16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr.Speaker (Hon. W.M. Nairn) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Representation in Australia.
– I ask the Minis ter for External Affairs whether there is at present in Australia a representative of the Government of theUnionof Socialist Soviet Republics, who is recognized by the Government of Australia? Are any negotiations proceeding between those two governments?If not,will the Government consider the wisdom ofinitiating negotiations with a view to anunderstanding being arrived at by the twogovernments?
– There are no representatives of the Union ofSocialistSovietRepublics in Australia, nor have there been for anumber of years. The suggestion of the honorable member will be taken into consideration.
-Is the Minister for Healthpressing the Public Works Committee to recommendanincrease by £5,000 of the vote for the Canberra abattoir? The committee havingcometoa decision on the evidence placedbefore it, is it notright and proper that the present position should be allowedto stand?If thehonorablegentleman intends to secure parliamentary approval of theexpenditure of an additional £5,000, cannot similar rights and privileges be extended to people who are living in the’ States?
– News travelsquickly, because only ten minutes have elapsedsince I was discussing this matter with the Public Works Committee. The questioner has not stated the fact correctly. I have discussed with the Public Works Committee this morning a proposal which involves a reduction by something like £10,000 or £12,000 of the cost of the proposal originally submitted to the committee. It is true that the cost of this modified plan would exceed by a few thousand pounds the cost of the proposal recommended by the Public Works Committee as the result of its previous investigation.
– Before the Government imposes any additional tax or other burdenon the lower-paid sections of the community, will the Prime Minister take action to limit to £500- » year the income which may be earned by any individual, from whatever source it may be derived ?
– The answer is in the negative.
Campaigns in Greece and Crete.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether an early opportunity will be given to this- House to debate the statement made last night by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender), in respect of the equipment of the Australian Imperial Force in. Greece and Crete ? -
– I did not hear the statement.
– I strongly recommend that the right honorable gentleman should read it.
– I shall consider the honorable member’s suggestion.
– On several’ occasions recently I have asked the Minister for Trade and. Customs if he- had’ received the report of the Tariff Board ‘ with respect to assistance by the Commonwealth to the fishing industry. Has the report .yet been received?.
– The report is just to hand, and is receiving my consideration.
– “A statement has not yet been made in this House with respect to the basis of the’ operations of the Group Supply Councils which have been set up in New York and New Delhi, and which are presided over by .Sir Olive Baillieu and Sir Bertram Stevens respectively. Will the Minister who represents the Minister for Supply and Development make an early announcement as to- the basis of the operations of those groups, and in . particular, as to the salaries and other expenses of the complete entourage. Are the Australian representatives acting entirely for the Commonwealth Government, or are they still associated personally with the different concerns with which they are dealing on behalf of the Government.!
– I shall discuss with the Minister for Supply and Development the subject-matter of the question.
– It is understood that the embargo imposed on the export df lamb from Australia is to be lifted on the 1st July, but so far an announcement has not been made by the Department of Commerce with respect to prices and conditions. Many thousands of fat lambs are being held in the country pending such an announcement. Buyers are eager to operate, and fat lamb raisers are facing serious loss occasioned by wastage. Will the Assistant Minister for Commerce indicate when an announcement is likely to be made?
– -The whole of. the matters associated with the disposal of our primary products have been the subject of consultation between the Governments of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and .Australia.. A full plan has been formulated, and I understand that, the Minister for Commerce is to make an announcement to-day that will cover the whole range, including, I believe, the point raised by the honorable member.
Rationing - -UNFAIR Trading- bt Whoi.bsai.bks.
– In view of the difficult position caused by the rationing of tobacco supplies, and the fact that tobacconists who depend for their existence solely on the sales- of tobacco1, have to compete. with businesses selling cake and food, fruit, and sweets, milk, and the like, the proprietors of which sell tobacco- andcigarettes merely as a .side line, will the Minister for Trade and Customs issue a regulation prohibiting the distribution and sale of tobacco and cigarettes in metropolitan areas- by other than thosewho’ depend for their Jiving entirely on the. sale of tobacco, cigarettes and- tobacco requisites.
– The honorable; member must recognize- that the issue of licences for the sale of tobacco and cigarettes is a function of the State authorities. T should be loath to interfere with the powers that they exercise
Mr.ROSEVEAR. - Was the Minister for Trade and Customs in any way responsible for the statement published by the press this morning, that he is satisfied, on the report of his officers, that there has been unfair trading among the wholesalers of tobacco-? If so, what action does he propose to take with a view to remedying the position?
Mr.HARRISON. - I am responsible for the press statement that a preliminary report had been made available tome by investigating officer s, which showed without question that some unfair trading methods were being adopted by wholesalers in connexion with the distribution of tobacco to retailers. I am not prepared to indicate to the House what action I propose to take, until the final report is made available to me. Good and sufficient action will then be taken.
-When the proposal of the Prime Minister to have separate ministerial control of the Departments of Supply and Munitions is given effect, will the right honorable gentleman appoint to one of the positions an honorable member of this House, in order to obviate the unsatisfactory condition that any matter affecting those departments, which an honorable member desires to raise, must be referred to a Minister who is a member of the Senate?
– The consideration mentioned by the honorable member is, I agree, very important. I assure him, however, that it would be very difficult to apply the principle in every case in which one would desire to do so.
Standardof Houses -Rents
– Is the Minister for Labour andNational Service aware that the 100 houses which the Government proposes to have built in the Maribyrnong district infringe municipal standards in respect of design and height of walls, and that they are inferior to houses being built by the South Australian Housing Trust? If not,will he make inquiries into the matter, and endeavour to have the other 200 houses which the Government proposes to have built designed to a better standard before the next contract is let?
– I am not aware that the facts are as relatedby the honorable member. The designs of the houses in. question were prepared by the Victorian Housing Commission, and I understand that the buildings are, if anything, superior to houses erected by that body in the past for its own purposes. The Department of the Interior is examining the plans submitted. In order that construction of the first batch of houses should not be delayed, the decisionwas made to proceed with 100 according to the plans of the Victorian Housing Commission. Meanwhile, the designs are subjected to the scrutiny of the Department of the Interior, which will take every factor into consideration when further batches of houses are to be built.
– As there seems to be so much dissatisfaction over the Government’s proposal to erect homesfor munition workers, will the Government consider establishing some of the munition industries in Tasmania, where the people already have houses which many of them are being compelled to leave in order to look for work on the mainland?
– I shall place the honorable member’s suggestion before the Minister for Supply and Development.
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service give an estimate of the rents that will be charged for the homes which it is proposed to erect in Victoria for munition workers ? Is he aiming to provide a fiveroomed house at a rent of 15s. a week, as is done under theSouth Australian building scheme, or is it proposed to charge 32s. 6d. a week, as is being done at Lithgow? Was any notice taken of the report of the Man-power and Resources Survey Committee when this building scheme was being framed ?
– The conditions under which the houses will be sold or leased will be determined by the Department of the Interior, which will have the management of them.. The findings of the Manpower andResources Survey Committee have received due consideration.
– I repeat a portion of my question : Doesthe Government intend to formulate a scheme under which munition workers in the Maribyrnong district will be able to rent fiveroomed cottages for 15s. a week as in South Australia, or for 32s. 6d. a week, as in Lithgow, New South Wales? Does the absence of an answer to my previous question indicate that as yet, the Minister of the department has drawn up no scale of rents?
– I did not overlook that portion of the honorable member’s question which referred to rents; I made it clear that the conditions have yet to be determined and will be considered by the Department of the Interior, whichis the Commonwealth authority for fixing rents for properties of this kind . The honorable member can rest assured that the rents will have a relationship to the cost of the buildings. The Commonwealth Government is not endeavouring tomakeaprofitoutofthepeoplewho will occupyitsdwellings. enlargementofbutter factories.
-I ask the Treasuror whether specialconsiderationwill be given inconnexion withthegranting of permits forthe enlargement ofbutter factories, in order to conform tothe wish of the Government that, asfar as possible, thesefactories should he switched over from the productionof butter to the manufacture of powdered milk, cheese, and so on?
– Consideration will be given to those matters, but the Capital Issues Boardand the board administering the building regulations, must give full consideration to the order of priority of war works.
Dependent Mothers and Invalid Children
– When the last budget was before Parliament, one of the concessions granted to the Opposition was that a deduction from income should be allowed in respect of a dependent mother. Seeing that a taxpayer is also allowed a deduction in respect of medical expenses for his wife and the members of his family, will this concession be extended to cover expenses incurred in respect of a dependent mother?
– The point raised by the honorable member will be considered during the preparation of the budget.
Mr.ROSEVEAR.- Will the Treasurer, when drawing up the next- budget, provide for a deduction in respect of children over the age of sixteen who are invalids and entirely dependent upon their parents?
– Consideration will be given to that subject, just as consideration will be given to all proposals, particularly those for raising the requisite revenue.
– When the Treasurer is preparing the budget, will he consider the making of a reciprocal arrangement with New Zealand so. that residence in that dominion will qualify a person for an old-age pension in Australia, and vice versa ?
– That matter will receive- consideration.
– Under the Loan Conversion Act passed in 1931, the income from £400,000,000 worth of Commonwealth securities is exempt from any higher rate of taxation than that which was in force at the time of the conversion. Will the Treasurer consider taking legislative action to ensure that the bond-holders concerned shall pay their fair share of the cost of this war?
– I shall take the matter into consideration.
– Seeing that there is such a large number of foreigners, particularly refugees from Nazi-ism, resident in Australia, will the Prime Minister have them called up for some form of national service within Australia, or will he establish a foreign legion so that they may have an opportunity to defend Australia, the country which has given them sanctuary ?
– I shall consider the matter.
– In view of the decision of the New South Wales Government to take a poll of the orchardists in New South Wales on a certain matter, will the Commonwealth Government consider taking a poll at the same time on the question of whether or not the apple and pear acquisition scheme should he continued in New South Wales ?
– I did not know that the New South Wales Government was taking a poll of orchardists,but, in any case, I pointout that the apple and pear acquisition scheme applies to Australia as a whole, and not to New South Wales only. A poll taken in New South Wales would he. no indication of the opinion of orchardists throughout Australia.
– In his recent speech the Prime Minister referred to the proposal to appoint control boards and committees to speed up and facilitate the conduct of the war. Will he cause applications to be called in the press for the filling of those positions, thus eliminating the practice of placing nominees on boards and committees, while at the same time ensuring that the abilities and qualifications of applicants shall be taken into consideration?
– In respect of many committees and public appointments I, personally, do not favour calling for applications, believing that that method does not open up the widest field of choice. However, the honorable member’s suggestion will be taken into consideration in any connexion to which it is appropriate.
Report of Committee - Plant in Western Australia.
– Seeing that the Government has decided to implement the sensible recommendations of the Power Alcohol Committee, when may we expect the Treasurer to make a statement setting forth the Government’s pro posals? Will the Treasurergive an assurance that honorable members will have an opportunity to debate the report of the committee andthe Government’s proposals before the House adjourns next week ?
– An abstract of the report, together with the recommendations, will be published very shortly. As a matter of fact, I think they are in the hands of the press now. Whether or not an opportunity can be provided for debating them in the House will depend upon what time is available.
– In view of the decision of the Government to establish a power alcohol plant in Western Australia, will the Assistant Minister for Commerce be prepared . to review the proposed reduction of wheat acreages in that State next year, in order that the plant may be permitted to work to its utmost capacity in the production of power alcohol ?
– The establishment of a power alcohol distillery in Western Australia will have two purposes : one, to provide necessary fuel ; and the other, to absorb wheat which otherwise might be unexportable owing to shipping difficulties. I can see no prospect, therefore, of the Government extending the area under wheat, the disposal of which is already causing embarrassment.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the press report that representatives of the miners and electrical trades unions’ approached the British trade union representative, Mr. Holmes, on the matter of an Australian trade union delegation visiting England in order to obtain first-hand information? Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that the Government will contribute towards the cost of the delegation, and will it be possible to include members of this chamber so that they also may obtain first-hand information?
– The matter of sending a trade union delegation to England was discussed by me with the Trade Union Council when I was in London. I intimated to that body that if it cared to extend an invitation to trade union representatives in Australia to go to England, the Government would give all the assistance it could. That is still the position. TheGovernment is prepared to give all proper assistance to facilitate such a visit.
– When does the Minister for Commerce intend to make his promised statement on the export of butter, cheese, milk and pig products to the United Kingdom?
– In order that the statement may be released simultaneously in Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand, I shall make my announcement this afternoon on the motion for the adjournment of the House.
– In answer to a question by me recently, the Minister for Supply stated that no formal agreement had been entered into with the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, which is controlled by the Baillieu group, though nearly £1,000,000 has been advanced to that concern. I understand that the same applies to the Newnes shale oil undertaking, to which the Government advanced an additional amount of nearly £250,000, without consulting Parliament, and also to various munitions annexes, inrespect of which millions of pounds have beenadvanced. Will the Minister take steps toremedy this extraordinary state of affairs, and have agreements executed in order to protect the interests of thepublic? When considering the appointment of directors of such enterprises, will theGovernment see that its representationis in proportion to the. amount of share capitalcontributed by the Government ? Will it also see that the directors are independent business men, and not interested persons such as Mr. Holmes Hunt, former Government representative on the Newnes-Glen-Davis Company?
– The cost of subsidizing these enterprises is carefully checked, and the Government is protected by a panel of. expert accountants. The honorable member’s other suggestions will receive consideration as far as possible.
Increase of Members
– In view of the need for increasing the number of Ministers to perform the growing work of administration, is it intended to. consider the proposal made by me when the Commonwealth Electoral Act was amended in 1938 to increase the number ofmembers of the House of Representatives to 96, and of senators to 48 in order to enable them to cope with the rapidly increasing work of private members? If this has not yet been considered, will the Prime Minister, seeing that it does not require an alteration of the Constitution, have the matter examined and considered by the Government at the earliest possible moment ?
– The answer to the second part of the honorable member’s question is “ Yes “.
– In his recent broadcast speech, the Prime Minister referred to a proposal for the setting up of a commission to control the coal industry. Is he yet in a position to say when the commission will be appointed, and what the personnel will be?
– I regret that I cannot say when the commission will be appointed, or how it will be constituted, but an announcement will be made as soon as possible.
– As the Child Endow ment Bill was -amended by Parliament to give full benefits in respect of the childrenof aborigines, can the Minister for Social Services state what is the purpose of question No. 9 on the form of application, “Are you an aboriginal native of New South Wales ? Are any of the children named herein aboriginal natives, and is any contribution made towards their support by the Commonwealth or the State?”
– The act provides that endowment payments shall be made in respect of aboriginal children in certain circumstances. The information sought in the form does not affect the operation of the scheme insofar as it applies to those children.
– Will the Prime Minister take action to prevent the wilful destruction of foodstuffs, whether by order of a government board or by an individual, where they are deemed to be unsaleable, and make the surplus available free of charge to low wage earners and invalid, old-age and war pensioners?
– The honorable member’s suggestion will be considered.
– Has the Minister for Commerce received a request from the Government of Western Australia or from any private company for the co-operation of his department to obtain new or second-handmeat-canning plant for use at the Midland J unction abattoir ?
– I am not personally aware whether any such application has been made to the Department of Commerce, which, however, is keenly interested in the establishment of canning works in both Western Australia and South Australia.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the frequent changes which have been made in the office of Minister for External Territories are having an adverse effect upon the administration of the territories and especially upon the development of private enterprise? Will the right honorable gentleman ask the new Minister for External Territories to visit those areas as soon as possible in order to obtain first-hand knowledge of local conditions ?
– If a new Minister for External Territories be appointed, I shall send him to those areas as soon as possible, and with all the better will if the honorable member for Wimmera can give to me a guarantee that during the Minister’s absence there will be no change of government.
– Has the Minister for Commerce received: representations from Australian wool-growers requesting an increase or a review of the fixed price of 13d. per lb. for their wool ? Is the right honorable gentleman still of the opinion that 13d. per lb. for Australian wool is a just price?
– Because of the nature of the wool contract with Great Britain, Australian wool-growers are at present regarding themselves as being the most fortunately situated primary producers in this country. While Great’ Britain is fighting with its back to the wall and day by day its cities are being smashed by enemy bombs, the Commonwealth Government has no intention of asking the Government of the United Kingdom to review the contract.
– Will the Treasurer agree to an ex-tension of the personnel of the Capital Issues Advisory Board by the addition of at least two representatives of building trades’ employees ?Is he aware that the “blanket” attitude of the board on building in New South Wales is seriously affecting bricklayers, carpenters, plumbers and the like? Does the Treasurer know that, in the absence of defence jobs in the State, no other employment can be found for them?
– I am quite prepared to review the constitution of the Capital Issues Advisory Board along the lines suggested by the honorable member. As to building operations in New South Wales, the Minister for Labour brought the matter to my notice a few days ago, and I am making investigations.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General the following questions: - Have the extensions to the General Post Office, Sydney, been completed, and, if so, at what cost ? Was the work done by contract or by day labour? Were such extensions necessary? Is all the available space in the building occupied, or is it a fact that many of the floors may be vacant? How many Commonwealth and State departments are housed, or are to be housed in the building? How many employees of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department will be engaged within the building? What is the total number of employees of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department throughout the Commonwealth?
– If the extensions to the General Post Office, Sydney, had not been absolutely necessary, such an expensive project would not have been recommended. The building and the purchase of the site cost approximately £850,000. The work was done by contract. Recently I had the pleasure of attending an inspection of the building, which revealed that the extra space will not be more than adequate. A little more might not have been superfluous. When the requirements of the staff of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department have been met, no room will be available for any other offices. The number of employees to be housed within the building isapproximately 5,000. The total number of employees of the Postmaster-General’s Department throughout the Commonwealth is about 37,000. In addition to that number, about8,000 are employed in nonofficial post offices. If the honorable member requires any further information upon the subject, he should place his question upon the notice-paper.
– Some time ago, I asked the Prime Minister whether the Government had taken action to reach with the United States of America an agreement upon trade policy and the conservation of dollar exchange. On that occasion, the right honorable gentleman replied that the matter would receive consideration. I now ask him whether any such arrangement is contemplated ?
– I shallexamine the honorable member’s question, and I should like to discuss the matter with him at atime convenient to himself.
Employment of Women
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether it is a fact that women are being trained in the Postal Department to undertake work that was previously performed by male labour? Was such a policyintroduced for the purpose of displacing men who are now employed by the department, or will the women undertake additional work? Will the women be given preference over the large number of applicants who are already listed and awaiting employment in the postal service? If women are to be employed, will they be paid the full rates?
Mr.COLLINS.- As the honorable member knows, thousands of women are employed in the Postmaster-General’s Department. The manner of their employment, the places to which they may be transferred and the rates to be fixed to them are matters of policy within the department.
– On the 19th June, I asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether it was the “ practice of government departments, when letting out defence work on contract, to stipulate that all wages due to workers employed by the contractors are paid before the contract is completed “. In view of the answer which I have received from’ the Minister, will the honorable gentleman take steps to ensure that the wages due to the workers on the Broome aerodrome are paid?
– I shall be pleased to bring the question to the notice of the Minister for the Interior.
Salamaua-W au Road.
Mr.ROSEVEAR. - Can the Minister for External Territories inform me what progress has been made with the construction of the road from Salamaua to Wau? Was the work recommended as an urgent defence job ?
– The construction of the road is progressing slowly. In the central portion, the surveys have not yet been completed. It became necessary to transfer the surveyors from the work to defence jobs, and that has somewhat retarded the progress of construction. I assure the honorable member that if I continue in the office of Minister for External Territories, the work will proceed with great rapidity.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That the House, at its vising, adjourn until Tuesday next, at 3 p.m.
SUPPLY BILL (No.l) 1941-42.
Debate resumed from the 25th June (vide page 413), on motion by Mr. Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- My contribution to this debate will deal with the impact of the war and Australian war policy on rural industries and districts, with particular reference to the recent broadcast speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who announced the Government’s intention to take steps which could well have been taken more than twelve months ago. The Prime Minister’s speech contained reference to proposals to close down non-essential industries. Many of the industries which might be described as non-essential are situated in country towns, and if those industries be closed down, the towns will stagnate. Before non-essential industries in rural areas be closed down, there should be a review of the policy of the Munitions Department which precludes towns with a population of less than 10,000 from participating in war industries. In New South Wales, outside the metropolitan and Newcastle districts, there would not be half a dozen towns with a population of more than 10,000. In my electorate, no towns have a population of more than 10,000, although at least six have populations ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 and are well equipped to undertake the manufacture of Avar requirements, either in whole or in part. I dare say that what can be said about New South Wales in that respect can also be said about the other States.
– At any rate, that is the position of Victoria.
– Yes. A policy which precludes the country towns from assisting the Commonwealth in its hour of greatest peril is ridiculous. When a deputation of members representing country electorates approached the Minister for Munitions (Senator McBride) on this matter he was most sympathetic, but. we want action, not just sympathy. Some authority should be appointed to keep in constant touch with rural manufacturers, engineers and garage proprietors in order to ascertain what facilities they possess which could usefully be employed in the making of munitions or other things required for the prosecution of the war. Until the whole of our industries are harnessed in the war effort, that effort cannot be 100 per cent. efficient. The policy of the Munitions Department to give its orders to capital cities and other large centres of population is to be deplored. If persevered with, country towns, already withering, will become dead places. Before the war, the majority of those towns were centres of prosperity; there was plenty of work in local secondary industries, but now many of them contain dozens of empty houses as the result of people having been attracted by work in the larger cities. There is little or no employment for those who are left. Both in enlistments and in the raising of money for the war effort, country districts have shown patriotism equal to that shown in any other part of Australia.. Their loyalty ought to bo rewarded by allowing them to take part in the manufacture of munitions.
Many country towns are also languishing because compulsory military trainees - to say nothing of the Australian Irnperial Force - are trained in groups 8,000 or 10,000 strong at centres hundreds of miles from their homes, whereas, although I do not pose as a military expert, it is common sense that they should be trained in groups of 1,000 or 2,000 at camps close to the places at which they are recruited. Several reasons exist why that should be done. In the first place, it would be a more economic procedure, because, when camps are at points widely separated from the towns whence the men are called up, the already overtaxed railways service has imposed upon it the almost unbearable burden of having to carry large bodies of troops between the camps and their homes when they are on leave. Secondly, if small camps were established all over the country, the men, even when periods of leave were short, would be able to spend their leave at home and help in their parents’ industry. That is an aspect which should be examined in a period when the rural labour problem is becoming acute. A third aspect is that, under the -present training system, the big cities benefit to the detriment of the small towns from the expenditure of .the trainees’ money when short leave is taken, because the period of leave is too short to enable the troops to return to their home towns. What I have said about militia training applies also to the Air Force, because aerodromes have been situated near larger centres of population, instead of being distributed equitably throughout the Commonwealth.
I appeal to the Government to institute a moratorium for the primary producers who, through no fault of their own, have received: a considerably- diminished income since the war began and now find’ themselves in straitened financial circumstances. Having acquired the whole of the essential primary products of Australia, the Commonwealth Government should take steps forthwith to protect the growers by a moratorium. I agree that members of the Australian Imperial Force are entitled to the protection of a moratorium, but I submit that the primary producers should not be overlooked in this connexion. It was with deep regret that a few days ago I had to convey to primary producers in any electorate the Governrnent’3 intimation that my request for a moratorium for them had been disallowed.- The following extract from a letter which I have received from a ‘primary producer” at Moree sets out the position clearly : -
Unless something is done in “this direction, nml clone pretty quickly, too, a lot of farmers and graziers will be forced off their holdings. The sons of many, of these nien are away fighting, and are looking forward to returning to their father’s properties, and in .many eases some day becoming the owner. Unless legislation is brought in to protect these holdings, and in many cases keep the interest at reasonable rates. T am afraid many soldier sons will be sorely disappointed .upon their return in finding their parents have been forced off.
The Government has taken over the con- trol of various primary products - wool, wheat; meat, butter and fruit - and an obligation rests on it to protect the producers of these commodities without referring the matter to the States.
As was stated by our leader, the Opposition gives general approval to the rationing, of petrol with a view to maintaining stocks of liquid fuel in order to meet an emergency. Since the war began, the Opposition has urged the provision of additional storage for petrol, because it has realized that petrol 13 the lifeblood of .the. nation’s transport, and is, therefore, an essential commodity. We knew that the rationing of petrol was inevitable sooner or later. The Government should have exercised more foresight, and provided for the storage of larger quantities of liquid fuel in safe localities. Had that been done early in the war, the drastic rationing of petrol which has now been decided on would not have been necessary, and instead of a wholesale dislocation of industry, there would have been in this country a reserve of tens of millions of gallons of petrol, and trade and commerce could have been carried’ on with less interruption than now appears inevitable. In fixing the quantity of petrol which motorists are allowed to use, no consideration appears to have been given to the special claims of residents in country districts. People who reside in cities and large towns are able to get from place to place by means of trains, buses, and trains; but many persons who live in country districts have not been allowed enough petrol to enable them to make one trip a month to the railhead. It is not uncommon for a motorist in the country to live 40., 50, or even 100 miles, from the nearest railway station. In the event of sickness or other emergency, the position of these people is desperate. Only a few days ago a case came under my notice in which- a resident in a country district was called upon to take his child 50 miles to the nearest doctor. The child was seriously ill, but the father had to beg petrol from a neighbour before he could undertake the journey. I recently had evidence that two., settlers living- 4 miles and 90 miles respectively from the nearest railway station had been granted the same allowance. The allowance df petrol tocountry motorists should be more liberal. The form to be filled in by an applicant for . liquid fuel should set out the distance of his residence from the nearest town. These anomalies should be rectified without delay.
Since petrol has been rationed, the proprietors of country filling stations have been placed in a serious position. They have to pay cash for all the petrol they obtain, with the result that most of them now carry only about one-third or one-quarter of their usual supplies. I suggest that the Government make arrangements with the major oil’ companies to supply these filling stations, with all of the petrol that they can store, and that it should guarantee payment to ti te suppliers. That would not mean any greater consumption of petrol; but as it would increase the storage of this essential fuel in widely-distributed places, it would be a distinct advantage to the nation in the event of an emergency.
Several instances have come before my notice recently of the deregistering of filling stations by the Liquid Fuel Control Board in New South Wales. Some of these stations,- which have supplied petrol to the public for ten or fifteen years, have changed hands, and the new proprietors have been refused licences. I ask the Minister to issue instructions that every filling station in Australia shall be licensed and allowed to store. petrol to its full capacity. As I have said, that would not increase the consumption ‘ of this commodity. The licensing of twenty filling stations in a town would not mean any greater consumption of petrol than if only one station were licensed. I trust that my representations will he given careful consideration by the Government.
– The Government is asking Parliament for £15,141,000 in order to carry on the services of the country for the first two months of the financial year 1941-42. Of that amount, £5,522,930 is earmarked for defence expenditure. That seems an extraordinary state of affairs in view of the fact that approximately £51,000,000 of the expenditure authorized for the current financial year has not been .expended. That -lag calls for. an explanation by the Government. The position -is so serious as . to call forimmediate attention. The trouble is’ that although we are- supposed to have co ordination in relation to all defence matters, that co-ordination exists only in name. I hope that the War, Expenditure Committee which the government proposes to appoint will investigate this lack of co-ordination.. .1. ,-understand that its function will be to deal with such matters and to check up on defence expenditure generally’.”’ If * it does no more than that it will,1 do a” “very good job. There is also the problem of the centralization of defence- activities. I, and other honorable members from Queensland, have been complaining for the last twelve months about the Government’s lack of consideration for that State in the allocation of defence works. During the last four or five months the Government has endeavoured to give to Queensland a greater share of defence expenditure than was hitherto allotted to it, and a. munition factory is being built in Brisbane. Unfortunately, that factory will not commence production for at least three months. However, as I and a number of my colleagues have said, there is ample scope for more defence work to ha carried out in Brisbane, because there are many factories and engineering workshops in the city which are capable of producing munitions and other war-time necessities. The small volume of defence work that is being done in Brisbane is in the hands of one contractor. He has sub-let many contracts to small engineering shops which,’ if they obtained the contracts direct, could enlarge their staffs and modernize their equipment in orde.r to handle a greater volume of work. It has been said that there are not sufficient’ skilled tradesmen in Queensland to undertake big defence contracts. That is not cor:rect. As the result of the bulk of defence contracts being allocated to Victoria and New South Wales, large numbers of skilled artisans have left Queensland for those -States, and also South Australia^ I have been informed that approximately 5,000 Queensland workmen have accepted munition jobs in other States due to the fact that Queensland has not been given a fair share of defence expenditure. I am aware that the Government is endeavouring -to train men for technical jobs in .Queensland as in other States. This work is being, carried out at the
Queensland Technical College, which I visited a few weeks ago in order to- see how far training had proceeded. I was very pleased to see the1 efficient way in which the men were doing their, work. But in carrying out this training work, with the co-operation of the State Government, the Commonwealth is acting detrimentally to the apprenticeship training system for Queensland hoys-. The workshop” that is- being used for the training of defence workers was used for many years for the training of apprentices, which has- been considerably retarded’. Many apprentices are not able to continue their training satisfactorily because of the lack of facilities. I was surprised to notice that most of the machines being used in the . workshop were 25 years old. Only two- machines out of a la’rge number- were anything like new. They might: have been good enough for -apprentices training for ordinary civil occupations, but only the most up-to-date equipment should be used to instruct men for defence trades. The State Government, in- co-operation with the Commonwealth’ Government, has decided to build a new workshop, which is being erected- close to the existing building. When I inquired whether new machines would be installed there, I was surprised to learn that the 25-year-old machines were to be transferred from the old workshops. That should not be done. The State Government was prepared to assist in providing proper equipment for the new workshop, but the Commonwealth Government refused to make funds available for the purpose. In doing so it was bound by a very short-sighted policY. If men are to be trained for highly-skilled work in munition factories, they should be instructed in the use of the most modern machinery that it is possible to procure. The responsibility attaches to the Commonwealth, because the manufacture of munitions is a Commonwealth undertaking. I have heard many complaints that, when the men are trained for munition work, the Commonwealth Government will not find employment for them in factories and annexes. I have here a letter from a resident in my electorate, who states that although he passed the necessary trade tests and paid for his own training in engineering, fitting and turning, he has not been able to obtain a satisfactory answer from the Commonwealth authorities to his- request for a job in a munition factory. -This is another instance of bottlenecks m our war effort. The letter states -
Re Mi:. Menzies’ speech on tlie air on the 17th June, 1041, Mr. Menzies spoke on munitions and the lack of skilled and’ semi-skilled nien for tikis industry. Three months’ ago I passed tlie test Set by the Government for munitions workers. I was not even notified of the result of the- examination hut had to go to the college to find out. There they could not even tell me when I would be called on. I consider that the time- and money spent on training myself for this job is absolutely wasted. I ca.n name a dozen men in this district who, like myself, wasted their time and money to train themselves to help t?he country and who are not being used. Some of them, like myself; would not accept if called on now.
Many young men whom I know have offered their services in various’ capacities as- munition works. but their offers have not been accepted. I hope that the Government will give serious consideration to this important matter. I believe that there are plenty of skilled, and semiskilled tradesmen in Queensland, and if that State is given more of the defence work to which it is justly entitled, our war. effort will proceed more efficiently and quickly than it is doing at present.
I refer now to the Commonwealth Government’s treatment of the widows of members of the Australian Imperial Force who have been accidentally killed. Only a few weeks ago in this House I drew the attention of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to a case which had come to my notice, but so far the right honorable gentleman has not given a reply to my representations. I have received many complaints from individual residents of Brisbane, and from returned soldier organizations, complaining of the Government’s attitude towards these unfortunate women. Tlie case that I have in mind is that of Gunner W. John Simmonds, No. QX9651. He enlisted in the Australian. Imperial Force with the approval of his wife, who was prepared for him to go overseas in the service of the nation. ‘Unfortunately, after he had been vaccinated he became very sick and was given three or four days’ sick leave. During that period he was compelled to visit Brisbane, and -while he was there he was- knocked down by a motor car. He died on the following day. His widow made representations to the Repatriation Department at the suggestion of a number cf returned soldier organizations which became very interested in the case. Her application to the Repatriation. .Department for a pension was refused on the ground that her husband’s death did not take- place whilst he was engaged on military duty. This unfortunate woman is now left .to provide for herself and her son, aged ten years, as best she can. When I last heard of her she was living on government rations. It is scandalous for the department to claim that the soldier was not engaged on military duty’ at the time of his death. The Government has made no preparation to meet such cases. As I pointed out when I first brought this matter before the Prime Ministersuch cases are fortunately very few. Probably there have not been more .than two or three in Queensland’ since the outbreak of the war. Nevertheless^- the Government should . either . amend- the Repatriation Act to provide for the payment of - pensions- or make a compassionateallowance to the dependants of soldiers killed in circumstances such -as I have outlined. The cost .to the Commonwealth would be- very small. I feel sure that the people generally would favour the granting of a pension to the dependants of these men. ‘
I propose now to direct the attention ‘of the Government to the’ differential treatment meted out to service pensioners as compared with invalid and old-age pensioners.. The Treasurer (-Mr. . Fadden) will remember that, in the budget which he presented last year, provision was made for an increase of the rate of invalid,’ oldage and service pensions of ls. a week, anc! the Invalid -and .Old-age Pensions Act was amended to provide for automatic adjustments of the pension rate in accordance with -the rise and fall of the cost of living. When the amending bill was before the House, I asked whether it was proposed to adjust the rate of service pensions in the same way, and I was informed that that was the intention of the Government. Service pensioners should be placed in exactly -the same position as invalid and old-age pensioners because before a returned soldier can qualify for a service pension, he must be physically unfit and unemployable. The intention of the Government in granting service pensions was to provide- for ‘those burntout soldiers who, for some reason or other, were not entitled to a war pension, and who had not yet reached the qualifying age for an old-age pension. “We find now, however, that, although an automatic increase has been made in respect of invalid and -old-age pensions as the result of the increased cost of living, no similar advance has been made in the rate of service pensions. The reason given by the Pensions Department is that service pensioners are in an altogether different category from invalid and old-age pensioners in that service pensions are paid not only to the soldier but also to his wife. That is true, but I point out to the Treasurer that there are thousands of. service pensioners who are either bachelors or widowers. In my electorate there is- a .war veterans’ home which cares for a large- number of former .members of the first Australian Imperial Force. AH of the inmates are either bachelors or widowers. -They claim that, as they have no dependants, their position- is no different from that of an invalid or old-age pensioner.
– The automatic adjustment clause was not inserted in the Repatriation Act under which service pensions are paid?
– No. During the budget .debate, however, we were told that service pensioners and invalid and old-age pensioners would he treated alike.
– That is so.
– I trust that the Treasurer will give earnest consideration to this matter.
Honorable members on this side of the House have repeatedly complained of the methods adopted by the Government to finance our war effort. The Government claims -that it is following orthodox methods of finance; but we believe that, instead of imposing higher taxes upon the people the credit, resources of the nation should be utilized to a greater degree. The .Government claims that already our credit resources have been drawn on to the limit of safety. I have not been able to obtain definite -figures* but it appears that the Commonwealth Bank is utilizing the credit resources of the country’ to ‘ a value of between £40,000,000’ and £50,000,000. Whilst I am satisfied that in this respect there must be a limit, I am not at all sure that the Government is making the fullest use of our national banking institution- in this direction as was done during the la3t war. Documents which I have, in my possession disclose startling information about the operations of the Commonwealth Bank., When the last war broke out the Commonwealth Bank, which then had a capital of only £10,000,000,” was able, under the able guidance of the late Sir Denison Miller, to provide millions of pounds to finance the war, and to assist needy primary producers. Since then, however, the functions of our national bank have been changed. The Story of the Commonwealth Bank, by Mr. D. J. Arnos,, the contents of which are- in accord with Jauncey’s work, and also with the subject-matter of The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, by C. C. Faulkner, is a most enlightening pamphlet. After some introductory paragraphs, in which the writer traces the history of the bank from 1910’ onwards, the pamphlet states -
Then, in 1914, came the war, and with, it an amending act (24 of 1914), giving the hank power to raise its capital to £10,000,000, arid to take over other banks and savings banks. The bank did not, at this period, make use of cither, of these powers-, but the services it rendered to the people of the -Commonwealth during the war were immense. Under the regime of the private ‘banks . the flotation expenses of a loan in- London, which Australian governments had to Pay, were £3 ,per cent. ; but tile Commonwealth- Bank floated “ over £230;000,000 of loans for a charge of 5s. 7d. per cent., tiwis1 saving Australians some £6,000,000 in bank charges - and then the bank made a (profit of 2s. .per cent. It saved’ the Australian primary producer from stark ruin by, financing pools of wheat, iw.ool, meat, butter, cheese,, rabbits, and, sugar to the total amount of £430,000,000; it found £2,000,000 for the purchase of the Commonwealth Fleet of Steamers, which again saved the primary .producer from ruin through- lack of transportation facilities to his markets overseas; and it enabled Australia to transfer abroad, with the maximum of- efficiency and the -minimum - of expense, £3,500,951 for the payment of her soldiers.
The writer then refers to the Commonwealth Bank Act, No. 43 of 19-20, under which the Australian note issue was entrusted to a department of the bank, and goes on -
Until 1924, when the bank was effectually strangled, the benefits conferred upon the people of Australia ‘by their .bank flowed steadily on. lt financed’ jam and fruit pools to the extent of £1 ,500,000 ; it found £4,000,000 for Australian homes; while- to local government bodies-, for construction of roads, tramways, harbours, gasworks, electric power plant, &c.” it lout- £9,-3(iO,000. It paid to the Commonwealth Government between ‘-December, 1920, and -June, 1923, £3,097,000 - the profits of its note issue department - while by J 924 it had made on its other business a -profit of £4,500,000, available for redemption of debt.
The following para-graph is also most interesting, for it- indicates the view of the then Governor of the- bank, the late Sir Denison Miller: -
When, during an interview in 1021, Sir Denison Miller was asked if he, through the Commonwealth Bank, had financed Australia during the war for £350,000,000, he replied: “Such- was the case; and I could have financed the country for a further like sum had the war Continued “. Again, asked if that amount was available for productive purposes in time of peace, he answered in the affirmative.
In the light of that statement,, there can be no doubt that the late Sir Denison Miller would gladly have used the services of the bank for peace requirements as he. had used them during the last war. In these circumstances, I consider that the Government should draw upon the resources of the bank to a much greater degree during, this war than it has hitherto seen fit to do. If the credit resources of the nation were expanded through the instrumentality of the bank, the people could be relieved of many of the heavy taxes they now have to pay. This would be of immense advantage, particularly to the poorer sections of the community who are least able to pay heavy taxes.
.- This debate has already lasted a considerable time, and much. that has been said has of necessity related to special- subjects. In the few -remarks that I wish to make I shall take a more general outlook, for I feel that we need to look not only to the trees ‘ of the wood, but also to the wood -itself. In the past few months many people in Australia have looked with much anxiety to the future and I believe that, speaking generally, they will endorse the views expressed by the honorable member -for Boothby (Dr. Price), in the most in-: teresting speech- which he delivered this week, and upon which I congratulate him, concerning the proposals submitted to Parliament and the country by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Those proposals are certainly of wide significance and I believe that if they are implemented they will give to the country the lead that it desires. At present the proposals are only words. That, of course, is unavoidable for the simple rea-. son that the plans have to be stated in detail, organization has to be provided, and the necessary instructions issued, before we may look for results. The country desires, and I believe that the Government will take, quick action to ensure a speedy implementation of the Prime Minister’s proposals.
The honorable member for Boothby remarked that the country would welcome the approval given to these proposals by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). I regret to say that I consider that the honorable gentleman’s approval was somewhat cold and unenthusiastic. The country would have been better pleased had his utterance been more full-blooded and robust than it was. What we need to-day is a strong and resolute policy and only such a policy as that will meet the wishes of the entire population. I was also disappointed, and -felt some concern, in consequence of two impressions made upon me by the speech of the ‘Leader of the Opposition. It appeared to me that he viewed the position in- the Middle -East with a good deal- -of. unnecessary pessimism. We all are -aware, that the position there is not as satisfactory as it might be, but the Leader of the. Opposition, and indeed some -other honorable gentlemen who have discussed the subject, have- seemed to me when discussing the . Middle East to be looking for a kind of back doorway of escape. If that be the case they are, in my opinion, quite wrong. I may be doing those honorable gentlemen an injustice, but that is nevertheless the effect that their utterances have had upon me. I believe that many people in Australia who have read the reports of their speeches have felt similarly. Hon orable-members of this House, who have served in the Army abroad,, some in the front line, will know that a soldier in the actual battle area who has his mind turned to a means of escape, is not of first-class value as a fighter. That .statement may be applied with equal aptnessto the leaders of political parties and of political thought in this country. The pessimistic outlook qf certain of these honorable gentlemen concerning the situation abroad is not in conformity with the needs of the present situation. The Leader of the Opposition also spoke of the Middle East and Singapore as the outer bastions of Australia’s defence. I suggest that they are much more than that. In my view they are part of the main line of our defence. The citadel of Australia’s defence is not inside of this country, as many people seem to think, but it is in the British Isles. As long as Great Britain stands, and the British Navy controls the seas, I do not think that we in Australia have great cause for anxiety. There has been some suggestion, both inside of this House and out of it,” of a possible withdrawal of our troops from abroad. The mere idea of such a thing seems to m_e to suggest the isolationist outlook, and the snail withdrawing into its shell. The history of this war has taught us that the isolationist policy has been disastrous in every country where it has been supported. .
– Who is advocating that policy in this Parliament?
– Quite a number of honorable members have given me the’ impression, that they favour it. If they do not, ‘ I am sorry, that I have’ gained, a wrong impression. The truth is that the defence of Australia is bound up with, and is integral to, the defence of the Empire. We should keep that thought continually in our minds when we are reviewing the overseas situation.
The second impression that I obtained from the speech of the Leader of the Opposition was that he considered that the strengthening of our forces overseas was likely to be detrimental to our production of the essential materials of war in Australia. Every one will agree with the honorable gentleman that it is essential that we should increase our productive capacity for war purposes, but I believe that it is. quite wrong to place an undue emphasis on this aspect of the subject to the detriment of our fightingforces overseas. Every one realizes1, of course,, that, a man without a gun is not of much use,, but it seems- to me that: a gun without a man is even worse. The two ,’ requirements should be kept in mind together. Undue emphasis should not be’ placed on the one or the . other. , Everybody in. the country desires that we shall make the best war effort of which we are capab’le and I consider that Australia has so far. done a good job. We have sent abroad Targe numbers of troops and, to- a certain, degree, we have equipped them, and- in so doing we, have done well. I believe, however,, that what has been, done so far isonly an indication of what will be required of us in the future. Certain criticisms of our war effort have been uttered in this House and in. other places in Australia,, and certain comparisons of what we have done in Australia have been made with what other dominions have, done., Such- comparisons are not helpful for, in order that comparisons may beof value, the things compared must be more or less on a par. The circumstances of Canada,’ South Africa and other dominions are not exactly similar to our own, and therefore comparisons of the war effort of: those dominions with that of Australia are not helpful. The- situation in Canada is far different from the position in this “country; Canada has done extremely well, but Canada, so to speak, is “ sitting pretty “.. It is protected, as has already been said by the President of the United States of America, by the Monroe Doctrine; and has beside it the enormous potential strength of the United States of America. Honorable members also know that the political set-up in . South Africa is different from what it. is in this country. New Zealand, and Australia, on, the other hand, are remote islands, far from any other country. Consequently,, we must rely upon ourselves .at. least as far as our -fighting services are concerned. In addition, our powers of production are comparatively limited. This is due partly to our small, population, and also to the fact that we do not control the. sources of all the raw materials that we require. So far as war supplies from outside are concerned we, as much as the remainder of the Empire, must look mainly to the UnitedStates of America, which has already done magnificent work for our cause. Therefore, when the; Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) talks, as many of us do, of this country becoming am arsenal’ for not only ourselves, but also- India, New Zealand and other countries we should realize- that our possibilities in this’ respect are severely limited. When, we talk, of arsenals we ‘must look mainly towards the United States of America. In. respect of our defence potentialities, I suggest that a more useful comparison canbe made between Australia and Germany. Germany has a population of about- 75,000,000 pure. Germans, that is., about ten: times’, our own population. The number of German- army divisions is variously given at from 220 to 250-,. but. we can safely put the number of divisions- at. 200; In. addition, Germany has the largest air fores in the world. That force is well-equipped- and well-manned. It also has a fleet which is at least of some importance; and -behind those forces it has an enormous production of warmaterials of all kinds. Relatively, onthe basis of that comparison with Germany we. can. readily see how far short we fall- of our possibilities. I do not. suggest that we could have done more than we have done in the short time that has been available to us. However, in relation, to the strength of Germany’s forces,, we should1 be able to increase the. number of our- army divisions withoutdetriment to our manufacturing capacity, or to our other fighting- services. The Leader of the Opposition and other leaders of Labour have had much to say about what they describe as a full war effort. The term “ full “ has a- definite connotation y nothing can be. fuller than full. I often wonder, however, whether honorable members who ma:ke that statement realize its full significance.
The subject of conscription has been discussed in this chamber from time to time. On the one hand some honorable members- opposite are categorically opposed to conscription; they think that it is wrong. On the other hand, some honorable members on this side urge .the necessity for conscription. I hays always wondered why conscription is regarded as a party matter, as it appears tobe regarded in this chamber. Conscription should be judged entirely on its merits, dissociated from any political background at all. I can quite understand anybody objecting to conscriptionwhen we are engaged in a partial Avar, as was, for instance, the South AfricanWar, in which great issues were not at stake. But in an all-in Avar like the present conflict,in which the stakes are survival or extinction, the situation is entirely different, and the problem of conscription, therefore, should now be decided entirely on its merits. We should simply consider whether conscription is necessary to our survival. That point has been argued at considerable length. With the exception of Canada and South Africa every country which is now at war, or threatened by war, has introduced conscription, be it a dictatorship or democratic country, and regardless of whether it is ruled by a Communist, Labour or Conservative government. Each of those countries has come to the conclusion that conscription is necessary to its defence. We have had. universal training for some time, and, so far as I am aware, no objection has been raised to that system either in this Houseor outside. Iam unable todiscernwhether the objection to conscription in this country is mainly an objection to the compulsion of men to serve outside of Australia, or whether it is purely an objection to the principle of conscription. We have unanimously agreed to the principle of universal training, but some object to that principle in so far as service overseas is concerned. Surely, the real issue in this matter is whether the defence of this country can best.be ensured by fighting inside or outside of Australia. As a soldier I maintain that, in the present circumstances, our defence can be carried out much better abroad than inside of Australia. I say further that should Ave suffer reverses which compel us to withdraw our forces within our own country, our position will be desperate indeed. I believe that there is no one in this country to-day who is not filledwith anxiety as to the future. We go about our daily lives cheerfully, because cheerfulness is part of our make-up as a nation. Speaking for myself, however, I cannot say that I go about daily with the same lightheartedness and individualistic outlook on life as I did before the war came upon us. I do not mean that I am in anyway down-hearted. I believe that if,as a nation,we remain really true to our traditions we shall win this struggle. History shows thatalong with the many faults of our race, wehave inherited the virtue of common sense, which not only enables us to see the essentials of the dangers which confront us, but also tells us how to pull together in combating those dangers. However, I sometimes wonder whether thatvirtue is not beginning towear a bit thin. It is true that we are completely united inour determination to carry on this struggle and to see it through. However, when it comes to putting our purpose into action, there becomes evident in not only this House but also in the country, very definite signs of dissension. Wehave had discussions on the subject of a national go-‘ vernment. I shall not enlarge upon that point, because I knowof nothing that I can say, or do, that would persuade honorable members opposite to change their views on that matter,which, of course, is a matter entirely for themselves to decide. However, I feel that a national government is not a cause, but an effect of national unity. If this country as a wholewere as united as I,personally, would like to see it, a nationalgovernmentwould come as a matter of course. When I say united, I do not mean being united in purpose, alone, but also in the manner in which that purpose is to be achieved. I remember thatwhen Iwas a young soldier and joined my first battery of artillery I met an officer ofwide experience and much wisdom. He said to me: “ Many tasks youwill have to face in life. Remember this, that out of the hundred way’s it is possible to achieve success in a task there are at least 75 ways of doing it, provided you put into your effort all your forces and determination.” It seems to me that Avhat Ave require these days is to find some common denominator of action whichwill satisfy the big majority of our people.
Sittingsuspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Theworld to-day is strewnwith the debris of countries which have been disunited, and. this country, and every other country which values its independence and intends to keep it, can very well draw a- lesson from what is happening elsewhere. I had the advantage of travelling through France in 1939, just before the outbreak of the present war, and I have also had tlie further advantage of living in that part of the world for a considerable portion of my life. I have a large number of friends and acquaintances in France. I travelled through France on my return to Australia, partly to visit my friends, and partly to find out for myself just what the situation was in that country, and what was the feeling of its people after the signing of the Munich pact. My acquaintances include a representative cross-section of the community, ranging from politicians and generals, to business people and other citizens, and during my stay of three weeks I had1 long conversations with various sections of the people. When I left France I was appalled at the situation as I saw it. I felt then - and my fears were soon confirmed - that France was not in a position to stand up to the powerful thrust by Germany which appeared likely to develop. There was a very strong Left wing, composed largely’ of Communists, and supported by what may be termed the extreme radicals of the- Labour movement. These people looked almost exclusively to Moscow for directions. At the other extreme was the Right wing, a- very strong force, which looked .to Berlin. The Right wing adherents believed that France was breaking up under the influence of Moscow, .and they thought that salvation could be brought about only by the adoption of some form of Fascist regime such as that which they believed had brought about many beneficial results in Germany. Between those two extreme groups were’ innumerable parties and smaller groups, all of which had their own views as to what was the best method to handle the situation, and to achieve the aims for which they were striving. In the welter of opinions I could see no definite unity of purpose, and no possibility of unity of action in the future. As I have said, I left that country completely appalled at the prospect which confronted it. I do not suggest that there is a basis of comparison bet-ween France at that time’ and Australia at the present juncture^ but I do- contend that there are elements in our national life which in some ways are very disturbing to any thinking man. It is useless to suggest that there is any unity of purpose as to the way in which the affairs of this country should be conducted at present.. We have all sorts of ideas as to what should and what should not be done, but there are wide differences of opinion between primary producers, industrialists, Labour party adherents, and the hundred and one other small interests in this country. Our endeavour should be to bring about harmony between those sections so that, each can devote its wholehearted attention to the winning of the war, which is the main job before the country at present.
There are two, or possibly three,. major divergencies of opinion. I have already referred to one of them, namely, conscription. The second is the conflict between capital and labour. I listened yesterday with great interest to the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Dedman) when he was speaking of the way in which this country should carry on the war. If my recollection be right, he said that we could not achieve a full war effort under a capitalist system, and he suggested ways and means, to alterthat system. He advocated amongst other things the taking over by the Government from private individuals the control of all rents, profits and interest charges. I am not here to defend the capitalist system. That is something which may be argued interminably, but this is not the time to debate it. Under that system, whatever one may say,, this country has achieved not only .considerable success, but also a- very large degree of prosperity.
– Jit has achieved two wars within the space of a few years.
– This country achieved’ considerable prosperity after the last war, and the fact remains that we have enjoyed a measure of prosperity in this country which compares more than favorably with that of any other country under socialism or under any other form of government.
-Where is there a country under socialism?
-Russia calls itself socialistic. The point I wish to make is that in the present tangled state of world affairs it would be Very unwise to change our system. All our energies should be devoted to the pressing task of pursuing: our war effort. Any change now would entail enormous dislocation at a time when it is essential that the machinery of government should run smoothly.
– When would be a good time to change?
Mr.RYAN. - When the war has been won.
– My point is that we can- not win the war unless a change be made.
– I know that that is the honorable member’s point, but my contention is that we shall not win the war if a change be made at this juncture. The time is not opportune for an attempt to change the fundamentals of our present system, because such an effort would inevitably cause serious dislocation and disunity, which would impede our war effort. So far as I know, no country has yet given an impressive demonstration of whatever merits there may be in the system advocated by some honorable members opposite. We have read a great deal about socialism1 and many people talk’ of it, but when it comes to practical politics, its advantages have yet to be proved. Many of those who advocate socialism may be termed doctrinaires, who do not know exactly what is involved in the system which they are championing, or what it would lead to if it were put into practice. At present, we should avoid introducing controversial issues into the affairs of this country, because such action can result only in disruption. I conclude by suggesting that we should try to find some common denominator upon which the whole country could base its war effort. If we introduce controversial matters, we shall only weaken the nation. I suggest also that the proposal’s put forward by the PrimeMinister last week provide a very good basis on which to maintain and develop Australia’s war effort.
.- I rise to offer some criticism of the Government’s policy. It would of course be strange for me not to find one or two things to complain of with regard to the control of the situation which at present confronts us. I join issue with the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Dedman) and say to the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) that I also believe that, unless fundamental changes are made in our social structure, it will be impossible for the capitalist nations alone and unaided to succeed in this war. The honorable member for Flinders said that any change of the present system would divide the. people and’, consequently, impede our war effort. I believe, however, that any division that might take place as a result of the introduction of a new order in our national life would not be amongst the people as such, but amongst the privileged few in the community who batten on the labour of others, and who, either collectively or individually, are not doing anything even now to improve our war effort.
– By way of sacrifice?
– Yes. The capitalists in this country would lose their enthusiasm for the war if they thought that their privileges and profits were to be taken from them. Why is it that the capitalists who run this country have to talk of compelling men to fight? It is not because the people lack patriotism, but because they are disgusted and dissatisfied with the way in which the present Government is conducting the affairs of this country.
– Why is compulsion required in Russia ?
– It would be better if the honorable member for Flinders paid a little attention to what is happening in his own country before showing so much interest in what is happening in other countries. If the honorable member will bring himself back to Australia, which, after all, is what vitally concerns us at the moment, he will find ample evidence of why the people are not enthusiastically supporting the policy of this Government, and why the Government has to talk of compelling men to enter the various defence services. First, take the matter of enlistments in the Australian Imperial Force. The capitalists of this country have made no sacrifice in this war at all sofaraswecan discover from a perusal of the public balance-sheets of such organizations as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, Electrolytic Zinc Company (Australasia) Limited,- or any of those big monopolist concerns. -Even after making large distributions of bonus shares, these organizations have great difficulty in keeping the profits; down to a figure which will not attract undue public attention. The only’ people actually making a sacrifice in this war are the workers themselves. They” are asked .to fight .the war, and also to make- other., sacrifices.: Then, when the war is. oyer, they will be asked, to continue making sacrifices, so that thecapitalists may continue to draw, interest from their, war-time investments. The allowance- given by the Government’ to a man who fights in the Australian. Army is paltry considering the service he’ is asked ‘to render and the risks he has to take. Despite, the assurance given by the Minister for the Army (Mr, Spender), these men are sent .into- action insufficiently (provided with the equipment which we would expect a modern army :to have. Having been , challenged in . this Parliament: by” - the . honorable member .for Cook ; - (Mr. .(Sheehan),. ; the .Minister : read-, a: long ‘statement but did. not. give- any –details.: He merely told us what .we have been’ told on many occasions’, namely that- the’ men were :properly equipped,’ that they had adequate protection from artillery, and that they were only infantry regiments. I have seen letters received in-Australia from “men who served in the Grecian campaign. ‘I have ‘spoken to -some of the men who have returned to Australia, and can assure the House thatthere men do -not share the opinion of the Minister that they -were properly ‘provided -with the ‘equipment necessary to protect -them against’ those ‘ whom -they had to meet in combat.’- I was rather surprised -that’ one of the letters I have seen should have “passed the censor. The -writer of it said that, for the last few days of the campaign, although there were hundreds Upon hundreds of German planes ‘bombing them incessantly, and they prayed for nightfall, ‘ very rarely did they see a single British ‘-plane in the sky.. Further, the Australians, when retreating to’ the coast, had to attempt to fight off dive ‘bombers with Lewis guns
Mr. Word. mounted on motor lorries. I should like the Minister to tell me whether he considers that those men were properly equipped to enter such a theatre of war. I take the opposite view. Whoever was responsible - whether”, the Government acted on the advice of. the .British High Command or on the . advice of its own officers- somebody blundered badly in the campaigns in Greece and Crete. The lives of many thousands of Australians, were sacrificed because of the incompetency, and 1. inefficiency of - somebody - the. Government of this country or another, authority.. Therefore “I . say to.- the honorable member for Flinders thatif, in- addition’ to ‘ ill-paying- -and .often ill-treating members ‘of the forces”, . the Government is prepared .to have them thrown into different theatres of warwithout any- prospect of being able to make a reasonable defence against those, opposed to them - if that be the .best’ effort, which the capitalists of this country can make in the provision of adequate defence against the enemies. of this nation - we- could not- be worse off -than, we -are, and- any change would .be for the better. “-Many persons: are -making con-, siderable sacrifices -in order to- enter the. Australian Imperial Force to-day.. They, accept very small -pay and, .in addition,; do’ not-.secure -the best of treatment when they come under the control pf- the military bureaucracy. - I. ‘brought before ‘this Parliament certain happenings at Holdsworthy ‘ detention camp.’ -The Minister for the Army- attempted to brush aside my- statements as ‘being irresponsible and incapable of substantiation, hut eventually he was compelled to admit that there’ was every justification for the charges 1 had made. A report; submitted hy the” ©nicer ‘appointed by the Government to make an’- investigation ‘stated’ definitely that the camp commandant a’t Holdsworthy had been guilty of a breach of the regulations. The Minister’ decided to transfer the captain concerned to another sphere, of activity; but he was not disrated, and still occupies the ‘same rank and draws the sameemoluments as previously. This discrimination in the treatment of troops iscausing a’ good deal of dissatisfaction. If an ordinary private in the Army happens to miss a train and arrives at the camp a little late he is severely penalized for what might he termed merely an accidental breach of military regulations; but a .captain who’ occupied the position of camp- commandant at detention .barracks, where it was proved that men had been brutally treated and conditions existed which amazed members- of this- Parliament, is allowed to retain the; rank and to draw the same -pay as he held and drew up to the time when the charges against him were substantiated’.
Let us consider the treatment received 8y. the men who- made such a heroic stand in the . fighting in. Greece. Some of those who have returned to Australia I have met personally. “When they were ordered to evacuate Greece, they were told’ to destroy and discard’ as much as possible, of .their equipment, and even of their clothing. They -ran their bayonets through millions of tins- of -foodstuffs. They were given axes with which .to smash the motor waggons. They tore up their overcoats. They .were told that there would be plenty of equipment- as soon as they reached their destination. Some of them arrived at Alexandria clad, only in slacks and khaki shirts. Some were immediately drafted to a convoy which was leaving for Australia,, bringing out prisoners of war. They readily embraced the opportunity to return to Australia in order to visit their homes. Although they had been assured that plenty of equipment would’ be available, they actually arrived in the colder climateof Australia with no more equipment than they had when they left’ Greece; Until their arrival here, they Were not given even military overcoats; yet the war prisoners whom they were guarding’ on board ship could walk the decks during; the voyage1 clad in’ those overcoats. If the Government sincerely .believes all that it has said since the. fighting took place, this was rather peculiar’ treatment. Those men. had tff complain, protest, threaten to expose the Government in the newspapers, and seek the assistance of Labour members’ of. Parliament, before the military authorities iii this country were prepared to act. That the Government, which boasts of its organizing’ ability and efficiency, could not provide them with protection against the elementswhich was provided for prisoners of war, is, indeed, a sorry state of affairs. Of the men who returned5, 40 were from Western Australia. They could have Been- allowed to- disembark in their home State before the convoy came to- the eastern States, but’ all of them- were taken to Sydney, and! given leave. When they desired to return to Western Australia, it was discovered- that no- transport facilities were available for ‘them. They were first told that they would’ leave for their home State on a- Tuesday night, but those- arrangements were cancelled - because there- was no’ accommodation for them on the train-. Arrange- ments were- then made for .them– to leaveon the Thursday, but these, too, were; cancelled, because there was still no’ accommodation. Having been over a week- in Sydney, they were eventually ableto return to Western Australia. Whilein Sydney, these privates, who had: fought and made sacrifices ‘ in Greece, were . accommodated-, not ‘.at the Hotel Metropole or- the Australia Hotel’, where they would have received the best of treatment, but at the- Royal. Agricultural’ Showground, . where an agricultural show had recently, been held. They were put in the stalls which,, during the’ show period, had been occupied by cattle!’ Can one wonder that there is- dissatisfaction, and .that men are not rushing in thousand’s to offer their services?’ These- are intelligent meir. They can read and reason. They know when they are being unfairly treated, and what message . they should convey to other Australians-.
Many of the men who enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force thought that (hey would be members of -fighting units;, but having -joined up, they found that the officer class needed a- good’ deal of attention, and many of them, instead of being trained as fighters, have had toserve in the capacity of “ slushies for the “ brass hats “’, in. the different, services. They have objected’ and ‘protested; but the Government, instead of : rectifying the position, has had many of them courtmartialled and .severely punished, because they wanted’ to fight, not to act as- “ slushies “ for the “. brass hats “. This is one reason for the response, to the appealfor recruits f ailing, below i expectations. Take the case of a man who was recently court-martialled. At -the age of fifteen years, lie enlisted for the last war, and served in it. “When he; returned to Australia he continued: to train as a member’ of” the Militia,” and in” an ‘ honorary; capacity to act as an instructor. When the present, war. “commenced, he offered his ‘services, to the. Government and was given, commissioned, rank. He acted as an instructor .-in one of the, military camps.. - But ;under” a new order issuedby * the “High . Command, “ it; was- decided; thfi fc he was too old to. have commissioned; rank, and must return to the rank of private, .although he had served for 8-J years, much of his service having been given in an honorary capacity. His commission was taken from him, and he was replaced by a cadet very young in year3 and experience, who had been in the camp for a matter of only a few weeks. The older man naturally protested against” this treatment, and demanded to be taken to the camp commandant. When he received no satisfaction in that quarter, he decided to go higher. Although military regulations, I understand, give this right, he was told that he could not go higher. Up to that time, he had not one black mark against his name in amilitary record extending over 8£ years. He walked out’ of the camp in order that the .military police might pick him up and some attention might thereby be paid’ to his case.” He returned to’ his home, and did” not ‘leave it. . Although the military authorities knew where he lived, they did; not worry about him. Eventu- ally, he went, to the Bourke-street. barraacks, . and ‘ s a id that h e , was . . absent Without’ leave’; so he. was -locked up. Some . inquiries .were made into his case, and the i authorities, decided ‘to transfer, him”, to another camp. .When he was. taken ‘ to . that camp, under guard the camp comm’anda’nt said he did -not want him, and he was taken back to the Bourke-street. barracks, where he was again locked up. Eventually, an inquiry was held into his case, and he was court.martialled. after the lapse of eleven months. To show that this soldier’s offence was not viewed very seriously, it was. decided that he could return to the “Army; hut a penalty was imposed on him, which included the loss Of military pay for 365 days. He is a married man, and has to allot 3s. a day tq his wife. Therefore; he will have tq serve in this war for- 3-J years,” if it lasts so long, before he will -receive any payment for -himself.- ‘I ask honorable members whether they consider . that such treat-“ ment is- conducive to arousing any enthusiasm .in the present policy of tha Government?.
Yesterday, Parliament -decided, to. approve the appropriation of. approximately ‘£3,000, -in order that three additional Ministers may . be -appointed who
*ill “be -rewarded for performing certainextra duties which, it is. said, they will now undertake. Yet when dealing with; the dependants of soldiers, the Government is much more niggardly. The soldier son of a woman who lives ‘ in Bathurst made to her an allotment of 3s. a day. She was also receiving a dependant’s allowance of 3s. a day, but recently was advised by the military authorities that it had been decided to reduce that allowance from 3s- to ls. 6d. a day. When die wanted to know what it was all about, she could not obtain satisfaction, so wrote to me asking if T would make inquiries. The reply that I ‘ received from the military authorities was as follows: -
I have to advise that a dependant’s allowance of ls. Cd. a day only waa approved in this case, as investigations showed that Mrs. Smith is in employment as a cleaner at the. Technical Trades School at Bathurst’,- and is in receipt of wages of £1 2s. 2d. a week.
Because she earned £1 2s. 2d. a week the Government reduced the dependant’s’ allowance by 1.0s; 6d. a week.-‘ Bo honor-, able members consider that fair and just treatment .of a mother who . was attempt-‘, ing to .put away as much money, as.’ possible for her son ‘ to . provide f or’.:hm future needs? I have had under notice, the- case of another mother whose son’ enlisted, and who applied for a dependant’s allowance. She resides in my’ electorate and is absolutely destitute. After much correspondence I have now received word that her application has been rejected on the ground that she was not dependent on her son. prior to. his enlistment, who was living with a. relative: The reply further states -
During the period he was boarding with this relative - which was apparently for a considerable period- lie made no contribution, to the. support of his mother.
The son was earning fi 15s. a week, and paying £1 a week for his hoard’; but it was ruled that as he’ had not made any contribution to- the support of his. mother,, she was not entitled to- a dependant’s allowance. The son, out of 15s. a week left after paying for his board, had to clothe himself and pay for fares and many meals. How could he be expected to contribute to the support’ of hrs mother? She had made great sacrifices in rearing her son and maintaining him until lie reached manhood, but. she is now left without support. There is also the case of a soldier who had two young children. This man- was living apart from his wife. His mother was looking after the children,, and he made an allotment to her. .She was then collecting the dependant’s allowance in respect of each of the two children-. The son cancelled the allotment to his mother and the .military authorities cut out ‘ the dependant’s allowance to the children. The mother was obliged to approach a court with regard to the maintenance of the children, and ah- order was eventually made by the court. But she ‘ could not understand why she should- have been deprived of the dependant’s allowance in respect of the two- children. For two months the1 dependant’s allowance was not” paid!, ‘ and the. reason advanced by the military authorities, was- that the soldier was then on- full pay. But the allowance to the children does not come out of the soldier’s pay.’ Do honorable members believe that - because a soldier has neglected to* make an allotment to a. particular person, his young children should be left unprovided for ? Yet that was the decision of the military authorities, backed up- by the present Government. The Minister for the Army has power to make a compulsory allotment where he believes that action to be necessary.
Now I turn to the policy of the Government as” laid down by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies): in the speech delivered by him on. Tuesday. The Prime Minister has refused on many occasions to indicate to this Parliament and to the country what he- proposes to do with regard to’ non-essential industries. Labour- members have been trying to extract from him an assurance -as to the Government’s intentions, in this matter. During the last war the Prime Minister did not serve in the defence forces. He said that he had certain personal and private reasons for not doing so: I do not challenge his right to determine for himself whether he should or should not, have served, or whether he able to- serve, but the anti-Labour section in this country considered that he would be in a very awkward situation when the question whether Australians should be conscripted for service in the present war arose.. The Prime Minister is not prepared at this juncture to advocate outright the imposition of conscription by means of legislation, because that would expose himself to severe criticism by the public of Australia, but he adopts a back-door method and says : “ We shall not compel men to enlist by legislation, but we shall adhere to the voluntary system “. He is now taking action to displace men from employment without making provision for their employment in other avenues,, so that they will be compelled eventually to offer themselves for military service, under conditions which at present are not so good as they ought to be. By refusing to answer questions asked by members- of the- Labour party the Prime Minister has clearly exposed the intentions of the Government with regard to its industrial plan.
It is- stated that there is a shortage of petrol and that petrol rationing must be intensified. That may be so; The Government is in a position to know whether less petrol should’ be used, but, whilst it is making appeals to the community in general to- economize in the use of petrol, government motor cars and private hire cars paid for by the Government have been used to take the children of some Ministers to school daily, to take- the wives of Ministers on city shopping tours, and also to take them to various pleasure resorts; If it be necessary to curtail the consumption of petrol, the last to suffer should be the section of the people which depends on petrol in earning- a livelihood. The- use of petrol for pleasure trips should’, be eliminated, bit if one stands on the broad highways leading to- Sydney during busy hours of the- day, one sees fleets of motor cars- proceeding to tlie city on shopping- tours. These cars are of ten driven by- chauffeurs, and in some cases there is a plump damsel nursing a poodle on the back seat. Whilst petrol is being used freely ‘in motor’ cars of this kind, the drivers’ of delivery wagons a’re losing their employment because city stores have had their supplies . o’f petrol curtailed”. Such -.invidious distinctions naturally engender dissatisfaction ‘in the minds of the people.
I have tried to obtain from the Prime Minister some information as to what plan the Government has in mind for absorbing the labour that will be displaced through petrol rationing. What -has happened to the recommendations submitted to the Government by the Manpower and Resources Survey Committee? Is the Government afraid to publish them? The personnel of the committee included representatives of the government parties, yet, whenever members of this House endeavour to elicit information regarding the proposals submitted to the Government by the committee, they “are met with a- blank refusal to disclose the nature of any of its recommendations. It now transpires that the Government is beginning to train women to undertake “certain work in which men are at present employed. When- asked a question with regard to this important matter, the PostmasterGeneral (Mr.. Collins) said that this was a matter of government policy. The Government will not .make known why women are being trained to -drive postal wagons,” but we can easily answer the question for ourselves. The only possible conclusion to be reached is that the Government is training an army of women to take the place of men. The employment of a woman as the driver of a postal van would displace a man who is probably not qualified to undertake other work. Could he be immediately absorbed in a munition factory? He would not be a skilled technician. I have no doubt that the object of the Government is not to find work for such men in munition factories or similar avenues of employment, but, when a large body of women is available, reports will be called for from the heads of government departments as to the names of men under 40 years of age whose services can be dispensed with.- Then in will go the women and out will go the men. When the men ask for other employment they will be told, that there is no- need for them to be out of work; as a job i3 waiting for them at- the nearest recruiting depot. That is a dishonest way to bring about conscription, but the Government is prepared to compel men to offer their services- by starving them into it.
Men who might be inclined to enlist are not satisfied that they would be properly treated after the war. What happened to the men who served in the last war? When we visit mental asylums and other institutions we see many old soldiers who served in the last war who are now friendless and forgotten by the Government. We see men who receive no pension and have been cast aside as unwanted. Many young -men are wondering whether those who return from this war will be treated differently from those who served in the last war. How can they expect from the present Government any other treatment, than that received by many of those who returned from the last
War? The honorable “member for Robertson (Mr. Spooner) recently stated that if this war lasts three years the national debt .will be increased- by at least £750,000,000. That means that the national debt will amount to over £2,000,000,000’ when the war ends, and Australia will have fewer people than at present to bear the burden. The population was practically at a standstill when the war commenced, and, allowing for war losses, a reduced population will be called upon to shoulder increased responsibilities. How are we to meet these responsibilities? Is the Prime Minister prepared to say that when the war is over the claims of the returned soldiers and their dependants, and of munition workers and other workers throughout the country shall have priority over the bondholders who merely lent their money to the Government at a good rate of interest? He will not reply to that query now. He will say that it does not require an answer, that we should wait until the war is over. If this Government is still . in control when the war is over, the workers will get a new order, but it will not be the order that they are expecting. While the Prime Minister was abroad, he stated that it would be very difficult to return to our old standards of living. “ But what does that matter,” he said, “ so long as we secure victory “. It will not matter much to him, because he could suffer a substantial reduction of his standard of living without suffering, but it will be sad news to the great bulk of the people, many of whom suffered severely during the depression and since, to learn that when they have secured victory the standard of living which they now have ‘will be even further reduced. Does that mean that old-age and invalid pensions will be reduced? Does it mean that the men who will be unable to find work after the war will receive an even smaller dole than is now prescribed? In face of these inquiries the Government remains silent. It says, “Let us first of all win the war. Let us co-operate in an all-in effort.” I say to the Government that it should lay its cards on the table. It should tell us what are its plans and proposals. It should let us know how much the private banks have contributed towards the war effort in loans without interest or by way of gift. It should let us know what the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and those interests which support it, have contributed by way of gift or interest-free loans.
Mr.Falstein. - It should also let us know the names of those who, it is stated, are giving their services to the Government in an honorary capacity.
Mr.WARD.-I agree. Those same gentlemen have been provided with a wonderful opportunity to serve their own interests while acting as the advisers of the Government. We have been told that there is a shortage of man-power. If that is so, will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General explain why a survey of the records of employees during and prior to the commencement of their period of service has been made in his department, and those against whom anything can be found have been dismissed? In one case an officer had committed a civil . offence seventeen years ago. Later, he secured a position in the Postal Department, married, and now has a young family. He is a returned soldier of the last war, and his service in the department has been eminently satisfactory. Yet the department, after going through his record, has said to him, “You have a criminal record, and out you go.” Many men have been discharged in similar circumstances. Why are the departments doing these things ? Because they want to force men out of employment and into the fighting services.
– Will the honorable member supply me with the names of these men ?
– I will ; and now we come to what some of the private employers are doing. In the Sydney Sun, of the 5th May, the following appeared: -
Employers in Grafton and South Grafton will be asked by the local recruiting committee to replace all employees eligible for army serviceby older men or by women, unless the younger men can show good reason for not enlisting in the defence forces.
We are getting to the stage where weakminded individuals are sending white feathers to eligible men through the post, and it is evident that a deliberate attempt is being made to force men into the fighting services. This should be a matter for individual decision. No outsider can understand a man’s private circumstances, and no one but himself is in a position to judge whether he should serve or not. I have heard it stated in this House that compulsory trainees are being badgered in an attempt to make them join the Australian Imperial Force. Recently, I had brought before me the case of a young man with a widowed mother dependent on him. No other member of the family is at home; there are just two of them. He desired to apply for exemption from training. I told him to go to the area officer and ask for an exemption form, and at the same time I dropped a note to the area officer. When the young man reported to pick up the form he was asked why he had approached a member of Parliament. The young fellow said that I was the member for his district, that he wanted advice and sought it from me. Then this military upstart said, “ You had no right to go near a member of: Parliament. What has it got to do with him? “The man replied, “I will go back and tell him what you have said”. The officer said, “Do not do anything of the kind. You are now under military control and we will have you court-martialled if you do However, the young man. was an Australian, and had a bit of spirit, so. he came back and told me what had happened. I intend to take the matter up with ihe authorities.” “When men were called up for training, they were told that they would ‘be guaranteed against loss of employment, but this- guarantee has not proved of much .worth. Employers give all sorts of excuse’s for not restoring the- men- to their jobs.- .Some say that their- business has fallen off, and that, they “.cannot afford to ‘employ “so many. ‘ Others say- that they have reconstructed “their staff, and now have no use for the services of the trainees. All that,- however, is merely subterfuge. Even when those who have lost their jobs approach the Government for relief none is forthcoming. I took one case up with -the authorities, and after it had been dragging on for some months, I received the following reply: -
I desire to inform you that this matter has been investigated, and on the advice of the Deputy Crown Solicitor it is not proposed to take any further action.
This was the case of a boy who had been in employment before he was sent into camp, but whose employer refused to give him back his job after he came out. In another case an employer who. refused to’ re-employ a trainee was fined £15, and ordered to pay £4 ls. costs. It was also ordered that £10 of the fine should be paid to the trainee. That is small compensation to a man for losing his employment. The penalty in such cases should be greater.
We hear a great deal from. Government supporters about the efficiency of the war departments. Several nights ago I heard an ..appeal over the radio to motorists and others to hand over to the Department of Supply 200,000 oil drums for the storage of. petrol. The appeal was also published in the newspapers, and appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 23rd May’ in this form: - “ As a vital requirement for the defence of this country 200,000 filled drums must be placed at safe and strategic inland points immediately”, said tire Minister for Supply, Senator McBride,. appealing ‘ to-‘day for the return of -empty 44-gallon . drums to the distributors. - “
On the very- next day the- following advertisement appeared in the same paper : -
Department of Supply and Development. Empty Oil Drums, 350 Ho., for Sale ex Garden Island. Inspection ‘ 2Sth May only. Closes 30th May.
Thus, on one day the- Department of Supply issued an urgent appeal for oil drums and the next day it inserted an advertisement, offering oil drums for sale. [Leave to continue given.] No sane parliamentarian’ having the’ welfare of -the “country at heart can continue- to support the present Government with its sorry record.’ It has succeeded in strangling the Commonwealth Bank by- -placing all sorts of restrictions upon .its activities. The Treasurer has stated- that the Government is utilizing to the full the national credit resources of the country, and several days ago I -asked him how he could reconcile that statement . with the fact that the balance-sheet issued by the Commonwealth Bank on the 31st December last year .showed that Commonwealth securities held by the bank were £21,000,000 less than at the corresponding time- the previous year. The Treasurer did the best he could in the circumstances in extricating himself from a difficult situation. He did not reply to the question; he merely got around it in the fashion employed by many Ministers. A government of the same political colour as this one leased the Cockatoo Island dock to a. private company. At that time the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins) was the Minister in charge. When he was’ asked why the Government was only leasing the dock instead of selling it, he said that, should an international crisis arise, the Government would be able .to resume control of the dock. To-day it is still being operated by private enterprise, largely under the system known as “ cost-plus “. At that dockyard there are trade unionists who are anxious to give some return to the country for the money being expended, but they, although skilled men, are: walk. ing about the shops sweeping up, which is work that -should -be done by first-year apprentices. The company, however, is not concerned, over mounting costs, because the higher the costs the- higher, its return, and this applies to every other private firm which is working for the
Government on. the same basis. The Government proposes, not to take- vigorous action to remedy this evil, but to appoint a committee. So many committees are now in existence that, as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) remarked, honorable members have difficulty in remembering their functions. What authority will be vested in the new committee to inquire into wartime profits, I do not know’. But if it ever requests the . head office of the Broken Hill. ‘Proprietary. Company Limited to make available its books for examination. Mr. Essington. Lewis, the adviser to the Government, will order it off the premises.
The record of successive ‘anti-labour governments; which have been dominated by big-business interests”, deserves a brief reference. They sold all the available machinery for-‘ shipbuilding at Walsh Island, and- were responsible for. closing down the Returned Soldiers’ Woollen Mills. In the last war, they allowed the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and private banks to declare dividends ranging up to 120 per cent. In 1939, an anti-Labour government permitted the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to give to its shareholders 12-J per cent, and 66 free shares, each worth 50s., for every 100 shares held by an individual. The Menzies Government passed the War-time (Company) Tax Act, which to a great degree exempts big companies. It endeavoured to grant a monopoly of motor car building to one firm. On the general manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited it conferred absolute power to buy at his own price with the people’s money, materials to manufacture the kind of munitions most profitable to make. Recently the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited was allowed to make another share issue in order to prevent declared profits from forging too far ahead of the dividend of 7-J per cent., which was then being paid on fictitious capital created by the free issue of 1939. In addition, it permitted the politically discredited chain-press dictator; Sir Keith Murdoch, who had to resign the dictatorship of the Department of Information when his attempt to grab control of all newspapers, films and radio stations failed, still to
dominate that department and to dictate the policy of the Government;- Despite this bad record, the Government ‘.expects the Australian public to haveconfidence in it. <-r
I have frequently communicated with the Minister for the Army (Mr Spender) on the subject of military pays The last reply which I received was dated the 1st March, 1941, and read- :>.
I refer to your letter of. ‘the 19th February ,- on. .the question of payment of military trainees and the Australian Imperial Force, and desire to advise that this matter is under my consideration’- and is the subject of discussion between my officers and myself. I propose to. bring the matter before Cabinet at an early date.
Nearly three months has elapsed since that letter was written. -I have no doubt that the matter will still be under’ consideration at the conclusion of the war.
Although the Government frequently deplores the shortage of skilled tradesmen, I have a copy of a notice of dismissal which was handed to an employee of the De Havilland Aircraft Company Proprietary Limited. It reads -
The bearer, whose signature appears below, was employed bv the above company from the loth April, 1940, to the 4th February, 1941, in the capacity of first-class woodworker, and the reasons for termination of employment are: reduction of staff.
That notice, which is signed by H. Walker on behalf of the company, was served upon the employee after he had given satisfactory service for nearly twelve months. The company did not declare that his dismissal was due to incompetence.
Matters relating to the internment of persons in Australia require complete overhaul. Further inquiry should be made into the procedure followed by the department that is responsible. An internee has asked me to endeavour to ascertain why he is held in captivity. According to his statement, he was born in Australia of British parents, and served in the last war. For his services in 1914-18, he is now receiving a military pension. Military intelligence authorities interned him with enemy aliens, and refused to offer any reason for his detention. I am interested to know the explanation of the Government for this, and other peculiar decisions which have been reached upon various occasions. That an Australian-born citizen of British _ parentage, who served in .the last war, should now he placed in a concentration camp among enemy aliens for no reason known to him, is to me astounding. As an Australian citizen he should have the right publicly to endeavour to clear himself of suspicion before a civil tribunal.
A few days ago. honorable members tad an opportunity to ventilate in Parliament certain happenings in an industrial dispute- in New Guinea. Since then, I have learned that conditions in the ter ritory are most unsatisfactory, and white residents are dissatisfied with the way. in which affairs are being conducted. It is evident to many persons that the Administrator, Brigadier-General McNicol, who has held the office for a considerable time, is not a suitable man for the position. As his decisions are retarding the progress and development of the Territory, he should bc recalled to Australia.
Some of the actions of the Government lead me to suspect that it is not anxious to encourage the search for flow oil in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. Although considerable mystery surrounds the alleged “ finds “ which are reported periodically, sufficient evidence is available to warrant the Government taking immediate steps to verify the claims. But instead of doing so, it has adopted the unusual attitude of declaring thatthe regions must be considered closed areas. Private companies, which are prepared to expend their own money and accept any risks that may be entailed in conducting an expedition into the territory, are not encouraged to proceed with their plans. The Government asserts that, in accordance with the terms of the mandate, it must care for the welfare of the natives. That excuse is very flimsy. If the Government were genuinely sincere in its desire to protect the natives, it would shield them from exploitation 5by private enterprise. Many of them, after working in the mines until they are of no further use to the private adventurers, return, broken in health, to their - Tillages, to await death. Although’ their work is most arduous, their payment is practically negligible. Some are given a coloured silk handkerchief at Christmas. On one occasion, the honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) described the difficulty of paying the natives who, when offered money, held their handsbehind their backs and refused to accept it. I cudgelled my brains in an endeavour to assign a reason to this curious conduct. I can account for it only by the possibility that on a previous occasion, the employers heated’ the coins over a fire before they offered them to the natives. [Further leave to continue given.’) To individuals who desire to investigate the alleged discoveries of flow oil in the Mandated Territory, the Government declares that the country is wild, unexplored, and undeveloped, and - that any expedition which ventures into its depths will encounter many perils. All reports about the discovery of flow oil emanate from one centre, which is in the vicinity of the Sepik River, near the border of Dutch New Guinea. The Government has declared this region a closed area. One company which offered to equip an expedition for the purpose of testing the reports is prepared to bear the whole of the cost of the search, and defray the expenses of a government official who would accompany the party in order to ensure that it does not ill-treat the natives. Lest it be alleged that the expedition is merely a stunt to increase the price of the company’s shares, the enterprise will withdraw them from the market until it has verified the reports. As to whether the region is unexplored, maps of German and Dutch origin show details of that part of the territory, and two German expeditions conducted an exhaustive survey of the area. Obviously, the Government’s contention that the region is unexplored cannot be substantiated. Whilst I do not urge the Government to grant substantial facilities to any private company for the purpose of undertaking this work, it would be justified in expending a comparatively small sum in order to test the accuracy of the reports. The Government is always willing to subsidize private companies to search for flow oil in any districts where discovery is impossible. The expenditure of a few thousand pounds in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea in order to send government officials to investigate the reports would, particularly at this juncture, be fully justified. I hope that the Government will give consideration to my requests, and act upon the suggestions I have made.
Debate on motion (by Mr. Johnson) adjourned.
Mr. MENZIES (Kooyong- Prime
Minister). -by leave - Following on the assent by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to the Ministers of State Bill 1941, the following changes have been made in the Administration: -
At a meeting of the Federal Executive. Council to-day, approval was given for the creation of five new departments of State, namely -
Three additional members have been included in the Cabinet, namely, Messrs. Spooner, Abbott and McDonald.
Senator the Honorable George McLeay has relinquished the offices of PostmasterGeneral and Minister for Repatriation, and in future will administer the Department of Supply and Development, which up to the present time has been in charge of Senator the Honorable P. A. M. McBride.
Senator the Honorable P. A. M. McBride will continue to administer the Department of Munitions.
Senator the Honorable H. B. Collett will administer the Department of Repatriation, including War Service Homes.
The Honorable T. J. Collins has become Postmaster-General.
The new departments will be administered as follows: -
Aircraft Production - Senator the Honorable J. W. Leckie:
War Organization of IndustryHonorable E. S. Spooner;
External Territories - Honorable A. McK. McDonald.
The Ministers were sworn in at Government House to-day and will take up their new duties forthwith.
Other administrative arrangements are-
The Minister for External Territories (Mr. McDonald) will also assist the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll);
The Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Leckie) will also assist the Minister for Munitions (Senator McBride) ;
The Minister for Transport (Mr. Anthony) will also assist the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) and the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) ;
The Minister for Home Security (Mr. Abbott) will also assist the Minister for Defence Coordination (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for the Army (Mr. Spender) ; and
The Postmaster-General (Mr. Collins) will also assist the Minister for Supply and Development (Senator McLeay).
In this House, Mr. Spender will represent the Minister for Supply and Development (Senator McLeay), the Minister for Munitions (Senator McBride) and the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Leckie) ; and
Mr. Holt will represent the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Collett).
In the Senate -
Senator McLeay will represent the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Collins);
Senator McBride will represent the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page), the Minister for Transport (Mr. Anthony) and the Minister for War Organization of Industry (Mr. Spooner) ;
Senator Foll will represent the Minister for Home Security (Mr. Abbott) ; and
Senator Collett will represent the Minister for External Territories (Mr. McDonald)
Otherwise, the representation of Ministers in the respective Houses will remain as at present.
Debate resumed,(vide page 491).
.- The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) was critical of expenditure by the Postal Department on the extension of mail deliveries in outback areas. He expressed the opinion that the advent of wireless broadcasting had reduced the dependence of people in remote places on the mails. The honorable gentleman would have had much better reason to attack the expenditure of almost £1,000,000 on additions to the Sydney General Post Office.
– If the honorable member looks at my speech he will see that I also dealt with expenditure on postal buildings.
– My electorate covers a vast area and the people in the more remote parts of that electorate are clamouring for increased mail deliveries and I appeal to the Postmaster-General to accede to their request.
In his recent broadcast speechthe Prime Minister said -
Our task therefore, is to concentrate - men on war industry, machines on war production, and money on war ends. To do this we propose to set up an authority which will drastically review civil production.
The worth of that authority will depend on the way in which it applies policy. The maintenance of the goldmining industry of Western Australia is vital not only to the State, but also to the Commonwealth, because of the great amount of wealth which that industry produces. Yet, mining companies are experiencing great difficulty in getting deliveries of essential machinery and machine parts. I have been told by the secretary of the Chamber of Mines that orders placed more than six months ago have not yet been fulfilled. That is a matter into which the Commonwealth Manpower and Resources Survey Committee could well inquire. I understand from the chairman of the committee, however, that it will not be possible for the committee to visit Western Australia until late in July, after it has concluded its inquiries in Queensland.
I direct the attention of the House to the failure of the Government to give any substantial relief to the wheat industry. In my opinion, relief could best be given to that industry by the establishment of a mortgage branch of the Commonwealth Bank,” as was recommended by the Royal Commission on the Monetary and Banking Systems. The wheat commission reported that the indebtedness of the farmers of Australia amounted to about £150,000,000, but I should say that they now owe £200,000,000, the bulk of which is in short-term loans or on mortgage on which the interest rate is not less than 5 per cent., involving an annual interest bill of more than £10,000,000. The character of the debts subjects the wheat-farmers to the vagaries of the money market with resultant insecurity to himself and his dependants. A mortgage bank which would take over those short-term debts and’ mortgages in exchange for long-term loans would give security to the farmers, especially as, on a long-term basis, the rate of interest would be reduced from 5 percent. to about 2½ per cent., which would mean an annual saving to the farmers of about £5,000,000. I cannot understand why the Government has failed to set up a mortgage bank. Countless promises have been made on behalf of this Government and similar governments that effect would be given to the recommendations of the banking commission. Sir George Pearce, a former Western Australian senator, made such a promise in August, 1937, and the then Prime Minister, the late Mr. Lyons, repeated it a month later. The Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) gave a similar promise in October, 1938, and as late as May, 1939, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) re-stated it. I urge the Government to fulfil these promises to the wheat-growers so that they may be rescued from the burden which is crushing them.
After this House had adjourned over Easter, I received an invitation to attend the opening of the air training school which had been established at Geraldton^ I was astounded at the’ limited number ofinvitations which had been- issued, and after ‘the ceremony had ‘been performed I found that citizens -of’ Geraldton were seething with indignation because men andwomen who- bad been .working’ night . and. day in assisting the country’s, war effort had- not. been invited, to- the ceremony. Such :act:ons do- not assist to- bring about, that- .unity for -which - appeals , are freiquently made. - I .do. .not know whether in this- matter .the commandant of the. school followed the. usual procedure,, but, if so, I urge that-the procedure be altered immediately’. That officer appears to be a law unto himself in respect of contracts for the camp. At first it was thought that most of the contracts to supply the school would not be of any great value, and, probably .for that reason, small farmers in the locality were able to obtain contracts for the supply of milk. Later, however, when the number of men to be permanently established at the school increased, the supply -of milk and meat became more important. The result was that when tenders were called for the supply of milk to the camp the farmer who had supplied milk from his farm, which was adjacent to the aerodrome, lost the contract, which was given to a man who brought the major portion of his milk from Perth,, a distance of about 320 miles. I sought the assistance of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) in this matter, but the only result of an interview which was granted to us “was an assurance that fresh contracts would be called. That the commandant is a law Unto himself is shown by his action in declaring certain hotels in the Geraldton district to be out of bounds. In other words, they have been declared “ black.” In this matter the commandant certainly exceeded his duty. It may be within his province to enforce discipline among recruits, hut I doubt his authority to say that men on leave from the school shall not enter this or that hotel.
For over six months the Australian Workers Union has been negotiating a claim on behalf of its members. While I was still branch secretary of the Australian Workers Union in Perth, I submitted a claim on behalf of the workers at Broome to the local representative of the Minister at the Commonwealth ‘Bank Buildings, Perth. Last week, after lengthy negotiations, I- received’ a letter from the Minister for the ‘ Interior(Senator Foll), which contained’ the following - paragraph-:-T- - - “ - In view df the fact that an amount of £540 Was paid to the contractor by the Common-, wealth’, and the wages, holiday pay, and. a” compensation, claim. totalling £512 -2s. lid: were owed to workmen by him, it. appears to me”.- - that at. least some action should have been taken -by -the -workmen -concerned- regarding payment of their claims, before, the contract: was cancelled.
We had been led. to believe that all con- . tracts entered into with the Commonwealth Government contained a provision which protected the wages of the workmen employed. The belief was confirmed by an answer to a question which I received some days ago. I appeal to the responsible Minister to see that these men who performed their part of the contract shall receive their wages.
Yesterday, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Marwick) referred to various deposits of iron ore and manganese in Western Australia. I referred to these deposits in a speech which I delivered in this House in April last. In his remarks yesterday, the honorable member for Swan made no reference to the huge deposit of iron ore near Southern Cross, and therefore, I now bring the matter before the Government in the hope that this deposit ako will be given the consideration that it deserves. About 30 miles from Coolgardie is a deposit of ambygonite in the form of fluophosphate qf aluminium and lithium. In. view of the scarcity of aluminium and superphosphate, I suggest that the Government should: investigate these deposits also with a view to ascertaining their value to the Commonwealth.
W.lien the newsprint rationing proposals of the- Government are put into operation I hope that the errors associated with the previous rationing of newsprint will not be repeated. From inquiries which I made, it would appear that the Kalgoorlie Miner and one other newspaper are receiving unfavorable differential treatment.
– I rise to a point of order. Is it customary for financial matters to be debated with no Ministerin the House ?
– TheTreasurer has been called out of the chamber to answer an urgent telephone call .
– The point of order does not require a ruling from the Chair; It is a matter for the Government.
– It is a matter for the House.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– Newspapers printed in Perth do not always reach Kalgoorlie on the day of issue, and therefore the Kalgoorlie Miner is the newspaper which appearsat most breakfast tables in Kalgoorlie. I hope that when the next scheme of rationing newsprint is put into operation, the position of this and similar newspapers in Western Australia will be considered.
As I have no desire to delay the House I shall say no more than that I hope that the matters to which I have referred will be given the consideration that their importance deserves.
.- Since other members, who’ represent industrial areas, have spoken at length of the problems affecting their districts, and others have dealt in some detail with matters affecting Australia’s war effort, I shall confine my remarks to several matters which are of particular interest to primary producers. The electorate which I represent in this House produces many diversified forms of primary products. In addition to wheat, it produces fat lambs, cattle, sheep, wool, dried and fresh fruits, and dairy produce, as well as a limited quantity of that primary product known a® gold. The war has created many difficult problems for those engaged in primary industries, and I believe that the Government is doing what it thinks best to alleviate the position of primary producers who have lost their markets because of a lack of shipping, and other causes, but, so far, this has proved inadequate, I shall not discuss the problems of the wheat industry at length to-day - that has been done on many previous occasions - but I point out that, despite a. stabilization plan and the provision of abounty, the position of Australian wheat-growers to-day is probably more difficult than at any other time in the history of the industry. I am convinced that further assistance will have to be provided if the industry is to be kept alive and those who are established in it are. to remain on the land and continue to produce wheat. The wheat industry stabilization scheme may have to be modified, and I express the hope that the Government will deal earnestly with each new problem as it arises. I cannot yet foresee the ultimate effect of the restriction of shipping space on the export of fat lambs. However, I am confident that the Government will take all possible steps to ease the difficulties of the fat lamb raisers. I wish to stress once more the great need that exists for a mortgage branch of the Commonwealth Bank. Another honorable member has referred to the subject during this debate, and I endorse what he has said. Unless arrangements be made to provide primary producers with long-term financial accommodation, any attempt that may be made to bring greater stability to the rural industries will be nullified. I direct attention to the debt adjustment schemes of the State Governments. That they havefallen short of requirements is largely due to the fact that the Commonwealth Government has not made provision for the issuing of long-term loans at low rates of interest. I hope that the Government will deal with the problem as soon as possible, because assistance of this kind is urgently needed by the primary producers. The fact that we are engaged in a war should not deter the Government as, in my opinion, it only involves the liberation of the national credit through the nation’s own bank. The rural districts of Australia have suffered economically to a very great degree since the outbreak of war. Overseas markets have been lost, drought has stricken many areas, land there has been an exodus from the land, particularly of the younger generation. The populations of these districts have decreased considerably as the result of enlistments in the defence forces and the movement of men and women to the capital cities in order to secure profitable employment in the munition industries.
I have in my possession detailed information of the effect of these movements of population upon the economic situation of many country towns. Equities in businesses that have been built up over a number of years have disappeared, in some cases almost overnight. Many, of them have been closed down and others are hanging on by the merest thread. There are hundreds of empty houses in some of the larger country towns. Motor garages, foundries and. similar establishments are lying . almost idle, although a great deal of the machinery and equipment could ‘be used for the war effort. The Government is unwise to ‘allow the drift to the cities to continue. Centralization of munition production in the metropolitan areas is not a sound policy. It has been condemned from a strategic point of view hy the highest military authorities, but the Government appears to be ignoring the dangers to which its attention has been directed. The Government- should take advantage of the labour and mechanical equipment that are available in these country centres, so that they may he compensated in some degree for the disabilities that they have sustained as the result of war-time activities and -the loss of markets for primary products, which, normally are the mainstay of country towns. I mention how, amongst other towns, Warracknabeal in my electorate has been affected. I do not know the exact pre-war population of the town, but I believe that it was about 2,000 or 3.000. I have here a statement prepared by the “Warracknabeal Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the local Shire Council, which shows that the population has been seriously depleted as the result of enlistments and the drift to the capital cities. There are now 39 empty houses, 6 vacant shops and 4 idle garages in the town. Equipment in the workshops is lying idle. When applications were made for munition work it was suggested that the equipment should he removed to the cities. That is a suicidal policy in view of what we have , beer told -by our military experts. We are looking to the Government to change that policy and establish some of our war industries in rural areas. I could refer at great length to towns throughout the Commonwealth where large reserves of labour and equipment are, waiting to be’ tapped. While this condition exist”), the Government is not doing all that it can do in order to further our. war effort and provide our armed forces with equipment which is so vitally necessary to their success and to ultimate victory!
I turn now to the Government’s policy in regard to the Mandated Territories of Papua and New Guinea, which was referred to earlier by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), and which I have made the subject of questions in this House in recent months. During the last sittings of ‘this Parliament I asked the Minister in charge of External Territories (Mr. Collins) why the Government did not instruct the Administrator of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea to proceed with the construction of a motor road from Salamaua to Wau, the business centre of the Morobe gold-field, and so speed up gold production. The Minister replied that the construction of the road had been commenced in certain places. But I am informed by residents of New Guinea that road construction has not been commenced, and that all that exists is a rough foot track following the surveyed’ route for the road; this is not even a mule track and cannot by any stretch of imagination be regarded as a commencement of road construction.
– It will cost £500,000 to construct the road, and only £150,000 has been allocated for the work.
– The honorable member does not appear to have any enthusiasm for the project. It is evident that the Minister has been incorrectly informed of the conditions existing in the territory.. I hope that the newly appointed Minister in charge of External Territories will investigate this matter, because .the development of New Guinea- is- important to the safety and progress of Australia. Other replies which Ministers have given to questions which have been asked in this House indicate that they suffer from lack of personal knowledge of the actual conditions in the territory. This demonstrates the necessity for Ministers to gain first-hand knowledge of our territories by visiting them, so that honorable members may be adequately informed, instead of being obliged to rely entirely upon the statements and opinions of officials. Such a strategically and economically important territory as New Guinea is deserving of representation in this House, so that the commercial, mining, planting and other interests of the country, which provide the revenue for its administration and development, could present their views. In- this connection, I am in accord with the views recently expressed by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), who advocated that Papua and New Guinea should be given representation in this Parliament on an equal footing with the Northern Territory. There are dangers in allowing a territory possessing the peculiar conditions and vast natural resources of New Guinea to be controlled by a body of public servants as is the case at present. A number of these public servants may be excellent meD, but in a tropical country like New Guinea there is a tendency for them to become “dug into” positions in which there is no periodical review of their capacity or suitability to occupy them. It may happen that much more capable men are being denied the right to exercise the ability that they possess in the best interests of the territory and Australia. The present system under which the Administrator becomes virtually an autocrat in his own right should not be tolerated in a territory governed” by a democratic country like Australia. At present the people who are providing the revenue for the administration of New Guinea - and that revenue comes chiefly from the gold-mining industry and community - have no voice as to how it shall be expended, and no means of restraining the Administrator and his officers or of guiding and assisting them in the utilization of revenue for the development and control of the territory along sound business lines. This is not right. Private enterprise, which provides the revenue to keep the mandated territory afloat financially, has no . representation or voice in the government of the country. This is akin to the adoption of the principle of taxation without representation. It should be fully recognized by this Parliament that the mining industry in New Guinea is to-day the most heavily taxed industry in the territory, and. in fact, provides the revenue for the cost of the expensive administrative services of the territory, so relieving the Commonwealth Government of what would otherwise be a heavy financial responsibility. The lack of knowledge of, and interest in, the territories displayed by many members is all too evident. It would appear that when the Government sends an administrator to New Guinea, it does not look about for a man trained aud experienced in the development and administration of a tropical country, and possessing a broad outlook on business matters. ‘ Instead it sends some . exmilitary man with little or no special qualifications for the position. If . New Guinea is to be developed to the fullest extent, private enterprise must be given every possible encouragement and assistance to develop and exploit the natural resources of the country. No undue restrictions should be placed on those who are prepared to go into the unexplored parts of the territory to ascertain their possibilities. I have been informed by persons widely experienced in New Guinea and other tropical countries, that the greatest civilizing influence on the natives of New Guinea is not so much the Government 33 the employment of the natives in industry by private enterprise. This would indicate that the most logical way in which the Government can provide for the welfare of the natives is to encourage private enterprise to the fullest possible degree, and so bring more of the animal-like, stone-age natives under the civilizing influence of industry.
An opinion is current among people who have not lived and worked, in- New Guinea, and appears to be shared by some members of Parliament, that the white employer of native labour is some kind of ogre, whose sole object in life is to ill-treat and oppress the natives. That is wide of the truth. In a majority of cases, the natives enjoy working for white men, and it is to the interest of white men to treat them well. In any case, there is no alternative, as, under the extremely benevolent Native Labour Ordinance, the restrictive conditions imposed on employers are more harsh than those imposed on the natives. Experienced men who know the wilds of New Guinea have informed me that the most disgusting and repulsive examples of humanity they have seen arc to be found in the native villages, where the native lives his natural life, remote from the influence of the white man. ‘ The contrast in physical and mental alertness and well-being is most marked six months after natives leave their villages and come under the influence of white industrial control. In view of these facts there should be a thorough understanding of the relations between the white man and the native in New Guinea before any hasty or immature judgment is arrived at on New Guinea matters generally.
Last week reference was made in this House to the conditions under which white miners were working in New Guinea in comparison with conditions in Australia. In this regard I point out that all underground mining in the Morobe gold-field, where the industrial dispute is in existence, is carried on at altitudes between 4,000 and 7,000 feet above sea level, where ‘the conditions are not so arduous physically as are those existing on the steamy coastal areas. Further, white miners in New Guinea do not, generally, do the same amount of heavy “bullocking” work as miners in Australia. By this I mean that in New Guinea white miners are employed more as supervisors of gangs of -native labourers, and, consequently, are not required to withstand the constant heavy physical exertion that is the lot of the underground miner in Australia. At the same time, the living costs of the miner in New Guinea are very heavy, due to the Morobe gold-fields being entirely dependent upon aircraft for the transport of supplies from the coast. At present, when the Government is making endeavours to conserve its petrol supplies, we see the large community of whites and natives on the Morobe goldfields in New Guinea still relying entirely on aircraft for mining plant, supplies, food, &c, which are flown from the coastal aerodromes at Lae and -Salamaua.
During the past thirteen years the Government has refused to allow private enterprise to build a road from Salamaua’ to Wau, and has itself failed to build the road. -Such an unprogressive and procrastinating attitude would not have been tolerated had the people of New Guinea been given representation in this Parlia ment. The’ skilled personnel tied up in keeping the aerial transport services operating in Morobe could be released for more important war work if the Salamaua to Wau road, which is about 50 miles in length, were constructed. The saving in petrol would also be enormous, as’ producer-gas units could he used on motor- lorries travelling the route from Salamaua to Wau, and native drivers could drive the vehicles. Thirteen years ago the Government increased the royalty on gold produced in New Guinea from 1 per cent, to -5 per cent, in order to provide a fund to finance the building of a motor road from the coast to the gold-fields in the Morobe district. That the money so obtained has been paid into Consolidated Revenue and expended largely in unproductive channels is evidence that the Government has not played, the game with the mining industry, in this respect it has let the industry down badly, and has broken faith with those engaged in producing the revenue that keeps the administration financially sound. A wi:3o policy for the Government to have adopted - and it i3 not too late to start such a policy now - would have been to have utilized a portion of tlie revenue obtained from gold -min ing for the construction of main developmental roads on the mainland of New Guinea in order to increase gold production and open up the rich agricultural and pastoral country existing, at altitudes of between 4,000 and 5,000 feet and extending from the Ramu to Mount Hagen. As honorable members are aware, this Parliament passed a hill several years ago authorizing the construction of a motor road from Salamaua to Wau; but tenders have not yet been called for its construction, and the administration of New Guinea has been fooling about on surveys for the road, and making excuses that, owing to war . conditions, it has not been able to complete them. The whole sorry story justifies a thorough inquiry, especially in view of the fact that the Administrator 13 reported by the Morobe News, a newspaper published at Wau, and circulating, throughout New Guinea and Papua, to have stated that he was not in favour of the road authorized by the Commonwealth Government. I suggest that had he, or his administration, not expended large sums of money in Rabaul, which, according to expert advice, is likely again to suffer the effects of a devastating volcanic . disturbance, and on the building of lavish houses for public servants throughout the territory, gold production would, had the Salamaua-Wau road been constructed, be now much greater than it is at present.
The whole subject of the administration of New Guinea should be given close scrutiny by this Government, and a policy initiated that will make the territory selfsupporting after the gold deposits are exhausted not many years hence. One mining company at Edie Creek, a branch of the New Guinea Gold and Petroleum Development No Liability Company, based its mine development programme on the Government’s undertaking to construct the SalamauaWau road, and now, after developing the mine by surface and underground workings, it has- a four years’ supply of milling ore blocked out. The grade of the ore, however, is too low to justify the expenditure of taking in milling, hydro-electric and mining. plant and supplies by air. The company has consequently been obliged to- close down and wait until the road is constructed. This is surely an indictment of the Government. The fact must not bc overlooked that the Morobe gold-field was pioneered by Australians, and its subsequent development was carried out, in the face of enormous difficulties, by private enterprise - in many cases by practical working miners. Those interested expended millions of pounds in prospecting, developing, equipping and working the gold areas. Incidentally, they have provided, over a number of years, the revenue which has made the territory selfsupporting. When honorable members realize that the present annual production of the gold-fields of New Guinea is greater in value than that of any State in Australia except Western Australia, they will appreciate what this means in dollar exchange. These gold-fields have produced gold valued at about £20,000,000 and the present production amounts to about £3,000,000 annually.
One of the great disabilities under which New Guinea has laboured has been the frequent changes of personnel, and the lack of -knowledge of Ministers administering the territory. I assert, positively, that, unless the Government wakes up to the potentialities of New Guinea, there will be a grave danger that some other people may challenge our right to retain it. Therefore, we should give to the territory wise and progressive leadership.
The Government’s policy of tying-up large portions of New Guinea under the Uncontrolled Areas Ordinance has had the effect of preventing Australian prospectors and companies from exploring and opening up the hinterland. The world is- moving much too fast to justify -the continuance of such an unprogressive attitude. Although private enterprise desires to explore the uncontrolled areas by utilizing the services of men of wide experience in the wilds of- New Guinea, it is being refused’ permission to do so until the Government can bring the areas under the control of Government officers. Asked when this will happen, the Government replies that it has not the staff to do the work, and does not know when it will have mcn available for the purpose. In these circumstances I contend that the Government should step aside and allow competent private authorities to do the job as it has been done in the past. Some of the best exploration work in the unknown and unmapped areas of the Mandated Territory has been done by individual miners such as “ Sharkeye “ Park, Preston, Crowe, the Leahy brothers, Dwyer, Belfield, the Pox brothers, Baum, Rowlands, Burke, Korn, Nasson-Jones, Duchatel and others who, without police protection, and long before Government officers were available, penetrated and prospected wild mountainous country, occupied by hostile natives. Assuredly the individual alluvial miner has been the pioneer ! One’ well-known minercumprospectorcumexplorer has remarked : “ We do not need protection from the native. We know his psychology and can get along well with him. What we need is protection from the Government and its restrictive ordinances.”
The company to which I have referred previously in this speech has already undertaken much prospecting and pioneering work” in New Guinea, and has- been endeavouring for a number of years to obtain a permit to search for petroleum
In a portion of tlie uncontrolled area, but although it has undertaken to employ experienced men and to pay the full cost of any officers the Government considered necessary to accompany its expedition into the interior, it has been flatly refused permission! Such treatment is illogical, to say the least of it, and one begins, to wonder whether there is any other motive than the much-vaunted “welfare of the natives” behind such an 11]1Drogressive attitude. If Empire builders in other parts of the British Empire peopled by coloured races had met with similar treatment, they would most certainly, and rightly, have rebelled against it.
I have been informed, in other than official quarters, that the demarcation some years ago of the international border between Dutch New Guinea and. the Mandated Territory was fixed owing to reported oil-drilling operations near the border by the Dutch. The Dutch are reported to have drilled wells which they thought were in their territory, but which subsequently were found to be in uncontrolled mandated territory. The Australian company to which I have referred possesses information relative to these oil exploration activities, and has endeavoured for a number of years, but so far unsuccessfully, to obtain from the Government permission to explore the area. The company has also placed certain confidential information in the hands of the Minister for External Territories in support of its desire to obtain prospecting rights. But still permission is withheld! The correctness of the company’s .belief in this matter can so easily be tested, and can so simply be placed beyond all doubt that it is doubly hard to understand why the Government should desire to prevent the entry of qualified men to the area. The Government should be mors anxious 1han any private company to locate flow. oil, yet it is a fact that although the company has for years shown enthusiasm and determination to get on with this job of national importance, the Government has adopted an attitude that has been both illogical and uninterested, to a degree that is hard to imagine in view of the importance of the project.
The perplexing attitude of the authorities in adhering, especially in war-time, to regulations so suggestive of stagnation, is a matter of grave concern to the public, and it is generally considered that this obstructionist procedure only serves to emphasize the complete insincerity of the oft-repeated statements that the Government desires oil to he discovered and will support the search for it.
Why is it that the only area that, to my knowledge, is reported to contain payable oil in the Commonwealth or its territories is the only area where prospecting, or even entry, is disallowed? A searching inquiry should be made into this subject. If the Government intends to persist, in locking up this area and in delaying the construction of the SalamauaWau road, it should say so definitely and without further humbug. The shareholders of tlie company interested in the undertaking would then, at least, have the satisfaction of knowing just where their company stands in relation to its objectives in New Guinea. I consider that, in view of the national importance of petroleum, the Government should give the company a clear “ Yes “ or “ No,” to its request for a permit to enter that portion of the uncontrolled area of tha Mandated Territory where it believes oil to exist.
I have discussed this subject at some length because oil is so vital to our war effort. I desire the Government to take some definite action to ascertain whether oil-fields can. or cannot be developed in New Guinea, for anything that we can do to make oil available will be of immense service. The great importance of oil. supplies has been brought home to us forcefully recently.
I have prepared a lot of information about the proposed. Salamaua-Wau road, but I shall not speak at length on the subject at this juncture. It appears that certain strong forces are at work to delay the construction of the road, as well as to delay an intensive search for oil in the Mandated Territory.
– Perhaps the recentlyappointed Minister for “External Territories will he able to take some effective action in regard to these matters.
– I sincerely hope Ihat that will be the case. At least we may expect him to be actively interested in the administration ofthe Mandated. Territory of New Guinea and otherexternal territorieswhich he will control. I hope that he will visit these areas and acquaint himselfthoroughly with local conditions, so that when he is questionedin Parliament he will be able to speak with authority. I have been to sometrouble to collate these facts about New Guinea, and I have given them to the House and to the Governmentinthe hope of securing a better developmental policy. I considered that as the territory had no representation here I might render a service to it and to Australia. I leave it at that, and trust that some definite action will follow the representations that I have made.
.- I had no intention to participate in this debate, but following upon an interjection that I made while the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) was speaking, the honorable gentleman accused me of trying to hold up the construction of the Salamaua-W au road in New Guinea. The honorable member has just read a long statement that was probably written by some one else-
– Why has the honorable member said that?
– Because it is what I think. However, I assure the honorable member that I have no desire whatever to hold up the construction of this road, for I think that it is a work of national importance. What I said by interjection while the honorable member was speaking was that only £150,000 has been allocated for the work and that it would probably cost £500,000. I have visited the locality several times and I have no doubt whatever that the road will cost nearer £500,000 than £150,000. The shortest practicable distance between the two towns is about 40 miles, but alternative routes have been surveyed for roads of up to 60 miles. The country to be traversed is of a razor-back mountainous formation. The ranges rise to an altitude of more than 6,000 feet and there is then a descent of 2,000 feet to Wau. It is possible to build the proposed road and I think it should be built, but I also think that the taxpayers should know approximately how much money they will be called upon to provide for the work,
The greater part of the revenue obtained from the Mandated Territory of New Guinea is contributed from thegoldfields areas of Wau, Edie Creek and Bulolo, but unfortunately most of the money is spent at Rabaul, 60 miles distant from the gold-fields,where,in my opinion, it is not needed. I consider that it should be expended principally in the districts from which it is obtained,and I tried to impress this view upon the Administratorwhile I was in New Guinea. At present the gold-mining companies are spending large amounts of money in constructing roads that are used by the general public as well as by the companies. A 5 per cent. royalty is collected upon all gold obtained in New Guinea and I suggest that part of the money for the building of the SalamauaWau road should be obtained from that source. If a road were built a considerable quantity of excellent timber of various kinds could be obtained from the Wau and Bulolo districts and marketed advantageously in Australia. I make it clear that I hope that the Government will provide the money necessary for the construction of this road and I am prepared to do all in my power to help forward the project.
A road 12 feet wide has already been cut into the mountains between Wau and Edie Creek for a distance of twelve miles. I had the pleasure - or otherwise - of riding over it in the first motor car to be driven on it. Only narrow track motor vehicles are used on it. The rainfall in the district is so heavy that landslides are frequent, with the result that at times parts of the road are traffickable only for a width of five or six feet. The party which travelled with me on the occasion to which I have referred would bear out my statement that at times our vehicle was scraping against the rocks on one side of the road, while the wheels on the other side of the vehicle was right on the edge of the made surface. The Salamaua-Wau road can and should be constructed.
– At once?
– Yes. I emphasize, however, that the road cannot be constructed for the estimate specified. After the road is completed a large gang of men must be employed on maintenance because of frequent landslides. In addition, regardless of the material which might be used for construction, the road will have to be surfaced and that will be costly. I noticed that the road from Wau to Edie Creek was being continually serviced with metal. Owing to the very wet conditions, the metal very soon disappeared in mud. Consequently, I urge the Government to ensure that the new road will be surfaced effectively for heavy traffic that will require to use it.
I now draw the attention of the Government to the problem of housing in Canberra. On a number of occasions in this chamber I have described the scheme under which workmen’s homes are being provided in Adelaide. In the past the Minister for Health (Sir Frederick Stewart) appeared to doubt my praise of that scheme. Recently, however, I had the pleasure of accompanying him when he inspected some hundreds of these houses. “When I raised this matter in this House about two or three years ago, I made available for the perusal of honorable members plans, specifications and photographs of those homes. The standard house consists of four rooms and a sleep-out, and contains all conveniences, whilst each property is nicely fenced, the total cost of a semi-detached pair of homes being £900.
– Nine hundred pounds for the two homes?
– Yes. I now urge the Government to adopt a similar scheme for Canberra. During the last year the Government has constructed 200 houses here. The advising architect and valuator on that programme practically guaranteed that the cost of these houses would not exceed £1,150, or, at any rate, would compare favorably with that of the houses constructed by the Building Trust in Adelaide. To my dismay, I now find that the actual cost of each of these pairs of houses is approximately £1,400. Whilst the rental of the houses in Adelaide averages 12s. 6d. a week, that of the Canberra houses, which are in no way superior to the former, is somewhere between £1 or 22s. a week. This is hardly fair to the tenants of the Canberra houses; at the same time the taxpayers as a whole are not being given a fair deal in this matter. Some time ago I asked the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) to despatch two -expert officers to visit Adelaide to inspect the homes being constructed there. He promised -to do so, but, as usual, forgot all about it. The total cost of . the 200 houses that were constructed . at Canberra, last year exceeded that of a similar number of houses constructed in Adelaide by from £40,000 to £60,000, after allowing a margin of 25 per cent, in respect of the Canberra houses to cover additional costs of bricks, labour and transport in the national capital. The price of bricks for a four-roomed cottage is only £7 higher in Canberra than in Adelaide. On this basis the cost of a pair of semi-detached homes in Canberra should not have exceeded £1,200. I again urge the Minister for Health to take up this matter with a view to applying the Adelaide scheme ‘ in the national capital, and, thereby, saving the taxpayers thousands of pounds.
.- Under this bill we are asked to vote the sum of £15,141,000 to provide for services for ‘ two months after the end of the present financial year. !. do not object to that proposal. Indeed, I protest against the failure of the Government to expend the money previously voted to it, in respect of the current financial year, as expeditiously as existing circumstances demand. The Government budgeted for an expenditure in this financial year of £1S6,000,000, but up to the end of May it had expended only £135,000,000, leaving a balance of £51,000,000 to he expended during 1he current month. The Government should have undertaken before now several urgent works in Queensland. At present, although the war has been in progress for over two yeai’3, it is doing only the spade work on a munition factory in Brisbane. The factory was supposed to be ready for production by next month. Now, I understand, it will not be ready until October or November. That lag of five months discloses a radical administrative weakness. At the same time, one would gather the impression from governmental pronouncements that all we have to do is to produce more and more munitions. In the distribution of munition activities, Queensland has been badly neglected.
The Government has also been guilty of unpardonable delay in the construction of a military hospital at Greenslopes, in my electorate, .., -/ institution should have been built several months ago in order that it might be ready to accommodate the thousands of soldiers who are now being invalided home. “We know that our casualties already total 20,000 whilst many men have been discharged from the Army as medically unfit. Because of the Government’s delay in constructing military hospitals, it is now forced to provide for these casualties in not only the general hospital in Brisbane but also in the Rosemount military hospital. The result is that the wards at those institutions are overcrowded. Such a condition of affairs can only be to the detriment of the ordinary patients in those institutions, and also the wounded soldiers now being crowded into them.
I urge the Government to take complete control of all munition factories and annexes in the Commonwealth. The private owners of such factories are making a good profit under the present system, as they receive profits at the rate of 1% per cent, of their costs. Obviously, the longer the war lasts the more money these people will make. Consequently, they cannot be anxious for the war to end. The disadvantages of such a system are obvious. So long as a man is kept on the payroll of any of these factories, regardless of whether his services are being fully employed, the greater will be the profit accruing to the owners. That system is radically wrong, and the Governmentshould remedy the position by taking complete control of those establishments.
Australia is already feeling severely the shortage of shipping for the transport of our primary produce overseas. Several excellent shipwright works exist in Brisbane, the owners of which - request the Government to give them orders for the construction of wooden ships. The Queensland Government is ready to cooperate in such a programme. It .has offered to make available a site on the Brisbane River for the construction of wooden ships of up to 2,000 tons. Recently-, the Commonwealth Man-power and Resources Survey Committee visited existing shipyards in Brisbane, and the members of that committee were very impressed with what they saw. I should be sorry if the chairman of the committee, the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Spooner), and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), another member of the committee, are forced to relinquish their membership of that committee as the result of their elevation to ministerial rank.
– They are to continue as members of the committee.
– I sincerely hope so. I trust that as soon as possible the committee will furnish to the Government its report on its investigations in Queensland, in order that a shipbuilding programme can be quickly undertaken so as to relieve steel freighters now engaged on the coast for the transport of our primary produce to Great Britain. I am informed that the shipyards in Queensland can lay down six keels at once, and that, after the first ship is completed a new ship will be launched every few months. The Government could clinch this matter by placing an order for, say, twelve wooden ships with these works in Queensland which are prepared to combine in this venture.
I congratulate the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Collins) upon his appointment as Postmaster-General. I am sure that he will do very fine work in his new office. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) complained about the large amount of money that has been allocated to the Postal Department. That department is a great moneyspinner and for that reason I do not * think that there should be any complaint whatever. I am only sorry that a few thousand pounds more has not been made available to pay a decent wage to those persons who are conducting non-official post offices and I hope that the recently appointed PostmasterGeneral will do his best, to assist them. I made representations to him when he was representing the Postmaster-General, but unfortunately he could not see his way clear” to accede to my request.
– I am inclined to agree with the honorable member, but
I think that, generally speaking, the number of these employees in that department should be diminished.
– According to the figure given by the Postmaster-General to-day, there are 8,000 employees in non-official post offices, a great many of whom are returned soldiers. The PostmasterGeneral’s Department will not publish, or even make available to honorable members, . the scale of rates paid to employees in such offices. The petrol rationing scheme placed considerable additional work on topostal employees, and now that burden will be further increased by the child endowment payments. Frequently officers of nonofficial post offices have to obtain the services of their wives and members of their families to enable them to carry out the work they have to do. Temporary telegraph messengers are also employed at the youths’ rate of 5s. a week. These lads may be called out at any time at an hour’s notice. If that is not sweating I do not know what is. I hope that the recently appointed Postmaster-General, who appears to be sympathetic in this matter, will take steps to see that these unfortunate people are given decent working conditions and. adequate rates of pay so that they can live in reasonably good circumstances. We have been told by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Harrison) that no profiteering is being carried on in this country.
– No; I told honorable members that where we find profiteering we take action to stop it.
– Does not the Government want to find profiteers? I recently drew the attention of the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) to the fact that a certain meat firm had charged the Commonwealth Government £40,000 more for tinned meat for our troops in Malaya than it had charged the British Government for the same goods, but no action has been taken.
– The observations which the honorable member made have been referred to the Prices Commissioner for investigation.
Mr.CONELAN.- I hope thatthe Prices Commissioner will get on with the job and see that the Government is not used by these people to get a “ rake-off “. Members of Parliament have received letters from various organizations. I have had several communications from housewives’ associations pointing out that a great deal of profiteering is going on. Following is a resolution carried at one meeting of that association : - “That this meeting of citizens expresses its dissatisfaction with the working ofthe Prices Fixing Commission and its apparent inability to prevent wholesale profiteering in this time of national emergency, and demands that the Federal Government immediately takesteps to effectively control prices and service charges with a view to checking the inflationary tendencies which are rapidly developing - andfurther, this meeting directs that this resolution be conveyed to all members of the Federal Parliament by letter.”
I think that every member of this House has had experience of the increase that has taken place in the cost of living. There has been an increase of the price of almost any article that is sold to-day. The Government should take steps to counter undue rises by giving the deputy prices commissioners in the various States full control in those States. At the present these deputy commissionersare governed by red-tape methods. They have to refer everything to Canberra. As soon as the Government gives these men full authority we shall have a better check on profiteering.
There is much more I should like to say on various important matters, such as the throwing out of employment in Queensland of men engaged in nonessential industries. Already many persons have lost their jobs through petrol rationing, and with a further reduction of the quota allowed to motorists, many more will be involved. The Government sent men and women to Victoria tobe trained in munitions work for a factory which was to have been placed in commission next month. It appears now, however, that the factory will not bo opened for another three months, and the trained operatives have been sent back to Queensland. I do not know how the Government will be able to find jobs for the many thousands of people displaced from industry as the result of petrol rationing. In Queensland there are thousands of unemployed - unskilled, I admit-who could be absorbed in war work, but the
Government has not taken any steps in that direction. I trust that in the new financial year the Government will see that all those who are able and willing to work have jobs provided for them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Australian FoodSuppliesfor Great Britain- Statutoryrule No. 69 - Man-Power and Resources ‘Survey Committee- Personnel of Standing and Parliamentary Committees - War Expenditure Committee.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I take this opportunity to table the terms of an agreement between the British Government and the Commonwealth Government with reference to reserve stores of foodstuffs. In doing so, I shall indicate the reasons why this procedure has been necessary, and what its effect on the Australian economy will be.
The most serious problem confronting the British Empire in this war is that of’ shipping. To win the battle of the Atlantic, the battle of the Mediterranean, the battle of Britain, the British Government ‘ must conserve shipping. Shipping is absolutely necessary to carry to the points needed, the men, munitions and food required for the war effort. The disposition of shipping must therefore be made in accordance with the best interests of the war effort, as a whole; Losses have been heavy, and there is a serious dearth of refrigerated shipping space. The food requirements of Britain must take precedence over all other considerations. There must be substantial diversion of shipping from longer to shorter routes, and therefore we have no alternative but to expect a reduced allocation of tonnage to lift Australia’s exports. We in Australia must face these facts. We must adjust our exports on a reduced quantitative basis. We must devise means to lift much of our surplus without utilizing refrigerated space. This shortage of shipping has made imperative a plan which will enable Australia to handle its problems of production, and to work out details which will operate in an ordered fashion even if we are completely cut off from the rest of the Empire. This plan must give a measure of security to the producers and must maintain their productive capacity during the war. The plan of organization must bring under control stocks of foodstuffs ready for shipment should additional shipping become available. It must provide for the production of food to keep life in our own people and in our British kin, and at the same time, “afford a. living for our producers. The Commonwealth Government has concluded an agreement with the British Government which will secure these ends, and lay a” definite foundation for post-war reconstruction and restoration of international trade. The New Zealand Government is making a similar agreement with the British Government, and the three Governments are announcing the. terms simultaneously to-day.
I shall now set out the nature of the arrangements concluded with the British Government in the light of the changed shipping position for the supply of Australian foodstuffs to Great Britain, and mention a few examples of the methods being adopted to cope with the new situation. When war broke out, the Government’s obligations in relation to Australian primary industries were : - First, to organize each industry on a basis that would enable us to make bulk contracts with the British Government, and to arrange for the export of products to other markets; secondly, to negotiate with the British Government the conditions of bulk contracts on behalf of the different industries, and make appropriate arrangements for payment to the producers; thirdly, in collaboration with the British Government, to rationalize our overseas shipping so that the export surpluses could be shipped to Britain in the most efficient and economical fashion. For years before the war, food export industries in Australia had been steadily organized. In 1988, I had personal negotiations with the British Food Controller as to the action to be taken if war should occur.At the outbreak of war, the Government was able very quickly to complete the setting up of the necessary organizations and to bring to finality negotiations with the British Government for the purchase ofvarious commodities. The Commonwealth Government was assisted by the industry organizations in its negotiations with the British. Government. In the first year of war, the. total value of the foodstuffs and raw materials supplied to Great Britain under bulk contracts was more than £100,000,000.. In that year, our products were transported to Great Britain regularly and- safely, > and that year’s returns proved- to be on ‘-the whole satisfactory to Australian primary producers. In the second year of the waralso, -we have been able to-dispose and ship the surplus of most products. In this second year, as in the first,- our sales to Great Britain will bring in- an -income exceeding £100,000,000, Thus, during two- years -of- war-, notwithstanding a savage attack on Empire, allied, and neutral shipping, %ve have been able to sell and ship almost our total export surplus of certain specified foodstuffs. We have also sold our total wool .clip. Wool producers are paid as the- wool is’ appraised, whether it be shipped or not. This favorable arrangement in regard to wool, under which the total- clip is bought by the British Government and paid for on appraisement, was made immediately after the outbreak of war, the term of the arrangement being the whole period of the war and one year thereafter. The Australian wool producers are relieved of anxiety regarding the disposal of their product whilst the war lasts. This is a great boon to the many thousands of wool producers in Australia, a large number of whom are also the producers of foodstuffs of different kinds. Unfortunately, wool was the only primary product in respect of which- a contract could be made for the disposal of the total surplus for the term of the war regardless of whether that surplus is shipped or not. In respect of primary industries which produce foodstuffs required by Great Britain, contracts have been made on an annual basis. In . the making of each year’s contract, consideration has had to be given to the volume of shipping likely to be available. It is necessary that Britain should import some foodstuffs from the nearest countries in which they are available in sufficient quantities. This adversely affects Australia and New Zealand;- but this sacrifice must be made’ in the general interest of all concerned.
The mutual recognition; .by- Britain and- ourselves that we must face the realities of the shipping position, and revise the arrangements for feeding the British people, led to discussions between” the Prime Minister of Australia and the British Government during Mr. Menzies’s recent visit to Great Britain. In those discussions, the Commonwealth Government recognized the paramount importance of utilizing shipping to the greatest advantage in sending foodstuffs to Britain, whilst Britain recognized the importance of maintaining a source of supply in the southern dominions. The discussion resulted in the adoption by the British and Commonwealth Governments of principles which should govern our policy in regard to food production, storage, and shipment to Great Britain, during the war. We have applied principles in the formation of a coherent plan to handle all problems of production, storage, marketing and shipment of Australian foodstuffs.
These principles have been defined in an agreed document, the text of whichis as follows : -
His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain fully recognize the grave .difficulty created for Australian industries by . the shortage of shipping.
They are anxious to continue taking all Australian .produce that can be shipped. i
They also appreciate the serious effect upon the Australian economic and financial structure .which these difficulties are causing. With a view to minimising these effects, and preventing the -impairment of the Australian war effort, the United Kingdom Government is prepared to join with1 the Commonwealth Government in arrangements to case the burden falling on Australia during the wai-, framed on lines that will not prejudice the post-war position.
The two Governments have agreed that the following principles should be applied as a basis for such co-operation : -
The United Kingdom Government to purchase Austral ian produce that can be shipped, and to pay for such produce at prices and” upon such terms and conditions as are from time to time agreed .with the Ministry of Food.
The Australian industries to make every effort to _ adapt their production to shipping possibilities, e.g. by de-boning, canning or pressing meat.
Alternative markets to be developed wherever possible. 4.Reservestocks of storable foodstuffs to be created up to certain quantities to be agreed.
The quantities to be stored tobe determined in relation -
to probable demands during or after the war;
to the importance of the industries to Australia.
The financial burden of acquiring and holding these reserve stocks pending their disposal to be shared equally between the two Governments.
The payment to be made for produce acquired for reserve stocks to be agreed between the two Governments.
While it will be necessary to take due account of such matters as costs of storage, depreciation, etc., it is intended that payment shallbe fixed on such a basis as will, as far as practicable, achieve the object of keeping industry operating efficiently while avoiding the creation of unmanageable surpluses.
The detailed application of the above principle to bereferred to competent representatives from the two countries.
The Australian Government will be ready to collaborate in any discussions which may be convened within the British Commonwealth or internationally, to consider the marketing and related problems.
These principles are of the greatest importance to Australia. Their application enablesus to work out a plan of action for the duration of the war in respect of all ofour food-producing industries whose export trade is curtailed owing to shipping, and whose products are capable of being stored on the joint account of the British and Australian Governments. It has been agreed between the two Governments that the shortage of shipping is, and will continue to be,the sole reason for the imposition and maintenance of the restrictions on foodstuff purchases from Australia. As additional shipping becomes available, more tonnage will be allotted to Australia. We should be deluding ourselves, however, if we expected in the near future any increased allocation of shipping beyond that at present planned.
I cannot publish precise figures, but I can give to honorable members some idea of the problems we are facing, by stating that the total shipping space for Australian foodstuffs in the third year of the war will be approximately one-fifth of what it was in the first year of the war; that the refrigerated tonnage available for the carriage of eggs, which was about 12,000 tons last season, is practically eliminated from now on ; that the refrigerated space available for dairy produce is less than one-half of that available in the first year of the war; and that the refrigerated tonnage available for meat is approximately one-third of that provided in the first year of the war. These figures give some idea of the magnitude of thetaskwe have in reorganizing our food producing industries. It is in the light of this position that the scheme of re-organization for each export industry must be examined. Whilst this greatly reduced programme of shipping . must in general be adhered to strictly, we have an understanding with the British Government that if, in some special case, the allocation of a reasonable additional quantity of tonnage would save an industry from economic disorder, or relieve the two Governments from substantial obligations in respect of the financing of reserve stocks, every effort will be made by the British Government to provide that additional tonnage.
It will be noted that principles (1) and (2) provide that the United Kingdom Government will purchase Australian produce that can be shipped, and will pay for such produce’ at prices arranged, whilst the Australian Government will make every effort, in collaboration with Australian industries, to adapt production to shipping possibilities. We have reached an understanding with the British Government that, in arriving at the prices and other conditions in future contracts, consideration will be given to the new and special steps necessary to prepare produce for shipment.
The development of alternative markets referred to in the third principle is not a simple matter, but I am exploring some possible avenues of disposal. In this connexion, the installation of cold storage facilities in some overseas locations, and the increase of existing cold storage facilities, will help in the disposal of surplus commodities requiring this form of storage. The British and Australian Governments will collaborate in examining the possibilities of providing additional cold storage at places overseas, where it would be useful in facilitating the development of the alternative markets.
The sixth and seventh principles contained in the agreement must be considered in their application to each industry affected, according to the peculiar circumstances of that industry. The’ British Government has agreed that the Commonwealth Government should examine exhaustively the circumstances of each industry, and then ‘ formulate proposals for dealing with the problems of that industry in accordance with the general principles already referred to.
The Australian Government has indicated its preparedness to participate in international discussions regarding surplus products. Some of Australia’s surpluses, a. part of which may he unsaleable in the near future, are of products which have usually entered principally into intra-Empire trade. These products are not likely to be the subject’ of international discussions. However, some of our surplus commodities which will face a difficult time in the immediate future are normally of importance in international trade; examples are wheat, sugar, and copra. Australia is prepared to discuss the future of these commodities on an international basis; and we are, in fact, now participating in discussions in Washington in regard to the wheat position. Australia has thus far been fortunate in disposing of the greater part of its wheat stocks, whereas the United States and Canada hold between them the greatest wheat surplus of all time. Whilst the current international discussions are of greater immediate importance to those countries than to Australia, the post-war position of wheat is so important to all exporting and importing countries that the Commonwealth Government regards the discussions which have now commenced as sufficiently important to justify our participation in them.
Concurrently with the negotiations with the British Government, and. its estimate of the amount of shipping space available for Australian produce, we have obtained from Britain an indication of the priority of its requirements.
With this information we proceeded to plan for the objective of covering each commodity to the extent that is practicable for contracts for the duration of the war. Resulting prices to producers may be below export parity in some in stances, but will be such as, to provide stability and enable the producer to plan ahead on the basis of a minimum guarantee.
During recent weeks, the,’ Australian. Meat Board, the Dairy Produce Board, and other boards most directly concerned, have been engaged in surveys of their industries in consultation with me and my department. Long-range plans are being drawn up to meet the situation of adjusting the processing of our produce, and- even its production. It is obvious that major diversions in the form of manufacturing must be undertaken to adjust production in accordance with the priorities under the agreement, and to secure their most efficient working and the development of alternative markets.
Increased cold storage facilities will be necessary to provide for surpluses accumulating owing to lack of shipping. We have already taken the necessary steps to deal with this problem. Contracts have been let; and buildings are already in course of erection. Goods placed in these stores will be jointly financed by the British and Australian Governments.
Our national fodder conservation scheme will assist the plan by enabling us to deal with’ certain forms of surplus stock production for which storage and shipping arc not otherwise available. The wheat stabilization plan also assists by placing production under a definite planned scheme.
Our survey has also shown the necessity for positive action in dealing with the problem of internal consumption. The Australian people are being called upon to adjust their diet in accordance with food surpluses which must be consumed in Australia. The initial response to the lamb campaign has demonstrated that something may be achieved in this direction.
Many of the problems confronting us can be met only by close co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States. Methods of co-operation will be discussed with the Australian Agricultural Council during the next two days.
The proposals for the national coordination of transport, announced by the Prime Minister in his broadcast speech, will assist towards the success of the plan.
It is not my purpose to expound in detail the steps taken, or in contemplation, in regard to each Australian industry which’ is adversely affected by the> re-arrangement of shipping.- Particulars of (the plans for re-organization of the meat industry have been published. Active steps are in progress to support the dairying and egg industries. These three industries produce perishable goods. Forward planning is necessary to cope with the flush of the export season in each case.
The problem of egg marketing is the least complex. Up to and including last season, the Australian export surplus of eggs was shipped to Great Britain in the shell, in refrigerated space. Last year, this export required 12,000 tons of refrigerated space. Early this year, we were advised that any future egg supplies must be shipped in the form of whole-egg powder. We have not, heretofore, produced whole-egg powder. Plant and personnel were immediately sought from outside Australia, to enable us to enter the industry on a’ large scale. Fortunately we were able to obtain from the Vestey organization eleven egg-drying plants then in China. These plants were dismantled and shipped, and are expected to reach Sydney soon. They will be installed and operated on behalf - of the Commonwealth Government by Messrs. Angliss and Company. One plant of American design is being manufactured in Australia ; it will be installed and used in conjunction with the other plants. It is hoped that the total capacity will be sufficient to deal with practically the whole of our export surplus of eggs.
Negotiations are at present in progress with the British Government as to the terms of purchase of the egg powder. It is expected that the price will be based on last year’s price for eggs in the shell, plus the cost of processing. The Commonwealth Government will buy the eggs in shell from the producers, who will thus be in approximately the same position as if their eggs were being exported in the shell. The Government scheme therefore protects and preserves the industry. The Commonwealth Government is fulfilling its undertaking with the British Government to adapt production to the shipping possibilities, as the total allotment of ordinary cargo space will be less than one-quarter of what was previously required in refrigerated space. The basis of payment will allow for new costs of processing. Finally, and most important, the same volume of nutriment will be made available to the people of Britain in an easily handled and readily storable form.
The arrangements made for the meat industry are also a practical, though more complicated, application of the agreed principles, Refrigerated shipping space to the Middle. East will be used for beef for our troops, and that to Great Britain will be used for lamb. The surplus of beef over and above the available shipping space will be canned. The Commonwealth Government will always be in the market for canned beef at prices that will support the stock market. This greatly increased output of canned beef will be shipped to the order of the British Government at prices to be arranged.
The problem of surplus mutton and lamb is more serious and complex. The reduction of the amount of shipping available is much more serious than in respect of beef. No frozen mutton will be exported, but the Commonwealth Government will be always in the market for canned mutton at prices which will support the stock market. This will dispose of large quantities of mutton which would otherwise be on’ the fresh meat market. The gap in domestic supplies thus caused will be filled by lamb, which must be consumed in Australia in greater quantities than formerly. This increased consumption will be facilitated by a lower level of lamb prices. The Government will, at the same time, be always a buyer of specified classes of export quality lamb, at prices lower than current contract prices. Such portion of this lamb as can be shipped will be bought at contract pricesbv the British Government. The portion which cannot bc shipped for the time being will be held in store in Australia, and financed jointly by the British and Australian Governments. The net effect of this, scheme will be to support the stock market at a lower level of prices than that to which producers have been accustomed, to make greater quantities of lamb available to the Australian consumers at reduced prices, to ship to Great Britain lamb in frozen form, and mutton in cans to the full extent of available shipping space, and to hold manageable surpluses in Australia on joint account.
The Government has also made arrangements to purchase canned pig meats of specified classes to such an extent as will absorb the quantity we formerly expected toship in carcass form. The pig producers will be afforded a market for their product at lowerprices than the contract rates would have been if refrigerated shipping space hadbeen available. The canned product willbe sold to the order of Great Britain.
The task ahead of the Government and the dairying industry, in the utilization of the liquid milk production, is great indeed. In the past, the Australian export surplus has been marketed principally as butter. Our production of cheese, and of powdered and condensed milk, has been relatively small. We must now arrange a major change-over from butter production to cheese production, and, as far as possible, to the production of dried and condensed milk. Cheese is to-day much higher than butter in priority of requirement’ by the British Government. It is move easily transported, stored, and handled, and is a very suitable form of food under all conditions. The transition is being encouraged, by offering for cheese a higher price for the milk content, relative to the price paid for butter. Furthermore,as the demand for dried and condensed milk is increasing, and as these products can be carried as ordinary cargo, much is to be gained in producing them. The problem for the dairying industry is thus shownto centre in the effort to make the technical and mechanical arrangements necessary to effect these changes in the character of the product made from the liquid milk. The full details of the scheme are being worked out. When the plan is completed, it will be published in full. So soon as the plans for these highly perishable products have been put in operation, the Government will devise appropriate plans for coping with the peculiar problems of each other major product - wheat and other grains, sugar, dried fruits, canned fruits, &c.
I conclude by saying that a main object of the joint plan is to secure as much stability for the primary industries as thecircumstances will permit. Certainly, the stability will in most cases be at a lower level of prices, and it may also be at a lower volume of production. The Government will, in all circumstances, exert every effort topreserve the basic structure of the industries.The further steps taken in organization will enhance the capacity of each industry to withstand the storm, to face any temporary contraction which circumstances enforce, and to be ready toplayits partinthe post-war task of feeding a hungryworld. Any immediate disabilities or sacrifices will be a real contribution by the producers to both the Australian and the Empire war effort.
.- I ask the Prime Minister to let me know now when I shall have an opportunity to move my motion, notice of which appears on the notice-paper, for the disallowance of Statutory Rules 1941, No. 69.
– On one day next week. I shall discuss the subject with the Leader of the Opposition.
– Yesterday I asked the Prime Minister a question, upon notice, the substance of which was an expression of my desire that the report and recommendations of the Commonwealth Man-power and Resources Survey Committee should be available to honorable members. In fact, they should be printed and circulated to the public. I think it unfair that, when members of a committee have spent much of their valuable time on making a report, the only evidence of the esteem in which the Government holds the report is that the two non-Labour members of the committee are caught up into the parliamentary heaven, and consort with angels and archangels in the Cabinet. Co-operation by Opposition members on the committees cannot be expected if reports are merely to go to the Government, and not to be printed and circulated. I believe that this report was the work of capable men who did very interesting and useful research work. Valuable facts have been obtained, and the recommendations should be circulated to the public. I should like an opportunity to be given to honorable members to peruse such parts of the transcript of evidence as they are interested in.
– The question of the availability of reports was raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr.Cur tin) in connexion with the Social Security Committeeon which the honorable member is serving.
– I know the position in regard to that.
– I desire to announce to the House the personnel of the various committees which it is proposed to establish.Four of them are joint standing committees in respect of which I shall need to submit motions in appropriate terms next week. The other three are parliamentary committees. The first is the committee which is to examine war expenditure, and it is to be in two divisions, one of which shall deal with expenditure on the fighting services, andthe other with expenditure on the supply side of the war effort. The personnel of the various committees is as follows: -
.-Will the War Expenditure Committee consider all phases of governmental expenditure, or will its activities be confined to actual war expenditure?For some time I have been urging the reconstitution of the Public Accounts Committee. If the War Expenditure Committee is to consider war expenditure only, it will hot discharge the functions previously discharged by the Public Accounts Committee.
– In my opinion, it would make for greater satisfaction, and more harmonious operation if each of these various committees were allowed to choose its own chairman. With all due respects to the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles), I believe that it would be better for one of the present members of the Man-power and Resources Survey Committee to take up the duties relinquished by the honorable member who has now joined the Ministry (Mr. Spooner). The members of that committee have travelled far and wide; they have collected a vast amount of information, and are familiar with the procedure. Honorable members on this side of the House believe that the action of the Government in appointing all the chairmen of the committees from amongst its own supporters is not in keeping with the views that were expressed when the matter was under discussion. Many of us are surprised at the action of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and I hope that it is not too late for him to reconsider the matter.
.-I also hope that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) will allow the committees to choose theirown chairmen. No doubt there are on the Government side men quite capable of filling the positions of chairmen, but there are men on the Opposition side who are no less capable. It would make for greater harmony and efficiency if each committee were allowed to choose its own chairman. The work of the Man-power Committee, which had three Opposition members, - proceeded very harmoniously, and the committee on taxation, of which the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) was elected chairman, did an excellent job.
.- In reply to the representations of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly) I point out that, at the present - time, war expenditure embraces a tremendously widefield. It covers all services, supply operations and munition undertakings, and works of practically every description, because a great deal of our works policy is directed towards war undertakings. If it appears that there is any substantial field of expenditure outside this, I shall be glad to take the matter up with the honorable member.
-What about the point raised by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) ?
– Normally, when a parliamentary committee is set up, the Government has a majority of the members on it. A feature of these new committees is that in all cases there is an exactly equal number of members from the Government side and from the Opposition side.For that reason it was thought proper that the chairman of each committee should be a member of the Government party.
– The Opposition regards this matter very seriously.
– Was there a majority of Government members on the Manpower and Resources Survey Committee?
– No, because the Opposition particularly wanted it to be constituted as it was, and I gave way.
– But that committee elected its own chairman.
– It did no such thing. I appointed both the chairman and the deputy chairman. Moreover, the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) was not chairman of the Taxation Committee. I was chairman, and I appointed him deputy chairman.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 5.42 p.m.
Thefollowinganswers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1.No, but in accordance with regulations, preference in employment as amongst returned soldiers is given to married men.
New Guinea Gold-fields Limited.
s asked the Minister dealing with External Territories, upon notice -
– The informationis being obtained and will be made available to the honorable member as soon as possible.
r. - Yesterday the honor able member for Calare (Mr. Breen) asked, without notice, whether steps would be taken to utilize surplus labour for the removal of rails of the disused Cronulla-Sutherland tramway with a view to using these rails as scrap for the production of steel.
I now inform the honorable member that the Minister for Munitions has furnished the following reply : -
The demand for tram-line rails as scrap is not sufficient to warrant the expenditure involved in removing the rails. There is a definite limit to the demand for scrap iron of this nature.
– On the 24th June, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) asked the following question, without notice: -
I ask the Prime Minister if he has been approached by the Minister for National Emergency Services in New South Wales with regard to the provision of finance for the purpose of providing air-raid shelters: if so, what is the attitude of his Government towards the request?
I now desire to inform the honorable member that a letter dealing with various phases of Air Raid Precautions has been received from the Minister for National Emergency Services of New South Wales. The Commonwealth Government has informed the Premiers of the States that it proposes that the whole subject of Air Raid Precautions shall be discussed after a meeting of the Loan Council to be held next month.
n asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Territory to investigate conditions and rates of pay of employees, been submitted to the Government; if so, when will the Minister make a. statement on the subject? 2.Will honorable members be allowed to peruse the report?
– The Conciliation Officer who visited Darwin earlier this year reported to the Arbitration Court and not to the Government.
d asked the Minister for Health, upon notice - 1.What amount of money was made available in New South Wales for the purpose of conducting diploma courses in physical training instruction ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answers: - .
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answers: - 1 and 2. The statement that the output of motor spirit at Glen Davis was at the rate of 3500,000 gallons per annum was based on information furnished by the company and checked , by departmental officials.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What is the total amount expended by the Commonwealth since 1914 in respect of our fighting services in the Great War of 1914-18 on each of the following: - (a) war gratuity,
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The total amount expended by the Commonwealth to30th June, 1940, in respect of the war of 1914-18 is £875,000,000. Sinking Fund payments amounting to £49,500,000 have not been included. The total expenditure is made up as follows: -
s. - On the 24th June, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) asked, without notice, whether in view of the fact that payments in connexion with child endowment were being superimposed on the duties of postal officials already working to the maximum on military, old-age and invalidpensions, and petrol ration coupons, it is the intention of the department to increase the staffs of post offices.
I am now able to reply that payment of child endowment will be effected only once in every four weeks, and on a day other than that on which pensions and allotments are paid. The department is fully aware of the additional work which has arisen at post offices as a result of war conditions, and in all instances where such a course is necessary an increase of staff is provided.
– Yesterday the honorable member forWide Bay (Mr. Corser) asked a question, without notice, concerning theuse of country garages and small manufacturers for the manufacture of producer-gas units.
I now inform the honorable member that the Minister for Supply and Development has furnished the following reply :-
It is agreed that the facilities of garages must be used at least for the fitting of gasproducers to motor vehicles if any headway in the use of this substitute fuel is to be made, and that garage mechanics should be suitably instructed to undertake that work as well as the work of servicing producers. The Department of Supply and Development, in collaboration with State authorities,is now dealing with this aspect as part of the Government plans for large scale changeover to producergas fuel. Some garages willbe equipped to make as well asto fit producerunits and proposals to that end are now being worked out by at least one large organization.There has never been any reason why garages should not undertake this manufacturing work if orders were placed with them for units by prospective users.
n askedthe Minister representing the Ministerfor Supply and Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answers : -
i asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Development has supplied the following answers : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 June 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1941/19410626_reps_16_167/>.