16th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER ( (Hon. W. M. Nairn) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– It is with deep regret that .1 inform honorable members of the death on the 15th June, 1941, of Mr. John Lynch, a former member of this House.
The late Mr. Lynch was elected to represent the division of Werriwa at the general elections held in 1914, and was re-elected to that seat iti 1917, but was defeated at the general elections of 1919.’
The deceased had resided at Young for many years, and, although- not known to me personally, was very well and favorably known to my colleagues, the
Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes) and tlie Postmaster-General (Mr. Collins). .Honorable members will appreciate that his period of service in this House was a stirring one, covering as it did the four years of the last world war. I invite honorable members to join me in expressins appreciation of his public service, an.! deep sympathy wilh his relatives in their bereavement. Accordingly, I move - flint this House expresses Us deep regret Bt the death of Mr. John Lynch, a former member for the Division of Werriwa, places on record its appreciation of his public service, nml tenders its profound sympathy to his relatives in their bereavement.
– In seconding the motion, I associate honorable members of the Opposition with the sentiments . expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies).
The late Mr. Lynch was a member of this Parliament at a time when very . great problems pressed on the nation. We who are no-w experiencing somewhat similar problems, can thus appreciate, in some degree, the difficulties Under which his duties were discharged. I am quite sure that those who served in the Commonwealth Parliament at that time found in him a most useful member of this legislature. I express to his family my deep sympathy in their bereavement.
– I associate myself with the Prime Minister and the . Leader of the Opposition in the resolution of regret’ “ and sympathy. I knew the late’ John ‘Lynch very. well. Tor year? he was one of my most valued colleagues. An upright and honorable man, he stood at my side through the stormy and dark years of the ‘war. He was a man of great strength of character, absolutely fearless in upholding the cause in which he believed. It was this quality that sustained him in the greatest political crisis of those fateful years. He was not only a man of great courage and strength of character, but also a faithful friend and loyal colleague, for whom I entertained feelings of respect and admiration, and, indeed affection. No man ever devoted himself with greater singleness of purpose to the service of his country than did John Lynch. The news of his- death come as a great shock to me. I deeply mourn his passing and join in expressing my sincere sympathy with his relatives.
– I desire to identify myself personally -with the motion. It was my political for.tune to. defeat the late Mr. Lynch for the Werriwa electorate in 1919. Prior to that time, my family and his had been associated politically for many years, and we were also close friends personally. I, of course, was a much younger man than he. As a boy attending school, I knew him very well. He had a small farm not far from where we lived, and many times, when walking along the road from the school to my home, I was given a ride in his buggy. 1 have always had the greatest admiration for him. Although political contests in those days wore fairly strenuous ‘ ding-dong tussles) we always fought a clean, wholesome ‘ fight, and I ‘believe that the successful candidate won on his merits. For family reasons, apart altogether from polities, I regret the passing of Mr. Lynch. He was a good citizen wherever he. resided, and played his part well in any movement with which he was associated. I join with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the-Opposition in expressing sympathy with the relatives who have b:en left to mourn his loss.
-. - At the request of the .Country party leader (Mr. Fadden), I associate that party, as well as myself personally, with the expressions of sympathy- voiced by the previous speakers. I knew the late John Lynch for very many years during my residence at Young, where he spent the greater part of his life after having engaged in “very hard work iri the outback country beyond Bourke. -He followed rural pursuits in the districts of Young and Grenfell, and made a great .success of his pastoral and agricultural activities. He made friends wherever he went, and was held in the. highest esteem and respect by whomever he was known. He .was always ready to assist public institutions, with which he was continuously associated in the town and district of Young. He al30 interested himself widely in local government affairs subsequent tohis parliamentary defeat. I am sure that he died without an enemy. I join in the expressions of sympathy with his bereaved relatives.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Bill returned from the Senate without requests.
Mr. MENZIES (Kooyong- Prime
Minister). - Further to my statement in the House on Thursday last, I now desire to inform honorable members that Mr. Holt will, as hitherto, be Minister in charge of Scientific and Industrial Research. Mr. McDonald will represent in this chamber both portfolios held by SenatorFoll, namely, those of the Interior and of Information.
– by leave - Last week the Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes)was given leave to bring in a bill to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Thebill has not been produced, and no one except himself knows precisely what is in it. However, I have no doubt that it deals with a subject upon which I wish to offer some observations and I ask the Government to give those observations full consideration as early as possible. It will be agreed that nothing is more important in Australia at the present time than to ensure a maximum industrial effort, so that the armed forces of Australia and of the Empire may be supplied with the greatest amount of equipment and armament which it is within the capacity of this country to supply. There is no difference of opinion in Australia respecting the importance of winning the war. As I desire to say something on the subject of industrial relationships, I shall preface my statement by quoting the decision of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions reached at its conference on the5th June of this year. By a majority of 128 votes to 71, congress resolved -
This congressrecalls and reaffirms the declaration of the New South Wales and Victorian branches of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions and other sections of the Trade Union movement in 1939, and the Trade Union Congress of 1940, supporting the war against Hitler and Fascism. We record our uncompromising determination to continue the struggle against the aggressor Powers endeavouring to destroy personal liberty, industrial and political freedom’, the right of collective bargaining and association, and therefore pledge the Trade Union movement to work for the swift and complete victory for the cause of democracy against aggression and oppression. We affirm that to prevent the possibility of individual profiteering by thewar there should be brought about the immediate nationalization of the arms industries and the utilization of the national credit. We demand a substantial immediate improvement in the standard of life and freedomof speech and assembly.
We extend our deepest sympathyto the relatives and friends of members of Australia’s overseas forces who have given their lives or suffered from wounds or illness whilst fighting to preserve democracy, and express our highest appreciation of the bravery of Australia’s volunteer forces in overseas conflicts.
Congress expresses it horror and condemnation of the barbaric and ruthless method by which the forces of Nazi-ism and Fascism are endeavouring to gain world control and domination.
In that resolution the Council of Trade Unions pledges itself first, to work for victory against Hitler and Germany ; and secondly, to ensure that there shall he given to the war effort all that the great trade union movement of Australia has in it to give. That is in accord with the attitude of the whole Labour movement of Australia. There is no doubt whatever that the organizedbody of Labour, political and industrial, is pledged to support this war until victory has been secured.
– Seventyone delegates voted against that resolution.
– I say that it represents the determination of the organized Labour movement, and the honorable gentleman knows that the trade union movement speaks authoritatively for the workers of Australia. The resolution is a declaration of intention, and coming as it does from the trade union movement of Australia, it is of great importance. The war, in the last few weeks, has taken a turn which affords a respite to the people of Great Britain from constant air bombardment, and to us a breathing space in which, I hope,, we shall put forward our maximum industrial strength, so that wc may give our fighting forces everything possible in the way of armament, machinery and equipment. Upon those on the home front devolves the task of ensuring that the necessary equipment shall be provided. Industrial relations are at the core of the matter; both unionists and employers are involved. The Government has said that it intends to enlarge the scope of the trade union panel, and to set up an employer’s panel. Those two proposals are useful and constructive, and I hope that the panels, representative as they will be of the great body of employers and Labour, will themselves, have some suggestions to make as to how best Australia can use its capital and labour for the purpose of augmenting war production. I believe it will be desirable that, when the panels are formed, they shall meet and make recommendations, either severally or jointly, before this Parliament is called on to discuss legislation dealing with conciliation and arbitration. The Parliament itself is about to do a great deal of research work on ‘ matters related to discontent in industry and societyLast week a number of parliamentary committees were set, up, and it would be advantageous for the panels representing employers and trade unionists, and the parliamentary committees engaged in the investigation of industrial and social matters, to be able” to furnish to this Parliament some of their major recommendations before we commit ourselves to specific amendments of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Consent and collaboration form the soundest foundation upon which to erect the maximum industrial structure.
In the meantime, I a-k the employers to avoid, as far as possible, action likely to increase industrial discontent or bitterness, for that would make the general effort of the nation more difficult. At the same time, I say to the trade unionists that they have basic rights as everyone has, but there are times when it does not pay to insist every day on the vindication of those rights. As things stand to-day it is of the greatest immediate and future importance that those who are engaged in industry, either as employers or as employees, should not make the gift of one moment’s wasted time to the enemy, and that, as far as possible, machinery which is in existence for the settlement of industrial disputes should be promptly used by those who consider that they have grievances. If the machinery be inadequate to meet their difficulty, or if it cannot function rapidly enough to enable a quick decision to be given, their proper course is to continue at work and to make a submission to the Government so that the impediment to the operation of the machinery may be overcome. The Government and the Opposition, the trade unionists and the employers of Australia, all are united in the purposes expressed in the resolution of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. We are within sight of the reality of a nation united for the purpose of production, so that we shall give to every man who fight3, the maximum of armament. If we do that, the men who, fully armed, .fight for our cause will be invincible. I ask the -Government to give further consideration to the general spirit and implication of what I have said, before it proceeds with the bill ‘ which the Attorney-General’ has obtained leave to introduce.
– I ask leave to make a statement.
– I rise to order. . I should like you, Mr. Speaker, to enlighten me as to whether this is in the nature of a debate upon a highly controversial subject, because the present procedure i3 unfamiliar to me. The Leader of the Opposition, after obtaining leave to ‘make a statement, raised a highly controversial matter, and the Prime Minister has now sought leave to make a statement, presumably in reply. Is this a debate upon a bill which is not yet before the chamber?
– No. It is not a debate, but a request that the bill be not proceeded with until consideration has been given to the general views which I have expressed.
– The proceedings are irregular, but as the House granted to the Leader of the Opposition leave to make a statement, honorable members cnr not, in justice, refuse to grant leave to the Prime Minister. However, I protest against the procedure that has been adopted.
– by leave - I do not propose to make a long statement upon the matter to which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has addressed himself. As the honorable gentleman pointed out, a bill has been postponed, the general outline of which was communicated in a broadcast speech which I delivered to the public a fortnight ago. Like all honorable members, I find myself in complete agreement with the spirit of the remarks that have fallen from the Leader of the Opposition. We all agree that the maximum industrial effort, not only in this country but also in other countries, will be required in order to give adequate support to our forces in the field. That we have endeavoured to make our own guiding star in Government policy. That, as I know, is the genuine desire of the Leader of the Opposition. On account of that desire, and for various reasons to which he referred, he has invited the Government to defer the introduction of a bill which will no doubt give rise upon its presentation to the House, to a great deal of debate and difference of opinion. Personally, I am impressed by his arguments. As he will realize, this subject involves the question as to when a certain matter of government policy willbe introduced to Parliament, and therefore, it is desirable that I should consult my colleagues in relationto it. I propose to do that. I understand that to-day a motion will be submitted for the adjournment of the House and, subsequent to that, a general debarte to which certain honorable members desire to make a contribution will take place. Consequently I hope that by this evening, or, at the latest, to-morrow, I shall be able to make a definite statement about the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce whether it is a fact, as reported in the press, that the Australian AgriculturalCouncil representing all States failedto agree on a method, or methods, to ensure a payable price for potato-growers? What action, if any, does the Government intend to take in order to overcome the unsatisfactory position which, if not remedied, will result in the ruin of hundreds of potatogrowers ? Will the Minister to-day make a full statement about the situation?
– I am in a position to answer that question, because I presided over the deliberations of the Australian Agricultural Council at the time where the subject was under discussion. The granting of protection to potatogrowers during the coming season was discussed by the council, and a suggestion from the Prices Commissioner for the elimination of the surplus was considered. The proposal was debated by Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania, in particular, but no agreement was reached. However, the representatives of Tasmania and Victoria, among whom there was the greatest contention, agreed further to discuss the matter and I understand that their talks are proceeding.
– On the18th June, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) asked me whether my attention had been drawn to a statement made by Mr. R. B. Walker to the effect that the present Acting Chief Justice was an associate of John Woolcott Forbes, and whether I would inquire into the extent of that association. The Acting Chief Justice has informed me that he had no part in the promotion of any of the Forbes companies or in the conduct of their affairs. His Honour stated that he invested in Producers and General Finance Corporation Limited and the Scottish Loan (Limited) as any other member of the public might do, and that his connexion with those companies was solely that of an ordinary investor. His Honour further stated that he has not at any time been a director of any company or partnership..
Mr.FALSTEIN.- In view of the answer the Attorney-General has given I now ask him whether he will give consideration to the introduction of an amendment of the Judiciary Act in order to provide that judges of the High Court and other persons holding judicial positions under the Commonwealth shall be debarred from making speculative investments?
– I shall give attention to the honorable gentleman’s question, but I ask him : What is a speculative investment? If he will give me a considered reply to that question I shall examine it.
– by leave - Statements which have recently been published on newsprint rationing by certain sections of the Sydney press, the allegations that this rationing was being usedas a discriminatory political weapon, as well as the suggestion that political bias has been present in the rationingconsiderations, require the impartial presentation of the f acts.
Atthe outset,Ishould mention that a newsprint rationing had been adopted and applied before I was appointed Minister for Trade and Customs and subsequent decisions made with regard to the rationing of newsprint and the licence made available to the Daily Mirror were made by Cabinet and not by me as an individual Minister. Perhaps it is significant that the whole of this attackon me personally should be launched by certa in sectionsof the Sydney press. The newspapers of Melbourne have contented themselves with a statement of the Government’s decision and their future policy in this regard. I should be surprised if I found that the rest of the newspapers in Australia had not been equally impartial in their observations.
The impression created by the articles recently published is that certain newspaper proprietors have almost compelled the Government to introduce andsubsequently to intensify newsprint rationing. The case as presented by the journals to the public emphazises the nobility of those journals in being prepared to accept the war-time sacrifice involved.
The facts of the case are -
Honorable memberswill see, therefore, that the offer was essentially a negotiating one and not a voluntary offer. This is what the articles recently published refer to as “ voluntary offers which were accepted by the Government “. Some mention has been made of a second voluntary offer. In this regardI have caused inquiries to be made throughout my department and the only information I can gather is that a suggestion was made by Mr. Henderson, of the Sydney Morning Herald, who advanced it unofficially without commitment, and without the knowledge of the industry, and at a time when he was not even a member of the Australian Newspaper Conference. It was essentially a sounding, and, I have no doubt, if responses had been made, then such soundings would have been conveyed to the representatives of other papers. This, I think, effectively disposes of their claim respecting a second voluntary offer.
References have been made to the Newsprint Advisory Committee. Honorable members will be interested to know that, applying the principle that has always been applied by me when I have found it necessary to impose heavy restrictions, I sought to appoint an advisory committee which I thought would be fairly representative of the industry. I may say that when a government finds it necessary to take action which is adverse to a major industry in the way of restriction on the supply of raw materials, I firmly believe that it should proceed on the advice of a committee drawn from that industry. I sincerely endeavoured to set up such a committee and the set-up was as follows : -
After some months of endeavour, it became apparent that the conditions necessary for the successful functioning of such a committee were not present. I therefore had to proceed without a committee. This endeavour, which had more in it for the industry than for the Government, delayed the introduction of the second rationing plan. After many delays the metropolitan press finally came together and formed a new association called the “ Newspaper Proprietors Association” and elected three representatives from the Sydney press. One re presentative was selected from Melbourne to represent the rest of the metropolitan press of Australia. I endeavoured to bring pressure to bear upon the independent weeklies to elect their representative, without success. They said, in effect, that they preferred to be rationed by the Government rather than by their colleagues of the metropolitan press. The provincial press subsequently refused to be associated with the new committee, as the representation that they had agreed to had been completely altered- and they were not prepared to come on to the committee while the representation was such as it was.
I realized the impossibility of a committee such as this functioning, and as the time was drawing near for the new rationing period, I had no choice but to refuse to proceed further with the formation of this advisory committee. The difficultyof setting up the committee is in my opinion inherent in the composition of the industry itself. That this might be so is quite understandable. It is another matter when the accusation is made against me that I refused or ignored voluntary offers for further rationing. The test as to whether the fault lies with me or not in being unable to establish a working committee is surely best indicated by the fact that the committees established on tobacco rationing and general paper rationing have functioned, and are functioning, quite satisfactorily.
The decision to grant a licence to the Daily Mirror to import supplies of newsprint was aGovernment one. The reasons for this decision are good and adequate. The decision honours a promise by the Commonwealth Government made before the first newsprint rationing scheme was introduced. The democratic principles recognized by this decision are obvious.
The claim that more severe cuts have been imposed on Australian newspapers than on newspapers in any other parts of the Empire, particularly the United Kingdom, cannot be sustained. The simple test of this claim is that under the rationing plan introduced on the 1st July, 1941, the Sydney Morning Herald is permitted to publish a paper with an average weekly size of68 pages and the Melbourne Herald 75 pages. The London Times is restricted to 60 pages combined with a one-sixth reduction of circulation. So long as it is necessary to import newsprint, so long will it be necessary to take into account Australian manufactured, newsprint. If this were not done, all our efforts to produce this paper in Australia would be without avail so far as dollar savings are con- cerned. In any case, Australian news-, print incorporates a substantial proportion of imported pulp for which dollars have to be provided.
On the claim made that the reduction by an overall 55 per cent. cut is more severe than that applied to other industries, I mention the following restrictions : -
Motor-car chassis -80 per cent.
Raw silk for hosiery manufacture - 55 per cent.
Oregon - approximately 70 per cent.
Case timbers - prohibition.
In addition there are some 1,200 category classifications under import licensing to which total prohibition applies, whilst restrictions have been progressively extended since import licensing was first introduced, and, compared with the value of related goods imported in the pre-war base year 1938-39, amount to approximately a 50 per cent. overall restriction.
There remains the suggestion or charge against theGovernment of using newsprint rationing as a discriminatory political weapon and of attempting to intrude political bias on the principle of impartial sacrifice. Quite frankly, I cannot follow the reasoning behind these statements. Discriminatory against what ? Biased against whom? The industry has not been “ discriminated against as compared, with other major industries functioning on raw material imported from non-sterling countries. Moreover, newsprint rationing applies generally throughout the industry.- Therefore, bias cannot “be present. Again the rationing proposals were approved after very careful examination by the Government as a whole and after the industry had availed itself of every opportunity to state its case to Ministers and a Cabinet subcommittee.
I emphasize that the newspaper proprietors who are making these charges affirm that they fully agree with the principle of newsprint rationing. They evenboast that they made a voluntary offer of a 50 per cent. reduction. The Government’s decision is that an overall 55 per cent. reduction should be achieved. If these papers so solidly affirm the principle, surely they cannot in all fairness dispute the issue on the question of degrees when the difference between what they claim to have voluntarily offered and the Government’s decision is only 5 per cent. This fact is, in my opinion, all-revealing, and proves clearly who is exercising political bias and meting out discriminatory treatment. I lay upon the table the following paper -
NewsprintRationing -Ministerial statement by the Minister for Trade and Customs, 1st July;. 104]. and move-
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Forde) adjourned.
– I . received to-day the following, telegrams signed by Mr. Curlewis, of the Australian Sugar Producers Association, and Mr. Muir, of the Queensland’ Cane Growers Council
Sugar industry becoming very anxious owing to delay Government making announcement regarding marketing storage and disposal of surplus exportable sugar. Anxiety increased by announcement regarding other primary products and no mention sugar. Minister Commerce has promised announcement.Industry urgently requires information in order make arrangements storage if considered necessary otherwise mills will bo closing clown early October and will have to remain closed until abnormal storage sufficiently relieved. Employees also becoming restless owing uncertainty as to whether crushing season will be interrupted and if temporarily stopped owing lack storage men will drift awayand undesirables get work thus causing further unrest amongst men .liable military service and relatives of soldiers abroad. Will you join with other Queensland representatives in expediting action by Government?
Can the Minister for Commerce relieve that anxiety by making the required pronouncement?
– Other honorable members from Queensland have shown to me copies of this telegram, in connexion with which I invite the attention of the House to the outline I gave on Thursday last of the plan arranged bythe British and Commonwealth Governments for the sale, shipment, storage and finance of Australian foodstuffs. I said that it was necessary to give first attention to those commodities requiring refrigerated storage. I am about to discuss with the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Harrison), and representatives of the sugar industry, the shipping, storage and financial problems of ‘the sugar industry in relation to that plan. Special efforts are being made in order to secure adequate space for shipping sugar not only to the United Kingdom but also to Canada and New Zealand. The Premier of Queensland saw me when he visited Canberra last week in order to attend a Premiers Conference, and I told him then that I would take the first opportunity available to discuss this matter with the interests concerned.
– In view of the likelihood of serious unemployment and financial embarrassment being caused by further petrol rationing, and other action that the Government proposes to take in order to restrict the operations of nonessential industries, I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will enact moratorium legislation in order to assist those who may suffer?
– Questions have been asked by other honorable members on this subject, and I have indicated that the whole matter will be brought before Cabinet for consideration.
– Has the Prime Minister received a communication from the Queensland Cane-growers Council expressing disappointment at the decision of the Commonwealth Government to exclude Queensland from its programme for the expenditure of £1,100,000 on the provision of new distillery capacity? In view of the urgent necessity for providing adequate supplies of fuel in order to assist in dealing with our present transport problems, and in view of the overproduction problem of the sugar industry, will the right honorable gentleman have the subject of establishing additional distilleries in Queensland sympathetically reconsidered ?
– I do not know whether any ‘ such communication has come for me. I have not seen it. It would normally go to the Department of Supply. I shall discuss the point raised by the honorable member with the Minister for Supply.
- by leaveWhen the bill to empower the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to increase the number of Ministers was before the House last week, honorable members on this side allowed it to pass on the assumption that all of the States would get a fair deal. Seeing now that two more Ministers from New South Wales have been appointed, making nine Cabinet Ministers out of twelve government supporters elected from that State, honorable members from other States are anxious to know why this was done. Was it because the whole of the brain-power of Australia is centred in New South Wales? If so, it speaks very badly of honorable members elected from the “ outer “ States. Tasmania returned six government supporters, and has no representative in Cabinet.I am sure that Tasmanian members are equally as well qualified for Cabinet appointment as are members from New South Wales. The Prime Minister, in my opinion, has made a tragic mistake. It may be that pressure was brought to bear by our two ambitious new Ministers from New South Wales. I say fearlessly that the Prime Minister has not been wise, and he is not adopting the correct method to obtain the smooth running of this Parliament. Every private member on this side of the House is anxious to assist the Government to put forth the best war effort possible, and we look to our leader for a fair deal. I am also opposed to the number of committees that have been established. I have no complaint against the appointment of one or two small committees, but it is futile to try to appease everybody by making wholesale appointments. There are 52 members on the seven committees, and they, with the necessary secretaries, will have to visit all of the States in order to carry out their functions. If their expenses are on the scale of those of other committees, the cost to Australia will he about £200 a ‘day when all committees are operating. Some of the reports of these advisory bodies may never see daylight. After ‘ viewing, the matter from all angles I have come to the conclusion that- my conscience will not allow me to serve on the Taxation Committee. I must, therefore, tender my resignation from that body.
APPOINTMENT OF GOVERNOR.
– Will the Prime Minister make a pronouncement before the House rises this week in order to clear up the great mystery which surrounds the Government’s delay in regard to the appointment of a new Governor of the Commonwealth Bank? Will the Tight honorable gentleman also indicate whether there is any. basis of fact in reports that the Government proposes to appoint Mr. Kershaw, a protege of Sir Otto Niemeyer, of the Bank of England, to that important position ? _ Mr. MENZIES.- I do not propose to discuss the claims of gentlemen who may have been selected by the press as <can.dida.tes for appointment. I arn interested to hear the honorable member refer to Mr. Kershaw - whom I happen to know - as a protege of Sir Otto. Niemeyer. I had thought that he was a very distinguished Rhodes scholar from the State of New South Wales.
– Is that a red tie which the right honorable gentleman is wearing?
– I am grateful to the honorable member; that is the one thing which he and I have in common. As to the first part of the honorable member’s question, a pronouncement will he made . on that matter just so soon as a decision is made.
– .Has the Treasurer any announcement, to make to the House with reference to the conference that he held during the week-end with representatives of the State governments on the very important problem of taxation?
– As the result of requests made by several honorable members I intend to make a statement on the subject before the House -rises.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Transport been drawn to a statement recently published, in the press that £250,000 is to be expended on the construction of a road between Port Augusta, South Australia, and Norseman, Western Australia? If this statement be correct, is the road intended to provide a means of competition, by road transport, with the Commonwealth Government’s trans-Australia railway line, or is it to be used for military purposes? In the latter event, does the honorable gentleman consider that the road will be a reasonable substitute for the facilities which could be provided by making a standard gauge rail connexion between Broken Hill and Port Pirie on which New South Wales rolling stock could be used from the eastern coast of Australia to Kalgoorlie.
– My attention has been drawn to the paragraph referred to by the honorable member. There i3 no suggestion of competition with the. Commonwealth railways. Obviously the road will be an adjunct to the transAustralian transport system. Incidentally, I take this opportunity to say that I appreciate the fact that the honorable member is very well versed in railway matters, and in my new office of Minister for’ Transport I shall be very glad to consult with him on matters of the kind mentioned in his question.
– Will ‘ the Prime Minister inform me whether th, standing committee which is to bc appointed to examine profits will he given access to the results of the investigation by Customs ‘ officials, some time ago, into alleged excess profit-making by ‘ Australian Consolidated Industries Limited . and certain other companies?
– I shall, consult my colleagues, on the subject and advise the honorable member later.
– Will the Ministry “for the Army inform me whether he has inspected a travelling mobile cooker designed and constructed by the Wyles Chromium and Electro- Plating Company of Adelaide? Has this completed vehicle been approved by the Army as suitable equipment for field . troops, and was a requisition for 25 such units submitted by the Army’ many months ago? I also ask tha- honorable gentleman whether the placing of this order has been held’ up by the Board of Business Administration despite repeated representations by the Army? Is it true that certain manufacturers in the eastern States have represented to the board that the Wyles Chromium and Electro-Plating Company has infringed certain patents held by them ?
– T have inspected the cooker and it, has been approved for Army use. If the honorable member will place his other questions on (he noticepa par I shall give a considered answer to them.
– In view of the fact that Captain Larkin made an attack on the deputy coroner’s finding in connexion with his inquiry into tlie death of William Joseph Hazleton at a military camp, and that the venue of the next inquiry was changed to Sydney, I ask the Minister whether he will make public the transcript of the whole of the proceedings in this connexion?
– I shall give consideration to the honorable gentleman’s request. I have already called for a copy of’ the transcript of .the proceedings at both the coronial inquiry and the court of inquiry held by the Army.
– Will the Minister for Air inform me whether any decision has yet been reached on the proposal to grant members of the Royal Australian Air
Force free passes when travelling from . their places pf training to their homes? If not, when is it expected that a decision will b? announced ?
– Following upon certain representations by the Commonwealth Government, it has been arranged that from to-day members of all services, in uniform, will be enabled to travel free once a month on all government railways between their place of service and their homes. Negotiations are now proceeding with certain private railway companies and shipping companies with the object of ‘ arranging for similar’ concessions from such organizations.
– Has the Prime Minister noticed a. report in- the press to the effect that the British authorities have released a tanker for the purpose of supplying liquid fuel to General Weygand in North Africa? Can he indicate to the House whether the fuel so released will be used to enable Vichy forces to fight our own troops? Was any undertaking obtained that this would not be possible? Was the Commonwealth Government con- . suited concerning the release of this tanker, and will it be consulted in con- .nexion with, any other similar proposal ?
– I shall investigate the matter and give a reply to the honorable member to-morrow.
– Will the Minister for the Army inform me whether it is the policy of ‘the hiring department of the Army to acquire compulsorily the trucks of certain persons engaged in rural industries even though such compulsory acquisition may necessitate the truckowners purchasing other vehicles in order to carry on their business?
– That, is not the policy of the Army, except in cases where no undue hardship can be shown, and if * the honorable member knows of any such happening and will furnish me with the details, I shall look into the matter.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he will take steps immediately to gazette a regulation to provide that truck-owners and taxi-cab proprietors who are purchasing their vehicles under hire-purchase agreements may not be dispossessed of their vehicles because of the curtailment of their business through the petrol-rationing scheme making it impossible for them to maintain their payments?
– As I have previously indicated, the whole question of what steps shall be taken to deal with such a situation as the honorable member has outlined is now receiving the consideration of the Government.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether it is true that there is complete diversity of opinion between the Department of Supply and the Department of the Army in relation to the advisability of keeping motor cars on the road, the Department of the Army advising that as many vehicles as possible should be kept in proper running order, whilst the Department of Supply is endeavouring, by means of petrol rationing, to force them off the road? If that difference of opinion exists, will the Minister say which view would prevail in the event of conflict between the two departments?
– I first learned of the suggested difference of opinion whenI read of it in the press at the end of last week. I know of none. I propose to investigate the statement alleged to have been made at the conference of Commonwealth and. State Ministers last Friday. I do not intend to discuss now what might happen as the result of differences of opinion between my department and another; I merely say that theviews of the Department of the Army will be fully expressed.
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Army been drawn to the press report that the lady driver of a Packard motor car which had come from Port Kembla obtained at the Double Bay Post Office ration tickets for 140 gallons of petrol for one month’s supply for private purposes ? If so, will he announce the identity of this privileged lady, and state why she is able to obtain such a large ration, in view of the sacrifices imposed on the business section of the community and the primary producers?
– The only knowledge that I have of the matter is that which I gained from a newspaper paragraph. The incident will be the subject of immediate investigation.
– Will the Minister for Supply state how many gallons of petrol a car, each month, are allowed under the latest rationing schedule to the principal proprietors of “Drive Yourself “ cars in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, respectively?
– The number of gallons will depend upon the kind of cars used. I shall get full information and supply it to the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether his threat, issued during the week-end, ‘that certain persons will be interned, will be carried out under conditions which will entitle persons affected to be heard before an appropriate tribunal? Was the real motive behind the honorable gentleman’s statement a desire to keep busy certain tribunals which are getting a bit slack?
– I should have thought that the honorable . member’s knowledge of the regulations would have enabled him to answer the question himself. Every person interned has the right to appear before an appropriate tribunal whatever may be the cause of his internment. My statement, to which the honorable member has referred, was made because the sources of certain information reaching Military Intelligence seemed to be drying up. I assure honorable membersthat if it is proved that this is because of intimidation, those responsible will be interned.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs why theSydney Morning Herald hasbeen permitted to increase its advertising rates for certain classified advertisements by as much as 20 per cent.? Has such increase been approved by tlie Commonwealth Prices Commissioner? Were the books of this company made available for examination by the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner in order that he could satisfy himself concerning the profits of the Sydney Morning Herald? Will such books, if available now, continue to be available? Why are certain daily newspapers in Sydney permitted to charge 2d. a copy for their publications whilst newspapers in Melbourne charge only 14-d.? Have the increases in the .advertising rates of Melbourne newspapers also been approved by the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner ?
– The Commonwealth Prices Commissioner authorized an increase of the price of newspapers in New South Wales .when the rationing scheme was first introduced some considerable time ago in order to offset its effects upon such journals. The Commonwealth Prices Commissioner has access to the. books of newspapers, otherwise he would not be in a position to make proper decisions concerning prices. The Commissioner has authorized an average increase of not more than 10 per cent, in the advertising rates for classified advertisements, but as to how tlie increase shall be applied, the newspaper organization itself will determine. This increase is also intended to offset possible loss in connexion with the latest rationing of newsprint.
– I a?k the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the classified advertisements which appear in the Sydney Morning Herald, in respect of which permission has been given to incream rates by 10 per rent, all round, include the “ In Memoriam “ notices inserted by relatives of soldiers killed on active service?
– I cannot answer specifically the question raised by the honorable member. There is an average increase of 10 per cent, in respect of classified advertisements, but I do not know how that will be applied by newspaper proprietors.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has net been appointed to any parliamentary committee? Will the right honorable gentleman consider his appointment to a special committee to co-ordinate the work of the other committees that have b<‘en appointed, and thus enable contact to be maintained between those committees and the sub-committee that is now working under a Cabinet committee?
– I shall’ be very happy indeed to consider the suggestion of the honorable member. Perhaps I may discuss it with the honorable member for Barker.
– When considering the claims of the honorable members for New England and Robertson for inclusion in the Ministry, and weighing those claims against the claims of other Government members, notably the honorable members for Adelaide, Parkes, Denison and Deakin, was the Prime Minister influenced in any. way by the advice at one time given by Earl Clarendon to Charles II. : “ Be good to your enemies ; your friends won’t harm you”?
– Order! The question being facetious, I disallow it.
– The second portion is quite serious.
– I shall hear it.
Mi’. CALWELL.- The preponderant “ representation of New South Wales in the Cabinet, having been increased, does the right honorable gentleman fear a challenge to his Prime Ministership from either the Minister for the Navy or the Minister for the Army - from either the Old Pretender or the Young Pretender?
– I can assure the honorable member that when one has been Prime Minister for two years. in the circumstances that have existed during my tenure of that office, he has passed beyond fear. I cannot describe the emotion that he feels, but it certainly is not fear.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that the military . authorities in Victoria are expending £16,000 on the erection of two new recreation huts, one at Puckapunyal and the other at Bonegilla, although at each of those camps there is only a small num0ber of troops, and different organizations have already erected all the recreation accommodation that is needed?
– I cannot commit myself as to the amount that is being expended - I shall have that checked. J. believe that certain huts are being erected, in order to meet the needs of the number of troops which will bc stationed at these camps when the armoured division is in full operation.
– In “order to assist to preserve equities, and otherwise to protect wheat-growers and other primary producers against dispossession of their properties by reason of loss of markets and low prices for farm products, will the Prime Minister introduce as early as possible legislation to establish a mortgage department of the Commonwealth Bank, which would provide on behalf of farmers long-term loans at a low rate of interest? In view of the partial failure of assistance previously rendered to primary producers because of their inability to secure the renewal of loans on mortgage, will the Government accede to this universal and reasonable request without pledging the .nation’s bank to debenture : holders or other outside interests?
– The question largely involves policy, which it is necessary to discuss with my colleagues, particularly the Treasurer. I seem to remember a similar question having been asked on one occasion by the honorable gentleman who is now Minister for Air. I shall consult with him also.
– There was a bill.
– Yes ; as the honorable member will recall, that was some years ago. I repeat that the matter, being largely one of policy, I shall need to discuss it with the other members of the Cabinet.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce whether, in the’ event of * the forthcoming Australian wheat crop yielding 160,000,000 bushels, the £26,750,000 which the Commonwealth proposes to disburse will be spread over the whole of the crop or will be restricted to the 140,000,000 bushels which the right honorable gentleman said last week, in answer to a question by me, he did not think that the crop would exceed ? At a very largely attended meeting of the district council of the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales held at Temora, Mr. Kendall, the president of the association, stated that the amount was to be spread over 160,000,000 bushels, if the crop should reach that figure. Is this gentleman in possession of information which was not given to me last week?
– My reply to the honorable gentleman, to-day is the same as I gave to him last week, namely, that the conditions governing the wheat stabilization scheme do not contemplate the wheat crop exceeding 140,000.000 bushels.
– I ask the Treasurer whether, because of the failure of the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held ‘last Friday to arrive at agreement in respect of uniform taxation, a statement of the Government’s intended financial proposals for the ensuing financial year will be placed before honorable members prior to the rising of the Parliament, so that they may not have to learn their nature from the press in a week or two ?
– The ‘Government’s financial proposals will be submitted to the House by my colleague, the Treasurer, in the budget session; hut that honorable gentleman intends, before the House rises this week, to make a general- statement on matters which were the subject of discussion by Commonwealth and State Ministers last Friday.
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service be good enough to examine an award governing the conditions of waterside workers announced this morning by Chief Judge Beeby, of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court,, which contains a number of penalty clauses that are quite contrary to an agreement that had already been reached ? Will the honorable gentleman examine those clauses, in order to decide whether the court has the power to include such conditions in its awards, or whether they are outside the ambit of its powers ?
– The question is, I think, more properly one for my colleague, the Attorney-General. I shall be glad to discuss the award with him.
-Has the Minister for Trade and Customs seen an advertising publication issued by Myer’s Emporium, of Melbourne, to its customers and prospective customers? Is the issue of such a publication, which is approximately the size of the Melbourne Sun, and contains as many pages, in conformity, with the newsprint restrictions? Does the Minister consider that its issue is fair to country traders and newspapers, which have had to observe the newsprint restrictions?
– I have not seen the publication referred to by the honorable member, but, I should say that it possibly conies under the more recent, restrictions applied by me in respect of catalogues and other similar advertising matter, which is subject to a 35 per cent. cut.
– In view of the resignation of the honorable member for Adelaide from the Taxation Committee, and the defeat of government forces in another place, which have caused the usually charming countenance of the Prime Minister to become one of black foreboding, does the right honorable gentleman propose to seek an interview with His Excellency the GovernorGeneral with a view to obtaining a dissolution of Parliament, so that he may bring to an end the untenable position he now occupies?
– I shall make a bargain with the honorable member. If he will tell me later whether he would like me to seek a dissolution, I shall be guided by the advice that he gives.
– Definitely, yes; there is no need to wait until later.
-Will the Minister for Labour and National Service state whether it is a fact that 30 employees of the Sydney Sun and. seven employees of the Sydney Daily Mirror were yesterday given notice of the termination of their services? Canthe right honorable gentleman inform the House as to where they will get employment at the end of this week ?
– Appropriate officers of my department have been in touch with the newspaper proprietaries to which the honorable gentleman has referred. Action is being taken to absorb into employment as quickly as possible any employee who may be displaced as a result of the application of the Government’s policy.
– Can the Treasurer discover the cost involved in the daily publication of the rather largo advertisements headed : “ I speak to you as a manufacturer” and so forth? Since the honorable gentleman is rather pinched for revenue, will he investigate the possibility of making the Department of Information the object of a funeral service, thus saving a few hundred thousand pounds?
– Consistent with the Government’s policy of strict economy, the expenditure of all Commonwealth departments is being carefully scrutinized.
– Has any th i ng eventuated from the newspaper controversy between the Minister for Trade and Customs and the chairman of directors of Australian Consolidated Industries Limited concerning the publication of the report of a departmental officer regarding alleged profiteering by the company? If not, will the Parliamentary Profits Committee appointedlast week have the right to peruse this famous report ?
– Certain information was given to the investigating officers of my department upon the strict condition that it was to be treated as confidential. The honorable member will recall that I recently challenged the statement made by the chairman of directors of the company, but I have received no reply to my challenge.
– When provision is being made on the Estimates for new postal works, will the Postmaster-General consider the representations which have been made for a new post office at New Norfolk, a work which has been held up for a number of years? More than one of his predecessors in office have said that the building is in such a condition as to be not worth repairing. Seeing that the paper mills have recently been established at New Norfolk, and that the population of the district has doubled, does not the Minister think that a new post office ought to be provided?
– All these applications willbe examined in due course, but the attitude of an unsympathetic Treasurer may militate against the building of new post offices.
– Will the Prime Minister, when reviewing industrial legislation with the object of improving our war effort, take into consideration statements made at the Communist meeting in the Domain last Sunday when the Empire was maligned? Has he seen the following statement attributed to the general secretary of the Ironworkers Union, Mr. E. Thornton, in which it is admitted that Communists and Germans were upsetting the country’s industrial efforts: -
Nazi sympathizer s were menacingthe Australian war effort.The Communists did not cause all the strikes in industry?
– All of this material will be taken into account.
– Can the Minister for
Commerce state what emoluments were received by members of the New South Wales State Advisory Committee on Apples and Pears, and whether they were paid by the Commonwealth Government
– This matter comes under the control of the Minister for Transport, and I shall get the information from him.
– Did the Minister for Social Services see a sensational article in the Sunday Sun on the shortage of houses in the Sydney metropolitan area in which it was stated on the word of reputable citizens that, houses which had formerly accommodated one family apiece were now occupied by as many as 40 persons? Will the Minister do something to relieve the extreme shortage of housing, and does he not think that it is detrimental to our standards of civilization that such overcrowding should occur?
– I did not see the article, but I have no doubt that its contents are more or less correct. This is one of the matters which will engage the attention of the Standing Committee on Social Security recently appointed by Parliament.
– I have received the following telegram from New Guinea : -
Collins assurance Parliament 20th unfulfilled. Urge immediate action fulfilment Minister’s promise arbitration.
When is it intended to honour the promise given by. the Minister? In connexion with the mining dispute which was recently discussed in this House, did the Administrator of New Guinea on his own initiative, visit the gold-fields in an endeavour to bring about a settlement, or was he instructed by the Minister to dc go? Is the Minister aware that the visits of the Administrator to the gold-fields have been short and infrequent? Is he aware that the head of the Mines Department in New Guinea made his first visit to the gold-fields in six years when he recently accompanied the Administrator there? What training and practical experience in mining has he had ? What steps does the Government propose to take to place the control of the Mines Department in New Guinea under a competent man with a knowledge of mining?
- by leave-I cannot say whether it was at the instigation of my predecessor that the Administrator of New Guinea visited the gold-fields, but I know that he did visit them., and. that he stayed there for three days. I also know that he suggested that a conference be held of representatives of the owners and of the workers, with a magistrate as chairman, in an endeavour to compare the dispute, and that he did all that was humanly possible tobring about a settlement. Since then a report has been current that the strike is settled. I have been advised by the Administrator and the company that new conditions and rates retrospective from the 5th May, 1941, and to he operative for twelve months from the 24th June, 1941, have been accepted unanimously by the men who resumed work. The new conditions and rates are stated to be as follows: -
Underground miner - raised from£1 5s. to £16s. When sinking a wet shaft, winze or driving through running ground with overhead water, £1.8s.6d.
Mill shiftman- raised from£1 4s. to£1 5s.
Fitter - raised from£16s. to £18s.
Electrician - raised from £16s10d. to£ 18s.
Blacksmith-raised from£1 4s. 8d. to£16s.
Pipe fitter - raised from£16s. to£1 7s.
Winding driver - raised from £16s. to £18s.
Plater layer - raised from£15s. to£16s.
Carpenter - raised from£15s. 4d. to£1 7s.
Overtime at time and a half.
One day’s holiday pay for each month’s satisfactory service, to become effective only when twelve months has been worked, and absence without leave within the month to disqualify.
After completion of two year’s service, and on returning toNew Guinea for a further term, the employee be allowedhis outward fare.
As part of the terms of the engagement of employees by the company, the men are granted houses, rent free; also light, water, firewood and. medical attention free of cost. I have not received up to date information from the Administrator as to the number of men who have not resumed work, but the company informed me to-day that not more than fifteen of the men who went on strike, and who are now on the gold-fields, have not -applied for work. The Administrator has reported that he foresees considerable difficulties in the enactment of legislation that would be appropriate to, and effective for, the conditions of the territory of New Guinea, having regard to the fact that the majority of the workers in the industries of the territory are natives. The investigation of the industry with a view to determining the necessity for the introduction of any further legislation, or of machinery for arbitration, is being examined in the light of the views expressed by the Administrator, and a decision in regard thereto will be made at an early date.
– I have received from the honorable member forGwydir (Mr. Scully) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The wheat stabilization scheme of the Government, having special regard to the restrictions imposed by the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board, and the Government’s failure to make payments more expeditiously to the farmers with respect to the wheat supplied to the respective pools”.
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
.- I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I desire to draw attention to the wheat stabilization scheme of the Government, having special regard to the restrictions imposedby the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board, and the Government’s failure to make payment more expeditiously to the farmers with respect to wheat supplied to the various pools. The administration of the wheat stabilization scheme, particularly thatpart of it which has to do with the registration of wheat lands, is causing great alarm throughout the whole of the wheat-growing districts of New South Wales. Growers in that State are only now receiving information as to the area which they are to be permitted to sow for harvesting,and I understand from honorable members who come from other States that the growers there have not yet been advised.
When the Minister for Commerce (Sir
Earle Page) introduced legislation providing for the stabilization of the wheat industry, I opposed it on the ground that it would be impossible to give effect to the Government’s intention. That has since been borne out by experience. The attempt of the Government to restrict acreage has proved to be the most colossal blunder. It would be absurd were the effects not so ruinous to the growers. One would have expected . the authorities to notify the growers without delay of the areas allotted to thom, but although the growers put in their applications some months ago, the notifications regarding acreage are only now being received.
On behalf of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board, the chairman (Sir Olive Mcpherson) advised farmers to proceed with normal sowings. A definite knowledge that the previous season had been poor relieved the board . of a serious responsibility. The last harvest, received into the Commonwealth wheat pool totalled only 03,000,000 bushels. compared with ‘195,000,000 bushels in the previous year. As the decrease of production in twelve months, amounting to the colossal figure of 132,000,000 bushels, was twice as great as the quantity received by the pool, the Government had no justification for attempting to restrict sowings this year. Its policy will ruin hundreds of wheat-growers in New South Wales. A fortnight ago, when I directed the attention of the Minister for Commerce . to the position, I did not understand that the situation was so serious. Throughout New South Wales, th? Government has been roundly condemned by many sections of the com-‘ m unity, and farmers are up in arms against the tyrannical and absurd decision of the board. The Sydney Morning Herald, on the 23rd June last, contained the following comment by Mr. H. S. Robertson, a member of the executive of the Wagga District. Council of the Farmers and Settlers Association : -
The federal wheat stabilization scheme will crush every fanner and every rural community producing cereals.
Emanating from a man who is thoroughly conversant with the position, that is ‘ a mo3t damaging indictment. On my arrival in ‘Canberra to-day. I re- ceived a letter from a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales who, incidentally- is not a member of the Labour party. He wrote -
These lines are just to congratulate you upon bringing before the notice of the Government last week the position under the Wheat Stabilization Board. As a matter of fact, either the Menzies Government are endeavouring by all means in. their power to ruin the wheat farmers or are totally incapable of understanding the position so far as wheat-growing is concerned. I have a number of cases before me at the present time which show conclusively that the Government is endeavouring to absolutely ruin the owners of the properties . . . Hie peculiar part about the letters received from the Stabilization Hoard is that most of the applications for registration wore lodged as far back as February last. The board and the Government waited until the wheat was sown and then politely advised the fanners that the properties were not eligible for registration.
– Farmers were asked to lodge their applications before the 25th January, 1941.
– As a result of representations by various farmers’ organizations, that date was extended and, finally, the chairman of the board advised farmers to proceed with normal sowings. In those circumstances, any blame for the present position rest3 not with wheatgrowers but with the Government and its agent, the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board. The correspondent added that he could produce numbers of specific instances of wheat-farmers who had been informed that their properties were not eligible for registration.
Condemnation of the Government is not limited to farmers. From the Warrah Shire Council I received the following letter : -
The Council has been informed that under authority of the Wheat Stabilization Act several settlers on small areas in the Warrah district have been notified they are not to grow: wheat. In previous years they had been in the habit of sowing up to twenty acres. Hie Council considers that it is unfair to prohibit settlers growing small areas such as this, and the necessary reduction could be attained by a reduction of a small proportion of- large wheat-growing areas. To reduce a man’s wheat acreage from 1,000 to !)~>0 acres would not entail hardship such as prohibiting three settlers from growing any wheat on the previous aggregate area of, say, 50 acres sown by them.
The next critic is a country storekeeper, who allows credit to many farmers in one of the most flourishing wheat-growing districts in New South Wales.. He wrote -
I was pleased to notice in the press that you had. on the floor of the House exposed sonic of the foolish and ruinous edicts issued by the power’s that control the acreage to be sown for wheat. One of your constituents here has received notice that he can sow only ten acres. What a ridiculous command. One would think they were poultry farm arena in this district. As you well know that from 400 to 1,00(1 acres is the general area sown by individual growers in this district, anyone that can only sow ten acres would he ruined. I also saw one notice a farmer received that lie could not sow any. These’ notices como along after most of the wheat is in.
Another letter conies from a solicitor in the Gulgong district. The honorable member for Grey (Mr. Badman.) -would he interested to learn that in this instance the application for registration was lodged on or about the 18th January, 1941. The letter stated-
No word was received as regards registration and the share farmers fallowed the laud and later sowed it. After the crop was sown, Mr. McDonnell got a notification from the chairman, a copy of which is enclosed. Not having received any word, naturally the share farmers sowed the land as wheat is always sown in April or May in this district, iiic wheat cannot be taken out of the ground and must be harvested.
The notice which is despatched to farmers reads -
I desire to inform you that examination of your application for the registration of certain property as a wheat farm lias disclosed that the property is apparently not eligible under the provisions of the Wheat Industry Stabilization regulations for registration as a wheat farm, lt should be understood, therefore, that no wheat may be sown for grain for sale on this property although for this year, up to 10 acres may be sown for grain for your own use.
What a magnanimous concession!
– What acreage did the farmer sow previously?
– He sowed 90 acres in 1937, 170 in 1939, and a similar acreage last year. The executors of an estate which is situated near Bellata, New South Wales, arc also numbered among the critics. Of three sons who were the beneficiaries under their deceased father’s will, two are serving in the Australian Imperial Force abroad, whilst the third enlisted last week. During their absence, the executors arranged with a. sharefarmer to work the property. If the Government should refuse to grant to him a permit to grow wheat there, the executors will be placed in. a most embarrassing position. They wrote to mc as follows : -
We think you will agree that men who are fighting for their country overseas are entitled to extra consideration at the hands of the Government in an endeavour to preserve their birthright handed down, in this case, by their father.
Another complaint emanates from the owner of a wheat farm in the Boggabri district. In 1938-39 he sowed SI 0” a cres, which yielded 5,600 bags, and in the following year a similar acreage yielded 2,400 bags. Because of -drought last year, he harvested only 37S bags. The hoard has now magnanimously permitted him to sow this year 10 ‘acres on condition that he does not offer the grain for sale. These facts show that scant consideration ba3 been given to this matter. If persevered with, the wheat stabilization scheme will bring ruin to hundreds of men who have been growing high-grade wheat for years. 1 know these areas well ; I know ibo individual holdings, and, without fear of contradiction, I say that they are the most reliable in the Commonwealth as regards, both production and quality. I have another revealing letter from a farmer at Pallamallawa, another district which grows high-grade wheat -
Your remarks last Thursday in Parliament nt Canberra will meet with hearty endorsement throughout the length and breadth of tho wheat-growing areas in Australia, this is tyranny in its worst form from Government servants in the pay of the taxpayers. These damned loafers to justify their existence are (stopping for no one on this crusade which boiled down amounts to a huge farce hot air and smoko lacking effective tire.
I will quote my case to assist you in your splendid effort to bomb out these- I have a notice here from this wheat area Stabilization Board date 6th .lune, 10+1 to effect that 1 am not entitled to registration as a wheat-grower and I grow wheat at my own risk, &c.
When this belated bulletin arrived T had already sown my area, taking full advantage of the rain we had sufficient for complete germination, this is two (2) mouths later than our sowing, period which makes the chairman a much bigger mug than he appeared at first to bo . . . * Leave to continue given.]* This wheatgrower has been growing wheat for 20 years continuously. He has four sons in the Defence Forces. three being with the Australian Imperial Force overseas. This season he has sown 1,250 acres. I could cite many more similar cases. I say with all the emphasis at my command that the situation is intolerable. Farmers are clamouring to have the wheat stabilization scheme shelved and replaced by something more logical. Ninety-five per cent. of the wheat-growers in my electorate are against the scheme, lock, stock, and barrel. Other honorable members will show that opposition to it is general throughout otherwheat-growing areas. The scheme takes away the liberty of the subject. Furthermore, it takes the control of the farms out of the hands of the owners, and places it in the hands of irresponsible people with no knowledge of the facts. Nothing more tyrannical than the refusal to register these farms can be imagined. Men, whose sons are overseas fighting that they may be able to live as free citizens, are the victims of one of the cruellest acts of fascism.
The system of appointing local committees consisting of two farmers to act as agents for the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board is objectionable. Those men are required to act as spies on their neighbours, and to give decisions. They say, in effect, to Jones, a wheat-grower, “ You have to convert 100 acres to grazing”.
– Not this year.
– Yes, this year. Those instructions have been printed in the country press of New South Wales. The local committee may say “ You have to cut 100 acres for hay and conserve that as fodder “, although the farmer concerned may already have a couple of hundred tons of lucerne hay stored. Wheaten hay, if kept for any length of time, becomes worthless. It is outrageous that men should sit in judgment on their fellow farmers and instruct them as to the management of their holdings. The Minister for Commerce should immediately cancel all the notices that have been sent out, and, at least for this season, withdraw the wheat stabilization regulations which require the registration of wheat farms.
– Are the members of the board the sole judge?
– Yes, and the farmer has no redress. I bolster my statement that the regulations should be withdrawn at least for this season with the fact that applications for registration were made in January pr February, well before the wheat was sown, whereas the replies to these applications were not received until two months after the sowing had taken place, and when wheat was well above the ground. I have never seen wheat looking better than it looks on hundreds of acres of land, the registration of which has been refused. The wheat is already six inches above ground and the crop promises to be bountiful. I impress upon honorable members the seriousness of the situation. I do not care what the Minister for Commerce contends; these are the facts. Never in the history of primary production in Australia has there been so much chaos anddiscontent as exist throughout the wheat industry in New South Wales. Other honorable members, doubtless, will chow that similar conditions operate in other parts of Australia. The history of the wheat stabilization scheme has been one of blunder after blunder. The continuance of the scheme will bring ruin to hundreds of Australian wheat-growers..
– I am glad that the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Scully) has moved the adjournment of the House on this matter, because it gives to me the opportunity to make an authoritative statement, which will completely dispose of alleged facts that have been brought before the House, but in reality have no existence. This debate will also enable me to expound the actual plan,’ indicate the benefits which will accrue to the farmer, and inform the House and the country at large that 90 per cent. of the 60,000 wheat-growers are solidly behind the wheat stabilization scheme. I shall put in their proper perspective those who are dissatisfied with the scheme and shall also state the general position of the wheat industry. I shall setout the shipping difficulties which we meet with in selling wheat overseas. I shall show how essential it is to preserve this scheme, which has received the endorsement of the State governments, of which four are Labour governments. I shall show how democratic this plan is. The scheme ensures that the control of the industry shall be in the hands of the farmers themselves. These facts were explained by me in the House before the regulations were actually introduced and proclaimed-. It has sincebeen explained on many occasions by the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board. The objections to this scheme come principally from two classes of people. The first class consists of those who are ignorant of the facts of the case and have not made their applications in the proper way, and the second class of those who are seeking to obtain at the expense of the general body of wheat-growers, in whose interest the scheme was brought into being, something to which they are not entitled. I shall first dispose of the honorable gentleman’s reference to instructions, which he said were sent throughout Australia, by stating exactly what the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board has done. It. has not caused any notification to be sent to wheat-growers regarding the areas which they may or may not sow this season, but farmers whose properties are regarded as being ineligible for wheat-growing have been informed that they may sow 10 acres, if they wish to do so, for their own purposes. That is the only kind of direction whichhas been given by. the board in regard to acreage.
– What makes a farm ineligible?
– I shall explain that later. The board has issued instructions to State organizations to forward to wheat-growers notifications regarding the registration of properties in accordance with the Wheat Industry Stabilization Regulations. These notifications have taken the following three forms: -
Similarly, the board has instructed the Local Committees of Review to investi gate and report on all applications for registration, irrespective of whether they are considered to be eligible or ineligible for registration.
Those are the only instructions that have been issued. On the 20th June, before this matter was raised by the honorable member for Gwydir, the secretary of the Farmers and Settlers Association ofNew South Wales, which is the biggest wheat-growers organization of that State, wrote to me in thefollowing terms : -
Ihave noted in the paper various questions being asked by members in regard to the anomalies in the Wheat Stabilization Scheme.
Personally I think that many of the complaints given to members are not based on facte.No doubt they have received notification that they are not entitled to registration, and this has been taken as the final word.I have had a number of complaints and when I have investigated I find that the letter sent out is dueto the fact that the application dees not give sufficient information, or that essen tial informationhas been omitted.
Mr. Cambridge telephoned to me this morning and said that only yesterday two men had visited him. When he asked to see a copy of their application for registration he found that they had left completely blank that part of it which deals with the quantity of wheat grown by the applicant during the last three years. The letter continued -
In every case where I receive these letters I am now advising the applicant to write a letter of explanation to the Officer in Charge, Wheat Stabilization Board, Lands Department, Sydney, and ask that his case be brought before the Local Committee of Review.
As these committees consist of local growers who are conversant with the industry, the district in which they live and the growers, every grower is then in the position to state his case to his fellow grower, and if in their wisdom they consider he has been harshly treated they have the right to make a recommendation.
I am of opinion thatthis is the most democratic manner in which these appeals can be dealt with, and it is most unfortunate that instead of trying to rectify any anomalies everyone seems to raise all the pin pricks they canwithout putting anything constructive in the place of what they are criticizing.
I refer now to three cases which the honorable member for Gwydir brought to my attention about ten days ago. The first is that of a man whose application did not show what wheat had been either sown or harvested on his property during the relevantyears. He was asked to supply the information, but did not reply to the inquiries. Consequently lie was notified that his farm was ineligible for registration. Information has just been received - but not from the applicant - that wheat was harvested on this farm, and a3 the result it will he registered when full details are obtained. In this case, the application was incorrectly compiled and this was aggravated by failure to supply essential information. The second of - these cases is a doubtful one. The application shows what wheat was sown during the period, but it does not disclose that any wheat was harvested. Further investigation will have to be made before a licence can be issued. .If the local committee reports that, wheat was harvested from the property during the period specified a licence will be issued. The third case concerns a member of the Australian Imperial Force, whose attorney was informed that- the ‘application was in the doubtful category. The attorney replied that he was unable to state whether wheat was grown or not during the three-year period. Naturally, the application cannot be granted until the rase is investigated, and the local committee will do this as soon. as possible.
I shall now discuss the position of the wheat industry throughout the world. At the present time there is a huge surplus of unsaleable wheat. This is concentrated chiefly in Canada, the United States of America, and Argentina, which, with Australia, make up the “ big four “ wheat export countries. At, the end of la?t July the present cereal year opened with world stocks of wheat estimated at 1,400.000,000 bushels, the greatest accumulation of wheat ever known. It seems that the present month, and the cereal year, will end with the stock position practically unchanged. During the next twelve months the exporting countries will face great difficulties in finding markets . and storing their surpluses. With the new harvest soon to be gathered in the United States of America and Canada, there is a considerable risk of further increases of the already burdensome stocks. . We face an increase of the total surplus during this year, and the year 1942-43 may open with the industry in a worse position still.
Sir Earle Page. , , [_j ^ r! Ml
In addition to all this, we have to contend with great shipping difficulties. During- the first year of the war we were able to export our wheat fairly readily. We had a huge crop of about 200,000,000 bushels, and we sold a substantial quantity, of which a great; deal was exported to- the United Kingdom. We still ‘ hold about 20,000,000 bushels which was sold to the United Kingdom Government, but has not yet been shipped abroad. Last Thursday I described to honorable members the extraordinary shortage of shipping space that has been caused by, German activity, particularly in the Atlantic ocean.- I pointed out that, altogether, only one-fifth of the shipping space that was available to us for the shipment of food to England during the first year of the war will be available for the transport- of food products to Great Britain during the coming year. I directed attention to the extreme difficulty that we should experience in regard to the shipping of refrigerated products. Only one-third of the pre-war space will be available for meat, one-half for butter, and almost none at all for eggs. The tonnage available for wheat will be one-fortieth of that which was available during the first year of the war for the shipment of wheat and flour to Great Britain.
The wheat stabilization plan is the result of many years of effort by Australian wheat-growers, the Common-. wealth Government, and the State Governments. While the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) was Prime Minister he made four of five attempts to “ achieve something like stability in the wheat industry, but because of the conditions operating at that time he was unsuccessful. I have been engaged in politics ever since the last war, and I do not know of any problem which has so engaged the attention, of all the Parliaments of Australia. We have been trying continuously to find some means of stabilizing the industry. We thought that we had succeeded in 1935, but the Privy Council decided that we were acting unconstitutionally and the whole plan was destroyed. It was not until the outbreak of war, when the Commonwealth Government was given special powers under the National Security Act dor The defence and security of Australia, that we were able to bring this stabilization scheme into being. Honorable members will recall that, from the time of the depression, the Commonwealth Government was called upon annually to make grants to the wheat industry, sometimes from loan funds and sometimes from revenue. In the years between 1930 and 1939 probably £20^000,000 was allocated by the Commonwealth Government for the. assistance of the wheat industry. But these grants were always in the nature of a palliative, not a cure. ‘ During- the years of peace we failed to secure the unanimous co-operation of the State governments in stabilizing the industry. The Commonwealth Government was repeatedly urged to foot the bill for wheat stabilization, but it could never persuade the State Governments- to control production. Consequently we were never able to bring a stabilization scheme into existence. Before the outbreak of war, the Wheat Growers Federation, which represents all of : the wheat-growers’ organizations of Australia, conceded that, the wheat industry could not accept a guaranteed price while production was unlimited. It urged the Government to combine the fixation of a guaranteed price with limitation of ‘production, and to make certain that there would be a limitation of the benefits that would accrue from stabilization to the genuine wheat-growers. It considered that excessive increases of production should be prevented so that men already engaged in the wheat industry should not suffer. Accordingly, when the Commonwealth’ Government introduced this scheme it limited its liability to crops equal to the average production of the Commonwealth over both the last five years and the last ten years. Obviously this will not bring ruin to thousands of wheat-growers, as the honorable member for Gwydir has said.- I ask him how a guaranteed price of 3s. lOd. a bushel oh an estimated production >of 140,000,000 bushels, can cause ruin to thousands of growers. As a matter of fact the scheme has brought security to 60.000 wheat-farmers, and I shall do everything in my power to prevent anybody from sabotaging it. This plan has the strong support of the wheat-growers’ organizations; in fact it is a wheatgrowers’ scheme. I consulted the official representatives of the growers, they suggested amendments to, the original proposals, and I put them’ into effect. They suggested the appointment of an advisory committee representative of wheat-growers from all States which could consult with the Commonwealth Government, and they suggested the creation of local committees of farmers who would understand conditions in their own districts, in order that the scheme would have the most democratic system of control possible, instead of control by a .bureaucrat remote from the wheatgrowing areas who worked out plans on paper.
– Why were those committees not established last year?
– When I introduced this scheme I was taunted for bringing it down too early. I was asked, “Why not wait until next year?” I introduced it at the earliest possiblemoment after I assumed office as Minister for Commerce, because I knew from the experience of more than twenty years, that all sorts of promises had been given to the growers every -year, but that nothing had been done for them until October or November, when the wheat was being harvested. This Government started twelve months early because it knew that it had a Herculean. task to perform. It secured the services of the best possible men, and they are doing highly valuable work. In drafting this plan we decided that we must impose strict conditions in order to protect the growers, and that we must limit the liability of the Commonwealth Government. Therefore the scheme was made to apply only to licensed wheatgrowers on registered farms. Registration is granted to. farms whose owners can show that they have harvested wheat as grain between the 1st October, 1938 and the 1st April, 1941. There is no question about quantity. Complaints have been made that this provision is too rigidly enforced. But let us consider the nature of the objections. Very few of those farmers who have raised objections can show -that they have been treated harshly. The instructions which have been sent out to the farmers were issued only in order to enable the board to obtain the information for the registration of farms. Even if a farmer is declared to be ineligible for registration, he has the right to appeal to his local committee,to which he may show his exact position. If, because he has not kept books of account - and many farmers do not do so - he cannot produce documentary evidence in support of his claim, he may call his neighbours aswitnessss to prove that this year, or the year before, or the year before that, he grew wheat. But it is beyond question that many people now see, for the first time for a good many years, an opportunity to grow wheat for profit. Because of the introduction of the stabilization scheme, these individuals, who may not have had 100 acres oftheir land under wheat for a number of years, consider that they now have an opportunity to sow 1,000 or even 2,000 acres to wheat. They are therefore saying to themselves: “This looks a good thing to us. We shall obtain registration for our property and use our tractors to put as much as possible under wheat”. Such persons have not been interested in wheat-growing for a number of years and are not the people for whom the stabilization scheme was devised. Our desire is to help the genuine wheat-grower and, so far as I am able to do it, I shall administer this scheme for the benefit of farmers who truly deserve any advantage that can be obtained from it. I am not in favour of permitting the scheme to be used by persons who are not genuine wheat-growers but, having large areas of land under their control, now desire to register their farms and reap benefits not intended for them. The real object of this scheme is to benefit the small wheat-growers, and, if I have my way, they are the men who will reap the benefit. I shall not lend myself to any attempt to sabotage the scheme by permitting large land-holders who are not bona fide wheat-growers to render it unworkable.
– The Minister must go further hack to get at the real results of the scheme. I want to know what price the farmer will get for his wheat?
– I have already said that the guaranteed price is 3s.10d. a bushel for 140,000,000 bushels. Surely it is better for a farmer to get 3s.10d. a bushel for a harvest of that dimension than 3s. or 2s. 6d. or even 2s., which is all that might be obtained in the absence of such a scheme.
– What we want to know is how much the farmer will get for his wheat?
– The farmers will get at least 3s.10d. a bushel for 140,000,000 bushels.
I appeal to honorable members to do everything possible to enable the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board to investigate, through the local committees, the real position of the farmers. These committees will need to carry out their responsible duties wisely. Unless they act carefully, much damage may be done. The Wheat Industry Stabilization Board, on its part, must also act with extra-‘ ordinary care to try to ensure that the farmers themselves, through their lack of education, or their failure to keep accounts, do not suffer avoidable injustice. From my knowledge of what has been done up to date, I assure honorable members that the board is doing its best to achieve the greatest possible success.
At present, efforts are being made to include within the scheme farmers who, possibly because of too rigid an interpretation of the regulations, are in danger of being treated harshly. [Leave to continue given.] Instances have been brought to notice of the exclusion of farmers who, during the last three years, have not grown wheat but are essentially wheat-farmers. If these can show that they grew wheat four or five years ago their claims will be examined on their merits, and. everything possible will be done to fix a basis on which they may participate in the scheme. Other farmers, in response to appeals made three or four years ago not to grow too much wheat because of marketing difficulties, have been growing a good deal less than their normal average. Their cases also will be examined sympathetically.
How can it be said, in these circumstances, that the scheme is likely to ruin thousands of farmers? It cannot justly be contended that men who have not been growing wheat for three or four years will be ruined if they are not permitted to grow wheat this year. Honorable members need not weep crocodile tears over persons- in those circumstances. I certainly shall not do so. We all should keep in mind the fact that this scheme is intended to assist genuine wheat-growers, and we should not allow that worthy section of the community to be made pawns in a game designed to benefit large landholders who are not in need of the assistance that the stabilization plan is intended to give. Without any doubt an attempt is. being made to sabotage this scheme. I, and many other honorable members, have worked unsuccessfully for ….. last 20 or 30 years to try to organize a scheme of this description, and I am certain that now that we have achieved this measure of success, we shall not now allow ourselves to be used to smash the scheme. We know that the arrangements now made have been possible only through the altered conditions due to the war. My hope ie that during the war period this scheme will become so firmly established that when peace returns it will be impossible to smash it.
– Would tlie Minister describe for us the class of wheat-farmer who, for personal reasons, might be apposed to this scheme?
– I do not think that any bona fide wheat-grower will oppose the scheme, but it is being resisted by those who are antagonistic to organized marketing, and who for many years, have been endeavouring to prevent the adoption of a stabilization plan of this kind.
– Who are these people?
– If the honorable member has eyes in his head he can see them.
– The Minister should support his assertion.
– During the last 2.j years I have made my position in regard to the wheat industry quite plain, for I have declared it from platforms all over the country. The farmers know where I stand. I ask honorable members not to draw a “ red herring across the trail “.
The Wheat Industry Stabilization Board includes in its personnel the 23 resident of . the Australian Wheat growers Federation, Mr. F. H. Cullen; Sir Give Mcpherson, who is the chairman; and the secretary of the Department of Commerce, Mr. J. F. Murphy. Would any honorable member suggest that these three gentlemen are likely, suddenly, to take it into their heads to choose out of the 60,000 wheatgrowers in Australia 10 or 100 or even 1,000 farmers for special penalties? The members of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board are deeply interested in. the welfare of the primary industries of this country and it is ridiculous to suggest that -they would desire, for any reason whatsoever, to penalize the wheat-growing industry. I appeal to honorable members, therefore, not to do anything that will have the effect of undermining this scheme. The legitimate claims of all bona fide wheatgrowers will be carefully considered. We should not give credence to any suggestion that would have the effect of enabling a few large land-holders to sow a much greater acreage than they are entitled to sow.
The local committees will carefully scrutinize all doubtful cases, and I say with confidence that every man who has a just case will obtain registration. The local committees consist, in each case, of two local wheat-growers, and a State government official, who will be either a member of the staff of a State Agricultural Department or of a State LandsDepartment with special knowledge. Already more than 300 local committees have been established and approved in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. In the time available, it has not yet been possible to establish and approve of committees in Western Australia, but when I was in that State recently, and particularly while I was in the Division of Swan, appeals were made to me by the representative of every road board with which I made contact to proceed as quickly as possible with the formation of local committees, because- it was realized that the committees would ensure that farmers would be given a fair deal. Every effort is being made to accelerate the formation of the local committees throughout the Commonwealth. The Wheat-growers Federation of Australia, and also State government and local government bodies, are in favour of this scheme of local committees. We should not sow any seeds of doubt as to the value of these units. I realize that abuses and anomalies may occur in the early stage, but both may and will be rectified as they are brought to light. The Wheat Industry Stabilization Board, which will have at its command the knowledge of the local committees, will be able to do a great deal to improve the prospects of the whea t-gr owing inddustry .
The honorable member for Gwydir alleged that the’ Australian Wheat Board had been slow in making payments in respect of various wheat pools. It must be realized that at the outbreak of the war the Commonwealth Government had to take over the marketing of all our primary products. Great difficulties were encountered in regard to all export surpluses, and, in order to avoid chaos, the most carefully devised plans were made. Unfortunately it was not possible to avoid a measure of chaos in connexion with the marketing of apples and pears, but a very good job has been done in connexion with the marketing of wheat. The operations of the Australian Wheat Board have been so successful that- the position of our wheat industry compares more than favorably with that of the industry in most of the other wheat-exporting countries. At present only small quantities of’ wheat are on hand and our carry-over stocks will be smaller than those of practically every other wheat-growing country excepting Argentina. Our position is very much better than that of Canada, in which country, we are told, only about 65 per cent, of the crop could be handled.
– Our position has been influenced a great deal by drought conditions-.
– That may he so, but wise selling has also played, its part. We had 210,000,000. bushels of wheat to deal with last year, and it was handled well. In the last two years £50,000,000 has been paid to the wheat-growers of this country. That the organization of the Australian Wheat Board has been steadily improved, is shown in the dates on which payments have been, made in respective years. The following table gives the details of the date of acquisition, quantity acquired, advances and dates of payment in respect of’ the several wheat pools : -
It will be sten from those details that Ss. 4d. a bushel has been paid through the last wheat pool as against 8s. 2½d. at the corresponding date, through the previous year’s pool. I believe m giving credit where credit is due, and the board deserves credit for what it has done.
The overdraft position is interesting. Figures furnished by the Australian Wheat Board show that on the 18th March, 1940, the overdraft for pools Nos. 2 and 3 was £21,492,000. The position to-day is that the overdraft of the board on the two pools is about £10,500,000.
– Will that represent loss?
– We hope not. It is expected that further payments will he possible as additional realizations are made. The board has made some excellent sales. The general manager of the board, Mr. John Thomson, has been extraordinarily fortunate, or wise, or, more probably, both, in having been able to charter ships to take our wheat to those parts of the world where it is needed. The sales have been made at reasonable prices from the growers’ standpoint and I give to the board every credit for what it has done. It, must, be remembered, however, that the activities of the Austraiian Wheat Board have nothing to do with the control being exercised by the Wheat Industry Stabilization Board. I earnestly appeal to honorable members not to do anything that will prejudice the success of the wheat stabilization control.’
.- My electorate, like that of the honorable m-ember for Gwydir (Mr. Scully), is seething with dissatisfaction in connexion wilh the control’ of the wheat industry. It is felt that the altered conditions of the world, and particularly the altered position of wheat in relation to power alcohol, should make great improvements possible. There should not be such a great need now for a rigid stabilization scheme.
Considerable misapprehension exists, also, as to the price the farmers will receive for their wheat. Many farmers in one part of my electorate believe that they will receive ‘3s. 3d. a bushel. There is ccn.fusi.on as to whether the guaranteed price is 3s. lOd. a bushel f.o.b. or f.o.r. The elucidation of that point is important? I doubt whether there is a farmer in Australia who could tell me, with any certainty, what he will get for his wheat. The farmers simply do not know. The Minister does not know. The whole of the liability for all storage and handling charges’ is on the wheat-grower, not on. the Commonwealth Government. On this ground alone, the act needs amending. A very largely attended meeting of the district council of the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales was held, last week at Temora, which is, I suppose, one of the first half-dozen great wheat centres of Australia. When the wheat stabilization scheme was brought forward, a large number of the. men who attended this meeting were in favour of the acreage basis. At the ‘meeting, however, a resolution was carried unanimously in favour of the adoption of a bushel lage basis, with payment at the rate of 4s. a bushel at country sidings in respect of 3,000 bushels. I have always regarded the bushellage basis as the right, one to adopt. I do not think that it is proper to impose a restriction on the area sown, because the grower does not knew whether his return in twelve mouths will be 2 bushels, 10 bushels, 15 bushels or 30 bushels to the acre; that is determined by nature. Alteration of the scheme to a bushellage basis with a limited quota would, I believe, give satisfaction to SO per cent, of the wheatgrowers, particularly the small men. The Minister has claimed that the small man - the genuine grower - .will derive the greatest benefit from the present scheme. I do not believe that he will, because the cost of production is lowered proportionately with the increase of the acreage sown, and, in addition, revenue is derivable in much larger measure from stubble and feed: The big man, too, can afford to take risks which are outside the capacity of the small man. It cannot be contended that delegates to the district’ council of the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales are sympathetically disposed towards the Labour party. The terms of the resolution that they passed are as follows:- -
Delegates to the annual meeting of tlie Temora District Council of tlie Farmers .and Settlers’ Association in Temora, on Thursday, decided to ur,re upon the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page), the member for Riverina (Mr. .T. I. Langtry!, and the annual conference of ‘the Fanners and Settlers’ Association in Sydney, the need for amending the wheat stabilization scheme to place it on a bushel quota basis as against the acreage basis as at present provided for’.
Mr. Kendall, who travelled 110 miles in order to address that .meeting, j>ointed out that the wheat stabilization scheme provided for an expenditure of £26,750,000 in respect of a crop estimated to total 140,000,000 bushels, and that that would return to the grower 3s. lOd. a bushel at ports. That statement is not correct; the .price is not at ports, but f.o.b.’ Until I had explained the matter, the impression was that the deduction for different charges would amount to 7d. a bushel. From information that I received after I left this House last week, the expenses of the No. 1 pool were very little short, of ls. a bushel. The return from bagged wheat will be less than from hulk wheat. The cost of bags in Sydney at present is lis. 1-Jd. a dozen. Freight and other charges raise it to approximately 12s. a dozen, or 4d. a bushel. If other expenses be taken into account, the return from the stabilized scheme will be approximately 2s. 6d. for bagged and 2s. 8d. for bulk wheat. Under the stabilization scheme, this will apply to 140,000,000 bushels. .Since that scheme came into operation, Russia has become an active combatant in the war, and that may have a very big effect on the world market for wheat. The report of thePower .Alcohol Committee, released last week, stated that practically the whole of our surplus wheat could he absorbed at a better price to the farmer than the stabilized price. It has been proved that power alcohol can be manufactured at a cost of 2s. a gallon wholesale, and 2s. 2d. a gallon retail, from wheat purchased from the farmer at 3s. 6d. a bushel at ports or distilleries in country centres. This alters the whole complexion of the wheat stabilization scheme. At the moment, the restrictions imposed on the use of petrol are severe, and their severity is likely to be increased, with the result that thousands of persons will be thrown out of employment. I blame the Government on that account. That 3,000,000 gallons of power alcohol can be manufactured from- 435,000 bushels of wheat, for sale retail at 2s. 2d. a gallon, should be a strong inducement to the Minister to alter the scheme completely. The result would be to restore an industry which is now-, and has been for the last seven or eight years, in the gutter. It will not be assisted by means of the wheat stabilization scheme. It is impossible to get out of difficulty by receiving less .than the cost of production. The Gepp wheat commission, in its findings, stated that 20 per cent, of the growers were producing wheat for 2s. 9d. a bushel or less; 40 per cent… for 3s. 2d. a bushel or less ; 60 per cent, for 3s. lOd. a bushel or less; and. SO per cent, for 4s. 8d. a bushel or less. [Leave to continue given.] At the guaranteed price of 3s. lOd. a bushel, f.o.b., only one-half of the wheat-growers will receive the cost of production. .The commission which made these findings took evidence from leading experts on wheat throughout Australia. Judged by those findings, from the point of view of the wheat-grower the wheat stabilization scheme must be a complete failure. Australia needs annually 32,000,000 bushels of wheat for human consumption, 15,000,000 bushels for seed, and 8,000,000 bushels for animal consumption. On the basis of a crop of 160,000,000. .bushels, this would leave 105,000,000 bushels for export or the manufacture of power alcohol. The Government should lose on time in giving effect to the recommendation of the Power Alcohol Committee, because by January next the surplus of wheat will be very small; the chairman of the board has informed me that there will be practically none. Distilleries could be provided at, the principal ‘wheat-growing centres within two years, and. the equipment of each distillery would cost only £500,000. The benefit that would accrue to wheat-growers, and the needs of the defence services, demand the storage of a surplus of power alcohol. The proposition would be a very fine one for the Government, because of the present shortage of supplies of petrol. The Minister should consequently reconsider the scheme in its entirety, People are being driven from the country to the cities and towns simply because they cannot live in existing circumstances. Mention has been made of the imposition of restrictions on lamb raising. What will a wheat-grower be able to do with his land if he cannot grow wheat profitably on it and is- prevented from raising lambs? He will still have to pay the interest he was charged when the price of wheat was good. The Government should immediately appoint a special committee to confer with the Minister who deals with the production of power alcohol, with a view to having distilleries provided at different points throughout Australia, so that one of the greatest of our industries may be uplifted. If .that be done, wheat-growers will receive a payable price for their product, and thousands of country storekeepers and business men of every description will be ben. fifed. Practically 100 per cent, of the wheat-growers of my electorate consider that the scheme should be altered from an acreage to a bushellage basis, with the payment of 4s. a bushel for 3,000 bushels delivered at country sidings. When the wheat had been placed on trucks the responsibility of the farmer should cease. The Commonwealth Government and the Wheat Board should .state clearly what the grower is to receive immediately his wheat is delivered, not two, three, four or five years later. Whatever price is guaranteed - 2s. 6d., 2s. Sd.. 3s., or, as it ought to be, 4s. a bushel - the Government should say that that amount is guaranteed to the growers and that it will accept the responsibility for storing and handling the wheat. Until that be done, the wheat-growers will never know what they are to receive for their wheat. For the safety of Australia, the prosperity of the wheat-growers, and the benefit of the industry generally, I hope that no time will be lost in putting into operation the recommendation of the committee which investigated the production of power alcohol.
– I am confident that, both the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Scully) and the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Langtry) desire only to assist, the wheat-growers whom they represent. In fairness to the Govern ment, as well as to the farmers, honorable members must state the position of the wheat industry as they see it. I have the honor to represent in this House about 54 per cent, of the wheat lands of South Australia, in which more than that percentage of the wheat-growers of the State reside. Since the Government’s stabiliza tion scheme was inaugurated, I have received only two complaints concerning it from wheat-growers. The first complaint was from a man who is primarily a grower of barley, but who, in giving effect to a policy of crop rotation, grows wheat every five years. He asked to be allowed to continue to grow wheat on the former basis, but his application was refused. He accepted the position when it was explained to him. The second complaint came from a farmer whose sons had been working on shares with him and also on an adjoining farm. Last year they relinquished share-farming on the adjoining farm and purchased 1,500 acres of land on which wheat had not been grown for five years, the laud having been used for raising stock. They fallowed 500 acres of the newly-purchased farm, and applied for a licence to grow wheat, but the licence was refused. However, after their case had been explained to the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) by the. secretary for Commerce and myself,’ those young men were allowed to carry on under certain clearly defined conditions. I can say confidently that 95 per cent, of the farmers of South Australia are pleased with the efforts of the Government to stabilize the wheat industry. The scheme which is now in operation follows closely that. which was proposed by Senators Wilson and Uppill, of South Australia, with the exception that their proposal did not allow for the restriction of production which is embodied in the Government’s scheme. For ten years the wheat-growers of Australia have asked for security of tenure, so that they could carry on their operations and pay their way. Business people in wheat-growing districts have also felt the need for security. War conditions have emphasized the need for security. Before the war, Australia and other wheatproducing countries were prepared r,o flood the world markets with wheat. We produced wheat in excess of our capacity to dispose of it, and when we sought assistance from tlie Government other sections of. the community, which were protected in. various ways, complained that the wheat-growers were being spoonfed. The loss of the export market for wheat has forced the Government to control the production of wheat, in somewhat the same way . as has been found necessary in respect of apples and. pears and other primary products. Four or five years ago I advocated in this House a restriction of wheat production, with a view to obtaining better prices. .In my opinion, the wheat-growers of Australia should be well satisfied with a scheme which gives to them 3s. lOd. a bushel up to a total of 140,000,000 .bushels. It is strange that complaints should come from New South Wales where, in many districts, including that represented by the honorable member for Gwydir, wheat can be- grown satisfactorily without the use of much superphosphate or resort to extensive fallowing. The conditions in the greater part of New South Wales are entirely different from those which exist in the wheat-growing areas of Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia. It would appear that many New South Wales wheat-growers saw an opportunity to grab something for themselves. “ I ask the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Anthony) if it is not a fact that in that State farmers applied for licences’ in respect of 50 per cent, more acreage than they have sown to wheat during the last four years?
– That is not a fact.
– I have been informed on reliable authority that it is so. Although I am a farmer, I must admit that some farmers are unscrupulous in such matters. They grab ‘ at the last penny for themselves. Had tho wheatgrowers of Australia ‘been paid for their wheat on the basis of 3s. lOd. a bushel f.o.b. during the last ten years, there would have been no room for complaint. I hope that under the stabilization scheme farmers will be paid for their wheat as soon as it is delivered. Under the 1939.40 and 1940-41 pools the Government was not able to dispose of the wheat immediately, and therefore it had to make advances to the growers. While waiting for complete payment many of them were embarrassed, financially. I do not think that the Government could have done ‘better than it has done iri connexion with the 1939-40 pool, although it is true that a considerable time elapsed before the final payment was made. In connexion -with future pools, the Government should pay to the farmer the total value of the wheat delivered, so that he will have money to meet his expenses, and thereby avoid heavy costs in connexion with overdrafts.
The stabilization scheme is fortunate in that it is in the control of experienced men. Members representing wheat areas should be satisfied that the industry is in charge of such men as Sir Olive Macpherson, Mr. Gullen, Mr. Tilt and Mr. Kendall. * Leave to continue given’].* I am prepared, to trust such experienced men with the conduct of the stabilization scheme. .Some mistakes were unavoidable in inaugurating the scheme, but when the war is over - it is to operate for the duration of the war, which we hope will not be long - the farmers will, I believe, ask for its continuance, rather than that the industry should revert to its former uncontrolled, state.
I desire now to refer to the production of power .alcohol. I am informed, by Mr. Garnett of the Berri distillery, in South Australia, that in five or- six- weeks the distilleries in that State could convert their plants to produce power alcohol from wheat at a cost of less than. 6d. a gallon. The cost of producing power alcohol in the United States of America is about 4d. a gallon. The total cost of the power alcohol would be about 2s. a gallon. Mr. Garnett also says that South. Australia has been allotted a production of only 3,000,000 gallons, whereas the plant which he says already exists in that State is capable of producing about 10,000,000 gallons a year. If power alcohol can be produced at 2s. a gallon, by a plant which is already in existence in the Commonwealth, the Government should be prepared, to accept as much of it as can be supplied. Towards the end of the last war as- much as 5s. a gallon was paid for petrol imported from the United States of America. At that time, the import duty on petrol was not so high as it is now. The production of power alcohol from wheat would not only be of value to the Commonwealth in .providing another source of power, hut it would also help to stabilize the wheat industry.
. -I approach this subject .in a spirit of .cooperation. As one who has. consistently advocated the stabilization of the wheat industry and, indeed, of primary industries generally, I can assure the House that there is no desire on the part pf any one associated with the wheat-growing industry, or representing wheat-growing’ electorates, to injure the existing stabilization scheme. I feel sure that the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Scully) desires, if possible, to suggest ways and means to improve the scheme, and to rectify the anomalies that exist. Let me point out some of the weaknesses that are apparent. Most of the crops throughout the wheat “belt of Australia have already been sown, and yet the business of allotting licensed areas has only just been begun. There is no hope of effectively controlling areas, because, as I have said, the greater part of the crop is already sown, though it may be possible to make the scheme effective in future years. I know that there is a considerable amount of dissatisfaction among growers over this attempt to control production by the methods followed, and particularly with the system of appointing local committees to ‘co-operate with the authorities in policing the regulations. The men who have been appointed to the committees, though they have accepted the positions because they want to assist the Government, have done so under protest in many cases. They do not like to be placed in the position of having to report adversely upon the activities’ of their fellow growers. I have previously advocated what I regard as a better w”ay of controlling production, especially in a young’ country like Australia, and it is this: Seeing that 140,000,000 .bushels has been fixed as the quantity upon which the guaranteed price will be paid, no undue restriction should be placed upon the area to be sown. The growers would be allotted a quota, and would .be paid on that quota only. Quantities in excess of the quota would be accepted, and a receipt given for them, but no advance would be made at the time on the portion in excess of the quota. This would tend to restrict unnecessary production, but it would leave the way open for the building up of a reserve of grain in Australia to meet a possible emergency caused by drought or by the opening up of an export market.
– What about the man who, because of drought, has had a low average over -the last two or three years?
– Such a man should receive special consideration. Whereas some areas seldom suffer from drought, and a fairly consistent level of production can be maintained, other areas of equally good- wheat land are subject to periodical droughts. Growers in areas of the latter kind might be permitted to market a larger proportion of their crop to the pool than would otherwise be the case, or to establish reserves on the farm or with the pool for future marketing in subsequent years when due to crop failure he could not furnish his quota. This matter of restricting acreage bristles with difficulties. If this season every grower is completely loyal to the scheme, and agrees to sow only his normal acreage, and the season is a good one, it is certain that the allotted quota of 140,000,000 bushels for Australia will be exceeded. I ‘make that statement on the authority of an executive member of the Victorian Wheatgrowers Association, who has gone into the position very carefully. An amount of £26,7’50,000 has been provided with which to pay a guaranteed price of 3s. lOd. a bushel on 140,000,000 bushels. If there is an excess of production over 140,000,000 bushels, the price to the growers will be decreased proportionately. If Australia produces only 140,000,000 bushels, the growers will receive 3s. lOd. a bushel, f.o.’b., which works out at an average price at country sidings of 3s. for bagged wheat, and 2s. lOd. for bulk wheat. The continual stressing by Ministers and others of the fact that the Government has guaranteed a price of 3s. lOd. a bushel for wheat tends to create an erroneous impression in the minds of the public, who are led to believe that the growers are receiving that amount. That is not so. From that figure of 3s. lOd. must be deducted the cost of handling, railing, and loading on board, or the cost of storage if we are not able to ship the wheat, so that the return to the grower in some instances is only 2s. lOd. a bushel, not 3s. lOd. If the Australian crop amounts to 160,000,000 bushels the return to the growers will be 3s. 4d. a bushel f.o.b.,which works out at an average price at country sidings of 2s. 7d. for bagged wheat, and 2s. 5d. for bulk wheat. This is not the scheme which was advocated by the wheat-growers’ organizations throughout Australia, and in support of that statement I quote the resolutions by the Wheat-growers Federation of Australia, a body which is representative of every wheat-growing State in the Commonwealth. They are as follows : -
That in order to implement a wheat stabilization plain the Federal and State Governments provide -
Acquire and take control all that wheat grown under an Australian wheat board with a majority of growers’ representatives.
That in view of the serious international situation in regard to wheat surpluses if control of production is found to be inevitable, it be implemented on a marketing percentage basis.
That the Federal Government guarantee a price of wheat so marketed that will cover full costs of production, when the known cost is determined by a committee represented by the Australian Wheat-growers Federation and the Commonwealth Government.
Such committee to be established permanently as an advisory committee to recommend such measures to the Government on all matters, including marginal areas, and adequate wheat storages, affecting the wheat industry from time to time.
There is not a majority of growers’ representatives on the Australian Wheat Board. The policy which is being applied by the board is designed largely in the interests of millers, merchants and trading interests, and the growers have only a very small say in it. [Leave to continue given.] It has been stated that some growers are anxious to sow as large an area as possible in order to wreck the scheme, or for some reason which I do not profess to know. I do know, however, that the wheat-growers are among those primary producers who to-day are in severe financial straits, and they are making every endeavour to place themselves in a position to meet their commitments. It is not unreasonable, in the circumstances, that they should seek permission to sow as large an area as possible. The price paid under the scheme cannot be accepted as covering the cost of production. I do not see why the Government should not pay the full guaranteed price to the grower upon delivery of thewheat. The price is not too large; it is, in fact, the very least with which the growers can carry on.
We have, at the present time, a wonderful opportunity to dispose of surplus wheat by distilling power alcohol from it.
– That subject does not come within the terms of the motion.
– Very well, I shall seek another opportunity to deal with the subject. The Government should be careful not to restrict acreage too drastically. There is a very small surplus of wheat in Australia, and if the season should turn out badly it might be necessary for us to import wheat. I appeal to the Government to co-operate with the growers’ organizations, and to administer the scheme sympathetically. If possible, the whole subject of production control should be reviewed, and a different method applied on the lines I have recommended.
Sittingsuspended from 6. 15 to8 p.m.
.- In the course of his speech the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Scully) read a letter in which the writer stated that either the Government was endeavouring by all the means in its power to ruin wheatfarmers or it was totally incapable of understanding their problems. One does not like to impute motives and I do not propose to do so now . I content myself with saying that notwithstanding the denials of the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page), a check up discloses that theletters read by the honorable member for Gwydir came from bona fide wheat-farmers. The trouble seems to be that a committee of townsmen was entrusted with the administration of this important scheme for the stabilization of the wheat industry. In failing to give the people chiefly concerned, the wheatgrowers, adequate representation on the committee, the Government treated them in the same way as it treated the wool-growers, and the results have been disastrous. Before this scheme was brought forward by the Government, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin)proposed a plan under which the growers would be guaranteed 3s. 10½d. a bushel in respect of the first 3,000 bushels, farmers taking a chance in respect of disposing of their production in excess of that quantity. The Government’s scheme guaranteed tothe grower a return of 3s.10d. a bushel up to a total production of 140,000,000bushels ; but it appears now that it is trying to reduce the total number of bushels in respect of which the guaranteed price is to be paid. Apolicy of restriction of the production of foodstuffs is alwaysbad. Especially is it so to-day when hundreds of millions of people throughout the world are threatened with starvation as the result of the world war. As a primary producing country, Australia should do everything possible to feed these people.We shall have to play our part in world rehabilitation which must inevitably follow the end of the present conflict.
As the result of the establishment of a wheat poolby the Queensland Government about 20 years ago, the wheatgrowers in Queensland have been able to escape to some degree the chaotic conditions that exist in the industry in other States. However, we have a number of complaints. The Queensland growers do not produce sufficient grain to meet the needs of the State. In 1938-39 Queensland growers had 465,000 acres of wheat under cultivation and the average yield was eighteen bushels to the acre. In the following year 300,459 acres was under cultivation for wheat, and the average yield was18.3 bushels to the acre. According to the Queensland Wheat Board at least 500,000 acres should be planted in wheat to provide sufficient food for the peopleof the State. As usual the large growers get the big end of the stick. Having registered their farms, they have a monopoly and those who may wish to engage in wheat-farming in the future, including many young men who return from the war, will have to purchase their land from the large holders. It should be the aim of the committee administering the scheme to protect the small growers and not bother so much about the interests of the large growers.
I object to the establishment of the local boards. On what basis are they established, and what are the qualifications of their personnel? It seems that the members of these boards are indulging in spying on the growers. We have no desire to see Gestapo methods introduced into this country. In view of the unsatisfactory state of affairs that exists in the industry to-day, the whole scheme for the stabilization of the wheat industry should be re-drafted. I trust that some good will come out of this debate.
– In view of the limited time at my disposal I shall have to summarize the speech I had intended to make. In the first place, I support the statements of the honorable members for Gwydir (Mr. Scully) and Wimmera (Mr. Wilson). Despite what has been said by the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page), I believe that 90 per cent. of the growers are not in favour of control on an acreage basis. Practical wheat-growers fear that the stabilization scheme must inevitably break down because of the difficulty of policing it. The honorable member for Gwydir has shown how in the endeavour to police the sowing of wheat many growers are being prejudiced. I shudder to think what would happen if the local boards were clothed with power to dictate to individual farmers how. much of their wheat must be ploughed in or eaten off. The whole scheme should be re-drafted. The wheat surplus is not unduly large. I see no reason to fear the storing of two years’ supply of wheat in these days when one-half of the world is at war. No one knows what the future has in store for us. Nearly twelve months ago we were told that there would be huge excess stocks of wheat in Australia, but to-day the surplus is down to approximately 50,000,000 bushels. If wheat were used for the production of power alcohol the existing surplus would quickly disappear. Under the stabilization scheme the farmer hasbeen guaranteed 3s.10d. a bushel but, owing to the way in which charges are piled up, the return to the grower is only 2s.10d. a bushel. The interest charged on advances by the Commonwealth Bank to the Australian Wheat Board amounts to. approximately £600,000 per annum. All of that expense has to be borne by the grower. I urge the Government to pay the full guaranteed price. In acquiring the wheat, the Commonwealth takes over an asset the value of which is known. There is no risk about it. If, instead of doling out small advances, the farmer were given the full guaranteed price, he would be able to meet his commitments. I trust that that will ‘be done.
Question resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from the 25th June, 1941 (vide page 372), on motion by Sir Frederick Stewart -
That the hill he now read a second time.
.- -The object, of . this bill is to give legislative stability, to the scheme introduced by the Commonwealth Government in 1939. when it made available the sum of £100.000 for a period of five years at the rate of £20,000 per annum to promote a national fitness campaign. Though we may criticize it and offer some suggestions for its improvement, the Opposition will support the measure. In our opinion the bill does not go far enough. In the course of his second-reading speech, the Minister for Social Services (Sir Frederick Stewart) said that it was proposed to allocate annually £1,000 to each . of the State governments for organizing purposes and £9,500 to the universities’ for the purpose of establish- ing . diploma courses. It is understood that the .balance is to be retained by the Commonwealth Government for the administration .of , the scheme. I have no doubt that some honorable members will .oppose, during a period of war, the giving of legislative approval to such a scheme; but I. believe that, as it will take seme years .to -build up a national fitness organization of the kind envisaged by the Government, it would be unwise to delay . -the introduction of the measure until after the war. The- State governments are already spending various sums for the encouragement of national fitness. Last year . the New South Wales Government expended £28,000 on the national fitness campaign. The present Minister for Education in New South Wales is very enthusiastic about the scheme. His government will make budgetary provision this year for an amount- in excess of that expended last year for this purpose. Precautions must be taken to ensure that the money to be provided under this bill shall not be ex pended in such a way as to benefit unduly the privileged section of the community. Clause 5£> provides -
Subject to the next succeeding sub-section, the Minister may apply the. moneys standing to the credit of the fund for the purpose of providing assistance - . . . (b) to promote physical education in Universities and other institutions.
At the- appropriate time I shall move that the clause be amended by inserting the word “ schools “ before the word “universities”. Most of the people of Australia do not enjoy the privilege of a university education.
– Is not the honorable member’s purpose- already served ‘ by the inclusion of the words “other institutions”?
– I do not agree that schools which cater for the masses are included in “ other institutions “. The universities serve a comparatively small section of the community.
– This grant is required for the purpose of training leaders.
– Admittedly some expenditure is necessary for the training of leaders, for tha erection of buildings, and for the provision of equipment. But we must not overlook the claims of the masses of the people, in whom we should be chiefly interested, because the wealthy, privileged sections can afford to provide for their children various forms of recreation which are conducive to improved physical fitness. When I occasionally visit Mount Kosciusko, not in the ski-ing season, I deplore the fact that the accommodation is taken up by elderly spinsters, who examine other visitors through lorgnettes, and by the sons and daughters of the wealthy. It is regrettable that a national playground of that kind is not within the reach of the sons and daughters of the masses. More and more, we must look after their’ requirements. Although the Minister has previously made grant-3 under this scheme to certain organizations, including the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Young Women’s Christian Association, assistance should be given to schools in which are trained the children of the masses. The maintenance of public hospitals throughout Australia in 1939 cost £3,000,000. Whilst a moderate percentage of that sum was unavoidable expenditure, much could have been saved by the adoption of preventative measures, the improvement of the physical condition of the population, and the provision of meansof recreation, including thousands of swimming pools and sports grounds, such as are provided in European countries, the United States of America, and Great Britain.
– And provide the poor with more food !
– That is most necessary, and should take precedence even over the national fitness campaign. We must improve the economic condition of the masses, so that they can provide themselves with adequate, wholesome food.
Better living and housing conditions, dental care, and hospital treatment are interwoven with national fitness. Last year the total expenditure on mental hospitals by all States was £1,723,000 ; child welfare absorbed £1,225,000; and the Education Departments of the several States expended £12,830,000. The Commonwealth’s expenditure on the last war now totals £944,000,000, including £312,000,000 of interest; this debt carries an annual interestbill of £7,294,000. Compared with those amounts, the provision of £20,000 a year for the national fitness campaign is a bagatelle, and any one who opposes the grant oh the ground that it is an unwarranted extravagance in war-time has not viewed the matter in its true perspective. In the year 1940-41, the Commonwealth budgeted for the expenditure of £186,000,000 for war purposes. During the current financial year, this expenditure will be increased to £250,000,000. To date, the present war has cost Australia £192,000,000. Obviously, a grant of £20,000 to encourage, physical fitness, so far from militating against the efficient prosecution of the war, is more likely to lead to a greater war effort, and increased ability on the part of the people to defend Australia against invasion. Parliament must guard against allowing the physical condition of Australians to deteriorate to the comparatively poor standard of the inhabitants of some countries. Recently, I read in the press that 40 per cent. of the applicants for entrance to the various defence arms of the United States of America failed to pass the medical test. I admit the examination is most severe. . The UnitedStates of America, which attaches great importance to national fitness, launched a campaign in 1936. This year, it will expend in this direction £A18,000,000 which will be gradually increased to £A33,000,000 at the end of five years. Legislative sanction for this scheme was granted in a bill which was introduced into Congress on the 3rd January, 1941. The measure was described as “ a bill to promote national preparedness and the national welfare through appropriation of funds to assist the several states and territories in making adequate provisions for schools for physical education, including athletics; instruction and guidance in healthful living; wider recreational use of school facilities; and the development of school camps “. To equal, on a population basis, the expenditure by the United States of America on physical education, the Parliament of the Commonwealth would have to vote £200,000 per annum. Last year, Great Britain provided £1,500,000 for this purpose.
Honorable members should bear in mind that physical fitness overrides race and colour. It is international. The fellow with the overalls and the man wearing “ the old school tie “ can meet on the same playing arena. The bringing of them together in this way is an excellent thing. Very often, the mind of the man with “ the old school tie” broadened by mixing with the wharf labourer on the football field. Dr. John Brown, chairman of a select committee which was appointed to determine whether the United States of America should participate in the 1936 Olympic Games in Germany, said -
There are only three areas which override the prejudices of race, colour and language. There is the sphere of music, in which the player disappears and we appreciate the music. There is the sphere of art, where there is the harmony of colour and the beauty of concept. These take years of training, and only the genius can translate it. But here in organized play and recreation and in sport, we have the great unifying and harmonizing influence which leaps creed, colour and class consciousness, because all the world loves to play.
People tend to confuse national fitness with “ physical jerks “ only, and believe that it makes provision for teaching the average man and woman to do exercises for ten minutes every morning and evening. That is a mistaken idea,because the movement is far wider in its implication. Nationalfitness, through the physical educationof the people, makes for a balanceddevelopment of personality and the promotion of good citizenship. The standard of living, the health of the people, the elimination of slums, economic and social security, dental care, proper physical training in schools and for the masses afterthe school-leaving age, and the establishment of free hospitals and recreation facilities are of major importance and are bound up with national fitness.
Mr.ArchieCameron. - To finance such a programme, Parliament would have to vote £20,000,000 a year.
– If theCommonwealth can find £186,000,000 for war purposes, surely it is nottoo much to ask it to provide £20,000,000 for those reforms.
– Men cannot fight unless they arephysically fit.
– People who want ablebodied men to defend Australia should support any proposalfor improving the standardsof living and physical fitness. The improvement of national health should occupy a prominent place in the policy of allprogressive governments. Every government should endeavour to create healthier and happier men, women and children. Some people mistakenly regard education and health as being independent as if mind and body were not inextricably associated with one another.Realizing the importance of physical fitness and the interest which the Minister for Health and Social Services has displayed in the subject, I am amazed, not at the proposal to expend £20,000, but at thepaucity of the grant.
– How did the Deputy Leader of the Opposition calculate that the Government will make available £20,000 a year for the promotion of the national fitness campaign?
– The Government proposes to expend £100,000 in five years, an average of £20,000 a year. The Minister made that announcement when moving the second reading of the bill. In his book, The Administration of Physical Education, Professor Nash points out that national fitness movements have been carried on for some years in theleading countries of the world. In England approximately £1,500,000 annuallyis made available for this purpose. Ofthat amount £442,000 is expended in the provision of swimming pools, and approximately £337,000 for playing fields. With the possible exception of Russia, no other country has equalled Germany’s lavish expenditure on national fitness, youth movements, physical education . and Government-sponsored physical education, such as hostels, youth walks, swimming pools and playing areas.Germany inaugurated this movement in 1936. Delegates to the Olympic Games held in Berlin in 1936 reported that physical fitness educaon had grown to great proportions in that country. In 1936, a Czechoslovakian went from Canada to Russia to sit on a commission of inquiry into physical education. On his return, he expressed amazement at the huge expenditure being incurred in Russia on physical fitness and leadership of youth.
I have already referred to the substantial provision made by theUnited States of America in a bill introduced into Congress on the 3rdJanuary, 1941. These facts emphasize the importance of physical education, the object of which is the improvement of the health of the masses. Essential to successof such schemes is the provision of facilities for recreation and amusement. People cannot continue to work at full pressure at irksome trades and callings unless they are allowed sufficient timeoff for recreation, and provided with facilities to make the most of that time.
– The honorable member should have told that to our grandfathers.
– I know that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) is opposed to this measure. He is entitled to his opinion; but we on this side do not agree with him. The principal defect of this proposal is that it does not treat the national fitness campaign with the generosity to which it is entitled. The Government of South Africa has taken up the problem of national fitness in earnest. It has appointed a professor, and an assistant professor, of physical education at the University of Stellenbosch. In India, the Government recently incorporated physical education in the syllabuses of all its universities, and appointed graduates of .Springfield University, United States of America, to supervise this work.
National fitness campaigns have been launched in all the States of the Commonwealth, but New South Wales leads the way in this respect. One reason for this is the great interest which the chairman of the National Fitness Council in that .State, Mr. A. E. Symon, has shown in the movement. The council held its inaugural meeting. on the 6th January, 1938, and it meets once a month. The executive of that body meets weekly, and is assisted by various committees which meet as required. A similar scheme has. been established in Queensland. At the University of Queensland, special training is being given to a staff of instructors. The Brisbane Telegraph of the 6th June last, contains an interesting statement by the vice-chancellor of that university, Mr. J. D. Story, of what has been accomplished in physical education in that State. In the course of his remarks, Mr. Story said ; -
The Queensland University Senate was aldo during 1940 to see -its way to establish both certificate and diploma courses in physical education in this State, as from the commencement of the academic year 1941. Those courses are now in operation, the enrolments for the current year being 12 for the Certificate course (four mcn and eight women) and 20 for the Diploma course (10 men and 10 women ) .
The subjects, of both courses include hygiene, first aid, appropriate elementary anatomy and physiology, calisthenics, theory mid organization of games, gymnastics, swimming and life saving, boxing and fencing (for men) and dancing (for women). The diploma course includes also psychology,- voice culture and speech training, and introductory chemistry and .physics. “
Honorable members generally are aware that at most of the swimming pools and on the beaches in Queensland and about ‘Sydney, instructors are provided under these schemes. New South Wales alone expends approximately £30,000 a year on physical fitness, whereas, under this measure, that State will receive only £2,000. The services of instructors in swimming and athletics are made available free to the schools. A similar scheme Is being carried out in country centres where swimming facilities exist. These admirable arrangements, however, are restricted because of limited finance, aud, consequently, they have not been fully developed.
In order to launch this scheme properly, the Commonwealth must set up a central virile organization in Canberra to supervise it. Physical fitness is too important a matter to be looked after’ in some back room of the Commonwealth Health Department. That department, over which Dr. J. H. L. Cumpston presides, is at present busily engaged in extensive research work, and, therefore, it should not be asked to ‘undertake the supervision of this scheme. Some dynamic organizing force must be applied, and’ that can best be clone by a special body, with its head-quarters in Canberra. I offer that suggestion to the Minister.. Such an organization would provide more punch than the Health Department. National fitness in Great Britain is controlled by the Education Department. We need an organization capable of presenting the campaign in its true perspective to the public and winning unanimous support for it. Up to date, no effort has been made to do that. For this work, we. should acquire the services of an outstanding man like Dr. Arthur Lamb, B.Sc, M.Phys.Educ., who is now Director of Physical Education at McGill University, Montreal. Dr. Lamb was born in Ballarat. He served with the Canadian Forces in the last war. I have no doubt that the Commonwealth Government could secure his services, provided it paid him a salary in keeping with his qualifications. Hi3 name appears frequently in works on .physical fitness in the United States of America and Great Britain. Another outstanding man is Dr. James Summers, a graduate of Springfield University, United States of America, who is also a native of Ballarat. He is now- the head of the Institute of Technical Physical Education at Springfield. Dr. Arthur Lamb is a past president of the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada, and ha3 brought many Canadian school teams to Australia. Although this scheme has been launched in Australia., no State yet possesses adequate facilities to, train leaders and instructors. The Common wealth should take up this matter in co-operation with the States.
– We have already done that.
Mr.FORDE. - The trouble is that the Government is now initiatinga scheme which will require much more than £20,000 annually, if it is to be tackled with the determination which its importance merits. As I have already pointed out, New South Wales alone expends more annually on physical fitness than the Government proposes to provide under this bill. We know that, owing to the stranglehold which the Commonwealth has over State finances, no State government, however willing it might be to do this work properly, can afford the necessary funds. In view of the fact that New South Wales alone expends £30,000 a year for this purpose, the sum proposed tobe made available under this measureis a niggardly contribution. The training of leaders cannot be undertaken without the provision of costly buildings and equipment at the various universities. These instructors will be passed through the universities, and will be made available to the schools, in order that the masses may derive benefit from the campaign. The new Minister for Education in New South Wales, Mr. Clive Evatt, with whom I have discussed the subject, is very anxious to give an impetus to this work. That State is fortunate in having the services of such outstanding men as Mr. Gordon young, B.A., B.Sc., B.Phys. Educ., and Mr. H. Le Maistre, B.Sc, M.Phys.Educ., of Springfield University. The former is Director of Physical Education, and the latter is in charge of the lecturing staff at the Sydney University. Both of these gentlemen were born in Australia. A great deal of the success of a scheme of this kind depends upon the co-operation of the municipal councils and of the local committees in each centre. It is pleasing to note that, as the result of the work of the national fitness organization in New South Wales, playgrounds have been opened up by municipal councils in congested suburbs of Sydney. These playgrounds are frequented by thousands of children weekly. In one suburb, they have been the means of almost completely eliminating juvenile delinquency. The statistical records of the Department of Education, of New South Wales; verify that fact. The
National Fitness Council of New South Wales established complete centres in ten under-privileged centres where the children, at the expiration of their training, had sold the goods manufactured in their hobby classes from materials supplied by the council. The proceeds of that sale were used for charitable purposes. Between 4,000 and 5,000 children attended these centres. What has been done in New South Wales could be done all over Australia, if the matter were properly tackled. Human lives are the greatest asset that this country has. Every child born into the community is an asset which should be cared for. Anything that we can do to brighten the lives and improve the physical fitness of our children should be gladly done. Under the scheme envisaged in this legislation there willbe a great opportunity to do that. Last year, New South Wales expended £28,000 on national fitness, apart from the expenditure of a grant of £10,000 for the establishment of a camp at Broken Bay. This year the National Fitness Council has budgeted for the expenditure of £33,000 as follows: -
Kew South “Wales intends to co-operate to the greatest degree with the Commonwealth Government. “What I have said about Kew South Wales applies in a lesser degree to the other States where, owing to their comparative newness, the national fitness schemes are less developed. I emphasize that before this scheme’ can provide the dynamic force that is needed, to “ put it over “, it is essential that its control be placed in the hands of a highly-skilled man of the calibre of Dr. Lamb, the Australian in charge of technical education at the McGill University. The new department must be the clearing, house for the State Education Departments. It must be able to give assistance and advice to the State governments, .and to prepare lectures and broadcasts and propaganda generally. It is important that we in this Parliament should ensure that an organization of this kind shall not be allowed to get’ into the control of designing bodies which might try to use it for ulterior purposes, and that money provided for this campaign shall be properly expended. With those reservations, I support the measure.
– I can see no good in this measure. It is one of those weak anaemic, rickety things which emanates from this Government from time to time and which Parliament is expected to accept as part and parcel of war-time policy. It looks to me, from the way the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) was labouring for 45 minutes, that he must have changed his attitude on this bill. In view of the adroit way in which the Government, at question time, somersaulted its policy regarding the important arbitration bill, at the request, if not the orders, of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), it looks to me as if this is quid pro quo. and that the Opposition has decided to support this bill in return for the disposal of that other rather troublesome measure. I remember that not so very long ago, when the first of these national fitness campaigns started, we were assured that it would cost nothing, whereas the next we heard about it was an account for £10,000. I have no doubt that, if the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had his way, the cost of national fitness to this community would run into millions of pounds. I also know something about the playgrounds to which the honorable member referred. The bill for those playgrounds was £100,000. There are certain things which belong, to the province of the States and certain things which belong to the province of the Commonwealth. To my mind we. are everlastingly overstepping the hounds, and trespassing on what is, after all, State territory, with the very natural result that now and again we strike things such as happened at the meeting of Commonwealth and . State Ministers in thi3 chamber last Fri- ‘. day. I believe that if the debate could, on that occasion, have been published, it would have pushed the war news on to. the back pages of the newspapers. Min?isters would be well advised to look again at this measure. If they deceive anybody about this it is only themselves; they do not deceive their supporters, and I do not think that they deceive the country. It is time that this game ‘ of make-believe came to an end, and that the Government either got down to a solid policy for fighting the war or defending this country, or said that it was not fit for the job and made way for somebody else. The time has come when a few kindly references like that have to be made to the occupants of the treasury bench. I hope that opportunities , will be offered during this sessional period for some honorable members to say what they think about one or two other little pranks that the Government has been up to during the last few days. It is most illuminating, that the Government of this country can find time to bring in a bill for the expenditure of £20,000 this year when everything that it wants to do could be done under a regulation issued under the National Security Act, but cannot find time to debate the question of how Australian forces should be used overseas. I have asked for time to debate that matter. Little things like this bill are as manna from heaven to the Government, because they will keep the attention of the public off what really matters. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition could have 45 minutes to discuss this bill. If any service deserves recognition when the next Honours List is issued, it is the case put up by the honorable gentleman. I impress upon the Government very; forcefully that this sort of thing is coming to an end, and that there are a few of us who want to know the why and wherefore of one or two things-. Trifling matters like this could well be given to the cat, because they ought not to be taking up the time of Parliament when hundreds of thousands of men are being enlisted by the Government which cannot provide time in Parliament to discuss vital matters affecting them. To put a bill like this before the House with the state of affairs which we have at home and overseas is disgraceful and disgusting.
– I suppose that it depends on the point from which one looks at this matter whether we consider it of minor importance or otherwise. I hold the view that the well-being of thisnation rests upon the capacity of the community as a whole to provide the rising generation with the vigour and physical development that every nation must possess if it is to survive. We must never fail to recognize that the whole structure of all we possess will rest upon our determination to provide for the proper development, nourishment and care of our children. This is a problem to which foreign countries have given great attention. As was said by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr.Forde), who has given much time to the matter, great progress has been made in those countries. I am not anxious to link this discussion with the
Avar, but the honorable member for Darker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has done so. I think that if the honorable gentleman spoke his mind, he would admit that the fighting forces, of one arm of which he has had command,would have had distinct advantages if they, in their childhood and adolescence, had been given the attention which this measure will provide for their children. National fitness has its origin in the proper care and nourishment of the children. This is something which unfortunately has been sadly neglected in this country. Consider the last eight or nine years as am example of the unfortunate circumstances which have prevailed in thousands of Australian home whose occupants have had to depend on food relief for existence. What chance has a child in a home in which there is unemployment, and in which the parents have to depend on Government charity for subsistence, to lay down the foundations of fitness of mind, bodyand limb that is necessary if that child is to take its proper place in society in after years. That is the basic argument which we consider should be advanced in regard to this measure. Let us for a moment try to visualize what it meansto have to makeprovision for a large family. There is no need to enumerate the allowances paid by various States, but all of them are totally inadequate to provide a family with the necessaries- of life, and the result has been widespread malnutrition. It is no wonder that there is more than an ordinary measure of sickness in the community. Childrenborn during the depression years have suffered so much through lack of proper food that when epidemics break out or sudden changes of weather occur, they have not the ability of normal people to withstand disease, and fall easy victims to whatever illness is prevalent. Their suffering is very often entirely due to the failure of their country to make adequate provision for them. It is a fundamental obligation of any democracy to safeguard the health of its people. If it does not do that, it does not deserve to survive. That is the position that has to be faced. I shall not elaborate on that matter because I am sure all honorable members, particularly those who have families, realize their responsibility in that regardand what it means when want enters the home. Until now physical fitness campaigns have concerned largely children attending school. While such activities naturally must command our support, I believe that something should be done for children beyond the school age. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr.Forde) referred to the work of the Sydney City Council, which, in association with what is known as the Kindergarten Union, has been responsible for the erection of a number of playgrounds in some of the more thickly populated centres of the City of Sydney. These playgrounds have been of immense benefit to the children. The council has not only provided all facilities with which a modern playground should be equipped, but also has appointed a special officer to supervise the planning and setting out of the various physical culture courses which the children should undergo. That scheme has been a great success. Some municipalities have developed schemes on the same lines, but, as has been said, the great handicap is lack of adequate financial support. It is my purpose to-night to draw attention to the work which has been done in New South Wales with children of beyond the school age by what are known as the Police and Citizens Boys Clubs. During his visit to various parts of the world in 1937 the New South Wales Commissioner of Police noted the great advancement which had been made in the setting up in thickly populated areas in other parts of the world, of clubs which young fellows could attend for recreation and where their physical and mental condition could be improved by engaging in all sorts of sport, physical exercises and general training. The result was that similar clubs were organized invarious districts of Sydney, and supervision was undertaken by the police. Public meetings wereheld, and prominent citizenswere requested to volunteer for duties in association with the local police for the purpose of establishing these clubs. I have been interested in the club in my own district from its inauguration, and its success has exceeded all expectations. I am anxious that, in implementingthe proposals contained in this bill, use shall be made of these existing organizations, with a view to assisting, extending and improving upon the work they are now doing.
– They are, in fact, a development of the plan which we started two years ago.
– From discussions with people concerned, I believe that these organizations are hampered considerably because of the same old trouble, lack of finance, and it has been suggested that I might take the opportunity presented by the introduction of this measure to urge the Government to lend its support to them. In my own district of Balmain, which is a thickly populated industrial area and is the centre of the shipbuilding activities of the State, a club was started in 1937. The membership of that club to-day is approximately 2,300. Every night of the week, no less’ than 200 boys attend the club-rooms, and take part in various forms of gymnastics, boxing, wrestling, public-speaking, reading and all other activities calculated to foster physical and mental development. The original cost of inaugurating the scheme was £3,000, which was devoted mainly to the purchase of equipment. The whole-hearted co-operation of the State Government at the time was forthcoming, and the club was given the use of a very suitable old trades school building which was not then being used. The £3,000 was subscribed by the public. The membership has grown continuously during the last four years.
– Do they take boys other than cadets for the police force?
– Of what age?
– From fourteen years up to twenty years.
– They are doing a magnificent job.
– They are. The object of the police in undertaking this work is totake young fellows off the street corners and put them somewhere where, under proper supervision and discipline, they may undertake a wide range of beneficial activities and thus develop whatever talents they may possess. To-day, it is. interesting to drop into the section of the club-rooms devoted to public speaking, and listen to the ideas being expressed by lads of 16, 17 or 18 years of age. The knowledge that many of these young fellows possess is amazingly wide, and given the necessary training and opportunities which the club is able to provide, they should show a gratifying development in later years. The library also is extensively used. The supervisors note the different types of boys frequenting the library, and the kind of books which appear to be most in demand. By that means, the supervisors are able to understand a lad’s taste and outlook on life and watch the development of his career. From the outline which I have given, honorable members will appreciate that an immense amount of. good is being done’ by this, organization, which has drawn these Hoys into a sphere of social activity which will be of great benefit to them later in life. It is generally agreedthat many young fellows find themselves off tlie beaten track because of company they keep, and because the time hanging on their .hands lias not. been properly spent. The police Relieve that higher ideals and more lofty motives can.be cultivated in these boys by laying a . foundation of. good citizenship, and encouraging, them to become useful members of the community rather than charges on the’ state. The principle em? bodied in. that scheme is- something worth, supporting, and organizations similar to those existing in. New South “Wales might -well bc set up in other parts of Australia.. At the beginning there was some opposition from Labour supporters who believed that the idea of having policemen in charge of these clubs was not a good one. That opposition was soon broken-down because of the sound basis of citizen committees upon which the clubs were conducted. In such schemes the greatest difficulty is in ensuring continuity of operation. When a new scheme is started, there is usually a good deal of public support, but as time passes, changes ‘ take place and many of those who at the inauguration were enthusiastic workers drop .out. Voluntary effort cannot lie depended upon entirely to keep such ventures jil successful’ operation. That is why the assistance- of the police in this case has been invaluable. In all? police districts, officers are detailed to look after the clubs. At Balmain there, is one- man whose work is entirely taken up with the running of the club* That gives the club a degree of stability, and’ ensures that the various aspects of its operation are properly attended to. A club was established in Woolloomooloo,which is in the electorate of the honorable member1 for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), and- it also has a very large membership. There is great rivalry between the various clubs in the different sporting activities. So- well have the people responded to the idea, that a federation of- the various clubs has- been set up; the object being to raise money by various means, -such as carnivals, art- unions, and so. on. The funds will be used to set up -clubs in country” towns. Already- there are clubs at Tamworth, Attunga,. Bega, Cooma, Goulburn, MurrumburrahHarden, Quirindi, Upper Horton, Young, and Newcastle. Clubs in- the metropolitan area, have a membership of no less than 8,000. At Kurrajong;. 43” miles from Sydney, the organizationhas a camp, which was inaugurated by the committee of the Balmain club. It has an ideal situation, buildings have been erected, and it -possesses facilities for regular week-end camps, which are attended by under.-privileged boys irrespective of whether they are members of police boys clubs or not ; of.’ course members of the clubs have first preference. The boys who attend- these camps are usually members of families in indigent circumstances, who have no other opportunities to enjoy holidays. During the last two years, 2,400 boys have attended this camp. Some of them even walked from Sydney to Kurrajong in order to do so. I again refer the Minister to some of the activities of the Balmain club. It has a gymnasium, at which honorary boxing instructors handle classes of from 20 to 30 boys each night. Some of the lads engage in exercises with the punch-bag, and spar under the guidance of members of the police force who visit different clubs each week. In another section of the gymnasium (there are wrestling mats where dozens of boys engage in matches under supervision. Others are trained in weight-lifting. This is the bodybuilding section, of the club, and some of the boys-lift weights of “over 200 lbs. Their, physique is almost perfect, and is vastly different from what it was. when, they first joined the club as youngsters. In this section the boys begin with mat exercises, and’ as they develop they learn weight lifting from a constable who was a State champion. In another section, boys- between the ages- of twelve and thirteen years exercise on vaulting horses and” parallel bars, build Human pyramids, and drill with- dumb bells. There, is a’ library and a- section for games such aschess and draughts, as well as a billiard” room. A debating- class has been organized, and. dances’ and: other social functions are conducted regularly. Hot and- cold watei- showers and other facilities have been installed. In its scheme for achieving national fitness, the Commonwealth Government has so far only touched the fringe of the great field for such work. I agree with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) that in this campaign more attention should be given to the schools than to the universities. People whose children attend universities can afford to provide them with physical training.
– That sort of thing is provided for at the universities.
– That is so. Unfortunately that is not the lot of thousands of other young Australians. Therefore I consider that ordinary day schools should be put first on the list of institutions to receive financial assistance. I am also deeply concerned about the care of boys between the ages of fourteen and twenty years. The Government can help them by assisting existing organizations which have proved their value, and in doingso it will not be expending money on some uncertain venture. I commend my suggestions to the Minister, and I hope that the police boys clubs will receive consideration in the allocation of funds, because they are doing work of great value to the community.
.- This is a bill to establish a Commonwealth Council for National Fitness and a. national fitness fund. The Government has indicated that it proposes to continue with its scheme for making available a sum of £100,000 for expenditure over a period of five years, and the bill setsout the following objects : -
I believe that all honorable members are satisfied that we should give every encouragement and assistance to a national fitness campaign. But the campaign should be a strong one, and on this point I join issue with the Minister for Health (Sir Frederick Stewart). The Government’s effort so far has not been worthy of the title “ campaign “, except in New South Wales and Victoria, although it is now in the third year of its five-year term. If he will compare what has been done in Australia with the good results that have been achieved in other countries, I am sure that the Minister will be dissatisfied with the progress that has been made here. Prevention is better than cure, and the more physically strong our race is the better equipped it will be in the event of a national emergency. If we conduct our national fitness campaign on proper lines we shall become an ‘’ A “ class race, instead of a “ B “ class or even a “ C “ class race. We shall be facedwith many difficult problems when we emerge from the present conflict. The stronger the nation is mentally and physically the better able will it be to deal with the problems of commerce, and the development andreconstruction of primary and secondary industries. We have a heavy task ahead, and the Government should ensure now that the money appropriated for national fitness purposes is properly expended. In Great Britain to-day £1,500,000 has been set aside for national fitness work, and the United States of America has appropriated £18,000,000 and proposes, by steady increases, to reach an annual expenditure of £33,000,000. National fitness training should begin very early in the lives of our young people, and the work should be continued steadily from this sound beginning. The mere appropriation of money for national fitness does not improve the standard of fitness of the community. The money must be wisely expended according to a carefully prepared plan. From my examination of national fitness work in Queensland, I consider that the results achieved are unsatisfactory. After almost three years of operation, the State council has hardly begun to organize recreation, competitive sport and physical education.
– Has not Queensland machinery for dealing with this work?
– The proposals of the Government have my endorsement, but I object to its method of conducting the campaign. The State governments could have played a bigger part than they have done, and the Commonwealth Government is not giving proper supervision to the campaign. An annual report from each State is not sufficient. The effort in Queensland has not been sustained, and
I arn dissatisfied with the results that it has- achieved. The Minister for Health has supplied me with a copy of the last annual report for that State. I learned from it tha% after’ three years,, full information has been obtained as to the number and locations, of existing facilities for physical recreation in the Greater Brisbane area-, and particulars of the numbers engaged in. organized sport and physical recreation. There is no suggestion as- to how. this information is being used.
– I suggest that the honorable member read page 16 of the report.
– Returns- from provincial towns and cities- throughout Queensland, which, will provide similar information, in. regard to country centres-, are practically completed,, according to the report. The present and estimated future playing’ field’ requirements for sporting organizations- have been ascertained. Mr.. Mcinnes, the city planner, was appointed to look after that joh, but lie was detailed for work at Darwin. However, lie is back in Brisbane again. The matters mentioned will be the subject of a report in the future, and when the council obtains this report it will make recommendations to the State Government. The- annual report does not say when they will be made.
– Keep on leading.
– I shall. Dealing with industrial hygiene, the report regrets that- because Dr. Fryberg has enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, his work Is now in abeyance. “With reference to organization work, the report states that leaders- have been trained and that about 50 persons have been made- available to conduct’ fitness classes.
– Is that nothing?”
Mr.- FRANCIS.- Only 50 persons after three years-! There should be 500 a year.. If I said 5:000 in three years the number would . still be very limited. The report states - lii several, country centres active committees are in- existence and- preliminary steps in that direction have been taken in a number of other centres.-
That is all that has taken place after three years. I live in an industrial centre 25 miles from Brisbane that has a population of about - 30,000, and it was not visited in connexion with the campaign until the week before last. Another item in the report is as follows -
Contact has been made with tlie Queeusland Amateur Cyclist’s’ Union regarding outings for cyclists; one of which was successfully conducted.
After- three years!
– Why pass, all the intervening paragraphs of the report?
– The amateur athletic associations of Queensland have advised me that they are very dissatisfied with the progress of: this- movement, and. that they are not co-operating. What assistance has been given to the surf: life-saving clubs or to -the swimming organizations of Queensland?: Another paragraph in the report states that, during, the last three years, five speeches have been broadcast over the air . by distinguished gentlemen on the subject of national fitness. Accord-‘ ing. to the report1 -
Inquiries- are being made to obtain some central’ site- for a- gymnasium. . . . The directors of the Brisbane Athletic Recreative Club offered- the use of their quarters to lie converted into a fitness centre, and this- would meet the requirements to some, extent.
Apparently nothing special has been done in that regard. The report continues -
An extensive tour- by the organizer to country districts is- being, arranged.
That is what we are told after three years.
It is also hoped to arrange during the Christinas holidays a class for. training .potential leaders from the’, principal country . centres throughout the State, the object being that these trained: mcn and women, will then pass on the knowledge gained: to clubs- and- organizations interested in their respective centres.
Negotiations are in progress with tlie’. Queensland Lawn Tenuis- Association to launch a scheme designed, to offer coaching facilities to beginners in tennis. “ It is hoped “, and “‘negotiations are in progress “, but’ we are- entitled to something, more than, that after three years.. The progress made in Queensland cannot please the Minister, unless he is very easily pleased.
– The honorable member’s- quotations- do not please me, because be has deliberately selected what appear to be the least interesting items.
– There has been little progress in Queensland, as compared with the other States. The report further states -
Members of the Women’s National Emergency Legion and the Australia Air League have been trained as leaders for theirrespective organizations.
I point out that the Australian Air League has ceased to exist. Another paragraph reads -
Fitness classes for men and women have been commenced in the public service.
The progress indicated is less than one has a right to expect after three years. Referring to university activities, the report states -
Varying sums of money were made available by the Commonwealth Government for certain of these activities, but; so far as the Senate of the University of Queensland was able to learn, the position with regard to the establishment of a diploma was somewhat involved.
The report then goes into details with regard to activities in connexion with universities in other States, and the hope is expressed that at the beginning of the academic year of 1941, further progress will be made. The Minister said that 30 or 40 students were taking the two courses arranged. I suggest that the authorization of the expenditure of the sum of money referred to in the bill will be insufficient alone to carry out the important work that needs to be done. It is necessary to stop the drift and to instil enthusiasm into the work. Greater supervisionbythe representative of the Commonwealth Government is required to produce the desired results. The report would please only those who are easy to please. I am anxious that the scheme shall be a complete success, but probably no member will be satisfied with the results achieved during the last three years. I hope that action will be taken to get results in Queensland similar to those obtained in the other States.
.- This is a bill for an act relating to national fitness, and the second-reading debate, if it can be called a debate, is proceeding. On another occasion I suffered seriously in the esteem of some leading constituents of mine by publicly stating that I agreed with the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron),but greatly daring, and tempted beyond my strength, I venture to say that such terms as. “anaemic” and “rickety”, applied to this bill, are too good to be resisted. I accept them as fair comment. It is true that one would imagine that the war was over and won, that reconstruction had been successfully carried out, and that, in fact, we were now merely putting the coping stone, or some final decoration, upon the majestic peace edifice which had been created. That is not the position; indeed, the contrary, if one could so call it, is the fact. Have we not just reached that highly dangerous climax when we are fighting to the death with our former allies, and at the same time embracing, with unwonted protestations of good will, our former enemies? However, that would be but a first impression, because, when one comes to examine the speech by the Minister for Health (Sir Frederick Stewart), it is immediately evident that this is another, and I should think not very effective, war measure. Indeed, the Minister doesnot disguise the fact that matters which he and his friends have neglected in times of peace, although they were peculiarly applicable to times of peace, are now to be taken up at this inappropriate time of crucial war test,but only for the purposes of war. It is evidentthat in this bill, as in many other proposals of the Government, we are again doing what I have suggested before we are too much inclined to do. We are paying to the German Chancellor the highest compliment, namely, that of imitation. The high ambition of the Government seems to be that we shall, at this stage, create what we have all become familiar with as a matter of reading, namely, the Hitler Youth. I suggest that the domain which we are now entering is one into which the Commonwealth Government should not go at all, and that it is peculiarly inappropriate that the Government should enter it at this particular time.
– Does the honorable member overlook that we are proposing now only to give permanence to a campaign which was started before the war?
– I do not overlook that. The campaign was started before *he war, and I have been led by the ^Minister, as well as by colleagues immediately associated with him, to believe that there is only one common purpose at this moment of intense gravity which should animate us, and that is carrying, on the “war to an ultimate and speedy conclusion of’ victory. So far as this bill pretends to be something which it is not, it is to be severely frowned upon, but, so far as it may be taken to show genuine interest in youth, it satisfies me that the Government entirely misconceives the functions’ of popular government under the democratic theory. Those functions are so to manage the occupancy of this fair earth, or such part of it as we have dominion over, that production may proceed to an unlimited extent for the use of the people of this nation, and according to the tastes and requirements of the various people constituting, it. Of course- it is the function of government to keep open the broad highways of distribution in the general public interest, but, subject to that, the greatest possible freedom of choice and measure of liberty should be preserved to each individual. As I understand it, the vicious fundamentals of the capitalist system once- rooted out, the greatest measure of freedom, should be thereafter preserved to the individual.
Youth, in my view, should be given its head. It is basically wrong to attempt to harness youth into conforming with the theories and habits of old age. Youth, under a wise system of government, would provide its own recreation. As a matter of fact, if does so regularly and habitually within the powers allowed by governments and up to the limits of its opportunities. The first prerequisite of any system of catering for youth is an abundance of good food, and the second, the provision of congenial employment. Both flow from, wise government. Both ‘ have been consistently denied youth by the present Government. . It, and most of the Governments in my experience which have preceded it, have neglected to satisfy these essential needs. In any case, in such matters as the architecture of homes, the choice of reading, and the selection of amusements) it is surely the prerogative of youth to set its own stan dard according to its own desires-,
Hot, of course, disregarding the experience and advice of age. In the final analysis, youth should cater for itself in these matters, and- I politely suggest that the Commonwealth Government should mind its own business-. There is no call whatever for it to play the heavy father. Indeed, I suggest that all fathers might with advantage learn to talk with,, and not at, their, children; Youth avails itself of the opportunities that present themselves, and this parental Commonwealth cannot hope to take the place of Mother Nature.
To illustrate how youth is naturally provided with nutriment, housing and appropriate exercise, I take as an analogy, for the benefit of my Country party friends; the calf or the foal. A calf which runs with its mother and feeds on sweet, natural milk, develops’ rapidly and healthily, whereas a calf which is more or less artificially fed’ on skimmed or separated milk, develops into, a “ poddy,” with thin legs and a big belly. Moreover,, the calf or foal which grows in its natural, surroundings provides its own recreation and exercise with unerring certainty, disporting itself on the green grass, and taking long periods of rest.
– ‘Such - calves live in the wide, open spaces. They cannot be likened to children in. crowded cities-.
– The. reference . of the honorable member is apt, but this bill covers country as well as city youths.
A measure of this kind might do very well as the final act in the establishment of the perfect socialist state, but before such a final decoration could be made, the socialist state would need builders intent on giving effect to- the elementary principles of ‘socialism.
In my view anything that may be done under the provisions of this measure may be done better, and with less expense, under the existing ample machinery for the purpose. It is true that part of the policy of the Labour party is. to create, ultimately, a sovereign Commonwealth Parliament, and to delegate local matters to local bodies; but that has not yet been done. At present the State Govern ments- have charge of. such matters as health, sanitation in various forms, and education in both higher and. lower forms, as well as other matters dealt with in this bill. A, very useful work, for example, is being done in Victoria, in caring for the teeth of children -in State schools. The only reason - or alleged reason - why such work is not being done generally throughout the State in respect of the vast body of children receiving elementary education, is that money is not available for the purpose, and this is to the eternal discredit of ourselves and of our Governments’. But that does not justify the Commonwealth Government stepping in at this unsuitable time to do work which it is not accustomed to, and not suited for, even though the object be to ensure that our youth will be physically fit to make soldiers. Municipalities, and local governing bodies under various names, have ample authority in. respect to parks and gardens, and they are doing a valuable work. Although much remains to be clone not only for the male youth of the country, but also for men, -women and children generally, a good deal has already been achieved. Excellent workhas been done in the establishment of parks and gardens in the various municipalities of Melbourne. Swimming pools also have been provided- by many municipalities, and they are being well managed. Those responsible for the construction and management of these pools are much more closely in contact with the people who use them, and can control them much more efficiently than newly appointed Commonwealth officers are likely to do.
There is a good deal of “hooey “ about this physical fitness business, and the necessity for exercise to develop muscles, thews and sinews. I have had some experience of farm life, and I recall the days when good, healthy country youth jumped out of bed at the sound of nu alarm clock at 5 a.m. each day and did a good day’s work before leaving for school. On their return from school, they did almost another clay’s, work. These youths, bright and healthy, were the progeny of good citizens at a time when simple living and hard working was the rule. I can imagine such young men telling an officer of. the
Commonwealth Government, who proposed to draft them into public halls for demonstrations of physical fitness, that, unfortunately, they had arranged a game of football or cricket in a neighbouring paddock, and would not be available for the proposed exercises. So much for the proposal that Commonwealth officers should teach their grandsons to suck eggs ! And. so much for the country youth ! lt is evident also that a new department, will be established. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde), in the interesting speech in which he gave this bill his benediction, suggested the employment of skilled persons for the purpose of directing Commonwealth institutions which it is evidently intended to establish, under the provisions of the bill. He reeled off, from the wealth of his knowledge, so large a number of distinguished scientists whose services he thought might be co-opted in this field of operations, that I began to wonder whether or not he was composing, a Who’s Who of eminent scientists. It would not be seemly of me to comment further upon the speech of the honorable gentleman.
I think we all support’ physical fitness. “‘Youth”, I suppose, is a masculine term; Youth and the Maid. lt is equally important, however, that ibo maid of the same age should have physical fitness, the object being, a 3 my friend, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), reminded nic a little while ago, to achieve mans sama in corpore sano, a phrase with which we were made familiar while we were still youths among the youth. That, of course, is entirely desirable. I have suggested;, however - and I summarize by repetition - that so far as the proposals- in this bill are concerned with the objective of physical fitness, they can be dealt with adequately, and more perfectly and efficiently, by existing machinery, than by the Commonwealth encumbering itself with numerous responsibilities in a strange field, at the very time when its present responsibilities- are so far weighing it down that it has been .found necessary to call in aid two additional Ministers, who have spilled over from the front ministerial bench and are hanging on by the skin of their teeth to the front benches in the corner.
– There are three additional Ministers.
– The number of Ministers has become so large that my powers of calculation, are unequal to the task of computing it. The proposed new department is not needed. If there be money to. spare, give it to municipal bodies and State schools. There is an excellent staff of teachers in the State schools of this country. They are a body of men and women for whom I have the greatest respect. I say that without detracting in the slightest degree from the excellence of the standards of those who are outside the State school system, in charge of the conduct of secondary or primary schools. Probably no class of persons in Australia to-day so well understands the psychology of youth as do the State school teachers. Especially in large industrial suburbs like Northcote, Preston and Fitzroy, which I represent, the State schools are attended by children of workingclass people, and some very poor people. I have spoken to some of the teachers in those schools, and they have mentioned ‘ the number of children who attend inadequately fed, not to speak of being disgracefully underclad. - All honour to those” who have helped’ to mitigate this evil ‘by providing’ milk- as the ‘late Dr. Maloney did so effectively - food, and clothing for such children! But what” are we to. say of this great Commonwealth Government which a”t this time steps in, not- if you please- to feed the children’, not to clothe them, but to’ brace them up physically, on empty stomachs and in an undernourished state to protect primarily the interests of the wealthy.
– Every night the advice is broadcast that the people should eat more fruit, despite the fact that they have not the money with which to purchase it.
– Eat more lamb in country week, and that sort of thing, without the means to procure it. Read the figures published by Dr. Dale, Medical Officer of the Melbourne City Council, of which my friend, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), is a member. Read some of the contributions of Miss Jean Daley, as to the nature and degree of malnutrition and undernutrition of the infant, and ask yourselves : “ Are we to be regarded, as serious when we suggest that a strong physical constitution can be built on bodies which do not enjoy the nutriment natural to the development of childhood?” Childhood is voracious. I spoke a while ago of the experiences of my own time. We were always voracious, ready to eat at almost any time. True youth must have fresh air and elbow room. If a park be provided,’ children will make their own . exercises.. They will have their clubs. If parks be not provided, or if the children are driven from them by the police, they, will play games of football and cricket on vacant allotments, and thus obtain all the exercise that is necessary, for them. This is no time for the jest which the Government is playing on the House. I do not believe that, even if the war were over and won, this would be a suitable occupation for the Commonwealth Government. But if it he merely hoped, by this means, to build up youth in order that it may enlist as cannon fodder, .all that I have to add is that I have already said sufficient on subjects of that kind to enable honorable members who wish to do so to appreciate my viewpoint.
.- I support the bill, although I agree., with those honorable members who have said that the amount to be provided under it is too small. I cannot understand . the differentiation between the several States in the allotment of this money. . Last week,, when a number of new Ministers were being appointed, the Government did not treat the States on a pro rata basis and say that Tasmania should have ministerial representation, but when it is a matter of making advances to the States, the pro rata, basis is adopted. The Minister for Health (Sir Frederick Stewart) says that the University of Sydney is to have £2,000, the University of Melbourne a similar amount, and the Universities pf Queensland, Adelaide, and Western Australia, £1,500 each. Why is the University of Tasmania to be given only £1,000? The cost of establishing physical fitness centres in Tasmania will be just as great as on the mainland. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) and other members spoke of the facilities which already exist in some of our cities. They do not exist in Tasmania because of lack of funds, although that State has done its best to provide them. According to the Minister the sum of £9,500 is to be distributed to the several universities mentioned. I should like to know how the £10,500 not accounted for is to be distributed. In each of the States of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia there is to be a diploma and certificate course, whilst Western Australia and’ Tasmania are to have scholarships for selected persons to attend courses at, other universities. Have those courses to be undertaken in other States?
– It is competent for Tasmania to institute its own diploma course, but that State prefers to send its student’s to Melbourne.
– What is to become of the £10,500 which is not accounted for?
– Tasmania, like each of the other States, is to be allotted £1,000 for organizing.
– Is Tasmania to receive only £1,000?
– Tasmania will receive £2,000. In addition to the sum of £9,500 to be allotted to the uni versities, each of the six States is to receive £1,000 for organizing. That makes a total of £15,500.
– Each State should be given the same amount. On my recent visit to Western Australia I found that that State is sparsely populated. In my opinion, Western Australia should be given more money than is to be paid to the thickly populated centres.
– I am pleased that the honorable member was impressed with Western Australia.
– I was impressed with what I saw in that State, but I realize that it suffers from many disabilities. Having been brought up in a sparsely populated. State, I can readily understand that Western Australia suffers certain disabilities. Tasmania has led the Commonwealth in matters affecting fitness. In that State there is the only free medical service in Australia. Before the Governmentof Tasmania appointed travelling doctors, poor people living in outback districts could not afford to obtain medical attention. Many lives were lost through delays in sending for doctors because of the expense involved. These doctors who are paid by the State Government, visit the schools and examine every scholar. That medical attention is of great benefit to the people of Tasmania. The Minister may say that the amount proposed to be allocated to Tasmania is liberal in that there are fewer people in that State than in the bigger centres of population on the mainland. That may be, but in addition to there being more money in the big mainland centres of population those cities also have better facilities for keeping the people physically fit. Notwithstanding the great sacrifices made by many people in Tasmania, their financial position is such that they have been unable to reach their quota of war savings certificates. Tasmania has to contribute its share of the millions of pounds which are required by the Commonwealth for war purposes, but not. much of that money is being expended in that State. Tasmania is not being treated fairly in this proposed expenditure; it should be placed on the same footing as the other States. The Minister has told us that the expenditure on national fitness in England last year was £1,468,000. If our expenditure in Australia were on a pro rata basis our expenditure’ would amount to £200,000. If it be necessary to expend anything in this direction, why not provide sufficient money to make the scheme successful? Physical fitness is a national asset. When I was in Germany in 1935 I saw large numbers of young men undergoing training in what were called shovel camps. At that time, Germany was not supposed to arm its soldiers; but those shovel camps gave them the training that they needed and kept them in perfect physical condition. That is why some of us who visited Germany advocated universal military training in Australia when we returned. Children attending Russian schools are given a glass of milk daily; inthe summer the milk is cold, and in the winter it is supplied hot. Every school built in Russia since the revolution is equipped with its own cook house where thechildren can obtain excellent meals. The children are also .medically examined from time to time, and food is provided for children who cannot get it otherwise. If those things can be done in a .backward country like. Russia, it should be possible for them to be done in Australia. The Minister may ask how he can do these . things with . only £20,000. The Government should provide £200,000 so that it may be in a position to help the children, and also young men and women between 20 and 30 years of age. Every assistance would be given to the Government by the Opposition in this work. The National Fitness Council of Tasmania recently reported as follows : -
The chief obstacle to the success of the campaign in this State has been the hick of instructors and competent loaders. The generous grant of £500 to be made by the Commonwealth will bo of inestimable benefit to us in overcoming this difficulty, and it is considered that with the excellent material for the creation of bodies coming forward from the secondary schools of tlie State, the campaign, in so far as these activities ore concerned, will show a marked advance in the next year.
The council has been battling along on a few pounds, but if the Government, were to make ten times as much available a great deal more could be done. Many of those engaged in the work have made personal sacrifices in order to fit out gymnasiums. One of my boys learned boxing at a club of this sort, and afterwards won the amateur championship of Tasmania. He has enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, and so have all his mates “who were interested in sporting activities. The young men who belonged to sailing clubs on the Derwent enlisted in the Naval Reserve, practically in a body. In fact, (here is a possibility that the sailing races will have to be abandoned because crews are not available to man the boats. Young m-en who have been trained to be physically fit are, for that reason, better able to face the enemy. I hope that this scheme will go through.
.- I hope that some of the money to be provided under this scheme will be allocated to those excellent police clubs referred to by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). Clubs of this kind have been . established in Western Australia, and are doing excellent work. State and secondary schools do a great deal for the boys, but when they leave school they are, in many instances, turned on to the stieets, and are unable to obtain employment. It is then that they are taken up by the police clubs and looked after.
– That work was the direct result of what we did three years ago.
– That is so. This work has now been going on for three years, and in Western Australia rapid strides have been made. I was surprised to hear the honorable member for More-, ton (Mr. Francis) say that very little had yet been done in Queensland. If that is so, it is a reflection on the people of that State. In Western Australia, committees have been set up, and good progress has been made. Recently, a Youth Movement procession was held in which 10,000 children took part. Members of this movement take the following pledge : -
For tlie future: welfare of our State, our Commonwealth and the Empire we pledge ourselves to remain morally, mentally and physically lit. We will do all in our power to keep this pledge ourselves., and by word, deed and example to encourage others to aspire to these high ideals. 1’or God, for King, and for country.
That pledge was taken by 10,000 children last” November. Since then other police clubs have been formed, which keep lads between- fourteen and sixteen years of age off the streets, and make them proficient in various sports. They also take part in debates, and attend lectures. They should, as a result of these activities, become better citizens. I trust that some of the money will be made available for the purchase of sporting materials,- books, &c.
Mr. -Calwell. - Are the “Young Nats “ affiliated with this youth movement?
– These clubs are in no way associated with political activities. All lad’s, irrespective- of class or creed, may join. Particularly do they welcome boys from working-class families. This club has been established in a big industrial suburb, and members of the Police Force are giving up their time without charge to instruct the boys at night, and during the week-ends, in boxing and other sports.
Mr. HOLLOWAY (Melbourne. Ports)
I” 10.30] .-I support the bill. I rise merely to bring under the notice of the Minister for Health (Sir Frederick Stewart) one or two points which I regard as worthy of consideration. The national fitness campaign can never become truly national unless its foundations are laid in our State schools. Honorable members have referred to the value of the work done by the police boys’ clubs, the Young Mens Christian Association, women’s organizations of various kinds, Catholic clubs and other denominational clubs. I have been associated with activities- of that kind for over 30 years. I have seen the good results that have attended the efforts’ of physical culture classes, not only in Australia, but also in other countries, and: I have always been jealous of what has been accomplished in other countries and disappointed at what we have been able to achieve. If. attendance figures of all the-clubs mentioned during the debate on this bill to-night were examined, it would bc found ‘that they would not embrace more than 1 per cent, or .2 per cent, of the young people of Australia. .During the last three or four years, the authorities in every British country iri the world have been shocked: at the number of young people who have failed1 to pass the medical tests for entry into the fighting services. In the child endowment legislation recently passed by this Parliament, the Government- adopted the principle that dependency ends at the age of sixteen years, and, more recently, the Government agreed; on the recommendation of the military1 authorities, to reduce the age of enlistment’ for the fighting services to nineteen. In both these instances,, we can see how close enlistment age is to theschoolleaving age, and if any scheme for the improvement of national fitness is to succeed, wc must have healthy young bodies to start, with. All of us have been greatly disappointed to find that; many athletes who have excelled insome branch of sport have suddenly collapsed because of the inroads of disease which was not discovered in early life. Recently. I had the privilege of goingthrough some of our internment camps, in which there are interned about 5,000 men throughout Australia, including some from overseas. As soon as an internee is drafted to a camp, he is X-rayed to determine whether his lungs, chest and other organs show signs of disease.. That is done in order to ensure against claims for compensation in. respect of disabilitieswhich existed prior to the date of internment. If that be done in our internment camps, how much more desirable is it that it be done in our schools? The manufacturers of radio apparatus in Australia are able to turn, out by mass-production methods twice the number . of X-ray machines ordered for use in this country. As a matter of fact, they are now exporting X-ray apparatus to other countries. It has been said by radiologists in. London that the best X-ray plates they have ever seen have been made from Australian equipment. I asked the radiologist in charge of one of our internment campswhy these records were kept. Although I had- some knowledge as to why this, procedure was adopted, I asked him to tell me in his own. way. He said : “ We take a . picture of everybody who comes- into Ibiscamp. If the X-ray plate discloses the slightest spot or shadow indicating tuberculosis or some. other disease, by treating it in time we can, in nine cases out: of ten, eradicate it altogether. If the disease has progressed beyond the initial stage, we can probably stem it and so lengthen the life of the internee and save hospitalization expenses “. The first thought that struck me was why a similar practice could not bo adopted in all of our State schools. If all of our young children were X-rayed the health standard of the people generally would be improved and .ineffective foundation would be laid for .a scheme such as we are considering now-. It would be practicable to X-ray every child in the largest State school in Australia in a single day. I strongly urge the. Minister to consider the advisability of laying the foundations of a national fitness scheme in the State schools in this way. I notice that it i3 proposed in the bill that nearly all of the training is to be concentrated in public schools and universities.
– That is for the training of teachers.
– The1, people already engaged in teaching ‘ physical culture might -well constitute the nucleus of the training staff. In all of our cities to-day first-class men conduct private physical culture establishments. Their services should be utilized in this scheme, and I am sure they would gladly become government teachers.
– Very few minutes will suffice me to set out my views on this subject on which, rather surprisingly, I find myself very much in agreement with theremarks of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). It has been said that it is impossible to make people moral by act of Parliament; it might equally well be said that it is impossible to make them fit by act of Parliament. As honorable members probably know, health is one of the subjects reserved to the States. The power of the Commonwealth to deal with health is limited to its quarantine power, and nobody could claim that a national fitness campaign comes under the quarantine power. In my opinion, the proposal is ultra vires, unless the Government avails itself of its powers under the National Security Act to achieve its objective. Can anybody seriously suggest that the bill, which is designed to produce fitness in universities, and the Opposition suggests that its scope should be extended in orderto include schools is a defence measure? If most palpably, is nothing of the kind. Health comeswithin the province of the States, and this bill is completely outside Commonwealth authority.
– The Commonwealth is the Treasury.
– Admittedly, the Commonwealth has the money. Unfortunately, through the money power the Commonwealth enters a number of fields upon which it should not trespass. I ask the Minister toexplain to the House why he waited for two years before introducing the bill?
– It was considered desirable to give a permanent instead of a transitory grant. The proposal also gives statutory approval to the movement.
– A government after reaching a decision, does not usually wait until two years have elapsed before introducing a bill to give legislative effect to its proposal.
– Experience which has been gained during the last two years indicated the desirability of granting statutory power to this organization.
– Since the scheme was launched before thewar, conditions have changed radically. The procedure is most extraordinary, to say the least. Under what authority was £20,000 per annum expended upon the national fitness campaign during the last two years? The bill neither mentions the amount to be provided in future, nor limits the period for which the grant will be made. Later, Parliament may be asked to approve an increase of the grant.
– I hope so.
– Personally, I hope that that will not be done. When the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) chastised the Minister for being so dilatory, he did him a great injustice. I think that no other Minister has ever been more lavish in his distribution of money for social services. I also ask the Minister to reconcile his statement that the movement had been enthusiastically taken up in every State, with his utterance, in almost the same breath, that the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness considered that the national importance of the movement had not been adequately recognized.
– There is still room for further stimulation.
– In my opinion, one statement rules out the other. My contention that the bill is ultra vires sets up a pretty solid hurdle, and I should like to hear the Minister’s views upon it. National fitness cannot be achieved simply by granting a sum of money to various organizations, although the assistance may help the scheme.
– Raise the standard of living and provide the poor with more nourishing food.
– That statement is also arguable. The promotion of fitness in the nation can be achieved more through the parents than by all manner of grants to institutions. When the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) referred to his son being such a good athlete, the thought crossed my mind, that the honorable member himself probably helped, to train the lad. In that manner, people become athletes.
I endorse the principle of national fitness. Travelling on a troopship during the last war, I benefited greatly from the physical exercises which I performed every day. The present scheme, however, is merely playing with the problem. So far from producing physical fitness for defence purposes, it is simply making another use of the war for the purpose of distributing money in order to promote a scheme that has no relationship whatever with the war. Towards this bill, I adopt the same attitude that I took toward the child endowment legislation. Although Australia faces the most crucial time in its history, the Commonwealth Parliament has devoted’ the whole of the evening to the discussion of a measure, which, if sound in itself, and it may be, is certainly not sound at the present time.
.- This measure is intituled “ a bill for an act relating to national fitness”. National fitness for what? What criterion shall we observe to determine whether a man is fit? If the Government merely desires physical- fitness for the purpose of strengthening the thews of the next generation in order to make cannon fodder, Parliament should, not interest -itself in the proposal. If the Government wishes to encourage physical fitness so that present members of society may enjoy a better standard of health, the motive is good, but not good enough. One criterion of fitness, which. I should like to apply, is ability to procreate a race of men and women who are capable of establishing that new social order which Australia and the world so urgently need. . Different criteria, of fitness would result in the adoption of entirely different policies to bring about different types of fitness. One could describe the ability to perpetuate the species as biological fitness, and the ability to acquire property under the capitalistic system as economic fitness, although I- recognize that it would be using the term “ economic “ in a very narrow sense. What kind of fitness does the Government want to encourage ? If it be biological fitness, then there is quite an antagonism between the desire for biological fitness, and the desire for economic fitness, because the class of person who is economically fit, in. the sense that I employ the term, is biologically unfit, in that while the net reproductive rate for the whole of the population in Australia is less than unity, those who arc economically fit, namely, those who have acquired, ‘wealth and property under the capitalist system of society, are less fertile than the working class. It is important to consider just what criterion of fitness we should apply. The higher birth rate of the working classes which makes them biologically fit, inevitably tends to make them economically unfit, because, owing to the size of their families, they do not have the educational opportunities to better their condition. In fact, the tendency is for the sons and daughters of the working class to become the. fathers and mothers of the next generation of workers. They are the hewers of wood and drawers’ of water from generation to generation - ‘'’Full many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the desert air “. The lower birthrate among the well-to-do brands them as biologically unfit. Some of these characteristics are, of course, inherited, and some of them acquired; but any inherited tendency to biological unfitness, is reinforced by the fact that, the wealthy section of the community, intent on acquiring wealth and property, postpone the date of their marriage and so accentuate their infertility. In addition, our laws dealing with property, and the inheritance of property, tend to perpetuate that genetic strain of biological unfitness. Therefore, the policy of the Government must depend largely on ibo criterion of fitness which it adopts. The point I emphasize is that no twopennyhalfpenny measure like this, which is designed merely to increase physical fitness, can have much effect in a society which places such a premium on the acquisition of property, economic fitness, and biological unfitness. My criterion of fitness requires much more far-reaching legislation than is represented by this measure. I should require a drastic reduction of the rewards paid to the owners of property, in order that, this economic fitness which is encouraged at the expense of biological fitness, be, to some degree, discarded, and an increase in the rewards paid to the workers who do the world’s work including the biological function of perpetuating the specie. Because measures which are of much greater importance than those embodied in thi3 bill, can be taken in order to achieve physical fitness, I doubt very much whether the Government has any other intention than merely to take credit for a policy which it intends to do little to implement. For instance, a national health scheme, providing adequate medical, dental and hos,pital services, should be provided. Every individual in the community should be medically examined periodically in order that incipient disorders might be checked and preventive measures taken. It has been proved that working days lost through illness can be reduced .by 50 per cent, provided medical examinations are undertaken’ at stated intervals. The fact that the community is becoming, seized of the paramount importance of the volume of work in relation to our war effort, should emphasize the need to introduce legislation which will ensure that every man, woman and child in the community is medically examined at frequent intervals. It would be interesting to know just how many of those now in receipt of the invalid pension would to-day be doing good work in the community, and contributing to our war effort, had they been submitted to medical examination, and the specific disorders which caused their invalidity checked at the very beginning. In conjunction with such a scheme of national health service a system of sick pay should be instituted. How many workers have become permanently unfit because, long after the commencement of their illness, they worked until they practically collapsed. Had sick pay ‘been available to them their illness could have been checked at the outset. But, having dependants relying on them for their welfare, they could not afford to give up their wages even for a few weeks. The institution of a system of sick pay would have saved many valuable lives in the community, and would have produced a much higher standard o£: physical fitness among our people than exists to-day. Recently, . I had brought to my notice the case of a returned soldier who battled along in spite of illness until, finally he collapsed and died. His v.idow cannot now receive a service pension, because he continued to work practically up to the time of his death. Obviously, had he been submitted to a periodical medical examination, and had sick pay been available to him, he might have ‘been alive to-day. At least, his widow would now be in receipt of a service pension. But she is facing poverty. However, such social reforms, which would confer much greater benefit on the community than mere physical fitness, can be made only by reducing the profits of the capitalist class; and one does not expect this Government to do that. The Government should take action to eliminate what is by far the most important cause of physical unfitness, namely, malnutrition, whether it be due to insufficiency -of. food, or eating the wrong kinds of food. The time will come, I hope, when food will be issued to every man, woman and child in the community in accordance with their requirements as specified by their Government-paid medical advisers, and when .it will bc regarded no longer as an article of trade but as the right of every individual in the. community. If it be right that water should be provided to the community at cost, why cannot milk be provided to the community at cost, and why cannot every other kind of food be given to the community at cost? It is because food is an article of trade, when, in these days of abundance, it should be the right of every one. to receive.it. Food should not be bartered and made the subject of profit and speculation by middlemen. Because it, is many people in the community have to go without food and others have not the right kind of food. Such factors are greater causes of physical unfitness than, is any lack of exercise. To a considerable degree the issue of food to individuals is being carried out to-day in feeding our armed forces. Such proposals as I have indicated may be of revolutionary character, but the time will come when such steps will be taken by every progressive community, and will result in greatly increased physical fitness. Such a provision would overcome immediately all tlie ills of malnutrition whether due to poverty or to the tendency of some income-receivers to waste their substance in riotous living at the expense of those dependent upon thom.
Another matter to which the Government might well turn its attention is that of security of employment to the workers. With the war in progress and the Government wanting to increase the quantity of munitions produced and to get men into the fighting services, there is not much cause for insecurity of employment to-day, but the fact remains that for most of the years we can remember insecurity of employment has been a very vital factor in the lives of the workers of this country and of every other country. We must affirm that there is no reason for unemployment when we realize that everything we achieve in piece-time or in war-time depends on work done. We ought to remem-ber that, if .people are unemployed, we are actually making ourselves poorer. A system of society should be developed in which unemployment is unknown, so that insecurity of employment will not prey upon the minds of the workers and debilitate them physically. .
Having endeavoured to demonstrate that there is much that the Government could do that would be of greater benefit than that which it proposes to do in this measure, I proceed to an examination of the measure itself. A fund is to he established for certain purposes including, inter aiia. “ the organization of movements, and the provision of facilities for attaining or maintaining personal physical fitness and the training of teachers of. classes, and of movements or groups, formed for the purpose of promoting fitness “. As to the leaders, I can imagine how enthusiastically this measure will be welcomed by the Australian Women’s National League which is always anxious to take part in any movement which appears on the horizon entailing publicity for itself. It is to be hoped that it will not implant in. the members of such movements ideas of biological unfitness which I mentioned earlier. The Young Nationalists no doubt will push themselves to the front. These organizations will be a definite menace to the workers. Under the cloak of welfare work men and women of the leisured class impregnate the minds of the working class with false political doctrines. I have had a good deal of experience in my own electorate of men and women of the wealthy class interesting themselves in ‘some form of welfare work and gradually alienating the sympathies of those with whom they deal from the political class to which they rightly belong. I hope that the Government and the community Will see to it that leaders of such groups and movements are taken from the ranks of the workers themselves, and not from the ranks of the leisured classes. As to the members of these groups and movements’, probably those who are in most need of repairing their impaired physical state are of the .class which will not have the opportunity to benefit from this measure. A great deal has been said by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) about the necessity to start in the State schools. I quite agree with the necessity to look after the physical welfare of our boys and girls,’ but I think that one section of the workers which requires attention in this regard is the adult workers, those who earn their livelihood under extremely monotonous conditions of modern industry and under a heavy’ strain. Owing to the intricate processes of modern production workers to-day are subjected in their health to a strain far beyond that to which their forebears were subjected. Those men and women are working at the present time very long hours, and naturally they suffer. It. is to them that I want to direct the Government’s attention. The term “recreation” perhaps meets their needs more than physical exercise of any sort:
– They have no energy left for physical exercise.
– No physical energy. The term “ recreation “, in its original meaning, is the process of renewing or recreating tired minds and bodies. The men and women in factories and industrial concerns are subjected to a very great strain, and they require leisure in order that their tired minds and bodies may be renewed and recreated. If their physical fitness is’ not careel for and if they are not given the necessary leisure and opportunity for recreation, those members of the community on whom our welfare so greatly depends will suffer in health. Many of those men and women are in fact living on their physical capital, and, although at present it is impossible for us to have very much increased leisure, I do say that the sooner theGovernment tackles the problem of obviating of men and women working twelve-hour shifts and, at the end of those shifts, having to travel long distances to their homes, and trains more men so that shorter shifts may be worked, the sooner the war effort of this country will be increased, because men and. women cannot stand up to the continuous physical strain to which they are subjected at present. I have said that at the moment greatly increased leisure is not. possible, but when the war is over the Government will have to see to it that the workers get considerably more leisure, so that they will be able to recreate and renew their tired minds and bodies after a hard day’s work in the factories.
I listened with interest to the remarks of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). There is an organization in. my electorate which does work similar to that of the body referred to by him. In Geelong we have the Try Boys’ Brigade which assists young boys who have not had many chances in life, to build up their bodies and their characters as well. Recently I learned with regret that the taxation authorities had ruled that donations to this useful and deserving institution are not now deductible items in calculating taxable income. The work of this institution will be adversely affected by that ruling, and I hope that the Minister in charge of this bill will assist me to induce the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) to reverse the decision. .
I agree with the honorable member who said that we should not lose sight of the necessity for concentration on physical fitness rather than athletic prowess. Too many people in this and other countries devote a great deal of attention to the achievement of athletic prowess, whilst the need of. the rest of the community for recreation is largely overlooked.
– There are too many spectators.
– Yes. There should bo fewer spectators and more participants. Education is needed in that regard, in order to teach the people how to use their leisure wisely. The recreation which is necessary for the workers in factories may not take the form of physical exercise at all, but. if their physical fitness is to be maintained; they must have some recreation. At least the Government could make a. beginning with the comparatively small expenditure authorized by this bill, in the direction of educating the people as to how to use their leisure to better advantage than they do at the present time. I feel sure that when the war is over, we shall be able to institute a programme that will have very beneficial effects on the community.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Hutchinson) adjourned.
Workers - Potato Industry - Department of Commerce: Advertising of Products -Copper-mining Machinery - Shipment of Scrap Iron to Japan - New Guinea Mining Dispute - Salamaua-Wau Road -Canberra : Transfer of Departments - Housing of Soldiers’ Dependants.
Motion (by Sir Frederick Stewart) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I bring under the notice of the Government a communication forwarded to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) by the South Australian branch of the Vehicle, Builders’ Employees Federation of Australia. This organization points out that many of its members are engaged in munition work, and leave their employment at times of’ night when transport is so limited that they cannot conveniently reach their homes. They are able to travel a part of the way, but by the time they arrive in Adelaide from the various workshops in which they are engaged in war-time activities all of the ordinary transport services have ceased operation. In view of the long hours they work, and the petrol restrictions imposed on those who formerly provided their own means of transport, I suggest that special facilities should be provided for these workers by the Government. This inconvenience is suffered by munition workers at Woodville, Cheltenham and Hendon. At Woodville, some of the men finish their day’s work at 11.30 p.m. and others at 2.20 a.m. They are able to get a train as far as the city, but they arrive too late to avail themselves of connecting services to the suburbs in which they reside. It is essential that they should be provided with facilities to enable them to reach their homes within a reasonable period. I have already warned the Government of the inconvenience that will be experienced by employees at the new munition works at Salisbury, which are situated twelve miles from Adelaide. A considerable number of women will be engaged in the works there. Some of the employees will probably be engaged on shifts that terminate about midnight, and on arrival in Adelaide they will have no means of transport to their homes.I have impressed on the Government the necessity for the provision of housing orhostel facilities in the vicinity of the works, but it seems to be unwilling to lend a sympathetic ear to this request.. I urge the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Frederick Stewart) to bring this urgent matter under the notice of the appropriate Minister.
– I supplement the remarks of the honorable member forHindmarsh (Mr. Makin). Last week I received a communication from employees engaged in the manufacture of munitions at the railway workshops at Ipswich. Their work keeps them occupied until a late hour at night, and some shifts do not end until the early hours of the morning. Trains and buses are then unobtainable, and the employees have no convenient means of travelling from the workshops to their homes, some of which are situated 3 or 4 miles from the places of employment.
– And yet luxury boats still ply on Sydney harbour!
– One of these men has informed me that he applied to the liquid control authority in Queensland for a small extra petrol ration to enable him to drive himself and some of his colleagues to work late at night and back home early in the morning, but his very reasonable request was refused. I hope that shortly the number of men employed in munition-making at the railway workshops at Ipswich will be greatly increased with the result that the transport service may be re-organized. It may be that buses will be justified at these unusual hours when munition works are substantially expanded. In the meantime, I trust that my strong representations, and the direct approaches that have been made by the men, will be given favorable consideration.
.- Although in the last three months a critical position has been developing in the potato-growing industry in Australia, I have refrained from bringing the matter under the notice of the Government in this House except by asking questions from time to time; but the situation has now reached such a stage that unless something is done at once potato-growers will be ruined. Statistical information is available to the Government to justify my statements. It is estimated that in Victoria alone there is between 100,000 and 150,000 tons of potatoes in excess of requirements. If these are thrown on the market of Victoria, or of any other State, for that matter, prices will become so depressed that the returns to the growers will not be 25 per cent. of the cost of production. The Commonwealth Government and also the State governments have known of this situation for a considerable time, and I understand that various conferences have been held at, which the subject has been mentioned. During the last period of this session I endeavoured to elicit a statement from the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) as to the line of action the Commonwealth Government intended to take,and I was informed that the subject would be discussed by the Australian Agricultural Council. To-day, when I asked another question on the subject I was told that yet another conference is to be held at an early date at which the subject will again be considered. Apparently it is impossible to get the various State representatives on the Agricultural Council to agree to a common policy j I sympathize with the problem which the industry presents to the Minister for Commerce and his- colleague, the. Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Harrison), but I impress upon them that unless a strong line of action be taken at once, the potatogrowers will be faced with disaster. The present crop is now three months’ mature. Many growers have been forced by their economic circumstances to place their” potatoes on the market and sell at a loss, and other growers have sold to potato merchants; but I fear that, unless the price of potatoes he fixed at once by the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner, the only result of such action at some later date will be tobenefit the potato merchants who, because1 of their strong financial position, may have been able to purchase the potatoes from the growers at their own price prior to price fixation and orderly marketings Irecognize the desirability of a common policy and of unanimity among the States on this subject, but; if the States will not’ take united- action; the Commonwealth Government should exercise its authority so- as- to ensure to the growers a price which will not imperil their very existence or bring them- face to face withdisaster. Last. year, without any request’ from the State governments, and regardless of the views of the Agricultural1 Council, which, I understand, was not’ consulted, the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner acted in the interests of consumers and fixed the price of potatoes in New South Wales. It was wise to protect the consumers from excessive prices, but now that the position is reversed it would be equally wise for the Commissioner, particularly as the Commonwealth’ Government has shown marked patience in the face of the differing views by the States, to act in . the interests of the growers and again fix the price of potatoes and exercise control: Last year the shortage of potatoes was so serious that, for. the first time for many years, Australia imported potatoes from New Zealand. It cannot be denied that at that time the consumers were protected at the expense of the growers, for had the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner not acted, the price of Australian-grown. potatoes would have risen to £30 a ton. In thepresent’ circumstances; I consider -that the Commissioner should not hesitate to act - now in order to protect the interests of the growers. In view of the long delay that has occurred in dealing finally with this situation, I could be very critical of the
Government, but I prefer to try to serve the interests of the growers by a persuasive and not an abusive utterance..
At, present, potatoes may be purchased in the Melbourne market for 3s. a bag. The bag. is worth ls., and the potatodiggers are being paid ls. a bag, although they should be receiving ls. 6d. a bag. Freight charges’, agents’ commission, postages and other incidental costs absorb more than the remaining shilling. So, under existing conditions, the potatogrower gets nothing whatever for his work and obviously has nothing. with which to support his wife and family or meet the normal cultivation costs for the next crop. I am completely, dissatisfied with the story told to-day, namely, that the Australian Agricultural Council has met and conferred, and that further attempts will.be made to compose the differences of its members. They have been endeavouring to do that for at least three months, .and; meanwhile, the potatogrowers have been placed in an unfair position. The most unfortunate feature is that, whereas those whoa,re financially strong can afford to hold their crop pending a decision by the . Government - which may bc this week, next week, or perhaps never - those who, on the contrary, a-re financially weak, are .daily unloading their-, produce on the market at a. price which does not return, to them onehalf of the cost of production. I .am quite confident that- representatives of consumers in this House do not expect either pota.to-growers or. any other producers to market a commodity at one-half “ of the cost of production.’ Assistance of some sort has been given to practically every other section of the primary pro,ducers. The growers of wheat, apples and. pea rj; barley, grapes for wine-making, wool, and’ other commodities,, have been assisted1, but the potato-grower has been left to the tender mercies of the different squabbling States, because the Commonwealth has not so far taken a strong stand and decided what should be done in their behalf. The Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) and his’ capable advisers know what is the best plan, but, so far, have lacked the courage to give effect to it, and to defy those quarrelsome people who cannot roach unanimity. I ask for the Minister’s consideration of the matter.
– This problem is not essentially one for the Commonwealth Government. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) has said that the Commonwealth has interested itself in the misfortunes of other sections of primary producers. I remind him that the producers in respect of whose situation it has assumed some measure of responsibility are those who have lost their ovc-r.-eas markets on account, of the war.
– The Commonwealth could with equal reason have said in those cases that responsibility rested with the States. The position of each producer, individually, is alike.
– In respect of those other producers whose problem is not a war problem, but would exist whether there was a war or not, the Commonwealth believes - I think properly - that the adjustment of the matter is a function which the States should undertake. Through the agency of the Australian Agricultural Council, the Commonwealth has gone a considerable distance in attempting to help to solve the problem -of the potato-growers, which every one realizes is very serious. There is a likely over-production of potatoes this season of approximately J.00,000 tons. The Commonwealth Prices Commissioner placed before the Australian Agricultural Council the proposition that each surplusproducing State - Victoria, Tasmania and New South “Wales - should reduce by 40 per cent, the proportion pf its potato crop available for marketing; that is to say, it should market 60 per cent., and refrain from marketing the 40 per cent, which could not be consumed. ‘ Victoria, the State which is’ most deeply concerned, was anxious to agree, but, unfortunately, the degree of co-operation obtainable between the State Governments of Australia is such, that agreement between them in relation to major problems affecting primary production appears to be impossible. The Commonwealth cannot take charge of the potato marketing problem, because of certain constitutional limitations inherent in section 92. It was expected that the difficulty could be overcome if Victoria and Tasmania would agree to some degree of voluntary restriction, but Tasmania was not agreeable to the adoption of that course. I happened to be presiding at the meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council when this matter was discussed. “When a deadlock was reached, it was agreed, at my suggestion, that the representatives- of Victoria and Tasmania should again confer. They did so on Saturday afternoon, and subsequently they and the representative of New South Wales visited the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner, who is ill in hospital. I understand that a proposition was made which the Tasmanian Minister proposes to submit to the potato-growers of that State. I do not know what the outcome will be, but I am hopeful of good results. The Commonwealth has done everything possible within the limitations imposed on its authority and power. This is essentially a peace-time problem. If the Commonwealth were to take charge of potatoes, it might as well take charge ako of cabbages, onions, and every other commodity grown. Obviously, that would be impossible.
– The Minister does not deny that the poverty of these growers may have a deleterious effect on the war effort?
– I appreciate that as fully as- does the honorable member. At the same time, the Commonwealth is debarred from assuming responsibilities at present held by the States; the States themselves stand in the way most of the time, and it is a job that they must handle. So far as lies within its power. the Commonwealth will give every assistance. It has already done so, and it. will continue to do so. If the Department of Commerce, with which I am still connected, can help, such help will be given.
– Does the Minister deny that the Commonwealth has power to deal with the problem under the National Security Act?
– It is not considered that the Commonwealth has power to deal with this problem as the honorable member assumes it could be dealt with
.- -I direct attention to what appears to be a wanton waste of public money. Having listened to the arguments adduced by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) and’ the Minister for Transport (Mr. Anthony), it seems to me that attention may be appropriately directed to it. I refer to expensive advertisements headed. “ War spreads to the Kitchen Front”. inserted in the press a few days ago by the Department of Commerce. The advertisements went on to state : -
Only housewives can fight this battle. Australia has a new ami urgent war problem, a problem which no one but the Australian housewife can solve. . . You- serve your country when you serve lamb, bacon, dairy produce,- apples and pears, wine. …
– Bo they state “ We will provide you with money to enable you to purchase them “ ?
– That is the point. Honorable members will recall that recently the Commonwealth health authorities suggested” a dietary scale to cost fi 19s.’ 6d. a week for a family of five on the basic wage. The principal feature was intended, to show how to make a leg of mutton last several days and end up by being made into “ shepherd’s .pie “. Here is- the advertised- proposal of the Department of Commerce for the meals- for one- day -
Breakfast. - Omelettes, lamb chops, bacon and eggs -. . . these are just” three of many patriotic breakfast dishes . . . And’ don’t forget apples or pears with your cereal,- and plenty of- milk, .too.
Eleven o’clock. - Drink milk at this midmorning break, for health and refreshment . . At this time you will find a glass of port a really ‘wonderful tonic.
Lunch. - As well as lamb, include apples or pears in your mid day meal . . . And honey, too, as a spread. That’s the kind of luncheon that serves Australia best.
Mid-afternoon. - ‘Whether im town, or entertaining at home, substitute milk, drinks for your usual, refreshments. There’s plenty of variety - plain, flavoured or malted - hot or cold.
Dinner. - There’s ample scope for patriotism at the dinner table; soup made with lamb stock, roast lamb, apple or pea.r dishes for sweets, and claret to add zest to the meal.
Supper. - When entertaining guests, wine is always appreciated - Port and Sherry should be your choice . . . And as a night . ca,p, nothing equals nourishing milk drinks.
Although’ that advertisement involved a considerable outlay of public money, the news columns’ of the same newspaper set out the real position. It contained a photograph of Joseph Parry, a Paddington, greengrocer,, displaying beans at ls. per lb. and. cauliflowers at 2s. each. Underneath the photograph appeared the following : -
TEA UP Id. TO-MORROW, VEGETABLES DEARER.
The. high .prices of commodities are disturbing housewives.
To-morrow tea will be- increased by another penny a pound; Vegetable prices have again risen. .
Latest “tea rise will make retail price? Sd. a pound, higher than pre-war prices. Last increase was on May 12 - 2d. a pound
The rise is due entirely to the higher landed- costs “, the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner (Professor Copland) said yesterday in Canberra.
Under the new prices, he’ added, merchants would not obtain a margin of gross profit as high as before the war. The cost of one week’s supply of vegetables for a, family of live has risen to 10s. Od. against iis. Od. in normal times.
Comparative prices in Sydney- yesterday for these supplies were: - 10 lb. potatoes, ls. (normal price ls. ) : 2 lb. peas, ls. 4d. (8d.) ; 2 lb. beans, ls. 4d. (Sd.); 1 cauliflower, 2s. ( 8,1.) ;. 1 cabbage, ls. 4d. (Od.); pumpkin, ls. (ls.); 0 lb.- swedes, ls. (Od.) ; 1 lb. carrots, 3d. (2d.) ;. 2 bunches spinach, ls. (4d.).
Sydney greengrocers said few people wore buying “cauliflowers- at. 2s. each.
Some people are buying them in quarters - sufficient for two’ persons.
Heavier vegetables - swedes,- sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes, and parsnips - are in most demand.
Pumpkins and swedes are selling heavily, to keep the family budget down.
Mrs. M. Fawcett, 30 GeorgeStreet,. New.town, mother of eight children’, said- yesterday, “ I” normally need’ two cauliflowers- to feed my family for one meal, but I will have to cut them out now. “Beans and peas are too expensive.. We will eat more swedes-, turnips, and pumpkin “.
It would appear that some one is getting a rake-off, because neither the primary producer nor the consumer is getting any benefit. It is time that the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner investigated vegetable prices. The Government should consider introducing some proper marketing scheme which’ will protect both the primary producer and the consumer. The former is entitled to a fair price for his produce, and the latter should not have to pay excessive prices for it. Instead of urging housewives to do the things advocated in the advertisement, the Government should undertake a progressive shipbuilding programme in order to provide ships : to .carry our produce to India, Netherlands East. Indies, and also to Japan, which country is prepared to exchange machine tools for Australian primary produce. The Government, instead of doing these things, is exporting zinc, of which Australia is short. Its export policy should be reversed.
Last week, I asked a question relating to the breaking up of valuable machinery on certain copper mines in New South Wales and disposing of it as scrap iron. To-day I received from the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, the following answer to my question: -
Inquiries have been made in this regard, with particular reference to disused copper mines in the Girilambone, Tottenham, Nymagee and Mount Hope district, and advice has been received from the Chief Inspector of Mines of New South Wales to the effect that his department has no advice of any sales of machinery or sera]) cast iron from mines in these localities over the last three years. According to the Chief. Inspector, the majority of the mines in these localities had not been operated for twenty years, “and in some instances for 40 years, and- the- Chief Inspector is, therefore, of opinion that no machinery, of any present: day value is left in the mines.
I gave information, which I believed to be authentic, to an officer of the Supply and Development Department, and I understood that inquiries were being made by him. It is not a sufficient answer that the Chief Inspector of Mines of New South Wales has no information on the subject. An officer of .the Supply and Development Department should go to the place and ascertain the facts for himself. I hope that this will be done. I am informed that Brown and Dureau Proprietary Limited has shipped scrap iron to Japan in the past. It would be interesting to know why that company has gone to these mines to purchase scrap iron, seeing that scrap iron does not appear to be wanted in this country. The company should be asked if it purchased the machinery, whether it blew it up, and what it has done with the material? In view of the statement of the Minister for
Mines in Queensland that there are 1,000 copper mines in that. State which could be opened up, now that the price of copper has increased, the Minister might indicate whether- an embargo, has been placed on the disposal of machinery at those mines. Anything ‘ may happen there. Valuable machinery which could be used in the development of those copper deposits may be Mown up arid sold as scrap iron. Then, perhaps, the Government will realize that we are short of copper, and will want to develop those mines, only to find that machinery for the purpose is no longer available.
.- I again bring under the notice of the House the unsatisfactory state of affairs existing in New Guinea in connexion with the present mining dispute. I regret that, so early in his ministerial career, the new Minister in Charge of External Territories (Mr. McDonald) indicated that he will be only a mouthpiece of the private interests which are exploiting labour in that territory. On every occasion that attention is drawn to matters relating to New Guinea, careful statements which have been prepared and supplied by the various private companies against whom the complaints are made are read to the House. The dispute- iri the Territory of New Guinea- has not been satisfactorily settled. Certain undertakings given in this House by the Minister’s predecessor have not been carried out. A perusal of the remarks of the ex-Minister (Mr. Collins), as reported in Hansard, will indicate that when the adjournment of this House was moved about a week ago to draw attention to the state of affairs existing in New Guinea, the Minister said that he w-as taking up with the company immediately the question of introducing a 44-hour week for underground workers, and paying time and a half rates for overtime and Sunday work. I understand from the statement of the Minister to-day that time and a half is to be paid for overtime,- but no mention was made of Sunday work, nor of the number of hours to be worked underground. His predecessor said that if the company failed to agree to the conditions set forth, he would recommend to Cabinet that an ordinance be issued to compel it to carry out the wishes of the Government. He further stated that an industrial magistrate was to he obtained from Queensland to visit the territory and inquire into the matters complained of. The then Minister said that he was of opinion that there was no sound argument against the extension of the arbitration system to New Guinea, and that he would endeavour to bring it about. What has happened in respect of those undertakings? Are they to be forgotten simply because there is a change of Ministers? It appears to me that New Guinea Goldfields Limited exercises undue influence by reason of the fact that one of its directors is a member of the Government. That is a matter which calls for attention. On a previous occasion, a Minister resigned his portfolio because he was interested in a company to which the Government gave certain contracts: Judging from the manner in which Ministers arc able to pull a carefully prepared statement from their pockets whenever they are asked a question, it would appear that this company is in very close touch with the Government. The company has a friend at court, it would appear, and we do not have to go very far to see who he is. The Minister stated that the Administrator has submitted a report I knew the Administrator when he was a member of this House, before he was appointed to his present position. His was a purely political appointment. When he sat in this chamber, it was evident that he was a verystrong political partisan, always opposed to the interests of the workers. Since he has been Administrator he has proved himself unsuitable to protect the interests of the workers, and to foster the welfare of the territory generally. Previously, the main argument advanced against the extension of arbitration to New Guinea was the expense involved, but now the reason advanced is that there is a large amount of native labour employed. I understood that one of the conditions of the mandate was that Australia undertook to protect the natives, and to promote their welfare. How is that to be done in the absence of arbitration machinery to prevent exploitation? When a small company wants to risk its own money by going into the territory to prospect for oil, the Government says, “No, you cannot go into those areas because we are determined to protect the natives”. The attitude of the Government is strangely inconsistent. It now appears that the small companies are not allowed to go into certain areas in the territories because the major oil companies do not want them to. Apparently, our only reason for administering the territory is to allow large companies, one of which has a director who is a member of the Government - I refer to SenatorFoll - to exploit white and native labour and enrich themselves out of the resources of the territory. The numbers are pretty even in this House, and also in the Senate. The Labour party wants this matter cleared up satisfactorily before the house adjourns this week. Certain undertakings were given to the Labour party, andwe want those undertakings to be honoured. Otherwise a different attitudewill be taken up by the Opposition. Wewant these workers in. New Guinea to be protected and given the benefit of Australian laws. Many of them are Australian, citizens who went to New Guinea believing that they would at least enjoy Australian conditions of employment. We want the Government to honour its undertaking, and not to waste time conferring with the company, or with SenatorFoll. The demands of the men are moderate; They ask for a minimum wage of£1 10s. for a shift, and that is little enough, having regard, to their conditions of employment, and to the fact that they are exposed to the danger of fever infection, which sometimes proves fatal. When it does, no compensation is payable to their dependants.
– Is the honorable member referring particularly to white workers or to the natives?
– The dispute happens to be between the company and its white workers, but the Government now says that it cannot introduce arbitration because many native workers are employed.
– In South Africa the benefits of arbitration are extended to native workers.
– That is so, and I believe that they should be extended to native workers in New Guinea also. I ask the
Minister who is now administering the territories to honour’ the undertaking given by his predecessor, to order a 44-hour week for underground workers, and to arrange for the despatch of- an industrial magistrate to inquire into the matters complained of. ‘The fact that cer* tain of the strikers have returned to work proves nothing. The dispute has been going on since March. That much suf-faring has been- caused and that many of the men and their families must have been in want can easily be understood: Does the Government approve of the methods of the company in starving the nien into subjection? In Australia, conciliation committees have been set up to settle disputes. The Government, however, is apparently not concerned) with what happens in. New Guinea so long as its friends are allowed to go on exploiting tlie workers.
. [11.59 J. - The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has seized- this opportunity to make an attack on me, and also on the Administrator of New Guinea, who- is not here to defend himself. The honorable member’s threats will not have any effect on me. I refuse to be intimidated, by anything he may say. I gave the honorable member a. plain statement of the position this morning.
– A statement prepared by the company.
– It was not. The honorable member raved about dictators-. The honorable member has a perfect right to frame his question as he chooses, but he has no right to dictate- to me what my answer should be. I have held office for only three days and I have considered this matter carefully, and put a. tremendous amount of work into it. In order to con- firm the report which I received from the Administrator, and because the Administrator did not give the information, I rang Mr. McCulloch and asked him how many men were out of work at the mine. In reply; Mr. McCulloch said that “fifteen men were not working at present. He pointed out that as the result of the withdrawal of the safety men parts- of the mine were flooded and, to use his own expression, the labour market also wasflooded, and it was- not possible toreemploy all the men because of the unsafe condition of’ the mine. I do not intend to enter into the merits or demerits of the dispute, nor do I propose to saywhether the mine-owners- or the men were responsible for it. I simply inform the honorable member that a certain agreement has been entered into between tlie company and the men, who have returned to work. Work has been resumed under tlie conditions set out by iiic this morning. Those conditions provide for an increase of wages and the payment of time and a half for overtime. I’ pointed out that, in certain respects, these men are being better treated than many miners in Australia.
– The Minister does not know what he is talking about.
– Order ! The- honorable member persists in interjecting in defiance of the Chair.
– I proceeded to say that free housing, free medical attention, and’ hospital treatment are provided.
The honorable member for East Sydney interjecting,
– I have not had occasion, yet to name an honorable member, but the occasion: may arise..
– I said that after going- into this matter for several hours this- morning I was convinced- that tlie appointment of a magistrate to act as arbitrator would not solve the problem. If arbitration is to be provided in New Guinea it should- lie applied to all and not merely to one company. If the honorable member had listened to the concluding portion of my statement in the House this morning he would have heard me say that I hoped within the next few days to be able to submit a scheme to ensure, that arbitration machinery will be established in the territory. In this case- it is quite unnecessary to appoint an arbitrator,., as tlie majority of themen are already back at work. Only fifteen occupying houses belonging to the company have not been reemployed. One man named Wilson, who, I believe, is a member of the Australian Workers Union, has repudiated the statement by the man Doolan, who has been circularizing members of Parliament. I shall not permit the honorable member to issue intimidatory threats against me or against any other member. I throw the honorable member’s challenge back in his teeth. I have every desireto work cordially with every honorable member in this House, and I shall not be intimidated into making promises which cannot be carried out.
– The honorable member is nothing but a tool for private enterprise.
– I ask the honorable member for East Sydney to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– When speaking on the Supply Bill on Thursday lastIreferred to among other things, the necessity forpushing ahead with theconstruction of the Saramaua-Wau road,in order to cheapen thecostofgoldproductionontheMorobe gold-field inNew Guinea,andalso to permit of the working of gold deposits which aretoopoor to show a profit at present,as aeroplanesare the only means oftransport from the coast to the Bulolo Valley. By encouraging an increase of gold production the Government will save monthly for Australia thousandsof dollars of precious overseas exchange, which, however, is being lost so longas our gold deposits are not worked. The road will also enable valuable hoop pine, cedar and other timbers oh the gold-fields to be exported to Australia. Although Ihave no financial interest in New Guinea, I have become very interested in the development of the territory, generally, as for some time I have been in communication with people and associations in the territory. Those people have no representation in this Parliament.
During myspeech the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) made several interjections to the effect that the Salamaua-Wau road would cost £1,000,000 to construct, although, in the next breath, he reduced that figure to £750,000. I am surprised at such wild statements from an honorable member who has flown over that country, in view of the fact that the Director of Public Works in New Guinea, who is in charge of the project, stated in the Legislative Council at Rabaul in April of this year, that the cost of the road is at present estimated at £230,000 for a length of 49 miles, and a designed width of 20 feet. That figure includes increases due to the war.
I am informed that, more than a year before the outbreak of the war, the Morobe Chamber of Mines appointed a committee of Mining and Civil Engineers, with experience in many parts of the world, to examine, inquire into, and report upon the various road routes proposed to connect Wau with Salamaua, a safe shipping port. The committee reported that by the use of modern road construction methods and machinery, a road 14 feet wide, designed and constructed to serve only the requirements of the mining industry, could be built by private enterprise, at a cost of £150,000, andthat that road would be the shortest andcheapestavailable between Salamaua and Wau, its length beingapproximately 50 miles.
In a short address, following my speech, the honorable member for Adelaide referred to his tripby car from Wau to Edie Creek, over a very narrow, dangerous, and poorly constructed road. He mentioned the bad state of repair of that road, and said that’ many landslides had occurred as the result of the heavy rainfall in the district. What he did not say was that the methods of road maintenance adopted by the Administration of New Guinea in constructing the Wau to Edie Creek road were comparable only to the most primitive methods adopted anywhere in the world. It is admitted that landslides on New Guinea roads cause traffic delays. That is true in other countries, but modern excavating machinery is used to clear away the debris and reopen the roads with as little delay as possible. If the honorable member were to take a trip to the
Philippines, or to any other tropical mountainous country, and see the methods- of road maintenance adopted in country topographically and geologically similar to the Morobe gold-fields, he would probably not be so pessimistic about road building and- maintenance costs in New Guinea. I am reliably informed that over 50’ per cent, of tlie total length of the 50 or 60 miles of road now existing on the Morobe gold-fields has been constructed and. maintained by mining companies* Those roads are used cost-free by the public. Motor vehicles traversing them are isolated, from the coast, and were, together with the fuel they consume, transported by aeroplanes from the coast, an extremely costly undertaking. The only stone-crushers and mechanical road construction and maintenance plant on ‘ the Morobe gold-field are owned by private enterprise.. Tlie Government uses stone-age natives and stone-age methods ! Those who have driven over the Government roads- between Wau– and Edie Greek and Wau and Bulolo say that it is a nerve- wracking experience, and that it is, by comparison, a delight to run off Government roads on to private roads.
The honorable member for Adelaide agreed with, me that a road from Salamaua to -Wau should be built, and I feel- certain that, with his knowledge of such matters, he will agree that modern methods, and modern machinery should be used. I- have received a cutting from, the Morobe News, dated tlie 15th February, 1941,. and as it expresses the views of a consulting engineer’ with long experience on the Morobe gold-field, and’ in other parts of the world, it may be of interest to honorable members, especially as it states an unofficial view. The cutting reads-
Interviewed by a representative of tlie Morobe Xenon after his walk from Salamaua to ‘ Wau over tlie surveyed route of the proposed Goldfields-road, the Hon. H. Taylour, M.L.C., consulting mining engineer and company manager, and former, mining warden and senior inspector of mines and machinery 011 Morobe gold-fields’, stated that surveyors have done a. very- fine piece of work- in the face of many difficulties and beset by many handicaps.
In his opinion tlie location made by Mr. Surveyor Eccleston along the Buisaval River Valley calls particularly for .the highest praise; it is an outstanding job of work well done.
Questioned on his opinion of tlie direct route from Salamaua to Wau as a means of serving the- requirements’ of the mining industry on the Morobe gold-field, Mr. Taylour, who is an engineer with considerable experience in the location and construction of . mountain- roads, and railways, and who has walked over all routes so far proposed to connect the goldfield with the coast, stated- that lie is or tlie opinion that the short route as now surveyed is the best he lias seen to serve the mining industry and connect Wau’ with Salamaua.
He expressed -surprise at the ease with which construction could- be carried out. Much of the location is on sliding country, where construction costs would be comparatively low as the excavated material could’ bo pushed- over tlie side.. There is no section of the road more difficult to construct than was met with on tlie Wau-Edie Creek road; in fact, lie said, a motor car can be driven now over some- portions of the located route.
A large portion of the road could bo constructed without tlie- use ‘of explosives, if modern excavators, such as caterpillar tractors with bull and angle’ dozers, were used.
Hie- went on to say that much bt the work of construction could proceed continuously 24 hours a day. Provided the will was there to do tlie job, and if modern methods such as the Americans use were adopted, the road could be open for traffic within twelve months of the commencement of construction.
He considered that, to serve the needs of. tlie mining industry, a road 14. feet wide at the outset would be sufficient, and would reduce construction costs enormously as compared with the Government’s proposal’- of a 20-ft. road. . He cited the thousands of tons of machinery and supplies already taken over much, narrower motor roads existing on the Morobe gold-fields.
Mr. Taylour said that had the Government surveyors during the past thirteen years not been asked to- do the impossible, the’ present route would probably have been located years ago, and individual miners, the mining industry, and residents generally would “have been saved’ tens of thousands of pounds in transport costs. An amount equivalent to that- already spent- on. the survey of the road would be sufficient to convert the surveyor’s track into a very good mule road.
Mr. Taylour is convinced that fanning, grazing and timber country would be opened up on the Wau end if the road were constructed; He also stated that, looking ahead to the possible ultimate development of the War in Valley, a branch road could be taken off the present Wau-Salamaua direct route. “As we have a continent to develop on the mainland of New Guinea,” Mr. Taylour stated, “ it is a very poor advertisement for the Territory that over thirteen years have elapsed since the first attempt was made to locate a road from the coast to the goldfield.” He was all in favour of a- road up the Markham Valley to- the Ramu; and later on’ to the fertile valleys further inland; but the immediate need, and this need has been outstanding during the past thirteen years, is the road “from Salamaua to Wau.
Obviously, the* progress of the construction of the road has been delayed. Three years have elapsed since the AttorneyGeneral introduced a bill to provide for the raising of a loan to finance the work. Important factors are involved, such as -the necessity for sending petrol to the territory, and the development, of the mining of low-grade ore. I trust that the -.Minister will discuss the matter with the Administrator and officials in order to see that the work shall bc commenced at the’ earliest possible date.
– The Minister for Social Services (Sir Frederick Stewart) is alleged to be one of those responsible for the nondevelopment of Canberra, because he has transferred certain departmental officers to Sydney. His bad example has been imitated by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), who transferred a number of officers to Melbourne. The scientific sabotage of the National Capital seems to be proceeding under ministerial surveillance. When Parlia- ment is in recess, Ministers, with one exception, are rarely to be seen here. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Collett) remains in Canberra for fairly long periods, .though the fact that he hails from Western Australia and could not easily administer his department from Perth may account for it. In future, Cabinet should meet regularly in Canberra. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was .engaged on’ his mission abroad, Cabinet assembled in Sydney in ‘order to suit the convenience of. the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Fadden). Now that the Prime Minister -has returned, it will probably meet in Melbourne. As the foundations -for a permanent secretariat in Canberra were laid years ago, the Government should provide the money necessary for constructing the offices which are required to accommodate the staffs that will administer the social legislation to which Parliament has given its approval. Ministers should” be the last to minimize the importance of the National Capital, either by procrastinating in “ respect of erection of the new secretariat or through a desire to serve their own ‘ convenience Ivy meeting in one or other of the two favoured State capitals. A statement which I have received ‘from a Minister shows that no -meeting of the full Cabinet has been held in any of the State capitals, other than Sydney and Melbourne, since the outbreak of “wai”.! A small ‘concession was made to the feelings of the residents of another capital when the War. Cabinet assembled on one occasion in’ Brisbane. But that was all. ‘
I now direct attention to a letter which 1 have received from the town clerk of the city of Fitzroy, which is in my electorate. It reads -
At a meeting of the council on Monday last, attention was directed to conditions under which many wives and children of soldiers on service overseas aic compelled to live because of inability to pay high rents and in consequence are forced to live in rooms or in very small houses of the slum type in undesirable surroundings, lt was contended that dependants of the men of the fighting forces who are risking their all should be adequately protected in the absence of their husbands and fathers and enabled to enjoy the amenities of life.
I was directed to write to our representative Federal members and request that they use their best endeavours in Parliament to urge the provision of better housing conditions and also to intimate that my council is in favour of the military pay of the Australian armed forces, whether on service at home or abroad, being at least equal to the basic wage rate of pay.
With regard to the former (housing), representative members in the State houses have been asked to press for an extension of the powers of the Slum Reclamation and Housing Act so as to give a measure of preference to soldiers’ wives in the letting or leasing of houses constructed by the Housing Commission.
My electorate consists, broadly, of the City of Melbourne and the. City of Fitzroy. A record number of enlistments in the present Australian Imperial Force came from those areas. Figures supplied by the defence, head-quarters to the Municipal Association show that of the first 50,000 men to enlist . in Victoria in the ‘ present Australian Imperial Force, 5,000 came from those two municipalities. That, represents twice the average of enlistments from any. of tlie other nineteen Commonwealth electorates in Victoria. That area contains the greatest proportion of sub-standard houses in Victoria, which were referred to by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) some months ago when he quoted from the report of the Victorian Slum Abolition and Housing Commission. It is obligatory upon this Government to provide proper houses not only for munition, workers, but also for the dependants of men who are now . fighting overseas. These dependants are- compelled in many instances to live in hovels, and are obliged to pay high rents for that privilege. I- have had repeated arguments with the Minister for Trade and’ Customs (Mr. Harrison) and the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner, upon this matter. The Minister quoted extensively- from reports of conferences of Commonwealth, and State Ministers. and other, documents, in order to show that it- was primarily the responsibility, not of the Commonwealth, hut of the .State authorities. Possibly, in normal circumstances his contention would be right, but T suggest that this Government should now7 take extended powers in order to fix- rents, so that this matter, should not he left to theState authorities to he handled in a dilatory fashion. I have never been greatly impressed with the Prices Commissioner, Professor Copland^ I have always regarded, him as being an: accommodating, economist - most accommodating: towards the big interests. Consequently, I am not prepared to accept: him as the final authority in a matter which concerns the welfare of the working class* I recall’ that lie was theauthor of the- Premiers pi ian, and that1 he- also- went into the- witness- box- in the Arbitration Court to justify a 10 per cent, reduction of the basic wage iii order to restore- budgetary equilibrium. I urge the Government to give immediate consideration to the provision of better housing for the -.wives- and families- of the men now in the front line overseas. Nobody who has any sympathy for these people can tolerate a continuance of the unsatisfactory housing- conditions existing in the city of Fitzroy. As mentioned by the town clerk in the letter which I have just read, many of these people arc obliged to live in a slum, type of house in undesirable surroundings. Any one who knows Fitzroy is- aware that in portionsof that city conditions are undesirable. This is a big problem, but the longer we postpone dealing with it the worse it will become. I assure the Government that, the number of people affected is not negligible. It is so large as to move the council of the City of Fitzroy to take action, and in that council Labour representatives are in a minority. Thus,, the people who carried that resolution are more akin, politically,, to Ministers than to the party to which I belong.
– in reply- 1 assure the honorable member- for Melbourne (M-r. Calwell)- that the transfer of certain officers of the” Pensions Department from Canberra to Sydney was not due to any prejudice on the part of the Government against Canberra but ‘to sheer inability to find sufficient accommodation in the national capital, for the” increased stall’s of the Pension’ Department rendered necessary when that department was given control of child endowment payments in addition to its ordinary work. At any rate, only seven officers have been -transferred to Sydney. I assure the House that as soon, as accommodation i3 available for them in .Canberra, not only will they be returned, but the complete secretariat of the Social Services Department will also be established in Canberra.
I shall bring the other matter raised by the honorable member, and the subjects’ mentioned by the honorable members for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), Moreton (Mr. Francis), Reid’ (Mr. Morgan), and Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) to the notice of the appropriate Ministers.
Question- resolved’ in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented:: -
Air Force Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, 2fo. 137. -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act- Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c- 1941 -
No. 9- Amalgam a ted Postal Workers’ Union ofAustralia; and Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.
No. 10 -Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 11 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.
No. 12 - Operative Stonemasons’ Society of Australia.
Control of Naval Waters Act - Regulations -Statutory Rules1941, No. 145.
Customs Act -
Proclamation prohibiting the exportation (except under certain conditions) of Cotton Waste (dated 25th June, 1941).
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 136.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 135.
Income Tax Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941,No. 120.
National Security Act - Regulations - StatutoryRules1941, Nos. 138, 139, 140.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1941, No. 144.
NorthernTerritory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act-
Ordinance- 1941 - No. 10- Licensing (No.2).
Regulations - 1941 -
No.6(Motor Vehicles Ordinance).
Pay-roll Tax Assessment Act- Regulations -StatutoryRules1941, No.121.
Seatof GovernmentAcceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinances- 1941 -
No. 5 - Stock.
No.6 - Industrial Board.
Regulations -1941 -
No. 2 (Industrial Board Ordinance).
House adjourned at 12.26 a.m. (Wednesday).
The following answers to questions were circulated : -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government arrange for a committee to be set up to make a survey of the economic position of Tasmania as affected by and in relation to Australia’s war problems and war effort, with the view to making recommendations thereon?
Mr.Menzies. - The matter will receive consideration.
n asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
In view of the hardship imposed on New South Wales wheat-farmers whose farms have been deregistered after the crops have been sown, will he order an immediate review by the Wheat Board in respect of these farms and farmers ?
– It is presumed that . this question is intended to refer to the wheat stabilization plan. Under that plan no hardship of any kind is being imposed on any legitimate wheat-grower in Australia who has made application for registration and has furnished proper information regarding his wheat-growing activities during recent years.
l asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice-
What action does he propose taking to ensure that all persons thrown out of work byhis latest newspaper rationing scheme are absorbed immediately on dismissal in full remunerative employment ?
– It is not expectedthat the proposed extension of the newsprint rationing scheme will result in any large measure of unemployment, in view of the rapidly extending demand for labour. TheGovernment is at present giving close attention to the problem arising out of restrictive measures found necessary in the national interest, of which the newsprintrationing scheme is one example.
Man-power and Resources Survey Committee.
d asked the Minister for Defence Co-ordination, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answers : -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1, 2 and 3.The Government has already provided protection for debtors experiencing hardship as a result of war conditions. The
National Security (Debtors’ Relief) Regulations provide that debtors who are unable to pay any debt by reason of circumstances attributable to the war may apply to a tribunal for relief.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions.
y asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice-
In view of the large number of elderly men who have gone back into industry since the outbreak of war will he indicate the number of men who have voluntarily given up their old-age pensions since January, 1939?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The total number is 776, made up as follows: New South Wales, 369; Victoria, 247; Queensland, 71; South Australia, 24; Western Australia, 53; Tasmania, 12.
i asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will he have investigations made into the rise in prices of timber and building materials generally, and into the reported shortage of roofing iron?
– Timber and building materials are” declared “ goods under the National Security (Prices) Regulations, and the prices are subject to continual investigation by the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner. No increases are permitted unless justified by increased costs. As the distribution of galvanized iron is controlled by the Department ofSupply and Development, I have taken action to refer that part of the question which refers to a reported shortageof roofing iron to my colleague, the Minister for Supply and Development, for reply to the honorable member;
l asked the Minister representing the Minister . for the Interior,upon notice -
-The Minister for the Interiorhas supplied the following answers : -
Minister for the Navy.
l asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– My attention was drawn to the statement by the honorable member. If it were made by the honorable member for Barker, I do not agree with it. In any case the time taken to perform the duties of an administrator is no measure of the importance of those duties. The real test is the nature of the duties and the manner in which the Minister performs them. The most important ministerial duties relate to the making of decisions on matters of farreaching importance.
s. - On the 24th June, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) asked the following question, without notice -
Can the Minister say what has been the outcome of negotiations between his department and Messrs Walkers Limited, an engineering firm of Maryborough, Queensland, regarding the building of marinediesel engines at its works? Have those negotiations yet been finalized?
I now inform the honorable member that I am advised by the Naval Board that no negotiations have been undertaken with Messrs. Walkers Limited regarding the building of marine diesel engines.
Internment and Prisoner of War Camps.
r. - On the 24th June the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Breen) asked certain questions regarding camps for prisoners of war and internees.
I now inform the honorable member that there is no objection to disclosing information regarding the situation of the New South Wales camps for internees and prisoners of war. The sites are at Hay and Cowra. Cowra is outside the area in which permanent camps are to be erected, and the camp there is to be used mainly as a staging camp for drafting prisoners of war.
Australian Imperial Force: Recruiting in Brisbane.
– On the 24th June the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) asked the following question, without notice: -
Can the Minister for the Army tell me why the Brisbane Recruiting Office was closed last Saturday at6 p.m., thus preventing a number of men desirous of enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force from doing so?
I now inform the honorable member that the recruiting office in Brisbane is normally closed at 6 p.m. on Saturdays as there is no demand for its remaining open until a later hour.
r. - On the 19th June, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) asked, without notice, whether it was a fact that Brown and Dureau Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, was buying up available machinery in disused copper mines and breaking it up for export as scrap iron, and, if so, what was the destination of the scrap?
The Minister for Supply and Development has furnished the following reply : -
Inquiries have been made in this regard with particular reference to disused copper mines in the Girilambone, Tottenham, Nymagee and Mount Hope District, and advice has been received from the Chief Inspector of Mines of’ Kew South Wales, to the effect that hi* department lias no advice of any eales of machinery or scrap cast iron from mines in these localities over the last three years. According to the Chief Inspector the majority of tlie mines in these localities had ‘not been operated for 20 years, and in some instances for 40 years, and the Chief Inspector is, therefore, of opinion that no machinery of any present day value is left in the mines.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 July 1941, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1941/19410701_reps_16_167/>.