fadden), the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) and the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) to Newcastle to inspect transport facilities in the vicinity of Port Stephens. Shortly afterwards I had a visit from the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender), accompanied by one of the generals attached to the Eastern Command, and they were both impressed by the inadequacy of the defences in that area. They immediately recognized what was needed, but nothing has yet been done about it. We should realize the importance of Newcastle in relation to Australia’s war effort. If the industries of Newcastle were destroyed Australia, at one stroke, would be rendered incapable of producing steel for the manufacture of munitions and armaments.
Reference has been made during this debate to the intention of the Government to revise the list of reserved occupations. A little while ago, I heard an address by Mr. Holmes, past president of the Council of Trade Unions in England, in which he recounted some of the things that had happened in connexion with recruiting during the last war. At first every one who offered himself as a recruit was accepted, but before the war had been going for many months, .the authorities had to withdraw 250,000 men from the fighting services, and put them back into the coal-mines and other industries. That should be a warning to us of the dangers associated with indiscriminate recruiting.
Our air raid precaution organization is deficient. I understand that the Commonwealth Government has placed the entire responsibility for this work upon the States. In New South Wales, many men and women devote their evenings to attending lectures and training themselves for air raid precaution work, but when the Commonwealth is asked for financial help, it is not forthcoming.
Frequent reference has been made in this House to the subject of price control. Shortly after the outbreak of war, a Prices Commissioner was appointed and during the last session a joint parliamentary committee was appointed to inquire into the operation of the pricefixing scheme. So far, however, that committee has not been called together.
I am concerned over the distribution of defence contracts, particularly with regard to the production of military clothing. There are two factories in Newcastle capable of manufacturing military -clothing. One has been given contracts worth thousands of pounds, while the other, which has just as much machinery, although less financial backing, has been passed over - so much so that, since last Christmas, it has had to dispense wish the services of 7 5 employees. It has been denied orders because it is unable to obtain sufficient financial guarantees for the supply of cloth, but it should be the responsibility of the Government to ensure supplies of cloth to factories capable of turning it into military clothing.
The members of the Labour party are fully alive to their responsibilities in connexion with the country’s war effort. At the outbreak of war I offered to serve overseas, and, at the same time, I suggested to the Government that every member of Parliament should be given authority to inquire in his own electorate into lags, bottlenecks and hold-ups in war production. If that were done, the Government would probably receive more useful reports on what is happening than it can obtain from industrial heads, or from heads of departments, some of whom may be trying to cloak what is actually going on. I hope that the Government will yet see its way to adopt my suggestion. Finally, in regard to the war effort generally, and particularly in regard to the Government’s new proposals, it would be a good thing if there were less talk and more work.
.- I must confess that I was disappointed with the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in this House after his return from abroad, and also with his recent broadcast statement. I had hoped that he would be able to put before Parliament some concrete proposals with a view to ensuring a maximum war effort. Nearly five years ago, the late Prime Minister, Mr. J. A. Lyons, said that Australia should be placed in a position to supply, not only all the war equipment it needed for itself, but also such equipment as might be needed by the British Government for use in the Pacific area. To that end leaders of industry were to be co-opted. Yet, after nearly two years of war, we are almost defenceless. I cannot divulge the alarming information which was given to us by Ministers at our secret meetings, but I regret that the people of this country have not had an opportunity to know the position. Statements issued by the Government’s publicity officers, implying that our war effort is 100 per cent., are nonsense. Only now are steps being taken to duplicate the shell and cartridge filling establishment at Maribyrnong, which could be demolished by bombs from one raiding aircraft. What the Government has done is not a major war effort; it is a major crime, because it has failed to discharge its duty to protect the people. One honorable member opposite described the present proposals of the Government as being new. If they are new, it is the duty of the Government to submit them for approval at a general election.
– Does the honorable member say that the people are opposed to the- proposals made by the Prime Minister ?
– The people are so disgusted with the Government that if there were an election now, the Labour party would be placed in power.
The lag in recruiting is owing to the fact that there is no equality of sacrifice in a system which requires men to serve in the armed forces at 5s. a day and allows the monopolistic concerns to reap hundreds of thousands of pounds of profit from their war contracts. Consider even the case of a universal trainee who, when he goes into camp, ha3 to exist on 5s. a day. If he is married he may allot his wife 3s. a day from his pay and the Government will then give her £1 ls. a week. The probabilities are that that young man is paying 30s. a week in rent and buying furniture on time payment, and the chances are that his wife is an expectant mother. She is expected to live on £2 2s. a week. Is that fair? Is that equality of sacrifice? The Government could expect recruits if it paid soldiers at least the basic wage. Another reason for the lack of recruits is the fact that many men who are suffering ailments resulting from service in the last war receive no recognition from the Repatriation Department. Their sons, knowing the way in which the fathers have been treated, say, “ No, I am not going through it “. What is the position of dependants of those -who have gone to the war? One man I knew went through the last war and went to this war as a lieutenant in the 6th Division. He went through the Libyan campaign, to Benghazi, to Greece, and then to his death in Crete. Before he enlisted, he was earning £1,000 a year, and had dependent upon him a wife and an aged mother. The Repatriation Department told his widow that the only compensation to which she was entitled for the loss of her husband was a pension of £3 lis. 6d. a fortnight. Prom comfortable circumstances, she is condemned to penury. As a member of Parliament and as a citizen of this Commonwealth, I refuse to ask any man to go to the war and put up with such sacrifices. The Assistant Minister (Mr. Anthony) went to the last war. He was one of the fortunates who came back. Thousands, who enlisted in the last war, did not hear a shot fired. I do not know whether the Assistant Minister was one, but if not, the shots apparently missed him.
– Is the honorable member disappointed because I did come back?
– I am pleased to sets kim here; but I deeply regret the awful tragedies of Greece and Crete, where, as the Ministry tells us, our men were sent into battle to meet’ the mechanized forces of Germany as un infantry division armed with rifles only. It is no wonder that daily I find before me in the newspapers lists of missing Australian men. My gladness to see the Assistant Minister back in Australia from the last war is exceeded by my sadness that many of the missing will never return to Australia. I have great pride in the achievements of our soldiers, which were so vividlydescribed by Mr. James Aldridge in his account of the fighting in Greece. Aldridge wrote, however, that they went into battle, many of them without a possible chance of living through the terrible struggle. In those circumstances, we cannot expect our war effort to be a maximum effort until we achieve equality of sacrifice and until adequate provision is made for those who will return as well as for those who have returned from the last war. Under a voluntary system or even with conscription, there will be failure until that is done. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) yesterday chided me because I suggested a few weeks ago that the men who served in Libya, Greece and Crete should be returned to Australia for furlough. He said that only some one who had first-hand knowledge of war could know what war is. He told us that he was stationed at Vimy Ridge for twelve days. Those men who fought in Greece walked from one end of that country to the other, and when they landed after the great evacuation many of them had no boots on their feet. The relations and dependants of some of them have received letters giving accounts of terrible sufferings and privations.
– What does the honorable member propose to do to help them now?
– We propose to remove this Government if we can.
Mr.MULCAHY.- That is the first thing that I would do.
– What would the honorable member do then ?
Mr.MULCAHY.-This Government has endeavoured to direct the war affairs of Australia for 22 months. What has it done? It has manufactured anti-aircraft guns and anti-tank guns.
– What would the honorable member have done?
– I would have manufactured shells. The Government has not done that. To-day it is calling up men for compulsory military service, and it has not sufficient rifles to put intotheir hands. Is that a great achievement for four years of preparation for the defence of this country, and the assistance of the British Empire in its hours of trial?
– -Does the honorable member know what has been done with a lot of rifles, and where they have gone?
– The honorable gentleman says that what has been done is enough. I know where those rifles have gone and what the Government has done. As a matter of fact I do not think that it has yet manufactured a Bren gun. It has not manufactured a bombing aeroplane in Australia.
– Those statements are absolutely incorrect. We have manufactured Bren guns and we have manufactured bombers in spite of all sorts of difficulties, and without very much assistance from the honorable member.
– The honorable gentleman crashed into the Ministry by criticizing the Government with which he is now associated. He was sitting in a seat on my left for some years during which he was one of the strongest critics of the Government in this chamber. Then he obtained a Cabinet appointment, and now he is endeavouring to defend this Government because he knows its failures.
– Because it is doing a good job.
– If the Labour party desired to push the Government out it would not stay in office two minutes. In my opinion this Government should not have been allowed to remain in office for very long.
– Would the honorable member like to take over the Government’s job ?
– I have no desire personally to take over the honorable gentleman’s job. Ever since this war began I have maintained that the duties devolving upon a government increase greatly in time of national crisis. For the last eighteen months I have believed that, in order that we might put forward our best efforts in this war, the Government should increase the number of its Ministers. I entirely agree with the Prime Minister’s proposal to create three or four new portfolios. There are honorable members in this House, some of whom are supporters of the Government, who, I believe, are capable of doing a better job than is being done to-day. I do not wish to throw bouquets to anybody, but in my view the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) was oneof the best men ever to sit on the ministerial bench of this chamber. I say that, although I do not agree with his politics. He was one of the best administrators that we have had.
– He will note that for future reference.
– He does not owe me anything and I do not owe him anything. I. speak from experience. I believe that the honorable member will agree that whenever the honorable member for Barker was asked a question when he was a Minister, he showed by his answer that he was thoroughly acquainted with the conditions existing in the department under his. control. When a man is entitled to credit I am prepared to give it to him. This Government cannot exist on promises alone. The proposals of the Prime Minister for a supreme effort in connexion with the war do not mean anything to me. The speech that he made a few nights ago was very much like the speech that he made in this chamber nearly eighteen months ago. The two were almost identical. The right honorable gentleman asked for a supreme effort on that occasion. What has the Government achieved since then? Not much. Every one of those factories the foundations of which are being laid down to-day should have been established two years ago and should have been working now. The Government co-opted the services of Mr. Essington Lewis nearly four years ago in order to prepare for the defence of this country. I am dissatisfied with the work done by Mr. Essington Lewis. I believe that the credit for whatever has been achieved so far is principally due to the Advisory War Council and to those honorable gentlemen on this side of the chamber who, prior to its formation, investigated the possibilities of the manufacture in this country of machine tools and other equipment for war work. I am not completely satisfied with the results achieved by the Advisory War Council because the Government has not taken its advice in regard to many matters, but the work which it has done on behalf of this nation by co-ordinating our great industrial resources is more valuable than any other job done by the Government alone. I shall not be satisfied with the flowery phrases of the Prime Minister or any other Minister until we secure better results from our munition factories. Until the Government has improved repatriation benefits and acknowledged the fact that there should be equality of sacrifice in the war effort it will obtain no great response from this country.
– The honorable member should realize that the Commonwealth is paying £8,000,000 a year in repatriation pensions to men who served in the last war, so that the Government has done a great deal in that direction.
– It is a marvellous thing that times beyond number Ministers rise in this chamber and refer to the fact that the Government is paying £S,000,000 a year in repatriation pensions to men who fought in the war of 1914-18. I have seen the repatriation hospitals of Australia. I visit one in Sydney regularly, and I have met men who have been in and out of that hospital for the last twenty years. If the Government gave them £8,000,000 each they would not be fully compensated for the sacrifice that they made for their country. Their sufferings and the sufferings of their families cannot be estimated in terms of cash.
– We all recognize that, but what does the honorable member suggest should be done?
– The Government does not recognize it. One man who came back from the last war lay for twenty years in a special bath. He had been gassed. Does the honorable gentleman think that £8,000,000 would compensate him? Only a callous person would estimate that man’s suffering in terms of money.
– What would the honorable member do for him?
– At any rate, I would not place a monetary value on his suffering. The sacrifices made by our soldiers in order to protect the honorable gentleman, myself, and others, including the great financial interests which are making millions of pounds out of this war, cannot be over-estimated. They should not be given paltry pensions which will merely enable them to live in misery and destitution for the rest of their lives. I have been speaking in this chamber on behalf of returned soldiers for the last six or seven years, not because I want to secure publicity, but because I believe that there are more returned soldiers in my electorate than in any other Australian electorate. During the last war, the leaders of industry at that time - I could name them but it is not necessary - mounted platforms in Martin-place in Sydney and said, “Go to the war, young men, and we will look after you”. But they had a. different story when the young men came back. I see in this chamber a veteran of the South African War, the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson), who fought for the Empire long before the war of 1914-18. There are 250 of these veterans in this country who are on the verge of starvation, and not one government has been prepared to give them anything more than the old-age pension. Surely to God their services to the Empire and to this nation entitle them to more consideration than that. Is any man in this chamber prepared to say that they are getting too much to-day? Will the Minister say that the wife of the officer whom I mentioned, whose bones now lie in. Crete, is getting adequate compensation for the loss of her husband and breadwinner? Until better conditions are provided in this country, the Government will not get the numbers that it wants in the fighting forces to sacrifice their lives and their all. I do not blame our young men on that account.
.- The edifice of words which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) erected to commemorate his visit to England, and to attract thu attention of the House, did not favorably impress me. On the contrary, his warnings, threats and prohibitions, such as, “ gaol for Communists “, “ strikes are penal offences “, &c, conjured up in my mind the vision not of a monument but of a prison over whose portico appears the scroll, “ Abandon hope all ye who enter here “. That sums up the programme which the right honorable gentleman submitted to the people of Australia. Apparently he has a Fascist complex as strong as that of many leaders of Fascism overseas whom he pretends to abhor. He called for the marshalling of all the forces of the country, and for unparalleled sacrifices by all sections of the community. He delivered a mild rebuke to those sections of his traditional supporters who are so careless as to be found out in graft and racketeering, and then proceeded to pronounce anathema against the Communists, the imaginary enemy which he and his class like to associate with organized labour, political and industrial. The right honorable gentleman threatens to impose capital punishment for holdups in industry, or stop-work meetings. He declared that such offences are monstrous in a time of war, although we know that industrial trouble is provoked principally by the tactics of his own overlords. He is doing the work of an agent provocateur just as surely and effectively as a professional fifth columnist when he tells the world that industrial trouble is rife in our community. In dealing with these imaginary troubles he paints the Australian working man, at least by implication when he talks of the penalties that are to be inflicted in the future in respect of industrial strife, as a saboteur and unpatriotic individual at a time when Australia is facing the greatest crisis in its history. But let us look at the other side of the picture, and see in what manner the right honorable gentleman comes to grips with the racketeers in munition production, and the grafters on his side of the political fence. In reply to an honorable gentleman who spoke earlier, the Assistant Minister (Mr. Anthony) asked whether it was suggested that the finances of the community were not being used legitimately. The answer to that question depends upon the Minister’s conception of graft. He might regard racketeering in munition production as high finance. It is graft. Would any one quibble over the use of the word graft when it is applied to people who were concerned in the contract let to the Abbco Bread
Company Proprietary Limited, or in reference to the scandals associated with the supply of boots to the Army? I do not think so. Although a few grafters have been found out, the fact remains unfortunately that hundreds still exist in our community. Responsible Ministers are winking at these things.. It is as plain as day that graft is going on in Australia in connexion with defence contracts. Recently I introduced a deputation from the western district of New South Wales to the Minister for Munitions (Senator McBride) which informed the Minister that a highly responsible gentleman, one of the directors of the Angliss Meatworks, was prepared to offer the big Daroobalgie meatworks at Forbes to the Government for the purpose of establishing a munition factory, or an annexe. The Minister said that he would refer the matter to his advisers. Honorable members know who those advisers are. They are the representatives of big business who certainly will not allow outside interests to “ muscle in “ on their preserves. As was to be expected, that offer was turned down, in spite of the fact that the organization concerned was prepared to make munitions’ without profit to itself. It merely asked the Government to guarantee its cost of production. That is what is happening today in industries associated with our war effort; the monopolists are in complete control. They carry out their contracts on a cost-plus basis, which means that the greater the cost the greater is the profit, whether or not the cost be economic. Recently, the Government arranged to transfer the woodworking section at the Lithgow Munition Factory to Sydney, and gave a contract to a private firm for this work which it had hitherto done itself. When I asked why that section could not be transferred to some country centre so that it could be worked in close association with the rifle factories already existing or about to be established, in close proximity to Lithgow, the Minister replied by letter as follows : -
The manufacture of rifle furniture involves equipment and skill of the highest precision. The principal items are -
Technical supervisory staff,
Seasoning and moisture control of the timber,
Tool and gauge upkeep.
There are 49 operations in the manufacture of a set of rifle furniture and they involve processes which may be described briefly -
Selection of special qualities of timber in the forest.
Moisture control and stress removal.
Machining and gauging to tolerances varying in thousandths of one inch.
Provision of tools and gauges of high precision.
My department would have preferred to have located the rifle furniture annexe in the country if a locality with the required facilities could have been discovered, but it is only in the capital cities that there are firms who possess sufficient knowledge of the difficulties associated with control of moisture and stresses in timber, and who already have technical supervisory staffs, and toolroom facilities. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find engineering and scientific experts and tool and gauge makers, and it would be impossible for the department to provide technical staff for a rifle furniture factory in a country town.
Up to the present no firm in Australia has produced woodwork for rifles. That work has been done exclusively by the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. There is no personnel or plant anywhere else in Australia that is doing or has done that class of work. The timber required does not grow in Centennial Park, or in Hyde Park, as one might imagine, but is obtained from the north coast and the south coast districts. At present coach wood, brush wood, and timbers of that description are being used, but those timbers were not used during the last war. At that time, maple was used, but that is now too expensive, and other suitable timbers have had to be found. I saw the woodwork being done at Lithgow Small Arms Factory; I saw the operatives at work, and I could see that men trained on those machines would be required to produce a product as good as that then being produced. At present there is no woodworking factory - Slazenger’s included - which has the necessary machines or the operatives. The reason given for the transfer from Lithgow– I am not cavilling at that transfer - is that the space is required for other machines not engaged on woodwork, but I point out that there are rifle factories in course of erection in country towns close to Lithgow, and I cannot see why the woodworking section of the Lithgow factory could not be transferred to one of these new establishments, say at Orange or Bathurst. I go further than that, and suggest that the machines be installed in the Daroobalgie factory at Forbes, and operated at cost. I can see no reason for the present proposal except that the Minister and the Government intend to perpetuate the cost-plus system and the racketeering carried on under it. The Minister has mentioned technical and advisory staffs. Here is a letter written to me from a man in the western district of New South “Wales, who formerly was engaged in the technical education of the people who provide the labour for such a factory -
Have just written to Senator .McB’ride asking for a key position in either munition works or ammunition war ‘works.
I am prepared to forgo my present position here at £456 per annum to offer my services, so I would deem it a personal favour if you would follow my letter up and see what you could do.
I have explained to the senator that I was trade instructor at Sydney Technical College for eight years (part time) in carpentry and joinery and am used to organizing and controlling large bodies of mcn.
Is that not the type of supervision and labour needed for such a job as the woodwork furnishing section of a rifle factory ? There are other cases which could be cited. We have the labour, we have the works, and I believe that it is necessary to keep the woodworking section of a rifle factory as close as possible to the establishment where the steel work is being made in order to facilitate assembly. But private enterprise must get its cut out of the war effort, or such effort ceases. That is an example of racketeering and while such a state of affairs continues it is not likely that the people will make a 100 per cent, war effort. After all, it is the common people who have to bear the brunt of any war.
Having spoken of racketeering in the munition industry, I now turn to the shipping industry. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has informed us that the shipowners will make a great sacrifice, but the fact is that they will be compelled to make that sacrifice if they ave not prepared to make it voluntarily. We have read in the press that shipowners have decided that it is their patriotic duty to fall in with the wishes of the Government, and to allow the Government to control shipping on the Australian coast.
However, that will mean merely guaranteeing their dividends in these precarious times when, with the dangers of raiding and sinking, they might not be able to collect any dividends at all. One honorable member who spoke to-night referred to the patriotism displayed by the captains of industry and great industrialists and financiers in England. A. few days ago I read on the commerce page of a local newspaper a report of the profit made by one shipping firm in England. I wish to impress this upon honorable members. The shipping position in England at present is acute and, in fact, the very existence of England depends upon sea transport, yet, last year, the shipping company to which I referred made the greatest profit in its history since the financial and economic depression some years ago. When questions were asked, the chairman of directors of the company said, in effect, “Well, the shipping people have had such a bad time since the depression that it is up to them to get a little of the good things that are coming”. How can any one talk of “ the good things that are coming “ at a time when the British nation is facing its fate. That is an example of so-called patriotism. That is the patriotism of the class that is asking and demanding that the workers of Australia and of the Empire should coalesce. They want that coalition to preserve themselves, not to preserve the Empire or democracy.
I wrote to the Minister for Supply and Development concerning the opening of rich iron ore deposits in close proximity to the Newcastle-Lithgow steel works. In reply, I received the following letter :-
At a recent deputation in Sydney you will recall that Mr. Brady (whose address is unknown to me) suggested that the CadiaCarcoar iron ore deposits could now be operated on to advantage.
have had complete inquiries made and find that so far as Carcoar is concerned, those deposits ure worked out. Cadia and Little Cadia, however, ave the subject of negotiations by the Australian Iron and Steel Limited, lint tha deposits cannot bc worked until arrangements have been made between the interested parties.
The parties interested in Cadia, and Little Cadia are the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and Australian Iron and Steel Limited. As the latter enterprise, which was formerly Hoskins Limited, owns the two mines, no difficulties will arise to prevent the companies from making arrangements to work them. Carcoar is the obstacle, because the owner is a private company that refuses to have any “ truck “ with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited or Australian Iron and Steel Limited. Reporting upon the mineral resources of Carcoar, the geological surveyor of the Department of Mines in New South Wales stated that Hoskins Limited was winning ore from the deposits in 1908, and up to the time that it ceased operations in 1923, it had won nearly 1,000,000 tons. He added that probably several million tons of good ore could yet be won by opening up the smaller outcrops and by the selective mining of existing workings. Despite that information, the Minister stated that Carcoar is worked out. Evidently he referred the question to the interested parties, who submitted to him that incorrect reply.
Another story is associated with the opening of Cadia. Three months ago, I asked questions concerning the cost of strengthening the railway line from the South Australian border to Sydney, and the Minister promised to inquire into the matter. The original intention was to convey ore from deposits owned by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited in South Australia over hundreds of miles of railway to the coast of New South Wales. At that time, the company saw favorable prospects of securing rebates, if the anti-Labour Government in . New South Wales were returned. But a change of government occurred, and the prospect of securing the concessions did not appear to be so bright as formerly. Accordingly, a decision was reached to open the works at Cadia. Carcoar did not suit ‘the monopolists, for the reason that I have stated. That story illustrates the alleged patriotism of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. Much has been said of the great work performed by this enterprise in expanding our iron and steel industry to meet war-time requirements. For the information of honorable members, I shall describe briefly the valuable assistance that the Commonwealth Governor. Breen. ment granted to this monopoly when the octopus was in still it3 infancy. From 1909 to 1914, a bonus of 12s. a ton was paid on all pig iron, bar iron and steel manufactured in Australia from Australian ores, whilst from 1914 to 1917, when the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited had a monopoly and a guaranteed market, a bonus of 8s. a ton was granted. A person in the Grenfell district of New South Wales made an offer to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to put iron ore on the railway station at Grenfell for 10s. a ton ; the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited offered 7s. I suspect that its patriotism is tainted now as it was in those days. Is that an example of the equality of sacrifice which is demanded of every citizen? Yet this selfishness may be seen in every section of social and economic life.
A “Big Five” controls the wheat industry in Australia. Sir Olive McPherson, lord high panjandrum of the wheat industry, is also a director of a large banking institution which lends money on its own terms to many wheatgrowers. I have a sheaf of letters from farmers whom the banks have threatened with foreclosure unless they meet their debts. Mr. Walker, of the Lindley Walker Wheat Company Limited, was a member of the Wheat Board until he resigned last year, after his firm had been convicted on a charge of profiteering at the expense of wheat-farmers. Nevertheless, the company is still a licensed receiver of wheat and shares in the spoils resulting from the exploitation of the growers. The extent to which the industry is exploited by the buccaneers who are appointed by the Government to receive and deliver wheat is staggering. When wheat is taken to country sidings or depots, the licensed receiver pays the wages of the labour engaged to handle the grain. But in addition to commission, he is paid by the Australian Wheat Board 10 per cent, on all disbursements for wages. When ultimately the wheat is removed from the silos by the same licensed receiver, be is paid another 10 per cent. Furthermore, a receiver is allowed 5 per cent, on the cost of all material that he purchases for stacks or in connexion with the handling of wheat. As the result of * these transactions, large receivers make substantial profits. For example, Dalgety and Company Limited, a licensed receiver, imports hemp, twine and much of the impedimenta which is required for the handling of wheat. Dalgety and Company Limited, as importers, sell these articles to Dalgety and -Company Limited, the licensed receiver, at a big profit. Dalgety and Company Limited, the licensed receiver, is allowed 5 per cent, on the cost of the materials which, it, tells the Government, it has purchased for the handling of the wheat. That is another instance of patriotism among the captains of industry.
I now propose to refer to the treatment meted out to the dependants of men who have enlisted, particularly those who live in the country areas. I bring to the notice of the Government the case of the dependent, mother of a member of the military forces, who already has a sou in the Australian Imperial Force. Another sou has been ‘called up for service under the compulsory military training scheme. The son in the Australian Imperial Force is married and the mother depends almost entirely on the support, of the son who has been called up for military service. She applied to the military authorities for sustenance whilst her son was in camp and received the following reply from the Eastern Command: -
In reply to your letter, dated the 3rd February. 1041, relative to a grant of dependant’s allowance on behalf of the above-named soldier, you arc advised that every consideration lias been given to your application, but as the degree of your dependency upon the soldier does not bring you within the scope of this allowance it is regretted therefore that the application must be disallowed.
If your financial position should vary at any time you are entitled to make a further application for a grant of this allowance which will bc given every consideration.
In writing to me about her case, the mother said -
My other boy, John, joined the Australian Imperial Force lust December. When he joined up he told them I was dependent on him. .1 again made application, hut was again refused. 1 um unclosing with this letter the reply I got back from the Finance Office. T wonder how much lower my financial position must be. My husband., myself and two children, aged ten and fourteen, have been on the food relief for two years. The last work my husband did was on the Mount Barker job at Wellington. He was put off it as physically unable to do the hard work. That is two years ago.
We have been on food relief ever since. He cannot do hard work, and it is impossible to get any other work here.
That is the sort of treatment meted out to the dependants of young men who are called upon to serve their country. Yet the Government speaks of equality of sacrifice. I could go on reading letter after letter in the same strain, but I have no desire to take up the time of the House in so doing. I believe that all fairminded people will agree that the evidence I have produced is sufficient to convince anybody that the dependants of these young men are being unfairly treated.
I now propose to discuss briefly the Government’s proposals for financing the war. (Leave to continue given.] The Government’s proposals for financing the war strike me as puerile. Costly advertisements are inserted in the newspapers calling upon the people to subscribe to war loans, buy war savings certificates, keep money boxes and “ put a Spitfire in the air.” The inference to be drawn from appeals of this sort is that if. we do not respond to them we shall not be able to provide the wherewithal to build up our air fleet. If we are to be guided by the terms of these appeals it seems that the winning or losing of the war will depend on our ability to raise cash or credit to finance it. The following statement, which appeared in the London Sunday Pictorial of the 30th March last, represents the opinion of the people concerned in organizing and financing the war effort in England : -
We are not interested in how much gold remains in the ground in Australia. You cannot eat gold, you cannot fly it, you cannot fire it at the enemy, not even if you spell it with a capital G, and these are the only considerations in which this country is interested at the moment.
I suggest that the only question in which this Government and this Commonwealth is interested to-day is how far we can set to work the brain-power and the labour power available, and utilize the natural resources of this country, in order to bring about an all-in war effort to produce everything necessary to fight a modern war. It is not merely a question of the amount of credit we could get from private people, banking institutions and insurance companies. To continue a stupid campaign based on the assumption that unless we can collect the necessary cash - if necessary steal pennies from the school kiddies - we cannot put a Spitfire in the air is puerile and a waste, not only of the time of the organizers, but also of valuable newspaper space.
I conclude by reading the following statement made by a businessman in a section of the community which I represent: -
£7,000 KNITTING PLANT FOR WAR WORK.
orange Man’s Offer.
Help Patriotic Bodies. will boost employment, too.
If sufficient support is extended by organisations working for fighting forces and the Red Cross Society, Mr. Leo Needham will make available £7,000 worth of machinery in his knitting mills at Orange free of cost.
I have seen those knitting mills and I made an appeal to the Minister for Supply and Development to make yarn available so that the idle looms might be put into operation. The Minister said that he would consider the proposal. Apparently, just as he thinks that it is necessary to rob the money boxes of the children to obtain money to purchase a Spitfire so he thinks it is necessary to go to the private hanks for money to provide yarn for use in these idle knitting mills. We shall not win the war unless we quickly alter that outlook.
Mr.CONELAN (Griffith) [10.41]. - I wish to refer to several matters mentioned by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in speeches which he has delivered since his return from abroad. After delivering his speech in this chamber on the 28th May last the Prime Minister requested that Parliament should adjourn for a couple of weeks in order to give him an opportunity to prepare his policy. On Tuesday night last he presented to the people in a broadcast address his proposals for what he called an unlimited war effort. But twelve months ago the Opposition suggested to the Prime Minister most of the proposals that he has’ now made. Twelve months ago also this Parliament, with the help of the Opposition, amended the National Security Act and gave the Government all the power that it desired. Parliament also voted all the money asked for by the Government for the prosecution of the war. If, therefore, we are not making an unlimited war effort the Government alone is responsible. During the 22 months that the war has been in progress more should have been accomplished by the Government. The Prime Minister told us at the beginning of his speech on Tuesday night that we must mortgage our future.
– It is mortgaged already.
– It is certainly true to say that the Government is placing the country more and more in the grip of the privatebanking institutions. Unless the present monetary policy is reversed, and the Government draws more largely than hitherto upon the credit resources of the nation, the private banks will have a stranglehold upon the country. However, it is as well that we should remind ourselves that the debts incurred during the last great war have not yet been liquidated. I feel certain that, at the conclusion of this war, people will not be asked to pay the money due on account of war expenditure. Even if they are asked to pay it they will not be able to do so.
The Prime Minister and the Government have been generously treatedby the Opposition throughout the war period. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has co-operated to the fullest possible degree with the Prime Minister, and every facility has been made available to the Government by honorable members on this side of the chamber to make possible a maximum war effort.
– The Government has not appreciated what has been done.
– That is true. By crying out in season and out of season for a national government honorable gentlemen opposite have undoubtedly been doing their best to serve’ their own political purposes. It is only in the last few weeks, since the Leader of the Opposition appealed to the Prime Minister to drop the cry for a national government and get on with the job, that honorable gentlemen opposite have been silent on the subject. This party has done its best to assist the Government to organize the maximum war effort of which the country is capable. The trade unions also have facilitated the operations of the Government to this eni and have even agreed to the dilution of labour for war purposes. I again say that if a 100 per cent, war effort is not being made the Government is solely responsible.
In Great Britain the Prime Minister, Mr. Winston Churchill, is an inspiration to the people. In the United States of America President Roosevelt also inspires his countrymen. But in Australia the people are not behind the Prime Minister for they have insufficient confidence in him. The Treasurer (Mr. Fadden), who was Acting Prime Minister during the four months the Prime Minister was absent from Australia, won the confidence of the people of Queensland and also of Australia as a whole, because of his understanding of the Labour policy and co-operation with it and other interests desirous of helping in the war effort. I can only hope that the Prime Minister will show his sincerity by giving effect to most of the proposals he advocated on Tuesday night. There were many good points in his broadcast address. There were, however, one or two faults in it. I trust that the right honorable gentleman will not allow the vested interests of this country to lead him into making an attack upon the trade unions.
– A few moments ago the honorable member said that the Labour party had recommended all the proposals put forward by the Prime Minister.
– That statement is not true. I said that we have suggested a good many of the proposals now made by the Prime Minister, but I have also just said that some of his proposals had faults. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) should not try to put into my mouth words which I did not use. I repeat that I hope the Prime Minister will take active steps to implement most of his proposals of Tuesday night last; but I also repeat that I trust he will not be a party to an attack upon the trade unions of Australia. The Australasian Council of Trade Unions and trade unionists generally have actively co-operated with the Government in its war effort. Despite the fact that a few small strikes have occurred, our industrial affairs have moved along in a very satisfactory way.
– Things were not too satisfactory on the coal-fields last year.
– That is a matter of opinion. The Prime Minister visited the coalfields -
– That waa more ‘than some members of the Opposition did.
– The honorable member should not make ridiculous statements. Does he suggest that there would be any likelihood of the coal-miners attacking the Prime Minister of Australia? The people of this country will always show proper courtesy to the Prime Minister whoever he may be. Even though the men on the coal-fields may disagree with the political policy of a particular Prime Minister, they would never think of attacking him.’ Unionists generally throughout Australia would, at all times, show the utmost courtesy to the Prime Minister of the country. He has had the greatest co-operation from the trade union movement. If his desire be to cause discord, he will certainly get it. If he wishes to promote harmonious relations, he is not proceeding along right lines. As a wise man, he should not curtail what is desired by the industrial groups. I sincerely hope that during the progress of the war the Opposition in this House, and the trade union groups, will continue to co-operate with the Government. A 100 per cent, war effort can be achieved only if trade unionists are treated with courtesy and consideration, and are given a fair deal. The trade unions have provided the largest percentage of the strength of the three fighting services overseas, as well as those who are employed in the munition factories throughout Australia. The Prime Minister would be well advised, therefore, to collaborate with, and not threaten, them.
The right honorable gentleman also referred to the battle of the Middle East. Those honorable members who are sincere have a real grievance in respect of the disposition of our troops overseas. Whilst realizing that assistance had to be given to Greece, it must also be conceded that the forces sent to that country should have been fully equipped and should have had the protection of aircraft. It is useless for the Government to assert that these conditions existed. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Hughes) said that our men -were driven out of Greece because they were not fully equipped. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fadden) contended that what that meant was that they had not the full protection of the Air Forces. If we accept either of those statements, we must conclude that our men in Greece were not fully protected and equipped. Then there was the debacle in Crete. The same force which had fought against enormous odds in Greece had again to withstand the shock of battle in Crete, without being fully equipped or protected from the air. I understand from press reports that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Harrison) said at a recruiting rally in Martin-place, Sydney, that it was coldblooded murder to send our men there. I am in full agreement with him. It is time that the Government saw that the brave men of Australia are given the most complete protection, no matter where they are fighting. I am pleased to note that the Advisory War Council has expressed to the Prime Minister of Great Britain the view that when our forces are sent into action they must be protected in every way, not only by tanks and other armoured divisions, but also by the Air Forces. In the near future we shall be engaged in another very serious battle, and I trust that the Prime Minister of Great Britain will then see that the suggestion of the Advisory War Council is adopted. It is remarkable that, although our men are drawn from the furthest point of the British Commonwealth of Nations, the men of another dominion, which is within four days’ sail of the British Isles, have not been in action for 21 months. .There is something radically wrong when Australian troops are sent into battle in Egypt, Libya, Greece, Crete, and now Syria, while men from Canada have not been in action for the 21 months of the war. It i3 time that the people of Australia were told these things, and that the Government recognized that, although our troops are the greatest fighters in the world, they should not be used as shock troops for every other part of the British Empire. I hope that in future Australia will play its part only as well as other parts of the Empire. The honorable members for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes), and Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), and other Government, supporters, are out-and-out conscriptionists. A few days ago, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) said that the Australian troops overseas needed 8,000 reinforcements every month. In May of this year, 14,000 men volunteered for service overseas. Even if 2,000 or 3,000 of those were rejected when medically examined, there would still be 5,000 or 6,000 above the May quota needed for reinforcements. Every day, the press publishes the statement that recruits are not coming forward in sufficient numbers. That is deliberately incorrect. A sufficient number of men is being recruited in every State to provide the reinforcements needed for the men overseas, and I have no doubt that so long as the war continues men will come forward week after week. The honorable member for Wakefield said that although he has no sons he does not think that that disqualifies him from approaching the matter in an absolutely impartial way. What statement could be more ridiculous? The majority of those who advocate conscription have no children who could be conscripted. I have no sons who would be liable to be conscripted, but I sincerely trust that the Government will never attempt to impose conscription on the young manhood of Australia, who, I have every confidence, will offer in the required number to reinforce their brothers, relatives and friends overseas. Although I have brothers and relatives overseas, I would be the last person in the world to try to force any one else to enlist. It should be possible for the Government to obtain the reinforcements needed, despite the competition of the Royal Australian Air Force with the Australian Imperial Force. This country is supposed to be a great arsenal of the British Empire. We are asked to produce, more and more munitions to supply what is needed by the fighting forces of the Empire. How would that be possible if the whole of the young manhood of this country were “to enlist for overseas service?
The Government has introdced universal military training for home service, and certain sections of the press complain of the extent to which exemption from this training has been sought. Some men :in reserved occupations have better opportunities to undertake this training than some of those who are no in reserved occupations. The Minister “for the Army has said that too many applications have been made for -exemption, and the press in Queensland has criticized the action of politicians who have applied for exemptions in certain cases; but I contend that the representatives of the people have every justification for taking steps to redress the grievances of men who have been unjustly treated by the military authorities. I could cite dozens of cases in which men have asked me to assist them to obtain exemption from military training. In -some instances, I have refused to take up their applications because I consider that they are unjustified, whilst in other cases I have done what I could to obtain exemptions. The area officers appear to have a one-track mind. All that they think about is their military responsibility. I contend, however, that where a man has invested his life’s savings in a business, care should be taken that his business is not ruined through his being called up for three months’ military training. I do not suggest that the Minister for the Army adopts an unfair attitude to applicants for exemption; in my opinion he is a very just man. In eases that have been brought by me before area officers there is every justification for the granting of exemption from training. Last week, I dealt with a request by two men who are in a garage business, one being on the technical side and the other in charge of the business affairs. The technical man was called up for training, and all he asked was that he should be relieved from attendance at the first camp to enable him to get another technical man to take his place. He was refused exemption, despite the fact that he ‘had invested his life’s savings in the business. When I took the matter beyond the area officer, the applicant was granted temporary exemption. I think that every honorable member will agree that justice was done in that instance^ In another case, a young man had done 70 days’ training in camp, and his father had since died. He has a sick mother and a bedridden grandmother living in his home. The military authorities have refused to grant him exemption from the next camp, and I am still contesting the case with the Minister for the Army. In another instance, a young man and his mother carried on a business in which the son had invested £1,000, which represented the savings of a lifetime. The mother suffered from a cancer and had to go into hospital. But the son was refused exemption from military training. I suggest that honorable members of Parliament have every right to take up just claims of this kind. Last week, I dealt with the request of the owner of a factory which is carrying out certain work for the Royal Australian Air Force. He has two young men and eight girls employed in the business, and both of the men have been called up for military training. The owner asked the area officer for exemption for one of the men, but his request was refused. If these men are compelled to go into camp together, the eight girls will be thrown out of employment and probably the business will be ruined. When I took the matter to a higher authority, and asked that one of the men should be allowed to remain in the factory until the other had returned from his training, the request was acceded to. It was pointed out that the Government did not desire to embarrass business people unnecessarily. If any further deserving cases of this kind are brought to my notice, I shall make every effort to obtain a fair deal for the men concerned.
A further restriction of the use of newsprint by 2-5 per cent, has been ordered by the Government, but it must realize that a great deal of harm will be done to the community by suddenly restricting the use of this paper to such a large extent, instead of doing it gradually. Last night, the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly) and I saw a large publication produced by the manufacturers of Australia, which could easily have been dispensed with in time of war. The Government has been lax as to another manner. Several months ago, it decided to ration petrol, the reason given on that occasion being that it desired to conserve dollar exchange. The revised scheme just announced for the further rationing of petrol will do a great deal of harm to the industry. I am not concerned about the interests of private motorists, but I am disturbed about the position of business folk who cannot carry out their operations without petrol. To-day I received the following telegram from the secretary of the “Drive Yourself” Motor Car Owners Association in Queensland : -
Drive Yourself, ear proprietors, of. Queensland, strongly protest against closing their businesses by drastic action in complete cessation of petrol supplies. Several hundred thousand pounds involved in this line of business in this State, also livelihood of many married employees. Suggest grant allowance pf 50 per cent. on old ration for one month to enable operators adapt suitable substitutes, plus petrol allowance, keep their cars operating. Meantime request permission to use present stocks of petrol and current ration tickets.
Much capital has been invested in businesses of this kind in Queensland, and elsewhere throughout the Commonwealth, yet the Government proposes to drive the owners into bankruptcy. Their request is a reasonable one. They have unused ration tickets in their possession, and most of them have some petrol stored. They should be allowed to use those tickets and the stored petrol to carry them on until they are able to instal producer-gas units on their vehicles. The Premier of New South Wales has set a very fine example which could well be followed by the Commonwealth Government. When he heard of the Government’s proposal to restrict the use of petrol still further, he decided to make available an amount of £60,000 for the construction of kilns to produce charcoal, and to install producer-gas units on all motor cars and lorries operated by the New South Wales Government, and by co-operative bodies in that State. The Commonwealth Government should install producer-gas units on all motor lorries, used by the Army and Air Force. Every body knows that the Army is the worst offender in the matter of wasting petrol. There have been examples of two-ton Army lorries being used to carry a 2-lb. parcel for twenty miles, after which they return empty. I have myself seen huge Army trucks being driven from Sydney to Lithgow and back alongside the railway, upon which half empty trains were running.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Jolly) adjourned.
Wheat Stabilisation Scheme - Nestle: and Anolo-Swjss Condensed Milk Company (Australasia) Limited - Compulsory Military Service - Guards at Tatura Camp - Export of Metalsand Sheep to Japan - Imperialchemical IndustriesLimited - Munition and Explosives Factories -admission of Enemy Aliens : Activities of Legal Firms.
Motion (by Mr. Anthony) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- During the last week I have been inundated with -telegrams from constituents protesting against the administration of the Wheat Stabilization Committee which under the signature of the chairman, Sir Clive Mcpherson, has issued extraordinarily stupid instructions regarding the limitation of wheat areas. For instance, a man whom I know quite well, who has a 300-acre farm at Narrabri, this year sowed 240 acres in wheat in response to the definite instruction of the comimittee put in a normal cropSeveral days ago he received a notice that he would be allowed to harvest only 10 acres of that crop for grain. The position is ridiculous because if the decision were carried out the man would be ruined. In another case the stabilization committee has refused to grant registration to a farm because it is not suitable for wheat-growing, in spite of the fact that it is conducted by one of the best wheat-farmers I know, and was only recently classified by the District Instructor of the Department of Agriculture as high-class wheat land. A committee sitting in a capital city should not have the temerity to tell men that the farms from which they have made their living all their lives arc unsuited for wheatgrowing and will not be registered. The two instances I have cited are selected from dozens of similar cases of registration being refused in spite of the fact- that the wheat is up and is looking well. A third instance is that of a member of the Australian Imperial Force, who on his enlistment arranged for his property to be share-f armed, but who this week received notification that his farm would not be registered. The notification was handed to me and I in turn passed it to the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page). If this procedure does not cease I shall, with, I am sure, the authority of my party, move the adjournment of the House and demand a vote on the matter. More common sense and less tyranny is required in the administration of the wheat stabilization regulations.
– I direct the attention of the Parliament to the existence in this country of an octopus known as the Nestle and AngloSwiss Condensed Milk Company (Australasia) Limited, which seems to have great influence in the Department of Supply and Development, and whose activities are not directed to the benefit of this nation. Nestles is a world-wide organization which was formerly registered in Switzerland. A month after the publication of the decisions reached at Munich it transferred its headquarters to New York. I believe that its ordinary share capital has been sold to an American combine known as Industrial Research and Development Company of New York, and that in case the United States of America should enter the war, provision has been made to register the company in Panama as Unilac, which is the name of the parent company. The capital is £2,000,000, £1,000,000 of which is in 8 per cent, preference shares, ninetenths of which a?re held in Australia, and £1,000,000 in ordinary shares all of which are held overseas. Last year the Australian company paid S per cent., as required, on the preference shares and 12 per cent, on the ordinary shares, whereas the dividend paid by the parent company amounted to more than 30 per cent. The company has been able to exert influence on this Government in order to over-ride the refusal of the Victorian Government to permit it to re-open its factory in Maffra, Victoria. About fourteen or fifteen months ago the company applied to the Victorian Minister for Agriculture for that permission, but it was refused for very good reasons, particularly because of the previous disastrous experience which the dairy farmers and workers of Gippsland had had at its hands. Before the company closed the Maffra factory for reasons of economy, it created a monopoly by buying up all the surrounding companies. When the factory was closed a cooperative factory was set up. The Victorian Minister’s decision was not satis-, factory to the company and the application was renewed. The Minister then took the matter to the State Cabinet which, anxious to protect the co-operative factory and the farmers and workers of the district, again refused the required permission. Not to be thwarted, the company took its case to the then Minister for Supply and Development (Sir Frederick Stewart) who invoked the National Security Act in order to override the decision of the State authorities and granted the permission sought. The result is that two factories are now operating in Maffra. Nestles is a huge concern which has the resources with which to achieve its objective of driving the co-operative company out of existence. It increased the price of butter-fat from ls. 5d. to ls. 7 3/4d. per lb. between May and August last year, whereas in. Dennington, near Warrnambool, where Nestles has another factory the price of butter-fat in August was ls. 7d. per lb., which is 3/4d. per lb. less than the price at Maffra where there is competition from the co-operative concern. The result of the competition which exists is that two fleets of cars and trucks are on the road, where one fleet operated previously, and where only one fleet is necessary. The waste of petrol as the result of this extravagance is great indeed. That is only one part of the story. Since Senator McBride has been Minister for Supply and Development he has appointed the managing-director of Nestles, Mr. Spencer, as the Government’s nominee on the board appointed to handle the supply of condensed milk to the Army. I am advised that 110,000 cases of milk are required by the 31st October next.
S00,000 cases by the 31st- December next, and a total of 1,500,000 cases during the next twelve months. I am informed, too, that the Government is paying £1 5s. a case for this milk and that that sum is about 2s. more than is reasonable and fair in all the circumstances. So, a huge rake-off is about to be obtained by the company, the managing director of which, is the Government’s nominee on the board mentioned. There are two companies in Victoria supplying condensed milk to the Government: Nestles, which supply more .than 90 per cent, of the Government’s requirements, and the Federal Milk Company at Bacchus Marsh, owned largely by Sir Macpherson Robertson. Nestles, the major concern, is trying to persuade the farmers and butter factories of Victoria to divert their milk supplies into government channels so that these huge orders can be fulfilled. Last week, a conference of representatives of the butter factories and milk-processing factories agreed to supply sufficient milk to Nestles and the Federal Milk Company to meet defence requirements ; but they made it a condition of the agreement that the Government’s nominee, Mr. Spencer, was not to determine the quotas. They did so because they do not believe that Nestles is engaged in supplying defence requirements for the good of the nation but rather in order to make profits out of the needs of the nation. I hope that the Government will not force Mr. Spencer upon them as it forced the Victorian Government, by the misuse of the National Security Act, to permit a factory to be opened in Maffra for the benefit of this firm.
– Was the co-operative company capable of handling all the business offering?
– Yes. Apparently, the Victorian Minister was convinced that, having gone out of business there, Nestles was not entitled to come back into competition with the co-operative concerns; but pressure was exerted on this Government, with the result that he was overruled. This Government is interested only in its desire to help big business. No explanation has yet been offered as to how the Minister for Supply and Development (Senator
McBride) overrode the Victorian Minister in this regard. An explanation should also be forthcoming as to why he appointed Mr. Spencer as the nominee of this Government in the handling of supplies. There are quite a number of other features in this case which I could deal with and which are very pertinent and important, but I think I have said sufficient to indicate that an undesirable state of affairs exists in connexion with the supply of sweetened and unsweetened condensed milk to the Defence Forces. I say deliberately, and with full knowledge of the consequences of my statement, that for the 1,500,000 cases of milk that have been ordered, the Department of Supply and Development is paying up to 2s. a case more than it should have to. pay for its requisite supplies. I hope that a statement will be made, either in this chamber or in another place, of the whole of the facts governing the appointment of Mr. Spencer and his activities on behalf of the Government. I repeat that the representatives of the co-operative and other milk factories in Victoria are not prepared to allow the representative of the Government to determine quotas. They want some other gentleman appointed to undertake that task because they fear that Mr. Spencer is anxious to divert only 15, per cent, of Nestle’s supplies to defence needs, whereas the co-operative factories are expected to divert 50 per cent, of their inflow.
– I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) a matter which is causing a great deal of concern to me and to the people affected. I received applications from two individuals with regard to exemptions from military service. The first application came from a boy at Warrnambool, a town in my electorate. The highhanded action of the officer in charge of that area, either the man-power officer, who I believe is a civilian, or the area officer, in dealing with this matter is, tosay the least, astounding. In the first place, I received from the applicant a detailed statement of his case setting out the reasons for his application for exemption. I forwarded that statement to head-quarters in Melbourne and was advised that exemption was again refused..
The treatment of this case was so outrageous that the matter was taken up by two reputable members of the community at Warrnambool, one a member of a firm of well-known merchants, and the other a highly respected citizen of the town. The facts are that this boy, who was the only member of the family, worked close to his home so that he could return at night to look after his parents, both of whom are blind. When I put the full facts of the case to the exemption officer in Melbourne he was surprised at the decision that had been given and I subsequently received a notification that the application had been granted. I forwarded that notification to the boy ; but imagine my surprise when he told me that the local authorities said that as he had used political influence he had committed an offence for which he was liable under the Commonwealth law and that he would have to go into camp. These gentlemen showed me the letter that had been received from the exemption officer in Melbourne and- said “ He had no right to grant the exemption and that if the boy were called up he would have to go into camp. Fortunately, however, the boy was not called up.
The next case concerns a young boy whose aged father milks about 30 cows. As the boy was the only available assistance his father could get on the farm, if the boy were called up, the old man would not be able to carry on his farm. The letter I received from the authorities in Melbourne shows that the Warrnambool military authorities were instructed that the exemption had been granted in this case. To-day, however, the exemption granted by the authorities in Melbourne has been overruled by the local authorities and the boy is in camp. Apparently those men regard themselves as little Hitlers, and think that they can do anything they like. That state of affairs must be remedied. It is ridiculous that an exemption order granted by headquarters in Melbourne can be countermanded by some junior officer. Considerable loss of time and expense will be incurred by that boy before he is enabled to return home, whilst, at the same time, the matter has caused considerable anxiety on the part of his father.
– It just shows what happens when the “ brass hat3 “ get control.
– Exactly. I make no complaint against the exemption officer in Melbourne. Not only was he most courteous in dealing with the matter, but he was also very annoyed at the action taken by the officers at Warrnambool. It is against the latter that I complain. I know of many instances in which applications for exemptions from military service should have been granted in the first place, but were refused, with the result that the applicants were unnecessarily put to considerable delay and expense. One man who applied for exemption on the ground that he was the only one available to look after his dependants was told by an officer that he should place the latter in a benevolent institution and that he should be in khaki. That officer is certainly in khaki himself, but he is not in the war zone, and most probably does not intend to go there. I believe that the Minister is sympathetic towards applicants in instances of the kind I have just dealt with.
Another matter which I wish to bring to his notice concerns the payment of ex-diggers engaged on guard duty at the internment camp at Tatura. Recently, accompanied by the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Dedman) and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), who will substantiate what I now have to say, I visited that camp. The guard, which consisted solely of ex-diggers, turned out to meet us. As an ex-digger myself, I was able to appreciate their efficiency. They are excellent men, but their jab is- very monotonous. They are continually on guard around the compound. They receive only 5s. a day, plus an allowance of 3s. a day in the case of married men. They made no complaint about their wages, or the conditions of their work; I found out particulars of those matters for myself. I know that in joining the garrison forces, they made a genuine sacrifice. When war broke out, they unhesitatingly responded to the call. But had they not joined up, probably they would now be earning 15s. a day in munition factories. Most of those men are specialists in the duties they are now performing. They know how to handle difficult situations, and in the event of a serious disturbance, their experience would be invaluable. Out of their 8s. a day, they have to pay such relatively big items as rent. Indeed, in order to keep down expenses, many of them live near the camp. In addition, no provision is made to enable them to care for themselves when they are discharged from the Army. As they are now 50 years of age they will not be able to battle for themselves when the war is over. They should at least receive the basic wage. The fact that each of them relieves a man for service overseas should not be overlooked. I can only say that the treatment meted out to them in respect of their pay is mean. Many of these men are also employed as instructors. One of them i3 allowed to wear three stripes when he is engaged as an instructor of batches of ex-diggers, who enter the camp for refresher courses. He is entitled to wear two stripes permanently; but at all times he receives only a private’s pay. That is not fair treatment. The value of the services of these men is being emphasized to-day by the arrival of large numbers of prisoners of war in this country. Many ex-diggers would be prepared to enlist in the garrison forces, but for the fact that they arc now in receipt of the basic wage, whilst upon enlistment they would be obliged to accept much less, and, at the same time. would have no guarantee as to their future economic welfare when the war is over.
.- I realize that the hour is late, but as Parliament meets so infrequently, I must accept this opportunity to bring certain matters to the notice of the Government. I am pleased that the Minister for. Trade and Customs (Mr. Harrison) is present, because the subject with which I propose to deal concerns his department. Three weeks ago I complained to the Prime Minister about the shipment of lead and zinc concentrates to Japan. At that time, the right honorable gentle man appeared to be very surprised at what I said, and promised that he would inquire into the matter. However, when I reminded him of his promise on the following day, he seemed to be rather amused, and sniggered across the table to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). He then exhibited no interest whatever in the matter. Such tactics might be all right in a court of law to disconcert witnesses when an unanswerable case is put up, but this matter is too serious to be smiled away. I again ask whether any investigation has been made into this matter. It has been admitted that 1,500 tons of zinc concentrates is being shipped monthly from Mount Isa to Japan, whilst the British Consul at San Francisco has indicated that there is every likelihood that that zinc is finding its way to enemy countries. Certainly, it is not being used for the manufacture of toys in Japan. It is the duty of the Minister to inform the country just why zinc concentrates are being shipped from Australia to Japan. Apparently, the Government has no say in the matter, but is simply carrying out the instructions of those interests who are really running the country. Perhaps the explanation is that Japanese machines are being installed in Australian munition factories. Australia may be simply exchanging one kind of war material for another. Why the Government does not accept the recent offer of a member of the Japanese Government to barter war machinery for primary produce, I cannot understand. In no circumstances, however, should the Commonwealth export war materials which may ultimately find their way to Germany.
Another important consideration is that our supply of zinc is far from being abundant. A few weeks ago, Lysaght Brothers and Company Proprietary Limited, Newcastle, which is engaged in essential war work, reported a shortage of supplies, and the Government announced that all supplies to industries in civil production would be stopped. Yet zinc is still being exported! If we desire to win the -war quickly, we must refrain from trading with the enemy. We must not feed him with essential war materials, which he will use against us. In this respect, the Netherlands East Indies has set an excellent example. Though a smaller country, and in a more defenceless position than the Commonwealth, it refused to allow its export policy to be dominated by Japan. The United States of America has taken a similarly firm stand. Last Tuesday the Sydney Sun announced in the following paragraph that the United States of America had stopped the export of oil to Japan -
As Defence Oil Co-ordinator, the Secretary for the Interior (Mr. Harold Ickes) has prevented the shipment of 252,000 gallons of lubricating oil from Philadelphia to Japan.
He states that this action has not been taken because of the international policy, but is due to a shortage of oil on the east coast of the United States. “It is the Government’s and not the Standard Oil’s responsibility to apply embargoes “, says the Standard Oil Company, in a statement, replying to the criticisms that American oil firms were trading with Japan because their love of profits exceeded their patriotism.
The Government should intervene to ensure that the Mount Isa Mines Limited, of which a Commonwealth Minister happens to be a director, are not allowed to export zinc concentrates to Japan.. If the present demand in Australia is less than the supply, the surplus should be stored for use, if necessary, in the post-war developmental era.
On the 22nd May last, the SydneyMorning Herald published the following item : -
Arrangements have been made in Australia by Japanese on behalf of their Government, for the shipment of approximately 10,000 sheep to Japan and Korea by the end of September.
Several ships already have sailed with up to 1,400 sheep on each housed in pens on deck and tended by shepherds sent specially from Japan.
The total sheep shipments from Australia this year are expected to equal those of the last few years.
It is stated that all the sheep this year will be Corriedales, dual-purpose sheep, providing a crossbred wool and suitable for mutton.
Corriedales, however, do not often reach the Japanese dinner table, as the Japanese are not partial to mutton. They do not like the smell of it.
The reason for such, large shipments is that Japan is obviously developing the sheep industry in Manchukuo, to the detriment in future of a staple primary industry in Australia.
The Sydney Morning Herald, of the 21st May last, contained this cable -
Australia and New Zealand are interested in the formation of Imperial Chemical Industries (Turkey) an offshoot of Britain’s £74,000,000 Imperial Chemical Industries Limited.
The new company is intended to provide an answer to Germany and is aiming to win export markets in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, the Near East and the Middle East.
Two British and two Turkish directors will be appointed to handle Imperial Chemical Industries Limited exports, not only from Britain, but from its subsidiary companies in Australia and New Zealand.
Imperial Chemical Industries Limited sprang from I.G., a German organization with ramifications throughout the world. Officials of Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited have been placed in charge of the Explosives Branch of the Department of Munitions. Last July, Mr. Donaldson, the Director of Explosives and incidentally Director of Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited co-opted Mr. Creswick, the chief chemist at the Metropolitan Meat Works at Homebush. For many years Mr. Creswick was a senior official in the State Explosives Branch and was formerly employed as works manager of the Swindon Explosives Company in Great Britain. It was proposed to install a Swindon explosives plant in Australia, because Swindon is associated with the Imperial Chemical Industries Limited; but Mr. Creswick discovered that it was impracticable to install that machinery and recommended, as a substitute, a process upon which he had worked for some years. Last October, an expert committee, which investigated the process, recommended the installation of his plant. When nothing had been done by the following February, Mr. Creswick brought the facts to my notice. I immediately referred them to the Advisory War Council and three days later, the installation of his process was again recommended. Four months then passed, during which Imperial Chemical Industries Limited engaged in a frantic search for one of its own processes that might serve as a substitute for the Swindon plant. That instance clearly illustrates the manner in which vested interests retard our war effort.
On the 31st May last the following article appeared in Smith’s Weekly: -
Smith’s declares there is need for a searching investigation into affairs in Commonwealth munitions and explosives factories in Victoria. And this despite the high praise given in Sydney last week by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fadden) to Australia’s achievements in munitions and supply. Mr. Fadden has been misled. Facts in possession of Smith’s make it clear that whatever private factories and annexes may be doing, the Commonwealth establishments in Victoria are not working at full pressure.
Workers are not to blame. Let that be thoroughly understood. Scores of them are idle, day after day, in these factories, because there is not any work for them to do.
Parties of politicians and departmental heads were deceived by being shown scenes of activity in “ bays “ in which work had been crowded for the purpose. Skilled workmen were employed for days “ on the broom “ when it was known the plant was to be visited. There were too many “ pannikin “ bosses. There was a shortage of trucks to transport filled shells, bombs, and grenades to stores. And that workmen were turning in their jobs and seeking employment elsewhere because they were sick and tired of standing around and doing nothing. Since then, corroborative evidence concerning this condition of affairs has cascaded in on Smith’s. But it is obvious that Mr. Fadden does not know what is going on - and, also, what is not going on.
In Sydney last week, he said that output of cordite from the original Commonwealth explosives factory bad been more than doubled since June last. T.N.T. was being produced to three times the quantity.
Smith’s says that that assertion is utterly misleading, and that the Acting Prime Minister is not in possession of the facts.
From those statements the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) will realize that he has been gravely misled as to the true position. Such shows as were described in the article have been staged for the benefit of Ministers, departmental officials and their wives. I ask, is fifth columnist activity or inefficiency responsible for it? Such a sorry condition of affairs demands immediate investigation. Imperial Chemical Industries Limited is prepared to be associated with a scheme for financing an undertaking to supply explosives to Turkey, though this evening the radio announced that Turkey had signed a pact with the Axis powers.
Mr.HARRISON (Wentworth- Minis ter for Trade and Customs) [12 midnight]. - As my name has been mentioned by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) I feel that I should make a few observations. “ I do so also because the Department of Trade and Customs is responsible for the operation of the export licensing system. It is grossly unfair that the name of a member of the Ministry should have been associated with the trading operations of the Mount Isa Mines Limited. The honorable member for Reid knows full well that the company’s trade relations would be continued even though the member of the Ministry referred to were not on the company’s directorate. So far, my association with the honorable member for Reid has led me to think that he believes in fair play. I trust that he will continue to act in such a way as to cause me to retain this opinion of him, and that he will not, in the future, cast reflections upon a member of the Ministry who is not entitled to enter this House to defend himself.
– -But the honorable gentleman mentioned by name a Minister who is not entitled to come here to defend himself.
– That is only a smoke screen !
– I am dealing with the facts of the situation. The honorable gentleman has had a good deal to say about the export of certain metals to Japan. There is no doubt whatever that lead produced at Mount Isa is being shipped overseas; but it is going not to Japan, but to the United Kingdom. The honorable member should make sure of his facts before entering upon a discussion of a subject like this. It is true that a certain quantity of lead is going from Australia to Japan. That trade is proceeding in the ordinary way in accordance with agreements made between two countries that are not at war. But there is no possibility whatever of any of the lead sent from Australia to Japan or of any of the products made from it being shipped from Japan to enemy countries, for the licences to permit the export of the lead or the lead products from Japan have to carry the attestation of our representatives in Japan, and they must satisfy themselves that the lead, or the lead products, will not find their way to enemy countries.
The honorable member also had something to say about zinc concentrates, and in this connexion his remarks were in order. It is true that zinc concentrates from Mount Isa are going to Japan, but only in the normal quantities contracted for prior to the war.
– Is it a fact that Lysaght Bros. & Company Proprietary Limited have had to put men off because these zinc concentrates are going to Japan?
– If the zinc concentrates could not be shipped the Mount Isa mines would have to close down.
– The figures in relation to the export of these concentrates are available to the honorable member from the usual statistical sources and I invite him to take steps to examine the situation as it is revealed by official records. If he does so he will learn that only the normal quantity of concentrates is being shipped. These normal trade relations must . be allowed to proceed between countries that are not at war.
– But not with powers in league with the Axis!
– The honorable member must know full well that we cannot abruptly break off trade relations with a neutral country simply because its political tendencies are not in accord with our “views. The honorable gentleman should also bear in mind that in exchange for the goods which we are sending to
Japan we are receiving goods of the utmost value to us in connexion with our war effort. I refer to silk for parachutes, which can be obtained only from Japan, lathes and shaping lathes used in munition production, binoculars, scientific instruments and many other articles that are of great value to us. It must be obvious to the honorable member that we cannot say to a neutral country: “We shall trade with you in certain goods, but we shall not trade with you in certain other goods even though our supply of them is in excess of Empire requirements “. We must trade according to the agreements that have been made. The honorable member should be more careful of his statements in view of the present delicate international situation. He should not make statements with the object of endeavouring to stir up strife. He owes it to the country to be sure of his facts before indulging in generalities.
– I have listened with great interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) concerning the export of certain metals to Japan and also regarding disloyalty for trading with an alleged enemy. I suggest that the honorable member should be the last one in this House to refer to these matters. My reason for making that statement is that I find that certain firms of Sydney solicitors have been advertising in foreign countries that, by reason of their influence, they are able to introduce into Australia persons of enemy origin who, really, are not entitled to come here.
– Which firms have done that?
– Messrs. C. A. Morgan and Company, solicitors, of Sydney is in the list of firms with clients on whose behalf representations have been made. These firms have been extracting sums of money from persons of enemy origin on the ground that they could introduce them into this country. Amounts of from 20 to 50 guineas have been paid. I do not know whether the firm of Messrs. C. A. Morgan and Company, solicitors, of Pitt-street, Sydney, is in any way associated with the honorable member for’ Reid, because I do not know the facts of the case, but I do know that the name of that firm appears in a list, in the possession of the Department of the Interior, of firms which have solicited the entry of persons of enemy origin into this country, and have extracted money from such persons. I shall produce names of persons who have been written to through having responded to advertisements by firms of solicitors in Sydney. This is a terrible state of affairs.
It is also a deplorable situation that the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll), who is not able to enter this House to defend himself, should be attacked here.
I do not say that the honorable member for Reid is associated with the firm of solicitors that I have mentioned. I shall not make any charge in that connexion unless I find that the facts will support it.
– Why did not the Assistant Minister ascertain the facts before he mentioned the matter here?
– I ask the honorable member for Reid whether he is in any way associated with the firm of Messrs. C. A. Morgan and Company, solicitors, of Pitt-street, Sydney?
– I shall ask leave to make a personal explanation on the matter after the Assistant Minister resumes his seat.
– Very well. The particulars to which I have referred are now under the notice of the Department of the Interior. I repeat that I think it is most unfair that a Minister should be attacked in this chamber when he cannot come here to defend himself. If that had not happened I should not have made the statements that I have made to-night. Seeing that the Minister for the Interior cannot come here to defend himself I have thought it proper to speak in his defence. Upon making application to the Department of the Interior, and paying a fee of one guinea, these people can receive all the information they require as to whether or not a permit to enter this country can be obtained; yet this unscrupulous practice has been indulged in by many firms. I shall produce the names of those involved, and I feel sure that the list will not prove palatable to some honorable members.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. The statement made by the Assistant Minister (Mr. Collins) is completely untrue. The firm ofC. A. Morgan and Company, to which he has referred, has not functioned for some considerable time. The firm with which I am connected is that of Charles A. Morgan, Potts and Company. The charge of making solicitations among persons overseas is also completely without foundation. My firm has not made representations on behalf of any refugees since the war began. In common with other firms, it applied on behalf of persons who had been persecuted on the other side of the world, for permission to land in Australia, and after full investigation permits were issued by the department. That was long before the war began. No charges such as those mentioned by the ‘Minister were made. The ma’tter with which I dealt earlier was that of trading with thu enemy since the outbreak of war.
– I shall produce the evidence.
. - I should not have engaged in this discussion but for the deliberate misrepresentation of members of the Government in answer to the criticisms of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan). The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Harrison), and the Assistant Minister (Mr. Collins), have not answered the points raised by the honorable member for Reid, but have introduced all sorts of side issues in an attempt to divert attention from the real issue.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs answered those points.
– He did not; he made reference only to normal trade activities. I agree that, in dealing with a country with which we are not at war, normal trade activities should continue; but it would be ridiculous to suggest that any company should be permitted, on the plea of continuing normal trade activities, to export from this country materials that are required by our own industries. It is true that Mount Isa Mines Limited, of which the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) is a director, has been shipping zinc concentrates from Australia, while Lysaght Brothers and Company Proprietary Limited of Newcastle, who are engaged in defence works, have had to lessen the number of their hands because of a shortage of this metal. Would any one suggest that we should neglect our own requirements, particularly at the present state of defence works, in order that we might supply another nation which, at the moment, . if not actively operating with the Axis Powers, is at least a member of the Axis ? Obviously, the answer of the Minister for Trade and Customs, that none of this metal finds its way to enemy countries, will not bear examination. I am not sure that it does not. The honorable gentleman stated that Australian representatives in Japan are able to give such an assurance. I should like the Minister to give in detail the particular plan that these representatives follow in order to make absolutely certain that none of this metal finds its way to an enemy country.
– They could not trace it.
– It would be an absolute impossibility for them to do so. They would merely have to accept the assurance of Japanese officials. The main point at issue at the moment is, not where the metal is going but that it is being shipped from Australia while Australian industries have had to lessen the number of their hands, and restrict their operations on defence contracts, simply because of a shortage of this particular metal.
– Those are facts which I should like to check up before I accept them.
– This matter has been raised previously. The honorable gentleman resented very greatly the action of the honorable member for Reid in bringing it before the Parliament.
– I did not resent it; what I resent are the implications.
– It was the duty of the honorable member for Reid to raise the matter in this House. Further, it was the duty of the Minister, after it had been raised on a previous occasion, to make himself acquainted with the facts. 1 know, from information supplied to me by the trade unions which cover the employees in Lysaght’s works, that that firm has been compelled to lessen the number of its hands, and that the reason given by it to the unions is that it is short of this particular metal.
– The honorable member should be aware that this has nothing to do with my department, beyond the issue of licences. It is a. matter for the Department of Commerce.
– The Minister buys into an argument, and when he finds himself in a tough spot says that the matter has nothing to do with his department but belongs to the Department of Commerce.
– That is deliberate misrepresentation.
– If it does not concern his department, and he knows very little about the subject - as he now admits - it ill-becomes him to enter into the discussion and try to discredit the efforts of the honorable member for Reid.
– Why should he issue a licence if he is not sure?
– Evidently he is prepared to issue a licence because one of his colleagues is on the directorate of the company engaged in the export of the metal. He regards that as sufficient warrant for his action, and considers that further inquiries are not necessary. I commend the honorable member for Reid for having done a public service by bringing this matter before the Parliament. What has been said by the Minister for Trade and Customs and the Assistant Minister does not concern the issue. I hope that the Government will immediately take the necessary steps to prevent the further export of metals required in this country for our own defence works as well as for developmental purposes.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Defence purposes - Lithgow, New South Wales.
National Security Act -
National Security (Internment Camps) Regulations - Orders -
Internment Camp (No. 1).
Internment Camp (No. 2).
Internment Camp (No. 3).
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, Nos. 125, 131, 132, 133, 134.
House adjourned at 12.17 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions were circulated : -
n. - Yesterday, the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Scully) asked the following question, upon notice -
Owing to the acute financial distress in the primary and grazing industries through circumstances over which those engaged in primary production have no control, will the Prime Minister introduce a general moratorium to protect these industries for the duration of the war, and fix a maximum rate of interest charges for a similar period?
The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The Government has already introduced National Security Regulations enabling debtors who are unable to pay any debt by reason of circumstances attributable to the war to apply to a tribunal for relief. Itis considered that these regulations offer those engaged in the primary industries adequate protection, and it is consequently not considered necessary to introduce a general moratorium. It is not considered desirable to fix a maximum rate of interest for two reasons. First, it is difficult to determine a rate which would be reasonable forloans made on various conditions and with varying degrees of security. Secondly, there is a known tendency for maximum rates allowed by law to become minimum rates in practice. Rates of interest, however, have declined since the beginning of the war and the Government has this matter under continuous review with the object of bringing about such further reductions as conditions may justify.
l asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Interest-free and Other Loans : Free Gifts.
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– Itis not the practice of thetreasury to publish details of this nature except with the permission of those concerned.
Aerodrome at Western Junction.
Mr.Guy asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
n. - The Department of the Interior, which carried out this work, has submitted the following replies -
y asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
In view of the widespread disappointment ‘ amongst the Australian mothers at the limitations of the Child Endowment Act, Will he, at the earliest convenient moment, consider amending the act to provide -
that all children who are now entitled to endowment shall be guaranteed payment till they reach the age of sixteen years, and
that all children undersixteen years of age of widowedmothers shall be entitled to draw endowment payments?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
If and when the legislation is under review, the suggestion of the honorable member will be borne in mind.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 June 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1941/19410619_reps_16_167/>.